Finished Object: New Look 6740

My apologies for the long absence (just in case anyone is reading…)  Two of my favorite pet frogs laid eggs together, so I am raising their offspring.  They are little froglets now, and very time consuming, but I will try and post more regularly.

Here, I have a finished item for you: my first successful knit!

New Look 6470

Pattern:  I used New Look 6470, view B, which is a sleeveless, cowl-neck, knit top.  I’ve had this pattern for a while, but I chose to do it now because it looked really easy, but still cute.   The instructions seemed good; I read over them but did not feel the need to follow them for such a simple top.  I wanted something easy because the only sewing on knits I’ve done was a single reconstruction years ago, which turned out rather unwearable (very stretched neckline).  This time, I wanted to concentrate on construction.

Fabric:  This fabric is a charcoal grey 50 rayon/50 polyester interlock knit which I bought from in 2009.  It is amazingly soft and has a beautiful drape, although it does pill slightly.  It was $5/yard, and this project used less than 3/4 of a yard, so this was a <$5 project!

Alterations:  I made a “sample” or “wearable muslin” of this top in some discolored navy blue polyester stretch velvet I had lying around (don’t put that stuff through the dryer, unless you want those crushed patches to be there forever), to help me figure out what alterations I needed.  For this version, I cut a size 10, took a 3/4″ petite tuck above the bust (although 1/2″ probably would’ve been enough), removed 2 1/2″ of length from the hem, added 1″ of extra width (1/2″ at CF and 1/8″ at each side seam), removed 2″ of width at the hips, and did a 3/16″ forward shoulder adjustment.  I also lengthened the facing to 2″ plus hem allowance, sewing a little bit of the facing into the armcyle seam.  In retrospect, the added width was entirely unnecessary, and actually makes this top less fitted than I would like, especially after it has relaxed from a few hours of wearing.  The extra ease also makes the wrinkles at the small of my back much worse; I think a so-called swayback adjustment would be helpful.

The so-called swayback wrinkles

Wrinkles showing excess ease

Finishing:  I do not have a serger; everything was sewn on my vintage zigzag singer.  I sewed all seams with a smallish zigzag, and did French seams on the shoulders for extra stability.  I’d planned on French seams for the sides as well, but that seemed like it would be too bulky so I just finished them with a wider zigzag.  For the back neckline I reinforced with a piece of clear elastic before turning and stitching.  (Guess what… I love clear elastic!  I really need to buy some now, the piece I used actually came on a cardigan I recently purchased… sort of like a hanging loop, but I didn’t plan on hanging it anyway.)  For the other outer edges– armholes and hem– I did a line of zigzag stitching just inside of where I wanted my folded edge to be.  This line of stitching made it easy to turn up the seam allowances neatly and accurately, and then I top-stitched them down with yet another zigzag.

Detail of finishing

Other comments:  I spent quite a bit of time and fabric testing various sewing and finishing methods, but I think it was time well-spent.  My seams and edges are smooth and nearly unnoticeable from the outside; from the inside they are neat and should be able to withstand the washing machine and dryer.  Yay!  I think I’ll be sewing a lot more knits in the future.

Another thing that struck me during the construction of this top was how very important that 3/4″ petite above-bust alteration is for me.  It’s not the only alteration I need, but it helps more than any other.  Just a simple removal of a little bit of length, and suddenly this top fits me better than any other!  With my bust and waist positioned properly within the shirt, it does not constantly ride around, requiring adjustment.  Since making this top, I’ve realized I have an ingrained habit of tugging my shirt down every time I stand up, move around, etc., because most (non-petite) shirts ride up, forming pools of fabric across my upper chest.  With this top, though, that is not necessary!

Conclusion:  The fabric is nice, the pattern was easy and the result is flattering… what’s not to love?  I like the shape of the top; it’s a great balance of practical (wide, bra-strap-covering shoulders) and sexy (draped cowl neckline).  Since it has no sleeves, it will easily fit under a cardigan for fall/spring wearing, as well.  I am already planning another one in a lovely wisteria-colored rayon knit.

I actually saw about 4 tops with this style of neckline last week at Target, so it would appear I am right on trend without even trying… hehe

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1970’s Skirt Copy

This time I actually have a garment to show you… thus far garments have been sorely lacking, despite my intentions for this blog.  This is actually the first garment I’ve made that I’m proud to wear in public, so I guess it’s a fitting first one for the blog.

This skirt is made with quilting cotton from Joann’s, purchased in 2009, before I’d done much sewing.  Even as quilting cottons go it is stiff and coarse (and slightly off-grain), but I love the pattern as much now as I did then.  I wish I had taken a picture of the skirt before I washed it; the stiff fabric made the tiers stand out quite a bit, and I had many doubts before it was finished.  Fortunately, washing it and letting it hang to dry made it look much more as I had envisioned.

Left: Vintage 1970s skirt Right: My 2011 version

The pattern is knocked off from a vintage skirt I bought on Etsy, probably from the ’70s.  Since the bottom two tiers are just straight ruffles at a 2:1 ratio, it was a very easy pattern to knock off.  The difference in length is due to me changing my mind on the fly about how exactly to attach the ruffles and finish the seams.  Other than that, it is very similar to the original, right down to being somewhat too small for me in the waist.  Oops, I guess I should’ve done something about that; it would’ve greatly increased the versatility of this skirt.

I decided to go without trim for this version.

The fabric of the original skirt is lighter and softer; much more noticeable in person.  I just love the pattern of the original skirt, too; something about the light colors mixed with black and cream really tickles me.  Unfortunately, the inside of the skirt is completely unfinished; combined with the age of the skirt, it is a rather delicate piece to wear.

The original tag. You can also see an unfinished seam, fortunately not shedding because it is on the bias.

My favorite lack-of-finishing on this skirt.

I went with a much cleaner finish on my version.  I’m quite pleased with how I did the seam allowances; I’ve not really seen this exact method anywhere else.  You see, I wanted a French seam, but I didn’t want to deal with the hassle and bulk of one side of my seam being ruffled.  So, I sewed the pieces together wrong sides facing, as for a French seam, and then I wrapped the piece that was not ruffled around both seam allowances, and stitched in the ditch to hold it in place.  It worked quite well, and makes me very happy.

The wrong side of this fabric is difficult to photograph...

I'm pretty pleased with my zipper, although my waistline seam doesn't match very well.

A closer look at my hand-worked buttonhole. Next time I will make my stitches narrower.

In conclusion, I am quite pleased with this skirt, especially as it was something of a wearable muslin.  I learned quite a bit while making it, and I’m looking forward to doing another, improved version soon.  The improvements will be a better fit at the waist, and the proper seam allowances to do the zipper, baste and attach the ruffles, and do my wrapped seam finish.

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Pressing Tools

Not the most exciting of sewing… but quite useful.

Tailor's ham, seam roll, and pincushion, on a fresh ironing board cover

Unfortunately, the rather cute pincushion is unusable; it is much to firm, and bends my delicate silk pins.  I guess small-pet-bedding sawdust, packed as firmly as possible, is not the best for sticking pins into.  That did occur to me as I was making it, but it was what I had on hand.  I’ll have to make another one, filled with something a little more pin-friendly, and a bit larger, while I’m at it.

The tailor’s ham and seam roll went a little better, since they’re supposed to be quite firm.  I probably could’ve stuffed more sawdust into the seam roll as I sewed up the opening, like I did with the ham, but oh well.  They’re done, and functional, and that’s what counts, especially for projects like this.  They are wool on one side, cotton on the other, with a “lining” of cotton muslin.  If I were to do them again, I would machine-baste the lining layer to the outer layer, so they don’t become separated during stuffing, and also because the basting stitches would give a good guideline for the hand-stitched closure.

Re-covering my ironing board was a much larger task than I’d anticipated, since my machine’s wide zigzag (which I wanted to use to attach the drawcord) was having serious tension issues, something I’ve been ignoring and avoiding for some time.  Even when the upper and lower tension were evenly balanced, they both seemed much too tight, causing a fold to form in the middle of my zigzag.  I wanted to adjust my bobbin tension, but the tension screw on my bobbin case was, to my best efforts, non-adjustable.  This is strange because I had the bobbin case replaced a while ago, and I was definitely able to adjust the bobbin tension on my old case.  Eventually, after much unsuccessful futzing around with tiny screwdrivers and machine oil, I remembered I have a spare bobbin case, and used that one (with its adjustable bobbin tension), for a lovely, evenly-tensioned zigzag.  I’m a little irked that the other case has an apparently stuck tension screw, though– especially as I recall I was charged $80 for that silly little part.

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Sewing + Knitting = Awesome

Well, it’s been over a month since I started this blog, and I haven’t posted anything!  I have been sewing a bit, and I have some completed knitting projects to show off, but I thought I’d start with this nifty little pouch I made for a dear friend.

It turned out exactly as I had pictured… which is nice, considering I began working on it 2.5 years ago!  That was just after I’d learned to knit, and before I’d done much “real sewing” (I’ve always enjoyed reconstructing and modifying my clothes, though.)  I completed the knit portion, but my sewing skills needed longer to develop, so I put the project out of sight for a few years.  Even after my sewing had improved, I couldn’t quite figure out how to make exactly what I wanted (a lined bag with no seam allowances showing and no topstitching), until I found the perfect tutorial on Craftster.

I followed the tutorial pretty closely; the only tricky part was joining my knitting to a piece of fabric beforehand.  (Well, okay, it was also tricky when I completely spaced on preshrinking my interfacing…)  If I were to make another one of these, I would try and incorporate a narrow “seam allowance” edging on my knitting, to make the joining easier, particularly on the beaded edges.

Other details:

-Knit with Southwest Trading Company Pure SoySilk yarn in “Rapture” colorway, with assorted seed beads

-Knitting was based on the Lily of the Valley version of the Perdita bracelet from Knitty… yes, I know mine looks nothing like a bracelet.  I couldn’t find a pattern for a bag that fit the picture in my mind’s eye.

-Fabric used was fuchsia silk and purple cotton batik (and 2 layers of fusible tricot interfacing, one of which is acting as more of a sew-in due to shrinking issues)

Overall, I am extremely pleased with how this bag came out; despite the 2.5 years it took to complete, it was not very difficult, and the result is fabulous, my pictures do not do it justice.  I may have to whip up one of these for myself sometime!

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The First Post


I am the DragonFrog, and this is a blog about my wardrobe.

For as long as I can remember, I have loved to dress up.  A great outfit can cheer me up on a low day, or make an ordinary day something special.  An interest in clothing is considered frivolous by some, but it is undeniable that clothing has an effect on daily interactions.  Personally, I consider clothing and style as a wonderful route of self-expression.  After all, the clothes I wear may be the only thing people know about me… shouldn’t they be a shorthand for who I am?

I also enjoy making things… my most recent hobbies in that vein are sewing and knitting.  There’s something almost magical about transforming a pile of fabric or yarn into a useful or beautiful item.

This blog will chronicle my ongoing attempts to refine and expand my wardrobe, as well as other crafting- and style-related thoughts.

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