Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Case of the Incredible Growing Pants

Remember these? Those pants that fit so nicely?

Red Clovers (MMM Day 11)

Well, soon after I blogged about them I discovered that after about an hour of sitting, they looked less like that and more like I was trying to beat Eminem in a baggy pants competition. 

Image Source
No, I did not photograph my butt in baggy pants for you.
This has been a long-time issue for me.  Jeans that fit in the store would stretch out to be two sizes too big.  But then when I try to compensate for this and buy pants that are a little small in the store, they end up not stretching at all! No one wants a muffin-top!

Now that I'm making my own pants, I feel like I should have more control over this issue.  Problem is, how do you know about fabric recovery before you buy? And if you get stuck with a fabric that stretches beyond what even seems possible and doesn't go back, how do you deal with that after you've already sewn everything up?

In the case of my red pants, I pinched out the excess left after a day of sitting, unpicked the waistband at the side seams only, removed said excess fabric at the outside sideseams (I was not going to mess with the inside seams and crotch curve), and tried them on.  I wore them that way for a couple of hours around the house, found that they were still growing (!!) and took out more at the side seam.  All in all, I would say each leg piece was taken in by almost 3/4", which means the hip measurement was reduced by 3 inches and each thigh area by 1.5".  Then I fixed the waistband accordingly, tapering the decrease to nothing at the top of the waistband, which has stayed appropriately snug, I'm guessing due to the interfacing and seam there (though don't ask me why this does not apply to the whole waistband, because I don't know.  These pants are a mystery.) 

I would love to avoid having to make and unmake pants in the future in order to deal with this. I may try making the pants minus the waistband, staystiching the top where the waistband would go to mimic the stability a seam would provide, and then watching a movie in the pants.  Anyone have any ideas? Or are you plagued by your own endlessly growing pants issues?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

FO: Simplicity 2180

(I should win a creativity prize for that title.)

Simplicity 2180

I started this dress over the weekend, and finished it over the last few evenings.  It was tough though the last couple of nights - I hate pressing things and usually save as much as possible for the end, and who wants be near an iron when it's over 90 degrees? As a native San Franciscan, this weather is certainly requiring some adjusting.

Simplicity 2180

Overall the pattern was decent, and I'm very glad that it doesn't make me look like a football player like I was afraid it would (broad shoulders and all).  I skipped a muslin (I had just read this post from Sunni, and I'm all for any excuses not to make a muslin.)  After some careful measuring, I made an 8 in the bust and a 12 in the waist and hips.  The pattern recommends something like 4" of ease in the bust - insanity! It's supposed to be fitted, so I don't know what they're thinking.

Simplicity 2180

I altered the order of construction so that I had a fully made front and back and could sew up the side seams in one pass (tip here!), to make taking it in easier.  This was the first time I tried this, and certainly won't be the last - I also love that it makes seam finishing easier, since I can finish the full length of the side seam without any intersecting seams in the way.  In the end I really only took it in a teensy bit, about half a size overall.

Simplicity 2180

The other first for this dress - pockets with a side zip.  I was nervous about this since it seemed complicated at first, and the instructions on the Simplicity pattern were lacking (I know, total shocker.) In the end I studied the photos, ignored the words, and went at it figuring I could always rip it out later.  But, everything worked out fine.  

Fabric: Cotton print from FabricMart (it's an Ascher print - Gertie just made a dress with the yellow colorway)
Pattern: Simplicity 2180
Modifications: Changed order of construction, shortened by a few inches.

Hope everyone's having a good weekend!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Cutting fabric is fun! (No, really!)

I'm in love with my rotary cutter.  Love, love, love.  I may dump my boyfriend and date my rotary cutter instead (see incident below).  If you had asked me three weeks ago how I felt about sewing with rayon, I would have said it was the most evilest fabric on the planet (well, second to slippery silks).  I would have said don't even come near me with any unless you've got some spray stabilizer (which I don't) with you.  Now? Well, I have at least three rayon challis garments planned, so that should tell you something.  And I've spent hours admiring some pretty rayon prints on the black hole that is the internet.

Why the love affair? With my handy-dandy weights, I can cut slippery fabrics 10000x more accurately.  No more lines that should have been straight but aren't because the fabric slipped and the grain was off for half of the cut.  If I take my time, most curves aren't an issue either.  Now, I'm not chucking my scissors or anything (in fact, I have a gift certificate I'll probably be using for a pair of Ginghers soon), but seriously, my rotary cutter has made cutting so much more fun!

Unfortunately, boyfriend + thin IKEA table-top ironing board + iron, all on top of wonderfully cheap estate sale cutting mat = warped mat.  Fortunately, this disaster = excuse to buy a larger mat. So maybe I should thank him instead of glaring... plus he put up my tool railing over the weekend.  I guess I'll keep him for now.

Friday, June 15, 2012

New Acquisitions (and the Worst Customer Service Ever.)

I may or may not have bought a few things recently. 

My first few vintage patterns!

 I bought these from Great Scott (on vacation now, looks like) on Etsy.  I haven't found anywhere in NYC with vintage patterns, so I'm stuck shopping online.  Great Scott is, well, great. Each of these was 99-cents except for the halter dress, which was $2.99.  I do wish that photos of the envelope backs were included in the listings, but for the most part I've been able to find them on other websites.


This rayon challis is a little (or a lot!) busier and brighter than the prints I would usually choose.  I'm thinking I'll use it for my new halter maxi dress pattern above.

This rayon lawn (who knew such a thing existed?) is currently being made into something I can't tell you about (promise I'll blog about it once I can!).  I'm still going to have some left over, so I may see if I can squeeze a dress or top out of it.  I can't decide if it's apples or butterflies in the circles.

On the more boring end of things, some navy cotton with a subtle, textured stripe.  I'm thinking a Simplicity 2209 dress.

Terrible Customer Service
I bought two of these fabrics at a very well-respected store in the Garment District.  I've been there before without any issues, but I had a terrible experience last week.  The woman working there followed me around the store, telling me that I should buy something because they were paying so much for the cost of the space, they left the AC on all the time, etc.  I would have left, but I had a gift certificate to spend.  I tried to explain that, hoping she would understand I wasn't going to really be spending any extra money, but the entire time she talked over me about how I should get more, really it's a good deal, blah blah.  When I was ready to go, she asked me how I wanted to pay.  I pulled out the gift certificate, and then she complained that she shouldn't have given me a discount because I was using that, I should have said something (I DID!!), on and on.  She rung me up anyway, and then demanded a tip! What? I gave her $2 (I'm a pushover), and, needless to say, will probably never go back.  It's too bad, because they have some nice stuff.

Have you bought anything exciting lately? Any terrible (or great) customer service experiences?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Home Edition: Nightstands

Well, I don't know where the weekend went! I do know that it didn't involve any sewing, and the one project I did cut out I can't share with you yet.  I did finish one big project last week though- staining and painting our nightstands.
They went from this:

Image Source
To this:

This wasn't exactly my idea - this combination of white paint and brown stain on these little chests of drawers is all over the internet.  Still, I'm pretty pleased with the results.
The apartment is slowly coming together - we still have to upholster the headboard, paint the (much) larger dresser, paint a couple of chairs, make cushions for said chairs, hang (and hem... ugh!) curtains, and mount a few things on the walls. The goal is to have it all done within the next month.
Anyone else being crafty for their apartment/house right now?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Estate Sale Success!!

On occasion I peruse craigslist, hoping against all hope that someone in the five boroughs (ok, really four - no way am I going to take the subway all the way up to the Bronx!) will be selling vintage patterns or some other awesome sewing-related thing.  Generally I come up pretty empty - until last week, when I finally found one! An estate sale only a few subway stops away, with vintage patterns and notions listed in the ad.  I was ecstatic.
So I went, walked through the apartment (side note: do estate sales make anyone else sad?), and found the sewing room.  The small box of patterns was very disappointing - mostly children's clothes, and nearly all from the 70s and 80s.  Nothing there that I had to have.
To the notions it was.  I picked up some elastic, a seam ripper (#4 in the last year - I cannot keep track of one to save my life), a bias tape maker, etc.  Then, I spy something on the table out of the corner of my eye - a cutting mat! And a rotary cutter nearby, with extra blades and everything.  I've been so curious about cutting fabric with a rotary cutter, but couldn't stomach the investment when I wasn't sure it would work for me.

Want to know how much I paid for all of this? I asked the woman how much she wanted for the armload of stuff I had, and she said two dollars.  Two. dollars.  Two dollars!!  You can bet I whipped out my wallet, paid her, and bolted out of there before she could change her mind.

Have you had any successful estate sale visits recently?

Also, please watch this.

Could not stop laughing.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

FO: Sweet Chantilly

Making this dress was not an easy endeavor (sewing through my finger definitely put a damper on the process!) but I'm so in love with this dress that all of it was 100% worth it.

The fabric panels I used had a section of border print and a section of more solid floral.  I knew that I wanted the solid floral on the bodice, with the border print upside down on the skirt.  But as soon as I laid out the pattern pieces onto the fabric, I knew it was not going to be so easy.  None of the bodice pieces fit on the floral section in one piece.  So, I added a seam at the CB of the bodice, trying to cut the two pieces so that it wasn't terribly obvious.  I had to cut the front bodice in three pieces, but the gathers hide this very well.  I also had to cut the neckline pieces and midriff on the crosswise grain, since that was the only way to fit them without seams.  Finally, I didn't have enough fabric to cut the center back skirt panel on the fold, so I added a seam there as well.  Luckily, this all worked out ok.

The pattern itself for the most part was excellent.  I love the skirt, and think that the panels are more flattering than the usual gathered rectangle - I may be using the skirt pieces for full-skirted dresses in the future.  I did have trouble distinguishing which line was for which size in certain areas, more so than I have before with other patterns.  I was able to figure it out, but it took some time and a lot of carefully following the lines from end to end.  The zipper also was a little difficult for me, but mostly that was my fault.  I don't have an invisible zipper foot so invisible zippers generally cause me trouble, and I sewed up the skirt underneath the zipper opening before I put in the zip.  Oops.  I was surprised at how short the dress was - I think it hits at the perfect length for me, but I'm only 5'5".  If I were much taller, I definitely would have added some length.

This dress was definitely one of the items I was most excited to make off of my to do list, and it's exactly what my wardrobe needed: a fun, twirly weekend summer dress that makes me happy when I wear it.

3 (or maybe it was 4...) Maggy London panels from Fabric Mart (5 panels left right now!).  Cotton voile lining from P&S Fabrics on Broadway.
Pattern: Colette Chantilly, Version 1 in size 2
Modifications: Removed a little bit of fullness in the bust by trimming the gathered bodice pieces across the top by 1/4", grading out to nothing in the center.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

I survived: MMM (Days 30 & 31)


Day 30:
MMM Day 30

Skirt: Me-made, probably my most-worn item this month.
Apron: Me-made
Sweater: Old Navy

Day 31:
MMM Day 31

 Me-made SPRING! blouse
Skirt: Me-made Beignet

I was very nervous at the beginning of the month about how MMM was going to go, mostly because I just didn't feel like I had enough clothes.  Overall though, I had a lot of fun with it and would definitely call it a success! Thank you to Zoe for hosting!
What the month really highlighted for me was what I like to wear, what I like to sew, and the gaps in my wardrobe.  For example, I love wearing full skirted dresses, but that happened almost never this month.  I didn't realize that before my Chantilly dress (post coming soon), I hadn't even made a full skirted dress! I really don't understand how that happened, because they are what I gravitate towards when I'm looking for inspiration.  I guess I've sewn up so many mentally, I thought I had actually made some? Too bad just dreaming about sewing things doesn't actually make them appear...
There was only one me-made item (except for an alpaca sweater - I love it but wouldn't do that to myself in late spring!) that I didn't wear was my chiffon paint splat skirt.  I wasn't thrilled with it when I made it, and every time I try it on, I'm just not happy.  I have a little fabric left over, so I'm going to try to turn that and the skirt into a dress and see if I feel better about it.
What I need more of:
  • Fun, full-skirted dresses: see above.
  • Knit dresses: Work appropriate and comfy - my one RTW knit dress was definitely one of the things I missed most.
  • Outerwear!: I always feel off balance wearing my Minoru jacket with dresses and skirts.  I think I want to try a casual blazer.
 What did you learn from MMM?