April 28, 2009

Summer Wardrobe, part 1 con't: the highly unwearable muslin, part 2

The good news: This jeans pattern definitely has potential to actually work for me! Spent some time tonight basting it together to get a basic idea of the fit. Now, the last jeans pattern I attempted (which I don't remember, because it was so bad I threw it out in the middle of the muslin) resulted in bootcut pants that I couldn't even get over my thighs, let alone my hips. These went over both my thighs and hips just fine, which already gives them bonus points.

The fit does need some work, though. Checking it from the front, the fit seems mostly pretty good (although I'm not sure about those puckers right around the crotch area... guess I'll have to try on another pair of jeans and see if they do the same thing.)

The back is another story. (Apologies for the butt shots.) I don't think it's supposed to be quite that baggy in the back. At least in the legs. The actual seat isn't bad, although the yoke needs some tweaking for gapiosis. (And possibly getting raised a bit higher...I haven't basted on the actual waistband, so we'll see if that's necessary.)


The legs are a bit loose on me too, at least for a bootcut jean. I experimented with pinning down one of the legs to bring it in more around my knee (a good inch in from the seam in some places!) And from the front, it seemed to work pretty well. (Gotta love my markered-on grain lines...)
The back, again, was a different story. The leg on the right is the one that I tightened... apparently, how I tighten that needs some tweaking too! Maybe I should take from both seams instead of the one next time!

Still, I'm feeling optimistic. This isn't anything I can't work with.

April 24, 2009

Questions... questions that need answering

So my mom kindly picked up the Vogue pattern that I'm hoping to use for my brother's wedding when she went to JoAnn's yesterday. I think this has some definite potential to be a very gorgeous dress. Which would be perfect, since his fiance is hoping for an elegant wedding (and I will be seen, most likely, since it's looking very likely that my involvement will be as a musician.) But after looking at this pattern more closely, there's a lot of detail involved, and I think in order to do it justice, there's a lot of questions I need to figure out before I start it. (Good thing I have until October.)

#1: The prepwork. There's a lot of really funky-shaped pieces in this pattern, as you can see! I did some research yesterday and saw that I should probably cut the charmeuse out while laid out on top of some tissue paper to help tame the slipperiness of it. (Probably wouldn't hurt in terms of protecting the fabric from the table too, since my usual cutting table is a ping-pong tabletop on the pool table, and the surface is a little rough!) But there's some other things I need to look into as well. Like how to best pin it-- or if I should even use pattern weights instead. And whether I'd be better off attempting a rotary cutter rather than scissors, to keep it flatter. But I'd probably have better control with the scissors...

#2, the structure. The charmeuse I got is very lightweight-- in fact, the pattern calls for charmeuse for the lining rather than the outside. But I liked the color, and I wanted to go with a natural fiber since I think it would have a better chance of keeping me warmer for an outdoor fall wedding. Due to that, though, I'm questioning whether I should consider underlining the fabric to give it some additional strength. There's two main difficulties here. The first one, as you can see, is the pleated section. I didn't realize until folding out the instructions yesterday that those aren't gathers-- they're very specifically placed pleats! A lot of pleats. Both front and back. But they're kind of soft pleats, so I don't want to stiffen up the fabric too much. But at the same time, I'm not sure that side panel could hold them all without some reinforcing help. The second is the assymmetric drape in the front of the skirt--if I underline it, I'm going to have to choose the fabric carefully, because the wrong side will show. I emailed Ann at Gorgeous Fabrics for some advice, and she was very helpful-- her suggestion was that if I underline it, I may want to consider using silk organza for that side panel where the pleats go into, and chiffon for the rest since it's softer and wouldn't affect the drape much, though it would be a lot of work to underline it. But I think I might want to put that work in-- I know silk is a strong fiber, but I have this fear of going to all this work and then the seams pulling out the first time I wear it! My other thought is, the hem might look better if I do underline it, since then I can just hem it to the underlining and it won't show on the outside. I know that charmeuse will show everything. Or would I be better off just sticking with that narrow machine hem, with that irregular hemline?

#3-- I'm not sure yet what on earth to line this with. I guess I can just go for one of the nicer lining fabrics at JoAnn's or something-- though do I really want to wear a polyester lining with silk? (The lining won't show on that wrong side of the fabric, since the dress isn't fully lined.)

#4-- how to handle the zipper, due to that aforementioned lightweight fabric. Though if I do go the underlining with silk organza route, that might help since I can probably use a strip of that to reinforce it. The pattern calls for an invisible zipper-- I'm debating whether I'd be better off attempting to hand-sew that in, since I haven't quite mastered exactly how to get the invisible zipper in without the bottom of it getting all puckered and leaving gaps when the rest of the side seam is sewn. Not to mention sometimes I have trouble getting it close enough to the teeth. But would a hand-picked invisible zipper even hold?

#5-- how best to hem this. Though I already talked about that, so I won't elaborate again.

I am trying to do my research here--looking through my old saved Threads articles, and the Couture Sewing Techniques book for ideas. And I definitely plan on doing a muslin for this one-- debating whether I should even try a lined muslin, since the lining isn't even the same shape as the dress! It's going to have to wait, of course, since the first priority at the moment is my summer wardrobe type stuff. But hopefully that will give me some time to find some answers.

p.s. Any advice welcome-- it's not like I haven't sewn formalwear before, but it was always with polyester satin and stuff. I've never sewn on silk. And I've never underlined anything. This one's definitely going to be a skill-stretching project!

Edit, as of Saturday: Got my latest BWOF in the mail today. Woohoo, I have a backup plan!!

Friday Favorites, Episode 45: The End

It was a tough decision to make, but this is going to be the last Friday Favorites that I post up here. At least, for now. It's just getting to be too much-- I'm barely able to keep up with reading blogs, let alone compiling this post every week. Especially over the last month or so, where I've often had to skip weeks and then do two at once, and even more especially now that I'm back at my part-time garden center job and therefore lose a big chunk of Friday. So #45 seemed to be a good place to leave it. And since I have a tendency to mostly link tutorials, and have been saving them all to my Wists account anyway, anyone who wants to can see what tutorials people have been putting up that I like from the sidebar on here. Maybe one day I'll go through there and clean up the tags for easier access, but not today. And since I'm on a time crunch (my whole weekend is flute rehearsals and performances, and I only have about an hour and a half before I have to leave!), I'm going to do this list-style. So here's what I liked this week...

  1. Stamped Tile Coasters from Dollar Store Crafts
  2. The mum pillow at Assorted Notions
  3. Missle Command circle skirt at Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories
  4. Magazine Reed Box at CraftStylish
  5. Millifiori and Organza Pendant at Polymer Clay Central
  6. Minibooks with faux fabric book tape at The Small Object
  7. Cardboard tube hurricane lamp cover at A Little Hut
  8. Glitzy Garden Globe at Diary of A Crafty Chica
  9. Soda Can Star Lights, also at Diary of a Crafty Chica
  10. How to Scrapbook with Busy Patterned Paper at Creativity Prompt (since I'm a sucker for those busy patterns)
  11. Pleated Hem Sleeve at rostitchery
  12. handmade flower embellishments at the Creating Keepsakes blog
Got a lot of other stuff on my mind-- been doing more pondering sewing than actual sewing over the last day or so, since I got the pattern for the dress I'll be wearing to my brother's wedding. But I think I'm going to make that a separate post... maybe I'll go ahead and write that now anyway.

April 22, 2009

Summer Wardrobe, part 1: the highly unwearable muslin

Trying to get back into some sewing this week. So I ordered two pieces of fabric, for one... 2 yards of my Spoonflower fabric, which I've decided to make into a simple A-line skirt-- let the fabric do the talking! And the second was this silk for the dress I'll be wearing to my brother's wedding. It came in earlier this week, and is absolutely gorgeous! (It says it's hand-washable, and I'm currently trying to get up the nerve to actually do so. Never played with silk before.)

Note to self: this puts me at 4/8 for fabric stash used vs. stash purchased. Counting the Spoonflower fabric even though technically, I won it and therefore didn't buy it.

Second order of business: starting a mock-up for the summer wardrobe jeans. I'm using McCall's 5142, and hoping that I have better luck with it than the last jeans pattern I tried. (Never got past the muslin with that one, because it wouldn't go past my thighs. :P But this one has bigger seam allowances, so more room to play with!) So since the idea is to make jeans that will actually fit me well, a muslin is a must. Thus the reason for the pink strawberries and daisies... it's far more suited to someone, oh, 25 years younger than me, but it was the cheapest stuff I could get in the bargain section of JoAnn's that was actually resembling a jeans-weight. And that determined that this is going to be a highly unwearable muslin.

Which means I might as well just draw all over it, right? I've got all the pieces drawn on (at least on one side), along with grainlines/markings/etc. So rather than draw out both halves of the cut 2 pattern pieces, I just pinned the folded fabric together and will cut both at once, then draw both as needed.

I've been wanting to make jeans that fit for years, so this is kind of my "holy grail" project. Wish me luck!

April 16, 2009

off week

I think I'm having a bit of an off-week for crafting. It's perfectly normal for me to not have time to do it in the early half of the week, like Monday/Tuesday, due to my work schedule. But I haven't had time to do anything else this week either, really. And, oddly, haven't particularly felt much like it either. I did pick some scraps out of my fabric stash yesterday in hopes of making myself a new iPod case, and sketched out the start of a pattern, but didn't actually do any work on it. And I won't get any in this weekend, either...had some last-minute plans come up that are pretty much going to take up the entire thing. I'm thinking a good bit of it is just that I can't cut anything out-- table's still pretty cluttered.

Hoping I get my mojo back soon. And that the table clears off. I have some jeans to beat into submission!

April 12, 2009

Ah, the memories....

So this is the year of my 10-year high school reunion. Or would be, if we were actually having one. The former class prez tried to throw something together, but it was done so last-minute that a lot of people just couldn't make it on that day. (He'd originally tried for the day before Mother's Day! And then switched it to the weekend before. As it turns out, I would not have been able to go, since I'll be canoe camping that weekend.) So anyway, implications of my getting old aside, I'm contemplating my own personal commemoration of the event, scrapbook-style. Found a box full of random high school stuff that didn't make it into the scrapbook I made for myself when I was actually in high school (notes from friends, school projects I kept, copies of the school newspaper, etc.) Reading through the notes and remembering all of our inside jokes and that sort of thing has kept me quite amused tonight. So I'm thinking I might make myself a second high school scrapbook-- nothing elaborate, I'm actually thinking of just using a spiral-bound one I have with non-removable pages. And maybe throw in some stuff like favorite music back then, etc. And collaging the cover-- back then, every time I got a new 3-ring binder, I'd plaster the entire outside with a completely random collage, so it would be quite fitting.

Hope you all had a happy Easter! I did... but I'm dead tired now and need some sleep!

April 11, 2009

Friday Favorites, Episode 44: The Saturday Edition

I really did mean to post this yesterday. But I got caught up in spending the time between work and my church's Good Friday service catching up on financial stuff/balancing my checkbook, and then it was time to leave for church, and so on. So rather than wait until next week again, I figured I'd just post it a day late.

First up is just a tad bit late for tomorrow, but it still looked neat. Vegetablegardener.com had instructions for how to dye eggs with natural products, like onion skins and berries and such. I wonder if it would work on fabric too? (I found this one through Craft Stylish.) For another edible project, I liked the sound of Cheap Healthy Good's Spaghetti with Asparagus, Egg and Parmesan (or "a mutant freak of deliciousness", as they called it.) Also from a link from the same site, I found CakeSpy's post on dessert recipes inspired by classic rock. "John Lemon" bars, anyone? Or perhaps you're more in the mood for some Rolling Scones?

Via Craftzine, I thought this "cardapult" at Instructables (a toy catapult made from buisness cards!) was really fun! Also at Instructables, they had instructions for how to build a model of the TARDIS from Doctor Who that lights up inside. (I forget which site alerted me to this one-- might have also been Craftzine.)

Anyone who's been following this blog for awhile knows that I am not a knitter/crocheter by any means. Every time I try, the projects are pretty much disasters. Even with machine help. But I still really enjoyed one of this week's Threadbanger roundups-- knit and crochet projects inspired by the good old 8-bit Nintendo! That crocheted Mario blanket is seriously nothing short of amazing. And so is the in-progress scarf that's intended to show the entire scrolling level 1-1 of the original Mario Bros. game! (Yes, I still love my 8-bit Nintendo!)

Speaking of projects made of fail, the geniuses at Dollar Store Crafts have cooked up a new blog called Craft Fail-- basically, to allow people to laugh a bit at themselves (and with the other contributors) when projects don't go completely as planned. (I think my favorite so far is the soap that ended up looking like spam.)

At Blisstreee.com, there were instructions for some lovely hand-painted background paper. Looks like it would be really fun to try for stuff like scrapbooking! (I think this one was via One Pretty Thing.)

And last but not least, I thought this "landscape dress" at Wardrobe Refashion was very clever! I really liked how she designed that leaf motif to tie the three different prints together.

On a slightly more personal note, I did do some crafting today-- basic resizes of 3 t-shirts for a friend. No pics though, since she was hanging out here when I sewed them and she took them home. She was quite happy about it, though. And also doing some plotting for what might be my next Big Project (after the mini-wardrobe, of course! But those should all be pretty simple pieces to put together, with the exception of the jeans and possibly the dress.) As of yesterday, my brother is engaged, so I'm going to need something to wear to the wedding. It's going to depend partially on in what capacity I'm actually involved-- I'm not going to be a bridesmaid, and I'm not sure yet whether they'll want me to be one of the musicians or not. (I had guessed not, since flute isn't my brother's favorite, but when he and my mom and I were talking about it, he didn't say no. So that was a bit of a surprise.) And it's also going to depend partially on where it ends up being-- they're not getting married at our church (he works there, so I think he wanted a break!), she wants an outdoor wedding, and they're thinking October. Which has the potential to be pretty much anything between warm and sunny or cold and rainy with winds left over from whatever hurricane most recently hit the coast, the way things tend to run here. But based on my initial "research", I'm kind of leaning towards this dress (the shorter version). I kind of want to treat myself to some really nice fabric for it too. I'm thinking silk, because I've never made anything with it, and I think a natural fiber would keep me more comfortable in whatever weather we might end up having. And also contemplating a wrap of some sort, in case of cooler weather. Guess I'd better start looking through this book some, to prepare myself for this sort of project!

April 9, 2009

Easter outfit!

So I've been having this wardrobe problem lately: I'm craving bright, springy colors, and my wardrobe isn't cooperating. Or, I should say, the weather isn't cooperating. We're having a rather cold spring-- and I'm not just saying that, I was looking at the weather.com page yesterday at work, and the high temperature was easily 20 degrees below the average for this month around here! Which, being a warm-weather loving girl who hates being cold and gets into such a state ridiculously easily, means I'm still stuck wearing my winter clothes. I haven't even been able to manage 3/4 sleeves too often yet! Sigh.

Anyway, since Easter is on Sunday and I had nothing to wear that fits my two requirements (warm enough that I won't get frostbite in my perpetually cold church building, but still something cheerful and springy), a refashion was definitely in order. (And perfect timing, too, since bathroom renovations in the house means that the pool table I usually cut out on is covered in stuff related to that, and I can't cut patterns!) So I took this hand-me-down that my mom made/passed on to me when she decided it was too frumpy and dresses aren't her thing anymore anyway....
(Yes, this was a two-layer dress!)

...and turned it into this, which I finished on Tuesday.
I borrowed the bodice (with a modified neckline) from Simplicity 7072, since I'd made it before and knew the fit. The skirt was actually the part that came first-- I cut the bottom off of the original overdress and draped it into a somewhat pleated skirt on the dummy. The original underdress on this one shows up as the band around the waist:






(Yeah, I know, it doesn't look like the fit on the waist is too great here.)






And this is that zipper I had that big fight with! Take that!
So what happened to the rest of that underdress, you may ask? Well, I turned it into a shrug...which isn't actually finished because it was kind of a fail with this dress. I made a shorter one because I didn't think I'd have enough fabric to make the shrug both longer and with longer sleeves. (I didn't.) But the empire-waist shrug with the regular-waist dress just isn't doing it for me. I may go back and finish this at some point....if I can figure out what else could possibly be worn with it!
So, since sleeveless dresses in cooler spring weather and an overly air-conditioned church still isn't a good idea for me, I spent the last two days turning this....
(white knit top banished to the refashion pile because it was just too short and a bit too see-through for my comfort)
into this.
(As modeled by my lovely dress form with the dress.)
It would have been such a simple fix--all I did was cut it down the middle, trim off the neckline, turn it under and stitch. Ok, so it was still a simple fix. It just took me longer because I decided to hand-sew the facing down. It's a very stretchy knit, and I figured the machine would probably just make it all stretched-out and ripply. Not to mention I pretty much had to stitch it right on the edge of the turned-under part, and thought hand-sewing would give me more control. So it's not perfect-- there's definitely some crooked stitches here and there. But at least it's not all stretched out. And the hand-sewing wasn't bad, actually-- it was kind of relaxing, surprisingly. I was originally going to add buttons and buttonholes too, but taking 2-3 inches out of the middle means it would just look like I was wearing a size smaller than I'm supposed to if I actually did button it. So I think I'm going to leave it.
So there you have it-- my almost completely recycled Easter outfit. The only thing I had to actually buy for this one was the lining-- the dress fabric would not have been good without it, a bit too see-through!

April 6, 2009

Spoonflower!

I got my fabric sample in the mail on Saturday! Just didn't have a chance to snap the pic until today. But this is my lovely non-traditional sunflower print, courtesy of Beth (who did a wonderful job! I don't want to change a thing!) Now I just need to decide how much yardage to get...which means I need to decide what to make out of it! I'm thinking it pretty much has to be either a dress or a skirt. But what style? And dress or skirt? I'm completely open to suggestions here!

(To give you an idea, the flowers are about 3" across.)

April 3, 2009

Friday Favorites, Episode 43

I really need to get back to doing these on a weekly basis. The stack from the last 2 weeks is a bit overwhelming! So best to just dive right in...

Recycled goodness...
I tend to post a lot of this type of stuff anyway, I know, but even more appropriate now that it's April, with Earth Day coming up and all. The music lover in me enjoyed this Threadbanger roundup of things to do with old vinyl records (I was particularly a fan of the iPod case!) Hippyshopper had a second roundup of recycled jewelry ideas. I don't really care for the necklace made from recycled nylons, I'll admit, but I did think the one with the pen caps has some serious potential! Cut Out + Keep had a clever tutorial for making a shrug from an oversized t-shirt-- I love the Grecian drapiness of the final look. Dollar Store Crafts showed how to dye Easter eggs using recycled silk ties to put designs on them. Also found tutorials for envelopes done two ways-- turning envelopes into gift bags (via Whip Up), and making other paper into padded envelopes (via Craftzine). Craftstylish showed how to make easy earrings out of beach glass (not that it takes much to inspire me to go beachcombing!) and also things you can do with old VHS tapes (the flowers on the straw purse were my favorite.) Finally, going back to Craftzine, there was a table lamp with a shade made from soda can tabs. It reminds me of chainmaille!

And the geek shall inherit the earth...
It was a good week for my not-so-inner geek. Lots of things that made me smile-- like Dollar Store Craft's Alien Abduction Lamp, and Whip Up's Star Wars mice. Craftzine linked to an April Fool's joke featuring a Tauntaun sleeping bag (for all those young Jedi wannabe's, a la The Empire Strikes Back). But my absolute favorite (also via Craftzine) was this Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy-inspired Kindle case. I have to admit that the Kindle also reminded me of the Guide, so I absolutely love this! And if I ever decide to get a Kindle (which I don't think will be happening any time soon because I still love the tangibility of turning the pages in an old-fashioned paper book), I am SO stealing this. Everybody needs something with "Don't Panic" written on it in large, friendly letters.

Random Tutorial Goodness
First up, I liked Sewl Sister's "scrapbook in a box". Seems like it would be a really good gift for someone, and nice and compact! (I also like her pregnancy calendar bar at the top-- especially the snarky commentary!) Little Birdie Secrets posted a recipe for DIY Thin Mints (the only Girl Scout cookie I truly like). I'm somewhat skeptical due to what the crunchy inside actually is, but also quite curious. My fellow Sew Craft Blog groupie Corvus Tristis posted a neat tutorial for how to make an inexpensive weaving loom (and then later updated it with an additional improvement that she says makes it much better. Plus it involves playing with power tools.) Craftynest showed how to make some hemp pendant lamps that would be great for any nature-inspired decor (or Asian, for that matter...), and the Crafty Chica shared some instructions for some simple wooden jewelry using precut shapes and rubber stamp embossing. Craft Leftovers showed how to make your own drawing charcoal (hint: there's grilling involved). Craft Stylish had instructions for making a reusable sandwich wrap (bye-bye, Ziploc bags!), and Sew Take A Hike had a fun-looking tutorial for embellishing with roses made from scraps of knit fabric. Going back to the food, Thimble shared a recipe for some yummy looking spinach olive pasta (usually I don't like cooked spinach at all, but I might have to give this one a try.) And even though it's obviously passed by this point, One Pretty Thing posted two tutorial roundups for April Fool's Day. Mostly in the form of food that looks like something it's not. But it was still fun.

And now for something completely random...
I couldn't help laughing at this post from Craft Stylish. Any post entitled "Crafts I Want To Punch In The Face" has to get a mention. (And besides, I'm sure that everyone who reads this who's ever sewn by machine will agree with #5!)

And finally...
Finished projects I liked! From Wardrobe Refashion, I thought this little girl's violin dress was adorable, this octupus sweater was funky and clever, and this hippie-looking shirt is something I just want to steal. And I also really liked Angry Chicken's corset belt (complete with matching purse and earrings!)

April 1, 2009

Me vs. the Zipper*


I had all these grand sewing plans for this week-- after rehearsal on Sunday, I stayed home from Bible study (both because I was dead-tired from the weekend/feeling antisocial and I wanted time to sew) with the plan to finish this dress, which is my most recent reconstruction which I'm hoping to have done in time for Easter. But you know what they say about the best-laid plans of mice and men (and seamstresses, apparently), and this was a prime example.

I've been sewing since I was 7 or so. I've probably put in at least a hundred zippers in that time. Most of them being these ordinary centered zippers, since I didn't have access to an invisible zipper foot until somewhere around college, or possibly grad school. So it's ridiculous how much trouble this zipper has caused me. I don't know if it's because it's a recycled zipper (I salvaged it from the original underlayer of the dress-- it was a 2-layer deal with the solid stripe being the underlayer and the butterflies being a jacket of sorts over top), or if my mostly switching to invisible zippers has left me rusty on this style, but I swear I must have started and then taken out this zipper at least 10 times over the course of the last 4 days. I tried every different technique I could think of--hand-basting it in first, basting the center seam closed, pinning it so the center seam overlapped slightly without basting it closed, putting the needle on either side of the zipper foot...no good. What I finally ended up doing for this attempt (which I've deemed "not great, but good enough and I'm sick of this zipper and want to move on to the rest of the dress so who cares?") was basting the center seam shut/hand-basting the zipper on/sewing it from the underside. So, I may need to reacquaint myself with this particular sewing technique!

And yes, I know the new blog colors are a bit, um, dark for spring. I don't have any good pictures on hand of spring flowers or anything of that sort (particularly since the weather's still rather chilly here, and all I have access to are a couple of daffodils next to the part of the driveway where I park my car, and no one wants to see a background of Honda wheels), so I decided to go with a sunset. At least for the moment. Not totally satisfied with this color scheme, but at least I don't have to look at snow anymore. Pastel springy colors aren't really my thing anyway. (I say as I post a picture of a somewhat pastel-backgrounded green fabric...)

*a nod to one of my favorite shows, Chuck, and its habit of using these sort of titles for every episode. Examples: "Chuck vs. the Gravitron", "Chuck vs. the Wookie", "Chuck vs. the Suburbs", and my personal favorite, "Chuck vs. the Imported Hard Salami". XD