September 27, 2009

Arrrrrgh!!!

Talk about frustrating....

Well, here it is....the sister-of-the-groom outfit from hell. This dress is better than the first, of course, but you can see that it still has some issues with the fit.

And then there's this wrap that I thought I finished tonight...
I used the Weekend Designer wrap pattern. But it does NOT work with the velvet at all. Too floppy despite my interfacing, too bulky, too BAD looking. So I guess I'm going to have to take some time tomorrow and try to salvage this into a capelet or something. Seriously...why do I even try to work with nice fabrics?

I guess this outfit is just jinxed or something...even my shoes have been an issue. I have an unusual size due to my unusually wide feet, and so I mail-ordered the shoes almost two months ago. Got them fine, the width was fine, but the shoes were cramping my toes so I sent them back. And then didn't hear a thing about them until a couple days ago, when I emailed them to find out the status of the order. The shoes are out of stock. So now I have until Saturday to find a pair around here, and probably the only day I'll actually have time to look is Wednesday. Aaargh.

September 24, 2009

the art of procrastination

So as of today, there are only nine days left until my brother's wedding. And I've been on limited crafting time this week, between work and social stuff that's popped up (my best friend from high school is in town with her husband and two kids, so I went over to her parents' house last night to catch up with her, and then my best friend now stopped by tonight). No, I don't have a picture of the dress yet. So really, other than a little bit of time spent on it tonight, the only day I had this week that I could have worked on finishing the wrap was Monday, since it took me a good bit of time on Sunday to get the buttonhole figured out (for one half. I still have one half to go as of tonight. Including basting the interfacing onto the velvet.)

So do you think I sewed on the wrap on Monday? Nooo... I did this.
This pile of wood is my computer desk, completely disassembled. I hope I can get it back together all right... I don't have a picture of what it looked like all together originally, but I did take pictures of the different pieces and components before disassembling them the rest of the way/removing the hardware that was left. (My dad had already taken it apart a bit.) So it took me several hours, but I got the whole thing sanded. And pretty much by myself--I did have to get my dad to help me with one particualarly difficult screw (which was not my fault, whoever originally put it together did a crappy job that resulted in chunks being taken out of the particle board, which is the main reason I absolutely have to paint it. Because we had to fill those in with some kind of construction goop.)

So now I can say the room is officially started, even though my brother won't be moving the rest of his stuff out until after his honeymoon. I even bought my paint yesterday, and made a date with two of my friends who volunteered to come over and help me paint. (Without my even asking them to. I have good friends.)

Also, though I'm procrastinating on getting a picture of the dress (due to bad lighting and a horribly messy current bedroom), I did finally get a picture of my hutch thingy. (The top is a little messed up-- the finish was chipped pretty badly, so that got some preliminary sanding.)
And then this is a closeup of the doors. I know it's a little bit country looking, but I do like the hinges and hardware a lot on this! It's kind of earthy, which fits in my rather nature-inspired room very well. (I just have to figure out what color I'm going to have to repaint them... I don't think they're going to work with it as is after I paint it white. I'd debated leaving it the natural color, but since the main flat surface was messed up anyway...)

On a somewhat related note, I found this quiz courtesy of Salinda. According to it, my decor style is "global casual".

Your home is warm and inviting, and expresses your curiosity and zest for life. You have wide-ranging interests, and an appreciation for many different cultures and ways of life. You bring a sense of the far-flung world into your home through its d├ęcor through unique or artisan-made treasures. Objects in your home tend to reflect your personality, your passions, your values, and your eclectic interests. This gives your home a sense of intrigue and comfort.

You value creativity. You are stylish and fun loving, and can be an inspiration to others. You have a natural sense of drama, and you know you have to be willing to take risks—whether with colors, finishes, furniture choices, or ideas—for your home to stand out. Your home can be happy and lively and the place all of your friends want to be.

I thought it was pretty accurate, actually! And a nice way to not go with the cop-out of "eclectic".

September 19, 2009

Today I...

  • ...finished the sister-of-the-groom dress from hell! Mostly finished it last night, but I sewed the hook and eye to complete it this morning. No pictures yet, as I didn't have time to take them. I'm still not happy with it, but at this point, I just have to go with it and hope that no one notices the many imperfections that are bugging me.
  • ...cut out the wrap that I'll be wearing with it. I'm a little bit concerned about how it's going to turn out; my original plan was to use some silk velvet (yum) that I dyed back in the summer on the outside, and then line it with satin to give it a little more body. Unfortunately, I found that I severely underestimated how much satin I'd need, and didn't have enough yardage to cut it out in any direction. (Any ideas with what I can do with about a yard of really shiny satin would be appreciated.) So both sides are now going to be the velvet, which is why I'm concerned--the velvet's just so drapey and I'm afraid it'll just sag all over the place, since it's basically a double-seamed tube of fabric with rounded ends.
  • ...went to Joann's to get some interfacing to hopefully help solve that potential problem. (The lightest weight of non-fusible interfacing they had.)
  • ...was hoping to finish that wrap, but my brother's fiancee's bridal shower was today, and by the time I got home from that and Joann's and a stop to get them a new wedding present, I was just too tired. (I'd originally gotten them a cake pan, because my brother loves cake; the plan was to get them that and a box of one of his favorite mixes and a can of icing. But one of my aunts gave her a ginormous basket from her and her three daughters filled with all sorts of kitchen goodies (I have to admit I was kind of jealous--I've always liked kitchen stuff more than a girl who can't afford her own place should), and a cake pan of the same size was one of the goodies. So my mom said she'd buy the cake pan off of me--she'd picked it up for me while she was out at Kohl's and I was at work, and no longer has the receipt, so I can't return it. And she likes the fact that it has a lid. So I got them some measuring cups and such instead, since they hadn't gotten any of those yet (and you need the liquid ones for cake mixes). And left it for my brother since they've been getting wedding presents delivered here anyway, so then I can give it to them first. So there.)
  • ...made my mom's necklace for the wedding instead. Again, no pictures, because flash never works for jewelry pics and it's too dark for natural light.
So that pretty much covers my Saturday in a nutshell. And maybe, just maybe, I can finish that wrap tomorrow. Here's hoping...

September 16, 2009

And the dress saga continues...

I did get the dress cut out on Sunday, and mostly sewed together on Monday. As you can see, this is already a huge improvement over the last attempt. I'm trying not to be bitter that I'm doing much better with Joann's-brand polyester shantung that cost me a total of about $15 than the now-possibly-useless silk charmeuse that probably cost me around $50.

It's still not perfect, though... while most of it fits (and looks) much, much better than the silk version, I'm still having trouble with those blasted side darts. Despite hand-basting them together by hand and several tweaks to the slant and depth of them. I'm still getting those points at the end. So this is leading me to two conclusions: a) if all goes well with the skirt fitting class I'll be taking over at Pattern Review over in a couple weeks, I should probably look into taking a bodice-fitting one as well as the pants one, and b) perhaps in the future I should stick with princess seams instead of double-darts whenever possible.

This whole thing has been a really discouraging experience, honestly... I can't help feeling like I shouldn't be having this much trouble with such a simple pattern. I keep telling myself that it's because it's one of those really tailored, classic silhouettes, and my style generally isn't so classic. And I know a big part of it is that I went for a higher-quality (and far more expensive) fabric than I tend to go for and it failed in spite of making a muslin. I don't like feeling like I wasted that money. And it really doesn't help that getting this wedding together has been a very frustrating and not very enjoyable experience for my entire family. Right now, I just want nothing more than to get it over with. So I just need to finish this (hopefully tomorrow...today ended up getting eaten up by handwork and further attempts to get the darts to lie better), and then maybe this weekend I can get the wrap taken care of. And then I need to find something to sew that's just fun... I'm debating between just whipping up another article of clothing, or holding off on that (since I start the skirt fitting class pretty much right after the wedding) and starting on some of the sewing for my room. Which has the bonus feature of not having to be fit on me. :P

September 12, 2009

This dress is made of FAIL.

I was afraid this would happen...My biggest concern with this pattern was that the fabric would be too lightweight to hold up to the more structured sheath dress. Sadly, these fears proved to be quite founded. Exhibit A, to the left: the fact that it never really ironed right in the first place.
Exhibit B: As you can see, the side darts are still being problematic. As in, they went all wonky and went at a really bad angle and are apparently trying to be batwing sleeves. That part of my anatomy doesn't need wings, thankyouverymuch.


Exhibit C: The neckline. It was just bias-cut enough to stretch out, and I could not get it to work with the facings. Nor would it press flat.

My one consolation: Even though it looks horribly wrinkled in this picture (did I mention I don't like pressing silk?), I did achieve the perfect invisible zipper. Even the seam below it--no gap or bump. This is a first for me.

So needless to say, I will not be finishing this dress. I'm wondering if I can at least salvage the bottom as a skirt, or if it's too lightweight for that too. Maybe a skirt lining. A very expensive skirt lining. Also needless to say, I don't think I'll be working with silk charmeuse again anytime soon-- had I known I'd have to go with a more structured pattern, I would have gone with shantung or something sturdier. As for the sister-of-the-groom dress, I have time for one more attempt. My mom is currently at Joann's with a sample of the silk velvet I dyed for the wrap (which I considered just finishing the dress and wearing that the whole time, but the neckline will still show and it still looks horribly messy) to see if she can find me a sturdier fabric to make it out of-- I don't have time to go myself, since Cassie's coming over as soon as the football game at our alma mater is done (which could be pretty much anytime. Have I mentioned lately that my mom is awesome?) So my plan is to wash it tonight, and cut it out tomorrow, even if I have to sit on the living room floor at my grandparents' house and cut it out during our family gathering, because I don't have teaching on Monday night and if it doesn't work then, I'm just going to have to suck it up and go shopping.

Right now, I really hate this wedding.

Making it work!!

I had an unexpected day off of work yesterday. It was pouring down rain for most of the day, and generally when that happens, I get called and told to take the day off from the garden center job because they don't get enough customers to keep a cashier there all day. Bad for my wallet, good for my time. And then my one flute student of the day ended up not coming because her mom forgot about it! (Which is understandable, since this was just week 2 at her new time.) It was probably a good thing I didn't have work, because I had a massive nauseating headache (I miss the days when I didn't have allergies), but it also gave me time to work on my sister-of-the-groom dress.

Thanks to Antoinette's suggestions, I was able to make some tweaks to my muslin that made it look much better-- still not the perfect fit, but good enough (and probably still better than I'd get with a RTW dress, since those tend to be huge at my waist) given that I'm basically at the point of trying to make a couture dress on a Project Runway deadline! So I'm giving my inner perfectionist the smackdown and carrying on with it. Yesterday I finished the muslin, marked all of the seams, and transferred that to my paper pattern (you kind of get the idea here-- the original black lines were the ones I marked on the muslin at first, and the red lines are where I ended up having to move the darts and seams to! Except for the shoulder--I had to take in a good bit there too so that's the new seam line.) I also spent a couple of hours last night doing my first attempt at thread tracing the seam and dart lines. (Except on the last piece I got lazy and decided to skip the neck and armhole seams, since they're still going to be your basic 5/8" seam).

It was insanely time-consuming, but I'm glad I did it because so far it's been helpful. I'm having my own personal Project Runway day today (currently on lunch break) and trying to see how much of this dress I can get done before my best friend comes over for Beatles Rock Band time!! So far, I've gotten all the darts sewn and pressed, and the invisible zipper put into the back. I'm still afraid the side darts may have gone a little wonky because I had to tweak them a bit further to get the ends to line up properly and not take a huge chunk out of the seam. But I'm thrilled with the zipper-- provided I don't screw up the rest of the back seam, this may very well be the best invisible zipper I have put in to date. I'm also glad that I thought to do a test seam first with some of the scraps to check about stitch length and pressing, because I discovered that silk charmeuse will show every single line from both the edge of a dart and the edge of the iron. So I had to play around with a couple of pressing cloths around here in an attempt to avoid that. I'm also going to be making my first attempt at a Hong Kong seam finish, because the edges of the fabric are fraying badly and I know it won't hold up to a serger. So this project is just a ginormous learning experience, isn't it? I just hope it looks good at the end!!

September 9, 2009

I think I have a winner! (But I need some help.)

So I finally have a pattern that I think I can work with in making that dress for my brother's wedding! It's just a very basic McCall's sheath dress, and I've spent the last couple of hours basting it together and tweaking it. There are some definite changes that have to be made-- namely the neckline, which I'm going to have to reshape due to needing to take a bigger shoulder seam in order to get the armholes to stop gapping and get the bust darts, which I'd lowered some, to go back into the right place. (I decided to experiment with this to try and get it to fit, and it also told how to measure to get the point of the darts pointed at the fullest part of the bust, but I think I may have gotten it a little off.) But there are also some fitting adjustments that will need to be made, and for this I'm asking for the help of you lovely readers.


#1: The zipper in the back is gapping at the neck. I've already partially unbasted it and rebasted it to curve it in more-- currently at 1" in rather than 5/8". Is this something I should be worried about, or will reshaping the neckline throw it off further, or will putting the facings in (and therefore removing some of that raw edge) solve the problem?

#2: The bust darts. I've never quite been able to get this double-dart bodice thing down--it seems like I always get that weird fabric bubble between the two. This is no exception. I tried tapering the side dart to get less of a point, but I'm not sure if that made it better or worse. I did also have to take the vertical darts in a bit more because it was hanging way too loosely around my waist. Which I tapered it out from the seam, further down than the point. You can see that I'm also getting some weird wrinkles in the front from the picture, too, though I think it may hang a bit better on me than on the dummy.


(And another shot of the darts on the other side.)






#3: The back. This is where I'm getting the weirdest wrinkles. Again, I had to take the darts in some more, but I actually ended up letting those out further again than what I'd originally taken in, and then taking in a little bit on the side seams. That helped a bit, but I still don't think it should have all of those wrinkles in there.
So please, please, any advice you can offer me would be so welcome--the wedding is 3 weeks from Saturday, and with balancing 3 jobs right now, this pattern is pretty much my last shot at getting a dress sewn up in time! If the fabric is a factor, I'm using silk charmeuse, so it would be drapier than the muslin. And I really don't know what on earth I'm going to do with it--not to mention the silk velvet I bought to make a matching wrap--if I don't use it for this wedding. (Not to mention I really would prefer to not have to shop for a dress when I've got gorgeous fabric to play with!)

September 6, 2009

Time for plan C

Man, crazy work week. But somehow, I managed to work in cutting out the muslin from the BWOF pattern I was considering using for the dress I'll be wearing to my brother's wedding. Notice the use of past tense... I basted it together yesterday, and it's kind of a fail on me. I had to cut it as a size 40 to accommodate my hip size, which is slightly larger than my bodice size, so I knew it would hang loose on me.

But this is kind of ridiculous. (Please ignore my messy room in the photos.) It's a little hard to tell on Donna (my faithful duct-tape covered model dummy), but on me, it has the overall effect of making me look rather flat-chested (which I am certainly not) and hippy (and not in the groovy 60s sort of way).

And while the top is helped somewhat by taking it in (here with the assistance of some clothespins), as you can see here, that has the unfortunate side effect of making the pleats balloon out. As stated before, my hips don't need the help.

Also, it had the overall effect of looking like a dress that might be good on me...ten years from now. I'm already tripping over the thought of turning 30 in a year and a half...let's not bump it up a decade, k?

So I am now moving on to plan C, which will be a simple sheath dress from a McCall's pattern that I already owned and somewhat tested out (sort of... I hacked it up a lot to make it into an empire-waisted shirt, a la Firefly.) Cut out the muslin this afternoon, attempted to make a few adjustments to the darts, we'll see how it works out. (Hopefully it will, because it's getting to the point where if I don't find a pattern that works by, say, the end of this week, I'm going to have to just suck it up and buy a dress. With the wedding 4 weeks from yesterday and 3 jobs going on, I'm running out of time!!)

Oh, speaking of making it work, I'm glad Marshall went home on Project Runway this week. Saying that he was looking for someone to carry him through the challenge was just suicide, and when Heidi comments on not sewing, you know it's bad. But I really didn't like Ra'mon's dress. Sorry.