Austin 2020: Tanks for the Memories

Pattern: Aurora Tank by Seamwork

I love to travel. Over the last few years, I’ve really made it priority and planning trips has become almost a major hobby. My latest trip was a girl’s trip in Austin, TX with a couple of my closest friends. We planned the trip under the guise of running a race down there, but in reality we were more interested in exploring a new place rather than being competitive. I wanted to have a new piece for my trip so despite it being cold and wintery outside, I decided to sew up a knit tank top inside.

I knew I wanted to make another Aurora Tank, since it’s such a simple pattern and I enjoyed the one I made before. However, I knew my previous tank was not perfect so I decided to do a little reading about twin needle stitching on knits before I attempted another one. I saw some familiar issues with “tunneling” between the stitches and also tension issues which cause the thread to break. There were a few options to try, but I decided to go with using a fusible knit interfacing on the seams where I would need to use my twin needle. I also increased the tension on my machine a little – I had to test out different tensions on my dial before I found one that seemed to be stable enough.

I was able to use my twin stitching on the arm holes and on the hem. Most everything else I used my serger with it being knit and all. I really liked how this tank top came out – and definitely a way better look than my first attempt. The fabric was definitely a great find as well – I bought it and actually cut out a wrap dress that I still haven’t gotten to sewing up yet. I was thinking about this dress and what a shame it was that it wasn’t completed since I loved the way the fabric looked, so I checked my stash to see how much was left. I was pleasantly surprised there was just enough for this tank, thankfully I didn’t mess anything up.

The weather in Austin was a bit all over the place. The first day was actually quite cool, but a few days later it had gotten up to almost 80 degrees. I was glad I got to break out this tank top while exploring shops in the SoCo area, trails near the river and the top of Mount Bonnell. The weather kept getting hotter throughout the day but I stayed cool and comfortable. It’ll be awhile until I can wear this again in Boston, but I’m looking forward to it.

My next trip coming up is in April and I have some sewing plans for that as well. This will be a different trip as I’m going to Florida with my S/O and his family. I just started cutting out a new bathing suit, after my first test attempt failed. I’m hoping I can figure out what went wrong this time around.

Sewing for vacations is my new favorite thing. In a way, it’s become a part of the planning of the trip. It keeps me looking forward to the vacation, but also keeps me on my sewing game which has definitely taken a back seat these last few years.

I think the reason I love travel so much is that I always learn something new where ever I go. Beside learning that Austin is a place for weirdos, impressive street art, secret bars and excellent BBQ, I took away something else extremely important. No matter where you are in life, nothing beats spending time with people who will give you great stories and memories and keep you laughing until you can’t breath. Cheers to my girls who make this life livable.

Flowy top front

Going with the Flow: Starting up 2020

Pattern: Vogue V9005Pattern V9005

Despite all my big plans for 2019, I basically accomplished almost nothing I wanted to for the year. I also kind of just forgot about my blog. I didn’t actually forget, I just never seemed able to get to it, even while I was still sewing. But I’m not wanting to dwell on the past…

Last year was a pretty important year since I turned 40 and my significant other also turned 40. We had some big travel plans and life got pretty busy. It’s interesting how an age milestone can make you feel like you have to try to accomplish everything. Maybe it’s time to slow some things down, I’m not sure. I do have some travel plans for this year, although they are quite different from last year. My SO and I thought it would be a good idea to take some trips with our families this year since we felt it was important at this stage in our lives. It’s great to do these things when you can because you never know what life will throw at you. None of us is getting any younger.

But first up, I do have a girl’s trip planned to Austin, TX in a few weeks. I’ve been trying to decide whether I want to bring this shirt I made recently. When I bought the fabric, which is a kind of tie-dyed knit, I envisioned it working with this pattern. I think visually the print works with this type of top. The main issue is that there is a lot of material, which makes this quite heavy with the weight of the fabric.

I still think it’s a pretty cool top though, and I definitely have been looking for a place to wear it. The pattern wasn’t too complicated, however it was not obvious to me from the pattern drawing that the underside of the fabric would be shown. This wasn’t a huge issue for this fabric, but I could see it as a limitation for other fabric.  Tie-dyed knit fabric

As I mentioned, this pattern required a lot of fabric. You had to cut one pretty big continuous piece, with two pattern sections that are pieced together. The only part I wasn’t crazy about was neck band, which had to stitched up by hand. Because of all the extra layers, it got quite thick in parts. I don’t think it would have been possible to sew through it all with a machine – or at least not in a neat way.Flowy Top

I’m still deciding if this shirt is right for my Austin trip. It might be perfect since it’s unlike anything I have and I always feel vacation is a great time to wear stuff like that. It’s like, if you are in a place where no one knows you, your style can be whatever you want. I am worried about the weight of it if I go dancing with the girls. Or getting it caught on anything…I think it might be worth a test drive. What do you think?

Flowy top frontFlowy Top SideFlowy Top Back

Here’s to 2020 and more experimenting with style. Maybe this will be the year of consistency with logging projects…we shall see.

Dreary spring & flannels in May

Pattern: Granville shirt by SewaholicSewaholic Granville Shirt pattern

You can never have enough plaid flannel shirts, especially when you live in New England and you’ve only seen the sun once in the month of May. I’ve made this pattern about 4 times, so there is not much else to say about it specifically. You can check out my other posts on it here and here, if curious. It’s interesting to me how long it can take to finally understand something about a pattern you’ve made more than once. While I was making this shirt & another Granville at the same time, I finally realized that the “under-collar” was the part attached to the outside of the yoke. This is because it gets folder over and this part ends up underneath. It seems obvious now, but when you are just reading the directions and trying to decipher the drawings, it can get confusing as to what part is supposed to be attached to where. Hearing the word, “under-collar,” I immediately think it needs to be on the inside, not obviously thinking of how a collar is folded.

Speaking of the collar, this particular pattern has a really great tutorial on the website on how to make the collar & collar stand. This is really helpful since it’s probably the most complicated part of the shirt.

As I listen to more May showers outside, I wonder if it will ever be warm again. At least I have my many flannel shirts to keep me warm. Now that that I’ve some-what perfected it, it may be time to give the pattern a rest for now – at least with the flannel. Trying this out on some regular shirting could be a nice new challenge.

I’ve been spending this month gearing up for some summer projects and, as promised, some more sew learnings. Before typing this, Continue reading “Dreary spring & flannels in May”

February & March 2019: Getting the hang of pants, part 1

Pattern: Sewaholic Thurlow Trousers

Despite my lack of energy with writing blog posts, I did have a very productive February & March. I was able to finish up my two button-down shirts (well one is mostly done) and get my pants project underway. In order to figure out how to sew a decent pair of pants, I started out small – meaning shorts! What better way to figure something out by taking the whole leg out of the situation. Not only that but you waste less fabric this way.

The thing about pants is that it tends to get complicated with the fly. I always feel like I’m following the pattern, but somehow I miss some important detail and I end up with mutant pants. The first time, the fly was not centered. One time I couldn’t get it to lay flat. And the main thing I always forget to do is enclose the fly facing within the pants waistband so it sticks out unfinished and looks completely unprofessional.

The first pair of Thurlow shorts I attempted actually seemed to be going along as planned. One of the main thing I learned was in order to make sure the fly ends up in the right spot, you need to pull the left side over to the notches on the other side. This will help you avoid pulling it too far over (which I’ve done) or not over enough (which I’ve also done). I actually perfected the whole fly & fly facing thing on these shorts and I was extremely excited that these could be the shorts where it all came together. However, when I sewed the wasitband on, somehow the left side did not match the right side and I couldn’t figure out a good way to fix them. That and due to a careless error, I ended up having to cut the sides down more than I wanted, resulting in bad fit problems. This was not my day.

 

When I went back to attempt the 2nd pair of shorts, I was much more meticulous about going through each step. I think those mistakes also helped, as I breezed through the back welts and pockets (another confusing step from my first attempt) and fly construction. This time, the waist lined up pretty well and I was ecstatic.

I wish I could take all the credit for figuring this all out, but actually my main cause for success was discovering this sewalong blog post. I had a very frustrating time trying to Continue reading “February & March 2019: Getting the hang of pants, part 1”

The droid I was looking for: My BB8 hoodie

Pattern: Halifax Hoodie by Hey June Handmade

Skills Acquired:

  • Separating zipper

My year of learning is off to a bit of a slow start. However, the shorts that I am making are actually making great progress it’s starting to look like they will be a success. It is looking like I may extend my pants practice into March as well, as I didn’t really get a good start until the middle of February.

In the meantime, here is a project that I completed back in December. I’m quite proud of it, since it was one of my most successful pieces. I didn’t even have to make a test garment for this one either. I bought this BB8 fleece when Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out. I fell in love with that little droid and even though I had no idea what I was going to make with the fabric, I ended up getting a few yards. The inspiration to make a fleece hoodie actually came to me at work – my office is pretty cold in the winter months and I’m always longing for more layers no matter what I wear. I did an extensive search for just the right pattern and settled on this one by Hey June Handmade. I’m really glad I did since it was really easy to follow.

There are two versions in this pattern, and I actually sewed up the the one that is not featured on the cover. This required a separating zipper to be installed down the middle. The zipper itself wasn’t hard to install, however it did require a bit of hardware as I was supposed to remove some of the teeth at the top. I needed some clippers, so I used some of my pliers to get the teeth out. It was tough getting them to not fly across the room, but I think I found them all…sure.

Everything came together pretty easily. I used some black ribbed knit for the cuffs and the bottom waistband which I think worked pretty well for the look. Using the fleece for these cuffs Continue reading “The droid I was looking for: My BB8 hoodie”

2019: Never stop learning

Although I have been away from this blog for awhile, I have been sewing. It’s been infrequent and the projects are slow-going, but I have been trying to fit in as much as I can with the small amount of free time I have. In these busy times, I feel like I need to be strategic about my sewing since time has become less of a luxury.

When I first started making my own clothes, it was all about learning. I was learning about different fabrics, learning new techniques – I loved trying new things. The last half of 2018, sewing felt like a bit of a chore. I was still enjoying the process of trying to complete my uncompleted projects, but because I had so many other things going on, it was all very tiring. I have since given a few things up and I am getting into more of a routine with my new-ish job. I want to get back into problem solving mode with my sewing and I think this year I can make it happen.

I’ve always been the type of person who loves to learn. Part of the reason I love my new job is that I am learning so much more than the last few jobs I’ve had. I’ve been taken out of my comfort zone and every day I’m trying to perfect skills that I’m not naturally good at. It’s rewarding, but at times it can be mentally exhausting. Sewing could be a welcome distraction at times, but this year as I settle into more comfort with my routine, I want to really focus on the learning. This is why I’m changing things up a bit in my sewing project management. Before I would keep tabs on all my uncompleted projects, trying hard to get garments finished within the season I would be wearing them. I always seem to fail at this. Even though it felt like I was focusing on things, I really lacked a lot of focus and any little change in routine or life happening would really throw my plans out of wack. I need to keep things a little simpler in order to fix my focus and feel like I’m improving my skill. I’ve decided that each month I will pick something to focus on and hopefully I can diversify this enough so that I can still keep learning new skills and perfecting new garments.

For the first month (January obviously), Continue reading “2019: Never stop learning”

Seasonally Inappropriate: A shirred experiment

Pattern: Burda Young 6651, view C

Skills acquired:

  • Shirring

Let me start out by saying that this experiment had started over the summer, when I somehow didn’t realize I had cut out a child’s dress as my bathing suit coverup. I guess I should have noticed the pattern is called Burda Young, but the picture of adults on the front really threw me off.  Burda patterns have always confused me – it’s like they make the directions difficult on purpose so that you get more of a sense of accomplishment. It doesn’t help me out – I’ve never been able to fully figure out one of these patterns.

Despite not realizing what I was cutting out, the dress actually didn’t turn out too bad. And I was able to figure out how to create the shirring effect on the fabric from a simple Internet search. The most important thing to do is hand wind the bobbin with the elastic thread. The top stitch uses regular thread, but you need to loosen the tension on the machine and use a large stitch size. I was a little scared with changing the tension since I was told to never touch it as it may be really hard getting it back to where it should be.

In order to make sure the shirring lines were all the same distance apart, I measured and chalked the sewing lines. Then after the front & back were sewn together, I was able to sew all the way around the top, causing the fabric to shrink inward. I made sure the tie the ends since it seemed more stable than back-stitching with the elastic.

I could tell after I put the top together that it was not the right size. I was also thrown off by the sizes on the pattern as they were confusing as well. Of course I should have known by measuring and putting the top against me, but it was hard to tell how much extra material I Continue reading “Seasonally Inappropriate: A shirred experiment”