Monday, December 30, 2013

Planning for 2014

I'm actually quite thrilled with how my sewing has progressed this past year.  I've learned a lot, I've created a lot and I can't wait to 'do it again' next year.

There's a few things I want to focus on...

1)  Bust my Stash

Seriously people, I've only been 'seriously' sewing since February of last year.  But I have probably over 700 yards of fabric.  No, that is not a typo... 700.  Oh, and I also own (between 'standard' patterns and my Burda subscription) about 1000 patterns.  I... have...a...problem.

So, my goal for next year is to blow through this stash.  No new fabric, unless it's for a special project - like a Christmas dress, or I need a scrap of this or that to finish an existing project.

2) Finish my UFO's

I have a LOT of these too.  Some just need something simple like the buttons sewn on.  Really, that's all.  My goal for the next few months is to finish one UFO for each 'full' project I do, until the UFO's are gone.

3) Don't buy RTW

I know right, why would anyone who has 700 yards of fabric buy something off the rack.  Well... heh, I've done it.  So, this year I've joined goodbyevalentino in her Ready-to-Wear Fast.  I'll not be buying any Ready-to Wear clothes for the entire year - 2014!  Now there's a few things I need to learn to make this a reality, first and foremost, now to sew pants.  I think that'll probably be my January project.

I'm also going to have to learn to alter as I have plans to make some changes in my body shape over the next year.  Radical weight loss is on the agenda (in a safe and sane way) and I want to make sure I'll still be able to wear some of my favorite clothes when I come out the other side.

I'm also toying with the SewWithAPupurpose 2014 challenge at  artisansquare this could be very important if I want to stay away from RTW items.  I need to sew things that can go together!

Some other things I want to tackle this year:

a fitted jacket
a 'real' corset
a swimsuit

Let the games begin!!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

My Christmas dress

I decided in the middle of the day that I wanted to make a dress to wear to the Brian Setzer concert that I was going to that night. So, I went to the fabric store, picked up some fun Christmas fabric and went for it. Luckily I had a tried and true pattern already (vogue 8797) that I knew would go together quickly and I had already altered to fit. I changed the neckline on this version by just free handing tracing/cutting right on the fabric and adjusting as I sewed and did final fitting. 

There are a few 'issues' with it. Some places where I would have ripped and resewn had I had more time but overall I was thrilled with it. And the dress got the reaction I had hoped for at the concert (and walking down the street). One friend said I looked like a present which is exactly what I had been going for. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

2013 Lined Jacket Contest Lingerie Challenge Contest 2013 Let's see if I can follow-through this time!

McCall's 5974

  I found this crazy print lycra and knew I wanted to make a dress out of it.  McCall's 5974 seemed perfect.

All in all I would have to say I'm super happy with the dress.  Yes, the pattern and colors are pretty wild, but it was super easy to put together and I think looks pretty good - especially when paired with a simple solid colored sweater.  I had kind of planned on it only being a muslin, but it turned out so wearable that I'm getting a great deal of use out of it.

The only adjustments I made to the pattern are minor.  I left off the ties at the waist - only because I didn't have enough fabric for them (this thing takes a LOT of yardage).  I also added length in the front of the bodice otherwise the waistband would have hit me mid boob - but that's simply due to my body shape - not the pattern itself.  I also didn't put a zipper in it because I had PLENTY of stretch with the fabric I used. 

As with all Palmer/Pletsch patterns this one had great instructions and a lot of really good fitting techniques.  I really like how flattering the pleating is in this dress and it's on my list to make again.  

Thursday, June 6, 2013

2013 Jeans Contest

Tools of the trade

Since I just got my pride and joy out of the shop, I thought I would share my 'girls' with you.

First is my 'work horse'.  Bertha the Brother.

For a $75 machine she does an alright job.  This is also my first ever 'modern' machine.  I'm trying to get used to using zig-zag stitches and the fact that things like the reverse button and the presser foot up/down leaver are in different places.

This is Nora and she was my Mother-in-law's.  I've never really used it because, unfortunately, it's not in the best of shape.   It's sad because if it was working correctly it would kick the BUTT of the modern day brother.  HOWEVER.  This machine didn't start it's life as a table machine and someone at some point modified the electronics to make it one.  When I got it it didn't work at ALL.  I took it into the shop and they just shook their head.  The changes made to the electronics could not be undone and though they got  it to at least come on and sew none of on/off switches work.  The light is always on and I can't switch it from fast to slow stitch speed, and when I press the knee leaver it doesn't 'gradually' start to sew, it's either going 100MPR or not moving at all.  This makes things like back stitching and cornering impossible. I've toyed with the idea of bringing it back to the shop with the table this time to see if they could make it usable, but I"m hesitant to throw more money at it as the first repairs cost $150 and I would hate to put more into it and have it still not be usable.  

However, she still has a proud place in our house.  And how can you NOT love things like the first page of the instruction manual.

It starts off "Dear Madam"

And lastly - my BABY.

The machine I learned to sew on.  She belonged to my Great Grandmother (my father's grandmother) and she still runs like a champ.  According to her Serial number she's a 221 Flatbed and was born in 1935.  The things she has sewn!  Besides the fact that she's a part of my life and my history and sewed all of the homemade clothes and costumes I wore as a kid, she's also the only thing I have of my dad's family (His parents died long before I was born).  She sews like a champ and she's beautiful - what's not to love?

PS - I still have the original foot control and carrying box.  I also have the singer button hole maker which, in my opinion, makes the best button holes EVER, but I'm still waiting for my mom to send that to me.  (She only gave me the machine three years ago - because she was still using it).  I also have the original ruffle foot and tuck attachment along with other important feet.

Anyway - those are my girls!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Vogue 8789 - Again

When I first saw this fabric I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it.

The simple boarder print was so pretty and was begging to be made into Vogue 8789

This time I made sure I cut the bodice long enough and the whole thing went together beautifully.

The only problem I'm having is with the neckline.  I don't know if it's because my shoulders are too wide, or maybe just too square, but the straight across neckline just doesn't sit on me like the drawing.  I'm going to work on fixing that, but even with the 'funny' neck.  (and it's not nearly as bad as these pictures make it look - the dress isn't swallowing my head) I love the dress and feel very pretty wearing it.  I probably need to think about a belt just to add a little color in the center, but overall I'm super happy.  P.S.  This fabric was $2 a yard at Walmart so this dress not only is simple and cute and fun but very very cheep.  And even though I finished every single seam it only took me about 4-5 hours to put together.

I made another project this weekend that has no pattern number :D

I found this fabric is the bargain bin and took all they had (there wasn't much)

I was pretty sure I had seen it's fruity goodness made into sundresses around the internet and had coveted it then.  So I was really excited to get my hands on it.  But, I could not find the perfect pattern!

So, I took my sure fit designs top sloaper and traced MOST of that.  The traced the neckline from the Sultry Sheath from Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing.  Then I cut a simple A-line skirt.

Because I was making something without a pattern I did some funny things with construction.  I sewed the front bodice to the front skirt and each back bodice piece to each back skirt piece (after sewing in the darts).  To my pleasant surprise I even managed to get the darts to match.  I then sewed up the back seam, and put in the side seams (leaving an opening for the zipper).  Side zippers are my new favorite thing.  After that I bound the neckline, sleeves and hem in lime green bias tape.  And lastly, because it need a little more OOMPH I pressed open some tape and stitched it to the waist in a mock belt and sewed together a little bow.

Overall I love the results and my friends loved it too.  And it only took three hours to sew.

 If I was going to fix anything it would be tighten/shorten the bodice just a touch and bring the outside of the arm scythe in just a touch to make it a little smaller at the shoulders.

But the dress is fun and a lot of fun to wear so I'm not going to fuss over it too much. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Walk Away Dress

I've continued to participate in Me-Made-May, but so much of my stuff is repeats that I haven't bothered to blog about it.

I HAVE worn some things I haven't blogged yet so I'm going to try to catch up.

First - the Walk Away Dress.

I think is THE Dress on the blogoshere everyone knows.  it's rather infamous I believe and my experience with it left me with no question as to why.

First, let me say that part of the issue with this dress was because I really, really, really wanted it to match the main dress shown on the pattern envelope - AND I was working on this dress under a time constraint, trying to get it finished for Viva.  So, when I went to find the material the only stuff I could find in blue check was this horrible polyester.  I bought it anyway.  The fabric, was not forgiving and had/has a propensity to grow that I have never seen the likes of before.  Then there is the 'wrap around' concept of this dress.  The lack of any anchoring - plus the slippy nature of my fabric and this thing moves all over the place!  I tried to fix some of that.  I actually created a 'strap' in the back at about bra level to try to hold the front in place better and added snaps to the sides where the back crosses over the front.  Still not perfect.

And, if you look at my picture of it

You'll probably notice how low the front dips.  I adjusted this three different times in three places while constructing, but when I sewed on the bias tape it just stretched all out again.

That being said - it's a fun dress to wear, and makes an excellent sweat pant alternative.  I can wear it, not worry about anything getting on it and not look like a complete slob.  PLUS I love the buttons I used for the front - they always make me smile.

In conclusion - it's not a dress I would make again and not one I would recommend to others. The modern day version of the pattern is flawed and I hate the U shape wrap around - however changing to the V shape on my dress did not help it either.   Save yourself some time and heartache and just "Walk-Away" from this dress!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Me-May-May the 7th

Took a break from "Me-Made" at work and saved it for at home.  The weather has taken a turn for dark, gloomy and cold so it was a perfect time to pull out my thermal top.  (and my first ever knit garment).  It has some flaws - some bad ones, but I love it anyway.  Especially the color and the self drafted thermal cuffs.  (In case you didn't know, purple is my favorite color)

How did I do it?  Well, I looked at another thermal top I had and measured the length of those cuffs, took that measurement and added seam allowance.  So, if you want a 2" cuff and a 3/8" seam allowance you're now at 2 3/8".

Then, I doubled that amount

Next I measured the width of the bottom of the sleeve.  And, because I didn't think about this until AFTER I had sewn them on... I measured the sleeve from center to seam. (Let's say that's 2 1/2") and added seam allowance.

Then double that amount (to go all the way around the sleeve).  If, you're smart enough to measure BEFORE you attach the sleeve, then just measure the bottom of the sleeve flat - and you're done!

Now, here's where I did things that might be a little different then some might think (in fact my RTW cuff wasn't constructed this way).

First I folded along the "Center of Cuff" line and sewed the edges  - right sides together.

Now, 'roll/fold' the tube, wrong sides together until the remaining unsewn edges meet, encasing that seam inside.

Match raw edges of the cuff to raw edge of the sleeve (right sides together) and sew it on.  Then I top stitch the seam allowances down  to the sleeve.  Ta-Da you're done!

I promise, I'll take pictures next time I do this, as this won't be my last thermal top - I love these for lounging  and sleeping in.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Me-Made-May the sixth

For the sixth day of me-made-may I wore a very simple skirt that I threw together a while back.  I had about two yards of this pretty floral cotton (that I picked up at a 1/2 off sale for about $3/yard)

and I knew I wanted something cute and simple that I could throw on and off easily and wear for hours without having to worry much.  No binding etc.

I started with the free A-line skirt pattern at Laura Marsh Designs (you can find it here).  The pattern is for a Maxi shirt, but I just made it as long as my fabric would allow.  It, of course, cut and went together super easy. But when I got to the section about inserting the elastic, I decided to do something a little different.  Instead of putting elastic in the skirt... I cut a piece of 1", navy blue, knit elastic and attached the skirt to it.

Personally I like the effect and it is so, so, so comfortable!

Nothing fancy or special - just a skirt I can wear all day and not think about it.

And so, I leave you with this...

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Woo hoo!

Look what came in the mail today! Thank you etsy!

Me-Made-May - the third

The moment I saw this fabric I knew what I wanted to do with it.

I wanted to make a vintage inspired sun dress.  So, I grabbed up 5 yards of it and brought it home.

My original inspiration was this

And the V&A Golden Age of Couture website even had a free pattern to make it!  Unfortunately, I found out quickly that it was no where near my size.  (UK size 14 anyone?) so I was faced with re-drafting the pattern.  and I kept putting that off.

But then I was reminded of (by seeing it on the website) Vogue 8789

and I knew I had found my pattern!  I waited for it go on sale, and snapped that puppy up!  In less then a week of it arriving I had fabric spread over the floor as I cut!

Over all it went together easy.  The biggest stress point was making sure I got things lined up right, but even that was easy given the markings on the pattern.  My only issue... you guessed it - bodice length in the front.  When I got the bodice sewn and tried it on, sure enough it was too short in the front! But then I had the inspiration to build a waistband for the dress!  I cut a strip of fabric slightly wider then I would need, sewed it to the bottom of the bodice and then, tried on the skirt and marked where it would attach.. and whalla!  A dress.. that fit!

To give you an idea of the difference we're talking about here...

In the end I got it to work.  and it didn't look 1/2 bad.  In fact, I found I really really liked it!

I tried it on and his reaction wasn't immediate horror.  He said, "wow, that's a lot of flowers"

A little later he mentioned, "Maybe if you had a belt."  (he says that a lot) "You know, something solid colored to break up all the pattern."

And, he was right!  And, amazingly enough the dress came with a pattern for a cummerbund - hooray!

After determining I didn't have the appropriate fabric at home, it was off to the fabric store.  I had originally wanted something in blue, but the blue in the dress turned out to be impossible to match.  Yellow however...

I ended up with a really pretty yellow chiffon and a butter colored lining (from my stash) that seemed as if it was going to be perfect.

Then I looked at the pattern piece for the cummerbund and went - huh?  To prove I'm not crazy, I've included some photographic evidence here.

You see here that this is, indeed the pattern piece for the cummerbund, pattern V8789, sizes 14-22.  And that it says, clearly, "Cut 1"

But, check out the length of the entire pattern piece!  This is an item that is supposed to go AROUND MY WAIST!

The total length is just under 28 1/2" Pattern fail Vogue!

So, that left me to draft my own.  Luckily the piece itself was fairly straight forward and I worked it out in the end. *grin*

And the final result?  Well hubby declared it A-OK.  I got a little worried when we were sitting at breakfast and he was staring at it.  But, then he said, "Wow, you did a really good job getting that little stripe of green along the edge."

That made me really happy because I worked hard to get that right!

At first I was really bummed at how the pattern met in the middle, but then I realized, the angle this was cut at, there was almost no way to match that.  I had thought maybe I could have lined up white space at the front, but I think I would have caught a pedal or leaf even then.

The skirt.. is just a basic drindle but I LOVE!  It's 4 full width panels of my 45" fabric.  I was really worried what that much fabric would do to my silhouette, but the weight of the fabric seems to keep it from over fluffing at the hips and making me look huge!

Pardon my rumpled state - had been wearing it all day.  I left most of the length because -- well, I like my fuller skirts to be long.  Maybe it's because I'm an 80's kid.

So, the theme for today in me-made world was water.  Being that I live on an island - that wasn't much of a challenge for me.  You see ---

That is San Francisco - and I live about .5 a mile from the beach I'm standing on.

I tried getting a good picture of my dress, but... 
My cummerbund road up in the car- and that looked goofie 

Then I made a goofie face
Even tried twirling - not easy to do in the sand

Finally managed something when I combined it with my favorite jean jacket.
By the way, I have to say this dress makes me happy.  I found myself smiling all day while wearing it and that's not something I can say about most of my clothes!


Took a few more pictures today to show what it looks like without a 'belt'  What do you think?  too many flowers?

Yes, this really is my best zip to date!