Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Easter Outfit: Chasing Butterflies Myrtle Dress and White Wembley Cardigan

Last year when I was following the Wardrobe Architect challenge, I attempted to build a cohesive handmade capsule wardrobe by sewing a lot of basic clothes in a limited color palette. That was a worthwhile endeavor, but I panicked a little at Christmas and Easter, because I didn't have any special dresses suitable for those holidays. I ended up wearing the same dress for both holidays: my Dotted Boulevard Myrtle Dress. It was the first knit garment I ever made, and I feel comfortable and confident wearing it. This year, I was determined to not let another major holiday pass by without at least attempting a little special occasion sewing, even if it didn’t fit within my self-imposed style guidelines.

Chasing Butterflies Myrtle Dress

Since I get so much wear out of my first Myrtle Dress, I decided to use the same pattern again, making this my third overall Myrtle Dress. Lizzy House's Chasing Butterfly fabric was perfect for the occasion. The symbolism of the butterflies seemed especially appropriate for Easter. The purple coordinated really well with my daughter's store bought Easter dress, and at five years old, she's young enough to enjoy matching Mommy.

Last time I made a knit Myrtle, it was my first time working with the substrate, and I remember it taking forever. With a year and a half more experience under my belt, I whipped this dress up over a weekend. I could scarcely believe how quickly it came together! The only issue I had was cutting out a second back bodice so that I could self line it instead of hemming the neck and armholes. I bought the exact yardage that the pattern called for and that wasn't quite enough fabric for what I wanted to do. I ended up piecing the lining of the back bodice, which no one but me will ever see. Next time, I'll buy an extra quarter yard of fabric, just to be safe.

My two favorite things about the Myrtle dress pattern are the fit and the pockets. The drape of the front bodice and the elastic waist make the fit super forgiving. Putting pockets in a dress is a must for me, and I'll take the added bulk any day, for the sake of convenience.

White Wembley Cardigan

Since Easter in the Pacific Northwest can be wet and chilly, a coordinating cardigan was a must. I am really pleased with how well the Wembley Cardigan pairs with the Myrtle Dress. This is my second Wembley Cardigan and the fabric for this one is Robert Kaufman's Laguna jersey knit in White. While I still love the pattern, the white fabric makes the unfinished seams more obvious when the cardigan flaps open. After making this, I found myself yearning for a serger, just so I could make the insides neater. Even without a serger, it came together quickly, and I managed to figure out the neckband issue that I had with my previous Wembley Cardigan.

Overall, I am very happy with how my Easter outfit turned out. Since I used patterns that I was already familiar with, it came together quickly and stress free, with no last-minute panic sewing. I'm hoping to have a similar experience making a dress for Christmas. Stay tuned!

Note: All photos in this post were taken by my dad, Joe Jeske.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Heather Gray Wembley Cardigan

Undaunted by the issues I experienced earlier this year with the Akita Blouse, I tried a new Seamwork pattern recently and was not disappointed. I am happy to say that I adore the Wembley Cardigan! It’s everything I expect from Seamwork: fast, easy, cute and a little bit quirky. The slanted hem makes it a bit tricky to wear with the long tunics I’ve been favoring lately, but I find Wembley is well suited for wearing over dresses, and therefore fills a gap in my wardrobe. (In these pictures, I’m wearing it with my Gemstone Staple Dress.)

The fabric is Robert Kaufman’s Laguna Jersey Knit in Heather Pepper, which I purchased from the Everett Pacific Fabrics store right before it closed. I should always keep a few yards of this fabric on hand, because it’s great for trying out new knit patterns, and comes in a wide variety of colors.

As advertised, this cardigan went together quite quickly. Since it's not designed to meet in the front, I omitted my normal grading between sizes, which saved time. I especially like that I didn’t need to break out my double needle and Wonder Tape to finish it. Love that! I also love the sleeve length. On the model the sleeves look about three-quarter length. On my short arms, they hit just at my wrist, which pleased me to no end.

The only part of this pattern I found confusing was the neckband. It’s hard to tell which end of piece E attaches to piece F, so half of the notches didn’t line up correctly for me. I just rolled with it and it turned out fine. I’ll pay closer attention the next time I make one, which will be soon!

Related posts:
Royal Oslo Cardigan
Basic Black Staples: Julia Cardigan, Aberdeen Tunic and Manila Leggings

Monday, March 14, 2016

Akita Blouse Ambivalence

It’s fairly obvious that I’m a big fan of the monthly Seamwork patterns. Their Aberdeen Tunic is one of my all-time favorite patterns. I have limited time to sew, so I really value quick, fun patterns when it comes to garment sewing. Back in January, I caught the garment sewing bug again and decided that the Akita Blouse would be just the thing for stash busting. I was really intrigued by the fact that it only had one pattern piece. I grabbed a black lawn from my stash and set to work.

I’ve been known to sew what I think my size is, rather than what my actual size is, so this time I carefully measured myself and compared my measurements with the size chart. Based on my measurements, I graded the pattern from a 10 at the bust to a 14 at the waist, and then a 16 at the hem so that I could omit the split hem detail. That’s a significant amount of grading, so I was worried that it wouldn’t come out right. However, when I tried it on after sewing the side seams (using French seams, of course), I was pleasantly surprised. It fit, and it looked cute! The bust dart was a little low, but on such a loose top, that didn’t really matter. It was one of those joyful, confidence boosting moments that makes sewing your own clothes so rewarding. I happily finished the black Akita Blouse and whipped up another one out of flannel right away. Then I proceeded to wear the heck out of both of my new shirts.

Several weeks later, I noticed something troubling. Under the armholes, my black lawn Akita Blouse was fraying and my flannel Akita Blouse was ripped! The way the sleeves are constructed, you clip the seam allowance in order to hem the sleeves and then go back and stitch the side seam allowance in place across the bottom of the armhole. Therefore, where the armhole meets the side seem is essentially unfinished. I used my amateur mending skills to “fix” the flannel Akita, and decided the fraying on the black Akita wasn’t that bad. Still, I was disappointed. When I make a garment by hand, I expect to get a lot of wear out of it. I had planned on making a bunch more Akita Blouses, but now I’m not so sure. I may go back and try to draft a better sleeve/side seam intersection, or I may not. Time will tell.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

February 2016 in Review

This February was unusually busy at work, so I spent a lot of my sewing time putting in overtime. I only managed to make two things in February, a pair of gift bags out of the book Ruby Star Wrapping, by Melody Miller and Allison Tannery. However, I did make progress on my BOM Medallion quilt, and was able to attend an Embrace the Chaos workshop, taught by Libs Elliott. Here are a few of my favorite Instagram photos from last month, including a gratuitous photo of one of my cats on a quilt.