Wednesday, March 27, 2013

I have a problem - seriously

Well, this weekend was a flurry of sewing that saw me finish three dresses (Green check, blue check 'Walk Away' and brown dot), a pair of overall shorts, a blouse, and a shirt for my husband.  I'll try to get pictures of all of them as we spend the next six days enjoying "Viva Las Vegas"

Last night I threw together a few accessories (like head scarves) and packed.  Everything's ready to go and I'm so excited.

Yesterday I also found myself browsing at and spending WAY too much money on a bunch of fabric.  I'm going to have so many projects lined up for me when we get back.  Besides what I already picked up at the local fabric shop I've purchased 16  -- YES 16 more bits of fabric online.  This is really getting ridiculous and I need to stop.  I'm going to commit here and now that I won't buy any more fabric or patterns until I've used what I've got, unless it's needed to complete something that I've started on.

Let's see how long that lasts!!

I'm already starting to plan a sewing schedule in my head (I'm a project manager by profession) and and anxious to start on some project that I can finish and enjoy right away.

In the meanwhile - happy sewing everyone!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

She's wearing WHAT?

Shopping for patterns is really an interesting challenge.  It's amazing how much the styling and fabric choice on the pattern envelope can effect my buying.  I'm working really hard on trying to see through that and look at the lines of the garment instead.  It's not easy, and my guess is it takes practice (and hopefully it gets easier in time?)

Case in point - I was trolling through the Mccall's site because my local fabric stores has all their patterns for $1.99 each.  For some reason I didn't have many Mccall's patterns in my wish list and I decided to slow down while looking through them to see if it really was that I didn't like their style, or something else.

The first thing I noticed was that the New Sewing Patterns - every one of them had a photo with a bike.  I mean, maybe there's something I'm missing here (did they partner with the USA woman's cycling team or something)  but THIS

Is just down right distracting.

But, this made me click away quickly...

Then I stopped and went back - like an online double take.  Is that really a top/vest made out of costume fabric?  And the alternate view..  Well it's a little better.

But that's still not anything I would wear - ever.

But, if I take the time to scroll quickly past all that and look at the actual line drawings...

It's actually rather cute, and might be something I would wear if made up in the right knit.

But still.. really... this?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Advance 5555 - Finished!

I have to say - there wasn't a lot of drama involved with making this dress.  I only did the slightest bit of tailoring (though it could have probably used a little more)   I did end up doing this a few times...

But, then I always do.  This time it was after putting a sleeve on wrong.  I also started with a bow in the same fabric and it was WAY too matchy-match so I pulled it off and replaced it with white.  (and used the original bow for my hair.

All in all, it went together fairly easy and it wears very comfortably.

This was my first ever vintage pattern and my first ever unprinted pattern, but that ended up being a let work then I thought.  I usually end up tracing all my patterns out anyway, so tracing this was not an extra step for me.  

probably the only real snag I had was trying to figure out the collar.  The instructions were very confusing for me and without pictures of what they were talking about I faked it and it turned out anyway so I'm happy.

I think this will fit in at vegas without a problem and should hold up to HOURS of dancing with not problem :D.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A perfectly set in sleeve .. backwards *sigh*

Advance Pattern

Last night was interesting - I started on my first ever Vintage pattern.  True vintage.

I recently picked up this from Etsy

I last night I jumped right on making it.  It was my first ever vintage pattern and first ever unprinted.  I was a little nervous about that, but, since I tend to retrace all my patterns anyway it didn't really take any extra time then what I was used to.  In fact, I loved that fact that all the tissue was already cut - that ended up actually saving me time.

So far it's going together like a breeze.  I need to take a little fullness out under the arms and cut about 6" off the length (what the heck, were women in the 50's 10 feet tall?) but other then that no major back flips to make this work.  It's nice to be working on something that doesn't make me want to cry.  :D

Friday, March 22, 2013

Just Walk-Away

I swear - this thing is This close |--| to being a wadder!  And the horrible part is I think my problems are self inflicted!

I did a muslin - made some corrections and thought, ok - this isn't going to be too bad - and forged ahead.  I cut the dress, sewed it, and tried it on and everything looked... way too big!  I putzed around with it for a while and ended up taking it up an inch in the shoulders to make it look right.  After that I thought it was just a small adjustment in the sides (from the back) and I would be ready to put on the bias tape.  Last night I rolled through putting on the yards and yards of bias tape (I used almost every inch of the 9 yards I bought), added some snaps and hooks, wrapped the dress around me and... somehow it had grown a size larger! What the...

So, what could the problem be you ask?

It call comes down to fabric choice.  I was determined to make this dress out of blue check w/red binding like the picture.  But, I couldn't find the right blue check anywhere!  I ended up finding something 'close enough', as in the color and pattern was right but the fabric wasn't the soft durable cotton I was looking for.  Instead it's something else - almost a cheep taffeta.  It frays like nothing I've ever seen and doesn't stretch per se - it WARPS.  Once it's been pulled in a certain direction it says in that direction.  Every stitch I put in it seems to turn it to mush and the fact that I sewed it TWICE to put the bindings on... well you get the idea.  The edges on the grain (like the front of the dress) seem to have grown about 1/2 an inch.  edges on the bias (like the wrap around edges) have grown even more!  I was almost in tears last night and hubby had to force me to put the thing down and come to bed.

the worse part - I was worried about this fabric from the start and I had actually bought a soft white cotton to interline the entire dress because I had feeling it wasn't going to hold up to the application.  But, then I got in a hurry - figured cutting the dress twice - once in fashion fabric and once in interlining - would take too long and.. and..  Yeah - to quote a wise man, a stitch in time saves nine.  I should have listened to my gut.

the good news is that I'm done sewing, it's all bound and thus it should stop 'growing'.  That is, until I hem the stupid thing!


The question of what pattern to use for the green check dress has been answered... By the fortuitous arrival of a pattern I ordered off etsy last week.  The best part - it's already my size!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

I spent most of the night last night futzing around with the "Walk away Dress"

I think I finally have got it 'wearable' but I ended up having to build a back - almost like a bra strap - to get it to work.  I used my geometry skills to make the waistband larger in the circle skirt and to lengthen the skirt a bit as well.  And, it came together alright.  Tonight I have a few minor adjustments that I'll need my husband's help with and then I can do all the bias tape.  I'm staring to think 1/2 my problems with this was the fabric I used - it needed something with more body - and the other 1/2 is my body shape.

While trying on this dress I realized that this particular high neckline style of the 50's really doesn't suite me.

I'm very long from shoulder to apex and without some kind of ornamentation (like a big bow) or a lower cut neckline - there's just the extra wide/long bit of fabric front and center.  It makes my waist look even shorter.   Sooooo.  What's bad is I find myself gravitating toward this look when I buy vintage style patterns.  I'm going to either cut new necklines, add some kind of decoration, or just stop buying them! :-\

The dress I was planning to make out of the green check that I have has been put on hold as it was another of this same style.  I don't need three of them! (My brown dot dress is like this too - see)

Oh, and speaking of the brown dot dress - I've decided to rip the waist out of it and redistribute the gathers under the bust - they are doing something 'not nice' under there that you can kind of see in this picture on my right side.   I'll probably take a smaller seam allowance and see if I can add a little bit more ease under bust.   Then I'm going to hem with horsehair braid.  I think my current crinoline is a little too full for this dress. 

Oh, and for the green check - I'm going to try pull together this dress:

I think it'll probably look pretty in the soft cotton light green gingham that I have - very summery and Viva appropriate, I hope.

Viva starts a week from today - so I've really got to start wrapping some of these things up!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

More pretty!

I stopped at the fabric store on my way home to pick up some needles and beeswax. While I was there I took a peek at the clearance fabrics 'just in case'. I spotted this pretty fabric and thought, "why not?"

There was just under 3 yards left on the bolt and I took it all. When the girl rang it up she was stunned because she said aloud, "73 cents!?"

I grinned and nodded before saying, "I know! Cheaper then a blouse from Good Will"

Man I love a bargain

Oh, and in a obscure corner of the store ( near the hand sewing needles I found horsehair braid for my skirt hems! Double score!!

Happy happy joy joy

Look what came in the mail today!!

No Magic Bullet

To be quite honest, I've been looking for the fitting "Magic Bullet".   I've been looking for the sewing trick that would tell me, take these measurements, plot these lines and *poof* you'll have a top that fits.  It hasn't happened.

Last night I was getting really frustrated.  I was starting to think that I was either going to have to make major fitting compromises, or that I would be stuck wearing knit clothes the rest of my life (Not that that's a bad thing, but...)

Like I said yesterday - I had gotten my sure fit top to a BETTER place but it still wasn't fitting right.  When I pinched up the excess fabric out of the top I had a whole THREE inches too much!  I ripped the seam, ripped the dart, reset the dart (all on just one side) and sewed it all back together.  That was better.

Here's the original fit

And here's the new fit.  Nice huh?

But.. and you can kind of see it in the second picture - this made a HUGE (6 inches people) dart.  And now I had weird wrinkles below the bust and weird poofiness in the back.   AND when I went back and tried to figure out how to draft this 6" dart onto my pattern.. my mind started to melt.  It was at this point that I said eff it, I'll wear potato sacks and jersey the rest of my life.

But, as I sat there staring at the sure fit outline I had an idea.. born of something I had read a long time ago that suggested fitting a pattern based on your upper chest measurement and THEN adjusting for the bust.  So I did that.  I redrafted based on an upper chest of 42 (instead of a bust measurement of 48) except for right at the bustline - that I measured at 48.  I drew in the standard DD dart, redrafted the entire back in the same way (leaving a square shoulder adjustment in both) cut it all and sewed it together.  And... And...

It was almost like putting on a pair of gloves!!  It has a few more adjustments: I think I'll do a DDD dart instead and I need to adjust a back just a little - but it's so much better now, and close enough I decided to try to make a partial muslin for the blue check wrap dress...  Yeah I should have stopped while I was ahead :-\  I have read of people having issues with the wrap dress and it being too baggy in the upper chest. 

If you look at the drawing

See how the dress is supposed to be wider then the shoulders?  Well that width plus the lack of any attachments to the back except at the waist made the whole thing fall open at the upper chest - it was even worse then my first sure-fit top!  The good news is, after sleeping on it, I have some ideas on how to fix this - I'm going to work on that tonight.

On a much more positive note.  As I was getting ready for work yesterday I said (not for the first time) I REALLY need a new trench coat!  That got me thinking about, "I wonder what fabrics you would use for a trench coat?".  As fate would have it.. as I was rolling through blogs later I found that Sewaholic had posted on Fabric Ideas for the Robson Trench Coat just that day!  I eagerly read through it.  And what prey tell was the first fabric listed??  Cotton twill!!  and what did I buy on a lark because it was 70 cents a yard on Friday even though I had no idea what to do with it??  Cotton twill!!

Remember this?

Yes, it's white - and covered with pokadots, but I ran the idea past my hubby (who is never shy to give a negative opinion if it's warranted) loved the idea.  I'm so excited.  (So many projects swirling through my mind right now...)

One of the things I would like to do if I'm going to use it for a coat is to try to treat the fabric with stain guard.  Has anyone done this?  Is it hard (or even possible).  Should it be done before I start to sew or after the thing is assembled.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013


I figured out a few fixes on my Sure-Fit blouse last night.  First, the whole - the blouse is too short issue.  That was me doing a really poor inches to cementer's conversion when I first measured out the length - duh!  I emailed Glenda about the other issue I was having and she suggested I change the curve I used on the neckline - and that helped some.  I also did a square shoulder adjustment and POOF!  The entire blouse settled onto my body correctly - hooray!

BUT... Now I was left with the issue I always have with patters that I've done a FBA on.  Upper chest gap!

I resolved this on one of my pattered blouses by adding another dart from the sleave hole to the bust but I figured I would try this time to do it right (plus THREE whole darts pointing to my boob is a little much - luckily the pattern on that other shirt was busy and didn't really show it.  

I think I may have found another solution, but I have to finish tuning it tonight as I was up 'til 11:30 last night just fussing with the few changes I was able to make so far.

Oh, and I wanted to share THIS -- 

I had been trying to buy this pattern RELATIVELY close to my size for a while now - I fell in love with it AGES ago and I'm so happy to have it as part of my collection.  It's in the 'to be redrafted and sewed' pile.  :D  I was thinking that the detachable skirt (and even the dress itself with a lining) might be interesting in the burned Poli/Cotton the I bought on clearance.  

Oh, and today I found a vintage pattern in a size 48" bust.  WHAAAA!?  I snapped it up quick!  The best part was it's adorable and it was at an ESTY shop where I had a $5 credit (That I had gotten as a 'sorry' for a failed attempt to buy the above pattern from her - the size she had listed was wrong :( and she gave me a $5 credit for my trouble).

So much sewing to be done - sew little time!  I need a sewcation!

P.S. - if I can get the issues with the Sure-Fit sloaper worked out tonight... I'll be cutting the Blue Check Dress and the Green Check Dress tonight.  I didn't want to do any more muslins - I figured if I can get the sloapers worked out I'll just adjust those two dressed based on the changes I've made there.

Monday, March 18, 2013

New arrival

Got this is the mail today - just need to get the sure fit pattern figured out so I can redraft these in my size

Ready to Move on

I have at least two more dresses to put together before we leave for Viva on 3/27.  I'm super excited about going and also super excited about having vintage inspired clothes to wear while I'm there... But, I have to admit that I'm really looking forward to getting back and starting to work on clothes that I can wear in my 'every day' life.  Especially things that I can wear to work!  (Although, the brown dot dress will be ok for work once it's finished, and the other two dresses will be great summer/weekend outfits).

To that end, I've been pinning some ideas for blouses - etc that I can sew up using this amazing stash of fabric I've got now.

I'm itching to get my sure-fit pattern finished as well!

Oh - and I need to start to design my costume for Labyrinth!

Here's a shot of last years (only you can't see the ton of work I did to make a peacock 'tail' for this)

Costume -  my friends said I looked and I quote - Hot

Sunday, March 17, 2013

It's been almost a month in the making

And there's just a few more hours of hand work to do but I'm so excited about how this turned out!!


Well, I did it!  I nearly finished my first Viva outfit - and my very first pair of shorts!  I had a little bit of a problem at first because, as you can see, the waist was WAY too high.

But with some fiddling around I figured out how to fix it.

Trying to figure out how to afix the bib and waistband took a great deal of time.  I finally gave up on trying to understand the instructions and just did my own thing, and It turned out alright, if I do say so myself!

P.S.  sorry about the mirror picture -- I'll get better photos once I've hemmed these up and given them a good press.

I sewed up my first sure fit 'dress' too.  Only that didn't go so well :(

As you can see, I have fit issues with the blouse length, neck, and armholes and the skirt at the hips.  I know once I get this figured out it's going to be a huge asset for me, but I still have a LOT of work to do to figure it out.

And, last but not least, I started on the brown dot dress.  I'm so excited to be working on this for real!

I was trying to figure out today why everything was taking me so long.  Then I realized, before, all the major sewing I did was for costumes.  So if wastebands didn't fit right, or zippers didn't match up exactly, I didn't care.  But now -- Now I spend a hour pinning a lining just to make sure it all lines up correctly.  But, that's ok right?

P.S.  Today I learned the art of understiching - yay!

And, last but not least... Friday I swung by the fabric store near work (the good one) to pick up a few things, and they were having an AMAZING clearance sale.  I do mean amazing - some of the fabrics I picked up were under $1/yard and all were less then $3.

First was this pinkish-purpleish chiffon - I figured I could make a blouse out of it - I need more colorful blouses and with spring/summer coming up, the lighter the better!

doesn't hat make you crave some cottan candy?

I also picked up a more conservative fabric - also intending to make a shirt of.  I love a floral that gives interest without being too busy.

Then I found an amazing poly blend knit.  I had recently found a sweatshirt pattern that I loved, but I didn't want to do it in your standard boring sweatshirt material - I think this is going to be perfect.

Next was this brown cotton/poly "Burnout".  The brown color looks really BLAH at first.

But when you hold it up you find this:

I'll be on the lookout for the right lining and I know this is going to shine.
I also found what they called "Sportswear Twill"  I'm not really sure what I'm going to do with it as it's got a heavy almost denim feel to it, but I loved the print.
And it was only 70 cents a yard.  I probably should have just brought home the whole thing, but I took five yards instead.

Picked up some navy water resistant fabric as well - who knows, I might be able to coax a jacket out of it.

I also found this INSANE "Special occasion" fabric.  It's nothing I would ever wear in real life, but at the price I just couldn't leave it there.  After getting it home, I was suddenly inspired use this as the basis of my Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade costume.  I mean, really, doesn't this scream as something a fairy would wear?

 Last, but not least, I stumbled across this...

(It's also the one fabric that caught my husband's eye, of everything I brought home.)  Here's the best part... It's swimsuit material!!   I've had this idea for a vintage inspired 'skirted' swimsuit in my head and this fit into perfectly.  I have no idea how to pull it off (maybe after I get my sure fit...fitted) but, I will - someday!

Tomorrow the goal is to get the shorts hemmed and the brown dress ready to hem (the bodice - the 'hard part' is done), and maybe get my blue check dress cut out.  But we'll see.

Friday, March 15, 2013


I got all my sloapers plotted and cut out (with seam allowance) last night.  I tissue fitted a few of the pieces just to see how it goes and I have to say, I'm nervous.  everything seems a little small, especially considering the supposed ease that's already built it.  BUT I'll cut the muslins tonight and give it a 'first pass' go.  If nothing else these may end up being the 'knit' sloapers :D  we'll see

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Fit to be sure

I don't have much time for sewing during the week.  I don't get home until almost 8PM and after eating dinner and spending some family time, it's time to go to bed.  What I try to do is work on things that need to be done that don't require sitting in front of the sewing machine.  For the past few nights this week that's meant working on turning the 'suspenders' for my shorts for this project:

Because the fabric was rather stiff and the 'tubes' really long I fought with them a LOT, but finally got them done and ready to be sewn onto the bib.

But last night... Last night I got to do so something REALLY fun.

Last week while looking through book reviews on amazon I read one where someone recommended "Sure Fit Designs".  Being a person who leaves no stone unturned I flipped over to the website and started reading.  Then I watched a few videos and I KNEW this is what I was looking for!  Basically, this is a system that lets you build your own sloapers.  Once you've done that, you can design your own patterns or use them to 'rub off' commercial patterns in your own size!  I immediately purchased the dress kit that lets you build dress, blouses and skirts and yesterday, it arrived.  Last night my TV time with family was spent reading through the book, and plotting my measurements on the dress top front so that I can use it for my upcoming projects.  I'm going to be doing a LOT of sewing over the next two weekends!  Viva is only two weeks away and the less measuring, remeasuring and muslin sewing I can do the better.

I'll keep you posted on how it goes

P.S.:  I'm so happy with the results so far that I bought some additional packages today including, "Beyond Bodice Basics" to help with my empire waste dress that I've been fiddling with for so long.

P.P.S.:  I'm not affiliated with Sure Fit in any way - just a customer who believes they have found a product to FINALLY be able to sew clothes that fit!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Looking UP

After all that frustration in my last post I decided to put aside the dress and move on to some other things.

I had this really cute fabric that I thought to make a summer top out of, but when I started laying it out with the pattern I wanted to use I found out that I didn't have enough!  I finally found a pattern for a simple summer dress with cute pleats around the top and a ribbon at the neckline to hold it all together.  It'll make a nice swim suite cover up and when I finish with the hemming (always the worse part) I'll upload a picture of it.

I also stopped at the fabric store to pick up some notions and made the mistake of stopping at the 'remnants' table.  With all of it 50% I went just a LEETLE crazy.  Here's what I picked out:

Two beautiful polyester (or something) that I know I can make work blouses out of.  One is this nice shade of blue:

the other this burgundy wine color that matches another blouse that I had and wore ALL THE TIME.  I don't have a pattern 'assigned' to these yet, but I'm sure there's something in my stash.  I'm not worrying about it right now because I'm focused on all the stuff I want to do before Viva.

I picked up some dark stretch denim to make into a pair of pedal pushers:

and this adorable green check cotton that I'm going to make into a wrap dress:

AND I picked up this knit:

that I have no idea what I'm going to do with but I'm inspired to do some sort of 'wiggle' dress with a drape to hide some tummy issues.  Maybe something like this from Burda

Lastly, and certainly NOT least... remember this idea I had?

Well, I found the same fabric again!  enough of it that I'm going to be able to finish this dress.

AND, finding that inspired me to go back to my muslin.  I ripped out the seams in the skirt - resewed them with 1/4" allowance instead of 5/8" and whalla all the fitting issues went away!  So I'm ready to start cutting into this brown dot!  *happy dance*

Oh and a impulse trip to a fabric store near my work was promising too! It's got a huge fashion fabric section (unlike the one near my home that is 99.9% quilting)  and I found a dark green and a dark blue check that I'm using to make this dress for my sister and myself.  I've cut the green already for my sister's dress.

and on top of all this, I've got the shorts assembled and am adding the bib to this Reconstructing History pattern (in a light blue denim).

and I've cut a shirt for my husband.

WHEW!  I feel productive.  Now to just FINISH something!