Friday, June 29, 2012

Pattern 8:  The Cambie Dress, another Sewaholic Pattern
Next week is the pinacle of summer, July 4th week!  This is when everyone seems to be heading off for a much needed vacation, grilling out with friends, lounging at the pool, and of course celebrating the birth of our country with fireworks and all things red, white, and blue.  My husband and I managed to get a short "vacation" in this weekend by visiting my family.  As we packed up too many things for a very short weekend (bicycles, both dogs, computer, ice chest full of snacks for only a 3.5 hour drive, sewing bag with supplies, etc.), my husband asked why I was taking the laptop and the sewing supplies.  "Because I have to write on my blog about my next pattern!" I explained to which he replied, "Can't you just take a few days off?" 
"Well, I guess I could," I reasoned, "but I'm not even half way finished with my goal of twenty patterns yet.  I just don't want to get behind."  So, here I sit in a Panera Bread (since my parents don't have adequate internet access at their house) with my next pattern laying on the table keeping company with the oatmeal raisin cookie crumbs left behind.  And what pattern is lucky number 8? 
I was very pleased with the Sewaholic Renfrew Tee Shirt pattern so I decided to try another Sewaholic pattern, the Cambie Dress. 

The Sewaholic patterns only have illustrated pictures on the front, so I went to our on-line store to see pictures of women in the finished dress.  The first one I noticed was this one.

I really didn’t love the look of the dress in this picture, and I almost decided not to make the Cambie dress.  Then, I saw this picture and changed my mind. 
The Cambie dress is made for the pear shaped body (small bust and waist with larger hips) because it accentuates the shoulders and waist, and Version A (shown in gray above) has an a-line bottom to cover larger hips.  This is usually the perfect type of dress for me, so now I am really excited to see how it turns out.  I also liked the dress in the solid fabric which is why I chose a navy blue 100% cotton poplin for my dress.  I usually don’t choose to sew garments in solid colors because the printed designer cottons are beautiful, and I always feel that if I take the time to sew something, it should look really unique and special.  But, the Cambie dress has plenty of interesting details like pockets, capped sleeves, and a sweetheart neckline and the solid fabric will help those elements to become more noticeable.  With gold jewelry and my cute navy wedges, I'm hoping the navy dress will turn out to be an outfit I will love to wear.  My only fear.....will I look like a flight attendant in all navy?  Check back soon to find out! 

Sun Surf Halter

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sun Surf Halter is Complete!

I finished the Amy Butler Sun Surf Halter today which felt a little ironic seeing as it was rainy and cool outside.  I wore it to work tonight anyway despite the weather.
After sewing the halter top, I realize that Amy Butler deserves my apologies since I complained about the difficulty of the details in her other patterns.  This halter top wasn't difficult at all and was a fast project to complete.  There are only 4 pattern pieces to cut out and only the front of the halter is lined.  Amy also deserves props because of all the different sizes available with this one pattern.  The pattern includes girl's sizes extra-small to large and women's sizes extra-small to XXX-large!  The XXX-large pattern is for women with bust measurements of 48 inches, an often difficult size to find patterns to fit.  I have many frustrated customers who want to sew the patterns in our store but many designers do not have sizing to accomodate larger chested women.  Many of the patterns aren't sized for the "normal woman" which doesn't make alot of sense, but this pattern fits a wide variety of body types!  Also, Amy suggests that a mother and daughter could make this top together, and with women and child sizes available, it would be easy to do.  This project is simple enough for a child to complete with guidance, proven last week when one of our kid's sewing camp members (Raquel, 10 years old) sewed this top.                    

Now for some other "sewer beware" tips I wish I had known before starting.
The completed sun surf halter top was much longer than I anticipated.  When I first tried it on without hemming it, my husband thought I made a short summer dress because the bottom of the shirt hit mid thigh (a horrible length for a short, pear shaped body type like mine!).  I ended up removing six inches to get the shirt to a length that was flattering on me.  Also, I needed a much smaller size than what I anticipated.  I have a 34 inch bust measurement so I made the size small.  It was huge on me, so I had to take the shirt apart to make it smaller.  The finished top also flared out more than I looked more like a maternity shirt which is another reason I made it smaller.  Once I changed the size of the shirt and the length, I was happy with it.  I just wish I had known to choose a much smaller size before I began because the top would have been finished much faster. I love that this shirt is made out of 100% cotton fabric which makes it a crisp, cool summer top perfect for Charleston.  I'm looking forward to actually wearing it on a sunny day unlike today where I had to put a cardigan on over it to keep myself warm!

Pattern 7: Sun Surf Halter

Monday, June 25, 2012

Pattern 7:  The Amy Butler Sun Surf Halter

With the suffocating July heat close by, I have chosen the Amy Butler Sun Surf Halter for my next pattern.
There are so many beautiful, brightly colored cotton fabrics in the store that would be perfect to use with this pattern, but I finally decided on this new fabric that arrived last week.
I have used Amy Butler's bag patterns before but never any of her clothing patterns.  I have loved  every Amy Butler bag I've ever made, however, I have to be honest and admit that sewing her bags was often not enjoyable and sometimes brought me to such frustration that I'd swear to never sew another one.  The Amy Butler bag patterns require a great amount of  time cutting out fabric, lining, and tons of interfacing, and when you finally get to begin sewing,  you have to decipher the instructions which are often difficult to interpret.  In addition, there are always steps that require lots of topstitching on multiple layers of fabric that will make sounds come from your sewing machine that you've never heard before as it jams and refuses to sew for you any longer.  The end products always look amazing, but Amy Butler really takes you on a quite a journey to get there!  I'm hoping this sun surf halter top will not be as difficult to sew as her bag patterns.  It better be as fun to sew as it looks to wear!

Colette Ginger Skirt Finished

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Pattern 6.....The easiest project to complete so far! Colette Ginger Skirt

I completed my new "Ginger" skirt today, and it was finished in less than an hour (not counting cutting out the fabric which I did yesterday). It really was the easiest skirt pattern I've ever sewn. This pattern is definitely going to be one of my go-to patterns when I need to sew something quickly and easily which usually happens on a Sunday evening when I decide I want to wear something new to work on Monday.

I can't say enough good things about the beginner Colette Patterns.  The finished garment fits well, looks classy, and is simple to create.  Completing this skirt so quickly reminded me how much I enjoyed making the Colette shorts pattern (which I have been dying to make again) so I went ahead and cut out the fabric for another pair of shorts.  I think I'll sew those tomorrow even though they won't count towards my twenty patterns!

Pattern 6: The Ginger

Friday, June 22, 2012

Pattern 6:  Another Colette Pattern.....The Ginger

I am teaching a class at my store on Sunday on hemming pants, my seventh class this week!  Being so busy at the store, I decided to choose a simple pattern for my next project. Sewing separates like skirts and tops usually have fewer pieces to cut out and assemble than dresses do.  I'm sure most sewers agree that when you have lots of pieces to cut out, it can really suck the joy out of a sewing project, and with my low amount of energy going into the weekend, I definitely don't think I could handle that! 
The Ginger pattern is a simple a-line skirt with three different versions of a waistband to choose from. 

I have many skirt patterns but all have special details like box pleats or gathers unlike the Ginger skirt which is very basic and classy.  This skirt has the potential to be a great staple of any wardrobe and would look good in all types of fabric, so I'm hoping it will be my "little black dress" of skirts.  As usual, I had trouble choosing a fabric but finally decided on this sweet fabric from Art Gallery. 

You can't tell from this picture but there are tiny bees on the flowers scattered throughout.  Art Gallery fabric is 100% cotton and very lightweight which should be perfect for the a-line style of the Ginger skirt.  I hope to be happily sewing this tomorrow!

Renfrew Tee is Finished!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The “Renfrew” tee shirt pattern is finished!

 After running four miles this morning, swimming over a half of a mile, and then planting a new shade garden by the side of my house, I decided I better spend the two hours before my sewing class tonight working on my fifth pattern.  I would have never guessed that would have been enough time to actually complete the “Renfrew” tee shirt!  What a productive day I have had!  I decided to wear my new tee shirt to my class tonight so here is a picture of the finished product taken before my class. 

 This pattern was not difficult to follow, and had only a few simple steps.  If you are experienced at sewing with knits, you could easily finish this in a little over an hour (not counting cutting out the fabric) as I did.  If you haven’t sewn on knits before, this pattern would still be a good option for you, but only if you have patience, especially when sewing the band around the neckline (topstitching is required), and attaching the sleeves (which requires a little stretching as you sew).  I would also recommend you use an inexpensive knit for your first try but make sure it is still of a good quality meaning it stretches well (and returns to normal easily after stretching), and it isn’t too slinky.  I used a great inexpensive knit (only $9 a yard) at our store that is a blend of linen and polyester which was great to sew on.

 Now that I know the fit of this pattern and how well it turns out, I’ll make it again out of some of the other patterned knits like the one pictured below.

When I sat down to sew this afternoon, my husband (who is my number one cheerleader in my quest to finish 20 patterns) asked about the project.  I excitedly told him that I was making a basic fitted tee shirt out of a hot pink knit and waited for him to praise my great idea and fabric choice (which is usually what occurs).  Instead, he looked incredulously at me and said, “Why would you spend time to sew a tee shirt?  Can’t you just go to the J. Crew Outlet and get a ton of them for $10 each?”  My excitement deflated like air leaving a balloon when I realized I had no good explanation for his innocently posed question.   Why would I sew a tee shirt?  It did feel kind of stupid once I considered his point.  So, I told him that I would save my response to his practical and realistic question after I was done.  I wanted to see if the finished tee shirt was actually better than I could buy for myself, but mostly, I just needed time to think of all the reasons someone would want to sew a basic fitted tee shirt instead of buying one.
Here is what I concluded:
1)       This tee shirt has a band around the bottom which makes a basic tee look a little more dressed up.  That means this will be perfect for me to wear to work when I want to be comfortable but still look professional.  The band around the bottom is also flattering for covering up a belly better than a completely fitted tee shirt if that is a concern for you.
2)      It is difficult to find tee shirts other than solid colors.  I can now make tee shirts out of all the great patterned knits we have at our store! 
3)      I can make a tee shirt out of bamboo which feels absolutely amazing.  I have no idea where I would buy a bamboo shirt. 
4)      I love wearing ¾ length shirts in the Fall and even in the Summer when the air conditioning in many places freezes me!  I have trouble finding them so now I can just make them.
5)      I will have greater satisfaction wearing a shirt I made rather than if I wear another cheaply made, outsourced shirt from Old Navy!
I am sew happy to have this "Renfrew" tee shirt pattern in my sewing arsenal.  Before long, I really won't have to buy clothes any more! 

Pattern 5: Sewaholic

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

My Choice for Pattern 5
We are constantly searching for unique new patterns for our store and recently came across some very cute patterns for the modern seamstress created by a fellow sewing blogger named Tasia.  She is from Vancouver, BC, Canada and her pattern line is called Sewaholic Patterns.   Sewaholic patterns include a variety of great pieces for everyone’s wardrobe including a very classy “Cambie Dress”, the stylish “Minoru Jacket”, and the perfect basic tee called the “Renfrew”.  We decided to give these patterns a try in support of another small business who is trying to make it in a world dominated by big corporations!  The patterns arrived today just in time for my fifth pattern to be sewn.

I’ve decided to first start with the basic knit tee, the “Renfrew” pattern.  I’ve always wanted a good pattern for a fitted basic tee, but I have never had luck finding the right pattern.  I have used McCalls, Simplicity, and Butterick tee shirt patterns before, but the results have always been disappointing leaving me with an unfitted, unstylish knit shirt to join my other failed sewing projects that reside in a basket in the back of my sewing closet.  The "Renfrew" pattern has options for long sleeves, 3/4 length, and short sleeves along with scoop neck, V-neck, and cowl neck styles to choose from.  I am going to make the basic short sleeve V-neck style to see if the perfect tee shirt pattern really does exist. 

Here are some examples of the finished products from the pattern designer, Tasia.   
I really like the band around the bottom of this shirt because that means I won't have to hem it!  I am often disappointed with the hemline when using knits, and now I get to avoid hemming altogether. I can't wait to start sewing this tomorrow. 


Madeline Maxi Dress Complete

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Fourth Pattern Completed!

 The fourth pattern from Serendipity Studio called the Madeline Maxi Dress was my least favorite in the store because of the model pictured on the front (my apologies to the model). 

This dress looks like a quilt that should be thrown over the back of a couch in a farmhouse!  When I opened the pattern, the pictures of other finished dresses were better, but I wasn't convinced this would turn out to be something I’d actually get to wear. 
One of the best parts of sewing is getting to design your own masterpiece by putting together gorgeous fabrics.  I chose one of my favorite fabrics to make the dress, but decided to use a solid color for the contrast pieces so it wouldn’t look as busy as the dress pictured.  I also decided on the knee length version.  This is how it turned out.

I adore it, and it fits perfectly!  I should be wearing if for you since the dress doesn't fit the dress form well, but I finished this dress after a 30 mile bike ride so there was no way I was going to be photographed! 
I am very surprised at how well this turned out.  This goes to show how beautiful fabrics can really change the look of a garment.
In regard to the directions in the pattern, there are lots of steps which may seem daunting to the beginner sewer, but if you choose to make the dress out of only two fabrics in the basic style like I did, you end up skipping many of the steps such as adding contrast to the waistband and making ruffle trim. There is a list of very important general instructions given at the start of the pattern which I recommend to read carefully.  I found the tips on sizing in this section to be especially important.  The bust measurement is the most critical in choosing the fit for this pattern, then the waist.  It is easy to make this dress smaller in the waist if needed which is what I had to do once the dress was completed. 
 I recommend this pattern to the advanced beginner (if you know how to put in an invisible zipper) or it would be a great project for the new sewer who has guidance.  The only part I found difficult was making sure the back contrast waist bands were even on both sides of the zipper.  After the first zipper installation, one band was slightly lower than the other, and I really am not sure what caused this to occur, so I had to take the zipper out and start over.
I really think this turned out well, and I am glad I took a chance on the pattern.  This fourth pattern has confirmed for me that you really can't judge a pattern by its cover!

So Many Options

Thursday, June 14, 2012

With so many pattern options in our store, you’d think it would be easy for me to choose my fourth pattern in my series of twenty, but I have been so indecisive!  Picking out a pattern has become a painstaking process.  I scan the patterns first until one seems to jump out at me.   Once I remove it from the wall where it innocently hangs, the scrutiny begins!  I question the fit of the pattern.  Will this look good on me?  Will it be flattering?  Will it make me look pregnant (which I definitely am not)?  Will I look like a little girl in this?  How much fabric will it take?  How long will it take me to finish it?  Will I actually wear this if I make it?  Usually, I then decide another pattern may be a better option so I pick up another pattern and start the entire process over again.  It really is silly when I think about the amount of time it takes me to make a decision about something so trivial and small compared to the other choices we have to make every day in our lives. Many people don’t spend that much time even deciding a candidate in an election!  I watch most of my customers go through the same process day after day.  What is it about picking out patterns that paralyzes even the most fashion confident?  What keeps us from taking a chance on the patterns we aren’t so sure about?   

The answer is this:  Sewing requires two things most of us don’t have enough of…time and money.  We want to be sure our effort was worth it, and the money we spend on fabric won’t go wasted.  Sewing isn’t a necessity for most of us, it’s just a hobby, a hard thing for some to justify in these tough economic times.  I wish we all had extra time in every day to sew all the things that inspire us on Pinterest or create the things we imagine we could as we stare in our closets for something to wear.  I wish we all had extra money to buy as much beautiful fabric as we desire guilt free!  But alas, this isn’t the case.  With full time jobs, children to care for , houses to clean, laundry to wash, dogs to be walked, bills to be paid, and all the other tasks that require our attention, we have very little time to have a hobby.  So when we make time to sew, it has to count.  That’s why the pattern has to turn out for us.  We are sacrificing time and money for a little creative fun! 

So what is my fourth pattern?  I decided to sew the pattern I like the least in our store! 

Why would I do such a thing? I want to remind myself that just simply taking the time to sew and create is worth the effort, no matter the outcome.   The result is not guaranteed in sewing, but how you feel when you allow yourself to spend time doing something just for fun is.   Maybe I’ll find I’m talented and creative enough to make even the worst pattern look good.  We’ll see.

The Mission Maxi Color Block Dress is Finished!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I just got home from teaching a sewing class, but I couldn't wait to show you a picture of my finished third pattern, the Mission Maxi.
With only 2 large pattern pieces (front and back) and 3 small bias strips for neckline and armhole facing, this Jamie Christina Pattern is absolutely perfect as a first time knit project.  The pattern includes tips on working with knits, and it directs you to construct the dress in clever ways that make sewing this dress simpler than other patterns would.  I have sewn many necklines in knits similar to this but it has never been this easy.  Sizing for this dress is more accurate in the early stages of construction because once you cut out the first piece of fabric (the front piece), you can hold the pattern piece against yourself and get a really good idea if you need to go smaller.  The size I chose fit perfectly, however, so no revisions were needed except that I shortened the straps so the neckline wouldn't be as low on my chest.
The pattern has a halter top version and instructions on how this pattern can be used to make tank tops instead of the dress! 
This was the first project I have used with color blocking, and I must admit that I was very nervous when cutting out the fabric yesterday.  I first cut out the front piece of the dress on muslin and then started drawing lines on the muslin front piece to decide how I would place the different colors.  This is where things became difficult.  There are so many options for color blocking that I became paralyzed over making a decision.  I drew so many different lines on the muslin that I couldn't make sense of any of it.  Thank goodness I was using one of our favorite highlighter pens (that can be removed with a hot iron) to mark the fabric because I kept changing my mind and starting over.  My amazingly supportive husband (who can even be found cutting fabric in our store when necessary) helped me decide on the alternating triangle shape, and he came to the rescue by helping me measure multiple points on each triangle so each color blocked piece would be the same.  He is talented at woodworking and is quite good at measuring so he really gave me the confidence to finally cut up the front pattern piece with our new design.  I then had to make sure the back pattern piece was cut the same way because I wanted my color blocking to extend around to the back.
 It wasn't very hard to line up the side seams perfectly because we did such a good job taking our time getting each piece measured correctly.  If you aren't good at measuring and cutting, I would recommend using a simpler linear blocking pattern unless you have help like I did.   There are so many ways to get creative with your color blocking that you are guaranteed a unique design!  If you have never sewn on knits, I wouldn't recommend color blocking until you have sewn a few basic dresses.
Whether you decide to color block or not, you should definitely give this Jamie Christina Mission Maxi pattern a try.  I am Sew Happy with it!
If you still aren't convinced you can sew on knits, you could also watch for the upcoming class in July that I will be teaching called "Introduction to Knits".  I want every sewer to have the opportunity to make a fun dress like this!

To buy the Mission Maxi Pattern on-line:

Mission Maxi Dress

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Pattern 3:  The Mission Maxi Dress!  To see completed dress click here
A good friend of mine is getting married on Folly Beach on Saturday, and I need a comfortable, cool dress that will also look good with flip flops.  I decided a maxi dress would be perfect, and I have been dying to make one ever since this pattern arrived.

I know some of you may be thinking I'm awfully brave to pick a project that requires knit fabric,  but I have alot of experience working with knits.  There are so many cute skirts, shirts, and dresses made out of knit that I decided long ago to overcome my fear of knit and just attempt to make things with it.  I've had some frustrating experiences and a few horrible outcomes, but I've learned from all of them.  And with the help of my best friend, the serger, I can now tackle most knit patterns with little difficulty.
We have great new knits in a variety of yummy colors that are soft, have great stretch, and drape well, and I really couldn't decide which color to use.  And then I remembered a recent fabric trend you probably have been noticing in retail stores called color blocking!  Here are a few examples.

I've decided I am going to attempt color blocking with my maxi dress!  I have  never tried anything like this, so I recruited advice from one of our incredibly talented sewing teachers, Becky Smith.  Becky suggested I cut the maxi dress pattern out of muslin (or any other inexpensive cotton fabric) first.  Then, I could draw lines on the muslin to represent places where specific colors would go which would give me a better idea of how the finished project would look.  Once I settle on the design of the color blocks, I could simply cut out the muslin and use that as the pattern to cut my fabric (also making sure I add a little when cutting to account for seam allowances).  What a genuis idea!   I am taking her advice and plan to start working on this tomorrow.  I figure I better start early in the week in case it doesn't turn out well so I will still have time to shop for a dress to wear to the wedding on Saturday!  I'm not being pessimistic, just preparing for the worst (remember tragedy occuring with Pattern 2 and the wrong fit of Pattern 1)!  Here is the fabric I chose.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that you'll see me wearing this very soon.

Pattern 2: Sew Sad

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Why my second pattern project made me sew sad!
You know that I wasn’t very excited about the Anna Maria Horner pattern I chose to use for my second pattern, but as I started putting it together, I felt my hopes rising that this shirt may actually turn out well.   And as you can see from the picture below, I think it is really cute!

This shirt has inverted pleats in the front and back of the shirt, gathers at the front bottom, and gathers on the sleeve top and bottom.  Because of these details, this pattern would be best for intermediate level sewers, or for beginner students taking a class at our store where guidance can be given. The directions were not difficult to follow, but, you have to be a little more proficient with the sewing lingo to be able to use this pattern without difficulty.  For example, the pattern expects the sewer to “make as much bias tape out of your fabric as needed to finish the edges of the bodice”.  If I had not sewn a lot of patterns previously, this step may have been more difficult for me. 
I followed the pattern for the most part, with exception to the bottom band.  The pattern called for a cotton contrast band on the bottom of the shirt, but I decided to use stretchy knit.  I think the shirt would look good with an unfitted cotton band as well, but I chose the knit fitted band because this style of shirt tends to look more flattering on me.   If you decide to sew this pattern the same way I did, I would be more than happy to show you how I did the last step of the pattern with knit! 
I think this shirt would look good on a lot of different body types.  If you want to hide your waist instead of accentuate it, use the cotton band the as the pattern instructs.  If you want longer sleeves, the sleeve pattern is already set for a ¾ length or you could also easily make this sleeveless!

Now, to explain why this project made me sew sad…..
My parents and sister have been visiting since Thursday (which has been great!), but entertaining guests does not allow for much sewing.  When they left today, I hurriedly set up my sewing machine to get started on this second pattern.  I quickly wound the bobbin, threaded the machine, and starting working.  In my haste, I didn’t spend the time I usually do making sure I transferred all the marks on the pattern to my fabric.  I started pinning the pleats to sew and realized that all of the pleats were slightly different sizes.  Arg!  So, I had to unstitch them, remark the pleats, and then sew again.  I am not a professional seamstress and don’t mind admitting to you that I make plenty of mistakes like this all the time.  I am learning, though, with each pattern I sew, the seemingly unimportant details like this deserve your attention and patience.  After I correct that mistake, I attached the back of the shirt to the front at the shoulder seams and then attached the bias strip around the neckline.  The pattern then instructed me to trim the seam allowance around the neckline in anticipation of folding the bias strip and pressing it inside the shirt to be stitched.  Welcome, second mistake!  I started cutting the seam allowance carelessly, and to my chagrin, I realized that some of the front shirt fabric was lying underneath the area I was cutting, and I CUT A HOLE IN THE FRONT OF THE SHIRT!  If you have ever made a sewing mistake like this, you surely understand the anger that ensued after finding my mistake.  I became even more upset when I remembered the store recently sold out of this fabric, so I couldn’t just cut out another front piece to start over.  I wanted to throw the project into the trash in my frustration.  Needless to say, I calmed myself down, forgave myself, and decided to finish the project so I could at least share my insights about this pattern with you all.  I’m not a perfect sewer.  I make silly mistakes all the time, but I still love sewing, and I proudly wear the clothes I make even when I know about the flaws hidden within them. If you come into the store to see this shirt, you’ll see the piece of transparent masking tape on the front of the shirt that is keeping the hole closed.  I won’t mind if you laugh with me about the mistake, and I would love to hear your sewing errors to commiserate with me. 

If you come in the store this week and tell them about this blog, I will give you 20% off of this pattern, and 10% off any fabric you buy to use with this pattern. 
I’m off to choose my third pattern with my latest sewing dilemma behind me!

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Pattern 2 of 20:  Anna Maria Horner Roundabout Dress

I know what you must be thinking.  Why would I choose this pattern?  The dress doesn't look very flattering or really cute compared to all of the other choices hanging in my store.  No offense to Anna Maria Horner or this model, but nothing about this picture makes me want to sew this.  When Brooke, the other owner of the store, suggested I sew this pattern, I thought she was joking.  But then she flipped the pattern over and showed me the really cute shirt option I could choose.  It is the last pattern on the right in the picture below (found on the back of the pattern).

I chose to sew the shirt with a cotton voile since it will be cooler for summer, but I am using a knit for the band at the bottom instead of cotton.  I like the stretch of a knit around the waist, and it tends to look more flattering on me. 
I'll cut this out tomorrow, and hopefully have it sewn by Saturday!  I am not fully convinced that Brooke is right about this pattern, but I hope that I will end up loving it!

Colette Iris: A Shorts Pattern Review

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Sew Happy With My First Pattern Choice!

I was so excited when I awoke this morning to the sound of rain.  Being trapped inside offered the perfect opportunity to start on my first pattern.  I decided the new Colette Patterns that arrived in our store last week would be a great start since I have never used this pattern line before.  I picked the Iris shorts pattern because they looked adorable on-line, and I can always use a pair of cute summer shorts.

My only concern about making shorts was that I didn't want them to be this short because I am very self conscious about the appearance of my legs.  I also like the more sophisticated, mature look of longer shorts (at least that is what I keep telling myself when I enviously see how adorable Brooke and Elizabeth from the store look in shorter shorts).  I assumed that just adding a little length to this pattern wouldn't be too difficult.
The next challenge for me was to pick out my fabric.  Picking out fabric is so much fun, but I love all of our fabrics so much that the task becomes daunting.  I finally decided on seersucker, but then I had to choose a color.

I chose the brown and white seersucker to keep with the classier look of my longer shorts. 
When deciding on which size pattern to cut out, my waist measurement gave me one size while my hip measurement gave me a different size.  I hate when this happens, but the pattern made it very clear to choose the larger size if this occurs because these shorts have a more tailored fit.  I chose the larger size and cut out the seersucker, but the pieces looked really large so I went down a size. I also added 4 inches to the length of each piece to get the longer version I desire.  I also had to cut out lining since you would probably see through the white seersucker if I chose not to line.
For those of you who have never used a Colette pattern, let me give you a little idea about them.  I have used all types of patterns from the typical Simplicity and McCalls to the higher end Amy Butler ones.  The Colette pattern is by far one of the best I have ever used especially for the beginner sewer.  This pattern is packaged like a small book with simple, easy to follow directions on each page.  This was so much better than the usual fold out style I usually have to deal with, and like the maps they resemble, I can never get them folded back correctly.   It was so much better to flip page after page to get to my finished product.  This pattern had very clear illustrations along with most directions and even a glossary in the back like you would find in a textbook, a feature this school teacher really appreciated!  The pattern also lists websites that link the sewer to instant directions on putting in zippers, finishing seams, and other sewing skills the beginner sewer may not feel completely confident completing.  I did not go to any of these sites because I didn't need the help, but I definitely used the other tips and reminders found throughout the pattern like to finish the pocket seams before putting them on.
So, how does the finished project look?

I think they turned out really well considering it was my first time using the pattern.  Usually, I like to sew a pattern a couple of times before I am really happy with the results.  I would like to add, shamefully, that the size is a little tight, and I should have listened to the directions that clearly explained why I should have picked the larger size.  The pockets in the front pull a little to accommodate for my hips, and this wouldn't have happened if I had only followed the sizing suggestion!  Other important tips that may help you when using this pattern:
1)  If you are going to make your shorts longer like I did, you will need to taper the width of the leg.  The shorts do not look good if you simply add length to the width of the pattern.
2)  I chose not to use the buttons on the pockets, but I definitely will next time.  I think it will really make the shorts look fun.
3)  I will use a different fabric like some of the Art Gallery or Michael Miller fabrics (shown below) for my next pair.  It will make the shorts look more playful. 

I really loved this Colette pattern, and I strongly recommend to all of you to give this pattern a try.  The pattern is listed as beginner, and I will be tackling an intermediate one soon to give you feedback on those.
I can't wait to make the second pair of shorts in the right size and in a great fabric!  I may even ignore my hang-up with my legs and make them shorter!

Sew Happy

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Why am I sew happy?  Because summer is finally here!  I know some focus on the negative aspects of a Charleston summer like the suffocating hot, humid days, the mosquitoes swarming any time you try to enjoy the outdoors, and the endless sand that you can’t seem to sweep out of the house from your last beach trip.  But I’m in love with summer, and all year, it is my ultimate crush.  I think about it all the time.  I yearn to have it.  I think my life would be so much better if it were here.   And this year, I have wanted it more than ever. 

So you must be curious about what I have planned that could make me be this crazy for summer.  I am going to finally have time to sew!

 One would think that making time to sew shouldn’t be so exciting for a woman who owns a fabric store.  I get to sew all the time, right?  But that hasn’t been my experience this first year as a business owner.  I am surrounded by gorgeous fabric day in a day out, and I work several times a week with creative and inspirational students in my sewing classes.  It makes me want to sew every day and night, but I just haven’t had time.  Great new patterns arrive daily, and I dream about the fabric I will use with each one.  I even buy fabric (because I am a bit of a fabric hoarder) with eager anticipation to go home to sew, but other tasks rob me of this. 

 So this summer, I am making sewing a priority.  I plan on sewing all of those patterns hanging in my store that I have been dying to use, and I have decided to share my experiences with you.  I will be blogging daily about each pattern I am working on, share with you how it’s going, the problems I am finding, and of course the finished project.  My goal is to complete 20 patterns in 10 weeks, but I am not sure if I can get it done since I will also be teaching classes at the store, training for a half ironman, and trying to continue renovating my 1960s house!  I am excited about the prospect, though, and I am even more excited about getting to share and communicate with the amazing customers that have helped our first year in business be more amazing than we ever thought. 

 My summer begins officially June 4th (when school ends) and that is also the 1 year birthday of Five Eighth Seams, a fittingly perfect date to start my sewing adventure.  I hope you will join me, and I am counting on some encouragement from you along the way.

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