Because I still don’t have enough hobbies

I’ve always wanted to play percussion.  The desire gets stronger every time I do a performance with a symphony orchestra, or go to the symphony, or even just listen to classical music with a lot of percussion.  I WANT TO HIT ALL THE THINGS!!!

So finally this summer I’m taking lessons.  Because why not.  Because maybe I’ll be able to get into a not-quite-total-beginner band in the fall.  Because I so totally need another activity… not.

Since my sewjo is currently dormant, I decided that I needed a case for my new drumsticks.  And crocheted one.  Quite pleased with how it came out.

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5 muslins in 5 days challenge

A couple weeks ago, I had a week off work, so I set myself the challenge of fit-testing five muslins in five days.  I figured if I had some patterns already tested and ready to go, maybe I’d make something other than a T-shirt for a change.  Proper reviews will come when (or if) there are FOs.  For now, just a few comments.

HotPatterns 1217 – Weekender Utility Cargo Pants

First up was this pair of trousers.  It took me two days to get the fit right.  HotPatterns’ crotch curve is fabulous for flatter, lower butts, but that’s the opposite of what I’ve got.  And since I lost weight, my shape has changed, so the custom crotch curve I made for myself this time last year, didn’t really work when I drew it in for these pants.

On the other hand, once I created a crotch curve for my shape as it is now, these pants were quite easy to adjust because of the princess seams.  I think this is going to replace my previous go-to trousers pattern after a tiny bit more tweaking.

HotPatterns 1192: Metropolitan Chimera Cardi/Jacket/Vest

I started on this one when it was released last year, and had a terrible time with it.  Because I couldn’t figure out how to do a FBA on this kind of darted princess seam, I tried to make it work in size 26 (as chosen by my full bust measurement) instead of two sizes smaller plus a 2″FBA, the armholes and shoulders were gigantic and it was just a mess.  Then on top of that, the sleeves were extremely tight.

This year, I started with a size 20, based on my high bust measurement, then did a FBA.  (I’ll post a tutorial on my cheater FBA… sometime – it’s OK the way I did it, but I think I can make it still better).  And I added a seam along the outside of the arm to make room for my arms.  It seems to have worked but I’m going to test it one more time before cutting into my nice, “real” fabric.

 HotPatterns 1121 – Riviera Cote D’Azur Top/Dress

This is a more shapely and fun version of a knit T.  I had trouble with the gathers at the bust – a 3/8″ seam allowance doesn’t really leave room for gathering stitches to hide after the real seam is sewn.  Also, as is often the case, the sleeves were too narrow for my heavy upper arms.  For the next iteration, I plan to add to the seam allowance at the gathers, and drop the sleeve opening (they’re cut-on cap sleeves, with a sewn-on extension to make them 3/4 length) by about 1″.

HotPatterns 1206: Fast & Fabulous Layering Tank

As I’ve learned through experience, I started with a size 20, then added a 2″ FBA.  The fit is mostly good, except, surprise surprise, too tight under the armpit.  For my next iteration, I’m going to redraw the armhole to be a bit deeper and wider, and then also I feel like it’s a bit too A-line to be flattering on me, so I’m going to rotate the darts created by the FBA, to be more like French darts.  And also shorten it six or eight inches.

I really like the shape and depth of the neckline, and the finishing method for the combined neck and armhole facing is slick and polished.  Looking forward to doing one more test, then trying it for real.

HotPatterns 1208: Fast & Fabulous Dressage A-line Skirt

I’ve already completed one of these and worn it in public; I’ve submitted a review to Curvy Sewing Collective that I hope will be published soon.

It was super-easy to get a good fit – I just needed to add about 3″ to the front waist of a starting size 26.  Also super fast and easy to whip up.  I’m having trouble staying on track mentally with my capsule wardrobe plan, because the possibilities of this skirt demand execution in a huge variety of fabrics.

Pattern Review: HotPatterns 1152 Origami Knit Top

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The story

A few weeks ago, I was going to sing a number at a cabaret, and I wanted something a bit different to wear.  I decided to go with HotPatterns #1152: Fast and Fabulous Origami Knit Top.  It definitely had to be fast, because it was about noon the day of the cabaret, and the call time was 5PM.

Because of the unusual shape of the main pattern piece, it didn’t look like something easy to do a FBA on, and I didn’t see any point in doing any other adjustments because it has an adjustable tie waist that was big enough to go around me.  It’s not like there was time to mess with it anyway.  So I made a straight size 26; the only adjustment I did was to attach the waist ties higher, because the narrowest part of my torso is just under my boobs.

The instructions were clear and simple , and the construction process should have been super-easy (all you have to do is attach two tubes into two holes for sleeves, attach the back ties, and sew one other seam.)  Even including printing and taping the pdf pattern, I really should have been able to get it done with plenty of time to shower and do fancy makeup.  Unfortunately, I rushed, which resulted in me sewing one sleeve on upside down and inside out.  And then unpicking black thread on black, somewhat-delicate (lightweight ITY knit) fabric.  And then my sewing machine jammed when I went to carry on.  So I wore something else to the cabaret, and finished this a week later or so.

I’m really happy with it and have worn it a few places and gotten lots of compliments.  The only reason I don’t think I’ll make another one is, it’s very unique and much dressier than I generally wear for everyday, so I don’t think I need more than one.

The details:

Size range: 8 – 26, roughly corresponding to ready-to-wear.  A size 26 is 52B/44W/54H.  I would rate the size range as 3 – good but could be more extensive.

My body: I’m not sure how to classify my shape. When I was thinner, I was definitely a pear, but now I have boobs and a belly and heavy upper arms too.  I’m 5’3″, 52B/47W/54H.  I wear a DD or D bra.

How my body worked with the pattern:  Great, if I do say so myself.  I might have done better with a bit more room in the sleeves, but other than that, it clung to my boobs and showed them off, and skimmed from there on down.  The tie waist made it really easy to adjust.  I would rate the final fit a 4.

Advice:

  1. The instructions didn’t say to, but I sewed clear elastic into the neckline to prevent wardrobe malfunctions.
  2. Because of the shape of the main pattern piece, you MUST use a wide fabric.  There’s no way the main pattern piece will fit on a fabric much narrower than 60″.  I got away with 55″ but it was close.

Verdict:

I really like how this looks on me.

The back is really unusual with fabric draped interestingly. You could probably see it better in a not-black fabric.

Size Range (1-5): 4.  This design is limited by the width of available fabric, so while 26 is not the greatest upper limit, it’s the biggest you can really make this top unless you get super lucky with extra-wide fabric.

Instructions (1-5): 4. Great for anybody with a grasp of basic techniques, but doesn’t hold your hand.  An absolute beginner would need help.

Construction Process (1-5): 5. Super easy, super fast.

Final Fit (1-5): 4.  Almost perfect; could have used more room in the arms.

Overall Rating (1-5): 4.  Overall, I would rate this pattern a 4.  It’s fast, easy, different without being out-there, and easy to adjust to flatter a variety of body types.  It falls short of a 5 for the limited size range, and the slightly sparse instructions.