Sunday, March 31, 2013

Strapless Knit Dress: PASS

I was hoping to debut a cozy knit shirt this weekend, but the hem is still woefully wobbly. Instead, I present my version of the Tiny Bubble dress from, you guessed it, Built by Wendy's Sew U Home Stretch.

This is not the straight-up version, which has a bubble hem (duh) and a shortened bodice. I need more room up top than a B-cup gal, so I left the bodice alone. (No, I can't lie to you. I shortened the bodice according to instructions, realized the handkerchief-sized pattern piece wouldn't do, and taped the cut-away piece back on.) While bubble hems have resurfaced in recent years, I still associate them with the smell of burning hairspray on a curling iron. So, yeah, straight hem for me.

The floral and fuchsia jersey is from my husband's late, vivacious aunt. I didn't know she sewed until after she passed and I was honored to receive some of her fabric stash.  There were some delightfully wacky prints and bold colors, in addition to yards and yards of corduroy and jersey. Truly a kindred fabric spirit.

I sewed this dress in summer 2011 and wore it constantly. The loose cut was so comfortable in the heat of July and August. It remains a perennial favorite because I can wear it so many ways. In fact, last year at this time I was wearing this dress every day as part of  the Tilly and the Buttons One Week One Pattern (OWOP) Challenge. I never did get around to submitting my photo links. Maybe this will make up for it...

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Bias Cut Top: PASS

Recently, we spent the weekend helping my in-laws upgrade their Internet service. Let no more be said of those dark times. Instead, let's focus on the happy outcome: a fluid top made from McCall's 6563 that I knew would fit because I could try on my mother-in-law's version. (Did you expect me to say that my in-laws can see pictures of their grandson online now? Yeah, that, too.)

I used a lightweight polyester print from the most amazing estate sale ever. I love the print, even more on the bias. The pattern for this top was straightforward and easy to make. If you're new to sewing, or are nervous about trying a bias cut garment, this is for you. Be warned: this top needs a camisole unless you plan not to bend over. Maybe a bias cut camisole? Hmmm....I think The Undies Book might have one of those. Until then, I'll wear this under a sweatshirt.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Undies: FAIL

My underwear drawer is in a sorry state.  It holds three pairs I can wear without shame and three that are downright disgraceful. (Including handmade mini bloomers that, due to poor seam finishes, have frayed to near collapse). I don't want to pay Target for underwear when I have a sewing machine and 30 pounds of t-shirts. Last week I decided it was time to take action.

Tracing a well-fitting pair I already own would have made the most sense. Instead, I made these:

1. Free Hipster Pattern from Using foldover elastic seemed easy enough: fold it over the raw edge of the fabric and stitch. Oh, if only. The legs on this pair (sewn while pulling the elastic) are tight and the waist (sewn while not pulling the elastic) is loose. Nothing says "you're doing it wrong" like a simultaneously saggy and binding pair of drawers.

2. Modified version of the hipster pattern, with added height to more fully cover my backside. Aren't they cute? It's too bad they're too small. (Wah-wah.)

3. Rosy Ladyshorts from Cloth Habit. These look delightful when you make them out of the stretch lace that's called for. Unfortunately, I don't have any of that kicking around. (This pair is done up in the same brown wobbly knit as the failed "perfect" knit dress.) I also lack 1" stretch lace trim. Maybe that's why my ladyshorts don't look nearly as pretty as the many, many other versions out there. (And why the elastic popped off after one wearing.)

So I'm back where I started: frequent laundering and a resistance to buying new underwear. You can bet I'll be copying a pair of my good ones soon...before they become too tattered to trace!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Raglan Sleeve Dress: PASS

Son: "Aren't you glad you made a dress from that ratty old bedspread?"
Me: "Is this dress too short for work? I don't want to look racy."
Husband: "There is nothing racy about that dress."
Friend: "It's like you're wearing a menagerie!"
Though not 100% pleased with the fit, I continue to wear this dress in part because of the interesting comments it generates. It's 105 from Burda Magazine 7/2009 and features raglan sleeves, a drawstring "waist," and in-seam pockets. I made mine in 2011 from, yes, a ratty old bedspread I found during student move out. 

The beach-to-brunch magazine version is made up in a flowing cotton-silk batiste that looks so soft and glamorous. The roughly woven cotton in my version is stiffer and not-so-glam. Though I do wear it to the beach!

What I don't like about the fit is the dropped waist, a style that makes me look like a lumpy potato. I was so dazzled by the fashion photo that I ignored the technical drawing (and the pattern pieces!), which makes it clear that the drawstring "waist" is below the waistline.

LESSON: Fashion photos are illusions, technical drawings are facts.

I get around this by hiking up the skirt and tying a self fabric sash I made at my true waistline. Though lately I've been using this gray one that's been kicking around my closet (unworn!) since 1989. The sash option makes it a bit lumpy at the waist, but hey.

I am pleased as punch with the pattern placement. Getting the pieces laid right was no small feat, given the complexity of the print and the number of stains and holes in my fabric. (Eww, I know. HOT water wash when pretreating this baby!) I successfully avoided the classic flowers-over-boobs error and achieved some interesting layouts with the animals. The huge green bird across the back is my absolute favorite.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Pink (Faux) Wrap Top: PASS

Last month I bought two yards of luxurious cobalt blue rayon jersey. It's incredibly soft and fluid and will undoubtedly feel amazing when I finally wear it. I purchased it with Simplicity 1916 in mind. But after my candy striped fail, I wasn't getting my precious fabric anywhere near that pattern. At least, not until I could sew a passable version first.

Enter my fabric hoard (it's way beyond stash, people) and this pink abstract print in a mystery poly-lycra blend.

I reviewed my lessons from last post and proceeded slowly and carefully. How slowly? INCREDIBLY SLOWLY. As in, redo the first seam five times to correct mistakes slowly. How carefully? EXTRA CAREFULLY after the first seam. As in, I may use a FriXion pen for transferring markings, but I'm going old school and hand basting because this fabric is slippery as a mofo.

This time around, I remembered to stretch my neckline facing as I applied it. Then instead of turning it under, I folded it up like neckband and topstitched with a twin needle. Why fight a facing that never stays under when you can turn it up and make it look cute?

I also sewed in the sleeves flat, which made so much more sense than fussing around with inserting a sleeve after the side seams were sewn. (If that made no sense to you, check out Sunni's explanation at A Fashionable Stitch.)

Stretching the neck facing as I sewed really helped the fit, front and back. (Though it's still not perfect.) Taking extra time with the front gathers also paid off. (I spent probably two hours on this small section, basting, checking, re-basting, until it was right.)

The end result is definitely something I'll wear. Though I may need to go down a size if I use a super stretchy fabric again. And maybe next time I'll use a warmer fabric. This one is chilly on the skin! Good thing this shirt looks good under a cardigan.

As for the cobalt rayon jersey? I think it's destined for another pattern. Which of course I'll test first. I hope all this delayed gratification is worth it!