Super Stretchy

I have just participated in KCWC, but in the can't-quite-fully-commit way that all my sewing seems to be done these days.  I managed about 4 hours of sewing.  Not daily.  Not keeping the "wild things" theme.

I sewed several pairs of what we used to call "bike tights".  "Skins" is a brand of sports clothing that is covet-able amongst children at the moment.  At upwards of $65 a pair, they seem like pretty pricy bike tights to me.  My boys each have one pair, and they wear them so often that I think that they get washed at less than hygienic frequency.  They get worn under shorts for football (all codes) and under looser shorts for gymnastics.

Last time I was able to order fabrics from Eclipse textiles, I ordered some Atlanta Plus, which feels like a pretty similar fabric to me (I don't currently have a supplier for small quantities of fabric from Eclipse...if you know of one, please put their details in the comments).

The first pair were a straight forward Jalie 2563.

For the next pair, I was inspired by the Fehr Trade Steeplechase leggings to make a pair with no inseam.  I did this by cutting a curvy side seam into Jalie 2796 compression shorts and sticking the 2 pieces back together at the in-seam.  In concept, this worked well.  In reality, none of my kids fit this pattern very well, saying that they are too tight in the bum and too loose in the legs.  Shame, as they look really good on.  I will have to apply that same concept to a different legging pattern.

For the third pair, I man-i-fied Jalie 2563, by cutting out a crotch panel and following my own tutorial to create more room in the crotch for the boy bits.  That is the pattern piece on the left most in the photo below.

And now for the super stretchy bit.  Nearly 2 years ago, I replaced my bottom of the line Janome overlocker with a Bernina 1150 MDA.  The Bernina has a much nicer looking stitch, but I have found that I am more likely to end up with holes or stitching coming apart on my close fitting lycra gear, (including a set of dance costumes that I made :(  ).  I went back to the manual this time, to see that I had chosen the optimal stitch setting, and discovered a 3 thread super stretch setting.  This stitch uses both the needle threads, so at first glance, it looks like a 4 thread stitch.  There is no upper looper thread.  Instead, an upper looper converter accessory is attached, so that the upper looper thread no longer carries thread and the lower looper thread is diverted so that loops are formed.  All news to me.  I have really pulled on the length of these seams, and they have not broken threads.  I thought that this was worth mentioning, for other self taught sewers that may have not picked up on this detail in their manual :).

And the verdict.  My younger son is happy to wear the first pair.  My daughter has claimed the second pair, after they were rejected by my older son...but she says they are a bit tight, so we will have see if she wears them.  The third pair look really good on my older son, but he is not keen to wear them, as they are not "skins".  Maybe when I show him the list of jobs required to earn enough money for skins, he will come around??  Not sure.  Might have to keep them for the younger son to grow into.


Stylearc Dixie

I think my endless summer might have finally come to an end.  I know that many others may not find Queensland weather to be cold, but this week is the coldest I have been in years.  I can't remember when I last wore jeans and I actually went running in capri length leggings this week.  This means that I can change the way I think about what I wear, and therefore what I sew.

First up, I have sewn a Stylearc Dixie woven top.

The pattern illustration is colour-blocked, although I have chosen different colour blocking for my combination of fabrics.
  • My yoke is made from a Japanese fabric that I bought in Japan several years ago.  I'm not sure what this fabric is called, but it seemed terribly expensive for a little square and has a crepe-y sort of texture.
  • For the back and neck binding I have used a linen from Tessuti (Turquoise Flip). I haven't sewn with linen for a long time and I really enjoyed working with this fabric.  I did use a different method of applying the binding than the pattern instructions suggest.  I made bias binding with folds on each edge using a bias-binder thingy-ma-jig.  I sewed in the line of one fold, as I attached the binding to the inside of the top.  Then I folded the binding in half, with the other folded edge turned under and top-stitched from the outside.
  • The front body and sleeves are made from a crinkle woven remnant from The Fabric Store.  The crinkles mean that the fabric stretches out quite a bit with movement.  I lined the front body with a lightweight cotton, as it was a bit sheer on its own.  I cut the hem of the lining shorter and straight across.

The line drawing describes the sleeves as 3/4, but the illustration and pattern show elbow length sleeves.  My sleeves look a lot fuller and floppier than the illustration because of my fabric choice.  The crinkle fabric stretches out when I move my arm.  Re-wetting the fabric shrinks the crinkles back in, so the sleeves will come back to shape each wash.  Initially I used the blue linen for the sleeves, decorated with trims to match the yoke.  They were very elaborate, but I found these sleeves way too restrictive.  I knew that restrictive sleeves would stop me wearing the top, so I ripped them out and put in the crinkle sleeves, which don't look as smart but are infinitely more comfortable.

The pattern has a curved hem.  The instructions given are for a split hem, which did confuse me for a while.  I contacted Stylearc and they are going to change these instructions.  I just thought I would mention it as no other reviewer has mentioned this and I thought I was misunderstanding the instructions for a bit. 

The back has both horizontal and vertical seaming, which is a nice detail and allows for easy alterations for more back shaping (although I didn't think to do this until I finished all my top-stitching).  The neck closes with a button and loop.

So does this mean I need to change the name of my blog?  I'll have to think about it.


Blue Ponte Skirt

There seems to be some sort of disconnect between the person I think I am (avid sewer, can whip a few new garments to spruce up the wardrobe each season) and the person I actually am (person with a large sewing space and expanding fabric stash who only sews easy projects in shorts bursts of activity during the school holidays).

I guess the solution is to like wearing clothes of simple design and simpler construction.  Which this skirt is.

I used the same patrones pattern as this skirt, added as much length as my remnant would allow, eliminated the back darts and extended upwards from the waistline to accommodate a sewn-in elastic waistband.

Quick sew.  Quick blog post.


Steeplechase leggings

I have noted that all the other pattern testers blogging about their Steeplechase leggings  have very sporty shots of their leggings in action.  It was so hot here when I was testing this pattern that I could only wear shorts to run in.  I am still only wearing shorts and can't bear to wearing leggings of any length.  So I thought I would make a winter version of this pattern....a lounging pair with yoga style waistband.  My only other yoga style pants are so old and worn they are hardly fit to wear.  Because it is still so hot here, I have only put my steeplechase leggings on long enough to take photos for Melissa...so these are the photos you get as well...don't compare me to all those other sporty models popping up in the blogosphere!

I was in such a hurry when sewing these that I made all sorts of mistakes.  Well, not at first.  First, I made all my marks, because the pattern pieces are rather unusually shaped, and sewed each leg together correctly.  Only then, I assumed that I had sewing one leg inside out (which I hadn't), so I cut the stitching off (it was overlocked), losing all my marks and proceeded to sew the leg inside out for real.  Then I sewed both legs together, only to discover one leg faced forwards and the other backwards.  So I cut the stitching off again and resewed it all correctly.  Then I put the waistband on back to front, as you can see.  This is just a lounging-at-home version so I have left it.

The big deal with this pattern is that there is no inner leg seam.  I don't generally have a problem with legs chafing, so this didn't necessarily excite me as a pattern feature...only then when I put them on, I was genuinely surprised at how comfortable they were, even in my soy-bamboo-earth motherish fabric that doesn't have especially great stretch or recovery. So, come winter, I will make a running version of this pattern, with the nifty back pocket.

And speaking of running, I have just completed my fastest-5k program (well, a slightly modified version).  I knocked 3 minutes off my 5k time and this week, for the first time ever, I am not the slowest runner in my running club :)


A Second Stylearc Amber

...and some more photos from my weekend in Sydney. 

For this version of the Stylearc Amber top, I kept more to the colour blocking suggested by the pattern. 

The main fabric is a mesh woven fabric, with little pears all over it.  The sleeves are a dark chambray.  I have used this fabric for 2 projects now, each before using it for its intended purpose...hopefully I still have enough for the original project.  The strip and external facing are leftovers from a cotton camisole I made last year.