Monday, December 29, 2008

Some Random Junk and Proof that Sewing is Hard

I pretty much totally wussed out on Nopantesmber Week 4.



...and that's it. On Sunday (the one before xmas. I'm a little late in posting.) I wore a skirt that I made. We went to Dickens Fair.

Here's me.

I didn't use a pattern. I simply folded my fabric in half and seamed the ends together. Then I gathered one of the selvage ends and bunged it onto a piece of elastic. Instead of trimming the hem to the right length, I folded over the bottom end and stitched it in place. Because I made no cuts, I can use the fabric again by simply ripping out the stitching and giving it a good ironing.

Here is the husband who, I must say, does look rather dapper. I didn't make anything he's wearing. He's just cute and I like to show him off.

I got pretty lucky. The husband not only doesn't mind dressing up and going to these silly costume events that I love so much, he actually seems to enjoy it. Soo.... I joined the Greater Bay Area Costumers Guild. They put on several costume events during the year ranging from SciFi events to Tudor gatherings and everything in between.

My interest lies mainly in the mid-twentieth century, but it seems like GBACG is a lot more welcoming and dork-positive than, say, the Art Deco Society. GBACG also puts on mid-century & art deco era events AND since there is some cross-over with the two organizations, I'll still be able to attend some ADS events using my GBACG membership discount. Win/Win!

- - -

Here are some patterns I picked up lately in the thrift stores.

This 1970s dress could either be cute, or end up looking like a maternity dress but, at 69 cents, it was hard to pass up.

I realize this is a horrid 80s pattern, but I thought it might work well for a Gatsby dress. We shall see.

- - -

...AND NOW: Proof that sewing is hard. Those who faint easily, have heart conditions, or are in any way prone to hysteria may want to turn away from the computer. The following image is rather graphic...

Yes. That is a mouth. My mouth. Notice the jaggedy missing piece of tooth in the front there? I broke my tooth sewing.

I was attempting to turn a belt right side out and it was stuck. No amount of pulling, tugging, rubbing the fabric between my palms or stabbing at it with a chopstick seemed to work. So I took a bit of the fabric between my teeth and pulled. The fabric stayed stuck and slipped out from between my teeth which then snapped together with enough force to send the cap on the end of my tooth flying. Where it landed, no one knows.

This happened on Saturday night, of course. I had a small tantrum and went to bed, skipping out on various meetings with friends that I'd planned. (Sorry guys!) I didn't speak or eat until about 2pm on Sunday because I was so mad/ashamed/embarrassed. I'm getting it fixed today, thank goodness.

Will I tug at fabric with my teeth again? Probably not...maybe...

Remember kids! Sewing IS hard!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Nopantsember Week 3

This week was raining and cold. Not really skirt weather but thanks to a stockpile of sweaters I didn't know I had, lots of layers, and the magic of tall boots, I managed to stay warm. I made the Sat night dress and the skirts I wore on Sun, Tues, Wed, Thu and Fri night.

Next week I'm only working three days and then I'm taking the week between Xmas and NYE off. I'll still post the pictures at the end of each week, just don't expect a lot of them. I will wear skirts if I go out, but if I'm just lounging at home or running errands it will be jeans.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Nopantsember Week 2

I survived a week of wearing a skirt each day. This week I even wore stuff I made (M, Th, F). Yay! I learned some stuff.

1. I really should consider at least trying to do something with my hair every day. Its scraggly.

2. Flat shoes, while comfortable, don't look all that great with skirts on someone with short legs like mine. I may want to invest in some mid/kitten heeled shoes.

3. The mid-calf skirt length is best with heels OR I maybe might want to wear skirts that are just below the knee instead. I am short.

Here's the damn slideshow.

In other news.

I cut out a dress this evening! Woooo! It seems like its going to be hard. Its got a lot of pattern pieces and I am a girl with very little patience. Plus its a vintage repro pattern and they always seem to fit me strangely. I hope it works. Can't wait to start working on it but I have no time this weekend, sigh.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Nopantsember is Killing Me.

1. Not wearing pants in December is hard. Its cold. I don't have enough tights or sweaters or WARM SHOES. I know its only fogtown. I realize I'd be SO much colder and more miserable if I lived somewhere with actual snow. But its all relative isn't it?

2. I tend to be highly self-critical anyway, but I've discovered that posting these crappy pictures of my crappy outfits everyday is not as inspiring as I'd hoped. Its kind of the opposite. If I don't have enough time to work on an outfit till I get it right, I see every little mistake in the photo and it kind of drives me nuts.

3. I think that posting all this other junk is diluting the purpose of the blog, which was to document sewing projects.

I'm not giving up completely. I'm going to keep going with the Nopantsember project, but I'm not going to post every day. I'll post a slideshow and comment at the end of the week instead.

Expect to see an actual sewing related post sometime soon. Before the end of the month, at least.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Nopantember Day...4

Better! I need to start planning my outfits ahead of time. I barely made it on time today because I took forever getting ready.

In other news. MD and I did a little flea market shopping a week or so ago and I came home with a bunch of new patterns. Gorgeous new vintage patterns!

The seller hadn't checked them and so was having a little trouble moving them. We bargained for the whole lot at just over half price and she seemed happy to get rid of them. I sure was happy to get them. They were ALL in my size. Clearly the universe wants me to get back to sewing.

When I got home and took a look I was happy to discover that about half of the patterns were uncut. Of the remainder, all the ones I checked were complete. The only bummer is that one of the sundresses (#3488) has no instructions. Naturally its got a complicated bodice. I figure if I make a muslin first, I can prolly figure it out.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Nopantsember Day 3

I have some work to do in the cute work outfit department. I guess I kind of suck at this. So far, everything looks basically the same. Its all (as my friend's mom would say about dressing up in 1970s Marin County) "a step up from blue jeans but still laid back and casual". Yee.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Nopantsember Day 2

I wore a bed all day yesterday as well, still sick, so no picture. This morning I dragged myself out of bed and trundled off to work, coughing and hacking. This is what I wore. Notice the scraggly hair. The sturdy calves. The short neck. Perhaps no high neck sweaters for me? I like the skirt though. No Pants!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Dressember is NoPantsember

I will post a sewing project soon, I promise. Its been really hard to sew without full access to the sewing room, but I do have something I could post. I just need to write it up and photograph it. Soon. Really.

In the meantime, in order to keep the blog from dying, I've been posting random junk. I'm trying to keep it vintage/sewing/fashion related. Its something, right?

So, in that vein...

The lovely livebird has declared the month of December to be Dressember. The rules: You will wear a dress each day in December and post it to the flickr group. No skirts no pants. Just dresses.

I'm going my own way with the concept. I will try to not wear pants to work for the whole month - NoPantsember!

Working for scientists is definitely a no-dress-code kind of a thing and so I've fallen into the trap of jeans and a t-shirt every day. I like to think that my work-a-day look is sort of toned down vintage-girl styley: cuffed jeans, cardigan sweater, converse. Probably, I look more middle-aged lady boring than I'd like.

In order to force some change, I will try very very hard to NOT WEAR PANTS TO WORK all this month. I'll post a picture of my (probably crappy) outfit on this blog every day during the week. It will help to keep me honest. But I'm taking weekends off! Who wants to get dressed up to lounge on the couch or clean the bathroom? Not me. I'll post a pic if I fluff myself up to go out.

Here's yesterday.(I'm not posting a pic of today because I'm wearing a bed. I'm sick as hell and plan to spend the entire day right here under the covers.)

Its almost as boring as pants. I'm pretending its cute like Audrey Hepburn in the first part of Funny Face when she's still a beatnick-bookstore-empathicalist. But its not. A brown Givenchy smock trumps black-on-black thrift store wear every time.

But I am a work in progress! After wearing the same thing day in and day out for almost 10 years, its going to take a while to get back into looking nice during the work-week. Hopefully by New Years Eve I'll have my fashion mojo back. I'll be able to quickly come up with something fun to wear every day, not just when I'm going out.

I'll do my best to create a cute outfit to wear tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after. I'm really out of practice, so I can't guarantee cuteness, but there will be no pants. Nopantsember!!!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Four Eyes Times Two

Yay! I finally got around to dragging my lazy butt down to the local lenscrafty place.

It sure is nice having glasses with my current prescription. They were kind enough to give me a copy of the prescription too, so I can get lenses put in the vintage frames I bought at Viva. Woo! My plan is coming together.

I chose two pair of (I think) pretty cute glasses - buy one get one free!

These are a lot like my old ones.

This is the free pair. They crack me up. The make me feel like a 40s secretary...or maybe a librarian. "Quiet please!"

Taking 8 zillion pictures of your face, trying to get a non-scary one to post on your blog, is a humbling experience.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope you all had an enjoyable day of eating with family. Husband and I spent the day together intending to spend the evening with friends.

We had a lovely dinner for two and then I got a migraine. Stupid head.

So we did not go see friends even though I made fudge to bring to their house for dessert. Anyone need two pounds of fudge?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Insert Creepy Music Here

I just took the "Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz" (Thanks to Marzipan over at My 50s Year.) Boy, is it freaky accurate!

I am a Marilyn -- "I am affectionate and skeptical."

Marilyns are responsible, trustworthy, and value loyalty to family, friends, groups, and causes. Their personalities range broadly from reserved and timid to outspoken and confrontative.

How to Get Along with Me
* Be direct and clear
* Listen to me carefully
* Don't judge me for my anxiety
* Work things through with me
* Reassure me that everything is OK between us
* Laugh and make jokes with me
* Gently push me toward new experiences
* Try not to overreact to my overreacting.

What I Like About Being a Marilyn
* being committed and faithful to family and friends
* being responsible and hardworking
* being compassionate toward others
* having intellect and wit
* being a nonconformist
* confronting danger bravely
* being direct and assertive

What's Hard About Being a Marilyn
* the constant push and pull involved in trying to make up my mind
* procrastinating because of fear of failure; having little confidence in myself
* fearing being abandoned or taken advantage of
* exhausting myself by worrying and scanning for danger
* wishing I had a rule book at work so I could do everything right
* being too critical of myself when I haven't lived up to my expectations

Marilyns as Children Often
* are friendly, likable, and dependable, and/or sarcastic, bossy, and stubborn
* are anxious and hypervigilant; anticipate danger
* form a team of "us against them" with a best friend or parent
* look to groups or authorities to protect them and/or question authority and rebel
* are neglected or abused, come from unpredictable or alcoholic families, and/or take on the fearfulness of an overly anxious parent

Marilyns as Parents
* are often loving, nurturing, and have a strong sense of duty
* are sometimes reluctant to give their children independence
* worry more than most that their children will get hurt
* sometimes have trouble saying no and setting boundaries

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mad or Crafty?

You tell me.

As those of you who sew probably know, from time to time people who have been sewists in their past may occasionally bless you with a some of their old stash. I recently got two boxes of fabric and patterns from the mother of a friend.

I ended up keeping about half of the fabric she gave me. It pains me to get rid of anything sewing related, but I only have so much room for stash, so sacrifices had to be made. A large pile of flannel (Hello Kitty print!) and fleecy knits went to the thrift store. In the remainder are some cute cotton prints and some (more) leopard and some pretty plaid lining that will certainly come in handy.

The patterns she gave me mostly weren’t my style. Lots of yoga pants, sweat pants and elastic waist skirts - really good beginner projects, but nothing I would actually wear. I only ended up keeping two of them.

I know they are not vintage or vintage-repro even vintage-looking patterns. I also know that they are not unusual or interesting in any particular way, but it was their absolute simplicity that caught my eye. I think they could be transformed into cute art deco era day dresses.

I'm usually a 50s/60s kind of girl, style-wise, but sometimes the old costume closet needs a little variety. Besides, you never know when you might need a deco-period dress. I needed one this past September when we attended the Gatsby Summer Afternoon for the first time.

Not being sure exactly what to wear, I did a ton of research in advance of the event. I looked at a zillion old patterns from the 20s and 30s. I searched the web for old photographs, vintage magazine ads, and golden age movie stills. In the end, I cobbled together a passable outfit thanks to local thrift stores and ebay.

Here's my group. We look pretty good except that for some reason my skirt is pulled up above my knees. Whoops!

The conclusion I came to after all of that research and after seeing what people wore to the event was that the dress silhouettes of the mid-late 1920s and early 30s were quite simple. It was really all the little details that made them stylish for that era. If I had a basic dress pattern to use as a sloper (if that’s the right term), couldn’t I use it to create more-or-less appropriate 20s/30s dresses?

I think either one of these patterns would work as a template. (Although, McCalls 8107 might need to be slimmed down a bit at the hip and thigh.) For a 1930s look, I would keep the hem length nearer the ankle and add a belt at the natural waist. With little little voile puff sleeves and a fly-away collar it would look about right. For 1920s I could raise the hem, leave off the sleeves and add a belt below the natural waist.

Here are some drawings to give you an idea of what I'm imagining. I'm no artist so I just traced the pattern images and then scrawled on the little bits of detail. My "sketches" are pretty awful, but at least they give you the basic idea.

So what do you think? It seems like it would be relatively easy to do. One could borrow pieces from other patterns for sleeves and collars, right? Jabots and lace fronts can't be that hard, can they?

With these basic patterns plus the right fabric and the right alterations, I might be able to make it work. It's mad AND crafty. Right? It would be cool to create a dress for this year's Gatsby, and it would be fun to show my friend's mother that I made something with her generous gifts.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Frankendress Blues

This one was tough. I had SO many problems.

I used this pattern (View C) for the top

and this tried and true pattern for the skirt.

I had a very small piece of the blue broadcloth leftover from this dress. I shouldn’t have had any difficulty cutting the top out of it, but I got excited. The pattern instructions said to cut the bodice out twice, once for the outside and once for the facing. I stupidly cut out one of the bodice fronts and all of the back pieces first. That meant I didn’t have enough fabric left to cut out the second bodice front section in one piece. I had to cut the straps out separately and then match it up. Luckily, the fabric has no “good side” so I was able to use the icky version as the facing.

The construction should have been easy, but I found that the pattern diagrams and instructions for the top were vague and not very helpful. Also, there were no seam lines on the pattern itself and very few markings. Even though it seemed like it would be pretty simple, I had to cross my fingers and wing it several times. It would have been nice if I’d had a little more help from the instructions/markings.

I thought that this was going to work out okay despite all the frustration I had trying to decipher the instructions. However, it turns out that I really need to re-measure myself and adjust my dress form. It seemed like I had the fit right when everything was pinned together on the form. The skirt matched up with the bodice perfectly and it was easy to stitch everything together.

But, after it was all sewn up and I tried it on, the dress was a hot mess. The bodice gapped horribly under the arms. The single darts in the center gave my (giant) boobs nowhere to go. The tips of the darts hovered crookedly and unevenly without giving the bustline any definition. The ribcage area looked lumpy and the center of the neckline didn’t want to lie flat. The waistline was too low and wide and crooked. I’d made myself a totally hideous dress.

Ordinarily, this might have just gone into the back of the closet never to be seen again, but since I really do love the Robert Kauffman print of the skirt, I figured I should at least try to fix it.

See? Look at how pretty the print is.

It took me a couple of days to get up the courage, but I finally ripped the zipper out and started again. I took in the sides of the bodice about half an inch at the widest point by sewing from the waist to the armpit on the diagonal. I took up the waistline about an inch and then re-inserted the zipper.

Here’s what I ended up with.

The only thing that is really different is that it fits better under the arms so the center line lies flat. The lumpiness is still there, concentrated in the rib cage area.

It’s a little better with a wide belt

and a little more interesting with a crinoline.

But it’s still kind of un-flattering and more Hot August Nights than Viva Las Vegas.

So, I’m not digging it. I have to wear it at least once before it goes to the island of misfit dresses (back of the closet). The husband really likes it so maybe I can wear it out to dinner or something?

Though it’s pretty unlikely at this point, if I was to make this again, I’d only face the top half of the front bodice (w/straps) so that it wouldn’t be so bulky. All that extra fabric in the front just adds extra lumpiness unless, I suppose, it is pulled tight across the ribs. I’d also maybe go one size down on the bodice and maybe try to figure out how to add second darts on the sides at the bust line in order to define the boob area.

From now on I will measure every bodice pattern flat BEFORE I cut it out to make sure that it is the right size. And I will re-take my measurements and double check the dress form too. I need to get used to the idea that for successful sewing I need to measure at least a GAZILLION times before I cut something out.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I'm In the Hive

I thought this might be a fun thing to play with. Feel free to follow your own risk, of course.

Edited on 10/31 to add: At first blush, here’s how I feel about StyleHive.

1. I didn’t realize that StyleHive is a “social networking site.” I thought it was just a cool place on the web where I could save things I found on other sites for inspiration or eventual purchase. Sort of like a virtual closet.

2. When I signed up it asked me to invite my friends to the hive and automatically uploaded my address book. I was able to select persons from my list who I thought might be interested and delete the ones who I thought would be annoyed. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to customize the invitation message that was sent out. StyleHive told them all to “join this or I’ll be bummed” or something like that. If I’d been given a chance, I would have chosen a completely different message, one that was a bit more cautious. I was kind of annoyed that StyleHive was putting words in my mouth.

3. I can’t figure out how to add things to the hive that are not there already, which sort of defeats the purpose of what I thought StyleHive was. I have found websites that have an "add this to your StyleHive" link, but it doesn't seem to work.

Picking from other people’s lists is sort of fun, but not as fun as discovering something beautiful all on your own and then telling people about it. Plus the StyleHive search is pretty wonky. It doesn’t seem to recognize a lot of the things I’m searching for OR it gets confused and locks up. I feel like my searches have been pretty simple so I don’t really get what the problem is.

4. As far as the social networking aspect goes, it seems like the main point of StyleHive is to give businesses a way to connect with people who may want to buy from them. I can see how that works well for the businesses, but not so much for style freaks who were lured in by the idea of making lists of things they love/want/are inspired by and then sharing those lists with others.

5. Initially, it was hard to locate information on how to use StyleHive but after a very thorough search of the site, I finally came across a PDF of the StyleHive guide. I haven’t had time to go through it yet. If it makes it easier to use StyleHive and I suddenly get the clue that I've been missing, I’ll post here again with my findings.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Old Chairs/New Chairs

This is a before picture of our dining room chairs. Not too bad. But not really nice either.

This is a scan of the fabric I used to re-cover the chairs. I am absolutely in LOVE with this fabric. I may make a bag out of the leftovers. I'd really like a skirt or a jumper but its pretty heavy stuff.

I'd never recovered a chair before but I found lots of help online. was particularly helpful. Actually, MD was the most help of all.

MD carefully removed one of the old panels for me so that I could use it as a pattern. The old fabric was made of PLASTIC. I tried to iron it flat so that it would be easier to cut the new fabric around it and it melted onto my iron. Even on the lowest setting, it still melted. Look at how dirty and gross the old seat covers were! (...and this is despite regular steam cleanings!)

MD ripped the old fabric off the rest of the seats using a pair of plyers. It would have taken me forever to get the old fabric off. Hooray for brute strength! When he was done, I tapped the old stapels down with a hammer and got ready to stretch the fabric.

MD also just happened to take a furniture class (and learned how to stretch a canvas) at art school, so he knew exactly how to stretch the fabric so that it came out even all the way around. He stretched and I got to fire the staple gun, which was super fun.

After a liberal spraying of Scotch Guard and an overnight drying session, we have (practically) new dining room chairs!

Much smarter, don't you think?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


A quickie is exactly what I need. I am dying to make something, despite my pledge to not sew anything new until my past projects are all posted.

A quickie is also all I would have time for, if I was going to make something new. My sister, who lives in another city 50 miles away, has been sleeping in the sewing room a few nights a week while she finishes her dental hygienist degree at the community college near my house. That means my happy crafty place is occupied a great deal of the time, leaving only weekends to sew.

Weekends, sadly, are not made for fun, despite what Debbie Deb might think. In my world, weekends are made for doing all the stuff you avoided during the week. I would have had time to sew this weekend, but my parents are coming to visit and I have laundry to do and grocery shopping and banking and social obligations... See?

So this quickie will have to wait. But its on my list as a pattern I should try soon, despite the fact that I have trouble wearing these 60s shifty things. Too much boob and too much hip, I think. I am a little too curvy for the average Twiggy shift.

The slashed neck should help reduce the hugeness of my boobs. I think if I made the skirt a bit more a-line, as someone has drawn on the green version, it should help balance out my hips. If I can't figure out how to redraft it, I might go for godets a la Les Demoiselles de Rochefort. Maybe. If I ever have time to sew again.

I will! I will! I will! Right?

Monday, September 15, 2008

...and more leopard...

I had some brown broadcloth leftover from the skirt I made for this dress. And whaddaya know? I still have more leopard print.


I decided to make this dress (View 3). I used the leftover broadcloth for the bodice and the leftover leopard is the skirt.

Cutting was easier than I thought it would be. I had exactly enough brown for the top with no leftovers except for a few small scraps. I love that. Using up all my fabric is a goal. Having little quarter yard chunks lying around drives me crazy. It’s too much fabric to just throw out, but there’s no point in keeping it either unless I start making quilts. I’m a lot less interested in quilts than I am in clothes.

I tried to cut the skirt out of the leopard in such a way that I’d have a large continuous piece of fabric left. I wanted to be able to have enough left over that I could make something out of it. Maybe a pair of (tiny) hot shorts or a small purse? I did pretty well and had a relatively big chunk left over.

The problem is – I very stupidly cut the skirt out against the nap. UGH. So dumb. But I decided to use it anyway. If I spend that much time cutting it out, I’m using it. Gods of “correct” sewing be damned. The up-side is, the fabric doesn’t seem to relax and stretch out as much when cut this way so maybe everything will be all right. Maybe it will wear funny, but I hope not.

The Husqvarna gave me all kinds of problems during skirt construction, but I’m sure it was all my fault. I confused the stitch length knob with the tension knob. Even though I realized what I’d done, after I corrected the knobs I still had major problems. I kept getting big loopy stitches on the back side of the fabric. Maybe the problem was that it was eight million degrees in the sewing room? Now that the weather has returned to normal (cold, foggy) the sewing machine is behaving again. Strange.

All in all, this project wasn’t too hard. I only had to sew everything together ONE TIME! Wooo! The skirt is fine despite the nap running in the wrong direction and for once I was able to convince a kick pleat to behave. Usually, I give up and stitch the pleat closed but shockingly, it worked this time!

The bodice didn’t fight me too much. I neglected to cut out the fusible web for the neck facings. This ended up making the process take a little longer since I started piecing it together before I realized the fused interfacing was missing.

As usual, the zipper was a total nightmare. I don’t yet have a zipper foot for the Viking (it’s on my list!) and for some reason the Singer decided to completely rebel. It kept jamming up and creating big balls of string on the back side of the stitches. I know I’m doing something wrong, but I have no idea what.

I went back to the Viking and put the zipper in using the regular foot. It mostly worked, but the stitching is VERY wavy and I ended up sewing through the zipper in a few places, AGAIN!

I got the zipper in, but it was a wreck. Not only had I sewn through the zipper in several places, but I’d managed to sew the skirt fabric over the zipper preventing it from moving at all. NOW I had to rip it out and start over. I was SO upset and angry. You’d think I’d learn, but I get so impatient that I just plunge ahead instead of thinking things through.

Instead of throwing the whole thing out the window, I took a break. When I’d calmed down, I came back and ripped out the bad stitches and re-did them. It still looks kind of awful. I can’t see how bad it looks, because it’s on my back so I’m pretending there’s nothing wrong with it. It zips now, and that’s good enough, but it sure is ugly.

The dress is cute, though. I don’t even mind the puffy gathers at the hips.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Are the 80s Vintage?

Check out this skirt pattern from 1980. I am not really into 80s fashion. My favorite period of style is from 1958-1962. You know, the new look is easing up, teenagers are becoming major consumers, but we haven't quite gotten to hippie/space age/Carnaby Street style yet. Ahhh...lovely.

But I saw this and had an idea.

I have a very simple a-line skirt pattern from 1950. Its too small, which is sad because I love it so.

Every time I lose a pound or two, I make a new version. And then I gain that pound back and I can't wear it anymore. I've remade it a bunch of times and it always eventually ends up in the Goodwill pile once I decide that it will never fit again. Then I loose an inch in my waist and stitch it up a new version. For which I then become to fat. Its a sad and ugly cycle.

So anyway, my lovely Vogue A-line from the 50s is about the same shape as this skirt from the 80s. (Look at View C.) Its two pieces instead of four gores, but I think it should hang the same way, more or less. I also like that I can make two fuller versions with the same pattern. If this works, I'll have died and gone to skirt heaven.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Back With a (Not) Project

I'm now blogging from my teensy little laptop. I'm happy to be back, but I'm less than enthused about the tiny tiny laptop screen. I suppose I'll get used to it, but right now it seems ridiculously small.

I started this entry back just before the computers went kaput. I'm happy to finally get it posted. I have a backlog of unpublished projects going all the way to April! I am dying to start on a new dress, but I'm forcing myself to wait. I've declared a moritorium on new sewing projects until all the old projects are recorded here.

Yeah. It's killing me. there are a gazillion things I want to make!

So on to the (not) dress...

I love this pattern. I really do. I love it so much that I decided to plunge ahead and make a wearable muslin of it, even though its really too complex for my skill level.

I bought five yards of red cotton broadcloth, ironed it, and got ready to cut. It didn’t occur to me to open the package and check the pieces before I bought fabric. I really should have. I mean, a normal sewist would have checked the pieces FIRST, right?

One of the pieces was torn and the missing section was not included. No problem, I thought, I’ll just make a new piece to cover that section. It ended up not being so easy. I spent an awful lot of time with the ruler trying to measure/eyeball a new piece but it just wasn’t turning out quite right.

My husband suggested that we scan the tiny version of the pattern piece and then enlarge the top edge until it matched the current pattern piece. He’s a genius, you know. I was embarrassed that I hadn’t thought of that.

But it never happened. While waiting for him to fire up the scanner and help me (read: do it for me), I unfolded the other pattern pieces and decided that the multiple gores and complicated construction were just too hard. I don’t think that, at this point in my sewing career, I have the patience or the inclination to try something this advanced.

If I make the narrow version the princess seams are scary enough. There is all kinds of kooky draping, which I don't really understand. Plus, you have to complete the outside sections first and then add the center. Its enough to make me feel paralyzed with fear. If I make the wide skirted version, I could skip the princess seams but then there are about nine million pleats. Looook!

So I've decided that it's not worth destroying all that pretty red (cheap-ass) broadcloth. If I make a muslin of this it will be with actual muslin. But not today. Or for a while I think.

It’s a pity. I let my fear get the best of me. Someday I’ll be brave enough to try it out. Won’t I? I think I'll have to make a few more dresses that have similar construction elements before I'll be brave enough.

Feeling Better

This weekend I removed all of my files including my Sewing Is Hard archives from the big dead desktop computer. They've been transfered over to the laptop. That means I'm almost ready to start posting again.

The laptop seems SO tiny compared to the big 26 inch desktop screen so it will take some getting used to. I mean, for me. You shouldn't notice any differences...except that there might be more frequent posting, now that I'm back in cyberspace (or whatever the kids are calling it these days.)

Watch this space! I plan to post an actual sewing-related entry sometime very soon!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Still Dead

So the laptop has been repaired, but the desktop where I keep all my photos, scans of patterns and records of my progress is not working properly. It shuts itself off for no reason at all and can't remember how to perform the most basic functions, like posting a picture in a blog.

I've been composing a post but I can't seem to finish it due to all the crashing. I guess I'll have to give up and move all of my data over to the laptop. This may take some time but I hope to be back to posting details of my lazy, half-ass attempts at sewing soon. Very soon! Don't give up on me!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Technical Difficulty

My computer has DIED! The desktop is dead AND the laptop is in the shop. Of course this would happen all at once.

This momentary lapse of technology should only last a little while. I hope to be back up and running this weekend. Then we will resume to our regularly scheduled program of crap sewing.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

When life gives you leopard print...

Pants project! I used this pattern.

I'd used it once before, a long time ago, to make a pair or shorts, but I couldn’t remember anything about it. The instructions were easy-peasy to follow cos I skipped all the complicated stuff. I’m too chicken to try making a zipper placket just yet. Also, I believe that pants pockets are the enemy, unless you like extra bulk around your thighs, so I skipped those too.

After a super speedy assembly process the crotch, rise, waist and inseam were perfection. Sadly the hips had at least an inch and a half of extra room. Not sexy. Not at all. Unless you think clown-y jodhpurs are sexy. Now I remember this pattern!!

I used my favorite crap sewing alterations technique to make adjustments. Yep. I put the pants on inside out and pinned at the too big spots and then sewed along those pins. I had to do it THREE times to get rid of the puffy hips. Two hours later, I had some pretty weird side seams and pants that fit much better. I think there is something to be said for learning how to alter patterns before cutting them out.

I wanted an extra wide waistband so I ignored the pattern instructions and made my own. It came out okay. The first time I attached it, the band ended up too low on my hips. I made some adjustments and I like it much better now. The waistband sticks out a bit in the back, but I’ve decided to pretend I don’t notice.

I had to take about a million pictures to get one that was even remotely flattering. The busy-ness of the print sort of blurred the legs together unless I stood kind of sideways and stuck one leg out. Sadly, this is the best shot.

They are still a little clown-y, aren’t they? Well, I can always wear them as pajama bottoms, I suppose.