15 July 2017

Musings on the Style Arc Sally

Warning:  this post contains an awful amount of whine.  Le sigh.

PDF patterns are the devil

I make no secret about loathing cutting and taping PDF patterns.  Well, L, why did you buy this pattern as a PDF?  Short answer:  impatience.  Long answer:  I've been searching for a basic jean-style skirt for at least a year.  The closest thing I could find for what I wanted was Burda 6769 which I made last year.  I love this skirt and wear it a lot, but it didn't have what I wanted.  Which brings me back to the short answer:  I got impatient.

PDFs NEVER MATCH.  I don't care how many colored lines and match points and GPS positioning systems are in place.  They never match.  Ever.  I used a paper rotary cutter and went OCD with cutting precisely on every line.  Does. Not. Match.

See all the waviness?  It was impossible to keep the whole thing flat.

Which is why I was even more annoyed when I had to print the pattern again!  Waaaaaaah!  I assembled and sewed a size that was way too big (size 16).  I was going to take bigger seam allowances, but then I thought maybe the sizes would be proportionately different.

They were not.  Save for the back yoke, front, and back, everything was exactly the same.  WTF?!  The yoke, front, and back were only different at the outside seams by 1/2-inch.  All that printing and taping and swearing for nothing.  Grr.

The size 14 is still big.  I ended up sewing 3/4" seam allowances which created really small front pockets.

If (and that's a big if) I decide to try this again, I'll start with a 12.  This means printing and taping all over again.  Suffice it to say this is not top on my to-do list.  In the meantime, I'll look into a copy shop or that popular online printing service (I forget the name).


The instructions  amounted to nothing more than a sewing word salad.

Burda is known for having cryptic instructions, but this is something...hmm...special. The pictures were no help either.   They were like some weird magic eye picture gone horribly wrong.  I had no idea what the hell I was looking at.  I could not fix my eyes on one diagram long enough for it to make sense.  THAT confusing. 

In case anyone decides to make this pattern, here's how I sewed the pockets:

1.  Sew the front yoke wrong side to the pocket lining right side.  (This pattern has separate pattern pieces for the left and right front yoke.  Why?  I have no idea.)


2.  With right sides together, stitch the pocket lining-front yoke combo to the pocket area on the skirt front.  The seam allowance is 1/4" so there's no need to trim. 

3.  Turn the lining combo to the inside and press. Roll the lining slightly to the inside.

4.  Topstitch the outside front area along the curve (not pictured).  Next, fold the pocket bag to meet the side and bottom seams.  

Maybe this is what the instructions were trying to say.  I don't know.

Sew-on fly extensions

This is right up there with PDF patterns.  In 12 years of sewing, I have not been successful with sewing a fly front that had separate fly extensions.  In theory, it shouldn't be that hard, right?  Right???  I mean, it's just an extra seam.  Yeah no.  That shit gets me every time and this was no different.

The thing is I SAW that the extension was sew-on and intended to tape the extension pattern piece to the front BEFORE cutting out the skirt.  

That did not happen.  I forgot and of course I didn't notice it until AFTER I cut out the front. Determined to not be defeated by this stupid fly, I searched the internet for a tutorial.  YouTube has a really good one that was easy to follow.  The result?

Fail.  There was barely any overlap to cover the zipper.  I took the zipper out, bought more fabric, and started from scratch.

Much better.  To sew the fly front, I used the instructions from Burda 6769.

Back pockets

You know when you feel something isn't going well, but you keep going anyway?  

I looked at these pockets for a long time thinking they were far too low.  Did I stop and re-position them before topstitching?  Of course not.  That would make too much sense.  Instead I sewed the topstitching perfectly, basted the side seams, and waistband - only to try on the skirt and see that the pockets hung below my butt.  

I knew I wasn't going to be happy with it, so I removed the pockets and stitched them higher.

These are positioned much more in proportion with my back side.


Even though I completely lost interest in the skirt near the end, I finished it anyway.  When I forge on like that, I make mistakes.  The buttonhole is too far from the edge and I neglected to sew the belt loops on before attaching the waistband.


So much meh.  Maybe, just maybe I'll return to it much later.  For now I'm over it.


Wanting to cleanse my palate of this project, I turned to one of my favorite garments to make:  jeans.  This time, though, I sewed Éléonore (pull on stretch jeans) by Jalie.  I wore the jeans roller skating last night and they survived the roll test.  But, there is a LOT of work to be done in order to get the fit right.  My thoughts on this will be in the next post.

Until next time, peace!



30 June 2017

Mid-Year Wrap Up (pic heavy)

Whoa.  A blog post!  I had a busy first half of the year which involved working six days a week.  Alas, summer is here and now that I've caught up on sleep, I have been able to do some sewing.

So far this year, I've made 10 skirts, 4 tops, and 3 activewear bottoms.  That's 17 garments - 15 of which were made since May, occasional sickness notwithstanding.


Burda 6839

Surprisingly this is only my second successful woven Burda shirt.  Whyyyyyyyy did I wait so long to jump on this bandwagon?!  Save for bad button placement, this shirt fits very well with little adjustment.  I don't know why it looks so horribly wrinkled on the front.  The pattern is gathered on the side front, but I swear it doesn't look this bad on me.

Is that a tower placket?   Yes, yes it is.  A friend from work, who also sews, showed me step-by-step how to make it.  Man, this is so simple!  I will never do a continuous lap again.  Well...not on a shirt at least.

 New Look 6407

I've made this pattern a few times.  There's nothing new to say here; it's definitely tried and true.

 Kwik Sew 4201

I made this for a friend of mine.  Let me tell you, this was NOT easy.  The zippered neckline and weird non-inseam pockets were beasts.  Suffice it to say my self-less sewing quota has been met for the next two years.

A bunch of skirts

  New Look 6299

I wasn't feeling this at all after I finished it.  Having tried it on, I can see wearing it this summer.

I HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATE lapped zippers.  Hate.  I do not even know why I bothered with it this time. 

Simplicity 1072; scuba knit

Yeah, don't look too close at the fuckery that is the mismatched waistband.  SMH.  I worked hard to make sure this panel print was matched perfectly on the sides and completely forgot to cut the wasitband.  I had enough fabric, but not enough to match properly.  Oops.

 McCall's 6654
(left to right:  floral scuba knits, wool double knit, wool-blend double knit)
Again, there isn't much to add here.  This is a great pattern and a quick sew.  I made the first skirt in about an hour from cut to finish.  Each of these fabrics came from the Arts & Scraps fabric sale. 

BWOF 8-2011-127 (brown wool tweed)

This skirt is a wearable fail.  It's a bit big in the waist because somehow I neglected to add petersham as a stabilizer.  And the hemline is too narrow which makes using stairs an adventure. 

Stitch Magazine 2012:  pin-tuck skirt

Technically this isn't finished; I need to add petersham to the waist.  Don't ask me why I haven't brought myself to do it.

 New Look 6274

This is another great find from Arts & Scraps.  The fabric is polyester faille and sewed easily.  I made a blind hem, but clearly should have used a lighter thread.  Eventually I'll redo it.

 McCall's 7253

I made the first version of this last year and really love it.  This second version is just okay.  Despite taking deeper pleats and seam allowances, it's still big.  I haven't lost weight, trust me.  I just think the fabric has some mechanical stretch that I didn't anticipate.

Instead of stabilizing the waist with petersham, I added facings and bound them with self-made bias tape.  Oh and I bought some labels from the Dutch Label Shop.  I'm impressed with their quality and customer service.  I would order from them again.


Having been inspired by Sheila (Sheila CTK), I wanted to up my activewear game.  To start, I made Jalie 3674 (Isabelle) and love it.  I sewed a straight size X for both versions, but I added a little bit more to the seam allowance to the one on the right.  I definitely plan to make several more versions.

I also made Simplicity 8212, though I don't have any pictures.  It's an okay pattern, but I think I'll stick with Jalie.

 In Progress

 Simplicity 2810

I started this back in May and am almost finished.  I got sidetracked for three reasons:  (1) I had several days of not feeling well (2) I need to re-cut the upper sleeve lining and (3) it's summer and who needs a long sleeved lined jacket?  SMH

But look at the welt pockets!

muslin of Simplicity 8295

I also started this in May.  I was discouraged by the slippery fabric and adjustments needed to make the back fit better.  I intend to finish it because I have the perfect fabric and hardware to make this look really good.

McCall's 6112 (middle view)

The fabric is cut, I'm just not motivated by the dark purple fabric I chose.  It's summer and I want to sew something bright.

Some patterns I want to sew

Simplicity 8379, McCall's 7465, Burda 6869, Grainline Archer
Cashmerette Lenox, Kwik Sew 4207, Cashmerette Concord
McCall's 6744, 

Not pictured:  Style Arc Stacie and Sally, Jalie Éléonore, Simplicity 8137
These are the patterns in my current queue.  Ambitious?  Yes.  Possible?  Maybe. =)

That's it for now.  This post has been in the works for the last month.   I had the intention to write, but not the desire.  Kna'mean? I hope to return to blogging more regularly.  We'll see.

Until next time, peace!


05 January 2017

2016 Sewing Year in Review

This is my second attempt at writing this post.  Blogger had a major meltdown and deleted EVERYTHING I wrote...pictures and all.  I was one sentence away from publishing and then poof.  Gone.  I save religiously too.  Anyway.

Last year, I dubbed my sewing adventures as the "Year of the Turtle."  What's slower than a turtle? 

I sewed a total of 27 wearable garments, one accessory, and a few wadders (not blogged).  I guess I shouldn't be too hard on myself.  Last year I sewed 21 garments, so maybe this turtle was slightly caffeinated.

The Stats (wearable only)

By garment:
  • 10 skirts
  • 7 tops/cardigans
  • 3 dresses
  • 2 coats
  • 2 pairs of jeans
  • 2 jackets
  • 1 messenger bag 
By company:
  • 6 Simplicity
  • 5 New Look
  • 4 McCall's
  • 3 Jalie
  • 2 Burda
  • 1 each of Style Arc, Kwik Sew, BWOF, Hot Patterns, Knipmode, Jamie Christina
  • 1 online tutorial 


Abbey Coat by Jamie Christina:  This is the third year in a row where a coat topped the list of my favorite garments.

I got a chance to wear the coat several times before it turned arctic and I absolutely love it.  Whether worn with jeans, a skirt, or dress, this coat has grace and movement.  My only regret is making functional buttonholes on the front.  The fabric is just too thick which makes buttoning the coat difficult.  Plus, two buttons have already fallen off.  Oops.

McCall's 6884:  Although I made two versions of this pattern toward the end of the year, this is a high favorite.  The fit is fantastic and the style is timeless. I added a 1" band along the neckline of the second version for coverage and to prevent gaping.  I will definitely make more versions in the future.



Simplicity 2447-2365 hybrid:  I had high hopes for this pattern because of my success with Simplicity 2365.  I thought I could use the ruffled front from 2447 with the princess-seamed back of 2365.  In theory, this should work.  But in practice, it didn't.  My fabric (stretch cotton poplin) was too stiff and made sewing it unpleasant.  See the armhole puckers?  Yuck.

Simplicity 1199:  This was a fail mostly due to fabric choice.  The under layer really needs to be made in something light-weight like mesh.  I don't think this style suits my full bust either.

Simplicity 8019:  Every time I look at this skirt hanging in Area 51, I think "you tried it." Something went wrong with the fit and I don't have any desire to fix it.  There are other button-front skirt patterns I can try.

Vogue 1411:  This pattern showed promise, but I stopped working on it because my topstitches started to ravel and I don't know why.  Plus the fabric was too shiny and made too much noise when I walked.  I would show a picture, but I have no idea what I did with the pants.

UFOs carried into 2017
The McCall's trench coat is still not finished and honestly, I should just let it go.  But I can't.  It's going on three years now and I can't bring myself to chucking it.  

Stashbusting Challenge 2016
Last year, I pledged to use 30 pieces of stash and 1o new patterns.  I used 19 pieces of stash totaling 37.625 yards and 11 new patterns.  Half womp?  I'll set the same goal for this year and work hard to meet it.

2016 Sewing Intentions Results
  • make two wool coats:  I made one.  That's half the battle.  Literally.
  • just sew it:  Yaaaaas.  I embraced this intention the most.  Making muslins can be tiring and I don't always have the energy - especially when doing so can zap the sewjo.  I also am getting more comfortable with the adjustments I need to make for certain garments, so muslins aren't always needed.
  • curb the fabric buying:  Yeah wellMy fabric buying is still way down, but it could use more reining in.  Last year, I recorded every inch of fabric purchased and its cost.  I bought 243.806 yards of fabric at a cost that shocked me. I know a lot of it was retail therapy, but still. 
  • use more stash:  Yep.
  • sew the 6PAC:  Did this too.  The last several garments I made were parts of mini wardrobes:  red/black/white and navy/red/fuschia.  
2017 Sewing Intentions
  •  set fabric budget:  I am limiting myself to $600 to purchase on fabric.  Let's see how this goes.
  • use more stash:  This is an ongoing sewing intention.  I have plenty of nice fabric and it's a shame to let it sit.
  • just sew it:  This worked well last year and I'm going to keep at it.  I'll make muslins when I am not sure about fit/adjustments or the design is complicated.
  • Burda a month:  I tried this a couple of years ago and only made it for two or three months.  I have many magazines plus a subscription.  I need to use them!
That's my sewing year for 2016.  I didn't blog as much and can't say that that will change any time soon.  My energy level is all over the place at times and when I finally have some, I use it to sew, do pottery, or go to the gym. 

Thanks to all who continue to read my ramblings.  I hope everyone has a wonderful and peaceful new year.


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