Monthly Archives: June 2011

The Red Polkadot Dress

Lady in a Red Dress

Some people can wear cinched waistbands. Some people can wear big shoulder-puffs. Some people can wear dirndl skirts.

Generally speaking, these people are not me. This is really too bad, as I like many of these looks on other people. And I’ve tried them on myself time and again over the years, only to go “ah, yes, that’s why I don’t wear this.” (with the possible exception of pouffy shoulders, which I like enough that I tend to ignore the linebacker effect.)

I really like the idea of dirndl skirts. They’re both ridiculously simple (gathered rectangle—can’t get any more basic than that) and economical of fabric, unlike my preferred circle skirts. But they generally sit right at the waist (not a good spot for me) and add a lot of visual bulk in that area.

With the shrug. There’s a bit of pooching out of the ruching at the bottom of the front panel, where the outer fabric is looser than the lining. Presumably I goofed my seam allowances slightly or something.

However, as I’ve observed before, something magical happens when I slide the “waist” of my garment up or down a few inches. I can wear empire waists or dropped waists until the cows come home. Now, I believe another term for “empire-waist dirndl” is “maternity wear”, but what about a dropped waist dirndl?

Well, apparently that’s just fine.

I wrote a bit here about the bodice construction and my fitting challenges process. Having largely taken care of that, I came to the next stage in construction. The skirt.

Easy, right?

I had initially planned to do a gathered circle-skirt, like the original Katjusha pattern that was my inspiration. But on examining the amount of fabric I had left after I finished the bodice, it seemed like to get the gathering I wanted at the waist (er, hip) I was going to end up with an extremely SHORT skirt.  Whereas if I went with a dirndl style, there would be plenty of fabric for whatever length I opted for. Some quick and dirty measuring (aka holding the fabric up to my hips), and I was happily ripping away. Four panels of full-width (45″) fabric, a little below knee length plus a bit for hemming.

Red Dress

Confessions of a lazy seamstress: I didn’t even trim off the selvedges. I just tucked them inside the french seams I used to join the four widths. When they pucker up and throw the whole skirt off after the first washing, you can all laugh and point.So, I had settled on my width for the outer skirt, but my voile (or whatever this fabric is) definitely needed a lining. Back to my white cotton (yes, the stuff with the laceworked panel. Don’t worry, I’m moving from the opposite end of the length and there’s a ton of it.For my lining width, I used the width of the shirred back-panel, stretched out. It would’ve been smarter to determine this width before I did all the shirring, but I wasn’t sure it was going to shirr up the right amount at that point. Shirrly* you understand my quandary? Anyway, I decided to use this width for both the front and the back of the lining. I would gather the front to the bodice front, and sew the back flat to the stretched-out bodice back. But, you really want something underneath to give a dirndl (or any full skirt, really, IMO) a little oomph. I decided to make my lining skirt tiered. So I cut it approximately half the length I wanted, and then cut four more pieces of similar length for the bottom tier, and broke out the gathering foot.

Now, this is not my ruffler, with whom I have a passionate love-hate relationship. I wasn’t willing to deal with his idiosyncracies for four measly widths of lining. (If that sounds like a lot of gathering to you, please understand that I got the ruffler foot in the first place to make tiered skirts for tribal bellydance. The first such I made had 32 fabric widths in the bottom tier. And nine tiers, although I think only seven of them ended up being ruffled. So from my rather warped perspective, this is hardly any gathering at all

Red Dress

So I decided to play with my new, inexpensive, and untested gathering foot (Here’s a post contrasting the two). I popped it on, measured some 10″ lengths on scraps of the cotton, played with my stitch-length and tension settings, and after about three tries managed to get a gathering ratio approximating 2:1. Good enough. I began gathering.

I think I’m not going to become a huge fan of the gathering foot. It’s not awful. In fact, compared to some of the shit fits my ruffler has thrown, it was possitively easy to use. But the resulting gathering is not particularly even; it’s highly susceptible to the slightest difference in how I hold the fabric in front of the foot (crowding the needle vs. letting the fabric lie flat). The main thing I like about mechanical gathering with the ruffler over my preferred semi-manual technique (where you zig-zag over a supplementary thread… the zig-zag acts as a casing for the thread drawstring which you can pull up later) is that you don’t have to futz over the gathering being even, even if it may not be the exact ratio you wanted it to be. The gathering foot didn’t seem to have this evenness, and even worse it was pretty tricky to try to re-distribute the gathers after the fact. For the lining, I didn’t care, but I wasn’t enthused about using it for something that will actually be seen. It did turn out about the right length overall, so that’s good anyway, and it was quite fast.

I did give myself one further complication, which is that I had designed the bottom front of the bodice to dip down to a V. I love this feature a ridiculous amount, but it takes a bit of mental gymnastics to figure out how to reflect this on the gathered side of the skirt. At least, without sitting down and making an actual pattern and spreading it the required amount, which sounds suspiciously too much like work. Instead, I roughly measured the depth of the “V” (minus seam allowance) down from the top of skirt centre front, and free-handed an arch going from the skirt CF to side-seam. Good enough for government work, as my mother says.

For the outer skirt, I used my preferred semi-manual gathering method, mentioned above. I use this for “moderate” amounts of gathering, or larger amounts (like this) where I value precision of the resulting dimension over precision of every little gather. I gathered the over-skirt to match the width of the underskirt, and stitched them together. Really, fairly easy peasy.

Twirling

Then, I did something I haven’t done since Tyo was a baby. I hand gathered the entire skirt front (both layers, and hand-basted it to the bodice. WTF? you are asking. I agree. But we were watching Sucker Punch with the kids last night and I could do the gathering and basting by hand without totally ditching the rest of the family. Normally I’d prefer to be hemming in such a situation, but I wasn’t quite sure of the finished length so I didn’t want to get ahead of myself and hand-hem four widths of fabric to the wrong length. I wound up shortening it by several inches, so it’s just as well I didn’t try this.

Possibly I should also have hand-basted the back to the shirring, as that was a beast to do accurately and took a couple of goes. But, water under the bridge. Man, I’m just full of platitudes today. If I can throw “a stitch in time saves nine,” in before the end of the post, I’ll be flying. Well, except that that’s one I rarely follow. It’s still good advice, though.

Red Dress

I am a little concerned that the combination of the front ruching with the full skirt have pushed this past “sundress” territory into the hinterlands of “something to wear to a summer wedding.” Since I don’t expect to be attending any weddings this summer, this would be unfortunate. I may just have to suck it up and be ridiculously overdressed (after all, it wouldn’t be the first time).I wasn’t actively going for a “vintage” look when I made this dress. Although maybe that’s an inevitable reference for any full-skirted, tight-bodiced dress these days. Anyway, pairing it with the shrug just turns the “vintage” look up to eleven. It goes, though, doesn’t it? This shrug is ridiculously versatile. Seriously, I wear it with EVERYTHING. I need about five more.All that gathering in the skirt interacts a bit oddly with the back bodice, despite my best efforts to reinforce the bottom of the shirring with some sturdier elastic, but it’s probably not something most people would notice (dazzled as they will be by the swishy, full skirt, right?)Incidentally, the length is only sightly below my knee. Tyo was standing on the picnic table to take the photos, so they’re from more of a downward angle than usual. I’m wearing the fluffy petticoat as well as the tiered lining.And obviously I need some red heels.

Final project and inspiration. I think I need a fluffier petticoat.

*I normally try very hard to resist the obvious sewing puns. I have never intentionally substitued “sew” for “so”. This one slipped through. I humbly apologize.

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Some detours and a teaser

Immersion Works!

The rambling bit:

Today is the last day of school for my children. Syo wrote this touching little goodbye note to her beloved teacher this past weekend, amid a not inconsiderable number of tears. I may (or may not) have mentioned before that my children are educated in the French Immersion system here in Canada. Established in the late 70s or early 80s (I think as an effort to reduce tensions between the Two Solitudes, aka English Canada and French Canada), what it means is that in most areas of Canada, as part of the public school system, you can opt to have your children educated in French.  Incidentally, I went through nine years of the system myself, and although I wouldn’t currently call myself fluent I’m pretty sure I could become so in fairly short order if the opportunity arose. An interesting side-effect of learning French in school, however, is that the French you learn has rather more to do with “proper” French (i.e. as it’s spoken in France) than colloquial Québecois French, or any of the much smaller regional Canadian French dialects. I do much better comprehending TV programs from France than from Québec (although best of all, natch, is other non-native speakers who actually take their time with the words), and was once told I had a “Parisian” accent (although she may just have been flattering me…)

What Tyo meant to write above was “Au revoir, Mme G. Bonne fin de semaine. Je t’aime.” (“Good bye Mrs. G. Have a good weekend! I love you.”) What she actually wrote would translate, to the extent that you can translate words this mangled, as “Gurdlebee Mrs. G.  Good hungry week. I you love.” How did I listen to her speaking all year and not realize she was putting an “L” in “au revoir”? (Hopefully you won’t judge the French Immersion teaching quality too badly by my children’s ability.  My family seems to specialize in late-blooming, academically. I went from nearly flunking Gr. 3 to having an off-the scale reading level by Gr. 6.)

The sewing bit:

… anyway. I do actually have sewing to report. For those of you who are bored by the family-blogging, I apologize, I’ll be kidless for most of the next month so it should be all me-sewing, all the time (unless I break down and make something for the hubby). The little zippered pouches are done (whew!)  and have been sent off to their well-deserving teachers. All that remains kid-project-wise now are the little dresses for my nieces.

Red sundress bodice

So of course, instead of working on them I started on my red polkadot sundress. It’s based very, very loosely on the Katjusha pattern off Burdastyle. Although the shirred back piece theoretically makes fitting a snap, I did not find this to be the case. Although I’m pretty much a Burda size 36 (or possibly 18 with monkey-arms and giraffe legs), I am not exactly the typical shape. A quick muslin of the front pieces showed that I needed to reduce the bust curve substantially. Fortunately I’d omitted the darts in the side-front pieces (I’m not sure why it has both darts and princess-seams, but happily leaving the darts out meant that the waist was actually large enough). I also reduced the arching of the top of the front. I should’ve omitted it entirely; although I like this feature in theory, as you can see in my inspiration sketch below, I always find the shape or proportions are off, at least for my figure, when I try it in practice. I lengthened the bodice below the waist, too, so that the skirt will begin down on the hip. Then , having achieved something approximating fit, I (rather unscientifically) doubled the length of the centre front panel so that it could be gathered to form a ruched front. Because Amber got me thinking about them with her swimsuit post and, well, despite the fact that more bulk through the midriff is the last thing I need, I like the look. More importantly, I like the look on my actual body, not just on my theoretical bombshell body.

Shirring!

Then I shirred the back, which is a simple double-thickness rectangle. This takes forever, but is pleasantly mindless while listening to a good podcast. It took about three bobbins full of elastic thread, and seems to have majorly thrown off my bobbin tension (oops!), but other than that worked quite well. I’ve never had a problem shirring on my Janome. Although it does some odd things to the polkadots!

I got the back shirred panel attached, tried it on, and realized that even the reduced arch of the front was totally wrong for me. So I flipped it back inside out and tried to straighten out the stitching, ruining my careful understitching in the process, but at least it’s closer to straight-across now. I also should have shortened the waist (gee, big surprise). Foolish me, I figured on a dress like this I would just tug the dress higher, but it’s not just the position of the waist, it’s the angle. As a part of being short-waisted, my waist indentation (such as it is) is quite abrupt; the waist curve on the pattern is much longer and more sinuous; sort of the difference between < and c, if you see what I mean. Lesson learned.

My inspiration sketch again. Of course, the dress is obviously different from this already...

I forgot to make and attach the straps to the front before I stitched front and lining/facing together. Oops. They will have to be tacked on after, now. The shirring ensures it stays up fairly well even without straps, but experience has taught me that I’m never very comfortable in strapless tops. Too much fussing and worrying.

Now, I need to tackle the skirt. I was thinking circle, but with an extra-wide waist so it could be gathered, but the amount of fabric left seemed minimal for achieving this look. So I am going with a dirndl. I may regret this.

The Me-Made June Bit:

June 28

Today is slated to be the hottest day of the year yet, with a high of 28C (oddly predicted to be reached at 8 pm tonight, I think the weather people are smoking some crack but we’ll see.). In celebration I have busted out my most summery of summeries, this 70s-pattern maxi I made up last summer. You know how some things you put on and think “this looks home-made”? Well, this is one of them. Which isn’t to say that I don’t like it or that I did a poor job of sewing it (although there are a couple of oopses), but something about the narrow elastic and the gathered back just look homey to me. On the up-side, it’s the perfect pool-side pretty (to steal Ali’s phrase), as far as I’m concerned. I have promised myself at least five minutes this afternoon sitting in the sun in the back yard with some iced tea. If I close my eyes, I can pretend there’s a pool around somewhere.

Even more making up for the home-made feeling is the fact that last summer someone stopped me on the street while I was wearing this dress and asked where I had bought it. When I told her I had made it, she asked if I sold them.

So I guess it’s not all bad.

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Happy Birthday to Syo!

Syo's dress, by Tyo.

Technically, I guess today she should become Eyo (the Eight-Year-Old). But for the sake of continuity, not to mention because Tyo will become the Eleven-Year-Old in another month, I’m going to stick with the nicknames as is.

Relatively little has been cleaned up from the birthdays (to my husband’s dismay), but sewing has happened! Tyo put the final touches on Syo’s present and we wrapped it up.

The kids have also been stitching madly away at these:

Pouches!

They are almost done. Whew! It would’ve been so much simpler to do them all on my own. But that would be defeating the point, etc. etc. Syo decided she wanted the blue and pink flannel fabric (top left) for the outside of hers; it’s lining the others.

What, Syo modelling her dress? Well, if you insist!

A well-dressed child

The fringe along the bottom is a length that appeared in one of the Value Village baggies. I stitched it on for Tyo… it was just less of a headache that way.

I am disappointed to report that she is less than thrilled with the dress. The reason? “It’s not tight enough. Tight is cute.”

Ah, yes. I had forgotten that.

Erm, she may have picked up that perception from me. Ooops.

Anyway, I think the dress is adorable.

In Me-Made June news:

June 27

Yup. Still lounging amid the remnants of the kids’ birthday party on the weekend.

I was (perhaps overly) excited about the weather forecast today and dressed for SUMMER. Of course, I spent most of the day in the chilly indoors freezing my legs off. My bad.

70s Tunic
Lekala sailor shorts Which you can’t actually see, but I promise you they’re there.

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I am tired (and other reminiscences)

Still breathing! (MMJ 26)

But victorious. Children arrived, milled around, played, ran, jumped on the trampoline, scraped elbows and knees, bumped each other jumping, got splinters, roasted hot-dogs, opened presents, lined up (!) for ice-cream cake, and  eventually were reclaimed by their parents (even the ones who slept over and were claimed this morning). I am SO thankful for the two friends who stuck by me through it all, and as a bonus the hubbykins was able to get off work a bit early so arrived in time to oversee the present-opening and cake-eating. The sun was warm although the air was cooler (high of 18C); water-balloons were tossed around but I managed to fend off the suggestion that the sprinkler should be put on under the trampoline.  Oh, and Tyo got a hedgehog.

Forgive the poor scan and indifferent photoshopping.

Tomorrow is Syo’s actual birthday. Which means that the photo above was taken eight years ago today. I was having teeny-tiny contractions at ten-minute intervals all through the photo-shoot, and remember wondering if that meant real labour was imminent or if it would just go away on its own. It was still a good ten days before my due-date, but that’s longer than I was pregnant with Tyo. I made the purple choli (cropped shirt) I am wearing and the belt, although you can’t see much of that but the tassles. One very artistic friend drew the designs on my belly in eyeliner and lip pencil.

Purple choli (back view)

My sewing back then was what I’d call “costume grade”—functional, occasionally fancy, but largely devoid of seam-finishes and other fine-touches.

Unfinished seams, showing sideseam including underarm gusset. I did a decent job on the bottom ties/binding, though.

The pattern I used for this was essentially an early version of the one now available from Folkwear, although my A/B cup version lacks the bottom triangles, relying on the magic of bias stretch to fit around the bust. In more recent iterations I adapted it into a full princess-seam in the front, but this version has a straight  over-bust seam. This wasn’t the first choli I made, but it might be the second or third; I had learned (the hard way) to be careful of the bias-stretch on the front neckline and to double-fold my hems at neck and sleeve. I think the fabric was left over from a project I helped my cousin make; the rest of the remnants had become a self-drafted jumper-dress for Tyo, which included a facing (I had never done a facing before).

Earrings

I thought I’d show you a better photo of the earrings I wore the last couple of days, as they’re hand- made (by my mother, granted, not me). The little man is an antique ivory figurine my mother had kicking around forever (I wonder if he originally had something decorative in his navel… the hole in his belly-button is quite deep, but doesn’t go all the way through.) Then in the late eighties or early nineties some family friends returned from Zaire and gave my mom the malachite elephant. This was around the time when everyone was making beaded jewelry (I’ve commented on my mom’s serial crafting before),  so it seemed only natural to hunt down a couple of other beads and create our African earrings. I remember discussing with my mother how the long bone and the round malachite bead echoed the  respective shapes of the two pendants. I miss bouncing design ideas around with her—we used to do it about everything, from clothing to jewelry to the arrangement of furniture in the house. I hope I can have those kinds of conversations with my own daughters soon enough.

Anyway, I should now return to cleaning my house, so that Syo and I can make biscuits (scones for the British readers) and maybe even get started on the teachers’ presents. My kids have between them five teachers who need presents. They’re all wonderful ladies, but it still seems a bit excessive to me. It’s not like they’re middle-schoolers with a teacher for every subject.

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Honest, Officer!

Fabricland Sale Scores (a small part of the total)

That  fabric just threw itself in front of me!

It’s been a bad week on the fabric front. Or a good one, depending on your perspective. Fabricland had their Canada Day sale early, so almost everything in the store was 50% off. Cue time to stock up on lining, interfacing, and other basics. And there was a whole rack of stretch denim in various bright, springy colours—and I went with cream. Boring, I know, but these are totally becoming some awesome capris as soon as I have time to sit down to sew without my head spinning round. There will be piping*. And of course some more black coating for the jacket the hubby wants, which I’ll get to some day. Gawd.

Thrift Store Scores

Then, after dropping Tyo’s birthday treat off to her classroom yesterday (it HAD to be ice-cream bars. Which of course she couldn’t just take on the school bust with her, they’d be melted long before she got to school), I stopped by my Value Village. I wasn’t expecting much (having been just a few days ago) but it’s on the way home.

Apparently after my last visit (when there was no fabric worth mentioning) they busted out the good stuff. I walked out with 3m of sturdy black non-stretch denim (I may have to break down and make my hubby a pair), a similar amount of something that feels like a very lightweight wool, and about a kajillion metres of white starched cotton with this interesting bit of lacework (that only barely shows in the photo) on the one end. That may in fact be hand-worked lace, although I don’t know enough about such things to be sure. And some nifty notions, including tracing paper and a bunch of heavy-duty snaps and rivets.

Kid-Mades in progress

A bit of the kid-sewing has gotten done. Tyo’s almost finished Syo’s present (the white), although since the party is today I’m not 100% sure the last bits will get done. I opted to have her make it underlined, so I serged the voile to the gauze along the major edges and had her do the seams.  This also pre-finished the edges and took care of her rather, ah, ragged cutting job. Syo did a bit of  work on the dresses for the nieces, meaning we got them cut out, managing to remember that we really need all the fairies with their heads pointing up (bloody directional prints). Cutting two different sizes of the same dress at the same time is actually useful for fabric conservation, though, as you can put the front of the smaller size beside the back of the larger size and vice versa and get a little lest waste. Which is good since I only had about 1m of this stuff.

Don’t tell Tyo I said it, but Syo’s a bit better at this sewing thing. She pays more attention to things like sewing her seams straight and keeping her seam-allowances accurate.

In Me-Made June news:

June 24

June 24

Hmm, this is a Me-Made record: four items. Only because I’m wearing two toppers, but anyway.

Cropped Jean Jacket
Vintage Shrug
Boring yet incredibly useful tank-top
Gored knit skirt

I don’t wear this skirt much, partly because I really only have the one shirt (the tank top) that I think it really works with. Not quite sure why that is. The jean jacket colour-scheme is a bit out of place with this outfit, but my other jackets were all too warm, while I wasn’t quite ready to leave the house just with the shrug.
I’m happy to report that the shrug, which has been getting a LOT of use, survived its first machine washing unscathed, even with the large snag in the back I had to clip. I should make about three more of these, seriously.

June 25

June 25

Today, I will be wrangling 23 children for five hours (a double-decker end-of-school-year birthday party). Fortunately I think I’ve bribed at least a couple of other mothers to hang out with me (the hubby’s at work), but it’s still going to be insane. Wish me well. I was tempted to dress fancy, but I’m thinking comfort and ease of movement are the way to go. Especially as there’s a reasonable chance I’ll have to dodge water-balloons this afternoon.

Winged Cardi
JJ blouse (my first me-made everyday wearable! A little over a year old now, it’s holding up well despite its unfinished seams.
Bell-bottoms

And now, I’d better get cleaning before the hordes descend…

*inspired by details on some of my kids’ jeans. Seriously, kids’ jeans have the BEST details. Grown-up ones are so boring by comparison…

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Who wears short shorts?

Shorts! ...ulp.

Um, I do. For a very long time a 1″ inseam was my standard. And while I’ve gotten considerably more shy about my midriff over the past decade, my legs have stood the test of time up much better. They remain one of my favourite physical features. (Not to toot my own horn)

Of course, the last few years I haven’t had much opportunity to wear shorts, period. The summers here are, well, chilly by my standards (blame elevation or proximity to the mountains or just a run of bad luck); it only broke 30C once last summer. Add that to spending my days in an air-conditioned lab and, well, shorts just kinda got left for weekends and visits home. (The two or possibly three people reading this from my home town can protest all you like that your summers have been beastly the last couple of years. They were still better than the summers here.)

Lekala 5465 Sailor Shorts, pattern here.

Anyway, my shorts history aside, this seemed like a good way to tackle the fit of the Lekala pants block without sacrificing a huge amount of fabric (obviously I was not thinking in terms of topstitching- and machine-rethreading-time). I may also have been feeling kid-project-ed-out. Or possibly crack smoking was involved*. Anyway. For whatever reason (reason really played no role in this decision), the other day I found myself printing out the pattern (only nine pages!) and laying out the pieces on the denim remnant left over from my bellbottoms.

One bonus to this particular set of pants is that the directions on the Lekala website have, in fact, been translated to English. Now, I think translating sewing directions has to be one of the hardest things in the world, as the technical terms are both a) highly specialized and b) unique to each language (translating scientific stuff, on the other hand, is much easier, since most of the important words come from Latin anyway. I don’t speak a word of German but can still often pull the major details I need out of a German research paper. Not so a German issue of Burda.) All that being said, I made it to about halfway through step 6 before my brain blew out. I had no idea what they were trying to get me to do.

What exactly are you telling me to do?

So I stood there with my pieces, laying one on top of the other, this way up, that way up, trying to figure out what to do.

There was a slit involved. I knew that much.

In the end I didn’t do it exactly right—the piece which they call the “Fly Panel Facing” (this would’ve been more helpful if the names of the pieces on the pattern hadn’t still been written in Cyrillic) is supposed to lap out and make a little overlap on the front, which I didn’t get. I’m still not sure how you would make the bottom of that neat, by the way, without adding a crapload of bulk, anyway). But I did manage to get the fly panel and the four “inner front parts” together. I am too lazy to actually put together a tutorial for how I did it—if you really feel the need to make this pattern, I can do one, but I’d really recommend you make the 5742 pants into shorts instead. Or use this tutorial for creating a sailor-button look with a continuous lap placket. Or even pay for the Hot Patterns pattern (which I haven’t used but have seen some very nice pairs made up). Or, y’know, email me and I’ll do my best.

WTF?

What it basically came down to, though, is that you end up with a slash down the middle of each front piece, with the “Fly Panel Facing” making a facing for the inner side of the pants and the “Inner front parts” sandwiching the edge of the slit, some frighteningly narrow seam allowances (I had to re-stitch several of mine), and nothing but a bit of fusible interfacing reinforcing the bottom of the slit. And I’m not convinced there’s anything at all you can do about this with this kind of pattern, unless you incorporate a front seam (as they did in the 5742 pants) or add a seam from the bottom of the slash over to the side, maybe with a pocket in it. Maybe I’ll try something like that next time.

So that’s my issue with the pattern itself. On to my own failings.

Crappy topstitching AND buttonholing!

Partly because I was really unhappy with the slit feature, and partly because I was trying to slug away at the piece and get it done before I had to reathread the machine for a kajllion kids’ projects, I sorta gave up trying hard. My topstitching around the inner part of the front fly panel isn’t symmetrical. I didn’t place my buttonholes properly, AT ALL (at least the topstitching I can fix if I come to my senses). My machine really doesn’t like zig-zagging with the top-stitching thread, so the buttonholes themselves are pretty dodgy as well (I tried buttonholer attachment, machine’s proper attachment, and manual—it just really doesn’t like to zig-zag with heavy thread). I added patch pockets to the rear, mostly on the principle that my butt needs as much decoration as it can get. Those are actually all right, although I forgot to do any topstitching designs before I sewed them on, so they look a little plain.

So those are my issues, purely self-inflicted. I should’ve taken more time, been more careful, not expected to bang out a pair of jean-shorts in a couple of hours. One thing the instructions do emphasize is topstitching carefully and evenly.

On me: front

And in the end, I don’t really like the shorts at all, for a reason that has nothing to do with the design features, the construction quality, or the instructions.

I don’t like the rise.

Now, the pattern illustration shows a moderately low rise. It’s hard to gauge things like this from illustrations (or even other peoples’ bodies, rise being a fairly individual thing). And I like low rise. The problem is, I like low rise.

These are more like mid-rise. They fall just below my navel. This is at least an inch or two above where I like my waistbands to fall, as it hits right in the middle of my jubbly bits. I’d rather have my waistband lower, where my hip gets bony. I realize that this isn’t most people’s preference, but it works for me, with my particular narrow-hipped, short-waisted body.

On me: side view

The bright spot of light in this is that the fit itself is more-or-less perfect. I didn’t even have to make any kind of gaposis adjustment to the back, which I had to in both the Ellen pants and the Jalie 2908 jeans (granted I think the Jalie pattern is drafted to the flattest common denominator, possibly because they figured this was an easier adjustment to make than the flat-butt adjustment). The only alteration I made upon trying them on was to take in the outseam of the leg a little bit below the hip, so they are not quite so loose around the thigh.  Which is more of a style issue, again, than a fit issue. The illustration shows quite loose, slouchy shorts, rather than my sturdy denim version (and the fabric they call for is “sheer flax”, by which I assume they mean a lightweight linen. They use the word “linen” for fabric.)

I also used a smaller number of buttons than called for, because it “looked right” and I thought it would be okay on the denim. So there’s a bit of gaping that shouldn’t be there. Lesson learned.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the finished inseam wound up being about 2.5″.

Finished interior, with bonus threads. I'll snip those some time when I give a shit.

I don’t even know for sure that the rise will be an actual wearability problem, since I wouldn’t normally tuck a shirt into these anyway.

Oh, yeah… the pattern also calls for a zipper. I have no idea where this is supposed to go or why it would even be necessary.

In Me-Made June news, here’s yesterday’s outfit.

Me-Made June 23

This photo was taken in the glorious sunshine about five seconds before the clouds rolled in and the winds picked up. I was expecting one of our June thunderstorms, but it never quite materialized. Maybe today (if not tomorrow in the midst of the kids’ birthday party).

70s Tunic
Jalie 2908 CaprisHmm, tired of these yet? Obviously I need some other pairs… (and it just so happens I got some summery cream stretch twill at the Fabricland Canada Day sale yesterday…)

Oh, the earrings are a pair my mother and I put together back when we were making jewelry when I was in high-school. The bottom is a little malachine elephant a friend brought back from Zaire.
*Disclaimer: I do not now, nor have I at any point, smoked actual crack. Or been been in a room where crack was being smoked. Or seen crack, except on a movie. I didn’t even smoke pot in high school, which is practically a rite of passage.**

**largely because my friends all smoked pipes and I was too embarrassed to admit I didn’t know how to use a lighter. Yes, those cheap Bic lighters. It wasn’t until I had been married to a smoker for several years that I learned how to use one. Mostly by practicing when he wasn’t around.

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The littlest sweatshop, I mean, seamstress.

Dresses for nieces

The children have decided (however temporarily) that hanging out in the sewing room is their new favourite way to spend time with mom. This may just be because it’s easier to get me to pay attention to them when we’re making something together. We have all kinds of projects planned—dresses for my nieces, zippered pouches for their teachers—all of which need to be completed in the next week or so. I foresee evenings of toil and drudgeryI mean bonding and quality time.

Shh! It's a secret!

This would be work enough (especially since we have the massive birthday party from hell on Saturday: both kids’ parties at once, so roughly 20 kids aged 8-11 running around the house and yard for five hours while my husband is at work. Probably water-balloons and the lawn sprinkler will be involved at some point), but Tyo also wants to make Syo a dress for her birthday. That is a surprise. As in, it can only be worked on when Syo isn’t in the sewing room. See the first sentence as to why this is a problem. Out of the leftover fabric from my 70s tunic, which of course requires lining and nice seam finishes and stuff. I’m not 100% convinced she knows what she’s in for. For those of you to whom kid-related sewing is absolutely mind-numbing and irrelevant, I apologize. This may not be a good week for you.

Teacher-present fabrics

Also, the hunt for teacher-present-fabrics led to spending a dangerous amount of time in the quilting section, something I generally avoid like the plague. Apparently this is where they keep all the nice prints (I’m much more favourable about prints when I’m not trying to imagine myself wearing them, I guess). This is especially dangerous as I have twee-little-sundresses on the brain. For which quilting cottons could actually be appropriate.

So what did I do yesterday?

Lekala sailor shorts

I decided, on a whim, to take a stab at Lekala  5465, a set of sailor-buttoned shorts.

I haven’t tried making sailor shorts, so I can’t really compare various methods, but I really don’t like this one. It doesn’t help that I didn’t really do it right, but basically there’s a point of weakness at the bottom of the slash that I don’t think anything is really going to fix.

The shorts (in progress)

I tried to compensate with excessive bar-tacking.

Depending on how incompetent I feel when I finish these, I may go into the construction process and how I screwed up. Or I may just throw them in the wadder-bin. I did take a lot of in-progress photos, though.

In Me-Made June news,

June 22

Yesterday was easily the nicest day of the year yet. The high was 25C (that’s like almost 80 F!), which since we’re still inured to barely-double-digits felt like heaven (or hell, to hear Syo tell it… that child does not like being hot.) I took the opportunity to wear my lace T-shirt dress

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Filed under Sewing