Completed: Julia Women’s Cardigan and Lady Skater T-shirt

Julia Women's CardiganNot one, but two finished garments today! For reasons of picture taking efficiency I’m modelling them together.

Julia Women's CardiganFirst, the Julia Women’s cardigan from Mouse House Creations. I bought this pattern ages ago but never got around to actually using it until this week. I could use a new cardigan or two this autumn since some of my older ones are getting a bit too worn and this pattern looked like it would be quick and easy.

Julia Women's cardiganThe PDF was fairly straightforward to assemble, I liked that the details that are different for the various sleeve lengths were indicated in colour. The sewing instructions were clear. I chose the variation with long sleeves and the doubled over collar. I made size M at the top and graded to size L at the bottom to ensure that it wouldn’t be too clingy around my hips.

Julia Women's CardiganThe fabrics are viscose knits from my stash. I didn’t have enough left of either colour to make the entire cardigan so decided to make the collar in a contrast colour. I quite like how it turned out and think it will get much wear this autumn and possibly winter as well.

Julia Women's CardiganThings I consider changing next time:

  • Slimming down the sleeves, I find them quite wide at the bottom.
  • There are some draglines in the sleeve at my front upper arm, I’d like to fix this.
  • I’m not entirely sure about the back length, a little bit longer might look better on my figure?

Lady Skater t-shirt

Second, another Lady Skater t-shirt, pattern based on the Lady Skater dress from Kitschy Coo. If you ever wondered what happened to the ridiculous drawstring-detail drape top after I applied my rotary cutter to it, this t-shirt happened. I could cut the back of the t-shirt from the top’s back, keeping the center back seam. The front of the t-shirt and one of the sleeves fit on the drapey front. The second sleeve couldn’t be cut from the drape top and while I did have more of the grey fabric left, I chose to make it pink. Pink is not one of my favourite colours but I like it in small doses. The neckband was cut from black ribbing left over from the Indigo sweater.

Lady Skater t-shirtI think this t-shirt is a lot more wearable than the drawstring top ever was.

Win!

Win!

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Completed: yet another Lady Skater t-shirt…

front colour blocked t-shirtI needed some simple projects to get going again and decided to fill a gap in my wardrobe: long sleeved t-shirts. Useful when it gets a little bit colder and a short sleeved t-shirt doesn’t provide enough coverage anymore but a cardigan or sweater is still too warm.

140907_sideIf you have been following this blog for a while you may have noticed that I usually use solid colours when sewing for myself and that I am not averse to some colour blocking. To make this t-shirt I used the same pattern as before but adapted it to give the top of the t-shirt a different colour. I even remembered to take some progress pictures so I could show you how I changed the pattern to achieve this look. This is a very easy method to give your favourite t-shirt (or dress) a different appearance.

The first step is tracing your pattern because you don’t want to mess with the original, you might want to use it again some other time. Make sure to include all relevant pattern markings, I forgot to add the straight of grain line for the sleeve at first…

trace pattern

Fresh pattern pieces!

The second step is to decide where you want to cut and mark this position on all pattern pieces (front, back and sleeve). I made a mark ¾’’ below the armpit. You could cut a little bit higher than that, but I would advise you to take into account that you are introducing extra seam allowances inside the shirt and you don’t want all of those to meet exactly at the armpit because that will become very bulky which is a pain to sew and might also not be too comfortable when wearing. If you only want a small strip of the second colour at the top you can also cut above the armpit. Check that the marks you made on the front and back bodice match and that the marks you made on the sides of the sleeve match as well.

Mark a certain distance away from the armpit and check on front and back bodice (and sleeve) whether the marks match up.

Mark a certain distance away from the armpit and check on front and back bodice (and sleeve) whether the marks match up.

Draw a line across the pattern pieces through the mark and cut the pattern. Make sure that both sides of each pattern piece are labelled correctly.

mark and cut

My pencil marks aren’t very clear but I first drew the cut line with pencil.

The Lady Skater pattern has the seam allowance included in the pattern. However, where I cut the pattern, the seam allowance is not yet included. This means that I have to remember to add the appropriate seam allowance when I cut the pattern from fabric. I use a quilting ruler and rotary cutter to get a straight cut. You can also tape some extra tracing paper to the pattern and add the seam allowance to the pattern if you worry that you’ll forget.

Add seam allowance to side that was sliced.

Add seam allowance to side that was sliced.

I chose to first sew top and bottom of each pattern piece together before assembling the t-shirt. You could topstitch the seams but I didn’t. For another look you could also only do this modification to the bodice to get a differently coloured yoke and leave the sleeves as they are.

pieces assembled

And it case you are wondering, yes, there will be jeans at some point, just not this week, I have too much other stuff going on…

140907_back

 

Completed: Lady Skater dress with drape neckline

140411_front viewThis dress nearly defeated me but I am glad I persevered. I thought it would be fun to change the scoop neckline on the Lady Skater dress to a drape neckline to create a different look . I worry that if I make the same pattern over and over with the only change being the fabric that is used they’ll be too much alike. Changing details like necklines and sleeve lengths seems a good solution to this problem and they’re also fun as it often involves some pattern drafting.

140411_drape neckline2So, creating a drape neckline, “how hard can it be”? I had made drape necklines before on t-shirts for one of my sisters. A smarter person than me would have studied that pattern extensively before she started drafting, and more importantly, cutting the fabric. Let’s just say my first version wasn’t even remotely drapey and looked more like a boat neck trying to strangle me.

Luckily I had enough fabric left to cut a new front bodice. This one worked much better! I think I could have added even more drape but was worried at first that it might be too revealing. I shouldn’t have cut it out of fabric immediately though because I didn’t really consider the effect that my changes to the pattern had on the shape of the waistline. My waistline looked like this after cutting it from fabric (and that was the last piece of fabric large enough to accommodate the front bodice):

This is what happens when you forget to true up your waistline...

This is what happens when you forget to true up your pattern…

Whoops, not sure how that is going to look when the skirt is attached… I wasn’t certain how to fix this, so decided to leave this problem for after I completed sewing the bodice. I needn’t have worried though because this fabric has more lengthwise stretch than the fabric I used previously and as a result the waistline ended up far too low for my taste. I chopped an inch off the front and back bodice and in the process got rid of the sweetheart waistline detail.

Before reattaching the skirt I also took in the side seams. The before pictures below are how the dress was when I posted last time. I didn’t really like the dress then and wasn’t sure how to fix it.

140411_beforeafter

I thought something was missing, but I was wrong, there was still too much of something. Fabric, to be precise. I took the dress in at the back waist and removed even more at both side seams from just below the bust to the skirt hem and am now much happier with how it looks. It was a subtle change but I think it makes enough of a difference, especially from the front.

140411_side viewI can imagine some of you might be interested in how I converted the scoop neck to a drape neck. In the picture below I highlighted the orginal front bodice pattern piece in green. Starting at the centre front waistline you draw a straigth line (1) that flares out towards the neckline and extends beyond the original pattern piece (this will be the new center front).  More flare means more drape. Then you fold the pattern perpendicular to line 1 so that the corner of the shoulderseam ends up on the foldline. Then trace the shoulderseam  and the armhole onto the piece that is folded over, this is how you create the facing for the drape. Unfold the pattern and draw a second line (2) perpendicular to line line 1 so that the traced part of the armhole measures around 7.5 cm (I think it will still work if it is a little less or a little bit more).  I also added a notch in the armhole where the facing ends up when it is folded over. If you don’t want to end up with a strange looking waistline you also true up the pattern there.

front bodice pattern with drape neckline

I am apparently able to draft patterns in the future…

I finished my back bodice with a neckband, there are other options, but the important thing to keep in mind is that the length of the finished back bodice shoulder seam should be the same as the front bodice shoulder seam, so depending on your choice of finish you may have to make some changes to the back bodice as well. I reinforced the shoulder seam on the back bodice with some stay tape (not visible in the pictures). The shoulder seam is sewn by laying down the front and back bodice pieces right sides together with the shoulder seams matching. The facing of the front bodice is then folded over the back bodice so that the shoulder seam on the facing matches up as well (see picture below). I highly recommend basting this seam first to check how it looks from the right side. It can be tricky to get the back and front neckline to match up exactly, in the picture on the right you can see that I didn’t manage to do so completely, but trust me, it can be a lot worse. I basted the facing to the armhole before continuing to prevent shifting during the attachment of the armhole.

140411_shoulderseam

For now I am done playing with the Lady Skater pattern. My next make will be something I have never made before but that will be used on a daily basis. Can you guess what it will be?

Back view

Completed: Lady Skater t-shirt

Lady Skater t-shirt frontI could do with some new t-shirts to replace some old and worn ones and since I am very happy with the fit of the Lady Skater dress I decided to turn the bodice into a t-shirt pattern.

The shoulder seam tends to shift backwards when I wear my Lady Skater dress so I moved it forward on my t-shirt pattern and I think that this is an improvement as it now stays in place. This is an adjustment that I need to do more often so I am a bit surprised I missed it earlier.

The bodice of the dress finishes around the waist so I needed to extend it to t-shirt length. To do this I used the t-shirt pattern from the Craftsy Sewing with knits class. At first I simply overlapped the two patterns matching at center front or center back and the armpit (more or less, obviously they didn’t match completely at the latter). I then simply merged the side seams of the two patterns, making sure that they would be the same length on the front and back pattern pieces. In the end I ended up taking the t-shirt in quite a bit because I wanted it to be more fitted than the sewing with knits pattern was.

WLady Skater t-shirt sidehen trying it on I found the hem too long but I think I was a bit too enthusiastic when I chopped the excess length off. My next t-shirt will be longer.

Overall I am happy with the fit and the matching of the stripes turned out pretty good as well. The seams were sewn with my overlocker but because I was working with a stripe I first machine basted the seams that needed pattern matching to ensure a good match. This did make the process longer since I essentially had to do those seams twice but unpicking overlock stitches to fix shifted stripes would have taken even longer.

Lady Skater backI was very lucky to find this fabric at a fabric market last week. I was looking for stripes but most of them were the wrong colour or very narrow. I had almost given up hope on finding a suitable one when I spotted this fabric hidden at the bottom of a huge pile. I quickly realised it is exactly the same type of fabric as a grey/purple stripe I bought a couple of years ago that is very comfortable to wear. Unfortunately, the vendor only had 1.2 m left on the bolt and only this colour combination. Otherwise I would certainly have bought more! I don’t wear a lot of bold prints but I do love a good stripe.

I see many more t-shirts in my near future. In fact, I’ve already started cutting out another one. I also want to play a bit with different necklines to add variety.

Lady Skater t-shirt

UFO busting: Knipmode dress turns into Lady Skater dress

My thinking cap has returned and I managed to finish my Lady Skater dress while busting another UFO in the process.

back facing

Ridiculous back neckline facing, it’s supposed to be on the inside of the dress…

This dress started as Knipmode dress 12 from February 2011. It only needed hems but I wasn’t happy with how it looked. It was too large and the back neck facing refused to lay flat (I’m never going to use this method for finishing a back neckline again, it just doesn’t work with knit fabrics.). I suppose I could have fixed it but I didn’t think the shape of this dress was working for me either so my motivation to get it finished had completely disappeared.

I decided to turn it into a Lady Skater dress instead. This would not have been possible if I hadn’t had about 1 meter of fabric left-over.  I was able to cut out the back skirt from the back and front skirt of the Knipmode dress, but had to add a centre back seam in the process. The front skirt, front and back bodice and one sleeve were cut from the piece of left-over fabric. That left me 1 sleeve short. There was absolutely no way I could squeeze it out of the fabric in one piece. My options were to either change to short sleeves or piece the sleeve. I think an unnecessary seam in a sleeve isn’t very desirable. It’s bad enough I had to create a centre back seam for the skirt so my solution was to turn it into an asymmetrical colour block dress! I used some olive green single jersey for the bottom part of the right sleeve. I think it adds an interesting touch. Do you like it or do you think it looks as if I didn’t have enough fabric?

I did make some changes to the pattern pieces before I cut the dress out of fabric to improve the fit even more compared to my previous version and I thought it would be nice to show you what I changed and how that affected the fit.

At the top of the front bodice there was a little bit too much fabric that created some wrinkling. I used some pins to pinch this excess fabric out on my test version dress and transferred the amount of fabric that was pinched out to the pattern piece by folding the pattern the same amount. When you look at the before and after picture below you can see that the fabric in my new dress is much smoother in this area.

At the top of the back bodice there was also some excess fabric. I solved this the same way as I did the front bodice. (I apologize for not using a picture of the same shoulder.) Since the changes I made to the front and back bodice also affected the length of the neckline I also shortened the neckband by the same amount to make sure that it would still fit correctly.

In my test version I had already slimmed down my sleeves somewhat and this had improved the fit but there were still a lot of drag lines. I suddenly realised that my arms were much skinnier than what this pattern is made for and that there was simply too much fabric in this sleeve, especially on the front of my arm. Again I used pins to pinch out the excess fabric and transferred this to my pattern piece. Additionally, I slimmed down the sides of sleeves a little bit as well (using a good fitting sleeve from another pattern as a guideline). I also made the sleeve pattern longer to get rid of the sleeve band.

I am much happier with this dress than I was with the original one and I think I’m going to wear it this Christmas. I still have quite a bit of small pieces of fabric left-over since I didn’t use the original bodice and sleeves for my new dress. Perhaps I’ll be able to turn those into a baby top to get this UFO busted even more.

Completed: Test version Lady Skater dress

After the last post on my PDF pattern assembly troubles I don’t think it will come as a surprise that I made Kitschy Coo’s Lady Skater dress! It was intended as a muslin but I think it already turned out good enough to wear in public.

Before I go into the details of the dress I have some additional PDF information to share with you. I contacted Amanda from Kitschy Coo about my problems with the pattern assembly and she let me know that there have been more issues with correct printing of PDF sewing patterns since this summer. This is caused by an update of Adobe that throws of the accuracy of horizontal printing. If you want to know more, this website shows how to fix it. I tried it and it didn’t solve my issues (probably because my printer is crazy) but if you have problems with PDF patterns it might solve yours. If you have Windows 8 you might also have additional issues that are explained here and there you can also find how to solve these.

So, onto the pattern. I intend to turn one of my UFO’s into a Lady Skater dress. This means that I have a limited amount of fabric to work with. I don’t want to turn one failure into another failure so I first made a muslin with some knitfabric that I already had. I cut size 4 with 1’’ instead of 3/8” seam allowances for the side-, shoulder- and sleeve seams. It turned out I didn’t need that extra fabric because I only took fabric away but if you want to fit a garment it is really helpful to have some extra fabric to work with. I cut off the extra fabric later on so my finished dress doesn’t have these huge seam allowances inside.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of the dress without adjustments but in the pictures below you can see what my adjusted pattern pieces look like compared to the original pattern. I have highlighted size 4 of the original pattern in purple. I left the skirt, neckline band and sleeve bands unchanged. The main fitting issue was that there was a lot of excess fabric around the sleevecap that created unsightly folds at the seams and around my upper arm. I got rid of these by removing some fabric.

KitschyCoo_backbodice

I wanted the skirt to hit closer to my natural waist so I chopped 1” off the bodice. There was some excess fabric around the armhole and the sideseams so I removed some fullness there. I think I removed a little too much because the back is now a bit too tight so I am going to add something in the next version.

KitschyCoo_frontbodice

Chopped off 1” of length of bodice and removed some fullness at the side seams and around the armhole.

LadySkatersleeve

Removed some fullness around the sleevecap and at the upperarm. I now have quite an oddly shaped sleeve pattern but the fit is much better. Perhaps I have oddly shaped arms?

What I liked about this pattern:

  • Instructions are clear, I didn’t use them that much, but for a beginner sewer I think they will be a great help.
  • Very clear which line on the pattern belongs to which size because they are different colours. If you don’t have a colour printer I suppose this would be something that you won’t like about the pattern.
  • The shape of the neckline.
  • Clear elastic is added to the waistline seam allowance, this helps to keep the dress in shape.
  • The fit of the pattern was easy to adjust
  • Good customer service. Not only with the PDF issues but I also completely overlooked that there was a download link after you pay for the pattern so I waited for it to arrive via e-mail which of course didn’t happen. Amanda e-mailed me the pattern very quickly after I enquired when I could expect the pattern to arrive. So, if you buy this pattern, there is a download link!

What I didn’t like about this pattern:

  • The straight of grain line on the sleeve is tiny. I like them to be long. It is easy to fix this myself but, well, why not make it large on the pattern?
  • I had issues printing it correctly but I suspect this was mostly due to the printer and not the pattern.

What will I change next time:

  • I think I’ll get rid of the sleeve bands by making the sleeve a bit longer. I don’t really like a sleeve band on ¾ sleeves. I think it is less comfortable than a turned over hem.
  • Make some small adjustments to make the bodice fit even better.
  • Perhaps raise the bodice by another ½’’.

Overall, I am very happy with this pattern and I hope to show you my next version soon!

Assembly of a PDF sewing pattern or how our printers fool us

Did you, like me, believe that if the test square on a PDF sewing pattern prints correctly your PDF sewing pattern will also print correctly and you should be able to assemble the pattern without trouble? You are wrong.

This story began when I decided that I wanted to make the Lady Skater Dress from Kitschy Coo. I’ve seen many great versions popping up and I think there is a good chance that this dress will look good on my body shape so I bought the pattern a couple of months ago.

This week I decided it was time to get started. The printed test square was exactly 1’’ so I eagerly started the assembly process. Things did not go well. Lines did not match up. Yes, I did follow the instructions for printing the pattern. I made sure the scaling was set at none and that the auto-rotate and centre box was ticked. Tiles 14 and 15 (back bodice) are a good example of my issues. The grey rectangles that surround each tile are not the same size  and when I matched up the centre back on the two tiles, the armholes were completely off. In this case they are off by 1/8”. It drove me nuts because this was obviously not going to work.

A4&A4

Printer page setting: A4
Printed on: A4
Auto-rotate and centre turned on.
The two tiles are off by 1/8” making it impossible to correctly assemble the pattern.

I could of course have thought “this pattern is just not good, move on and make something else” but I was not yet ready to do this. I had trouble believing that every person that had blogged happily about how great this dress is had encountered this same problem. My boyfriend suggested that perhaps the auto-rotate and centre option was the problem. I thought he could have a point because I have also used PDF patterns where they specifically tell you to turn this option off. Those patterns, however, have white space around the tiles in the PDF. In this pattern the edge of the PDF page for each pattern tile is the grey rectangle. If you do not tick the auto-rotate and centre option some of the pattern will not print (see picture below). However, when I turned it off, the alignment of the lines improved significantly. So, I definitely think this printer setting might be part of the issue. At least for my printer, which is an HP Officejet 6700 Premium, I think checking this option does result in some sort of scaling despite having ticked the no scaling option as well.

A4&A4&rotatecenteroff

Printer page setting: A4
Printed on: A4
Auto-rotate and centre turned off.
The lines align better, but part of the pattern is not printed.

Then I mistakenly thought that this is a US pattern (it’s not, it’s British). In the US they don’t use A4, they use Letter sized paper. What will happen if I set the page settings while I am printing to Letter and also use my foundation paper piecing paper that is also Letter size? Suddenly my lines matched up!

Letter&Letter

Printer page setting: Letter
Printed on: Letter
Hey, now my lines are suddenly a pretty good match!

I didn’t really want to use my foundation paper piecing paper to print PDF sewing patterns because it is much more expensive than regular printer paper. I printed the same tiles a 4th time, but now with the printer page settings on Letter, while printing on A4 paper. This was certainly a huge improvement from having the printer settings on A4, but the lines were still a little off, not as much though as when the page settings were on A4.

A4&Letter

Printer page setting: Letter
Printed on: A4
Definitely better than when the printer is set on A4 but still the lines don’t quite match up.

Does this story have a happy ending? Yes, I printed the entire pattern on my foundation paper piecing paper with the printer page settings on Letter. The pattern assembled in a breeze and I am now ready to trace the pattern pieces in my size and cut them out of fabric. The weird thing is though, when I tried to print these pages again with printer page setting on Letter and Letter sized paper the result was similar to when I used page settings letter and A4 sized paper,  again I had some trouble aligning them perfectly. I suspect this printer is trying to mess with my head.

Success!

Success!

I figured I might not be the only person who from time to time struggles with PDF sewing pattern assembly and thought that this information on how changing the printer page settings can help fix some problems might be useful. I am a little baffled though how changing this setting could have this effect. If anyone has any suggestions I’d like to hear them!