Friday, April 30, 2010

A pink pair of pants

I am almost finished with my perfect pink pair of pants. They're technically a muslin for a pair of trouser jeans I loved with all my heart until they died after many years of wearing.

Here are the originals, a pair of Meli Melo trouser jeans with a cute braided pocket band detail that made it nearly impossible to actually use those side pockets. So I omitted that detail for now. By the way, Meli Melo went out of business shortly after I bought these jeans, so I think it's ok to knock them off, right?

They got kinda tight over the years. Stupid washer and dryer! Shrinking all my clothes on me, even the ones I hang to dry. Couldn't be me, certainly not.

I cut them up after they split up the center back and used the pieces as a "pattern" of sorts. I found this stretch rosey denim at Hancock's for $3 a yard. The only drawback now, in hindsight, is that the rose denim has quite a bit of stretch and the original jeans weren't stretch at all, although they acted like it. They were 80% cotton, 20% poly, which is probably why they were so soft and acted kinda stretchy.

Because the originals had gotten a wee bit tight, I cut the pattern pieces with a one inch seam allowance, to allow for some adjustments should I need it. The stretch in the rosey denim took care of that, though, so I ended up not needing it.

I am really really really happy with the almost finished product, considering I was basically winging it. Had I remember these were a 'muslin' I might not have spent so much time getting the welt pockets just right, but I did anyway. They aren't perfect and there are still threads I need to snip, but they look pretty darn good from a distance.

I still have to take the waistband off and do some fixing so I haven't sewn on the button or buttonhole yet. For one, I totally forgot to interface it! Spaced out completely on that. So I wore the pants in to Ben Franklin to buy buttons and by the time I got home the waistband had grown considerably.

Sorry for the gross belly shot.

I created a curved waistband with some cotton on the interior, but I will be adjusting it and curving the center back seam even more to fix the gaposis that occurred while wearing. Not too noticeable in these pictures, but definitely there.

All in all, I'm really happy with them and I'll be trying my hand at a second pair and possibly a pattern posting soon.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Clearly, I can't be trusted

I think I am going to develop some sort of voting system, whereby I can post up my patterns and then as the urge to cut into some pretty fabric overtakes me, I stop and share this urge before cutting, so you all can weigh in and tell me whether or not my instincts are bad or good.

Let's face it, most of the time they're not good.

Although today, get this - I made a muslin! Get OUT! I know, I was shocked myself.

I bought this lightweight jersey knit in a darling little camouflage print for $1.95 a yard at Hancock's a while ago. I know, you're shocked by the price, right? Me too! I just thought it could be cool, or it could totally end up looking like I want to be on the A-Team. Either way. This picture kinda leans towards A-Team.

Then after getting the camo jersey I came across a lovely lovely black and off-white, sort of muddy white, stripe jersey that I looooove. Because I love stripes. Love them.

On to the story. I wanted to make this New Look dress pattern out of the stripes. But you know, my track record with picking crap fabric for nice patterns and vice versa isn't so great. So I decided to make one of the only muslins I've ever made, and it turns out I'll probably wear it as much as anything else in my summer closet!

I also learned that I really like this pattern. It's breezy, it's not clingy but there's some shaping to it what with the elastic thingy under the bust and all. I have plans to girlify the camo dress some, so hopefully I'll actually get that done before it turns cold again. But if not, I'm cool with how it wears today. Oh, I guess it still needs a hem. Oops.

There's really nothing funny going on with the sleeve, it's just the way I was so fantastically posed in this picture. I had to put my modeling career on the backburner while I raise my two kids.

And I've taken notes on what could be improved with this pattern - lengthen it by 3", lengthen bodice by 1", make the front more like the back (boatneck instead of cross front). Other than that, no changes!

So the stripes have been cut out, in version E I think? The boatneck longer version. Can't wait for a spare 30 minutes to slap it together. Seriously, it goes that quickly and that's with the cross front!

I think I should concentrate more on making simple things like this until I find my sewing mojo. Oh, wait. I am halfway through the two pair of denim trousers I'm working on, so they don't count. I'm just trying to work s l o w l y on those so I don't screw them up. Hope to have finished products this weekend, complete with photos and pattern tips. I've already totally goofed the sideseam pockets on the blue pair, forgetting that when sideseam pockets stretch you can see inside the pants, so you don't put the fancy contrast fabric on that piece, you put it on the piece that lays against the front. Just waiting to pick apart all those stitches. Exciting!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Federico Forquet - a big stinker

Whooo-ee! Federico Forquet, what were you thinking, man? This vintage Vogue dress pattern I started for Pattern Review's vintage pattern contest is uuuuuuuuggly!

I have never laughed so hard as I did when I tried it on and found the weird kangaroo pocket hangs below my crotchline. And I am tall! I have long arms and I seriously have to stretch a little to stick my hands in the pockets.


When my husband saw it, and saw that I was laughing so hard I was crying, he said "wow. There's a lot going on there. Maybe in a solid?"

It kind of reminds me of the time in high school I was sewing with my mom and my grandma in the room and ended up sewing the four seams of two legs together, creating one big stovepipe. I laughed until I thought I was going to throw up.

This dress is actually more flattering in these pictures than it is in person, if that's even possible?
I still have to finish the neckline and armhole facings and hem it, but I can't decide if I should even do that much more work! Should I cut it off above the kangaroo sack and turn it into a top I could wear for work? Ack! Oh, well, at least this time I know it wasn't me, it was the design. What should I do with this? Is the fabric ugly? I'm so at a loss.

Yay, something I'm good at!

I am happy to say I was able to start on a long-awaited project last night that's going to be super fun!

Actually, I started two projects, but the thing is, they're very similar.

One is a re-make of these jeans, my all-time favorite trouser jeans, that have seen such better days it wasn't really a surprise when the center back seam did a splitter on me while I sat on the floor at Barnes & Noble (reading sewing books - ironic?). They had gotten really tight (washing machine keeps shrinking things, eh), and you can kind of see how the silk inside the waistband had deteriorated over the years of washings. I'd already decided I was going to cut them up to make a "pattern" and try to re-create them when they died.

I went to Hancock's and bought an inexpensive piece of rose stretch denim. Rose? you ask. Yes, rose. I don't tend to like denim sold by the yard, it's never the same as denim you see on ready to wear, probably because of the washing/weathering techniques the RTW companies use after construction. So I thought a nice rosey pair of trouser jeans would be fun.

I also have an awesome independent pattern for a pair of trousers with a yoke back that I wanted to make and the perfect stash fabric for them - a stretch denim with this interesting weave, kind of like vertical slub lines running through it? I'd read on Gorgeous Fabrics' blog about laying out stretch fabrics overnight before cutting them out, so I actually did it this time. I laid the denim on my parents' pool table to let her breathe, and then cut the pants pattern the next time I was out at their house. It rested for a long time. I'm currently resting the rosey stretch denim, and hope to have it back home by the end of the week. Initially I thought I'd make both pair of pants in an assembly line but sadly I don't think it's going to work out that way.

I so love making pants. Not because they're easy, just because I wear a lot of pants. And I'd really like to get better at some of the techniques, like curved waistbands, pockets, zippers and fly extensions, not to mention fitting. I put the zipper into the denim pair tonight while watching Sandra Betzina's fly front zipper video tutorial (pretty good, but sadly lacking any description of what side she's talking about?) and it went really well. Now all I have to finish is the side seam pockets and I'll be ready to model them for you. Sounds pretty easy, right?


Side seam pockets are a really difficult area for me. I can do welt pockets till the cows come home, but sideseam pockets? Totally foreign. I'm still trying to visualize the steps in my mind before I attempt to do them on the machine. That's kind of how I work, I lay in bed at night thinking through the process before sitting down at the machine to do it. Am I the only one who does that kind of thing?

That's also kind of why shirring was so frustrating for me - there's no technique to learn, it's just straight or zig-zig stitching, and it wasn't turning out right! I understand when a fly zipper doesn't turn out right, but straight stitches?

So if all goes well by the end of the week I should have two new pair of pants to share with you. Maybe I'll just wear them around the house, we'll see. Sometimes my dreams are much better than the reality.

And if the rosey trouser jeans fit well, I'll try to post up a pattern for others to adjust to their own measurements and use. Now I just need to learn how to draw....

Monday, April 26, 2010

Woot woot!

Doing a little happy dance! Lookie who made it to Rae's front page ~

That very first top up there is the lovely Sonja, a friend from the blogosphere that I met last spring during Sew, Mama, Sew's May giveaway day. She won my giveaway! And I was so glad to have found her, she's a great artist. She makes the most intricate, beautiful hand-felted cake toppers in her Etsy store, although I think she's on hiatus while her family moves cross-country. Oh, and she happened to have made the tank dress out of the latest Alabama Stitches book so that makes me kind of hate her just a little, if that's even possible.

Then my Japanese tank top made the second row! Whoo-hoooo!!! It hasn't been hot enough yet to wear it, but I see it in my dresser and smile.

I can already count way more than ten tops that I would vote for, so it's going to be a real competition! I'll remind everyone when the time comes to vote, not so you can vote for me or Sonja (although that would be super cool), but so you can support home sewers!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

First and last

Well, thanks to the lovely and helpful Mikhaela, I did finally manage to shir something. And I can say, hands down, with no equivocation, that I will never again shir anything. Ever. Unless the gods somehow bless me with a sewing machine that loves elastic bobbin thread, that is. And when I say loves, I mean a machine that will buy the fabric and cut it out, too.

Until then? Nope. Never again. (Can you tell I haven't finished the top yet? It still needs buttons down the front of the ruffle and I haven't stitched down the ruffle.)

I started this top almost a year ago. I had purchased this lovely imported Japanese cotton print from Hart's Fabric and I didn't really know what to do with it. On the screen the colors looked clear and crisp, but in person they are much grayer. Muddier. Whatever, they aren't crisp and clear. I still like it, but it wasn't what I expected.

Then shortly after buying the fabric, I ordered this Jamie Christina pattern off Etsy for this cute little shirred top and dress. This was before I realized shirring just involved cutting a box and sewing straight lines. More on that later.

So the idea was born, marry the Japanese landscape print that has a texture like linen but is really cotton with the shirred ruffle button top.

Only, my machines won't shir with elastic thread in the bobbin, as I've shared only too many times.

Mikhaela of Polka Dot Overload recently posted a similar problem with shirring, and mentioned that she'd finally developed a technique that did not involve elastic bobbin thread. So I emailed her and she was gracious enough to share. I'm not going to copy her email because that would be wrong, plus I think she'll post her story on her own blog, but I will condense the instructions and share what I did with my own top.

Mikhaela's advice was to use the elastic thread but to zig-zag over it. After experimenting a few times, I finally came up with this system, and I took a picture (gasp! a picture during the process is so unlike me) so I hope you can see what I was doing:

1. Cut a piece of elastic thread 18" long. My bust is about 36" around, so I arbitrarily chose half that measurement.
2. Tie knots in each end with about a 1" tail.
3. Start each row by staystitching just after the knot, effectively "locking" it in place so when you're stretching the thread as you're sewing it won't come undone.
4. Zigzag (length 3, width 3) over the elastic thread, keeping the lines about 1/2" from the previous row. I managed to do this easily by using my larger 9mm presser foot and following its edge.
5. When I got to the end of a row, I'd turn down the dials and staystitch just before the knot again.
6. And for good measure, I tied the two knots together in one knot and then continued my zigzag over that to lock the tails in place.

Whew. That's a long process for a little payoff.

I even timed myself towards the end (actually, on the eleventh row of shirring as I was cussing the slow progress), and it turns out it took me almost ten minutes per row with all the steps involved. That is insane.

After I added up all the failed shirring rows that I had to rip out, plus the eventual successful rows and then the minor details of straps, ruffle and buttons, this simple little summer top took hours upon hours of labor. Let me tell you friends, IT IS NOT WORTH IT.

I have decided if I ever want a shirt with shirring, I'll go to the store and buy one, or take my lovely friend Cara up on her offer to let me use her Brother (since it seems to like it fine).

So there you have it. A partially finished product and a whole lotta wasted time. I could have completed my vintage pattern contest entry in the time it took me to shir this stinking top! And that includes underlining it!

BUT, I'm glad I did it. Cause now I know, and otherwise it just would have eaten away at me.

Now on to my next rant. I mean this in the most respectful way. Bloggers, sew-ers, crafters, everyone out there that is doing this needs to stop, in my cranky-just-spent-way-too-much-time-shirring opinion. STOP "designing" patterns people are asked to pay for and then pretend that it's an original design that should not be copied for resale purposes. For example, anyone who is releasing a design today for a shirred top or dress just exactly like the one I just made. PEOPLE! This is a box with elastic thread at the top. That does not constitute an original design, nor does it require a huge amount of design effort. It's totally cool if you want to upload a pattern for others to follow, I just find it greedy to ask for money for that "pattern," and then to demand some sort of copyright privilege and expect people not to use the pattern to sell finished items.

I've seen this over and over in the craftoblogosphere. Someone "designs" a zippered pouch, packages their pattern for sale, and then claims people can't make zippered pouches for sale based off their "original" pattern. Give me a break. You know who totally impress me for their completely original designs? People like the girls behind Sugar City and Sarai of Colette Patterns. Now that's original design. Zippered pouches, shirred boxes? Not original.

OK, end rant. I hope I haven't offended too many people, and this was actually not about Jamie Christina. I love her fabric shop and the dresses she sells on Etsy. I'm more irritated with a big name blogger who has just recently released an "original" shirred dress pattern that you have to pay for. I have big magnanimous plans for uploading and sharing lots of patterns, just as soon as I can get around to it. Pants patterns, reversible cross-back top pattern, etc. I may even throw in a shirred dress pattern, just to tip the scales in favor of something free.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


I can't wait to take pictures of a project that was finally finished today after languishing in my UFO pile for over a year. It involves shirring, if you can believe it. Hopefully I'll have time tomorrow to take pictures and post it up.

But this post is about fashion's knack for reinventing itself. How history is bound to repeat itself. How there's nothing new under the sun.

And let me say, that is not always a bad thing. I got the latest Talbot's catalog in the mail today, and for the first time in a long time I actually sat and paged through it. I am really drawn to the colors they are using in this season's line and although I don't buy clothes from them, I always like to look at pretty things for inspiration.

One of the dresses that I adore is this cross-front number in a pretty, summery cotton print. Sorry, the Talbot's site won't let me copy their pics. I knew I'd seen something like this in my vintage patterns, so I ran downstairs and look! I borrowed the picture from Wikia, but I have this pattern in my size:

Vintage McCall's 8297 from 1966. The shape of the skirt isn't exactly the same. The pattern's skirt is a slight a-line, and the Talbot's dress is more of a straight skirt or even pencil cut.

I have a feeling this vintage pattern has just made her way to the top of my future project pile, which makes me think of something I've been meaning to write about for a while ~ fabric sourcing. In my opinion, the worst part about sewing is finding the right fabric at a price that doesn't make it cost-prohibitive. Especially if you live in an area where there aren't a lot of great choices in apparel fabrics. Online shopping can be tricky. Like Fashion Fabrics Club, where the prices are great and the pictures look ok, but in real life their fabrics can be really bad sometimes. Really good other times, but the really bad ones stick in my mind. Luckily their warehouse is here in Saint Louis, so I don't pay for shipping and I go pick up my packages in person. You'd be stunned if you knew what that operation really looks like. Yuck. I'll have to take pictures next time I go. Their returns pile is enormous.

I've been doing really well with my goal of finishing a lot of the UFOs that have been sitting around here and it'll be nice to get to some new projects. I finally broke down and ordered four Jalie patterns for the first time from Pattern Review. I can't wait for my fabric de-stash yard sale, my workspace is going to seem empty!

Friday, April 23, 2010

oui oui

I feel myself hitting my stitching stride again. Feeling good about something I've made instead of bad, which is a nice little change.

I was in a boutique here recently when I came across this super cute top. I took a stealth Blackberry photo at a bad angle but didn't want to be accused of fashion espionage or something.

The more I thought about that top, the more I came down with Sew-er's Sickness. You know the drill. "Oh, this is so cute. I can make this!" I don't even think the original top was that expensive. But my brain started to list the reasons I could make it.

- It was made out of white French terry, and I had a stash of white French terry I'd bought at Hancock's for $2.95 a yard on my fabric shelves, just waiting.
- It was a simple shape, a button-down top with little flutter sleeves and a waistband. I knew I'd seen a similar pattern somewhere.
- The cuteness of the top relied on some craftiness - the designer had added little ruffles edged with navy serging, and pick stitching along the waistband pieces. All things that are easy enough to create at home.

So....this is what I came up with, complete with my poor posture. It really looks nothing like the original inspiration, but I like it nonetheless. Oh, and I took these pics before I remembered to hem the bottom. Oops.

I downloaded the free JJ top pattern from and made the following changes to it.

First, I omitted the collar and cut the neckline a little lower so I'd have a scoop neck. Then I used some gingham in a bias band to create a little neck binding. I used that same gingham for the sleeve bands and then got a little crazy and made covered buttons - huge covered buttons.

Why stop with all that? I ended up decorating the princess seams with a stitch from my machine's library. It's like a giant X with a dot in the center.

I cut a size 44 according to my measurements because I falsely thought French terry didn't stretch very much. Well, it does. So I ended up taking in the side seams by at least an inch each and the princess seams by about 1/4" under the bustline. I could probably stand to cinch it up a little more, but I don't want the front to gape open.

I really like the finished product. In my house, there aren't many un-attended photo shoots and this one was no different. My oldest son wanted me to read his fortune cookie fortune while I was on the timer.

1. French terry is pretty hot. It got muggy today and was 78F out and I was hot in this top! So it's probably going to be a spring/fall top, but that's fine with me.
2. The pattern that would have been an exact match to the top I saw in the boutique is Simplicity 2601. After I cut out the JJ I realized my mistake. That's ok, I have plans to make the Simplicity pattern, too! Can't have too many cute tops in my closet, right? I may even try it in a stable knit. I seem to wear a lot more knit tops than woven.
3. I really really love gingham. I think it would be totally cute to make a navy gingham top with white ruffles.
4. I hate making covered buttons. I need three hands. Or two people. Either way, they were my least favorite task from this project.

All told, this top cost me somewhere around $10. I think if I used a total of two yards at 2.95 a yard, there's almost $6 in fabric and two packages of covered buttons at $2 each. Not bad, eh? Way better than the $89 the original top cost.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Liverpool tunic lives

Remember how I started off with such good intentions of making a western-style dress a la Ramonster from Amy Butler's Liverpool dress/tunic pattern? Only it turned out hideous on me?

This was the dress with piped pockets. Eh. Not bad, but the pockets needed to come in quite a bit and I wasn't quite sure I was ready for the Rhinestone Cowgirl look just yet.

I took off the pockets. And then I felt like a housemaid. Like Alice from the Brady Bunch.

So I whacked off the bottom six inches and now it's a tunic. And I love it! I hemmed it quite wide, so I think I'm going to go back and put in a narrow hem, maybe a half-inch. That will give me another inch or two in length, which would be good. Gotta cover the buns if I can.

I wrote a review of the Liverpool pattern on Pattern Review but I'll repeat some of it here - I love Amy Butler clothing patterns. The fit is excellent for me, I only have to make the small adjustment to add length to the body. Other than that, the fit was exactly what I would get from a top at JCrew or Banana Republic. Maybe even a little better.

If you don't remember, I used two Liberty of London scarves I bought at Target. They're a lawn-like weave, 100% cotton. I piped it with white mini-piping made for children's heirloom sewing (it's not so thick and obnoxious and the bias fabric is much nicer), and put snaps up the front instead of the covered buttons the pattern calls for.

I am definitely going to make another one of these tops. I made elbow-length sleeves this time and next time I'll probably either do long-sleeves for fall or 3/4-length.

I was so prepared when I made this shirt, I didn't even cut the pattern lines! I carefully folded the pieces so I could cut my size and save the pattern to use in a larger size for my mom. It's like this pattern and me? We were meant to be.

Some exciting news - I managed to cut out three new projects last night, so I'm excited to get started on those and share my ideas. I stopped in to a cute little boutique while waiting for an appointment the other day and in ten minutes stocked up on so many cute sewing ideas!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Back on track

I took my machine to the shop tonight, and luckily the talented and kind lady that works there took pity upon me and fixed her on the spot with no charge.

My Bernina has a rotary hook bobbin case, and apparently the teeny tiny little screw (one of them) had fallen out during my shirring fiasco. That was what was causing all the noise. Oh, that and the fact that I DON'T OIL MY MACHINE ENOUGH and the lady was talking in baby talk "oh, is she thirsty? she's so thirsty!" It was kind of weird. Buuuuut, when they're fixing my mistakes for free, I just smile and nod and promise to oil the machine more often.

Which is kind of funny because for the first twenty-five years of my sewing life I never oiled a machine once. And now I need to do it almost every day according to her.

But it does sound better and is forming real stitches again, so all is good with the world. I'm back in the game, baby! I hope to start my vintage pattern contest entry tomorrow, if all goes right and there are no more catastrophes like me ruining my sewing machine or losing another Blackberry. No, those foibles were from the past. My future is looking really good.

Craps or how shirring ruined my sewing machine

Well, I'm going to call it. Shirring 1, Heather 0. I will probably never sew anything with elastic thread, ever again.

I've tried, many times. I tried on my Grandma's Bernette (from the 80s) that's a straight-up mechanical machine. No bells and whistles, no automatic buttonholer. It wouldn't happen. The elastic thread just would not stretch up. I put it aside and waited a year.

Then Mikhaela wrote about her shirring struggles, and the project was still sitting in the UFO box, staring at me. Taunting me. "Come on, Heather, everyone who can operate a sewing machine can shir. All you need to know is how to sew a straight line. Jeez, loser."

So I got out the elastic thread again and made a fresh attempt. I dialed down my machine's tension and hand-wound the bobbin. And I sat back, just waiting for my shirring masterpiece, my shirring breakthrough, the moment when shirring was going to change my life, to happen.

Well, friends, all I can say from that fiasco is it took me a half hour to pick all the stitches out and my machine is officially broken down. She just got back from the shop a few weeks ago, and she is heading to the shop this morning because I swear on anything holy or whatever, that I have broken the bobbin carrier on my Bernina using elastic thread. There's a little doo-hicky on the side of the bobbin carrier that captures the thread and keeps the tension, and it is literally hanging off the side, limp. Dead. That would explain the awful chunking noise that occurred shortly after starting the ill-fated shirring stitches and continued on for three rows.

So now it's back to sewing on Grandma's old Bernette. I care too much about that machine to allow elastic thread to work its evil magic on her. Maybe I could try the technique Mikhaela finally used to successfully shir - zig-zagging over elastic instead of using elastic thread? I don't know.

Sooo bummed. Also, v. bummed that my vintage pattern contest entry may be either dramatically delayed or cancelled altogether due to devastating loss of sewing machine.

{weeps silently}

There may be a wee bit of irrational emotion going on around here, due to sleepless nights due to crying pupper dog. Whatever the case, I will update all on the fate of Bernina after she's diagnosed.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Hello?! I am supposed to be WORKING, people!

Remember how I wrote about my contest entry for Pattern Review's vintage sewing contest? And how the instructions call for underlining the dress in the vintage 'sandwich' method, but I thought I'd be all smart and easy and modernize it and line it with a separate shell attached at the neckline and armholes?

Yeah, well.

That was before the Slapdash Sewist posted one of her newest creations, using this cheater faux-Hong-Kong-finish-underline method she read about from someone else. (And she made it in a most lovely blue polka dot that I really like but don't need at all right now, so NO I am not going to try to find any of it.)

I love it.

I even understand how to do it.

How cool is that?

And the only sucky thing is that I am at my desk, supposed to be working right now, and I should not be daydreaming about how I'm going to one day finish the seams of my newest vintage pattern creation.

I have decided it would be much better if there were more hours in the day. Only for crafting. Not for laundry. But I need about three more hours. Thanks.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

What's your ballyhoo?

I don't even know what the word ballyhoo means. I have a feeling it means that thing that you get stuck on every time. Something you're not good at or don't like or something that trips you up.

I ask the question because if there is one thing I really like about sewing, it's cutting out my projects. I could cut cut cut all day long and be soooo happy. And then, of course, I would have nothing but fabric cut out in piles sandwiched with tissue paper. (This is somehow different from my current reality how?)

I was in our little Eunice Farmer fabric shop here recently when I totally hit the jackpot and drew a 50% off your entire purchase Easter egg from the basket. So I wasted no time in amassing a ridiculous amount of beautiful cotton voiles that would make the uppity folks at Liberty drool. OK, maybe not, but they're still really pretty.

As the saleswoman was struggling to ring up my purchases, she offhandedly made a comment about how I'd have to actually cut all this out, and how much that would stink. I said something to the effect of "are you nuts?! That's the best part!" We laughed. If only there was a sewing talent pool, a club where you could bring your projects at the point you hate and have someone else who loves that particular step help you out.

For me, it would be finish work. I hate it. Hate hand sewing linings to zipper facings. Hate hand sewing anything, really. Hate hemming. If I could hand a project off at the 90-95% point and have it come back to me as ready-to-wear, now that would rock.

I'm just curious, what is it for you? What's the step in sewing you don't like?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

How I'm going to spend my summer vacation....

I would love to say I will be happily ensconced down in my cool basement sweatshop this summer. But you know what? I just got a baby girl this morning. So, it looks like there will be some walking, cuddling, and training mixed in with my sewing.

What would my life be like if it weren't chaotic? Boring.

We call her Ruby. She's pretty cool.

My contest entry....

I read on Peter's blog that Pattern Review is hosting a vintage pattern sewing contest. So....I decided to forego all sanity and enter.

I know, I know, everyone else in the world is enthralled with forties and fifties styles. But not me.

I'm a sixties mod kinda girl.

So this is my contest entry - a dress made of stretch silk/cotton out of this vintage Vogue couturier pattern by Federico Forquet. I think it dates to the winter of 67/68.

There is some weirdness I'm going to have to modernize after reading the directions. It calls for lining the dress (yay! I believe all serious garments should be lined), but instead of making two shells and joining them at the neckline, they want me to basically sew each piece as a sandwich, lining on top of fabric. Then join another "sandwich" at the seams. I don't like it.

I talked to my mom about this technique since she was sewing in the sixties and I wasn't even a speck on the horizon yet (didn't make my grand entrance til seventy-two). She said that was a common technique, lining garments in an underlining sort of manner. But since the fabric I'm working with has some stretch to it, we both think it would be wiser to make a lining shell and put it all together at the neckline and armholes as I would a modern pattern.

So, it'll have a few modifications but otherwise the original pattern will be used to a T.

Now, I just need to get crackin cause the contest ends in two weeks! Yikes. I've not spent a lot of time on Pattern Review, although I'm trying to refer to it as I contemplate using commercial patterns. I'm hoping it'll help me avoid disappointment!

I have two copies of this pattern so if it turns out ok - meaning, non-hideous - I'll prolly give one away in a grand giveaway to celebrate completion.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Quick update

I have decided to have a yard sale. Every time I thought about how many Rubbermaid containers I have of fabric, I felt like throwing up.

I want to wait until my mom is back in town and can help me. So Saturday, May 8, is De-Stash Day! I think I'll sell it all for $2 a yard, maybe bits and pieces for less and something super great...well, who am I kidding, I'll be keeping the super great stuff.

If you're in the Saint Louis area on that Saturday, stop by and take a browse.

By the by, if anyone wants some of my babywale corduroy stash, that's now selling for $2 a yard too, but I'll throw in free shipping. I have tons of the alphabet print (bought the whole bolt) and at least three yards of most of the rest. Email me if you're interested.

See, I always wanted to open a fabric store!

The photographic evidence

I do not want to end up on Hoarders. I want to make that very clear.

I lamented my gigantic fabric stash in a previous post and Cara said I should include pictures. So now that my camera and her SD card are together again, I shall show you my work in progress.

Let's begin.

This is the biggest problem right now. These my fabric shelves, and they are out of control. Yesterday I had them all cleaned up, color-coordinated and straightened but then I needed a spot to mound up a bunch of other fabric I pulled from various places last night, like under my sewing table, and so now it's a mess again. I hope it won't look like this tonight.

This is the wall, pretty organized, right?
Here's the sewing table, from one side. The other side is where I'm supposed to cut things out. One of these days that will happen.
This is under the shelves. Much better! This used to look somewhat like the shelves. And check out the Large Cube Space Bag. It's awesome, I have eight of these babies packed already.

A pile of babywale corduroy I need to find a home for. I had such lofty goals for all of this. Anyone want any babywale corduroy?
The color-coordinated pinks! I love this stack.

A bag of scraps that's headed to Cara's doorstep.

Oh, look, there's more fabric on shelves in the basement room.
And a box of knits.
Uh, oh, the ironing board isn't clear either.
And that's not counting the four rubbermaid containers at my mom's house.

Yes, this is going to be a long process, for sure.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

How many football fields is too many?

Have you ever wondered how many yards of fabric you are keeping in your stash? The just-in-case-when-I-find-the-right-project-I-can't-possibly-pass-this-up-it-feels-like-heaven-what-if-it's-gone-when-I-come-back fabric stash? I don't know how much I have, I only know I have a lot.

I know this because I've been packing it all (hah! all would be a stretch. 90%. 80%.) away in Space Bags for our impending home sale. God love the Space Bags, they allow me to literally double my storage in Rubbermaid containers. They have these new Large Cube sized ones, that form a, um, large cube. Perfect name for them, really.

I can't actually lift the Rubbermaid containers when they've been filled with two Large Cubes, but that's not a huge deal, right? That's what movers and husbands are for.

As I was moving through the zen-like motions of de-cluttering and tossing old spools of nearly empty thread tonight, thread I inherited in two Ziploc freezer bags from my Grandma Clare who passed away seven years ago, I wondered about it....if each piece of fabric is two to three yards long, and if I put them end to end, would I reach Rhode Island? Or at least West Virginia?

Why am I keeping all of this? Why did I collect so much of it in the first place, and so quickly? Two years ago I didn't have all this fabric, or all of these patterns. Two years ago I had one Rubbermaid full of old home dec fabric scraps. Maybe a dozen patterns, old ones my mom made me take back when I bought my first house.

I have piles and piles of fabric now designated with various tags - the Free Friday Fabric giveaway pile (there's some really nice ones in there), the cut scrap for some crazed quilters pile, the not good cut scrap for the Newborns in Need charity here, the piles that need more Large Cube Space Bags, and so on. My shelves are neatly organized, though! All of the apparel fabric I plan on sewing down on this summer is neatly lined up in rows, color coded and separated by woven or stretch. I will post pictures for your viewing pleasure as soon as my camera and its SD card are reunited. Great, now I'll be humming Peaches and Herb all day. Or is it Peaches and Cream?

Still, the pattern boxes overflow. Four boxes of vintage patterns I don't plan to keep for myself. One box I do. Oliver & S patterns in sizes sadly too small for the little girls I know now. I even unearthed a black and white UFO in my piles, of an adorable Oliver & S skirt and top! Too bad it never made it. Poor thing. Maybe I'll find a home for it, a sew-ist willing to give it life.

So how many yards do you have, just sitting around? Do you think it's a problem?

I guess I'm not a Parfait kinda gal.

I don't know if you remember the Sad Parfait story. I really really really wanted to like the Parfait dress pattern by Colette Patterns. It looked so much like it could be super cute. And everyone else was making it and loving it, and I'm totally sucked in by that sort of thing.

I guess I should have taken the first experience as a bad omen. Cause my second shot at it was not only no better, but possible even worse. I wish I had great pictures to show you, but my camera's SD card was in my house while my camera was with me at my mom's house. Where I was doing all this ill-fated sewing.

The Parfait pattern now sits forlornly in a garbage can in my mom's sewing room.

I did manage to salvage the bottom half, I guess that's something, right?

So here's what went wrong, in no particular order.

I did a small bust adjustment based on my previous experience with the bust area being HUGE. I wear a 36C bra, so I never considered myself super flat, but apparently to Colette I am. Still, after doing the SBA according to Gertie's instructions, the bust was gigantic. Lots of fabric gaping.

Then I put together an alternate bust, based on a lingerie design. This is similar to the shape I'd designed, and I adjusted the midriff to fit with this new bust piece.

Only, it didn't. There was gappage again.

Also, this dress is not for the tall. Last time I made it I made the mistake of not adding anything to accommodate my height (5'10"-5'11" depending on the day). This time, I was totally prepared. I added at least 4" to the midriff section so the skirt wouldn't start way up under my ribcage, but rather at my waist like a normal person.

Yeah, that didn't happen either. The waistline was still going to be at least two inches too short.

According to my measurements I should have cut a size 8. Except last time I couldn't zip the damn thing up after making a size 8, so this time I cut a size 12 for good measure.

The 12 is HUGE on the bottom. The midriff was going to be tight, barely come together at the seams tight, the bust was huge, the skirt is huge.

So...I wadded the top half and threw it away. Sick as it made me to do, I decided my time is the most valuable commodity I have right now and I simply don't have time to waste trying to make a round dress fit a square peg.

I kept the bottom half of the dress. I hope to turn it into a summer skirt. After I take it in by about 2-3" on either side, add a zipper and a waistband. But you know, after all those things. Or I could give it away, maybe someone who wears a size 12 would like a lovely linen a-line skirt with pretty pink drawings?


I have started to really worry. I ordered the Lady Grey coat pattern this weekend after reviewing the purple version I'd seen online. I don't know now. I know a muslin is definitely in store for that one, I'm just scared of what I might find. I think maybe Colette patterns just aren't engineered for me?