The thoughts, sewing projects, and fabric oglings of a dedicated sewist.

Activewear for the Win! McCall's 7026

Hey folks! February sometimes does bring good news along with all it's never-ending snow and cold (and more and more cold with all the staying indoors with bouncy children that it brings. Mama's going a little crazy.)

I love entering sewing competitions. They help me meet a deadline, tackle a challenge, and do creative problem solving. I've never actually won any of the competitions . . . until now! I placed second in Pattern Review's Activewear Contest and won $75 to Mood Fabrics for my trouble (hello, new Mood Bag!).

You can see all the contestants here and the winners here. I really want to sew Fehr Trade's Surf to Summit Top after seeing the 1st place project by feldmanTcat and the beautiful color combo she chose.

What did I make? McCall's 7026 jacket that has been in my stash for a relatively short period of time (6 months). I found the fabric at Fishman's Fabrics in Chicago when I was looking for navy taffeta for another project (yes, I know, knits are nowhere near the taffeta. Got to be thorough when looking for the right color.).

I was able to sew this up on Valentine's Day when Devon took the girls out for an extended shopping trip (to buy presents and dinner for me, since the day after is my birthday - more February good times). Four glorious hours of sewing time on a Saturday, when usually I have to work or do chores or ferry children on a Saturday. Ahhhh.

I did not sew a muslin for this one because I figured I would run in it no matter how it turned out. I made just one adjustment - adding 3/4" between bust and waist - before cutting. I'm happy with the fit, and I'm glad the shoulders worked out (bit of a risk, but I don't usually need to adjust there on jackets/coats). Next time I'll add a bit to the length so that I can make a deeper hem, grade down to a size 12 from a size 14 at the hips, and interface the collar (pattern doesn't call for this, but I think it would look nicer). You can read my full pattern review here if you're interested in that sort of thing.

The thing I love most about this jacket is the back. Great design lines, right? I'll have to run fast so that I give everyone the back view.

Another great detail is the cuffs with thumb hole. If you have long arms (like me), you'll want to lengthen the sleeve if you're not adding cuffs.

My new jacket has given me a blast of excitement to keep running till Spring. And I needed that blast.

Can we get a break from the snow? Please?
So my first attempt at activewear was a success. Not sure how much of this kind of sewing I'll do (I'm too addicted to sewing pretty clothes), but it was a lot of fun. Would you use precious sewing time for activewear?

Yay. Snow.

Completely fake action shot.
I don't think it's possible to run like this.

Reclaiming Red + Green

I did some reading in color theory last fall, and I was surprised to see red + green mentioned as complementary colors for creating color combos. This combination is associated so strongly with a certain holiday, that it's hard to see how it could work. It's been in my head these last few months as a kind of personal challenge: Can I make this work in every day life without looking like a Christmas ornament?

I think I did it! As I mentioned in my last post about my new FAVORITE red skirt (review of pattern here), I had some jade jersey I planned to use to make a top. I wanted something fairly simple that wouldn't steal thunder from the pleating in the skirt AND something that I could whip up quickly since I was impatient to try it out. I used my deep cowl top pattern (tutorial here).

So the color isn't strictly green, more of a jade with more green than blue in the mix. It's a lovely matte jersey that I purchased at least a year ago (and maybe two) from, so it's probably long gone. The skirt fabric is also from GF, a rayon doubleknit.

I'm going to count this experiment as a success! Have you tried experimenting with unusual color combos? How did it work out??

Doubleknit Starburst Heaven

You know when you sew something that you've been thinking about for a long time and you really hope it lives up to your expectations? And sometimes it doesn't? This dream turned out to be everything I hoped for and more. If you see me on a regular basis please be advised that you'll be seeing this skirt A LOT.

Here's the photo that hooked me in:

Pencil skirt? CHECK
High waist? CHECK
Sexy detail? CHECK
Killer shoes? DOUBLE CHECK

My only disappointment was that the shoes didn't come with the pattern. What? I know. That should be an option.

So I've had my eye on this pattern for a while. But it's BurdaStyle, so even thought it's only one pattern piece I still had to tape together 24 pieces of paper, and I rarely have the patience for that. And it's BurdaStyle, so there could be some glaring problem with the instructions. But it's also BurdaStyle, one of the few pattern lines that does sexy. And it's an easy-peasy, knock-it-out-in-two-hours skirt. Too bad it only took me about a year after buying the pattern and six months after buying the perfect fabric to make it up.

I did have a few hiccups making this up which I'll fix for the next time - and there will most certainly be a next time - but I love the results.

Let's talk about construction, because I made some changes. First, I added a zipper. BurdaStyle's idea is that you would pull this skirt on, with it high, fitted waist, over your hips (although I supposed you could wiggle in head first). I wasn't sure I would be able to pull it on, and I figured if I did, the waist would sooner or later get all distorted. So I inserted a zipper in the side seam without pleats. I think next time I'll add a center back seam and put it there, partly because I don't love side seam zippers, and partly because I really think this skirt needs a back vent if you want to easily get in and out of cars with it. Especially if you're gonna wear some killer heels, which I most certainly will, and you don't want to look like a landed sea mammal while you attempt to enter a car door.

Also, this skirt is supposed to have pleating in the back. I wasn't sure this was a great idea, but I planned to go along with it. But that pleating was just too damn thick - I could barely sew through one side of pleats much less two. I did use a doubleknit instead of a ponte knit, but it don't think that would make a huge difference. Check out how thick the seam is with an unpleated back:

You can see the skipped stitches and wonky overlock that occurred as my machines fought their way through this manwich of layers.

Also, I think the directions have you pleat in the wrong direction. As a result, my pleats lay with the pleats down, but then when I walk they flip up. Next time I'll try reversing this.

To get an un-pleated back, I simply used my skirt front as a pattern once I had nailed sewn the pleats in place. 

My final change was to take it in about 1" in the waist, as I wanted a good amount of negative ease to hug the waist to my body. I catch stitched the waist facing down in a few areas and I catch stitched the hem after adding a bit of teal hem lace (ooo-la!).

Some may think my pairing this with a plum top is odd. I kinda like the oddness, and this blouse is one my husband bought me last year for Christmas and I haven't found a way to wear it yet (I don't usually look good in blouse-y blouses, but the high waist really helps). My plan is to pair this with a teal top, similar in color to the hem lace. Color theory tells us that red and green are a good pairing, and I've wondered how to pull this off without looking like a crazy Christmas person.

Over the holidays, I went on a junky Crime tv bender and watched the entire first season of Reckless. It's not great, but it's what I wanted at the time. And one week, Anna Wood showed up in a teal top and red pencil skirt and it worked! Red and green (ish) looking fab and un-Christmas-y together. 

Hard to see it in this photo, but it's the best I could locate. I really want to replicate this in some way (I'm thinking cowl neck jersey top) and I think I have the perfect fabric:

What do you think? Would you wear this color combo?