Tag Archives: in progress

Not dead.

Life.

Life.

Although that might be easier. Er, not. Quite.

Refugee serger camped out on the computerdesk. #sewdontclean

Refugee serger camped out on the computerdesk. #sewdontclean

To start with the good news, the serger survived her little bath. I left it a week, silica gel-packs stuffed inside (although it occurred to me later that the key part is probably the motor, which is actually mounted on the back, not inside where the gel packs were. I tried to get the cover off the motor but the bolts holding it on were not cooperative and I didn’t want to strip them. So I waited.) Anyway, when I finally dared to start it up a day or two ago, after cleaning and oiling (although I really don’t think the water touched anything that actually moved…), she was fine. Aside from her recurring tension problems, anyway. (I continue playing with the bit of extra thread wrapped around the  needle-thread tension disc.) The White (which is my main sewing machine right now despite being a little temperamental) has some rust on the foot pedal I don’t think was there before, but everything is working.

Wedding Dress Trial #1

Wedding Dress Trial #1

Which is good because I have a month to finish Epona’s wedding dress and five bridesmaid dresses. Holy fucking cow. And work is likely to be at least somewhat insane during that time, too. On the up side, the wedding dress itself is pretty simple (the practice version took two days to sew up, obviously I’d like a bit more time with the real thing) and I could’ve had the first of the bridesmaids dresses finished last night if I hadn’t kept stopping to watch bits of “Oz the Great and Powerful” with the kids and hubs.

Bridesmaid dress bodice... in progress

Bridesmaid dress bodice… in progress.

Which kids are done school now. so no peaceful days of working at home, unless I can manage to bribe my MIL to take them to the lake for a week or something.

Wedding dress back. I'm kinda stoked about how the lacing turned out.

Practice wedding dress back. I’m kinda stoked about how the lacing turned out.

Speaking of the children, it has now been over a decade since I was last pregnant. Happy birthday, Syo!

Syo is now ten.

Syo is now ten.

And I have a late birthday dress cut out for the Waif, but unlikely to be sewn up until the wedding is done. DAMN.

Waif's birthday dress.

Waif’s birthday dress.

Waif just turned five. It is a size 3 pattern. I added an inch of length to the bodice, but it will probably still be too wide. Going for the middle view, of course.

And as a result, I’m spending all my “free time” ogling corset forums and adding and removing things from my fantasy cart at Farthingales.

How’s your summer going, stitchers?

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Little to report, Cap’n

V8889

V8889

I got it into my head that I should sew Osiris shirts for Father’s day. Vogue 8889 shirts. Yes, two shirts. Because I’m braindead. I swear when I get these done I am not sewing anything for anyone else ever again. Oh, wait, there’s that bloody wedding dress. Shite. I hate myself, sometimes.

I’d be less grumpy except that I didn’t get ANY time to work on this last weekend. I meant to be done and on to the second shirt by now. I have a schedule here, peeps. But no, every second I wasn’t working this past weekend had to be spent barbequeuing with the family. Sheesh.

Stylish and her haul

Stylish and her haul

AND then there’s Stylish, who’s grinning like the cat who got the cream because, well, she did. My father-in-law pulled a large box of old patterns from a neighbour’s trash, all for his precious baby!

Pattern diving

Pattern diving

Ok, so I really, really enjoyed going through these patterns with her. There were some gems amid a matrix of 80s monstrosity, mostly 70s, a fair sprinkle of 60s, and even a few 50s patterns. They are well-used, but seem mostly intact. And after she had picked out the ones she wanted to keep (some of which I am totally tracing off at some point, by the way), I got to go through for ones I wanted.

Patterns for me!

Patterns for me!

It’s possible that I kept more than she did… >_< Although she is definitely developing an eye for seeing past the cover art.

Anyway, weren’t we talking about a man’s shirt? Oh, yes.

Shoulder tucks.

Shoulder tucks. Pre-ironing

My favourite feature is the shoulder tucks.  Osiris is the kind of guy who’ll wear his tux shirts around just for kicks, so from the first time I saw this detail I figured it was perfect for him. They are, though, by the nature of the pattern, off grain which makes them ripple a little unevenly. We’ll blame that, rather than my sewing skillz, K? Also, I love my wash-away fabric marker.

Yoke, with tucks.

Yoke, with tucks.

I should’ve photographed the flat-felled seams on the side-panels. They turned out rather nicely, or at least rather more nice than my previous flat-felled seam attempts. This marvelous textured cotton is probably the easiest thing to sew in the known universe, though. The topstitching (I’m using a light grey) isn’t quite perfect—I’m blaming that on inadequate lighting in my sewing dungeon, combined with the lack of working lightbulb in my Featherweight, which is the machine I’m doing the topstitching on. I should really get that poor thing a new bulb. I haven’t sewn with it since before Christmas, really, and I had forgotten how nice it is to use. I really need to re-arrange my basement workspace so… well, so I can do ANYTHING, really.

I didn’t much care for the Vogue yoke instructions. They have you slipstitch the inner shoulder in place and then topstitch. Not a burrito in sight. Sheesh. I’m still up in the air over whether I’ll do the collar. I’d kind of like to try it because it’s cute, and different from other collars I’ve done before, but on the other hand Osiris prefers his shirts mandarin-collared.

The instructions also have you sew the buttonholes after (long after) you stitch down the top and bottom end of the concealed-button-placket-covering-part. Which just seems kinda silly, so I did mine as soon as I had the placket folded up. Which is a nifty piece of fabric origami, by the way. I thought I had it, stitched, and wound up having to rip it out, but once I went and played with the actual pattern-piece the method became clear.

Secret buttonholes!

Secret buttonholes!

I used my Greist buttonholer to make the buttons. It works really well on my White machine (which is what I was sewing the non-topstitching seams on; it’s still set up for straight-stitch only from the wedding dress, and the feed dogs drop, which makes setting up the buttonholer much easier). Of course, since no one can see the buttonholes, it doesn’t matter if they’re a little manky, which makes this a super-awesome style now that I think about it.

Next up: plackets. Possibly collar. Wish me luck, down in my sewing dungeon. I’ll try for a less whiny post next time, but no promises. At least the weather has been gorgeous!

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Sampling

Charmeuse! The Horror!

Yesterday, I cut. Tonight, I am sampling. Cut what? Sampling what? Poly charmeuse for the test run of what shall, Sewing Gods willing, be the wedding dress for a friend. I’ll call her Epona since I can’t find an Egyptian deity that really suits. Anyway, in case you care, some years ago Epona and I were bridesmaids at my Stylish sister-in-law’s wedding (I was actually a last-minute sub in, which is a whole ‘nother long story). So I was pretty amused a few weeks ago when Epona asked me if I would be one of her bridesmaids, again as a rather late replacement. All we need to do now is for me to have a wedding and get Stylish and Epona to be (last minute, replacement) bridesmaids, and we’d have a perfect symmetry.* Since this seems unlikely (although I did spy a GORGEOUS vintage wedding dress at the thrift store last weekend that would, possibly, be worth having a wedding for.) We’ll get to the bridesmaid’s dresses, anyway. At  the moment, I’m much more worried about the wedding dress. The final dress will be in SILK. SILK, people.

Butterick 3441

Really, as first wedding dresses go, this one is pretty training-wheels. I mean, Cation just made a freakin’ corseted Victorian evening gown for her bestie’s wedding. All I’ve been asked to provide is a slightly-amped up version of Butterick 3441, View E. This pattern was an early thrift store score that I probably wouldn’t even glance at if I pawed over it today, but Epona wanted a halter-style dress and a perusal of the current Big 4 offerings didn’t turn up anything she liked better. All I’ve done was mirror the front piece so it could be cut on the bias more easily, (did I mention I suggested cutting the skirt on the bias?) and add a bit of a train on the back. Ok, actually, I just lengthened the skirt on view “G”, which already has a train-thing going. I have a sneaking suspicion this will not work, but we’ll see when I can actually try it on her.

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The machine of choice

I have decided, after much considering, to use my White for this project, despite it needing a bit of a motor overhaul in the worst possible way. The main reason for this is this low setting on the feed dogs, which I am told is useful for slippery, silky fabrics. Like, oh, silk charmeuse.

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Adjustable feed-dog height

Despite being a zig-zagger, it also came with a straight-stitch needleplate, which is recommended for sewing with fabrics like charmeuse because it is harder for the machine to pull the fabric down into the bobbin.  Some people suggest that it also produces a better straight stitch than the zig-zag needle plate. I’m not going to re-unscrew everything to test it out, sorry.

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Straight stitch needle-plate.

Anyway, having set up the machine and selected my needle (very small, very sharp. You may now begin laying bets on how long before I break this one. I swear I am a champion needle-breaker.), I started playing around with bias seam finishes. French seams are, of course, recommended for charmeuse, and they are pretty, but a little bulky. This poly stuff does not press well at all. (Note to self: pick up some iron sole-plate cleaner before you even THINK about pressing silk… self’s iron is disgusting.)

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Seam-finish testing.

I have three different seam-finishes here, two French seams and one stitched and serged. The French seams are obviously prettier, but they are both a little more bulky. (One has the first pass sewn with the serger in an attempt to make a very narrow French seam. It’s not really significantly narrower, though it was pleasantly fast and didn’t need to be trimmed afterward. The stitch & serge one also has less puckering, although some of the stuff I’ve been reading has suggested that silk won’t be quite as evil for puckering as the polyester is? Hey, a girl can hope.

I’m not going to go into the details of the cutting techniques since it was, frankly, rather traumatic, but I’m definitely going to sandwich the final silk between layers of tissue. I didn’t want to use any of the spray-and-wash-out methods (spray starch, gelatin) since the final silk won’t really be washable.

I’m trying to decide if I should try and hunt down a walking-foot, as I’ve heard they’re helpful for these slippery fabrics, too. I did notice in my sample seams a slight tendency to creep and ripple along the French seaming, which I can correct with some attention, but this was only a foot or so of seam; the dress skirt will be much longer than that. I’ve ogled the one for my Janome several times, it’s not terribly expensive, and I’m hopeful it would fit on the White (which has the same low shank attachment and bobbin-style as the Janome).

Anyway, if all goes well, I will be fitting a bride in this by the end of the week, and I will have learned to love, or hate, polyester charmeuse.

*I feel a little awkward in my wording, here. You see, I am married, but I never had a wedding. Which by some people’s standards may mean we’re not actually married, to which I say, go jump in a lake. “Dating” stopped being an appropriate word for my relationship with my husband, oh, sometime prior to the birth of our first child.

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Jumping in

20130422-075610.jpg

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.

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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.

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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!

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Premature Corseting

Butterick 4254

Butterick 4254

Despite a number of itty bitty things like, oh, not having ANY actual corset supplies (except eyelets, I do have eyelets), guess what I did when Osiris’s best buddy dragged him out of the house today, leaving me alone for HOURS?*) I make a mockup of Butterick 4254. After I deflated the mound of empty boxes that was occupying most of my charming new sewing dungeon space, and got the one machine that I have over here set up.  I have traced out View C, which is about as simple as it could get.

Before even starting, though, there were a couple of things I wanted to do. First was shorten the pattern above the waist. I took a 2 cm tuck across all of the pieces. The grainlines on some of them are really weird. Any experienced corset makers reading—should the grain lines go up and down relative to the piece, or relative to the corset overall? Shouldn’t those things be more or less the same thing? I confused. Anyway, for the mockups I went with the grain as drafted.

I read all the reviews on PR. Some (who appeared to be the more serious corset-wearers) found that the pattern lacked compression (i.e. it’s drafted at zero ease, not with negative ease at the waist. So the size 10 (the largest size in my envelope, and a size smaller than I normally make) has a 25″ waist, as drafted. Me being me, this is plenty of compression. I was a little less sure about the bust and hip, but willing to go with it. Several people said they found the corset short, and since I had just shortened it further, I figured I would extend it by a couple of cm all around the back.

I did not make one of my staple adjustments—a swayback adjustment. I did, however, add a bit of extra width at the high back hip.

And I made a mockup. As per the suggestions in Linda Sparks’ “The Basics of Corset Building,” I added a 2″ panel to the back where the lacing will be. Since I haven’t got a busk (see above about having no actual corset supplies), I subtracted the seam allowances and cut the front on the fold.

I’m torn on the whole busk thing. On the one hand, that’s a lot of money and effort and waiting (I would have to order online) for my first corset. On the other hand, I’m aiming for that Victorian corset look and as far as I can tell, they were all about the busks. Anyone with actual historical-fashion expertise (as opposed to my rather lazy google-fu), please correct me if I’m wrong. And yes, I’m aiming for at least superficially historical here. Why? Well, basically my mother’s been involved with a local small museum volunteer type thing for yonks, and there’s a possibility we could maybe develop a “pioneer sewing” program-type component and, well, I’m having visions of everything from treadle-sewing workshops to steampunk picnics when (if) summer ever comes, so yeah, I’m feeling historically oriented with this project. Vaguely, anyway.

Version 1

Version 1.0

Anyway, about that mockup. Will you ever forgive me for these horrible dirty-bathroom-mirror fitting photos? I may never forgive myself. Especially the back photos, which I took with the reverse camera on the iPhone, which has crappy resolution and no flash. Anyway, so, bust fit seems ok (recall that since the top and bottom of the corset are bound, there’s no seam allowances to fold under there). Waist fit as well—it’s tighter, but it’s supposed to be, right? It’s just below the waist everything goes, um… yikes. Ok, so obviously my hips are not appropriately Victoriany. But the biggest thing, really, is that weird length thing from front to back. The corset, from the illo,  is supposed to arc up over the hips, and down in front and back. Well, I have the back bit just fine, but the front? WTF? So, obviously I will be lengthening the bottom of the front. Like, a couple of inches.

Anyway, I took in the loose wobbly bits below the waist, probably a total of about four inches.

And then I stitched down my seam-allowances to make boning channels. Except I have no boning (not even zip ties) to put in them.

Version 1.2

Version 1.1

Nonetheless, I think the results are MUCH better (OK, not trying it on with seam allowances out probably looks better, too. It’s just much easier to make the adjustments with seam allowances out.) I think the fit over my hips at the side is spot on. I’m a little more worried about the back—it’s doing its usual sway-back wrinkle, assisted, no doubt, by shoddy pinning. Will the boning smooth it out, though? Or should a corset be “fixing” my little posture problem, anyway? For that matter, how appropriate *is* fitting a corset? I mean, isn’t the point of a period silhouette that it squishes you into ITS shape, not the other way around? Thoughts?

The altered pattern

The altered pattern

Anyway, here are my pattern alterations, to the extent that you can see them in the dappled daylight on the kitchen floor. I guess I could’ve moved them to a better spot on the floor, but that would’ve required, y’know, forethought. The red outlines my post-fitting changes, both where I slimmed the hips and my length extension in the front (on the right). I suppose I should really do a second mock up to test that length alteration, but I’d really like to plunge ahead and cut my real fabric. Not that I have proper coutil or anything, either, mind you.

*Just for the record, I love my husband. I love spending time with my husband. I love that he wants to spend lots of time with me. But right now, he’s getting a lot more alone time during the day, while I’m spending my day surrounded by and interacting with people, and while my introvert/extrovert ratio is pretty close to even, the fact that I’ve had NO ALONE TIME EVER for seven or eight months is starting to take a toll and I’m really wishing to just have time to do my things. Like sew.

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Interlude

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Leggings for Syo.

Wimping out or taking a quick break? That is the question. This morning, rather than taking on the Dress of Irksomeness, I hunted around for a project that would be quick and satisfying, ideally that could be executed without changing the thread in the sewing machine. I settled, after rather more futzing than I care to admit, for Kwik Sew 1670, and (yet) another pair of leggings for Syo. The last ones I made her are probably the single most-worn item in her wardrobe this winter, since she’s decided she only wears leggings, and she could really use another pair. Well, another five pair, frankly. But we’ll start with one.

I re-traced the pattern and made a few changes this time. I had already narrowed the size 8 and lowered the rise in the front for a more “modern” fit. This time I lengthened the leg (the originals were drafted for 3/4 length, but frankly it’s full-length weather here, and will be a while yet, and I curved in a bit more in the thigh area, since they’d been a little loose there  in the past.

No cute motorcycle photos this time, alas.

 

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Hang Time

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Stitching a lapped, piped seam

I’m teetering in that awful mid-project spot, peeps. I’ve hit a few snags—pattern match? Fail! Where’d all that ease come from?—it’s hard to imagine it being awesome when it’s done. The promise of the pattern illustration has faded, and the reality isn’t winning me over yet.

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Yeah, that pattern. That promise.

Usually, I rely on momentum to get me through this phase (and really, while not all projects have it, it’s pretty common). But I’ve been sewing at the pace of a snail lately, what with constantly running into “I could sew but I need THAT”, with THAT being everything from piping (no, Tanit, one package is never enough) to lining to that pattern piece I had last week, dammit.

And with the whining out of the way—fitting photos! Because that makes everything better!?!

I did do a muslin. Really.

(Click image to view larger)

So, re fit—the left-hand side under the arm is the opening and I did a piss-poor job of pinning it shut, so focus on the right for the fit. Aside from the complete pattern-match fail at back and the fact that it’s way more high-cut than the picture seems to suggest (and no, I did not do any preemptive petiting here), what do we see?. The biggest thing that’s annoying me is that blousing in the back. I don’t get along well with blousing. I can certainly take it in, either at the CB seam or the sides. The waist seems a bit long at the sides, not so much at the CF. Maybe shorten all around the waist except at the CF? The hip yoke seems really short, too. I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to re-cut the skirt pieces as I think I cut them WAY short (since I was expecting the yoke to come down to, oh around my hip crease….) That might be a good thing, though, as I can try again with the plaid-matching. There’s lots of material left, fortunately.

I was planning to not pipe the waist seam (I prefer not to emphasize my waist) but to pipe the bottom of the yoke.

The fact that Osiris got Skyrim for Christmas might just have a little bit to do with my slow going.* I’m a sucker for an open-world Fantasy RPG, even if it does have a few too many load screens… and while the thrill of discovering even more mysterious zombie-filled ruins may not outweigh the thrill of a new dress, when it’s accompanied by hunny-cuddles and laziness, well, I’m distractable, especially when the dress is being problematic.

Bodice, flat.

Bodice, flat.

That being said, I’m cautiously pleased with how the piped yoke went together with the lapped seam—I suck at lapped seams bigtime, but they are infinitely easier with piping and lots and lots of pins. Oh, and a stitch-in-the-ditch foot/attachment, courtesy of my Pfaff 360′s attachment kit (which you can kinda see in the very top photo). I generally pin as little as possible, but I don’t trust myself to keep a lapped seam together without it. There was too much length in the bust panels along the bottom seam, so I wound up gathering them a bit at the lower-centre corner. I could’ve skipped it and just trimmed off the excess length from the side, but I kinda like the gathering. I don’t remember any extra length from my muslin (which I graded differently, /headdesk) so I’m not sure if the problem is the pattern or me…

What do you do during that mid-project slump? I’m fighting the urge to start something else tooth and nail, because I loathe UFOs…

*Seriously, I am the Ultimate Gamer Girlfriend(TM). Not only do I like the videogames… I like watching him play them! Yeah, I know, embarrassing.

 

PS I feel like this was the whiniest of whiny posts ever, and I’ve gone over it fifteen times and I can’t seem to de-moan it any further, so bear with me, k? Or better yet, share your latest whine in the comments. 😉

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