Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sailing: Inspiration for the Anna Tunic by Amy Butler

Creating, as I do for a living, can have both its advantages and disadvantages. I would never give it up for the world. Though, I must say, creating for work, and working a lot, can be a serious drain on my imagination, in turn making me kind of sad. So, I decided to take a sabbatical. My plan was to work - but from home, at my own pace and schedule. My goal was to replenish my creative spirit.

My friend, Ysolda, visited from Scotland recently. It was great. Having her here motivated me to actually leave my shop / house to do fun things - like sailing.

Off we went, around the Bay. We decided to sail under the Bay Bridge. For those of you who have never been here, and to give you a sense of scale, the Bay Bridge is a huge, 5 mile long, double decker bridge, that connects Oakland to San Francisco. It is currently being re-built, so if an earthquake hits, ok let's not go there.

I loved seeing the construction of the new bridge from this angle - the colors, the angles, the size. It was remarkable, given there must have been 100s of cars zooming above us, how quiet it was.

The Bay Area is known to have micro-climates which can exist within a mile of one another. Meaning that it can be toasty warm and sunny at my house in Oakland, I can drive a mile towards the Bay, and it can be overcast, windy, and chilly. The weather can also shift dramatically from hour to hour as the fog rolls in and out of the Bay.  I wear and carry many layers of clothing. Well, the same goes for the Bay. As we sailed towards the Bay Bridge, we would stall. No wind. Then, as we sailed under the bridge and began to make our way north again - huge gusts of wind, freezing cold, and the light was drastically different. I love this photo because this is how it really looked as we turned the corner so to speak.

After sailing, I felt so invigorated. Um, and also kinda cold - but that's what hot baths are for!!

I decided to sew the Anna Tunic by Amy Butler out of Cloud 9 Organics Shards. The colors and pattern reminded of my day on the Bay.

Pattern Review and Notes

The pattern said bust measurement 39" = L. 36" = M.
My bust is a 38. To me the photo on the front of the pattern showed ease. So, I made the sz Lg.

As you can see from the photos, the tunic is too large. Notice the large gap along my back. If I had much larger b**bies, everything would be fine. I could have easily taken off 2 inches along the entire piece.

Now, of course, a wise thing to do, is to take measurements of the pattern, and create a schematic. From this schematic, compare your measurements, and make the necessary alterations to the paper pattern.  I did not do this because this is my 1st time sewing from an Amy Butler garment pattern and I wanted to completely follow her directions and to go through the process as a customer of mine might - who is more or less a beginning garment maker. And, being that this is a shop sample, it is ok if it doesn't fit me perfectly.

I thought it odd that I was a sz large. I would say that I am in the small - medium range of women weight wise. I went on to think - If I am a large, and the pattern only goes up to an XL, that means there are a lot of woman who can not use this pattern. Hm.

Well, the good news is - is that the large was too big - so this pattern will accommodate a much greater amount of women.

Suggestion: If you are in between sizes, go down a size. In the future, I would cut the pattern bust / chest section a sz medium. And keep the hip portion a size large. If that is still too large, I would cut the whole pattern down to a medium.

I do plan on making this pattern again, and will report back about the changes in fit.

Fabric & Lining: 
Cotton poplin was perfect. The pattern does call for the tunic to be lined. I did line mine. While I like the finished touch of lining the piece. I am not sure that it is necessary.  If you live in a very hot place, I would not line the tunic. It would only make it hotter.

Another idea would be to keep it lined but make it out of cotton voile or lawn, both fabrics being much lighter, thus, much more flow and drape.

The pattern called for 2 yards. Though I did everything the pattern asked, I used 1 3/4 yds.

Pattern Directions
I have found both this pattern and the Birdie Sling pattern to be quite wordy. I figure they are this way because they are targeting new sewers, so, perhaps giving them a bit of education along the way...or trying to be very specific? For me, though, there were times when making it wordy, or giving too many detailed directions, made the pattern harder to follow.  I wanted to read all of the directions, thinking that, well maybe there is something important about to happen that I need to pay attention for, when really, it was just a lot of details for pretty simple things. If I were to edit the pattern, I might add some of the extra info as quick tips, in bubbles alongside the illustration, instead of including it in the body of the directions, that way if you are an experience seamster, you can just run through it. Doing this would also break up the long blocks of text.  Next time, when I sew the pattern, it will go much faster. While that can be the case for anything, in this case, I think it really applies. In other words, don't be daunted by the amount of steps in this pattern, it really is pretty easy to sew.

The most difficult part was the yoke. I kept being confused by the directions for how to sew the yoke interior and exterior, yoke right, yoke left. A lot of yoke going on in those directions. In the future, I will highlight in yellow the pattern every time yoke interior is mentioned. Perhaps by having a color i.e. visual reminder, it might not be so confusing. Then again, because the interior and exterior are the same fabric, it really does not matter. Worse case scenario is that your buttons are on the wrong side.

I really like the look of this garment. I will sew it again with the alterations listed above. If you would like to see the piece in person, it is at the shop - along with the pattern and fabric.

In case you haven't heard, we have begun a new fat quarter club:

The Pressed Seam

+ 6 fat quarters per month

+ Packages ship 1st of the month

+ Available as a 6 month subscription

+ Modern, cotton, new, unique, Japanese, some hand-dyed, hand-printed by local artists

+ If you would like to purchase more fabric from your shipment, you will will receive a 15% discount.

+ Be the first to get new fabrics and other special goodies!

+ Memberships open today!

+ Memberships close on June 20th.

+ 1st shipment: July 1st


ChrisC said...

Cute tunic, even if it is a bit too big!

I love Amy Butler's patterns, but I haven't yet made one where the fabric estimates were anywhere near on target -- they're always way high. I guess that's to accommodate centering patterns / mistakes / etc, but it drives me a little batty. Especially since quilting fabric is getting more and more expensive recently. I'd prefer an accurate account of how much fabric I need and then I could make the decision about whether I thought I needed a bit more for some reason.

As for her directions, as a newish sewer, I like the amount of detail. It gives me a lot of confidence even as I tackle new techniques. That being said, the big blocks of text are kind of hard to follow. I wish she would bullet things out a bit more, or do like you said with the little "hint" bubbles :-)

andrea creates said...

this looks like a lot of fun!

i just wanted to let you know I got my fabrics today and can't wait to start some new projects with them :)

thanks again~

madame artsy said...

I love your photo of Ysolda and that you're friends with her. She's adorable and I've loved her knit patterns since 2006!

Four Squares Per Inch said...

I am currently trying to make the Anna tunic and stuck on attaching the yoke to the back of the tunic. Her visuals and directions aren't making that much sense. Any tips/tricks for getting it right?

hodge podge said...

i learned that same lesson the hard way too! haven't made any AB patterns yet, but exactly that happened to me the first time i made a Built by You/Simplicity pattern. after making my first one, i noticed that on one of the pattern pieces there was a chart of "finished garment measurements" that would have been very helpful to have on the outside of the envelope! because they seem to think 8" of ease is appropriate... so you might want to look and see if AB patterns have that info hidden somewhere too.