Tag Archives: polyester

Completed: Polyester Chiffon Archer Shirt (+ Announcing the Sprout Sew-Along!)

23 Feb

It’s that time of the year again – when we start our spring sewing in a desperate attempt to hurry the warm weather up. And by we, I mean me.

While it’s still a little warm here – not quite shorts and tank tops warm, but no-socks warm – I know that we’ll get at least one more cold snap before the temperatures steadily start rising. So while my wardrobe needs to maintain a bit of coverage, I’m using lighter colors and designs that look decidedly more spring than my standard black and grey winter wear.

Polyester Chiffon Archer Shirt / Sprout Patterns

Like giant tropical leaves. Now THAT is a spring statement, amirite

Polyester Chiffon Archer Shirt / Sprout Patterns

As the title of this post says, this shirt is the Archer button up from Grainline Studio. But wait, there’s more! I ordered my fabric from Sprout Patterns, meaning I got to choose the fabric design as well!

I feel like most people are pretty familiar with Sprout Patterns at this point, but in case you aren’t – owned by Spoonflower (beloved on-demand printer of fabrics, wallpapers, and more) – Sprout offers the same on-demand fabric printing but with the additional twist of also printing your pattern pieces directly on the fabric. This not only makes cutting a breeze (no giant flat table space needed – just sit at your couch and cut along the solid lines), but it also gives you total control over pattern placement without the additional brainbending. There are a few catches to this service – one, you are limited to the patterns they have on their site; two, you are also limited to the types of fabrics they offer; and three, having the pattern printed on your fabric does not leave room for flat pattern adjustments – but overall, I think the pros absolutely outweigh the cons.

I’ve heard of this service before – both through blogs and website ads, and also because one of my students at at Workroom Social class actually works for Spoonflower (!!!) – but I hadn’t actually tried the service until now. This year, I’m cooking up some fun plans with Spout pattern and Spoonflower (Spoiler: It’s a class. More info at the end of this post!!), so they offered to send me one to try out!

Polyester Chiffon Archer Shirt / Sprout Patterns

Polyester Chiffon Archer Shirt / Sprout Patterns

Polyester Chiffon Archer Shirt / Sprout Patterns

The Archer shirt works in a variety of fabrics, with the most common/easiest ones being the Basic Cotton Ultra and the Kona Cotton Ultra. While the cottons are definitely great, I love being difficult and asked if I could instead try the Polyester Chiffon. I really love this style of shirt in a soft, drapey fabric and I REALLY loved the idea of the cutting being way easier since the pieces are printed on the fabric. I made a size 2, View B (with the butt ruffle, because, butts) printed on Spoonflower’s Polyester Chiffon. The design is Monstera Leaves. You do have the ability to create your own design, but I’ve learned over time that I am decidedly NOT a fabric designer and would rather use something already made by someone who knows what they are doing. I chose this design because I liked the predominantly dark colors over a white background – it feels breezy without actually being super see-thru – and, of course, who doesn’t love some big ass tropical leaves?

Polyester Chiffon Archer Shirt / Sprout Patterns

Polyester Chiffon Archer Shirt / Sprout Patterns

Polyester Chiffon Archer Shirt / Sprout Patterns

Some notes about this fabric:

  • Polyester is not something that gets a lot of praise in the sewing community, present company included. To be completely honest, I generally HATE the stuff. Hard to wear, hard to sew, sweaty pit dump USA, etc etc. I gave this one a chance because, one, there were no other options for sheer drapey fabric (no silk!); and, two, I thought the sheer chiffon would offset the fact that poly doesn’t really breathe. I am happy to report that my hunches were right, and I actually really enjoyed working with – and now wearing! – this fabric. It’s a great quality poly, feels very nice against the skin, and while I can’t yet report on its heat-retaining properties (it just ain’t hot enough here yet, y’all), I can say that it’s been really pleasant to wear on our warmer days. It also took really well to pressing, so no problems there.
  • I told you this shirt is chiffon, and it is. I should also tell you that I’m only wearing a bra underneath it – no cami. It’s only slightly see-thru, and even then mostly shadows. This chiffon is slightly thicker than some chiffons I’ve tried – almost like a double chiffon – and the dark colors also help with preventing a peepshow. Not having to wear a cami under this really helps me feel, you know, ~breezy~.
  • Chiffon can be tricky to work with, as it is very lightweight and VERY shifty. My first combat against this was to get the pattern via Sprout, which saved me the drama of worrying about whether I was cutting the pattern pieces on grain. Since the fabric has the pattern pieces printed directly on it, cutting is WAY easier – seriously, you can just sit on the couch and cut it with scissors like you’re making a paper snowflake (this was me, in case you were wondering). My other combat for dealing with the chiffon was to soak the entire yardage in a gelatine mixture before cutting, which stiffened up the fabric to more of an organza weight/hand, making it much easier to cut and sew. I talked about using a gelatine mixture in this blog post (and here is the method I used on the Threads website), and ugh you guys it is is a LIFESAVER. Made the fabric soooo much easier to manage, and it washed right out when I was finished with the shirt (machine wash cold, normal dry). If you want to try a tricky pattern like this in a tricky fabric, I really encourage this method – it was one of the easiest experiences I’ve ever had with chiffon! Like, even my sleeve plackets look amazing. Super stoked.

Polyester Chiffon Archer Shirt / Sprout Patterns

Polyester Chiffon Archer Shirt / Sprout Patterns

Anyway, I LOVE how this turned out! The soft, drapey fabric – the shape of the shirt – and the leaves offering a bit of modesty so I can continue to be immodest 😛 This shirt looks equally good with the sleeves rolled up or left down, with the front buttoned or unbuttoned (ok, I guess THEN I’d wear that cami), or even knotted into a crop.

Polyester Chiffon Archer Shirt / Sprout Patterns

Some additional sewing notes:

  • I used French seams to construct the shirt, 1/4″ for each pass (for a total of a 1/2″ seam allowance). Since the fabric is so sheer, I like how the visible seams look this way.
  • I used black thread for constructing and topstitching, and a new 70/10 microtex needle for this lightweight fabric.
  • For interfacing, I made a few test swatches (there is plenty of extra fabric around the perimeters of your pattern pieces that is ideal for this use) to determine what would work best. I ended up using this lightweight woven fusible interfacing (from Workroom Social), which was a perfect match for the chiffon – it offers enough support for the collar and buttons, but it is light enough that it doesn’t interfere with the drape of the chiffon. And since is it white, it brightens up the white background of the fabric without looking super obvious. I also considered interfacing the back of the yoke for this same reason (since the yoke is a double layer of fabric), but I found that I actually preferred the look of the 2 layers so I left them as-is.
  • Like I said, this chiffon pressed without a problem. I use a gravity feed iron (affiliate link) with a shoe, which works the same as using a press cloth. This allows me to press at a high heat without melting my fabric or giving it a weird shine. I definitely do not recommend trying to sew a shirt like this in a fabric that won’t hold a press, however, this fabric didn’t give me any issues!
  • Buttons are just plain black plastic buttons from my local fabric store. Nothing fancy there!

Polyester Chiffon Archer Shirt / Sprout Patterns

Polyester Chiffon Archer Shirt / Sprout Patterns

Polyester Chiffon Archer Shirt / Sprout Patterns

Polyester Chiffon Archer Shirt / Sprout Patterns

Polyester Chiffon Archer Shirt / Sprout Patterns

Ok, so here’s the fun part! I was sent this fabric + pattern by Sprout patterns, in preparation for a workshop that I will be teaching at Spoonflower! Here are the details:

Spoonflower presents the 2018 Sprout Sew-Along with Lauren Taylor (also known as Lladybird)! With the help of Lauren and her sewing expertise, students will be led through the construction of a Grainline Studios’ Archer Button Up from start to finish using their custom printed Sprout Pattern. Our intimate class setting ensures all students the chance to get one-on-one instruction from Lauren as we tackle this wardrobe staple. This class is sure to build your confidence in garment construction! We hope you can join us!

Class fee includes the printed Archer button-up, and there is an early bird discount for those who register before March 3! The workshop is April 6 – April 8, and will be held at Spoonflower Greenhouse in Durham, NC. If you’ve been wanting to tackle this pattern but feel a little overwhelmed with the steps, this is a great opportunity to have a little bit of guidance and hand-holding for your first go! While we will be sewing exclusively with the Kona Cotton Ultra for this class (just because we gotta speed everyone along so we actually finish in two days!), it will give you the skills you need to try this pattern later with a more complicated fabric – such as the polyester chiffon 😛

You can find all the details of the workshop – as well as sign up – here!

Polyester Chiffon Archer Shirt / Sprout Patterns

A side note about the sunglasses – it was very bright outside and I thought I would pretend like I was a fAsHuN bLoGgEr. Suffice to say, I am not happy with how these pictures turned out (and I had to delete more than half of them because it bothered me that you could see the tripod in my lenses haha) but I also don’t care enough to retake them. No more sunglasses photos for me. It weirds me out that you can’t see my eyes. Oh well, you live and learn!

**Note: The fabric for this shirt was given to me by Spoonflower, in preparation for my workshop with them in April! Will I see you there? 🙂

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Completed: Pulmu Skirt Kit from Needle Sharp

15 Dec

Y’all, I love a good kit. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I just want to reiterate in case you didn’t hear me the first time – I LOVE KITS. Something about having everything already picked + sorted, then corralled in its own little box just pleases me to no end.

So, today, I have another kit to show you. Or, rather, the results of a project from a kit.

Pulmu Skirt with Needle Sharp

A few months ago, I was contacted by Mary of Needle Sharp, who wanted to send me one of her kits to try out in exchange for some honest feedback. Now, if there is one thing I love more than kits, it’s sharing my opinion! Needle Sharp is a new company that provides sewing subscription boxes. There are 3 different levels to choose from – the Lightweight, the Mediumweight, and the Heavyweight (plus a Starter Box if you literally don’t have the tools), with 3 fabric options to choose from each category. Each month focuses on a theme – this month it’s pencil skirts, last month was wiggle dresses – and the boxes include everything you need to make the project, including pattern, fabric, interfacings and stabilizers, thread, notions, even machine needles. All you need to supply is the sewing machine and any tools (such as scissors, pins, chalk, etc).

I was given several box options to choose from (including upcoming months that haven’t been announced yet!), and I went with the mediumweight pencil skirt box. I chose the rock’n’roll option – black polyester suiting, black pleather triangle inserts. Let me say this is a DEFINITE departure from my style (minus the black part) – I haven’t worn a pencil skirt in ages, and this one is long enough that it requires wearing heels or else it looks stupid – but I’m pretty into it!

I took some photos of the box before I tore into it, so here’s that:

Needle Sharp box

The box arrived on my doorstep with the logo clearly visible, so I knew exactly what was waiting for me (rather than it being a nondescript box that I ripped open with glee to realize it was just a bunch of Amazon books that my upstairs neighbor had ordered, ugh I’m still mad about that lol).

Needle Sharp tissue

Needle Sharp contents

Everything was beautifully packaged, it looked like a present when I opened it. I didn’t take a picture of all the included stuff (well, I did, but it was a dumb and useless-looking picture so I deleted it), but my box contained the sewing pattern, suiting fabric, lining fabric, pleather, interfacing, 2 D rings, an invisible zipper, a spool of black thread, 2 sewing machine needles (80/12 and a leather needle – both clearly marked on a small card), and CANDY. TBH, the candy might have been the best part. I am always so tickled when I get surprise candy.

Needle Sharp fabric care

Another thing included in the box were cards for each piece of fabric, with yardage, content, and care instructions. I really appreciated this, since this information is rarely included with online fabric orders.

While I’m generally not a fan of polyester, the contents of this box were definitely a very high quality. It didn’t feel plastic-y like some polys, and in general the fabrics were easy to work with and handle. That lining shed all over the place like a bitch (a month later, I am still finding surprise tufts around my studio), but charmeuse has a tendency to do that regardless of whether it’s silk or poly. I especially loved the faux leather! It is a SUPER nice quality and actually looks like leather (as opposed to plastic, like a lot of the faux leathers I’ve seen). It is backed with a knit rayon, so it’s super easy to sew and doesn’t require a special foot (I did use the included leather needle). I received more fabric than I needed (each kit comes with enough fabric to make any of the sizes in the pattern), so I have tons to play with and put toward future projects. Pretty stoked about that!

Pulmu Skirt with Needle Sharp

So, now, let’s talk about the pattern – the Pulmu skir from Named Clothing. This was the pattern that was included in my box. As I’ve mentioned, a high-waisted pencil skirt really isn’t the kind of thing I wear these days, but I’m willing to branch out. I loved the way this one looks and I loved the idea of putting a cool fabric in those triangle inserts. This pattern is definitely a neat twist on an otherwise plain pencil skirt, and I’m totally into that.

With that being said, I feel like Named Patterns can be a little hit or miss. Some of the designs are cool (some of the designs leave me scratching my head. Sorry. I’m not a cool person.), the drafting is great and the pieces fit together well. The instructions make me want to SCREAM. Key steps are left out, additional wtf steps are included (like serging all the seam allowances – on a *closed* lined skirt. Really, dude?), but tbh I’m mostly mad because this pattern didn’t include any lengthen/shorten lines. Who does that?? And why??? So, that agitated me. Minor complaint, but frustrating nonetheless.

I knew this skirt was going to be long – the instructions state that the pattern is drafted for someone who is 5’8″ and to shorten if needed (again, then why the HELL would you not include lengthen/shorten lines, like, seriously dude), and I am more like 5’2″! The skirt is intended to hit calf length, and I was tempted to make it way shorter than that but decided to embrace that whole “wearing clothes out of my style comfort zone” and stick with the longer demure length. It does look cool, but the downside is that I have to wear heels or else I look frumpy. The upside is, I finally have something to wear these turquoise Jimmy Choos with, ha!

Pulmu Skirt with Needle Sharp

Pulmu Skirt with Needle Sharp

I mean, seriously, look at how fucking cool those shoes are.

In case you were curious, they are as uncomfortable as they look. I actually bought some new insoles to try out on these shoes and they have kind of changed my life – the Vivian Lou Insolia insoles, seriously amazing. My problem with heels is that all my weight gets pushed to my toes, and it gets incredibly painful really really fast (I took these photos before I tried the insoles and just the time it took to get pictures, my feet were screaming). These insoles redistribute the weight so your heel takes a lot of it, which makes the shoes easier to wear. I’m not delusional and I’m not going to tell you that these feel like sneakers now – but I can wear them and walk around and it’s way more tolerable. They are expensive for insoles – like $30! – but they have a money-back guarantee, so you’re not stuck with them if they suck. I’m pretty happy with this discovery!

And, in case you were wondering why I own a pair of designer shoes that I couldn’t even wear – my boss gave them to me (she never wore them either). I do not normally buy $1,000 shoes just for the hell of it 😛

Ok, moving on!

Pulmu Skirt with Needle Sharp

Pulmu Skirt with Needle Sharp_4662

Based on my measurements, I’m a size 34 at the hip and between a 34/36 at the waist. I cut my skirt pattern between the 34/36 lines at the waist, grading down to a 34 at the hip to the hem. I also shortened the skirt by 2″ – which took a little problem solving on my end, as the skirt is pegged at the hem and has that triangular insert to contend with. What I ended up doing was shortening the skirt 1″ in two different places, which I think worked quite well. In addition to the pegged hem, the skirt has 2 side slits and an encased lining (it doesn’t hang free; it’s attached at the hem), so I wouldn’t be able to shorten the skirt after assembling it. Figuring out which 2 places to shorten was part of the challenge, but I ultimately went with around the hip area (which, strangely, is marked on the pattern), as well as a couple inches above the slits.

The waist fits great, but the hips could have stood to go up a size- as you can see, there are drag lines all over my butt. I’m not terribly concerned about it – the 3/8″ seam allowance means there’s not much room for fit adjustments, so I’m just gonna deal with what I was given here – but I’m certainly aware of it. Like I said, I cut my size based on my measurements, so I’m not sure if the finished hip is tighter due to my fabrics or an error in the sizing. The fabric recommendations on the pattern aren’t exactly helpful – they just say get fabric with “up to 5% stretch.” Oh, ok. To be fair, my leather inserts are stretch – but the lining isn’t, so it negates that. At any rate, I’m not concerned about it so whatever!

Pulmu Skirt with Needle Sharp

Pulmu Skirt with Needle Sharp

The poly + leather in this skirt pressed surprisingly well (I used medium heat, a presscloth, and a clapper to hold the heat in until it cooled), but I added a bunch of topstitching to get a really sharp edge. I topstitched all the darts, as well as the inserts, and I love the way it looks.

Pulmu Skirt with Needle Sharp

The skirt features a self-fabric facing to keep the top lining from peeking out, and the back closes with an invisible zipper.

Pulmu Skirt with Needle Sharp

The “vents” are actually just slits. I love the look of them but be aware they are not faced like a true vent – so your lining fabric will show. This was my one complaint about the kit is the color of that lining fabric. I know that people love a contrasty lining, but I generally stick with neutrals, especially in a black skirt that is going to show the lining. Based on my feedback, the kits now have the option to choose your lining color (you can get plain black and be boring like me, or a fun contrast if that’s what you like!).

Pulmu Skirt with Needle Sharp

One thing I added was a small bartack at the bottom of the slit, to reinforce it from tearing. BTW, the slit instructions are… interesting. It’s not my cleanest work, but it’ll do.

Pulmu Skirt with Needle Sharp

Pulmu Skirt with Needle Sharp

The skirt includes belt loops and a self-fabric belt that closes with D rings. I don’t know why I love that part so much, but I do. I’ve actually found other ways to wear the belt with different garments, so that’s a bonus!

Pulmu Skirt with Needle Sharp

I think that’s all the word vomit I have to say about this project! In short: the kit was great, and especially awesome for getting me to branch out a little, style-wise. If you are making this skirt (whether with a Needle Sharp kit or just because you own the pattern), I recommend sizing up at the hips, or using a fabric with some stretch (and making sure your lining stretches as well). And also check that length, because once you’ve sewn up the skirt you can’t exactly shorten it!

Oh, one last thing! If you want to try a box with Needle Sharp – use the code HOLIDAY10 to receive 10% off any box! This promo is good through 12/24/17.

** Note: All the supplies used to make this skirt were provided to me as a free kit from Needle Sharp, in exchange for my honest feedback. I was not required to post about this project, I just wanted to!