Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Broke Woman's Myrtle - In Progress

I don't have $14-18 to shell out for patterns at the moment but I was kind of interested in Colette Patterns' newest, Myrtle. So I had a look through the sale pattern catalogs at Hancock's last weekend, thinking I could find something close, since Myrtle is a pretty basic style.

And, voila! Plus sleeves (which, unfortunately, are missing from the Colette version).

Pretty close match, eh? Just goes to show there's really nothing new under the sun.

This one's not done yet. I still have to hem the sleeves and since it's a crappy thin rayon knit, I need to let it sit/stretch on Zillie for a couple of days before I hem the bottom.

Hopefully, I'll get back to the dress mid-week and have some pics before next weekend, both of the dress on me and how I used my Otto TNT tee to make sure the KS would fit.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

I Made the Dress, But I Didn't Make It Work

The dress is done, so there's that. But bad fabric cutting and extra fullness (mine and the dress') killed it. I will show it on me at some point but Sundays here are not the days I want to model for the camera. Trust me, you don't want that either.

So, before I come clean with the ugliness, let's explore some other points.

The morph of the two patterns (S2281 and S4122) worked out well and I may even revisit it in the future. After the pain has left my memory. The part I don't like isn't from the morph, but from S2281 alone, but more on that in a bit. I like the open, wide-yoked neckline much better than the original S2281 design. High necklines and me don't get along. I didn't want to lose the pleated raglan sleeves from S2281 but I also wasn't willing to put even more time into re/creating them for this morph. Maybe another time.

This is the inside view. I ditched the waistband "facing" cuz ... well ... fiddly poly fabric and unmotivation (Now a word. You're welcome.). I did interface it and with that, it's more than stable enough. The yoke is faced, and interfaced.

I edgestitched the yoke ...

... and the waistband, and all my seams lined up great so yay for an accurate morph.

Here's where it starts to get ugly ...

Good lord ... was I drunk when cutting that fabric? Let this illustrate how cutting single layer can be a project saver. And, more importantly, how not can be a project killer.

I admit I'm usually an eyeballer ... that is, I lay out my pattern pieces and align by eye and not by ruler. This is NOT because I don't know the importance of accurate grain. It's because I have excellent spatial skills. Not a brag ... it just is. (On the other hand, I can't carry a tune in a bucket.) And because of those spatial skills, most of the time I'm spot on. Except when I'm not. As you can see below. To be fair, this looks a lot worse in a still photo with the waistband hung up on some dressform phantom than it does in real life. But even then, she ain't purty. And I have no excuse except that I'm human and not everything that comes out of my sewing room is rainbows and unicorns. ;-)

And to add insult to crooked injury ... look at that first photo again (below for convenience) ... I inadvertently lined up the bodice and waistband pieces so perfectly that YOU CAN'T EVEN SEE THE WAISTBAND. Hahahaha ... if you can't laugh, you'll scream. :-)

But even if I had perfectly cut fabric, I'd still hate the result. Because of the bustle butt. Yes, Bustle Butt. I'm trademarking that one. Why did I think I'd want (or need) gathers across my backside? Again I ask, was I drunk? If my front was as flat as Zillie's, it might even be passable. But my tummy is anything but flat and my actual side view in this dress is ...well ... let's just politely say thick and leave it at that.

About the only good thing with the result is ... remember that side invisible zipper I was dreading? Well, it turned out perfectly ...

... because I didn't need it! I sewed one sideseam for real and basted the other to see if I really needed a zip. And I didn't. Whew. Dodged that bullet.

IF I wear this dress for real, it will be with an overlayer to cover the Bustle Butt (tm). And that atrocious fabric cutting.

At least this Doomed Project From Hell is done and I can move on to something, ANYTHING, else. :-)

Have a great week!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Trying to turn "What Was I Thinking" into a "Make It Work" moment

So, I recently went to Joann's to pick up some thread with a 50% off thread coupon. Or so I thought.

Joann's is NOT a short trip for me anymore, having moved out of the 'burbs and into Tampa proper. Upon my arrival, I headed straight to the thread racks with my empty spools in tow so I could replace by color code. I just toss my empties into a Ziplock so I don't have to keep track of make a list.

After about 15 minutes, when I was done choosing my threads (about 12 spools), I wandered over to the pattern area and was happy to see a big "$2.99" sale sticker on the Simplicity drawers. I proceeded to spend another 30-40 minutes browsing the catalog and drawers and narrowing my choices down to just two Simplicity patterns. I'm broke these days so even this felt like a splurge. Giving myself a $30 limit in the store to include my pattern and thread and whatever else, I next browsed the fabrics and found some for the dress pattern I had in hand. Plus two others from clearance. I figured I needed a pick-me-up new dress and I had a long weekend for adjustments and sewing.

Can you guess where this is going?

I waited in the crowded checkout line and, finally, it was my turn. I dutifully handed over my thread coupon and my fabric coupon. And then had a mild heart attack when the total was well over $70. Apparently, my thread coupon started the NEXT day ... AND ... Simplicity patterns weren't on sale. It was a stupid (small print) New Look sale sticker on the Simplicity drawers. But by now, I really wanted to make the new dress since I had already invested time and mental sewing. So, I handed back most of thread ... some I couldn't do without, sale or no ... and one of the Simplicity patterns, and used my 40% coupon for the other, 2281. I've never paid so much for a Simplicity pattern in my life ($10-ish!!). And I still busted my budget.

Can you guess where this is going?

I've decided I really don't even like the pattern for me. I was set to make the view shown in red and with the waistband contrast. I was so intent on fabric selection and since in my mind the pattern would only be $2.99 "wasted," I totally missed how high the neckline is. Ugh.

But since I had already bought the damn thing at the high price -- and the fabric -- I decided I could make my adjustments and then just wing it for cutting down the neckline. Which I started to do ... even taking pics along the way to detail my adjustments here on the blog (see below). Except I still wasn't feeling it.

And so it sat for most of last weekend. Until I was sitting on my bed and noticed the shirt I had recently worn still hanging on my "closet annex"...

Simplicity 4122. A past TNT that I've made many times, after adjusting the yoke to be more scooped.

So, the rest of my "sewing" time last weekend was spent thinking about and then actually morphing a tracing of parts of S4122 into S2281. And here's where I am so far today.

We'll see. Part of me just wants to dump the project and move on to a quick palate cleanser, especially since I'm decidedly NOT looking forward to a side insertion invisible zipper.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Re-Make Modeled

Above is how I wore the outfit to the office this week. It's way too cold in A/C to go without a second layer. Plus, farmer's tan. ;-)

Here's the before (right) and after (left). It's not hugely dramatic but there's enough difference to see less sack and more shape.

I left the pleats at the center front of the skirt but it's hard to see them in the pic. Whatevs. They're there. And my tummy thanks me for that.

This shows the back, with the new empire seam, already serged, and the new sideseam sewn pre-serging.Yes, I was lazy and sewed it all the way down through the finished hem. And, of course, this would be the week that Carolyn posts about slow sewing and nice interiors. Hah. This ain't no couture dress. Never was. Never will be. But it's being worn, and no one but us is going to see the inside anyway, so I count that as a win.

There will be slower sewing this weekend because I think I'm going to be fitting a new dress pattern, for a woven. Good thing I have 3 days to procrastinate and over-analyze.

Happy Fourth!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Couple of Round Tuits

The cardi make and the dress re-make have been on my To Do list forEVER. I made the dress 3-4 years ago and shortly after it became too big. Since I love the print and colors, I've wanted to re-do it. I've also wanted a lightweight short-sleeved brown cascade cardi for far too long. I need the extra layer in an air-conditioned office and brown goes with so much in my wardrobe (and matches this dress too, actually, although the colors are off in the photo).

I'm happy to report that both items are now in my current wardrobe.

The cardi is a quick sew, using Simplicity 1945, which I had used once before for a beige winter version. I had it cut out last weekend but needed to get some more dark brown thread before I could sew it. Both of which I did yesterday. There's no pattern indication for short sleeves so I just eyeballed it and folded up the pattern pieces evenly so all the seams would match.

The dress re-make was a little more convoluted, especially since I also wanted to shorten it about 4 inches but without losing any of the brown "stripe" at the bottom, which meant taking the length from the waist, which meant ripping apart almost the whole dang dress. I cheated and cut the seams apart. I was making it smaller anyway, so losing seam allowances wasn't a big deal. But since this knit is kind of spring-y with a mind of its own, I had to cut very slowly to keep things even or else I would've ended up with very jagged cuts.

The original make had a front empire seam but no matching horizontal back seam. It does now, because I had to remove the unwanted length that way. Along with shortening the length about 4", I removed about 10-12" in circumference, split across the sideseams.

I took a before pic but haven't taken the after yet, since it's lazy Sunday and I'm not camera-ready. I'll do that when I wear it and show you the difference.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

A Selfish Plea

I'm doing most of my blog reading these days on my (Android) phone, with Bloglovin'. It has a great little app just for that. So, my selfish plea is that if you haven't already "claimed" your blog on Bloglovin', please do and then add a button to your blog so I can add it to my read feed and keep up with what you're doing.

I hope to squeeze in some sewing this weekend ... stay tuned.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Uptown, Downtown Done. (And the Giveaway winner.)

Here's the finished Uptown/Downtown dressed down for casual wear. I walked the dogs in it tonight! The knit is very drapey rayon/Lycra from a couple of years ago. I know lots of you also bought this and other prints when they showed up at and Fabricmart. I think I still have one or two left. It's not a great quality and thinner than I prefer but it will make a very comfortable one- or two-season summer dress.

I'll wear it with this knit cardi and heels at the office. The cardi got a slight makeover this afternoon after I finished the dress and while I still had the coral thread in the machines. It was too big and putting off a frumpy vibe, even for such a vibrant color. I hacked 1-1/2" from the sleeves and resewed the sideseams smaller and shapelier. I've been wanting to do this for over two years. Sheesh. Why do these simple fixes always get put off for so long?

Back to the dress, I ended up removing 1-1/2" from the bodice length and since I used a 5/8" seam allowance instead of the pattern's 3/8" allowance when sewing the waist seam, I effectively used (and should have cut) the medium bodice length, as shown by the pink line below. As I found out, the longest length is REALLY long on the finished dress -- even if it doesn't look like it from the pattern.

Other alterations/changes ... I've finally learned to go smaller than I usually first think with HPs for the shoulders/chest area and for this dress I cut the neckline at 12, the shoulders and upper torso (and sleeves) at 14, and blended to 16 at the waist seam and below.

I also lowered the neckline another 1-1/2" for more of a scoop and pegged the skirt using my TNT Magic Pencil as my template. Because I knew I wasn't going to use the hem band, I also lengthened the skirt 1-1/2" which gave me a nice wide hem allowance.

As I mentioned last post, the dress pieces go together like a dream. And the instructions are good too, not that I really needed them for this easy dress ... but I always like to read pattern instructions so I can report on them. This is a good pattern for beginners and, well, anyone. And with so many sizes, it's also good for lots of bodies. As usual for me with HP, no FBA done or needed.

I did deviate from the instructions for the waist elastic. I never sew a joining seam such as this at the same time as applying the elastic. Too fiddly. ;-) Instead, I sewed with a 5/8" seam allowance (1 below), then used a narrow ZZ to sew the seam allowances together close to the raw edge (2 below), leaving an opening to insert the elastic. After the elastic is inserted, sized, and adjusted evenly inside the "casing," I use a 3-step ZZ (3 below) while stretching the elastic and fabric flat, which holds the elastic in place and prevents it from twisting.

The neckband is just a straight band, which works OK even for my more scooped neckline, but I think a shaped neckband (a la the Sunshine top) would be better. Next time, I will try a morph.

The sleeves are also finished with straight bands, which adds a little more somethin' somethin' than just a hem.The bands work well here and I like the look.

Now for the Giveaway announcement ... I asked Alex to pick a number and he chose 17, which is "L".

L, please send your info to me at dcook100 at gmail dot com and the Primavera pattern will be on its way to you.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Driving Down That Good Intentions Paved Road

I really thought I'd be back earlier in the week to show my finished dress, but I ran into a speed bump on that road. More on it in a bit.

As many of you guessed, the dress I'm making is indeed the Hot Patterns Uptown Downtown.

As soon as I post this, I'm going to close comments on the last post and tomorrow announce a winner for this Hot Patterns dress (below), the Classix Nouveau Primavera. I ended up with two, one I bought and one which was gifted. So I'm paying forward the gifted copy, which is uncut, but the envelope has been opened and the little flap on the back with fabric details is smudged. But you can get that info from the HP website.

So back to my current make ... The pattern goes together like a dream, but I cut and sewed the longest length for the bodice section and as soon as I sewed the seam, zigzagged a casing in the seam allowance, and threaded my elastic through, I decided it's too long and needs to be shortened. Yeah, I should've basted, and my (over)confidence did me in. The thought of ripping all that out of the fine rayon knit put the brakes on the project for these past weekday nights. But I've now been staring at it for DAYS (and wishing I could just wear the darn thing already) and I've decided I can lose the tiny bit of skirt length from the top after all so I'll just cut the zigzags away and then do a proper frog on the main joining seam. All of this will be done while plopped in front of the tube tonight and hopefully by the time I announce the giveaway winner tomorrow, I'll also finally have a finished dress to share.

And speaking of Hot Patterns ... OMG ... after getting Trudy's teases on my phone for the last couple of days, I've just tonight seen the updated Pussycat. And. I. Want. This blouse is so me. I will definitely be saving my pennies for this one.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Guess Your Best (Giveaway), a Tip, and a Peek at the Sewing Room

Above is currently what's up in the sewing room. I expect to finish it tonight, or mostly finish, but I need to take a break and get to the grocery store. I thought I'd post a sneak peak while I'm out and make a little "contest"/giveaway. I have a duplicate all-sizes (different) dress pattern from the same indie company as I'm currently sewing. So, if you guess what dress pattern (yes, dress) the above is, your name will be entered into the giveaway draw, winner to be announced next Saturday. I'll mail the pattern anywhere, so this is open to everyone. Once I post the finished dress and identify the pattern (tomorrow evening at the earliest), the contest will close.

I spent some time yesterday organizing the sewing room a little more. I still have a LONG way to go! One of the things that was bugging me the most was not having my thread organized and handy so I got my thread racks hung and loaded. This reminded me of a little tip I picked up somewhere years and years ago, and I thought I'd share it here for anyone who hasn't heard it before.

You'd think with FOUR thread racks, I wouldn't run out of space. Hah! While there are some empty spots at the moment, that's only because I haven't replaced some used up spools yet. Usually, it's bursting with spools.

To make more space, get thee some plastic straws. Cut them about 4" long and slice/cut them lengthwise. This slice lets the straw curl tighter to fit into the spool hole easier. Slide the straw onto a spoke on your rack and double or triple your storage-per-spoke, depending on spool height. Obviously, there are no strict rules here and you cut your straws to whatever length works best for you.

Finally, here's a little peek into the "new" space. It's pretty tight in here even if it looks roomier than it is. The fabric is mess. Some rolled, some flat. All just stuck willy-nilly wherever in the cubbies. I thought I wanted it rolled, but have decided against that. The thought of getting it all organized makes my head hurt so I'm just dealing with it as is for now. There's also still more fabric in bins/boxes in various places throughout the house. It's a mess.

Speaking of hanging stuff, have any of you used the Command hooks and/or Velcro-ish hanger thingies? Those things ROCK ... as long as everything doesn't come crashing down in a couple of months. ;-)

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Dogs and a Dress

Finally a post, and some sewing.

We took the dogs to the dog beach on Davis Island today. We've been a few times in the last month since it's only a few miles away, and it's free. ;-)

That speck in the middle of the pic is Dani taking a dip.

Chili saying howdy in "dogspeak."

And trotting along to find more butts to sniff.

And that's the extent of the useable dog beach pics. It was way too bright to see my shots on the camera screen so most were blurs or shadows. But we all had a great time, photographic evidence notwithstanding.

Yesterday, I dug out a spot in the disaster that is my sewing room. I've still got fabric and other crap from the move everywhere. Plus my sewing table won't make the turn into the room so it now has a spot on the back porch, disassembled, until I chuck it. Once I have a steady income again, I'm going to have to buy a foldable cutting table, like the one I used to have. And a big clothes rack. OMG. No closet space. Urgh. And no space for my ironing board so it's living in the hallway just outside the sewing room door.

Anyway ... at the long-term temp job I've been working until something permanent happens, I've seen some ladies my general age and build rocking some shift dresses. Which is a style I like in theory, just usually not on me. But I noticed their dresses were synthenic drapey knits and the wheels started turning. And then stopped on some stashed ITY and Vogue 8805, which I made before from interlock and which was so ugly and unflattering, I tossed it before ever finishing. But I held onto the pattern. I hardly ever toss a pattern even if it has taken a walk to Wadderville. I suppose when I run low on pattern cabinet space, I might rethink that but until then ...

I'm glad I gave it another go because I think I have a winner, even if I'm a bit late to the colorblocking party. The print hides lumps, the ITY skims me and shows shape instead of a sack silhouette, and the third fabric gives an unexpected accent and pop of color in all that brown. Pardon the beach hair and red face. Oh, the sacrifices I make in the name of blogging. ;-)


And the back view ... which really is straight but hanging crooked for this pic. Of course. Keeping it real here at Stitches and Seams. :-)

I scooped the neckline lower than the original pattern, eliminated the keyhole back opening, and then  trimmed off the seam allowances and bound it with a 3/8"-A binder on my coverstitcher.

Blurry close-up of third fabric inset.

And one more gratuitous shot.

And that was my weekend. How was yours?

Also, I know lots of pics, links, etc. are broken/missing throughout the blog and I'll work on it as money and time permit.