Monthly Archives: July 2013

Interlude

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While I grapple with the enormity that is wedding sewing and try to put together something resembling a coherent post (hah!), let me entertain you, however fleetingly, with a top Syo made herself.

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It is drapy and cute and I just might want one. It comes from the “tying knots in fabric until it fits” school of fashion design, which I suspect is the oldest such school. We then replaced the knots with a few serged seams, because that was easier than threading the sewing machine.

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I think I could use a few of these projects myself…

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Can’t Blog

Wedding will eat me.

I am sewing madly—hopefully I remember some of what I’ve done when I have time to blog about it.

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W-day is Saturday.

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The Home Alone Dress

What's that?

What’s that?

I have fifty million things I’m supposed to be doing (like, um, sewing a wedding dress!). So what did I do when my husband and kids left me behind while they went to the lake for the weekend?

Why, I made something that was barely on the queue!

Butterick 6890 is cute and has been marinating for a while, but there are plenty of patterns ahead of it in the queue. But when I found myself with a house to myself and the itch to sew something selfish, I did something a bit unusual—I started from the fabric.

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Butterick 6890

My typical MO is to move from pattern to fabric to project. This is mostly because I have my patterns catalogued electronically and it’s easy to paw through them and pick one, whereas I’ve been far more lax about my fabric. The problem with this approach, of course, is that it’s not an optimal way to use up stash fabric, and tends to result in me just buying more fabric for the new project. Anyway, this wasn’t an option on a precious solo Saturday night.

I had a lot of constraining criteria. I wanted a pattern that was pre-cut, one I could use with minimal alterations, and not have to trace. It had to be a pattern I could ACTUALLY find in the flesh. Once I pulled out this piece of glorious polkadot stretch denim, which I picked up just after Christmas and thoughtfully pre-washed at some point (thank you, past Tanit!,) I had only just over a metre of my chosen fabric, so it had to be a SMALL pattern.

Butterick

Butterick 6890

Butterick 6890 fit the bill in a lot of ways. It was short. It was pre-cut. It’s a Junior Teen size which means I didn’t have to petite the bodice. It was a size 11/12, which has a 32″ bust—a bit small for me, but I was pretty sure the stretch would more than make up for that. I did a small square-shoulders adjustment, and a somewhat bigger swayback adjustment, and got cutting. It became obvious almost immediately that while I can sew up a Junior Petite pattern almost without alterations to the bodice, the Junior Teen size-range is pushing it a bit more. I wound up sewing the shoulder-seams and underbust seam with 1/4″ seam allowances to get as much height as I possibly could. It worked, but barely. I am also, ah, rather bustier than the Junior Teen draft. While this is a nice problem to have for once, I had to add some hasty tucks under the bust (perhaps making proper darts would’ve been better, but I was in a hurry), and correspondingly narrow the front skirt. I also added some more shaping to the back seam, which helped a lot. Oh, and the stretch meant I could leave off the zipper, too!

Back

Back

I still didn’t have enough fabric for the sleeves or facings, and the bodice back includes a good chunk of the selvedge. I considered alternative fabrics for the sleeves, but the only colour I liked enough with the grey, a pale pink, I had barely enough to make the sash ties out of. I really, really wanted to do a piped finish on the neckline and arms anyway. I was SO relieved when a scour of my notions stash turned up the bias tape left over from my Last Sundress of last year (which is totally my fave thing to wear when it’s super hot*, and also the perfect dress to wear to the outdoor pool. ) It was the perfect greyish-pink shade, and even not too different from my sash fabric!

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Piped finish

I made one major booboo early on—when trying on the bodice I didn’t stabilize the neckline first—oops! So it’s a bit stretched out and tends to gape if I don’t stand perfectly straight, especially after the disaster that was my first attempt at finishing the edge (which involved attempting to bind it with straight-grain fabric pieces from the scraps from the sash.)  But once I found the bias tape and did a REAL piped edge, it worked really well. To get a clean (if not couture) finish, I serged the raw edges of neckline + piping, pressed them to thei nside, and topstitched. Voila!

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Bias-faced hem, hand-stitched

A topstitched hem would probably have been appropriate for denim, but, well, I was in love with the way the pink bias tape worked with the grey. And I’m kinda in love with bias-faced hems… anyway. this is what my finished hem looks like, with a fun peep of pink on the inside.

Lounging

You can see the underbust tucks in this photo.

I don’t think I can describe how much happier and more relaxed I feel, having accomplished a wee bit of selfish sewing. And I’m so glad I got this finished, even if I did stay up rather past my bedtime to get it done.

Posing

Posing. You can see the neckline gape here.

*Super hot by Canadian standards. Which is low 30s C, so far this year. I know this falls short of truly brutal tropical heat. It’s scrumptious.

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Close enough to taste

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The dress for Epona’s maid of honour (AKA my Stylish sister-in-law) is at the finishing touches. A bit of hemming and hand-stitching and a lot of pressing remain, but the all-important try-on stage has been reached.

Yeah, that’s obviously not Stylish modeling it for these crappy bathroom mirror pics. That’s just me. We are roughly the same size on the top half—I think my shoulders are broader, and her waist is narrower, but neither of those are really issues in this dress. There’s a bit more ease in the skirt than I can fill out, of course. I still think it looks pretty good, better in real life than in the pics. Much better than my attempted pre-zip try on. What is it about a zipper that just pulls everything together?

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Thank you everyone who weighed in on the chiffon hems the other day—you inspired me to wind up some bobbins and give a proper serger rolled hem a try. It worked like a charm, allowing for the usual sampling. Aside from the part where I realized the grey thread I was using wasn’t actually the grey I bought to match the fabric, but another, rather lighter, one that had been kicking around from some other project. Oopsie. I’m still debating on the beaded trim… it’s gorgeous, but really heavy compared to the chiffon.

Of course, once I finish this, the real terror begins. The lace for the wedding dress (which will be an overlay over the skirt, much like the chiffon in the maid of honour’s dress) has arrived. Can you say “Ulp?” It’s heavy, luxe, and beaded all to hell. I am terrified.

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Enough for a night.

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I really wanted to have this dress done today. That was my plan. But we went for breakfast at my dads’, then washed the car, then had a quick visit with friends passing through town, then I had to clean the kitchen before I could cut on the floor (so much for #sewdontclean) and, having just picked out ANOTHER seam, I think it’s time to call bedtime. I can do the rest tomorrow, if I have to.

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In case you’re confused, this will be the maid of honour’s dress for Epona’s wedding—AKA Stylish’s dress. The pattern is Butterick 3441, the same base as we’re using for the wedding dress, but with considerably fewer modifications—really just adding a chiffon overlay to the skirt.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’m a bit of a wuss when it comes to fabric selection. I like cottons. Denim. Wool. Fabrics that are satisfying, fun, and easy to work with. Satin is always out of my comfort zone, although I think it’s a sign of some kind of improvement that it’s not totally making me want to throw my machine out the window.

The chiffon, on the other hand….

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argh. And yes, I know there are eight million things I could be doing (like starching the crap out of it, or dipping it in gelatin) to make it easier to deal with and I just can’t be bothered, which is, of course, counterproductive. Anyway. I don’t even want to go into how much chiffon-hem-sampling I’ve done today. I should probably do it on the serger, but I don’t have any matching serger thread. I’ll keep it in mind if I decide I really can’t stand my regular baby hems, though. They’re pretty bad. If I do end up using this beaded trim to cover them, I won’t care, but if it’s too heavy (it is too heavy, but I think I might like that, plus it’s SO luxe) they’re really not adequate at this particular moment if there’s any chance someone might actually see them. Argh.

The piping, at least, went in well, with much less puckering than in the wedding-dress trial.

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And I’m quite happy with how my little loop for the back-of-neck button turned out. I’m really liking making skinny bias tubes in satin. They turn so nicely.

This is what Tyo was doing when I finally threw in the towel. At 10:00 pm she was frustrated that we wouldn’t let her go out and ride her bike, so she went out in the back yard to “do something productive,” aka paint.

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Have I mentioned I love summer?

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Manshirting

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I finally managed to snag some shots of Osiris wearing his Vogue 8889 shirt. It’s a little rumpled from being worn, but the man takes camera shy to a whole new level so I’ll take what I can get.

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The fit through the shoulders is great. I took Kbenco’s experience to heart and downsized two sizes at the waist to get an actual slim, fitted shape (my husband’s chest-waist ratio is closer to the Misses’ pattern sizing than the mens). I should perhaps have been a little more thoughtful about how I did this—the way the pattern pieces are nested, the amount I removed at each seam wasn’t entirely even. But I like the overall look.

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I knew (ok, guessed) from past experience that I would need to lengthen the sleeves. I added two inches, but one would’ve been plenty. Fortunately, Osiris, like me, has been scarred by a lifetime of too-short sleeves, so feels the longer, the better. I should’ve shortened the body, as well (like me, he’s all limb) and enlarged the collar, which is about an inch and a half small. I do wish more men’s shirt patterns had separate measurements given for the collar, as that’s an important fit-point and not hard to do. Or maybe it’s buried in there somewhere… I must admit I don’t find the Vogue patterns the easiest to parse. Anyway, all easy fixes for the next shirt, and he’s not the sort to ever button up his collar anyway.

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I do so love those shoulder tucks, even if they are off-grain and so impossible to get perfectly smooth. The slightly rumpled look works well for this fabric, which is a thickish, textured cotton that I love to bits. It’s casual, and does rumpled well. I used a light-grey topstitching, and the method from the Colette Negroni instructions to do the flat-felling. The Vogue instructions were pretty terse.

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I also kinda love the fold-over button placket for one reason: it makes it REALLY easy to figure out which side to do your buttonholes on!

Most importantly, Osiris seems to like the shirt even more than I do. He’s generally pretty good about wearing the shirts I’ve made him, as long as they meet his requirements (round collar, no pockets, long-enough sleeves), but this one is getting almost constant wear since it was finished. Of course, the fact that summer has finally arrived and it’s the perfect fabric to be both cool and covered and comfortable might have something to do with that, too…

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Dresses

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This is the pattern Epona and I eventually settled on for the majority of the bridesmaid’s dresses. It wasn’t our original choice, but it had two features I liked: first, it’s an in-print, inexpensive New Look pattern, so it was easy to pick up multiple copies for the multiple sizes, and secondly it’s a knit, which eased my other-person-fitting-stress quite a bit.

I started out with my own version, fortunately, because it’s a dog’s breakfast of rushed construction, mistakes, and pure stupidity (like the hole I snipped right in the back while trimming seams.) I remain not-a-fan of Big4 knit patterns (does New Look count as Big 4? It seems to be a subset of Simplicity, but then so does Burda which I know isn’t entirely so…), not least because I started with a size 10 and still had to take almost an inch off on each side. I modified the construction for the other three dresses so that the side-seams are sewn in one fell swoop, which will make adjusting the fit a whole lot easier, I hope. I sue got a lot better at sewing that V-neck. I also narrowed the ties and made the scoop around under the arm deeper, as this area seemed bulky in my version. For the bustier girls, I added a bit of clear elastic at the seam where it runs along the side-bust, in case of gaping, and a bit of an “FBA” at the bottom of the front bodice curve—hopefully that won’t turn out a complete disaster. I also raised the deeply-plunging neckline a wee bit, y’know, for those strange people who like to wear bras. Hopefully, I raised it enough/not too much.

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And pretty dresses all in a row.

I won’t say it’s my favourite dress ever—let’s be frank, I love halters on other people but never really like them on myself. (I always feel top-heavy. Which seems odd considering I don’t mind puffed sleeves. Perhaps I need to try a halter style with a big poofy fifties dirndl skirt)

But it’s progress, which is awesome, because my time frame is getting freakin’ tight here.  There’s still the maid of honour’s dress. (And the four yards of SILK CHARMEUSE is eyeballing me from its little bag)

They will have hot pink sashes held on with sparkly brooches, to complete the wedding colours, but my HOPE is that I’ve created simple little black dresses that will be re-wearable. I really, really hope. *fingers crossed*

In other news, I’m using Gutermann serger thread for the first time ever, since my Fabricland was completely out of the cheap Coats & Clark stuff I usually use (in black). Yikes was it expensive (fortunately for me, Epona was paying and it WAS a half-price sale). I’ll let you know if, y’know, choirs of angels break out singing or anything. It does seem less linty, maybe. I’m a bit of a thread snob when it comes to my regular sewing, but I’ve always been of the “use any cheap crap for the serger” mindset. We’ll see.

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