Harley helps.

Harley helps.
Harley, my hard-working sewing assistant.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


I made a muslin of the Sorbetto last night (everything but the bias tape), and ... well. I'm not crazy about the sizing. The size 8 fits just fine on top, and the length is fine, but it's pretty boxy around the waist. Another problem: I don't have enough of any of the fabric I wanted to use to make a finished version. I guess I could just dye the muslin (good old Rit), make the bias tape out of something or other and finish it. Maybe throwing in some side darts would help.

Monday, June 25, 2012

cake vs. frosting

I really, really wanted to sew this weekend and did just about everything but. I did manage to cut out pattern pieces and muslin for v8784 and pattern pieces for v8512, and I wound up making an emergency JoAnn run on Sunday because I was out of muslin. (I wish I could just muslin stuff out of thrifted bedsheets or something instead of buying new fabric, but we don't have any decent Goodwill or Salvation Army stores close to us.)

Which, actually, is a problem that keeps coming up: I don't have any fabric.

Oh, I have cotton. Tons and tons of novelty-printed cotton and calico from Old Sturbridge Village, and more Halloween fabric than you can shake a stick at. (Spiders, I got 'em.) Perfect for tote bags (I have too many) and pot holders (we have enough). And quilting! Unfortunately, I'm not interested in quilting. I looked into it, browsed through a couple of project books, and it makes my head spin. I don't think I have the patience. I'd like to make a duvet cover out of all the Sturbridge fabric, but that's a project for a long, rainy weekend.

What I don't have: Stuff for making clothes. Wool and flannel and jersey and material for lining just about all of the projects I want to do. Right now I really want, like, 10 yards of really good black wool for various projects (interview suit, coat, v8512 if there's enough left) and some really good black flannel (work dresses, blazer). Actually I'd like to make everything out of black flannel, because I love flannel. That's possible, right?

The situation is kind of dire, because I really need a new suit -- the two RTW ones I have are on their way out. And I could use a plain black coat.

Yeah, so. Less frosting, more cake. We're going to NY next week and I might have to set aside some room in the (very minimal) budget for a trip to the Garment District. Sewing still feels like a "like to do" thing instead of a "need to do" thing, though, so I feel guilty spending money on it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

what's up next

I'm still fiddling with the fonts and layouts and whatnot on this thing to try and make it prettier and more functional. (My day job is as an editor for a Web usability group, so that's how I'm justifying it! Just experimenting for work, yup.)

Anyway, here's my list of upcoming patterns I want to try. Let's experiment with Blogger's bullet formats, shall we?
  • Colette Sorbetto: Everyone says it's easy, I'm in the mood for instant gratification, and I need a couple of cute, semi-dressy summer shirts for work. I just ordered a bias-tape maker. w00t!
  • v1247:  I love the geometric detail on the front and the asymmetric hem (I'm a sucker for anything geometric and/or asymmetrical). I'm going to muslin it out first (everything but the sleeves, probably) and then make the real thing with leftover fake purple linen from v1089. If it works, I want to try and make a travel version out of Coolmax. (Trying to build a travel wardrobe, but travel clothes are ridiculously expensive.)
  • v8819: To replace my beloved Oak + Fort cardigan, which is on its way out. Sad. I like the chevron effect on the pattern envelope, so I'm going to try View B with some black-and-purple striped wool jersey from FabricMart, and maybe another one in plain black.
  • v8461: My very first Vogue pattern (and I haven't cut into it yet). I need a new suit, and I'd like to try this in a basic black flannel, and if that works, maybe some fancy wool.
And later:
  • v8512: Seems to be adaptable to a lot of different fabrics. Going to try it in a lightweight tropical wool check to start (after a muslin, I mean).
  • v1195:  I have some fancy Liberty silky fabric I want to try for the top. It's too nice to use for lining.
  • v1069: Terrifying. I love Issey Miyake and I've been gawking at this pattern for over a year now. I'll probably muslin it out first and then make version #1 in some yellow-orange wool I dyed with coreopsis, and if that comes out, make #2 in black wool.
It'll be an adventure, but I like the idea of just trying to make the things I want, in the best fabrics I can find (and hopefully ethically produced/reworked fabrics, if I can manage it), instead of store-bought stuff that doesn't fit and falls apart in three washes. We'll see.

Monday, June 18, 2012

first post

This is my first dress. My first garment ever, actually, unless you count an aborted attempt at v8753.

(It's all wrinkled from being in my suitcase. Oops. Also, pay no attention to that interfacing behind the zipper.)

My previous sewing experience consisted of a lot of tote bags, pot holders, Kindle covers and an apron or two. I have a Bernette 82e, which I love, and I've been doing beginner projects and minor mending  since, oh, about 2008. Also hoarding a lot of Vogue patterns -- they have so many cute ones, and I'd go crazy on the $3.99 sales. But I was afraid to actually try anything.

Then my brother got engaged. And I started to look for dresses to wear to the wedding. And you know what? It's pretty depressing out there in dresses-appropriate-to-wear-to-a-summer-weddingland. Especially dresses-appropriate-to-wear-to-a-hot-summer-wedding-in-the-Midwestland. And ESPECIALLY dresses-appropriate-to-wear-to-a-hot-summer-wedding-in-the-Midwest-if-you're-in-your-30sland. A lot of bad polyester and teal taffeta prom dresses, let me tell you.

So I thought about it and thought about it and decided to take the plunge, and I cut into the pattern I'd been gawking at for, oh, the last year or so: v1089.

Way to start slow, right

I did a muslin first (not everything, just the outside without a zipper to check for fit) and used some eggplant "linen-like" fabric from JoAnn for the real thing. I originally wanted something closer to a greyed lavender, but couldn't find anything, and the nice lady at JoAnn talked me into eggplant. I thought the beads at the midriff were cute -- I really like the way they styled the whole thing, actually -- but hand-sewing beads is probably beyond my expertise, so I decided to leave it plain.

It's a super-fiddly pattern. It has, I think, a total of 18 pieces, and it's something like 48 steps from start to finish. The midriff has a lot of pieces, and you have to line up all the seams and edgestitch both sides of every seam. (Full disclosure: I put the bodice together first, then edgestitched across all the seams to get a more even line.) There's a facing and lining, and the pattern calls for understitching. After looking at a zillion YouTube tutorials and trying it, I decided I didn't like the understitching. If you're using a heavier fabric for facing, I think it hangs just fine.

There were a ton of things I'd never encountered before -- curved seams, princess seams (so confusing at first), edgestitching, and the furshlugginer invisible zipper. That thing was ridiculous. I spent most of Memorial Day weekend trying to figure out. It still wasn't entirely invisible by the time I was done with it, but I figured I'd be wearing a cardigan over it anyway. I screwed up quite a few things (such as: I didn't realize the pleats weren't sewn in, and spent an entire night trying to put them in before realizing that the skirt just draped that way -- no sewing required). Me and my seam ripper, we're best buds now.

Here's me in it, unhemmed, unpressed, and shoulders and neckline unfinished.

I used the recommended 5/8 seam allowance, and I think the neckline was a little low. If I make it again, I'd like to raise it an inch or so, once I learn how to do that.

I should mention that I have no idea how to grade sizes or anything, so I made a straight out-of-the-envelope size 14. I usually take a size 8 in RTW, or 6 if it's stretchy.

I should also mention that:

 -- the midriff is very, very fitted
 -- the unhemmed skirt just hit my knee, and I'm 5'0". If you're any taller than that, you might want to lengthen it, unless you want it short.

Full disclosure no. 2: I cheated. After spending an entire night tearing my hair out trying to hem the thing, I finally tore out all my stitches and took it to my tailor and asked her to do it. Which she did! Beautifully, I might add. I love my tailor.

Here I am, at my sweaty, no-makeup, after-work worst, modeling the final version.

Despite the low neckline, I like it. (And, oh yeah, I did wear it to my brother's wedding, and it worked, except I shouldn't have worn a padded bra. Ahem.) I'd like to make it again sometime, but in black linen with a funky lining and a raised neckline for work, or one in black stretch fabric with cap sleeves. Once I learn how to make cap sleeves, that is.

But not for awhile. Next, I'd like to try something nice and simple -- maybe that Colette Sorbetto top everyone seems to be making. That's easy, right? Please tell me that's easy.