"Why in the world did you pick this name for your blog?" ...so glad you asked...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The "Please, Strangle Me" Blouse and the Muslin of Hope

I think if I had chosen New Look 6078 to sew first back when I began sewing for myself, I would've been so disheartened, I might never have sewn for myself again.  A scary thought, actually... in an alternate timeline kind-of way.  I don't think I would have ever chosen this to sew before now because of the darts, cuffed sleeves, button plackets, collar, etc. so we shouldn't worry that there is another Sara out there in the universe who is missing out on the joys of sewing.  She knew better.
Still.... New Look 6078 did kinda ruin my day.
Some of it is my fault and some of it is the fault of the pattern.  Until I hear about someone having a super easy time with this collar, I'm gonna call it a pattern drafting problem.  The blouse was going together fine until I got to the collar.  It was way too long and hung off the edges of the button plackets.  I proceeded to do my best to reshape and resize it and made it too short.  Now there are raw edges that look like a little mouse has been chewing them where the collar meets in the middle.  Thus, the bow.  And thus, the name of the blouse, because I really don't care to wear blouses buttoned all the way up and I'll always have to wear this one that way.

I paired it with some tweed pants a la Sunni at A Fashionable Stitch.  Interestingly enough, I had seen this post of hers ages ago and thought to myself, "I really hope I can sew really awesome clothes like her someday."  Little did I know when I pulled this fabric from my stash for this blouse that there might have been something going on in my subconscious.  I found this post again after I had already started to cut out this blouse and got really excited because I liked her dress so much.  Now I'm just jealous again because I like hers better and I feel like I wasted my fabric and time.

My next complaint is my fault and not the pattern's.  I suspected with such a fitted blouse, I should probably to a petite adjustment and shorten it in the waist, but I didn't.  So, now it pools at my low back. I won't be wearing it with these trousers in real life, or anything that sits at my hips.  I'll have to wear it with high-waisted things only to cover those folds of unnecessary fabric.

Two other mistakes I made were over fitting and using too stiff of interfacing for the button placket.  I tweaked and tried on and tweaked and tried on until this blouse fit me like a glove.  The problem is... it's a blouse and not a glove.  Hands do not eat and breath.  I don't think I could eat or take a deep breath while wearing this.  Note to self.  A little ease is OK!
As for the interfacing, I was being cheap and trying to use up old pieces I had lying around.  The piece that was long enough was too stiff and I should have prioritized a little better.

The last gripe I have I'm going to blame on the pattern and, unfortunately for me, I'm in the situation that scares me most about sewing garments: I don't have the knowledge to fix the problem.  See the pulling from the collar to the armpit?  Those are there on both sides, no matter how I hold my arms and I don't know why they're there, but it's bugging the crud out of me.  I just read someone else's review of a shirt dress and she said something a bout "drag lines" and poorly drafted sleeves, so I'm gonna go with that.
I put New Look 6078 at the back of my pattern basket.  I don't know if it will be like birth and I'll forget the pain and try it again in a few years.... we'll see.  Hopefully, I'll read this post first.

Now on to the Muslin of Hope.
Simplicity 2187 is next in my queue and I did a quick muslin today to check the fit.  I was particularly interested in the length of the bodice and the fit of the crotch.
The plan for the real thing is to use a spring green gabardine (this looks grey green, but it's not).

Here is the muslin made from bedsheets and I'm thrilled.

I'm planning on doing the cropped length with the gabardine, but I might even do this again as shorts because I think this turned out so cute.

What a relief to know that I CAN still make SOMETHING right.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Simplicity 2584: The "I'm Dreaming of a Plaid Christmas" Dress

When we went to Washington DC for a month to be with my husband at a conference there, I brought two bags of patterns and fabric so I could get a bunch of stuff cut out.  By golly, if I wasn't going to be able to sew, I was still going to do something to further the cause.  So cut, I did.
I brought this plaid suiting and a Vogue pants pattern, but had a sudden inspiration in our small apartment one night and cut out this Cynthia Rowley design instead.
I am sometimes very influenced by the envelope design and originally pictured this in white or something summery, but when inspiration hits, I'm more than willing to change plans.

We got back from DC mid-October and our Christmas photo shoot was scheduled for November, so I finished this dress and dresses for my two daughters before I started anything else.
My biggest concerns going into sewing this up were matching the plaid (careful cutting, lots of pinning and slow sewing helped with that), the yoke, which turned out to be no problem at all, and the fit around the waist and hips. 
I did have to widen it around the lower hip area and take it in at the middle seam for the curve of my low back.  I still prefer it belted.  I just don't like any pooling on top of my bottom and a belt keeps everything in place.

There was meant to be a zipper in the back, but I honestly just totally forgot until after I'd sewn the seam all the way to the neck and then I realized I might not have to unpick it after all because of the big ol' slit in the front.  I tried it on.  No problem at all going over my head.  Yes!  I outsmarted the zipper without even trying.

Here is the finished product in the picture we chose for our Christmas card.  We were very red and green last year, and I really like how the plaid gave this year's outfits a totally different feel.

I used what I had leftover to accent my 3-year-old's dress and try to tie the outfits together.

I'm already pinning and planning for our "look" for 2012 and I'm getting really excited.  This sewing stuff is way too much fun. :D

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Colette Macaron: Balloons and Bubbles

What a cute little pattern the Colette Macaron is.  It took me some time to grow to love it.  I really don't care for the version on the Coletterie website or any of the versions I've seen using white on the top.  I think Patty the Snug Bug hit the nail on the head and helped me discover why I dislike it that way.  It reminds me of the spaghetti strap dress over a white t-shirt look from the 90's.  I wore it.  I don't want to go back.

I have wanted Sarah Jane Children at Play Balloons in Aqua for a very long time and when it came back in stock at Fabric.com after Christmas, I had money and I had a vision.  I tried to grow it up a bit with the grey for the top.  When I was at Hancock with my balloon swatch the bubblegum pink was calling very loudly that it wanted to be included, but I was too fearful that I would make an adult-sized toddler dress if I used pink for the accent color.

You might notice the skirt on mine is a liiiiiitle different than the pattern.

so proud of my truly invisible invisible zip!
back view

I had  a heck of a time fitting the bodice.  I made a muslin because I knew I wanted a flawless fit, as much as that could be achieved.  Once I was satisfied that I wasn't going to need a small bust adjustment,  I cut into the real fabric.  I really love the fit I finally got, but I did all sorts of tweaks that were too random for me to even document, so that means I'll have to be prepared for another roller coaster ride when I decide to pick this pattern up again.  

I had to completely remove the darts from the mid-back and change the curved seam between the two back pieces to a straight seam.  I took in the sides near the arm pit and went diagonally out to the original seam allowance at the waistband, which was almost too small!

The bubble skirt was just an idea that I had after I saw a beautiful coral vintage dress on Pinterest that had a bubble hem.  I decided to be ambitious and figuring out all the proportions and the pockets and the gathering and everything really ate up a lot of time.  From beginning to end, including all the unpicking and even some handsewing I had to do, this dress probably took me 8-10 hours.
There's still more work to do on it.  I've got to finish it a bit better on the inside.  I should probably reinforce some seams and I probably need to add some sort of waist stay because this skirt is pretty weighty.

orange underneath for fun

pockets!  in between the outer and inner layers of the skirt.

I'm quite happy with the fit finally achieved on the bodice.

I really enjoyed seeing the sleeves come together.  That was a really genius part of the pattern for sure.  I would love to have more patterns with unique, sweet details like this.

I'm glad I took the time to make this dress look nice.  I've never spent this long on one piece before, but it was a good exercise for me to just be patient and hack away at it a little at a time.  Now I really have something I can be proud of.
I'll be wearing it on Valentine's Day next. :)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Colette Clovers

This was the beginning.  My Colette Clover pattern I received a a gift for Christmas and two colors of Bengaline stretch suiting I got on sale at Fabric.com.  Don't ask me what Bengaline stretch suiting is.  I just knew I was supposed to get something with stretch and there wasn't anything else in bright colors like these and it was on sale.

I planned to use one for a muslin and one for the real thing, but I just couldn't decide which color of pants I wanted to end up in my wardrobe and which I was willing to let go until I got the money for more fabric.  I let my husband choose and he chose red for the muslin, so I went to it.

I was at a loss for which size to cut because the measurements from my waist to my hips are quite different.  I also knew there was the distinct possibility I would need a full butt adjustment and a sway back adjustment.  Having NEVER made a muslin before and having NEVER made fitted pants before, it was all pretty daunting, but my excitement overcame my fear and I just jumped in with both feet.
I cut my fabric exactly as the diagram suggested and then realized afterward that the stretch of the fabric was going down the leg of the pants and not across.  (cue hag from Princess Bride dream sequence) Boo!  Boooooo! I knew the stretch should go side to side, but I didn't bother to check because I assumed I should just follow the diagram.  Boooo!

I continued onward, a bit afraid that my whole muslin would really be for naught because I couldn't take the stretch into account with the fit.

Sure enough, it was too small and I couldn't tell if I needed a bigger size or just some stretch.  The butt was super tight and the waistline didn't even hit mine.  I had some serious plumber's crack.  One thing was pretty obvious.  A full-butt adjustment was in order.

I traced the top of the pattern onto some taped together printer paper and looked up the full butt adjustment tutorial Coletterie provides in their Clover sew-along.  I drew the lines in the approximate locations I thought they should be and cut it all up, spread it out some random amounts and taped it all back together.

"This looks ginormous!" was all I could think to myself.  But apparently, my butt is ginormous, because, as you'll see below, I may need to make an even fuller butt adjustment...

I had just enough fabric left to cut out the two back pieces again and this time I cut them with the stretch going across so at least I might have an accurate muslin for my booty.
The next hardest part was the zipper.  As many people as said that Coletterie's tutorial on invisible zips was so incredibly clear and made invisible zips accessible and easy for them.... I still didn't totally grasp it.  I did my best attempt and found out what the bubble effect at the bottom that everyone warned about was.

Enough talk, here's the finished wearable muslin.

Sarai from Colette patterns warns about them looking like leggings and I think mine do a bit in the front. Remember, though that the front pant pieces have no stretch across, only up and down.  So, who knows, maybe when I cut the turquoise pair out correctly, they will be a smidge roomier?

There's all sorts of crazy pulling wrinkly bits, but I'm also blaming this on the totally different grain line from front to back.

See what I mean about possibly needing a fuller butt adjustment?  I'm not really trying to go for the "Please, oh, please squeeze it" look.

And here's some indication that I probably need to go ahead and try the sway back adjustment.  Compared to ready-to-wear pants though.  This baby gap is a big improvement.  It's so difficult for me to buy pants off the rack and I have to remember that when I think about all the things I could tweak on these to make them "perfect."

Those butt darts look like they are hanging on for dear life.  haha!

As a final note, I discovered that Bengaline stretch suiting makes you sound like you're wearing a windsuit from the 80's when you walk.  It is the swishiest fabric.  You wouldn't want to exit the audience in the middle of a mime act while wearing these pants.

I have more pictures to post because hubby was kind enough to do a five-outfit photo shoot with me, so expect more in the coming days!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Big Plans : Pretty much the rest

First up:  A love fest for Anna Maria Horner voile, which I have sewn a bit with, but would like to try more.  I'll be attempting the middle dress in this vintage pattern (AFTER a muslin)
I fell completely in love with this dress after seeing it on Tilly and lamented the fact that I would never find the same vintage pattern.  I began to hate looking at people's vintage creations because I couldn't hope to have one for myself.  Well, as luck would have it, one day while browsing Etsy I just stumbled right across this pattern and in (aproximately) my size!

 You might notice something familiar here.... the same fabric in a different colorway.  Does that convince you I really like it?  I'm planning a Colette Truffle with this.  (also after a muslin)  I'll most likely be joining the sew-along.  See button to the right.

 I've used this pattern once before, with AMH voile, no less, but I did a sloppy job and I think I'm ready to do it better.  I'll be making the tank version with a pleated front using the sky blue voile and the version on the model (actually what I bought the pattern for) with the teal and white flowered rayon.
And now on to another favorite designer, Heather Bailey.  I really hope this blouse doesn't turn out too, uh, sweet.  I don't really like any of the versions or the fabric choices on the envelope, but I was lusting after the Colette Violet at the time and just snapped up this cheaper alternative with a Peter Pan collar.  We'll soon find out, because this is next in my queue.


I traded a handbag with a friend for the chance to rifle through her stash and pick something I liked.  I got a yard of the paisley and about a quarter yard of the accent and then bought this pattern to go with it. I could just make ANOTHER elastic waist gathered skirt, but can you tell I don't really want to do that?
This pattern calls for more fabric than I have here, but I'm crossing my fingers that I can finagle it.

I really wanted pink wool for this, but there was no such thing to be had at my local Hancocks, so I settled for a lavender wool blend.  I don't like lavender as a rule, but I happened to have my favorite nail polish (OPI's Done Out in Deco, my only exception to disliking lavender) on while I was shopping for this and it just happened to be the same exact color, so that cinched it.

This is another one of those pieces of fashion fabric I bought a long time ago when I first began to venture away from quilting cottons, but then I got cold feet.  I'll be tying out the higher-necked version at the top left there. 

And last, but not least, another vintage pattern with some more fabric that's been in my stash for too long.  I'm a little scared of all those buttonholes, but the dress sure looks cute.  I have high hopes.

Stay tuned, my Colette Clover wearable red muslin is done and my Collete Macaron in the Balloon print is also finished.  I just have to get some photo time in and then I'll post them!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Big Plans

Look at that shopping cart of awesomeness.  
The first awesome thing I'd like you to notice is that there are not two girls taking up space in the cart where there should be fabric.  The other awesomeness is fairly obvious...

I am planning ahead for 2012.  I'm not making any resolutions per se, but I am trying to be more thoughtful about my sewing and I'm also trying to maximize the patterns and fabrics I already have before I purchase anything new (I'll explain the full cart in a minute).  The first thing I did was get all my patterns out and all my fabric out and start matching.  I've been somewhat paralyzed with doubt about what to use with what, but I had a stroke of boldness and inspiration and was able to match almost every piece of fabric I have (except for some single yard cuts of quilting cottons).
Then I picked a few patterns that didn't have any fabric match and wrote down all the notions I needed for everything and made a list for the fabric store.  Hancock was having a big sale and I also had a $10 off coupon.

Now, I'll share with you some of my planned pairings.  These fabrics are from my stash, Fabric.com and my recent trip to Hancock.

The one I'm probably most excited about is my new Colette Macaron pattern that I got for Christmas.  I've been waiting patiently for Fabric.com to restock Children at Play, specifically, Balloons in Aqua.  When I saw it on my computer screen, my mind went to my new pattern and I decided they were a match made in heaven.  I bought some soft gray for the top to, ahem, grow it up a bit.

I had the hardest time deciding at Hancock what fabric to get for this dress.  I was really drawn to this chartruese rayon with lavender flowers, but I would have liked to have a mirror to see if I could actually wear this color without looking sickly.  Too late now.  I decided to just go with what I loved, since that seems to have worked out for me in 2011.

This fabric is also from Hancock, but it's been in my stash for a long time.  I got it pretty early on in my adventure of sewing for myself and then was too scared to use it.  Well, I'm not scared any more and I'll be making the little red version there on the envelope.

These are both from my stash, originally bought from Fabric.com.  I bought the brown with orange flowers for super deep discount and planned to make a different pattern, but I've changed my mind.  This half yard of Michael Miller hedgies has been patiently waiting for me to find a place for them and I think I'll be able to make them a border as in the bottom left dress on the envelope. 

Another Colette pattern I got for Christmas paired with a remnant I got... somewhere.  I'm a little concerned the stripes are too wide for my small frame, but I'm GOING to make them into something and I'm sure not going to make a shirt, so, skirt it is.  This is a home decor weight fabric.  I may look like a walking awning...

This next pattern I got just for the white jumpsuit, but I'm kind-of liking the dress and the tunic now, too. The tunic is made for knits and I just happened to get this beautiful and luciously soft knit remnant while in DC.  I don't usually do big billowy tops, but it might be cute with leggings or as a beach cover-up??  I was originally thinking about a dress for this fabric, but I already have a dress in very similar colors from New York and Co.

Item number 2 from this pattern will be the dress, also made with fabric purchased in DC.

Vintage!  I'll be attempting the dress on the right using this large plaid tablecloth I found at a consignment shop for $9.

THIRD item from this pattern will be a green jumpsuit.  This is not a grey-green as it looks to be in the picture, but a beautiful spring green gabardine I bought specifically with this pattern in mind.  It will be my first time sewing a solid colored garment and my first time sewing with gabardine.  It seems to be such a favorite on the Sew Weekly and I'm looking forward to it.

Also from a remnant picked up in DC, this highly blogger-recommended repro pattern.  I bought it mainly for the pants, which I've been too scared to make thus far, but I'm being bold, remember?  I think they could look a bit Anthro if I add a bow sash at the waist.

And speaking of pants... the third Colette pattern I got for Christmas will be the catalyst to make me bold enough to try pants this year.  I bought these two colors of Bengaline stretch suiting (whatever that is) on sale from Fabric.com and I couldn't wait to start these.  I couldn't decide which color to cut into first and make as a muslin, so I let my husband pick.  He picked red and I'm about 3/4 of the way to having some really cute red pants!

I'm going to try to be better about taking pictures of finished projects and posting reviews this year, but no promises. Hopefully, I'll be back soon with come finished red Clovers. :)