Sunday, April 28, 2013

Blue Pleated Skirt: PASS


Sometimes I get hung up on the small stuff. For example, are the inserts on this skirt pleats or godets? After 15 minutes of research, I'm not 100% sure. If I hadn't caught myself, I could have spent my entire blog time down the rabbit hole. And really, is the terminology that important?

I started this turquoise denim (let's say) pleated skirt in 2005 (Simplicity 9823, view F). It came together pretty quickly, but a fear of hemming kept me from completing the project before my pregnancy belly made it obsolete. Really, it was all done but the hem! Two years later, I applied fusible hem tape and this skirt went into heavy rotation. In 2010, I garnered the courage to rip out the (now not quite adhesive) tape and put in a line of stitching around the hem. 

And just like that, an unfinished project becomes something I wear every week. Am I the only one who lets little details like a hem stall a project? With all the talk of UFOs (unfinished objects, for those learning sewing lingo) in the online sewing community, I think probably not.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Stars and Stripes Shirt: FAIL


It almost seems cruel that fresh on the heels of (finally) selecting the right size shirt pattern for myself, I should get it completely wrong for my son. He's requested a purple and pink striped button-down shirt without a collar. I thought Burda magazine 9/2008 number 142 would fit the bill.

When the only pink and purple striped fabric available is $8.98/yard, you can bet I'm making a practice version. This was the only striped fabric in my stash. I bought it at Wal-Mart 10 years ago for a sleeveless shirt. Why, I have no idea. I am not a theme shirt kind of person, nor what you'd call overtly patriotic. (Unless you count tearing up during the national anthem at baseball games.)

Measuring is not my strong suit. But this time I thought I was meticulous! I took my son's measurements according to the size chart (instead of sizing by height, which is common for kids' clothes). I even used metric, thinking I might get a more accurate match. So why, then, does this shirt look two sizes too small?

I'm pretty sure it's not Burda's fault.

Time for new measurements, both of the boy and a shirt that fits him. Anyone have a five-year-old who loves 'Merica? Once I get the buttons on this baby, it's off to a new home.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Roller Shades: PASS


Not long after we bought our house, we held a yard sale to offload the random junk left behind by the previous owners (and the stuff we unpacked and then wished we hadn't). I was eager to rid my home of roller shades, mini blinds, and their ilk. Seven years of crummy student rental housing will do that to you. Into the sale they went. I felt like a real grownup.

A few months later, I realized we needed window treatments on the first floor. More specifically, we needed fabric roller shades. Then I felt like a real, real grownup, the kind that gripes about paying full price for things. Those rods are expensive, yo! As I shelled out 70 precious dollars for hardware, I remembered the hungry look in the eye of the garage sale customer who bought our shades for $1 a pop.

After the sticker shock faded, I started to enjoy the project. I found this mustard color home dec print on sale and bought a boatload. Using the Hamlyn Book of Soft Furnishings as my guide, and the dining room table as my ironing board, I went to work. (For all you dining room crafters, I recommend putting something down on the table to protect the finish. Don't tell my former roommate, but I think his table wasn't quite as shiny after I pressed 10 yards of Fuse-A-Shade on it.)

The process was pretty straightforward: measure, cut, press, hem, staple to the rod. I decided to reverse the direction of the roll so that the pretty side would face in when the shades were down. (Picture the toilet paper coming out over the top of the roll.) Getting the tension right on the rods was tricky. Some of the shades spring right back up, others I have to roll by hand. I'm willing to live with that.

These shades are less than perfect, but good enough to PASS. Fabric roller shades are definitely a step up from white vinyl. And they come in handy when I feel like a real, real, real grownup, the kind who doesn't want passersby watching when she tries to keep up with Cassey Ho.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Announcements: Pass/Fail Sewing, Powered by Pecha Kucha!


I'll be presenting pass/fail sewing live and in person next Wednesday! If you're in the Ann Arbor/Ypsi area, come on out to the Exposure Series, powered by Pecha Kucha. Yeah, I know, the photo in the poster is a bit creepy. I promise the room will be better lit and brimming with positive energy. There will also be delectable coffee from Roos Roast. Because nothing powers sparkling conversation like evening caffeine.

In case the Facebook event link doesn't work for ya, here's the event info:
Wednesday, April 17: 6-8pm
Space 2435, North Quad
105 S State St, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Draped Neckline Top: PASS



I usually think I'm right. Except, of course, when I'm not. I try to recognize when I'm wrong in enough time to gracefully accept the fact and move on. I began working on this attitude adjustment in the second grade after I spent an entire walk home from school arguing to my friends that "butt" is absolutely spelled with one "t." (Sadly, Homophones Weakly was not yet in existence.)

I've had a lot of practice in humility and grace since then, but remain oddly stubborn on things like sizing. Fitting experts and sewing instructors advise women, especially busty ones, to select a shirt and dress size based on high bust measurement. (This is taken around the chest, just above the bust.) My high bust measures 34 inches, so I should make a size 12. For years I've made a size 14 based on my full bust and hip measurements. Two measurements matching are better than none, right?

And this is why it's good to write a sewing blog. Because in reviewing my projects, and seeing the same fitting issues over and over, I started to think maybe I should follow the fitting experts' advice. For McCall's M6612 (view A, shortened to shirt length), I decided to cut a 12 and see how it turned out.

Of course it worked wonderfully. The fit is lovely with no drooping shoulders or excess fabric at the back neckline. Since it's a knit, I didn't bother with a full bust adjustment. I stabilized all the seams with clear elastic and used Steam-A-Seam for a non-wobbly hem.

My reward for admitting I was wrong is a cute new work shirt and the promise of better fitting clothes in the years to come. It makes me wonder, though. Has anyone else been making the wrong size out of stubbornness (or fear of full bust adjustments)? Or held onto another completely wrong belief just because they were certain they were right? Do tell!