Sunday, June 21, 2015

McCall's 6659: Tapered Pajama Pants

I have had very little time for sewing lately. I have been working very hard towards a big promotion at work, which I just received, I have been focusing more on being active with my family, and I took a trip a few weeks ago with my oldest boy to visit family. It's been busy but very good. In the last 6 months, I have managed to make a pair of pajama pants. And I love them!
Pattern Description: McCall's 6659, view G, is a tapered-leg, elastic/tie-waist, cuffed-leg pajama pant.

Pattern Sizing: I made size 16, which was one size smaller than my measurements. I don't like my pajama pants with tons of ease.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Other than that I used cotton flannel instead of satin, very much so!

Were the instructions easy to follow? I had no problems at all, and I'm a fairly beginner sewer.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I wanted to try a cuff just because it was something that I was curious about and had never done before. I also liked the idea of a tapered leg. My legs are quite slender and I can feel a little dumpy in giant pajama legs.

My only dislike would be that for pajama pants, these are a lot of work. Double-layer cuffs, button holes, piping... but it pays off in the end product!

Fabric Used: Flannel for both the blue and the pink check. The piping is silk charmeuse. When you only need 1/4 yard, it's easy to justify! I cut it on grain. I knew I wouldn't really need to curve it and was willing to risk it.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I lengthened the legs by 3 inches, but then ended up trimming a little off the bottom. I'd probably go with a 2-inch change next time. (I prefer a long inseam. Gotta keep those ankles warm!) I also shortened the rise by 1 inch. I cut this directly off the top since I wanted them to sit below the natural waist.

I also added pockets. I stole a pocket pattern from another pajama pant pattern and made it work. I may never go back to pajama pants without pockets.

Beware the length of the ties! I started off with the length of elastic and tie recommended by the pattern, and with the tie almost entirely out of the buttonhole, the pants still weren't tight enough. So I massively shortened the elastic and it's much better now.

Techniques used: I sewed all the exposed seams as french seams, including the pockets. (Thanks to Sew Mama Sew for the fantastic tutorial!)

I attempted to sew a bit of a thread tack at the top and bottom of the pockets to reinforce those stitch points. I'm not sure this is really what this stitch on my sewing machine was meant to do, but we'll see how it lasts. So far so good!
The pattern calls for understitching for the cuffs. I forgot to do them in the pockets as I went, but added it afterwards and it made a big difference.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I definitely will sew it again. I have fabric on the way to make two more pairs assembly-line style. I highly recommend the pattern if you're willing to take a little extra time with a pair of pajama pants.

I was really pleased with the piping on one leg, the other didn't come out quite as cleanly. I also was happy with the matching on the check. Matching patterns is probably my most intimidating task in sewing these days.
I was pleasantly surprised by how easy the buttonholes were, once I realized the best way to rip open the hole was with a seam ripper (and a pin at either end) instead of shears.
I took these pics without help, and my head was cut off. My apologies, but sometimes I just have to go with what I have instead of waiting for perfection. The fronts make me look a little hippy, but I am quite unhippy and don't mind.
The sides and the back are very flattering. Love that hint of pink from the pocket peeking out too!
Conclusion: Love them! And I feel so sophisticated and fabulous wearing them! That's saying a lot for pajamas!
Frivolous photo: Last weekend my husband started working on cleaning up our laundry room and didn't stop until it was done. When my oldest was born (almost 5 years ago), we found ourselves asking over and over, "Where can I put this so he doesn't get into it?" The laundry room was a natural choice, and before long it became the tossing-ground for anything not needed for the moment. I wish I had a before picture. The pile was about 18" deep with a sort-of path to the washing machine and dryer. When I woke up the next morning, I had a sewing room! With natural light!! No decorating to speak of, but a place where I can leave projects in-work without having to put every last bit away. Yay! A thousand thanks to my darling husband!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Plum Medieval Dress: Finished!

I finished the medieval dress that I have been working on for more than a year in time for this year's Halloween! And it was gorgeous! I was so incredible happy and proud wearing this dress on Halloween!
The pattern is Simplicity 2573, view B.
Instead of the binding, I added seam allowances and sewed the bodice to the lining. I hand stitched the trim, grommets on the dress, and the hem on the dress. The underdress has french seams everywhere I could swing it. The lacings in the bodice are leather. The dress is a rayon/wool blend. The belt is silk charmeuse with a bracelet for a ring. The bodice is lined in china silk and the underdress is linen.

This is the first dress that I have ever sewn and I am so extremely proud of it! Anyway, more pictures:
One of the reasons that I picked this dress for my first ever complete dress was because I knew that the design would require little-to-no fitting. However, as you can see in the picture above, I probably should have done some kind of an adjustment to the back. There was apparently too much fabric in the back, although I am not entirely sure what one does to fix that sort of thing.

I wore the costume to work and got tons and tons of comments. One coworker asked if I would be willing to make one for his wife. I went full-on Selfish Seamstress and said "No way!" My favorite interaction of the day went something like this:
Girl: Whoa! I really like your dress. (pause) Oh, it's a costume.
Me: Yeah.
Girl: Where did you get that?
Me: I made it.
Girl: Oh. (pause) How long did it take you to make it?
Me: About 40 hours (some additional explanation about hand stitching that wouldn't be necessary...)
Girl: I would totally wear that dress.

I also got loads of compliments on the color. And on my headpiece (which I had made for my wedding).

There are a few other posts with more detail on my blog here and pattern review is here. Thanks for stopping by!
Frivolous photo: My lovely boys went as minions for Halloween. I blogged about the hats I made earlier, but had to share this amazing picture from Halloween itself.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Halloween Minion Hats

Firstly, my 2 and 4 year old boys are very into Despicable Me right now. So when I saw an idea for DIY minion hats for Halloween costumes on the internet, I got a little excited. I'm quite pleased with what I ended up with!
I used McCall's 7012 as a pattern for a beanie-style hat, which I sewed up in yellow fleece.
This was my first time sewing with a knit, and I think it went pretty well. I used a long, narrow zigzag stitch, which only gave me problems with getting precise ends to the dart legs. The pattern called for a single layer folded up and stitched through to essentially hem the hat. The inspiration post called for two layers of fleece sewn together. I went with two layers and removed 1/2 inch from the inner layer to account for the turn of cloth.

For the eyes and goggle straps, I cut felt and attached with hot glue. For the goggle rims, I used canning jar lids. This was my first time ever using hot glue, and my fingers can tell you: it is hot.
As I was finishing the first hat, my elder boy said, "I have to go get my minion shirt!" He ran up to his room and came down with the only yellow shirt he has. So cute! Then he said that his brother didn't have a minion shirt and, "That's ok, we'll take turns." Long-sleeve yellow shirts are part of the plan, as are G logos for the overall fronts. For now, I'm just glad that I completed the sewing. The boys are really jazzed with them.
Frivolous Photo: The boys and I participated in a run/walk associated with the local children's museum a few weeks ago. I walked/jogged a 5k and the boys walked/ran a 1/4 mile "toddler trot." It was a really great time.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Stitch Fix: August 2014

This blog is ostensibly about sewing, but fashion is a close cousin, right? Bare with me as I diverge a little bit...
I decided to give Stitch Fix a try. My wardrobe has been woefully thin since I went back to wearing non-maternity clothes about a year and a half ago. I was pregnant and/or breastfeeding for 4 straight years. During that time I bought pretty much no new clothes that were not maternity or over-sized normal clothes. Now that I'm back into my pre-maternity clothes, I'm finding that items are wearing out and some just no longer fit my style. On weeks when I haev to work 5 days (I have every other Friday off), I am inevitably scrambling and bumbed with the options that I have for that fifth day. I have winter and summer items that get worn week after week after week. And at that rate, it's only a matter of time until those items wear out. Oh, and go shopping for clothes? My boys are 2 and nearly 4. Going shopping is a very rare occurrence.

Enter Stitch Fix. I recently stumbled on the service that provides a personal shopper, clothes delivered to your door, on an as-requested basis. It seemed like a nice fit, so I decided to give it a try.

I gotta say, Stitch Fix is fun.

There's just something about getting a package in the mail that has been selected specifically for you. It was like Christmas, even though I had to pay for anything that I decided to keep. And that's coming from someone who was not terribly impressed with what I got. But let me get to the fixes...

The first item is a silk chevron striped henley. I was very impressed with the quality of the fabric, and especially the price of this item, but unfortunately I just wasn't pleased with the way that it looked on. I had mentioned within my Stitch Fix profile that I have been wanting to wear clothing tucked in, but haven't had any luck finding styles that looked flattering. My stylist suggested wearing this shirt tucked into a pencil skirt. I also tried it untucked with pants, but it just wasn't doing anything for me.

Decision: Returned.
Next up was a mixed crochet, silk, and something stretchy tank in all black. I loved the style of this top, in terms of the mixed textures and see through elements, but the shape was terribly unflattering. There was a crochet band right in the middle that stood out from my body quite a bit and made me look way bigger than I am. I definitely tend towards an apple shape, so I especially sensitive to anything that makes my middle look bigger than it is already.

Decision: Returned.
Third is a tribal-print embroidered tank. I really like the fit of this shirt, and think it looks really flattering on, but I just wasn't excited about it. Nude and tribal is not my style, and it felt a little too casual for work. Would have been a great weekend top, but not what I'm in the market for. Not if I'm not in love with it anyway.

Decision: Returned.
Fourth and last of the clothing items in my fix is a knit maxi dress. I had mentioned that I am in the market for a maxi dress, and had pinned to Pinterest a blue and white striped maxi from Banana Republic. I felt like this was very flattering, but was again concerned that it was too casual for the office. However, what decided against this dress for me is that the stripes were all over the place where they connected to the band. This is the kind of thing that I probably wouldn't have ever noticed before I started sewing. But now, there is no way that I'm spending my hard-earned money on something that is this poorly constructed. And it was the most expensive item in my fix!

Decision: Returned.
Finally, there was this gorgeous silver-toned hammered bracelet. I was very pleased with this item. It feels contemporary and stylish without being in-your-face. However, I was a little torn because I don't do much accessorizing normally. In the end I decided to go for it.

Decision: Kept!
Overall, I was pretty disappointed not to have any clothing items in my fix that I liked enough to keep. I was especially excited about the idea of having a maxi dress. I'm still in the market for one... I had in mind a classier level of clothing than what Stitch Fix provided. More polished, more powerful. I had noted in my request that I have way more bottoms than tops to wear with them. I felt like my requests were listened to, but that they just didn't get the right tone.

I'm hopeful that giving Stitch Fix more time to learn what I like may be worthwhile. I love the idea of having someone out there finding choice pieces for me, of not having to go out shopping for clothes, and of being stretched to try new things. Part of my problem with finding clothes in my post-pregnancy world is that I just don't have a strong sense of style. My body is different than it used to be, even though I weigh less now than I did when I got pregnant the first time. Styles have changed since 2009 when I first got pregnant, and I'm very unsure of what will actually look good, and more importantly feel good, on my body. I love the idea of trying on clothes in my own home, with clothes that I already own, and sending unwanted items back without additional cost. And I sure hope that Stitch Fix can figure out my style without me having to tell them specifically the articles of clothing that I want to buy (not all blue and white striped maxi dresses are created equal). We'll see. For now, I'm willing to give it another try.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Embroidered Linen Wrap Dress: Well, it's a skirt anyway

So, I did finish up a skirt made up from the tie and skirt pieces of the dress. It sits very low on the hips, but it works. I think it will do nicely with a sweater in the winter/early spring.
I'm not totally satisfied, but I was very proud to wear it to work this week!! My first ever sewn item worn to work. Hooray!
Frivolous photo: I recently tried out Stitch Fix for the first time. Way too fun... more to come soon.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Embroidered Linen Dress: Wadder?

Well, I got the bodice of my embroidered linen dress assembled yesterday. I was super impressed with the finish and how beautifully I was able to sew all of the seams, etc. However, the bodice just is not working for me. I had stitched up a quick muslin, but wasn't checking for anything other than to ensure that there was enough room in the bust. There was, so I barrelled straight ahead. My pattern matching was nothing to write home about. (How do you match patterns across different pattern pieces anyway?) But the thing that really killed it is that it just doesn't fit me well. It is baggy, the shoulders are too wide, and there are twelve layers of fabric at the waist. I was excited about a dress with a defined waist, but, with an apple shape, 12 layers of fabric at the waist is... problematic to say the least.

Waaaaay too much fabric in front.

What waist?

It doesn't look terrible, but I know myself and I just wouldn't wear it. At this point, I'm thinking hoping that I can salvage a skirt out of it at least, since I am so majorly in love with this print and tie.

Frivolous photo: The first blossoms have appeared on my tomato plants! Yay!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Embroidered Linen Dress: Tie Construction

I decided on "beetroot" charmeuse from Mood for the tie. Can I tell you? I am in love with this fabric. I want to have one of everything in it. I want to live in it. This is definitely my color this year. It really makes the blue of my eyes pop and I just love wearing it.

The pattern called for the ties to be cut on the lengthwise grain, but I wasn't interested in buying 2 yards of silk just for a tie around my waist. So I cut ripped it on the cross grain instead. For the longer tie, this meant that I needed to splice two lengths together. I had done this once before on an improvised tie for a maternity top. I used my quilting ruler to draw a 45% angle on the intersection of two lengths pinned perpendicular to each other.

Then I stitched on that line. I was pretty pleased with my accuracy!

When turned to the right side and pressed, it makes one continuous length with a strong angled seam.

I trimmed and pinked seams and trimmed the corners down tight.

I sewed the seam allowances of the join down into the seam allowance of the tube. I decided it would make the join seam stronger. Then I used a fancy tube turner tool to flip the tubes right-side-out.

There is a hollow tube that goes inside the tube, all the way to the stitched end. Then there is a stick that fits inside the tub that is used to start the turn into the tube.

I am very pleased with how these ties look, however, I do have some pressing marks... You can see it at the top of the tie in the picture above. the pinked edge of the seam allowances is showing through. I thought pinking the seams might help to blend the seam allowance line, since it would be at different lengths. I think next time I would use some sort of interfacing. Also, I wasn't sure how to apply the pressinatrix's pressing rules on a tube, and didn't look for help on the internet until I had already trimmed the seam allowances. So my seams aren't as perfectly pressed as they could be. Next time I will press the seam allowances back before I turn the tubes.

Frivolous photo: My husband and I packed the kids off to go camping in the mountains not too far from home a couple of weekends ago. It was in a wonderfully wooded area. I could have moved in. The kids were fabulous! The biggest challenge with camping in the mountains near Denver is that the lows will be in the 40s even at the height of summer. In the morning, we had to get under a blanket to stay warm.

In other sewing news, I am close to having my medieval dress and my cloak done. The cloak just needs a hem and the medieval dress only has the trim left to add (and an underdress to sew up). Seems too close to the finish line to share photos...