Thursday, December 31, 2015

Pretty in Pink (Paisley)

I  posted some comments on far away blogs this morning and  and the date/time stamp was already 2016.  Yikes! I had to pull myself away from blog reading and make myself finish my last post of 2015.

My Christmas holiday did not include any gift buying or exchanges or holiday decorating. It was "no stress" bliss! Instead we spent time with family and friends in a beautiful, warm location. We had such a good time in Puerto Rico last year, we went back this year. We found a different house via   VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) in a gated community in  Humacao, on the east coast.

The house had a pool with waterfall, and  met the sleeping requirements for our group of 11, but it had a few idiosyncrasies. We have used VRBO for many of our vacation rentals in the USA and abroad.  All were good experiences.  But it is always interesting to discover what the pictures  do not show. For this rental, one bedroom could only be reached through another bedroom and a bathroom.  Awkward is so many ways. The stairs to the second floor was only slightly better than a ladder.

Stairs from 2nd floor
 The living area was multi level with bright white tiles that it made it very difficult to see the steps.  After a few stumble and tripping episodes, with no alcohol involved, we dug out a roll of  lime green duct tape, and put pieces on the edges of the steps,  barely visible in the lower RH corner of photo above, so they looked similar to this.

 Both Sis and I had neglected to read the description details and confirm there was a dishwasher.  Hence we also discovered that our young adult children are spoiled, poor dishwashers and champion procrastinators. One day I was horrified to  hear my mother's words come out of my mouth.  "Those dishes are not going to wash themselves!"

This house was near a scenic beach and a nature preserve with bike/walking trails and lagoon kayaking. We walked  the Iguana Trail hoping to see some of the big lizards. "Chicken of the trees" as our PR host called them. They are edible.  We didn't see a one.  However as we were walking across the common area of the neighborhood we came upon a couple.

Ereptile Dysfunction

We did touristy things like visiting the Bacardi Rum distillery, sailing and snorkeling on the offshore islands, and exploring beaches along the coast. And I ate my annual quota of mofongo (mashed fried plantains).

I decided to make a new bathing suit for the trip.  If you search the internet for bathing suit styles for women over 40, you are advised to wear a one piece in a solid ‘jewel tone” with strategic peats or ruching to detract from the inevitable bumps and lumps of the mature figure.  Well, I went with part of that advice. My suit is a one piece, but there is not a lot ruching or pleats and it is certainly not a solid jewel tone color.  The swimsuit fabric that called to me from my stash was a pink paisley (fabricmartfabrics).  I have wanted to sew this swimsuit from the June 1997 Burda World of Fashion magazine for a long time.

Burda 6 1997  Swimsuit 128
What I liked about the Burda pattern was the interesting front seaming which formed a keyhole opening in the center front.  However after I traced the pattern and read the directions, the “wadder” sensor started tingling.  Fit issues -   minimal coverage in the crotch area front and back and no center back seam to assist in shaping fabric to the lower back and derriere.
 Construction issues:  Though the instructions were the illustrated sewing course for this issue, the methods and instructions were not complete or up to date. The lower back ended in a sharp "V" which was to be faced.  Definitely a potential weak spot. The only elastic used was 1/4 “elastic on the leg openings. None on the front/back neck opening or armholes.  And no elastic cut length measurement were given for the leg opening, just one written  line about using .8 cm  of elastic for every 10 cm of fabric.   

IMHO, successful  one piece swimsuits have 3/8" elastic around every open edge, armholes, leg openings and neck/ shoulder area.   If the pattern instructions do not include elastic cut lengths, I use the guidelines from Singer  Sewing Activewear book.

Elastic Cut Guidelines for Swimsuits
My suit ended up being a combo of two patterns.  The front is from Burda June 1997, swimsuit 128. But the  back is from  OOP Kwik Sew 3064, which has the center back seam U shaped lower back and the butt coverage I prefer. 

One measurement I always check on one piece swimsuit patterns is the torso measurement.

To measure my torso measurement,  I run a tape measure down the back from where the shoulder meets the neck, through the legs and back up the front. (In other words, make a loop).

Measure torso

To determine length adjustments needed for pattern.

Method 1 - If pattern include a torso measurement.

 I have only seen this measurement published in  Stretch and Sew (where it is called overall body measurement) and Jalie patterns. Jalie has a very good Tutorial-sizing

Method 2 - If pattern does not include a torso measurement. 

Divide my torso measurement in half.

Measure either the front or back pattern piece from shoulder to crotch taking into account the seam allowances.

measuring the torso length of the swimsuit pattern

Compare the difference between body measurement and pattern measurement. If body measurement is larger that pattern, the difference is the amount that will needed to be added to both the front and back pattern pieces.  If body measurement is less than pattern measurement,. the difference is the amount that will need to be removed from both the front and back pattern pieces. 

Example: My torso measurement is 62" ( back and front combined).  I divide by 1/2 because I only plan on measuring the front pattern piece. Half of 62" is 31" The Burda pattern front was 30". On the pattern pieces there are length adjustment lines, above and below the waist, where you can remove length (by folding the lower line to the upper), or adding length by slashing the pattern and adding more paper.

I added 1/2" at the upper and lower adjustment lines on both the back and front pattern pieces.  Note that is 2" total when considering the  torso measurement which includes back and front combined.

I also added extra S/A at the shoulder seams in case I needed extra length in the upper back (an alteration I always make for tops and jackets). And I always do a try on of the suit before sewing the shoulder seams and adding the elastic as recommended below.
 The suit is fully lined. The elastic was applied using a zig zag stitch, and top stitching was done with an overlocker.   I am really pleased with how well it fits.
Burda Swimsuit Front

Kwik Sew 3064 back
The champagne is chilling  in preparation for the countdown to the new year.  This year we have a jar of Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup to add to our champagne. The champagne bubbles cause the flower blossom to unfurl and it is so pretty. And you can eat the flower too.
Wishing everyone a wonderful new year!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

New Look 6330 for Travel Wardrobe

I have been spending every other week in Chicago on a work project.  The planes used between Richmond and Chicago are small and carry on space is limited.

 So my Chicago travel wardrobe is minimal, based around gray or black pants and coordinating sweaters and tops I can layer. One pair of comfortable black shoes. One black trench coat.   You get the idea.  This past weekend,  I felt a desperate need for something new to add to the travel wardrobe. But it had to be a quick sew project.   I pulled some wool knits out of my stash and sewed up a long sleeve cardigan View B of New Look 6330 and the T shirt from the same pattern.

This cardigan has princess seams in the front and a shaped center back seam.  All of these seams flare out starting at waist level. This creates a fitted look in the bust area with lots of softly draping fabric around the hips.  The front closure is sort of unique, two large fabric loops, attached on the inside front princess seam, crossover and loop around buttons in the front below the bust creating gathers of the fabric in the front panels. My cardigan is made from a printed wool sweater knit purchased on eBay.  Normally I don’t wear styles that bunch fabric over my tummy and flare around my hips.  But  I think it looks nice in a feminine way.

loop closure

    I loved the fit of the finished cardigan. I had a few hours of sewing time left on Sunday afternoon and decided I could sew a coordinating T shirt in that time.  I assumed if the jacket fit well, the T shirt in the same size would fit just as nicely. So I skipped the "compare the finished garment measurement to my preferred T shirt (ease) measurements" step.   The T-shirt, made of a wool/lycra, is huge and unfitted. The sides can be shaped, but the real problem is the front is too wide between my shoulder points and does the cowl droopy dance in the middle of my chest.   I guess I could remove the neck binding, gather the excess fabric in the center front  and reattach to a small circumference neck binding.   But  I hate unsewing and alterations. It is more fun to start a new project.  So who knows if that will ever happen.

  The Chicago project was successfully completed this past week. Yeah!  The next work project starts in Jan in Pennsylvania.  Boo! However  on the next flight I take,  which is tomorrow, I will be wearing short sleeves and sandals.  As my father liked to say "Snow at Christmas is overrated!"  
Wishing everyone Happy Holidays!