May 16, 2015

Grey Tiramisu

This post is brought to you by the Great British Sewing Bee.  Seriously.  I've been binge watching all three seasons on repeat every night when I get home, and the whole time I was making this I was imagining what May and Patrick would say.  I definitely unpicked a few things that I would have left be otherwise, and really tried to get my topstitching nice and even everywhere.

The fabric I initially had in mind for this pattern is a rainbow polka dot knit, but I wanted to test the pattern first.  I pulled out this thicker grey mystery knit (definitely some poly content, but nice) because it was still quite chilly up here.  Since the pattern seemed to already allow a lot of custom fitting (bust size, different dots for waist size, etc.)  I didn't want to do any other alterations before I saw how it fit.
This has the waist pulled down below my bust, but you can see it's straining to stay there.
Overall, not bad, but not great.  I definitely see a lot more future potential in this for me than in the Lady Skater, as far as basic knit dresses go.  I love the skirt and am one of the people that will actually use the pockets, and I like having the actual waist piece that looks like it's supposed to be there.  As usual, even cutting the D cup bust piece was not enough, so that'll have to be fixed, but I like the way the wrap looks for the most part.  The worst part for me is the sleeves.  I don't know if I just can't do cut-on sleeves altogether or if it's these specifically, but trying to actually move and function during the day left them cutting into my arms so badly that I had red patches by the end of the day!  I doubt it'd be such a problem in a lighter weight fabric, but it definitely was an issue with this.
Side fit is pretty good,for my swayback, but you can see the front waist creeping up into the bust curve.
I think moving forward with this, I am going to stick with it and give it a good old FBA to get the waist piece to actually be under my bust line, and try it in my lighter weight fabric to see if the sleeves are still an issue.  This version will most likely end up as a skirt - I like the shape, the fabric and the pockets, but I don't have time to constantly be fiddling with the bust all day like I did the last time I wore it, and obviously don't want my arms rubbed raw from the sleeves!

Next up (most likely) is my first foray into wovens in a good long while.  I have so many nice woven patterns that I'd like to make, but I keep chickening out about fit.  Which is stupid.  It's only fabric!  If I can't be adventurous with inanimate pieces of cloth, what does that say about my life? For now, I'm off to grade hundreds of final exams, oh joy! :)

May 13, 2015

Polka Dotted Plantain

This poor fabric.  It was one I bought secondhand when I was about nine and first learning how to sew.   It always had big dreams; how could it not?  It's white with red polka dots, utterly classic.  It was born to be a lovely wrap dress or swishy skirt.  There's just one problem - there was never enough yardage for any of those things.  To even cut out the Plantain, I had to sacrifice the length of the sleeves.  It may not be glamorous, but it at least got out of the stash and into the world.

Things of note - Drag lines BEGGING for an FBA, and the fact that my chest almost matches the white shirt. 
I've had the Plantain pattern traced out for a while, but I was a little nervous about the silhouette on me. The pear shaping seemed like it would be good to fit over my curves but I generally tend to go for shirts that come in at the waist, since it's my smallest point by a large margin.  But you never know until you try, right?
More or less straight down from my widest point = not a great look
And now I know that I don't like the silhoutte.  The BF pointed out that there wasn't anything wrong with it, and that's completely true.  But I've been working on only keeping things that I really like (the less crap I have to move in October the better!) and it's not doing me any favors.  Upon wearing for a little while, it also has the annoying tendency for fabric to ride up above my bust and end up in my armpits, if that makes any sense. (After looking at blog pictures of other Plantains, I can definitively say I am not the only one with this problem.)  So it's going in the Goodwill bag, but for me it's completely served its purpose.  It let me make something usable  out of a fabric I've been holding onto for over half my lifetime and was a nice simple project that got me back in the swing of things.  I hope it finds a good owner!
You can start to see the above bust wrinkles in this pic.  They get worse the more I move.
    Next up is the Tiramisu. I actually finished this on Monday night and got pictures of it this morning, so it might be blogged sometime, say, this month? :) #gradschool

February 20, 2015


As you can hopefully guess from the title, this is not really sewing related, except to give me hope that sometime soon I will have enough time to sew!

I've been offered and accepted a job in Pittsburgh that I will start upon completion of my Ph.D.  I've given them a start date of October with my boss's blessing, but there's so much to finish to make that date.  Almost as soon as the excitement wore off about the offer, something akin to blind terror set in about whether I will be able to finish by then.  That's starting to wear off a little, but I still need to push as hard as I can now in order to be in the best possible position to graduate.  Once I've gotten the actual science done I'll be in a much better place, as writing has never been much of a problem for me.

No matter what hours I'll need to pull to finish up, I am immensely thankful for this opportunity.  Many chemists in my field have to go for a postdoc (ANOTHER couple years of school at a different university) before they can get an industrial job, and I was not sure if I could handle that.  I cannot wait to actually help make products that end up on shelves and start using my training to solve real problems.

The sewing content here will completely depend on how my research goes in the final stretch.  If my last experiments all work well on the first try and I get a quick turnaround on my final project, I could theoretically even graduate early and have a month or so of free time before starting my job.  On the other hand, if I am running up to the literal wire with results, you many not see any more sewing until the end of 2015.  No matter what happens, one way or another I will be done with grad school in 2015. This has been such a long journey that I can't believe it will be coming to an end.  Off to make it happen!

February 4, 2015

In which I blatantly make things up as I go along....

So, this sweatshirt.  Ummmm... it got cut out sometime in October.  Then it sat on my sewing table while I went through insane periods of lab work, got laid on by the cats for a good long while, watched and waited while I started knitting instead of sewing, and was the absolute perfect project to come back to.  It's Vogue 8790, a pattern I've made before and loved, in a fabric that I've used before and liked even though the first attempt didn't really work out.
Giant hood says hello....
Having worked with this fabric once already, I really should have known the amount of stretch that's in it (a.k.a. much less for what this pattern calls for).  Luckily it's just big enough to work out okay for the body  of the garment, but definitely was not enough stretch for the neck binding.  After several different attempts....
So much gaping...

...I ended up doing a bias binding and liked that okay.  The longer I sew, the more I realize certain truths about what I will and will not wear.  Necklines that are high and tight are just a dealbreaker, even if I love the rest of the shirt, so it was worth my time to find a finish that both looked acceptable and that I would actually wear. It is not the most professional thing I've ever done by a long shot, but it'll do.
Yes, I pressed out that center fold line as soon as I saw this.  I swear you don't see it IRL.
 I have also recently realized that I hate sleeves that don't fit snugly on my wrists (seriously, why would it take me 25 years to figure this stuff out?) so I knew I wanted to do some ribbing cuffs but didn't worry about it until I actually got to the point of doing them.  Now I know for a fact that somewhere in my stash lives a half yard of black knit ribbing.  Could I find that ribbing? Of course not.  So what do I do?  Use the next closest thing-a piece of ribbed sweater knit that I have like eighty billion yards of. This made the cuffs still stretchy but sooooo soft.  I do fear that it will stretch out quicker than regular ribbing would have, but you know what?  I still won't have used that whole piece of sweater knit by then, so I'll just make new ones.  For now, I fully plan to enjoy my comfy cozy sweatshirt with no regrets. (I'm wearing it at work today, so we'll see if it passes the wear test)

What's next?  I have a Plantain cut out for another quick sew (like I do anything else these days). Also, as much as I maligned the Lady Skater pattern, I wear that thing all the freaking time.  So I want to try another equally hyped knit dress pattern, the Tiramisu.  This addresses the two main concerns I had with the Lady Skater: the waistband on the Tiramisu actually looks like it should be there and the pattern has pockets.  I never remember how much I need pockets until I don't have them.  I think I've talked about this before, but at a minimum I need to be able to carry my keys with me to get into instrumentation rooms around the chemistry building and ideally I'd also be able to carry my iPod with me as well. I hate pattern drafting so if the pattern doesn't include pockets to begin with,chances are they aren't getting included. So hopefully those will be completed soon! (If only we would get a snow day...)

February 1, 2015

Oh Hey....

So...been a while, done some stuff, you're all here for sewing, right?  Onward!

What have I been doing with myself?

Making a Ruby Slip: (All my pictures thus far have turned out terribly, so none for now)

Biggest issue is containing the chest region in this one.  I ended up moving the crossover MUCH higher than indicated on the pattern, otherwise there would be some wardrobe malfunctions, if you know what I mean.  I know this is only an around the house thing, but I still don't want to be completely falling out of my top every time I lean over to pet the cat.  #bigboobproblems.  Otherwise it's nice, it was something different for me, and gave me a chance to burn through some of the ridiculous amounts of lace I own for no apparent reason.

Helping with Halloween:

I'm going to say it was about a week before Halloween that the BF decides he wants to be Green Lantern for Halloween.  Not just a generic Green Lantern, mind you, but specifically Guy Gardner. BEHOLD THE 80's IN ALL THEIR GLORY!

During this time, I was working ~15-16 hour days in lab doing revisions for a journal publication, so I was essentially available only to consult on how to put it together and not for actual sewing.  That boy freaking drafted his own pattern by looking at someone's vague tutorials on the internet, made two muslins, and finished the dang thing.  My biggest contributions were explaining general pattern concepts (like that if you need to sew two pieces together, they should probably be the same length) and finishing the armholes and the hem the morning of.

It's ugly on the inside, just like my first real sewing project (also a costume for him; sensing a theme here?) but I was pretty impressed for sure.  The giant upside of this is that now I can tell him he can sew his own costumes!  I just don't get motivated by costume sewing, to be honest.  They look great and are really fun when they're done, but it's so much work for something you're going to wear a few times.   Meh.

Learning knitting:

I blame this on the stress.  As I said, there was a period of really intense work (with one really frustrating coworker) and my two go-to crafts when I'm really stressed are knitting and latch hooking.  Easy, repetitive movements that still get you a result at the end.  Except I've gotten to the point with knitting where a random garter stitch scarf wasn't going to cut it.  Craftsy to the rescue!  We're not going to talk about how much money I've spent on that website; we just aren't.  But it's the best thing ever for yarny crafts. Certain things I can learn from books, but yarn crafts I need someone to show me.  So I've gone quickly past the just knit/purl patterns and am onto lace, increases and decreases, and soon, colorwork.  It's really hitting the spot for now, and I may end up digging into my fabric stash for scraps to make some project bags.  So still inspiring some sewing in a roundabout way.  At this point, I figure any creating that keeps me sane is a good thing.  Maybe one day this blog will be "Knitting for Real Life."  But for now, it's still boring scarves and hats mostly. (Finished 3 or 4, but they've all been given away) Working up to the sweaters.  Slowly but surely.

Anyhoo, that's how things have been going up in here.  My ironing board has decided it wants to bend at the point where the two legs are connected, so I really need to get a new one before I can do much more sewing.  Anybody have recommendations for a brand that can take a beating?  The cats love jumping up there and I'm generally pretty hard on things as well.  Stay warm out there!

September 22, 2014

Lady Skater Hype Train not stopping here, unfortunately.  At least not yet. The Lady Skater pattern was essentially the entire reason for buying Perfect Pattern Parcel #1.  Then I remembered how much of a hassle PDF patterns are for me.  I finally got this printed, trimmed, assembled and traced recently.

I have really been digging wearing skirts and dresses more regularly, so I really wanted my first Lady Skater to be a staple. This navy blue medium weight knit seemed to fit the bill, and I wanted to make the 3/4 length sleeve version to make it a little more wearable for Wisconsin.

Problems I have with it:

Fit at the waist: Totally not the pattern's fault, just that I have a huge difference between my waist and everything else.   The problem is, I actually like leaving things a little loose in the waist to camoflauge some of the difference, but with the way this waist seam works, it really needs to be close to the body or else it goes all wonky.

Back view weirdness: This is half swayback and half me sewing the clear elastic to the wrong side and therefore stretching out the bottom of the back bodice more than was necessary.  Again, it also doesn't hug my body so with the clear elastic in there it looks funny.

Too short:  Also my fault. They told me it was drafted to hit at the knees for someone 5'5".  I'm 5'7" so I should have added length.  Duh.  Although it did allow me to be extra lazy and leave it just serged at the hem because I didn't want to lose any more length.

The waist seam:  This is actually my dealbreaker right now,  I understand the logic of having the waist seam in this dress, but with absolutely no other seaming present, it looks weird to me.  The BF who notices nothing clothes-related asked why I'd put the seam there, and it just bugs me.  I thought I might be alone, but one might notice if one googled Lady Skater pictures that ~2 of 3 versions are worn with a belt.  This is all personal preference, but I'm just not diggin' it right now.

In conclusion, this is a perfectly functionable lab dress, especially with a sweater worn over top as I'm likely to do anyway.  But this is not a likely TNT for me as it stands.  The waist seam means I'm not likely to do the tweaking needed to get it where it needs to be fitwise.  Live and learn and onto the next pattern!

September 6, 2014

#OONABALLOONAPALOOZA (just a little late)

    So I actually completed this dress BEFORE oonaballoonapalooza happened, and if I'd had my shit together, I might have entered.  But I didn't, so whatevs.  Too busy doing important chemistry things, yo.

Last round of hotel selfies, I promise.  Next time we'll be back to my equally bad normal photos. :)

     This was basically meant to be a test run of Vogue 8379, and a way to use up this crazy fabric that I got in the massive auction haul of 2013.  It's not all that well finished (for instance, the self-facing on the wrap side is just raw), which I think could be part crappy instructions, part me ignoring said instructions.  But once I got it all put together, I liked what I saw.  I'll be honest, it took a  bit of working up to it to wear it in public, but once I did, an amazing thing happened.  No less than seven complete strangers came up to me and told me they loved my dress.  This has never ever happened to me in the history of ever. I even went to get my hair cut and got talking to a woman who was in the process of making her daughter's wedding dress who told me it looked nicely finished. No, I didn't let her look at the inside, otherwise she would have backtracked so fast it would have left skid marks.

The only real change I made to the pattern was to extend the sleeves by some random amount that was as much as I could squeeze out on my fabric (I know, the precision is astounding).  I really hate cap sleeves so I knew I would want more length there.  I could use a little more bust room, but the wrap style is pretty forgiving in that regard.
Guys, taking a picture of your own back? Hard.  But I wanted to prove this is all one print. One eye-searing print.
    The test run being a success, hopefully sometime soon you'll be seeing version #2, in something a little more subdued.  However, there's already a Ruby Slip in progress, and I finally got the Lady Skater cut out.  If the Lady Skater works as well for me as it seems to for the rest of the blog world, there's a distinct possibility you may see nothing but those for a good long run.  I am really making an effort to use both patterns and fabric I already have, because I've (hopefully) got less than a year before graduation, and the less boxes of fabric I have to pack, the better.

   Speaking of real life, I'm in the highly stressful stage of starting job interviews for jobs next fall. So far, I am 4-for-4 on getting first round interviews, but that still doesn't get me great odds for getting an offer out of it.  If you all would like to cross your fingers that I can get a little bit further in the process, that would basically be the best thing ever.  I'll have been in school for a solid 21 years at this point (oh god, that's depressing), so the idea of finally getting a job where I can use what I've learned to solve real world problems is massively exciting.  Not to mention getting evenings and weekends off. (As I write this, I am eating breakfast in my office at school.  I had to get in early because there's a football game and the buses are completely overloaded with drunk people later in the day.)

   Anyway, any opinions on this garment?  My real life peeps have a pretty wide range of opinions about this print, and I'd be curious to hear what you think.  Off to lab!