Friday, December 21, 2007

Three's Company

I just got this lovely ebay pattern in the mail. Its my favorite McCalls artist again! Usually the models have so much attitude, but this time all the ladies seem to be happy and enjoying each other's company. I am so in love with this person's illustrations. There must be some way to find out who painted these for McCalls! Any ideas...?

I am really interested in trying to make (and wear!) this kind of 60's dress. For some reason, everything that I think is cute right now, seems to have this shape. I am a little top (and bottom) heavy so I should probably stick to dresses that are fitted through the waist. This is not fitted. Not at all. It's a shift with a belt. But I don't care. Its got so much cuteness!

If I make it, I will use light and summery fabric so that, if looks awful as a day dress, I can use it as a swim cover up. That's thinking positive, right? It's nice to think about summer dresses and swimming. Today is the official start of Winter (the shortest day/longest night of the year) and it's cold as heck!

Note: In my ebay haste and blogging haste, I didn't realize that what I bought and blogged about was not a dress at all. This pattern is for separates including a top and skirt. Silly me.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Hateful Dress

Here it is. It looks all right in the picture but its really awful. You don't want to see the back, trust me. I used this pattern. I couldn't make it work at all.

There are so many things that went wrong. I could not for the life of me understand the instructions for the band. I had a horrible time putting the shoulders together. The hem is vile. This dress was a harsh reminder that I really have no idea what I'm doing.

The fabric is a delicate, lightweight poly knit. It is slippery and very hard to work with. Mistakes had to be picked out super carefully to avoid pulling or making a hole. The seam around the band bunched up like crazy when I tried to add the decorative top stitching.

I hate zippers anyway but this one nearly drove me over the edge. It took forever to get it lined up properly because the fabric kept slipping around and repositioning itself. I had to baste and rebaste it several times. After I machine stitched it, it turned out that I'd run the seam through the plastic teeth of the zipper. I had to carefully pick out all the tiny stitches so I could start again. While doing so, I stabbed myself under my cuticle with the entire point of the seam ripper. The damn dress is out for blood!

Hateful. Truly. It's no longer surprising that the lady on the pattern cover is flipping a bird.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Shamefully Self Indulgent Slide Show!

I haven't posted anything new in a while because I'm completely stuck. I took on a project that is too advanced and a fabric that is difficult to work with and: I JUST. CANT. FINISH IT.

Until I figure out a way to force myself to just get over it and complete the damn thing, I thought I'd post these slides. This almost everything I've made since May. Most of this stuff has already been posted here. The difference is, I'm wearing the garments instead of the dress form and I've fancied them up with accessories and what-not.

Who knows? Maybe by looking at the things I've done in the past, I'll get inspired. All of these projects were difficult. I made at least one horrible mistake with each of them. Even so, they are all reasonably cute and semi wearable.

I'm hoping that these silly pictures will give me the strength to finish the dress from heck. And I do mean heck.

Its certainly not any worse than any of the garments here. Its just that, in order to make it even vaguely wearable, I have to do more work that I really want to. I can barely look at it. Stupid dress. I'll finish it and post it soon, really.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Grinding. Halting.

I was hoping that I'd have something new to show you this week but the project I am working on is: Not. Going. Well. Its very nearly done, in truth, but its been such a pain that I've sort of lost interest. I'm not quite sure this one is really going to be wearable.

I think I can salvage it with a little creativity. Trouble is, I'm going need a couple more things from the fabric store in order to make it kind of work right. But I'm a little afraid to set foot in the fabric store. Its almost impossible to pop in and pop out again without buying, well, fabric. Which opens up the possibility for another project that will get stuck in line behind this one...and you know how I feel about finishing one thing before starting another.

So we are at a standstill here at Atelier Crap Sewing. Maybe I show you the disaster dress next week.

In the meantime, I give you this lovely pattern. Its another dark haired dirty look from the same artist that painted the "flipping the bird" pattern cover. (McCalls 6713) I scanned this one rather than photographed it. Hope it uploads all right. I love this artist.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Am I Blue?

A new project, finally! I finished this one almost two weeks ago but I've been so darned busy with my new job that I haven't had a chance to post anything.

I used plain ol' cotton broadcloth that was on sale at the discount fabric store. I bought four yards of sky blue and four yards of grass green. I haven't decided what to do with the green yet. I just got a ton of patterns in the mail so I'm sure I'll be inspired in no-time.

For this dress, I used one of my favorite patterns again, McCalls 6566 view F (not shown) with a full skirt, scoop neck and short sleeve. I'd made a sleeveless, narrow skirted version before and it was wonderfully simple to make. The pattern was just as easy to use this time and is just as flattering. I'm learning that a fully gathered skirt doesn't really work on my body type. A full skirt with a flat front like this one looks much better.

I didn't have any major fit problems except for where the shoulder and sleeve meet. I used my "take up the shoulder to make the bodice fit better" trick, as usual. When taking up the shoulder in a sleeveless dress, it doesn't really make any difference, as far as the size of the arm hole. When you need to attach a sleeve later, however, it makes things a bit more interesting.

At first the sleeve was way, way, oh way too tight for my sausage-like upper arms. I let out the bottom seam of the sleeve a little and it works much better now. Unfortunately, the sleeve does tend to rub my skin under my arm. That will almost certainly make me sweat. Thank goodness for dress shields. Sweat stains are not a good look.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


I just got a bunch of patterns in the mail! Yay! I'll post pictures later. I am getting a cold and sitting in front of the computer is making me grouchy. In the mean time, I thought I should at least post this one, cos its silly.

Notice anything odd? The dress is lovely, yes, but is the girl on the left flipping off the girl on the right? Is there some kind of red v. blue rivalry at work here? Some kind of couture gang activity?

Perhaps the pattern artist was having a bad day? Maybe the girl in blue resembles someone in the artist's life to whom he/she would like to send a subtle message? "Hey boss lady, here's what I think of your deadline!"

I guess it could be unintentional, models make all kinds of weird hand gestures. Whatever. The sleeve art just, straight up, rules. The dress is pretty good too.

I've got a backlog of projects at the moment but if I was going to make this dress, I know exactly what I'd do. It would be a great winter dress in shades of pale pink and chocolate brown wool gabardine. I'd buy enough of each color so that I could make both views of the dress. The narrow skirted version would be pink with a chocolate band and the full skirt would be the opposite. Yummy.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Flummoxed By Fabric

My mom is bit of a pack rat. When I was a kid I remember we had this giant cupboard in the hallway that was bursting full of things that would never see the light of day, but could also not be tossed out OR used for anything. They were important items to be saved for some inevitable rainy day. Some day we would need a large cardboard box of US Army medical supplies from 1970. The plastic suitcase full of old 3x5 cards was a must have in an emergency.

A lot of the cupboard space was occupied by boxes of fabric. Yards and yards of dusty polyester blends, cotton quilt prints, silky satins, and knits. Sometimes when my mom was out, I'd pull one of the boxes down and play dress-up with the prettiest prints. Or, I'd choose something plain that wouldn't be missed and cut it up to make doll clothes. I always got in trouble. Mom apparently needed all that fabric for something very important. But she rarely, if ever, sewed.

Probably because of my mom's pack-rattiness, I have a rule. If I buy fabric, I must use it before I go on to the next project. At the moment I'm stuck.

I still have two of these panels from the Picnic Blanket Dress project that I am totally unable to do anything with. The diagonal stripes have got me completely puzzled. I have no idea how to cut a pattern out of this fabric without ending up with a mess.

I'd like to make this dress (View 1 minus the sash) using the red band near the top as the bodice and the stripes as the skirt but I'm just not sure how to manage it.

I also have this lovely Chinese print jersey.

It was in the "please buy this crap and get it out of our store" pile that sits by the door at Discount Fabrics on Irving Street. I think it was $1.99 a yard so, naturally, I bought all of it. I think I ended up with 3 yards, about enough to make a relatively simple dress.

I really want to make this dress with it.

Alas, I've been told that jersey and raglan sleeves are not compatible. Also, I read an article that said that jersey should be lined or it stretches. I detest lining. I also hate making muslins, but I may give in and make a wearable muslin if I can find a brown or black jersey in a similar weight and knit.

At some point, I'll have moment of inspiration (or recklessness) that will enable me to get up the courage to pick up the scissors and start cutting. I may have to start another project while I wait for that flash of inspiration to hit. Until then, both of these fabrics will stay folded up in a neat pile on my sewing table. I can't possibly put them away somewhere to become "stash". Stash is simply not allowed!

I envy the girls who have enough space, and a lack of neuroses, to allow themselves to cheerfully fill closets and cupboards with rainy day fabrics. I just can't do it. Although, somehow my no stash policy doesn't apply to my rapidly expanding accumulation of hand made dresses. And don't even get me started on my shoe collection.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Business Time

I’m sorry that I’ve been away so long. I've got a new temp job that not only isn’t that great, its taking up all of my blogging, sewing, and general “having a life” time. Work is for jerks!
In honor of my new sad work-a-day existence, here are a couple of work appropriate skirts I made early in the summer. Who doesn't need work clothes? Well, I didn't until recently, but anyway...

I used McCalls 5082 c1959 and Vogue 7523 c1951.

Usually things look way better on the dress form than on me. These skirts are an exception. At some point I’m going to post a slide show of all my completed garments on me instead of the dress form so you can get a better idea of how they look.

Here is the Vogue.

I'm not crazy about this pattern, there is absolutely NO ease, and no pattern markings either. The shape of the skirt is just so great that I keep on using it, and cursing. This time, I didn't bother with the waist band. I just attached some seam binding, folded it inwards and tacked it down.

Here is the McCalls.

Note the cute kick-pleat in back.

This pattern includes a ton of ease and I had to take it in a lot to make it fit just right. Naturally, I gained a bunch of weight as soon as it was complete so now it’s more snug than I would like.

Someday, when I’m a real grown-up sewing lady, I’d like to make a suit. My fantasy suit would be a cute boxy little 50's jacket and a pencil skirt in navy shantung. I really need to get over my fear and distaste of buttonholes and lining.

Finally, here is a link to a song about Business Time. Only its not about the kind of business that you do at the office, its about a completely different kind of business. Humming this song while I ride the train to work makes it much less miserable experience.

I miss being unemployed.

Monday, September 17, 2007

(Not Sewing Related): I Love You Vampires!

Over the weekend, there was a blood drive for Loren Schaller. Loren is a teenage girl who was randomly stabbed by a convict who was released on a Friday with no supervision due to some clerical error. Luckily, because of three heroes (complete strangers!) who were able to pull him off her, she survived. The story is here.

I'd never given blood before and I was totally terrified, but you know what? It was easy! The nurse was super nice and it was over in about 5 minutes.

Unfortunately, I didn't eat enough (an Odwalla and 1/4 pint of pasta salad) that day and I got pretty sick afterwards. Not barfing or "go to the hospital" sick. I just had some pretty intense motion sickness. I spent the rest of the day in bed, which is never a bad thing, in my book.

I plan to give blood regularly from now on. Not only can I feel proud of myself for saving a life, but I think giving blood might double as a beauty treatment. My skin has never looked better.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Hippie Dress #4 – Well, It Certainly Is Purple

Another dress made from picnic blankets! I used the purple ends of three of these panels.

I started with the skirt that I cut from this pattern for Hippie Dress #3.

I used the bodice from this playsuit pattern.

I was able to whip this dress together pretty quickly. Both patterns had good instructions and even the crazy pleats on the skirt were simple.

Easy-peasy! Except, I didn’t take in the (36b) bodice enough. It ended up too wide under the arms and too long in the waist. It was really important to me that the selvages act as trim on the bodice and skirt edging. It worked out find on the top but, because I didn’t take into account how much of the length was intended to be a hem, the skirt ended up super long.

A dress for a tall and busty girl! I am short and only a little busty. I really didn’t want to take it all apart and put it back together. So, I decided fix to it in the most haphazard way.

Without taking anything apart except for the facing at the side seam, I simply sewed in the side seams at a diagonal from the waistline to the top making a “dart” of about one inch on each side. I ironed down the excess and re-tacked the facing.

Shortening the skirt and keeping the selvage at the hem was a bit tricky. I folded then hem up about 12” and then folded it down 6” and stitched the fold. Then I cut off the extra fabric underneath.

Here is a front view of the finished dress.

And here it is from the back. Note the lovely self belt bow. This time I used facing that was too stiff, so its hard to get the bow to tie correctly.

I think it’s charming, if a bit purple. Its difficult to breathe deeply when its zipped up because I took it in a full inch on each side. But it fits so much better. Who needs to take deep full breaths? And maybe I should loose a little weight anyway. Sigh.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Hippie Dress #3 – The Dress So Nice I (Accidentally) Made It Twice.

I have pictures of the panels that I used for this one!

I started with this pattern (View 2) minus the collar. In my mind those big Pilgrim collars are just so 80’s. Making a 50’s pattern with a hippie fabric is already kind of a stretch. It’s probably best to keep the rest of the garment relatively simple.

I started by cutting the bodice out of the brown stripe at the top of the panel and the skirt from the purple end. Once the bodice was complete, I decided that it wouldn’t really work with a mostly purple skirt. There just wasn’t enough purple in the finished bodice and I thought that the designs would compete with each other.

Luckily I had four panels of this particular color set, and there were two left. I used the brown striped top of these panels to cut a new skirt using this pattern.

Here is what I ended up with. Sorry that its sideways. The computer and I aren't getting along today.

I'd show you the back but Blogger doesn't want to upload that picture, for some reason, and I don't feel like retaking it.

The waistband came out a little small so it rides up a smidge. But it looks okay and I rather like it on the whole. I wish that I’d thought to change the placement of the zipper. It stops mid-back, which would make sense if I had used the collar. I could have changed the zipper placement, I suppose, but I didn't think about it until the zipper was already in.

So its a good dress. A successful dress. What bothers me is it’s basically Hippie Dress #1 in a different color set. The whole point of the project was to make 5 DIFFERENT dresses. Meh. But I guess that’s what happens when you change plans mid-dress.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Hippie Dress #2 - The Tiki

Two more matching batik panels and this pattern View B (minus the sleeves):

I love it. I just love it. I don’t even think its all that hippie. It’s much less so than Hippie Dress #1. No, to me, this one looks like what the mysterious wife of the ambassador from some made-up exotic nation would wear in a British spy movie. It’s dead sexy and fits me like a glove. As usual, the shoulders had to be taken up a bit but that’s the only adjustment I had to make.

The rope belt, which I took from a different pattern, was difficult but totally worth it. I had to make it out of leftovers so it’s two-toned. That detail doesn’t really come across in the picture.

The bodice was cut so that selvages would meet at the zipper and I used sleeve facings from another pattern to make it sleeveless. It was super tricky figuring out how to get the star detail in the center of the bodice and how to match up the shoulder pattern in the front and back. I’m really pleased with how it came out.

Funny thing. MD rarely criticizes, but he really didn’t like this dress at all. Obviously, he’s kooky. It’s gorgeous!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Hippie Dress #1

My wedding was this past June. We had a tiki themed, very casual, daytime potluck pool party in our friend Frank’s backyard. We did the whole thing outdoors and there wasn’t a lot of space in the yard for tables and chairs. I was worried that there wouldn’t be enough seating when it came time to eat.

Discount Fabrics had some two-yard batik panels on sale for $1.99 each. Perfect tiki picnic blankets! I bought ten panels in four different prints. Anyone who couldn’t find a seat at a table could just spread a blanket out on the lawn and make a picnic there.

What does this have to do with sewing, you ask?

Well, I decided to make those picnic blankets into dresses after the wedding. I wish I had pictures of all the different panels so you could see what they looked like before I cut them up. If only I'd known that I was going to blog them!

I've made four dresses so far and I have two panels left. I'm still not sure what I'm going to make with the last two. They are printed with a diagonal stripe that has me baffled.

Below is my first attempt: Hippie Dress #1. I chose two matching panels in shades of brown, beige, and midnight blue, and this pattern (View C).

It went pretty well. I finally figured out how to properly do a gathered waistband!
Here is the result.

The bodice is a 36 and I didn’t take it in enough so it balloons under the arms, but just a little. Also, I made a belt as an afterthought and neglected to put any interfacing in it. Belts without interfacing go all woogly, and roll up, and look really sad. I guess I’ll have to take it apart and put in some facing. Sigh.

Oh well. Its incredibly hippie and 70’s but I rather like it. I wore it around all day on my birthday and it is wonderfully comfortable. There is some fabric left over and I think I might make one of those triangular peasant head-scarves to go with it.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Apron Jumper

Daiso Japanese Dollar Store has a rack of $3 aprons. All my current aprons are kind of ratty so I bought one. When I got it home, I took it out of the package and tried it on… and burst out laughing.

It was gigantically huge to the point that I couldn’t get it to stay on. I’d slip a strap over one shoulder and the one on the other side would slide off. With the back strap buttoned, even on the tightest buttonhole, I still looked like a I was wearing a giant gingham bell. I totally get the concept of one-size fits all, but come on!

So I decided to turn the giant apron into a cute little jumper/dress. First, I removed the rear closure strap and buttons. Then, I joined the back seam and added a zipper. The middle was still pretty boxy so I put some darts in the back. I moved the fastener buttons to the place where the front straps meet the bib, and adjusted the straps to make the bib ride a little higher.

Here it is (with a white cap sleeve blouse from H&M):

I love it. It fits well and looks super cute on, especially with a pompadour hairdo and white wedge shoes. Plus, I feel like such a smarty pants for figuring out how to make it work. I’m tempted to go back and get few more aprons in different colors.

A collection of three or four gingham jumpers would be perfect for Summer, if we ever actually got proper Summer weather in San Francisco.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Boxy Hawaiian Shirt = Sexy Tie Top

I bought a little boy’s Hawaiian shirt at the thrift store and decided to remake it into a 40’s style tie top. I used this 70’s tie top as a template.

I laid out the Hawaiian shirt and then laid the 70’s shirt on top. Using a white pencil, I traced a line around the bottom edge of the 70’s shirt. I kept the line about an inch away from edge of the original shirt so that I’d have room for a hem. The excess was cut away and I used a rolled hem foot (possibly the greatest invention ever) to hem the edges.

The edges of the ties gave me some trouble. I couldn’t figure out how to feed the rounded-off corner edges of the ties into the foot. The fabric kept either slipping out or getting stuck in the foot and jamming up. Finally I gave in and switched to the regular foot. I rolled the edge of the fabric under with my fingers and stitched over the fold.

To make the neckline deeper, I folded out the collar and steamed it down with the iron. A couple of invisible stitches under the collar help to keep it flat. Eventually, I'll get around to adding a small flower appliqué over the exposed open buttonhole in what is now the collar.

The bottom hem is much lower in the back than the front so the midriff only exposes a cute little half-moon of my belly. My love handles are nicely hidden. Yay!

It came out pretty good. It will probably look cute with a swing skirt or maybe wide legged trousers. I wish I could have finished the ties a little better but I don’t think anyone will notice them unless they are standing really close to me. Anybody standing that close better have something nice to say.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Cherry Gingham #2 - Much Better

So here's what happened to the leftover cherry gingham. I used the skirt-only views of Simplicity 1664. Minus the appliques, natch.

The skirt went together quickly and easily, although, once again, it was much larger than I expected. Odd, considering that when I made the jumper (View 1) I didn't have to take it in at all. Hmmm, clearly I'm missing some basic point of clothing construction. Anyway, it was easy to take in all four seams until it fit.

There wasn’t enough fabric left to make the waistband (tossing out fabric I need is becoming a running theme). I made a waistband out of black twill and covered the raw edge at the hem in black double fold bias tape. That makes the contrast waistband look intentional, right?

I like it a lot. I think it will be very cute with red flats and a black peasant top.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

World's Greatest Wrap Dress, Almost

On July 3rd, I read about this dress pattern on the fantabulous blog A Dress A Day. Sadly, I can’t figure out how to attach a fancy link thingy that will take you directly to the post. However, A Dress A Day is in my links at right and you can search the archives to find that post and some pretty awesome photographic examples of this dress as well.

Apparently, because it was so easy to make, this dress was one of the most popular patterns ever released by Butterick. Well, I just had to have it! Original vintage copies of this pattern have been known to sell for upwards of $35 on ebay. Luckily, I was able to find a reproduction of the pattern for $5 including shipping.

From start to finish, it took a lot longer than I thought it would, but it really is so wonderfully easy to make. The fact that there are no facings or zippers or buttonholes is just so cool. It simply snaps together and the edges are finished with bias tape.

There are some fit issues that I wasn’t prepared for. If I make it again, and I almost certainly will, I may go down an entire size. It was pretty baggy when I finished. After I took up the shoulders, it was still pretty droopy. I suppose I could have taken in the waist a little more but it just seemed like too much trouble to take the whole dress apart. Also, the front panel tends to climb my legs when I walk but I’m hoping static spray will fix that.

Its so close to being the greatest dress pattern ever. I wish I could say that it looks better on me than on the dress form, but its just kinda saggy-baggy. Sigh.

So I don’t love it. But I think I could love it. Next time, if I can figure out how to make it fit right, I think we’ll have a winner. In the mean time, since the fabric is so comfy and soft and pretty, I’ll wear this one anyway. Its almost awesome.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Super Cute Jumper!

I loved making this one! (View A

I cut the pattern out just before we moved in May. When I finally got around to putting it together near the end of June, I was really surprised at how easy it was. The instructions actually made sense for a change! It only took the better part of an afternoon to put it together, minus hanging the skirt over night for the seams to set.

There was some trouble with the shoulder straps as I accidentally attached some of the iron-on interfacing to the wrong sides of the strap fabric. I had to re-shuffle everything to get the right number of pieces. One section of the strap ended up with no facing at all. I really hope that strap doesn’t go limp and awful after wearing the jumper a few times. Fingers crossed!

Here it is on the dress form along with a white puff-sleeved H&M top. Won’t this little number be fetching with some clunky Mary-Jane shoes?

Sorry about the picture being so dark. I'm trying to come up with a better way/place to take photos.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Nice Try, Gingham

I found some gingham print fabric with little embroidered cherries at Discount Fabrics and fell in love. I didn’t know what I was going to do with it, but it was on sale and therefore, totally irresistible! I bought all that was left on the bolt, nearly 5 yards, easily enough for two projects. I’m glad I bought it all. The first pattern I chose turned out to be way more difficult than I expected.

I tried the (View B) tank bodice with the (View A) slim skirt and short sleeves. There was a sleeve included in the pattern envelope and instructions, although it’s not shown in the pictures. I ended up making puffy sleeves because I couldn’t get the sleeve fabric to lay flat in the shoulder. Puffy sleeves were just the path of least resistance.

Even though the measurements on the pattern are my measurements, the pattern must include an enormous amount of ease. The finished dress ended being much too large. I adjusted the width of the skirt at least twice. The bodice had to be taken in a few times as well, which took forever and still didn't help that much. Finally I tried taking up the shoulders. It fit somewhat better after that.

The front panel with the buttons was extremely difficult. I ended up putting snaps behind the buttons rather than risk cutting and embroidering buttonholes. I totally live in fear of making buttonholes so I usually come up with some way of omitting them. The front panel is just crooked enough to drive me crazy, but I’m not making any more adjustments.

Here is the finished garment. On the dress form, its super cute. (Hello farmer's daughter!) On me, not so much. On me, its a dress for a farmer’s wife as portrayed Marjorie Main. In it, I look even older and lumpier. Sigh.

Sometimes the process of trial and error can be so painful. I really did try but I’m not all that happy with the result. At least I have enough fabric left to make something else.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Sailor Skirt From Leftovers

What to do with the evil 60’s puffy a-line skirt that I vetoed in the polka dot dress project? (I wish I had a before picture so you could see the evil.) Why not just make it into a less horrifying skirt?

First, I took out the gathers and added darts instead. Really. Deep. Darts. That just made it round and puffy instead of gathered and puffy.

Then, I tried pleating the front but there wasn’t enough room for multiple pleats unless they were super tiny. Even just pinned in, multiple pleats just looked weird because there wasn't enough fabric to pleat the back and the front of the skirt. Instead, I tried two simple inverted pleats and buttons on each side of the front panel for a kind of sailor-ish look, but it didn’t really come across.

Finally, I tried taking the whole thing apart and laying out one of my old skirt patterns in an attempt to totally re-make it. None of them were the right shape and I didn’t really have enough fabric to start from scratch anyway. Then I found this pattern on ebay:

It still wasn’t a perfect match-up for remaking, but it inspired me with the idea that a few simple notions could make an otherwise plain (or in this case, odd looking) skirt into something interesting. I added narrow double darts in the back and front, and stitched on fold-over braid and buttons. Because I clearly can’t do math, my darts didn’t work exactly as I thought they would and, while it ended up being a much cuter garment, it was huge. So I did what any desperate novice sewer would do. I took it in at the sides, a little at a time until it fit. Then I realized that I’d misplaced or tossed the rest of the extra white twill and had no way to make a waistband. I bought a pack of white jumbo double fold bias tape and stitched it on as a waistband.

Here’s the finished skirt.

The picture doesn't do it justice. It looks better on, really! I mean, it bunches out a little over my rear end and the hem is sort of a nightmare, but I think I'll probably wear it. I just wish I had a cute stripey sailor top (and a yacht) to go with it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Polka Dots Forever!

Back in March, I bought a yard of red & white dot intending to whip up a quick pencil skirt for an upcoming party. Unfortunately, I wasn’t paying attention and the fabric was not as wide as I had thought. There wasn’t enough to make any of my skirt patterns, no matter how I laid them out unless I made a mini, which was not going to happen. So I decided to make a short midriff top to wear with my high-waist vintage-style jeans. I used the bodice from this pattern:

When the bodice was nearly completed, I realized that 1) I’d accidentally thrown away the neck facing along with my scraps and was out of dot fabric. 2) I might just be too old to pull off a midriff top, no matter how high the waist on my jeans.

Rather than simply buy more red & white dot to use as facing, I tried folding over the fabric at the neck and basting it down. This resulted in a bumpy, uneven, ugly collar. AND I’d accidentally used a tiny stitch so seam-ripping it out was going to SUCK. I cried. And then put the unfinished item in a box and forgot about it.

In May, we moved into a new place where I actually had sewing room! I was so jazzed about having a designated place to work but I really wanted to finish all my outstanding projects before I started anything new. I decided to go ahead and try to make the red dot top into a dress. I chose this pattern (view B):

I bought two and a half yards of white twill at Discount Fabrics. I came home and laid out the skirt pattern and realized that I had about twice as much fabric as I needed. Darn those 60” bolts and my unwillingness to do simple math!

After assembling the skirt and attaching it to the bodice, I discovered that the 1960’s slightly puffy A-line skirt was a very, very, BAD look for me. Gathers give me trouble anyway and because there were only gathers in the front, the belly puffed out like a maternity dress. I only discovered this AFTER I put the darned zipper in! So I cried a little, seam-ripped a lot and started again with the remaining white twill and this skirt pattern:

Success! The new skirt looked SO much better. Unfortunately the dress itself was not so good. The length of the sleeve made my boobs look lumpy, the collar was still bumpy and evil, and I appeared to have some kind of hunchback due to the placement of the zipper.

More alterations! I took up the shoulders, which mostly fixed the hunchback. I shortened the sleeves by just hacking them off at the desired length. The collar and sleeve ends were fixed and finished with double fold bias tape. I added a cute little bias tape bow at the neck. Hooray! A dress I would actually consider wearing in public!! And it only took six months from start to finish!

Here it is on my as yet un-named dress form. Unless I can get MD to take pictures of me, you'll be seeing a lot of her here.

It came out okay. Definitely wearable. Maybe I'll get a white pillbox had and white wrist-length gloves to go with it. Here's a shot of the bow detail. I didn't finish the ends. Hope it doesn't ravel!