Saturday, April 30, 2011

the fun of fitting

My sewing machine jammed last night. Despite taking out a cotton ball's worth of fuzz and checking the tension, its still a bit wonky. Rather than tinker with it yet again this evening, I decided to start fitting New Look 6587. I've made coarse adjustments to the whole thing (FBA, removing excess from the sides, etc....) and finer ones to my right, image left. It's not quite there yet -- especially the darts in the back. I plan to do this with a stripey fabric, so it needs to be *right*. I have a few thoughts, but I figured I'd try to take advantage of the blogosphere. Any thoughts?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Bodice! and Me Made June!

Look! a bodice! (or the, I'm signing up for MMJ, so I should probably post a picture of what I'm working on post)

The side bust panels are from V2788, but is otherwise self drafted and ad-hoc.

Now, for Me-Made-June, the latest challenge to be rolled out by our fair Zoe.

I, Allison, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-June 2011. I will endeavor wear at least one garment I've made or refashioned each day for the duration of June 2011

Yes, Yes, I know that all through Me-Made-March I fussed, I know I grumbled, I know I went on about how it was a completely arbitrary challenge, and I wear what I make anyway, so why was I doing it*... but really, it was cold and I was stuck in two pairs of pants for most of the month. But now.... now it is time for sundresses.

you can sign up too, at So, Zo, what do you know?

*but I still did... every single day of march

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Reference Materials

Life is getting in the way of sewing again (but in fun ways) so instead of a progress post, I offer book recommendations. The following are a few of my favorites:

Claire Shaeffer's Fabric Sewing Guide: It explains how to pre-treat, work with and care for anything you may encounter. It also has a burn test guide which I've found to be invaluable.

The Art of Manipulating Fabric, by Collete Wolf: Anyway to fold, smush, or alter your fabric to turn it into something completely new is in here. Some of them are more than a little wacky, but its a really fun book with good instructions.

Couture Sewing Techniques, also by Claire Shaeffer: My favorite part describes how to make a corslette and insert it into a dress. This is where I learned bound button-holes, etc. An all together excellent book. (The link is to the revised edition... I have the original. Having never seen the new one, my guess is the mid-90s images have been replaced with something a bit more modern, but I could be totally wrong)

I also have the Palmer and Alto XYZ for Real People series. They are informative, but don't go into a lot of detail after one finishes with tissue fitting. So after having read them once or twice, I find I don't really need to refer to them anymore.

The draping references I have are primarily photocopies from a class I took, and seem to have come from the February/March 2009 issues of threads magazine. (Sculpt the Silhouette by Julien Cristofoli -- I'm not finding a link) (I'm a big fan of their mini-tutorials)

of course, there are innumerable others, from the V&A collection, the Bronx museum, Paris Couture, etc.... but those are for inspiration and the joy of looking at pretty things and depend more on personal taste than anything else.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Here we go again.....

Perusing my patterns, lovely little packets of bliss that they are, and trying to decide what to do now that I am 'allowed' to buy fabric again, I came back to Butterick 4790, which I think would be lovely in green batik. (So, yes, I think everything would be lovely in green batik, but I do try to limit it) But as it was Sunday evening, on a holiday no less, I didn't even bother going to the store and instead dug through my stash, because I really can't go all that long without something to play with. During my dig, I came upon an old wrap skirt I'd bought in college but hadn't worn for years because it had no shaping and was impressively unflattering. (To the point I refused to photograph it on me in its before state). I still loved the color and the embroidery, so I decided it was ripe for refashion. So.......

After playing with it for a bit, I ended up settling on a fitted sundress. As five panels were sufficient to cover me, and I thought a bodice would be a nice idea, I removed the tie and the sixth panel, then pinned the other five in a bit. I then pinned everything to myself and attempted to pose like a Hindu goddess. (This was somewhat less than successful) (Context, I bought this from an Indian shop, and all the all the embroidery is on that general theme) (Yes mom, in the final version the bodice will in fact go all the way around my body. Don't worry.)

All of which leads me to.... I still have an awful lot of fabric. Lots and lots and lots. I've also got ideas for some of it, so with the exception of the 50s cocktail dress I'm planning for a friend's wedding, and the aforementioned green batik, I'm going back on fabric fast for another ten items. The rules of the game are any fabric purchased prior to January 2011 counts, as do refashions which take a previously unwearable garment and turn it into something I now enjoy.

(which makes this number one.) 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Seersucker? Done! Stash-Bust? Done!

Yep, I rock my very own world. Last night may have involved trying to on to get the hem line right, dressing it up, and then dancing. Despite not photographing particularly well, the scrappy dappy seersucker goes wonderfully with the black eyelet. With the right accesories (and believe me, I experimented) it manages to be both sweet and kind of badass at the same time. Most pleased.

So now, a quick review of the items I'm counting for my ten thinger total:

purple knit, tuxedo jeans, pink skirt, gauze skirt*, brown eyelet skirt, apron, red dress*, crinoline, bedsheet dress, and of course the two above, the black eyelet skirt and the seersucker top. Some of the posts are a bit sparse, as the projects pre-date the blog and all I have are the MMM descriptions.

Now, were one to actually count, as I just did, there would be 11. Its the stealth apron, plus a healthy dose of not paying enough attention.

*In the case of the red dress and the gauze skirts, these were both reworkings of items I had made previously. However, the red dress used up all the red scraps, and he brown gauze went from sitting in the pile to be dealt with to something I enjoy wearing, so they count. (plus, stealth apron!)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Cave of Wonders


All shiny and clean :) I have to go through it about every five projects as its not unknown for bits to pile up half a foot high all around the herd. (what? sewing machines are herd animals. Its important for them to have company.)

Next up is finishing the scrappy-dappy seersucker. I got the elastic thread I need for the shirring in the back (it gapes, but I need the ease if I want to do something wacky like lean forward) which will complete my ten items from the stash. I'm going to *try* to be good and not run amok, and do in fact have another stash project lined up.... but there are so many pretty fabrics.. (but then, quite a few of them live in giant plastic boxes that hide under my desk... so, lets here it for admiring from a distance.)

However, I did give in just a little this evening... When I went to get the elastic thread, I stopped and looked through the pattern books (fabric porn?) and found this: Vogue 1239. (mine now!) The funny thing is that is that while I all but hyperventilate when thinking of it as an absurdly elegant evening coat, its officially a dress. And as a dress it seems almost (but not quite) frumpy. (primarily from the back, but with a little bit of armpit action) This may just be me. But me-thinks it will be a coat :)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Time for a quickie....

I may have gotten waylaid whilst organizing my sewing closet.....

Anyhow, here I present yet another stash buster. The pattern, "Emmaline Apron" by Montessori by Hand, was a gift from the ever lovely Liza after I admired her incarnation. (While a very talented and crafty person -- primarily knitting -- she's yet to start a blog, so no pic).

Mine is rather less elegant, although I think the eggplant and carrot are apropos

Theoretically I should now finish dealing with the closet. hrrrm... or maybe, biscuits. That's sounding awfully likely -- after all, the apron *needs* a test run... it might be broken.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

crazy quilt

Tanit-Isis' crazy quilt post got me thinking about mine. It was one of those wacky projects that ended up taking far and away longer than I ever anticipated. This was back in high school when the majority of my projects were massive costuming endeavors (there were a series of Elizabethan gowns) and I wanted a movie watching project, so I decided to take all the scraps I'd accumulated from years of screwing around, and make a crazy quilt. I also decided that every single stitch would be hand sewn. fast forward several years, and I'm about to head to college... I'd gotten the whole top pieced together by the middle of the summer, and started working on the actual quilting -- also entirely hand sewn. Now, I was working at a summer camp in southern Virginia at the time, a summer camp without air conditioning. Quilting did not advance as far as it could have... Anyhow, I had it in my head that *this* would be my quilt at college, so I basted the thing, and took it with me. For years, I'd pull out the hoop when I was watching a movie in my room and get a bit more done... this continued through grad school, by which time almost everything was finished. But then I graduated, moved, got a bigger bed, and with that needed a new and larger quilt. Having

 learned my lessons, my lovely crazy quilt was carefully packed away to finish soon. I don't think I've taken it out until today (this is a lag of approximately two years) There are only a few panels left to quilt, and I could probably get it done in several months, but it seems more of a wintertime project, so me thinks it will once again be lovingly packed away to wait for future inspiration and a dire need for a MASSIVE amount of handwork.

(Yes, I know the spirals are a little crazy. Each panels has its own quilting pattern based on the fabric. I thought it was pretty and wanted to share (i.e. show off) )

Thursday, April 14, 2011


And two shades of black. Fashion faux pas, I know. Happily, I will be standing within a hundred other people, and in the 3rd row, so the audience won't see the error of my ways.

(This is what happens when you wear the same choir outfit for years on end, and then part of it tares beyond repair. Next up, new shirt -- although I may just get black dye, and renew this sucker)

Anyhow -- horray for the skirt. The only thing its missing is a pocket, and I may slit the lace after the concert and put a pocket in the lining. The trials and tribulations of the lipbalm addict.

Oddly cropped picture, due to a failed experiment with pinning my bangs up on top of my head ...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

and now for something completely different...

I realized Monday that the choir concert was in fact *this* week, that I really did dislike the skirt I had thrown together a year ago when my original tore, and that all the black fabric in my stash was somehow transparent.... (insert your expletive(s) of choice)

<--nifty black eyelet!!!

The original plan for this fabric was a white lining, so it would look like polka dots, but not... (It was both genius and hilarious in my mind at the time) but in the year I've had it, it never was... right. However, over black, it goes from quirky and odd to an interesting and lovely texture. (and faaar more wearable on a regular basis)

I decided to go with a flowy, gathered, tiered skirt. The eyelet layer is self drafted (i.e. I fed it through the gathering foot of my serger. We're talking serious drafting skills on this one) and the lining is the skirt off New Look 6886. I'd also like to take a moment to discuss the fact that my serger is a BEAST and sews right through pins without a hiccup.

Anyhow, I had to play with the light levels a bit to get the lines to show -- but ta da! (stylishly worn over my pajamas)
I still need to put in the zipper, etc to finish it, but, eh, I can bop around and twirl, so I'm pleased.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Return of the Seersucker

(Please pretend all of this is crawling up your screen, star wars style.)

Having merrily distracted myself for the past week or so, its back to the seersucker with renewed vim and vigor! The neckline and straps are bound, the zipper is in, I just need to full attach everything (i.e. el straps) and hem it, and this sucker will be done!

It often astounds me how a project that is just dragging on can become exciting again just by putting it down for a week.

Also, further thoughts on the bedsheet dress. While taking the four inches off did help, it still isn't tight enough to wear without a belt. However, due to the age of the fabric and the lack of good stretch and recovery these days, I am hesitant to take it any further. However, I think its going to be a good basis for future dresses. I recently got a pair of red flats and I've decided I need a black dress to go with them... (so yes, I shop backwards. it happens)

plus, I seem to be sinking into the floor...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bedsheet Dress -- the finale.

And, done! It ended up being just barely long enough (I like my skirts right below my knees) so between length and my issues with finishing the edges of knits (i.e. I am clueless) I decided to try something that couldn't stretch -- bias tape! When I picked it out in the store the color seemed like a close match -- as we can see, this is most definitely not the case, but, as with many random happenings, I liked it, so I decided to let it go. If it bugs me, I'll just dye the whole thing a darker blue.

(the neckline STILL stretched a little anyway -- basically, I need to stop screwing around and actually read up on knits)

random fact of the moment: The hem of my skirt is nearly 6 yards around. (tape = handy measurement tool)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

because lets face it, I'm easily distracted....

For today's interruption, I present Katie and her wedding dress. (Gorgeous, no?) Anyhow, she ordered a custom gown from a place in hong kong, and miracle of miracles, it actually fit when it arrived -- however, there were the usual minor issues. The flower holding on the strap was rather poorly made (the glue was visible through the layers -- see the fourth picture) and there was no way to tie up her enormous train. While I normally avoid doing people's alterations like the plague, I was intrigued by the idea of doing something with a wedding dress, and offered to help. (Plus, I knew I could throw together the kind of flower she wanted in under 20 minutes, and at the time we were discussing this, the plan for the train was to but a strap need the end and have her carry it on her wrist, like the ladies did at the turn of the previous century / Grecian.... to go with her theme.)

Anyhow, the flower came together easily -- I forgot to get a close up, but its on her dress in the first picture. The wrist strap turned out to be a bust, as all the fabric was too heavy, so I threw together a quickie bustle -- i.e. four ribbons -- two above her knees, and two at the end of the train. It gets enough off it off the floor that she'll be able to dance -- and while I'm a little worried that there ought to be more support, I'm going to be bustling her up day off, and I have prior permission to go nuts with safety pins, and I think I shall, as the layer if chiffon on top with hide many sins.)

Notice any similarities? There are reasons we're friends...

In bedsheet dress news, I took it in a quarter inch at each seam while doing the straight stitching, which took a total of four inches off the whole --- much more fitted now, but still not ..tight. However, I am pleased with it, and will just ditch the seam allowance altogether in later iterations. (This this is too comfortable for words. There will probably be many iterations.) (In fact I am wearing it now, because hemming is only required if I plan to leave the house...)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Bedsheet Dress!

Current state of affairs is is serged, but not straight stitched (which I'll need to do, as I was lazy and left the black thread in the serger). It still needs bindings, a hem, a side seam, and the pocket I left it open for... but otherwise, dress!

It turns out my seam allowance estimates were more than generous, so it came out rather more like a mumu than the form fitting tank dress I was going for -- but with the extra material gathered under the bust, and the belt I used to hold it onto the dress form yesterday, it actually looks halfway decent.

Also, fortuitous happening of the day, the two panels I cut out from the lighter sheet -- which were chosen at random -- ended up coming together on one side of the dress, and look like I planned it -- so I think I may just go with it, rather than dyeing the whole thing a darker blue. Any thoughts? I could use a second (third, fourth, fifth) opinion. (thoughts on the under bust pinning vs. taking in the seams about a quarter inch all the way around?)
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