Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Silk Shells

Here's the deal. I am a fabric hoarder. Sure, but aren't all sewers? But that's not the worst of it. I am a fabric SCRAP hoarder. If there is a quarter yard, I will keep it. Who knows when it may come in handy! Most of the time, this leads to bins of chaos that eventually need to get purged. But sometimes, inspiration strikes, and I really actually do use those scraps. This, my friends, is called justification. Because I used some scraps, once or twice, I convince myself to keep alllll the other scraps.

But anyway. This is a top I made sometime this winter, using two different weights of silk I purchased from Dharma Trading Company. The yellow is leftover twill from the lining of this coat, handpainted and therefore could NOT be tossed (obvi). The white is leftover habotai from the lining of this skirt

This was a self-made pattern, very simple and straightforward. I used french seams for the shoulders and side seams, and the neck and armholes are bound with self-bias tape. The hem was carefully handpicked and catchstitched. I sewed this on my Singer Featherweight, a new acquisition from my aunt, and it is seriously the dream everyone has always said it is. Sewing on that machine is perfection. It has a myriad of clever feet and folders that I haven't played around with yet, but I'm sure they would've saved me hours on this shirt if I had. So much handsewing!

I really love that this shirt is two different weights. As you can see, the back is so flowy and drapey, displaying the absolute best characteristics of silk fabric.

I was so pleased with how this turned out that... I made one more!

Now this was leftover silk twill from the lining of a dress from my senior collection. It's also fabric from Dharma (my absolute favorite source for silk), dyed with fiber reactive dyes that my mom had on hand. (She's got an amazing collection of supplies and I'm so lucky she lets me play with them!) I had the most difficult time getting this color -- it originally came out emerald, so I overdyed it. I know the mantra of hand-dyeing is "love what you get", but it took me a while to love this fabric. Still, I had a fair amount leftover (COULD NOT TOSS), and it wasn't until I made it into this top that I truly began to love it.

I'm going to be honest, I don't think this was cut on grain. I made do with the scraps I had, and because of this, the bust darts are... funky. But, you know, not enough to give me cause to redo them.

I am especially pleased about the fit of the armholes here. They are sized to still give me movement, but there's really no awkward gaping or bra visibility.

Again, french seams, self bias binding, sewn on the Featherweight. I still haven't finished hemming this - I turned up the hem once and machine stitched it, and haven't mustered the ability to sit down and handsew the second turn of the hem. I may never.

Don't even ask about the scraps leftover from these. Okay, fine, yes, I still have them. They might be useful someday.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Gingham Power: Archer Shirt

Well hello there! This has been the longest hiatus I've ever taken in the history of my little ol' blog. It's been a big year, though! After graduating and making my senior collection, I kind of... stopped making things. For a while. I kicked off summer of 2014 by traveling Europe with my brother, Paul, and then spent about a month at home in Northern Minnesota with my family, getting a car and my driver's license (better late than never) and preparing for my move to Milwaukee to start my job. 

And here I am, almost a year later! This is my latest make... the Archer shirt from Grainline Studio.

I haven't used a non-self-made pattern in about five years, and truthfully... it was really nice. This is a beautifully drafted pattern. I have been planning to make this gingham into a button down for about three years (hardcore hoarder here), but the idea of drafting all those pesky pattern pieces for a shirt made my skin crawl. Plackets, cuffs, stands, collars, pockets? No thanks. The internet has been raving about this pattern for years, so after much deliberation, I purchased the PDF version. 

PDF patterns are rough, guys. I didn't love the process of putting together all the pages, but I did love the instantaneous nature of immediately having it in my hands instead of waiting for the mail to come! However, the process was pretty fool-proof, so I sucked it up and stayed late after work one day to put it together on one of our large work tables. Once it was together, cutting was a breeze (there was no way I was going to match the plaid!). This fabric has a crinkle finish, which was mildly annoying, but I did my best to iron it out to cut it smoothly.  I cut a size 4, tapering to size 6 at the hips. I also lengthened the pattern by 2 inches, except the placket -- which I didn't realize until after I had cut everything else out. But we'll get into all the whoopsies of this shirt in a bit.

Sewing took me about a week's worth of evenings, but I was so excited all day to come home and work on it. I'd read through the sewalong on Grainline's blog during my lunch break, going through the steps I could get done that evening. It felt like it came together really quickly, which was great! I started sewing on Saturday, and wore it the following Friday.

Construction wise -- the side and sleeve seams are flat-felled, a technique I haven't done in a while. I used the burrito method for the yoke, and was really pleased with how that came together. The yoke, pockets, placket, and cuffs are all cut on the bias, because while I wasn't going to plaid match this, I knew it would drive me crazy to see those seams not line up. Call it an easy out. :)

Now for the whoopsies! In addition to forgetting to lengthen the placket (do you see that seam below the last button? Yup, couldn't even be bothered to match that up), I somehow misaligned my pocket placement from CF. And didn't notice until after I had sewn on all the buttons. I did have to do a heckuva lot of easing in the neckline when I set the collar, so I think I didn't fold the right amount under for the underplacket? This is the only reasoning I have, since the pockets are the same distance from the armhole. This mistake drives me crazy, but I'm also too lazy to unpick anything now that it's finished. So there you go, it's something I can live with.

I also mis-marked the buttonhole placement on the cuffs, and didn't realize until after I had cut the buttonholes open. Do not cut open your buttonholes at 11pm, friends. They look... RILL silly. Hence why all of these photos have the sleeves rolled up! But this too I can live with, because I never ever wear button downs with the sleeves unrolled. 

I'm so pleased with the overall fit of this shirt! The sleeves are a PERFECT fit, loose and comfy but still flattering. I love the length, the fit of the collar and neck, and where it hits at my shoulders. I'm thrilled that it fit this well out of the envelope! Er, printer. Whatever. I've already cut out another version -- HAWAIIAN PRINT YO -- to get me through another week of work. Hopefully I can correct the lei-zy mistakes from this. (lolololol)