Friday, May 9, 2014

The Giselle, a Pattern Test and Review

May I present my second venture into pattern testing: the Giselle by Kate & Rose: The Midtown Collection





I made view B,  size small (unlike the big 4, the measurements were pretty much identical to my own – YAY!!). I found a couple of coordinating fabrics with the help of my sister (she's hoping that I get tired of this make and give it to her). Though it hasn't been warm enough to even think about wearing it yet this year, I have plans to wear it to my birthday concert (Tegan & Sara) in June and hopefully before that if the weather cooperates.

Adjustments: 

1. A small, SBA (shown below). I just pinched/pinned out the excess on my muslin and transferred it to the paper pattern. 

2. The bottom tier is one panel less than what was called for because I ran out of material. This dress is a fabric Hog with a capital H. 

3. I added a facing to the front midriff piece. My fabric (a crepe-like polyester) is quite heavy once it's all gathered up and sewn together in the skirt, and I didn't think one layer was going to cut it at supporting that weight. I used the same pattern piece and cut the facing out of a black cotton I had in my stash. Assembly was the same as you would sew a button down shirt back yoke. 

4. I cut my own bias strips and hand sewed them down on the neck and arm holes. The instructions call for topstitching but I did not because of my fabric choice. 









Final Thoughts: 

• The length was just barely long enough (I'm 5'5"), so if you are taller than average you will want to add length. 

• The instructions for this were very thorough with lots of extra info to guide a less experienced sewer. 

• On my dress form, the front bodice pieces would not lay flat but magically did not gape in the slightest when I had it on. The wonders of bias?

I am very happy with this and can hardly wait to wear it. I also received the other two patterns in the collections as a thank you from Kati (thanks!!) and am looking forward to trying out the Zsalya top—it has some interesting details that I didn't notice until I saw Carolyn's version. So great!

I'll leave you with a few more shots on the dress form. 



Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sewing, Sleeping, Shingles.

In that order. There has been blog silence because I came down with a lovely case of shingles... on my face. FYI if you even suspect that you are getting shingles, get yourself to a doctor in the first 72 hours. There are antivirals that can cut pain and recovery time greatly. I chalked my extreme tiredness and rash up to a raging case of pms and didn't go in until it hurt to touch my scalp. I still got the antivirals, which did help, but I think I was already nearly at the peak of discomfort, though, it could have been much much worse—shingles on the face/scalp can affect you eye. Luckily, mine did not... well, except for the extremely attractive scabbing I've got going on in my eyebrow. Lovely.
I thought I was on the road back to 100%, but started to feel quite tired again. I decided to keep going to bed early and taking naps when I need them. Shingles can take a while to get over (the internet tells me 2-4 weeks and I think I'm looking at the whole 4 weeks—I'm coming up on the 4th week now), so it's best to just take it easy. 

That being said, I have not lost my momentum with physical activity. I've managed to keep up with my 1800 minute challenge thanks to this lovely website that I am in no way affiliated with but like so much that I am sharing it with you.

www.http://www.fitnessglo.com/
I started the advanced 8 week class schedule a couple of weeks ago and really like it. Fitnessglo is an online fitness class. For $12/month (15 day free trial), I have access to all classes at home and I don't have to waste time going to a gym. There are work outs for all levels (beginner to advanced),  time availabilities (10 to 60 min) and work out type (stretch, strength, cardio, sports drills etc, etc, etc.). I thought that after P90X and turbofire, I would find that this didn't push me enough, but yesterday's workout was incredibly challenging (nearly killed me) so I've changed my tune.

To be honest, I've only ever completely finished one round of turbofire and a round of Chalene Xtreme. I crapped out of P90X with only 2 weeks left because of sheer boredom (and the hour workouts are just too time consuming). Fitnessglo is great because I never have to do the same exact class so I'm never bored, and, though you can do as many classes a day as you want, the 8 week program averages 40-45 min/day so I'm not killing myself—resulting in a much less rampant appetite. It's a much better balance for me personally.

As for sewing, I've been working on two costume dresses for Summer Players:


The one on the left is almost done. I finished the back of the overskirt at the zipper incorrectly and need to fix it before I call it officially finished. I got hung up with the instructions for the dress on the right and had to get some clarification yesterday with the costume designer. I'm sorted out now and will hopefully be able to finish it this week. I don't have to hem them (done at a later date) which eliminates the part of construction where I usually crap-out in enthusiasm. As fun as these are to put together, I'm really looking forward to some selfish sewing. There's a pile of projects that I've been accumulating in my head and I managed to buy more fabric yesterday... all for actual planned projects I swear!

Butterick 5505 View B – I found some really nice vinyl for this.
NewLook 6697 View C or E (Short sleeve - no ties) – in a dark green/purple/gold paisley)
Sorry, no fabric swatches because I'm too lazy to take pictures and besides it's in a prewash at the moment.

Armed with some fitting knowledge from Trena's blog, I feel like I might be able to make this dress without resorting to flinging it across the room in a rage half way through. Plus it looks easy enough that it's won't be a huge time-suck in the event that it doesn't turn out. My fabric is quite stretchy and one review from PR said it ran big so I'm going to measure carefully and might go down a size from my usual 12. I also picked up some clear elastic in anticipation of some boop-gapeage-avoidance. If you've made this let me know how you found it.

I've also recently picked up some interesting fabric from Ikea to make another (this time hooded) Minoru.
I'm hoping to do magical things with pattern placement. 

Next time I post, I hope to have the costumes done and some other projects ready to post—but I make no promises. 




Saturday, April 5, 2014

Pattern Testing the Winter Street Dress

I have always wanted to be a pattern tester, and this last month I got my wish twice. Both lovely makes and this is the first of them.

The Winter Street Dress





I've said it before, and I'll say it again: "I don't wear a lot of dresses". Sitting in an office all day with a bunch of dudes that are 8+ years my senior doesn't inspire trying in the fashion department. I wore this on a day that I had a meeting. It's super comfortable and I can see wearing it in the next few months as the weather warms up. 

The fabric is a very stable knit that I found at a church basement sale for something like $2 or $3 for about 3 metres. There were a number of flaws in it but this dress doesn't take a tonne of fabric so I was able to cut around. It was originally slated to become a bomber jacket, but I'm glad to have it as a dress.

I made the size XS according to my measurements. This pattern is true to size and my adjustments reflect my usual changes and those that were expected considering it is drafted for a larger cup size.


Fitting:

1. First off, this pattern is made for a much larger bust than I was blessed with. That translated into too much fabric from arm pit to armpit. I did your basic sba for a non-darted front.
2. My usual broad back adjustment. I've shown two methods I use depending on how much I have to add. I used the second method in this case and added 5/8".

3. I added back 3/8" to the side seam on the front under the arm tapering to nothing at the waist. 

Pattern Changes:

1. Flounces don't really fit into my lifestyle. I love how they look on Deepika's polka dot version, but try as I might, I'm not that girly. So, I lengthened the sleeve to 3/4 length by extending the sleeve seam lines by 3 5/8". 

2. Pockets! I traced around my hand to get the shape and sewed them into the side seams. They are two big and the openings are a touch too small. I'll correct that on my next version. 

3. Neckband: I made mine 3/4" wide. 


Changes for next time:

1. The waist on this is too high for me and thus the length is a bit short. It's still wearable and the fabric disguises it a bit, but it's throws my innate OCD spidy senses out of whack. I can probably add two inches, which after talking to Deepika about it, makes total sense since she is a petite and I am not. The dress I made for my mom a while back had to have a petite adjustment made to it which was just about that same amount. 

2. Make pocket changes as above. 



Conclusion:

Super comfortable. I can eat in this dress. I have never been a fan of the tulip shaped skirt for myself, but I love it here. I want to make another with a cap sleeve, or sleeveless. Hell, I could even give the back a more racer-back shape if I was going sleeveless. So many options!! In my mind, it's not just a winter dress. It should be called "Super Comfortable, Easy to Sew, Super Great Dress". 







Sunday, March 30, 2014

Busy behind the scenes and the 1800 minute challenge

I have been sewing and not just sitting on my ass since the last post – though I did burn through all three seasons of Veronica Mars and watched the new movie twice, but I was mostly lying down for that. Ha.

I've been pattern testing!! Always wanted to do this and really enjoyed the experience. One for Deepika (Pattern Review) and one for Kati over at kate-and-rose. I have to wait to post about both, but will do so when they give me the go ahead. My date in the blog roll for Deepika's pattern is April 5th so check back. I don't know how many details I can give away on this one so I won't give any ;-P

I have a few more unselfish sewing projects that are going to monopolize my time for the next little while. The first two are pillows for my cousin and my mom which I should be able to knock off today and then a couple of costume dresses for the next Summer Players production: H.M.S. Pinafore.

B and I are taking a break from performing this year so I offered to sew. I got to see all of the costume sketches and they are all lovely. I'll check to see if I can share the two I'm sewing with you since some of you may be interested in period costumes... updates on these might be the motivation I need to keep working on them when I have a million other selfish sewing projects running through my head.

Another reason that B and I aren't partaking in the production this year is that we are both going to play slow pitch again. I can't even express to you how much I love playing. I realize that it's slow pitch, but I   seriously cannot stop thinking about running around that field. It's mostly due to the fact that the weather keeps teasing us with a few warm days when the snow melts and then snaps back into -20°C and a small snow storm just to keep us it's bitch.

Dreaming about outdoor physical activity brings me to the 1800 minute challenge.

I already work out pretty regularly and have completed/tried a few BeachBody programs (Chalene Extreme, Turbofire, Turbojam, P90X, T25, Insanity etc... yes, I'm a workout dvd whore and no, I didn't finish Insanity. It's insane.). Now I mix and match what I feel like doing that day/week which puts me in the perfect spot to participate in this new challenge put on by these lovely ladies: 
Erin from Living in Yellow,  Emily from The Freckled FoxAlissa from Alissa Circle, and Alycia from Crowley Party  

Here's the jist from Erin's blog: 
Starting April 1st through May 31st I am committing myself to being physically active for 1800 minutes total. If you do the math that rounds out to nearly 30 minutes a day. I love this idea because it allows me the freedom to do whatever I want, whenever I want. It doesn't mean I have to do 30 minutes everyday, but rather 45 minutes one day, zero the next, perhaps 27 the day after, and so on. Also, being physically active doesn't mean I have to kill myself but rather I can choose to take an afternoon walk, get a quick workout DVD in, lift weights, run on the treadmill, and so on. As long as I reach my 1800 minutes, I don't care how it happens.


Here's what you need to know: 

1. You will want to sign up to be a part of the challenge just so we know who is joining in on the fun (and so that you have a chance to win the amazing grand prize at the end of the sixty days). You can register here

2. Starting April 1st, you will be responsible for tracking your own progress. Don't worry, I've gotcha covered. After signing up for the challenge, you will receive a spreadsheet via email from me which will allow you to quickly track and total your minutes! 

3. Throughout the challenge use #1800MinuteChallenge on Instagram or Twitter so that those of us also participating can follow along and cheer you on. Make sure to follow @livinginyellow@alissamcircle,@thefreckledfox and @alyciagrayce for occasional workout ideas, our favorite playlists, and extra tips + tricks on how to get your 1800 minutes in! 

4. At the end of the challenge (May 31st) those of you who have completed all 1800 minutes will email me your spreadsheet [livinginyellow@gmail.com]. On Monday, June 9th one winner will be drawn to receive the #1800MinuteChallenge grand prize. It's still a secret on what you will be receiving but don't worry, we will fill you in on the details as time goes on. Keep in mind that the best prize of all will be how great you feel and look at the end of the challenge. Our prizes will just be the cherry on top ;) 

Who's ready to do this thing?! 

At the moment I'm ready to bust out some pillow covers and perhaps watch the Veronica Mars movie again while I do so because god help me I have a little crush on that Logan fellow... and Piz... and a lady crush on Veronica. 
I need help.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Vogue 8747: PR Fit Challenge


Vogue 8747 has been in my cue for about a year, so when the PR fitted shirt contest came around I no I finally decided to make it up. The fitted shirt has been a challenge for me what with my broad upper back and smaller chesticles (think sba in the front and fba in the back – ha!). Using my TNT shirt pattern made fitting this a lot easier. While it's still not perfect, I learned a lot.

I used a purple cotton chambray that must have had some spandex in it, a little contrasting topstitching/button holes, and purple buttons from my stash that I didn't even know I had. I had originally wanted to make a classic white shirt using this pattern, but for this challenge, I thought it would be easier to photograph a colour.

I need a haircut in the worst way.





There's quite a lot of fabric at the upper back, but I really need this for
comfortable arm movement. Plus, the dude from "The Great British Sewing Bee"
says that's okay. But really,  could I carve a bit of excess from the
armscye and still be comfortable? What do you think?

My Alterations: 

Green: Additions; Red: Subtractions

I cut a size 12 for muslin #1.  My arm movement ended up being quite restricted but I wasn't convinced that it was because of my broad upper back (usual cause). The arm holes were quite low and I thought that might have something to do with it, so after comparing to my TNT pattern I made the following revisions:

1. Raise armhole by 5/8" (front, back and sleeve)

2. One the side seam of the FRONT, I cut a size 8 at the arm hole and blended to a size 12 at the waist, so it would match my TNT.

3. I noticed that the neck dart from my TNT pattern had been rotated into the arm hole on V8747. There seemed to be excess fabric there, so I shaved off the width of the dart at the shoulder seam (5/8" at the shoulder seam blending to nothing at the neck.

4. I added 1 3/8" in length matching my TNT pattern in length and hem shape.

5. The sleeves for my TNT and V8747 were almost the same, but since I was familiar with my TNT sleeve and it's fit, I used the top of that (matching at the bicep line) and merged it with the bottom of the Vogue (size 8 on the front of the sleeve and a 10 on the back of the sleeve – to match with what I did in point #2). This lowered the sleeve cap 1/4". I referenced a very timely blog post by ikat bag about sleeves here.

6. cut a size 10 cuff.


Muslin #2 looked a lot better—a closer fitting arm hole and better arm mobility, but I kept pulling the shirt down when assessing the fit in the mirror. At first I thought that I might have to raise the waist, but then tried taking a tuck across the upper chest. Suddenly, the bust gathers and the waist fell in a much better spot.
The sleeves were showing vertical twisting wrinkles towards my wrist. After some online investigation (on PR) I figured that I would have to add back in that 1/4" at the sleeve cap. Here are my final alterations:

1. Took 1/4" tuck across the front and back at the upper chest level.

2. Added 1/4" back on to the sleeve cap.

3. Added 1/4" broad upper back adjustment.

4. Raised the bust gathers 1/4" (I just moved the notches up).

5. Added plackets to the sleeves (see green penis-shapes on my diagram) and had to add another pleat to make the cuff size work.


Things to change for next time: 

1. Shorten the sleeve a little, though I think I need the length to cover arm extension.
2. narrow the sleeve a little, especially near the bottom at the cuff, and use a size smaller cuff.

Sleeves come to wrists when arms out straight, though I could
probably get away with 3/4" less of sleeve length.
See what I mean about needing the room for forward arm movement?


That's pretty much it. I love how the back fits and I think after tweaking the sleeve a little I might have another TNT.







Sunday, February 9, 2014

Turquoise


First thing—thank you so much to everyone who commented on my last post. It was incredible to receive such thoughtful comments from people around the world. It helped a lot.

Now... I've been promising this post for too long. What better time to deliver than while procrastinating doing my workout.

New Year's 2013 Dress

I can't even review this dress like I normally would because it doesn't resemble the pattern envelope in the slightest for many reasons: 

1. Fabric choice. 
I picked out this brocade with the help of Tanit-Isis  who just happens to work at Fabricland. Brocade is not a recommended fabric for this pattern. I thought that I might be able to make it work since this particular brocade seemed to have a less-stiff drape, but it turned out that I didn't have enough for the fuller skirt anyway (more about that later). Taran and I went through the whole store and I kept coming back to this super shiny, bright turquoise fabric. I must have been a crow in another life.

2. Not enough fabric.
Taran suggested that I do a straight skirt instead once she saw that I wanted to use the brocade. In my head I poo-pooed the idea only because I wanted it to be comfortable, and straight skirts to me look like torture devices—turns out the dress was actually pretty comfortable. I had Simplicity 5259 in my stash and I liked the side front slit–gave sort of an asian-vibe that went with the fabric I thought. The patterns matched up pretty well with small adjustments (kept both front seams instead of making one a dart to match the lines of the top).


3. This mess (ie: fitting gong-show): 


My strategy was to fit the lining pieces and then transfer the sba I had to do to the outer pattern pieces. Not so much. WAY TO COMPLICATED FOR ME. I'd still like to give this a go as drafted, but maybe in a simpler fabric. I had three muslins for this, and even after the third one fit pretty perfectly, once made up in the brocade, I had to take it out to the limit of my seam allowance around my rib cage and bust to make it fit. Not sure what happened there. My muslin fabric wasn't stretchy, but it was a cotton twill, so there must have been more give than my polyester brocade. obviously.
Long story short, I used the lining pattern for the top portion. 

4. And of course, I burned a hole in it. 
As per the usual turn of events, I melted a hole in the bottom of the skirt which resulted in the addition of the bottom band. I call it a design element. 





It's fully lined and I used a couple of tutorials and made at least three attempts at the lined front vent. Don't ask me how I did it because I couldn't tell you. A friend suggested sewing a reinforcement bar at the top of the slit. I would recommend this tip to everyone. It definitely helped with the strain from sitting. 



If I had to do it again, I'd but in a lapped zipper or move the invisible zip to the side – mostly because of this at the back waist: 
That zip shows much worse when it's on me. 
And here are a few pics of me actually wearing the dress (in all their blurry glory): 


I found the most perfect jewelry and wore my orange wedding shoes. The fabric did get pretty creased from sitting but it's to be expected. Anyway, it was a hit at the event and I'm pretty happy with it.








Saturday, February 1, 2014

Sad News

I've been absent for a few weeks from posting. I had every intention of showing pics of my new year's dress (and still do), but then my brother went in the hospital the second week of January and passed away on January 17.

Mark suffered from severe Crohn's disease and lived with varying levels of pain for his adult life (he would have been 36 in August). My older sister also has Crohn's, but has a much more manageable case using diet and first-tier drug therapies to stay healthy.

It has been such a long battle that I've had to compartmentalize my worry and sadness over Mark's situation for the last 10-15 years to cope. I went to back to work this week and I automatically went into coping mode only to wake up today with too much time to think and the sadness is creeping up on me again. It's for the best, really — I was getting a stomach ache holding it in and felt incredibly disconnected. Crying can be good for you.

B and I were pretty much with him at the end. I say "pretty much" because we left the room for a couple of minutes for the nurses to attend to him and he "slipped out" the door right after us.

We don't have any pictures of Mark from the last 10 years or so (he refused to have his pic taken as his condition deteriorated), but we got a great shot of him in University from one of his friends.



Mark was an incredible athlete. He had a black belt (sash) in Win Chung Kung Fu and also studied Wushu (think Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan). He had plans to go to stunt school in the States and had even put a deposit down when he was more or less healthy. His health didn't improve so he didn't end up going.

He made a little video for his stunt school application that I debated uploading to this post, but I'm not sure I want to have it on the internet for all of eternity so I think I'll keep it to myself for a while at least. It's frickin' amazing by my standards.


Mark was a super funny guy who genuinely cared about others and over the years he became my best friend.


I've learned from Mark:
1.  If you find something difficult physically and want to quit, remember that there is someone out there who would give anything to do the same thing and can’t. Use them for motivation.

2. Having fun is incredibly important.

3. Find your passion and make it your life no matter how ridiculous it seems to other people.

It is a privilege to have this blog and cathartic to be able to share bits of my life. Thanks for listening.