Monday, March 29, 2021

Workout Wear Time

 Despite the fact I wear a lot of leggings and sweatshirts these days, and not a whole lot of anything else, I've not dipped my toe into making my own workout wear yet.  Part of this is that I really enjoy making special things, like a fancy dress to wear to a wedding (not that I've done that in a long time), and part of it is that I have very much a hate-love-hate relationship with my serger.  I've had a Juno 3434D serger for years now, and it works fairly well, but it's a pain to thread (like most sergers) and the blade sometimes decides to eat my fabric.  I once ran over a pin with it, and I thought I had replaced it, but it's been acting up again.  I also got a Pfaff Coverlock 4.0 a couple of years ago, which is a combo serger/coverstitch machine that is much higher up the line in terms of quality and capabilities, but it's always been pretty finicky for me, and I would spend forever trying to get it to work right and then just go back to my Juno, until it would eat my fabric or I would need to switch thread colors, and then I would just go to my zig-zag stitch on my regular machine.  Not ideal (hence the two hates to the one love in the relationship description).

Two Saturdays ago I determined to use some athletic fabric I had purchased a few months back and make myself a couple of sets of the Axis Tank by Sophie Hines and the Avery Leggings by Helen's Closet.  I started with a fun tone-on-tone black animal print knit, and started with the leggings.  While the original pattern has a super sleek design with a single pattern piece per leg (no side seam), I'm a huge fan of pockets, because I like to take my phone with me on runs.  Luckily, Helen includes a handy tutorial on her website for hacking a side pocket.  I followed along in slicing and dicing the leg piece, and wrote in big bold letters "ADD SEAM ALLOWANCE" on the pieces.  Did I remember to do so when cutting out my leggings? No.  That, plus my Juno eating up the fabric a bit meant they were a tad too snug, but they actually ended up pretty wearable.  I attempted to also make a matching Axis tank, but that turned out to be a mess, also due to serger woes.  

My first Avery Leggings



During the following week, hubby convinced me to finally pull the trigger on buying a new serger that I've been eyeing for years - one of the Baby Lock machines with the air threading (aka magic), which I got this past Saturday.  You literally put the threads near a hole, push a button, and whoosh, it's threaded with automatic tension that's perfect every time.  I'm seriously over the moon about it.  I was also going back and forth between getting just a serger or the combo serger/coverstitch machine, and I decided to splurge and get the combo (Baby Lock Accolade) - this machine should last me forever, and it's worth it in the long run.  I like to sew to produce garments, not fight with machines!  

Side note - typically you have to buy sewing machines from a dealer.  There is a Baby Lock dealer very close to me, but I haven't been crazy about their service (I've taken my machines in there several times).  The next closest one was in Delaware, Hayes Sewing Machine Company, and they were awesome!  It's a family-run business, and very personal - I emailed several times during the week, and spent way more time in there than John enjoyed, I'm sure, but they showed me the ropes of multiple machines and helped me figure out what was best, and took my Pfaff in as trade, plus offer on-going support.  I highly recommend them for your next sewing machine purchase!

After playing around a bit on Saturday, I sat down to business on Sunday, and learned the ins and outs and started getting serious about workout wear.  I made another pair of Avery leggings, but this time I left the legs as a single piece, and changed up the waistband construction.  I did a single fold-over piece (front and back), and added a pocket on the inside front of the waistband.  I got to learn how to use my new elastic attaching foot in the process, which was fun too.  I sewed a matching Axis tank as well, both in a fun ombre foil knit from JoAnn Fabrics.

What I really need are a bunch of new workout tanks though, so I had bought some light-weight knits from JoAnn's the night before (first fabric purchase of 2021!), and set about modifying the Axis tank pattern.  While it's super cute as is, I'm not a huge fan of cropped tops, as I just don't find them comfortable given my jiggle around the middle (personal preference only).  I lengthened the tank, and changed the armholes/neckline slightly to match better with one of my favorite RTW tanks, but keeping again the single pattern piece, which eliminates side-seams.  I tried it in the black animal print again, but I hate sewing in bands in the round, so I attempted to do it flat and do the shoulder seams after the bands were in - that was a mistake.  The fabric was too bulky and it was a mess.  Other than that though, it was super cute - I have more of the fabric, so I'm definitely trying it again.  

I switched over to a lightweight knit and it came out great - this pattern is awesome, and super quick to sew!  I did the bands in the round, and they are a tad too short, as there is a bit of puckering, but I hate it when the are too loose and flop around.  I wrote "Add 1" for lightweight knit" on the band pattern pieces, but do you think I'll remember?  Me either.

None of these pieces are what I would deem perfect, but I'm super happy with my progress, and I'm working on perfecting my patterns.  I basically just want to whip up several of the same pattern seasonally and be set for a while, instead of spending an arm and a leg seasonally at places like Lululemon and Athleta!  (We're not going to count the cost of my serger in that equation, for obvious reasons :P)

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

2020 Making Round-Up

 I thought it would be kinda fun to do a whole round up of everything I made in 2020!  I'm not going to go back and document each one, so let me know if you want any more details.












Thursday, January 21, 2021

2021 Make #2 - Knit gaucho pants

 Another quick win for early 2021!  At some point last year (apparently in May, but I seriously have no memory of when), I got it in my head to make some knit gaucho pants, like the ones that were all the rage in the early 2000s:  

I couldn't find a picture of them, but I had a pair of reddish-orange ones in grad school that I wore ALL the time and loved.  I believe I started with the True Bias Watson pants, my TNT elastic waist pants, and make them a little wider at the bottom and a little narrower at the top (again, memory is fuzzy, but I feel that's what it was, and looks like it based on my "pattern-drafting" below).  

Back in May, I had cut out the pieces out of a lightweight jersey knit I had bought from JoAnns, and started sewing them together, and then threw them in a pile for about 7 months.

I cut a pretty wide band (slightly narrower than the pants, but pretty close), doubled it over, and serged it onto the top.  

I struggled to get them cut evenly for some reason, but eventually got them the same length.  Overall, not a bad pattern, but the knit fabric was too lightweight and I wasn't crazy about them.  I'm also not entirely sure about the crotch fit - seems like some bunching there.  Again, since I cut them out so long ago, I'm not exactly sure what's going on, but I'll probably refine the fit a bit for the next time.  They were essentially my wearable muslin, so I don't mind that I'm not crazy about them.  Into the goodwill bag they go, but at least they're functional and didn't have to go in the trash!

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

2021 Make #1 - Striped Knit Self-Drafted Tank

 This is a quick one - a couple of weekends ago I wanted to get started on knocking out some of my languishing in-progress projects, and this knit tank top definitely fell in that category.  I started it a year and a half ago, and it sat there with just the arm and neck bands to go, which I was able to wrap up in an hour.  Funny how often that happens for me!  There are two main reasons why I stalled - 1) I hate putting in knit bands in the round, because they typically end up too short or too long, rarely just right (and it's different for every specific fabric) 2) I couldn't decide which color stripe to use as the bands!

Garment Details:

Pattern - probably self-drafted.  I have about 5 different tank top patterns that I've traced out over the years and I just use them over and over, changing the necklines when I want something different

Fabric - striped knit fabric from Emma One Sock, left over from another tank top

Not a lot else to say about it - I don't think I had quite enough fabric to match the stripes perfectly, so I mirrored it instead (so every other stripe lines up at the side seam), and I really like how that looks.  I originally intended to make the neck- and armbands skinnier, but I liked the look of doing a full stripe folded over.  All in all, a good quick win to start off the year!

Time to get back into things!

2020 was a weird year.  We'll just leave it at that.  Who knows what 2021 will bring, but I do think I want to get back into documenting a little more thoroughly my making journey!  I've decided that my instagram account was turning more into just a general life journal (@mcwethy.meanderings), so I split out my making into a separate account (@mcwethy.makes).  I'm also dedicating myself to sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly as I go along, as I find I learn just as much from the mistakes as I do from the successes!  Anyway, I'm not sure if anyone even reads this thing anymore, but at the very least I know I get a lot out of various blog posts that come up when I google a pattern, so hopefully someone else can find my muddlings helpful as well.

Before I delve into some goals/intentions for the next year of making, I always find it interesting to look back at the past year.  I am a data nerd, so I keep track of everything, so here is a snapshot of both my fabric stash and my sewing production for 2020.

First up is my stash - I added quite a bit last year, despite having more than enough fabric.  I went through it all towards the end of the year last year, and put aside several pieces to pass along to others, so I'm trying to lean things out and only have fabrics I truly love.

As I said before, 2020 was a weird year, and despite hopes that I would be more productive in my hobbies, I didn't end up making as much last year as I have previously, with only 25 new garments and 3 refashioned garments.  Part of this was I was very focused on my yard, putting in a new firepit area and a pond, and then we redid my attic/sewing space a bit, which meant it was out of commission for about a month.  I think another piece of it is that I tend to be most excited to make special garments for events, be it a dressy party or a costume or whatever, and there just wasn't any of that happening!  I also had a smaller proportion of projects that I kept, but I'm ok with that, as I am trying to keep my closet lean and full of things I love.

A few goals that I have for my 2021 sewing and making:
  • Finish up projects - I always have a long list of half-abandoned projects that get tossed aside when things get rough or something new and shiny comes along.  I am determined to get that list down to zero early on this year, so I can move ahead with a clean slate!  I started the year with 6 projects on the list, which is low, but I had already thrown away a few projects that weren't sparking joy.  Three weeks in, I've wrapped up a couple more already, and just have three more left.
  • Be intentional and slow in my sewing - going along with my earlier statement that I love to make things for special occasions, I tend to be rushing to finish up a garment right before an event.  NYE was a case in point, and I ended up having to abandon my original dress plans and making a simpler garment just to get something done.  I don't mind sewing with a deadline, I just need to start sooner and not rush through!
  • Not add to my stash - I make this goal for myself constantly, and I'm constantly breaking it.  The problem with having a large sewing room is that there is lots of space for fabric, but I'm currently overflowing my bins, and I would like to at least get back to being able to store everything away and not in piles laying around.  I did delete from my quick links on Chrome the link to Emma One Sock, which is by far my biggest temptation! :)  I'm not opposed to a quick run to JoAnn's if I need some notions or something else to finish up a project, but I'm going to try and make it as long as possible without buying fabric for an entirely new project (or just because I think it's pretty).  I'm not expecting to make it to the end of the year, but I'm hoping for at least April.
  • Time for a big clean-up and organization - my patterns are a mess, my machines all need a good cleaning and probably a servicing, and I would like to take one more pass through my stash to see if I can get rid of anything.  Again, I always get distracted and want to get on the new shiny project, but it's so helpful to have everything in its place.
Time to get sewing!

Monday, May 18, 2020

Week 2 of Me Made May

Day 8:  Work from home, just like every day, but have a brand new memade shirt to do it in!

Day 11:  Skipped a few days, then decided to start testing out some memades I wasn't 100% on - first up this shirt that I love the fabric of, but didn't account for how unstretchy of a knit it was when making it.  Verdict - life is too short for too tight and constricting clothes.  Onto the donate pile, even if it does make me a little sad.

Day 12:  Wanting to match my freshly dyed blue/purple hair, so pulled out an old favorite shirt - this one isn't going anywhere!

Day 13:  Back to evaluating my so-so garments.  This skirt started life as a dress that wasn't really me, so I chopped it off into a skirt.  Still not me, so I think I might put it back into the refashion pile, and maybe make shorts (which were what I intended to make with the fabric when I first bought it).

Day 14:  Back to another favorite shirt - I have a lot of strappy little tank tops that I love that I've made, now I just need to make some bottoms to go with them!