Thursday, May 29, 2014

My summer project

I cleaned out my closet a few weeks ago (yay!) and stumbled upon a sad pile of me-mades that just don't get worn. You know the feeling when you put so much love and effort and hope into a garment and it turns out just... sad. Ill-fitting, (or my favorite) terrible fabric choice or just plain old what-the-f-was-I-thinking.

Usually I don't have the heart to throw away things I've made, but this time I wasn't that kind. Some of the worst things had to go. I'm a terrible optimist when it comes to sewing sometimes. I look at a pattern and think, hey, that's not my style at all, but let's try something new. Better yet, let's pair it with some crazy-ass fabric that I wouldn't normally wear either! And there you have it, a big pile of shame at the bottom of my closet.

So what is my mission this summer? To salvage as many me-mades as possible. I have high hopes for some pieces and even see the potential for new wardrobe favorites. Will I get through the pile by the end of summer? Most probably not. Will all of these items become new favorites? No way. But that's not the point. The point is to look at the things I've made and realize, hey, I'm not that bad after all. Look at this, it's actually quite well made, now let's just make it a little better.

So what's been hiding in my closet? A flowery shirtdress that I have actually worn a few times. Analyzed my image in the mirror though, and decided that the long sleeves need to go. Too much flowers, and without sleeves it will be perfect for summer.

An ooold white shirt with puff sleeves and a mandarin collar. Not really my style, but white shirts are always good basics. It has snap closures in the front, and I need to reconsider those since they tend to open on their own. And then there is a top in some lovely cotton that needs to be more fitted.

Then there is a true let's-try-something-new-moment. I don't know if this puppy is ever going to see daylight. It's some kind of vest-shirt-thingy with a kimono belt and the worst cap sleeves ever. I'll start by removing the sleeves and see if the rest can be salvaged.

The blue dress on the bottom was one of my favorites last summer. It's a simple dress, but it has some fit issues. If I figure those out I should definitely make another one. Already dreaming of some kind of lovely floral fabric...

This is my big pile-o'-hope. The dress in purple linen is the first on my to-do-list. More on that soon, I hope. Then there is a pair of linen shorts that are Just bad. Really bad.

This was unintentional, but then there is a third garment made of linen. This is a playsuit that I wore a lot last summer. I was feeling too cautious and cut it a size bigger than it probably needed to be. So now I'm taking it in.

The last one in the pile is a true result of ill-placed optimism. A pattern that is not my style, paired with a fabric that isn't my style either. Something happens with my brain when it gets warmer outside. Suddenly I'm convinced that I'm the most romantic dresser of all times and will only wear floral prints from now on. Needless to say, I'm not that cute of a dresser. This case of spring optimism is a long summer jacket without lining. The sleeves turned out too nineties so it never got worn. When I tried it on again this spring, I decided that I should probably cut down on the amount of flowers by shortening it. The choice of zipper also needs some serious re-consideration.

So there you have it folks. My to-do-list for this summer. Seems manageable, but these guys need to constantly fight for attention with all the new project ideas I come up with... let's see... every two hours. Wish me luck, at this stage I'm still optimistic. And if you haven't seen any of these blogged by the end of september - kick me.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

My favorite pair of comfy pants ever, take #2 and #3

I can't even think of a good-enough headline to proclaim my love for these pants. By the way, did I mention that I hate sewing pants? This will make sense to you, bear with me.

These pants are pattern 118 from Burda Style issue 5/2011. I made my first pair a couple of years ago and literally wore them to death. The fabric was a soft, thin linen, and eventually I wore a hole into the fabric that couldn't be fixed. The pants were falling apart.

After the appropriate time of mourning when I realized that there was nothing I could do to save pants #1, I decided to make pants #2 and #3. And here comes the I-hate-sewing-pants part. How does anyone get their pants to fit?? The actual sewing part is quite fun, usually pants are quicker and easier to sew than shirts or dresses. But. The. Fit.

For the first pair, the old ones, the fit was "okay". The pants are supposed to be loose and relaxed, so I can live with some minor fit-issues. For #2 and #3, I made some alterations. With patterns from Burda, I always need to add an extra 2 cm to the back crotch. Perhaps I have a round butt, but I really hate the feeling when the back crotch is too short. Do I need to spell out where the pants end up in that case? Not a good look.

After trying the pants on, I straightened the curve at the hips, which I often need to do. Not a big alteration, usually easy to do even on finished pants.

Why elastic band at the waist, you might ask. Because these pants are my comfy pants, whose main job is to substitute pajama bottoms when walking the dogs.

In the magazine, they tell you to use 2 cm wide elastic band and rib-knit for the waistband. I did this with my first pair, but didn't like how it felt. It felt a bit sloppy, especially since the elastic band got all twisted over time. For versions #2 and #3, I used 4 cm wide elastic band and cut the waistband from the same fabric that I used for the pants. I think it looks neater and feels better this way. A bit more support around the stomach, aye?

This time around, I tried a new trick. I have once used a wide elastic band at the waistline of a pair of pyjama pants, and it got all twisted up in the washer over time. I hope I solved this problem by stitching the elastic band to the inside of the waistband with a few stitches of 3-step zigzag in the back, front and at the sides. Time will tell if the stitches will be flexible enough or if they will rip. They should hold.

Now to the tricky part. I have always struggled with the front crotch. I don't seem to ever be satisfied with the fit. I sewed it and ripped it apart several times, until I had an epiphany. If the overall length of the crotch seems to be okay in the original pattern, then it should probably be the same length after any alterations too, right? If I add 2 cm to the back, then I should decrease 2 cm in the front, right? Why didn't I ever think of that?! One of those moments when you don't know if you should cry from joy or just kick yourself. I get those a lot.

Here you can almost see the pants - damn those tricky dark colors...

This is a more accurate representation of the lovely blue color
Both fabrics are from Eurokangas. Pants #2 are made of a dark blue linen, and I chose a more tightly woven linen this time. I love the color. Please stay with me longer this time.

For pants #3, I used a cotton with some elastane. I was surprised that I've made it this far without ever sewing with plaids, but luckily I remembered to line them up when I cut the fabric. But since I altered the side seams, the plaids don't line up perfectly anymore. Since these pants are meant to be worn around the house and walking my dogs, I decided not to get worked up about it. You hardly notice it anyway...or do you?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Purple lace top

Considering the name of my blog -Purple Pleats- it is only appropriate that the first featured garment is purple. And it has a pleat!

This was my first try at a pattern from the German magazine Sabrina Woman, issue 1/2014. I wanted to try out something pretty basic at first, to see how the overall fit of the patterns seem to be. Pattern number 7 is a basic raglan sleeve top, so I figured that the only potential problems would be with the raglan seams. My upper body is apparently a bit on the small side, so I often have issues with the fit of the shoulder seam and arm scythe.

I traced the pattern on silk paper and pinned it on my beloved mannequin. I made her myself in school and she was literally made on top of me (apparently it is called a Duct Tape Double or DTD). It was a pain in the butt I can tell you, but worth every second of it. Anyway, the top seemed to fit without any alterations.

The fabric is a (cheap) stretchy polyester lace from Eurokangas. I chose to finish the neckline and the sleeve ends with satin bias tape. It is not my favorite look, but it seemed to be the best choice. I would rather have used a cotton bias tape, but they didn't have any in a matching color. 

For the seams I used my serger and the narrowest seam possible. Thank heavens for the differential feed, the seams would have turned out all wobbly without it. The seams still needed a good ironing to straighten them out. I chose to finish the hem with a rolled hem.

The slit in the front turned out to be a pain in the butt, as I expected. To get it right you would need to use only a minimal seam allowance at the bottom of the slit, but I didn't want to do that with such a sheer lace fabric. I was worried that it would tear. Instead I added a pleat in order to control the excess fabric. It was not fun trying to pin down an impossibly slippery fabric full of holes. I don't even want to tell you how long it took me to get an at least acceptable-looking pleat... and it's still not perfect. 

When the top was finished I noticed that the seams in the armpit were beginning to unravel, so I reinforced the seam with a narrow zigzag.

All in all I am pleased with this lace top. I have actually worn it more than once already! If I will make another one (which I actually might), I'll probably make the neckline a bit narrower. Just a matter of preference. 

PS. As you might have noticed, English is not my native language. Actually it is Swedish. This blog post took a lot of Finnish-English-Sewing Dictionary-Googling, so forgive me if I messed up the terminology. I will get better at it, promise!