Monday, March 30, 2015

Pernille Pencil Tunic - A little sewing therapy

The level of crazy got a little too high this last weekend, so I got all the littles in bed, made sure the bigs (teens) were good, and headed down to the basement sewing room. (My poor hubby was still out there dealing with crazy.) There were many interruptions, late into Saturday night, but in the end, it felt so good to make something useful and pretty for someone I love.

My oldest, Olivia,  turned 17 last week. It's pretty unbelievable to me. I'm starting to really feel like my days with her in our household are numbered. I know I don't have much of this phase left. But I've had enough emotions this weekend, so before I start crying, let me just tell you about the tunic I made.

This is pretty much just a shortened Pernille Pencil Dress by Maria Denmark. I won my choice of patterns last year through Skirt Fixation's Challenge Create: Adult Edition. I haven't been too happy with my mid-section lately but I thought maybe I could pull off this dress for myself in sweatshirt fleece since it's thick and not clingy. But alas, it wasn't stretchy enough and therefore too small for me so I asked Olivia if she was interested. With a couple of tweaks, and the removal of several inches of material, it became a pretty cool tunic for her.

If' you've paid attention to all my posts about her clothing choices, you know that I'm lucky that she always chooses modest, conservative clothing. I never have to worry that she will wear a ridiculously short skirt or low-cut top. While her skinny jeans are a little baggy and she never wears leggings without being covered, she still is an artist at heart and likes interesting clothes. She enjoys the design process and has good ideas.

It was her idea to add some kind of bands/facings and also her idea to use the triangle knit that arrived from Girl Charlee last week. It's a perfect match for the navy sweatshirting also from Girl Charlee last year. I threw in a few fun stitches from my Singer, and there you go.

This stitch looks like a blanket stitch, #23 on my machine. It's intended use is for applique. I used it to join all of the raglan sleeve and body pieces. After sewing the seam, I pulled on the 2 pieces to expose the stitches and then ironed it. I think it's cool and it's a bit stretchy so that is what I was really after.

 I used #24 (same thing but spaced wider) for the decorative stitching on the neck band, and wrist and bottom facings.

The back of the dress has darts. They do help a lot with giving it some shape. But I admit, I was being lazy, and kept the darts from my size that were already sewn so they are a little widely spaced for her. 

The triangle knit is quite a bit thinner than the sweatshirt fleece of course so I thought facings would work better than just bands. I sewed the facings to the wrong side of the fleece and then flipped them to the front, ironed the edge under, and sewed them down with the applique stitch. Oh those sleeves, they taught me a good lesson. I thought I was being all cool and finishing them so cleanly by doing the cuffs in the round. But then there was no way to sew down that top edge 5 or 6" up the arm. I had to rip it all out and open the sleeves half way up to do it flat. It bothers me that I didn't foresee that. It also bothers me that there has to be a seem inside that cuff, but I will live.

Well we are both immensely pleased I'd say with this tunic. I can tell she loves it. She is wearing it today with a favorite scarf, gray leggings and the messenger bag I made her last year. The brown sandals would probably not be her first choice but she always gives up shoes and just wears sandals for Lent. Since this February was the coldest EVER on record here in northeast Ohio and March hasn't been kind either, she did wear socks with those sandals some days. She just wanted you to know that the sandals aren't part of the look. And hey, she let me put her face on the blog!

Besides enjoying getting away and sewing a bit Saturday night, I got to enjoy seeing her wear it all day today. And that is the best part and helps wash away some of the drama of the weekend. I predict the need for much more sewing therapy in this coming week so stay tuned. I'll be back.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

PRP March - Reversible Knot Top

A quick look through Elena's closet reveals that she already has 8 everyday dresses, 3 fancy dresses, and 4 twirly skirts for this spring/summer. So even though I had two absolutely perfect, coordinating prints that I wanted to use to make Jess's Knot Dress, my OPD (obsessively practical disorder) wouldn't allow me to do that. Judging by Elena's appetite, we're heading for a growth spurt so I'll save those fabrics for a dress version later this summer. For now, we have a fully reversible knot top and some capri pants for this month's Project Run & Play challenge.

Both fabrics for the top are quilting cottons from Joann's. The floral one is a premium quilting cotton and has more weight to it. The geometric one is lightweight, and unfortunately, Elena doesn't like it much. Sad face. To make it fully reversible, I sewed the side seams of the outer and inner and then placed one inside the other. I sewed around the entire top edges first. After trimming and turning and topstitching that part, I worked on the ruffle and hem.

I cut a strip 2.5" high and double the width of the hem for the ruffle. I sewed it into a loop and pressed it in half lengthwise before I gathered it and basted it to the outer piece. Then I pulled the lining all the way up and over matching the side seams and pinning my way around. It makes a funky looking donut like thing. I left a 3" opening and sewed all the rest of the way around. After trimming the seam allowance and turning it, I closed the opening by topstitching once all the way around. But it doesn't make Elena love the other side any better. She would only flip it over for a few seconds so I didn't get many pictures of that.

As you can see, I made some edits to the design. Besides making a top instead of dress, I also skipped the back opening and knot. Elena is just so narrow I a) didn't think she'd need it and b) thought it would overwhelm her slim body. I like it simple like this, but the ruffle is still a nod to the skirt.

Pants have been a sewing struggle for me. I've tried some of the blogland favorites and haven't had much luck. Without naming names, they are always too big, even when I make ridiculously small sizes. I have found a great pattern here in the Titchy Threads Twisted Trousers. I made a 2T out of some stretch denim bottomweight from Joann's. There is a shorten/lengthen line mid-thigh so I took out 3 inches there to make capri's and still have the seams twist all the way to front and center. It makes a very cool affect when highlighted with piping.

 My error was in not adjusting the length of the rise for her typically 4T height. I will do that next time. So you can see her underpants popping out in the above picture. Instead of doing a knit casing with the elastic inside, I found matching elastic at Joann's and just used it straight. It is so soft and comfortable. Just look at all that cool piping. And below is one of the rare pictures of the reverse side of the top.

 Look at the flexibility in that ankle. Anyone else thinking I have a little dancer or gymnast here?