Wait! Wait for us Jungle January!

Jungle January 2015
Just as the gate is about to close on another year’s Jungle January,
my pet Snakes finally slither their way into the party…

Thank goodness the party’s held in the Americas, affording me a few extra hours to get them ready. This year’s Jungle Pets are actually quintuplets. Or maybe that should be sextuplets since I manage to squeeze a couple of scarfs in too. Unfortunately two of the batch didn’t hatch in time. So all you’re getting are these two + scarfs.

I really must start next year’s Jungle Beasts early…Like in Jungle June or July?

Knitting Wadder no more (?)

Last of my 2014 make was a fix. With your encouragements I took the plunge & refashioned my Michelin Man sweater into a Wang S/S 2010 Wannabe. To recap….

I wanted to go from this:

to this:

And here’s what I ended up with

 

Alteration Notes

I didn’t bother with pattern this time. Just wing it as I went along. I did manage to take some photos along the way. Pictures worth thousands of words innit!

2-alter

The Verdict

As expected it’s still a brave silhouette to wear. Best on a feeling tall day. But because the sweater is so comfy I’ve been wearing it even on not my brightest days. So let’s call it a win even if the fashion police in you want to issue me a fine, okay?

SWAP Shrug BS 2013-11-111

Following through with my SWAP F/A 2014, here’s the long sleeve shrug from the mohair gauze leftover.

The Inspiration, Design & Pattern

My inspiration was a shrug that I found at some online shop the name of which eludes me now. I briefly considered shrug patterns that were essentially a rectangle sewn into a tube with a stretch in the middle of the seam left unsewn. But I thought either the sleeve will be too loose or the bodice too small, so I went searching for other options. Burdastyle 2013-11-111 pattern has a bit of shaping to it so I thought it might make a good starting point.

Style Shots & Mug Shots

Size Used

I used 36 this time, which is what the size chart would have me use. I frequently use 34 for a better fit. But because the pattern was designed for knit, and I’m using woven, I decided to go with the size closest to my Top/Dress Block for wovens. In this case it was size 36.

Changes Made

Fitting changes

1-patAlt-bs2013-11-111

It was quite a visual process this time, so I’ll let the picture do the talking. You can see how I’ve laid my Top/Dress Block + Basic Sleeve Block together to assess the Burda pattern and decide what needs changing. I think the changes might be due to my sloping shoulder plus the posterior position  & pitch of my arm joints.

Design changes
  • Added 4″ knitted 2×2 rib for collar / bodice extension.

Fabric & Notions Used

Construction Notes

  • Construction is pretty much the same as the Cowl-Neck A-line Sweater the Second. The neckline/back hem were stablized with Vilene Bias Tape & overlocked. The seams were stitched & 3-thread overlocked.
  • Collar/back hem extension is 2×2 ribs hand knitted with 2.75mm – 4.5mm needles, so it flares out without any increases to confuse me! :-) The casting on was again approx 8 stitches per inch & multiples of 4 (my rib pattern).
  • The sleeve hems I ended up hand-overcasting, then weaving in a few extra yarns near the edge so that they’re denser like the salvedge.

The Verdict

On the plus side I’m glad I added the knitted collar/back hem extension. This now feel more like a little bolero jacket that’ll stay on rather than detached sleeves that I might have to constantly tugged at. And the Oops…The sleeves on this one are a bit tight for something that’s a cover up. I can only wear this with short-sleeve & sleeveless tops. The fabric again makes it a delicate garment. And what’s with the mini-wings at my back armholes right?

I’ll wear this alright…if only I have more white / pale color clothing & accessories to go with it…

Cowl-Neck A-line Sweater the Second

Yeah! Second project from SWAP F/W 2014 done!

Style Shots & Mug Shots

The Design & Pattern

0-SWAP2014aw-dsgn

This was originally going to be a better fitting version of Cowl-Neck A-line Sweater the First. But I got a bit off track while muslining the pattern. I also blame Pinterest which stuffed other ideas into my head. Trying high (front) low (back) on the muslin convinced me that it’s a more flattering shape and works well with the A-line silhouette. And I thought long skinny sleeve might be a nice counter balance to the voluminous bodice & cowl collar.

Now that collar, erm, it ended up a bit floppy because I didn’t think it through. I kept thinking I don’t want a turtle neck look & did everything I could to avoid it. But I went overboard & ended up with this floppy funnel. As it’s knitted with a sticky mohair yarn so too late to fix. I think I can live with it. But I’ll know better for next time.

Block Used:

Tunic Bodice + Sleeve Blocks

Design Changes Made:

(The pattern was done before I corrected the armscye height over-tweaking. So the shoulder seams are still lowered.)

  • Widened neck opening & lower front neckline. This is to ensure the knitted collar band would be wide enough to hang like a cowl rather than a turtle-neck.
  • Curved bodice hem from just below hip at CF to just below bum at CB. This high low hem hopefully gives my shapeless frame some hip curve!
  • Added 7-1/2″ knitted cowl collar. This was flared from neckline seam towards the collar edge.
  • Added 2″ bodice knitted hem & 1″ sleeve knitted hem. These were straight (rectangles).

Fabric & Notions Used

  • Cream Mohair Gauze (?) from Mood NYC. I was hoping for loose sweater knit in cream, but couldn’t find any. This has the surface texture of one, but sadly not the drape. Maybe I should have used it for underlined & unstructured jackets like Puu’s Gerard Coat (which looks like the same type of fabric): It certainly would have made the fabric less delicate to wear! Mine I will have to treat with kid gloves. I already had a seam rip accident (patched now). Plus underlining would have protected my skin from its scratchiness. But as I had bought the fabric with the sweater in mind I stuck with the course. Next time I’ll know better.
  • Rowan Kidsilk Haze silk & mohair yarn in Cream (634). No matching rib fabric to be found so I thought I could knit my own since yarns come in so many different colors! Actually, it turn out not to be a perfect match. But squint your eyes & it’ll be fine. Definitely softer than the fabric & marginally less scratchy.
  • Vilene Bias Tape.

Construction Notes

  • Marking was difficult in such fluffy fabric. I tried cutting out without marking, but where I needed to mark I resorted to bad habit: the reliable if not always removable wax carbon paper – in red no less. Some cursing & stain scrubbing was unavoidable when the red marking refused to just disappear. Don’t do it. Thread trace if you need to.
  • The fabric portion was predictably easy. The neckline & shoulder seams were stablized with Vilene Bias Tape. The seams were stitched & 3-thread overlocked. The edges where I was going to add ribbing were overlocked to give the knitting something more substantial to cast onto.
  • Cowl collar and sleeve & bodice hem ribbings were knitted by hand.
    • Collar is 1×1 rib knitted with 2.75mm – 4.5mm needles (I avoided increases like the plague – too confusing – so made my way-too wide funnel by gradually upping the needle size.)
    • The hems are 2×2 ribs knitted with 3.25mm needles.
    • I started all with approx 8 stitches per inch, but ensuring I have the right total number of stitches for my rib pattern (ie multiples of 2 or 4).
    • Casting on was a bit of an experiment, none of which were entirely clean & successful. I forgot that unlike entirely knitted pieces there isn’t a well-formed edge here to hook my first row of knit stitches into. It didn’t help that this fabric is so loosely woven so wanted to fray with any tugging at the cut edges. Maybe I should have underlined the fabric at least at the edges. Or better yet, knit the ribbings separately then treat like purchased ribbing and overlock to the edges.

The Verdict

While not exactly what I had envisioned, it’s wearable. If only it wasn’t so delicate & scratchy then I’d feel comfortable wearing it more often. Next time I’ll wait for the right sweater knit to come along. Yeah, no chance of me knitting the whole thing from scratch. Way too slow & complicated & stressful!

The 2014/15 Janus Post

Hello everyone. I hope you all had a most wonderful Xmas & festive New Year! Or at least a relaxing holiday!

Mine was a bit stressful: First time catering solo for 7 (we don’t usually celebrate). Plus having to finish up cleaning & home decorating that I’ve been avoiding for ages. But none of that compared with losing my beloved Sewing Room to a visiting teenage boy (sob). I didn’t realize how attached I’ve became to my sanctuary from male messiness. For close to 4 weeks the door was literally shut. The few times I sneaked in to retrieve something or other, I found the room messy, stuffy, & festering with leftover food. I was in shock. The head knew it would happen, but the heart wasn’t prepared to witness it actually happening. I guess it’s just something that those with children get used to. Gradually. Anyway, I hope day or two of airing and cleaning once I get the room back will make it decent & welcoming again. At least no wild party took place in it I suppose. (Respect to all you parents of teenagers out there.)

OK, rant over. Let’s get back to year end review.

Looking Backward

I wasn’t planning on do a round up originally. It’s just too depressing how few projects I finished in 2014. I actually regressed, achieving 2 less than the year before…

2014 Total: 13 makes
Garment types
1 Dress
3 Tops
4 Skirts
3 Sweaters (not blogged yet)
1 Jacket
1 Bag
Pattern brands
9 Self drafted
4 Burda

Oh how optimistic I was back in Feb when I thought I could “easily whip up my New Year Resolution list of…3 pencil skirts, 3 straight skirts, 3 A-line skirts, 3 long sleeve woven tops, 3 short sleeve woven tops, 3 long sleeve knit tops, 3 short sleeve knit tops, 3 dresses, 3 jackets.” That’ll teach me to make NY Resolutions.

Could I at least claim quality if not quantity? While I’m proud of most of my 2014 makes design-wise, I can’t say they’re all that successful in terms of frequency of wear, which is my main criteria of success.

So the winners of 2014 are…

  1. Once again the Self-drafted Tote v2 took the top honor. Finished late in the year it still manage to get more use than all the others combined.
  2. Runner up has to be Franken BS 2013-11-117 Reversible Moto Jacket, despite it’s unwieldy floppy big collar. It has shape without the constricting innards, making it a comfy top-up for never-too-hot London.
  3. And my Self-Drafted Martin Margiela SS 1997 Wannabe Top / Jacket just about made it into the winners circle. Despite being a bit tight, I nonetheless insisted on wearing it (relatively) often. Because it’s neutral-ish, kinda of classy and kinda of edgy. Just my cup of tea.

And the 2014 misses…

The ones I’ve had time to stew on anyway…

  • While I do like how my Self-Drafted Flocked Denim Pencil Skirt looks, it was a mistake not to line this one. When I wear it with tights the front hem hitch up & get caught between my legs in the most unflattering way while walking. I’m not entirely sure why. My unlined RTW wool pencil skirt doesn’t do that. I haven’t checked if it also happens with the Self-Drafted Reversible Pencil Skirt. It doesn’t happen when I go bare legs. I could wear it with a half-slip. But I don’t own one & it’s a fussy solution. I rather just line the damn skirt & forget about it.
  • Franken BS 2012-04-128 Camisole‘s wart was always there. I’ve already talked about it & made peace with it in the write up. The new year hopefully will bring more successful heirs to the Camisole Saga.

2014 in closing

  • I think I’ve laid some good foundation for self-drafted patterns. So while they haven’t panned out into much wearable clothing this year, fingers crossed they’ll make 2015 makes more interesting.
  • I mentioned earlier this year about it being Year of the Skirt. And while I didn’t make 3 of everything, the skirts did win out by a miserly 1. So there, kept my word.
  • I still owe you 3 write-ups for 2014. These are the sweaters I managed to squeeze in just in time. Two are from my F/A Swap Plan. The other is the Michelin Man remade as promised. I’m just waiting to get my Sewing Room / Photo Studio back from teenage boy messiness first.
  • You can see rest of my 2014 makes in my new Finished Projects by Year page (minus the 3 yet to be blogged of course).

Looking Forward

Yeah, I’m not tempting Fate again by making resolutions. Yes I still have my F/W SWAP Plan. But I shall treat it like a menu to keep me from the paralysis of limitless choices & infinite possibilities. Maybe I will add S/S SWAP designs to the menu. Then however the weather changes and whatever mood I’m in I’ll still have a beacon guiding me down the road of …dare I say it…many many makes!

Next on my plate to make I think shall be knit block redux. I’m hoping to get a cardi block sorted so I can whip out 7 in a batch: 5 eminently useful but boring browns & blacks, 1 SWAP, and maybe even 1 rather tame entry for Jungle January. Wouldn’t that be great? Buys me time for half the year just in case productivity fall way down again.

one-piece-patterns

I’ve already drafted & muslined the defunct Stretch Pattern School’s One-Piece Block (with 12% horizontal & 0% vertical negative ease) as a starting point. Once I figure out whether their instruction works for me or not I will derive a 0-ease stretch block, then derive my cardi block from that.

And next on my plate to blog shall be my Tunic Block which one of the SWAP sweater is based on. Wish me luck that it’ll take no time to clean out, freshen up, & reclaim my Sewing Sanctuary!

Me-Made-Tote II

Yes, more straight line sewing coming up. And looks pretty much the same as the self-drafted tote I showed you a couple of years ago. How exciting right!

Me: Sweetie, how do you like my new handbag!
MR: Erm, isn’t that the one you already have?
Me: And? So?
MR: If you’re making another why would you make it exactly the same?
Me: Why because it was such a huge success! Why change something that ain’t broken!

I did not lie. The first one I’ve used almost every day for the last two years. I’m obviously no Fashionista. The same neutral handbag does me just fine regardless of the outfit.

the old girlBut that first one is now tatty. It was sort of a muslin. Most of the ingredients were from the Stash and not bought specifically for it. It frayed and peeled. The peeling got so bad that I cut away the bottom corner patches (only to discovered adhesive residue which now attracts all sorts of gunk). Even a Non-Fashionista has her limit. So sadly MMT the First was forced into retirement.

MMT the Second is the same basic design. But I took the opportunity to improve on a few details and on the construction process after learning a few tricks from Don Morin’s Making Leather Bags Craftsy class.

Mug Shots

Fabric & Notions Used

The Design & Pattern

1_pattern

The design is pretty much the same as MMT the First. The only changes I made were:

  • Made the bottom corner patches one-piece (rather than 3-pieces). This was to avoid really thick seams since the fake leather this time is thicker than the vinyl I used last time.
  • Simplified the lining pattern following Don’s example. So only front & back pieces that extends T-shape-like to cover the sides and bottom.
  • Simplified & change the internal pocket sizes. I found of the two pocket methods I used last time, the patch method with minimum ease worked better. And the phone size section was the most useful, so this time I went for 4 of those. I also added a section for a pen.
  • Added detachable elastic loops to hold the soup thermos upright on cold work days!
  • Used the fake leather for the handle this time to avoid unsightly fraying.

One change that I wished I had made was to have cut-on sides for the exterior pattern too so that there’s a side seam like Don’s example. It would have made sewing the zipper so much easier. I’m not sure the side front / back style lines are really worth the hassle.

Construction Notes

  • I highly recommend Don Morin’s Making Leather Bags Craftsy class. Even though I’m unlikely to use real leather (too heavy) I still found the class very useful and informative. The construction order was especially helpful. And the bag he demonstrated looks more like the type I’d buy. I find most other bag patterns a bit too crafty for my taste.
  • Orb Decoration: This should have been done before sewing started. But I didn’t have all the stamping bits then. So the illustrations show this step on a the mostly made tote.

    Ink-wise I tried stamping directly with the gold paint I wanted (on a scrap of course). But that left no mark on this fake suede. Neither did other pigment metallic gold inkpads I ordered nor fabric dye solutions from the Stash. The only ink that seem to work was the normal office inkpad I have lying around. I wonder if it’s a solvent based ink, which you’re not really suppose to with the polymer clear stamps that I got. I reckon once is not going to destroy the stamp. So I used it to transfer the design onto the fake suede, then paint over the design with the gold paint. Not perfect, but at least neater than my freeland drawing on MMT the First.
  • OK, I said I don’t do tutorials. But since I took some photos along the way to remind me how to make it next time I might as well share these…
  • Someone mentioned in Don’s Craftsy class that Fiebing’s Edge Kote + Mod Podge are used to create the professional sealed edge finish you sometimes find on RTW leather bags. I tried Fiebing’s Edge Kote on the trimmed Handle edges. But it didn’t create the sealed effect I was hoping for. Maybe it’s Mod Podge that does the trick. Or maybe my fake leather is too absorbent. Must track me down some Mod Podge next time and try again.

The Verdict

I’m fairly happy with the result. The sewing is neater than last time though by no means perfect. The orb design is also neater, less amateurish looking thanks to the stamped guideline. I do prefer the old bag’s coloring. But this one being brown again should still be neutral enough to go with almost everything. I’m hoping the furnishing grade fake leather will stand up to wear a bit better. At least I won’t have fraying handles.

So here’s to 2+ more years of unfashionable pairing of the same bag with every outfit days in & days out!

The Camisole Hunt…or BS 2012-04-128 was my Mom

When I was making the Georgette lace applique top I agonized over lining the see-through top or not. I’m not fond of the bra + transparent top look. Not so much because it’s risque as much as not liking how the horizontal band of the bra make my already short waisted torso look wider and squatter. Over a bustier or long-line bra would be OK though. But I wasn’t ready to tackle shapewear! So I settled on a more form fitting slip-like camisole that can also be worn on its own.

The Inspirations

My inspiration started out with the blue camisole above that I found on Etsy (can’t find it again). It turns out to be almost the same as a bias camisole that’s demonstrated in Draping: The Complete Course, one of the draping books I own. I tried to follow the draping instruction. But couldn’t get it to be close fitting without horizontal draglines across the front. Maybe I was using the wrong type of muslin. But trying again with the China Silk yielded no better result. And the cowl drape wouldn’t work for a camisole that need to work under other tops as well. So I decided to adapt the pattern I used for the Snake Print Dress I made earlier this year. After all, it was originally designed for chiffon cut on the bias, and is slip like with waist shaping.

Style Shots & Mug Shots

The Pattern

Size Used

36, the recommended size for me according to the sizing chart.

Changes Made

As I’ve already made fitting changes when I made the dress, I used the altered pattern as a starting point.

Design changes

I recruit Q to help me with this.

  1. First I used style tape (1/4″ black twill tape) on her to figure out the neck edges, hem, and internal seam / style lines I want.
  2. Then I pin fitted the Burdastyle 2012-04-128 lining pattern tissue on Q and pin out the drape on the front neckline. I used the lining pattern because it has less drape than the shell pattern, so less confusing to alter. I marked the alteration, the style line, and other alterations I wanted to make on the pattern tissue.
  3. Next I made the flat pattern alteration by pivoting and tracing onto a fresh tissue paper. The changes are:
    • Transferred the pinned out CF bust dart to the french dart by pivoting on the bust point. Judging from the front armhole gap and comparison to my Fitted Top Block, I might not have pivoted enough. But it was hard to tell with tissue fitting. When I tested this new pattern on Q it was quite snug already. Maybe I should have made a muslin for such close fitting garments that have lowered neck edge since the whole chest-boob area is such a varied landscape.
    • Moved the back dart towards CB to match Q / my Fitted Top Block. I wanted the straps to visually continue the line created by the back dart seam. I also hoped that closer set straps would be less likely to fall off my sloping shoulder.
    • Moved some of the waist ease from the F/B darts to the side seam to create a slightly more nipped in waist look.
    • Reshaped neckline / top edge per style line on Q.
    • Reshaped hem per style line on Q.
  4. Added Georgette band details to the front neckline & the hem. The neckline band pattern is per the style line on Q. The hem band is just bias strips.

Fabric & Notions Used

  • China Silk from B&J Fabrics, NYC. It was a toss up between this & the Charmeuse I used for the lace skirt. But since I’m cheesed off China Silk after a jacket lining made from it became tattered way too quickly, I decided to try to use up my stash of China Silk asap & not get anymore. It feels so smooth & soft, but actually is a bit, erm, bouffant, floaty. So I really struggle to think of designs that would work well in it. Anything requiring voluminous drape probably won’t work. But a slip top might be fine. And this is a nice ivory color that goes well with the Silk Georgette…
  • Silk Georgette from Borovick Fabrics, London for front neckline and hem accent.
  • Notions: Clear elastic; Small snaps
  • Sewing Helpers: Spray starch; Fray Check

Construction Notes

  • China Silk is a bit thin & translucent. So I decided to double it up with a self-fabric lining. That solves my neck edge seam finish in one stroke. No fiddling with facing or binding.
  • The translucency also means you see shadow of the SAs. So I kept most SAs skinny with 3-thread overlock seams. But for the shell layer darts I kept the SA because I like how their vertical wedges create an optical illusion of a slimmer bodice. I had to trim the deeper french dart SAs down to match the other dart SAs so the shadows will look intentional, and not just an oversight.
  • I picked overlocked seams because I thought maybe their stretchiness would grow with the bias seams and avoid puckering. The jury’s still out on whether it worked or not.
  • For hem I left the edges raw. Then sew the bias Georgette strip on the fold line to the shell about 1/2″ from the hem edge. The Georgette is then pressed downward, giving me a nice graduated transition from more see-through hem to relatively opaque bodice. I love the airy effect this creates!
  • Because I will be washing the top, so will need to press out the wrinkles, I decided to keep the lining separate from the shell at the hem. It’s easier to press each layer separately. But for dressing & undressing, it’s easier if the layers function as one. So I added snaps at the side seam hem to keep the layers together but separable.
  • Now the Oops…
    • Oh you d*** straps! Unfortunately setting them closer together in the back still didn’t prevent them from falling off my shoulders. I tried inserting clear elastic in them, having read about this trick on PR. But it only hoist the whole camisole up and the straps slip right off again. Boo. Maybe it’s because my top is so light and not skin tight. Perhaps that trick only works when there’s horizontal tension (like bra band) and/or vertical tension (like swimsuit crotch or weight of a heftier dress) to anchor the bodice and activate the strap elastic tension.
    • Gap-ahoy becomes puckering-ahoy. I really needed that muslin! As I said above, I might not have pivoted enough from CF bust to the french dart. (There actually was a small wedge left. But Q said it was tight enough already.) I only discovered this once the two layers were sewn together at the top edge. My only option was to undo & add another dart from the front armhole, OR add clear elastic to the top edge SA. Both are ugly. One’s a lot less work. Which do you think I went for? Next time I swear.
    • Sharp turn ahead. The Georgette band at front neckline really doesn’t work because of the sharp turn where it joins the China Silk. The style line looked fine on Q. So not a clue. Live & learn I guess.

The Verdict

Well, I like the hem? And the idea of the Georgette neckband too. But the execution is really a fail. Not enough though to make this unwearable. After all, it’s first & primary purpose is to exist underneath other garments. It looks fine under the Georgette lace applique top, and under a jacket or open front shirt. In short with anything that will hide it’s warts. So mission accomplished is all I can say.

But the hunt for the perfect camisole pattern continues…