Simplicity 1812 top and Cake Pavlova Skirt

I’ve been sick for a few days now with some sort of cold flu apocalypse plague-like thing. I woke up this morning and got dressed and put make up on and went into work. Then my boss told me to go home, because I was too sick.

I headed home and got tons more kleenex and some throat tea (basically fennel and other stuff) and honey. But I decided not to waste the make up and outfit and take as many pictures as I could before I was a feverish sweaty mess. Gosh, I’m classy.

I’ve made the Cake Pavolva skirt before. I’m not sure why, but I still haven’t mastered making this skirt out of the package. I always have alterations. This time my back pieces are smaller than my front pieces and it makes for a much better fit for me. I have finally made these alterations to my pattern pieces so maybe I can make this without any issues next time!

I love the pockets on this skirt. I used the pavlova pocket piece, but opted not to make the little pleats on it or put the band at the top of the pocket. I put an embroidery stitch from my machine across the top in a light blue colour. I love the look. In terms of the placement of the pockets. I chose to angle them slightly and I think they look pretty good.

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As for the top, the pattern is Simplicity 1812. It includes several skirt patterns, as well. I’ve made the skirt before and really loved it. Sadly, it was made when I was a beginner and didn’t really hold up all these years. Shame, though, because it was pink polkadots!

I made this top twice. Cut it out, put it together, and then tried it on and well… It did not fit. The main issue was the top cutout. I have really narrow shoulders and a hollow chest and it’s tough to fit. I took the entire top apart. I just cut off the seam allowances, because there was enough extra ease to account for it. It was so much easier than ripping out serger stitches. There are still issues with the top, but it works a lot better than it did before (you can see the issues still remain in the picture below if my shoulders aren’t back and I don’t have perfect posture). I doubt I will make another one of these tops. It’s a neat style, but I don’t think I will ever get a great fit in it, sadly. But if you have broad shoulders and a bit bust, it should work for you.

It’s also meant to be a 3/4 length sleeve and ends just above my wrists. It’s a little long. Maybe the pattern works better for non-petite people?

Here’s my sick photoshoot and, by sick, I mean flu induced photoshoot:

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TL:DR Review

  • Pattern: Simplicity 1812
  • Pros: Unlike most big 4 patterns, this top has negative ease!
  • Cons: Simplicity definitely thinks that if you are big, you are big all over. If you are petite in other places, keep in mind that you will have to shorten the sleeves and make major shoulder adjustments and adjustments to get the inset piece to fit.
  • Make again?: I will make the skirt again. I’ve been meaning to do that for a while, but the top…nope. I’m not up for all the alterations that I need to do to make this fit.
  • Rating: pink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdwhite-star-black-mdwhite-star-black-md3/5 stars

Pajama Party!!

I made pajama pants for myself using the same pattern as my presents to the kids. I thought I would go into a little more detail than in the previous entry, because this time I made them for myself. Making gifts you have a different mindset than when it is for yourself.

The pattern is a free one from Simplicity so the price is right! It’s a pdf and is absolutely horrible to put together, because it doesn’t quite match up right. Unlike other pdf patterns that have tabs in the middle of the pages to show where to join, this pattern has them on the side and there are three indicators only one of which is the one you go by to match up the pattern. Now that the pattern is together, I will never need to go through that torture again, but it was seriously horrible.

The pattern is pretty straight forward and meant to be a very loose pj pant. Wearing them on myself, however, I noticed things that didn’t pop up or occur to me as I was making them for other people. The pant leg tapers in at the bottom, which makes it difficult to hem the bottoms. The tapering is actually more extreme in the larger sizes and something I will be straightening a little more for any future garments. I made smalls for the kids so I didn’t notice; this is graded to an XXL, because I wanted a super loose pj pant, but the XL is still pretty massive.

Other than that, it’s a great free pattern and a breeze to sew up: sew up the pant legs, sew up the crotch, sew the waistband, make the drawstring, put in the elastic and the drawstring, hem the pants. Basically an hour or less even with my standard french seams. I think all in all the two pairs took me two hours with fitting checks. When I made them for Christmas presents, they took even less time: more like an hour and a half for two. A note for the drawstring: I didn’t sew it inside out and then turn it around. I did that in one of the pj pants for Christmas and wanted to scream. Instead, I pressed it under like I was making double fold bias tape and sewed up close to the fold. At the ends I turned the raw edged into the folds. It’s way way easier that way than the sew and turn method. I even used tricks for that method and it was just not my thing.

I probably won’t make this pattern again for a while. I really want to make Sewaholic Tofino pants in the short version as part of my summer sewing plans.

The fabrics are flannels from Joann’s.

TL:DR Review

  • Pattern: Free Simplicity PJ Pants
  • Pros: Did you read free? Also, very simple pattern. And it’s free! FREEE!
  • Cons: Tappered pant leg makes it difficult to hem, especially in the bigger sizes. Recommend straightening a little more for future garments. PDF is an absolute pain to put together. And of note, if you are making it for other people, the pattern doesn’t provide a standard measurement for the elastic. I recommend doing a quick standard measurement search for that.
  • Make again?: Absolutely! Considering I never will put that pdf together again.
  • Rating: pink-star-black-md pink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdwhite-star-black-mdwhite-star-black-md3/5 stars (star lost for pdf pattern torture)

Here’s a goofy pajama party photo shoot:

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Burda Faux Wrap Tunic Dress

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Fittingly, I found the Burda Faux Wrap Dress through a link on the Curvy Sewing Collective’s facebook page. And I sewed it up for the CSC Wrapalong and as part of my FESA 2014 sewing plans (a fabulous frock, indeed!)

I’m pleased with the result. In the middle of summer, I would probably see the dress as frumpy and shapeless and find the draping really odd, but in the middle of our Canadian fall with the doom-stricken Game of Thrones-like “Winter is Coming” on the horizon, I am loving the comfort of the dress. It’s like wearing a sweatshirt and still looking stylish with all that draping and the cuff details.

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The look at my pockets stance

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The casual lean against the wall and look cool stance

Sorry for the indoor photos. All it does it rain rain rain and when it doesn’t rain, I am too busy to take pictures so I sucked it up and took pictures in the house. I finished this up last week and figured I should get on posting it.

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Fashion….

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….Turn to the left…. FASHION

I had quite the time with the pattern instructions. You can read about some issues with Burda patterns in CSC’s burda sewing tour wrap-up post. Basically, to sum up, the pattern pieces are marked with numbers and don’t also have what they are written on them (ie. front bodice, back skirt, etc.). A lot of the direction isn’t written on the pattern pieces either. The instructions are also all in text and the instructions for this dress specifically were missing steps.

Burda magazine patterns can be challenging and are definitely not for beginners. One of my first dresses was a burda dress, in fact, but the Kristen dress actually had really nicely detailed instructions, if the pattern itself ran extremely large. Start off by reading through the instructions really well and then read through them again and again and go slowly to make sure you get them.

For the instructions, there were missing steps and not clear steps. Missing was the step to sew the back bodice together. I get that is practical knowledge, but it’s not there at all and that is a huge oversight. Unclear was the draping at the front. Basically, the front skirt is one large piece, where you take the bottom and then fold it in half and pleat and baste the bottom into the waistline, essentially making the fold line the hem. The pattern really stumped me in how that was worded and I ripped the thing out three times before I got the pleating and the folding right. There is also pleating in the centre back, which to be honest made very little design sense to me. I did it, but I think the pleating adds unnecessary bulk to the waistline where it can easily be gathered more. The other part that was unclear was the waistband construction. I chose to use the instructions from Colette’s Myrtle dress instead, except that I fed the elastic into the channel, which was reallllly difficult with all the pleats and fabric bulk in the channel. Anyway, I did it and it came out lovely. The last bit that I just chucked out the window was the waistband ties. The placement of the faux ties didn’t work out for me and so I didn’t add them. I also didn’t do flat felled seams, because again it added a lot of bulk. I used a lightweight jersey, but maybe not light enough for this pattern and all that fabric!

Fitting for this pattern runs super large. I cut a size 52 and added the seam allowances. I am probably more in line with a size 54 + FBA with Burda, but I figured the stretch in the material would make that a non-issue, but I could have cut out a 52 without adding the seam allowance and still had the dress be roomy. If you decide to try this pattern out and don’t size down, I definitely recommend sizing down for the cuffs, because they are humongous and by the end of the day are stretched out and falling down. Do yourself a favour and cut two sizes smaller for the cuffs, because ripping out all of the drawstring channels and drawstrings to size down the cuffs is not something I am willing to do. I do recommend grading up to the larger size for the kimono sleeves, though, if you have bigger arms like me. Mine are fine, but not as puffy as the pattern picture.

I followed Jen’s instructions in the wrapalong for the neckline. Partially because the instructions rock and also because the pattern pieces for the neckline in this pattern are cut into three pieces: left side, neck curve, right side. I tried going with burda’s pattern pieces and then ripped out the whole thing and drafted my own piece.  The neck curve ends up being stupid. It bunches and doesn’t sit right and is just stupid. STUPID. One long continuous band is much much smarter. Draft it slightly shorter than the length of the neck and right and left sides and stretch it a little as you sew. I should have made it shorter and stretched, because it is a faux wrap, but I didn’t. It’s fine, but by the end of the day the neckline stretches out a bit even though my fabric has good recovery and becomes slightly revealing. Hence, the camisole underneath for work. So, I recommend making it two inches shorter and then stretching to fit the bodice and neck. Gillian over at Crafting a Rainbow has an excellent guide on where to stretch for a faux wrap dress neckband.

To sum up:

  • Start by sewing the back together, because the pattern doesn’t mention it!
  • Draft a new neckband (one long piece two to three inches shorter than the length of the right side/neck/left side combined) and follow the CSC tutorial for sewing it like a t-shirt neckband and follow Gillian’s tutorial on where to stretch the neckband to get the perfect faux wrap dress look
  • Size down or leave the seam allowances out, because the pattern runs large (Size 52 is supposed to fit up to a 48 inch bust, but my bust is 52 inches and it is still very roomy)
  • If you decide not to size down, make the cuffs smaller or else you will have them fall all over the place by the end of the day
  • If you have big upper arms, size up the kimono sleeves to get the puffy look
  • Follow the Colette tutorial for installing the waistband
  • Use a lightweight jersey keeping in mind the bulk of the material throughout (the lighter the better without being totally see-through)
  • Fold the bottom of the front skirt up to the waistband and pleat at the waistband
  • Mark paper pattern pieces with what they are (front right, cuff, etc.) and with some instructions, especially for the front folds/pleats

I actually, in spite of all of that, enjoyed sewing this up and love wearing it. It’s a super comfy faux wrap dress and perfect for the impending Canadian winter.

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WINTER IS COMING!!!

Stashcation: Parisian Nights

Well, I am back to work now. *Groan* I’ve been back one day and my mood went from happy to grumpy again. My vacation was so wonderful.

We went to Wasaga Beach. It’s northwest of Toronto, where I live, and is lovely.

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Wasaga Beach

The sand is wonderful and the water was nice. It’s all sandbars along the beach and the water gets warmer faster than other lakes in Ontario. Not as warm as it could have been, though.

It hasn’t been scorching hot in Ontario this summer like it usually is, which is a great disappointment to me. I look forward to the heat and the sun every year. We’ve mostly had rain and cool weather. It was a windy day at the beach so eventually we were too cold to stay out of the water long and made our way to a restaurant for dinner.

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My turtle

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My stepdaughter’s sea turtle, inspired by Finding Nemo

The sand was still wet from all the rain and we easily made turtles by our beach blanket.

The next day, we went to Ashbridge’s Bay, which is a beach right in Toronto.

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The beach is a lot colder than Wasaga. Freezing in fact. Our toes got numb after a while in the deeper parts. Closer to the beach, we were a little less numb and started having a water gun fight. It was an epic battle and got me in those giggle fits that have your sides hurting and you gasping for air. So much fun.

Beside the beach is the park area you see above, which is shaded by some lovely trees. The four of us sat in that area and played a dice game called Farkle. Many a fart joke happened during that game…

Then we escaped an impending storm in a pizza shop and heading home.

On Sunday, after the kids were picked up by their mom, a friend hosted a lovely barbecue on her rooftop patio and I spent Monday recovering from that… But I got to cuddle with the sweetest little dog during the evening which made the hangover worth it and this is coming from a cat person.

Those are the highlights of non-sewing during my vacation.

Back to sewing:

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During my stashcation, I pieced together about 9 pdf patterns. I still have tons left, but putting together pdfs is a pain!

 

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After all those pdfs, I cut out these patterns.

I cut out the above patterns after two or three nights of piecing pdfs together. It was exhausting putting all of those together.

From left to right, the patterns I cut out are:

2 Parisian Nights pajama sets from Winter Wear Designs

1 Parisian top from Go To Patterns

1 #5199 Little Atlas Dress from Lekala

I cut these out on Thursday night after Wasaga and then sewed the Parisian Nights pajamas on Friday and Saturday.

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The first one is technically my muslin. It’s red and green. The green is a lightweight lycra and the red is a heavier cotton jersey. The binding on the top was a mistake, but I am too lazy to remove it. It is super mismatched in terms of weight which made the binding go wavy instead of flat. I graded the pattern up a size, but if you are a little bigger than the pattern, don’t grade up. It has tons of ease and definitely didn’t need to be graded up. I cut a ton of material off and resewed both the top and the bottom. The neckline is still far too large on the top, as is the waist n the shorts.

The second one is made with flannel print on the bottom that I picked up for two bucks for a yard at Value Village and cotton jersey in pink, which was also two bucks for a yard and a bit at Value Village. The shorts fit a bit better, but the jersey has almost no recovery and the waist band could definitely be tighter. I can’t decide whether I will fix this or simply leave it, because they are just pajamas (I am lazy so likely I will leave it). I left off the binding for the top, because of the recovery issue, and just turned the seams in and did a decorative stretch stitch along the edge in purple. I shortened the straps on the top by a few inches and the top fits much better. Because the shorts are in a woven, they could use extra room in the crotch, which I will definitely add for the next versions of these pajamas.

The pattern was a freebie as part of the Bundle Up sale from Pattern Revolutions back in June. I definitely recommend checking them out, because I got 8 pdf patterns in that bundle for around $30 US. They have bundle sales once every couple of months for indie patterns and are a great deal. I almost bought their little girl pattern bundle and then stopped myself, because I don’t have any little girls to sew for!

I am very excited for the rest of the patterns from that sale. I regret not printing them all out to put together during my stashcation.  My next stashcation won’t be until Christmas! The goal, however, is to have a much smaller stash by then. Although, I have so many patterns, I am guessing I will still have a ton more of those to get through.

I’m currently working on my Parisian top. I just have the buttons left. Oh, the pattern doesn’t include buttons, you say?

Well, my dears, I’ve got a pattern hack for you! Stay tuned!

July dress

I would have posted this sooner, but I’ve been on vacation this week. I finished this on August 1st, but it’s a July dress.

Death to the evil dress!

It’s done and I am done with it.

Problem after problem with the pattern and the fit. It just wasn’t an easy dress to create. I’m glad it’s done. I’m not sure how I feel about it because of how difficult it was to make. I am proud of finishing it, but it destroyed me.

I altered the bodice to fit my shape. I altered the collar because the neckline was enormous. I took out the back pleat, because it made me look like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. I had to increase the size of the sleeves because they were made for much smaller arms than my plus-size arms. I got rid of the lining. I took about five inches off the hem, because it reached to my ankles and looked off at that length.

I still have to go through and pick out basted stitches and make it look pretty. It’s a nice dress and conservative enough for work. I might need some distance from it.

Have you ever struggled with a pattern and not wanted to wear the dress because of the sour feelings?

In the meantime, I am moving on and creating two shirt dresses.  A kelly green dress and a purple plaid dress (it also has silver thread in it):

The pattern is much simpler than the evil dress. It’s the top right-hand corner pattern. I’m starting with the kelly green fabric. I can easily wear these into the fall with belts and leggings and boots and leg warmers. While I don’t love fall weather, I do love fall fashion.

I love patterns with buttons, because I love shopping for unique buttons. I already have both fabrics cut out, but I ran out of fusible interfacing. I am going to go shopping in the Fashion District here in Toronto for some really unique buttons and more interfacing. I’ll take some pictures and post an entry on the Fashion District.

Toronto’s Fashion District is really wonderful. When I started sewing, my only option was either Walmart (which doesn’t even have a fabric section anymore!) or Fabricville (the east coast Canadian fabric superstore; I was in St. John’s, NL, at the time) and neither had really unique fabrics in them. The Fashion District has tons and I’ve been lucky enough to get some really amazing prices on fabrics. Haggling is easy there. All you have to do is say how it was more money than you wanted to spend and most shop owners will lower the price. At one store, I was given a 25% discount on my entire purchase after haggling down the prices for all fabrics. There’s so much competition there that they are all trying to get your business. Sometimes they also throw in an extra yard here or there. One place gave me a yard and a quarter of mint satin for $3. This store also gave me about five yards of really amazing faux fur for my tribbles for about $30. Some of the faux fur was actually $30 a yard. If you’re ever shopping in Toronto for fabric, you should never believe the first price they tell you. Always try to get them to lower it. More on that later.