Cozy

Fall has been more or less glorious so far. We thanksgivinged. Our ridiculously big new dining room table got a workout. There was turkey, family, and good times aplenty. What there wasn’t was a lot of sewing time.

I was an idiot and took out a rather complicated project from work that may yet kill kill me. So in avoiding that (it’s almost done, I promise) I took out a different one that’s simple as pie: McCall’s 7622

Maybe not my best idea ever, but it was definitely the feeling of accomplishment I needed!

This is my second attempt at a tent style dress. The first one I wimped out and ended with a more-or-lesss fit and flare maxi. This time, after a year of absorbing the trend, my aging stylistic sense may have finally come around to it… anyway, I’m sticking with the tent. At least for now.

This is essentially a T-shirt pattern, which means it was mercifully quick to sew up. Version one is a cozy French terry in a marled grey, which I feel like is a color that screams “curling up in comfort.” I made the basic long sleeve version, as you can see.

To my surprise, the pattern includes pockets! I’m not convinced they’re the best idea since I think they’ll weigh down the swishy side seams, but I included them in this version because I knew I’d enjoy having them, and this is the version meant for cozy comfort, not style.

I made the size S, though my measurements are pretty much in the M range these days—it worked well but the sleeves are quite snug, so I would say it’s pretty much true to size. Also, there was no excess ease in the sleeve cap. It went in perfectly! I don’t think I’ve experienced that in a Big 4 knit pattern before. This almost makes up for the instructions to turn and hem the neckline. I bound mine after trimming off the seam allowance. .

Version 2 is in a very fun burnout velvet that doesn’t have quite enough stretch for the pattern. I let the sleeves out as much as I could, and I cut the neck band to the largest size (and then cut the neck hole larger to match.)

I went with the peep shoulder view because, fun. Although I confess I’m a little worried peep shoulder + tent silhouette are pretty trendy, in the sense that they’re probably both already passé. Screw it. It’s fun. And it’s not like I live in a fashion capital of the world.

I feel like it will be a very fun dress for the holidays.

Next up is Hallowe’en costumes. Though really what I feel like making are sweatshirts and cozy leggings. And that Vogue pattern. I just need to attach top and bottom halves and do buttonholes and other finishing details. I can do it.

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Summer sewing

The last thing I sewed before we moved was meant to fill the gaping hole in my wardrobe that is casual warm-weather gear. This is rather like attempting to deflect a hurricane with a small oscillating fan, but y’know. Sometimes you gotta try.

I made up a version of Burda 6794, which promised easy summer comfort. I’m not very good at casual these days—I don’t have much chance for it. I’m not even really sure what I like, which is unsettling.

Anyway. I made up a super-quick version out of the scraps from my grey Vogue 1312. To the best of my recollection, since this was about two months ago, I sewed up a straight size 38 (aside from a small swayback adjustment), and I was rather distressed with the results. It’s snug through the bust and just way too tight in the hips—and this is a garment that’s meant to be crisp and skimming. I’ve been wearing it, but only by not buttoning the bottom two buttons.

To be fair to Burda, this may have more to do with a certain drift in my own measurements rather than an issue with the pattern sizing.

Aside from the marginal fit, I didn’t make all the best choices in my construction. The button band would have benefited from interfacing. I opted to finish the upper edge with bias binding for a facing, which is not my best skill, and it would’ve been smarter all around to just line the entire bust section, since the striped fabric’s a trifle sheer.

On the other hand, I’ve still worn the snot out of it. Mainly because, as mentioned, my casual wardrobe is almost nonexistent. And it’s workable, just not quite right. But I think with a teeny bit of up-sizing, it’s a style I really like. Except of course summer is on its way out now so really I should be making some long-sleeved shirts instead.

In other news, the house is shaping up, but has been way more of a time suck than I expected. We refinished a floor, which may have been a mistake, but it’s done now, along with rather more painting than I had wanted to have happen.

And yes, it’s purple.

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New House Sewing

The sewing room is finally mostly set up. A lot more organization would be good, though. At work I'm highly organized. I'm not sure why I have such difficulty applying the same principles to my daily life.

I made the socks above using the Dreamstress's Rosalie stockings pattern, back around Christmas. I had impulsively grabbed a remnant of cotton spandex jersey in this mustard colour, which is fun but well outside my usual colours.

At the same time, I cut out a pair of Watson bikini bottoms. Then, somehow, in the five feet from my kitchen to the sewing machine, I lost the crotch pieces. (Pattern piece still attached, FYI)

Expecting them to turn up, I set the other pieces aside. And waited. And waited.

Eventually I resigned myself to reprinting the errant pattern piece. Thank goodness for PDF patterns. But by then I had mislaid the fabric. And never the twain did meet… until last night, while organizing, I realized I had both.

Callooh callay!

Well, after sewing up the underwear in short order, I felt I should do something with the scant remaining remnant. Some experimentation revealed that yes, I could just barely get a version of Gertie's Butterick B6031 cami out of it. This is by far my favourite loungewear pattern, so I set to. I wasn't going to use lace, so I skipped the lace panel on the front, but even the longer version of the cami is pretty short so I wound up adding lace (as you are supposed to) to the hem. And now I think I miss the definition the lace at the underbust gives it. Oh well.

Mustard really isn't the best colour on me, but it's still a cute sleep set. (And I'm on vacation, which has really driven home how impoverished my casual wardrobe has become. ) And now that piece of fabric, at least, is totally gone.

I do need to get another machine set up, though. Switching between yellow and black thread all the time got VERY annoying.

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Housed

Life isn't a straight road.

I don't know why I thought it should be—I'll blame my parents with their baby-boomer career-marriage-house-children white picket fence life example. Not that it suited either of them particularly, but that's a different story.

I did set out to follow that playbook, but it went quickly sideways. First with having my kids far too early (from the playbook's perspective, anyway), later with a combo of my own mental health and my husband's physical health issues that made us both end promising careers in Alberta and run home with tails between our legs.

Since then, it's been a process. First, of survival. Learning to trust myself again. Resiliency has never been my strong suit—I much preferred blazing excellence, and when I fell short of that, I had no coping skills. When I started working at Fabricland (almost five years ago), it was my first non-academic job, and I was terrified that I wasn't even capable of entry level retail work.

It turned out I was, though. Thank goodness.

It took a long time to rebuild that confidence in myself. Not to mention that minimum wage retail work doesn't exactly pay the bills when you're suddenly the sole breadwinner. It was hard to go back to grinding poverty from what had been almost a middle-class lifestyle. Hard to work two jobs when the two combined don't even earn you enough to make ends meet. Hard to learn how to be the person who works two jobs, and how to maintain any sanity. For a long time, years, I couldn't look beyond the day, maybe the next pay period. All those plans for our future were just gone.

But I did cope and I did survive, and I did start to trust in my own ability again. And I've worked. As hard as I did at grad school, as hard as being home with a small baby. Harder than I knew I could—which is how it works, I guess. Last fall I got an opportunity at my day job for a new position which has let me use a lot more of my grad-school (and artistic) skills than my first position, and that has been exciting.

I'm starting to see a future. It's beginning to feel like a career—maybe not as lucrative as a professorial job, but something I can build on.

What comes next has nothing to do with my own abilities, talent, or resiliency, though. One of the biggest resources that has helped us through rough times over the years has been family. This spring, my father decided to help us get a house.

It's the last thing on that checklist, that playbook, that road to a Normal North American Life (TM). I'm not sure why, after all these years, I'm still trying to follow it—but I do know that I wanted this badly.

I want to be able to create my own space, feel ownership for it, and to be able to work to improve it. I'm willing to take on the extra responsibility to have that freedom, even that pride. And I'm so insanely grateful to my father for making this possible, because with all the other side-steps and swerves in my life, I couldn't have done it on my own. Thank you, Dad.

Thank you.
Now if I can just find my sewing machine…

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Sundresses

I wanted some more variations on the button-up sundress, so for my May project at work I went for Butterick B5761, a Connie Crawford pattern that doesn’t look like much on the envelope, but I liked the lines. 

This is my first Connie Crawford and I was quite happy with the fit; it took much less fussing and reshaping of the bust than McCall’s M7640 that I made last summer. On the other hand, on my first version (the white) I didn’t shorten the bodice (only the straps) and had to let out the hips, at least partially because the hip was sitting lower than I need it to. My hips aren’t super wide but they jut abruptly right below my waist. It was also a bit smug throughout.  

These two versions are really a study in how different fabric affects fit. The first version I made, in the white, is a poly-cotton seersucker with very little give, and the whole thing was borderline too tight. The second version, in a soft, drapy rayon, actually came out a little too large and I need to get in there and take in the back seams. 

There’s also a pattern piece not shown anywhere on the envelope—the shaped shoulder strap I used on the white version. I wish I’d thought to trim it with lace like I did the bodice, though I was using up lace scraps for that and wouldn’t’ve had enough. I’m not sure I LOVE it, but it was interesting to try. A pain to turn and press nicely, though. 

 When I got it done the whole thing was still a little plain but I got the idea to add the band of lace bead with a bit of vintage velvet ribbon and I love that detail. I do wish it was a little lower cut in the front, especially in the white version, but if you don’t love cleavage it’s a good option and the back has a really nicely scooped shape. 

The pattern is designed to be lined, which I did for the white version, but it also has some “interfacing” pattern pieces that work just fine if you want a facing, as I did for the tie-dye rayon. 

It’s quite slim through the hips (and much less of a fabric hog as a result), but I like my skirts a little fuller so for the rayon version I did increase the flare. 

And I added the button front on the rayon version, because I’m cool like that. 😉

At its bones, though, it’s a pretty good pattern. Even if these aren’t the best pics I’ve ever snapped. (No makeup, hair flat, taken in about three minutes as we were rushing out the door)

It’s Canada Day this weekend, and our 150th year as a nation, which is a big deal although it kinda totally neglects the thousands of years of people who lived here before that; I am trying to be conscious of the validity of those dual narratives, and to acknowledge, if only to myself, the checkered nature of that 150-year history, particularly with regard to the treatment of the First Nations people. I have a new Canada Day dress, too, and if I manage to get pics this weekend I’ll try and get a post up on that, but I don’t dare make promises since we’re moving later this month (and finally, after almost 20 years of renting, becoming home owners!!!) and life is going to be insane. So I’ll see you on the flip side!

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Cavity alert

If my first version of the Fancy Tiger sailor top was sweet, this one is absolutely cloying. Brush your teeth after reading this. 

Tyo is wondering why I’m making mom clothes. 😂

I am teaching a class on this pattern in August. I have to know how to make it. Also it’s cute. It is cute, right?

This version is the promo sample—it’s now hanging in Periwinkle Quilting so that people will hopefully be inspired to sign up for the class. 😉 The fabric is from there as well, and is a luscious double gauze. It’s very exciting to work with a fabric I’ve read about for so long. 

And, I got the recommended amount (2.2m) but was able to squeeze the top out of less so I actually have 90cm left over! Maybe the fabric’s a bit wider than I thought. So, I should be looking at woven cami patterns or something. 
The pattern has pretty good instructions (and I found the missing match point on my sleeve pattern so I didn’t have to unpick gathering this time!) but doesn’t call for any interfacing of the neck band. This may be fine for quilt cottons, but I’ve added some in both my versions and I’m happy about it. For this version it was just a layer of cotton lawn. The pattern also doesn’t call for understitching, which I did on both the neck band and the sleeves’ faced hems. 

I maintain that it is still somewhat sassy, despite the utter sweetness of the pattern, not at all helped by my choice of fabric or the pompom trim lace. (It was dying for the lace, c’mon!)

I may be wrong. I am in the latter half of my thirties, after all. 

Ah well. Sometimes it’s fun to make something outside my usual style. 

This is made up exactly as per the pattern, except I added about 1″ to the width of the back, which helps. I could’ve made it a bit longer. Oh, and the jeans in these photos are what’s left of my very first pair of me-made jeans, from 2010. 😳

So, maybe not my “style” exactly, but adorable and enjoyable to make. Plus, a good fit with minimal alterations. I think it will serve its purpose admirably. 

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Demure

In August I’m teaching a sewing class (!!!!) at a local quilt shop, and the pattern selected is the Fancy Tiger Crafts “Sailor top”. I need to make a sample up pretty quick, but I wanted to try it out first in something other than the Precious Quilt Shop Double Gauze I have picked out. 

It’s a cute pattern, if not particularly sailor-y in my opinion. I hadn’t run across Fancy Tiger before. Apparently there’s a whole world of indie pattern companies beyond the five or six I keep track of. 

It’s supposed to be a short sleeved top, but I decided I wanted a long-sleeved (ish) dress. Because the best way to work out a new garment pattern is to change the heck out of it, right? 

The main thing I wanted from the lengthened sleeves was a bit of gathering and a sweet little button at the cuff. I was pretty much successful, though it’s not my tidiest sewing. 

My measurements were between a small and a medium. 

Let me rephrase. My measurements SHOULD be in a small, but, um, last Christmas is still hanging around. Gotta figure something out on the diet/exercise front here, people. Body love and acceptance is great, but I am not interested in outgrowing perfectly good handmade clothes. Anyway, after looking at the helpful finished measurements, I went with the small. And it feels a little small, especially across the back, so maybe a medium would’ve been better anyway. 

I had to unpick the shoulders and redistribute where the gathering fell as when I first did it there was way too much fullness behind the shoulder. Need to double check if I missed a marking there. 

When Tyo first looked at it, she said “mom, it doesn’t look like your style.” Teenagers. It’s overall similar to one of the few lingering RTW dresses in my closet. Also, I don’t think she really grasped how freaking short this thing is on me. 

It is, um, very short. Two more inches would have been a very good idea. Alas, with a border embroidery you can’t really tweak the length after the fact. Given the little remnant of fabric I was working with, any added length might’ve had to come from the sleeve, but I’m sure I could’ve made that work. 

For future reference, I cut it 25″ from the underarm. So 27″ or even 30″ would be ok. Noted. It’s cute, but a bit scandalously short for work and not really the sort of thing I’d wear lounging around the house. I’m thinking some white lace leggings would make it a bit more, ah, demure?

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