Tag Archives: Me-Made March

The joy and pain of thrift store patterns

Thrift store buttons!

There’s been a bit of a sewing-type drought at my local Value Village for the last couple of months, so it was with some excitement that I realized there were actually fabrics on the rack this time, not just encroaching curtains, and even a few baggies of random zippers (expensive and not intriguing) and metal buttons (inexpensive and in sets still on their cards—yay!). Needless to say I walked out with the buttons. I managed to resist the fabrics, mostly due to excessive stashing last week.

Simplicity 8613, from 1978

There were also a few 70s patterns, in a misses’ 12, which is close enough to my size. I restrained myself, though, and just picked up the cutest one: isn’t this an adorable jacket? And look at that neat little waistband shaping on the skirt! Pattern includes jacket, skirt, and pants.

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. Buying thrift store patterns (as opposed to from a reputable second-hand pattern vendor) is an obvious crapshoot. No way are the employees going through every single envelope to make sure the pattern is complete, never mind in good condition—not when they’re selling for less than a buck apiece.

Yup, this adorable pattern is incomplete. Half the pants are missing, as is that cute little waistband detail, and the first page of the instructions.

Fortunately for me, all the pieces of the jacket (what really drew me to it) are there (uncut!), and the instruction page that is left is the one for the jacket as well. So tragedy is averted. Most of the skirt pattern is there, too, except for that cute waistband, which I guess will be good if I get the hankering for an a-line, mid-length skirt.

Well, it could happen…

So, at least at this point, tragedy has been averted. Not that I really needed another jacket to want to make up. But hey, I’m sure I have enough fabric!

In Me-Made March news,

a fairy boring (not to mention weird hair) day. Sorry, kittens (or, as Patty would say, platypuses), it can’t be circle skirts and fluffy shirts every day. On the upside, it’s sunny!

Me-Made March, day 17

The Frankenpattern shirt
Skinny Cargoes

Oh, and happy St. Patrick’s day, to all you who are out there getting soused in honour of it ;). Apparently they started the breathalyzer-stops here at six AM this morning…

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Measuring Patterns

Pattern measuring---Click through for full-size image

Before I forget, thanks EVERYONE for your wonderful comments on my blogiversary yesterday. It made for a completely warm and fuzzy day (in between wrangling children, appointments, and driving clear across town six times… and mine is not a small town :P)

One of the most interesting things I learned asking my mom about home-sewing in her youth was that the rise of the muslin is a comparatively recent event. I’m sure fine couturiers have always been making them, but when my mom was learning to sew, they were considered a waste of time and—worse—fabric.

Sew and Save by Madeleine Hunt (published 1953) seems to agree—I don’t think there’s a single mention of making a test garment in the entire book, despite a lot of emphasis on fit (and minimizing figure flaws, can’t have our flaws showing, ladies, 😉 ). Instead, they measured.

And measured and measured and measured.

The book has twelve full pages dedicated to measuring patterns, going over every common type of pattern at the time—princess seams, kimono sleeves, gored skirts, sleeves. I’m too lazy to scan them all right now, so I’m just including the ones that are relevant to me right

Pattern measuring---Princess Seam; click through for full size image

now, as I sit here trying to fit Built by Wendy’s “Fitted Jacket” pattern to me: Measuring an armhole princess seam. Sorry for the poor look of the scans, the browser (or at least, the one I use) does a craptacular job of shrinking B&W scans. If you click through for the full-size version they look fine.

So I should probably back up a bit. I want to use Wendy’s “Fitted Jacket Pattern” as the basis for my Springy Coat, which it is more-or-less perfect for, but I’ve never made any of Wendy’s patterns before. Stage one, of course, is picking my size.

So, scanning through her sizing chart, I settled on XS. I know, smokin’ the crack. But the bust and hip measurements were both right. Shoulder and waist measurements are in the small-to-medium range (typical for me).

Built By Wendy Fitted Jacket pattern pieces

What I SHOULD have done was take out my handy-dandy tape measure and follow Madeleine Hunt’s advice (made extra-easy by the fact that the Wendy patterns don’t have seam-allowances.) It would have revealed to me that the 33″ bust and 26″ waist on the pattern chart is the actual size of the pattern pieces. As in, without wearing ease.

So, yeah, the pattern’s a mite small. I will throw up the initial muslin shots for your amusement. The top of the front is the only place where it closes. The rest varies from a wee bit too small to way too small (like 3″ too small at the waist).

Jacket bodice muslin, front view

The upper bust actually looks about right. Below there it gets… well, snug.

Muslin---side view

On the up side, the length of the armscye and the level of the waist (areas I often have to modify) feel about right. I’m a bit torn on the shoulders—I have a feeling they should be about 1.5cm wider, so that the seam falls about where the end of the seam-allowance is. I like where the princess seam falls, though.

Muslin---back view

The back fits fairly well, even with minimal swayback wrinkling (this won’t be an issue in my coat, but I imagine if I get this fitted I’ll want to use the pattern for other things, too. You may have noticed I have a thing for princess seams? The side-seam does tug to the back a little bit, although not much. I didn’t clip the seam-allowances at the underarm, which is contributing to the diagonal wrinkling on the side panels, as is my tugging on the front.

I now have two options, of course—start again with, say, a size S, or just grade up the pattern as traced. Since I’m happy with the lengths in this one, I’m tempted to just grade up–adding a slice of width to the CF and CB pieces could easily give me most of the width I need, both around and at the shoulders, and reducing the taper of the princess seams below the bust (equivalent of narrowing the dart there) can give me the rest. Also pulling out the big tissue sheets to trace is annoying.

So next step—sleeves. The sleeves as drafted are really slim, one piece with a symmetrical sleeve cap. I’d prefer an asymmetrical cap (I’m borderline on needing a forward shoulder adjustment) and a two piece. I’m torn on the slimness—I like the look and have pretty scrawny arms, but this is going to be a lined jacket, too. And yes, I have compared them to the sleeve I used for my winter coat (which is pretty darn slim) and it’s about 2″ narrower around.

… time to get measuring. 😉

In Me-Made March news,

I wore my fluttery cowl again, but it spent most of the day buried under the Kimono Lady Grey (boo hoo). It’s warm enough that I don’t really have an excuse for the wool pants, except that I wanted to make sure they got an airing this month.

 

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Cowl Finale

Cowlneck the fourth

Well, for the moment. Like Steph, I think I’m done with this project. I’ve made four knit cowly tops this week, all but one of which are wearable. (And I have hopes of salvaging the fourth, possibly by stitching down the folds or something…)

This one was supposed to be the ultimate. And, to be honest, I think it looks kick-ass in the pictures. That is pretty much what I was going for.

The devil, as always, is in the details.

The biggest one, I think, is the most inevitable—the large cowl which permits those lovely underbust folds doesn’t, in fact, stay in place particularly well; any time I raise my arms or lean over, it comes untucked, creating a front that just looks, well, poofy. I have a feeling the original top would’ve had the same problem unless (as I half-suspect) the “underbust” folds in the photo are created by tugging down on the cowl, rather than falling naturally that way—in which case in the shirt as worn they wouldn’t even be there at all…

Completely my fault, on the other hand, are the hole I

A bit of a closer look

accidentally snipped in the front neckline while trimming the binding, the cowl facing that doesn’t fall nicely to the inside (I sewed it down a hair or two wrong on the inside), and the fact that the sleeves are sewed on with the wrong side of the fabric facing out. Fortunately the last is virtually undetectable—anyone looking that close is going to be much more struck by my wonky stitching. /sigh. I was trying to take my time with this last version, but I think my subconscious was against me.

For those of you who’ve been thoroughly confused with what I’ve been doing (and who’ve stuck with me despite it 😉 ) I made up a quick little diagram of the steps I took. The tricky part, again, is the details—how long and wide of a drape, how much to curl back the front pattern piece.

Pattern alteration---click image to see full size

And I think that’s enough of messing with cowls for, well, at least a couple of weeks…

After all, Sherry’s tailoring sewalong begins in just a few weeks, and I need to have a pattern of some kind ready for that. I think I’m going to try to create my own based on the Built By Wendy jacket book (which Ali just did a great overview of). I’m thinking princess-seamed bodice, empire waist with A-line below, thigh-length, maybe an inverted box pleat or two in the skirt portion… still haven’t decided on a collar or single- or double-breasted… anyway, I’m sure I’ll have a post on that in a day or two, anyway. But I will still have to muslin etc., and decide if I can make the sleeves two piece etc.

So much to sew, so little time… 😉

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Enabling

Me and my mommy.

Those of you who’ve been paying attention have probably heard a thing or two about my mom. She’s the owner of the Grand Old Dame, a reformed serial crafter, and was courteous enough to answer my nosy questions in a sewing interview. She’s also sorta the reason I started this blog, if only because last year at this time I was calling her up about once a week to yammer (for an hour or two) about my revamped sewing hobby, and, I was pretty sure, boring her silly. Also the long distance bills were racking up, but that’s beside the point…

Anyway, sometime (back in the fall? I really don’t know) she “discovered” my blog, and I gather has been enjoying it since (not to mention pimping it to her friends… thank you mom 😉 … thank you any of Mom’s friends who are reading… 😉 ). And the sewing phone-calls have gradually picked back up, laced with a liberal dose of style/fit/age/lifestyle angst (I’ll blame most of that on seasonal depression, though). Most of the conversations went something like this:

Mom: I love what you made.

MMM day 8... I'll just sneak this in here.

Me: Me, too! Except this and this and this.

Mom: Well, it doesn’t show in the photos. I don’t know, I just can’t find anything I want to wear. I go to the mall and nothing fits, and if it does fit it looks like it was made for a teenager or an old lady.

Me: Well, mom, you do have that kick-ass sewing machine…

Mom: yes, but I don’t have any time/money/energy for another hobby! Everything takes too much work! I want to go live under a bridge in Edinburgh!

Me: Well, you probably do need to simplify your life a bit… But I think running away to Edinburgh is probably a bit extreme. Ireland might be better… at least you could probably get your citizenship there*.

Mom: And you got such a good fit on that other thing you made…

Well, you get the idea.

And so it went, aside from occasional worries about my mother’s sanity.

And then, yesterday, I get a call from her. She sounds chipper. Excited. Upbeat.

Mom: Guess what I did?

Me: What did you do, mom? (oh god she bought plane tickets to Edinburgh…)

Mom: I downloaded and printed out the Burdastyle Franzi vest and Ellen pants, and I bought some wool blend fabric to make them up, and I ordered five patterns from Jalie, including the jeans!

Me: (swallow… gulp… sit down… let the shock wear off…) Wow, that’s awesome! You’re really going for it?

Mom: Yup, I am. Now tell me how to do a full bust adjustment!

Yup, apparently I have lured my mother back into the wild world of sewing (and the somewhat-new-to-her world of advanced fitting… hopefully she survives!). She’s still claiming she won’t become a sewing blogger, but with any luck she’ll let me showcase a project or two—and with a little more luck, the wonderfully helpful online sewing world, and maybe a helpful book or two, will help to get her past her old fitting issues. (I get my long legs, short torso, and rectangular shape from her, except that on her it’s even more exaggerated, plus she kept all the boobage in the family for herself. On the bright side, she doesn’t have my swayback).

Knittopia

In other enabling news, my Fabricland seems to be doing their spring cleaning, and there was a cornucopia of lovely (or at least, tolerable) knits in the clearance section, for no more than $3/m. Including this ivory sweatshirt knit on the left (typically $25/m or up!!! it’s stained, but I’m pretty sure whatever I can’t get out I can work around.) The three pieces on the right are also knit in the round, which is the best way to get knits in my opinion. And look at all those colours! Bright, soft, springlike… I know, you’re saying, am I reading the right blog? There’s even patterned pieces. Well, stripes. Stripes are almost a pattern. And either the solid blue or the solid coral would be perfect for knocking off Steph’s Anthropologie knockoff (apparently I have no creativity of my own at all these days…)

There’s plenty more enabling going on out there in internetland, but I think this enough for once post, don’t you? Oh, and if anyone has any advice for my mom on getting back into sewing, fitting, or the wonderful world of online sewing resources, do share! 🙂

*my mother, like approximate half of Canada, had an Irish grandfather, which is apparently good enough.

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I meant to do that…

Mini-cowl

Bleh.

I’ve been saving the rest of the fabric from this top, trying to find just the right project. I love this fabric so much. Eventually, I decided that it needed to be a drapy pattern—a cowl neck, maybe.

Last night, I decided that a reprise of this super-quick cowl neck top by Ichigogirl on Burdastyle would be perfect.

But. It’s still about -20C around here. I wanted to add sleeves.

I pulled out the pattern-pieces for Ichigogirl’s cowl-neck, and my “trusty” (aka much altered) Lydia pattern to compare. Armscyes were about the same size, as far as I could tell, but a radically different shape. I thought it seemed simpler to try to draft a cowl neck onto the Lydia than to try to fit sleeves to the odd-shaped armscyes of the sleeveless cowl pattern.

Of course, it was 8:00 at night and I was far too impatient to read up on cowl

Inner folded facing of cowl neck sewn over rear of shoulders, to enclose the shoulder seam.

drafting… I had the pattern pieces right in front of me. It’s not like I’m a stranger to frankenpatterning.

Ehm. I had actually wanted a little bit shallower of a cowl than on the original pattern, which is a bit, ah, risque if you bend over.

But, not quite this shallow. Urgh.

Rear view. Meh.

I was very proud of myself for figuring out a neat way to attach the inner fold of the cowl-neck to the shoulder so it neatly encloses the shoulder seam. I’m not sure if the picture will make any sense at all, but you’re looking at the back of the shirt, inside-out. I folded the facing portion of the shoulder-seam around to the back, enclosing the entire shoulder-seam between shirt front and facing. This makes for a lovely finish on the inside.

I then proceeded to do an impatient bodge-job of setting in the shoulders (I think I

still need to remove a bit of ease from the Lydia sleeve-cap, and add a shoulder-point notch). Didn’t do such a good job on the back-neck binding, either.

Bleh. Can I just pretend I meant for it to be this way?

In Me-Made March news:

Here’s today’s outfit, which is my first one this week not to feature some (or entirely) items I didn’t have last September. It feels a little boring because of that, but on the other hand these are some of my absolute FAVE pieces so far, so… yeah!

Classic pose

Funky dancing pose

Frankenpatterned top
More self-stitched jeans

Also my new, awesome, but hyper-uncomfortable boots. They will be great once they’re broken in.

I was wondering how long it would take me to break out the goofy poses this time around…

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MMM 4

Me-Made March 2011

Ceylon Blouse
Lydia top (mostly a wadder but it works for layering
Skinny jeans

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When home-made meets odd

Me-Made March 3

Not much to report here today, but to save me from just throwing up my MMM pics, I have a little bit of rumination. About self-stitched clothing, their wearing, and pushing the bounds of fashion.

All of which is to say, my outfit today felt a little… odd. Not quite outlandish (though maybe close). But just a little… too… different. Now, either element, the 70s Dress and the Kimono Lady Grey, I’ve worn on their own without issue. But the dress is a bit over-the-top for the work day, not too mention too low cut for this weather, so I felt like a sweater over top would be the perfect thing to dress it down. The best look overall would be the 50s shrug, as I’ve shown before, but a) this is still pretty fancy, and b) it still leaves a pretty large chunk of cleavage getting COLD. The cardi-wrap would probably work stylistically as well, but despite stubbornly photographing as black the 70s dress is actually a distinct, if muted, purple in real life. Which I don’t think goes very well with the red wrap. Especially when I’m trying to look less odd.

Which left the Kimono-styled sweater. And, on a certain arbitrary level, I

MMM, day 3, rear view

actually really like the look—elegant, full, lots of fabric swishing around… but it’s a bit, hmm, not exactly over the top, but maybe off to the side. Beyond the bounds of “everyday” fashion. I feel like there’s an equation going on here, where rather balancing the oddity of either sweater or dress with ordinary jeans or a cardigan, I added two slightly odd pieces together and got something just a little too far past normal.

Ah, well. It’s not like anyone commented, other than my one prof who knows I sew (and hence always asks if I made my more unusual pieces). And she asked while knitting while we waited for the CT scanner to warm up… yes, Academia is a very strange place some days…

So why did I pick this outfit? It’s not like I don’t have plenty of self-stitched jeans that go just fine with the sweater. But I really wanted to wear the dress, I guess. Part of the point of the me-made months is to try wearing the things that feel just a little bit odd. Just to see, I guess, how odd odd really is. I don’t have as much trouble with this as a lot of self-stitched sewists, I think because so much of what I’ve made has been very tightly contemporary (as opposed to flights-of-fancy dresses and vintage concoctions). But I really do want to do some wearing of my flights of fancy, as well as my regular threads. So this was a stab at that.

Ah, well. If nothing else I’ve demonstrated that slightly odd isn’t equivalent to people-on-the-street-pointing-and-laughing…

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