Wednesday, August 8, 2012

McCalls 6559 - x 2

I started seeing versions of this McCalls 6559 all over the sewing blogs earlier in the summer.  I might have just passed right over this pattern if I had not seen so many awesome versions!  In fact, I like the pattern so much I've made two for myself!

One thing I have learned from this pattern is this: now that I have more experience, I tend to make things harder for myself than they need to be.  I guess it's my desire to be creative and make something a bit more unique, but to be honest it's really annoying sometimes.  Case and point: it is possible to make this dress with only 2 pieces; a front and a back.  ONLY TWO PIECES!  Sew up the shoulders and the sides, hem and your good to go for a cute maxi dress!  But what did I do instead?  I decided "no, I need to do the version with all the crazy stripes and not the 2 piece version that would probably take an hour."

You're probably thinking "but this is not a maxi," and you're right.  It's not.  It was supposed to be...but it's not.  And I've decided I'm ok with that and I do like the dress anyways.  So what went wrong, you ask?  My cutting went wrong.  Very very wrong.  I folded my fabric and then cut the back piece on the fold. Totally normal; nothing weird there.  BUT, the pieces for the front side were very oddly shaped, and I really should have created a fold on a third of the fabric and not folded the entire piece in half because unfortunately it was almost impossible to fit those weird pattern pieces into the sides around where I cut out the back.

Even with the awkward cutting, I DID get all of the pieces cut out.  So, you ask, why is it still not a maxi?  Well, this is where the rookie mistake comes in.  I am so used to cutting out fabric folded over, so you end up with two of the same piece and it doesn't really matter which one is facing which direction because you have both covered (do you see where I'm going with this?).  So to fit the odd shaped pieces on the fabric, sometimes I had to turn the pattern pieces over.  This is a problem when you're cutting on a single layer (DUH!!!) because some of your pieces will be backwards.  And that is exactly what I had: 2 backwards pieces and 2 correct pieces...and no more fabric...and this was the end of the bolt.  AHHHHHHH!!  And so a maxi became a mini, and live goes on.  I was definitely disappointed though.

Things I don't like: the pattern has you fold down the neckline and stitch as a way of finishing it.  That's fine, but I feel like it's a bit uneven and it would have been better with a facing of some kind.  Same for the armholes as well.  I'm also having some trouble with this fabric stretching out at the shoulders even though I used some twill tape as a stay (I guess it's pretty heavy). I also learned my lesson about not pre-washing fabric, because even though I don't use any hot and I hang it to dry, there is some buckling in places now from shrinking (it's 100% cotton knit...shoulda known better).

I was still determined to make a maxi dress, so I decided to make another version.  I found 1.5 yards of white lace in the remnant bin at Hancocks and so the idea was born to make a lace maxi dress since lace seems to be everywhere this summer.  Once again, I took a simple pattern and made it more difficult than necessary, but it was still easier than the first version.  I at least used the version with just 2 pieces this time.

The main issue I had with this dress was that the remnant was not cut straight, so I couldn't get the full length that I was hoping for (that was annoying).  The bottom is actually straight, by the way, I'm just standing weird.  I also decided to make my life easier by cutting out the underlining and the lace at the same time (I just put them together and folded them as one piece and then did my pinning and cutting).  I really don't have much advice about whether that was a good or bad decision.  I probably should have not been so lazy because the pieces didn't match up as well as they could have, but I really hate cutting out pieces.

I wasn't entirely happy with the neckline of the first dress, so this time I attached the lining to the front, flipped it to the inside, and under-stitched it down.  I like the polished look much better. I wanted to do that with the armholes too, but I would have had to turn the whole dress right-side out through those tiny little straps...wasn't gonna I just turned the edges under and stitched them.

I used the racer-back piece for the first dress, so I used the other one for this dress.  I had the same gaping problem with both dresses but I added a couple of shoulder darts to the first one and I haven't done that to this one yet.  I probably will though and if I make this dress again I'll try to remember to adjust the length of the back neckline as it's too long for me. I didn't hem the bottom of the dress because I didn't want to lose any length and these fabrics don't fray, but I will say that the polyester knit I used has major static cling issues!  That's why you can see a hint of blue peeking out at the bottom but it's usually not there.

I really like this pattern and I'm sure next summer I'll crank out some more because it's really a simple pattern.  I think next time I'll just buy some knit fabric, cut out the 2 pieces, and not try anything fancy!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Butterick 5744

I just finished another dress that I absolutely love!  And it was really easy to put together (and more importantly it is super comfortable!).  I started with an inspiration from Anthropologie:

I love the way the fabric hangs, the ruffled neckline, and that it's a mock wrap (I think).  I love the fabric too, but I wasn't married to it as the absolute only option.  When I saw Butterick 5744 I waited for a sale and I snapped it up because it's perfect (not so much the model, but the drawings).

I like that this is a mock wrap dress because the real thing requires an ungodly amount of fabric (and I am a remnant shopper about 90% of the time; more than 2 yards is like finding the needle in a haystack). I did find some fabric that I liked on sale for like $2.50 per yard (score!) so I was on my way.

I only put a ruffle on the front wrap piece because a) I didn't want too much bulk where the pieces come together and b) I cut the other ruffle out wrong and didn't have enough fabric to fix it (so, basically the first reason was born from the second reason...but I like it this way better so no biggie).  It's kind of hard to see the ruffle because the print is pretty busy, but it's more obvious in person.

Here's the dress without the belt.  The seam allowance between the bodice and the skirt is closed in to create a casing for the elastic.  The elastic makes this dress easy to get over my head (the neckline makes this possible too) and it creates some shape at the waist.  I really like this method for putting in elastic because closing in the seam allowance is very simple as long as you make it large enough in the first place.  I know I'm improving in my sewing skills when I actually thought about that ahead of time and made sure to leave enough room to add elastic!  Go me!  No rookie mistakes here!

Warning: the hemline on the skirt is already quite short!  I usually have to hack off a few inches to get this length, but it was basically already there!  I had to create a very shallow hem by folding about 1/4 inch. and then folding again about 3/8 in. for a total of about 5/8in.

The bodice is completely lined, which gave a nice, neat finish to the neckline and the armholes.  I used a lightweight muslin for the lining because it's very breathable and light.  I tried to understitch as best as I could, but since you sew the neck and armholes at the same time and then turn rightside out, it's impossible to reach some of the seams.  Oh well, I have come to terms with pressing and not hating my iron (which I used to avoid like the plague), so I can press the seams after washing.

Speaking of pressing, this fabric hated it, so I used quite a bit of starch to iron it into submission.  I'm almost positive that it's polyester of some kind so the rebelliousness is not surprising.  It's also quite sheer, so the lining was necessary.  I didn't line the skirt because I ran out of muslin, but I can just wear a slip under it so not a big deal.

I'm really happy with how this dress turned out, especially because it really didn't take much time and it didn't cause me any problems.  It is sooooooo comfortable and fits great, so I think it will get a lot of wear.  I also like the color because I don't have a whole lot of red in my closet, but bright colors look good on me in general because my skin is like a blank, pasty canvas.


I went to Hancocks today to get this:

...but I came home with this:

What can I say?  I'm a sucker for the remnant bin!  All of these are at least 1 1/2 yards (some over 2!) and I can do a lot with a little bit of fabric.  All of this (including the notions I actually needed) was only $50!  I call that a homerun.  I think I'm set for awhile...

Monday, July 30, 2012

Vogue 8766

I freakin' LOVE this dress!!!  This might be my favorite thing I've made and I think I might be able to have some faith in it's ability to not fall apart because it's fully lined and I pinked all of the seams.  It will, however, wrinkle like crazy because it's cotton but maybe the garment steamer will help with that.

The dress is Vogue 8766 and I made View B (upper left corner) because I thought it would make a really cute sundress.  I was very curious about how the bottom ruffle was going to look (and I had my doubts), but I think it is so cute and it makes the dress unique.  Did I mention that I love this dress??

Note to self: don't be lazy; change back to the 50mm before taking pictures because otherwise the pics taken with the zoom look distorted and like the top half of my body is larger than the bottom half.  It's also because my husband is tall so the camera is angled down a bit.  A couple of the pics make me look like a bobblehead; not attractive!

ANYWAYS, this dress was actually very easy to make and pretty quick too.  I probably could have cut out the paper pattern, fabric, and put it together in a day, but I've learned that I need to take breaks or else the quality suffers.  I used a lightweight muslin for the lining to add a bit more structure and to ensure that you can't see through the fabric.

And that brings me to the fabric: I used quilting cotton.  Let me go off on a brief tangent in support of quilting cotton (because it gets a seriously bad reputation).  I knew that I wanted stripes and that I needed a stable fabric. I looked and looked for something that would work and I didn't have any luck.  I grudgingly wandered into the quilting section of Hancocks and low and behold I found THE fabric!  I loved the colors, the width of the stripes, I bought 2 yards and went on my merry way.  It's just another example of how much better the prints are on quilting cottons sometimes so it's hard to resist when you have a vision.  Let me just say that I was not disappointed and I think the fabric was the perfect choice for this project because it's a very fitted dress and it doesn't require any flowiness and drapiness (yes spellcheck, I see your close-minded, judgmental red lines under those words but I'm sticking with them!).  So back up off, you quilting cotton haters!  There is a time and place for it and I love my dress!!

My stripes matching was perfect on the sides and in the center front, but I didn't really even try to match in the back.  I also wanted to make the stripes horizontal on the sides and back because a) I didn't want to match stripes anymore and b) I wanted to add a bit more visual interest.  I didn't want to use horizontal on the entire dress because vertical stripes are more slimming.  If the stripes were wide, I'd probably think about going horizontal on the whole dress, but I am happy with how it turned out.

I got a bit creative with the way I lined this dress, and I think I made the right call.  The instructions have you underlining AND lining the dress and that just seemed a bit much.  It's supposed to be fitted and I worried that all that fabric would get bulky, but I was torn because there are certain aspects about each (lining and underlining) that I wanted to use.  So this is what I did: I put the bodice pieces together and the lining bodice pieces and I went ahead and attached them as if it was a full lining so that the neck and arm edges would be nice and finished.  I also under-stitched the lining to make it nice and crisp.  What I did NOT do ahead of time was make the darts; I waited until the two bodices were put together and then I made the darts through both layers (more like what you would do with underlining).  So basically I made a hybrid of underlining and lining by taking the properties of each that I like.  for the skirt I just underlined with the muslin and then made the darts (so no additional separate lining).  I am very happy with the results because there isn't any excess bulk around the middle from too many layers.

The dress looked really cute before I added the ruffle, so I knew if I didn't like it I could always remove it and still have something I liked.  But thankfully I really do like the ruffle!  And it's twirly!  To gather the ruffle, I tried using 3 rows of gathering stitches as opposed to 2 and I am really happy with the way it looks.  I forgot where I read that tip (I'd like to give credit where credit is due), but it was a really good one!  The 3 rows really helps make the gathers more even, so I think that is something I will always do (unless I get lazy and use the gathering foot which has kind of been letting me down lately; this method worked better).  I didn't really try to match the stripes because I knew with the gathering it would scrunch everything together anyway. (apparently spellcheck accepts the word "scrunch" which I'm pretty sure is a Southern version of squoosh or squish.  Oh..."squoosh" is the fake word, really spellcheck?  Whatever...)

I highly recommend this pattern because, I don't know if I made this clear, I love this dress!!  I wore it to dinner and bowling (seriously, I bowled in this dress) the other night and I got several compliments. I'm hoping I can add a cardigan or a denim jacket and wear it to work.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Vogue Patterns

I'm still here, I promise!  I was on vacation in Las Vegas last week (where I wore all me-made items, I might add!  Go me!  ...but I didn't get you can take the "go me" back now).  While I was there (and for this entire week basically) I was sick too.  Boo.  I haven't felt like doing ANYTHING. I have been the living embodiment of a couch potato and I am now caught up on so many shows that I would never choose to watch on the regular (and will regress back to that opinion now that I am better).  So I have nothing new to show, but I AM working on something that should be done in the next couple of days and I think it's going to be awesome!  I'm excited about it.

Anyhoozits, I was also on my iPad constantly which allowed me to catch up on some blogs, celebrity gossip (oh KStew, what have you done??  Oh yeah, I don't really care), and stalk pattern sites/fabric stores for sales.  And what did my eyes behold but the new Vogue patterns!  I literally saw them as they were being posted (that's how much I was on the internet); one second the "new patterns" were still the old patterns and the next thing I knew the new were now old and there was new new!  (...I may or may not still be on decide).

Here are some of the patterns I have added to my must-haves (i.e. add to stash and forget I have them):

Vogue 1317: Aside from the fact that their model is clearly afraid of heights, I love this dress!  I like the silhouette, the neckline, and the belt.  I really like it in red too and I could use more red in my wardrobe.

Vogue 1315:  Seriously, someone get that poor girl down from there! It's like the director is yelling random things like "pretend you're the Pixar lamp from their logo!" I think I like this pattern.  I'm not 100% on it, but it looks fairly simple and more than anything it looks comfortable.  If something is cute AND comfortable, the chance of me wearing it goes up like 247% (I haven't actually conducted any research about that, but I'll ballpark it).

Vogue 1314: Good God, now she's having an anxiety attack! Can we get her a Xanax?  I like this dress, but I realize it's not earth-shattering and innovative.  I don't think I already have a pattern like it though, so I will probably add it to my collection (if I call it a "collection" I feel more justified in buying patterns).

And now...for the "WTF Vogue??" patterns for Fall:

Vogue 1312: I didn't realize that Vogue designers were so into Halloween costumes.  I guess "witch-chic" will be all the rage this year.  It looks like she's in serious spell-conjuring position (or ya know, about to pop out a baby or something).  She looks kind of mad, maybe I should stop making fun of her now.

Vogue 1322: I don't know. I just don't know. I can't even think of anything humorous to say because I feel like this picture speaks plenty for itself.  I guess I'll be the one feeling like the joke when I see these women's sportsjacket capes everywhere; so practical for improve comedy cause it kind of makes you wonder if those are really her arms!  I'm really not 100% sure...

Vogue 8824: Vogue's interpretation of a Snuggie; it's a fitted (somewhat) blanket with pockets for the remote and some snacks.  Nice try with the boots, but this is a fleece mumu.

Vogue 8832: "This is the tale, of Captain Jack Sparrow. Pirate so brave, on the seven seas."  Now that song is stuck in my head.

Vogue 8838: You have to kill your own animal, but once you do that you'll have a pattern and you're good to go! (Is it just me, or did we just find Carmen Sandiego??)

Overall, more blah than awe. I'm not really that surprised and I look forward to these releases to laugh at the models as much as look at the patterns (seriously, why the awkwardness??) There were several other patterns that I liked parts of (like the skirt or the blouse but not the rest) but I'm pretty cheap and $3.99 adds up pretty quick.  Usually I limit myself to 5 patterns because that comes to roughly $20 without tax, so I plan to pick up a few at the next pattern sale.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Scrapped - Vogue 8728

Well it's happened: my first unfinished object (UFO, they ARE real!).  It's disappointing too because I've seen so many great versions of this dress on the internets.

I want to clarify that this has absolutely nothing to do with the pattern itself.  It didn't have too many pieces, the instructions were clear (although kind of odd because it's a vintage re-issue, but I just kind of did things my own way), and in theory I should have ended up with a cute new/old dress.

However, I learned something new from this experience: my machine is hungry.  It's hungry for jersey and it doesn't care who knows it!  I wish I knew exactly what this fabric actually is so that I can put it on my "do not ever ever ever buy this ever again...ever!" list (that I will most likely ignore if I see a cute print or an awesome color).  I found it in the remnant bin at Hancock Fabrics (their remnants are great; sometimes as much as 2 yards!), but the problem is they don't specify what the fabric is just that it's apparel fabric.  I know that it's some kind of jersey because it's a knit that's super stretchy and drapey, but this jersey is actually kind of heavy.  One side of it almost has a kind of sheen to it while the other side is a bit more dull.  Any ideas?  Probably polyester like 99% of the fabrics found at Joann and Hancocks.

Well whatever it is, my machine continued to feast on it again and again and again.  I had to take apart my machine 5 times and a couple of those times ended up making a hole in the fabric (which maaaaaaaybe had to do with my impatience and eventual tugging on it...oops...and maybe or maybe not while yelling...).  I did learn that my walking foot is pretty much a necessity with this fabric because any other foot I used just made the problem worse (i.e. gathering foot is a NO NO!), but there was no fooling my ravenous machine.  It had an unquenchable thirst for this stuff!

So I think I give up!  I may go back and try again after awhile (we need some time apart...maybe absence will make the heart grow fonder).  I also have a difficult time with things that are left unfinished and they kind of eat away at me cause I know they're there...staring at me...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Simplicity 2449

I made this skirt back in April, and I was really happy with how it turned out!  I saw this beautiful embroidered linen/rayon blend fabric at Joann Fabrics and I knew that it would make a great skirt.  It has a nice weight to it and it flows nicely while still giving it structure.  I love the color (I seem to gravitate towards blue fabrics, it seems). The pattern was described as "easy to sew" so it only took me a few hours to make, even as a beginner!

I made view E with the cute tie in the front.  The tie is actually sewn into the side seams and only shows in the front so it's not meant to be functional.  I accidentally sewed one of the ties a bit too high so when I folded over the casing it pulled the top of the tie over too, but it's not really noticeable if you don't know about it. The skirt has an elastic waistband so it's very easy to put together (once I learned the ol' attach-a-safety-pin-to-the-elastic-and-guide-it-through-the-casing trick; that one is brilliant!).

The weird thing is I can't really remember much about making this skirt other than the fact that it was very quick to put together.  I cut out the paper pattern, the fabric, and put the whole thing together during the day on a Saturday and then wore it to dinner that night!  That's my kind of project!  I don't think I had any significant issues with it at all; because the waist is elastic, I could make it as tight as I needed so I didn't have any fit issues even though I think I was still in my making-size-12 phase.  This skirt probably set me back on my discovery of a 12 being too big since I was able to make it fit so well and it didn't occur to me until just now that the elastic is the reason why...this is why talking it out helps!  Thanks guys!  Blogging rocks!  Probably would have helped me back in April, huh?

I think this might have been the project when I first learned about the concept of finishing seams (ya know, just that little detail.  No biggie or anything).  I pinked all of the seams because I could tell this fabric would fray if left raw, and it's holding together just fine.  At the time, this was definitely the best thing I had made and it looked the most professional.  People at work would ask me if I made it and then when I said yes they were actually surprised and were like "no you didn't!"  Uh, yeah...I did.

I think I might actually bring the hem up another inch or two so that it hits right above my knee and not at the spot where my calves start.  Seeing it in picture form really helps me to see that even though I own a mirror and never really noticed that before.

If I made it again with a similar fabric, I might consider adding a lining because it is a little bit scratchy.  It's not really that bad, but I can imagine how nice a lining might feel against my legs.  I'd like to make some of the other views of this pattern, especially the gathered version because that looks fun!