Monthly Archives: July 2018

Julian scrapbusting

I’m kinda a fangirl for Jalie Patterns (if you hadn’t noticed, go read every post I’ve ever written about their jeans, or their maxi-dress pattern, or that one with the shorts and crop-top/sports bra.) But given the size of my pattern stash, I REALLY shouldn’t be buying every cute little pattern that wafts itself past my face. So I was trying REALLY hard not to bite when their new batch of patterns came out this spring.

And then there was Julia. Cute bralet, neat underwear, and that breezy swingy tank just pushed me over the edge. Plus, the pieces were all small enough that I was happy to buy the pdf and save myself time and expensive Canadian shipping. I do like being able to pick my sizes and print only a couple, although the big empty spaces left by the disappearance of the larger sizes make me want to fire up my computer and see if I can rearrange the pieces in Illustrator (I’m guessing the file’s protected but you never know) so the printout is more efficient, but anyway. Over the last few weeks I’ve tested out the bralet a couple of times, and i finally made a matching set with the camisole and underwear

I love the forward-thrown side seam on the underwear, too. I’m sure no one remembers this post about a vintage indie pattern that seemed to promise this feature, but did not deliver. (Obviously I could hack this myself into some other pattern. Obviously I am lazy.)

The only problem with a pattern like this is often my versions don’t come back to me after the kids do the wash. I guess it’s a compliment when your teenagers steal your clothes? Well, bralets, anyway. As long as they don’t steal the underwear.

I’ve been slow to warm up to bralets. I remember a sporty little CK one I got at my husband’s behest in my early twenties—the elastic tended to cut into the underside of my boobs and create, in my head at least, the illusion of sagginess that wasn’t actually there. I made a couple of Watson bralets when the pattern first came out, but the long-line version doesn’t work with my ribcage and the band felt too structured for something that didn’t really do much. But lately I’ve been wanting something a teeny bit more supportive than a snug camisole but without any hard parts, for wearing around the house on days off when I don’t even want to look at an underwire. Julia seemed like it might fit the bill.

I’m a bit ambivalent about the darts (I keep having to lengthen them, but in one version I just skipped them and eased the extra in and that seemed to work well), and I need to break down and order some metal hardware for the straps (or buy locally but Fabricland doesn’t carry metal rings and sliders), but I think on the whole it’s pretty much what I was looking for.

I replaced the band pieces with a wide, soft waistband elastic for this version. It’s probably a bit overkill but I like it.

And I really enjoyed making this version with the built in bralet inside the tank, though on closer inspection of the instructions I guess that wasn’t the idea. It works well enough although the top has a bit more ease.

Julia (left) and Watson bikini (right)

Patterns like this are especially great for using up little scraps of knit that have been lurking in the bin for ages (I got this lovely heavy eggplant rayon knit from a Value Village back when we lived in Calgary. At some point I made a rather cute shirt with most of it but I can’t find any pictures. Anyway. )

I do love the fun racer back. The upper point of the tank is wider than that of the cami, which makes for an interesting bit of fullness when you overlay them. And very soon now I’ll have some days off where I can enjoy it! (Also the pants are Jalie 3022, which means this is a total #sewcanada outfit—Canadian purchased fabric and Canadian-made patterns all the way!)

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The first Fiona

Apparently since all my (minuscule amount of) free time is no longer occupied with Fabricland projects, my vulnerability to the lure of the Shiny New Indie Pattern has re-emerged. Or something. Anyway—first Avery, then York, and now the new Closet Case Patterns Fiona dress have leapt to the front of the sewing queue.

Ok, the Avery was for a class I was teaching, but anyway. Fiona just hit me in all the right places. You may have noticed I have a bit of a thing for button-front sundresses, and sundresses with a band detail across the top. Add in that fabulous low-back option? The only thing I might have changed was a fuller skirt, but on the other hand the columnar shape is one I don’t already have in my wardrobe. And it’s good to try something new.

Well, high hopes can be a curse as much as a blessing, and I kind of struggled with this pattern. Which is fine since this was meant to be a wearable muslin, but it’s still a fairly intensive pattern. Them’s a lot of buttonholes.

I took brand-new measurements and followed the pattern recommendations, which put me in a size 8 at bust and waist grading into a size 10 hips. I think for the no-bra version, at least, I should’ve gone down to the size 6… and possibly up to a 12 in the hips.

Anyway, trying to figure out how a button-front bodice with criss-cross straps and a back overlap is fitting before things are all sewn together is pretty tricky. There are a lot of variables. Initially I thought I could take in the waist by increasing the back crossover. This seemed to work, and I attached the straps, trimming about an inch and a half off (as I had expected since I’m fairly short-waisted). But then when I got the skirt on, it was pulling up weirdly at the back. Releasing the overlap to its original amount (and then taking it in at the sides, and then also taking it in at the princess seams over the bust) fixed most of that. But then my straps were too short. So I opted for a halter closure.

After all that, the skirt itself is pretty much as-is, though I made the rear darts a bit deeper and they could perhaps be a smidgeon longer. The grading to the smaller size at the waist changes the side curve, and I could probably tweak it a bit, but it’s not bad.

I’ll add a little bit about my construction here. The fabric I picked, which looks like linen, is apparently actually ramie, which is a bast fibre from a different plant (a member of the nettle family, which I always think is neat possibly because I watched The Wild Swans too many times as a child and shirts made from nettles are a big part of the plot, anyway, this does not matter). It behaves like linen in pretty much every way except for maybe being a bit scratchier. Anyway, it is a handkerchief weight, which is lovely and summery but not actually opaque. So I underlined the bodice and the upper part of the skirt with random cotton scraps from around the sewing room, making it opaque and also a little bit less scratchy.

I did the buttonholes on my grandma’s Singer Rocketeer, which made them largely painless although the metal grip that jerks the fabric around seems to have done some damage to the lightweight ramie. That would’ve been another foot reason to use a wash away stabilizer… note to self.

Since there were also so many damn buttons, I decided to face my fear of the button-sewing foot. The principle is simple: drop the feed dogs, set a zig-zag to the width of the holes in the button, and the foot holds everything in place.

There’s an oddity with mine in that the soft no-slip plastic “shoe” on the foot seems to slip forward and get in the way of the needle. I had to trim parts of it away with scissors to get it to work at all. But once I did it worked really, really well. Just hand-wheel the first couple of stitches until you get really good at gauging where the holes need to be.

The blue buttons were my kids’ suggestion. Left to my own devices I would’ve gone with white (actually, I would’ve liked metal but I didn’t have twenty random matching metal buttons. These blue ones were just about the only non-white buttons I had in anything like the right quantity and size. )

I don’t know if I’m overly in love with this version—I had a hard time getting photos I liked. (On the other hand it was the end of a long hot day where I spent several hours walking, so my makeup was basically gone and the hair was hanging on by a thread). I do think the band at the top is too loose, maybe not enough to show but it doesn’t feel as secure as it might. But it’s still pretty fun and I like the overall look.

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Summer reruns

I first made this pattern last summer. Apparently it was the last thing I sewed before we moved. I didn’t have a lot of casual yet nice summer stuff. The previous version is great, but the bottom was always just a wee bit snug.

This version arose out of my intermittent but recurring attempts at scrapbusting. (So far no significant reduction in scrap volume has been observed, but I keep trying.) I had just enough of this lovely textured cotton for the top, spliced in a bit of another lightweight cotton for the bottom, added some lace (as well as some more width at the hip) and, I almost have a little dress!

I had to take some closeup selfies to get the fabric to show up. I suck at these, by the way.

Unfortunately, apparently I have no shorts at all to pop it over. Maybe I need to steal them from my children. I usually have just lopped off old jeans into cutoffs but certain increases in the derrière department mean that my last generation of jeans either doesn’t fit any more or has disintegrated at the thigh and butt rather than just going at the knee. So I might have to make shorts, or worse, buy them. I kinda hate making shorts for shorts sake, I gotta say. They’re just as much work as pants but I only wear them a few days a year. So maybe a good candidate for buying.

I should mention that I found the bust snug in my first version, but I don’t in this version. I’m guessing the fabric I used this time has more give.

I’m not super in love with the straps—I could’ve done them thinner and positioned the front wider—but I like the criss-cross in the back. The non-criss-crossy straps are my bra, by the way.

None of my pictures show the lace on the bottom very well. This is some of my favourite lace of all time. I didn’t do a good job finishing the raw edge though. Shhh.

Other than that I’m pretty happy with the finishing. I finished the top with more single-fold bias tape, and I even remembered to sew on the straps in front first. I did the buttonholes on my modern Janome, which never goes as well as with the vintage buttonholer on my Rocketeer, but I was impatient.

All in all, I think it’s pretty cute. Maybe needs some teeny little shorts to go underneath. Summery and casual. Well, casual for me. Come on now.

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