Monday, July 1, 2013

Latest stash additions

The weather here has been pretty uneven lately and it's been hard to find a time when both the sun was out and my husband was willing to take pictures, so I haven't been able to get any pictures of my recent makes :(  Hopefully both weather and husband will prove more cooperative in the near future so I can work through my backlog.

In the meantime, please indulge me in a little showing-off.  These are the newest additions to the stash, though I have pretty concrete plans for most of them, so hopefully they won't linger in the stash for long!  Click on the pictures to enbiggen :)

Clockwise from top-left: Thakoon cotton lawn from Mood;
Printed silk charmeuse from Mood;
DKNY silk chiffon-satin from Elliott Berman;
Viscose knit from Elliott Berman
The Thakoon cotton has an unbelievably soft hand and it drapes like a silk-blend!  That's probably going to be a slim tank dress, drafted from the Wiksten Tank.  The silk charmeuse, which I purchased at the NYC store and could not find in Mood's online store, will probably be a sleeveless loose-fitting elastic-waist dress.  I'm not sure if it's easy to see from the picture, but the print looks like stalks of bamboo, and so I want to make a simple dress with straight lines to echo the linear look of the print.  I haven't decided on the neckline yet.  Burda 7335's boat neck looks very pretty, but the Twisted tank top from the July issue of Burda magazine also looks like it could work well with this print.  I fell in love with the DKNY print the first moment I saw it on Elliott Berman's website.  I was a little unsure exactly what "chiffon satin" meant, so I went to the physical store to check it out in person.  It's kind of like a light-weight charmeuse.  It's a little see-through so it will need lining, but it's a fair bit drapier than chiffon.  I kind of splurged and bought a lot of yardage because I wanted enough to make both a dress and a top with it.  The top will just be a simple tank, and I think the dress will be something similar to Simplicity 1880, with the surplice bodice.  The viscose knit caught my eye when I was at Elliott Berman picking up the DKNY silk, and I love how modern and trendy it looks.  That's probably going to be a cowl-neck tank dress, like Ichigogirl's Cowl Dress pattern.

Clock-wise from top left: Navy stripe knit from Finch Sewing Studio,
Navy and white viscose knit from Elliott Berman,
Black and white floral quilting cotton from Pins&Needles;
Eucalyptus shot-cotton from Finch Sewing Studio
I got the white and navy stripe knit to knock off a James Perse design.  The original dress is maxi-length but I think I'll make my dress knee-length, because I've never really been able to get into the whole "ankle-length dresses for informal occasions" thing. Seems rather impractical to me; it might work if you're a movie star and get chauffeured from red carpet to red carpet, but I like to have my legs be unhampered for walking and not have to worry about dragging my hem through dirt.  This second viscose knit is from the same trip to Elliott Berman.  If I hadn't exercised extreme self-restraint, probably at least two more cuts of fabric would have come home with me the same day.  This knit is going to be a "skater dress," a term I learned from other sewing blogs, which seems to refer to a knit dress with a close-fitting scoop-neck bodice, short sleeves, and flared skirt.  The print feels very girly so I thought it would work well in a dress with a sort of retro silhouette.  The black and white floral cotton was an impulse buy, because the moment I saw it I thought it would be perfect for a "Betty Draper dress."  I'm not absolutely sure what I want to do with the shot-cotton yet.  The soft hand and subtle drape makes me want to make a top out of it, but the crosswoven effect makes me want to make something with a twirly skirt to show it off.  Perhaps I could squeeze a tank top and a half-circle skirt out of it.

Clock-wise from top-left: Nani Iro White Fuccra and
Blue-Green Painting Check from Miss Matatabi;
Blue Herringbone Pencil from Superbuzzy;
Blue Bird's Eye from Miss Matatabi
This is just a portion of my Nani Iro haul from this season.  Miss Matatabi is a godsend for those of us not living in Japan!  The white Fuccra will probably be a Simplicity 2444.  The blue-green check will most likely be a Sewaholic Cambie with a straight neckline.  The Herringbone Pencil is going to be sort of frankenpattern'ed with a scoop neck fitted bodice from a vintage Simplicity pattern and a pleated skirt, with the white band running parallel to the hem of the skirt. The Bird's Eye is definitely going to be a Sewaholic Cambie.

All of this is very ambitious, obviously, which means the first thing I'm going to do is... buy more fabric because Pink Chalk is having a sale on voiles!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Dot dot dot

Finished just in time for a Sunday brunch with my husband: a McCall's 6551 View C, made up in Nani Iro 2013 Woodblock Pocho!  Nani Iro is highly popular with sewists, and rightfully so.  Not only are their prints stylish and versatile, the quality of the fabric itself is amazing.  Nani Iro is most well-known for their double gauze, a material that feels like sun-warmed clouds with a whisper of spring breeze on your skin.  This is my second time working with double gauze and third time with Nani Iro fabrics and I've become a bit obsessed: I want to order hundreds of yards of this stuff and make an entire wardrobe out of it.  One minute spent not wearing double-gauze is a minute wasted not living life to the fullest!

The first time I saw double gauze in person I was actually a little underwhelmed.  It was thicker and puffier than I had imagined and I had doubts about how well it would drape.  But of course my concerns proved to be unfounded, as you can see that, while it is a fabric with a decent amount of body, it still has a nice fluidity to it that is very flattering to the human figure.  And of course, wearing this fabric is an experience almost too scrumptious for words!

Here are a couple of projects made with double gauze that other bloggers have shared:
Simplicity 1882 made up using
Nani Iro Waltz, from Did You Make That
Vintage pattern made up using
Nani Iro Little Letter, from Sewaholic

I cut this dress in a straight X-Small, which, according to the envelope back, covers sizes 4-6.  I usually take a Size 8, but the finished measurements said the X-Small is 36" around the bust, which is quite a lot of ease already, so I figured going one size up might turn out too baggy.  As it turns out, it might have worked out better if I had taken Small and done some sort of SBA to reduce the fullness around the bust, because I think a little more room in the shoulders and hips would probably have been good.  This is probably how a pattern drafted for B-cup figures should work out for me, though, so I would say it was pretty well drafted and true to the sizing.

One thing that I did have to change about the pattern is the neckline.  I cut the pattern exactly as printed for my muslin and the neckline seemed way too big on me and flopped around a lot, almost sliding off my shoulders sometimes, making me wonder if I might need to grade the torso down a bit.  But I thought the ease around my bust seemed about right, so I decided to just change the neckline to make it less scooped-out.  In my final dress, I bound the neckline with bias but I kept the seam-allowance to make the finished neck-opening smaller all-around, and I reduced the curvature a bit to make the neckline narrower.

This was the first time I used a Microtex (or sharp point) Size 8 needle, and I have to say, the difference is pretty amazing.  In combination with a fine polyester thread, Seams come out so nice and smooth, you hardly need to press them!  The only non-ideal part of using Microtex needles is that the eye seems to be positioned slightly differently than the typical universal needles, which means the automatic threader on my Baby Lock Elizabeth doesn't work and I have to thread by hand.  On the whole, though, I think Microtex needles feel like a pretty good choice for sewing double-gauze.

This pattern was billed as a "1-hour dress" which is pretty fair to say, since it is very simple and easy to put together.  However, I spent over 2 days on it!  The first day was spent staring at my muslin and agonizing over what needed changing, and then cutting out and muslining two completely different shift dress patterns to see if I liked their fit better (no I never over-react, why do you ask?).  The second day, I decided to throw caution to the wind and cut into my "real" fabric with just the neckline alteration, and then spent the majority of my time hand-sewing.  I catch-stitched the lining of the sleeves and the bias binding I used on the neckline.

I also hand-basted the sleeves on before machining the armhole hem, even though it wasn't that hard to set in, because I had a bit of a traumatic experience with sleeves.  When I was first learning about dressmaking (high-school), I thought everything was totally simple: you just match up the edges and sew it up.  Because to a teenager, everything is obvious and simple.  Well, my first attempt to put sleeves on a dress brought me down quite a few pegs.  My mother was helping me make this dress, and she put in one sleeve, showing me how to do a running stitch in the sleeve seam allowance to help ease it into the armscye.  And I promptly ignored her and just stuck the other sleeve in the armscye and clacked away. Three-quarters of the way through the seam, I realized there was a lot more sleeve left than the armscye, and I decided to just squoosh it down and force it to fit.  After I finished sewing the seam, I took it out of the machine and looked at my dress: one perfectly set in sleeve on one side, one misshapen wrinkled atrocity on the other.  Ever since then, I've been a bit scared of set-in sleeves, and tend to stick to making sleeveless dresses.  I'm working on it though!  I still treat sleeves with utmost respect, but I hope that with enough practice I won't be scared of them anymore :)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Hello and welcome to my humble blog!  I've been lurking the sewing cyberspace for about a year now and couldn't resist joining in :)  The name of this blog is, as many of you probably figured out already, a play on "you throw like a girl."  I chose this name because 1) you have to sign a contract that you will put a sewing pun in the title before they let you make a sewing blog, and 2) I can't throw.  I hope that my ramblings here will help get your creative juices flowing, just as the myriad sewing blogs out there have done for me!

Here is my most recent finished garment, a Vogue 8723 made with the Kulla design from Lotta Jansdotter's Glimma line.

There's quite a range of opinions on making garments with quilting cottons, and I'm somewhere in the middle.  There's no doubt that quilting cottons are not designed with the demands of garment-making in mind, but I don't think that should completely rule out ever making a garment with quilting cottons.  The great thing about sewing is you can make anything you want!  Remember that Project Runway challenge from years back when the designers had to make dresses using only what they could buy at the Hershey's store in Times Square?  I believe the important thing is just to know your material and how it will behave.  Having said that, I think this dress is one instance where I miscalculated somewhat.

This fabric is fairly thick and doesn't drape, as one would expect from a quilting-weight cotton, so I wanted to make it into something casual and simple but fitted, to show off the adorable trees design but not look stiff or bulky.  The pattern's baked in instructions say to gather the skirt, dirndl-style, but I briefly considered making pleats instead, as I was a bit worried about making the waist too bulky due to the thickness of the fabric.  After pinning some pleats in, however, I thought they looked a little too studied, the way that it made the fabric fall in evenly-spaced folds, so I reverted to the gathers.  What I hadn't considered at the time was that the extra bulk in the waistline would make my torso look a bit boxy, and the weight of the fabric would cause the skirt to fall a bit limply, instead of puffing out a bit for the cute hourglass effect in the pattern illustration.  It also doesn't really help that the gathering quashed the print together below the waist, and the contrast between the spread-out trees and the quashed-together trees makes me look a bit top-heavy.  Ah well, live and learn!  I could unpick the skirt and try to make the pleats work but that would take *effort* and I've just got a bunch of new season Nani Iro that needs seeing-to!

As for the pattern itself, I'm quite happy with it.  It's one of Vogue's "Custom Fit" patterns, which comes with different pattern pieces for cup sizes A through D.  I cut a straight size 8 and used the A cup bodice front pattern piece and made no fitting alterations (my measurements are 31" high-bust, 32" full bust, 26" waist, and 34" hips).  I think this might be the first time I've had a pattern fit me out of the envelope (though to be fair I haven't made up any of the Simplicity Amazing Fit patterns yet).  The one structural alteration I did was to lower the neckline by 2".  I'm fairly happy with the result, but I've also seen a lot of dresses made with the original neckline that look really cute, so I think I might try that at some point, with a fabric that has a more dramatic print to camouflage the fact that my torso is almost completely flat.  Here's a link to the review I wrote at

I've worn this dress a couple times now and I'm mostly satisfied with how it has performed so far.  The fabric is very soft and the pattern has a very good amount of ease built-in, so it's very comfortable to wear.  I didn't line the dress so the gathers in the skirt sit directly against my skin, which can be a little scratchy but not that noticeable.  I fused interfacing to the armscyes to prevent them from stretching out but didn't do the neckline, and I rather regret it, because the neckline has stretched a bit over the course of wearing and gapes a little now.  This might be due to some properties of the fabric, but in the future I'm going to interface this neckline just to be safe.

Thanks for reading my inaugural blog post!  I hope it was a worthwhile use of your time :)  I'm planning out a shift dress in one of my new Nani Iro double-gauzes, and I hope to share it with you soon!