Sunday, June 14, 2015

Sew Daring

It's a knit dress! I feel like there should be some shouts of excitement. Perhaps some dancing about. I sewed a knit dress. What's more, it's a Franken-Dress. A combination of two very lovely knit patterns, McCall's 6957 and 7092. GillianCrafts of Crafting a Rainbow dared me to stitch up a knit dress as my sewing dare. Dare done.

I should be excited, but I'm not. I don't like this dress. I didn't enjoy sewing this dress. In fact, toward the end, I was powering through just to finish the dress and get it the heck out of my way. I managed to stop and try it on just short of the hem. The low part of the high/low hem was too low, so after a few photos, I hung the dress and walked away.

Let me go back three weeks, when the dress was just a pile of pieces and I was looking forward to tackling a new adventure. Okay, I was somewhat leery of attacking a knit. I managed to actually rethread my serger in pink thread because I knew the back seam was going to show through to the front because of the lower back hem. There was excitement. I managed to thread it right the first go and it took barely five minutes! A few tweaks and adjustments later and I was ready to go.
The moment of excitement and bliss.  This is going to be
the most awesome dress ever. Ha.

This is where things started to go horribly wrong. The back pieces serged nicely. Happy sewist. The front modesty pieces folded in half and again, serged up like a dream, as did the top bodice pieces. It wasn't until I went to put the pleats into the front that the swearing began. Since the pattern calls for the bodies pieces to be folded in half and THEN the pleats neatly folded and stitched, there are four layers of super thick scuba knit in six spots across the front of the bodice. These layers then layer on top of the modest pieces, which are also folded in half and then layered on top of each other. So in a four inch wide spot, there are no less than eight layers of scuba. Both machines staged a mutiny at this point.
Don't ask.  Just don't. It's terrible.

I responded to the mutiny with suggestions that are not even anatomically probable for a human, much less a machine, and rethreaded the sewing machine with the super heavy duty denim thread and after a few more tries I switched to the denim needle. More swearing. More unflattering and highly unlikely suggestions. I resorted to hand sewing a couple of spots just to get everything to hold together and declared the front empire waistline complete. Rethreaded with the pink thread and the needle for knits, the machine and I tackled the center back seam. Two simple layers of scuba and the machine skipped it's way down the seam. Literally skipped. There were spots here and there with two and three stitches that didn't sew. Yet more swearing. I tried several different needle combinations before I just went back to the jersey needle and restitched the entire seam over the top of the first run. It still skipped, but in different spots.

Every single seam in this dress has been stitched through twice, sworn at the entire length of stitching and in some places, I still had to go back and run it through again. I looked at my work and sighed mightily. Not a single seam lay flat. This is scuba. It is not iron friendly. I tried on a scrap, just in case, with a press cloth and because I'm a glutton, I even hit it with steam in hopes of finding something, anything to get it to flatten out. Short of going through and stitching each seam allowance down, it ain't gonna happen. The whole thing has a sloppy look because of it.

By this point, my animosity toward the fabric was pretty high. I still thought the dress looked pretty on the hanger. Honestly, more than anything I was just relieved that the assembly part was pretty well done. I tried on the dress and hated it. The back portion of the high/low skirt was so long it brushed the backs of my ankles. I drug the hubs out to take pictures and get his comments. He was confused by the back length, confirming my own concerns that it was too long. After looking at the pictures, I was more sure that this dress was horrible. So I did what any self respecting sewist does. I posted it on Instagram and begged Gillian to convince me to not hate it.

It didn't' work. My feelings were so strong that I hung the dress figuring I would come back in a day and hem it just to have it done. A day turned into an entire week. The dress hung off the curtain rod in the dining room. I would walk by it every time I went to the pantry and glare furiously at it. Finally, I was more tired of having it hanging unfinished, so I went back and cut a full 8" off the lowest portion of the high low skirt on the pink dress. The skirt back at a more comfortable length for me, I put a 3/8" hem around the whole thing.
The white is 6" of pattern I cut before I decided
it wasn't near enough off the back. I cut
above the line of washers.

Finished and done.

I took the finished dress outside to take a few pictures in the sunshine...and found some lovely pull lines on the surface of the front of the skirt. The final nails in the coffin for this dress.
Ignore the white bit of fuzz.  Just look at those stupid pull
lines!  I haven't a clue where they came from.

After spending so much time glaring (and swearing) at it, I've decided that I don't completely hate it. However, the pull lines are pretty obvious, so it really isn't a wear out of the house dress. It is a good stay at home and lounge around the house on a Saturday sort of dress, while still being presentable if company happens to drop by. I don't really have any of that, so I guess that's something.
Inside back, the seam that annoys
me the most.

The seams that just refuse to lay flat.

I'm coining a new sewing phrase just for this dress...Wearable Wadder. Frankly, I think that translates into I put far to much sweat and swearing into the dang thing to throw it away in spite of its incredibly obvious problems. Do you have any wearable wadders?

Friday, June 5, 2015


Recently, I've been reading posts about people's sewing spaces. I think it is wonderful to have a space dedicated to sewing. My space is also dedicated...dedicated to feeding my family. Once upon a time I had an rather large sewing space in a spare room. When Thing 1 arrived on the scene, my space was split in half and shared with the hubs. Thing 2 came along, and we knew it wouldn't be long before both Things would need their own space. My space was once again reduced, this time to a bit of room in Thing 1's closet and a few bins for fabric out in our storage container.

There are some real positives to sewing at the dining room table.
1 - I have to be neat. Everything must be picked up and tucked away in time to put hot food onto the table. It forces me to keep tidy, or waste precious sewing time in cleaning up.
2 - My sewing is almost super organized.
3 - I love my sewing tools, but I'm less likely to waste money on tools that take up tons of space. Which leaves me more money for fabric.

The things that I consider essential in my sewing supplies have been reduced to one basket and a small, flat storage case. Let's check out the pieces.

First, the basket. Overall, this is not a very large basket. It is large enough to hold several of the square mason jars, my box of machine bits, some interfacing, bias binding, ribbon and a couple of patterns that are next up in the sewing queue and need to be cut out.

I can also tuck the foot pedals and cords for my sewing machine and serger in along one side. One of the large square jars has the flat portion of the lid removed so I can use it to hold my collection of scissors and marking tools. The small square box at the bottom left is my hand sewing kit, consisting of some needles, a needle threader and a thimble.

Top shot. You can see I have a couple of spools of thread tossed in and the spools of ribbon change based on what I'm working on.  Currently, I'm down to the wide spools of white and black. There are four jars in the basket.  Two of them in the lower center are 8oz, and are stacked one on top of the other.  The bottom one holds coils of horse hair and stay tape, while the top one holds my pins. In the lower left is a large jar that holds 100 Wonder Clips.

The second, open top jar holds my cutting/marking tools. From left to right, they are a Nancy's Notions seam guide, Fiskars 45mm Rotary Cutter, Fiskars spring loaded snips, Gingher Scissors in 8" bent dress maker shears, 5" craft scissor and 8" pinking shears.  On the far right is assorted marking pencils in white, blue and silver. Underneath all of this is my Olfa 24x26 cutting mat.

My jars. The left is 16oz, wide mouth, square. The right is 8oz, wide mouth square. Pins are glass head so I can iron over them. I used to have some plastic headed pins but after an ironing incident, I switched to glass head.

My sewing box, which holds my bobbins, measuring tape, machine needles, assorted small tools and an empty pill bottle which doubles as my sharps container for bent pins and used needles.

A close look at the assorted tools.  Left to right they are a Dritz mechanical marking pencil, Gingher seam ripper (LOVE this!), flat blade rotary marker, 4" ruler, bamboo point turner, 6" ruler.

One of the things that helps keep me tidy when I'm sewing is this bowl.  It's nothing spectacular.  I made it years ago in a pottery class and until recently, it's greatest achievement was the near sentient colony of dust bunnies that was living in it's rather shallow depths.  These days, it is my sewing version of Rachel Ray's garbage bowl. Snips of fabric, bits of elastic, the loads of trimmings from the serger and whatever else gets clipped, snipped, unpicked, etc while I stitch goes into the bowl. At the end of the day, I can just dump the bowl and save myself loads of time picking up all those little bits.

And this is a gratuitous shot of my able assistant who is nearly always in the middle of my sewing business.  She likes to lay right next to the foot pedals of whatever machine I'm using, hoping for a quick rub between seams. She looks a bit grumpy here, but that's because I woke her up and made her sit on the table for this picture.

So that's my space. Do you share your space with the rest of your family? What do you consider your essentials when it comes to your sewing tools?