Aug 30, 2015

Vogue 1387--meh

I'm now at two failed sewing projects in a row.  It's so frustrating, especially when I didn't expect to run into any major difficulties.  It's one thing to tackle a big, complicated project, but it's very much another to fail at a basic blouse.  I'm trying not to blame myself.  It's hard though; I've been sewing for long enough to have developed some confidence in my ability, and I really dislike not being able to save a project.  Wasted fabric just makes me really sad, not to mention the wasted time.

My first fail was Vogue 9085, a Very Easy Vogue pattern that should have been quick and painless.  I liked the band collar and sleeves on this blouse, and it looked to me like a pattern that would need only minimal fitting.  I chose a size according to my bust measurement, but I neglected to check the hip width.  In my defense, the line drawing looks like a loose-fitting shape, almost like a tunic.  Wrong.  I could barely get it to go over my hips, which was not the look I wanted. 

Line Art

I don't actually have this pattern anymore--it went into the trash after way too much time wasted trying to get this blouse to fit, only to realize that either I made a major mistake in cutting out the collar or the collar is not drafted to fit the neckline.  I'm leaning toward the latter.  

After removing all evidence of this first failure from my sewing space, I began anew with lots of enthusiasm.  I planned to make Vogue 1387 view B as a nice transitional blouse.

Line Art

I washed a bunch of fabric all at once so that maybe I could get on a roll with my fall sewing plans.  I thought it would be fine to wash all of my fabric together since they were all dark colors.  Word to the wise: red and black buffalo plaid flannel should always be washed separately.

I was a bit sad to see this, particularly because Cotton + Steel fabric is not cheap, but where there are problems, there can also be solutions.  My solution was hot pink Rit dye.

I had never dyed any fabric before, so this was a fun adventure.  My fabric took the color beautifully, but after the dyeing, I didn't feel like view B was a good match for it anymore.  Instead, I decided to go with view A.

This was not a good decision.  I'm going to blame most of the issues I had with this pattern on my fabric choice--too crisp, not enough drape.  The rest of my issues stem from the construction process. 

So, here's the almost finished blouse, minus the hem.  I'm not even sure I'm going to bother with hemming.  There are quite a few things I like about the design: the pleats at the yoke, the drawstring at the waist, the curved hem, the faux wrap.  I even think the fit would be pretty good in a fabric with more drape (I would probably tack the wrap closed).

I'm not crazy about the binding at the shoulders.  I'm pretty sure it's not supposed to stick out like that.  It makes me feel a little too space-agey or something.  Again, this would likely be solved by a better fabric choice.

Here's the back.  I like the V at the neckline, but the gathered yoke combined with the drawstring waist look terrible in this fabric.  Ick.

My major issues with this pattern are all with the construction of the armhole binding.  I honestly have no idea how the original directions could yield a decent result; it just doesn't make sense to me.  I hate the way my binding and gussets came out, which is a major reason why this blouse will probably never get a hem.

That's not to say that all is lost for Vogue 1387.  I will not be so easily defeated.  I have some burgundy gauze that I think will be pretty for view B, and I would really like to make view A work for me at some point.  Here are the changes I would make (you're welcome, future self):
1.  Sew the armhold binding before stitching the side seams.
2.  Finish the raw edges of the gussets before sewing them to the armholes.
3.  Sew in the gussets by stitching-in-the-ditch instead of sewing them to the seam allowance.
4.  Choose a fabric with lots of drape and no directional print.

I think it might be time to do a bit of kid sewing to get me back on track...

Aug 16, 2015

and finally, something interesting {v9077}

I haven't been around the blog nearly as much as I thought I might be this summer.  It's not for lack of sewing, but honestly, my summer sewing has been a bit repetitive and maybe even...boring.  I don't think anyone is going to be riveted by my fourth Wiksten tank or by Colin's third pair of Sketchbook shorts.


I've made a few repeat dresses too, which may make their way to the blog at some point.  I should also admit that I find taking showers and brushing my hair a little too strenuous for June and July, so taking pictures of these dresses had to wait.  However, my sweet high school babies are headed back to me on Tuesday, so I figured it was time to start practicing looking like an adult.  

I bought Vogue 9077 last spring thinking that it would be a good summer project, one that I could take my time on and enjoy.  There are a lot of interesting details in the line drawings:

Line Art 

Surprisingly, I have not found any other versions of this dress on the internet yet, so here is mine in a lovely linen/cotton blend.

I decided to put my darts on the inside instead of on the outside like the line drawing, mainly because I wasn't sure I could make my darts neat enough for them to be on display like that.  I also added a skirt lining to try to keep some of the wrinkling at bay.  Otherwise, I followed the pattern directions.  I cut a size 12, which is roughly where my measurements put me, but after looking at the finished measurement on the pattern, I decided to grade out to a 14 at the waist.  I probably don't need the extra room at the waist, but I'm happy with the amount of ease--this will be a comfortable dress to wear to work.  I also shortened the bodice by an inch, a standard alteration for my short torso.

I think the diagonal detail at the bodice looks pretty awesome, and it keeps this dress from looking boring.  I'm super proud of my button placket!  I've done a placket like this before in an Oliver and S pattern, so I don't know why it felt scarier in an adult pattern.  I'm a tiny bit annoyed by the collar--I wish I had trimmed the undercollar to accommodate turn-of-cloth, but otherwise, it turned out okay.  And, in case you're wondering what this looks like without the belt, here it is.

It's hard to decide, belt or no belt.  I like it from the front with the belt, but from the back without. 

When I first finished this dress, I put it on and strutted down the hall to show my husband, so proud of myself.  His first comment was, "you look like a flight attendant."  He later amended his statement...but now I can't get that image out of my head.  I think this is kind of a futuristic flight attendant dress, but I don't care.  Still love it.

Jul 19, 2015

sewaholic gabriola

Isn't summer the best?  In between swimming lessons, parks, gymnastics, and more swimming, I finally got around to making the Sewaholic Gabriola, which is basically like a grown-up princess skirt.  I started with five yards of rayon challis, and even though this pattern eats a lot of fabric, I still have enough left to make a matching blouse.

I really love the shape of this skirt! The panels at the hip give it a slim fit, but the hem is still plenty full.  I cut my usual size 6 for Sewaholic patterns, and I didn't find that any changes were needed for fit.  Rayon challis works well for this style of skirt--it feels like a dream to wear.  I'm not sure I chose the best top to pair with it though.  I thought that the high waist and slim shape would work with a loose t-shirt tucked in, but after looking at these pictures, I think (hope?) I can find a different top that is more flattering.

Construction-wise, this skirt gave me a run for my money.  I cut the lower front panels on the straight grain, hoping that would make the construction easier, but I ended up cutting those front panels three more times because I couldn't wrap my head around how the pattern pieces were supposed to fit together.  I would just stare at the shapes and stare at the directions and turn everything all kinds of was a bit frustrating.  In the end, I found some help in the sewalong, and it all turned out fine.  I'm so proud of my seam matching even if the print obscures the seam lines quite a bit.  Squint and see if you can find the seams:

 front panels

side panels

Once I figured out the hip panel geometry, the rest of the sewing process went smoothly.  I did have to carefully ease the top of the skirt into the waistband, but it turned out fine. After my confusion and head-scratching over the hip panels, I think I kept waiting for the next issue--every time a step went smoothly, I breathed a sigh of relief.  This is not supposed to be a particularly difficult skirt.  This one was on me. ;-)

Jun 13, 2015

summer lux

Yay for summer break!  I am so excited about the lazy days ahead, especially since there is a 10-year anniversary beach vacay in my near future.  I pretty much packed away my sewing stuff during the month of May, but I'm back full swing with a long list of summer projects.  One of the first items on my list was this little outfit for my almost six-year-old.


This is another version of the Charlie dress by Mingo and Grace, except turned into a swingy tank top.  I made no alterations to the pattern except to leave off the flounce.  The fabric is a gorgeous Nani Iro border print double gauze, hence the "lux" in the post title. :-) Double gauze really does feel so luxurious.  The shorts are Striped Swallow's Coachella shorts in linen.  I didn't sandwich the bias tape around the raw edges; instead, I applied it like flat piping.

The Charlie dress is really straightforward in terms of construction, and I want to make a million more of them.  I love the way this style looks on Cara--a tiny bit more grown up (but just a teeny, tiny bit) but still perfect for playing at the park.

I had a bit more trouble with the Coachella shorts.  I guess I'm not used to following directions anymore, so I found myself quite confused about how to overlap and attach the back of the shorts to the front.  I had an idea of how I thought it should work, which didn't match up with the directions at all.  I tried twice to make the method in the directions work, but in the end, I just did what I wanted to do, which was to simply topstitch to attach the back of the shorts to the front.

Isn't this double gauze print just gorgeous?  After I used a chunk of this fabric for myself (cough, cough), I didn't have enough left to cut the back using the border print.  I like how the back looks full of those watercolor flowers though.  No harm in being just a bit selfish. ;-)

Silly and sassy describe this girl perfectly. 

Cara has enthusiastically approved this outfit, so I think she may end up with a few more.  A girl can never have too many tanks and shorts.

May 10, 2015

seersucker charlie

I have no business sewing right now.  I am drowning in essays, quizzes, and the dreaded Independent Literary Analysis (an assignment as torturous for me as it is valuable for my students), and as a reasonable professional, I should be spending my weekend grading.  However, I am not entirely reasonable, and it is Mother's Day weekend.  One of my favorite things about being a mom is sewing for my kiddos.  Seriously, it's on my top ten list.

Because I know I shouldn't be sewing right now, I've compensated by becoming obsessed with planning my summer sewing projects.  How silly.  Yards and yards of beauties have arrived at my house only to be washed, folded, and stashed out of sight until June 7.  Except for this lovely bit of seersucker that I just couldn't put away.  I ordered this plaid seersucker with the Mingo and Grace Charlie dress in mind, and I figured that I could make an exception to my sewing moratorium for a dress so simple and adorable.

Cara is a big fan of Charlie.  It meets her criteria of 1. being a dress; 2. being a twirly dress; and 3. being pink.   I went with a size 6 width/7 length based on Cara's chest measurement and other reviews I read of this pattern.  I was worried that her dress might turn out too short to last through the summer, but she's got plenty of room in both length and width.

The construction of this dress is pretty simple.  I used my own method for the bias facing at the neckline and armholes.  I really like that the ruffle on the bottom is drafted to have a slightly curved shape; I think this gives the ruffle a nice drape.  I'm also quite tickled with my center back seam and it's horizontal stripe matching.  And that little flower button.

 Where did my child's teeth go?

This is a perfect dress for summer in South Carolina.  You can't go wrong with plaid seersucker in the south, and it's airy shape should keep my girl somewhat cool and comfortable.  And, in case you need to know, Cara tested the twirl factor extensively and awarded her approval.

Apr 25, 2015

v8574 goes to prom

In case you missed it, I teach high school English, and in high school, there is no bigger deal than prom (except for maybe graduation, although I think that's a bigger deal to the parents sometimes.  That's a post for another day...).  My school requires gently asks all teachers to attend prom for at least an hour, and I look at this as an opportunity to sew a fancy dress.  I'm not sure I can ever top last year's dress, but I think this dress holds its own.  And it gave me a good excuse wear red lipstick.

This is Vogue 8574, a dress Vogue likes to call "Very Easy Vogue."  I absolutely disagree with Vogue on this point.  While this is not a difficult dress to sew, I can't say that it was very easy.  The curved neckline and the precision required for the pleats definitely take this dress up a notch, but I'm really happy with the way everything turned out.  I should point out that this is not a fitted dress.  I cut a size smaller than my measurements call for and still ended up using a one inch seam allowance in the center back seam.  The end result is flowy and loose but still quite flattering, I think.

I used a lovely Joel Dewberry rayon challis for this dress, and it was delightful to work with.  This dress has a lined bodice, so a completely opaque fabric is necessary unless you want to add a skirt lining.  I found this fabric to be perfect for this dress.  It drapes and folds perfectly, and I love the vibrant reds matched with the subtle grays.  The large print lends itself well to a floor-length gown. 

The only issue I encountered was with the neckline.  I originally interfaced only the facing as the pattern instructs, but I found that the outer layer pulled and stretched a bit with the weight of the skirt.  I'm afraid I became a bit of a promzilla and recut the neckline, interfaced both sides and reconstructed the bodice.  In the process, I shortened the bodice maybe half an inch.  The bodice ended up fitting better than before, so I'm calling it a win.

I also decided to add a hand-picked zipper instead of an invisible zip just because.

I'm pretty excited to wear this dress tonight, and I have a few additional occasions in mind for this lovely.  I feel quite elegant wearing it, and really, isn't that what prom is all about?

Apr 12, 2015


At the end of my Spring Break, I realized that my closet had gotten a bit out of control, to the point that I couldn't close the doors anymore.  It was tough, but I sent two big garbage bags of clothes, shoes, and purses to Goodwill, and I even included a few of my handmades that didn't make the cut.  Admitting that something I sewed needed to leave my closet was particularly heart-wrenching--I'm so emotionally attached to those pieces.  I think I have a bit of guilt in admitting that I just don't like to wear a particular handmade garment.  If I spent the time and energy to plan and construct the garment, then I feel like I have an obligation to wear it.  I'm aware that this is not an entirely rational argument.

After the pains of purging came the joys of a clean closet with pretty much every item visible.  The doors can now be closed, which, interestingly, has lead to other changes in my morning routine.  I've never been one to make my bed (just ask my mom!), but having a clean, organized closet makes me want to have everything else in the room neat and tidy.  My husband was really confused at first, but I think he has appreciated that small step in housekeeping.

All of this closet-focused energy is quite timely as Me Made May is just around the corner.  I really enjoyed participating last year, and of course, I want to raise the bar a bit for this year's challenge.  My wardrobe is not 100% handmade, actually not even 50% handmade.   I have never made pants or knitted a sweater, so those items are all store bought.  My percentage of handmades is quite high for skirts and dresses; 71% of my skirts are handmade, along with 63% of my dresses.  I've made quite a few blouses this year, but still, only 31% of my tops (shirts, cardigans, blouses, across seasons) are handmade.  I started to wonder how much of my wardrobe I actually want to be me-made.  As much I might love to have passed every item in my closet through my sewing machine, I don't think that's a realistic goal for me.  I work a full-time job, I'm a mama to my two precious babies, and I want to have time to hang out with my husband and maybe even have a few friends.  While my sewing skills have progressed significantly since I started sewing in earnest five years ago, sometimes I'm still unhappy with the way my garments turn out.  I don't think I should force myself to wear things that I don't love.

Is it hard for other sewists to let go of handmade garments?  How much of your wardrobe is me-made?
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