Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Pyrates Life for Me

Inspired by this fabric

...and the pattern my dear friend Katie chose for her bridesmaids.

Right after she showed it to me I went on eBay and found a copy for myself. It’s what pirates (and obsessive sewists) DO. But I have NO intention of wearing this to her wedding. Buying and making a dress from the same pattern: justifiable. Wearing the same dress as the bridesmaids: psycho.

I bought black broadcloth to use for the contrast straps and the jacket body and some (almost) matching red broadcloth for the jacket trim. Ready, set, sew!

I read and re-read everything BEFORE I started this time. Since there was an inch and a half of ease in the 14, I decided to go one size down on the bodice. I pinned it together and it fit pretty well. Hooray! I think I’m getting the hang of this sewing nonsense!

Not so fast matey! Here be troubles. Yes, indeedy.

It took me a full five days of reading and experimentation to figure out the straps. Once I got them sewn on properly, I decided that the black was just too overpowering and I’d be better off making the dress without contrast. I also didn’t like the way that the black straps would have disappeared into the red bodice back.

This gave me a bright idea! Why not just use the already cut bits to make a non-contrasty full skirted dress in just the pirate fabric? Then I could use the already assembled red bodice front with black straps to make a narrow skirted version with a black skirt and black bodice back?

So now I’m making two dresses at the same time and I need more black fabric. Isn’t it neat how I can make something that is already difficult into a three ring circus of confusion? It’s what I do. I am awesome.

I worked on the contrast version with the narrow skirt first. I was surprised at how quickly the bodice went together once I figured out the straps. There was still some extra room in the size 12 so I tried the top on after each seam just to see how well it was fitting. I ended up taking it in quite a bit. I also took about 2.5 inches off of the bottom of the bodice in order to raise the waistline up to my natural (weirdly high) waist.

I used my TAT skirt pattern but this time decided to line it because the broadcloth seemed a little thin and cheap looking. (This was actually my first experience with lining a skirt, but everything in the blog gets a little un-chronological depending on what's been photographed and what hasn't...anyway...) I cut the skirt out of the black broadcloth and then cut it out again in the lining. I constructed both sections following the skirt directions and then put them together with the wrong sides together. Then I basted the top edge and zipper openings together.

The skirt lining ended up a little smaller than the skirt but I couldn’t tell that until I tried to attach the bodice and skirt. I had to let out the darts in the lining and then re-baste everything before attaching the top and bottom pieces. It worked out really well though.

I hemmed the skirt and then hemmed the lining about an inch shorter. Figuring out the kick pleat was really difficult with all the layers of fabric but it eventually came out just fine.

The dress fits like a dream. I love the bright red panel in all that black and I think it’s really flattering.

Here it is from the back.

I eventually decided that I’d been wrong about black contrast straps overpowering the red fabric and went with my original plan for the full skirted version. For some reason this version doesn’t fit as well as the narrow skirted. It seemed like the bodice was too small so I let it out a bit near the zipper and then it ended up kind of big. Despite hacking off two inches or so from the bodice bottom, the waistline is a little low. I do like it, but not nearly as well as the black one. Oh well.

I decided not to make jacket. I don't like the look of it that much and I think a black cardigan sweater will be fine with both dresses.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

New Patterns

I love thrift stores!

This one isn't my usual style (har har), but its so interesting. I couldn't pass it up. It is the mullet of evening dresses: business in the front, party in the back. I will make it as seen in the view with the cascading fringe. Then I will learn how to tango. Ole!

I have a thing for skirt patterns. I find them irrisistable. Odd, since I almost never wear skirts anymore. Maybe its because I've "outgrown" most of my favorites? I have a skirt in my closet thats just like View 2 but it's way too small these days. Now I can make a new one that fits. Screw dieting, I'll just make bigger clothes as I get fatter. Le sigh.

The truly sad thing is that when I picked these up, there were about 20 really cool vintage 1960s patterns, some mod shifts, some full skirted early 60s day dresses, but none of them were in my size. They were gorgeous and they hadn't been ravaged from being in the racks yet. I considered buying them, just to save them from being ruined but I am far to lazy to resell them and I already have too many patterns in my stash that are the wrong size. I hope that someone with a 40 bust came along after me and snapped them all up!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Cocktail Hat/Fascinator

My friend Katie is getting married in May and her bridal shower was in Vegas during the Rockabilly Weekender. Katie is not the kind of girl who is comfortable with the idea of wandering down the Las Vegas strip with the "bride" tshirt on and a giant white veil stuck to her head. She doesn't like to call attention to herself. However, Angela, who was in charge of the shower, thought we should have some kind of identifier for which one of us was the bride. She asked if anyone could make a little hat and I volunteered.

You know, cos I make hats all the time.

Okay, I've never made a hat before. I think I did okay, though.

I bought two fascinator frames and some tulle from Hatshadows. Feathers were found on e-bay. Everything else came from Michael's. They have a special section for "bridal flowers" Who knew?

I think both hats came out pretty good considering my lack of experience and skill. Plus the fact that I have NO idea how to properly use a glue gun. The only thing that really gave me trouble was the tulle. It was difficult to glue it in a way that would hide the cut edges but leave enough length to let it curve around the face. Also, it tended to melt when it came in contact with the hot glue.

Here is the cocktail hat.

and here is the Fascinator.

I fully expected Katie to hate them but she didn't! She wore the cocktail hat all Saturday night and is planning to wear the fascinator for her East Coast shower. Success!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Pride Goeth Before a Sewing Failure

I was a bridesmaid in my friends wedding, this past weekend. She is a sensible girl and decided to let her bridesmaids choose their own dresses. Hoooray! Her one parameter? Black. Just black. Sounds like it would be easy, right? Not for me.

I don’t know about you, but when left to my own devices with very few guidelines, I tend to let my sense of humor take over. I figured since this was a mod-ish wedding that started with a scooter ride I should go for something fabulous and vaguely mod-tacular. I very nearly wore this:

At the bridal shower, the other bridesmaid showed me the dress she picked out. It was lovely: Vaguely 60s. Simple. Black. Elegant. I asked her, “Why is it that without parameters I go crazy? I need parameters! Someone give me parameters!” She said, “How about no sequined mini dresses? How’s that for a parameter?”

And suddenly I was off the ledge and seriously thinking about what to wear. I decided to make something similar to what she’d picked out.

Her dress had a simple scoop neckline and a straight skirt. It was in a shiny fabric, but I am no good with shiny. I decided to use black cotton (surprise) with a little stretch.

I dug through my patterns to find something that would be close to the same style. I used this pattern for the top:

And my tried and true skirt for the bottom.

I am a very impatient sewist but I try to do a lot more thinking and planning when I’m trying to make a Franken-dress or something that is supposed to come out “nice.” It should have been so simple and so easy.

Instead, I foolishly decided that I knew what I was doing and I didn’t need to think/re-think/try on/alter/think some more/try on again. I just hacked and stitched and then was surprised at how poorly the result fit.

For the blouse pattern, I just folded the pattern over at the hip line and cut it out. My bodice came out about an inch too short…and I have a high waist.

For the skirt I slapped the skirt and lining together and then bunged it onto the bodice with only one brief fitting. I neglected to line up the lining seam with the skirt seam when I stitched the zipper in and once it was all sewn together I couldn’t open the zipper seam. I couldn’t be bothered to unstitch it, so I just cut through the lining to open the zipper thinking “Oh it’s all stitched down, It’ll be fine.” Result: furry and funky zipper, too tight lining, fabric bunching up over my butt in the back. (Click on the pic to "biggify" and see the bunchy horror.)

With a few foundation garments and a belt it was wearable. Thank heavens, because I had no time to refashion it. Besides, I’d ruined the lining and had no extra fabric left to re-line it with.

I’ve learned an important lesson: I should never assume that I know what I’m doing simply because I’ve done something similar before. I should always fit and re-fit and fit again. Also, I really need to remember that wanton seam ripping just makes everything worse.

Here I am all dressed up and ready to bridesmaid. (Yes, its a verb.)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A jump to black

This pattern again.

Black ultrasuede this time, scoop neck, long sleeves.

What’s to say about construction that wasn’t said in the Apple Green Jumpsuit entry? Not much. The neckline is different but didn’t give me any trouble. I made a long sleeve using the pattern piece for this jumpsuit mated to the pattern piece for the purple jumpsuit. It worked really well.

I’m not ecstatic about the way it looks though.

Now that I’ve made two with the ultrasuede I think I can safely say that it may not be the best fabric for a jumpsuit. It is really super wonderfully comfortable, like pajama, but I’m not crazy about the drape.

Everywhere it’s tight, it's alright, but the legs are just too floopy. Maybe it would drape better with high heeled boots, but I dunno.

See? Floopy legs. I will probably narrow the legs on this one too. and maybe get rid of the sleeves. Someday when I'm bored and without a project. Ha!

I think of the four jumpsuits I made, the one I like best is the high necked version of this pattern in apple green polyester. This pattern seems to fit my body the best without a lot of fiddling.

I think that the high necked version ended up being the most flattering and, OH, that polyester! I never thought I’d say this but I am kind of in love with polyester double knit. It was super easy to work with and drapes like a dream.