Tag Archives: geometric

Completed: McCall’s 6952, Peru-Style!

14 Jul

I’m so happy that I finally got to use this fabric!

McCall's 6952

This piece of lovely came aaaall the way from Peru, when I was there for 2 weeks last year. Coming into the country with only a backpack meant I had to be really careful about what I bought and brought home (I did end up buying a small bag to carry some stuff back. And I wore my new alpaca blanket like a cape for the flight home. NO REGRETS), including fabric. Not that there were a lot of places to buy fabric in Peru, at least not what I came across. Gamarra is a big garment district that did come up in my searches, but everyone I spoke to said it would be really dangerous for me to go. Our host in Lima took me to a small strip of fabric stores during our last few days there – sorry, I’m not sure where it was exactly or what the stores were called! Anyway, I knew I could really only justify buying one piece, and this one definitely jumped out at me.

Even just buying the fabric was an adventure. The store we went into didn’t have any people working who spoke English, and my Spanish is mostly limited to being able to say hello and ask where the bathroom is 🙂 (and our host didn’t speak English either! She was seriously a trooper and treated us to such a nice time, even with the language barrier) I eventually was able to ask for, find, and buy 1.5m of this fabric. It’s a double georgette, some sort of silk blend (definitely with some acrylic, based on my burn test). I thought the print was really pretty and certainly have never seen anything like it at the stores here in America! Plus, it reminds me of all the beautiful tiles I saw while walking around Iquitos. It’s a lovely piece of fabric and a perfect reminder of my time in Peru. With all that at stake, though, it did take me over a year to figure out what to sew it into 🙂 Especially since I had such a small piece!

McCall's 6952

McCall's 6952

I have enjoyed wearing my green silk version of McCall’s 6952, so I decided to use that pattern again for this dress! This time, I made the version with the plain neckline and back cutout, to mimic the geometric pattern on the fabric. I used blue silk crepe from my stash to do the back contrast (the same fabric I used to make this dress, actually); it’s not a perfect match but it’s close enough!

McCall's 6952

Cutting the pattern pieces was a BEAST. After I’d already had my heart set on using *this* pattern with *this* fabric, and after I’d already cut a couple of pieces… I realized there was a very strong line in the print that would need to be matched. Since the pattern has Princess seams – both front and back – that meant a lot of pattern Tetris to get everything to line up. I ended up cutting everything on the single layer, which is a really good way to squeeze out every last drop of your yardage. Even with that, I still couldn’t get all the lines to match up across every seam – specifically, when it came to the side seams, decisions had to be made. I figured the princess seams were more important than the side seams, so I let those go a little haywire. Honestly, I doubt anyone would even notice that the print doesn’t match across the side seams – but I wanted to do it right, even if I’m the only person who sees it. That’s why I sew. I like the challenge, even if it makes my eyes cross and gives me a reason to drink at the end of the night 🙂

McCall's 6952

McCall's 6952

Speaking of challenges, the construction of this dress had it’s fair share of those, too! Since I already went the extra mile with the cutting and print-matching, I continued that trend and gave the inside of the dress the respect it deserved. Lots of French seams all over the inside of this garment, which are both strong and beautiful. Since the fabric had a fairly high synthetic content, it was a little difficult to press – I just used high heat (my iron has a silicone shoe, which acts as a press cloth and prevents scorching on stuff liek this) and then held everything down with my clapper while it cooled, which gave me a nice sharp press. Instead of using the facing pieces to finish the arm holes and neckline, I used bias facing that I made with the silk crepe, which I just find to be a more refined finish (plus, I wasn’t sure how to finish that facing edge without there being a lump across my chest – the fabric frays too much to use pinking shears, and a serged or turned under edge would be too bulky for this lightweight fabric).

McCall's 6952

I wasn’t sure how the back cutout was gonna work – I didn’t do a muslin (unless you count that green silk version – but it had a plain back, so it was only a half-assed muslin ya know), so things were pretty up in the air as far as whether this would work out or if it would be a gaping mess in the back. (My tip is to always have a Plan B should things not work out – in my case, uhhh, this would make a fabulous skirt! haha!) It actually turned out pretty nice, though, so I’m happy about that! The back piece is interfaced to give it some strength and smoothness, and also faced so the inside is clean and pretty. I think random cutouts are starting to not be trendy anymore, but I don’t care. I think it’s fun. LOOK AT MY BACK U GUYS.

McCall's 6952

McCall's 6952

The other change I made was the elastic at the waist. The pattern calls for 1/4″ elastic, applied in a casing. I like the 1/4″ elastic ok, but it doesn’t allow for a belt to sit very well over it (and I am not a huge fan of how narrow elastic waists look, at least on me). I used a 3/4″ elastic on this dress instead, which meant I had to widen the casing that it goes in (not a problem; it’s just bias strips. Which, again, I made myself – out of that blue silk crepe), but that’s about it. I also topstitched right through the middle of the elastic, which keeps it from twisting around and also just looks cool. I am thinking the waistline could be a hair lower, but this is good enough. I ain’t ripping that shit out!

McCall's 6952

McCall's 6952

McCall's 6952

Anyway, that’s all for this little dress! It’s pretty casual, which I love, and the pattern is simple enough that all the focus is really on that awesome fabric (until you see the back cutout and then it’s extra awesome!). I try not to hoard my special fabrics any longer than it takes to decide on a project for them, simply because them sitting on the shelf doesn’t exactly give me a lot of joy. There is, however, joy in wearing said fabric. Every time I wear this dress, I think about those awesome 2 weeks I had in Peru.

McCall's 6952

Advertisements

Completed: The Watson Bikini

11 May

I don’t know about where y’all are, but swimsuit season is BASICALLY upon us over here. Sure, they haven’t opened the pools – yet (that always happens on Memorial Day weekend, coincidentally right around my birthday as well. Pool parties every year for this kid!) – but it’s only a matter of time. Plus, I want to be ready when the water is warm – and not be scrambling to finish something the night before I hit the pool. Last-minute sewing is for people who work well under pressure. Which is not me.

Watson Bikini

So, anyway, I made a bikini! Yeah!!!

Watson Bikini

If this pattern looks familiar, it’s because I’ve made it before (not to mention it’s made some ROUNDS ’round the internet). It’s not a swimsuit pattern, per se – it’s actually a lingerie pattern. This here is the Watson Bra & Bikini pattern from Cloth Habit, modified into the swimsuit you see here. And yes, I realize that these pictures basically mean y’all are seeing me in lingerie. Whatever.

Watson Bikini

Watson Bikini

I have made this pattern before a couple of times (see one and two), so I knew I was good with the fit and I had strong feelings that this pattern would work equally well as swimwear with a few modifications. It was just a matter of finding a good swimwear lycra and figuring out how to stabilize that cradle in a way that wouldn’t deteriorate in chlorine and salt water.

Watson Bikini

Watson Bikini

Since I’ve gone into detail about the making of this pattern before, I won’t talk too much about the sizing or construction outside of making it into swimwear. I sewed my regular size – the 30D – and the fit was good except a did have a bit of gaping right between the side of the cup and the underarm. I think it has more to do with my elastic application – it might not have been stretched enough – but it was on both sides so I dunno. It may have been due to the stretch of my fabric, but the rest of the top fits great and the 4 way stretch is similar to the millskin I used for my first Watson. Anyway, I fixed it by taking in a dart and topstitching it down (at this point, the swimsuit was complete so there was nooo way I was unpicking all that shit haha). Not the most elegant solution, but the print is super busy so you can’t really see it, plus it’s right at my armpit. If anyone is looking and notices that shit, we’ve got bigger problems on our hands.

Other than that, the fit was good! I add a little bit of extra to the bottoms – about 1/2″ extended out from the back for more butt coverage, and about 1/2″ extended at the top to make them slightly higher. They’re still a little cheeky, but I think it’s pretty cute 🙂

Watson Bikini

Like I said, there were a couple of things that needed to be addressed in order to convert this into proper swimwear. For one, I knew it needed lining (maybe you wear unlined swimsuits, but I don’t!). I cut an extra of every piece out of swimsuit lining, and was able to origami it so that there aren’t any raw edges, except where the cups meet the band. Couldn’t figure that one out, so I just serged the seam. I also needed to change out aaaall that elastic to be swimsuit elastic- the picot and lace edges elastics that you use in lingerie are beautiful, but they aren’t made to hold up to salt water and chlorine (not to mention, they totally make that shit look like a bra). This was easy – I used braided swimsuit elastic and attached it opposite of how you attach lingerie elastic. Meaning, you sew the first swipe on the inside of the garment (I used my serger, but you can zigzag this), and then fold it one more time and zigzag topstitch. I did this everywhere except at the top of the cups, where I sewed it as you normally would for a bra (hadn’t thought that far ahead, whoops).

Watson Bikini

Watson Bikini

Watson Bikini

The strapping at the back band also totally stumped me for about a month. In the pattern, the top of the back band is finished with strapping that extends to go over your shoulders. It’s beautiful, but it’s not really good for swimwear (again, can’t stand up to the elements/chemicals, and – again, looks like lingerie). Of course, you can just finish the top edge with elastic the same way you finish all the other edges – but I liked the look of the strapping, plus, I have a feeling it’s sewn that way to help with the fit. After a bit of thought, I decided to do elastic covered straps and apply them the same way that the strapping is done on a regular bra. I used Ada Spragg’s tutorial on making elastic swimsuit straps (GIRL THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS SHIT), and they turned out pretty nice! I left off the adjustable sliders since the elastic was so thick, but I did keep the little O-rings at the top.

The only downside is that I wasn’t quite precise with my seam allowances, so one strap has a tendency to twist (I’m pretty sure that’s from the elastic inside trying to roll up). It’s annoying, but not enough to make me unpick and start over. We’ll see how I feel after I get back from the beach 😛

Watson Bikini

Watson Bikini

Another thing that needed to be addressed was changing out the hook and eye for something that looks, you know, not like a bra. I used a swimsuit hook and eye – I know it doesn’t match, but it’s all I had on hand and anyway, you can’t really see it when it’s on – and just adjusted the back to fit the hook. I did this after the swimsuit was assembled, but before I attached the straps. There’s a tutorial on how to do this over at Cloth Habit, it’s for a bra, but same concept. For the opposite side, I just folded over the edge and sewed it down to make a tunnel for the hook to go through. Easy!

Watson Bikini

Finally, I had to figure out a way to stabilize the cradle while still making this thing hold up in water. For most lingerie patterns, this might not be a problem – but with this particular pattern, the cradle (the part of the band that attaches to the cups) needs to be stabilized so it does not stretch. The pattern has you use lightweight tricot, but I wasn’t sure if that would deteriorate over time. Instead, I cut two pieces of heavy powermesh running in opposite directions, and stacked them on top of each other with the swimsuit lycra on top and the lining on the bottom. Powermesh is water-friendly (well, so I’ve been told!) and it does a pretty good job of keeping everything stable.

Watson Bikini

The rest of the bikini was as straightforward as making lingerie. All pieces are cut from swimsuit lyrcra and swimsuit lining (other than the powermesh to stablize the cradle), and I included lots of zigzag topstitching to give it a sporty look.

In case you were wondering, my swimsuit lycra is from Spandex House in NYC. I bought it while I was in the Garment District in March. My lining is also from Spandex House, and the elastics I used are from Joann’s. I think the bra rings came off an old bra, and I don’t remember where the swimsuit hook is from. Other than using the serger to attach the elastic, I sewed everything on my sewing machine. Even with me stopping and researching and scratching my head, this shit only took a couple of hours to make. And just like that – I’m ready for the beach! Yay!

Oh, and how ’bout that AWESOME necklace I’m wearing?? I can’t take credit for choosing that – its from Rocksbox, which is a new online service where you rent 3 pieces of jewelry every month, chosen for you by a stylist. You can swap out the jewelry as much as you like during the month, and any pieces you buy are discounted. I’ve been trying it for about a month and it’s really fun – and definitely got me wearing jewelry that I otherwise neverrrr would have picked up. I was given a couple of months free by the company to try it out, but I’m seriously thinking of maintaining the account afterwards because I like this shit waaaay more than I thought I would! It’s only $19 a month, the shipping is free both ways, and I’ve received (and bought :I) some really cool pieces! So there’s that. Anyway, bringing this up now because you can use the code lladybirdxoxo and try your first month of Rocksbox for freeeeee. Who doesn’t like free, amirite? Also, SHINY.

Watson Bikini

Can’t wait to try this bad boy out in the water when we go to the beach in a couple of weeks! Also bonus for having a suit that no one else will be wearing (I used to buy aaaall my suits at Target. Do you know how many Target swimsuits run up and down Santa Rosa Beach? Do you know how many of those said swimsuits look better on the other person than they do on me? The shame.). I have tons more of this lycra – the minimum cut was 1 yard and you really only need like 1/4 yard to make a bikini – so I’m already trying to justify having a fleet of geometric swimsuits. We’ll see!