When You Combine Pink and Reflective Digital Camo

Even with guests in town a few weekends ago, I managed to crank out a sewing project I’ve been planning for ages. I bought this Kwik Sew 4104 pattern last August, and nine months later, it’s done!

Kwik Sew 4104

Kwik Sew 4104

I knew when I saw this pattern that it would be the perfect garment for the reflective digital camo fabric I ordered from Rockywoods.com, and cut it out almost as soon as I could. Finding the rest of the fabric was a bigger challenge. I wanted something that could be work well with several pieces in my wardrobe, be fun but not an overwhelming print, and still coordinate with the dark gray reflective fabric. I kept returning to this pink/gray/gold Michael Miller Arrow Flight cotton print and finally just ordered it. It’s lined in pink. So much pink…. But it’s Spring, and a happy color combination, so I don’t care!

Just think pink!

Just think pink!

I made two muslins for this jacket. The pattern is sized XS-S-M-L-XL, so I cut out a M, and it was HUGE! I pinned alterations all over it before finally deciding to just try the next size down. Cutting out a size S, dropping the waist a 1/2″, and curving about an inch out of the center back resulted in a much better fit. Alas, I was so focused on the torso fit, and didn’t have enough muslin fabric (in fact an old sheet) to put sleeves into the size S muslin, and didn’t realize how short the 3/4 sleeves really were – the elbow dart is about 2″ above my elbow! D’oh! Also, it’s snug across the back, which I would have realized if I’d added the sleeves to the muslin. Oh well. Reflective Jacket 5The jacket is fully lined, with side seam pockets, with the cuffs and bottom band faced in the same reflective fabric. The instructions directed to understitch the lining but I edgestitched it instead. Reflective fabric doesn’t press well, so I always topstitch to help reduce the pouf. Reflective Jacket 3The jacket doesn’t have a closure, which I suspect will be annoying, especially while biking. However, the bottom band is faced with the same reflective fabric, so if the hem flaps up while I’m biking, I will still be reflective. The reflective cuffs are good for signalling turns as well. Reflective Jacket 2 Reflective Jacket 9The reflective camo is obviously not 100% reflective, and so as a bias trim in seams, it’s not as reflective as the piping. However, as a large fabric detail, it’s pretty spectacular! I’ll have to order more and think of what else I can do with it.

Reflective Jacket 8Initially I thought this pink print would coordinate well with the various burgundy pants I own, but after trying on a few combinations, I’m less convinced. I will start off with gray and see how I feel. But I really love this jacket, or perhaps it’s a bit of Spring Fever and Cherry Blossom Fever that make me completely love this pink jacket. It will be an easy piece to fit into my work wardrobe. I am sure I’ll get a ton of wear out of this!

Happy sewing project face!

Happy sewing project face!

 

Disaster Dress

A friend said it was bound to happen – one sewing project out of so many ended up not so great. I suppose it’s true but that doesn’t make me any happier when I look at my disaster dress.

It's about 10 sizes too big!

It’s about 10 sizes too big!

Let’s review what the pattern is supposed to look like: Kwik Sew PatternThe sleeve cap should be a tiny bit over the shoulder, but not halfway down my bicep, as it is. The dress should be more fitted, the sleeves should be fitted, and the elastic shouldn’t sag. And I was so close to being done with this dress that day…

I think the biggest problem is that the solid lavender fabric is bamboo jersey, and the chain mail print fabric (my first Spoonflower purchase!) is a much heavier knit. The weights don’t match up. I think this contributes to the sagging elastic in the front and back. Also, I carefully tried to alter the pattern to fit, and again, didn’t do the dress any favors. I dropped the waist, because it seemed to high, and now it seems too low. I lengthened the sleeves, which was probably not too bad because once the sleeve seam is closer to where it should be, the sleeve length will work out fine. I wanted the dress length to be in between the two options shown, so I carefully altered for that, and now I think it’s longer than the longer version! At least that’s an easy fix. Beyond those things, I have NO idea why it’s so big. I cut out the size Medium and used the proper seam allowance (which I don’t always do, I admit).

Every time I *try* to do the right thing, it backfires on me!

Every time I *try* to do the right thing, it backfires on me!

Of course, none of this is irreparable. I just am not looking forward to taking it apart, especially considering my carefully serged seam finishing. I’m not sure I want to tackle trying to raise the waist from the shoulders. I am debating hunting for a heavier weight knit to replace the solid, but this lavender matches so perfectly that I don’t want to do that either. Guess I need to try to pull up the shoulders, make the side panels narrower, and cut the sleeve width in half. Shortening the overall length by about 4 inches will be the easiest part. I am considering adding an elastic casing around the waist on the sides, to pull it in a bit more and see if it helps take up some of the weight of the front and back elastic. I just hope I can save it enough to love it as much as I really want to.

While I think about this, I am tackling a new project – making baby clothes for a friend’s baby shower next week! I’ve never made baby clothes before and had fun picking fabrics. Not sure about tiny footed jammies and snap tape crotches, so we’ll see what happens!  Baby Clothes

 

Prints or Plain: Planning Perfect Projects

I’ve been soooo lucky to have two 5-day weekends at home over the holidays. Instead of rushing through life as we usually do, I’ve had the opportunity, with so much free time, to do things I don’t normally – I cooked two meals, baked, The Mechanic and I went to the movie theater (James Bond Spectre and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, woot!), and I was able to spread out my sewing projects and get stuff organized and completed.

Star Wars SkirtI even ended up with time to start a dress I thought I would have to wait on – a Kwik Sew pattern, it’s going together very quickly indeed!

I love it when a pattern only has one page of instructions, don't you?

I love it when a pattern only has one page of instructions, don’t you?

I’m so excited to be using my new Spoonflower chain mail print knit on this dress! I hunted all over trying to find fabric that I would like in the contrast section of this dress, debating between two solid colors or a print and a solid. I knew I found the right piece when I saw that. I had a swatch of bamboo jersey in a color that matches perfectly, so it ended up being perfect. (I’m adding the sleeves, and adjusted the length so it’s in between the two options shown.)

The dilemma over this dress highlights the struggle I’m having with the stack of patterns I have awaiting my attention. I had assembled a “capsule collection” for the fall, but alas, I haven’t completed as much of it as planned. I did get the colorblock dress done, and the bow blouse, but the pants, jacket, cardigan and second blouse have evaded even being started. I simply can’t decide what fabric to pick!

I’ve picked a nice solid color twill for the pants, which are on task for this month. The color will be perfect for the bow blouse. I’m using the twill as my muslin, but still want to be able to wear them, so I chose carefully. Pants FabricBut I can’t decide what to make the coat and cardigan out of!!! Solid or print? A neutral or a fun print? Something that goes with everything, or a really stand out print that goes with only a few things? I have so many print shirts right now, and several navy and gray jackets, and everything more or less goes with something else (even if I’m not thrilled with the combo), so I could splash out and do something crazy – but what if I end up wearing it rarely?! That defeats the purpose.

The coat will have reflective camo on the cuffs and hem (but not a collar), but I can't decide about the rest of it. The cardigan I just can't decide.

The coat will have reflective camo on the cuffs and hem (but not a collar), but I can’t decide about the rest of it. The cardigan I just can’t decide. 

This will be a great spring jacket that will reflect like mad when I bike home wearing it!

This will be a great spring jacket that will reflect like mad when I bike home wearing it!

I’m definitely obsessed with floral prints, if you hadn’t realized yet, but I like the occasional abstract print as well. I found this shoe print in the bottom of my stash (which isn’t all that big, to be honest) and think it needs to become a fun summer blouse. I don’t have much of it so it will probably be a sleeveless something.

I found this Moonglow Mystery print on Spoonflower and am COMPLETELY obsessed with it. I just can’t decide what to make out of it. I love that Spoonflower has “performance” fabrics as an option, so I have been mulling over the idea of making a moisture-wicking tee shirt with it, but I think it calls for a more structured, Victorian style. Hopefully I’ll see the perfect pattern soon, so I can order the fabric. Spoonflower Moonlight MysteryBut then that brings me right back to the dilemma – a bazillion print tops and only navy and gray pants. And don’t get me started on skirts – trying to coordinate plain or print skirts with everything else is a whole different challenge! Augh!

Am I the only one worried about making things that don’t go with anything else in my wardrobe? To the other sewists out there – what do you do? How to you manage what you make, and whether or not it all coordinates? Or do you just not worry about it?

The struggle is real - solid swatches, but nothing I like

The struggle is real – solid swatches, but nothing I like

2015 in Review: More Sewing, Less Biking

Hard to believe 2015 is already almost over! Christmas was barely over when every news agency and social media platform started trumpeting reviews of the year – hey, we still have a week! Nevertheless, I was curious to see what my nine best Instagram photos were:

Instagram 2015 Best Nine: Ironically, three are old photos I posted for a sewing challenge! (Top left, top right, bottom left)

Instagram 2015 Best Nine: Ironically, three are old photos I posted for a sewing challenge! (Top left, top right, bottom left)

Looking over 2015, I realized that I did indeed do waaaay more sewing than biking. I made 18 garments this year! Two pieces were for other people, but regardless, that is more than I made in 2012-2014 total (I made a total of 15 things in those three years)! That also doesn’t include the American Girl Doll things for my niece, plus two attempts at reflective bucket bags. Guess I was indeed madly sewing away. No wonder I’ve gotten so out of shape – I really haven’t done much biking beyond my daily commutes and errand running.

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As with most sewing, there are things I love and things I don’t. My favorites are the Liberty of London blouse I just finished and wore to Christmas dinner with the in-laws; the Bike word skirt; the color-blocked dress; the hummingbird blouse; the culottes; and the “antique” floral blouse. I love the way the reflective trim turned out in that.

It’s not that I didn’t do *any* biking – The Mechanic and I did the CASA River Ride in Shepherdstown, WV, again, and we did some mountain biking with friends.

I did participate in some bike events – BikeArlington’s Balaklava and Baklava sewing events; the Women’s Bicycle Forum during the National Bike Summit; a Ladies’ Night at Revolution Cycles; tested out Forest and Fin’s Bicycle Wrap Skirt; a bike rodeo for some elementary school children over the summer; and Reid Miller’s bicycle fashion trunk show.

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So it was a busy bike-y year – just not not as much on-the-saddle, long-distance bike riding as previous years.

My goal for 2016 is to figure out how to balance these out a bit more. Of course, I’m already planning 5 or more sewing projects for the near future, so no sign of slowing down there! And The Mechanic and I are going to sell our road bikes and replace them with something more suitable to what our interests are. I’m currently thinking we need folding bikes, so we can take them with us when we travel. And there there may be plenty of travel in 2016, depending on how things shake out!

I always enjoy planning, especially for a new year. Expect to see a more formal 2016 Goals blog post next week. I can’t help it – planning, dreaming, scheming, creating… These are the best things! Balancing it all out so that it ALL happens is where I tend to get stuck.

 

MeMade Reflective Bike Fashion Challenge

I decided that it’s time for another MeMade Reflective Bike Fashion Challenge – how many days in a row can I wear to work something that I have made? I did this once before, last year (September 2014), and since it’s been over a year, it’s time to do this again! So many more reflective bike fashions to showcase!

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that my sewing goal is to make clothing that A) I can wear to work; B) that have something reflective somewhere, so I am more visible when I am biking to work; C) must be bike-friendly. The reflective materials have gotten more exotic and varied, so I’ve been able to do some great stuff this year, a trend I’m not sure will be sustainable. Nevertheless, I’ve made fourteen new pieces since this time last year, which means almost a full three weeks of just new stuff alone! However, some of the things are not necessarily work-appropriate, like the Kwik Sew 3513 knit foldover waist skirt I made for summer weekend biking.

I started this week, but unfortunately, the mornings have been too dark, so the photos are taken inside. This means they are not great, thanks to our lousy apartment lighting, and neither The Mechanic nor I are fully awake. Please don’t just the sleepy looks on my face….

Day 1 – McCalls 6361 Skirt

MeMade Challenge Day 1 - McCalls 6361 Skirt

MeMade Challenge Day 1 – McCalls 6361 Skirt

This skirt is only one of two garments without any reflective trim. Shocking but true. I just couldn’t see it, so I didn’t add it. It’s not the best biking skirt either, honestly, but whatever. I paired this skirt with my favorite floral-print denim shirt from Ann Taylor Loft, and a very old Loft blazer. The suede booties are from Land’s End. I think I need to up my tights game, however. Don’t love these cream-colored cable knit ones with this look. Wooden necklace purchased in Prague in 2006.

Day 2 – McCalls 7160 Dress

MeMade Challenge Day 2 - McCalls 7160 Color Block Dress

MeMade Challenge Day 2 – McCalls 7160 Color Block Dress

I really love this McCalls 7160 dress. I think I need an assortment of belts, however, because it feels a bit unfinished. I really wanted to wear my Boden soldier print shirt under this, but it wasn’t ironed, oops, so I added one of my Land’s End striped turtlenecks. Again, not in love with the tights, but I am in love with those Dansko heels! Check out the way the trim is reflecting! A friend made me the necklace, lucky me. I got a complement on this dress from a stranger on the street the day I wore this – I consider that a successful garment.

Day 3 – Vogue 9026 Sweatshirt

MeMade Challenge Day 3 - Vogue 9026

MeMade Challenge Day 3 – Vogue 9026

A warm rainy day. I often wear my faux leather skirt, purchased on a whim last year at Macy’s, when it rains, because I know the water will roll right off the skirt and not hurt it. I didn’t realize it was going to be quite so warm, or I might not have worn this top, however! I had to bike to a client event and was a sweaty mess by the time I got there! Oh well. This gray velour sweatshirt with all the lovely reflective bias trim is one of my favorites as well. I don’t always love what I make, but this one I do. Pattern is Vogue 9026, and the fabrics were purchased from Britex, in San Francisco. Boots from I don’t remember where, but they were cheap and leak badly, so I need to replace them. And I don’t leave the house without my Cleverhood when it rains!

The rest of the days depend on the wishy-washy Fall weather and what I’m doing for work, of course. Friday I have to be at an event wearing a work-branded shirt, and since I haven’t yet made pants that would coordinate, well, that’s going to be an off-day. Stay tuned for the next update, though! Several more options lined up!

Extra:

I made a skirt for a friend tonight (the one who made my bunny necklace, pictured above). This Kwik Sew 3513 knit skirt (same as mentioned earlier) whips up really easily, and the faux snakeskin-print knit she picked out was actually really lovely to sew – nicely squishy. The fabric is soft and fuzzy on the back, which means she’ll need to wear it with a slip, or it will crawl right up her legs when she walks. (I’m assuming that in the coming months, she’ll want to wear tights with this, as it gets colder.) I can’t wait to give it to her and pray that it fits properly. I made this pattern for me, and like it, but I’m not good at sewing for other bodies. Snakeskin skirt

 

A Very Wordy Bike Skirt

Words, words, words.

I love words, preferably in the written form, but also in Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (the movie with Gary Oldman and Tim Roth, love!).

So when I saw this word-print denim, I knew I had to have it. Wordy FabricSurprisingly lightweight, with some stretch, it was perfect to test out the KwikSew skirt pattern before I make it for a friend, K3877. The simple A-line shape meant the print wouldn’t be disturbed or distorted in any way, plus it was so easy to whip up in a day.

Kwik Sew K3877

Kwik Sew K3877

I’m making the shorter version for my friend’s skirt, but I decided I wanted the longer length. And then I added an inch, although I could have added two inches to get it past my knee cap.

The pattern instructions had detailed zipper instructions, but I put in an invisible zipper. I did follow the directions, more or less, for the stitch-in-the-ditch waistband and blind hem, but I did my blind hem on the machine, rather than by hand. I don’t often use that sort of hem finishing, but I like the way it disappears in this fabric and print. The skirt doesn’t have pockets and I didn’t feel like adding them. I’m pretty pleased with the way it turned out, although I wish I had put in a full lining. Wearing it with tights meant the hem caught every time I walked. I guess I need a longer slip.

Invisible zipper

Invisible zipper (Man, I tried so hard to match the pattern, and still failed!)

Serged then blind hem

Serged then blind hem

For the reflective detail on this skirt, I decided to try something different. The word print inspired me to hunt down iron-on reflective letters for some poodle skirt-like placement on the left knee. I managed to find the word “Bike” premade from a company in Portland (of course) and promptly ordered from Amazon. I quite like the way it turned out. Wordy Bike Skirt 2 Wordy Bike Skirt 3The reflective letters are brighter and less subtle than I was envisioning, but heck, who cares if I’m promoting my transportation mode of choice when I’m out and about?!

This is the skirt that inspired my interest in a step-through frame, but it actually worked fine on my current bike. Of course, the day I wore it ended up being cold enough that I had to dust off a winter coat, which was then long enough that it covered up the hem of the skirt as it bunched up above the top tube and my knees. That’s okay, plenty of opportunities to show it off in the future!

Testing it out on the vintage Raleigh (can you tell how small the frame is in this photo?!)

Testing it out on the vintage Raleigh (can you tell how small the frame is in this photo?!)

 

Fall Fashion Begins Before Summer Sewing Ends

It’s August and suddenly my inbox and the stores at the mall are full of fall clothing. Eek! I’m not even done with my summer sewing yet! We still have a good two months of warm hot weather left! I’m simply not ready for cooler temperatures.

I was home this past weekend for the first time in a month, thank goodness! I love travel but back-to-back weekends away from home get a bit grueling. I spent most of the weekend cleaning the apartment, doing laundry, resuscitating neglected plants, and cooking (this is why I don’t sign up for a CSA – too many veggies to cook!). I really, really, really wanted to start the jumpsuit I’ve been dying to make since at least January, so consider my disappointment when I got the pattern adjusted and realized I don’t have enough fabric.

If you read my blog regularly, this will seem familiar. I've been wanting to make it for ages! McCalls 7099

If you read my blog regularly, this will seem familiar. I’ve been wanting to make it for ages! McCalls 7099

I have a long waist, and I know that jumpsuits tend to be short-waisted on me, so I carefully measured everything on the pattern and on me, and lengthened both the top and the rise and the legs. I also added some width to the legs, since the way they measured out would never comfortably fit my thighs or calves. I also figured that if I added too much, it would be easier to take in than to have minimum seam allowance to let out.

The Mechanic was doing bike maintenance at the same time. You can see why we need a bit more space! And I need a real cutting table that is the proper height. A cutting mat on the ironing board isn’t comfy. Pattern Adjustments 3Imagine my disappointment when I pulled the fabric out and decided to lay it out on the bed, just to see it. Thank goodness I did that before I started cutting out the pattern pieces, because there isn’t enough!!! Ack! Pattern Adjustments 5I ordered a bit more than the pattern called for, as I usually do, but apparently lengthening the torso, rise and leg was more that that, and the pieces don’t all fit together. I can only tighten up the spacing so much. Wah! So now I’m trying to decide how to recover – buy more fabric (which would mean buying three new yards, because it’s tie dyed, and different dye lots mean it would never match), or buy a new pattern. I barely have 2.5 yards, so there aren’t many dresses I can squeeze out of this lovely stretchy, swingy, bamboo jersey.

I found two pattern options – Kwik Sew K3489 and Kwik Sew K4026. I love K3489 because I love the careless wrap design and think it speaks well to this dye tied fabric. But the wrap doesn’t seem very bike friendly. Unlike Forest and Fin’s Bicycle Wrap Skirt, this doesn’t look like it wraps very far, and would most likely blow up as I bike. The skirt on K4026 would be perfect, and I like the drapy cowl neckline. But I just don’t think the fabric is appropriate for this more corporate design. So I’ll have to decide….  Although my new Bikie Girl Bloomers would be super cute under the wrap design!

Kwik Sew k3489

Kwik Sew K3489

Kwik Sew K4026

Kwik Sew K4026

The next two weekends are full of out-of-town guests so I’ll have plenty of time to regroup. But I don’t want to take too long to decide – fall is upon us, and I need to make this summer dress before it gets here!

In the meantime, I’m going to channel my energy into an Instagram challenge. Rachel, of House of Pinheiro, is holding a challenge to post something sewing related every day and tag her (@houseofpinheiro)  and #SewPhotoHop. I started a day late, but hope to post everyday. I’ve never done anything like this so I’m not sure how I’ll do, and I’m a bit unclear on some of the categories, but feel free to follow along to see what I come up with!Capture