Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Amazing Fit

This post could also be titled something about being the first thing I've sewn for me in nearly 10 years.  I sew for Thing 1 all the time these days, but rarely do I sew anything for myself.  I'm trying to change that this year and sew a few things for me.  The pattern, Simplicity 1941.  The fabric, a cotton print from JoAnn's I bought when a new store opened up nearby.  Nearby being right at 30 minutes away.  Since the closest prior to that was a good hour, the new one is classified as nearby.  Overall, it's not that great of a store.  It is on the small side, but handy for sending the Hubs into for patterns and basic notions.  In general, I'd rather drive the extra 30 minutes.  The variety and selection is worth the extra mileage.  As an added bonus, it shares a parking lot with a Northern Tools store, which means the Hubs doesn't squawk when I need to drop in for a few things.

Pattern weights, pulling
I stitched this beauty up before I stumbled across the Stashbusting Challenge, but since it was done this year and both pattern and fabric were out of my stash, I'm calling it as a win for the home team.  With 2 small ones running about and "helping" mom, I try to group my sewing chores to maximize my time behind the Harmony.  This means when I break out the pattern weights and cut fabric, I cut several projects in an afternoon.  Do you use pattern weights?  I love them!  I made mine up one day back in October.  I'll save that for another post, but I've come to the conclusion that I don't have enough.  I really like to lay out the whole pattern and weigh it all down and cut.  I usually end up with a couple of pieces hanging out with just one weight on it as a place holder.

Basting in the side seams
To be honest, I actually cut this pattern and a couple others out in November and tucked them away in my sewing space and pretended they didn't exist until after the new year started.  Once I pulled it out and got started, I have a couple of stumbles with the pattern.  I read the first three instructions at least four times, swore a bit in between each time.  Once I figured out what the pattern wanted, it was a breeze, but I had low expectations due to the poor start.  If you can get past those first three things, the pattern is actually a breeze and contains great fitting tips.  One step has you basting the side seams in wrong side out after doing the front princess seams and the back darts, but before sleeves and collar.  I was suspicious, mostly due to the rocky start, but followed the instructions anyway.

Adjusted darts prior to
serging off the excess fabric
Turns out, it was one of the better things to do.  I was able to see that the back darts needed to be deepened and extended upwards.  I was saggy in the back with lots of extra room in the shoulders.  I pulled the basting stitches out, adjusted the darts, serged off the excess fabric created by the dart adjustments and moved on.  The rest of the blouse was a breeze.

My cutting adjustments on this pattern were cutting the largest size for the sleeve.  I have chunky biceps, and tend to allow for that.  I shouldn't have bothered with this blouse.  I chose the option for the loose fitting 3/4 sleeve and they're a bit on the full side.  Next time I make this sleeve, I'll do so with the size that matches the rest of the blouse.  The other adjustment was to use the pieces for a C cup.  Thanks to a pro bra fitting, I happen to know I wear a D cup, but I wear what are called Minimizer bras, which arrange the girls so that I come off as a C cup.  I measured up, compared to their instructions and decided that the C cup pieces were going to fit me the best.  Some of that is the bra business, some of it is pattern ease.  Either way, the C cup was the right choice and I didn't have to make any adjustments to the front princess seams.

Pretty enough to not need extra top stitching
I also skipped the top stitching.  The print is so busy, top stitching would have been lost as a decorative element and after repeated wearings, I can attest to the fact that it isn't needed for structure.  All my seams are serged.  I love the flattering fit of this blouse.  It is comfortable and perfect for work.  I'm already planning on making this pattern again, next time with short sleeves for spring and summer wear.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

No good deed goes unpunished

I was really looking forward to a weekend of sewing.  We had no plans or need to go out of town and beyond a trip for groceries, I had free reign to plan on sewing up some fabric from my stash.  My plans didn't even make it to Saturday before being turned upside down.  11:00pm on Friday night, Thing 2 has a fever.  I had no doubts how my Saturday was going to play out.  By 2:00am, he and I were camped out in a recliner in the living room.  It was like trying to sleep with a bad cross between a furnace and a Koala bear.  Clingy and oh so hot!  I managed, through a very cooperative hubs, to get in the trip to rescue this week's groceries, but that was the highlight of my day.  The rest of the day was spent napping/snuggling with my cranky little bear.  His fever finally broke around 4pm, but I was too exhausted to even work on the easiest of sewing projects.  The extent of my creative ventures was browsing Pinterest.

Not so basic math.
 Thank goodness for calculators!
By Sunday morning, Thing 2 was feeling much better and with the hubs at work, I got a surprising extra hour of sleep.  Go me!  After getting us around, I handled some of the basic household chores that were neglected on Saturday.  That out of the way, I knew my remaining level of concentration wasn't going to handle anything difficult, but I still wanted to get some sewing in.  Pinterest to the rescue.  One of the things I'd found on Saturday was a maxi/twirly skirt from a blog called Delilah Creates that I knew Thing 1 would love.  I pulled up the tutorial and groaned.  It required basic math.  I wasn't sure my brain was up to basic math, even with the assistance of a calculator, but I gave it a whirl anyway.

2 yards should be enough, right?
Calculations in hand, I rummaged through my stash and pulled out 2 yards of white on white print quilting cotton.  I couldn't even begin to guess at why I had it, much less when I bought it.  We'll say it's a good 7 years or better old and was probably bought for some quilting project I'd seen.  I ran the iron over it and having used up all my brain power to conquer the math problem, I knew cutting straight lines was asking for trouble.  I opted to clip the fabric every 6 1/2 inches down the length and tear the strips.

7 layers, edges serged.  Probably should
have pressed them at this point.
Following the instructions, I serged my way through creating seven bands.  It wasn't until I was stitching in the final band that I realized I had inverted one piece, so the top band has one half of the band sewn in inside out.  I considered redoing the strip, but I'd already tucked the Serger away and this was just a dress up box skirt, no one would be the wiser.  I'll get to regret that choice later.

Thing 1 demonstrating spin.
with the help of thing 2
On the same thought process, I stitched the layers together with bright green thread.  The plan was to go back and do a decorative stitch after I got the skirt together.  That changed the moment she tried it on and declared it wonderful, asking when she could wear it.  "No Mama, I want to wear, wear it!" means it gets an instant upgrade to regular clothes status.  It also means that the bright green thread and that backwards panel were probably not the wisest of choices!  The thread is easily fixed with some ric rac, which will give the skirt even more visual appeal.  A sprinkling of fun buttons should also detract from the backwards panel, which because the fabric is white on white, isn't at all obvious.  I know it's there, but no on else will short of close examination.

$10 in ric rack and flower buttons
I was surprised that the strips were more eased than gathered prior to sewing to the next band in the layer.  I think if I were to remake this skirt, and I expect to based on Thing 1's delight at this one, I will redo the math and make the skirt fuller.  Ric Rac is a perfect complement to the raw serged edges, keeping the skirt from being too fussy, so I definitely plan on adding that in again.  The ric rac overlaid the bright green stitching where the layers were joined, stitching in with a medium width zig zag stitch, and was the easiest part of the skirt.  I originally planned on orange but after discovering I had NO orange thread (seriously?), I substituted purple.  I also bought bright blue, but also didn't have thread to match that.  The buttons were applied randomly across the front of the skirt.

Flowers at random.
This is a delightfully playful skirt, even in white.  I can't wait to see what it will look like in a black bold graphic print that is hanging out in the bottom of one of the stash bins.  This was a double hit with Thing 1 and with Stash Busting.  For the trifecta, it meets this month's challenge of sewing for someone you love.  Go me!  Now I just need a matching shirt.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Sewing Chores - Pattern Cutting

The darling Hubs ventured into JoAnn's for me and successfully picked up four Vogue patterns for me.  I say Darling because JoAnn's is pretty far outside his comfort zone and he did it off the cuff on a text from me.  I'd say that rates at least Darling status.  In all honesty, it was four patterns, they were on sale and he was in the neighborhood.  From his perspective, I owe him big four times over.  From mine, well, he has a meeting near the store in a couple of weeks and there are 8 Simplicity patterns slated to be discontinued that I just know I need.  If he had any idea, he probably would put more effort into getting it wrong.

Why yes, those are a pair of Creative Memories scissors.
Awesome things for tackling tissue paper.

Four new patterns in the house means time to do my most dreaded of sewing chores.  Of all the various chores involved in getting from fabric to finished project, I have to say that I despise the time and effort required to free a pattern from its tissue paper prison. Because I dislike it so very much, I try to go through as many patterns as possible at one time and get it out of the way.  This means some up front decisions, starting with what patterns I expect to make next.  Of the four new patterns, I'm targeting 2 for immediate use, Vogue 8833 and Vogue 8747.  While I'm at it, I'm also going to work my way through a recent out of print acquisition, McCall's 5661.

Now I need to think about fabrics to match up with these.

The Stashbusting challenge for February is sewing for someone you love, which in this house means Thing 1 is getting some new dresses for her wardrobe.  I have a few staples that I can pull from patterns already cut out, but I figure I might as well cut a couple of new things for her while I'm stringing tissue paper around the house.  I pulled Simplicity 5234 and McCall's 6429 from my pattern stash, which should give me a couple of early Spring dresses for her to wear to school.

I managed to hustle the monsters outside but
couldn't avoid the assistance of my agoraphobic dog.
She looks as thrilled with the cutting as I felt.

Five patterns, plus one already cut out of fabric and another with fabric pulled puts me over half way towards my Stashbusting goal of 12 projects before new fabric.  I have no idea how I'm going to manage to hold off buying fabric until I meet my goal.  Fabric bought by others, say the hubs, and then gifted to me doesn't count, does it?