Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Fancy Tiger Sailor Top + Pattern Giveaway

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I remember one time in maybe 2009 when my then co-worker Rhea called me over to the computer and showed me the blog of a craft store in Denver called Fancy Tiger. "THIS," she said, "THIS is how you do a craft store." Since then I've spent many an internet minute pining, ogling and swooning over Fancy Tiger's yarn, fabric, window displays and general inspiring awesomeness of businessladies Jaime and Amber.

Fancy Tiger Sailor Top

So needless to say I'm happy to be today's stop on the blog tour for their first garment pattern, the Fancy Tiger Sailor Top. The pattern is available in print and PDF form, AND it's being released as a Creativebug video, so you can see Jaime and Amber in action!

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The Sailor Top is a raglan sleeve top with a gathered neckline and sleeves. Bust size range goes from 32-45". The construction is pretty straightforward, and this little number whips up in just a couple of hours. The pattern has instructions meant to be helpful for beginners. I can see this as a good first or second garment for newbie sewists, but even for those with a bit more chops it would make such a pretty silk or rayon blouse.

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The fabric I used is a beautiful and dreamy voile that I got from a local shop called Textile Fabrics. I actually bought it when I came to Nashville spontaneously for a weekend when I was thinking about moving here. The selvage says "Ascher Studio."

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Because the voile is slightly sheer I decided to do french seams everywhere. [And then I was reeeeaaally excited to take a sheer-garment-against-sunlit-window picture.]

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I have decided that raglan sleeves are my current favorite thing. They are just so easy to put together and I find the lines really flattering. The Sailor Top sleeves are finished with a facing, which I really like. I'm weird about sleeves [usually just in my own head, but now you all know] and hate sleeves that are too small/tight/dainty because I feel like a more substantial sleeve balances out my arms. And the wide faced hem does that!

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I'm wearing my Sailor Top tucked into a Colette Mabel Skirt. I did take a few pictures with jeans on in case you're wondering what it looks like untucked.

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The hem is pretty substantial to match the sleeve facings, which I like. I do love a good'n'chunky hem.

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I cut the size small. I didn't do a muslin, and when I tried it on before I stitched down the yoke facing, the back yoke was gaping on me. This is a common thing for me because I have narrow shoulders, especially with something like this that's more straight across and boatneck-ish.

So I did a quick little fix to solve the problem, which you really can't see because of the print. I took two little tucks in the back yoke. They're kind of like little mini fisheye darts across the yoke and yoke facing. Here's what they looked like before I sewed them:

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They totally snugged up the back yoke for me! I tried to get a picture of them on the finished shirt, and you can really only see it because the fabric marker ink is still there [haha]:

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So now on to the giveaway...one lucky ready will get a free PDF copy of the pattern! Just leave a comment telling me what kind of fabric you're envisioning using for your Sailor Top. Make sure your email address is either in your commenter profile or in your comment. Contest is open until midnight EST Oct 31.

If you'd like to see some other renditions of the Sailor Top - and have other chances to win the pattern! - here's the rest of the blog tour dates and destinations:


Monday, October 27th - A Verb for Keeping Warm
Tuesday, October 28th - Miss Make
Wednesday, October 29th - Workroom/Make Something
Thursday, October 30th - Sew Bon
Friday, October 31st - Very Shannon

Disclaimer: I received the PDF pattern for free in return for participating in the blog tour. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

I'm teaching at The Sewing Party!

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By now you've probably heard at least a little bit about The Sewing Party. [Well, whether you have or not, get ready because I'm gonna tell you about it.]

The Sewing Party is the first ever online DIY conference. What does that mean exactly? It means that 'attendees' get access to 30+ educational videos that cover everything from garment construction to bra making to cosplay costumes to buying a sewing machine. The main event will be Saturday, November 8th. On that day, all the videos will go live on The Sewing Party's website. Teachers will be on hand throughout the day for live chatting to answer questions, and you can also shop in virtual vendor booths and interact with other sewists.

Attendees will then have access to all the content for 90 days, since obviously it would be hard to watch 30 different classes in one day [and actually impossible unless you have to power to stop time].  Tickets are $40.

I will be teaching two of the classes. The first one is called Knits 101, and it's all about how to sew knits with your regular machine. All attendees will get a free PDF pattern along with the class called the Morgan Tee, which is a fun and easy slouchy t-shirt that will help reinforce the material we learn.

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[I've been wearing Morgan Tees in a few of my posts recently if you want to check them out! The horse tee and the buffalo plaid tee are both Morgans.]

The second class I'm teaching is called 6 Essential Sewing skills, and it covers some basic stuff that is useful for lots and lots of different projects. If you're reading my blog because you already sew then you probably know most of the things in there, but it still could be useful for brushing up or if the material is new to you!

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Like I said, there are many other video classes you can watch, so be sure to check out the classes page if you're interested. And if you want a little preview, they're going to start releasing trailers of some of the classes soon on The Sewing Party Facebook and Instagram pages.

Lauren of Lladybird and Nancy who owns The Fabric Studio are also both Sewing Party teachers, and since we're all here in Nashville we shot our videos on the same day in Nancy's space. Here are some behind the scenes photos!

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I also had another shoot day in a different place, a set at the Singer/Viking/Pfaff offices outside Nashville.

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You can sign up for The Sewing Party all the way up until the day before. I can't wait to see everyone else's videos, and to listen to myself talk on camera NOTTTTTT!!!!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Travel Sewing Progress - Cooper Bag (and a Mabel Skirt)

Walden (Colette) Cooper Bag

I've been working like a maniac to get ready for my trip. Most of it has been legitimate things like the finishing of work assignments and the arrangement of flora/fauna care. But also some of it has been deliciously stressful self-imposed project deadlines. One of those things was the Colette [Walden] Cooper Bag.

Walden (Colette) Cooper Bag

I know the Cooper was mentioned as almost an afterthought on my travel sewing plans post, but it got bumped up on the list for a few reasons. First, I definitely need a day bag when I'm there that's big enough for things like my camera. The only bags I have like that right now are regular backpacks and big open tote bags, neither of which are the most secure things to carry around in crowded touristy places. Second, the wonderful and local The Fabric Studio has hard copies of the pattern, so I didn't have to print and tape together the PDF. [This one probably wouldn't have been that bad to tape together, but I just didn't feel like I had the time.]

The final thing that convinced me to pull the trigger was that there was both a messenger bag and a backpack view. I wanted messenger bag capabilities for those crowded places so my stuff was in front of me. But I also didn't want to commit to just messenger bag, because my shoulder gets tired and achy wearing one all day, and I think backpacks are way more comfortable. So even though they were separate views, I thought...maybe I could combine them?

So I combined them!

I can wear it as a messenger bag when I feel like I need to.

Walden (Colette) Cooper Bag

But for when I get sick of messenger and want backpack, I made the shoulder strap removable with swivel snaps, so I can take it off. It can also be tucked down under the top flap. Either way, it then becomes - backpack!

Walden (Colette) Cooper Bag

I wish I could go so far as to say it was convertible, but I can't really. When it's a messenger bag the backpack straps are still there, just kinda dangling. They don't really get in the way, but I'd love to make another one and figure out how to make it truly convertible. Like maybe they could unsnap and be snapped on somewhere else to go from backpack straps to shoulder straps.

But this was not the time for major experimentation.

I did do a lot of smaller experimentation though, which I am about to bore you to tears with! First, the fabric details:

Outer: gray canvas duck from JoAnn
Flap: Robert Kaufman Chamonix moleskin [scraps from my bomber jacket]
Webbing: 1.5" cotton webbing from JoAnn
Hardware: The Buckle Guy [really good for hardware, has tons of swivel snaps and rings and slides, check them out!] and JoAnn [last minute D-ring crisis, and rivets which are in the leather aisle BTW]
Lining: cat corduroy, gifted from a friend!
Other: cotton batting for padding, Pellon 809 in flap

Walden (Colette) Cooper Bag

So most obviously, to do the messenger/backpack duo I just added the messenger bag strap to the backpack view. The bag parts for both are nearly identical, they just have different straps.

The bottom panel that you see on the front is supposed to be an open exterior pocket, but I knew I wasn't going to put anything in there because it would fall out/get stolen, so I skipped the pocket. But I still added the panel because I thought maybe it added strength. Or something. I just stitched it down along the top.

Walden (Colette) Cooper Bag

I did include the top exterior pocket, which is only visible when the flap is up. Again I probably won't use it, maybe for chapstick or something, but I like how it looked. But then, as I was turning the whole thing right side out, I was yanking on the pocket, quite stupidly, and I actually half pulled it out on one side. It's held down by topstitching, so the only thing to do was rip out a little bit of the topstitching and redo it, which was really hard once the bag was all together and impossible to do without it being noticeable. So yeah, don't pull on the pocket when you're turning it!

Walden (Colette) Cooper Bag

I also added a zipper to the inside. Although the flap is pretty big and secured with magnetic snaps, I still wanted to make sure my stuff was safe. I used a 14" separating sport zipper and sewed each side in the middle of two 1.5" wide strips of lining fabric. Then I sewed some little tubes and folded/stitched them around each end of the zipper. I serged the raw edges and them stitched them to each side of the lining 2"-ish down from the top edge.

Walden (Colette) Cooper Bag

It worked pretty well, except that I should have used a 12" zipper. It's too long for the space. It was fine when the lining was flat but I didn't account for the way the webbing tabs make the lining form a square shape at each end. It only affects functionality a little bit, it's mostly just mildly irritating. You know, one of those things. There's probably a tutorial somewhere that would have told me this, but NO TIME FOR THAT!

Yup, too long:

Walden (Colette) Cooper Bag

Here's the inside - LOOK AT THE LINING! This is an amazing corduroy cat print fabric that my friend and past co-worker Rebecca gave to me. Isn't it so cute?? I only had a yard, otherwise it would have already been pants or something. [I actually did consider shorts, but I think this is a better application.] It's so soft and snuggly!

Walden (Colette) Cooper Bag

Inside I made one of the pockets a zipper pocket so that I have a place for the important stuff.

I was also excited to use the cat fabric because of Erin's Cat Lady Sewing Challenge on Miss Crayola Creepy! Basically it involves sewing something with cats on it during the month of October. I think it was supposed to be a garment, but I say these cats meet at least half the challenge!

Now let's talk about the back. I added some padding to the back panel, because I was looking at a backpack I had and realized, oh yes, all backpacks are padded there.

Walden (Colette) Cooper Bag

After the straps were attached to the back piece, I put two layers of batting behind it and did a little quilting to attach it. It would probably be even better to use a really thin piece of foam, but I didn't have a really thin piece of foam. I did, however, have copious amounts of batting scraps. Years of them. I always get really excited when I can use them.

And now on to the straps. The pattern just has you use webbing, but I really wanted legit backpack straps. I basically copied the straps from my handy dandy Target backpack.

Walden (Colette) Cooper Bag

There are two layers of batting sandwiched in between two layers of the outer fabric [again, foam would probably be better]. I cut the fabric on the bias because I did one first on grain and it was kinking up in a MOST unattractive way when worn. I sewed two lines down the middle and trimmed the straps down to 2.5" x 13.5", then rounded one end. Then I put bias tape around the edges and topstitched it down. I attached a webbing tab with a metal slide, then to that attached a piece of webbing with an adjustable D-ring situation. Then I followed the instructions to attach each end.

Walden (Colette) Cooper Bag

Last thing to talk about is the flap. I interfaced the outer flap with Pellon 809, which is super stiff. The moleskin was pre washed and soft and I didn't want it to be too floppy. For the topstitching, first I tried to sew two separate lines but it looked godawful so I ripped it out. Then I used a twin needle, which was great for being even except that I didn't think about how it would look from the other side, which is not the greatest. I also didn't think about how when I punched the hole for the rivets, it would cut the bobbin thread of the twin needle, and unravel it. So I had to repair more topstitching. Not too noticeable to a random person, but still makes me grrrr.

Walden (Colette) Cooper Bag

Overall I'm SO happy with this bag! I can't want to use it. The process wasn't difficult as far as knowing what the steps were, but there were a few times when my machine just couldn't sew through something. I was realllly wishing I had some kind of mega industrial machine when I was sewing the lining and exterior around the top. And to make matters worse, my Pfaff is having issues [I think I messed up the bobbin tension because I was fiddling with it, whoops] so I had to use my Singer, which is just so weak when it comes to heavy duty fabrics.

Walden (Colette) Cooper Bag

And oh, by the way, what skirt is that I'm wearing? It's an previously unblogged Mabel skirt that I'm still not sure about. I never know what to wear it with. I tried tucking tshirts in but they showed through all lumpy and bumpy. It's also kind of outside my normal style comfort zone.

Then today it was cold and I put on tights and suddenly realized - CONTROL TOP SOLVES EVERYTHING. If you tuck the t-shirt inside the control top, the lumps and bumps get smooshed away.

Walden (Colette) Cooper Bag

I wasn't going to take any skirts on my trip but maybe now I will? As long as I remember the control top tights too...

Monday, October 13, 2014

How do you feel about affiliate links?

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No finished make today, sorry! I don't do this very often, but I wanted to have a discussion post about a steadily growing phenomenon - affiliate links.

In case you don't know, an affiliate link is a special link that keeps track of how many people buy something after clicking on it. The person who posts the link gets a small commission if someone buys the product after getting to the page from the affiliate link. Affiliate links usually have certain language/words in the URL [like the word 'affiliate']. Otherwise, they just look like a regular link. [Some people do use TinyURL or a similar service to get rid of that language in the link so that the affiliate part is less obvious.]

I've recently gotten a few offers from very small companies that have their own affiliate programs. One of them is for a sewing pattern, so it's something I post about all the time anyway. But people seem to have a lot of negative opinions about affiliate links, so I wanted to do a sort of informal poll about them.

Here's my opinion: As long as the link is something related to what the blogger usually posts about, and as long as it is something they are genuinely recommending [at least as far as I can tell], I don't have a problem with it. To me, it doesn't change the interaction. If someone provides a link to something, I will click on it if I am interested. It is then my choice to buy or not to buy. Whether or not someone is getting compensated for my my click doesn't bother me, because affiliate or non-affiliate, the conditions, actions and choices on my end are the exactly the same.

I also understand that there are a lot of factors that go into the way an affiliate link feels to a reader - level of disclosure, perceived deception, how off-topic it is. Again, I know the opinions are varied, and I'd love to hear what your thoughts are, whatever they are! Why do you hate them? Why do you love them? Why do you not care at all? Comment away!

ETA: Thank you everyone so much for commenting! I'm always interested to hear people's thoughts on things like this and I'm glad so many of you chimed in.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Ikat Emery Dress and the Tale of the Missing Bodice

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Here, against the picturesque backdrop of my neighbor's collection of broken lawnmowers, is a navy ikat Emery Dress.

My first Emery was a cute stripey one I made about a year ago when Christine first released the pattern. I really love it, but sadly the fabric is a huge pain to iron, so it doesn't get worn very often. This, I assure you, is a tragedy, because it really is very cute. I think that this one will be a little more lazy-launderess friendly. It's made out of a light but sturdy navy ikat from The Fabric Studio.

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I thought that I had a bodice piece with my changes on it from the first time around. I really thought I did. But when I opened my Emery ziploc bag, there was none to be found. The only one in there was one without any alterations. So maybe I was mistaken?

Or...maybe I'll just pretend to forget I had done any alterations and forge ahead like nothing's wrong? Yes, yes, let's go with that.

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I was pretty sure that I had lowered the bust darts originally, and a simple fit with the pattern tissue confirmed this. I measured how far down I wanted to move the dart, then just literally hacked it out of the paper and retaped it lower. Not a pretty sight, but it worked.

So after that I got to it, and as I was plugging along everything was going smoothly, except...the bodice was looking kinda short. Hm. Oh no, this is really short. I don't remember the last one being so short.

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Oh wait, it's all coming back to me now. Yes. I had originally lengthened the bodice by 1.5" or so.

Well then, I guess...WAISTBAND!

My compensation waistband fixed the problem pretty well, although I may have made it just a touch too wide because now there's a bit of extra fabric right above the waist. But if I have really good posture it's hard to tell.

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I've talked before of my love for crazy linings. For this one I used an Anna Maria Horner voile that I had in my stash. Boom! Pow!

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I do love the skirt on the Emery, I know it's a good ol' basic gathered skirt but it's the perfectly right proportion or something because I always like how it turns out. You can also slap it on just about any bodice, something I'll be showing you for my next finished garment post once I get around to taking some pictures.

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So despite the missing bodice and my terrible sewing memory, this ended up okay. Woohoo! And at least now it's been recorded on the interwebs in case I forget again.

Have a lovely week, and I hope you're enjoying the change of seasons wherever you are!

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