Apr 29, 2014

Faux Accents Done Four Ways

Anyone who has shopped NYC's Garment District knows the wonder that is Spandex House — an entire store dedicated to just the stretchy stuff (On the web, it claims to be "one of the largest collections of Spandex in the world"). Packed with printed, spangled and laser-cut stretch fabrics, Spandex House makes me long for the few short years in which I figure skated (I was in it for the outfits, obviously).

On one shopping trip with several esteemed NYC sewing bloggers, I picked up a yard of perforated stretch faux leather. What did I plan to do with it? Play!

To date, I have used it four ways.

1. As a pocket embellishment on a striped jersey Scout Tee by Grainline (using the Tiny Pocket Tank pocket pattern, also by Grainline):

2. As a contrast bag bottom embellishment:

3. As a contrast yoke, again with a jersey Scout Tee by Grainline. I re-cut the pattern, drafting this yoke detail, which I love:

The yoke wraps around to the front, creating an epaulet-style look:

 4. As a contrast raglan sleeve on a short-sleeved sweatshirt I am working on. The pattern is self-drafted. Long sleeves would have been better, but I didn't have enough left for that. I'm still figuring out how to finish the sleeve hems.

From the front: 

Of course, it's a little shiny and very faux-looking, but I still think it's a fun add-on for casual clothing items like the above four pieces. Any other ideas for ways to use faux as an accent in your me-made items?

Apr 28, 2014

When a Selfie Ain't Enough

How many of you fellow sewing bloggers can relate to this story in New York Magazine about the difficulties of employing your partner-in-love as your photographer-in-chief?

For the most part, the boyfriends/husbands in question (the photogs are all male in this story) seem to enjoy being part of a creative project and are eager to support their other half's ambitions. And for the bloggers, it just makes sense; you need photos all the time, so why not enlist the person you love to be with most?

But what do you do when you break up? (And how do you keep your blog photography from coming between you?) Those questions aren't really answered in this article (sorry if you ran there hoping it was a service piece), but it's interesting to consider.

My husband is accustomed now to snapping pics for this sewing blog, but the process is not without its struggles: I get a little nervous about having my picture taken — particularly outside on the streets of NYC, where I feel like all my neighbors are gawking and wondering what we are up to (we don't exactly live in the most scenic, selfie-worthy borough). So I don't like to linger too long in one spot or draw too much attention to myself. Meanwhile, Ryan will often start shooting without checking to see whether in fact his settings are correct or if the pictures even look good or are in focus. I want him to try different angles and check to see whether the lighting is working, or whether I need to turn toward it. He just wants it to be over. I'm not going to lie: we argue nearly every time. 

But without his help, what would I do? I guess set up a tripod and get a wireless remote — and feel even more self-conscious about taking pics in public! Of course, if we lived elsewhere we'd likely have a yard or some space in our home with good lighting, so all this would be moot? 

So for those of you who employ your significant other as a blog photographer, how do you keep things civil? Any tips you can share with the rest of us?

Apr 27, 2014

It's Da Bomb! (er jacket) Big Reveal

I didn't notice until afterward how it looks like I'm doing two thumbs-up here. Call it subconscious, but I am pretty stoked about my efforts on this self-drafted silk bomber jacket with raglan sleeves:

The fabric is from Chic Fabrics (225 W 39th Street, # 11). I loved it so much (a subtle print with rows safety pins and needles!) so I really splurged: I bought three yards at $15/yard. (Susan from the blog Moonthirty bought the remainder of the roll and I really can't wait to see what she does with it.). 

The lining I had on hand and the waistband, neckband, cuffs and welts are sewn in a lovely Italian ponte I bought at Metro Textile (265 W 37th St # 908) for $6/yard. The zip is from SIL Thread (257 W 38th St # 1). Please, nobody tally up what this bomber jacket cost me; me-made is priceless, right? (RIGHT!?).

Anyway, after spending so much on fabric, I decided to sew my purse shut and draft my own darn pattern, working from a hoodie pattern I had created a while back. (I had my eye on the Rigel Bomber by Papercut Patterns and another by Burda. Though I liked elements of each, I couldn't afford the Rigel and was put off by a few bad experiences with Burda's insufficient instructions). 

Following the instructions in "The Art and Science of Patternmaking and Grading by Professor Harry Greenberg & Professor Leonard Trattner, it only took one failed draft for me to get the raglan sleeve seaming and fit just right. I opted for a dropped neckline similar to the Rigel though not quite so low. I hate feeling choked by my jacket collar — but I still don't want to expose whatever top I have on underneath! This neckline scoop is my Baby Bear's porridge: just right. So let's see how it looks open:

It feels like a dream, so comfy and silky. It is rather shiny, which made me falter at one point during the late-construction phase. Would it look like some fancy grandpa's Sunday best tracksuit? 

I love how the curved neckline matches up with the top of this tank when the bomber is unzipped.
I know... you want to see the innards. I lined the whole thing with yet more silk. I handstitched the lining to the outer jacket because by that point things were going so well....and I didn't want to risk botching it up!

Fancy grandpas aside, I love this bomber and how I was able to take a fabric like this printed silk and turns it into something casual and almost sporty — something that I could wear every day (unlike a dress or blouse, which I also considered. Had I sewn a dress instead, I would have ended up with something I wear once, maybe twice a year if I'm lucky).

My new silk bomber has already proven to be ultra wearable — so wearable I wore it thrice before I managed to make time with my husband/photographer for a photo shoot. So wearable it already has tea and yogurt on it. So wearable....I am considering wearing it again tomorrow.

Have you ever taken a fancy fabric and turned it into something suitable for every day wear? Tell me about it! 

Apr 24, 2014

Me Made May 2014: There better be a hashtag

Looking in my closet, the me-mades outweigh the store-boughts by about 2 to 1. It makes sense: I don't have any money left for ready-to-wear after spending it all on fabric!

And as someone who sews, blogs about sewing AND teaches sewing, I rarely go a day without wearing something I made myself. Is it partly ego — that I don't want to answer "No" when someone says "Did you make that?" I admit it: yes, I am embarrassed to say "This came from Target". It's also that I want to inspire my students ("Yes, I made this — and you can too!") by showcasing what an at-home sewer can do.

That's why I tend to make items I can wear daily: T-shirts & tanks, blouses, pants, leggings, jackets, sometimes skirts and (very occasionally) dresses. But I do have a few makes that get little love because I can't figure out how to style them. Also, there are a few items I've been meaning to overhaul in the hopes of raising them up to daily-wear status.

And so I was inspired to take part in this year's Me Made May, the 4-year-old sewing blogger challenge begun by So, Zo What Do You Know in which we pledge to wear handmade for the month of May:  
 I, Suzanne of Beau Baby, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '14. I endeavour to wear at least one handmade piece of clothing each day for the duration of May 2014. 

In past years I haven't even blogged much in May thanks to my awful Spring allergies (who wants their photo taken when they have a sinus infection and double pinkeye? Not me! And who wants to see that photo? Not you!). But I'm optimistic that a bunch of new meds I'm on will make this May bearable, so I'll be posting daily on my Instagram feed (which you can find here). I'll also be lurking your Me Made May postings, so drop a link in the comments section below and let me know how you will be taking part in this year's Me Made May challenge. We can all stroke our sewing egos together!

Apr 22, 2014

Pattern Review: Jolly Roger Raglan Tee

A few months ago I started teaching sewing at this great space in Upper Manhattan, Bread and Yoga (they also have yoga, obviously, as well as art and cooking). In addition to beginner adult classes and weekend workshops, I also teach tween classes (age 9-13). And since most of the young girls in my class ultimately want to sew clothes, I started searching the web for easy tween patterns. It's not easy to find patterns for that age group that look like something they would actually want to wear.

And then I found the Jolly Roger Raglan Tee pattern by Patterns for Pirates, a small indie patternmaker who specializes in boys clothing. She has just four patterns available for download at her Etsy shop. Having drafted a raglan T pattern before, I didn't mind paying the $7.50 for the downloadable PDF of this multi-sized T-shirt in several variations, including long sleeved with a cuff, 3/4-length sleeve and short. Plus it comes in sizes 3m,6m,9m,12m,18m,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,10,12,14 — which gives you options. But I've never heard of Patterns for Pirates — nor could I find any sewn examples on sewing blogs. Would it be any good? 

I made one in size 7 for my daughter, using some cotton knit from Chic on 39th Street in NYC's Garment District:

And then I tested it out in the largest size — 14 (I wondered whether both sizes would fit well; pattern grading between such disparate sizes ain't easy). It fit me pretty much perfectly:

There's a bit of rippling at the top where the stripes meet the sleeve and neckline. I chalk that up to my own error in using fabrics with different amounts of stretch. (I also possibly didn't measure my neckband properly). No matter: I've worn it at least several times anyway since then.

This was such an easy make: I sewed it all on my serger. My fabric was quite stretchy so the fit was great all around — even though this top was designed to fit a 14-year-old boy. The striped fabric is rayon from Metro Textile. The grey sleeves and neckband are upcycled from a maternity nightgown:

The pattern also includes options for elbow patches and that little triangle thing at the center front (is there a word for that?). There are three different hem choices too: banded hem, traditional hem and curved. I do love options. (My big quibble with some indies is that often there are no options — you have to draft them yourself).

The pattern instructions include full color photos and detailed instructions, making the Jolly Roger a good option for someone who hasn't sewn a T-shirt before. If you have sewn a raglan T before, you probably won't even need them. All the pattern pieces are clearly marked and fit together perfectly.

Making a bunch of little Ts in the smallest sizes would be a great way to use up scraps of your most treasured stretch fabrics. I've yet to try out the littlest sizes to see how they fit, but I'm guessing after my two samples they will be just fine. It's a great basic top — and I think easy enough for a tween to sew (they don't yet know to be afraid of stretch fabrics, which is wonderful!).

Apr 14, 2014

Spring Break Sewing: Bomber Progress!

I have exactly five minutes to write a post before my child's daily allotment of Doc McStuffins comes to end, thus officially beginning Spring Break/No Time to Myself Week. (I already used one episode and three-quarters to shower, dress, and do some sewing, naturally).

I thought I would share some progress on my self-drafted silk bomber jacket. With my pattern tested twice and ready, I started cutting my bomber out. I thought about the weight of the silk and decided to completely fuse the front and back pieces with weft-weight interfacing. The silk is a charmeuse weight, and I thought the slant welt pocket would drag it down too much without a little stabilization. It still feels really nice. The sleeves I left unfused:

Speaking of welts, these might be some of the nicest I have sewn:

The pocket bag will be hidden by a lining eventually, but here it is for now:

I'm afraid of my neckline getting stretched out, so I won't actually leave my bomber-in-progress on my dressform...but here it is just to get a taste:

Times up! We are off to go hunt Easter Eggs in the city today (Faberge is hosting the "Big Egg Hunt" which is obviously a marketing ploy but my kid is super stoked to scan the eggs on my phone and "crack" them. Anyone else got some good Spring Break ideas? We are staying in NYC for most of it. Sewing, unfortunately, is off the table!

Apr 10, 2014

Bomber Pattern-in-Progress

I'm not saying you have to be a math wizard to be a good patternmaker, but it definitely helps to have the kind of mind that can solve visual problems. Exhibit A: here's what my patternmaking textbook (The Art and Science of Patternmaking and Grading by Professor Harry Greenberg & Professor Leonard Trattner ) indicates needs to be done to create a proper raglan sleeve pattern:

Fun, right?
Doing so creates the necessary ease under the arm, so you can do things like scratch your nose and wave to your friends. Now here's what that looked like in real life on my living room floor the other night:

Of course, then I taped it all down to a large piece of paper and used my curves and rulers to draw all around the now-cut-up sleeve pattern. Then I double-checked and fiddled until all the seams were the right lengths.

The end result? Pretty perfect really!

Now the back view:

I wanted to check welt placement (and let's face it, who couldn't use a little practice making welt pockets?), so I cut and sewed just one:

There you have it, kids: Math=a good fit! Now I just need to choose my lining fabric and I'm all set to sew a bomber jacket from my own pattern.  Anyone have a fave welt pocket tutorial they want to share? Throw it down in the comments below.

Apr 9, 2014

Sew Sexy? Or Sew Hard to Wear?

Things are heating up in the Sew Sexy Sewalong challenge with Sown Brooklyn's ab-baring two-piece outfit in houndstooth. (Have you seen it? I love it). I don't actually have any clue when this sewalong wraps, so I'm posting my entry immediately lest I miss the deadline. So, I present to you a sheer striped Scout tee, made from pieced organza and cotton with a back in solid black shirting. Yes, that is a one-inch section of my midriff showing. Feast your eyes: 

That face I am making is in response to my photographer/husband, who is saying to me: "Why are you standing like that with your toes together?"

"This is how sexy women stand these days!"

"Pigeon toed? You look like you're hunching."

If looks could kill:

Here, again, is the inspiration for my top, in a much more demure white-on-white stripe:

I used the Scout Tee pattern because it has good bones: I've made it before so I know the neckline (which I dropped) is flattering; the side seams are positioned properly; the hemline is perfect; and the ease is enough to create the casual shape that I hoped would contrast the sheer fabric I was using.

I created the striped piecing by cutting wide strips of both fabrics, and then sewing them together. I then pressed and topstitched:

I then cut the front pattern piece out, taking care to place a non-see-through stripe across the bust:

I modified the back piece of the Scout Tee pattern to create an overlapped open back. Unfortunately, in this stiffish shirting it looks a little like a goth hospital gown:

Though I feel like this was a pretty successful experiment, I'm not sure the sexy factor is high enough. It is see-through in places...but the overall shape is pretty boxy. (That was purposeful; I thought it would be kind of mod/sexy.) I don't exactly look thrilled, do I?

Though sheer fabrics aren't likely to make their way to the top of my sewing pile again soon, I will definitely attempt making my own stripes once more. I really loved how easy it was to create a bold, graphic look with just a few scraps of fabric. It's definitely a fun way to make a tried-and-true pattern all-new again.

Have you sewed with sheer fabric before? How do you (pigeon) toe the line between sexy and trashy?

Apr 8, 2014

Patternhacking a Bomber of My Own

Lucky me, living in NYC, I get to fabric shop every now and then with some of my fave ladies from blogland. And last week I made the trek to midtown for a little coffee (tea for me; I'm on the wagon!) and giddy shopping with oonabaloona, Susan from Moonthirty, and Angela, a recent transplant to NYC. Just before I had to head back to the Bronx for kindergarten pickup we were joined by Clio and Devra, though my wallet was sewn shut by then. 

My best find of the day was this black silk printed with pins from Chic Fabrics (don't bother looking for it; Susan ran back and bought the rest of the bolt!):

How appropos for a sewist, right? I thought hard about what to make with this silk, which cost $15/yard (ouch!). Obviously at that price I don't want to waste this lovely find on something I will rarely wear, so I'm thinking....silk bomber jacket.

Of course, Papercut Patterns' Rigel Bomber is the obvious choice for this. But after dropping $45 on the fabric I don't have $30 to spend on a pattern (no matter how well it is presented).  And, I realized, I have a perfect hoodie pattern I drafted myself a few months back. Can I use it as a base to make a raglan-sleeve bomber pattern? Here's the hoodie I made:

I love it and wear this hoodie every other day. Surely I can achieve a likewise good fit by turning this into a raglan sleeve pattern, adding some ease to account for the fact I'll be using a woven not a knit? Here's how I started, by lining up the shoulder seams and tracing all three pieces:

There's more to drafting a raglan sleeve than you might think, as evidenced by the tortured underarm on my first muslin:
It hurts just to look at it

Looking at that was enough to make me search all my pockets for a spare $30. But no, still broke. So no Rigel for me. I clearly have a few changes to make on my pattern, though it's not all terrible:


The process of drafting and testing your own patterns is enough to make you appreciate a well-drafted commercial pattern. In fact, weighing it out value-wise, I would probably be better off buying the Papercut Patterns' bomber pattern; if I only spent five hours perfecting this pattern, I would have to value my time at $6/hour in order to justify taking on this task. (In fact, I will probably devote much more time than that to this). Alas, I have more expertise (and spare time) than I do money, so I will press on with this project. Patience, little grasshopper. 

Here's my second draft in paper pattern form (I've yet to cut a muslin). I dropped the armhole a lot and added length to the underarm seam. I also reshaped the raglan seaming:

Anyone have raglan-drafting wisdom to share? Please do in the comments below!

Apr 7, 2014

Party in the Front, Mom Jeans in the Back

I thought I hated high-waisted pants. But now, after the third draft of my self-drafted Perfect Pants pattern (made using Kenneth King's method as outlined in the Craftsy "Jeanius" class, I realize that I do like 'em high — but only in the back:

Some would say that the above my high-in-the-back-but-low-in-the-front waistline is poor patternmaking, but I love how these pants fit more than anything. I can bend over without revealing my undies (or worse), and yet my front waistband rides low enough that it doesn't cut into my stomach when I sit down. In fact, I love these pants so much I wore them twice before I managed to get photos for the blog — something I avoid out of fear I will get food on them or otherwise ruin.  

I'm not one for cropped tops, so there's really no way to tell I've got a high-low waistline going on:

The last time I made this pattern I was disappointed; the front rise was too long, and though I loved my fabric and had sewn them really well, every time I put them on I'd get frustrated and change. A baggy crotch is a major deal-breaker.

So I reduced my front rise by an inch and half — and then added it to the back rise (I've learned the hard way that if you take out of the front, you must give to the back or else the end result will be butt-crack-city). I then had to reshape the waistline through the side seam, resulting in this high-low look. The result is the best-shaped pants I've owned. In fact, I didn't even mind doing the over-the-shoulder shot in these pants:

Oh, and that top? The Tiny Pocket Tank by Grainline in a lovely cotton-silk from Metro Textile in NYC's Garment District. The print, which I think looks like an Impressionist painting, has just about every color in it. 

My pattern has some tuxedo-pant-style detailing, which I find very flattering, even in this non-tuxedo-pant-style yellow, a (non-stretch) cotton I found in Mood's denim section: 

The tuxedo-pant detailing appears also in the inseam. I think I will omit that piecing in my next iteration of this pattern:

Any other high-low lovers out there? (I've noticed that some of my RTW pants have a similar cut, so maybe I am late to the high-low party!)

Apr 1, 2014

A Sheer Surprise

I quit coffee a few weeks back and other than the 36-hour headache the hardest thing has been losing that one thing I used to reward myself. Coffee was my carrot, encouraging me to make a deadline or finish a task so I could have a few minutes of enjoyment before moving onto the next thing.

Now what do I have for a moment of self-rewarding downtime? I give myself a couple minutes on Pinterest for some mindless scrolling through all the mason jar DIYs and nail art closeups. It's not invigorating like coffee, but it also doesn't give me anxiety like caffeine did so there's that.

The other day I was scrolling I saw this top pinned to a friend's fashion board:

I was still looking for some project inspiration for Clio, Sown Brooklyn and Lisette's Sew Sexy Sewalong challenge, and this seemed like a good way to push myself and try something new — and maybe add something sexy to my wardrobe.

So I rifled through my stash and found some silk organza and polka dot cotton I thought would be cool to combine in a pieced stripe:

I made my stripes wider and tried to place the opaque polka dot cotton over the bust area:

To make it easy on myself, I am using Grainline's Scout T-shirt pattern, which I have sewn multiple times. It has an easy, loose fit, so I shouldn't shred through the organza pulling it on and off. 

My next task is to figure out what to use on the back of this T-shirt. I don't want to have to match stripes on the side (plus the inspiration T features a solid back). I may have to cut something apart to find a good match. I'm not really willing to shop for this top, since it's kind of an experiment and might be an unwearable disaster anyway. 

What would you choose for the back of a sheer, striped T-shirt?


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...