Thursday, November 27, 2008

My First Sweater!

After seeing all the cute sweaters that Dawn makes, I've been wanting to give it a go. So, I bit the bullet, picked up Burda 8028 and 2 yards of sweater knit from Gorgeous Fabrics. This was so easy, I know I'll me making more sweaters! I cut into the fabric this morning, and had wore the sweater out the door at 2pm to Thanksgiving dinner! Here's what I ended up with:The Burda pattern has 4 different collars and 2 different lengths, so I opted for collar B and length D. I didn't use all of the 2 yards, but came pretty close. It only required 4 pieces: front back, sleeve and collar, so that was pretty simple. My sewing table looked a little like a cocker spaniel exploded as the chenille created lots of little yarn pieces floating around. The vacuum was used twice in the construction of this single sweater!

The pattern instructions were great, and I used my serger for nearly the entire project. Preparing the collar, attaching it, and hemming the sleeves required my regular machine. One word of warning: a pleated sweater knit collar is bulky and requires patience. I broke 2 serger needles today (I think from pulling too hard on the knit as it was exiting the serger) during the pleated collar fiasco, but I should know better. The pattern runs a little big, so cut on the small side. I cut my normal Burda size and could've cut a size smaller. Also, if you choose to go with length D like I did, you may want to add a couple inches in length. I cheated and serged the edge, but didn't actually hem it, because I like the length exactly where it is. Shhhhh, don't tell.

*Note: This sweater knit is very drapey, so the collar doesn't fold and pleat like the pattern picture, but it still lays nicely and is comfortable, not constricting.

The sweater knit is fabulous. I have to admit, when it first arrived I thought, "Bathroom rugs? When did I order bathroom rugs?) but it's so superbly soft, I quickly knocked the shaggy ideas from my head to forged ahead. Yes, it's messy to work with, but it's so freakin' soft... with the collar style I chose, it made me feel like I was totally wrapped up in my favorite fuzzy scarf.

So, if you're looking to try sweater knits, go for it! And this pattern is a winner, I'll definitely be using it again!

On a side note, I've been MIA for a couple weeks with other responsibilities. Embroidery's been a biggie, and I had a special project that had top priority. I work with an amazing lady that I've actually known for 20 years (she was my world history teacher when I was in high school) and she's been diagnosed with ovarian cancer for a second time. Last Friday, the staff showed her our love and support by wearing teal, the color for Ovarian Cancer Awareness. I volunteered to make staff t-shirts honoring her, and she also requested a special shirt of her own. 30 t-shirts later... we raised over $600 from staff and student donations towards Ovarian Cancer Research, and shared a very special day with a very special lady. Below, you can see the shirt I made her and the shirt I made for the staff. We wore our hearts on our sleeves...

Friday, November 14, 2008

McCall's 5662 - diy style

I'd seen a positive review of this top by Erica B, so I gave it a shot using this knit I purchased through the co-op. If you love the fabric, it's also available for sale at Gorgeous Fabrics.
The print makes it hard to see the details, so here are the features of the top.

1. V-neck overlap
2. Small gathers right and left of center front, both above and below the fitted mid-section.
3. 3/4 kimono sleeves gathered into cuffs.
4. The "V" has good coverage (i.e. no camisole required, in my opinion).

It's comfortable without being dowdy (my dressform isn't doing a great job of selling that point, is she?) and I love that I will be able to wear it with black, brown and white (after Memorial Day, of course!).

The only alteration I made was to take in the mid-section and additional inch on right and left sides, as the fabric was stretching too much. Not only was it too big in the waist, but there was no need for gathers!

This is a close-up of the mid-section, so you can (kind of) see the small gathers left/right, above/below the fitted waistband.

The back is full coverage, no gathers anywhere. Other versions in this pattern have more open backs, and I will definitely use this pattern again in the summer!

I might still shorten it, but need to try it on with skirts and pants before I decide.

Here's my review on PR.

Pleating on the Copper Dress

Reading the instructions that BWOF provides can be a real adjustment for any "visual" person, like myself. It takes me a few read-throughs, then a few more with fabric in hand before I'm ready to stitch, so I thought this visual pleating procedure might be helpful for anyone trying this pattern. Keep in mind that I didn't use a woven like the pattern recommended, so I used fusible interfacing to "lock" the knit in place, then I proceeded with the pleating instructions.

The Burda instructions read:
"...mark 7 lengthwise pleat folds on wrong side of fabric pieces for waist sections. Space first (top) fold 4cm from upper lengthwise edge of fabric piece, then mark 6 more folds, spaced 3 cm apart. There should be 5 cm left at bottom edge of fabric." I have extra space at the bottom because I wanted to work with a larger piece, and trim it down after all the pleating was finished.

"Use a fine needle and fine sewing thread to transfer fold lines to the right fabric side with basting stitches."

"Press all folds (on right side of fabric), except for the top fold, and baste exactly 1 cm from each fold edge with small hand stitches. Press folds down." Here's where I strayed... I can't stand handstitching, so I used my machine. Most of the stitching is hidden, but if I had to do over again, I would've sucked it up, and done the hand-stitching to really make the work invisible. I pressed them all, including the top one.

"Press top fold and lay downward over basting of second fold." I stitched on the wrong side to make this pleat lay flat. Pressing, pressing, and more pressing (especially because this is an interfaced knit) is how I ended up with such a nice, flat result. And, you have to do all these steps twice... once for the front panel and again for the back.

I've gotten some wonderful feedback on this dress, and I don't want anyone to get the wrong impression. I really do like it, and think I need to impose a 24 hour waiting period on posting after completing a garment! It's like when you try a new recipe, and do all the preparation and cooking, that by the time your ready to eat, you're tired of looking at it and smelling it, and you're mind plays a little trick on you. "Is it good, or do I just think it's good because I went to all that work making it?" Maybe not... maybe I just hate to cook!

Monday, November 10, 2008

BWOF Dress & McCalls Jacket

I've finished the dress and jacket I'll be wearing to my nephew's wedding next weekend. I'm happy with the outcome... not thrilled, but happy. Why not thrilled? I should've adjusted the hem of the jacket to account for removing the ruffle, and while I like the front of the dress, I'm not crazy about the back and I can't get the hem to lay flat. It's times like this when I wonder... maybe I should've just gone shopping instead. When I came out to model it for the fam, DH said "I don't like the jacket" and little Miss D echoed, "Me neither, Mom." Well, gee... thanks. Love you, too...

Anyhow, the dress came together well. It's BWOF 09/2008 #132. The instructions were good, the pleating was a PAIN IN THE BUTT. Next time I post, I'll show you details, but for now I'll just say it was time consuming. Part of the problem was that the pattern called for satin for that mid-section, but I couldn't find any to match the copper silk jersey I'd already purchased. So, I used fusible interfacing and pleated the knit as if it were a woven. It's a perfect match, but a tad on the bulky side. I really like the center front and center back gathers, I little place to hide some baggage without the maternity look.
Want a good laugh? Can you believe the bodice was supposed to be split all the way to the pleated band? Are you crazy? Heeeeeeelllllllll no. Stitched that sucker up, pretty darn quick.

I also shortened the dress to knee length, and used a knit swimwear lining under the skirt, but used the left-over silk jersey for the bodice lining. Oh, and I skipped the zipper. Yes, you read that correctly, I skipped the zipper. When I realized that the knit midsection allowed me to slip into the dress without opening the side seam, I got really lazy, really fast. And I will admit, the thought of putting a zipper into all those pleats made me a little nervous (all that matching and all that bulk).
The jacket was the bolero version minus the ruffle. In my previous post, I got some fabulous feedback and decided to keep it simple and let the fabric do the talking. Well, I should've extended the hem to produce a little more coverage, I feel like the jacket is pretty much 2 sleeves and a back! It will serve it's purpose of covering my arms during the 40 degree day, and will probably be shed when the dance floor opens at the reception! I lined the bolero with some copper dupioni. I like to think I'll wear the bolero with other things, but all I can hear in my head is Chris Farley in "Tommy Boy" singing, "Big guy in a little jacket"... I really need to step away from the Halloween candy.

Anyhow, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Once I've purchased the proper footwear, apply makeup and curl my hair, I'll share pics that don't intentionally chop my head off. Promise...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I Need Your Advice...

My nephew's wedding is next weekend, and I'm having some issues with my outfit!

My dress is underway, so that's not the issue. I'm making BWOF Sept. 2008 Dress 132, and I'm using a gorgeous copper silk jersey. I love this fabric, it's so soft and silky, but I have to admit... If chiffon is like sewing on air, then silk jersey is like sewing with water! I shortened the dress to knee length, and fell in love with the color when I saw it everywhere this fall!

Anyhow, the weather here in Michigan is unpredictable, and I've bought fabric to make a jacket to wear with the dress. This fabulous hand-painted silk dupioni (both fabrics came from Haberman's Fabrics in Royal Oak, Mi purchased at the American Sewing Expo this year!) is a perfect match, but I'm not quite sure what style jacket to make.

Option 1. A Bolero using McCall's 3033. I like style C.

Concerns: Will the edge ruffle compete with the pleated waistband on the dress? And, I'd like to be able to wear this with more than this dress (dress pants or jeans), do you think it would work?

Option 2: Use a different jacket/shrug pattern. I have 2 yards of 54" wide silk, and my body style (pear) combined with this gathers on this dress make me think I need to choose a shorter style that will end at the waist or above. FYI: the skirt joins the pleated waistband at the waist. Maybe a Chanel style neckline (no lapel) with a shorter hem and sleeve length?

Option 3: Forget the painted silk, and use a black suiting from the stash to make a jacket.

Keep in mind I have 10 days to get these pieces done! The dress is going well, so I'm not too worried about that. I should be ready for the jacket by this weekend.

Any and all ideas are welcome... please help me decide the right style to complement the dress and the fabric!