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!

June 22, 2014


So what up everybody?  Been a while.  Over the summer I lived in a hotel room and tried desperately not to mess up the fancy instrumentation at my internship.  Unfortunately, the stress of being in a new place and being out of my element mostly balanced out the lowered work hours.  I have gotten a few things sewn though.

 For every single summer weekend since I finished it, I have basically not taken this black jersey skirt off. (I have to wear pants during the week for safety reasons)  This sucker is basically the same as my tiedye skirt in that it's the main skirt pieces from Simplicity 1888 with a self-drafted waistband (see, when I say it all nice like that it sounds better than "I hacked something together that worked).  In this case, I tried to use a self fabric waistband, but that the skirt fabric was too heavy so I continued the hackery and inserted thick elastic into the waistband and called it a day. Then there was the moment when I thought I'd ruined it at the last minute by doing a double turned hem after interfacing because I didn't know what else to do and I'm too afraid of leaving knits unhemmed to just leave it.  Luckily, after a little bit of wear and definitely after the first wash, everything loosened up enough that I could deal.  Mostly because this fabric is pretty much the softest nicest stuff ever.  It's a jerk to cut out, but dang does it feel nice.

That's right, we are so classy on this blog that you get hotel mirror selfies (also, what is going on with my other hand here?).  It's really not much to see, it's a black knit gored skirt.  You could probably imagine it from just that description without the pics, but whatevs.
The spots are the mirror, not the skirt!

So...yeah.  Black skirt.  Woot.  More exciting things are to come.  Also, I went to Vogue fabrics for the first time this summer, for my birthday, so I will post pics of the fabric goodness before I wash them (the hotel washers and dryers were $3.00 a load for tiny loads, so I had to wait until I got back).

*If you're wondering WTF is up with my title, you need to check this out:

May 6, 2014

More Non-Sewing: Life Update

So nothing fabric-y to show you, for several reasons.  First, I will be running in turbo mode at work until I leave for my internship on May 17.  After a 15 hour day, I can barely manage to shower and flop into bed, much less sew.  On my free Sundays (though I've been working for at least a few hours on those too) I've gotten back into an old love: the Sims 3.  Although I will admit that playing dress-up in Create A Sim has given me a few ideas for new clothes when I get some time...

In other news, the BF started his new job last week!  I can't help but imagine it as the Mad Men secretary pool, as he is the only male, and of his 4 coworkers, 3 are heavily pregnant!  One of them is leaving and staying home after the baby is born and the BF will be her replacement.

When I leave for my internship, I'm not going to be taking my sewing machine with me at first, because I'll be living in a hotel room.  However, I'm only 2 hours away from home, and will have full weekends instead of just Sundays off, so going home to sew is not out of the realm of possiblity.  I'm thinking pattern stuff and cutting fabric (no kitties to jump on the fabric!) while I'm at the hotel, and then I can bring them home and sew on weekends.  I'll basically be playing it by ear, as I'm not sure how much I'll have to do outside of work hours to make sure I'm up to speed, but in terms of total amount of free time, it will go through the roof.  I have to make sure not to waste it on cable TV and video games.

So most likely until then, not a lot of action here, but it will be coming!  Maybe I'll post some screenshots of the Sims outfits that are making me want real-life versions....Hope everyone's getting nice warmer weather now!

March 14, 2014

Vogue 8670

Yet again, I needed something easy to break up working on the steampunk costume. This is a new pattern to me, and according to Vogue it is a "close-fitting, straight, below hip top". It's a pretty basic raglan sleeve tee pattern.  I made view C, which has a scrunchy turtleneck collar and long sleeves.  Of course, the weather is starting to warm up finally, but I'll get a little wear out of it yet.

This is also a stashbusting project. For financial reasons, I'm sewing completely from stash, and it's very likely I can sew all year with what I have right now.  This particular fabric was a tube knit that just barely fit all the pattern pieces, so there are no leftover chunks to figure out what to do with.  It's also a lot heavier and nicer than the crappy polyester knits I usually use, so I know I'll get a lot of wear out of it.

For doing absolutely no pattern adjustments whatsoever, I got really lucky with the fit on this.  Esepcially after looking at the pictures, I can see that the fit is definitely much looser than intended (considering the neck is supposed to be a regular turtleneck, not a funnel) but it works for me.  Big 4 sizing strikes again, but now I at least have a starting point, and I love that it's nice and long out of the envelope.

I'd like to say that after this, I'm going to power through and finish the steampunk coat without any other projects in between, but I think at this point that would just be dishonest.  I'll try to work on it some more (have I mentioned lately how much I hate gathers?), but I've already got another few easy projects stewing as possible things to cut out next.  Actually finishing this is such good motivation, I'd rather run through a bunch of fun easy projects and enjoy myself than tackle something crazy complicated and get stuck.
All that was left of the fabric after cutting - I'd call that stash-busted!

March 4, 2014

Real Life Hits Home...

Fair warning: this post is only tangentially sewing related.

My boyfriend got laid off yesterday, out of the blue.  This still leaves us better off than many people (and thank goodness we just got tax returns), but the grad student salary is designed to barely support one person, let alone two people and two cats. He has a lot of good experience on his resume now, but there still just aren't that many jobs out there.  I have faith that he'll do whatever he needs to do to keep us going, but it hurts my heart to see him so stressed out when this was no fault of his.

Of course, this obviously means no spending money on anything except necessities, which of course includes fabric.  Hopefully necessity proves to be the mother of invention and I come up with some beauties from the stash that I wouldn't have otherwise created.  I've got about $5 left on a JoAnn's gift card from Christmas, and that's my sewing budget for the foreseeable future.

Luckily, this has really put things in perspective for me about what is really important.  If it came down to it, I'd sell all my sewing supplies in a hot second to keep everybody warm and fed (and warm is not cheap this winter!). As much as we drool over huge fabric stashes and fancy machines, there are things that are far more important, and once we get back on our feet, I think I'll be diverting some of my sewing budget to provide for those that don't have the basics.  It's amazing what a little perspective can do.

Besides, I wouldn't be a real twenty-something if I didn't have to exist on ramen for a while, right? Right. :) Hope everybody's staying warm!

January 16, 2014

Renfrew #4

I think this is my fourth Renfrew, and I'm pretty sure I've finally gotten this pattern out of my system.  I love the way the side seams are drawn, and the ease of the band finish on hem and sleeves, but to really make it my best t-shirt pattern, I need a serious FBA and a couple inches of length in the torso.  I might go back and play around with my altered Kwik Sew pattern instead.

Of course my photographer didn't tell me that the hem band was flipped up.  Geez.
    I hadn't tried the 3/4 length sleeve on this pattern yet, and I'm not thrilled with where it sits on me. It's more like a 1/2 sleeve.  I also don't know why I keep trying to do the V neckline on terribly flimsy crappy polyester knits.  One day, I will use up all the crappy fabric I have and will be able to buy beautiful cotton jersey or something that will actually stand up to making a nice V.  I almost scrapped this project with how the neckline turned out, but I remembered what Lladybird said about finishing every project, so I soldiered on.  Once it was all put together, I decided it wasn't quite as hideous as I thought, though it is still a pretty flimsy material.

  Regardless, it filled the role of letting me finish something easy to cleanse my palette and get me ready to go for Round 2 with the Steampunk Monstrosity.  This is how it looks right now (the white part is the stuffed bra on the dressform :)

It looks like a lot of progress, but I'm only on step 16 of 32!  I may need another easy project before that's done...I'm thinking another Simplicity 1888 skirt?  Better get the BF cutting it out! ;)  (I swear, I don't use him as a cutting slave.  He really is nice enough to offer so that he can enable me to do something that I love in the limited free time I have....I'm a lucky girl.)

I also may have wasted a little bit of time playing around with this bad boy...

That is a Janome Harmony 2049 that I found in a box by the dumpster a week or so ago.  It looks like someone lovingly disassembled it (this picture is after I got the main part of the plastic casing put back together) and saved all the screws and everything, then just gave up on it.  It turns on, but the needle doesn't go through a full range of motion.  I'll probably give it my best shot to get it working, then decide if I want to invest the time to send it in to get fixed.  According to Pattern Review, these are a solid basic machine, and depending on what's wrong, it would still probably cost less to get it fixed than it would to buy a new backup machine.  I hear good things about Janome machines, so we shall see.

Halfway through January with one piece of clothing completed is a good place to be. The more I sew, the better I feel about everything else, which makes me want to sew more. Here's to more sewing!

January 11, 2014

"I Just Can't Quit You"

So remember the part where a while I said I wasn't blogging anymore because I didn't have enough time and I really couldn't invest the emotional energy to do this?  Well, forget I said that.

What's changed? A few things.  For one, I've more or less got my head back on straight.  I'll be honest, the last few months of 2013, I was in a really bad place mentally.  Grad school is more a test of grit and drive than anything else, and I was dismally failing.  Even after I came back from going home for Christmas, the first day back felt like my own personal circle of hell.  I decided I couldn't live this way, and actively changed my outlook, and so far it seems to be working.  Things that would have sent me into a days-long downward spiral a few months ago can be looked at more objectively, and I can really choose to be okay with them.

The new year is full of inspiration for everyone, of course, so I've really gotten back on the sewing horse hardcore.  I'm really trying to follow the tips that Lauren lays out in this post, and in combination with all the things I've learned lately on how to trick yourself into forming good habits, I've done some amount of sewing every day of 2014 so far (No, this may not be a big deal for some people, but it is for me.)  The thing that surprised me was that the more I force myself to sew, the more I want to sew.  The more I want to sew, the more I want to share it.  Even when I wasn't blogging, I share things on Craftster, and I'm also the leader of the sewing guild on HabitRPG, but it's just not the same.  As I was working, I was also thinking about what I want to share, or document for myself for next time, and I was sad when I realized I wasn't going to be able to do that.

So moving forward, what's going to be on here?  Whatever I feel like, whenever I feel like it.  I'm relearning how to take control of my life instead of letting my circumstances control me, so if I am only able to publish once every two months, that is okay.  If I keep up my current sewing rate, there will definitely be more finished items to share than in previous years.  I have the additional motivation of knowing I will be moving sometime in 2015, so I really need to sew up some of my stash!

I've got two things currently in progress on my sewing desk: the Simplicity 2172 steampunk coat, which is easily the most complex thing I've ever sewn, and yet another Renfrew top, which I'm using to break up the larger coat project as I need to.  I'm not giving myself any deadline to complete them, but I'm guessing you'll be seeing something before the end of January.  But if not, it's all good. :)  Happy sewing!