Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Bomber Jacket? Baseball Jacket? What is the difference? A review of Style Arc's Sharon Sweat Top.

What IS the difference between a baseball jacket and a bomber jacket in today's women's fashion? I don't profess to be a fashion expert but I kept seeing both terms used for what seemed to be the same or similar styles of jackets.

I did a little Pintrest search as "research" and came up with many similar jackets using both baseball and bomber jacket as search terms. Here are two very similar examples which were called different things.

This is listed as a "baseball jacket": (From here)
This one is a "bomber jacket": (From here)

I don't see much of a difference. Do you? After a lot of searching and looking at some really great jackets I've established that:

  1. The terms "bomber jacket" and "baseball jacket" seem to be more or less interchangeable in women's fashion today
  2. More "baseball jackets" than "bomber jackets" have snaps as opposed to zippers for the front closure
  3. More "bomber jackets" than "baseball jackets" are made from or partially made from leather
  4. "bomber jackets" sometimes have more pockets than "baseball jackets"
Some have raglan sleeves, some dropped or set in sleeves. Some use ribbing at the hem, sleeves and collar. Some use some other fabric (often with elastic inside at hem and sleeve cuffs). On some the bottom hem ribbing meets the front zipper and some have small panel of the fashion fabric on each side of the zipper at the bottom. There are many variations of the style above which are referred to sometimes as baseball jackets and sometimes as bomber jackets. 

In the sewing blogosphere I have mostly seen the style above referred to as a bomber jacket. There are many great patterns out there. I already sewed myself a lined version of Burda 7210 a few months ago as a Spring jacket. It's a great jacket which worked well for cool spring days and summer evenings but I wanted something different now. What I was looking to add to my fall/winter wardrobe was a fashion top version of the bomber jacket. I wanted something I could layer over a light top for indoors when it's cold out or even use as a very light jacket for days that aren't frigid (not too many of those unfortunately) Call it a more fashionable version of a sweatshirt.

 I found it in Style Arc's Sharon Sweat Top. It's not called a "bomber jacket" but it definitely fits the type of jacket I was finding in my Pintrest and Google searches. 

I made a few changes to the pattern. Most notably were the changes I did NOT have to make. I did not add any width to the waist or hip of the pattern which is very unusual for me being that I  am pear shaped and usually need to add to the hips and waist of tops. I normally use two pattern sizes larger for my skirts than I do for my tops. I measured the flat pattern and compared it to some sweatshirt type tops I own and decided to skip adding any width at all. It seems the pattern must be designed to fit loosely below the bust. It fit me perfectly without alteration! I did take about 2" of length off the bottom (moving the pockets higher when I did that) and a bit less than that off the sleeve length. My ribbing must have been stretchier than the ribbing the top was designed for because I had to take a bit of length off the sleeve and hem ribbing. I also adjusted the collar size slightly in this version, making it shorter and narrower as I didn't like how the larger collar lay on me. (It looked fine on my wearable muslin made out of french terry so it may just be the fabric I was using)

Speaking of fabric, the main body is what I am pretty sure is Neoprene/Scuba. It is a beautiful teal color. I bought it from Kashi at Metro Textiles a few weeks ago. He didn't call it that but it feels just like the "scuba" fabric I have bought from online fabric stores recently. The sleeves are black Siera Faux Leather" from fabric.com. The ribbing (black as well) is cotton "Heavy Rib Knit" from The Fabric Fairy. The zippers are from Wawak, I always stock up when they go on sale. I like the metal ones because I can easily adjust the size with my set of mini pliers.

All the pictures are indoors because all the outdoor pictures I tried to take made me look awful. I need to work on the photography thing a little more. Only a LITTLE more because part of what made me stop blogging all those months ago was frustration with photography. Photography is not my hobby. I'd so much rather sew!

Here's an outdoor photo. This is a quick snapshot my 10 year old took for me a few minutes after I finished it. I'm wearing it over a bulky sweater so the fit is a little snug. It's focus is fuzzy but it shows the color better.

I sewed the Style Arc label in the back neck facing :-)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sewing with a plan, but not "SWAP"

So when the cool fall weather hit for good I realized that my everyday wardrobe was sorely lacking. I have bought very little clothing since I started sewing again about a year ago. I'm not on the official RTW Fast, (though, I am seriously thinking about joining for 2015!) I just really enjoy wearing my own handmade clothing. They fit well and therefore look much better on me and are more comfortable. I also get to sew exactly the colors and styles I like. My necklines, sleeve lengths, skirt lengths etc... can be exactly where I want them to be without being frumpy. And fabric shopping is WAY more fun than clothing shopping.

 Over the spring and summer I had sewn a lot of dressier clothing which I definitely have a use for. Even though I am a SAHM/WAHM Mom I dress up every Friday night and Saturday for Shabbat. In addition the Jewish calendar is FULL of holidays. The Autumn alone has Rosh Hashana (2 days), Yom Kippur and Sukkot (9 days!). But I cannot live in heels, fancy dresses and pearls every day (guess I wouldn't have been a good 50s housewife lol). So I sat down in the last week of October and sketched up this:

Two "mini wardrobes". Each consists of a skirt, two tops and a jacket or cardigan. The bottom right 4 garments have all already been sewn up and worn more than once.

Here's a shot of the skirt I posted on Instagram while I was sewing it:

I LOVE the fabric! It's this Neoprene from Emma One Sock.

I took a week long break from the "planned" sewing to sew a skirt for my daughter but last week was back to the plan and I have already fit the pattern for the jacket at the top. It is the Style Arc Sharon Sweat Top, here. (Yes, I am still loving Style Arc patterns!) The "muslin" actually ended up semi-wearable (and by that, I mean waiting for the school bus or working in the kitchen) and with a few pattern alterations the Sharon Sweat Top is going to be a great wardrobe staple for me. I may end up with with another one or two this season if other patterns don't call to me first. So many patterns... so little time...

Saturday, November 15, 2014

On photography and blogging

So suddenly it's the middle of November and I haven't published a blog post since the middle of January. How did that happen?

Part of what's been holding me back has been photo taking. I mean, what's a sewing blog without pictures of what you're sewing? But I have NEVER been a photographer. Ask my mother in law. I never send pictures of the kids. Not because we don't love her. She's a great mother in law and grandmother. Just because I just don't take any. I'm more of an "enjoy the moment" person not one to  constantly snap pictures. I'm the mother who goes outside to play in the leaves and the snow with the kids but forgets to take pictures of them playing outside. So of course there is no visual evidence that my bigger kids ever played outside in the snow. Now that my big girls are tweens they have their own digital cameras and started taking pictures. ALL THE TIME. It's a bit annoying but also inspiring. It's great to finally have pictures of family outings and even just every day life. We're not talking super high quality photos here, just every day snapshots. And they're nice even though not  professional.

So I started snapping pictures here and there using my new Samsung phone. Because if I have to go get my camera it's NOT going to happen. And some of the pictures were actually not bad. They weren't sewing pictures, though. Then Sewvember came along and my Instagram feed was inundated with lots of fun sewing pictures. I jumped in with my own photos on day 4 or 5 and have been having so much fun since. I've realized that my pictures don't have to be perfect; even though so many of the sewing blogs have such stunning, professional photography that it really blows my mind. So I've invested in a little tripod with bendy legs (I can attach it to a chair, my deck railing etc...) that grips my phone and a $5 Bluetooth remote for my phone and now I can actually take a decent self portrait that isn't in a mirror. Yay!

Here was my first try:
It has a snazzy little frame I added from my phone's photo program and I did the background blurry thing on there too (I don't know any photographer terms lol) It's not the perfect angle but I'll get there soon I hope.

Oh and the top I'm wearing in the photo. That's one of the 52 unblogged garments I have sewn since January 19 when I last blogged. Yup 52. I've been a busy, busy sewist this year! No, I'm not going to go backwards and blog them all but I'll try to be a better blogger from now on.

That's all for now!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Creative Cate Cabled Sweater Dress

I finished the Creative Cate dress I blogged about last here and it's just as beautiful as I imagined it would be (maybe more)!

The fabric is slightly sheer (you can see it in some of the pictures) because it is somewhat of a loose knit but I didn't bother lining it since I'm going to be wearing the dress with a layering shell and half slip anyways.
You can see in this photo at the bottom left that the dress is
somewhat sheer. I should have put a slip on Freeda too! 
I hemmed the dress with a coverstitch hem first but wasn't happy with the look. So I cut it off and created a band cut from one of the cables going vertically. I really like the finished look it gives to the dress. It also added back the inch of length which I removed when I cut off the hem. (I tried to rip it out first but  the loosely knit fabric was so wavy after ripping the coverstitch that it just needed to be cut off.)
The belt is a TJ Maxx find as are these shoes:
The shoes were very hard to photograph since they are silver. I did my best.
The necklace is one I've had for a while. I think it works perfectly with this dress. I'm using a lightweight rayon lycra knit layering shell in gray underneath. I tucked in the sleeves for photography purposes since they looked silly just hanging there. Some days I wish Freeda had arms lol.
I "hemmed" the sleeves with Design Plus ultra soft double sided fusible. This stabilized the sleeve hem and hemmed it in one. I had planned to do some invisible handstitching to reinforce but once I was done fusing I realized that it wasn't necessary. The dress is going to be handwashed and never see the inside of a dryer so the fusible web is not going anywhere.
As usual the dress fits me better than Freeda. I removed some padding from her in an effort to get her to match my body better but I just can't get her to be my exact double no matter how hard I try. One day I'll get a tripod and a better camera and then we can have some pictures of me wearing my creations...
Who am I kidding photography is not my hobby, SEWING is! The best I can offer for the near future is some mirror selfies or maybe once in a while pictures taken by my 11 year old... If she's willing...

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Turn me into a dress!!!

It's been bitter cold outside so it's understandable that the beautiful cabled sweater knit I bought a little while ago at Metro Textiles has been calling to me. What's a complete surprise is that it's been begging to be made into a nice cozy.... DRESS?! What? Huh?

For some background, I'm not a huge dress wearer. I wear skirts every day,  but dresses..  not so much. Mostly because it's impossible to find a RTW dress that fits me off the rack. When I walked into a local boutique a few months ago and they ask what size I was so they could help me I listed three sizes that correspond to three parts of me. They laughed. Unfortunately it's true. I have never found a dress that fit me properly on top yet still fit over my bottom half (1-2 sizes larger). So dresses have been relegated to more formal occasions when I have been willing to fork out the time and money to get a dress taken in and/or out to fit.

Though I've sewn quite a few for my girls I had never yet sewn myself a dress. I'm not sure why not... probably because I never wear them. Ergo, I never bought myself any dress patterns.
Suddenly, recently, I've had a hankering to sew some dresses. I think it's the sewing blogosphere that has done it. I've had the opportunity to see different dress patterns on all shapes and sizes which really helps to figure out what will flatter me. So now I have two Style Arc dress patterns on the way and the By Hand London 'Anna' dress pattern recently arrived.

But when this stunning, cozy fabric called to me "DRESS!" I had no pattern on hand remotely appropriate for the type of dress it was asking to become.

For a reminder here's the photos I took of the fabric after my last Metro Textiles trip:

Having no pattern for the dress I was envisioning, I had the idea to find a top pattern and lengthen it. I trekked up to the attic to look through my pattern stash. I found a few sweater/sweatshirt type patterns that I briefly considered using but none of them were special enough to not be boring, yet simple enough for the fabric to still be able to shine. So I turned to my newest favorite... The Creative Cate! I used the skirt back from the "Ali Knit Skirt" pattern (that I haven't even sewn yet) as a guide since I had already added to that pattern to bring it to my preferred below knee length.

So where did the dress idea originate? I can possibly "blame" Kashi. I should have taken his advice. (I usually regret not listening to his suggestions) When he told me he had something beautiful I would love, and showed me this fabric he told me "Make a dress" I was like "Me? A dress? I think I'll make a nice warm top, I'll take a yard" He tried to suggest I take a bit more but this fabric was over 72" wide, a yard was going to be more than enough for a top. Bless his soul, Kashi cut me a 47" yard of this one. Good thing... because I have just exactly enough.
Anyone else ever had a fabric that just "told" you what it wanted to be despite your original plans for it?

Friday, January 3, 2014

Style Arc Creative Cate

I don't think I have the words to express how much I love this pattern. This is the first Style Arc pattern I have sewn up and it is wonderful! It is actually drafted true to the size/measurements it claims to be for. Wow!

The only change I had to make is adding some width at the waist and hip to account for my pear shape. I simply checked the size chart for my size (size 14) and figured out what I would need to add to bring the waist and hip measurements in line with mine. Divided by four and added that to each side seam (pivoting out the side seams). I shortened it by 1 1/2" since I am not that tall. And.... it fits beautifully! I am officially a Style Arc convert! (enough exclamation points for you today?)

The instructions were perfectly adequate for me, though I can see them being a bit terse for a beginner. I'll report back more on the quality of their instruction when I have sewn a Style Arc pattern that is a bit more complex.

I "muslined" this top first. You can see it in this blog post.
I used this cool snakeskin print from Gorgeous Fabrics (she still has some left).
Here's a link to the pattern (just in case you've been living under a rock).

I bought this particular pattern because I liked the style and feel that it flatters me and it does. I actually have bought a few tops with this type of neckline in the past couple of years so when I wore this top last Friday (I sewed it on Thursday night) my kids who had seen the fabric in my stash didn't comment. When I mentioned it to my 11 year old her answer was. "I didn't realize... you wear that type of style a lot... I think all your tops look like that?"

I can sew these up in about an hour including cutting! My Mother complimented it (thinking I had bought it lol) and I sewed her two of them in fabrics of her choice as a gift. (Only a small token of the appreciation I have for her. I owe her so much, she helps out tons) Sorry no pictures of those as I immediately gifted them to her. She was delighted!
I have two more of these planned for myself. One in a gray knit and one in a teal/black/silver burnout stretch velvet.

More pictures: (I had to restrain myself from posting another 50 pictures... I really love this top!)

I styled the top the way I wore it, with a 3/4 sleeve layering shell and necklace.  

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Half slips and Kwik Sew 3155 : Hoodie Pajamas

Last week was mostly taken up with boring useful sewing. I started by drafting a pattern for, and sewed myself three half slips (well actually four but the first ended up in my donations bag since it was way too big.) I used this tutorial: Gertie's Half Slip Tutorial which was great. Just don't add any ease (she calls for adding 3" to the hip measurement before halving it) if you're using a knit fabric and you'll be fine. All the materials for my half slips came from Sew Sassy including the nylon tricot, picot elastic for the waist, and stretch lace trim for the hem. Black half slips are pretty easy to find in the stores around here but not in the length I wanted (always too short or too long. Now I have some in the exact 26" length that I wanted (three inches less than the 29" I tend to wear my "shorter" skirts at). No pictures because I found it impossible to get a decent picture of black half slip. I think I could draw a better picture in Paint.

Something like this LOL:
Next I sewed up a pair of pajamas for myself using my TNT Kwik Sew 3155. Unfortunately it seems to be out of print now. I don't even know how many times I have sewed this one up in the past decade. All I can say is I have many different sizes traced with different alterations including one for maternity, another for post baby, and another in a size I would need to lose close to 20 pounds to fit into. I sewed this up again recently when I started sewing for myself again but decided I needed another since it seemed I was wearing that one almost every night, washing it in the daytime so I could wear it again at night straight out of the dryer. There's nothing like super comfy pajamas :-) I like my pj pants with lots of ease, so I always cut them about a size larger than my measurements.

The pattern with a swatch of the fabric I chose for the top (sitting on top of the bag full of this pattern traced in various sizes)
For the hoodie I used a soft rayon/lycra jersey knit I bought from fabric.com in November. For the pants I used some black cotton french terry I had lying around for who knows how long. I *may* have bought it from Wazoodle years and years ago. I had just exactly enough. It was so close that I laid out the fabric flat on the floor and traced the pattern pieces onto it first. I wanted to be sure I wasn't going to be off by one inch. Only then did I transfer it to my cutting table and begin cutting.  All I have left now are tiny scraps for my kids to turn into doll clothes, school projects (and who knows what else they do with the fabric scraps I save for them)
I've made this one so many times that I don't look at the instructions anymore but when I sewed it the first few times I followed them and they were very good, as Kwik Sew instructions always were. (I have no idea how they are now as my Kwik Sew pattern stash was acquired before Kwik Sew became part of McCall Pattern Company.)
There are a few changes I always make when I sew up this one. Firstly I leave the drawstring off of the pants. I did sew it the first time, but since then I don't bother.
 I also self line the hood. To do this I cut four hood pieces, instead of two. Sew and press the back seam in each set. Then sew them together right sides together around the top and front edges only leaving the bottom free. Turn right side out, press, topstich at 1/4" around the top and front edges. Line up the bottom edge and machine baste them together. Sometimes if I'm in the mood I then carefully line up the back hood seams and "stitch in the ditch" along the seamline, but not always. I then treat the lined hood the same way I would an unlined one and sew it to the neck edge. It doesn't go all the way to the front edges anymore since the hem allowance of the hood is no longer there (because it is used up in the seam when the two hoods were sewn to each other). After sewing in the hood I simply press in the v-neck edge of the top, secure with Design Plus double sided fusible tape, and then topstitch at 1/4", meeting the topstitching of the hood at the top of the 'v'.
Everything else is sewn pretty much as in the instructions. I coverstitch the hems but before I had my coverstitch machine I used a twin needle. (The very first time I don't think I had any double needles yet so I zigzagged the hems and it worked fine too)
The picture isn't super. I can't get the pants onto my dressform so they are hanging from the top of the closet door on a bit of an angle which makes them look wonky.