Friday, April 29, 2011

That's my fabric!!!!


Found this dress on Modcloth.

That's the same skirt I just finished. The fabric is Michael Miller - I bought some in New York - I paid roughly $6-8 per yard for it.

I have a tiny bit left over. I was going to use it for a baby blanket or something, but now I wonder, should I make a top instead? Hmm.

I hate hand-sewing!

There is a tiny flaw in my new dress (I did finish the Vogue last night, and Mom, that's why I didn't pick up the phone.)

The neckline isn't symmetrical. I wore it to work today, and stared at myself in the mirror - nope. One end of it is much more curved than the other. Argh. (So I tossed a cardigan over, which hides it.)

I finish my sleeveless lined dresses the BWOF way (the one they illustrate with a dowel - leave shoulder seams and a bit unsewn, join lining & fabric at neck and arms, and then turn right side and sew shoulders). This leaves a tiny bit of hand-stitching at the shoulders, which I'm generally not content doing, but still manage to anyway. Unless it is on a neckline such as this, where the boat-neck really shows every single flaw. In this case, I've turned down a seam allowance while hand-stitching a bit further than the other side.

(Is anything I'm saying making sense? It might not, I've only had one cup of coffee.)

Anyhoo. When I get home tonight, I evidently need to rip out the stupid hand-stitching, and fix this.

But you know, apart from that, I' pretty happy with this new dress. In fact, I'm off to the washroom, to stare at the dress in the large mirror there.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Weird sewing dream/nightmare

I had the weirdest dream last night.

The setting is Madurai, a hot and dusty South-Indian town that I've only been to once in my life. My family and me are in a car, driving towards the airport so I can catch a flight. There is plenty of time, we are going to be 3 hours early.

For no reason at all, my grandfather decides to change shirts, and switch to a black shirt. But the shirt placket has a tear in it, and so my grandfather asks me if I'd fix it.

Sure, I say. After all, I have my sewing machine in the car. (Of course.)

The thread in the sewing machine is white. I look around in the sewing machine storage compartment, and find a black bobbin and green thread on a spool. So I start unwinding the bobbin a bit, to cut off a length of thread, to wind it over the green thread, so I'd be using the right color thread.

Clearly, this is a dream, I am nowhere this meticulous in real-life.

I then look for an outlet, and the one on the car will serve. I can run my sewing machine right in the car.

We pull up in the parking lot, right next to a tree. I start winding the thread.

Suddenly, my sewing machine starts running. At furious, full speed. The needle is going up and down, except there's no thread, no bobbin, and no cloth. It is hitting the throat plate, I can see needle marks on the plate.

I check the foot pedal, to see if it is stuck - nope. That isn't it. So I panic, and pull the wire, disconnecting the machine.

It doesn't help. Electricity or not, the machine is still running. The din is staggering. My mother is shrieking, asking me what's wrong. I'm pulling and pushing at everything I can think of, trying to stop the machine. Nothing helps...

And then I woke up, thankfully. Sewing machine nightmares are scary. (And no, I didn't actually go and check on the machine, that would have been too insane. Right?)

In actual sewing news, I finished a skirt since my last post, but I'm waiting for a nice day and an obliging photographer so I can take pictures outside. I'm sick of my It's-winter-I'm-not-going-outside photos.

I've also cut out, in an effort to sew practical things, a cotton sheath dress. The fabric is a beautiful dark-pink silk/cotton mix (it might even be silk - my mother bought it for me, so she'll know.) I've had it in my stash for approximately 3 years. I'm using Vogue 8110 (just realized it has never been reviewed on PR, hmm...), which has also been in my stash for 3 years, an acquaintance who was moving out of Toronto gave it to me. It looks like a pretty simple dress, and I'm hoping to complete it by tomorrow.

Fabricland is having a $2.20 Simplicity pattern sale, so I went to take a look at lunch yesterday. 7 patterns came home with me, sigh. The pattern boxes I have are already overflowing... One of them, Simplicity 2936 was bought only because of its resemblance to the new Collette pattern (Violet). I'm entirely unsure if the loose fit will look good on me, and I rather prefer to find out at $2.20 than $16.

And that's my no-picture, sewing roundup of the day...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

UFO Watch - One off the list

Remember this dress?

Well, it's been sitting in the wadder pile for about 3 years. I don't throw away anything, and I've been meaning to fix it for 3 years.

Well, today I realized that I won't fit into this dress until pigs fly. I tried basting in a zipper, and it wasn't pretty. Some strategic chopping and seam ripping later, it is a skirt. I won't get a ton of wear out of it, though I do think it'll be an interesting thing to wear on a patio during the summer, with a white shirt and a black jacket.

I used my narrow hem foot to do the hem, reasoning that I might as well get some practice here. Still need more practice, the hem is pretty crappy. However, I've decided only a sewist would notice, and I've made my peace with it.

The Woolen Fabric Scrap Quilt Top

I haven't traced or cut anything out after the birthday dress, but over the weekend, I did cut and sew up this quilt top.

I made it with leftover scraps from the various woolen garments I've been sewing. This skirt, this skirt, this skirt, and a whole lot more. In the upcoming days/weeks, I'll quilt it up (super simple lines, of course) and it'll make a great cold-weather blanket to snuggle under. (And since it still appears to be winter in Toronto, I'll be able to use it this season as well! Bah!)

Of course, the instant a quilt is laid out, anywhere in the world, little Biscuit is there to check it out and sit on it. So adorable!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The 2011 Birthday Dress - Part 3

All done, Dear Readers. How very awesome.

At some point, I'll take better pictures outdoors. But, this will give you a quick view. I love this dress!!!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The 2011 Birthday Dress - Part 2

Of course, I went out last night.

In my defense, it was a lovely day. It was 20 degrees and windy. The air was crisp, and I decided I *must* leave my cave of an apartment and go for a walk. Walking in Toronto is always interesting, there's stores that provide good sewing inspiration, and good cooking inspiration too. (Which I need pretty desperately, I haven't entered my kitchen for a month and a half.)

There's no good reason this walk turned into a 'call a friend and meet for a couple of pints' night - but it did, of course - I had a groupon to use that was going to expire soon, and I hate to let them go unused.

So, I got back home at 11.00pm.

I'm so, so glad I got the fabric all cut out. I like sewing, I hate cutting. I didn't have many seams to sew to get the dress to a try-on stage, so I got to work and got going. At this point, the only things left to do on the dress are (1) to hand-tack the neck facings to the shoulder seam, (2) to finish the armhole seams and (3) to decide what length I want the dress, and hem it.

That's just a couple of hours of work, yay.

Good news - I *love* this dress. It is (exactly as Carolyn said) sexy in an incredibly understated way. I was afraid I'd have to wear Spanx under it, but no - it skims rather than clings (an advantage when you actually make your own pattern size, instead of the optimistic lower size.)

I'll see if I can get photos up soon! On Saturday, I'm going to be too busy partying to actually worry about things like photos for the blog.

Incidentally, this is an incredibly easy pattern to sew, I have no idea what the 2.5 dot rating is all about, unless it is to do with the arm flaps (which I'm leaving out) or with the incredible amount of cutting. I agree with the cutting, but once you are past that bit, really simple!

(Or could it be that in the last 4-5 years of sewing, I've secretly been advancing my skills, and am now ready to try a 2.5 dot pattern? I don't really think that's the case though - must experiment.)

Monday, April 11, 2011

The 2011 Birthday Dress - Part 1

There are a few bloggers (Trena and Melissa come to mind immediately, but I'm sure they aren't the only ones) who always make themselves something fabulous for their birthday. I've wanted to copy this idea for a few years. A couple of years ago, I failed miserably at making this BWOF dress. Last year, I thought of it, but just didn't get around to it. But this year? This year *will* be the year, dear Readers. A birthday dress *will* be made this year.

The dress needs to be ready by Saturday evening, since that's the big birthday drinking day (my actual birthday is on a week day, but a majority of my friends are incredibly lame about going out on weeknights, so the weekend it will be.)

Originally, I wanted to knock off the Lanvin dress that Helen Mirren is wearing here. I even went out to Toronto's Fashion District and bought some gorgeous blue knit fabric. But then, I started wondering - would this dress flatter me? Did I have enough time to make this dress, since I'd have to franken-pattern it? And so, I mentally went to Plan B.

Plan B is BWOF 09-2010-122.

I cut everything out last night, and constructed some of the skirt. Hopefully, tonight, I'll be able to finish it off. I'm going out Tuesday, Thursday and Friday evenings, so I really only have 2 evenings to get this done.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Honey, I lost my sleeves!

One of my most recent pattern acquisitions was McCalls 6200. Yesterday evening, I was looking for an instant-gratification project, so I pulled out this pattern, some fabric I'd recently bought at Fabricland (it was a remnant, I can never resist those), and started cutting.

Of course, it was only after I cut out the front that I realized I didn't have enough fabric. (Yes, I know I should have measured, but I was also setting up my new laptop at the time, and I was cutting on the floor, while trying to prevent Biscuit from walking on my fabric. I just wasn't paying attention.)

And so, the dress has no sleeves. I had to do a little tweaking to get it to work (the sleeve opening was too low, so I sewed that seam higher to get it to not be quite as revealing.)

Despite the oops! - I like this dress a lot. I love the fabric, it feels nice to the touch, and I'm currently drawn towards shades of blues and purples (see this shirt as evidence). It'll work well for summer, and I can wear it in spring and fall with tights and a jacket.

Oh - definitely worth mentioning - check the amount of ease in this dress. I typically cut a 10 on top, and a 12 on the bottom. I went down a size for this, 8 on top, 10 on the bottom, and I think it turned out perfect.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

First quilting success - a tiny baby quilt

Dear Readers, this is the first time I'm actually happy with a quilting effort. (Not the top, the actual quilting process, which I usually fail horribly at.)

My mom needed a baby quilt in a hurry, for the baby shower for a gender-yet-to-be-determined baby. This pink quilt top was therefore not going to cut it.

I flipped through flickr for inspiration, and found this photo, with its lovely colour palette. I wasn't about to piece together a lot of triangles to copy it precisely, but I did copy the general layout and color scheme. I made this (all from scrap, yay!), and actually managed to do a decent job quilting it. Yay for me.

And the back. Notice the lack of horrible ripples. I'm pretty pleased with myself.

I think this quilt makes up for the fact that I never sew for my mom, don't you?

Friday, April 01, 2011

Me-Made-March - a summary

Here it is, a look at everything I wore through the month.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Day 8

Day 9

Day 10

Day 11
No picture.

Day 12

Day 13

Day 14

Day 15

Day 16

Day 17

Day 18

Day 19
No picture.

Day 20
No picture.

Day 21

Day 22

Day 23

Day 24

Day 25

Day 26

Day 27
No picture.

Day 28

Day 29

Day 30
No picture.

Day 31

Me-Made thoughts.
1. I hate taking photos every day. I'm busy, I'm running in and out. Stopping to take photos frequently just doesn't happen. Last year, during Self-Stitched September, I pretty much gave up taking photos about halfway through the month. This time, I didn't pretend I was going to catch-up by 'staging' photos, I just took a photo as much as possible. This helped keep the challenge sane.

2. As you noticed, I wore the same two cardigans a lot. Why? I have a ton of RTW cardigans, and never feel that compelled to sew my own versions. The same logic applies to pants, jackets, etc. If I have true wardrobe holes, I should fill them with sewn components, of course. But if I don't? Sewing a cardigan for Me-Made months seemed a bit pointless - cardigans are not a wardrobe hole. So I wore the same things again and again a lot, and got quite tired of it.

3. At the same time, I found this go-around of the Me-Made a lot more fun than the previous round. (September.) This was primarily due to the changes Zoe made to the flickr group, I think. She limited photos to 2 per outfit, which was brilliant. Last time, the sheer volume of photos meant no one had time to review and comment. This time around, I actually got feedback and compliments on my clothes. As with the blog, feedback from other sewers makes things fun, and no feedback makes things boring.

So, what did I wear today, after all me-made restrictions were over?

Newly sewn top, but store bought jeans and jacket. This kind of outfit is pretty typical for me, I wear my self-sewn clothes ~25-30% of the time. This number that keeps increasing as my RTW items get older, I don't think I've done any RTW shopping in at-least a year.

I've reached the 25-30% level in ~3-4 years and I anticipate that 5 years from now, I'll be pretty close to 100%.

Me-Made-March - Days 29-31

Day 29 (Tuesday): Pants! This fabric is insane, it attracts lint like you would not believe. I de-linted before I left home, and was covered in fluff by the time I got to work (a 10 minute walk.) Ugh.
Top: Selfish-Seamstress-inspired minimalist cowl. I did wear my McCalls 5890 black cardigan over it, but I'm sick of photos with the black cardigan, so I took it off for the photo.
Pants: Simplicity 2700

Day 30 (Wednesday):

No photos, but I wore this grey BWOF 10_2009_115 dress with a purple scarf. I like this dress a lot standing up, but whenever I sit down, the dress rides up, and the neck is just too revealing. I need to either tighten or loosen something, but I've no idea what. The potential for wardrobe malfunction is the reason this dress hasn't been worn so far this month. (And until I fix something, won't get worn again. I'm afraid to bend over my desk. Crazy! I work, I generally am sitting down at meetings all day. Constantly tugging at my dress to get it to behave is very unprofessional.)

Day 31 - Thursday:
I had all day work meetings today, and I needed to look super-professional. I really should have been wearing a suit, but since I have no self-sewn ones, and I didn't want to blow off Me-Made-March on the last day, I wore this outfit instead. A total repeat of day 9. It would have been fine if I had a grey jacket, but the cardigan was probably a bit too informal for work meetings. Sigh.

I do own a couple of jackets, of course, and while I could sew one - I have traditionally not bothered since (a) I rarely use them, (b) my RTW wardrobe will suffice and (c) until my RTW wardrobe wears out, I see no point of sewing something to replace something that doesn't need replacing. (This is also the reason why I don't tend to sew pants, except now, my RTW pants are a bit worse for wear, and do need to be replaced.)

White t-shirt: Simplicity 4076
Mustard skirt: Simplicity 4047
Grey cardigan: McCalls 5890.