Tag Archives: knits

Completed: The Summer DVF Wrap Dress

17 Aug

What? Did you think I was going to make it an entire year without busting out this pattern? Ha ha! Forget about it!

Vogue 1610 // DVF(No idea why I’m standing pigeon-toed in this photo, eh.)

ANYWAY. If you’ve been following my blog for a while now, you’ll know that I loveeeee me some knit wrap dress action. Specifically, some Diane Von Fürstenberg knit wrap dress action. I just think she makes the prettiest dresses and I can’t get enough of them (and by “them,” I mean “knock-offs”) in my closet! I have a few that I made last year – The Wearable Muslin, The Silk Jersey and The Chic Black Wool. And now, here’s #4: The Bold Graphic Print. Just in time for the last few weeks of summer! Vogue 1610 // DVF

I have an original copy of Vogue 1610, which is a (vintage) Vogue American Designer pattern (this one featuring Diane Von Fürstenberg, obviously). I found it – in my size, no less – at an estate sale for around $1 a few years ago. It’s a beautiful pattern that really lends itself well to all the hacking and modifying I’ve put it through. It’s certainly a bummer that Vogue won’t re-release this pattern for the modern sewist – and before you start pointing fingers, this has nothing to do with Vogue and everything to do with DVF not renewing the license. I’m pretty sure the McCall Pattern Company wants to re-release some DVF love just as much as you want to buy it (I mean, can you imagine how much $$ they’d make? Who can say no to that?), but it’s not really up to them to decide. Seems like the designer just doesn’t want her name on sewing patterns anymore 😦 DIANE, WHYYYY.

Anyway, back to my dress!

Vogue 1610 // DVFVogue 1610 // DVF

Taking a cue from the black wool version, I kept the original bodice from the pattern and changed out the skirt for a simple wrap skirt (specifically, I used Tilly’s Miette skirt and just made it so the wrap is in the front). I added 1″ to the overlap, so I’d have a little bit of fabric to fold back and topstitch. I like the gathered skirt that the pattern is drafted for, but I wanted this version to be a little more sleek. I originally planned this dress to include small cap sleeves – I was going to take them off my Lady Skater dress pattern – but when I tried the dress on sans sleeves, I really liked the way it looked so I kept it as-is.

Vogue 1610 // DVFI also kept a slightly longer skirt length (I know, I know… nothing about “practically knee-length” qualifies as “long,” but considering I’ve basically been exposing ass cheeks all summer, this is long for me), again, something I liked when I tried it on during construction. Vogue 1610 // DVF

Vogue 1610 // DVFI also tried something different with the front band. Normally, I sew it on like how you finish the neckline of a tshirt – stretching the band so that it fits snugly against the bust when worn. However, I lurked in on some actual DVF wrap dresses while I was in Harrod’s last year in London, and noticed that they finish their necklines a little differently. No knit bands to be found anywhere – most of them use a binding or a facing. I was keen to try this myself, so that’s what I did. I cut the band as usual and interfaced it with a lightweight knit fusible (so it has a little bit of structure, but it’s still quite stretchy). I finished one edge, sewed the facing to the outside of the garment, flipped it to the inside and understitched, and then topstitched 1″ away from the edge on the outside. I was 100% certain that I’d fucked up the dress beyond repair at that point – the back had some puckers and everything just looked kind of strange – but it all sorted itself out once I put it on and my body stretched it into shape. The addition of the interfacing gives the neckline a little bit of height, almost – especially around the neck itself. The facing is much smoother and sleeker than any band. And I can pull the dress apart a little and show some 1970s ~natural cleavage~ if I feel so inclined. Yeehaw! Vogue 1610 // DVF

Vogue 1610 // DVFNot really much else to report on construction – much of the same old, same old. I used my serger to construct, my Bernina (+ walking foot // ballpoint needle) to topstitch. For the arm holes, I just serged them and turned the hem under and topstitched with a straight stitch. So easy! I think I finished this whole thing in less than 3 hours. Vogue 1610 // DVF

Isn’t the fabric so good? When I saw it on Mood Fabrics recently, it immediately screamed WRAP DRESS and it knew it had to be mine. Sometimes, I find buying knit fabric online to be a bit of a gamble – you can’t really tell weight/hand/stretch recovery (not to mention color) from a photo and description, and occasionally I end up with stuff that wasn’t at all what I was expecting. This fabric definitely exceeded my expectations – it’s so beautiful! Very dense with a good stretch (and an awesome recovery; I wore this all day last week and it didn’t bag out at all), and the color is super saturated. It’s a little on the heavy side – but not bulky. It feels very fluid and luxurious. I wish all knits were like this. This stuff is awesome! Also, the color is “poppy” which I kept seeing as “poppy,” so, like, there’s that.

Vogue 1610 // DVFHere’s a shot of the inside. Super clean finish, yay! Vogue 1610 // DVFI think the color and style of this dress will be good for transitioning into the fall months here – where we want to pretend like it’s tall boot and wool hat weather, but it’s actually still 90+ degrees. Which means I can wear this and look cool, but still be cool. Also, I am not ready for summer to end just yet – I have a few more projects left to finish!

Note: The fabric for this dress was purchased with my allowance for the Mood Sewing Network. All comments on this blog post are just, like, my opinion, man.

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!

Completed: I Knit Socks!

24 Dec

I cannot believe it’s been 3 years since I learned how to knit! Where has time gone?

When I was first starting my journey into knitting, there were really only two things I was interested in making – sweaters and socks. The sweaters, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, have not been a problem – as of last count, I’m working on #18 (yes! I looveeee sweaters!). Socks, on the other hand, have remained a bit of a mystery to me. I made it worse by trying to be picky about every pattern I considered – I wanted to learn to knit socks on Magic Loop, I wanted to do two at a time, I wanted the yarn to be fingering weight, etc etc. I am pretty sure it was less that I wanted a ‘specific pattern’ to make my first pair of socks with, and more that I just wanted some more excuses to allow me to push everything to the backburner! Needless to say, I haven’t knit a pair of socks – or even attempted to knit a pair of socks – since I first started my Journey of the Knit ‘way back in 2011.

Dancetty Socks

UNTIL NOW HEH HEH HEH.

Dancetty Socks

Sorry about the pictures! It’s surprisingly hard to take photos of your own socks – who woulda thought? As you can see, my reupholstered chairs are well used and loved, and, yes, that is a ladder with a plant on it under an American flag in the background (results of some drunken “how hipster can we make this wall?” night. I always laugh when I see the Hipster Wall. It stays.).

Anyway – socks! My first pair, go ahead and feast your eyes!!

Dancetty Socks

Dancetty Socks

Every time I think about how ridiculous this must have looked to anyone who might have happened to peer in my window (Truth: We don’t close our curtains. At least not in the dining room, where this took place), it makes me laugh more. Oh, the things I do for blog photos.

Dancetty Socks

Imma try to keep this short and sweet, because it’s Christmas Eve, after all (sorry to give y’all socks for Christmas! Am I the worst ever or what?!). The pattern is Dancetty by Abbey Morris (keep reading for a coupon code!), and I used one skein of Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine for both of them (with tons leftover). I’m just going to be totally straight and upfront with y’all – I ultimately chose this as my first sock pattern because Abbey offered it to me in exchange for a review. Otherwise, without that gentle push, I might still be spiraling down the endless turmoil of “I don’t know what sock pattern to knit fiiiiiiirst!!” Abbey assured me that, with my knitting experience (17 sweaters, man!), I would find these easy enough for a first time. The ladies at my local yarn store, Haus of Yarn, were confident I’d have these finished in a week. In reality, these took me two months. One month per sock. Ha!

Dancetty Socks

I knit these socks with size 0 DPNs (double pointed needles) – the 0 was based on my gauge swatch, and the DPNs are how the pattern is written. I actually really appreciated the way the pattern was written, because it kind of dumbed things down enough to where I could easily follow the instructions (pretty much blindly on my first sock, ahaha) and still get a good result. Each section tells you how many stitches to have on each needle, and there are separate lace patterns to follow based on what part of the sock you’re knitting. Apart from the whole lace sock thing, this was a somewhat mindless knit. The lacework… woof. That’s where things got interesting (and why these took me so dang long!). On at least the first sock, I think I unknit every other row, because I kept making so many mistakes. I’ve never been one to think lacework was super difficult, but something about it being in sock form was just ruining my brain (that, and I was trying to do this while watching TV and/or drinking. Whoops?). That being said, I was really happy to turn the heel – I’ve always heard that turning the heel is magical, and it kind of is!

Sock #2 took about the same amount of time as sock #1, but the process was much smoother. Since I already knew what I was getting into, I didn’t make as many mistakes – but I did take a lot of breaks, which was why this was so slow-going! I know that Second Sock Syndrome is a real thing for sock knitters, but for me, it was nice to be able to try again the second time around and make improvements when possible.

When I finished both socks, they were initially a little short in the foot. An overnight wet block (I used sock blockers, mostly because I wanted to buy something new, but you could just block them like a sweater too I guess, and pin the heck out of them) solved that problem. I’m also wondering about the cuff – see how it’s scrunching down? How can I get it to stay up? (A knitter’s lament) Should I thread thin elastic through the edge like I do with my hats?

Dancetty Socks

Dancetty Socks

Dancetty Socks

Anyway, this was a fun pattern to knit up! If you can do simple lacework, short rows, and knit in the round – you can knit socks. It’s really not much different than knitting a sweater (although it might take as long! Oh no, wait, that’s just me 😛 haha!). Next up, I want to try knitting socks with Magic Loop – while I didn’t think the DPNs were fiddly to knit with, it was hell on earth trying to transport the damn things. They kept slipping out of my stitches and wreaking havoc on everything, no matter how I tried to store my WIP. Also, note to self: don’t buy bamboo DPNs, you will snap those sticks like the toothpicks they are. Good way to feel like a Hulk Woman, though.

Next sock pattern in my knitting queue? Good question! I’ve had my eye on these Little Cable Knee Highs (have you seen Michelle‘s? Oh my god, Becky.), except, ugh, the DPNs again. Any good suggestions for fingering-weight socks knit on circular needles?

Want to try Dancetty yourself? Use the code “Lladybird” to receive 50% off any pattern from Abbey Morris Designs Ravelry Shop. This code is good through January 31, 2015! Thank you so much, Abbey!

Dancetty Socks

That’s all for now! Ravelry notes are here. I hope y’all have a very Merry Christmas and a lovely end to your December! I’m just now awakening from the throes of my DEATHBED (first time feeling human since Sunday night what up y’all), and I’m looking forward to spending some time with the family, the boyfriend, and my handknit socks. Yay!

Disclaimer: Dancetty was provided to me, free of charge, from Abbey Morris Designs, in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own. And I am very happy to finally have a pair of a hand-knit socks in my arsenal. Christmas miracles really do happen.

Completed: The Soma Swimsuit, V2

6 Jun

I’m back again with my second Soma Swimsuit!

Soma Swimsuit - v2

Aaaaaand, omg you guys, this is my favorite of the two. Definitely my favorite out of all the swimsuits I’ve made, possibly my favorite swimsuit EVER. Seriously! I really really love it!

Soma Swimsuit - v2

Cheeky butt and all 😉

Soma Swimsuit - v2

For version 2, I decided to up the ante and try it in a cool striped fabric – I’ve had this striped swimsuit fabric since 2013; I bought it at Spandex House (or World?) in NYC, along with a nude lining. I’ve always wanted a navy and white striped bikini, and I could not have found a better pattern to make this fabric up in. Although, I still have more that I could potentially make more bikinis with – a yard of swimsuit fabric goes a LONG way. Forreal, I had to recut the bodice on this swimsuit after an error in construction, and I still have sooo much left over. Yay for swimsuits!

Soma Swimsuit - v2

There are tons of ways you could play with the stripes on these pattern pieces – I drew out a few croquis and sketched some stripe variations, which led me to decide that horizontal stripes with a vertical center looked the best (to me, anyway). I also think it would be cool to cut the triangle out of a solid fabric – possibly even the bottoms be solid as well – but I didn’t have any solid navy, so I went with full stripes.

Also, the stripes give my boobs x-ray eyes, which is kinda cool in and of itself.

Soma Swimsuit - v2

Soma Swimsuit - v2

I’m very pleased with how the stripes match up on the sides! To get a good match, I cut the bottoms on one layer (they’re supposed to be on the fold, which means you will need to retrace your pattern pieces so they are a full piece) and cut all the pieces for the cups before cutting the back band. After I assembled the entire front of the swimsuit, I then used the stripes as a guide for cutting the back band, to ensure that everything matched up.

Soma Swimsuit - v2

While my first Soma was sewn entirely by following the directions, I did intentionally veer a little off course with this one. The pattern has you use plain elastic to construct both the top and the bottom – it is folded over and topstitched down, so it is essentially hidden once you put the suit on. I had this cool decorative elastic that I’ve been hoarding since 2013 (bought it on the same trip, from Pacific Trimming), and I was DETERMINED to use it. Katie suggested that I sew the elastic to the right side with the decorative edge facing down (i.e., the straight edge is matched with the raw edge of the suit), and then flip everything to the inside so the decorative edge peeks out and topstitch down. That’s exactly what I did, and I think it worked out quite nicely if I do say so myself!

Soma Swimsuit - v2

I did this for both the top and the bottoms.

Soma Swimsuit - v2

Another thing I wanted to add to the swimsuit was bra cups – as I’ve said before, I’m not a fan of the beach nip. While this suit is lined, one layer just doesn’t cut it for me, so I experimented with my options. My first suit did attempt bra cups, but it ended up a fail. I’m sure there’s a way to get them in there, but you’d have to change the order of construction – this suit is sewn so the lining and swim fabric are attached at the center bust seam, which means you can’t exactly cram a bra cup in there. After some thought and lurking those torn-up swimsuits, I threw out the failed bodice and started over. Ultimately, I decided to just cut multiple layers of lining for the bra cups and use that as a sort of padding – I think there are a total of 4 layers of lining on the bra cups (3 for padding, one for the outer layer), plus the actual swimsuit fabric. By doing this, I was able to follow the instructions as written, I just had a little more bulk to deal with 🙂 Trimming the bulk down and then topstitching made everything lie nice and smooth. And yes, in case you’re curious – the padding did pay off! Woohoo!

Soma Swimsuit - v2

Soma Swimsuit - v2

Again, for sizing, I went with the XXS. I’m actually surprised at how well this fits my ribcage – my underbust is 28″, so stuff tends to be waaaay too big right there. This swimsuit has a nice, snug fit, which helps keep it in place while you’re swimming. I did pull my elastic a bit more taut than instructed in the pattern – I don’t want any gaping on the beach, thankyouverymuch – but as far as adjusting the circumference of the longline, I didn’t have to do anything. Also, fyi, as per the last swimsuit – this was sewn almost entirely on my sewing machine. Wooho!!

Here are some close-ups!

Soma Swimsuit, v2

A couple things I will mention if you plan on making this with decorative elastic: for one, definitely trim those seam allowances before you attach it. The hidden elastic that the the instructions call for is fine for the 3/8″ seam allowance, but decorative elastic needs a much smaller seam allowance (I think this is 1/4″), which means you get overhang if you don’t trim. I figured this out after making the bottoms, which you can see the excess (I did catch it and remember to trim for the top, which you can see a couple pictures down). Not a big deal, but definitely worth mentioning.

Soma Swimsuit, v2

Also, see where the elastic is broken at the leg? It’s actually not broken – it connects in a full circle – but it sure looks like it. I should have cut the elastic to include a full repeat of the decorative part, and then overlapped by at least one scallop just to ensure that there are no broken parts. Oh well! Learn from my mistakes, guys.

Soma Swimsuit, v2

Like the first suit, this one also calls for bra strapping for the straps. Since I didn’t have any on hand (this was before I discovered the white at Joann, which still would not have worked for this particular project), I improvised by using plain elastic and topstitching my decorative elastic right on top. I used two rows of straight stitching since they don’t need to stretch that much.

Soma Swimsuit, v2

I did change one small order of construction when doing the bodice – the way the pattern is written has an exposed edge at the center triangle. I figured out how to burrito roll the fabric (similar to how one attaches a yoke to a button-down, with all seams hidden) so all my seams are enclosed. It was a little finicky but it certainly paid off! I haven’t seen the updated instructions on this pattern yet, so I’m not sure if it’s been changed to reflect that technique (it was part of my feedback when I tested the pattern, but the process can be a little tricky to explain so I’m not sure if Katie included it or not, in an effort to keep the construction very simple), but just know that it *can* be done if you don’t want exposed seams in your suit!

Also, oops, probably should have caught the raw edge at the top of the triangle when I was topstitching down OH WELL.

Soma Swimsuit, v2

As far as support goes – again, I can’t really vouch for it personally, but I will say that this version of the suit has a lot more options if you need a little boost. You could experiment with adding swimwear cups (I feel like even just sewing the bodice cups separately and slipping a swimsuit cup between the fabric and lining would probably work… don’t try to attach it to the lining, though, that’s where I went wrong!) to the bra, boning to the side seams, and potentially even underwire. As it stands for just a fabric+lining+elastic top, though, it’s supportive enough.

Again, these photos were taken before the swimsuit ever saw water, but I managed to wear it twice on my vacation, and it performs just as well as the black one. It may even be a little more secure, since you’re less likely to have a bathing suit malfunction due to the design.

I definitely plan on making this version again – I have plans for this bustier top with the high-waisted bottoms, in some cute lemon/flower swimsuit fabric. I almost made it up during the testing – but then realized I should probably take this striped one out for a spin so I can address any fit adjustments if needed. The suit does not need fit adjustments, btw, but on the next one I will pull the elastic a little tighter around the top edge of the top. It’s not quite as tight as it’s like it.

Also, I think this would make a really cut bralette. Ooh!

Soma Swimsuit - v2

So, who’s convinced they should take the plunge into sewing swimwear? Seriously, guys – it’s really fun, it’s fast (and gratifying!), and once you realize just how little it costs to make a swimsuit, you’ll be side-eyeing the $80 ones at the mall for the rest of summer. Don’t think you have it in you to make a bathing suit? Ladies. If you can sew a tshirt, you can sew a swimsuit. Promise.

Completed: The Soma Swimsuit, V1

4 Jun

As promised, I’ve written up a couple of posts about the new Soma Swimsuit from Papercut Patterns. I was a tester for this pattern, so I’ve actually had this finished and completed for quite some time now! While I initially agreed to test just the cross-over bikini variation, I ultimately ended up sewing BOTH bikinis because they are just so damn fun to make! In this post, though, I’ll be going over the first version – the black cross-over bikini.

Soma Swimsuit - v1

A note on pattern testing – it’s come to my attention that there has been a bit of discussion and debate about what exactly goes on for pattern testing, and what us testers get out of it. Some people have speculated that we are paid off to promote the designs, which could NOT be farther from the truth! Seriously, I WISH I was getting paid to to this – but I’m totally not. Pretty much all I get out of testing is a copy of the beta pattern, hopefully a copy of the finished pattern once it’s gone to print (not all companies offer this for testers but I think it’s a really nice gesture, personally), and a chance to see the pattern before anyone else. That’s it! Sometimes companies will give me fabric for testing – which I will always disclose if that’s the case – but for the most part, I am on the hook for providing my own fabric and notions. It is not required – or even requested – for me to post about the finished patterns, I just do it because I like what I make and I want to share it! I know some of the debate was about the same bloggers doing the testing, and while I can’t speak for the pattern designers, I will say that I have worked with the same designers for multiple testings, and it’s my assumption that they like to stick with the same people because they know they will get relatively consistent results, especially when it comes to sizing (it’s easier to tell if your size whatever has something wrong with the grade if you have that same person testing the same size for you consistently, if that makes sense).

I personally test my patterns the same way I sew a normal pattern – make a muslin if needed, do any alterations for fit that are necessary, and change the construction steps if I think it makes more sense to do so (and sometimes that ends up in the finished pattern – such as the lining method for the Flora dress, some of that was my feedback 🙂 ). I provide very detailed and honest feedback (VERY! Like to the point of maybe even being annoying 😛 haha), and I always meet the relatively short deadline. I would like to assume that’s why companies continue to reach out to me for testing, however, I’m recently aware that there are probably also people who use my feedback strictly for promotional purposes. If I offer good feedback and I don’t see translate to the finished pattern, that’s my sign that they probably don’t actually want my feedback and I just don’t work for with company anymore. Further, I don’t always blog my finished test makes (sometimes I only have time to do a fit muslin and tear the instructions a new asshole), so if anyone is contacting me in hopes of getting a sales boost from a finished project, they may be in for a rude awakening hahah 🙂

I’m so sorry if anyone got the wrong idea when it comes to pattern testing; the unglamorous truth is that we have a quick turnaround to check out the fit and instructions of the pattern and provide as much feedback as we can before the release. That’s it! Obviously I’d love to earn money doing this (ahh, who woulnd’t??), but the pattern barter is fine with me for now. I like helping my friends and giving them feedback so they can put out an even better product. Any other questions about testing from a tester’s perspective? Holler at me in the comments!

Ok, now that that’s off my chest – swimsuit time!

Soma Swimsuit - v1

Like I mentioned earlier, this is the Soma Swimsuit from Papercut Patterns, version 1. I’m afraid I went the boring route for this one – I had black swimsuit fabric & lining on hand (destashed from a friend’s supply, so I’m not sure where it originally came from) with the intention of making a black bikini, and I liked Katie’s version in the promo photos soo much that I decided to blatantly copy it because I have no shame.

Soma Swimsuit - v1

This swimsuit includes a lining, regular elastic, fold over elastic, and little bra notions (hooks, rings, and bra strapping). While I did have the fabric and lining on hand, I had to venture out to the fabric store to buy everything else. I was able to find almost everything I needed at Joann; however, be aware that they have a VERY limited selection of colors in these notions. Basically, they only have black and white – and their fold over elastic is expensive as shit, btw. I recently discovered Peakbloom as a wonderful source for FOE- seriously, look at all the prints and coloursssss omg – but I have yet to actually purchase anything from them. If you’re stuck in a FOE desert and need something other than black or white, definitely give them a look!

Soma Swimsuit - v1

The only thing I could not find at Joann was bra strapping. I actually didn’t even realize that’s a thing that exists! It’s not exactly the same thing as elastic – it’s sturdier, it doesn’t stretch as much, and it just looks more polished. After making this swimsuit, I did eventually find it at Joann’s (it’s in the section where you buy trim by the yard), but it only comes in white. For my bathing suit, I took a more creative approach and bought a bunch of $1 elastic headbands from Walmart (the kind that feel like they’re made from bra strapping, hahaha) and cut those apart to use. They probably aren’t ideal – they are starting to fray where I cut them and it looks kind of bad – but it’s a good option in a pinch.

Soma Swimsuit - v1

Another notion I used that is not listed in the instructions is bra cups! I don’t know about y’all, but I absolutely abhor the idea of nipping at the beach, so a little extra coverage was a must. While the insertion of bra cups is not included in the instructions for the swimsuit, it was pretty easy to figure out. After sewing the darts, I placed the lining over the bra cups in the correct position and smooshed the cups down flat. I sewed around the entire cup with a zigzag stitch to secure it, and then assembled the bikini top as instructed. That’s it! It was really easy and YAY NO NIPPING!

Soma Swimsuit - v1

Oh, and in case you were curious – my bra cups are cut from old swimwear. I pick up tops at the thrift store when they’re on sale for $1, and I cut the cups out. It’s cheaper than buying new cups (which I’ve found can run as high as $8 a pair, ouch), it recycles the old cups, *and* I’m 100% sure they are swimwear appropriate since I literally cut them out of swimwear.

Soma Swimsuit - v1

This was my second attempt at sewing fold over elastic (my first attempt is now buried in the trash, ha)(first attempt was not this swimsuit, btw, it was a few months ago) and I think I did a pretty ok job, all things considered! I was originally trying to sew the elastic in one fell swoop – which seems to be the way most people instruct you to attach it. The instructions for this suit instead have you sew it on in two gos – once with the elastic flat, and once with it folded over itself (on top of the first stitching). It takes a tiny bit longer since you are essentially sewing the same seam spot, but it actually goes faster since you don’t have to worry about your fabric sneaking out of the elastic. Which is AWESOME. Consider me a FOE convert – this stuff is fun!

Soma Swimsuit - v1

The swimsuit bottoms just have plain ol’ elastic encased in the legs (just like the Bombshell swimsuit). I used black because that’s what I had on hand. I love the high cut of the back leg – cheeky! 🙂

Soma Swimsuit - v1

The instructions on this pattern are really great, by the way! From attaching the elastic (both plain and FOE), to dealing with the bra straps, everything is very clearly written out and has helpful illustrations. I especially like how the lining is attached to the fabric – the bottoms have some pretty clever attaching so there are no exposed seams. Everything is attached flat, similar to underlining, which means you don’t deal with a lot of fabric shift.

For sizing, I chose the XXS, which is my normal size for Papercut Patterns. I didn’t have to make any alterations for fit – this is exactly how the pattern is drafted, both the top and the bottom. For fit reference, I generally wear a 28DD in bra and a S in underwear.

Here are some close-ups of the construction:

Soma Swimsuit - v1

I know these don’t look lined, but I promise they are. My lining is black, so it matches the outside fabric 😉

Soma Swimsuit - v1

Almost this entire bikini was sewn on my sewing machine, btw. I did use my serger to construct the main seams of the bottoms, as well as for finishing all the edges when attaching the lining to the shell, but that’s just bc it’s faster! All the finishing was done with a zigzag stitch. You can ABSOLUTELY make this on a standard sewing machine – I (mostly)did!

Soma Swimsuit - v1

Soma Swimsuit - v1

Soma Swimsuit, v2

Soma Swimsuit - v1

I’ve had a few people ask me about the support on this bathing suit, and I’m afraid I can’t really give you a good answer as I don’t personally need a lot of support for my lil’ boobs. I’d venture to guess that it probably gives about the same as a string bikini – it’ll keep the girls in place, but you prefer a lot of lift this probably isn’t the pattern for you. As far as adjusting the cups for a bigger size, again, no idea! This size fit me straight out of the envelope.

Now, if you want to talk about whether or not this guy is suitable (lolz) for actual swimming – I can vouch for that! While I did take these photos way before I actually got in the ocean (in retrospect, probably should have waited… I’m not quite as pale anymore! SORRY FOR MY WHITENESS Y’ALL), I wore this suit twice while in Florida, both times in the ocean. I’m not a crazy swimmer or anything – more of a jump in the waves and bob around on a float kinda girl – but I had no issues with the suit falling open or anything like that. It’s comfortable *and* cute! What more could you ask for?

Soma Swimsuit - v1

I guess that’s it for now! Big thumbs up to Papercut for offering up such a great pattern – I’m so excited to see everyone’s versions that come out of this!

A couple things before I sign off here –

– Please give a warm welcome to my newest sponsor, Indie Stitches! Caitlan has a gorgeous little shop full of some of the best handpicked indie patterns – and she’s currently offering 10% off all purchases through June! Use the code LLADYBIRD to claim yo’ discount!
– As a side note, whenever my sponsors offer a discount to my readers, you can find it by hovering over the badge in my sidebar. If there is a discount offered, it will show in a white box if you hover your mouse over it. Just an fyi 🙂
– Lookeeeee me, I got my first ~magazine spread~! My favorite machine needle company, Schmetz, has a free online magazine Inspired to Sew and I’M IN THE JUNE ISSUE. A whole two-page spread, woohoo!! You can download the free issue featuring moi here. Let me know what you think!
– Also, I’m apparently in a recent issue of All You magazine as well. Nothing super exciting – it’s just a photo and quote about my experience with Healthcare Bluebook (that shit is awesome, btw. Saved my ass when I was stressing over a kidney stone+no insurance last year!). If any of y’all see my mug in there, pleaseeeee let me know! I’m dying to know what part of my conversation they quoted haha 🙂

Ok, that’s all! Stay tuned later this week for version 2 of the Soma Swimsuit! :DDD

Review: The Colette Guide to Sewing Knits (+ a giveaway!)

5 May

cover.indd

Y’all know how much I love sewing knits (just to reiterate: I LOVE that shit!). While knits tend to get a bad rap for being “tricky” to sew, I find them to be quite easy to fit and manipulate – not to mention, knits are worn more than any other fabric in my closet (and I’m sure most of y’all are the same way!). They’re just so comfy and easy to wear, you know?

Despite my never-ending campaigning to get people on board the Knits Boat, some of y’all are still a little scared to take the plunge. Whether you don’t know where to start when it comes to choosing a fabric, or if you think your standard machine can’t handle sewing on knits (spoiler: it totally can), or the techniques just seem completely foreign to your woven-trained brain – there is always room for more guidance.

Which is why I’m so excited for Colette’s newest book release – The Colette Guide to Sewing Knits. Written by Alyson Clair (a patternmaker with years of experience working in the knitwear industry) and then put together Colette-style with clear photographs and easy to understand descriptions, this book is a fantastic resource for tackling knits – taking you from the different types of fabrics, to what needles and threads to use, to the difference between sergers and coverstitch machines (and how to use them – from threading to tension to troubleshooting!), to how to sew knits on a regular ol’ sewing machine (for those of y’all who don’t have a serger ;)), to fitting, to different finishes. Whew!

Although I definitely have some experience with sewing knits, I can always use more tips and ideas for branching out and discovering new techniques. This book is pretty fabulous in the sense that it’s both helpful for knit newbies *and* those of us who have a few years under our belts – I even learned a thing or two in the first chapter. The chapter Stitching and Finishing totally blew my mind, though.

Want to take a little sneaky peek? Of course you do! (psst, you can click the photos to enlarge them :))

serger roadmap

When I said there was a full section on your serger (as well as the coverstitch and standard machine), I was not kidding! There are several pages dedicated to showing you the different parts of each machine, and what they do.

threading serger

There’s also a section on threading- for both the serger and coverstitch (ohhh, someday I will have a coverstitch ♥)! Yay! So much easier to read than those little manual diagrams, yeah? 🙂

serging a corner

Here’s a neat little tip on how to serge an inner corner.

elastic types

Like I said, though… the finishing section is my favorite part.

decorative elastic

Inserting decorative elastic – gah, I wish I’d had this resource when I was experimenting with making my own underwear a couple of months ago. I found the elastic really difficult to sew in, which is why I stopped after one pair 🙂 Turns out I was sewing it in the hard way, doh!

lace neckline

Stretch lace – isn’t this so pretty? I’d love to try this with the new Moneta pattern.

buying fabric

There’s also an entire section devoted to knit fabrics – how they’re made, what the different types are, what needles to use, what to look for while shopping.

Pretty cool, huh? I’m so glad I picked up this book – I’ve learned a lot just from flipping through the pages, and I can’t wait to try some of these new techniques with my next knit project.

GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED
If you’ve made it all the way to the end- yay! Prize time! Sarai has generously offered a copy of the book to one lucky reader – it could be you! To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment on this post and tell me what you’d love to sew up in a knit – a dress? A swimsuit? Boring white tshirts? What’s your knit end goal? I’m curious 🙂 This giveaway is open WORLDWIDE and I will close the comments a week from today, Monday, 12 May 2014 at 7:00AM CST.
GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

For those of you who simply can’t wait and must have this book NOW, you can order The Colette Guide to Sewing Knits from Amazon or directly from the Colette website.

Good luck!

Me-Made-May ’14: Week 1 Round-Up (+ Nettie!)

2 May

We’re only two days into May, so this is gonna be the shortest round-up ever.

5/1 #mmmay14 #mmm14
5/1, Thursday
Hoodie: Traced off a favorite RTW hoodie
Tshirt: Briar (unblogged)
Tank top: So ‘Zo free pattern (unblogged)
Jeans: Imogene + Willie
Shoes: Keds
Undies (no, you can’t see them but I promise they are there :P): So ‘Zo free pattern (also unblogged… geez)

The first day went off with a slight hitch… I had originally planned to wear something different, but it ended up being too cold outside. I’ve been housesitting all week, so while I can get back to my stuff in the afternoon… in the AM, I’m kind of stuck with what I brought. So I ransacked my pile of clothes and ended up with a pretty good pile of Me-Mades that all sort of went together. You can’t see the tank and undies (and I swear, one of these days, I’ll blog about them), but they’re there 🙂

Oh yeah, and I’m totally in my friend Elizabeth‘s studio here. Isn’t it GORGEOUS?

5/2 #mmm14 #mmmay14
5/2, Friday
Top: Nettie tshirt
Skirt: Gabriola Maxi
Shoes: Jessica Simpson

This is what I had planned to wear Thursday 🙂 I LOVE wearing this maxi! It’s so swishy and fun and I feel so elegant. Gonna be hard not wearing this every day, ha!

So that’s it for week 1! Like I said, pretty short 🙂 We’ll get it really cranking next week, I imagine.

Just so this post isn’t all super short, let’s talk about my tshirt I’m wearing today! This is the Nettie pattern. If you hadn’t heard of it yet, that’s cos it was just recently released so it’s brand spankin’ new!

Nettie tshirt

Nettie is actually designed to be a bodysuit… you know, one piece, snaps at the crotch, that sort of thing. I was asked to be a pattern tester, and I agreed under the premise that I could make mine into tshirts. Bodysuits and I just don’t get along (although, after reading what Heather wrote… I’m wondering if I might like them in winter, for that no-cold-creeping-on-my-midriff factor. Hm.), plus, it’s always nice to see if the pattern has additional options, yeah? So here are a couple of the Netties I made – I actually made 4, but I won’t bore you with all of them (I’m sure they’ll pop up at some point this month).

Nettie tshirt

I love pretty much everything about this pattern. I love that it comes with multiple options – high neck, scoop neck, high back, scoop back, REAL LOW scoop back, short sleeves, long sleeve, elbow-length sleeves.. not to mention, bodysuit/tshirt/dress. Whew! I also love how fitted it is. No positive ease here!

Nettie tshirt

You do have to be mindful of the fabric you’re using, because of the negative ease factor. This mint Nettie is made using a rayon knit (it’s the same stuff I used to make my MCall’s 4488, I’ve been hoarding the remainder in my stash for quite a while now!), and while it’s nice and stretchy, it’s also very lightweight. Meaning you can pretty much see every bump underneath. That’s fine with me, but it’s something to keep in mind if you’re not keen on people seeing all your bra hardware.

Nettie tshirt

Here’s another Nettie I made using a thicker stretch knit I bought at Mood Fabrics while I was in NYC (sadly, it’s not on the website… and probably not in the store anymore, either, since I bought like 8 yards of it and made everyone else buy some too HA HA HA). It’s almost like a thin ponte – and very very soft, with quite a bit of stretch. I LOVE this fabric!

I made the size 4, which I fit pretty squarely in, measurement-wise. If you’re looking for something a little less tight, just go up a size or two 🙂 Both of these versions are the scoop front with a high back neckline. I did make a couple with a scoop back neckline, but I’ve learned that I really don’t like the way they look on me, so I’m sticking with high back for now.

Nettie tshirt

As you can see, the thicker fabric results in a smoother look.

To make my Nettie into a tshirt, I just cut the pattern piece about 1″ above the hipline (where the leotard-ness starts). I also added 1.5″ length at the waist, so the shirt would be long enough to cover my waistband. In case you were wondering why I cut length and then re-added it, well, the bottom of the pattern flares out quite a bit to accommodate hips – which I don’t need in a tshirt. So I added length at the waist instead.

Nettie tshirt

And that’s it! Pretty happy with this new pattern, and while I’m not much of a bodysuit-lover, I DO love me a good tshirt! Especially when it’s super tight with a low neckline. Go ahead, judge me 😛

Have a great weekend, everyone!