Pyjama Dresses

Since my goal in sewing is to make clothes I really want to wear every day, I’ve been sewing a LOT of knits. Some of this is just practical, as for example the Style Arc Nina cardigans that I have (one acrylic sweaterknit and one merino doubleknit) are workhorses that I wear all the time. Here’s one Me Made May selfie of me in one of them:

It's hard to see, but this is one of the Ninas--I wear them ALL the time.
It’s hard to see, but this is one of the Ninas–I wear them ALL the time.

And some of it is because I love walking around the world looking put together but feeling like I’m wearing pyjamas!

I have two pyjama dresses to share with you today, one which I made up in April, and one that I schemed and dreamed and lusted to sew up for weeks while stuck finishing my homework for the moulage* class I took at the local community college this spring. I finally made that up this past weekend.

(*The moulage, or “French pattern” is a kind of skin-tight sloper drafted to measure, from which one can draft a sloper, a jacket sloper, a knit sloper, etc. I took the class from Lynda Maynard at Canada Community College, with Cindy and a bunch of other wonderful ladies–and a gent! It was fantastic, even if I did spend 15 hours trying to get my sleeve and my sloper to kiss and make up.)

The first I’ll call the Easter Egg dress, and it came to life because of a confluence of events:

  1. I wanted to make another Craftsy Weekender dress for its pyjama-esque qualities
  2. I had fallen in love with Seamster Patterns’ new Rose Hip Tights pattern and found an amazing fabric for them
Seamster Patterns Rose Hip Tights
Seamster Patterns Rose Hip Tights

3. I found some Robert Kaufman cotton/spandex jersey in colors that would coordinate with the tights.

Next thing you know, this fabulous outfit was born!

Easter Egg Dress, Tights and Ocelittle
Easter Egg Dress, Tights and Ocelittle
Easter Egg Dress in the wild, Me Made May 2014
Easter Egg Dress in the wild, Me Made May 2014

This next one started as a twinkle in Heather B’s . . . pyjamas. What can I say? I learned from her pyjama sewing (and then Katiediddiehopper’s fantastic Trifecta tops and more) about the existence of Lillestoff. Otherwise known as the cutest prints on earth on organic cotton jersey—Oh my goodness I love this stuff.

Since Night Foxes seems to be all sewed up in this world, I chose my second favorite print, World of Knights, and ordered enough for a Kitschy Coo Lady Skater. Which I purchased as part of the Perfect Pattern Parcel #1. What could be better? It just took a while before I could attend to making the dress up, as I had homework to finish (gardblangin’ sleeve!). Thank goodness, however, said homework helped me do my very first flat pattern adjustments for a great fitting experience. W00t for me! It’s actually been a really great sewing month or two for me.

Just in case you’re interested, here’s what I did with the moulage and the tracing from Kitschy Coo’s pattern:

Figure out how to line up the two pieces for comparison (center line, of course, and inside shoulder points)

Comparing Moulage and Pattern Piece
Comparing Moulage and Pattern Piece

See that I would need to take a LOT of length out of the bodice to get the waist to my natural waist

Overlapping at "Lengthen/Shorten" line
Overlapping at “Lengthen/Shorten” line

Make up a muslin (not pictured)
Check the half-hip circumference against my own half-hip measurement and decide I wanted just a skosh more swing to the skirt to skim over my prodigious hips, then
Slash and spread the skirt piece by the needed 1/8”

Slash and Spread!
Slash and Spread!

Draw in the curve for the extended hem.

Fix the Curve!
Fix the Curve!

After muslining the bodice I added a bit of length back in, but as it happens I think I’ll want to take it up about ¼” next time. But it’s still pretty great, and it’s my first time really comparing a pattern piece to good measurements and succeeding in making proper adjustments.

That’s pretty much the whole story. I used ¼” clear elastic for the first time, having used knit stay tape on knit shoulder seams in the past. This pattern calls for elastic on the waistline as well, which seemed wise, so I anted up and used the real thing. It worked just fine, even though I skipped straight to attaching it while serging the seams. I also set the neckband in the round as I like that finish better. I’m very pleased with my coverstitching, which is getting ever better as I get used to my newish Babylock, and I’m pleased as punch with the dress.

Knights in a Garden!
Knights in a Garden!

Aren’t you?

KnightDress09 KnightDress08

The best thing is, this one won’t get worn to work! All my other pajama dresses are work-appropriate (in my line of work, software development, the dress code isn’t too formal), and I love that now I have a super-happy dress just for leisure time!

Woo hoo! You really like me!

Sorry, I couldn’t resist quoting Sally Field’s famously odd and endearing reaction to winning her second Oscar. It’s really lovely to have someone let me know they appreciate my struggling little blog.

Thanks to Karen of Blinky Sews for the Liesbter Blog award! I really appreciate it! Like Karen, I was given this award once before, and didn’t have the wherewithal to accept it properly at the time (sewing a wedding dress and planning a wedding are quite a thing!). So thanks also to Ashley of Craft Sanctuary for recognizing me too.

The Liebster award, as I understand it, is meant to convey enjoyment and to help us all discover more small blogs like mine, with fewer than x (200? 500?) followers. To be frank, I have no idea how to determine how many followers I have, because WordPress followers have to get my posts in their email (something I would never do, as I get enough clutter in my email already), Bloglovin is just not a platform that I enjoy, and I mainly use an RSS feed, which reports how many people are following a blog through that reader specifically. So I shall do my best in finding other small blogs that meet the criteria.

Here are my 5 favorite small/new blogs:

CSews: Chuleenan makes dresses with great care, hats I could never in a million years wear, which look wonderful on her, and runs the Bay Area Sewists’ Meetup! I’m really looking forward to finally meeting her at our June meetup, if my sister’s baby comes at a complementary time!

Custom Style: Brooke may very well have over 500 followers on all aggregators, but she’s only got 100+ on Feedly, and I think you should know about her if you don’t already. She is a costumer by trade and I have learned so much from her already. We’ve been twitter and Instagram friends for a few months, and this wonderful gal actually put together a 12-IG tutorial on how she marks and sews darts when I asked, because her darts were so beautiful. She has a ton to share with the sewing sphere, and I feel lucky to ‘know’ her!

Sally Bee Makes: Sally is a young woman with a sewing talent and an adorable daughter named Faith, for whom she also sews. I like Sally’s enthusiasm for life, careful sewing, and really, Faith is freakin’ adorable. I’m so grateful that Sally sews for her and quotes her to the twittersphere.

Pelly Melly Patterns: Jane is not only a charmer, but she has taken pattern cutting courses, sewn for years, and last year she decided to grace us all with her knowledge. She does a crack job of showing how to do FBAs (full bust adjustments), beyond the basics (like sometimes you’ll want to add a dart, make sure not to add length to a piece until after you’ve done the FBA, etc.) and her clothes are just lovely, including knitted projects. Do go check her out!

The Finished Garment: Shannon sews for her very lucky kids, makes great use of quilting cottons (how about those Koi pants??), and has assembled some wonderful lists of Canadian resources, including indie pattern designers—how appropriate for Sewing Indie Month? He photography is great, and I have to admit, looking at these blogs is giving me serious blog and camera envy!

Now, Karen kindly supplied me with questions to answer for you, plus I am supposed to add some “random facts.” here goes!

1. Why did you start a sewing blog? –I started sewing in earnest three years ago and learned so much from the blogs out there that I wanted to participate. Turns out I haven’t yet found my stride as a blogger, but I’m getting SO much fun and connection from twitter and IG these days that it’s helping me warm up my blogging muscles.

2. Do you have a favorite sewing tip? –This week it’s got to be GET A NEW SEAM RIPPER! I can’t believe how much better my experience is after replacing my . . . 7 year old one? The new ripper cuts through threads like they are made of morning dew, or something more logical that’s also no likely to be hard to cut through.

3. What is your favorite sewing notion? –Hmmm, not sure. Thread was the first thing that came to mind, since I have a spool rack now and it looks so pretty on my sewing center shelf. I’ll go with that, and not over think it.

4. What is your dream sewing machine(s) if money was no object? –I should some day go try one of the nutty Berninas at the dealer where I have bought my sensible Babylocks. Maybe I’d love to have one of them. And to be honest, I use my dream sewing machine all the time—this January I splurged on the Babylock Evolution and I LOVE THAT THING. I have tried to figure out how to make out with it, but it’s got too many pointy bits. And I’m a married woman. But if it were possible and appropriate, I would. 😉

5. What super power would you like to have? –I’m a flying girl. Although I notice that this isn’t the usual “Flying vs. Invisibility” question so I will think a little bigger and say teleportation/tessering. If I could travel instantaneously I could live where I want, work where I do, hang out with friends around the world, and yes, life would be awesome!

6. What is your dream job? –I think I have it. I work as a product manager for an enterprise (read: big businesses use it) software company, and I love that I get to combine organizational, communication and negotiation skills in many tasks every day. It’s creative, it doesn’t get boring, and my only real complaint is that I have so many meetings that it’s hard to find time to make good on all my “action items!”

7. Where would you like to visit? (Where are you from?) –I’m ready to go back and visit the UK for real. I got robbed in London when I was 19 (not in person, thank goodness; my backpack was stolen from the hostel while I was out for the day), and I am eager to go back and tramp all over with my smart husband, who tells me amazing things whenever we go to museums or historical sites (He reads a LOT.). I’m from Los Angeles, live south of San Francisco, and I’ve lived in New York City, Berlin and Vienna too.

8. Do you have a favorite pattern or item to sew? –I sew a lot of knits. I am just about full up on t-shirts now, but not quite done making what I call “pajama dresses” (more on this later in the week). I have really gotten my skills in order for the knit garment, and I like that. It’s about time to turn my focus to excellent woven garments, I think! I hope the next favorite will be skirts—I could use some!

9. What do you like to do when you are not sewing? –Running! We’re training for a half marathon this year. And cooking, reading sewing blogs, and . . . I’ll admit it, we watch a fair amount of TV. Excellent TV, however, served fresh off the DVD or Netflix, sand commercials.

10. What is your favorite food? I hope that in my lifetime I can have a vat-grown beef hamburger, because I really miss cheeseburgers! I am really glad to be a vegetarian for many reasons (pretty, sweet cows!) but I sure did love a good cheeseburger in my meat eating days. Now I think it’s probably really fine pizza, like they have at Pauline’s in San Francisco.

Whew! You’d think I like writing and communicating, or something.

Random facts:

  • I am a dual German and American citizen.
  • I owned my first house before I was 25. It was in Staten Island and treated me very well.
  • I married very young, at 22. I thank my stars that I got out of that one at 30.
  • I met the love of my life on OK Cupid. Don’t underestimate the power of a great algorithm, folks!
  • I am a very slow sewer! I can’t even begin to believe the speed of some of the ladies and gents out in our blogosphere!

And with that, I am almost done. Chuleenan, Brooke, Sally, Jane and Shannon, if you choose to play along with this favorites game (Liebster means “favorite” in German), please nominate 5-11 little blogs like ours, tell us 5 things about yourself, and answer the following 10 questions, so we can learn more about you (with thanks to Karen for all the questions I’m cribbing here):

1. Why did you start a sewing blog?
2. What’s your proudest sewing achievement?
3. What crazy-expensive fabric would you sew with if money were no object?
4. What sewing task would you happily never do again, if fairies would do it for you?
5. What super power would you like to have?
6. What is your dream job?
7. Where are you from?
8. Do you have a favorite pattern or item to sew?
9. What do you like to do when you are not sewing?
10. Who taught you to sew?

Thanks again, so very much, Karen! This has been a blast!

Deer & Doe Plantain + SoZoBlog Vest = Awesome Tops from Free Patterns!

Well, this was meant to be posted in February–you know, Sew Grateful Week? Ah well, life gets away with us! It took me literally 6 weeks to manage to send my Sew Grateful giveaway winners their booty. I would feel bad, but you know what? Our town has ONE post office open on Saturday, and it’s only open until 1PM. So sue me. It took a long time, but the packages are on their way!

And I did sew the heck out of two fabulous free patterns in February. #1 is one I’ve had the fabric and traced-off pattern for for over a year, but was waiting for lingerie elastic: the SoZoBlog Free Vest Pattern! It’s simple, but perfect!

Plantains1

It gave me the opportunity to try the elastic application foot on my new serger, and that worked a treat! Now, if I could only get my coverstitch binder to work as well. I need LOTS more practice with that.

Plantain2

I sewed it up to go with my first Deer & Doe Plantain shirt, of a lovely soft purple slub tissue jersey from Fabric Outlet in SF. Sadly, this one shrank again a couple of times after sewing, though I had pre-treated the fabric, but at least it’s still wearable, if not precisely drapey!

Plantains2

After the purple Plantain was so successful, I made up a kind-of colorblocked one from scraps of another project–to be blogged in a couple of days–and a third from scraps of a StyleArc Nina Cardigan. For the second two I decided I wanted a little more swing in the hips, so I added a bit of width right down the center front a back, like so:

Plantainarama3Plantainarama5

Maybe not the best idea, as at least in the drapier bamboo jersey it’s a little pronounced at the front. I thing next time I may slash-and spread in the middle of the pattern piece so as to gain more distributed width. Or, given that my running is starting to have a desirable effect on my waistline, I may not top it up on width at the hips at all next time. And there WILL be a next time! I love this pattern!

Plantains5

Plantains6Plantains4Plantains3

So, better late than never. Here they are, 4 wonderful tops from generously offered free patterns. And yes, Zoe, I did buy you a coffee today when I was reminded as I put in the link above. 🙂

Have a beautiful week, beautifuls!

Sweat’n’Sew—Spring 5k in Wild Espresso “Capris”

PBJ2
PB Jam Muslin

As y’all may have seen, I decided to participate in Melissa’s Spring Race Challenge this year. Having already muslined her PB Jam leggings and made my first (rather stymied) attempt to muslin the XYT Top, I was enthusiastic about sewing my own running gear. AND I’m really going for it this year with my running, really training, really getting faster, and working up to a half marathon in November. So this challenge was a perfect one for me!

SweatnSew4
That’s me with the “Hotmail Box!”

I wound up wearing something else in my race, a little local 5k held at the Microsoft campus in Mountain View. I was on an indie pattern kick in

Seamster Rose Hip Tights
Seamster Rose Hip Tights

February, and I downloaded Cake Patterns’ Espresso leggings pattern as well as Seamster Patterns’ Rose Hip Tights, thinking this crazywonderful swimsuit fabric I had picked up at Fabric Outlet during one of their 40% off sales would be awesome for both of them. And being really impatient to try new things, I traced out the Espresso (based on my measurements) and cut the fabric at knee to make shorter (duh) pants for running in warmer weather, which we have most of the time here.

IMG_5811
Key Pocket!

I did add a key pocket inside the back waist, which given my swayback is a great place for me to store things. I learned that it’s great for keys, but not my ID, which tried very hard to slide up and out of my leggings while we were racing! I guess I’ll have to develop a zippered pocket. 🙂

SweatnSew23
New waistband for the PB Jams
SweatnSew1
After this run I knew the rise was waaaay too long. Thanks, lengthwise stretch!

I also found that after running in these the first time that the stretch of the fabric is more lengthwise than across the grain, so unpicked the waistband, cut it down, and sewed it back together. This seems to be a theme for me, as it happened with my PB Jams as well. However with those I didn’t have the heart to unpick, so I cut off the waistband and fashioned a new one in the manner of my favorite store-bought running leggings: a two-piece shaped waistband with the elastic sewn in the top. It works better with my, shall we say prodigious curves?

Anyhow, now all I need are nude-colored wicking undies, and I can wear these capris all through the summer! For now, I get to wear them once a laundry cycle, as I have only one pair of skivvies that don’t shine through them like a beacon. Oh well, not all fabric choices can be practical. 😉