Sunday, April 17, 2011

Tank tops!

I still can hardly believe that I managed to squeeze 3 new tank tops into my last-minute sewing in the 2 days before I left for Mexico!  Yay, me!

Anyways, I've changed this pattern so much, I don't think I'm even going to post a review.  The only thing I really kept the same is the shape of the racer back, and by the time I make more, it will be altered even more.

I knew the armhole was going to gape, so I compared it to a tank top that I already had and estimated how much to close the armhole.  I trasnferred the armhole dart and opened up a bust dart.
The side seams don't even resemble the original.  For one thing, I added about 4" of length, and the curves I used are very custom fitted to my body.  Essentially, I think I came close to an 18-16-14, but that's based on my New Look sleeveless top.  It never ceases to amaze me how little curve I have in my hips.  When I sew for pears, I look at those 'hip flanges' (as I like to call them), and I can't imagine how they're possibly going to fit, and then they try it on, and presto!  Their curves fill out all that shape.  On me, the hip flanges always stick out.  
I copied the center back from the New Look top, as it had some curve to it, and the Simplicity pattern was straight.  I did a 1" swayback adjustment (I think this is my first ever!).  It helped a lot.  I think I'm confident enough to do this on everything I make from now on.  I have more curves at the center back than I do on the sides!  Weird.  But it fits!

I cut out the light gray one and sewed it together and made a few adjustments before I cut into my next 2.  I traced my pattern and this is what it looks like.  It's almost completely straight except for the bust dart and a slight indentation at the waist.  And a lot of curve at the center back.
Since I was doing a lot of assembly line sewing, I knew I would have to sew all 3 just the way they were, and if they needed further tweaking, well too bad.  I have at least 5 more fabrics in my stash that want to become tank tops, so I'll have plenty of time to tweak them one by one until I get a perfectly tailored pattern.  
Once I got the elastic sewn to the neck and armholes, they all kinda hiked up a bit.  Next time, I will lower the armhole by a good inch or more, and I'll cut into the back of the armhole and scoop out the racer back a bit.  And I may lower the front neckline, but I'll wear them to the gym a few times before I decide that.
All in all, I'm happy with all of them.  The dark gray one is my favorite because of the texture and drape of the fabric.  It's so soft and comfy.  The other 2 are wearable.  The pink one is very thin and will be great for hot summer days.  I think it might be a knit tricot.  It was kinda hard to work with!  But it was good practice for thin flimsy fabrics.

Bathing suits finished! Sewing details.

I'm back from Mexico and having fun playing with all my pictures.  Before I get to the good stuff, I have to go over all the nitty gritty details of the last days of sewing my bathing suits.

The halter tops were fairly easy.  I didn't really use the instructions; I just used the pattern pieces and did my own thing.  I had read some reviews that said a few people had omitted the dart and used gathers instead.  I tried this on the white lining and attempted to pin the bra cup to it.  Once I had it pinned to myself (well, my bra, that would really hurt!), I noticed a big baggy spot where the dart should be.  So, I decided to sew the dart.  The shaping is really quite nice.  The trick is not to get a pucker at the end of the dart.  Here is how I did it.  I just followed the edge for a while so I didn't have an abrupt angle.  All my darts look smooth.
The bra cups were much easier to pin in place with the new darts.  I positioned the seam on the dart, about 3/8" from the bottom, and tried to center the cup as best I could.  I pinned it in place about every inch or so.  I zigzagged around all the edges.  The cup is positioned inside the lining, so that when you see the inside of the bathing suit, all you see are zigzag stitches on the white lining.  I had a picture, but it got erased somehow.  Use your imagination.
I layered the lining and the blue fabric together and serged elastic onto the sides, pulling slightly near the armholes.  I also serged elastic onto both long edges of my bands.
I pinned the halter pieces to the band, and sewed with a stretch stitch just beside the clear elastic, at about 3/8".  I turned the seam toward the band and coverstitched it.  It worked like a charm.
I tried it on and decided where I wanted my hooks to go, and sewed them in and trimmed the excess.  
The band is perfect, but the halters are a bit tight.  Bathing suits are not meant to be full support bras.  I could have let it down at least an inch or two.  They were quite tight, and mid-way through my holiday, one of my halter hooks broke, and I ended up sewing the straps together.  Thank goodness for the little sewing kits they give you at the hotel!  I was just pulling it over my head anyways.  Keep that in mind when you're sewing halters.  Sometimes you don't need hooks or ties.  Both halters ended up breaking and getting sewn back together.  Thankfully, the ones on the bands survived, but I will probably try and find metal hooks and replace them.

Anyways, back to sewing.  I was quite efficient and made my 3 tank tops and all my bathing suits before switching to cover stitch.  I spent several hours coverstitching everything.  It was fun.  I didn't use any pins, I just carefully turned my elastic under and sewed.  Everything turned out great.  I used wooly nylon in the chain looper.
I am very impressed with how professional my bathing suits look.  This has been really fun!  Of course, I could have made it easy on myself by making one halter top and one bottom, but I wanted more.  2 tops and 6 bottoms later, this is what I ended up with.  I wore everything except one pair of flame bottoms.  It was nice to have multiple bottoms, although it probably wasn't necessary.  Oh well.  Best to have clean underwear in case of an emergency, right?  

Friday, April 8, 2011

Mexico sewing done!

Here are all my finished bathing suits.  All of this is hot off the press, except for the flame tankini top, which is about 9 years old.  I'm very happy with how it all turned out.  
I even managed to get my 3 tank tops done!  Yay!  Normally, with last-minute sewing, stuff like this doesn't get done.  This time, I was a champion, and sewed for 10 1/2 hours on Thursday and Friday.  That even included a 2-hour alteration job that I had to finish for a lady from choir practice.  
We're leaving tomorrow morning at 6:00 am.  When I get back, I'll post the rest of my sewing pictures, and a bunch of Mexico pictures.  

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go on vacation!!!  See ya'll when I get back!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Quilting Bee, Bathing Suits, and Tank Tops!

This morning, I went to a quilting bee at our church to help make blankets for Mission 2 Mexico.  There are tons of quilt tops ready to go, so we just set up tables and clamps, and layer a flat sheet on the bottom, followed by some polyester batting, and then the quilt top.  We tie them with coloured yarn, and then trim the sheet and fold it over to make a nice, neat 'binding'.  
They go very fast!  Today, four of us managed to get 5 done in about 2 hours.  It's a lot of fun!  I volunteered to sew all the binding, since I have an industrial machine.
Tonight, I sewed together my 4 pairs of blue bathing suit bottoms.  They took me about 2 hours.  Cutting is the most time consuming, and I got that all done last weekend.
This is how I feed the clear elastic into my serger.  I love it when you rediscover a technique that changes the way you think about sewing.  The possibilities are endless!
Seeing as I'm running out of time to get things sewn for Mexico, I decided not to make the reversible knit dress.  I'm not sure how long it would take me, but I'm guessing at my speed, it will be at least an 8 hour project.  Last weekend, while I was discovering how much fun it is to work with clear elastic, I was inspired to make some racer-back tank tops.  I was planning on making some from this pattern anyway, but with the clear elastic method, I won't have to use binding for the neck and armholes.  They should whip up very quickly.
Simplicity 5000
These are the first 3 fabrics I picked from my stash.  The dark grey will go with my orange camouflage pants, as will the light grey, and the pink will go with my beige RTW capris.  
I'm not sure how many of these I will manage to get done.  I only have part of Sunday and part of Thursday to make 2 blue bathing suit halter tops, and possibly these tank tops.  Wish me luck!

In exactly a week, my husband and I will be enjoying the live entertainment at the resort for our first night there!  I'm getting excited!!!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Snap Happy! Orange Camouflage Cargo Capris

I got the snaps put on my cargo pants, and I gotta say, they look pretty good!  I love putting snaps on stuff.  I did 8 snaps in less than 10 minutes.  Try doing buttons and buttonholes in that amount of time!
I will have more bathing suit stuff to show you very soon.  I'm excited!