Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Strawberry Shortcake dress

This is my favorite Claire Cami dress so far!  Mainly because of the bird fabric, which I have had for ten-plus years.  I made a first attempt at clothes-sewing in my 20s.   Back then, my skills were rudimentary at best, and so I hoarded this piece of fabric, hoping that I would not waste it on some failed project.   Well, it took a while, but this fabric finally found its harmonious match.  It's just quilting cotton, but it's nice and soft, and neither too heavy nor too light.

Hiding behind a Kurabayashi Karoron.
(Say that ten times fast!)

The dotted fabric was purchased earlier this month, specifically to coordinate with the bird fabric, and the watermelon pink lining was left over from another project, but matched well enough.

I love that there's very little to fit on this pattern.  I may drop the waistband another half-inch on my next version, but really, it does not matter too much.   The neckline is slightly loose, but with no darts for fitting, I think it needs to be for comfort.

My husband (who really does like the dress) said it reminded him of Strawberry Shortcake.  I'm pretty sure it's Blueberry Muffin who would wear this, though.  But kudos to the husband for even remembering a circa 1980 girls toy!

Thanks for the input on my print mashup from last post.  Sophie Miriam -- I had not clued into the fact that the skulls were wearing sunglasses!  I thought they just had freaky eye sockets.  Duh, I guess.   And Little Black Car, I was seriously considering ordering this chicken wire fabric, which was one of the ones you linked to.  But then I found something in my stash that I think will harmonize well.

I hadn't considered this before because it's a four-yard piece.  However, I only need 1/4 yard of the contrast fabric, so there will be more than enough left to make a dress later.  That will be my next project, after I take a first pass at the McCalls 6520 blouse.  I have the blouse pattern traced off with my speculative alterations, but I'm not sure how much more I will work on it this weekend.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Help me with my next print mashup

I've finished Claire Cami dress number three and yes, I am thinking about number four.  I'm going to make something else first, but in the meantime, I humbly solicit your input.

Here's the main fabric I want to use:

This shot's not well lit:  the print's black and true white (with gold sparkles on the skull teef ... and eye sockets??)  Quilting cotton, naturally, but it's not too heavy or stiff.  The thread is just to give you a sense of the scale of the print, not a color scheme suggestion.    So, what fabric would you pair with this?   Probably the second fabric would be the belt piece, and contrast at the hem.   I was thinking of the some coral with white polka dots I already had, but polka dots are kind of obvious.  (Plus, I ended up using that fabric in CC #3, so it's no longer an option).   My husband suggested a flame-printed fabric, which is a cool idea.  I considered red roses on black, too, but haven't seen a good one.  And I feel all the ideas so far are a little obvious, maybe even cliche.  I feel there's something better out there.

Meanwhile, I just got this pattern, which I have been looking for ever since Marie got her hands on a copy:

Another crappy lamp-lit shot.  I usually document my patterns on sunny weekend mornings.  Anyhow, though I swoon over vintage dress patterns on a daily basis, I don't see many blouse patterns that wow me.  So when I spot a special one, I don't forget!  Since I don't sew (or even wear) many blouses, I accept that my first attempt is destined to be a thoroughly unwearable muslin.  But I have faith -- an awesome blouse is gonna come out of this pattern!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Daffodils are for March (too bad it's July)

Claire Cami dress number two is finished!   I made the bodice like 1/4 inch narrower in front and back (so, 1/2 inch smaller total), and lowered the waistline 1/2 inch.   Getting pretty close to perfect, I think!  I fully lined this one, too.  Naturally I like that better than the facings, but since this has no front or back opening, I couldn't do the "pull the lining through the shoulders" trick that I usually use for sewing linings, and had to do the shoulder seams after the neckline and armholes.  At least I think I had to ...  visualizing inverting the lining taxes my puny spatial awareness skills.

The main fabric has been with me probably ten years.  It's cotton, and presumably quilting cotton, but it has a slightly looser weave and lighter weight than what I typically find, so it drapes a bit better.  The name on the selvage is "Daffodils are for March".  As it turns out, they are okay for July as well.  The fabric for the green band at the bottom was purchased just for this project -- it's Donna Dewberry's "Spackle".  The taupe pinstriped fabrics is leftover from this dress from last year.   (Which I will never wear, because it does not fit well and has some sewing issues -- gotta toss that one and try again someday.)

We're still without air conditioning in half the house, and may be for a few more days at least.  I think I'll be wearing one of my two new Claire Cami dresses today!   I have fabric picked out for a third (yes, really!) but today I should really try to get some other things done ...

Monday, July 4, 2011

The 'Hey baby, it's hot inside' dress

Weekend sewing project number one is done:  it's a Claire Cami dress.   I must say, I was inspired by Patty's gorgeous versions of this dress, but I wasn't really sure whether it would look good on me, given its high waist.   So right out of the gate, I lowered it two inches, and I really love the result!  The waist is still high: it's close to my narrowest point, just above the place I'd like to think of as my waist.  It's super comfortable, and while it's too casual for work, it'll be great to wear on weekends.

 This dress is really fun to sew, once you get past cutting out all the flippin' pieces!  The assembly is all super simple, and there's really not much fitting to do, so it's great for novices.  Based on the stated measurements, I cut from XXS tapering to XS for the bodice, XS for the waist, and XS tapering to S for the skirt.  But the cut is quite forgiving, and I probably could have made the whole thing XXS with no issues.  The XXS bodice is a tiny bit loose, so on the next version (which is already underway) I took a tiny bit out of the center front and center back -- not too much, though, because it's gotta pull on over my head.

I used the included facings for the bodice ... ugh, I still hate facings, unless they are the kind you sew down completely.  I turned under the  1/4 inch of the facing edges and stitched, rather than finish them with the serger.  For version two, I'm doing a full lining, and skipping the interfacing for neck and armholes.  I'll wear 'em both then and decide which works better.   I finished the inside waistband the way I'd do a skirt yoke, which is not how the pattern directions instructed.  As I recall, their way would be faster and easier, but my way looks cleaner inside.

I'm naming it "Baby, it's hot inside" because the main fabric came from somebody's "Baby Essentials" line and because one of our two air conditioners is broken ... with highs near 100F (37C) here, parts of the house are pretty darn hot!    I got the main fabric from JoAnn's clearance section not too long ago, and don't think the fabric looks overly "baby" with the taupe, tan and yellow dots in the mix.  The contrasting fabric is leftover from this dress:  too bad I could not cut it straight for the life of me.

The finish on the hem is bias binding made from the main fabric, and for some reason I kept falling off the edge of the binding as I tried to attach it, or I'd catch the front and not the back.  I had to go back and fix so many spots, picking out the mistakes was going to take forever.  So I decided to turn them into a feature -- I motored around and around the edge of the dress sewing purposely wavy seams until I ran out of bobbin thread.   It was kind of cathartic!

For the waist tie, I made what amounts to a wide bias binding and sewed it together.  I was in no mood to turn a yard-long tube.  I wanted to have a finished dress already.

Anyhow, I heartily recommend this pattern, especially if you have orphaned bits of quilting fabric lying around.  (Though I think it would be cool to try a lawn or rayon version of this, too.)   It's a lot of fun to dream up fabric combinations, and I have several more planned, some of which feature fabrics I bought many moons ago, in lengths a little too short to be useful.  But I can cut the main parts of this dress from a little less than two yards, and could use even less by making the bottom band bigger.

I have two more days off from work, so I will certainly finish the next Claire Cami today.  My sewing room still has air conditioning, but the rooms where the bed and the computer are don't.   Talk about an incentive to keep on sewing!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

It's a four day weekend

... and I am up at 4:30 am to embrace it!   Not really my decision: the dog was hungry, and decided to make that my problem.  Nevertheless, it's wonderful to stand at the precipice of an extra-long weekend and think of all the things you could do.  Never mind that experiences teaches that only a pallid fraction of those will actually get done.  At the moment every possibility is available!

Obviously, I'm hoping to get a lot of sewing done.  Perhaps I can finish ten five three garments?   I'm thinking of starting with the Claire Cami Dress from Serendipity Studio.  I am not one hundred percent sure I'll love the high waist, but I have been lured in by Patty the Snug Bug's cute renditions of this dress and what the heck, it's actually meant to be made from quilting cottons.  It seems like it would be a nice weekend or dog-walking dress in this one million degree heat we're enjoying here in Texas.

But before I start on the dress, I have some housekeeping to do in my sewing area!  All the variations of the two patterns I've been working with are spread out all over my sewing space, so I need to gather them up and sort them into folders so I can put them away.  In some cases that means doing some pattern tracing, because some of the variants share pieces, and I want to have a complete pattern in each folder.   Last night I did some speculative alterations to the evolved Butterick 6149 bodice, and it kind of makes me eager to try that one again ... but really, I gotta make something else first.

So .... ready, set, sew!  I do plan to do a few other things over the long weekend though.  I want to kick off a daily drawing habit.   In theory I love to draw.  But because I'm out of practice, I am frustrated by not being able to get the pencil to do what I want.  (In my mind's eye, this used to not be a problem.  But that may be just a rose-colored memory.)   The only way to fix it is to get the pencil moving on a regular basis.   Who knows, if I ever get myself out of this hole, it might be fun to illustrate my blog posts.   And until then, who cares -- once I turn the page in my sketchbook, I never have to look at that drawing again, right?

I also want to get some vintage patterns into my Etsy shop again, and sort out a few for a giveaway here!  It's been ages since I've done either of those things.  Why?  Because I hate counting pattern pieces, or to be more precise, folding and unfolding them.  Makes me apoplectic.

Want to know what else makes me apoplectic?  All these insanely cute Michael Miller fabrics.  There are like ten of them I must have immediately, and this is nuts.  I just bought a bunch of fabric, and should not even be looking at more fabric.   I don't know how it happened.  (OK, yes I do.)

And finally, for no particular reason:  my new polka-dot Nikes!  (I bought mine on sale for less at Zappos but they're already gone from the site.)  They're not quite as cute as the Liberty of London Nikes but I never could catch those in stock in my size (and then there's the price ...)   I'm still jealous of CarmencitaB's pair, though.