Friday, September 27, 2013

Advanced Means Advanced: The Henry Shirt


This is my version of The Henry Shirt from the book Sewing For Boys.  This is my first project from the book and I think it was a big success even though I almost wasn't smart enough to figure out certain steps of the pattern.  I am not an advanced sewer.  When I saw the pattern was marked as advanced I thought, "How hard can a shirt possibly be?" Everything was smooth sailing until I got to the steps attaching the yoke and sleeves.  I sat and stared at this shirt FOREVER to try to figure out how to put it together.  I'm including pictures and details for attaching the yoke and sleeves at the end of this post to help out anybody else who might be struggling while reading this! I'm not a sewing teacher.  It's just what worked for me.
The main fabric is a 2010 Alexander Henry called "Crayon Commute."  I purchased it at Sarah's Fabrics and unfortunately I bought the last of it.  I also purchased the gingham fabric at Sarah's.  Both are quilting weight cottons but they are such a nice weight that the shirts turned out to look and feel really sharp. 

Somebody didn't want to smile for pictures but I'm not naming names.  The shirts are pretty boxy so I think they will look best over jeans and a long sleeve shirt.  It's not jeans weather today so we're in shorts.

I like the box pleat in back.

And the contrast fabric on the sides.

Checking out his cars!

Now for the construction details.  I used French seams to attach the back and front panels to the sides.  I like how you can barely see the seams when you look inside the shirt. The shirts are so boxy that instead of the 3/8 inch seam the pattern calls for I used a 1/2 inch seam which made each part of the French seam 1/4 inch.

This is when stuff got tricky.  This is what Step 15 looks like.  Honestly I was so confused that I couldn't figure out what the underarm seam was.  Should I admit that?

You start in the center back and sew out to each sleeve instead of sewing in one continuous loop so I am just showing one side. Start by matching up the center seam on the yoke with your pleat seam.  Put a couple of pins in for a few inches but stop when you get close to the shoulder and look at the next picture.
Turn your sleeve inside out to get the right side of this point on the yoke (marked with the pencil)
To match the right side of this point on the main body of your shirt (marked with pencil)
Pin those two points together (right sides together). Then I tucked the sleeve inside the side panel so that the right side of the sleeve seam matched up with the bottom of the V on the side panel.
Pin the right side of the sleeve seam to the bottom of the V.  Now that you have those two points pinned, you should be able to see clearly where to put the rest of your pins in between the pins you've already used and start sewing. These are the best pictures I could get of the finished product.

Figuring out how to attach the lining is much easier because you start again at the center back and just follow your original stitching line with shirt body between the outer yoke/sleeve and the yoke/sleeve lining.  I had a terrible time figuring out how to sew in one continuous line so this is my best advice: Stitch from the center back to the underarm seam.  Then twist your fabric into a jumbled mess by pulling the sleeves in opposite directions to get right sides together for the rest of the sleeve. And yes this is the best picture I could get!   
Keep at it if you are a beginner/advanced beginner/ intermediate sewer like me because the end results are cute.  I picked up some cheap buttons at WalMart that I thought were perfect for this shirt. And I don't think they look cheap.

Overall I'm happy with this shirt.  There are no exposed seams inside and the construction details are really nice once you get the hang of it.  Happy sewing!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Simple A-Line Skirt That Took FOREVER

I made this skirt for the Sew Mama Sew Community Sewing Match. I followed the Design & Sew An A-Line Skirt course on Craftsy and loved it.  The instructor breaks things down and makes them very easy to follow.  I struggle with picking the right size on patterns and I always have fitting issues due to that.  This course really helped me understand my measurements. The biggest bonus for me is that since there was no pattern to follow, I really had to go outside of my comfort zone and figure out exactly what I wanted to do with my skirt.  As the instructor was talking I was thinking, "Oh THAT's how people do that!"  It made me realize how I can customize other patterns to my liking.  I can't recommend the course enough.  It was my first Craftsy course and I've got two more in my queue!

Why did this skirt take me forever?  A combination of things.  First of all, I am an incredibly slow sewer.  Maybe it has something to do with having two year old twins at home or maybe it's just how I work.  I would like to produce more but I'm not going to stress out about it. 

It also took me awhile to decide what I wanted to do.  I did an initial skirt pattern.  Then I fooled around with slashing and spreading to make a fuller skirt.  I browsed Pinterest for ideas and found an A-line skirt with a front pleat and decided I would do that because I had done a pleat like that on a shirt previously and liked the look.  Then it occurred to me that I had the pattern but no fabric.  I wanted to work with wool crepe and add a silk lining because I had not worked with either fabric before.  The initial dark plum wool crepe I picked at Mood was out of stock after I placed my order so a couple of days later I had to pick again.  I have to say that had I known "poppy" meant "incredibly bright orange to the point of almost being neon" I would not have picked it.  I didn't buy enough yardage to return it so I decided to forge ahead.  I do not wear skin tight camis in public.  The reason why I am wearing one in these pictures is because anything bulkier shows right through the fabric (and not in a good way).  I'm not sure how to style the skirt.

To make the pleat, I moved the edge of my original pattern away from the center 3 inches and then sewed down 3.5 inches at the original center mark.  I thought about just adding the yoke without the piping.  However, whenever I see piping I think, "I want to do that" but then I never do.  This time I decided I was going to no matter what.  It wasn't challenging and I enjoyed how it turned out. 

Somehow the piping matched on the first try when I added the invisible zipper.  I was nervous about that. 

This butterscotch silk crepe de chine is not this yellow in real life.  It started out as a lining and since I have no idea what I'm doing with linings it somehow ended up as underlining.  Arg.  After that I went straight to Amazon for a book on how to add linings.  I think my issue was that I followed the course instruction and sewed the yokes to the main pieces first and then attached them down the side seam.  I wonder how the lining would have turned out had I sewn the main pieces and yokes together separately and then attached them together with the lining.  I did enjoy using the crepe de chine.  It wasn't challenging at all.

I used a facing with the poppy fabric. I also had to use sew in interfacing because I could attach the fusible interfacing without the wool shrinking horribly. 

Another thing I've wanted to try is Hug Snug seam binding because of a post on Lilacs and Lace.  It also added to the length of time it took me to finish.  I chose a generic color prior to this project to see if I liked it.  The color clashes but I did enjoy using the rayon seam binding.  I thought I would like it if I used orange thread on the bias tape.  I don't.  Too late now!

Even if the color is way too bright, this was a great project for me.  I practiced several new skills and used wool and silk for the first time.  I'm counting it as a success!