Sunday, February 11, 2018

2018 Sewing Goals and January Recap

Happy Monday folks! I realized after I started writing again in this space that I never wrote out my goals for 2018. I have them in a super cute little sewing notebook, but if I actually put them here, it might be some additional motivation to stay the course.
Love this vintage pattern cover notebook - perfect for all of my sewing lists for 2018

My biggest goal for this year was to join the 2018 Ready To Wear Fast that is hosted by Goodbye Valentino.

What is the Ready To Wear Fast? Great question! I, along with hundreds of others have pledged to not purchase any clothing for 2018 - if I want or need it, I need to make it myself. Kind of crazy, right?! Exceptions include undergarments, shoes, bags, jewelry. The reality is that the second half of 2017 was already trending in this direction for me anyways, but this is a great challenge to really stretch my sewing skills and examine my shopping habits. We're almost 1.5 months in and while I haven't been tempted, I have learned a lot about myself already. More on that later.

In addition to the 2018 RTW Fast, I am also participating in the 2018 Make Nine Challenge. Basically, choose 9 garments/sewing projects you'd like to complete in 2018. I keep lists throughout the year for my sewing, so it was kind of weird to just choose 9 things I really wanted to make, so I tried to stretch myself a bit for these. Here they are in no particular order:
  1. Bathing suit 
  2. Men's Raglan
  3. Men's Basic t-shirt
  4. Casual pants for my boys
  5. Jeans
  6. M4M Darcey Cardigan
  7. Woven shorts
  8. Woven blouse
  9. Workout leggings
This list was influenced heavily by the RTW Fast Challenge - we have a couple of trips on the schedule that will require shorts and a swimsuit and I would like to at least try to make myself a pair of jeans since I won't be buying any this year. Eeeeek! I have already tackled 2 of the above with some success and will cover them more in the next couple of weeks.

I'd also like to try at least 1 new to me pattern per month. I LOVE sewing TNT patterns because they are my closet workhorses and always give me a great fit, but if I don't continually try new things, I won't find other patterns that I love.

January 2018 Recap
I had a really strong start to the beginning of the year! Not only do I sew garments for myself, but I also tend to sew quite a bit for my sons and also a fair number of gifts throughout the year. The number of garments I create each month are fairly high and I realized within a couple of weeks of restarting this blog that there is no way I can photograph and blog every single thing I make. Instead, I'll do monthly recaps and individual blog posts for the most interesting garments, pattern tests or the things that have a good story attached to them. Even that will be a challenge, but at least it will narrow down what I feel compelled to share in detail here in this space. Also, I'll post pics of new garments on Instagram (see my feed on the right) as much as possible, even if they don't have a blog post attached to them.

Now let's talk numbers. I made 20 (!) garments in January. A good chunk of that was what I consider utility sewing - basics for me and for my boys that sew up incredibly quickly and are closet staples. They break down as such:
  • Gifts - 2: a workout tank (P4P Essential Tank afflink) and cardigan (P4P Cocoon Cardigan afflink) for my friend and fitness mentor (the white top was actually sewn and counted at the end of 2017)

  • Husband -2: yes, I finally sewed my first garments for my husband!! only took 8 years, but here we are. More on this in a separate post.
  • Boys - 5: all long sleeve t-shirts (P4P Jolly Roger Raglan and P4P YoHo Henley afflinks) that they needed to make it through the rest of winter and into spring.

  •  Me - 11: One pair of casual wear joggers, 3 hoodies, 3 tops for a pattern test and 4 basic tops 
I also tried 2 new to me patterns - a pattern test (George + Ginger RuLo Top and Dress) and a pattern that I had purchased last year for my husband (Cole's Creations Jerry's Raglan).

Needless to say, it was a good month and a great start to 2018. What are your goals for this month or for 2018? Drop me a line and let me know what you're working on!

    Monday, February 5, 2018

    P4P Woman's Henley Shirt

    I've had a very productive start to 2018 when it comes to sewing and one of the patterns I used the most was the Women's Henley pattern from P4P. (afflinks) I completely overlooked this pattern originally because I had zero interest in wearing a shirt with a button placket after coming off of nursing my youngest. Once I realized it actually includes a basic t-shirt neckline as well as the placket, I scooped it up! I made 4 tops using this pattern in January and they give 3 very different looks:

    Basic Long Sleeve
    I started the month by sewing up 2 basic long sleeve versions in some awesome aqua/white and grey/white striped cotton lycra from TKB Prints. TKB is actually known for their star fabric, but I absolutely adore her custom yarn dyed stripes as they are great for both me and my boys.

    I had this photo saved on Pinterest and wanted to make my own version.The original is a raglan cut sleeve, but I opted for the inset sleeve of the henley instead.

    I sized down for this one because I like my basic tees to be fairly close fitting. I used a plain white cotton lycra for the neckband and for the cuffs (made slightly taller than the pattern calls for) and added a vest because it's cute for winter. I love this look and it's something I wear often during the week because it's simple, comfy and put together.

    The grey and white stripe has hemmed sleeves and a neckband in the same strip fabric as the body of the shirt. Super simple, but a great closet basic. 

    Raglan Colorblock Sleeves
    P4P ran a Henley Sew a Long in January on their blog and introduced a free add-on to the pattern for a raglan colorblock sleeve hack. I had been sitting on some charcoal dot and red buffalo plaid french terry from So Sew English just waiting for the right raglan colorblock pattern to come along. I used my measured size for the bust and sized down for the hips for a close fit banded long sleeve tee.

    Adding the little raglan accents is pretty straight forward and the blog will walk you through the construction, but you do need to own the Henley pattern for everything to work correctly. I love how the colorblock accents dress up an otherwise plain shirt and it's a great way to use up leftover fabric scraps.

    Henley Sweatshirt
    I've had this charcoal Blush Lilly Stripe french terry from So Sew English since the fall, but just could not figure out how I wanted to use it. I finally decided on a hooded sweatshirt and opted to use the Henley pattern with hood option. I lucked out and had *just* enough pale pink jersey leftover from another project to use for the cuffs/band/hood lining. It was a perfect match to the pale pink in the flowers.

    Again, I cut my measured size for bust and sized down for hips, which makes this a slimmer fit sweatshirt for me (my desired fit for this piece). I also added a kangaroo pocket, which is from the Raglan Add On Pack (afflink), but easily works on any shirt pattern. Can we also take a minute to talk about the stripe matching here! It's hard to see, but it's stripe matched to within an inch of it's life and I'm super happy with it.

    This is a casual piece, but I love the fabric and it will be something I reach for often. I'm all about stripes and florals right now, so when you combine them? LOVE!

     Needless to say, I love the Henley pattern as a basic long sleeve block that can be customized in all sorts of ways. You know I love my TNT patterns and this one easily falls into that cateogry. I am hoping to play around with a short sleeve version for spring - maybe with a lowered neckline and a cap sleeve. Endless possibilities, I tell ya!

    Monday, January 29, 2018

    Hacking the Lululemon Don't Hurry, Be Happy Pullover

    In 2012, Lululemon released the Don't Hurry, Be Happy Pullover sweatshirt. It was made of a micro-fleece fabric backed in this crazy soft and warm minky type layer and had accents in Rulu (a warm, proprietary tech knit fabric). It came in ivory and black and sold out very quickly. I was able to snag one in ivory and it has been my go-to cold weather sweatshirt for the last 5 years.
    Wearing the inspiration piece
    The original website photo

    I kept hoping that they would release another round, this time in colors other than white and black, but no dice. And while I kept hoping to find similar fabric so I could make my own version, I didn't have any luck in that department either.

    This past fall though, So Sew English announced that they would be stocking a new fabric, made just for them, that they were calling "Super Plush" - a smooth, stretchy knit fabric backed with a plush, minky like fluff. I almost fell off the couch when I read it - THIS was what I had been looking for to hack my favorite Lululemon sweatshirt!

    I snagged 2 yards of the charcoal super plush and then... a billion other things got in the way and it sat the in the sewing room for months. Ooops.

    I *finally* got down to business last week and started hacking the silly thing already. Aside from the charcoal super plush, I also used some charcoal bamboo lycra jersey I had in the stash for the cuffs and waistband. I used the P4P Relaxed Raglan pattern (afflink) as my base, though any relaxed fit raglan pattern you like would probably work. I used the RR pattern as drafted for the body, sleeves and kangaroo pocket (which comes with the Raglan Add on pack afflink). One of my only critiques of the original pullover was that the extremely fitted sleeves/cuffs made it difficult to layer a shirt underneath. I purposely kept the sleeves as drafted for the RR so they would be loose enough for another layer underneath. I also made sure the cuffs were cut looser as well.

     The funnel/cowl neck, cuffs and waistband, however, needed some tweaking from RR pattern base.

    Funnel/Cowl Neck
    The neck piece on the inspiration piece is like a very tall funnel collar that is dreaming of being a cowl neck (just a smidge wider at the top than the bottom). I literally took tracing paper and drew the shape of the funnel neck with pencil and then cleaned it up and made sure it was even. The thing that is hardest to see with this piece is that the front dips down, while the back curves up.

    In hindsight, I should have made the top of the funnel wider so it would fold over my shoulders a bit more. It sits fine, just more upright than the original. Since my version is narrower through the funnel neck, I skipped the cording and just turned up the hem 1" and topstitched.

    The LLL pullover has a 4 piece waistband - 2 outer and 2 inner pieces. The outer pieces are ruched and the inner pieces are just sewn flat. I decided to use a 7"x17.75" piece for the outer layer and then 5"x17.75" for the inner layer (includes 1/4" seam allowances). I used 1/4" elastic cut to 5" and stitched it to the seam allowance for the outer layer, which caused the ruching effect. There might be a better way to achieve this detail, but this technique was successful.

    I then stitched the inner and outer layers right sides together and flipped them back out - ruched outer layer and smooth inner layer.  You can see here that the join line of the inner and outer layers rolls to the inside, which actually happens with the LLL version as well.

    The cuffs are sewn in a very similar fashion to the waistband. The original pullover has a 4 piece cuff, but I simplified my version to 2 pieces - a ruched outer top layer and smooth inner layer. The dimensions I used for my cuff pieces were 9"x8" for the outer layer and 6"x8" for the inner layer. Again, I used 1/4" elastic cut to 6" in the seam allowance for the outer piece to achieve the ruched look. I stitched them together and flipped them over so they could be attached to the sleeves.

    I topstitched all of the seams except for the 2 side seams to give it a sportier look and to mimic the inspiration piece. Topstitching tall, slim, cuffs in the round is AWFUL, but I made it work. Ideally, I'd have figured out and used a flatlock stitch for most of this, but since I don't have that skill under my belt yet, the coverstitch topstitching worked out pretty well.


    My hacked version:

    All in all, I'm SO happy with this sweatshirt! It's not exactly like the original, but it's close enough for my liking.

    I can also see myself using the cuff and waistband pieces on other sweatshirts for myself to fancy them up a bit. They take longer to construct, but I love the ruched details on them both.

    Even if you don't want to hack your own Don't Hurry, Be Happy Pullover, I can't recommend this super plush fabric enough for warm and comfy sweatshirts and jackets. So Sew English has even more super plush coming soon in jewel tones and a couple of prints and I have plans for at least one more sweatshirt like this. Yes, I realize I live in Southern California, but I'm often cold during the winter months and this pullover feels like wearing your favorite cozy blanket - but it's acceptable to wear outside of the house! 

    Monday, January 22, 2018

    George & Ginger RuLo Top & Dress

    Now that we've gotten past the holidays, pattern testing is back in full swing! Kristi, from George + Ginger Patterns is showing at NY Fashion Week next month (OMG!!), but has released her first pattern of 2018 before focusing solely on her Fashion Week Collection.

    The RuLo Top and Dress pattern is chock full of options that mix and match with one another - there is really something for everyone here. Oversized dolman body, regular set in sleeve body and then several lengths and sleeve options. Take a look!

    I tested the Tunic with Shoulder Ruffle Sleeve using a brushed sweater knit from Sincerely Rylee Fabrics. The most time consuming part of this option is hemming the shoulder ruffles as hemming circles always feels tedious to me, but from there it sews up incredibly quickly.

    I cut a 4 bust and graded out to an 8 hip, per my measurements. The set in sleeve body is very roomy through the hips, so I probably would have been fine with a straight 4, but I still like how this tunic falls. The shoulder ruffle is super feminine and such a sweet touch to the sweater.

    I liked the cut of the sweater so much that I also made a cropped version with basic sleeve from some super soft and drapey poly rayon French terry, also from Sincerely Rylee Fabrics. I don't typically think of myself as a "wears crop tops" kinda gal, but I love this one! I cut a straight 4 here and it's perfect - a little flare at the bottom, but pretty subtle. I thought it would be cute over my gym clothes while I warm up, but I really like it paired with joggers for cute casual everyday street wear.

    And Hamilton hats make everything better, even super cute stripe crop tops!

    I think I'd like to try one of the bell sleeves next and maybe the dress length. See, so many cute options available. This pattern is 25% off through Friday 1/26 and isn't one to miss!