Friday, February 18, 2011

Tracy Reese--Vogue 1224

I don't know if I am just slow to catch on or what, but jersey knit dresses are the way to go!  So comfy, so easy to wear--I'm in love with this Tracy Reese design for Vogue.

This one is not quite as cost effective as my Maggy London, but it's not bad at all.  Here we go:

Vogue pattern 1224:  $3.99 (on sale at Joanns)
Fabric :  $11.94
Elastic:  $1.25

Grand Total:  $17.18

I bought much more elastic than needed, and more fabric than needed, but used interfacing and thread that I had on hand.  Which means I can make a shirt for summer out of this fabric for free!

This dress was also super fast to put together.

Cutting fabric:  .5
Assembling: 1.5
Adding extra fabric which I then had to take off the bottom:  .5
Finishing:  .5 (including deciding on the shoes.  I really think I need some awesome wedge sandals to carry these colors through the summer)

Total:  3 hours--while watching The Social Network, which I don't really recommend.  But, like facebook, it's addicting.

Anyway, notes on this pattern:

  • Very wide neckline--next time I may bring it up in front a bit--in juggling kids and whatnot the neckline was all over the place and exposing.
  • I topstitched under the arm double the length marked on the pattern.  This didn't restrict movement or the sleeve shape at all--just made the armhole a bit more modest--like 2 inches more modest.
Sorry for the weird picture--I had to manipulate it so you could see.  The stitched line up the middle should have ended where the bulge on the black is--instead I extended it up further.  The stitching on the right is for the armhole.

  • I love love love the sleeves and double topstitched hem which I did right at the edge!
  • I lengthened the skirt by 5 inches, made the top, still thought it would be too short so cut double the casings (instead of just one for inside, one for outside too)  added the casings as a band and had to cut off 2 1/2 inches.  Awesome.  Anyway--this made it knee length on me.
  • I omitted the lining of the skirt and the toggles.
  • Even with the added casing, the waistline was too high.
  • My size is technically 12 with vogue (14 at waist)  I cut an 8 (12 at waist)
  • Next time:  Add 2 inches to top, 2 inches to bottom.  Raise neckline just a little.  

The back on my dress seems to be a little deeper than the pattern picture shows--but look how pretty the sleeves are!!

A couple more pictures:

Same topstitching extension and sleeve hem.  And random unattached thumb.

This shows the lower neckline better than the first picture--one wrong grab by my sons and it's a minor wardrobe malfunction!


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sewing for real life and other trials

I can sew whatever I want.  (True)

I should sew whatever I want.  (False, I mean True, I mean--wait--is this a trick question?)

My sewing life goes like this:

I am going to sew this:



and several other vintage pieces.  Plus some gorgeous Tracy Reese dresses.  And in silk.  And lace--yes I definitely need a lace dress.

I should totally do this.  It's completely great--I'll wear these dresses ALL the time.  (Denial)

Fine, I'll just make stuff I wear.  T-shirts and Jeans.  Great.  Thanks.  It doesn't matter what people think when they see me.  Yep, I just wear T-shirts and Jeans (I actually do)  Fine.  I'll never have nice stuff.  But who needs it?  (Anger)

 But I'm sure that I should have some nice things.  I mean, I want to be a nice thing wearer, shouldn't I have nice things?  Of course I should.  In fact, I should probably give up having T-shirts entirely, then there won't be a problem at all.  I could do that.  Yes, I shall. (Bargaining)  

Because I could totally scrub out the tub and vacuum behind carseats in this:

Sadly, I have realized this doesn't work.  What with the small still wet portion of ketchup (nasty!) and the flashing of the neighborhood, I have stopped.   

Right.  So I can't.  So I'll never have nice stuff.  Woe is me.  (Depression)   

So I need to find a happy medium (Resignation).  We all do.  Where is yours?  Do you actually wear what you sew?  Most days?

Yes, these are the stages of grief.  And yes, it's totally what my sewing life is like.  But we all have to face reality some time.

Here's mine.

I don't know about you, but I love to sew fun things.  Like dresses that are fancy, and skirts that are mostly impractical (Hello Marie), things with silk, and lace.   My life is not dresses, except for Sunday and other occasions.  I don't have a job to look professional for.  As a matter of fact being the stay at home mom of 3 rowdy boys 5 and under, the job mostly calls for non-professional attire.  Workout clothes to keep the postpartum depression at bay, T-shirts that are good for cleaning, making bread, working in the garden, and washing the car, jeans that are substantial enough not to get holes after a couple weeks of picking up my kids, looking for stuff under the car and couch, and chasing them around the house.   Let alone the fact that things tend to spill around me (ahem, children) so I can't be really upset when something is stained by grape juice or motor oil or whatever.

 And don't get me started on the shoes I can't wear because they make me topple over when I pick up my baby--or when I have to run into the parking lot to catch a too-excited-for-his-own-good-and-his-mother's-sanity child.

I'm not saying that I can't have nice things, I'm just saying that right now, in my life, nice things are hard to justify--knowing that regardless of the quality of the clothes that I wear everyday--they probably won't be around in a couple years.  But, this part of my life will change and one day I can wear whatever I want whenever I want.  And I love my family, of course I wouldn't change it.

Yes, today I wore flip flops, jeans, and this shirt and the salesman at the door asked if my mom or dad was home. I said no and slammed the door. Hard.  (Anger)  These things are obviously not related.  (Denial)  Yes, the stages of sewing grief are continual at my house:)

So, the long overdue point of this post is that I need clothes that are functional and beautiful and nice.  Or if not, beautiful, easy to wear, and looking more put together than before.  That was actually the point of this shirt gone awry.  It has baby batwing arms (pretty sure this is not a real sewing term--and for good reason).  It has a cowl-ish neck and Cynthia Rowley woven trim sewn down the front.  This trim looks more psychedelic every time I look at it.  Yikes!

How do you balance what you want to sew with sewing for your life?

Oh, and I don't have those patterns in my stash.  And they haven't been cut out.  And I don't have yards of lace.  Or silk.  (cough, cough)  

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Me-Made-March 2011

So, I've done this unofficially before, but not been held accountable, nor do I have any records.  In accordance with my New Years Resolutions, this is unacceptable.  So, here goes nothing--

I, Amber, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-March '11. I endeavour to wear
at least one self made item each day for the duration of March 2011'

Yes, I'm starting out small and taking into  account that I have very few pants, but I'm really excited.  All the information is here, at So, Zo.

I'm off to take stock and plan my next few projects which includes this dress:

V1224, Tracy Reese Collection

in a black, green, and tan print.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Scrunchy Spring Scarf Tutorial

I love using unexpected fabrics for scarves because they are so much fun!  This is a boucle I found at JoAnns in the clearance bin.  This scarf will work for any medium to thin fabric that can withstand heat.

You'll need:

90"x 11" fabric (you can piece this together)
matching thread
elastic thread and a bobbin
iron or dryer

1. Cut fabric 90" x 11"

I had to serge my sides because boucle unravels like CRAZY!
2.  Sew both 90" sides into a narrow hem 
Fold over edges twice and iron or finger press and stitch.  

3.  Wind elastic thread on bobbin.  Don't be scared!  Just poke it through the little hole to begin and wind it around fairly tightly.  If the thread twists around itself, this is normal. (If you are me, it is also normal if you drop it a few times--oops!)

You'll end up with this:

Clip off the beginning strand you used to start the winding so it doesn't get caught in your machine and thread like normal.

4.  Mark your scarf into thirds.  I marked 3 1/4" in from each side and made a mark.  

5.  Set your machine to the longest stitch and lower the tension.  (My settings were stitch length 4 and tension 2).  Using a straight stitch, stitch 90" down along markings.  Do not backstitch at the top or bottom.  Repeat for other marking so you have 2 lines of stitching that go the length of the scarf.

This is the elastic thread on the underside of your scarf.

6.  Tie off thread ends like so... and clip.

7.  Turn over short ends into narrow hem like you did for the sides.  Your scarf will look like this.  

Impressive, right?  No?  We aren't done.

8.  Spritz with water and iron on cotton setting or hotter, depending on your fabric.  It helps to iron on the underside. This is when the magic happens:

Continue ironing until done or spritz with water and throw into a dryer on hottest setting.  Both will work and you will end up with this lovely!

Happy Spring!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Ellen Houlihan Hybrid

 Drum Roll please.....

Oh yes, Oh yes, they are Done!!!

Detail Shots:
Topstitching on all seams

Back Pocket Flaps--just for show

Fly front, shallow front pockets

Side cargo pocket above chevron knee

7" exposed zipper (4 1/2 inches to knee--next time I will use 9" zipper)

I so, so love these!  I can't wait to make more.  This was definitely a labor intensive project, so I'll be doing some quick easy projects before I tackle these again.

Do you want to see the top half of this picture?

Thanks to my mother for her fantastic photography!

Style Notes:  I used 7" zippers for the leg openings, next time I will use  9" zippers.

For more style notes and to see my process of turning the Ellen into the J Brand Knockoffs:

                    Part 2--Pockets and Assembly

To make your own: 

You need fabric (obviously), contrasting thread (miles of it), 1 7" zipper, 1 button, 2 9"zippers, interfacing for waistband and belt loops, Ellen pattern (or any other pants pattern you own)

Cost Comparison:

Zippers (3)--$3.00
Fabric (thrifted)--$4.00
Button--vintage--gift from Grandma

Total:  $8.00

JBrand Cost Comparison:  (definitely not identical but inspired by)  $231

Savings:  $223

***To make them more like the JBrand pants, use a stretch twill, matching thread, and make it all the same color and material.

Now, I'm off to read the Sherlock Holmes set my husband gave me for my birthday!


Enjoy making yours and let me know-- I'd love to see them!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Pockets of the Houlihan (Part 2)

I wanted to post a couple pictures of the pockets and talk about putting the pattern together.

First up-- belt loops.  The easiest way to do this is to sandwich them in the waistband.  This won't be ideal if you are wearing a belt of any thickness over 1", but my belt loops are just for show.  If you do want to be able to wear a thicker belt with these, you'll want to place the bottom edge 3/4" or more below the lower waistband and topstitch.

  You'll notice the loops are plenty long--it's much easier to trim later.  These were interfaced, topstitched, and placed over seam lines and in between.  (When you measure for the front loops use the center front mark, not the edge of the band)

Next, the pockets

I used the pretty floral for all the pockets no one will ever see, and black lining for the flaps.  With these, you'll want to sew, turn, iron and topstitch the flaps first.  The pockets themselves you can place wrong sides together and sew 3 sides and turn and topstitch the last(top) side.  (right pocket)

First, turn under 3 edges 1/4" and press.  Pin.  
To make them into cargo pockets, make an inverted box pleat, taking up 1" of fabric.  (fold in half and measure in about half an inch on the bottom, open up, press flat, and baste).  With the top of the pocket do the same thing, but make sure your edges line up with the pocket flap.  You can see my pleat is much tighter on the bottom than the top side.  I like the upper edge looser because it is easier to get in and out of.

Place cargo pockets bottom 5/8" above bottom of outside leg edge and the front pocket side on the front seam line. 

I constructed my pants top down, topstitching  my seams as I went and I think I used 300 yards of thread--and of course none of it was used on mistakes that had to be ripped out.  Erm, yeah.

This is the order I recommend you put together these pants.  Of course, you may have your own method, and more power to you!

  1.  Belt Loops
  2. Waistband (as shown)
  3. Pockets and pocket flaps
  4. Connect front pockets to outside leg front piece
  5. Upper legs (all 8 pieces), topstitch, leave inside legs unsewn 1 inch from bottom (makes it easier to line up and account for extra fabric and fit with knee pieces)
  6. Front fly zipper (I didn't do this until after the waistband and had to use my cheater ribbon method)
  7. Connect waistband catching belt loops, check fit, Button
  8. Sew knee pieces to upper leg pieces, topstitch
  9. Connect lower leg pieces leave inside leg unstitched, and stitch the upper 2 inches of outside edge only
  10. Topstitch
  11. Insert exposed zippers
  12. Stitch up inside seam 
  13. Put pocket flaps on back placed most strategically for your figure(the J Brand pants have the points over the seam and I used the pocket markings on the Ellen pattern to figure the placement on my pants)
  14. Hem
  15. Enjoy!

If you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer them!  Good luck making yours!

Pictures of the final product should be ready in a couple more days!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Prep work to knocking off the Houlihan

First things first.  When you are knocking off a pair of pants, dress, blouse, necklace, or whatever, proportions are key.

Design Notes

  • length is below calf, above the ankle
  • seams on front are split about 1/2 and 1/2 on top, tapering down to 2/3 and 1/3 on the bottom
  • seams on back are split about 1/3 on outside and 2/3 on inside
  • zipper on bottom is rotated slightly to front (most designer pants have the side seam slightly forward to slim the body)
  • pockets in front land on seams as do the points of the pocket flaps in back
  • the cargo pockets on the side land on front seam, but do not wrap around to back seam.

From the product description, we know that there is a 29 inch inseam and 10.5 inch leg opening.

I used the Ellen pattern from BurdaStyle.  Some reviews of this pattern said that it ran a little loose and long.  After measuring I decided to take my size as is, hoping for a tighter fit with the addition of extra seams and taking 1/2" seam allowance instead of recommended 5/8".  This results in the pants being tighter by 3".  When I do this again I will use a twill with 2-4% spandex to add stretch and comfort.  These pants fit very closely on top.

So on to taking your pattern apart.  When you print out the pages, tape them together on every side with packing tape.  It isn't usually necessary when you are using the pattern as is, but we will be cutting it into several pieces.

Cut out the size you will be using (I recommend going up one size if not using something with stretch).

Cut off the bottom 4" of each leg.

Leave the waistband as is.

Beginning at the upper thigh start tapering in the sides of the pants (inside and outside edges) so that near the bottom you have come in about 5/8" on all sides.  

Make Your Seam Lines

Keeping in mind the proportions,  start at the top of the back side and begin at the dart draw your line down, curving where necessary to keep the 1/3, 2/3 proportion.  Now do the same to the front, beginning about 1/4" to the outside of the grainline marking.  Again, curve where necessary.  About the knee mark line your line should be at 1/3 and after the knee your line should be at 1/4.

Next look for the knee line, just a small horizontal mark on the outside and inside of pants (the front knee mark is next to the 5c)  From this line measure up 1 inch from the inside (both front and back) and down 4 inches.  On the outside measure up 4 inches and down one inch.  Connect the marks in a diagonal fashion.

Mark the pocket on the upper front.  Measure down the side  3 1/2 inches and over to the seam line up about 1 1/2".  (When you cut, make sure to include a seam allowance for turning over the pocket edge)

Pocket Templates

I made my upper pocket template of a rectangle 6"by 5 1/2".  I thought a shallow pocket would be best considering the snug fit and addition of cargo pockets.

Cargo Pockets
Flap  3 1/4" x 6 7/8 "  Lining and fabric
Pocket 8 1/2" x 7 7/8" lining and fabric

Rear pocket flaps
I used piece 6 from the pattern and cut the point at 3 1/2" down, the sides at 2" down (7" across for those not using this pattern)

Belt Loops (Cut 7)
4 3/4" x 1 1/2"
Interfacing 4 3/4" x 1/2"

Your pattern should look something like this:

You'll notice I hadn't tapered in beforehand when I did it.  Learn from my mistakes.

LABEL ALL PIECES.  If you don't they will get harder and harder to tell apart

Take a deep breath, and butcher your pattern.

Lastly, you will notice that the knee piece does not have an outside seam.

Take the two knee pieces ( label top and bottom, front and back) and tape them together at the outside edge.  I do this by cutting the seam allowance off one and taping it to the mark of the seam allowance of the other.  It makes a nice chevron.

Also, you will end up with some excess fabric on the inside because we didn't account for the front and back extra seam.  If you want to account for this now to end up with perfectly matched pattern pieces, please do so.

As the pattern is right now, you do not have seam allowances on the chevron knee piece or upper and lower leg.  This is because we only took off 4 inches on the hem.  If you do put seam allowances on these pieces you may need to take more length off the hem when you finish.

That was a lot of notes, but I am happy to tell you my pants are almost finished!   You should see pictures by Monday at the latest.