Completed: My Nemesis Blouse (a Fall for Cotton project)

This project almost cost me my sewing mojo. September was in general a bad month and I’m still recovering from it. One of my problems is that I always have big plans, and as I’ve seen in past months that I could make four projects in a month, I wanted to make four blouses this September and present one of them to the Fall for Cotton. The blue puppies fabric was burning a hole in my stash and I needed to make something for it. As I thought it was going to be something fast I decided to dedicate the first week of the month to it. That first week I also worked and finish my Calimero. And then Koen left for Paris, work started to come in tons and everything went to hell. I blame for it the pattern but also the amount of work I’m having lately, leaving me exhausted to be able to accomplish anything afterwards. And yeah,  also being home alone leads to watching too many episodes of Doctor Who for my own good.

I wanted to make a couple of 1950s blouses and I had two beautiful fabrics for it. One of them was 100% cotton (bought at Telaria) so I decided to work with that one first to be able to finish in time for the Fall for Cotton. If the result was good, the plan was to make the same pattern again with the other fabric. Because you know, I could make four projects and I was going to have a lot of time to make both blouses and then something else. Ha, I can be so naive…

After browsing for patterns for a while I decided to get this blouse pattern from Embonpoint Vintage.

original_design

I thought of buying the McCalls 7378 that Zilredoloh made but I couldn’t find it anywhere, and I didn’t find any other pattern that I could get on time, so a PDF pattern was the best option I could have. In my innocence, I thought this pattern I chose was going to be something simple. A drafting method couldn’t be that difficult, since I’ve already drafted some patterns myself. And the description said something like:

This is not just a pattern, it’s a drafting system, so once you own this, you can draft yourself a pattern IN ANY SIZE (from a 20 inch bust to a 69 inch bust). Whether you want this garment for a doll or a plus-sized person you will be able to make this fit perfectly.

The drafting system is so simple a child could do it. There’s no complicated math, it is literally “Join the Dots”.

But it ended up being more complicated than I expected. It’s a similar method to the Lutterloh System. You get a ruler and using that, a measuring tape and the patterns in a very small size, you should be able to draft your final pattern on any size. After buying the pattern I wanted to see other finished projects with it, but found none. In fact I only found a couple of finished projects based on other patterns in the Facebook page of Embonpoint. I checked on Pattern Review and nothing, just a thread in the forum but no projects based in any of those patterns. That should have discouraged me, but you know, sometimes I’m so brave that I’m almost stupid. After fiddling for a couple of days with the pattern I couldn’t wrap my head around it so I sent a message to Omega to make sure that I got things right. After a couple of messages I got it all clear and started drafting (the part I hate most from sewing) and a week was gone. We were already in mid September. I tried drafting the pattern several times, but I couldn’t make it work. Basically you get all pattern pieces printed out on a page, so each piece is maximum 2 inches tall. There are some lines extending from those pieces and you just have to prolong them depending on your bust size. The problem is that the initial size is so small that it’s almost impossible not to introduce measuring and angle errors. I drafted the front bodice but the neckline looked weird even after trying several times, the length was a bit too short and the shape was definitely wrong.

After some more days ruminating (and stuck again) I decided to cheat completely on the method using digital tools from the 21st century, opposed to the ones of the 20th. This is what I did:

  • The pattern and instructions were several pages and I just needed the very page where the pattern was, so I used a PDF printer to have a pdf file of that page.
  • I imported that PDF file into Photoshop and place each pattern piece on a separate file. After measuring the pattern on paper and doing some calculations, I increased each file by 1100%. In order to print it in normal A4 paper I drew some lines and inserted the character ‘A’ to help me align the pieces after printing them out.

photoshop_sleeve

  • After printing those out, I put them together. As the lines were a bit thick and fuzzy I re-traced then with a black pen to make them sharp and added seam allowances.

  • I measured the pattern pieces again to make sure that they were going to match my body measurements. So far so good. Time to cut them out.

I have to say that this personal method worked for me but may not work for you. I’m also not sure what happens with the proportions when using the “conventional” method but your bust size is larger or smaller than let’s say my size (33″). I guess that in any case you have to be careful about the length and use the slash and spread method when necessary.

After making my first muslin I discovered that the shoulder was 3/4″ wider on the back piece than on the front. Weird, especially taking into account that the back piece was narrower than the front so I don’t think this was distorted. I checked the original image (the tiny one) and the same discrepancy was already there. C’mon, why do you have this kind of things in the original pattern? I changed the front pattern piece to make the shoulder match the back since this suited my shoulders better.

As you can see in this first muslin, the front is fine (it just needed longer tucks) but the back feels too tight, especially if I move my arms, so I needed to make a broad-back adjustment (too much Capoeira). After giving it a bit of thought I also made a sloping shoulders alteration (1/2″).

I ended up adding a couple of centimetres on each side and it turned out fine.

After trying my second muslin to make sure that my previous alterations were right (sorry, I got no pictures of this one), I tried the collar and saw that the collar piece was to large for the neckline. Weird, again. I trimmed a good two inches from each side and re-drafted the collar.

The tucks also needed alteration, since the blouse looked baggy on me (like the portrait blouse) so I lengthened them and made them narrower to be able to breath.

One thing to take into account when using these patterns is that you will find no notches or pattern pieces for the facings. You are on your own for most of the process. Drafting facings is easy, and you can always make a notch to match the middle of the collar with the middle point of the back piece, but for the rest you need to eyeball it, even for setting the sleeves in. Luckily this was not too difficult, since the sleeve cup was less than 2 inches longer than the armscye. For setting the sleeves in this post by Tasha of By Gum By Golly and this Youtube video were very helpful.

After the pattern was drafted and trued I cut my definite fabric and started constructing the blouse. I used French seams after the big success of the Blue Puppies Blouse (I’m never ever going to use another thing on blouses) and decided to give it another 50s touch by using a contrasting black fabric for the collar and the cuffs. I know that the finished garment looks like a 50s waitress outfit but I don’t mind. I like it like this. I imagined this blouse just with that light pink fabric and it stroked me as dull.

After placing the collar on the definitive blouse I understood that the neckline was too short for my neck. I should have seen that earlier and made the neckline bigger, since the collar looks a bit too short. It could have been that the original collar was just right, but then it didn’t match the original neckline. Weird stuff again. Anyway, I’m never going to wear this blouse completely closed so this mistake is something I can live with.

For the join of the sleeves and cuffs I used flat felled seems. I think it looks much neater than just joining them with a regular seam.

When cutting the collar pieces I trimmed 1/8” of the bottom piece outer edges to make the collar roll properly.

My finished blouse has two extra buttons at the bottom not present in the original design. I guess that if you just wear this with a high waisted skirt it’s just fine, but it just felt wrong being able to see my belly button when trying this blouse without tucking it inside my pants.

And talking about those buttons, making the buttonholes gave me more than a headache. It seems I didn’t get used to the 1-step buttonholes of my machine and I got them wrong many many times. If anybody could just give me a piece of advice I would really appreciate it.

The back is still a little bit baggy, but I guess you always have a bit of that when using tucks for shaping.

All in all, I like how this blouse came out. I’m not very happy with the collar since it’s a bit too short and I would have liked it to be more “evident” but for a first try and with no guidance from the pattern whatsoever I think it’s not too bad. Now I just wish I had also made a black pencil skirt or circle skirt to go with it. I guess it will be for next Spring, since the temperature here dropped quite a bit this weekend and I think Fall is here to stay.

I feel happy after having this blouse finished for good. The result is decent and I have learned a lot. It was a burden on me for the past three weeks and I’m finally free to go on with my life and work on other projects!

I think I’m just going to celebrate it with the one that was my happy song for a very long time.

Completed: Calimero

I don’t know if you remember an old TV show for kids called Calimero.

I confess I didn’t watch this during my childhood since the first series was too early for me and the second too late (I was already a teenager with other things in mind).

But when Elizabeth proposed me to test this pattern, I thought the name couldn’t have been more appropriate. With dented edges, this cowl reminds us of the broken eggshell Calimero used to wear.

It’s very nice and cozy as a hat, with the possibility of attaching a pom pom at the end (something I haven’t done yet), although you can leave it unattached and it’s still very wearable. If you fold the lowest part you will get double thickness and really warm ears. Believe me that I was suffering that day. It’s still quite warm here in Madrid, and the least thing you want is wearing something wooly around you!

But my favorite way of wearing it is as a cowl. I have issues sometimes with cowls, because I have a thin neck and drafts can get inside them and make me shiver. With this cowl this won’t happen. There are four different sizes based on the size of your head, but you can always adapt it if you happen to have a thinner neck since the finished cowl is very elastic and you can wear it folded hugging your neck.

Sorry for this picture. I was busy taking the photos when my sister called and I spent some time talking to my niece Paula. She will turn 4 in December and she is such a smart ass. While we were talking my sister went out for some minutes to let the dog out and my niece was complaining because she couldn’t open the windows to see her mother (they live on a ground floor) and my sister had taken her keys, so “you know, auntie Elena, if she had left the keys I could just go out and look for her”. Luckily my sister was back in less than five minutes.

It can also be worn like this, and it seems such a good idea for those very cold days of winter. I remember when I was living in Belgium, I used to get headaches just by breathing the cold air through my nostrils. I always had to cover my nose to avoid that. Another reason to cover my nose and mouth is that cold air affects me A LOT and makes my asthma worse. I’m so happy that I have made this cowl!

The pattern is very easy to follow and it’s supper easy to memorize, so it’s a fun knit for those evenings in front of the TV or while being a passenger in the car. The garter stitch can make it a bit repetitive, but it’s a pretty fast knit and so relaxing after confronting a complicated lace pattern, a hard day at work or any other inconvenience.

Following this pattern is so easy that I failed to spot something that was missing in the pattern. Luckily another tester realized about it, but we were some who completely overlooked the mistake. That’s what you get with easy to follow and memorize patterns!

And you know, this cowl is even fantastic if you just want to hide from the camera!

This pattern has just been released today and you can purchase it via Ravelry here. You can also check my Ravelry project here.

Bunking off

Yes, I’ve done it. I had sewing class today and I decided that I was not going. My to do list this week is rather large. I thought that since I was home alone I could entertain myself by doing all those things, but it seems not working. I’ve postponed the drafting pf a pattern for three days, I skipped sewing class, I didn’t finish tiding up the living room, clean the bathroom, create a Ravelry group nor take pictures for the test knitting I finished on Saturday. What a disaster. I guess the PMS and the tons of work I had lately are not helping. Today I spent half an hour with my boss on the phone, four hours with some German customers and the rest of the time with a load of work. Yesterday I had problems to sleep after watching three episodes of Doctor Who in a row (no wonder I had strange dreams about people who were not who they were supposed to be – oh, yes, the Master! – ). I work from home most of the time, so it means that I spend many hours at home. And if I had a hard day at work I just want to get out, so no Raverly groups nor pattern tracing nor cleaning anything (except for the kitchen, ha!). I needed to get out and I needed to move. A. LOT. Get tired, sweat, suffer. So I went to Capoeira class instead. It cured my headache, my PMS and I think tomorrow I’ll be able to fold the clothes that are on the sofa right now and start tracing the pattern that will become my project for the Fall for Cotton. Exercise can be like a drug.

The picture below was taken one year ago. Who could have thought that I was going to get addicted to this?

capoeira

I’ll be back in good shape soon and will write creative posts again. Just allow me some time to put my body, mind and apartment in good order.

Completed: Blue Puppies Portrait Blouse

I finished this blouse this morning after driving Koen to the airport. He’s going to a conference in Paris with some of his colleagues. It was very rewarding to see him yesterday evening packing his Jedediah pants and his Émilien cardigan among all the rest of his clothes. I’ll be home alone until Friday and it feels strange. Before being together I lived alone for almost two years and it felt great.; I really enjoyed independence, having my time and space for myself. We started dating in March and in September it was time to renew my apartment contract. He moved in and we’ve been together since then. That March was five and a half years ago. Our first year we lived in 30 square meters and survived. We complement each other very well and I got so used to him that I never regretted leaving behind my life alone. It’s going to feel very strange to be home alone these days.

Sooo, to fight the lonely blues I spent the rest of the morning sewing and giving the last kick to this blouse because it was taking too long (c’mon, a week for a blouse is just too much). After the nice pictures Koen took of me just on our street I had to do it again by myself (timer, tripod and running) so forgive me because I look bad in these pictures.

The pattern is from Gertie’s New Book For Better Sewing. I bought that book in mid July and I studied it from beginning to end during our trip to Belgium on the first week of August. I have to say that I loved the book. It’s true what other people pointed out that some of the garment look weird on the pictures, but that doesn’t discourage me to try to make them myself. This is just my first garment from the book, so I cannot say a lot about the others, but at least this blouse fit me with almost no modifications. Gertie based the sizing on her own body and she likes her clothes fitted, so be prepared for that. Something that bothers me a bit was that she didn’t include the garment finished measurements, but as she explains, that can be deduced by the pattern pieces, so at the end it was fine. I cut a size 4 for my bust and a size 6 for my waist and the fit was spot on. This blouse has tucks instead of vertical darts and that is the only thing that I had to adjust, since the blouse looked a little bit baggy on me. Probably I could have done a FBA but I found that slightly modifying the tucks worked for me. For the front I prolonged them 3.5 cm upwards and for the back I eliminated the bottom 6 cm but added 8 to the top (does it make sense?).

The construction was fairly simple so I decided to complicate it a little bit more by adding French Seams that make the blouse look a lot more neat on the inside.

It was my first time doing it and I will definitely do it again. They provide a nice finishing when dealing with thin fabrics. Talking about fabrics, this one was one of those that I bought in Vigo by the kilo. It was a 1.5 m piece and it probably cost between 2 and 2.5 euros. It’s not 100% cotton but I would say there’s cotton or rayon in it (the burn test was not conclusive). It’s quite light and feels breathable. I’m wondering about the origin of it, since one of the piece ends shows a different print. Maybe the end of a piece?

Another new technique that I tried here was inserting a lapped zipper. I read about it in the book but I’m a visual learner and this Craftsy course gave me the final clue. It doesn’t look perfect but just because I omitted the interfacing and that’s absolutely my fault. Now I know for next time what I shouldn’t do.

Anyway, when it’s closed it’s barely noticeable so I’m fine with that. If all my problems were those…

What gave me hell were the armholes. You are supposed to make kind of faux rolled seam and mine look like India (my mum’s dog) just came to pay me a visit and chew on them (and the neckline for that matter). Oh, I miss her so much.

India
India on my bed with my handbag as a pillow

I found very difficult to sew them like that since the lower part of the armhole in the pattern doesn’t form a 90º angle (it’s larger than that), so when you sew front and back you don’t have a beautiful and continuos curve but an ugly angle (has anybody had this too?). Well, it could be because I don’t have much experience, but sewing that was one of the things why this project took me so long. If I make this next time, I’m going to change that in the pattern so those angles feel right to me. Also, after wearing it for a while, I wish I had more room in there so I’m definitely re-drafting these next time.

I was going to add facings to the neckline but this fabric is so thin that I could see the white interfacing through it and then there was the matter of finishing the edge, so I opted for bias tape. It doesn’t look super neat but it’s just fine for me. OMG, I hate hand sewing and I think you can see that here.

This blouse also looks nice tucked inside your pants (can you see my Thurlows here?) or your skirt, but bear in mind that it’s a tad short so you may want to lengthen it a bit.

Overall I’m quite happy with this blouse and especially with the new techniques I learned. And don’t you love those blue puppies?

Blue puppies are the best! Can you see that I’m a dog person?

Completed: Jedediah Pants

I finished this last Wednesday, but we didn’t have time to take pictures until Saturday and I couldn’t write a post until now. Work is piling up…

Koen was asking for a pair of pants for months, so when the Jedediah pants were released, I knew I had to make them. I showed the pattern pictures to Koen and he was not very convinced about fitted pants, since he’s a cyclist and has powerful thighs. He has problems fitting pants there, so he usually buys a larger size and then he gets a lot of gaping at the waist. He wanted wide and comfy linen pants, and what is it better than making your own clothes if you really want a customized fit? His measurements were for a size 36, but I graded to a 40 in the thighs and from above the knee (the shorts line) I cut them straight. After trying a muslin, walking, sitting a crouching for 5 minutes, he was happy with the fit.

He bought the linen fabric himself when we were together in Vigo. He was lovely there choosing fabric 🙂

We had enough fabric to make the pockets of linen too but he especially requested them to be made of the same fabric as jeans pockets to make them more durable (that same fabric I used to repair one of his pockets). And off corse, he also requested bias binding made with that same fabric (that’s what you get when your boyfriend not only listens to what you say but also shows an interest in it ).

As his back pockets also suffer from wearing his wallet, he wanted them to be lined with the same blue fabric.

But let Koen show us the pants details.

After the first picture I told him to tuck his t-shirt inside his pants to show them in all its splendour.

As you will notice in this pictures the pants look a tad too short. I swear I had a moment of horror when I saw it. When it was time to hem the pants, Koen made a fuss of it. He wanted to wear these pants with sandals and he didn’t want the bottom of the pants to get caught under his heels. I think when he re-fastened his belt again he pulled the pants a bit higher than in that first foto, so it’s fine. He’s been wearing them for a couple of days like he always wears his pants: with his wallet and his keys, so I have to say that he was right and the hem comes a bit lower like that; so at the end they have the perfect length.

I would have liked to have notches on the waistband to help placing it, but at the end it worked without problems.

Contrary to my first hand-made pants, the zipper here went like a bliss thanks to the wonderful video tutorial Morgan made. And those of you who are afraid of sewing fly zippers should go there and bookmark it. Thanks, Morgan!

What gave me hell was the fabric. I had nightmares pressing it and cutting it. And it frayed like crazy. The fly looks ok now, but it took me almost tears to have it laying flat.

I made flat felled seams for the inseams and side seams. It’s a bit hard since you have to fiddle a bit with the leg and the sewing machine but it’s possible, and the linen and the widened pant leg helped here. The seat seam is a faux flat felled seam, since I could not visualize for the life of me how to do it right. I knew that I had to make a cut between the seam and the fly and I was afraid of ruining the pants, so I followed Morgan’s advice and did a faux one.

And now a gift for the eyes 😉

We took these pictures on Saturday morning, and he’s been wearing this pants the whole weekend. He’s in love with them. He says they are so comfy that he doesn’t want to take them off.

Completed: Lady Skater Dress

This Lady Skater Dress is the dress you’ve seen on yesterday’s post. These pictures were taken just before the ones with the Miette Cardigan, and you can see it because my hair is still wet from the shower (although it dried fast with the heat we still have here). I confess I wanted to make this dress since I saw Lladybird’s version.

Contrary to what the designer recommends and to what I’ve repeated to myself several times, I didn’t make a muslin. This fabric was the cheapest cotton knit fabric that I found nice enough to buy (still, 11€/m). Something that I would like to wear but something not so precious that if I didn’t get a perfect fit would make me cry for nights on end. And, honestly, how many people have at home cheap knit fabric for muslins? And the cheapo doesn’t stretch and recuperate in the same way as the good one, so why bother? Anyway, it’s very difficult to get knit fabric in the shops here, so anytime I need it I have to order it online.

As I didn’t make a muslin, the fit was not perfect, but good enough for me (knit fabrics are sooo forgiving). I cut a size 3, as my  body measurements suggested. I could have shorten the bodice a bit, since the dress waist sits 1 inch lower than my natural waist, but anyway, many RTW dresses and skirts I have fit like this, so it’s something I could live with. And since I like knee-length dresses I didn’t shorten the skirt, so I guess overall it’s ok.

What I was not very happy with was the shoulders and arms fit. I don’t have any pictures before I fixed this, but believe me, it was too loose there. Instead of doing things right (muslin, modify pattern, etc.) I just took half an inch at the armpit like you see in the picture below:

The pattern recommends using the “lightning bolt” stitch instead of a normal zigzag (what I used for knits other times) but my machine had problems with it, getting the fabric stretched out sometimes, so I used mostly zigzag anyway. I fact, sometimes I mixed both as you can see in the picture above. Not neat, I know, but I don’t own a serger and nobody will see it. I didn’t use clear elastic since it’s almost impossible to find here and some shops were closed in August (Madrid really stops during this time of the year). I just used regular polyester elastic.

Anyway, if you do things the right way, the designer explains some of the fit adjustments that you could need for this dress. In theory I should have shortened the bodice by 1 inch and probably cut a smaller size for the shoulders/arms part (or maybe the whole dress), but I think the result is decent enough for a first time. BTW, I love how the skirt flows with the wind.

Since I have a big bum, I also suspected beforehand that I would need a sway back adjustment. I have some wrinkles there but nothing too obvious to stop me from wearing this dress. Maybe next time.

As I’ve said, this was not the most expensive knit fabric I found, and I’m starting to see why. There are a couple of tiny pills, and where that happens, the print comes off, showing some very little white spots. I washed the fabric before making the dress and I don’t know how it wear out overtime. We’ll see.

A knit dress could be not as elegant as one made with a woven fabric, but they are so comfortable that I see myself wearing this more often on casual days.

Completed: Miette Cardigan

I finished this cardigan on Saturday morning and went out to take pictures (yay! I finished the cardigan on time for the Miette KAL). Just don’t pay attention to the dark circles around my eyes. We didn’t go out on Friday evening, we’ve been just at home watching a couple of episodes of Castle and drinking a glass of wine. But Autumn is approaching and weather feels a bit more unstable, and that means that this weekend I got my first headache in months. That was one of the things that I had very often in Belgium, where you never knew what to wear in the morning, since you could have sun, rain and cold all in the same day. Luckily I left those heavy migraines behind. Also my hair is still a bit wet. Not my best day.

But let’s go back to the cardigan. It’s the Miette cardigan designed by Andi Satterlund.

As you can see I’ve lengthened the sleeves a bit but not as the pattern suggests (just adding some regular knit rows). I have tiny wrists so I performed some decreases by knitting 20 extra rows just after row 53. Rows 5, 10, 15 and 20 are decrease rows  (k1, k2tog, k until 3 stitches before the end of the row, ssk, k1). After this decreases I have 8 stitches less than before, so the pattern for the next part still applies but with one repeat less than in the original pattern. For the rest I haven’t done any extra modification.

Knitting this cardigan was part of my plan of knitting more nice cardigans with a vintage turn to go with my summer dresses. I think this beautiful cardigan fits the bill. I didn’t especially enjoy knitting with cotton (Cascade Sierra is 80% cotton), but I have to say that it feels exactly what I need for this evenings of the end of August, so I’ll guess I’ll do this again next year.

I really likes how it wraps my body. I was not sure abut the fit while I was knitting it and I was worried about the non-elasticity of cotton, but I wore this cardigan yesterday for a couple of hours during our visit to an exposition about Méliès (the airco was a bit too high) and I love it. It feels perfect.

And you’ll be wondering about the dress underneath. Yep! I’ll tell you more about it in my next post.

My Ravelry project here.