What was supposed to be a quick examination of the (minor) alterations needed for my cousin’s wedding dress turned into a game of dress-up such as we haven’t had since we were ten. The kids and I squeezed her into a remarkable number of things in my wardrobe. She especially liked the Grecian Sundresses, and totally rocks the fluffy dresses. Still working on getting her to believe that sewing stuff herself might be possible.
Category Archives: Sewing
A long time ago, I made Tyo a shirt. And she loved it very much, but since I had made it in a pattern a couple of sizes too small, it was outgrown pretty much instantly. A replacement was mandated, but despite my best intentions, I allowed myself to be distracted with frilly dresses and fleece pants and other frivolities for, well, nearly two years at this point. I think it was Gertie’s pattern that put Tyo over the edge, though. Anyway, she marched down to the savage pit of despair that is my basement “sewing area,” dug through the chaotic array of teetering, half-unpacked boxes*, and emerged, victorious, with this fabric, which she had picked out, long ago, for a replacement shirt.
The next question was, of course, the pattern. What she REALLY wanted was an enlarged version of the original pattern. It being a Lekala, this is theoretically not that hard, but I wasn’t quite prepared mentally to figure it out. She’s also been wanting a tie-front shirt, too, which seemed like a more seasonal option, anyway. So I decided I’d use this tie-front pattern from the April Burda, which I picked up a few weeks back, thinking particularly of this pattern for Tyo. Of course, while Tyo (who is nearly thirteen) is now overlapping into the lower end of women’s sizes (when did THAT happen?), this particular pattern only goes down to a 36, and really she needs a 34. And even then, about five cm less of body length. Fortunately, in the foggy recesses of my brain I remembered something about the Selfish Seamstress’s long-ago tutorial on grading down nested sizes. Actually, this wasn’t nearly as difficult as I had thought it would be. I suspect taking the time to highlight my closest line on the pattern sheet helped. Then I added seam allowances, which was basically adding back the width I had just removed, by the way. OK, I know there’s more to it, but just sayin’. For my final trick (such a good mother I am), I removed the five cm in extra length, half from the armscye area and half from the torso above the waist. I even walked my seamlines afterwards to check that they were good. I NEVER do that.
Then, I spent a slightly ridiculous amount of time pinning the major match-points on this wiggly, gauzy plaid. Seriously, I think cutting separate layers would have taken less time. It would’ve been worth it, though… except that I then proceeded to cut out both front and back with absolutely no regard for matching the sideseams. So all was basically for naught. DURRRRRR. This is why we don’t sew (cut out) late at night. *headdesk*
I opted to at least try to match the sleeve in the front armscye. /sigh.
I actually think this is a ridiculously cute little shirt. I love the simple collar (even if I couldn’t make heads or tails of Burda’s instructions for sewing it, and consequently winged it and made a bit of a hash.) I love the one button above the tie, and the gathered elastic on the sleeves (even though Tyo has warned me she will probably just roll them up.) The fit is pretty decent. The shoulders are a wee bit wide (and I did measure her shoulder width!) but perhaps that’s how it’s meant to be. I can’t quite tell if the waist length ended up right since the tie kinda scrunches everything up, but I guess that means it doesn’t matter, anyway. Despite being spongy and shifty, this is a really lovely fabric to work with. Also, yes, I was too impatient to wait until I had a real button on, so she has it pinned with her Mockingjay pin.
The one thing that could’ve been a bit disastrous was the long, diagonal front edge of the ties, which is a hot ripply mess just waiting to happen. Fortunately for me, this fabric was fairly amenable to being steamed back into shape, and fortunately for anyone else who tries this pattern, once they’re tied I think it doesn’t matter too much. I mentioned I made a hash of the collar (well, mostly the finish on the inside.) I also managed to snip through the outer fabric when finishing this seam, so there’s an interesting little “detail patch” in one shoulder that I forgot to photograph for you. It’s totally cute and intentional-looking. Right? Right. We’ll go with that. In an attempt to neaten up my nasty collar-innards, I stitched a white flat-fold bias tape along the shoulder/back neck seam, which worked out reasonably well, and makes for some nice stabilization in that area for this spongy fabric. My seam-finishes are nothing to write home about, serged with a bit of topstitching… except that they are, because I haven’t been able to serge anything this lightweight in aeons without wanting to tear my hair out. I came up with a stop-gap solution for my serger’s overly aggressive needle thread tension—I wrapped some sturdy buttonhole thread in between the tension discs and cut it off short. The extra thread holds the discs open just enough that they have something resembling a normal tension for the actual serger thread. Hooray! Yes, I know this is not an Approved Solution (TM), and it will probably explode without warning into a Tangle of Overlock DOOOOOOM without warning. But it’s working and I really don’t have the money to get my serger serviced AGAIN (especially since the last servicing totally failed to correct this problem and may actually have exacerbated it.)
And I think that’s all I have to say, except that this is actually only the second Burda magazine pattern I’ve sewn, ever. And I’d be totally tempted to make myself one, except that there’s no way it would look as good on me as it does on her. I would like to figure out that collar, though.
Oh, and she wants another—in red. That’s my girl.
*I have a high tolerance for functioning around mess. This is particularly unfortunate for my neat-freak husband.
It’s really not that often that I completely fail to blog something I make. I’m pretty compulsive that way. Or at least, until this past winter when it seemed like everything from getting photos to getting computer time (never mind the sewing time to begin with) was like slogging through quicksand. There’s a number of things that have slipped through the cracks, the last few months. So sad.
Despite the lack of blogishness, these pants have already been documented via instagram and flickr, because they have to be the single most-worn thing I’ve ever made myself. Even if it’s mostly for that hour or two between crawling out of bed and actually getting ready for the day, few days have gone by since their completion (sometime in February?) without me wearing them for at least a little while.
I don’t really have much to say about the construction at this remove. Fleece is easy to work with. I used Jalie 3022, in about a size U (my usual being either R or S), and with a ton of extra leg length, to allow for the limited stretch of polar fleece. If I were to do it again, I’d give myself a wee bit more height in the rear (something I’ll figure out about Jalie patterns someday), and use a heavier elastic in the top—I used a 1cm elastic as per the instructions, and while I love how unobtrusive it is, it’s not quite beefy enough to keep everything quite where it ought to be in fleece. In the normal-fabric pair I made last winter, it was fine.
I don’t think I can quite explain to people who come from warmer climes how happy having these pants to reach for in the morning has made me. I’m not quite sure why they aren’t mandatory Canadian attire, right alongside the hockey jerseys and Mountie hats.* It could be argued that they are perhaps a wee bit warm for standard indoor wear, since we have those first-world conveniences like central heating. I will not be making this argument, especially not when I’m trying to convince myself that it’s a good idea to get out of bed in the pitch-dark of an icy winter morning. At those times, cold is a state of mind.
I also really, really love that they’re red. Especially with my blue tank top. I just need a red sweater.
Oh, yeah, I have one. I’m starting to realize I have a LOT of red. That’s a good thing of course, it’s my favourite colour, but when did it become so dominant in my wardrobe?
In any case, even though winter has finally broken (daytime highs in the twenties C, can I have a Hallelujah?), I am still reaching for these in the morning, and I probably will continue to as we turn off the heat for the summer (although Saskabush doesn’t get as reliably cold at night as Cowtown did). And I’ll continue singing the praises of my fleece pants, because they make me So. Frickin’. Happy.
*I do not, and never have, worn a Mountie hat. Or a hockey jersey, actually.
This is the sum total of my sewing this week. Not enough to write about, frankly. Maybe I need to start writing about all my imaginary sewing. I do boatloads of that. It takes even longer to write about, though. /sigh.
So in lieu of real sewing, let’s have some Me-Made-May pics!
Day 2—I’ve been having some leisurely mornings this winter—the kids have gotten much more self-reliant (they get up on their own! They make their own lunches!) and I don’t need to be on a train at 7:30 am. So instead of bouncing straight into my clothes, I’ve been experimenting with “comfies”… in particular my (still unblogged!) Jalie 3022 fleece pants. (It might be easier to get these blogged if I didn’t only wear them when I’m bleary-eyed and crazy-haired.) Seriously… I reach for these nearly every day. Just for fun, I decided to keep with the colour scheme and add in my cardi-wrap and red Jalie twist top. The twist top is a pretty-much-wadder (I did a bad job on the neck binding), so this is definitely MMM getting me to reach for something I would ordinarily pass by. The cardi hasn’t gotten much wear since I wore it while cutting out fabric one day and *snip* cut a little hole in the front drape. But it’s fine for bumming around in the morning.
After I got myself together, it was not much more glamorous. Jalie jeans, Lekala knit top. Although I’m so enjoying the weather that’s perfect for my Springy Coat. (Can I just say, the timer app I downloaded to get delayed photos on my iPhone sucks?!? Anyone got a suggestion that takes photos at actual resolution, not this pixelated crap?)
Day 3 morning: Those fleece pants again, Blank Canvas Tee, and Vogue muslin-cum-sweater. I swear I’m done with the morning shots, at least unless I get some different comfies into rotation.
Day 3 day—in honour of the Friday Theme of water, I got the last remaining snowbank in my front yard. I think it’s gone now. Four me-mades here: Jalie capris, Springy Coat, flutter-sleeve Blank Canvas Tee, and basic tank top.
Day 4—The MMM must be getting to me, because I actually reached for my Jalie twist top again. And those same Jalie jeans again; they are one of my two staple pairs at the moment. This picture really shows how they’ve worn (not quite worn out, but getting there) since their first unveiling.
Day 5—Sunday was full of family activities. Brunch with my dads, visiting Stylish in the afternoon, and then dinner at Crafty’s house in the evening for my father-in-law’s birthday. I wore Funnygrrl’s dress, which, yes, got very grubby with all the running around, and my cropped jean jacket. I also got my first sunburn of the year (blerg.) Apparently we did not stop at spring, go directly to summer. Not complaining, mind you.
Day 7. Not a glamorous day. Running errands and working from home. Yet another set of Jalie jeans, the cardi-wrap makes another appearance, and my quick refashioned Miocene Park tank. I didn’t get a picture, but I wore these pantaloons to my dance class as well:
Which brings us to the end of Week One. Here’s hoping for better photos, and more fun outfits in the future.
One of the big reasons for Me Made May is to help us identify gaps in our self-stitched wardrobe. Besides the obvious (I still have not conquered self stitched undies), some needs I’ve identified this week:
- cropped, WARM jacket suitable for wearing with fluffy dresses. (warmer than a jean jacket, anyway.)
- knit tees that aren’t ancient.
- a new pair of jeans. The youngest of these is over two years old now, and only the capris are still darn-and-repair free.
It’s also highlighted to me how much silly sewing I’ve done in the past year. Very few of these me-mades are recent makes, with the exception of the fleece pants. I guess I can get away with it, though, right? I was so good and practical the first few years I was sewing.
Now, the next question is… what to wear today?
I, Tanit-Isis, of Tanit-Isis Sews, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’13. I endeavour to wear me-made clothing for everything except socks and underwear each day for the duration of May 2013. And to take photos of it, which I’m thinking will be the hardest part this time around.
Better late than never, right? I’ve loved Zoe’s Me-Made-Month challenges since the first time I did one, about six months into sewing my own clothes. These days, it’s very rare for me to leave the house without wearing at least one me-made item (plus most of my jackets are me-made at this point). But I have been relying on my surviving RTW knit tops for a fair number of things, so going all-me-made will still be a challenge. And the photographs… last time I did a MMM, I was blogging every day. (I like to think my posts, though less frequent now, are more in depth. Yes, no, maybe? Sometimes?) I don’t think that’ll happen, plus outfit photos get boring for some people. I will probably post them on twitter (@tanitisis) and Flickr, of course. I am expecting a lot of iPhone photos this time, though, so be warned. Quality is not guaranteed. (Considering I haven’t had a really good photo shoot since maybe last August, I guess if you’re still reading you’ve adjusted to my crappy photos these days? I mean, I’ve never been a photo guru like Carolyn, but even I get tired of fuzzy indoor phone pics.)
My Summer Picnic dress (aka Butterick 5882), is finished. It was a bit of a rushed make, as I had a deadline, and, well, I kind of had a bad case of the perfectionism that didn’t really work out. I mean, it never does, but usually I manage to keep it in the bag when it comes to sewing, or to let it out in only small, manageable ways.
Which is not to say that this dress is not a success. I think it is, or will be, once I’ve had a few weeks to put some distance between myself and all the seam ripping. So, this dress was kinda a bad idea in a lot of ways—limited time frame, unfamiliar pattern (I haven’t made a lot of Buttericks) and having a really crisp, clear vision in my head of what I wanted it to turn into. Which is always a perilous thing. On the upside, the fabric is a lovely, well-behaved cotton woven plaid, and the lining is a cotton-poly broadcloth. Easiest things to work with in the world.
I covered the first few stages of the dressmaking already, which went relatively smoothly. The first hitch came, predictably, when I tried to attach cups to bodice.
I’m not sure what was off—my cutting, my seam allowances, my marking of the CF line? But no amount of fiddling could get my cups to line up with the bodice pieces’ notches and still fit properly at the upper/outside edge; if I forced the edge to fit, they were overlapped WAY far. I went ahead and stitched anyway, hoping against hope that somehow it would all work out, but end up with a weirdly-folded, mashed mess that didn’t fit my bust AT ALL. I couldn’t bear to take a photo of the mess my pretty little cups became.
After I recovered from that (which took a day or two,) I decided that damn the seamlines, I had to make this thing fit me, after all. Thence followed a lot of fiddling and futzing in front of the bathroom mirror. Tape was invoked. Pins were applied liberally. Apparently my bust is much wider than the pattern was drafted for? Or… something.
You can see how much wider the cups on my bust are than the curve of the bodice. Oh, yeah, I also took 1/4″ out at each sideseam at this stage, for a total of 1″ around the whole bodice. And there was still some to take in at the back, although I’m not sure how much because I used it to make the lapped zipper extra-lappy. Maybe I should’ve made the 10? I’ve had 10s end up too small, though, so that scares me. /sigh.
Incidentally, the tape is very handy for keeping track of the bones. I stuck them to the wall in the order that they needed to go into the dress. Although this brown paper tape was a bit too sticky, and did some damage to the casings when I peeled it off. Oopsie.
I widened the opening for the bust cups quite a bit.
And then, I fell back on that good old standby when things don’t fit… lots and lots of hand stitching. The cups are stitched in entirely by hand.
This is the part of the cup that got “cut off” when I moved everything around to fit me. I decided to leave it, sandwiched between the two layers, as it’s padded and seemed to be smoothing and supportive. Also, the pattern doesn’t call for the bones to run all the way up the bust, but I wanted them that way, so I attached these two bones to the shell, while the rest are attached to the lining.
And somehow, it actually fit!
I wish I could say that it was smooth sailing thereafter, but there were still a few issues. I wanted a lapped zipper in the back. I’m not good at them, but sometimes you just have to go “What would Gertie do?” And I do like the look better than a centred application. Anyway, because I was also taking it in, I think, this didn’t play well with the back skirt seam (which I had already sewn at this point, yes, and serged. More ripping. Argh. I was able to squeeze enough bias tape for a not-terribly-wide hem facing. I interfaced my bias tape (prior to bias-tape-cutting) in the hopes of getting a slightly stiffer hem, but I think with the weight of this fabric it mostly just weighted the hem down more. Which is not awful—I do like a swishy hem—but not quite what I was hoping for. I should, perhaps, have sucked it up and done horsehair braid. One triumph was the edging on the skirt lining—I was able to coax a successful rolled hem from my geriatric serger! Those of you with fancy newfangled sergers that do rolled hems at the touch of a button have no idea, I’m sure. Mine requires a screwdriver, a different needleplate, and disengaging the blade to work properly. In celebration, I zig-zagged this teeny little lace trim along the edge, which has been kicking around forever. I think it’s cute, although the fact that it has a lot of snags already is tweaking that perfectionism I mentioned.
OK, enough whining. Deep breath. Step back. Enjoy. Please ignore the footless tights.
You’ll have to forgive my altered photos. It’s the “Cinemascope” effect in Google Picasa, and I love the sun-baked look it gives. This dress deserves to be sun-drenched. Yes, those are still snowbanks in my back yard.
And on that note, I’m going to breathe deep, let it all go, and enjoy my dress. And hope for some real sun-drenched days in the future.
So sometimes, you make a muslin, and then another one. And sometimes you get cocky and fit as you go. And then sometimes… You throw all caution to the wind, and just sew.
It occurred to me sometime after I painstakingly cut out the entire dress single-layer that, while I may have the Simplicity bodice block figured out, I probably shouldn’t be quite as cocky about Butterick. The last Butterick pattern I made myself was my winter coat, which is a bit of a different creature. And the way this is constructed I may not have any idea what it’s doing fit wise until I insert the zipper. So I may well be making a meticulous disaster. Ulp.
I tackled the most terrifying part of this dress yesterday—those folded cups. I got it into my head that I should pad the cups, partly because I’m using a really soft cotton for the contrast bit and partly because the curve of the dart really scared me once I had it stitched up, and this way even if I don’t fill the cups they won’t sag too badly. I’m liking the fit post-padding much better.
I used pretty much the method Tasia describes here, although I did nothing so responsible as re-reading her post. That would’ve been too easy. Basically I used the liner pattern piece, cut in some kind of batting that was kicking around. I cut out the dart (curving the legs for a nice shape), butted the dart edges and stitched them closed with a zig-zag stitch, and trimmed off my seam allowances with pinking shears. Then I free handed a couple of oval/egg shapes, progressively smaller, to fit inside, also with pinking shears, and hand-tacked them in place. This poly batting doesn’t feather as well as a cotton batting (Read Tasia’s post for a description of feathering), but with the pinked edges I think it worked okay.
Getting the pleats figured out took some more work (and even reading the directions!)… Mostly because they fold in the opposite direction from what I had assumed. Some seam ripping and swearing were involved, and my folds aren’t anywhere near as crisp as some of the other versions I’ve seen. I think it works with my picnic dress vibe, though. It does, right?
Now for the second-most terrifying part of this dress—that bias strap! And then, friends, then… The try-on!
Plaid is a print.
Yeah, that red plaid from yesterday is intended for this little queue jumper. I am weak, and apparently have the attention span of a jellyfish. Also I’m gonna have to do some saving up before I order the rest of my corset supplies.
Anyway, it’s not often that I actually buy fabric based on the envelope suggestions. I’m more of the “oh, I think I’d like a dress, better get three metres,” type of fabric shopper. But I did for this one. I’ve been fantasizing this fabric/pattern combo since Gertie first announced this pattern. But, y’know that little bit where they say “allow extra for matching prints”? Well, it didn’t even occur to me until I was finished tracing out the pattern.
So… Now I’m trying to think of fun things to do with plaid. Bias? Bias side panels? Or just do my best to keep things matching nicely?