last gasp of 2013…

here are the last of my 2013 makes… my oldest daughter, Anastasia, is not a girly girl. she frowns at ruffles, frills, and anything pink. i bought this double knit in a color just at the edge of her acceptable range of purple and sewed up the anywhere dress from goto patterns. it’s a perfect dress that goes.. well… anywhere. essentially this is a t-shirt dress with sleeve length variations. since i used a double knit i cut one size larger than she measured.

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i typically do all my knits on the serger, but this time i went with my regular sewing machine for a majority of the construction. most of the seams don’t really need the stretch, so i’m not concerned about popped stitches. and if a stitch does pop, well duh i sew. also, i find that double knit is just too bulky for serging since you can’t press the SA flat.

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an odd thing about this pattern is that you are supposed to finish the neckline with a very large facing that extends most of the way down the armholes. while i kinda get the rationale of the giant facing (keeps the facing anchored and free of flip-ups) i decided to make a more standard-sized facing. now, i know you’re probably thinking ditch the facing entirely, genius! so hear me out—i do think it’s a legit neckline treatment, especially on a thicker fabric like a double knit. i serged the facing to the neckline, under stitched it with a zig zag, then topstitched about 1″ away from the neckline edge with a stretchable stitch. i have seen this in RTW and think it provides a nice clean finish. were i using a thinner fabric, i would probably go with a neck band, but it’s nice to try out alternatives finishes.

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to break up the solid color, i used a contrasting thread for topstitching. i have such a hard time with the twin needle on double knits (i always get skipped stitches!) so i used one of the decorative stretch stitches. overall this is a nice pattern, and one i will be coming back to many times. it comes in a huge range of sizes so the $9 price tag is very reasonable.

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for a completely different look, i also made her a slouchy dolman sleeved knit tunic. i picked up this crazy (and kinda ugly in a good way…) fabric from joanns, of all places. it used to be that i couldn’t find any knits there that weren’t 100% polyester, but lately they’ve been stocking a few nice ones. i believe this is a cotton/rayon/spandex… or maybe just a rayon/spandex… can’t remember anymore. while it’s great that they’ve been stocking nicer fabrics, the price tag is just so unreasonable! this was listed around $15/yd. what the whaaaat???? i seriously hate the “mark up to mark down” thing that goes on in US retail. fortunately they frequently do mark down by 40-60%, so i got it for a reasonable price. i make an effort not to over-buy on fabric, but i failed to consider the giant repeat, so i was pretty limited in terms of pattern placement. i just barely squeaked this out while matching side seams.

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i used the flashback skinny tee as my base and eyeballed a dolman-sleeve, using the sleeve pattern piece as a guide. i lowered and widened the neckline and added 1″ to the length and added a wide hem band to make sure it was long enough. turns out i didn’t really need to add extra length to the original pattern, it’s quite long as is. she’s pretty in love with this top, and i think it’s fun for that 80’s slouchy vibe that is kind of her jam at the moment. who am i kidding… i’d wear this top all the time too!

—lisa g.

here begins the quest for great-fitting jeans

the holy grail of sewing (other than a couture wedding gown) would have to be jeans. jeans have been on my to-sew list for a long time, but frankly i was slightly afraid of failure so they kept getting pushed to the side. recently i picked up some $2/yd stretch corduroy on a crazy sale and decided to finally give jeans a try. i went with the ever-loved jalie 2908. i’ve made this pattern for my daughter twice and had great results, so i got to tracing off my own size.

(sorry about the awful pics… this dark color is super hard to photograph, so i overexposed the pics in order to see the details i’m talking about.)

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right now i’m about 75% happy, so i thought i would talk fitting. i’m not a pants-fitting expert, so what i say here is simply my own personal experience, and stuff i’ve picked up from fitting books. feel free to chime in if i say something that sounds totally off!

to begin, i wanted skinny jeans (i know… i’m using corduroy, not denim, but we’re just calling them jeans since they have the same stretch and design details) so i took some measurements from my everyday jeans to give me a starting point. the pattern is already fit with negative ease through the thigh, so most of the tapering came from the knee down. i did have to bring the back outside seam in a little right before the knee, but from there i tapered in symmetrically. i also added 1 1/2″ to the length. the leg shape i’m happy with, though i may try to reduce the under-bum wrinkling.

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now for some crotch talk! ugh, can we as the creative type come up with a better term than crotch??? for realz people. this needs to happen. anyways… off the bat i added a wedge to increase the back rise by 3/4″ (i’ve seen this called a “full bottom adjustment” hahaha the only FBA i’ll ever need!). this worked well, and the overall crotch seam length i’m happy with.

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so what’s this 25% i’m not happy with? i have this wedge of fabric just kinda hanging out below the fly. it doesn’t really show up in pics the way it does when i’m looking in the mirror, but this is something that definitely does not occur in my RTW jeans.

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i think i have two issues here: one—the pants aren’t sitting close enough in the front, and two—i have a “prominent thigh” pulling the fabric out, which is more obvious in profile.

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i think if i adjust the front crotch curve to be flatter, most of my issues will be solved. reducing the front curve will inadvertently add width to the front of the leg, making room for my prominent front thigh.

the waistband on this pattern is the straight cut, fold over type. it is cut on the bias and interfaced with stretch fusible. i didn’t feel like messing with a new curved waistband, but i will on my next attempt. by the time i got to the waistband i knew these were in “wearable muslin” territory so i didn’t sweat it. for round two, i plan to baste on a straight piece of muslin, then take darts in around until it sits flat, and use that to draft a custom waistband. i understand jalie’s idea of keeping some stretch in the waistband, but i just don’t think it will ever keep its shape.

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obligatory back shot… pear much?

as far as sizing, i cut the size corresponding to my hip measurement. my waist falls about 1-2 sizes down, so during fitting i took 3/4″ out of the CB, and another 3/8-1/2″ total from the side seams. the rule of thumb is choose a size based on your toughest to fit area (hip/thigh) and make simple adjustments to the rest. realistically i think i have a handle on what i need to do next, and i’m very optimistic! for further authenticity, i ordered some rivets and tack buttons (from taylortailor.com). i put one rivet in on the coin pocket to see how it worked and it was kind of a hassle. i think i’ll have to pull out the drill to get a good clean hole for the rivet post.

anyone else trying out jeans? sometimes i feel a little nutty going to all this trouble, but in all honesty i’ve always had to settle for good enough in RTW. with that in perspective, it’s not so nutty. in the words of the always inspiring Carolyn… “be your own sweatshop, yo!”

on a completely different topic, i want to introduce my baby sister, Monica to you guys! she shares my sewing obsession and we constantly talk sewing and consult each other when we need opinions. she’s been sewing for several years and just started up her own blog called seams right to me. her first garment post is an archer button up, so obviously she has great taste. if you feel inclined to add another blog to your reader, go show her some love!

—lisa g.

me too, me too!

so i’m a little behind in my year end post… i blame this horrid cold/cough/sinus infection i’ve been battling for the past… forever. christmas day saw me curled up on the couch with Nathan cooking me christmas dinner. hey, it’s not a holiday around here unless i’m sick! sigh… i’m finally getting better (yay!) however, most of the sewing i wanted to squeeze in while Oliver had his siblings home to entertain him just hasn’t happened. grrrrrr!

sewing-wise, 2013 was a pretty good year for me. i made a concerted effort to sew everyday wearable pieces and my efforts paid off tremendously. i worried that blogging about these non-flashy, non-excitement inducing pieces would be a complete snooze fest to the average reader. however, i have been pleasantly surprised to discover that a whole bunch of readers not only share my interests, but also let me know that they find it inspiring. i had no idea this would be the case. in fact, my readership grew at a faster pace than ever, so i guess finding my niche was a good thing. warm fuzzies for all!

i’m just going to do my top 5 hits… so hard to narrow down, but here goes!

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minoru jacket—i love this jacket so much… so much that i want to make another in a darker color so i can wear it with everything!

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moss mini denim skirt—the moss skirt is a great basic to have in my wardrobe. i’ve used this pattern four times and it is so versatile.

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chartreuse thurlows—you all know my love affair with the thurlow pattern, and these shorts are by far my favorite and the most worn. i had no idea they would go with so much in my closet, but they do!

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chambray archer—i don’t know how i ever got dressed without this archer. chambray is so awesome! i frequently wear it with my poorly fitting leggings (mmmm so need to make more leggings with a better pattern…), and it always looks great with my patterned skirts, or even tied at the waist over dresses… basically i super love this shirt.

silk blouses—okay, i’m cheating here, but i made these tops at almost the same time, and i love them both. they are comfy, dressy, casual, and generally awesome. must have more!

honorary  mention…

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hemlock tee—this is probably my most reached for knit top these days. it’s drapey, it has long-but-i-can-still-wash-dishes sleeves, stripes, and so on. i needs to have moar.

i chose these as my top makes because i wear them the most. i also made several dresses this year that fit into my everyday wardrobe, but these are my staples! also, i didn’t include sewing i did for others, because then my list would have been much longer! 🙂

so how about some stats? if you check out my 2013 page (which i’m not done adding to yet…) i have

62 garments/items (some posts have more than one piece)

2 yet to blog

13 not blogged

which gives me a grand total of 77 sewn items.

i’d say that’s a pretty good year. the unblogged things almost always end up on instagram and include a few kid tees, kid pj pants, and the like. i really love instagram for those in-progress shots, unexciting FO’s, and just daily life. in case my blog mis-represents me, i think that gives a better sense of my life. i’ve read enough “i’m really not perfect, i just make it look that way” blog posts to make me think that readers appreciate a real look into life. in that vain vein, i also joined up on twitter. oh hell, i swore i never would, but i finally caved. i’m still working out what my name should be, but as it stands i’m using @lisagnotes. i haven’t set up my page, it’s just a big ‘ol blank, but i’m sure i’ll be addicted in no time!

thanks so much for reading my little corner of teh interwebs, and happy (belated) 2014 to all!

—lisa g.