Thursday, March 29, 2012

Spring & Summer Sewing - Dresses

Here's part three of my Spring & Summer Sewing Plan.  I saved the best for last - dresses! My favorite thing to sew, though I'm trying really hard to branch out.  I'm most excited about the Colette Chantilly dress - I love the fabric.  I'm nervous about the Chloe dress, since the fabric I'd like to use has a lot of stretch to it and I think it will only look right if the dress is more fitted than the pattern appears to suggest.  The red knit Vogue dress is obviously a carry-over from my winter sewing, but if I make it soon enough I think it will still see some wear. 

Whew! 5 dresses, 5 tops, and 5 bottoms.  Doable by the end of summer, but I'd better get going!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Beignet Update

So I'm pretty confident that my Beignet skirt is cursed.  I ran into serious fit issues, and had to take it in a ton.  (Enough that I knew I should take it in a little at each seam instead of just at the sides.)  After spending forever ripping out stitches and re-doing the seams (all while being covered in little flecks of shedding corduroy), it turned out too small.  When it finally fit semi-right, none of the seams from the shell and the lining matched up because all of the fixes I did were imprecise.  I ignored that and forged ahead, and finished everything except the hem and the belt loops last night.  I noticed today that I was almost out of thread, and thought to myself, "Oh good, something's finally going right.  I'll have just enough thread to finish it up."

But what's missing from this photo? Buttonholes.  Yup.  I completely forgot about them.  All twelve.  So, once again, this project is on hold.  :( 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Spring & Summer Sewing - Tops

I had a very busy, mostly non-crafty weekend, so I offer you a little planning post instead of real, live, existing crafty things.

This is part two of my Spring & Summer Sewing Plan  (part one is here).  I'm feeling rather uninspired with tops at the moment, though this is what I need the most in my wardrobe.  If you've made any awesome tops lately (or not lately), please leave me a link in the comments so that I can be inspired! Dresses will be part 3 - saving the most fun for last.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mad Men Challenge Dress: Complete!

Mad Men Dress
This is the face I make when I have to take photos around the swarms of people in my neighborhood.  Lovely, isn't it?

Mad Men Dress

I had the hardest time picking an inspiration dress for JuliaBobbin's Mad Men Challenge- there were too many to choose from! I ended up settling on one of Peggy's dresses.

Then I stumbled across this vintage pattern on Etsy.  I'm cheap and I like to make things complicated for myself, so I re-created the look by making a bunch of modifications to a couple of patterns I already had.

I really loved making this dress, and I'm pretty pleased with the result.  It's not too costumey or "big" for work - as much as I love a full skirt, I don't have as many opportunities to wear them because I always feel out of place in them at work.  I can't wait to add this dress to the rotation - it's "me," but not too much. 

Mad Men Dress

Mad Men Dress

Mad Men Dress
The sleeve hem is folded under here :( But it's the best photo I have of the back.  

I can't wait to see what other Mad Men-inspired outfits everyone else makes!

Fabric: Navy cotton sateen & a lighter weight red cotton.
Pattern: Simplicity 2444 and 2209, modified beyond recognition.  The bodice is Simplicity 2444, with the two front darts rotated into a single French dart.  I changed the back to a V.  The sleeves were from Simplicity 2444, but I ended up with mysterious extra ease in the sleeve cap and made them gathered.  The skirt is from Simplicity 2209, with the pleats changed to darts in the back and gathers in the front.  I also slimmed down the skirt to be less of an a-line shape (next time I would take out less), and added the inverted pleat to the center.  The dress is unlined, and all seams are bound in Hug Snug.
New Techniques: Bias bound neckline, 2nd hand-picked zipper.

Monday, March 19, 2012

On the order of things.

I made big progress on my Mad Men dress this weekend.  Here's a peek:

This project has been fun. I completely changed the order of construction from what I usually do. Rather than making up the bodice, then the skirt, then attaching at the waist and setting in the sleeves, I set in the sleeves flat and then made up the full front and full back before attaching at the side seams.  I think I may never go back to the old way - I feel like my seams are easier to finish and putting the sleeves in was definitely less of a hassle.  I think I can safely say that my sewing mojo has returned.  Fingers crossed that it sticks with me when I go back to working on my Beignet skirt.

Do you find that changing something like the order of construction can completely re-energize you? What have you done recently that's made sewing more enjoyable?

Friday, March 16, 2012

The best fabrics ever.

Just as everyone who was in a sewing funk seems to be getting their mojo back, mine is nowhere to be found.  I've been working on my Beignet skirt all week, which really means that I spent one evening cutting, one sewing, and another two ripping out and re-sewing.  I cut a straight 4, but I think next time I need to cut a 2 in the waist and a 0 everywhere else.  Anyway, so I finally got the fit right and then started binding my seams with Hug Snug, because this corduroy leaves little specks of blue everywhere and shows no signs of stopping.  And then I ran out of seam binding.  I ran out of seam binding on the last project I used it on too, so I decided to end the problem once and for all (or at least for several months) and bought 200 yards of it.

Things have started looking up in the last day.  My Fashion Fabrics Club order came in the mail yesterday.  One of the fabrics I bought, a black cotton shirting, is more awesome than I ever could have imagined.  Looking at it straight-on, you see sheer stripes.  But look at it sideways, and you see POLKA DOTS! Sadly its fantastic-ness doesn't photograph well, but I did try.

As tempted as I am to make a dress, I really need more separates.  What will I wear in Self-Stitched September with my (yet-to-be-made) Clovers if I don't make more tops? So, expect to see this fabric in the upcoming Tops installment of my Spring/Summer Wardrobe Plan.

Today I came home and found my Fabric Mart order waiting for me.  First of all, Fabric Mart is a master at packing.  They fit almost 10 yards of fabric into this little box!

The most exciting thing in the box? 4 panels of this Maggy London print that I am 100% in love with.  I have grand plans for a Colette Chantilly dress using the borders and floral sections that I'll post about soon.

This weekend, I'm hoping to start (and finish!) my Mad Men Challenge dress, work on my Beignet skirt, and finally make some progress on those pesky sleeves for my Agatha Cardigan.  What are you up to? Is your sewing mojo back? Or were you lucky enough to never lose it?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spring & Summer Sewing: Bottoms

I really wasn't going to do a wardrobe plan.  But then I ordered some fabric from Fashion Fabrics Club, ordered some fabric from Fabric Mart, looked at my stash, and realized that it has ballooned in size.  Mind you, we aren't talking box upon box or shelf upon shelf of fabric.  It's a bag here, a bag there, a drawer there, and then an under-bed box.  But I still need to take a break from the buying and get back to the making.  So, I'm pledging no more fabric purchases until I've made at least ten (out of 17ish) projects on my list.  (Lining fabric doesn't count, since I know I don't have enough of that to get by.) The goal is three projects per month, so these plans should take me all the way to August! I'll confess that I'm a little concerned that doing this is going to take some of the fun out of sewing.  I'm hoping there's enough variation here to keep me happy and challenged.

I'm going to break this down into a couple of posts.  For now, we'll start with the bottoms.  I've already started my Beignet skirt, so that should be making an appearance soon! I also have a large piece of really stiff corduroy that I need to use, but I haven't thought of any good projects for it yet.

Monday, March 12, 2012

New Look 6107: My "SPRING!!" Shirt

SPRING shirt

Fabric: Lightweight cotton floral border print from Mood
Pattern: New Look 6107, View B

This top gave me some trouble.  I cut a 10 even though I should have cut a 12 according to my bust and waist measurements.  When I tried it on, it still looked too big.  There's clearly a lot of ease built into the pattern, and you can see this on the modeled photo on the envelope, but I like my shirts more fitted.

I took it in at the side seams, reducing it by about 2" in the bust, 3.5" in the waist, and 1.5" in the hips.  This essentially gave me the equivalent of a size 6 (the pattern goes down to an 8) in the bust, a 4 in the waist, and an 8 in the hips.  Funnily enough, I made the biggest reduction in the waist and the smallest reduction in the hips, the exact opposite of what I usually have to do.

It seemed a tiny bit small in the bust when I tried it on after these adjustments, which I could have made up for by reducing the seam allowances at the center front if I hadn't committed a cardinal sewing sin - I marked the circles for the button loop placements in pen. They would show if I reduced the seam allowance.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Other than that issue, I'm pretty pleased with it over-all.  I'm in love with the print and the little fabric-covered buttons, and I french-seamed nearly all of it.  For the armscye seam I folded the seam allowances in towards each other and invisibly hand-stitched them together.  I could have done this by machine, but sometimes a girl just wants to hand sew, you know?

Other modifications? I had my heart set on using the border print for the yoke, which turned out to be too narrow for the pattern piece.  So, I added shoulder seams to the yoke and cut it in three pieces.  I also skipped staystitching the facing because, well, I forgot.

SPRING shirt

I'm definitely going to make this again, and after the mess of adjustments I made to this one, it looks like I can just cut an 8 and take in the waist a tiny bit to get the fit I want.  I'm peeved with myself for taking it in too much, but I don't think it's too noticeable.  Right? (Please say yes.  Or is it no? These sorts of questions are so confusing, when a negative is actually positive and whatever.)


The fabric I used for this top screams "SPRING!" to me, and it's killing me that it's too cold to wear it. I keep thinking that spring is here to stay, and then it drops down into the 40s again and I'm back in my winter clothes. But the weather in the next week shows signs of a warming trend, so fingers crossed that this will see the light of day soon. 

SPRING shirt

Are you sewing for spring yet?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Clover Muslin #2

So the title is a lie.  Technically this is still Muslin #1, with a few changes.

It was clear that I needed to shorten the torso.  Initially I took out 1" all the way around, across the front and the back (the seam line from this is what's underneath the waistband).  This caused the waistband to dip at the center back, so I ripped that out and did an even adjustment across the front, and then two wedges tapering towards the CB.  I adjusted the amount a few times, hoping to get rid of some of the wrinkling at the front, and in the end it turned out to be closer to 1.75" taken out at the front.  The rise isn't really low though, because of the next change I made. (Yesterday's version is on the left, today's is on the right.)

I wasn't really sure what was going on with the wrinkles in the back.  It's an issue that plagues me with nearly ever pair of RTW pants.  I could see though that if I hiked up the pants most of the wrinkles disappeared.  Essentially it seemed like I needed the crotch to move down in relation to the shaping at the sides.  So I lowered the crotch by about 1" in the front and the back, and re-drew the curve, making it a little bit more of a J shape.  The pattern adjustment looked like this:

Front piece

Back piece
And most of the wrinkles disappeared!

I'm really happy with how they look now.  There are still a couple of small wrinkles at the front crotch, and a couple under my butt as well, but I'm not sure I can have pants I can still move in without having a couple of wrinkles at the back.  As for the wrinkles at the crotch - the sheen of the fabric makes them more noticeable, and I'm planning on following sallieoh's mods for a fly-front which should distract from them.  I'm just not sure it's possible to 100% get rid of them.  I do think I'll try to slim down the thighs a bit, and I know that a couple of the wrinkles I'm seeing now will disappear when I re-align everything in my flat pattern.  Any other thoughts? 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Clovers! (Well, a muslin anyway.)

I whipped up the first muslin for my Clovers tonight.  I was terrified of this pattern after seeing so many horror stories on the internet, but the cute pants Lauren and sallieoh and Forrest have been churning out convinced me.  Here's muslin #1! (I cut a size 0, based on my hip measurement, and graded up to a 2 at the waist.)

Please excuse the VPL... 

Not so bad! I was shocked.  They definitely need some changes though.  I'm thinking I need:

  • Shortened torso, to deal with the wrinkles across the front and at the sides.  The wrinkles don't go all the way across my butt, so I'm thinking I need to take out some fabric evenly across the front, and then taper it to nothing towards the center back? Does that make sense?
  • a low butt adjustment to help with the wrinkles under my butt? The Colette cheat sheet says to lower the crotch curve.  When I pull the pants up really high (giving myself a wedgie, essentially...) all of the wrinkles in the back disappear.  Is that mimicking the effect of lowering the crotch curve? In my mind that makes sense, but I'm not sure... and then if I lower the crotch curve in the back, do I need to lower it in the front? I couldn't find a tutorial from Colette on this (did I miss it?), so if any of you have done this before I would love to know how.  
Anything else you see that needs fixing? I'm pretty thrilled over all - I think I can make this happen! I am a little concerned that I could put these on without a zipper though.  Is that normal? Obviously the waistband will be less stretchy once I interface it and do a facing and all that, so maybe it's because I don't have all that in my muslin and I don't have hips to pull the pants over?

Anyway, mostly I just keep thinking, "PANTS! I MADE PANTS!" 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The sale made me do it!

Fashion Fabrics Club is having a sale.  My under-the-bed fabric storage box, desk drawer, basket, and various smaller bags hidden around my apartment may be full of fabric, but it was a sale.  I couldn't say no.
I know some people have had iffy experiences with FFC - fabric coming in the wrong color, with different content, etc.  I made my choices with this in mind though, so I'm not especially worried.  Plus I haven't had any trouble with them in the past (knock on wood).  So what did I get?

2 yards of floral print cotton poplin.  This is actually a Marc Jacobs print (I know because it was at Fabric Mart a while ago).  It's selling on etsy for $12/yd, but it was $2.50/yd at FFC! (I sound like a commercial...) I think I'm going to use it for this Cynthia Rowley dress, minus the ruffle.  Maybe with some solid black at the waist for contrast.

2 yards of turquoise stretch cotton twill, at $3/yd.  Because who doesn't need turquoise Clovers?

1.75 yards of black shirting (100% cotton), at $2.50/yd.  I'm not sure what this is going to be yet - some kind of shirt.

1 yard of Dark Coral Red T-shirt Knit, for, well, a t-shirt.  $2.50/yd. 

3 yards of 90" wide cream broadcloth, for $2.50/yd.  Muslin fabric, cheaper than I've been able to find in the Garment District so far considering it's 90" wide.

Have any of you made any exciting fabric acquisitions lately?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Whoops and a Yay

My interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply arrived yesterday, and I promptly began cutting and fusing for the facings on my New Look 6701 blouse (almost done!). I used the Pro-Sheer Elegance for the shirt, but haven't tried the tricot yet. This stuff is amazing! I'm officially an interfacing snob.

The navy and red poplin I bought at Chic Fabrics for my Mad Men dress? Well, I started to feel iffy about it after I pre-washed it.  It has a cheap-looking sheen to it and a swishy feel that bugged me.  I also wanted to do bias trim in the red along the top of the dress, and doing this in a stretch woven seems like a no-no (anyone have experience with that?)
So I decided to do a burn test, thinking this would tell me whether or not it was a cotton-poly blend.  It took me about six tries.  The first five tests consisted of one second of "ooh, fire...", another of "AHH! FIRE!", and a third second where I frantically dropped the burning fabric into a mug of water in the sink, rendering the swatch pretty useless.  When I finally ended up with a dry swatch, I did see some definite beading, so I'm guessing there's a fair amount of poly in there. 
So, I guess I have to head out to the Garment District again this weekend (I know, I know, how terrible, poor Mika has to go shopping in the NYC Garment District... I know I'm going to get a lot of sympathy here.) On the bright side, I think the fabric will work well to make muslins for my Clover pants, so at least all is not lost.  As my sewing improves, I'm definitely gravitating towards nicer fabrics - bad for my wallet, but at the same time why spend hours and hours on something when you're not going to be happy with your fabric choice at the end?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Monday Musings

  • Anyone care to explain to me why I got an email over the weekend from McCall Pattern Company promoting "the latest in celebrity skin care"?? I'm confused.  This relates to sewing how??

  • I read somewhere that Mood was a great source for interfacing, but when I went to look a little while ago I couldn't find a lightweight woven fusible.  So I ask one of the women working there.  She says "here you go," and points to a roll of tricot fusible.  I said," no, that's not it."  She points to a roll of non-woven fusible- "Nope, still not it." (How can you work in a fabric store and not understand the concept of "woven"?!) Anyway, she couldn't find any so I left empty-handed.  And then I saw that several people on Pattern Review recommended Fashion Sewing Supply - the cost is more per yard than what I'm used to, but it's 60" wide instead of 23", and I shouldn't have to worry about bubbling.  The last interfacing I bought refused to fuse to anything, so I can't wait to try something non-sucky.  (And their customer service has been awesome so far - I ordered late on Friday and it's supposed to arrive today!)
  • The first application of my new interfacing will be on my New Look 6701 blouse, which is coming along nicely.  There's way too much ease built in to the design, but that was easily fixed and now I can't wait to finish it up.  

  • My Agatha cardigan is also coming along nicely.  I'm working on one of the sleeves now, but haven't made much progress during the last few days because I hate the needles I'm using.  I had to resort to my Denise set, which is generally sort-of ok, but the size 5 needle is incredibly irritating to use with the giant cable since they're basically the same size.

  • And last but not least, I spent yesterday evening hacking up a couple patterns to make my Mad Men dress.  I basically 90% copied the silhouette of this vintage pattern that I didn't want to buy:

I'm using the bodice from Simplicity 2444, but I rotated the two darts into a single French dart.  The skirt is from Simplicity 2209, with the pleats changed to gathers and the addition of a center pleat.  I made two (!!!!!) muslins of the bodice, and half a muslin of the skirt.  No modeled photos for you though because a) I didn't muslin the back of the skirt and b) my muslin is entirely see-through.  We're not that friendly yet.

Happy Monday, everyone! What are you working on?