June 26, 2007

a new summer dress

Spent most of the last week working on pads-- sewed some inserts, sewed some snaps. I've also been doing a lot of cleaning and packing for my vacation.

I'm working on a new dress, and got the muslin for it cut out last night and sewed together tonight. I'm not taking any chances with the fit of this one, since there's a sheer fabric involved.



This is the sketch I made of what it should look like, though some of the detail got lost in scanning. The sheer is a bit pleated, so I'm thinking of doing the pleats at the top of the skirt and then letting it naturally flow out from there. And also to connect the empire waist (based off a shirt I saw and liked that had a slit down to the empire waist with a layer underneath), I'd like to take advantage of the pleats and do a section with those running horizontally between the empire waist and the skirt. (I know, horizontal pleats, but it'll look slimmer than it sounds due to the tie-dye print on it running vertically.) I'll probably have to stitch the pleats down, so this is going to be a very time-consuming dress. But if it turns out the way I'm picturing, the results should be worth it.
So here's my muslin so far, basing this off of a Butterick pattern. This muslin is actually for the underdress, which is going to be made from a brown rayon (the sheer is a brown, cream and teal tie-dyed looking thing.) I need to make some adjustments to the fit, which will probably consist of taking it in on the sides and then seeing if the armholes and back stop gapping. Should also have the effect of making it more fitted in the waist, because for this design to work it does need to be rather fitted down to the hips. I also need to raise the neckline by about a seam allowance-- I like where it's sitting now all right, but once it's actually sewn into something it'll be too low. The length will be shorter as well-- I already adjusted the floor-length pattern along the lines to shorten it on the pattern, but I think the final length will be just below the knee. As far as the layers go, I think what I'm going to do is sew them together at the armholes, empire waist, and zipper, so my plan is to get the muslin well-fitted (the muslin has a zipper basted in, purely for accuracy purposes) and, once I'm satisfied with how it fits on me, leave the muslin on the dummy and drape the sheer off of that (in order to get the print to work, I think I'm going to have to carefully plan where to cut it, since it's kind of a stripe.) Then once I have the sheer pieces how I want them (with the pleats in), I'm going to use the muslin to cut out the underlayer, and take it from there.

This dress is going to have to wait for further work until mid-July, when I get back from vacation, but I'm hoping to have it done while it's still warm enough to wear it!

June 17, 2007

a two-shrug Sunday

My church is cold. Freezing cold. Someone should really tell them that it's really unnecessary to keep the A/C so high in the summer, especially where the food is, because it drives me outside and makes me antisocial just so I won't be cold. Not to mention the energy they're wasting. But I digress. The point of this little rant: I can't wear sleeveless dresses inside there, because I get too cold. And when trying to decide what to wear last night, I discovered that I no longer have anything to wear over top of two lovely sleeveless dresses I have. So, this afternoon, I solved the problem.

At the request of sewjenny over at Wardrobe Refashion, trying to work this part into a quasi-tutorial.


Started with this: a fitted black t-shirt that had gotten too short to wear. I figured out how long I wanted the shrug to be, marked it, then cut the excess off the bottom (mine turned out to be six inches.) Then I cut down the center of the front, cut the neck binding off (very close to the stitching), then cut at a bit of an angle to give the shrug a bit of a V-neck, and cut more curve at the lower front corners.










You can sort of see the resulting curve here. Since I'll be wearing this with more fitted dresses, I didn't want it to hang too loosely. So to make it more fitted under the bust (and to counteract the inevitable stretching that a knit would give) I pinned darts into the front and back. (Once I sewed them in, I did have to trim the front a bit more. Also, so it would sit better inside the shrug, once I had them sewed in I trimmed them down and zig-zagged the edges together to reduce the bulk.) If you were making this from a non-fitted tee, you'd probably have to take in some at the sides as well.

I used the lower portion of the shirt to cut some trim (which, in retrospect, I should have made wider because I ended up with not enough to turn it under on the inside, even with trimming the already quarter-inch seams. Mine was about an inch, but it probably should have been at least an inch and a half.) and sewed that on. How I did it (no pics of the process, sorry!) was I pinned the strips along the raw edge on the outside of the shrug. (My shirt had side seams, so I trimmed the pieces and sewed them together as I went so I had one long continuous piece to go all the way around, trying to match up seam points as much as I could.) Then I turned the strip to the inside, trimming as necessary, pinned it in, and sewed it down on the outside right along the seam line. (The pins are actually on the outside, right in that seam line. Ideally, I would have turned the portion along the inner edge under a bit to hide the raw edge, but as I said, it wasn't quite wide enough.)



....and voila! New black shrug. It did end up stretching just a bit on the bottom of the back, despite my precautions, but hopefully over my dresses it won't be too terribly noticable.







Edit: Surprisingly, I made a second shrug today.


Started with this dress, which I picked up on my last major thrifting excursion, solely for the fabric (a suede looking-and-feeling poly blend.)

Stylewise, it's a lot like the black one, but since this one was made from a woven it took me a little more time to get the front shaping. I had to take in at the sides and the darts (the dress came with the darts. I do have to say, it feels good to know I was taking in something marked as a size 4!!) This is it when I was pinning out the shape for the front, after trying it on with the dress I'm planning on wearing it with (though, by no means does that preclude it from being used elsewhere!) to make sure it worked with the V-neckline.

I also had to finish the edge differently-- the original dress had a neck facing that, when I took out the zipper in the back, didn't quite meet up in the middle. So I took it out, zig-zagged the raw edge and then just stitched it down. Not the best finishing job, but figuring out a pattern for the lining would have severely complicated things, especially since I likely would have had to pick out the hem on the sleeves (which I didn't have to touch at all here) and then re-hem it.

And then this is a close-up of the trim, which was left over from this skirt.

June 16, 2007

scrapbooks and girly TMI

I feel like a one-woman sweatshop. I spent pretty much the entire day sewing... cloth pads. I got eighteen shells with wings done, except for snaps, which I think I'll sew on later because my carpal tunnel is flaring up badly today (I'm typing with braces on, but those don't work for hand-sewing.) I still have to make the inserts, but the couple I'd made up earlier and tried seemed to work pretty well. So here's hoping... though I'm not sure if I'll have enough to get through a whole period if they do work. I may have to acquire some more waterproof fabric.

On a completely different note, I've attempted to take pictures of the scrapbook pages I've recently finished.


This one was mostly finished last fall, but it still needed some finishing detail, so I added the stamps this week.
I was especially proud of the flower detail--the best picture I had of the couple was given to me by another friend at the wedding, and it had a datestamp that I wanted to cover.
This was another that was mostly finished but needed something, so I added the text blocks on Thursday.
I was intending to just crop paper down to size yesterday, but started working on this layout and ended up finishing it in stead. I had just enough time to finish it before the friend I was supposed to hang out with finally finished what she was doing and called me. Whoever thought of using the sewing machine on scrapbook layouts had the best idea ever.
This one's not done yet, but I worked on it today after I finished with the pads since the tv show I was watching wasn't finished.
And, just for fun, this is how big a stack of paper I have paired with photos that I need to make into pages. Well over an inch. And this is not counting the Chile album that also needs finishing.

June 14, 2007

The eternal war between sewing and scrapbooking

Scrapbooking's been winning this week, hands-down. Even so, it's strange how when I'm involved in the one, I always feel guilty for not working on the other! Anyway, I've managed to match up all my photos to paper this week, so I have a 12x12 portfolio envelope that is currently completely stuffed for layouts I need to work on. I also did a little bit of work this week, putting finishing details on two layouts from friends' weddings and assembling a one-page layout that had everything basically cut out and together, it just needed to be trimmed down and assembled. I have to admit, it was very nice taking a break from the Chile album, because I'm really not that happy with how it's looking. It just looks so amateur and unfinished. But I was thinking about it and looking through some of my other albums last night (at this point, I have five albums in various stages of unfinishedness, dating all the way back to the end of college o_0) and I think I've figured out what my problem is. My layouts often end up looking unfinished to me, and while I think I'm pretty good at basic layout/color stuff, I need to work on adding finishing details. Which will be a challenge, since in the layouts I see that I like in my scrapbook magazine, those finishing details often come in the form of embellishments, and those can get very expensive very fast. So I need to figure out how I can get a more finished look with the stuff I already have.

June 11, 2007

strawberry fields forever





Admittedly, I haven't been sewing much lately. Or crafting much in general. I've been too busy making mix cds for the upcoming road trip. But I did have time on Saturday to finish this. I'm fairly pleased with the results-- the green band in the middle is a bit puckered and I wish it wasn't, and I had a lot of trouble getting the top to fit properly (never thought I'd have to put darts in a t-shirt!) I am rather pleased with the neckline, though I wish I'd thought to use elastic to help keep the shape of the neckline earlier in my refashioning career (the sleeve hems provided instant casing.)




I also made this for the trip:




My mom had a wallet pattern that I used for this, and the fabric was a freebie from some samples she was given, sorted through, and let me have at the rest. (I guess she didn't want tropical print quilt squares.) My goal was to have something smaller and lighter that wouldn't take up a bunch of space in my hydration pack, and I think this fits the bill nicely. (Um, no pun intended.)


I also did a little bit of tweaking on this:
One of last summer's recons. Pretty much all I did was take in the front of the neckline just a bit, both to acoomodate for stretching and to try to make it a litlte bit more bra-friendly. It had ended up being more of a trapezoid neckline than a rectangle, so not so good for the bra-strap factor.
And, I've also been trying to get myself organized for some scrapbooking again, because I've decided it's ridiculous that I still have pictures from 3 years ago that need to get put in. So I've got a fairly good idea of what all needs to get done, and spent a bit of time tonight matching paper to photos. Only about halfway done on that, but it's a start.

June 1, 2007

let me take you down, 'cause I'm going to...

After trying on the Wharf blouse, I can safely say this project was a flop. Too loose up top, too tight on the bottom, and though the top portion is fully lined, you can see my stomach through the bottom portion. And the shoulders just look bad. In fact, the only thing I'm happy with about it is the decorative stitching. So it's to the eventual refashion pile with that one. Sigh.



So I've been working a bit on my Chile photo album, since I'd like to get that done before the road trip. I have discovered that I do need to develop a few more photos-- one of my favorite ones got lost, and there's another that one of the other people took that I'd like to get. I was due for a photo development anyway, so I'll have to sit down and get that order taken care of soon. Honestly, I'm not totally pleased with the look of this scrapbook either, but I'm hoping when I can go back and add finishing details it'll help. Right now it's just basic layouts.



I also started a refashion last night, since I want a short and simple project before I get into the Very Complicated Dress I'm envisioning. Right now it's just pinned on the dummy, but I was playing around...

The original was just a plain souvenier T-shirt from NYC's Central Park (the Strawberry Fields section, which I got because I'm a Beatles freak.) Then it got turned into this:
Taken back before I had the dummy. :P Cute in theory-- the straps are made from layered ribbon, of which the top layer is white with strawberries on it. But the straps ended up being rather uncomfortable to actually wear, not to mention the tank is shorter than I'd like. So I took the ribbon off, and took an old green t-shirt courtesy of my mom, and am now playing with a couple things.












The sleeves are just pinned in place right now, and the rest of the top will likely be edged with more of the green. I took the sleeves, flipped them around, added some elastic in the already-made casing that was the sleeve hems to help hold it in place, and I need to figure out what else to do with the back. It's likely that I'll just make a binding around the armholes as well. As for making it longer, these are the two ideas I'm playing with. The one to the right was my original idea of just extending the bottom with a band of green. The one to the left is expansion through cutting, sewing in a band of green, and then adding the white back on. I think I sort of like that better right now, though it looked better the first time I tried that before I pinned it to take the pics.