April 20, 2013

Lesson Learned: Respect the Stretch

The original title for this post was going to be "Lesson Learned: Don't just assume something that looks a little weird will work itself out and continue using the same technique for a whole skirt until you've created miles of ugly topstitching and it's too late to go back" but that was a bit excessive even for me.

So here's what we're working with:

This whole thing was born out of my need to replicate my favorite skirt of all time, a brown tiered broomstick skirt that is starting to look pretty ratty, and the constant desire to stashbust.  I only had a skinny rectangular piece of this fabric (which is evil for reasons I'll detail in a minute), so the idea of the tiered skirt seemed genius at the time.  Cut out a bunch of strips, use the whole thing up, then mix and match to get the tiers I want! Super simple, right? Maybe, for someone other than me.  Here's the places where this went wrong:

1.  Weird fabric. After some discussion with the ladies on Craftster, I've come to the conclusion that this piece is probably Calcutta fabric, which was apparently very popular in the 70's.  It's a knit with prepressed wrinkles that is quite spongy.
My attempt to show the texture - the color is way off
2.  Bad cutting.   For this skirt, I was really excited to be following a no-waste type model, since I had one long skinny rectangle.  I simply cut a whole bunch of strips of the same width, then mixed and matched amounts to get to the right lengths per tier.   The problem is that this stuff slipped and stretched while I was trying to cut it, so my individual strips were often pretty badly crooked, an effect that was only amplified when the strips were made into tiers.

3.  Not making samples.  Since I only barely had enough of this fabric, I neglected to test how my topstitching method would look, and it stretched the fabric out in a yucky way.

4.  Lazy hemming.  I have yet to find a hemming method that works well for me.  I could use my dressform, but that doesn't have the large rear that I do, so I always end up too short in the back.  My current method is a combination of trying to fit myself and eyeballing.  Especially when the tiers weren't all straight to start with, you can imagine how well this works.

However, after the initial disgust wore off, I'm slowly realizing that it's not completely unwearable.  From far away, the stitching doesn't really show up.

The hem isn't as bad as I first thought...

Well, it's at least not the worst hem I've ever done.  (Please ignore the kitty taking a bath and the footwear in this picture.  In my head the boots looked grungy or like River Tam - in real life they just look silly).

So, the final verdict...it's a solid maybe.  I'm also thinking with a short petticoat/underskirt/tulle thing it could work for a very grungy steampunky outfit for GenCon, so maybe it can find a home in the costume closet.  If all else fails, I could take out the hem and shred the edges for a post-apocalyptic costume.  I do know one thing for sure: I plan to stay far, far away from Calcutta cloth for a good long while.

I just have to make it through the rest of the work day (yes, Saturday is a work day for me) and then I've got a wide open Saturday night (usually taken up by my weekly Scion game) and all day Sunday to crank out some Thurlows.  Sooo excited!

April 17, 2013

For A Given Definition of "Fabulous"...

So my single, solitary goal for sewing in March was to make one garment that made me feel fabulous.  When I wrote this, I was enivisioning a dress. Any dress, really.  But as the month got about halfway through, I thought maybe the Thurlows could be my fabulous garment; a well-fitting pair of pants would certainly be a new experience for me.  As those dragged on, I eventually accepted that I would probably just be failing at the goal for this month, and I'd just make whatever I felt like.  What I settled on was Jalie 2911, mostly because I had already traced it off, but the piece of sweatshirt fabric I had originally wanted to use was too small.  However, in the auction haul was a lovely large piece of somewhat light sweatshirt-y material (it's not really fuzzy on the back side, but is the same type of knit and weight) in teal/turqouise/blue-green/whatever.

First off, I have to explain about this color.  This is MY COLOR.  My boyfriend once asked if I had bought stock in that color, because I wear it so often.  My winter coat is teal, the fleece I wear at work is teal, my childhood bedroom was painted teal, the one cocktail dress I own is teal.  I think you get the picture.  This is the one go-to color that I know I will love, no matter what.  Not every single variation looks great on me, but very few of them ever look straight up bad.  It's safe in that way, but I never seem to get bored with it.  So the fabric had that going for it.

Unfortunately, it turned out a little too big (you can totally see the shoulder seams dropping off my shoulders), and I'm definitely not in love with how the hood detail in front looks on me, not to mention how many times I had to unpick those corners on the front to get them even remotely straight. You can see in this picture how the armscye is definitely too low....

And in this one how HUGE the hood is on me.  I know some people like that look, but it just looks silly on me.
Trust me, this was the best picture I had, and no, I don't know why I look like I'm praying here.
 It'll do for hanging around the house, for sure, and I'm really not terribly broken up about it.  I keep giving it the side-eye thinking I can tear it apart and resew it smaller, which I could do.  If I were to make it again, I'd definitely trace the next size smaller and do an FBA (you can see some pretty significant drag lines in the first picture), but like I said, I just don't like how the front detail thing looks on me.  Someone with a smaller bust might be able to pull it off better, but it's just in a weird place on me. So I doubt I'll be making this pattern again.  In fact, we're going on a donation run for the thrift store I got it from this weekend; maybe I'll just donate it back to them. But for this one, I think it's best to throw it in the closet, see if it gets pulled out, and give it some time to steep for a while.  It might get remade, it might not.  Luckily, the other garment I made in March is definitely growing on me, though I wasn't in love with it at first.  I'll get a post up about it in a few days.  In real time sewing (not backlogged projects), I've got my khaki Thurlows cut out, and this weekend looks wide open for sewing.  Hope everyone has a great Wednesday!

April 10, 2013

Me-Made May 2013!

It's that time of year again!   'I, Alicia of sewingforreallife.blogpost.com, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '13.  I endeavour to wear at least one handmade or refashioned garment for 4 days a week for the duration of May 2013.'

Last year, I fell off the wagon for this challenge partway through, and that was only trying to do 3 days a week.   Why do I think I can do better this year?  The addition of the Renfrew as my first real Tried and True pattern means I have several nice quick tops I can throw on in a hurry and still be me-made.  I'm also not going to get too worked up about the picture taking this year; following the challenge itself is more important, and sometimes last year I wouldn't wear me-mades if I didn't think I had time to take a picture.  Some of the sewing in this month's goals would be a big boost, as having bottoms as well as tops that are me-made gives me a lot more flexibility.  I'm also hoping the refashioned part will come into play, as I've got a few reconstructions that are slowly making their way to the front of my mental queue.

In other news, today is my last day in New Orleans, and of course my poster session is the very last thing we do tonight, then we leave early tomorrow morning.  I've eaten more delicious food here than on any other vacation in my life, and would love to come back here with my BF someday, instead of with my labmates.  Hopefully the time "off" (it is still a work conference, after all) will give me enough of an emotional boost to push through the end of the semester.  I'm off to enjoy some sunshine, but when I get back I promise there will be a bunch of my backlogged posts, with pictures.  :)

April 3, 2013

March Wrap-Up and April Goals

Alright, it's that time of month again!  For the month of March, I set myself one goal:  make something that I will feel fabulous in.  Did I succeed?  Not particularly.  I did complete 2 garments in the month of March.  Both had the potential to replicate favorite pieces that I already have in my wardrobe, but both fell somewhat short, as evidenced by the fact that I haven't posted either one yet.  I will get them posted soon, for the sake of documenting them and maybe to help see them in a new light.  But I did make the attempt, which is half the battle, and I enjoyed sewing both pieces.  I'm just 0 for 2 on the finished product.

For April, I'm feeling ambitious.  Considering that HabitRPG has kicked my general productivity into high gear, I'm going big this month, even thought I am going to lose a whole week to the ACS meeting. One garment a week (that I'm home) sounds good.

Goal 1: Production sewing of Thurlows.  I finished the muslin, loved the fit, and already have at least two fabrics earmarked for making these.  I just have to buckle down and sew them.  I'm planning on cutting out both at once, so as soon as I finish the first pair I can go right into the second, before I forget everything about the pattern.  This does have welt pockets, which will be a new endeavor for me, but we'll see if I have the patience to include them or not.

Goal 2:  Start my brown corduroy jacket from Butterick 5568.  I'm always lacking in spring-or fall-weight jackets, and I'm also not sure how much longer the peplum will be cool. :p  This is a longer than one month project since this will be my first jacket as well, but as long as I make some progress that would be good.  A finished muslin would be epic.
Goal 3:  One quick knit top.  Me-Made-May is coming up and I plan to participate again, so throwing at least one more finished knit top into the rotation can't be a bad idea.  Ideally I'd like to try out a new pattern (other than the Renfrew) for this, just for a change of pace.  A couple contenders in my collection are:

There is, of course, always the option of the cowl-neck Renfrew, as I haven't made that view yet.  (I'm sorry, I just love Sewaholic Patterns, okay?)

Bonus goal: Reorganize my fabric stash again.  After I finally washed everything from the auction haul, there is a huge stack on top of my cube organizer that is threatening to fall off at any moment.  If I get the Thurlows knocked out, that's a fair few yards of fabric I'll have made room for.  Since I'm keeping things moving a little more lately, hopefully this will continue to whittle the stash down instead of building it up overall.

Hope everyone's enjoying the almost-actually-spring weather now!  I won't believe it's really here until all the snow melts, but the sunshine is definitely an improvement.  Go forth and sew for spring! :)