girl on fire

Back during Me Made May, one of my takeaways was that I should stop sewing things that aren’t my favorite colors, because I usually am disappointed with the results. Well, two months later… I completely threw that out of the window for this dress. But for once, I think I like this!

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See, I’m really not a pink girl at all. (Though, to be fair, this really looks fairly akin to the berry color of my last Bruyere top up close.) And I feel like orange is iffy on me, though I’ve gotten some surprising compliments when wearing it in the past. But when looking for some fabric for this maxi pattern that I’d just picked up, McCall’s 7350, this ITY that was on clearance at Fabric.com just screamed to me. It seriously helped that the colorway was called “Katniss”. Associations with fandoms that I enjoy never hurt if you want to take my money. And I thought that this pattern had sufficient drama to suit the Girl on Fire, at least in one of her more casual moments out of the arena.

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It’s a good thing that this fabric was so inexpensive, because I bought 5 yards of this stuff and used all but maybe half a yard. But I got the whole lot for just under $16, and it doesn’t feel like cheap polyester at all– it has a nice silky feel to it that kept me quite comfortable while wandering around between my side and the New Jersey side of the bay. But it is a fabric hog, at least as the maxi version. It’s hard to tell with the print, but there is a lot of gathering in the back. More than it would have had due to some fitting issues (more on that later), but it does give the skirt a nice swishy fullness. The cut-on cap sleeve worked nicely to keep my shoulders from getting burned while walking around, and while the skirt is a wrap in the front, I didn’t have too much difficulty with keeping the wardrobe malfunctions away– I just had to hold the one edge down every so often. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the ITY sewed on my coverstitch machine, too, after all of the issues I’ve had hemming the same type of fabric on my regular sewing machine. So since I have two more cuts of it in my stash, sewing them up seems much more accessible now.

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Twirly skirt drama! And now for more of an actual pattern review than I’ve had a chance to give for awhile, as I did end up making several changes. For one, knowing the Big 4 ease issues, I had a really difficult time figuring out what size to even cut out. After much debate and studying of the finished measurements, I decided on a 16 for the bodice and an 18 for the midriff and skirt. But then after trying it on partway through, I ended up taking a full inch out of either side of the midriff and tapering that up into the bodice. (Just like old times, since I always had to take stuff in at the waist pre-kids, so I actually felt good about this!) This meant that the front skirt overlapped more than it called for (which was probably a good thing for wardrobe malfunction avoidance), and the back skirt was more gathered than intended, but I think it worked out well.

20180720_184848I also raised the armscye half an inch after reading some reviews that said that it was a little too open under the arm, and this was a good change to make. It’s still a tiny bit low, as you can see from my selfie here, but my bra isn’t showing. It’s probably not quite visible here, but I did also add some additional zig zag stitching on the ruched midsection to help keep that a little more in place. The last time I had a ruched jersey piece on a dress, the weight of the fabric just made it look all weird and saggy around my waist, and who wants that? Part of me wishes that I’d added a line down the middle, since it still has a bit of that droopy cummerbund look, but I am glad that I added it where I did (around the more internal set of notches).

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One more selfie, to give a better view of the neckline. I did overlap this more than intended, because I was fairly certain that my bra would have been hanging out as is. At the very end of making this, I also added a hook and eye to keep this more closed. Too bad I didn’t have this last summer, because this view would have been quite nursing friendly! The way the collar was constructed was kind of funky, and I ended up having to hand stitch it in place inside because I could not figure out a better way to do it, but this sort of drapey shawl collar actually turned out pretty nice.

A few quibbles about the pattern, aside from the couple of things I mentioned:

  1. This was ridiculously long. I am not short (5’7″, so I’m on the slightly taller side of average), and I still had to chop a whole 6″ off of the bottom in order to not have a dramatic train happening. Which would have been cool, but also super-impractical with two little boys running around.
  2. The aforementioned collar construction, since I’m a little concerned about how my hand sewing will hold up in jersey, despite trying to give it a fairly stretchy stitch.
  3. I wish there had been some alternate way to add the elastic to the inside waistband mentioned. The instructions they gave to make a casing within the seam allowance, would have worked fine if I’d been constructing this entirely on my regular sewing machine, but since I’ve mentioned that my machine tends to not get along well with ITY, I was using the serger rather heavily. Which meant that I had to just zig zag the elastic to the overlocked seam, and it looks super messy inside and barely keeps the weight of the skirt in place. (I probably could have tightened it more, and may have to go back and fix that in the future, but after ditching a full 2″ from the circumference, I was having to guesstimate with the elastic pinned around where I thought it would land as it was. And the cardinal rule of dressing for anything where a wind instrument will be played is not to cut off your ribs’ ability to expand.

So would I make this again? I’m not sure I would as a dress, as there honestly isn’t a ton of room in my wardrobe for dresses these days. Making this one just felt frivolous and fun, which was a nice change after working on several wardrobe holes in a row. But now that I have the fitting more or less worked out, I could see myself making the shorter version as a tunic top of sorts, because I bet it would look great over some skinny pants or a more fitted short. And if I have learned one thing this summer, it’s that I definitely could use more sleeveless-ish things in my life. It’s been super-hard dressing for all of the humid, 90+ degree days lately!

I’m never wearing a bikini bottom again

IMG_7006Because I have shorts!

Seriously, this is really exciting for me. I have a lifelong hatred of swimsuit shopping, and the biggest reason is that the bottoms never quite matched my coverage comfort level. I’ve always felt that I had to get the boy cut to cover my entire backside, because the thought of my cheeks hanging out does not make for a relaxing beach day, but still wasn’t happy with the thigh coverage or how wide they make my hips look. So I’ve spent a lot of beach time in my life wearing my (often jeans) shorts over my suit, which was much more mentally comfortable for me than physically comfortable. I’m also super picky about the top. I generally like tankinis, because I get the coverage of a one piece without having to fully strip every time I need to use the toilet, but it’s hard to find those with bottoms that I’m happy with.

I knew a swimsuit would have to be attempted this year. I just didn’t have one that fit anymore, except for a hand me down, unsupportive one piece that was frankly embarrassing to wear. When I saw that Jalie has a shorts pattern with a built in swim bottom, it sounded like a dream come true!

So I bought the pattern, along with a one piece that looked a little more interesting and supportive than their tankini top. And the rash guard top, because I am descended from all of the palest people on earth and I’m tired of always missing a spot somewhere on my back or shoulders and getting burned! (I’ll be honest, I was seriously tempted to just use that as the top, because I will never wear just the tankini top outside now, but I wasn’t sure how to build the necessary bust support into that.) And a few pieces of swim knit from Cali Fabrics. I was hoping for an SPF fabric, but couldn’t find anything in colors and prints that I liked, and this blue and green abstract print was singing like a Siren. Of course I couldn’t resist.

IMG_7007The shorts came together pretty easily, especially for a first attempt at swimwear. The hardest parts were wrestling the elastic into something resembling submission, and that I still haven’t quite worked out tensioning on my coverstitch machine. But I think the finished results look good, at least when it’s on. (Thankfully, you can’t see the elastic stitching on the built in briefs, because that is a mess. My elastic technique needs practice.) The waistband construction is pretty clever, and it has pockets! I never want a normal swimsuit bottom again.

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The top is ok. Hacking it into a tankini top was easy, all I did was cut it off right at the leg hole. I like the twist front, but wish the cups were better. The swim cups I was able to find (from Joann’s) are a bit unnatural in shape, at least for me, and I honestly couldn’t figure out how to sew them in with good placement and the very open mesh I was able to find to line things. I’m telling myself that since they’re still removable, that will help with washing. But I do think that whenever I need a new swimsuit, which hopefully won’t be for awhile, I’ll look for a different top pattern. Like one with cup instructions. And maybe more bust support.

The other two changes I made to this were to hand stitch the twist so it would stay in place, since it kept slipping below the seam it was meant to cover, and to cross the straps in the back. I had the length, and figured it might help with support.

IMG_20180613_223737I did a little hacking on the rash guard, too. My main reason was that the zippers were all too long or too short. Every time I’ve tried pulling plastic teeth off, the edge is a frayed mess, so I decided to go with shorter and change the neckline to compensate. In retrospect, that was probably the best move anyway, because I’ve never liked clothes that are too tight around my neck. The turtlenecks I sometimes had to wear as a kid were torture. So I basically shortened the neckband, drew a sort of curvy V neck down to meet the zipper, and topstitched around the whole thing with the coverstitch machine. (See that whole triangle of the wrong side of the fabric? That’s all filled in on the original pattern.) I initially had a lot of trouble with the zipper installation, since the fabric was soooo stretchy, but a little piece of this roll of interfacing-like stuff that I found in my cart of sewing essentials made it sew in like a dream after that.

IMG_7013As for the fabric, I was very happy working with the print, as it had just enough texture to keep it from sliding all over the place. The solid black does have a shinier finish, and was a lot more slippery. I also used some meshy stuff for the lining bits, but severely overestimated how much I needed since I was basing my estimate on a fully lined one piece! So I’m not sure what to do with nearly 2 yards of beige powernet… I guess I’m set for life if I ever want to make skintone bras. Sigh.

Aside from the top, if I were making this again, I think I’d loosen the elastic around the internal briefs just a bit. And buy as little of the mesh as I could have. But aside from that, I’m overall pleased. I made this without any size alterations (using size Y). It’s a little whiskery in the shorts, but since they’re just meant to get wet and that will probably straighten it out anyway, I’m not going to sweat it. I did test this out yesterday for an Independence Day gathering at my in-laws’, who have a pool. It didn’t fall apart (yay!), the shorts didn’t do a lot of irritating riding up like the boy cut bottoms I had before often would, and I did successfully avoid sunburn (except for one teeny bit I missed near my scalp. Arrrrgh. #palepeopleproblems)!

IMG_7017 I can actually see myself getting some extra use out of the shorts and rash guard patterns, to be honest. The shorts could easily be used for workout shorts/bum around the house shorts, if I’m ever so inclined to make those, with the brief left out. (The pattern does actually suggest that, as tennis shorts.) And if I could find an appropriate fabric, the top could work out very well for hiking, I think! Which is something I’m trying to get back into, as much as I can with the age and listening abilities of the boys.

 

The long awaited Landers

IMG_6959As promised! I’m very pleased at how these turned out, especially since this is the first garment I’ve made that has a fitted waistband in about 3.5 years. Fitting pants has been a scary thought for me, with all of the changes that my body has gone through. I’ve honestly been having trouble resigning myself to my increased belly curviness and waist measurement, even if it’s for the best possible reasons. (One of whom is photobombing me here.) But since I only had about two pairs of shorts with varying degrees of actually fitting, by which I mean belts are a must, this was a necessary experiment.

I did have to make quite a few fitting tweaks, as you know if you follow my Instagram. (See above for an example.) My original plan was to make a wearable muslin before cutting into this super fun denim, but it quickly became apparent that it needed too much work. I had to take a  small wedge out of the center back seam to avoid the gapping, which I expected. But I also had to take some serious length out of both the front and back crotch curve altogether. I know it’s supposed to be high waisted, but it was just soooo saggy. I think that I’ll add a tiny bit of length back into the front crotch the next time, though, because these are just a little uncomfortably snug when I’m sitting, particularly in the car. Not enough to be a dealbreaker for this pair, but still. I also had to let out the hips quite a bit, so it’s a good thing that allowances for that were included in the pattern. I added several inches of length to the legs as well, because short shorts aren’t my thing.

IMG_6989But look at the results! I’m a fan of the patch pockets on these, the size is perfect for my phone and I like the 70s vibe. I also am digging this fabric. It’s an Art Gallery denim that my mom gave me at Christmas, and just basic/neutral enough of a print that I can experiment with some print mixing. I actually have about 2/3 yard left over, so I’m debating whether I want to try to squeeze out a skirt or mix it with another denim to make a jacket. The jacket would be cooler, but coordinating the denim could be tough. We’ll see. I like the texture of the fabric and it seems to be good quality so far, so I’ll have to keep an eye out for more. As for the buttons, they’re vintage, from a collection that my grandmother gave me while downsizing her stuff to move in with my parents.

IMG_6963This was my first time making a True Bias pattern, since I’m probably the only user of indie patterns on earth who hasn’t tried the Hudson pants or Ogden cami yet. I was pleased with how clear everything was in the instructions, especially since this was my first time making a button fly as well. I’ll likely get the zip add on at some point, because these will definitely get made again. In fact, I already have a piece of lightweight black twill marked to make the pants, so I’ll have to see if I can knock them out for the fall. I do think that the cleaner zip look might be good for that pair, since I often wear black pants in music performance contexts.

As the only pair of shorts that fit without constantly hiking them up, these have been in heavy rotation this summer. And it’s definitely a boost to my sewing/body confidence that I can still fit a non elastic bottom piece. Which is good, since I’m seriously itching for some me-made jeans in my life again!