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Monday, 24 April 2017

Pattern Testing for 5 out of 4 - Escapade Top & Dress!



I've been ogling 5 out of 4's sporty-style patterns for some time now, and was fortunate enough to be accepting into their most recent pattern testing of the Escapade Bra (Bikini), Tankini, and Dress Pattern

Jessica's testing is pretty intense, but in a good way.  You are expected to work, provide your feedback, create your muslin (fake clothing article to ensure proper fit and so you don't cry if the sizing is off on your good fabric), and create several versions of the final product to ensure:

a) everyone understands the pattern

b) any incoherent instructions are clarified and revised as required

c) she can see how the pattern fits on different sized bodies

d) you don't sew up the muslin pattern one or two nights BEFORE the final is due

We look through each version of the written pattern for:

a) typos

b) confusing pictures

c) steps in the wrong order

And so on.

She puts forth what her expectations are, and in turn, it's polite to ensure you can realistically meet her expectations.



Seriously - her patterns are reminiscent of my old favourite "Lulu" clothing, but SO much better and custom made! I love being part of the "how they made that" part of clothing construction, and being able to say, "Boo Yah!" to the fact that I learnt a few more awesome clothing hacks and skills during this round of testing



I like it, as I enjoy being meticulous, am a stellar proofreader, and love the challenge of whipping up 4-5 pieces of clothing in a short period of time. For seriousness.  My drive comes from high workloads - both at work and play. I'm just built that way.

For Version 1, I created a tankini (top?) with Small bust to Medium Waist through Hips based on the sizing chart. I also added a band to the bottom, as I prefer tunic length tops. Being 5'-2", this means a lot of the patterns (generally written for 5\-6" to 5'-8" height) are awesome for me!



The instructions were pretty clear - I would definitely pull more on the ruching elastic to get a better ruching effect on the sides, but it fits comfortably for me!

The only tedious part was flipping the fabric for the ties, but it's my least favourite task as well. (I since found a You Tube Video that helped make tie flipping go from a 30-60 minute task to a 2 minute task 65% of the time - I'm honing in that skill.

I'm using the small top going to a medium at the bottom of the tank - I could go small all way through for a tighter fit, but I like a looser fit for those slothy feeling days.

Also a less stretchy/flowy fabric will tighten it up as well.

I used a c/d cup fir my muslin version, however, after confirming with Jessica, sized down to an a/b cup for my next tank and bikini top, pulling everything together much better.

I'm not falling out at the top, my seams are sitting flat, and I honestly feel like I'm not wearing a top - so comfortable and no strain on my neck or shoulders (desk job issues).

I wasn't even thinking of making the dress version, but with this cut, I definitely will now!

For Version 2, I created my Tardis Tankini. I'm in love. It's just amazing.  A few minor  changes were made to the pattern and instructions at this point, making each step a bit more concise and easier to follow for a lot of the testers.

The fabrics are an awesome Tardis (top part) print that Patty Hamm from Water Tower Textiles brought in especially for her FB Group followers (along with Mario Brothers!) - I almost had a heart attack when she score a small amount of yardage for us!  She really is a sweetheart and always available to answer questions - people like Patty are what customer service SHOULD be like. It's how *I* was when I ran Crystal's Bird Toys for almost 6 years (I even received a customer request email today begging for a toy to be made...almost 3 years after my initial closing announcement!)

The bottom part is another Tardis fabric, from Spoonflower - made of wicking activewear fabric. 

I LOVE the criss cross back! 

Tardis tank & altered tardis leggings (thank you, China)

Had to pose with my Tardis in the parrot room jungle!

Finally, version 3. I had a grumpy photographer - next time I'm bringing a friend to the beach for pics!

I decided to make the Riptide Reversible Shorties, a pair of bathing suit bottoms I had been eyeing for awhile, because they have ruching AND are reversible!

Grab your patterns from 5 out of 4 today! You won't be disappointed!

I used Cycling swimwear fabrics I found at Water Tower Textiles and Purple/Black fabric from a FB destashing group. 

I do like that the shorts make my behind look nice - and although I made the cup insert version of both top and bra, I didn't put them in. And it was cold - maybe 7 or 8 Celsius. No evidence of cold! 

Booyah!

Love the shorts AND top - it's perfect!
This turned out amazing! 
Honestly, once again, I'm amazed I made this - seriously??? 

In comparison with 2 other bikini patterns I have muddled my way through (minimal directions, and guess work for half of the steps), this pattern was easy to read through Step. By. Step. 

Don't skip steps. Don't plow through too quickly. And choose sizing wisely.  With the pictures, instructions, and Jessica's constant availability to answer questions (even on her regular FB page, not just the testing page!), there is support for anyone interested in making their own bikini, bra, tankini, or dress. 

There are links to Youtube video instructions, and the support of the other members of the regular FB group - we are all at different levels of learning, and it really warms my heart when we are able to help each other wrap our heads around new concepts in pattern design.

Thank you again, Jessica, for another amazing pattern.  You have me - hook, line, and sinker!  And unfortunately, I now feel like this:


Awesome Patterns

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Rebecca Page Patterns - My First Pattern Testing Group!

Last month, I applied for AND was accepted for my first pattern testing group with Rebecca Page Patterns!


The Kingston Jacket!



Rebecca creates STUNNING clothing that is perfect for me to wear either to work or while at play.  The attention to detail and professional touches definitely set her patterns at the top of my radar while looking to expand my professional office wardrobe. 
 

At this point, I had already made a Madison Blouse (another post for another day), and knew how challenging M & M's patterns are.  On the flip side, the end results are just beautiful and elegant with a plethora of top stitching, hidden edges, and a plethora of new sewing terms that I am wrapping my head around. I love the challenge!



This testing group started out with picking out our fabrics.  I didn't have anything really appropriate aside from some old faded curtains, so I was given the green light to go to Fabricland.



Then I saw it. And had to have it!  I call it "The Eye of the Tiger" Fabric!

Left was original curtain; right is awesome tiger combo!!
Next step was sewing what is called a "muslin" - basically a fake garment used to ensure the fit is proper and any changes can be made at that point.  It also save ruining your nice fabric chosen for your final piece of clothing!

I Finished cutting out the Muslin pieces, and had to await a shipment of buttons from a new supplies to make it into a spring jacket. I've had the greenish material for 20 years (made my first curtains with it when I first moved out), and the purple I bought for a skirt I never made.

Pattern pieces cut, fabric chosen for muslin
As I progressed, I updated the Private testing FB group with my progress.  I'm still in awe that I made this...and it's only my "fake" jacket!



These seams! This is only my test run, but they are flat and - I'll root my own horn - pretty straight top stitching! Onto the front plackets!


Seams

This took forever to sew up, but my trial run was finally done after a day or two! No buttons, but everything else was done as per pattern specs -  muslins generally require an arm, no hemming, and be very basic. As I like this fabric, I opted to go all out into making it similar to the real deal.

The side pockets poke out a bit and I can't put my hands in them, so I didn't include them for my for real jacket.  Many ladies noted this, and they are in the final pattern with a warning on their usage.



Done Muslin (minus buttons)

It was really cute, as the last 24 hours, Kate (our main contact) put up a live timer for the Final Countdown!



I definitely felt the pressure at this point, as I work full time, have my husband & pets (and home) to contend with, and each jacket took me about 7-8 hours from start to finish as I made some errors and ripped out a lot of seams. 



It was a blur, but I know on both jackets, I sewed the arms on inside out - I blame fatigue and working on the jacket late.  As well, I don't have a serger, as I am not 100% comfortable doing the felted seams (where you cannot see the seams at all - the fabric edges are cut near the seam on one half, folded over twice, then stitched with NO edges showing on the inside or outside of the garment) - that's an over-time skill I will learn and practice. So I sew a straight line, then zigzag the raw edges.



I'll go funky seams next time and hone in that skillset.



At least the fabrics were not knit and forgiving to me meticulously tearing out the stitches.



Make sure you sew the arms on the proper side out and are reading the right directions for your machine/sewing comfort level.



Partway through my jacket, I tried it on.  It's awesome. It would make a great jean jacket vest!



ROAR!
Less than 6 hours to go, I was finally done the jacket...now to decide if I wore my Madison Blouse or sew up a Paris Party dress to wear for final pictures.  I had 5 hours 46 minutes to go at that point. And was hungry. 

Pretty Seams!

This is definitely not a pattern for the impatient! Good thing I like details!



I love this jacket and learn (and improved) so many skills while sewing up both my "muslin" tester (which I'll be adding buttons too, as it's stinking cute), and the real deal.



Wow!



I can't believe I made this!


Thank you Rebecca, for creating patterns that really do take you by the hand so even someone who isn't used to patterns beyond basic store-bought tissue paper ones can learn and hone in not only new skills, but give us the opportunity to sew our wardrobes!


 Of course, a Glutton for punishment and pushing my limits, I whipped up my first Paris Party Dress (with elastic waistband, dress, and lining options!), because I like submitting things during the Final Countdown (ha ha!).

 


Collar
 


Full front
 


Full back
 


lower back button
 


Silly Systic pic with Owl hat
 


Posing for Grumpy Husband
 



It's SO COOL!

Get your Kingston Jacket at Mummykins and Me for an awesome Spring to Fall wearing jacket!  You can make it as a plain Jean jacket or something funky and off the wall!  I used upholstery fabric, but denim, cotton, and any light to medium non-knit fabrics can be used! 
 
Some testers used lace for sleeves- oh, there ARE sleeve options! I chose classic, but there are also : 3/4, bell, half angel, full angel, and trumpet sleeves!

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

My First Soho & Sew-A-Long - Halla Patterns

Hoodies serve a purpose - they keep you warm, slip on or zip up, and that's about it.

How about finding a tunic (below your behind) lengthed hoodie. That's just not happening in retail stores.

Then I discovered Halla Patterns Soho Top thanks to my First Sew-A-Long courtesy of the Fabric Geeks, a custom fabric company that has both a US and Canadian location.

So, I sewed along. Step-by-step, each day was a different task.

Day One: Get the Pattern And Choose Fabric

I chose a mixture of fabrics, along with the Kangaroo Pocket and Hood to make it into a lightweight Hoodie. 

Fabrics consisted of:
- parts of an old Gap hoodie I got from Delaware for $5 - it had some sort of Pho or other weird stain on the front, so I wasn't wearing it. I used the Cuffs as cuffs, and cut the back of the hoodie to make the front Kangaroo Pocket

- Random $2 a Metre Fabricland fabric I bought to make work tops, but it was the only fabric I had around at the time - it works well with this pattern!

- beautiful Spandex knit Feathers Fabric from Black Rabbit Fabrics

And I was ready to Sew

Putting the pattern together is easy.  I print on my home printer Draft setting to save Ink, select my sizes (M & L with Halla Patterns) in the settings, Print at normal sizing, and put them together like a puzzle with tape and cut the pieces out with scissors.  

Don't worry, the pattern instructions show you how to put it together if you're not a puzzle maker.

There is a line on specific pieces (i.e. front and back) for grading, so I can easily customize the top portion to be smaller, and cut it seamlessly at a slight angle from the Medium to Large lines for my big booty.



Day Two:

Cut out fabric!!

I cut this as one of my first projects, thus only had my awesome Singer scissors, which Husband got me for "Fabric only" several Christmases ago.  They are my favourite, and I put them through a workout regularly.

With scissors, lots of time, pinning, and cutting has to be done, and any raggy edges are fixed with my zigzag stitch or light trimming.



Day Three:
 
Pockets! I did the Kangaroo Pocket Add on, and it's SO cute!

It's made from Black rabbit bits on the upper sides, and part of my old turquoise $5 Gap sweatshirt from Delaware.  I'm glad I was able to repurpose it, as I loved that sweatshirt and colour.

First the upper side bands are sewn onto the pouch, then the pouch on the centre bottom of the front piece of the shirt.



Day Four:

Sew the sleeve pieces to the main bodice. Watch to make sure you are attaching the correct sleeve to the correct bodice piece. Generally the longest side of the top of the sleeve attaches to the back bodice. If you are doing the slash opening you will leave one front sleeve/front bodice piece
unattached.

Pretty sure I sewed the first arm on inside out - the first of many!  The seam ripper and patience is my friend some days.



 


Day Five:

Sew the side seams. If you are doing the slash front you will leave the side you are doing the slash on open. (You will have one side seam, the other will be open)

And this is where I noticed that the shirt was REALLY long as I cut the pattern under the tall PLUS tunic length.  I'm 5'-2", thus that was really long.  I cut the pattern piece thereafter, but kept the shirt as is. 

Learning as we go!

 
 
Day Six:

Completed Hood/cowl/neckline

I absolutely LOVE this hood.  It's a double hood, and I realized that I did not need the neck band if I was putting the hoodie in.  It does make the interior a bit nicer, but it's not necessary.

This is my FIRST hoodie ever, and I opted for the front cross.  I can't believe I made this! 




Day Seven:

Soho is Complete!




This was an amazing first long sleeved hoodie style shirt. This was my FIRST project after my 3 pairs of Peg Legs.  


It was a simple sew with clear instructions with easy to understand pictures (I use the term "Picture Pages," but it is how I learn these days).  
Any errors were on my end as I was relatively new to every day-wear type clothing and PDF patterns. Fatigue also plays a role in that. The Neckline, inside out sleeve, and length were all on me.  
 
This is the pattern that made me begin to love Halla's style of patterns. 
 
AND I WON!
 
I won the sew-a-long!  My first one ever!
 
Fabric Geek sent me 2 yards of fun fabric as a prize!  the skull one is for Husband's future hoodie and the I Lava You is ALL MINE!
 
 
 
 

AND This (Stardust tank) is the pattern that made me fall IN love with Halla
 
 

I opted for the side star, with Black Rabbit Fabric mixed with some black spandex fabric I got from my sister when we attempted to dress Husband up as the Grim Reaper. His (my) reward was a metre or two of black spandex. Which I've used in countless projects and have a few remnants of these days.  

It mixes well with my Leggings, and the Tunic Length perfectly covers my behind without being so taut that I feel self conscious about my mid section.

 
I used the same Medium to Large grading, and it fit like a glove! 

There were a lot of pins and patience while sewing the star, and aside from one small tugged point, it's perfect!  

Now that sunny season is almost here, I want to make a few of the side colour blocked versions. I can even use 3-4 fabrics that aren't big enough for one shirt, but perfect for a front, back, sides, or trim!
I did make a Slim Dolman top with an old t-shirt, the endless Fabricland rayon spandex black/white/grey/beige patterned mystery fabric from the Kanata store closing sale, and an old Grey maxi Dress.  



And also a Hey Babie top with a hood option, Black Rabbit Fabric, some old stretchy turquoise flowered fabric, and remnants of another old t-shirt.  
 
Next up is Halla's NEWEST pattern, which was released on April 18, 2017 in such an awesome fashion - with 10 weeks of Trivia, finding patterns, and other delights, Samantha (Halla designer) has us all excited to follow her into Summer! So if you're not a member, join the Halla FB group now for some freebies and FUN! 

Paired with the release of the Agnes Swing Top & Dress   is a Sew-a-long via  that I'm partaking in! It's nice to have tips and someone to ask questions to with quick response if you are stuck on a pattern. 

I'm passionate about my sewing and know what I like (and what I don't) - Systic loves Halla!
 

 

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Arrrr, Me Mateys! Patterns for Pirates - my Intro to Moderm Day Sewing Patterns

So (or Sew - ha ha!). January 2017, I was tired of my nylons tearing after half a use, and tights are difficult to find that:

a) Don't cost an arm and a leg for what they are

b) Don't cause extreme Muffin Top



I decided leggings would be a long lasting option.

But apparently in the middle of the Winter in Canada, Leggings aren't available in 12 of the zillion stores I looked in during a few lunch hours.

That on top of not being able to find more than 2 plain tunics to wear underneath work and t-shirts that have shrunk up over the last years, shopping for any kind of clothing was proving to be futile.

Pants shopping alone is the most depressing thing I do - and I only do it when I've worn through all but one or two pairs of wearable pants. I have very little choice, and only the Rickis' ridiculous priced pants and the Gap's Curvy jeans fit me without making my legs look like squished sausages, or like the waist band needs its own postal code it's so darn big!



So. 

I started looking at those online leggings shops - Sweet Legs, Mayberrys, Lotus Leggings, and more. the pricing was pretty much the same for all these companies, and what I was taken with were the patterns!

SO MANY PATTERNS!

Then I thought..."Hey Crystal, you should make leggings - you have a good sewing machine."

And that was the beginning of the end.

I discovered Facebook groups for patterns & fabrics, and that was that.

The first Facebook Group I joined was Patterns for Pirates where I discovered Peglegs!.

I love pirates, and Peglegs is a cool name, so I decided that would be my first pair of leggings. 



I had some stretchy thin fabric of sorts I bought a boatload of when Fabricland in town closed down, so tested out my first leggings with that, so I didn't screw up with the beautiful Black Rabbit fabric I ordered from British Columbia.

Black Rabbit Fabrics - I used the two bottom left Black & Teal striped fabrics for leggings!



First step was printing out the pattern - patterns these days all seem to be PDF's, and you print them out at home (or any printing place), stick them together with tape like a puzzle, and cut out the pattern!  


There is a layout on one of the instruction pages, so you don't have to be good at puzzles - just matching numbers. If you can't match numbers, go back to school and try again. 

The Peglegs pattern has a sizing guide, and I fit between two sizes, thus I created a gentle line from one size to the next to make it look natural, hoping I measured right and that they would fit without giving me camel toe or have any unsightly bulges.  

The pattern also indicates the most suitable fabrics - and the Facebook Group has a lot of support and help from the pattern maker and those of us who love P4P patterns and have flubbed so future people don't have to! 

It took me less than two hours to cut the fabric and finish my first pair of leggings. They were slightly snug at the waist, I had to redo the waistband twice before I got it right. I ended up switching the waistband fabric to my newly arrived Black Rabbit 95% Cotton/5% Lycra fabric, and it gave the stretch and support the band required.  

Due to the thin fabric, these are perfect for underneath dresses and skirts - I wouldn't wear them out as leggings pants, even with a tunic length top. 
 
Ta da!
 
 

So, learning from me: 

a) Follow the directions. Don't deviate unless you have experience with the pattern and are good at knowing how things will fit together.  

b) Have the right fabric for the right fit and piece you are sewing.  

c) Leggings are freaking simple to make! And SO comfortable. I now live in them outside of work. I have been assimilated. 

Thank goodness I work from home Fridays now, as I can now wear leggings instead of Jeans, which are not leggings.  

I had NO idea how many variations of fabrics there were beyond 100% cotton.  


I never really cared before.  


Despite some roller coasting with my first real-live wardrobe piece, it began my disdain for unfit store-bought clothing, and love for fabrics and unique patterns that I could MAKE fit my body in a good way.  

My enjoyment for the pattern, the ease to which it was written, and being jealous of the nice Cocoon Cardigan - SO me, and so pretty.  

That's another day and another blog!