Wednesday, July 29, 2009

More menswear

Our slim-cut sport jacket will catapult his outfit from 0 to 100 in a matter of seconds. Flapped patch pockets are eye-catching details.

So says BWOF.

Mario says, "I like it."

I says, "Hmmm."

I do like it. I think it would be a stylish addition to his wardrobe, which is lacking in style as far as jackets are concerned. This could be a good addition.

The more I think about it, the better the idea seems. Even though I just made him a shirt - or actually, because I just made him that shirt - I feel like I owe him something he really wants. Clothing-wise.

This will make him happy, and it's doing a pretty good job on me, as well. I'm not thrilled with the way the Patrones top is going, and even if it takes a turn for the better I need to wait for my Atlanta Thread order to arrive before it can be coverstitched in a thread that's not black, white or brown. So on to the next project.

He actually even had a color choice in mind, though I didn't have an army-green in the stash. So we're calling this one a muslin, and I'm using a tiny checked lightweight wool that I got about 6-8 months ago, to use for a Burdastyle jacket for him that never happened. I like this pattern better anyway - there are less pieces (only 12!) and the style has more potential as far as making changes later if this one turns out well.

So Monday night, I measured him, compared his measurements to BWOF's size chart, and sat back down and puzzled until my puzzler was sore. Okay, so he's a little un-proportioned, but he shouldn't manage to span the entire range of 46-52, right? I guess when BWOF says "slim cut" it's a warning. I decided to err on the side of a little extra ease, and I traced the pattern out on my Swedish tracing paper. Generally I just use regular tracing paper from the art supply store, but when I either need to tissue fit, or if it's a pattern I know I'm going to use repeatedly, I break out the good stuff.

I knew this was going to require the good stuff, and for both reasons.

In the beginning I only traced out the front, back and side back panel. It's got side panels in the back; basically it's princess-seamed. Is there a different term for that when it's menswear? Prince-seamed? Whatever.

Then he got a totally new experience of having the pattern taped together at the seam lines, and taped to him. Yes, taped. Just scotch tape, which didn't pull off too much hair. There are no photos because photos weren't allowed, even for my fitting reference. That's what I get for making him play dress-up when he was happily on the couch watching MSNBC in his underwear.

It took 3 try-ons before I got a fit that I liked. I didn't do my usual sloping shoulder adjustment because this is going to have shoulder pads. I did end up narrowing both back pieces, though the front fit him fine. (There's a fitting dart hidden behind those pockets, which is a nice touch). I also took almost 2" out of the length, in 2 separate places. BWOF's menswear is aimed at a man 5' 8" and up, and he's 5'6". Un-altered, he would have looked like he was wearing daddy's jacket, and that's one of the reasons I don't like most of his current jackets.

I traced off the rest of the pieces, adjusting (hopefully) the sleeves to match the changes I made to the body of the jacket. At least I can tape and try those with the jacket without having to bother him again immediately.

Next will be digging through the leather stash, because I'd really like to turn this sporty with a leather upper collar and pocket flaps. I'm afraid if I don't, he'll ask for leather elbow patches instead, and that would. not. do. At all.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Art of Dressmaking -1927

This is the latest addition to the sewing library.

We were out on Saturday and ran into a couple of porch sales. I managed to resist the tiny portable sewing machine at one sale (do I need another machine? Technically I have 5, and I haven't even tried out the last 2 old ones), but this I couldn't resist.

I love sewing books. I think all of us love sewing books, and the more obscure and harder-to-find, the better. That being said, if you come across a copy of Butterick's Art of Dressmaking, published in 1927, grab it in your sticky hands and run with it.

Butterick's purpose, according to the introduction, called "Home Dressmaking by Professional Methods," is not to provide a current how-to book: "It is not a book of current styles - those you will find in Delineator and the Butterick Quarterly - but it has been prepared with the hope that it will be useful and helpful all the time whenever and wherever clothes are being made."

Note to the editors,2009: good job.

The sewing information in this book is still accurate. Some things, of course, are missing - there are great instructions for a button fly, for instance, but nothing on zippers.

There are instructions on making various buttonholes, since "buttonhole makers" are new attachments and not readily available yet. Now there's a little innovation I'm thankful for. I'm not a big fan of the hand made buttonhole.

I love the illustrations. Even though there's a huge amount of information on properly measuring yourself, all the female figures in the book are 20s-era straight-up-and-down figures.

There are chapters on basically anything you could want - hems, facings, collars, cuffs, pockets, plackets, buttonholes, eyelets, tucks and pleats (spelled plaits), bias trim, ruffles, embroidery, lace, shirring, puffing, ruching, braid, applique, ostrich, maribou and fur, coat making, maternity, layette, boys and mens clothes, pressing, cleaning, laundering and "remodeling."

Anyone who has read Kenneth King's books or taken his Bound Buttonhole and Pocket class on Patternreview, you'll recognize the little smiley pocket at the bottom. (His instructions are better, but it's an interesting pocket in either era).

What has changed between the publication date and my reading of the book is the cultural information. In the chapter titled Maternity Clothes, the following statements are enough to make any 21st century pregnant woman go into premature labor.

"Maternity clothes have two objects: one is to make your condition unnoticeable, the other is to give you every physical advantage possible. If your clothes make you feel conspicuous and awkward, you will shrink from going out and suffer from lack of exercise and legitimate amusement which would keep you in a happy, contented frame of mind."

Not enough? Try this: "Clothes that are designed solely for maternity wear are apt to look the part and call attention to a woman's condition. At this time, you do not want to be conspicuous in any way. You want to look as much like other women as possible so thatt here will be nothing to draw notice to you."

Is anyone else getting the visual of a woman with a "Baby on Board" tshirt? Sewing may not have changed much, but attitudes certainly have. The writers of this book couldn't possibly have imagined an entire industry catering to making pregnant women look . . . pregnant, and quite often, fairly hot. I won't even get into the advice on maternity corsets - now there's an oxymoron.

The book also contains great instructions and illustrations for tailoring. Their collar instructions and illustrations are really clear.

Other than its dated attitudes, it's definitely one of the most complete sewing books I've ever come across, and I've got a long and sagging shelf of them by now.

So if you see it, buy it, both as a curiosity and as a really good reference.

In other sewing news, there is no sewing news. The room is still torn up, the wood is still in the way of my chair, and I still can't reach the power strip to turn on my machine - or unplug it to cart it off elsewhere.

Why did I start a major project when I wasn't ready (or able) to finish it? And why do I even ask such questions? I do things like this. I do them all the time. I just generally don't do them in the room I escape to when my projects get out of hand.

I think I'll go out back and visit the tomatoes - also a project getting out of hand, but at least there's a solution to that little problem.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Or, why I'm not sewing this weekend.

My workroom started out life (well, not started out, the house has been renovated, remuddled and occasionally bastardized in its 100 years of existence) as a smallish bedroom with a built-in wardrobe. You can see the wardrobe frame on the right side of the second photo, leaning against the wall.

You can also see the nice alcove it gave me to install a worktable and move some of my machines off the cutting table.

I agonized over removing the wardrobe, even though it was no longer original to the house. The previous owner's mom had the back staircase moved in 1968, and it somehow or other (I'm afraid to think about it too hard) involved taking out a chunk of the wall in this room and making the stairs go straight instead of turning at the landing. It was actually not a bad idea - any time I bring anything large into the house, it goes through to the kitchen and up the straight back stairs - but in the process of doing that, they mangled the original built-in to the extent that I didn't mind further mangling it in the interest of sewing happiness and efficiency.

Also against the wardrobe was the fact that its doors opened in the wrong direction - the far door opened from the wall, which meant I couldn't put any storage under the window, and the near door opened toward the window, which was okay until the mirrored door fell off and almost hit my Juki. The day the door fell off was the day I decided it would be okay to do it my way.

Thursday night I got bored after dinner. I didn't feel like sewing at that point, even though I'd just cut something out the night before, and I decided to see what I could do in the way of getting some of the wardrobe taken apart. I'd already removed the doors and the interior rod and shelf back in April, when the door fell off. My demolition tools were at Mario's house, so all I had in the room with me was a 3" L bracket and my "lady hammer" - you know, the little one you use to bang in picture nails, not a hammer with any intent.

Beware a determined woman with the wrong tools, for it shall still work. By 9:00, the closet face was off, and I had also torn out the drawers at the base of the closet. I'd wanted to keep those, but structurally it wouldn't have worked without cutting the entire closet face to pieces, and I want to salvage the wood for another project.

Once I pulled out the drawers, one of which you can see sitting on my table in the top picture, I found . . . a chimney. In my closet. Now in my alcove. It must have originally been from the kitchen stove, and warmed the rooms at the back of the house, but it was severed about 1.5' from the floor, capped and concreted around. They balanced the raised floor of the closet on top of it, whacked in a few nails, and they were done. Now there's a chimney, just sitting there on the dusty hardwood floor, along with 10 packets of mouse poison, a lot of rubble, and one desiccated mouse skeleton. What the - ?

It's staying, of course. I'm going to scrounge Mario's old 2 drawer file cabinet to brace the counter top on one side, and build a frame to brace it to the wall on the other, and then I will have a workspace to put the coverstitch and the Juki, so I can have my cutting and ironing space back with only the Singer at the far end. Right now it seems like an endless task, especially since someone has waltzed off to New Jersey today to visit his family and left me with a 6' x 8' piece of wood framing that I can't actually move on my own (now that my superhuman demolition energy has subsided).

As for the countertop, it's a solid core door, and it's been residing in my dining room for about 3 months now. I just need to measure and cut it to size, and then drag it upstairs. Except I can't cut it until I get my jigsaw back from Mario's house. I don't think the wrong tools will work on this one.

Final shot: Patrones issue no. 266, top # 5, the pattern I had all cut out on the table when I got the sudden urge to destroy my house. It'll get there. As soon as I can find the table again.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What I wore to the party

I've covered what Mario wore to my office party. Now it's my turn.

First off, let me say first off that I already reviewed this dress last summer, but I made so many changes on this version (from fabric to design changes) that I thought it was better off having a review all its own.

Pattern Description: A mid-summer night's dream in fabulously fluid silk ... This frock flatteringly follows the figure, with a retro-style belt cinching the waist. The feminine effect accentuated by the slight flaring of the skirt. This style will particularly please rather flat-chested women because the gathered bodice charmingly enhances the bust!

Okay, let's see: Not silk. No belt. Not flat-chested. Yep, I didn't listen to a word they said.

Pattern Sizing: BWOF 36-44. I made this in a straight 38 last year. This time around, since I was working in a knit, I used the same pattern pieces and just didn't cut seam allowances. It worked.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Only in the places where it still resembled the original, basically the front and bust gathers, and the shape of the skirt. The rest is all me.

Were the instructions easy to follow? These weren't too bad for BWOF the first time around, but I didn't use them this time because all I needed to know about the dress I was making was marked on the existing pattern pieces or in my head.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I liked this pattern when it first came out (May 2007), but it took me over a year to get it made up. There were a few things I decided I would change about the dress if I ever made it up again - the armholes were a bit too tight, I was considering swapping from a CB to a side zipper - and then I started thinking about what I could do with this pattern if I used a knit. And it call came together - sort of - from there.

Fabric Used: Black and turquoise floral stretch knit from Metro Textiles. Actually quite recent - no more than a month old.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: Let the party begin. I wore the original version of this dress about 2 weeks ago, and as I mentioned above, there were a few things I would change about it. I started thinking about that, and got the idea to make it in a knit. The first thing I knew was that I could leave off the zipper, because I've never bothered to put a zip in a knit dress yet, no matter what BWOF has tried to tell me.

So first, no zipper. Second, I decided to deepen the armholes because they cut a little. They wouldn't in a stretch, but they would still appear too high, so I traced a slightly lower armhole. Then I got to thinking about where I would wear this dress: was it just another knit dress for work, or was it something more? I decided that what it really wanted to be was a sundress, which meant that it needed to be even less like the original dress than planned.

As in backless. I liked the fit of the dress in the front - the bust gathers are really flattering, no matter what size the girls are - and I thought that the gathers gave the dress enough structure for me to wedge in some form of bra so that I could leave the back open. I gathered the two sides of the front separately and pinned everything together on my dress form. I didn't cut the shoulder straps any longer than they were because I intended to turn them into halter straps and I decided just to add more fabric where I needed it above the gathers. Which is what I did - I made two tubes of fabric, gathered the original straps, and sewed the halter straps to them. Pulled up and tied, they change the neckline from the original version, but it works because of the fabric.

I cut the back of the dress off just above the underarm line, and found some 1" elastic. I cut a piece of that slightly narrower than my back measurement, pinned it to the outside of my fabric and sewed along the top, then flipped it to the inside, pressed and zigzagged it down, basting it along the edges as well. Then I did the center bust gathers, and pinned my bra cups along the gather line and stitched them down with the machine. I pinned the cups in several places for safekeeping until I got the back and front of the dress sewn together, and then I tried it on.

I adjusted the pins in the bra cups and hand-stitched them in several places. They really weren't the right cups for the dress, but they worked in this limited capacity and I can swap them out for something more structural later, since all I'll really have to unpick is the line of stitching down the center and some hand stitches.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I might make the woven version of the dress again, with the changes I mentioned, but as a sundress I think this is too memorable to make more than once a season. If I get tired of the fabric on this one I may do it again next year. I'd definitely recommend this dress in either type of fabric.

Conclusion: I started this dress on Wednesday, and finished it Friday night at bedtime, to be worn on Saturday. As an exercise in speed-sewing, it didn't turn out too badly, although there are things I would probably do differently if I had spent more time planning and constructing it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Weekend Update

This was an almost completely non-sewing weekend - if you don't count the frantic, last-minute-until-bedtime sewing on Friday night.

This weekend was my office's annual summer party. My boss has a boat down on the Sassafras River in Maryland, and every July most of us trek down there for a day of eating, drinking, splashing around in the river, which is bathwater-warm and only about chest-high in the area where he ties up the boat. This year there were 15 of us aboard, and a few more joined us later for dinner at the marina restaurant.

Last year, I didn't know how shallow the water would be, and since I don't swim, I didn't bother to bring a bathing suit. Which meant I went into the water in my sundress, which none of them have ever forgotten. This year I brought a suit, but I decided that I needed a non-swimming sundress. I'll do a separate post on my dress, since I want to do a pattern review on it as well, and I'll merge the two.

Of course, prior to needing a new dress, I had to finish Mario's space shirt. Yes, he gave in. Yes, he wore it. Yes, he looked cute in it - at least I thought so, and so did quite a few of my co-workers, even the ones who flinched when I first pulled the fabric out of the box at work.

It's my same old KwikSew shirt pattern, and this time I swear it almost made itself. And because it's a shirt that's not going to get much wear (even I'm not so deluded by my own creation that I think he's goingn to wear it that often), it decided not to fight me. It's probably the best collar I've ever done, and it figures because between the black background and the colorful print, crooked topstitching or the inevitable tiny pleat that has to get picked out along the collar band just didn't happen. The only thing I changed this time was to cut it straight across the bottom with a vent at the sides, rather than the standard rounded shirt-tail. I figured since it was never going to be tucked in, why make it look like it should be? He did admit to liking that part. And he doesn't dislike the rest; he's just looking long-suffering there, after a long day of fun in the sun

You have to admit, it's the perfect shirt for sitting back on a boat, beer in hand, watching the river go by.

To make the weekend better, it was almost free. My boss had an annoying streak about 2 months ago, and while I was in his office trying not to threaten him with bodily injury, he bribed me by saying that if I let him off, he'd pay for our room at the bed-and-breakfast in Maryland when we came down for the party.

Well, okay. I can be bribed. Last year we drove home at 11:00, and it really wasn't a good idea - we were both exhausted and sunburnt, and it really does put a kink in what my office believes is how to enjoy a party: excessively, as in like a bunch of teenagers. Neither of us really fit that bill, but it was nice only having to drive a mile from the dinner when we'd had enough.

The bed-and-breakfast was lovely, run by an older couple and seemingly there to showcase their lifelong passion for collecting antiques. We had one of the simpler rooms, but I got to look the place over beforehand and the master suite had this towering Victorian bed that actually made me drool.

This was our room: the lavender room, overlooking the side yard and a tree full of early morning birdsong.

It was a nice break from Philadelphia. We left fairly early on Sunday, drove home by way of a flea market, Home Depot, BJ's for cat supplies and then took ourselves out for a nice lunch. On the way home, we stopped past South Street so he could pick up some art supplies, and I found out that there's one fabric store open on 4th Street on Sundays, and I picked up some leather for the next big bag.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I did it my way

Revenge is a dish best served cold, but getting my way tastes pretty damn good - hot, cold or at room temperature.

The galaxy shirt - it's not done yet, but all it needs is a collar, buttons and the hem.

He gave in last night. Mostly gave in. He doesn't actually know yet that the shirt's almost finished, but he said that he wouldn't object if I made it.

And that means what? You're going to look at the result of all my hard work and not wear it?

I don't think so. It will get worn this weekend.

He did finally tell me what he had against the fabric - apparently all it needs is little tiny spacemen on it and it looks like his big-boy sleeping bag from Scouts in 2nd grade.

I think I need to embroider one little tiny spaceman somewhere on the shirt, maybe the inside yoke, where only he can see it.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Getting closer

I don't know what it is lately, but all my projects are fighting back. I'm winning in the end, but not without having to sweat a bit more than I'd like.

The red-white-and-navy blouse was thinking about cooperating yesterday, but I decided to let it rest and made the coordinating skirt instead. The two fabrics together are kind of scary, but the good kind.

Not much sewing today - Mario and I took the train up to visit my aunt, had lunch, painted her railings and mailbox, listened to her talk about my mom (they couldn't stand each other when Mom was alive, but she was accorded automatic sainthood upon her death), and then took the train home again.

All of which made me so tired I took a 2 hour nap before I could face doing anything.

The blouse gave in tonight and decided to behave. I did the hem and the bias binding on the edge of the facings and the neck. Yes, bias binding. Normally I hate making bias binding, but for some reason this time it wanted to be made and I didn't argue. It seemed to make the fabric happy.

I had enough sense to realize that attempting buttons and buttonholes tonight would be a major mistake. I also haven't done the topstitching along the front yet, but tomorrow is another day.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Random Saturday

Not a whole lot going on in the sewing room this weekend. The red, white and navy blouse and I aren't on speaking terms at the moment due to a collar error that I have just admitted to making but have not yet committed to fixing. It'll happen, just not yet.

And it's Saturday, which generally means there's enough stuff to do in the hood that I can avoid a difficult project if I want. This morning was the farmer's market, a flea market, 3 porch sales, and then we hit the gym. I'm finally seeing a teeny, tiny bit of movement from all the gymming lately, so I'm on a roll.

There is hope for the blouse to be finished, because as you can see I made up with the cherry dress. I wore it to work yesterday with my red shoes. While I'll be the first to admit it's a cute dress, I'm a little surprised that it got more compliments than probably the last 2 weeks worth of clothes put together.

Found out one thing about the cherry dress: you cannot be in a bad mood in this dress. Every time I looked down at it I cracked up. Nothing wrong with a dress that makes you smile, right?

I've also spent a good bit of time out back in the garden today. We got our first red tomato! Honestly, I feel like throwing a party in its honor. (Though what kind of party is it when the guest of honor also gets to be part of the appetizer?)

The other photo here was the neckline of a co-worker's top yesterday. She was totally weirded out at being photographed, but I thought it was a very simple but effective way to dress up a neckline. All it is basically is a tube turned right side out, ironed flat, pleated, and sewn down the middle. It had nothing structural to do with the top at all. I'm feeling a need to try to duplicate this.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Too late for the fireworks

But just about as red-white-and-blue as you're going to get. Though I'm actually trying to think of it as red-white-and-navy, which seems as little less in-your-face.

The fabric is cotton sateen from Fashion Fabrics Club recent sale. I bought the print in two sizes; the smaller is getting used for the top, and the larger scale will be a coordinating skirt. I'm going for a vintage vibe here, hopefully it'll end up where I think it will.

The pattern is BWOF 3/06 #104, called "blouse with cutaway shoulders." I was looking at back reviews on PR tonight, and apparently I've always liked it, because I made comments on two of the reviews, back in 2007. At least I'm consistent.

My original (as of last night, anyway) plan for buttons was to use white vintage buttons that I had on hand. They look vaguely like checkers except for the holes in the middle. I thought if I used white instead of red, and sewed them on with navy thread, it would kill a little of the 4th of July vibe, but when I tried the white buttons, they were too big and sort of . . . chalky looking.

These little round red ones are also from the button stash, and despite their very obvious REDNESS, they look more appropriate.

As far as the collar goes, first I cut it out in the sateen. Then, after I'd interfaced the collar, I decided that it would look better in white, instead of the whole blouse being so matchy. And what I wanted was a white pique - definitely a white fabric with some texture. And all I had was batiste, cotton/lycra shirting and eyelet. I cut new collars from the shirting, interfaced the heck out of it to give it more body, and then went to the thrift store to see if they had anything made of white pique that I could cut up.

As you can see from the collar, which is just lying on the pinned-back facings at this point, I found something. A suit, as a matter of fact, Jones New York, size 8. For $4.95. Freshly dry-cleaned, but there was a stain on the skirt right near the waist that hadn't come out. I bought it anyway, hoping that I could cut up the out-of-date jacket and rescue the skirt -I wear most of my tops untucked anyway, and it would have been a great look for this blouse - but while the skirt was marked 8, it fit more like a 2. As in more than 3 inches stood between me and the closing of the zipper.

The jacket, on the other hand, fits like a glove. The shoulder pads are a little big and the buttons are godawful, but those things can be changed. If I did white buttons on the jacket, maybe I could wear it over the completed 2 piece dress?

Just someone, remind me when it's time to wear it, not to put on my red shoes!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The house dress, updated

This weekend's project, once I got done wrestling with the cherry dress, was to try to knock off an old favorite. The original dress was from April Cornell, and I've had it for probably 15 years. Really.

I wore it to death when it was new, and then it sat in the closet for a few years, and now I'm back with it, but the wear it's getting these days is more around the house, across the street to the coffee shop in the morning, whenever I don't feel like putting on "real" clothes.

I realized last week that what it's turned into is more or less a house dress. Which made me flinch, because my aunts and my grandmom lived in house dresses and I think of them as shlumpy cotton dresses with cutesy buttons and too much rickrack, but serving basically the same purpose as my dress.

My new Liberty yardage has been sitting on the stash shelf, whispering that it wants to be used. When I decided to try to duplicate the April Cornell dress, I picked my least favorite of the 5 pieces. Which is not to say I don't like it, and I wouldn't have been mad as hell if I'd messed up, but of the 5 it's the one I would cry the least over.

I took the original dress, ironed it and put it on my work table. Then I used way too much tracing paper to trace the shapes of the pattern pieces. The bodice was actually pretty easy - other than the interesting seam shape, the upper bodice is plain. The skirt front is in 3 panels, and the pockets are basted to the side panels and then the pieces are attached. The original pockets were as long as the skirt and had much more gathering, but I was working with the limitations of my fabric and I'm pretty pleased with them.

For the back of the dress, I altered the original because (a) I didn't really want the buttons as I have never in 15 years unbuttoned the original; and (b) I didn't feel like making 12 buttonholes anyway and having to hunt for Liberty-worthy buttons. Besides, it's not the most comfortable dress to sit in or lean back, so I went for ease of duplicatino instead of complete accuracy.

The bodice back was cut on the fold. There's a dart at the waist. The skirt is 2 pieces, with 3 darts on each side to gather in some of the fullness. (Also because I cut the piece way wider than it should have been, but whatever).

The original dress had a neck facing and the armholes were just turned under and stitched. I always hated the facing because it crept, so instead I used the shape of the neckline to make a facing that was about 1" wide and used it as a binding instead. With my leftover fabric I made bias strips and bound the back neckline and the armholes.

All in all, I think it's a pretty good copy of the original. Most of the changes are changes I made deliberately - I wanted it shorter, I did actually want a little less fullness in the skirt, though I would have perferred the pockets to be more like the original

Mario's comment when he saw it (and this is coming from the movie junkie that he is) was that it looked like something Sally Field would have worn in Places in the Heart, which I think means I succeeded on the vintage house dress vibe. Anything else that may have been intended by that comment will be ignored, because I like it and I don't want to run him through the coverstitch.

Hope everyone had a fun and fabric-filled holiday weekend. Back to the real world tomorrow!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

June: Month End Review

Stash parity was not achieved this month, not by a long shot. There were a few more yards purchased than sewn - 13.5 sewn, and 36 moved in.

Must sew faster.

This month I made 8 pieces, evenly split: 2 pairs of pants, 2 tops, 2 dresses and 2 more of the Ottobre tank, one from a remnant of gray knit (with hot pink stitching) and the other a recycled tshirt.

The pants were Ottobre as well, the capris from 2/09, with a little tweaking. The second pair of pants was actually a UFO from last year, and I still haven't gotten around to reviewing them.

The dresses were Simplicity 2724 (also still needs to be reviewed) and BWOF 2/08 #113, which I absolutely love. I love it so much made a second version - about which I've said enough.

One of the tops was for me - BWOF 4/09 silk/cotton tunic - and the other was for a co-worker. Every time I wear my BWOF 1/08 wrap top she says how much she likes it, so I finally got around to making one for her. Now if I could just get her to hold still while wearing it - I told her that photography is the price of getting something made just for her, but so far she's not cooperating, though she's worn it twice already. The fabric was a doily-print slinky from that I could never decide if I liked for me or not. It definitely suits her, though.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Cherry Bomb

The battle is over.

I won.

It was close.

It was bloody. There was swearing. There was wine.

There is, at the end of it, however, a DRESS. Full review is here.

After the zipper debacle, there was the complication of not having enough rattail left to make piping for the seam between the skirt and the flounce. No biggie - I just cut a 1/2" strip and sewed it between the two. It's narrow enough to look like piping and not as necessary down there.

Then there was my misguided attempt at tidying my workspace before I put the dress on Evelyn. Somehow while moving my rotary cutter from one side of the table to the other (yes, with the blade exposed) I managed to drop it. It bounced off the dress. It cut a nice hole in the dress. Thankfully it was in a low-stress area and I ironed interfacing on the back of the hole and then zigzagged over it on the front.

Anything else?

The sewing gods sat back and thought about it and decided no, that was enough.

I like the dress, I really do. I just can't look at it right now.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Ever have one of those projects?

You know, the kind that make you think you should stop sewing for the night? Or the week? Or longer?

I'm having one of those projects. What makes it worse is that I just made this pattern last week, and it worked. So what went wrong here?

After I got home from the vet hospital on Sunday, I needed distraction. I decided to make another version of BWOF 2/08 #113. To complicate things, I decided to add contrast piping to all the bodice seams. I made all the piping with my new adjustable zipper foot. And it worked.

Things didn't start to go wrong until I got to the zipper. There wasn't one. In my entire drawer of zippers, not one long black invisible. I briefly contemplated putting in a regular zipper, but I suck at those, so instead I called Kisha to see if she had a black invisible zipper I could have. That way, I figured, I wouldn't have to walk all the way to the fabric store at lunch the next day.

Monday we meet for lunch, I get my zipper, and we walk more than halfway to the fabric store in search of food. That night, I insert the zipper. And it looks like crap. Despite having basted, pinned and done everything I should have, the piped waist seam skewed by about 1/2" - and with contrast piping, it looks more like an inch. I rip out the zipper and put it in again. Not perfect, but better. Enough better. I stop for the night.

The next night, after I add the facings, I pin the side seams and unzip the dress to try it on. I hear something bounce off the floor, and when I look, it's the zipper tab. Unpick the zipper a second time and stop for the night.

Today, I walk to the fabric store at lunch for a new zipper, wondering all the while if I hadn't been so lazy on Monday, would any of this have happened? I get home, look at the condition of the CB seam, and decide to sew it shut and put the zipper in a side seam instead. Even with fusible interfacing on the zipper opening, cotton isn't meant to have a zipper picked out of it. Twice.

Oddly enough, when I sew the CB seam closed, the piping matches up perfectly. Go figure.

On the other hand, the second invisible zipper, inserted for the first time in the side seam, is a little bit wonky. The piping doesn't line up exactly, but it's better than it was on the back, and it's under my arm anyway.

I gave myself permission to leave it that way.

The world won't end, right? Right?

So, have you ever had one of those projects?

(All photos from lunchtime window shopping - top and bottom, Leehe Fai Boutique on 18th Street; middle, J. Crew).