Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Sewaholic Christmas Vacation

Back in November, Sewaholic celebrated its anniversary with a Buy One/Get One sale on their printed patterns, and I used it as an excuse to snatch up their two new activewear patterns, the Pacific Leggings and the Dunbar top. It's a busy time of year at school and I knew I wouldn't get to them till the Christmas break, and that's exactly what happened. In December, Pattern Review also held a "New To You Pattern Company" contest and since it's my first time sewing Sewaholic, the timing was perfect!

First, a confession. I don't have a large fabric "stash," but what I do have is mostly activewear fabric. I do a LOT of Bikram yoga so I can justify to myself (if not to my eye rolling husband) sewing a lot of activewear. We went to the greater Portland area for Thanksgiving and while there I discovered a happy coincidence...there are a LOT of fabric stores in the area. Mike's family kindly humored me and let me spend a little bit of time drooling, stroking, and buying fabric at Fabric Depot...which is HUGE and had everything at 40% off for the Black Friday weekend. I, of course, bought a lot of activewear fabric...

...which I haven't used yet! I was going to, but then I discovered I had enough leftover material from previous projects that I could use up first for my "test" pieces. You know, in case I had any oops! moments or sizing issues.

The Pacific Leggings

I started with the Pacific Leggings since those were what I wanted to enter into the contest. I also got to use the new roll of tracing paper Mike got me for Christmas. When you pay extra money for indie paper patterns, you do not want to cut them...just in case! So on went Netflix and tracing began.

I cut a six for my hip and widened the waistband out to an eight, which is what the sizing chart recommended for my measurements. It fits fine but I might try a six in the waist, too, next time.

The instructions were fairly straight forward until you get to the crotch gusset. I scratched my head a bit and looked for good online tutorials and then began my usual rant...Why, oh, why, can't people who put in the time and effort to create a tutorial use some common sense?! It's wasted effort if you use busy print or plaid fabric with matching thread! Come on, people! Solid fabric with contrasting thread or your pictures are worthless!

The serged inside. Yes, it's bright.
Anyway, I think I figured it out okay, but for a newbie seamstress, it'd be nice if Tasia of Sewaholic put together a tutorial of the process on her blog, using some common sense in her fabric selection, of course! After all, inserting a gusset isn't something you see in a pattern everyday. I basted it in place first before serging it. There's no way you can serge it in one fell swoop because you have to snip the corners to make the seam allowances fold in the right directions - after basting the gusset in, you have seam allowances going in cross directions if you want to sew from the top of the pants, around the gusset, and up the other side. And I wanted this serged with two needles and then reinforced with the top stitching - in yoga, you do a lot of leg work and these seams will be stressed.

Top Stitching
The top-stitched outside

I used this tutorial to topstitch the seams to add contrast to the leg panels and also on the Dunbar top. I topstitched over serged seam allowance so that it is sewn down. Tip: I would NOT recommend using contrasting thread around the gusset area or you will have a circle around...well, you get the idea. So I used matching thread for the inner leg seam as well so I didn't end up with arrows traveling up there. If you are a runner, maybe not a big deal, but in yoga class, it is! The topstitching ended up a little wavy but once you put it on, it stretches to be straight. I did the same technique on my coordinating Dunbar top, and half way through remembered I needed to change the presser foot for that stitch! And guess what? It helped! Also, after the first wash, the stitch and fabric "relaxed" a bit and lost some of the initial waviness.
A note about the finished leggings: In the photo with the model, the waistband rests well below her natural waist and belly button. On me, it comes up nearly to my natural waist. Which I'm okay with since when leggings rest on my hips, I'm always tugging them back up.

I love the fit of these leggings! I've worn them to Bikram yoga twice already and they stayed put just fine. I like the fact that they don't have any pouchy places around my hip/lap area by the end of class like I do with some of my other leggings. I like the contrasting waistband and that it is a separate piece...this opens the door for all kinds of creative opportunities, whether you choose a solid or a print or a combination of both. The gusset is a nice feature to have in the leggings, too. For all the stretchy stuff you do in yoga, well, it helps the leggings stretch right...and return to place right. This pattern is definitely a keeper and potential repeater for me.

The Dunbar Top

I'm going to get my gripes out of the way first.

Gripe#1 - and the fault may lay with me on this one; I haven't gone back to check if it is my mistake or the pattern's. When I traced off the side pieces, I wrote "cut 4" on my tracing piece, which is what I think it said. But I haven't pulled out the original to check yet. Four made sense - two front side pieces, two back side pieces. However, when I sewed it up, it was not working at all - too big, the notches weren't matching up, it was a real headscratcher. So I checked the cutting layout (which I didn't follow because I was using up scraps) and low and behold! I only needed two side pieces. So it was time to unpick and resew.

Gripe #2 - about the instructions. You can either sew the bra or the top with the built in bra and the first five or six steps applies to either view. The pictures included show the bra and uses the numbers of the bra pattern pieces which are different from the numbers of the top+bra pieces. Really annoying when you are hunting for "piece 12" like the picture indicates, can't find "piece 12" (I leave my pieces pinned to the tracing paper) because yours is really "piece 10" and then have to match up and verify that "piece 10" really is the equivalent of "piece 12."

The tank is long! I made a deeper hem than called for and could still shorten it some. I like my tanks long but this is long on me.

I did not use power net for the built in bra because I didn't have any, JoAnn's netting is not "power" by any means, and I wanted to make it now, not after waiting for an online order to arrive. I used scraps of the same fabric as the tank and it works just fine. But I'm not busty, either, and yoga is not like running in terms of impact.

The front of the shelf bra. The black bra cups are sewn onto my fake powernet. 

The instructions call for plush back elastic for the bra-band (built-in only) and does not indicate that you sew it on, turn, and sew again...just sew it one with the plush back towards the body. I did the turn and sew because I used normal elastic. I was concerned the bra fabric would be too short and make the bra ride up but it's okay...then again, I'm the exact opposite of busty...a busty person may find differently. The bra-only version does have you sew/turn/sew and uses different pattern pieces than the built-in bra.
And even a tag! Mike gave them to me for Christmas!
The grey fabric the tag is sewn onto is my power net substitute.

What I love: I love the built in opportunity to contrast fabric and coordinate. I love the built in shelf bra and the options it gives you. The shelf bra was easy to sew and attach to the top (once I figured out the instructions and why I was doing a particular step.) If you didn't want the built in bra, it would be easy to adapt and sew it without it, too. The princess side seams (I think that's what they are?) are slenderizing visually. I love the sweetheart line of the two pieces. It, too, is flattering. I plan on at least a few more. This one has quickly become my favorite in my workout wear tops. The RTW ones I've been using really are too small but they just won't die even with the regular beatings I give them! I may have to help them find a new life as the contrast material in this top.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your work and rants. They are a good indicator of what imstructions/ pattern pieces to take care when making this pattern.