Wear are they now 2016, part 1

I’ve been thinking lately about which of my makes are and aren’t in my wardrobe, and why that is. I thought it might be useful to go back and look at the last couple of years’ makes and reassess their success or not. My blog posts tend to be ‘this isn’t perfect for these reasons, but basically it’s fine’ and sometimes it is fine, sometimes it’s GREAT and sometimes those imperfections are just too big. So I thought I’d go back until I found the first thing that’s still in current rotation in my wardrobe, and review the things I’ve made since then. Makes from 2014 or earlier tend to have been gotten rid of because my taste or style has changed, or they had some significant beginner flaws like poor fabric to pattern match.

I’ve split this up because it was getting long and very tedious, at some point in the future I’ll do the rest. Be warned, terrible photos from a dying camera and  a dead-faced me coming up!

Special mention:

A special mention goes to my Kasia skirt, which I made in 2012. I still have this, although it’s in a box because I don’t really wear straight skirts much, but I still love it and it fits and looks good so I can’t bear to part with it. It does gape a bit because of the weird construction of the front, but I still remember the thrill of this project – doing something a bit outside my comfort zone, and pulling it off. And I remember how magical it felt to have something in my wardrobe that actually FIT my actual body. Bliss.

Ottobre painted roses:

Still love these. These photos aren’t the best but I haven’t managed a selfie with these ones recently so they’ll do. I didn’t wear them much last summer but mostly for lack of skirts to pair them with. I’m not sure I’ll get much more wear out of the roses one since my style has shifted but I’m giving it another summer to see. Just recently I took the too-tight arms off of the white one and replaced them so hopefully it will get more wear because I did put it on several times over summer and then took it off because the arms were uncomfortable.

This is a great pattern and I still highly recommend it. I’m also thinking of mashing up the armholes and sleeve of this with springfield since this is the best fitting woven sleeve I’ve found for me. Also it’s interesting how although I felt comfortable in that outfit at the time, and I can objectively see it’s fine, I just want to whack a circle skirt on myself in those photos. personal style is a funny thing.

Bluegingerdoll violet:

First blog post in my current house! I actually don’t remember seeing this one in a while. I think it might be in the ‘summer things’ box, or perhaps I got rid of it. It had been relegated to a house dress because the fabric was a bit too thin really. Still like the pattern but not sure I would make it again.

Jasper sweater dress:

I donated it. I felt uncomfortable in the straight skirt, and a bit exposed – I think I need a waistband especially in knits otherwise I feel like I’m wearing pyjamas, and in an exposed way not a  freeing way. All personal style issues – objectively I really liked it and thought it looked good on me, but not like myself. I would still definitely recommend this pattern, it’s so well written and drafted. I would like to make the jumper version at some point, when my RTW jumpers start biting the dust.

My M6696s:

Black Viole:

I think this maybe got worn maybe five times. It’s not a great fabric choice in that it’s very thin so if it’s warm enough to wear it it’s warm enough that I don’t want to wear black. Also it’s see through enough that I really need to wear a slip or something, so then it’s too warm for a slip or too cool for such a light dress.

Fabric choice aside, there are numerous fit issues. The waist is too low all around, which makes me look boxy. It’s WAY too low at the back, and the fix I did to bring the waistline in after I was finished makes the centre back really heavy (I put a tuck in the back waistline) and  so it drags down and feels and looks awkward. Also those sleeves and armholes are pulling like woah. I wore it a few times and always felt a bit rumpled in it. However, it’s still hanging in my wardrobe because I thought it might be good to have an original version of this pattern with not so many tweaks to try on, if I attempt it again. Once I do that or decide not to,  might harvest the fabric for something else because it’s too nice to waste.

Anchors:

This got a LOT of wear last summer. The armscye pulling is a weak point and the seam has had to be repaired there, and it’s still straining. Also, it’s too short. It’s exactly the length I intended it but it now reads as too short to my eye – I initially started thinking the waist was too high but I don’t think it is, I think it’s just that I want a longer skirt. I haven’t been wearing my shirtdresses in autumn and winter because once I have socks or stockings on, I feel like I’m wearing a school uniform, and I think a longer skirt would help mitigate that. Here it is with one of my Bonnies – this was one of my favourite outfits in autumn and I liked it with grey or white knee socks too but then the school girl factor came in too much.

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Even as it is the bare knees are giving it a gangly look rather than an elegant one. I have let the hem out with the intention of turning it up with bias tape to get as much length as possible, and patching a bit extra onto the placket, but I have yet to sew it back up again. I think that might get my knees covered but honestly I wish it were hitting a good 3″ lower.

Teal flannel:

This one is sitting in a basket, in pieces. I took it apart to underline it and let it out wher eit was too tight and then couldn’t decide which adjustments I wanted to make, and then decided I didn’t like straight skirts anyways, so it’s been there for a while. I am of two minds about it. I adore this fabric and would love to wear it. But the whole thing is too small and the skirt is too short and if I were making it again from scratch I’d flare the skirt a bit more to give it some oomph – and some more sitting room. So I’m not sure this one is going to get put back together again. That said, I fell for it again a bit looking at these photos, so perhaps I should finish it and see if it gets worn in autumn or spring.

Teal broadcloth:

I still love this dress, a lot. But I also have so many issues with it. Same as above, pulling armscye, collar too wide, too short, and also in this one the waist really IS too high. The broadcloth doesn’t have any give at all so it’s just a wee bit tight and high everywhere. But I just love the colour and the feel of the fabric. I wore this dress at least once a week through summer and autumn and it was my go-to feel good dress, but I also couldn’t stop noticing all the things that are wrong with it. The best, most important thing I learnt from this dress is that I am most comfortable wearing bright, deep solids. That’s when I feel most like my self. Bonus points if I can create a whole monochromatic outfit.

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All teal all the time work selfie. The green glasses are because I’m sensitive to the specific spectrum in fluoro lights and without the glasses I get migraines.

I am planning to let down the hem on this one too but I’m also considering just buying more of this fabric and trying for a better fitting bodice. The M6696 has been good to me but it’s just not quite right and I’m not sure I’m going to get it with minor tweaks.

Twister dress:

Meeeeeeeeeeeeh. Too tight, too polyestery, too cutesy. Love the idea, don’t love the reality. Oh well, I had fun making it. I can’t remember if I’ve donated this yet or not but I intend to.

Miscellaneous skirts:

All of these have been donated – the pencil skirt is no longer my style, the black skirt was too wrinkly and the denim was too big and I couldn’t be bothered taking it in.

Bonnies and Moneta with circle skirt:

I still wear the bonnies a lot and I wore the moneta a lot last winter. The waistband stretched out though so everything is now hitting in the wrong spot. I still wear it as an around the house dress although I find the wool a little bit itchy at my elbows.

Violeta (violet + moneta mashup)

Wore this constantly last winter but now I feel too exposed and va-va-voom in the tight skirt. I’ve put it away while I contemplate whether to donate it or not but I haven’t worn it in almost a year so it looks like I will. I did love it and now I don’t.

Solstice dress:

Let us never speak of this again.

Steeplechase bike shorts:

I’ve since made two more batches of these (I can get 4 out of 3 metres) and I wear a pair every day. Possibly the best and most useful things I’ve ever made.

I think this post is long enough now. I’ll pause and do the rest at a later date. Hopefully this is interesting to someone besides me but if not, oh well. Always good to do a stock take!

Bluegingerdoll Hack

Hack – “hak” – verb
1. cut with rough or heavy blows. “I watched them hack the branches” synonyms: cut, chop, hew, lop, saw; slash

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Yeah, this one isn’t an elegant mashup of patterns. It’s more slashing and hewing.

This started its life as another Bonnie. I was sewing my flannel M6696 and I thought that, since I couldn’t wear a long sleeved jumper over those sleeve cuffs, I may as well go ahead and make another Bonnie, with 3/4 sleeves. I wear my first one so much that this seemed like a clear winner. I even had more of the same fabric that I made my first one with!

Or so I thought. Actually it turns out I’d bought two different kinds of fleecy knit, when shopping at the Fabric Store on a trip earlier this year. I’d intended to buy a fleece and a thinner merino knit, but must have picked up the wrong roll. I’d assumed the fleeces were the same. NOPE. The second one was thicker, with less stretch and less recovery.

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I didn’t notice this until I got to the sleeves. I’d cut the bodice out of the original knit, using up the last scraps. So when I cut the sleeves and bands out of the new one… it immediately became clear that they weren’t the same fabric, and any garment made from the two of them together would be a disaster.

Instead I cut the whole top again, out of the new fabric. As soon as I tried it on I knew I’d miscalcuated. The lack of stretch meant what was a flattering negative ease in the other fabric was tight and bunchy in this. Add into that trying to get sticky fleece over sticky flannel… well, it wasn’t going to work.

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It was too tight to work as an over-things top. So I decided I’d add on the violet skirt, like I had to the moneta bodice before. I don’t seem to have taken any in-progress photos, so you’ll have to use your imagination. First, I cut the bottom band in half and sewed the skirt to that. Unfortunately, because the bonnie top is looser at the waist than the moneta, this resulted in a back that was super baggy and awful looking.

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This is the IMPROVED version
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Bleh

I tried taking it in and up various ways and then ended up just hacking the band off and attaching the skirt to the now even shorter bodice.

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Even so, I still had to take both the skirt and the bodice in a couple of times, and scoop out the back. Doing this in the middle instead of at the start pulled the fabric out and puckered it. It eventually went back with a good steam, but the end result is a skirt that is about 1″ off at the side seams. I think as a result of this, it pulls to the left as soon as I move, twisting around. And it’s short. At least 1″ shorter than I’m comfortable with.

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Not only that, it ends up pulling up at the centre front. I could pretend it’s a trendy hi-lo front, I guess. But the reality is, I think this one might be a big fat lose. I wore it to work last week to see, and I just felt awkward and uncomfortable all day. Objectively it’s not completely terrible, and I could wear it with tights. But unfortunately I think I’m just always going to feel weird when wearing this one.

I wish I’d given up on this one sooner, because I knew early in it was going to fight me and tbh, in the time I spent wrestling with it I could have sewn half another shirtdress. At least it didn’t become another WIP hanging over my head, I suppose. I guess you can’t save ’em all.

Violeta

I made a mashup!

This one is another unlined Moneta bodice, this time with the pencil skirt from Violet. I’m calling it ‘Violeta’ because the alternative is just ‘Monet’ which is less exciting and also I do not want to be thought of as a ‘full on Monet’. If you think so, keep it to yourself. Also because every time my suggestable brain hears ‘Violeta’ it starts singing ‘Bohemian Rhapsody‘ because apparently it sounds enough like ‘silhouette-a’ and I’m all about that.

I sewed this project a couple weekends ago, trying to jolt myself out of a sewing slump. I’ve still got some lingering craft camp makes to finish off – the Twister dress was one of them, and there’s another M6696 that has some more work to go. And… well, anyway. I was not feeling it. I thought that maybe if I sewed something new, and quick, I’d feel less cranky about my ‘to fix’ pile, which is quite teetering at this point. (It usually lives where I am standing on these photos and I almost did myself an injury moving it out of the way.)

I wear the last Moneta I made at least once a week, twice if I can get away with it. It’s so easy to wear and, since it’s a merino knit, it’s so so nice and warm. Which is good because it’s bloody freezing here right now. I know all you from cold climes will be staring at me in disbelief when I tell you that at an average high of 14°C – which makes it usually about 7°C when I’m walking to and from the train, I am losing my mind with the cold. That’s ok. I’ll forgive you losing your mind over 25°C in summer, because I know it’s all about what you’re acclimatised to. And I am NOT acclimatised to this. At. All. So my primary wardrobe priorities right now are:

  • WARM
  • able to wear a thermal under it
  • able to wear a jumper over it
  • able to easily wear it with tights or knee socks
  • WARM.

And my last moneta fit the bill nicely. But I didn’t fancy another Aline skirt, so I thought I’d swap in the Violet pencil skirt.

The fabric is some thick merino/nylon blend from The Fabric Store in Melbourne, I forget what content exactly. I can tell you that it is thick like a ponte, has good recovery but also will pucker if put under too much strain (I had to cut around some peg-induced puckers) and smells like wet dog when washed. I used the same altered neckline as last time, and I remembered to lengthen the bodice.

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Because the bodice has a LOT of negative ease, and I was getting to where I go out again, when I lengthened it I also angled it out. I then compared the pattern to the skirt pattern, and cut out the size that was closest to the bodice size, size 22, not thinking too much about it. I did still have to ease the smaller skirt in to the larger bodice.

That gave me quite a baggy skirt. It actually doesn’t look terrible here, not great but not awful, but it felt… ehhhhhn. Like, the bodice is making me feel like a pinup model, and the skirt is making me feel like a baggy elephant. And while I have a lot of respect for elephants, they are not style icons.

Bodice: AWWW YEAH Skirt: feh

You can see that the bodice has enough negative ease for wrinkles to pull out, but the skirt, despite being folded nicely before wearing, is a wrinkled mess, the side seams are puckered, and the gentle outward curve for the hips is sitting like saddlebags. The back was worse.

UGH
ERGGGKK.

It’s not helped by the clear elastic I put on the waistband. The fabric is quite heavy so I thought I should but it may have been a mistake – it made the seam even more puckered than it would be otherwise, besides sitting a bit weird in the seam and needing adjusting when I first put it on so it doesn’t stick to me.

At least 2″ of ease each side.

I did wear it to work once and it wasn’t awful but I wasn’t feeling like a million bucks. I felt more like, specifically, this elephant (you will not convince me that elephant is in distress. That elephant has promised he will walk rather than go in the pusher, and now he wants a treat, and that’s what’s happening there. I’m particularly into the sibling elephant in that video).

So ANYWAY the next weekend I sat down and nipped in the skirt, quite a bit. I re-adjusted my traced skirt pattern, taking it down from a 22 at the waist to somewhere between an 18 and a 16, as per my measurements for the pattern.

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Two new seamlines, and my hand for scale… until I realised it’s on a lined cutting mat. SMRT.

Here is the intial adjusting, to about a size 18

Still some ease. I asked S and he said ‘yes make it tighter’ which is what he ALWAYS says. But I did anyway.

MUCH better.

Yes. Good. I also took a wedge out for the back seam, and it still pools a bit but it’s MUCH better. I don’t look like I have a huge weird fabric scar on my butt, and that can only be a good thing. I should remember to go back and adjust my pattern pieces…

There are the sideseams, complete with a little pucker where I took it in, which I might eventually hand sew down but I also might not. I’d initially put self-drafted pockets in but of course they had to come out with the taking it in so drastically. Also, although I do love pockets, and this knit is thick enough to support them, it’s also drapey enough that they messed with the line of the skirt. I also took the sleeves up since they were sitting literally on my elbow.

It was all sewed with lightning stitch except for I forgot to change the setting when I sewed the new skirt seam so that’s a straight stitch. I’ll just fix it if it pops. The hems are twin needled and I also twin needle topstitched the neckline, which was maybe a mistake because it’s bubbly, but I think perhaps that’s just how this fabric do.

You’re welcome again.

Actually you can see an annoying thing in this photo. Stare, if you will, at my boobs, and you will see faint lines running through the fabric. About 1m of the fabric I bought had these horizontal runs, and I managed to cut the bodice pieces out of it – after having to recut because I had a peg-ripple where a nipple would be. So this is LESS of a bad look than that, at least. And it’s not so bad that I am going to fix it but man, I wish I’d noticed it before sewing.

DSC_0214Here you can see the elastic at the waistband, the unfinished seams (I never bother, for knits), and the LINES.

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And here you can see my cat modelling it for me. As you can see, he loves it almost as much as I do, which is a lot.

Bluegingerdoll Violet

I’ve been eyeing off Abby Horskin’s designs at Bluegingerdoll for a while now. They keep popping up and every time they do I love them. I think I first saw them on Idle Fancy or maybe Handmade by Heather B. I love the proportions and the lines, and how they are classic and a bit retro while still very wearable in a modern context. I can safely say I’ve loved every make I’ve seen from these patterns, so a while ago I took the plunge and bought a pattern package. I’ve looked at them a lot since then, and took a few to craft camp, but my sewing hasn’t been particularly prolific so nothing got made yet.

Posing with some very fancy plant-protecting shadecloth

 

Then Abby announced the Get Your Knit On competition, and it gave me a bit of a kick in the rump. I already knew I was going to make a Violet someday, so I bumped it up the list. I still have a pile of finishing to do from craft camp – things needing zips or tweaking, and I probably should be prioritising those. On the other hand, it was very invigorating to sew something quick and simple like a knit dress!

The instructions for this dress are great – very clear, great illustrations, some clever little drafting and construction bits. Even though it’s a reasonably complicated shape with the three piece bodice, it was so simple and easy to sew. I loved about everything about sewing this dress up. I sewed view C, with the long sleeves and the flared skirt. (Which is symmetrical, just so you know, in case you cut it with the wrong bit on the fold and freak out. Not that I would know anything about that. But if I did, it would be fine.)

I did make a bunch of adjustments before I even started sewing. Although the patterns are drafted for a D cup, there was still a two size difference between my upper and lower bust. My favourite bra is a DDD, but otherwise I wear an E. But I also have a low-ish bust, and sloping shoulders, which make my upper bust and shoulders proportionately small. I struggled with this with the Lady Skater dress and tops I made, and although I wear them all the time I also am really bothered by the way they sit. It’s an area where I really notice the fit – partly cos it’s close to my face and I see it but also because it makes the shoulder seam sit below my shoulders, and then the sleeves drag down and the neck drags out and I’m always adjusting it and feeling kind of sloppy and ill dressed.

The three-piece construction of the front bodice made this pretty easy to adjust for, actually. I cut a 16 at the top of the middle front yoke, tapering down to a 20 at the underarm, and the same with the corresponding back piece. I cut the skirt and the main front as a 20, and everything else as a 16. Oh except I cut the arms as a size 20 sleeve and a size 16 sleeve cap. As I was making it I was worried it would be too short in the torso, but I did want to make it up mostly from the packet to see how the pattern behaved, because sometimes it’s hard to tell from the flat pattern. Especially in a knit. In the end it worked out really well but I would consider dropping the waist a half inch or so if I made this in something more stable like a ponte – I do have a long waist but the fabric stretched enough that it sits about perfect.

Standing with my arms down reveals a bunch of fit issues. Unfortunately I don’t spend the majority of my time with hands on hips…

 

The results were… good. Ish. It was not as… something, as I was thinking it would be. I think a lot of that has to do with the fabric, which is pretty thin and has good recovery in general but because it’s so thin it does sag since the skirt is pretty heavy. I think a more stable fabric would be better for this pattern – for most knit dresses in general, to be honest. Instead of looking like a vintage pinup girl I just look comfy. Which is fine! I like to be comfy and this is a pretty fancy version of comfy, but I would also like to look a bit neater, too, sometimes. So I think I will hunt down some more stable fabric and make this again.

The fabric is some jersey from spottters that I bought ages ago to make bikeshorts out. I have been doing that too, but there was enough left for this dress, and probably another pair of shorts from the scraps. I have no idea what the fabric content is but from memory it has some spandex in it but is mostly cotton. It’s the same material that I used for my lady skaters. Good to be using stash!

Actually standing hand-on-hips reveals fit issues, too. Just on the back. You can see the gaping neck here.

 

Apart from, or maybe also exacerbated by, the fabric, I still had problems with the upper bust/shoulder area. I could tell right away this was going to be a problem, as it was bunching there, but I wanted to see how that would change with wear and as the fabric settled and stretched.

Closeup of dragging shoulder, gaping neckline. You can juuust see my brastrap here. Not a great look.

 

I wore this out for a few hours after I first made it, and it just kept dragging down off of my shoulders. It was really disappointing. I was thinking up all kinds of fixes and future pattern adjustments, but then I realised that the back was really really baggy.

Holy gaping back neck, batman! At least my glasses are real cool.

 

When I pinched out that excess, the shoulders sat beautifully. I got S to pin it for me, traced it in chalk, sewed it up and cut off the excess. Problem solvered!

Good place to show you my unfinished seams – I sewed the whole thing on my machine with lightning stitch, and twin needled the hems and the neckline topstitching. And you can also see the elastic stabilising the ruching. I would apologise for the cat hair permanently covering everything, but you know what? It’s not MY fault..

What???

 

The excess was mostly, conveniently, in the top portion of the back bodice. I cut about 2.5 inches total out of the top, tapering to nothing at the bottom. I kept the cutout bit so I can make the change on the pattern piece (should get on that). I also took regular seam allowance out of the rest of the back, so I probably brought it back down to an 18. And I tapered the sleeves in a bit from the elbow down, too.

I promise it does not sit as wonky as that, I was trying to capture a twirl here and the light was getting weird so most of the pictures of my fixed version came out funny. So. This will have to do. It does wrinkle a bit, as you can see here. Hazard of adding an impromtu seam where there shouldn’t be one.

Next time I would consider still taking a little wedge out of the upper bit of the lower front bodice. You can see it pooching a little here – I also didn’t manage to take any good arms-down photos of the fixed dress. Good work, me. Anyway, doing that would basically be making it a proper FBA shape. Conveniently the seam hits me right where I need that change. And I should work out what I need to do for a swayback adjustment, to get rid of the back bunching.

Also I would either staystitch the skirt pieces or else just not cut them out until I was about to sew them – I forgot to cut two pieces because it was getting late by that point, and the one I cut with the rest of the pattern had stretched out a bit by the time I sewed them up.

I also need to re-hem the sleeves because I had to unpick and re-do them after I fixed the shoulders, as they were way too short once the shoulders weren’t dropping low, but my twin needle broke. So they are not as neat as I like.

Yup! I’m pleased! Also in case anyone is wondering, my shoes are from Wittners and they are SO COMFY

 

All up, though, I am very happy. I will wear this dress a lot, even with the limitations of the fabric. It is comfy and I think looks nice. The ruching and v neck and the other little touches of the pattern save it from being just a plain old knit dress. The pattern was an utter delight to sew and makes me really keen to delve into more of Abby’s patterns!

Ta da!