Sunday, August 28, 2011

Roller Derby Stagette!

I was invited to a stagette last weekend.  These were my instructions in the invite: The theme is roller derby (fishnets, short shorts, knee high socks) and the colours are black, white, and pink.  I thought, awesome!  I love stagettes!  Especially the ones where you get to dress up, cuz that means I get to make a new outfit!
Burda 8179
I've had a hankering to try out this pattern for a while.  I figured not a lot of people would be wearing white shorts, so I copied view B almost exactly, except for the overall bib.  I'll have to try that some other time, cuz I love overalls!
I was almost thinking about making these shorts a bit longer, but I thought, aw heck, it's just a stagette!  Besides, I absolutely love how the back pockets go right into the hem.  So, I decided to sew them as is.
I cut a straight size 18.  For reference, these shorts have about 2" of ease in the hips.  They fit perfectly!  Burda does it again!  

For fun, I used 2 strands of slinky, shiny hot pink thread for my topstitching.  I love me some topstitching!
Here is my test fit before the buttons and the hem.  The back hem of this pattern was too short by 1/2".  The side seams, inseam, and the pocket placement lines didn't match up.  I just moved the pocket up, and sewed the seams without adjusting.  I ended up cutting off the extra 1/2" from the front, and I hemmed them 1".  
I managed to find 6 funky white buttons in the button jar my mom gave me.  Score!  I decided to be safe and sew the buttons and buttonholes with white thread.  When I make these again, I'll use contrasting thread.  
Here are the finished shorts.  They really are very short, but you know what?  I like them!  My problem with short shorts is that they tend to ride up.  These ones are so short, that they just kinda stay there.  Also, the only fitting issue I have is that the center front needs to be cut down by at least 1/2".  Again, this is a normal alteration for me.  
These shorts took me exactly 4 hours to make.  It seems like a lot for such a small garment, but there are a lot of nice details on them.  I'm sure it wouldn't take any more time to make longer capris or pants.  It usually takes me about 6 hours to make pants, so this is pretty good!

I love the buttons.  And look at that fit!  I love these!  They're so awesome!  
I love the back pockets.  I guess I love anything with a different design element.   Plus, they're so easy to topstitch!  You don't have to worry about getting your corners straight, cuz there are no corners!
I don't think they look terribly short.  Maybe it's because they fit and they're not skin tight, but as you can see here, heck yes, they're short!  I think that inseam is about 1 1/2".  Surprisingly, I don't mind!  And I like the fake fly topstitching on the front.
Wouldn't these be so boring if they didn't have contrasting topstitching?  I can't wait to make more shorts, capris, and pants out of this pattern.  I really like the button plackets.  It's kinda nice not to have to fiddle with a fly zipper.
To finish off my outfit, I made a tank top.  I picked out some awesome plaid spandex from the dancewear section at Davey Fabrics.  I love everything about this!  It was $18/m, so I measured exactly and figured I only needed 0.7m.  Saved me $5!
I used my tailored racer back tank top pattern from Simplicity 5000.  I made a few adjustments.  I added an inch to each strap to drop the neckline and bust down a bit, I shortened the torso an inch below the bust, and I added an inch to the hip.  I whipped this thing together in 38 minutes, because I was running out of time.  I didn't hem it or finish the armholes and neckline.  I figured nobody would notice, and they didn't.

I sewed this whole outfit the day of the stagette.  I snapped this picture right before I dashed out of the house.  I stopped at an accessories store on my way to the stagette.
And here she is in all her glory!  All I need now are knee pads, elbow pads, a helmet, and some rollerskates!  
My roller derby name is THE SCREAMSTRESS!  I didn't even think it up myself, it was one of the other girls!  Fantastic, hey?
The bride, Amy, is on a roller derby team, hence the theme.  She's wearing my stagette veil!  It's been passed on a few times, and I'm happy to say that Amy finally managed to break it!  It's had a good life.  :)
The bride and bridesmaids made these incredible t-shirts.  They screen printed Amy's roller derby picture on the front, then they spray-painted them with hot pink and black.
This is the coolest part.  They wrote out their roller derby names on the back in masking tape and sprayed over them.  I love how they turned out!  Their names were: BRIDE ZILLA, JULIE JAW BREAKER, KATIE KARNAGE, ALIKATRAZ, and ANITA NOTHER SHOT!  I love it!!!
We went to a big country bar later that night and had a blast on the dance floor.  This is all of us dancing on the speakers.  All the white we were wearing looked great under the black lights!
A few of us also got to ride the mechanical bull!  I thought I would do really good, but I only managed to stay on for 8 seconds!  I guess that's appropriate, right?  So much fun!!!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Workout Capris - Vogue 8396

This is another project that I have needed desperately for months.  I go to the gym at least 4 times a week, and I've been wearing old capris and bike shorts that don't fit and are not flattering.  Not to mention not comfortable!  I'm so psyched that I finally got these done, and I can't wait to try them out on Monday!  Woo hoo!

I picked up this Vogue pattern in a clearout bin at Fabricland sometime last year.  I chose to make View C (the long red ones).  I chopped off 7" so they would end up about the same length as View A & B (approx 30" from the waist).
Vogue 8396
 I cut the size 16.  I measured to see what the finished hip measurement would be (they didn't print it on the pattern...grr!), and I calculated that it would end up at 40 1/2".  My hips are 41 1/2", and I guessed that they would fit best if they were exactly the right size.  So, I sewed the side seams 3/8" instead of 5/8" and gained an extra inch.  My calculations are correct, and they fit great.
 I didn't use the waistband provided in the pattern.  Instead, I tried on my capris, pinned my elastic together, put it on where I would normally wear it, and measured how long I should make my waistband.  It ended up being 3" finished.  My elastic was 34", so I cut a piece of fabric 7" x 34".  I sewed a 1/2" seam at the back, making it into a tube, folded it in half, and sandwiched my elastic in place.  I stretch stitched the elastic, just catching the edge so it doesn't flip around on me, and then I sewed the waistband to the pants with a 1/2" seam.  They are so snug and comfy.  Almost perfect!  The only thing I would adjust next time is to cut the center front down by 1/2-3/4", since they hang a bit low.  This is normal for me.  I usually have to cut down pants and skirts by 1" at center front.
 I hemmed them 1" with my coverstitch, and voila!  They're done!  I worked on these Friday night, and made them all in one sitting.  They took me 2 hours and 15 minutes.  Anything close to 2 hours is a super fast project in my world!

Here is a close-up of what my waistband looks like.  As you can see, it's much more snug than the pants, but hot damn, are they ever comfy!
 I love it when pants hug me nice and snug at the back, and these don't disappoint!
 As far as general construction, I went a bit overboard and stretch stitched and serged every seam.  I intend to wear these to bits, and I don't want them falling apart at the seams!
I am thrilled with these!  The shape of the legs is exactly what I wanted.  I will definitely make these again.  I may also get brave and attempt the gaucho pants, too.  Those are fun, and I would get a kick out of wearing them.

I'm going to enjoy working out cuz now I have custom-fitted, comfy capris!  Yay!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Adventures in Upholstery - Rocker for Susan - Jan 2011

I've been thinking about sharing some of my upholstery adventures with ya'll for a while now.  Upholstery is my day job, and I run my sewing business on the side.  I work with my dad at his shop, which he runs out of his house.  So, I get to hang out at mom & dad's house all the time!  It's really fun.  Dad and I make such an awesome team.  
I'm more or less an apprentice.  I started working with dad during my summer between my first and second year of fashion college, and after college, I worked with him for over 2 years.  I then moved away from home and worked as a cashier at Wal-Mart, then upgraded to a teller at a bank, then worked my way up to receptionist, then Mortgage Administrator.  I was at the bank for 4 1/2 years.  I could have worked my way up the corporate ladder, but it was pretty clear that paperwork was not my forte.  

I was itching to sew.  So, I left the bank and worked at The Bridal House for 7 months and learned a ton about altering wedding gowns.  The experience I gained was priceless.  But it was very busy, very stressful, and sucked up all of my summer.

So, I started dreaming of starting my own sewing business, but I didn't want to rely soley on that.  I asked my dad if he would like me to work for him part time, and he almost came unglued!  "Really?!"  He was thrilled.  And that was history.  I'm not making as much money as I used to, but I finally feel like I'm doing what I was meant to do.  I can finally say that I LOVE MY JOB!
So, to introduce you to my trade, I'd like to show you the rocking chair I recovered for my mother-in-law Susan's Christmas present.  In keeping with my usual timelines, I missed the Christmas deadline and did this in January.

This is her mother's chair, and she sits in it every day.  I helped her pick out a brand new fabric, then I kidnapped the chair for a couple weeks, and got to work!
Eep!  It's naked!  This is a typical piece of good-quality older furniture with all its clothes removed.  This is like working on a blank canvas.
 When you recover furniture, you measure and take apart the old pieces and use the shaped ones as patterns to cut new ones.  The closest thing that describes it is a knock off.  If you've ever made a pattern out of your favorite pair of jeans without taking them apart, you know what I mean.  Except in this case, you can take it apart, which makes it easy.

I've now clocked in over 4 years in this trade, so I can do furniture almost entirely on my own.  The only stage I need help with now is stapling it together. I just ask Dad tons of annoying questions.  But he assures me there is no such thing as a stupid question.  He's an excellent teacher.
 The chair gets assembled in a logical order.  First, the deck, then the arms, then the back.  Here you can see the pulls on the sides (the beige strips), and the little rolls of fabric that you tie the buttons to.
 Here is the front.  Coming together nicely!  Isn't this fabric fabulous?  It's very similar to the old fabric, only more modern, and quite striking.
 Next steps are to cover the outside arms, the outside back, and attach the skirt.  The very last thing we do is the cushion.  We always add extra padding, so we put in the old cushion and double check the fit so we don't make it too tight.
 I love this trade.  Every time you finish a project, you get such an amazing sense of accomplishment.  I love being able to take old, ratty things and make them shiny and new!
 Susan loves her chair.  And I love being able to see it every time we visit!
I hope you enjoyed my first upholstery post.  I have lots more cool stuff to show you.  As a seamstress, I find lots of this stuff fascinating, and I'm taking a chance that you will too!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Racerback Bathing Suit - Kwik Sew 2962

For those of you who have been with me for a while, you may remember that I made a whole pile of 2-piece bathing suits for Mexico in April.  Once I discovered how easy it was to make swimwear, I've been itching to make a new suit to wear to aquafitness at the pool.  My old faithful Speedo finally kicked the bucket, and I've been wearing my flame tankini for the past couple months.  2-piece bathing suits are not very comfortable to wear to the pool.  I wanted something secure and able to withstand crazy exercise.  I've had this pattern in my stash since the spring, and I finally got around to making it!  Yay me!

It also happens that my parents went on holidays for 2 weeks, which means I don't have to go to work!  That's why I've suddenly stumbled on a whole pile of free time.
 One of the reasons I've always loved racer backs is because I had the misfortune of wearing a U-back bathing suit when I was a kid, and I hated the feeling that it might fall off at any moment.  Since then, I've loved the secure feeling that a racer back gives you.  So, naturally, I chose view B.  View A is simply a waste of paper, in my opinion.  :P

I was hoping to make this suit fully lined, so I cut the lining and used it to test the fit.  I measured my torso length, just to be sure, and from what the pattern said, I would be okay with the regular length.  I cut a straight Medium, grading out to a Large at the bust.  
 The bust was too big, so I took it back in to a Medium.  The racerback sits a bit low, but from these first 2 shots, it doesn't look that bad, right?
 Until you get to the side.  Remember that the edges still have to be turned under 3/8" for the elastic.  Yeah.  Not digging this.  By the way, do you like my safety pins?  I figured this would be a quick way to check the fit.  Works for me!
 So, I decided to lengthen the torso above the waist by 1 1/2", and I cut the whole suit in Medium.  I also decided to use the lower cut leg openings, and I added an extra inch to the bum curve.

Since my white lining was too short, I couldn't use it.  Instead, I cut a shelf bra and lined gusset as per the pattern.  My swimwear fabric was uber cheap, and I figured this would still be a wearable muslin, so I'm okay with not having a full lining right now.

This picture shows the armhole gaping.  This is easily remedied by pulling the elastic in that area.  Cinched it up perfectly.  I also decided to hike up the shelf bra at the center front, since I like things nice and tight.  Also, since I added 1 1/2" to the torso length, I took my shoulder seams in by about the same length.
 Here is the inside view of the finished suit.
 Isn't it cute?  I really love this fabric.  Fabricland had no new swimwear fabric since sometime last year, and this one was 70% off, and it was one of only 6 prints to choose from.  I've had my eye on it for some time, and I'm so glad I picked it.  I love diagonal stripes, and I'm pleasantly surprised by the colour combo!
 Here is the back.  I forgot to mention that the other adjustment I made was to make the racer back wider at the center back, and I curved it up so it wouldn't cut down so low.  I was also afraid my shoulder straps would stretch out, so I stretched my elastic across the shoulders.  Ha ha.  This is such a learning experience.  Again, not necessary!  It only needed to be stretched at the armhole.  No wonder this is a wearable muslin.  And by wearable, I mean barely.  I can barely get it on, it's so tight!
 I do hope it stretches when it gets wet so I can get the darn thing off.  Cuz I'm definitely going to wear it.  I love it!
 See how nice and high it is under the armhole now?  And I really cinched the elastic around the back of the bum.  This suit is purely functional, and there is no way this baby is going to slip on me!
 I should also probably add a bit of width to the side seams on the back.  It's really tight across my back, which adds to the tightness problem.  I love the width of the racer back, but I could probably stand to cut the lower part of the curves down again.  I didn't realize this poor suit would be so hard to get on!  But, once it's on, it's so awesome!  I can't wait to wear it to the pool tomorrow morning!
I estimated that this suit would take me about 2-3 hours to make.  I spent a bit of time on the lining fitting and pattern alterations, but on Tuesday morning, I cut out and sewed my suit almost all in one sitting!  I love that you do the whole thing on the serger and don't have to make umpteen trips to the ironing board.  I finished my coverstitching later.  In total, I spent 2 hours and 20 minutes on this suit.  It felt way faster than that!

So, with a few minor tweaks, suit #2 should be great!  In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy wearing this one.  Cross your fingers that I don't rip it!  Yikes!

Update: I wore it to the pool this morning.  It's great!  I can tell that it's really tight around my armholes and shoulder straps, so I'll probably let out my shoulder seams by 1" and go easy on the elastic stretching.  And my other adjustments should be good, as well.  I'm happy to report that the elastic around my bum curves did its job and I didn't even have to adjust myself when I got out of the pool!  And, I managed to peel myself out of the wet suit, and it wasn't any harder than putting it on.  Mission accomplished!