About Me

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Grinch Who Stole Summer, or: Life is short, make the coat

Hi all!
The days are getting shorter and colder (only in Jerusalem, the rest of Israel is still like living in a toaster), and I'm sad that I didn't have a chance to "summer" this year. I usually enjoy the longest days, just being thankful for more hours of light. Last year we've spent August in Scotland where we had sunlight till 22:00 and I miss that so much. Spending August (not) studying for exams is not right.
Yesterday I had my monthly check-up and the doctor said thing are going well and I don't need to come again for 3 months! I was so stressed while waiting for my appointment, so I promised myself that if things are better than last time I'm throwing caution to the wind and starting my Cascade duffle coat RIGHT NOW. It is my dream project but I procrastinated it for so long because that are so many obstacles to overcome before construction begins.
Today I spend 2.5 hours taping and cutting the PDF after unsuccessful attempts to print it in a copy shop. Apparently in Israel they charge about 80$ for a job like this.
Next I need to cut the fabric. Being my first coat, I didn't really know what kind of fabric I should buy for the shell. I bought it in an end-of-winter sale for 2.5$ a meter, but I think it's too thin for a sturdy coat. My plan is to interface all the pieces, and cut the main pieces on a double layer. Consequently it means I need to cut the shell, than additional shell pieces, than all pieces from fusible interfacing, than the lining pieces. Of course my shell fabric is plaid, so I'll have the fun of matching plaid and deciding on location/ grain etc. At this point I'm so mentally invested in the project all of these decisions seem really important, even though I know it doesn't matter so much if the pockets are on the bias or not.
The last obstacle is the fit. I'm not making a muslin because I don't have anything in my stash in similar weight and making a muslin from a different material won't help very much. I know that this project may not work out but I'm fine with it. The shell fabric was cheap so it is as close to a test garment as possible (though I'm not cutting any corners in construction!). My Grainline size is 2 (or 2.5), and both my Lindens and Archers fit me well in this size. The only part I worry about is the fit around the shoulders as mine are broader than average. My plan is to try the shell on once I'm done before grading the seams, and if necessary release the seams a bit.
Hopefully I'll finish the cutting, fusing and basting this weekend.

Till next time,
Happy sewing!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Victoria Blazer review

Hi all!

Yesterday I took the last exam of the year, in pediatrics. I don't have the grade yet so I can't fully celebrate the end of the academic year but chances are I passed it. I past my previews two as well (internal medicine and surgery) despite not studying and having a miserable experience (at least in the surgery exam). Pediatrics is my strongest discipline so I'm letting myself indulge in not feeling guilty over not studying; guilt is such a time sucker! It's a strange position to be at, just aiming to pass the exams rather than excel them, but this year (my seventh year in university) introduced new challenges and priorities, so I'll take what I get. 

My SewJo is back so I'm enjoying that as well. My first impression of the academic year is that I barely managed to sew, but that isn't true. With the exception of sewing my wedding dress (I haven't posted it yet but I will) I also made a few utilitarian garments, mostly Linden sweatshirts by Grainline, and tried at least one new-to-me pattern - the Inari by Named . Though it isn't the end of 2016, the end of an academic year always puts me in a pensive mode so taking the time to remember the successes isn't too bad, especially among the "failures" a faced this year.

While I have many new ideas for upcoming projects I decided I'll restrict my fabric options to my stash until its volume will fit into one shelf in our closet. I'm not sure how it will go yet because I find that the more I sew from my stash the more volume it occupies, because the leftovers aren't easy to fold but harder to use. With that thought in mind I also decided not to put buttons on my Aster test garment for now, the fabric isn't pleasant to wear and I don't want to "waste" buttons on something I'm not likely to wear. As a test garment it has done its job of teaching me what I need to know in order to make my real Aster, and finishing it just for the sake of finishing doesn't feel right. 
BTW I've been mistaken for being pregnant because of the Aster picture (by a non-sewing bad-mannered person obviously). Just want to clear that up - I'm not, it's the cotton tank underneath that makes the shirt "stand".

And now for the Victoria Blazer -

I think it's the fastest from-purchase-to-garment item I have ever made. Last weekend I suddenly really wanted to make that floral cotton lycra I had in my stash into a loose fitting blazer and yesterday it has made its debut in the pediatrics exam! It was a satisfying make with good pattern-fabric compatibility. 

Worn over one of my favorite Strathconas with my pre-test face of horror

The dry facts

The Victoria Blazer is a half-lined loose fitting blazer by "By Hand London".
The pattern is half lined, with the body lined using the same pieces of the shell, leaving the sleeves unlined. The blazer has side-seam pockets, the collar is flat, and the lining is attached using the bagging technique. 
At first I was reluctant to sew from By Hand London. I'm more likely to purchase patterns produced by brands that make me feel like I "know" the person behind them and with whom I share values/ lifestyle/ fashion style. By Hand London is a very contemporary cool brand with very cool patterns, which is quit the opposite of my uncool self. Additionally I prefer less edited / more natural presentation of garments. The sample photos of their patterns is similar in presentation to RTW sites and that puts me off a little. however, from the (less edited) versions on-line/ Instagram, I thought the Victoria Blazer as a pattern was nice on its own so I wanted to try.  

I used the PDF version (as always). The A4 pages did not fully align, I was a bit disappointed with it, but that's normal for most PDF patterns.  

Floral cotton-lycra for the shell, with contrast cotton-lycra for the collar and lapel. Black viscose for lining. Interfacing, and cotton scraps for the pockets. All materials are from my stash (yey!!)
Sizing and modifications
Based on my bust circumference (85 cm full bust, AA cup) I'm between size 2 and 4. Given my small cup size and the oversized silhouette I went for a size 2.
I couldn't rationalize the half-line approach so I cut the sleeve pieces from my lining fabric as well for a fully lined version.
I only loosely followed the instructions, as I find them too long, and I made some changes to the order of construction. I also interfaced the collar and lapels, and made a wider hem (5cm) for a shorter cut. 

Worn over my only "formal" dress, made four years ago but going strong! Went with my best friend to celebrate our 7th friendship day

I think it's a great oversized blazer perfect for air-conditioned environments. The loose fit doesn't restrict movement and I love how the floral makes it summary and "light" without being too cute. It fits a gap in my wardrobe I couldn't define, which is unexpected. I made it just for fun but I've worn it already. I feel a real bad-ass when wearing it! I went outside my comfort zone with this one and I'm happy I did. Also it's the first time I ever bagged a lining before!
It feels a bit... like "fast sewing". The lining rolls from inside of the jacket. Before closing the hem I trimmed the seam allowance and that helped a bit, but without under-stitching and without facings there is only so much one can expect from a slippery lining fabric. There were also some additional "glitches" in constructions, probably my fault, but the lapels were too long so they are caught in the hem. I'm also bothered with the flat collar. I think a collar stand and facings would make a better pattern/ garment without taking away from the overall casual feel of the blazer. Lastly, I would prefer a different method of construction such that the lining's hem would be shorter than the shell. Using the same pattern pieces means that the lining shows under the hem.
All of the above result in a faster process of construction, but I felt like it compromised the quality of the end result. 
I could probably go on and on about each and every tiny detail that makes this blazer less than perfect and criticize my skills, but hey! I'm a med-student! I pay so others can criticize me instead!

All in all despite the few details I mentioned, this is a really nice blazer and I'm happy I tried the pattern. It is a great pattern for a first lined garment and I probably would have postponed trying this new-to-me skill if not for the easy(ish) pattern. It is fun to wear and is a great alternative for the summer, after wearing my Linden sweatshirts throughout June I should have figured that out... I have the Bellatrix Blazer waiting for me once I want to try again with a more structured version.

On other news I've already completed my "real" Aster (only buttonholes and buttons left to sew... famous last words!), and it's really nice! (despite, you know, not being perfect...). More on that next time.

Enjoy the remaining of the summer!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

One stitch at a time... Aster progress

Hi all!
I'm trying to keep myself together during the last weeks of the academic year while feeling rather disconnected from it all. I took the General Surgery exam today which was a complete disaster that left me physically drained, so I couldn't finish the Aster I started, but a stitch a day will eventually result in a complete garment. I often expect that surgery will make sense to me, just as sewing usually does, but the reality is different. While nothing in medicine is ever black and white multiple choice questions tend to focus on the grey area in which choosing the "correct" answer is sometimes impossible; especially if you're the kind of person that always overthink things and don't accept "raw edges" in anything in life. I'm trying to remind myself that unlike these weird and crazy exams in real life I can sometimes find a place where I belong, and manage scenarios much better... and maybe I should also work on that "raw edges" thing. Imperfection can be perfect in its own way.

Back to sewing - I bought the Aster pattern immediately upon its release, a very rare impulse purchase, because at the time I was looking for a button down (or up? can you please explain the difference?) pattern that is less boxy and casual than the Archer, and also a pattern that offers short sleeves with cuffs along with the traditional long sleeve (with a tower placket!). The only down side of the pattern is the C cup bust that it is drafted for. I usually make a Small Bust Adjustment on my tops anyway (to correct the standard B cup to my AA), but I was afraid the pattern will not suit my body type, being drafted for a more traditional woman figure than mine. 

the Small Bust Adjustment for the Aster recommends the sewer to choose the size based on the circumference of the full bust corrected to a C cup. According to this I should have made a size 4 or 6, based on my "corrected" bust measurement (I have a 85cm full bust, with 85cm upper bust. true story). After overthinking it (for months) I decided to go with a size 2 according to my true full bust measurement with 1 cm extra, and do a 0.5" SBA on each front. Despite what it appears to be, sewing isn't pure math... 
Instead of sewing a complete muslin I decided to try a quick test garment with the only piece of stash fabric I don't really like - I got it from a friend's mother, while the print is crazy in a good way, the fabric itself feels like plastic. 

Despite breaking all the sewing rules, neglecting all the notches and not pressing any of the seams, the more progress I make the more I like this shirt. I only have the hem and buttons to complete and it might end up a wearable garment!

I feel stupid for putting off this project just because I was afraid from making a mistake - cutting the wrong size and ruining good fabric. The more I read about fabric waste and the ecological impact the more guilt I feel towards my NEED to create with PHYSICAL MATERIAL. I can't live only on the virtual world and fabric is like air to me. Depriving myself of it just because I'm afraid to increase my ecological footprint is such a burden, so is avoiding new patterns just because they might not suit me. At the end re-sewing TNTs or only attempting shape-less garments that require little to no fitting is not fun. It is extremely practical, but not crafty. Working on a new pattern and not thinking too much about the end result is so liberating. Like a child crafting in the present and not worrying about the space it will occupy in the world and such.

So with that positive spirit I'll leave you with a picture of me trying on my almost-complete Aster proudly worn over my me-made pajamas (city gym shorts, and a tank from a slip pattern).

I thought of sewing another Aster (the practicality!) but after a successful challenge I would like another... Now I'm thinking of sewing the Victoria blazer using a colorful bright floral I have in my stash. What do you think?

Friday, July 29, 2016

Cropped Linden, and City Gym Shorts

Hi all!

I'm 'almost' done with the first year of clinical rotations, "only" two exams left! Hopefully I'll pass and then have some time to relax. This year has been something... else. I think I reached my physical limits and I'm paying a price for ignoring health-related issues. In order to remedy this and hopefully get back to my former healthier self I'm slowing things down and trying to rest as much as possible (while hopefully still passing the exams!).
during the past few months I didn't have the energy, both physical energy and mental energy, to sew complicated (or even easy-but-long) projects, but I did manage to finish a couple of much needed tshirts to wear on weekends, a much needed addition to my wardrobe as I lack casual and comfortable clothes to wear during my free time, and often find myself wearing very inappropriate sweatpants paired with one of D's tshirts around the house. There's nothing wrongs with it of course, and I probably will keep this habit sometimes but I rather have more options.

I made two tops, combining dark blue and black fabric with a lot of drape (I don't know the fiber contents).

For the tshirts I used the the short-sleeved version of the Linden sweatshirt from Grainline, this version features elbow length sleeves, a length I find flattering, with a cropped hem. While the hem is too short for some of my pants it is the perfect length to wear with my Moss skirts, and with the newest addition to my wardrobe - a pair of City Gym Shorts by Purl Soho in purple denim.
To make the shorts more appropriate to wear outside I lengthened the inseam (4 cm more of less), straightened the side seams, and drafted pockets that are big enough to hold my phone and keys when I go out on a walk. I also reduced the length (circumference) of the waistline to make them less sporty and more like regular shorts. On the next version I'll try to add darts, and hopefully draft my way to the perfect-yet-comfortable shorts I want so much. I used to go out on walks pretty often to clear my mind and motivate me to study, a hobby I neglected recently because I felt to lousy and week to exercise. Now that I'm getting my strength back I started walking again and this shorts are almost perfect. My only complaint is that the stretch denim feels a bit plastic-y against the skin.

Despite the minor complaints I enjoyed these two garments so much that I finally was motivated enough to tape and cut the Aster shirt from Colette! I'm halfway through my muslin using a really crazy fabric, and I think I would like to find a way to hack this shirt into a jumpsuit. Everybody lookS so comfortable wearing a jumpsuit, I want one as well to test if this jumpsuit party really is worth it ;)

Till next time,
Be well and enjoy sewing!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Wyome Jeans - FAIL

Hi all!

The weather has been warmer for a while, so I spent some time thinking about the gaps in my warm-weather wardrobe and how I would like to manage my sewing for the next few months.

One garment I wanted to make was a pair of boyfriend-style jeans. I prefer wearing loose fitting clothes, especially in warmer weather, and I had blue medium-weight denim with some stretch in my stash that was suitable for this project.

Based on my positive experience with the Alexandria pattern by Named (here and here and I have another unblogged version) I got curious and wanted to try the Wyome pattern. When I started this project (months ago) Morgan from Closet Case Files wasn't out yet, and while a knew that one of these days someone will release a modern boyfriend jeans pattern I couldn't wait. So off I went with the Wyome, knowing it will not be easy based on the way I thought the jeans were drafted. 

I tried to find as many posts/ instagram/ pinterest clues as to how exactly Wyome fits, as I think the description is very different from the pattern itself. First, it was obvious that the pattern as drafted was not so loose fitting as the photos on the model could suggest. Second, the waist is relatively high while in my imagination boyfriend jeans are suppose to have a lower waist.

Based on what I read I decided to start with size 40, at least two sizes larger than what my measurements would suggest (my hips are 89-90 cm circumference, putting my between 34 and 36). 
Based on the first muslin I shortened the front crotch by 4 cm, and then went ahead with a second muslin that fitted more or less as I wanted. However what I failed to take into account is the stretch in the denim I wanted to use - in the final jeans I had to take about 8 cm at the waist, as a result I had to eliminate the 5th pocket and the size of the side pockets was reduced considerably. Another problem I faced was the back crotch, that was not deep (=curvy) enough resulting in some weird wrinkles at the back. I tried as much as possible to change it, but there is only so much one can do with an almost-complete pair of jeans. 

Bottom line - I didn't finish them, and probably never will. 
I put them in my UFO/WIP box, and am trying to figure out my lessons from this project. 
I could be really harsh on myself and say I wasted good fabric on something that had very little chance to succeed (as I knew it won't be easy to get the fit I wanted) but I think wasting good fabric (and time! and money in material!) on failed projects is just part of the process. I still want boyfriend jeans though! When Heather released the Morgan pattern I thought to give it a go, but judging from the photos this pattern is not so loose fitting as drafted, so I don't think it will be the answer to my problem. I do have a pair of RTW jeans I like so I think I can copy them to get the fit I want. I have another very old pair that is now falling apart that I would like to recreate. I guess it shouldn't be more difficult than starting with a new pattern.

The problem is I feel I need a relatively quick and successful project to lift my sewing spirits. My machines were out of order for a while now (I won't elaborate but my zipper sole took the hit during the Wyome battle and both my sewing machine and overlocker had to be taken to the repair shop...) and I had what felt as a long line of not-so-successful-and-not-so-fun projects. After the wedding dress, Wyome and Inari (that I'm still not sure about) I want something interesting that will produce a successful yet fun sewing experience. I cut a few quick knit projects but as the overlocker is still in the shop I need to tackle some woven! 

Maybe it's about time I'll tape and try the Aster from Colette! I've been fantasizing on this pattern ever since it was released but as I've never made a pattern from Colette before I don't know what to expect (with the exception of a Small Bust Adjustment).  

Until I make up my mind, I'll leave you with two current photos of my Inari in action. While I'm still undecided about the cocoon shape, I'm positive that the armscye is too low to allow enough movements. If I choose to make it again, I'll adjust the sleeves based on the Scout pattern that fits me better (it isn't a straight forward adjustment because the patterns are drafted differently but it can be done). I wore the dress to another wedding a week ago. It's my only summer dress so while not perfect it is the best I currently have. Something to consider in the future - I think I'm at the point of "too much cake, not enough frosting". How would have thought it was even possible? 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Inari Tdress / Named

A few days ago I had an episode of anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction to something. I have about two episodes a years, around this time when all the flowers are blooming and most allergic people go around glued to tissue and antihistamines. Despite the fact I'm used to it by now, whenever it happens and I need to inject myself with epipen I get puzzeled and confused. I know it takes me four days of rest until I recuperate from anaphylaxis so I try to convince myself it isn't really happening. Well - it happened, and as always it happened late at night while I was alone.

I spent the following two days in bed feeling sorry for myself with only short breaks from sleeping. By the end of the second day I felt I had to do something productive. I have the Wyome pattern by Named on the list, and have already made the first muslin, but making a second muslin wasn't really appealing to me at that point. I wanted immediate satisfaction!

So I took out the fabric I kept for the Inari dress and started cutting it.

The Inari pattern by Named is well documented and very popular, and initially I thought the coccun shape will not suit my figure. I'm flat chested and my legs are not my best feature, so on paper this should be the worst choice for me. But I received printed cotton from a friend's mother and thought the Inari was the best pattern to showcase the unique print. Also I notice my wardrobe lacks "evening wear", something more special than jeans and a button-up, but not too dressy. Something I can reach for when we go out for coffee and such. At the same time I dislike fitted garments, especially when dinner is involved, so the shape of this dress is perfect for such a wardeobe gap.

I muslined the pattern a few weeks ago just so I can be sure of the size. I went with 36 despite my flat chest and thought the size fitted me well. For this version I haven't adjusted the pattern and it fits well as is, but for future versions I'll go down a size. Initially I thought a small bust adjustment will do the trick, but after wearing the dress during a hike I understand the dress is overall too big.

 This is is the second pattern I make by Named and again I think it's a great success! I still haven't decide about the shape, though. I like it but I'm afraid people will think I'm hiding a bump... We'll see if I reach for this dress in the future, and if so, if I like the way I feel while wearing it.

When assembling the PDF I find that not all lines meet, but when assembling the dress itself all notches correspond well to one another. Another small complaint I have is that the pattern pieces themselves hold very little information regarding how many to cut for each version, and even the foldlines aren't marked. I would appreciate more information on the pattern pieces so I wouldn't have to look at the instructions so often.

On the other hand, I love the way this pattern comes together. Unlike other companies that leave the decision regarding seam finishes to the seamstress, Named instruct you when to finish the seams resulting in a very neat finish. I followed their instructions and used my serger to finish the seams. While I usually prefer French seams on woven garments, I love how flat and simple open serged edges are. One reason to putting off this project was that I couldn't decide whether I wanted to try French seams or just go with the instructions. At the end despite using a non-matching thread (I only have 3 colors and threading my serger with black wasn't going to happen that day) I like the neat result.

For the neckline I used facing rather than binding. The pattern has both options, but I was intrigued to see how well a facing would behave. I haven't installed a facing in a long time and wandered if I could achieve a better looking facing now that I notice things like grainlines, notches and understitching...

I'm happy to report the facing behaves well, despite some miss-handling on my part (I didn't fused the facing, mostly because I hate fusible interfacing, and I thought the cotton can hold the shape well).

I've only worn this dress ones, because I intend to wear it to my cousin's wedding two weeks from now, and I enjoyed the overall feel. Again my only concerns are with size being too big and the lack of shaping around the waist. I know it's a very popular silhouette but I don't have the best body image, and rally afraid someone will ask me if I'm pregnant.

It has just occurred to me that maybe on other parts of the world people are less up front with this line of questioning? In Israel people are known to be really nosy, especially with young couples. I'm very conscience of my body and so I can easily get offended when someone stares at the wrong parts. Let's see if I follow through with the plan and actually wear it to the wedding, or look for a last minute replacement (or a belt!)

What do you think? Do you wear cocoon style garments or so you think this shape should be used solely for maternity wear?
Please tell me you would never ask a woman if she's pregnant because of what she wears!

Monday, February 29, 2016

2016 reSEWlutions

Hi all!
I know, we are two months into 2016, but during January I had the wedding on my mind so I postponed my new year resolutions till I get back to a regular routine. Considering I've just started the last week of the internal medicine rotation my routine is as normal as can be. The rotation in this department is considered the most demanding rotation of the year, and getting married mid-rotation had proven more difficult than I imagined. I'm happy that life is about to get less complicated starting next week, so I think it's time to get my reSEWlutions in order.

Since I started clinical rotations two months ago I noticed how I have become more attentive to what I wear, as well as what other students around me wear. I think we all try to be comfortable while still looking tidy and somewhat "grown-up". It's the first time I notice how much affected by fashion trends we all are. So my first reSEWlution for 2016 is to challenge my self with my makes rather than go for what mimics RTW choices. It may sound obvious, a lot of us sew in order to express ourselves and make unique garments, but lately I notice that I'm drawn to the patterns and sillahouettes that resemble what I'd find in chainstores. There is nothing wrong with this kind of inspiration of course, but it is less interesting to make something I could buy. At the same time I notice that I get the most complements over garments that resemble the latest trends in RTW. I like to talk about clothes and obviously don't mind the complements, but it's less interesting to talk about something that looks exactly like what I would find in the nearest H&M. I hope that in 2016 I'll make clothes that are more interesting to me and less " trendy".

Colette book club

I started to read the previous book from the book club and was on schedule to join the discussion, but unfortunately my Kindle screen broke and I missed the deadline. I finished the book two days ago and already started the next one on the list. I would like to join the discussion on this one, and stick with the routine they set. It's so nice to have someone else find all the good sewing-related books!

Make sure I stash enough notions

While I have a lot of fabric, I never seem to have enough thread / buttons / fusible making it impossible to spontaneously start my next project. This year I'll try to stash more notions so missing material won't prevent me from conquering the next project.

Commit to organise the stash

At this point I understand that stash organisation is not a one-time thing. Even when I find my system I will still have to rearrange it whenever I take a piece out, or add some scraps in (or new pieces of fabric!). I realise that the more I use up stash the bigger it gets, because the scraps take up so much space... I recently arranged all the fabric in boxes and would like to actively keep it organised. Additionally I would like to frequently take stock and get rid of scraps more often.

Invest in equipment that will make sewing woven material easier

I keep avoiding the woven fabric in my stash because pressing sleeves to achieve a professional look is difficult with my current set up. It never bothered me before, but the more experience I have the more attentive I become towards pressing and seam finish. I've been telling myself I should get a sleeve ham for a few years now, so 2016 is the year I invest in a few pressing tools!

That's it for now, let's hope 2016 will be full of fun, health and positivity!