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.