Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Half-year wrap up

I thought I'd do a quick half-year wrap-up post, because how hard can it be to do one when you've spent most of the past six months sewing from just two patterns?  Butterick 6149 and Sewaholic Crescent.  At least they are different types of garments, or at least they were until my last post when they managed to grow themselves together.

Anyhow -- in total I sewed five dresses (four involved incarnations of Butterick 6149) and eight skirts (six of which involved variations of the Crescent, though at least all six weren't for me.  Not that I probably won't end up with several more eventually).  The other dress was made from Simplicity 4294 from 1942, and the other two skirts evolved from Burda 7741.

I wear all the skirts I made, and love and will eventually wear all the Butterick 6149 variants.  But I'm not sure that Simplicity 4294 is gonna get any use.  I like the way it looks in pictures, but it's just not "me" somehow.   I think it's the shape of the sleeves.  Plus, the fitted waistband bugs me.  I think I'll hold onto it for a while longer before I decide its fate.

I am surprised that I sewed so many repeats, especially all those skirts in solid colors.  Boring, huh?  I rarely take a practical approach to sewing!  I think my next project really needs to be an over-the-top ball gown in wildly patterned quilting cotton, just to balance things out.

I reckon repeat-sewing did show me a few things, first and foremost that even after four versions you won't necessarily have the fit perfect!   I did enjoy adding some practical stuff to my wardrobe, but I doubt I'll ever be a slave to clothing "needs".  For me, sewing is all about the fun.   Knowing that, I should push myself to experiment more.

Speaking of which ... look what came in the mail today!

51 yards of fabric. had (and maybe still has -- I daren't look!) a bunch of fabric on sale for $1.97 a yard, so I stocked up on cheap stuff that I won't feel too bad about ruining, yet also wouldn't mind wearing should things go well.  I got a few special pieces too.   But not too special:  I didn't even think about getting any of that gorgeous Liberty fabric, because the five pieces I have from our Europe trip last summer have proven to be too scary to cut into!   A couple of my cheapy fabric treasures have somewhat unexpected textures (the navy voile is stiff, like netting!) but we'll see how things look after a trip through the washer.

Excuse me, but I have to go roll in my 51 yards of new fabric now.  And then figure out where the heck I'm going to put it all.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The mashup dress

Heeeey!  I took the skirt I've been making over and over, and attached it to the bodice of the dress I've been making over and over. How original.  (And yet I own over a thousand sewing patterns.  Go figure.)

Haircut. Soon, I swear.

You'd think, given that this is the fourth time I've used this bodice pattern, that I'd have worked out all the kinks.  But no.   Sadder still, there are some I've noticed and just done nothing about.  With this version, it's really clear that there's too much fabric between the bust and waist.  Bodice patterns typically get narrower from bust line to waist line.  My smallest point is somewhere in between my bust and waist, as I've mentioned before.  I typically straighten out the sides of a bodice pattern, but it seems I should actually shoot for a concave edge, or change the shape of my dart.  The alternative would be to bring the waistline up to my smallest part:  I know this works well for some people, but on me I hate it.

There are a number of stupid sewing mistakes on this one.  I had to let out the side seams at the waist (did that last time too).  There was barely enough allowance at the waist to put the zipper in properly.  The zipper installation's no work of art, but with the narrow margin I was working with, I was thrilled that the damn thing even zipped up and down.  The button placket has an increasing overlap as it moves from waist to bust.  Fortunately it looks pretty straight, but  it happened before too, and  I could have fixed it on the pattern pretty easily!  The button placket also opens on the wrong side, but whateva.  I knew I'd make that mistake sooner or later, and I don't really care.   The bust points are a little high, but it doesn't actually look bad so I may not tangle with that one.

I thought I was making the skirt with enough extra length to account for the lack of waistband, but I didn't measure or anything all scientific like that.  And guess what, I was wrong.   So it was bias binding hem to the rescue (again!)  It's still maybe an inch shorter that I planned, but it's okay.   I intended to fully line this, as usual, but decided that the waist would be too bulky if I had a gathered lining up under my gathered skirt, so I skipped the skirt lining.  This material is not even a little bit see-through, so the lining would just have been there to make me feel better or something.

Despite the fact that this dress is totally gooftastic, I like it quite a bit.  Big, big hearts for this Tactel twill fabric.  Must get more Tactel twill fabric.   It's fluid, but has a nice weight.  It's easy to work with, but doesn't wrinkle.   If it had a Facebook page, I would totally hit that Like button, and I hardly ever even log onto my Facebook account because I am a social networking moron.

I like the buttons I used too, but I'm not sure whether I love them with this dress.  I got them at Sew Crafty before it went away, and my best guess (based on the button card, which sorry, I should have photographed) is that they're from the 1960s.   But if they don't go with a plain navy dress, what the heck would they go with?  Maybe I'll keep an eye out for a better match and swap 'em out.  Or maybe these will grow on me.  Or maybe inertia will carry the day, and these'll stay on the dress because they got there first.  (That last one seems most likely.)

I used this button spacer thingy that I got in a lot of sewing junk on eBay, and this I definitely love.   You just accordion it into whatever position you want, and mark.  Brilliant.  I imagine you can buy these new somewhere, but I've never seen one.

Finally, a parting question for y'all -- what do you think about the belt I made for the dress?  I made it to hide how my side seams don't line up even a little, but it seems a little fussy when I've already got pockets and buttons in the vicinity.  Thoughts?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In anticipation of schmeebot day

Though it's kind of hard to tell from my blog, I am still sewing!  Here's the latest completed project:  a skirt for an annual event known as schmeebot day.  It is currently wending its way to the site where the festivities will take place.  

I also decided it needs its own name -- it has several details that differentiate it from the skirts I've made for myself so far.  So, behold ... the Pacific Moon!   (The first version can be seen in action here, by the way.)

Pacific Moon has a wider waistband, and a two-inch hem.   The fabric is the same as for one of the skirts I made for myself ... at the time I said the fabric was rayon for some reason, but it's not, it's Tencel twill.  I love this fabric: it's soft, not too thin, hangs well, washes well, and doesn't wrinkle too badly.  I need to find some more.

I'm currently taking a break from skirts and making a dress.  But what is a dress if not a skirt with a bodice attached? (That's foreshadowing, by the way!)  I've been working on it a little each evening, and I'm hoping it'll be done by the weekend.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Red moon, yellow moon, blue moon ...

I've made a few skirts since I last posted!  My blue "new moon" skirt has been joined by cranberry rayon and sunny yellow cotton versions.   All three are lined with cotton lawn or batiste.  The blue one (which I showed you before) has celery green; the reddish one has pink; and the yellow is lined with white.   I wasn't much in the mood for self-photography, as it's hot outside (but too dark inside for good photos), and I was tired, and it's Saturday, and wow, I could probably come up with a dozen other reasons.   But don't worry, the karmic payback for my crappy attitude is crappy photos, but you can see the skirts in them, so mission accomplished!

I left the red one a little longer, and the rayon fabric makes it seem somewhat dressier.  It also doesn't wrinkle much.   I bought the necklace in Key West, and it goes great with the red skirt.  (It doesn't go with the blue and yellow ones, but I forgot to take it off.  And also to put my shoes back on -- I love shoes, but I love not wearing shoes even more!)

I had been wanting a bright golden skirt since I started seeing them around last Fall (though the Fall ones were usually a touch more mustard-y than mine).  I even tried on the corduroy version that Anthropologie had, but it didn't look right on me.  When I bought the fabric, I had intended to add self-made bias binding from the scraps of this dress, but if I had any leftovers, I can't find them now!  I do have another piece, but I didn't want to cut into it just for this.  Plan B was to use some of the bias binding I got in Paris, but somehow it didn't feel right.  I added some to the pockets, but with the twill tape already re-enforcing the pocket edge (as per the instructions Tasia gives in the Crescent skirt pattern) it was too stiff.  So off it came.   Instead, I took my inspiration from Patty the Snug Bug (who employs decorative stitches in dozens of awesomely creative ways) and bust out one of my sewing machine's approximately 600 unused fancy stitches for the pockets and hem.  The "in the ditch" stitching looks terrible because (A) I had no matching thread and (B) I used the specific foot for this purpose for the first time.  I do a better job with the regular foot and a watchful eye, I think.

On all the skirts I've made like this, I've just serged the pocket bottom seam with my thread rainbow.  But in this case it backfired on me: you could see the colored threads through the skirt fabric.  So I hid the serged seam with some self bias binding, and disaster averted.  And these pockets won't be developing holes anytime soon!

And finally, the blue skirt you've already seen hanging on a hanger.   I think it may still be my favorite, because of how soft the fabric is.   It has been worn to work twice already, and the red and yellow ones once each.  I reckon this is my TNT skirt pattern now.

Next up is another skirt for schmeebot, made from the leftover cranberry red rayon.  Then I may make another version or two of this skirt in prints, but after that I'll really try to move on.   I have a bunch of vintage dress patterns that are feeling quite neglected!