December 15, 2011

Pants Pictures!

So I conquered the camera…by going around it.  I realized my computer has a slot to just stick a memory card in and I was able to recover the pictures I couldn’t get before.  Here they are, my Butterick 5682 pants!   To quote an old favorite movie of mine, they're "a Monet:  Looks okay from far away, but up close it's just a mess."  To demonstrate....
See, far away, not so bad...
Then, close rear view, lots of wrinkles! can see my fly front doesn't quite close, as well as the lovely place where I put a beautiful buttonhole...right where the button was supposed to be.

However, all these fault aside, I still made pants!  They're not great, but I had to start somewhere.  Also, as much as I've read about people being afraid of fly fronts, that part wasn't bad at all.  Obviously, mine got a little messed up somewhere, but the idea made total sense to me.  One day, I hope to be someone who can just bang out a pair of jeans in a night, but for now, these are enough.

New sewing is going painfully slow.  I've got my black KS 3338 cut out, it was a battle with the fabric every step of the way.  However, it's close enough to Christmas that I expect some serious sewing time will be had.  New  Year's could possibly turn into an all-night sewathon.  And I would be absolutely fine with that.  Happy sewing!

December 6, 2011

Butterick 5682 Pants

I made pants!  They’re probably going to end up going in the Sunday-only pile, but they are finished pants nonetheless.  The reason there are no pictures of these pants is because the crappy camera I’ve been using refuses to recognize that it has pictures on it.  I will have a working camera by Christmas, either because I get one as a gift or because I will hit after-Christmas sales if I don’t.  So this may be a boring no-picture blog for a few weeks.  

So, about the pants.  Even after two muslins, I ended up with enough extra ease that I could pull them up without unzipping before I put the waistband on.  I did some on-the-fly pin fitting and took some out of the side seams, as well as making the waist darts bigger.  I also ended up with really high-waisted pants. I’m not sure if this came from an adjustment I made or if I just have less length between the crotch and my waist.  I have a very long torso above the waist, but I never really considered the lower part.  I’ll have to try to measure the rise from now on.  All in all, I’m going to switch to some other pattern for the real khakis I want to make.  I was only up to “wearable muslin” stage with this pattern, if you remember.  If I had known how to properly account for the ease through flat pattern measuring, this might be a perfectly great pattern.  But for now, it’s going back in the envelope.

Since I’m definitely not up for another round of pant muslining right now, I’ve got two projects going – Simplicity 3956, which was presented as a possible first project for this blog, and yet another version of Kwik Sew 3338.  I’ll make that sucker a TNT yet.  It’s a nice easy pattern to perfect some alterations on.  We’ll see how long those take, while working around finals and Christmas festivities. 

December 1, 2011


Why, oh why, does my Butterick pant pattern have so much extra fabric?  I already went down one size from my measurements on the envelope, and could have easily gone down another one!  It's awfully frustrating for those of us who have never fit pants before, so even if we do flat pattern measurements, don't really have a sense of how much wearing ease we want/need.  I want to finish these dang pants tonight just to be done with them.  Grrrr...

November 27, 2011

Newsflash: Fitting Pants is HARD!

       …But I can see progress.  After cutting the Butterick jeans down to a size 18, the top part fits more how I expected.  I need more room in the tush and less in the waist, which are relatively easy fixes.  I went ahead and did those alterations and am most of the way done with my “wearable muslin”.  I know people don’t like that term, but I would never get started if I didn’t give myself something like that – a pair that has the potential to end up wearable, but that won’t be a heartrending loss if they don’t turn out.  Unfortunately, my sewing speed is not keeping up with the rate at which my pants are falling apart, so I had to buy a couple of RTW pairs as a stopgap measure.  While I know that they won’t fit as well as my custom made ones eventually will, I do have to put in a plug for the new Levi’s CurveID system for A) acknowledging that there are customers out there with giant rears  and B) being the only RTW jeans to fit me without a ginormous gap at the back waistband.  Of course, the department stores only carry the less curvy styles, so I’m waiting on my online order to come in.

      Hopefully everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving.  I am currently at the BF’s BFF’s house for Thanksgiving #3.  Though I still would have preferred to have gone home, friends filled the gap quite nicely.  Lots of fun and lots of food to work off.  Here’s hoping my pants-in-progress still fit when I get home!

November 16, 2011

Burda 108-09-11; Why I Can't Wear Batwing Tops

I told myself that this top was just a trial, something to get myself used to tracing patterns and the infamous Burda instructions. What could be easier than a two piece top with cut-on sleeves?   So why did I use a fabric I actually liked which, by the way, was completely the wrong print for this style anyway?  But it turned out not to matter, because...
Doesn't look horrible, right?  (Ignore the stretched out neck binding, I'll get to that in a minute)  However, when I raise my arms (which I do actually do on a regular basis during a day)...
Magically, everything becomes a crazy wrinkled mess and gets completely hung up on the girls.  Even if all the other problems with it were gone, I can't wear a shirt that does this and try to teach in it.  No more batwings for me.  However, as sad as I am about the top itself, I really shouldn't be.  Here's why:
1.  It accomplished the original goal: trying out a Burda pattern.   I did the tracing with my extra awesome setup of a pencil and marker taped to a ruler:
2.  As much as I liked the print, that knit really was crappy quality, and wouldn't have lasted very long anyway.
3. As my advisor would say, sometimes it's just as important to figure out what doesn't work as to figure out what does.  Now I'll no longer be tempted by those tops.  Ever.

So really, no big deal.  Moving forward, I think I'm going to stay away from knits for a while, until I save up enough to really get some decent stuff online.  This probably won't happen until after Christmas.  I also realized just how dire my pant situation is, and that I will have to give in and buy a few pairs of RTW jeans to make it through the rest of the year.  Of my three pairs that fit, two have been patched more than once, and one pair has big acid holes down one leg.  It's time.  But that's just even more incentive to keep grinding on my pants muslin.  It's going, but slowly.  Other than the perpetual pants, I'm looking to start a collared shirt (because I can and it's not knit) and am sensing some reworking/recycling projects shortly. Stay tuned.

ETA:  I changed the title of this when I realized I had multiple hits coming from people searching "bu.sty girls" on Google.  Creepy!

November 10, 2011

Holy Huge Muslins, Batman!

So after abandoning my Built By Wendy Pants pattern, I moved to Butterick 5682, thinking that since  there are so many views in the same pattern that mastering one would give me easy access to a decent variety of pants with minimal variation.  Once I get a pants pattern to fit, it will be assembly line sewing time.  I’ve got plenty of tops to make it for a while (even if not all of them are the most flattering things in the world), but I am always short on pants.  There’s only one RTW jeans brand that even remotely fits well, and as hard as I am on clothing I can’t afford to replace them as fast as I wear them out, which is why I’m tackling what is arguably one of the hardest items of clothing to fit when my skills may or may not be up to it.  Even if I don’t get a perfect fit for a while, even a mediocre fit will be better than what I’ve got now.  So I dove in. 

So according to the pattern, I’m a 20 in the hip and between a 16 and 18 in the waist.  For my first muslin, I cut a straight 20, thinking it would be easy enough to take in at the waist if it was close everywhere else.  But somehow, it ended up HUGE everywhere!

Super sad face about the huge muslin...

 After these pictures I just went ahead and unpicked the muslin to use for the next one, where I’ll be starting from an 18, possibly with just a protruding derriere adjustment to start with.  After that, I may just dive in.  I’m sick of muslins, and I have fabric that is subpar compared to my fashion fabric but still wearable that I can use for my first real attempt.  Last night I also traced my first Burda, #108 from the September 2011 issue.  It’s a simple shirt with cut on sleeve, just to test out the process/fit. So we'll see how that goes.  I just found out I'm hosting an impromptu get-together tomorrow night (No one else in my research group has seen Rocky Horror Picture Show, so we're having a movie watching night), which means I need to clean the apartment!

November 3, 2011

Kwik Sew 3338 Take Two

Finally, something is finished and wearable in public!  This version of KS3338 is the short sleeve version, cut a size down from my previous attempt with an FBA added.  I used the FBA instructions from here, which means I added a bust dart.  

Of course, this top is far from perfect – the bust dart I put in points too high, the neck binding still stretched out some when I put it in, and I really would like the sleeves a little longer and with a bit more bicep room.  But this one passed the “suitable enough to wear to lab where it’s just going to get acid holes in it anyway” test. Considering this is how I'm wearing it to work today:
The little imperfections don't seem so bad.  I feel like I've been messing with this same pattern for so long, I'm not exactly sure where I'm going next.  But actually getting something wearable is a big motivator to do SOMETHING. 

October 27, 2011

Scrappy Rug and A Picture That Says It All

So here’s the scrappy locker hooked rug that’s taken up all my time for the last week or so, and for good reason.  It was a birthday present for my mom who visited last weekend, for her birthday which was at the end of September.  She saw my rug like this and specifically requested one, so I couldn’t say no (not that I would want to-my mom is the most giving lady ever!)

 Since that’s over with though, I’ve got new mojo born of enforced time away from sewing.  I’ve got pants muslin #2 finished, and unfortunately I think this pants pattern and I will have to part ways.  I know Built by Wendy is marketed to younger sewists, which explains the really low rise, but apparently all younger sewists also fit into a size 12 RTW.   So instead of fighting a pattern that is really not made to fit me, I’m scrapping the whole idea and switching to Butterick 5682 , which actually comes in my size, and doesn’t look like it has the super low waist.  I have khaki twill fabric and this is a jeans pattern, but I think if I use the trouser style it should be fine. So we’ll see how that goes.  I’m done with the FBA on the Kwik Sew 3338 I made up before, so at the moment it’s still “learn how to fit time” at my house, but it’s more progress than has been seen in the last few weeks.  (Sad, I know.)

Everything that's been going on sewing wise around here can be summed up in this picture of my kitchen table: There's the altered Kwik Sew sitting with the next fabric I'm going to make it up in, the Butterick jeans pattern in the process of being cut out, and the kitty doing whatever she can to make it all more difficult. :)

October 13, 2011

Kwik Sew 3338 Finished and A Scientific Approach to Sewing

     It seems like I haven’t finished anything in forever, so getting Kwik Sew 3338 banged out was a relief, even though it isn’t my favorite.  I intentionally made this is a fabric I less-than-loved, because I am coming to realize that for my shape I have to make some pretty serious alterations to basically any pattern to make it fit.  The BF says this fabric is too shiny for real life, and I’m generally inclined to agree.  
Slightly fugly fabric
    Fabric aside, the fit is meh, which is why you're seeing pictures on my dressform. For my next try (and there will be a next try; I want to make this a TNT), I’m going to cut out a full size smaller and just do the mother of all FBA’s on it.  Also, the first time I accidentally put the neck binding on as if it were a neck band, and then it got all stretched and wonky when I ripped it out and redid it.  I could cut a new one, but it’s not worth the effort for something that I’ll probably only wear around the house.  
See the shiny polyester?
        There are a few things that did work about this top.  I added 2” to the length, and that was about right (I may add another inch, but I just like shirts long).  I learned how to use a twin needle correctly, and I love how professional that finish looks in comparison to a zigzag.  That’s really about it.
But I’ve decided that’s okay. 

         I am a scientist by trade, and I can’t help but keep looking at sewing the same way I look at my graduate training now.  With every garment I make (or every reaction I run), I learn new techniques and get a little bit closer to perfecting the ones I already knew.  If I get something useful out at the end, great; if not, I’m still learning.  I am allowed to just enjoy the process of sewing and not really worry about whether I get lots of wearable things out yet – the lab uniform for most people is jeans and the least holey t-shirt they could find that day, so there’s no outside pressure for me.  The only thing I hadn’t been doing was taking adequate notes on what I’m learning from each garment.  So my sketchbook of ideas now contains “what I learned” from each garment, and in the case of my pants, each muslin.  I don’t own any expensive fabric (yet) so I’m trying to just use what I’ve got for learning and not put any pressure on myself to get beautiful garments out at the end. Yet.

September 29, 2011

Why I'm fixing hockey gear instead of sewing for me...

      So I’d like it known that generally, I am a selfish sewer.  Nothing on the level of the true Selfish Seamstress, of course, but generally cranky about sewing for other people.  The BF gets things when he does all the cutting and pressing for me, and my two year old niece gets things because she’s too darn cute, and her clothes take no time.  Things like hemming pants for the BF or even myself, in a reasonable amount of time?  Forget it.  There are new shiny things to be made instead.  And then there’s Brett.  Brett is the BF’s best friend from college, and I am currently mending his hockey gear, and doing it gladly.  Brett is my go-to guy for just about anything, from my computer to my car, and he’s a good old fashioned friend, in that I know if either of us ever needed him, he would be there in a second.  Not only this, but the last few years for Brett have not been kind.  At 25, he’s a cancer survivor, has found out his stepdad stole $150,000 from his trust established from the malpractice suit of his dad, who died due to improper anesthesia during surgery,  has had his identity stolen and his bank accounts emptied, and has had his car totaled (never his fault) at least twice.  If I can help him out by sewing on some buckles or mending a pair of pants, it gets done.  He deserves it.   
           The stinky hockey gear is almost done, and I have gotten a muslin of my first pants done.  However, the back view is improper for the general internet, because there is not nearly enough fabric back there!  My mom always takes opportunities like this to comment that she doesn’t know how I managed to get a J.Lo. butt, and it’s true.  All the women in my family have basically non-existent rear ends, and have the opposite problem of never filling out pants.  Genetics is a funny thing.  Hopefully soon there will be a postable muslin (after a Protruding Seat Adjustment to the pattern), as well as the Kwik Sew 3338 I’ve got in the works.   Hope everyone’s having fun thinking about Fall sewing!