Friday, June 15, 2012

Summer PJs

I bought the original One Yard Wonders as soon as it came out and regularly combed through the patterns for the ones that I wanted to make. However, until recently I had not made a single pattern. Earlier this year I made two versions of the yoga mat bag--one mostly as written (including the erroneous instruction for the base to be 16.5 inches in diameter) and one with a few changes (a pocket, placement of the strap). In planning my next projects I came across the 101 One Yard Wonders Sew Along at Pink Chalk Studios, which made me look at some of the patterns differently and offered insight into the projects. I liked the idea of the Perfect Fit Sleep Shorts paired with the Summer Nightie since I am more of a shorts sleeper than a nightie sleeper.

The instructions for drafting the shorts are fairly straight-forward, although I was not 100% sure what the rise was (the distance from the waist to the crotch seam--different on the front and the back) or if I was measuring it correctly. The resulting pattern is a little boxy, but it works. It would have worked better if I had paid more attention when laying out the pattern pieces as I ended up with two of the same front pieces instead of mirror images. This problem was compounded when I assumed I had cut the back piece incorrectly and corrected that piece by adding on the crotch piece. Then when I sewed my leg together I ended up with two of the same legs! To fix that problem I sewed the legs together with the crotch seam not aligned and adjusted to make the pieces even out. The result looks and fits fine, but it could be better. I sewed a little button on the front so I would know which side I intended to be the front.

Next time I will add a curve to the back pieces for a better fit and lower the waist as I typically don't wear my PJs at my natural waist.

Using a coordinating fabric I then made the Summer Nightie using fabric from the shorts as bias tape. This came out super cute and I didn't have too many problems following the directions for drafting the skirt of the nightie. A couple of words of advice:
  • If you are going to wear this as a nightie, you might want to add a few inches to the bottom. You may not be able to do this with one yard so consider using coordinating fabrics or using a larger piece of fabric from your stash.
  • The triangles for the top are pretty small. I am a B cup, maybe a B+, and I cut out the largest size. It works, but next time I might make the triangles a bit bigger. Size up! If you are bustier, you can easily trace the triangles larger.
  • The casing instructions are fiddly. I would recommend either making the casing first, then sewing the triangles to the top or sizing the front down to fit your underbust size and shirring the back.
I plan on using the shorts pattern as a basis for making full-length PJ bottoms with the above adjustments. If I make the nightie again I might actually make it shorter to make it more of a top.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wiksten squared

There's been radio silence the past few weeks as the school year has wound down, but my sewing machine has continued to hum. At the end of every year, when the testing is done, the art history class holds an event dubbed the Art History Olympics, a contest of intellectual prowess and artistic interpretation. Among the competitions are building famous pieces of architecture from memory using graham crackers, marshmallows, and cruciferous vegetables; The Price is Right with recently sold famous works of art; and an art fashion show where students act out pieces of art.

As I have been joining an esteemed panel of judges (other teachers) for a few years now, I decided this year I would join in with an art themed outfit. Since I had been obsessed with Jay McCarroll's Drop Cloth fabric from his Habitat line and stalking the Wiksten tank obsessively, I thought I would combine the two. I decided this with less than a week to make the top and I knew that I would have to, for the first time in my sewing life, make a muslin.

Armed with the knowledge mined from Flickr, I knew to cut out the size that matched my bust so I cut out the medium size using a recycled sheet (this sheet is endless, yo, I cannot get rid of this fabric). The initial result looked good, but needed some tweaking. I went and paid a visit to A Verb for Keeping Warm, where Kristine suggested that I take up the straps so that the seam fell behind my ears and for the excess fabric I was getting on the back neck I should take the back down a smidge. AVFKW had the Drop Cloth fabric in blue, which is exactly what I wanted, so I got 1.75 yards.

I got home, took up the straps and lowered the back. I liked it better, so I bound the neck as practice. One other thing that bothered me was how it sat on my backside. It sort of rode up, so I wanted to widen the bottom a little. I then transferred the following alterations to the pattern and redrafted it:
  • Trim .5 inch off front strap
  • Trim 1 inch off back strap & neck
  • Grade back down another .5 at deepest
  • Increase back sides by .5 inches starting at 7 inches from the bottom
  • Cut neck and armhole binding down by 1.5 
I cut out the pattern pieces on Monday night, sewed Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning et voila! I had something to wear to the Art History Olympics and a wearable muslin. 

I did end up cutting the neck down a smidge more, which is useful information since I just cut out fabric for a third Wiksten that will have a button band down the back and have two pockets on the bottom of the tank instead of one at the top. While this pattern seems simple, it is a great base to start from and a perfect pattern to practice making alterations with. I also think it could be a great gift if you have the general idea what size someone is especially since it works up super fast!