Wednesday, September 21, 2016

True Bias Ogden Cami: You Know You're Obsessed When...

I may be just a teensy little bit obsessed with the new True Bias pattern, the Ogden Cami.

Ogdens all in a row

I am not usually one of the first people to sew a pattern, but this cami literally made me drop everything and sew it. Again and again - in cotton batiste, Liberty Tana Cotton Lawn, silk charmeuse and silk chiffon. It really filled a hole in my pattern library for a simple, well fitting cami.

Worn with my Jean-ius trousers

My first version was meant to strictly be a muslin since I was testing the results of an FBA, which you can see below. I decided not to rotate the darts out - I just feel like I get a better fit with darts entact somehow.

Test version in cotton batiste

My test version fit so well that I decided to finish and wear it. Batiste is so light and airy on a sweltering summer day, and I recently discovered I have yards and yards of white batiste in my stash for some unknown reason.

Happy with the fit, I moved on to a remnant of Liberty of London 100% Cotton Tana Lawn. One of the great things about this pattern is that it doesn't take all that much fabric. It's perfect for using up the odd yard+ of fabric or for using a precious/expensive fabric that you don't want to buy too much of.

Liberty version

Next I sewed the purple and black charmeuse version, which I have not done a photo shoot for. It feels luscious on.

Sorry for the i-phone photo

My fourth version is in silk chiffon lined with china silk. Since the chiffon is sheer, I simply used the main pattern pieces to make a lining instead of using the facing pieces.

This one was a little challenging to hem. After a few failed attempts at a machine sewn narrow hem, I took the suggestions of some Instagram friends and did a hand rolled hem - my first, if you can believe it. It's a really sweet finish for this top.

I love that the back is fairly low, but not low enough to reveal one's bra band. Hooray! I love a top with great back.

I love a top that gives good back!

You might think that I would have stopped there with the Ogdens, but I didn't.  As if four wasn't enough, I also used the pattern to rescue a UFO.

Two years ago I started sewing the Future Dress. Christine of Seamwork Radio had posted a tutorial to this Claire McCardell classic 1945 dress on her blog, Daughter Fish. It seemed simple enough even if it did take miles of fabric.  But making the straps was kind of fussy and I was pregnant at the time. I really needed to move on to sewing things I could wear to work, and the idea of hemming all those miles of rayon challis after all the time I had spent sewing french seams... I just didn't have the will power and set it aside. But I pulled it out this summer and fussed some more. However, getting the armscye's and straps right still seemed fussy, and at this point I was starting to mangle the fabric. So, I decided to scrap the original neckling/strap/armscye configuration and McGuyver the whole thing into a bias cut trapeze Ogden maxi dress.

I'm totally in love with its swishy perfection, although I need to shorten the straps just a scooch.

Anyway, Ogden love is going strong over here in the Craft Lounge. I have a feeling that now when I want to sew with a fabric that doesn't really go with the rest of my wardrobe, I'll just whip up an Ogden to go with it. It's so easy to sew and, as always, Kelli's instructions are thoughtful and clear. Plus I have several more ideas of what I want to do with this pattern - like cut it on the bias for a slinkier fit, sew it in a knit as a pj top or lengthened to be a night gown, or make Ogden slips for layering in the winter. But at this moment, I am going to embark on some unselfish sewing and a few other projects to clothe my lower half. But it feels nice to have a go-to pattern like this.

Do you have a TNT like this? A versatile pattern that fills that critical niche? Do tell!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Foxy Lady Tux: M7366 Review and FBA

Several weeks have passed since I was out on the town in my sexy spin on the lady tux. So, it's about time I did a little review and show you how I did an FBA on the top. 

As a reminder, the pattern is McCall's 7366, a jumpsuit with bodice and length variations. I sewed version B. 

First, let me just say that if you - like me - are a regular BMV sewist and normally go down a few sizes from the envelope measurements because you are used to a lot of ease in their patterns, just stop and heed my warning. This pattern fit according to the envelope. For my first muslin, I used my regular BMV size and had to do a wiggle dance to get it over my hips. There was no way I could have zipped it up. However, a few muslins later and the fit was great!

Front View

And peek-a-boo back

And that is the thing with view A and B of this pattern. For a trim fitting jumpsuit that has a neckline that plunges almost to the navel, fit is the thing. You don't want the neckline to gape and risk a wardrobe malfunction. I found that the torso length and the right amount of ease in the legs were both important to fit and comfort. If the torso is too long, you will get gaping down the neckline - no bueno! If it is too short, particularly on the back, you won't have enough ease to sit down without the collar pulling and choking you  - really no bueno! And the leg ease is important so that when you sit, it isn't binding, but yet has a slim fit. I'm actually surprised that the fabric recommendations did not include stretch woven fabrics for this reason. 

Let's talk about the bust fit. Here is my altered pattern piece.  


In addition to my normal 2-3 inches of length, I need about 2 extra inches total across the bust these days. On a top like this, which is split down the middle, the temptation might be to skip it. But you really don't want to have the fabric bowing out at the fullest part of your bust or have gaping or pulling there. To avoid any wardrobe malfunctions, you want a enough coverage across the bust and just enough - but not too much - length from neck to navel to keep the neckline pretty snug to your chest. This pattern is drafted with two pleats at the neckline on each side. This made the FBA easier than you might think. I added the extra width I needed down the whole length of the bodice (you can see how I did it in two places which sort of helped me keep the grainline sane) and, instead of adding a dart, simply added a third pleat to eat up the extra fabric at the neck. 

Third Pleat

I also reshaped the side seam at the waist. To complete the FBA, I needed a bit more length at the center front, to go over the bust. I added a little wedge to lengthen the neckline without lengthening the side seam. This makes the neckline slightly bent. But because my body is curved, the neckline actually appears pretty straight on me, without much in way of bowing. Aren't optical illusions great? 

As for the rest, I just played around with the length and width of the pattern until I achieved a fit that worked - there was no magic there, just some trial and error sewing. 

I really loved this pattern and my tux. The only two style changes I made are that I decided to eliminate the pockets for a slightly sleeker look and I changed up the cummerbund/belt a bit.  Honestly, the belt was the one part of the pattern that I didn't muslin and the one part I was disappointed with. I would do it completely differently next time. It's basically a straight (not curved) inside piece with a bias cut outer piece that is meant to drape into the pleats you see. I am very curvy at the middle and the straight cut just didn't work on me - it kept either riding up or slipping down. You can see that I changed the closure from hook and eyes to two ties so I could better adjust the fit, but even that didn't really help. In the end I tacked the belt to the center front and at the side seams so it would stay in place. Also, the bias draping really didn't work without a lot of adjusting. Perhaps it's my fabric. But to do again I would opt for a more complicated belt with shaping and pleats. 

Speaking of fabric, this is a GORGEOUS viscose satin that I picked up at Mood. I didn't want to spend a fortune on silk or be all sweaty in an unbreathing sweaty poly.  For $18/yd this was the perfect thing. It looks and feels really luxe, was beautiful to sew and I was cool and comfy even on the dance floor.  Oh, and I did in the end choose to make the side stripes out of faux leather rather than sequins.

And that is it with fit and alterations!

This style is not for everyone, but I think it strikes a good balance of being sexy, thanks to the neckline and peek-a-boo back, without being trashy thanks to the fuller, more modest side/armscye coverage. With that much front cleavage, I wouldn't want any kind of side-cleavage or a short hem or a skin tight fit. My personal sense of how to be sexy, but not trashy is to go sexy in just one area at a time (ie: sexy cleavage OR hemline OR body con fit, but not more than one at a time). And this pattern fits the bill. So, good style and drafting decisions, McCalls!

I really hope I have more occasions to wear this tux.  I do love a great dress, but this was more comfy and I felt unique and chic and a bit daring in it. And once I worked out the fit, I really did feel secure and not at risk of any wardrobe malfunctions on the dance floor. For a black tie optional wedding, where I really didn't know how formal most guests would be, this was just the thing!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Taco Style: Madras Summer Romper

I just love rompers on toddlers in the summer! It's the perfect thing - cool, easy, cute and no matching required.

This one is Butterick 5625 view A, sewn up in a cotton madras plaid.

It's just about the easiest pattern you could sew for a toddler. One change I made to the pattern was adding a little length, which turned out to be a mistake. It would have been long enough as is.  Also, I didn't use snap tape for the crotch. Instead, I brought it over to Star Snaps in the NY Garment District, which is just a hop and a skip from my office, and had them install snaps for just a few dollars.

Red buttons and stitching

The only tricky part of sewing this romper is trying to under stitch the facing as far as you can around the curves. My under stitching is pretty messy in parts.

I sewed this romper in a "Kaufman Plaid Patchwork" cotton madras-style fabric from The seams of the patchwork made for a bit of extra bulk at the neckline, armscyes and hems. But the fabric is super soft, which is perfect for a tot. Madras is such a casual fabric that I didn't try to do anything more than the most basic matching of the horizontal lines and trust that the mixed plaid would just look cute any which way it came out on the center front and back seams.

There really isn't anything else to say about this quick and cute sew, other than that I would sew it again, just a bit shorter, at least half a dozen times if summer were longer. I can't believe that September arrives tomorrow.

So, here is Taco, wearing his romper at Touch a Truck Day, a benefit to support our local library. It was HOT out; good thing rompers are cool.

He liked the back of the Fire Engine

On a WWII Mechanical Mule vehicle

Steps leading to a Lackawanna railway car

Taking a break from the sun

On the treads of a mini excavator

Post office truck - yes, that blue treasure in his hand is a chip clip. Don't ask. 

Fire engine again

And again

We've had enough!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Taco Style: The Boxtop

This spring, that rebel of men's fashion, Peter of MPB fame, introduced American men to the part-boxers, part-dress shirt sensation, the Boxtop. That fashionable and fun one piece outfit taking the Riviera by storm has been a bit slow to capture the imagination of the adult American male audience. The toddler set, however, has embraced this style since, well, it's basically what they wear anyway.

So, here is Taco sporting his boxtop at a recent family function at a beach-front restaurant on the Irish Riviera.

My poor little guy. This was at the height of the recent heat wave in NY, and there was a very inviting looking jungle gym right in the sand outside the windows. Taco was longing to be outside, but it was just too hot.

It was impossible to get pictures of Taco toddling around in the outfit, unfortunately. Toddlers don't make the best models. With so many people at the even, my tiny guy just wanted to be held. But I hope you get the idea.

Anyway, the pattern is KwikSew 3730. I sewed view B, minus the trim and pockets, which I thought this cute whale embroidered seersucker didn't need.

The pattern is terrific, with clear instructions, simple methods and really great results. Toddler and baby clothing has a very short lifespan given how fast little people grow. So, I kept everything very simple and easy with this make, using my serger for most of the seams. I even outsourced a bit; I had the crotch snaps set at Star Snaps and the button holes made at Jonathan Embroidery.

 As always, the romper was rather wide on my skinny little boy. I probably could have gone down a size, but I was needlessly worried about the length thru the crotch. So I took the side seams in about 1/2" tapering to about 1/4" on the sleeves.

If it was earlier in the summer, I would probably make three more of these cute romers, but since my mind is already turning to Autumn sewing, I could more realistically see myself sewing the shirt version of this.

And just because I find him so adorable, here are a few more Taco shots.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Elizabeth Taylor + Scarlet O'Hara + Grandma's Curtains

I'm usually not one to chase a trend, but I found myself looking longingly at all the off-the-shoulder tops floating around the streets of NY this summer, especially as the temperature soared. I had to have one. STAT!

I can't help but feel like the result is what would happen if Elizabeth Taylor circa her caftan phase and Scarlet O'Hara decided to get crafty together in my grandma's kitchen. I love the results, but doesn't this cotton eyelet remind you just a little bit of grandma-esque kitchen curtains?

There are a number of tutorials for DIY off-the-shoulder dresses around the blogosphere at the moment. I consulted two that are virtually identical - here and here. The only real change I made was, obviously, to shorten from a dress to a top. I didn't have a lot of fabric, so I had to settle for a minimally gathered top (1.5 gather ratio). I'd make it a bit fuller next time.

I find that there's always a caveat with quick and easy DIY makes. The caveat with this style of top is that it doesn't always stay put when you move your arms. I often find that I'm wearing it Flashdance style, which is fine with me.

I spy Taco playing in the yard...

And really how much can I complain about a top that that I didn't even have to hem? All in all, this top was ready to be worn with a heat-wave hairdo and a bit of red lipstick in about ninety minutes flat.


Oh, and thanks to the heatwave, I am excruciatingly behind on photographing finished projects. I've been ridiculously productive this summer and currently have 6 unblogged finished garments (1 trousers, 1 maxi dress, 2 tank tops and 2 rompers). Plus, I owe you a post about my lady tux. I haven't forgotten; I just wither in this heat. Stay tuned because cooler days and more posts are ahead.