Ralph Pink Sahara shirt by Sewing Tidbits

What is going on with all the big shirts?

Dear readers,

From the reactions to my last post, I gather that you are still around and ready to engage and that’s pretty good news! So first I would like to thank all the commenters, I think there was a great conversations going on!

One of the reasons for my lack of posting is the fact that I sewed several items I ended up disliking. In my opinion, that’s the most discouraging thing that can happen to a seamstress. You have an idea, get excited, find the fabric, the pattern, spend hours making it, try it on and….. Meh. How anti climatic is that? It doesn’t help that once I reach  construction stage, I don’t like to interrupt myself.I finish all the seams and stop to try on items only just before hemming/adding closures. I usually can get away with it because I know what shapes work on me and I spend time adjusting patterns before cutting fabric. Except these days, I have no idea of how to fit myself because….

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I’m growing a little human!! That’s another reason the blog hiatus, I really really didn’t feel like being in front of a camera and all my clothes feel weird.

I used to wear fairly fitted clothes, most of the time in the smallest size available, with a defined waist. Obviously all that is gone already and I’m not sure of what’s left… I don’t really feel like wearing a lot of those tight jersey dresses that seem to be screaming “LOOK AT MY BELLY” but I’m also not use to see myself hidden in voluminous shapes. Tricky time! So I thought about big shirts:

After seeing the version made by Paprika Patterns, I decided to try Ralph Pink’s Sahara Shirt pattern. I’ve been tempted several times by his patterns, on the basis that they look “different” from most other Indies, but the sizing seemed too big for me and I struggled finding a pattern I really liked. It probably doesn’t help that not a lot of other bloggers have made his garments (with notable exception by Inna and Oona) so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

I printed the pattern, found suitable cotton-silk in the stash (same as a Vogue 1247 skirt sewn in 2014), cut the smallest size (US 0), sewed and sewed and sewed. It’s a relatively quick make, without many seams (although I used french seams everywhere), and they matched well enough. I would recommend checking the length of the front button plackets (I think they were too long) and the side seams but there was nothing truly catastrophic… Until I tried on the shirt. I could not picture myself going around the city is what looked like A GIGANTIC TENT!!


I put it away my sewing friend from the Pattern Line came over and convinced me that all it needed was taking in the sides a little. By a little, I mean 3″ on each side seams… The total reduction is 12″ (!!) tapered to nothing at the underarm. I also removed some of the extra length at the back to soften the curved hem effect. But you know what? Now, I actually really like it!

 As you can see, I didn’t lie when I previously said that blog posts would have less pretty pictures… Next time I will tell you about my iteration in white poplin (in the first picture).

In the mean time, I would love to hear your thoughts on those pattern companies that seem less popular among sewing bloggers, does it stop you from trying them out?

 

 

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Anachronistic sewing – still stuck on Archer shirt

Dear readers,

I rarely manage to make-up the “trendy” sewing pattern at its trendy time. While you all finished your Alder shirt dresses, I still sew Archers. In addition, when Alder first came out, I could not wait to make it up, but now I am having second thoughts. A-line may not be that flattering on me after all.

Also, unrelated to this post, I wanted to thank all of you who shared their thoughts on my last post. It is definitely something I could talk about all day but I will spare you and only add 2 things :

  • Can you get more disappointing than this? This dress is in any big 4 catalogue, burda magazine and you can get a customized pattern by Lekala. What are you bringing to the cutting table? Apart from pulling at the bust. No, I’m not nice, I  know.
  • Hope for collaborative sewing exists. Lovely reader Miranda emailed me about this PR conversation that I had missed. Seeing how the community can engage in a project all together is heartwarming . I would not make that pattern because it’s not my style but it seems to appeal to many. My only regret is that the result of this awesome collaboration is yet another simple knit pattern for sale… BUT it should not detract from how great it is to witness all the contributions.

Now back to the shirt! Pictures are still from my Iphone, but for once the location is NOT my garden, YAY! My dog is therefore NOT in the background, (NAY?). I spent a week by Lake Atitlán in Guatemala (highly recommended) in August and I packed some garments to photograph on the beautiful terrace of the house we rented.

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Please note that this is not the pattern straight out of the printer. I was happy with my first version of the shirt (see my shirtdress version) but I want to create a TNT pattern for boyfriend shirts and I am glad to report that it is almost a success. To guide my fit alterations, I used a Banana Republic shirt I love. I measured elements like shoulder length, waist shaping, pocket placement, final length, etc. Beth’s post on Craftsy is timely as it is exactly what I did!

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Main fit alterations:

  • adding 3″ of overall length, and note that I am only 5’3″. But I like my shirts tucked in and I want to raise my arms without exposing skin.
  • Shortening the shoulder length by and adjusting the yoke accordingly

Archer alteration

  • Removing most of the sleeve ease at the underarm seam and reshaping the sleeve head a little (for an idea of how, you can check this post at Fashion-Incubator)
  • Further shaping the waist at the side seam
  • Shortening the sleeves

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I also tried to use more advanced sewing techniques, and I will do a detailed post. Some worked (tower placket, button placket, cuff construction) and some did not work at all (ouch, collar+stand). Sometimes, a “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” approach is best. I never had a problem with  stand collar construction before so why did I try to find a better way to do it? Don’t know… Some of my techniques required pattern alteration or drafting of extra pieces. Look out for the post next week soon!

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I am planning my next shirt with further alterations. The final pattern may have little to do with the original Archer but I still believe that it was a great start. It produces wearable garments from the first trial and can be altered easily. Next time, I want to tackle the collar & stand: the collar could be wider and the stand should close at a 90 degree angle (this is what I mean). I will also start adding darts to the back so it remains relaxed but more fitted. Finally, further shortening of the sleeves is necessary (creepy baby length arms, again), sad…

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I almost forgot to tell you that the fabric is one of the pieces I brought back from Paris last June. I found it at the cotton stand of Marché St Pierre. However, looking at the drape I guess some rayon is thrown in.

While I prepare my post on shirt construction, I would love to hear from you your favorite shirt making tutorials. I am familiar with the Archer Sew-along, Fashion-Incubator, Off the Cuff, Male Pattern Boldness and Sewing Square Walls but I may be missing on important ones! Please, fill me in!

A simple black Nettie dress

Dear readers,

Do you realize that as seamstresses, we tend to overanalyze our wardrobe? I mean who else spends these hours reading about the Wardrobe Architect, or every current and vintage wardrobe/style advice ever printed? I, for example, am having a massive style crush on Un-fancy. Even though her style is much much more casual than mine, and I have 0 plans to get dressed with 37 items, I am addicted to her daily remixes and the clean feeling of her pictures. And even after all our careful analyze and planning we get distracted by the latest pattern release or a nice print at the fabric store…

Finally let’s also be honest about one point: having a blog does change what you sew, because for instance neon color will pop on the screen and social media, as well as pretty prints. For some of us it’s ok, because it is actually our uniform, but for others it is not. As I am now just 1 year before 30, and I’m starting to admit that I don’t wear that many eye-popping color and prints. I will keep enjoying them on other blogs and once in a while fall for distraction bu, sewing my “birthday dress” meant sewing something that will come out of my closet every time I need to “fancy” up myself!

What can be better than a black Nettie dress from Closet Case files then ?? Nothing.wpid830-Black-nettie-dress-35.jpg wpid828-Black-nettie-dress-29.jpg wpid819-Black-nettie-dress-15.jpg

I made this dress before, so I did not change anything, except that I did not add bra cups inside. The fabric is a viscose jersey bought in Paris while I was there in June (at Sacré Coupons), and although it is very soft, it is slightly less stretchy than the printed lace I used for my previous version. Therefore, I am trying to feel what the reviewers stated about the arms being on the tight side. However, please note that I use the smallest side of the initial pattern release, before Heather corrected it.

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I have several garments to show here, including some that are not even photographed yet. Last weekend I did try the Named Shadi skirt and made 2 (knit skirts, so fast…). BUT it is this time, you know the one that comes every 8 weeks. I will be traveling to Guatemala (for rest) and Panama (for work). I have hopes to take pictures before and write blog posts during my holidays. We will see how this goes.

Now, I would really like to hear about your strategies to make clothes that suit your lifestyle and not be distracted by pretty prints and patterns releases !

 

 

Short Shorts on the line – Retro Burda 07/2013

Dear readers,

This is so rare that it is worth noting. I MADE IT FOR A DEADLINE. Ok, at work, I’m pretty much fine with deadlines but when it comes to sewing I believe that I am cursed. As soon as I think about following a sewalong/contest/etc. there are 100% chances that I won’t. Hence, new strategy, I make whatever I want and then believe that the sew along gods will align their plans with mine. This is totally what happened with Shorts on the Line! 2 weeks ago I was browsing my burda magazine collection for a color blocked dress (did not find) but then I rediscovered those seriously cute vintage shorts from the issue of july 2013. I’m not entirely sure what is supposed to be retro about them but I know one thing, I LOVE THEM SO MUCH! I’ve reached a new level of comfort in the daily Caribbean heat that denim cutoffs CANNOT compete with…

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As you can see my ability to have any picture taken without a beagle biting my heel has considerably decreased over the last 4 months. Along with the one of making it with clean pants from the front door to the car, but that’s another story. I also have to apologize for the wrinkles, which are the result of way more than 1 day of wear… (TMI?)

The nice bonus about this project is that it felt “free”. You may or may not recognize the navy linen I used for this dress, the pattern came from my existing burda collection (justifying to move twice overseas with magazines, yes), zipper and eyes and hooks from stash!

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Regarding the construction I did not look at the instructions but shorts are pretty straight forward. I used my usual technique for the fly (see here), the pockets are self lined and all seams are finished with the serger and then topstitched.

My only note is about waistband, I HATE (yes hate) waistband. Especially the moment when you try to stitch in the ditch the wrong side folded. It gets distorted, it looks bad, stop me now because I can go on for HOURS. I’ve been experimenting with different techniques (I know Colette just wrote something about using the invisible hem of your machine but I haven’t tried), and these were done with a lot of swearing and using the technique described here for shirt cuffs on which I plan to write very (or not) soon.

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I can foresee a another version with single welt pockets in the back because honestly, this was way too satisfying and eventless…

Now pleeeeaaase tell me if you have a waistband secret (no hand sewing) that I have not heard about!!!

Lekala 4362 – Michael Kors

Dear Readers,

I made a terrible mistake. The sign that my pinterest board has become too big for my eyes has come. When I said that I was going to make Lekala 4362 because it reminded me of a Ralph Lauren design, I was terribly wrong… It was Michael Kors. Let’s see it in pictures :

Lekala 4362
Ralph Lauren
Michael Kors, retailed for over 1400$!!

Now that I confessed my mistake, let’s look at my version, my Michael Kors knock-off very own Mickael Chors dress.

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The differences that you can notice with the original “inspiration” are 1/ the pleats at the shoulder and 2/ the symmetrical hem. Although number 2 is deliberate, I have to admit that number 1 is probably linked to my limited non-existant understanding of russian…

The fabric is an extremely lightweight denim bought before I moved out of NYC at Moods. I know it looks like linen but it’s not, I promise!

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On the opposite of my Lekala experience, this pattern required quite some work before I “made it work”. First, as you know the patterns are generated automatically to fit your measurements, which I believe is fine when doing simple shapes, but becomes a bit more complicated when there are slashes and pleats and rotated darts all over… So that means WALKING ALL THE SEAMS, to make sure they match.

The good thing is that I could still trust the fit enough not to make a muslin (time is a rare luxury these days). However the bottom part did not come “exactly as expected”. On the below pictures the dress is just pinned at the sides on my form :

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Hum… Not really what I had in mind so I re-draped the front skirt portion and transferred the changes to the pattern to get this :

wpid754-Lekala-4362-skirt-redraft.jpgwpid762-lekala4362-form-after.jpgI also took the back in before inserting the invisible zipper and decided to do my usual 4″ inches tapering on pencil skirts, adding a slit at the back because it was obviously too late for a vent… I drafted a lining (the front bodice lining is included, one less thing to do) and found the most luscious silk twill in my stash. I have 0 idea where it comes from but if I had to (wondering who would threaten to take my dog if I could not remember where each piece of my stash is from?? The stash police maybe…), I would bet on Paron’s in NYC.

Oops blurry... The correction is in red!
Oops blurry… The correction is in red!

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For the construction side, it went rather smoothly. I finished the lining edges to edges (the lining is a tiny bit smaller than the dress) because I hate facings. Did I tell you I hate facings? Ok, yes I probably did… But really, I HATE facings. The invisible zipper, the best one I ever sewed according to The Old Man, was inserted following the technique that I mentioned several times. Because it’s the best. Yes. It. Is.

One last thing, there is a new feature on the russian lekala website (leko-mail.net), if you click on “order” for a pattern, then under the technical drawing the last icon before the “save” button takes you to a page where you can CHANGE THE COLOR OR THE PRINT of the illustration. OMG. SO MUCH FUN!!! Go and try it for the dress I just made, and it works for all their recent patterns!

Sometimes I wonder how a company can be so advanced on their core technology (automated made to measure patterns!!) and so behind with their website designs and marketing… What do you think ? Do you enjoy this fun feature ?

Come back soon because I’ve been away from the blog for the only valid reason: I’ve been sewing a lot (well at least for my standards)… More later!

And this is how you lose sewing focus…

I was in France. For 3 weeks. I bought fabric (of course). I came back less than a week ago and pre-washed all said fabrics (gold star for me). I started working on an apdapted Archer pattern for 1 or 2 shirts out of the new fabric.

Proof #1

Practising Plackets à la Off-the-Cuff mode...
Practising Plackets à la Off-the-Cuff mode

And Proof #2

 

Removing shoulder length...
Removing shoulder length…

And then i visited Lekala’s website and saw this :

Good by focus… HELLO RALPH LAUREN INSPIRED SHEATH DRESS!!!

I’m off to check my mailbox compulsively until the custom sized pattern arrives. It’s been 6 minutes and 48 seconds. WHY IS IT TAKING SOOOO LONG??!

More to come….

Linen dresses part I

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OK I know I announced a lot of posts, or at least weekly ones, but of course life/work got in the way. I’m currently enjoying freezing in the streets of NYC for a quick 5 days and then I will be off to Guatemala. I made this dress before the end of 2013, and it is sort of an experiment than could be entitled “what happens when you let your boyfriend design your dress?”.

First of all, I have to say that he is very interested in women dressing. Like we shop together, for real. He does not wait around the entrance looking like he’s trying to escape. He selects clothes on the rack, wait around the dressing rooms, gives his opinion about fit and quality of material, etc. I’ve never been so much of a group shopper but for some reason it works well and generally if I follow his advice I get a lot of compliments by strangers later… So ok I give in, a guy may have better taste than me to dress me… After doing a closet clean-out due to some weight loss and style evolutions, I talked him into defining a dress he would like to see me in.

Overall no big surprises : it’s short, it’s fitted and in a solid color… Men… He also made the specific requirement that it should be linen (and navy). Which is good because it’s the only natural fiber readily available in Haiti (at high cost though).

For the pattern I used the made to measure lekala 5166 that I used for my little 90’s dress. I altered the pattern to make a sleeveless dress (bring the underarm seam up and in), removed the back seam and its shaping so it’s a bit more loose in the waist, raise the neck line and create a placket opening, and finally lengthen it  a little. I’m sticking to my strategy of working based on Lekala patterns, and it has been very rewarding so far!

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Construction was fairly simple, I finished the seams with french seams and the front placket unbuttons down to the waist so no need for other closures. I fused the placket pieces and the opening on the dress. Unfortunately I only had white interfacing but it’s on the inside so it does not bother me too much. Since I made that dress well over 3 months ago, it got a lot of wear already. Comfortable + flattering + easy to wash = heavy rotation!!

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Overall the experiment was a total success so we tried a second time. I already have the pictures of that second (linen… again…) dress and should be able to post it soon! What about you ? Have you ever let someone else decide on all the aspects of a garment you were going to sew for yourself? Is your partner a good source of advice for clothing or does he run away when you say you are looking for constructive criticism ?