26 June 2011

On the Mend

I am seriously thinking of getting a Mac. Windows, really, it's been a great run. But your vulnerability to viruses and other ailments has run its course with me. This shit is not fun. Why do people create these things?!

I learned computing on a Mac and was so confused upon being introduced to a PC. Unfortunately when my university switched operating systems, I had to learn Windows and have since not looked back. The time has come. I have enough going on right now and am NOT fighting with a machine. I am not Sarah Connor.

On the sewing front, I am almost finished with my second version of M5847. I have to slipstitch the facings, work the buttonholes, topstitch the front, and finish the armholes. Hmm. I think this is where I stopped last time. I see a pattern developing...

I will be on light computing mode for the next few days. I need to make sure my computer is completely healed before I return to my regular scheduled programming. Hah.


19 June 2011

It Figures...

You see, this is why I shouldn't get all excited about a new project. I had this grand plan in mind for a second version of M5847. I made changes to the pattern, got all the supplies ready, cut out the pieces, and started sewing it yesterday.

Today I decided to fuse all of the interfacing now so that the pieces are ready when I need them. I'm fusing away while listening to Mary J. Blige; then it hit me. Where the hell are the front facing pieces? I have interfacing for it, but where are the pi--? Oh for the love of...you gotta be kidding me! M&#*%&F^!$@! Yeah, I never cut the facing pieces. I had enough fabric - before I cut out the pockets and bias strips. Now, all I have left is scraps and disappointment. I went through every piece of denim I had and nothing comes close. I don't even remember where I got this piece from, so finding a match is not an option.

I do have an idea, but I don't know if this will work. I found some lightweight cotton broadcloth in the stash. From the scraps, I can cut the top part of the facing and cut the bottom part of the facing out of the broadcloth. This way, I can still have the same denim fabric for the collar. The problem is, I need to make sure that the weight of the lower part of the facing is close to that of the fabric, or else the dress won't hang properly. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr....

I have no idea what I was thinking when I cut out these pieces. I do remember being in a rush to do something. Let this be a lesson in knowing when to slow down and be present!


18 June 2011

M5847: Complete

I hand-sewed the last button yesterday. I know there's a way to do this by machine, but I couldn't figure it out. After sticking myself with the needle a few times and even drawing blood with a staple (don't ask), the dress is finally done. I wore it to my friend's daughter's graduation party today. I received really nice compliments and had a great time.

I have two more dresses in queue. I will sew a second version of M5847, though I'm keeping the details under wraps. Why I'm being all 007 about it I don't know. Though, I will say that there is A LOT of topstitching involved.

I also started working on McCall's 6279. When I measured the pattern pieces, I was surprised to see that a straight size 16 required little to no adjustments. I shifted the bust fullness down two inches and made a quick muslin. So far, I am pleased with the results. I'll make the dress out of a linen & rayon blend. The colour is dark orange-rust and the buttons are two shades of light and medium brown.

If I work hard enough, I should be able to finish both dresses before the end of the month.

Until next time, be well!


13 June 2011

So Close...

Don't you just hate it when you are so close to finishing a project and the last thing needed for it to be complete causes problems?! I am at that stage with my dress and its buttonholes. First, I think the top buttonhole is too high, which subsequently throws off the placement of the other buttonholes.

Second, my sewing machine just decided to not stitch the second buttonhole properly - even after I did three tests on scrap fabric. The machine would sew up one side and then stop and stitch in place. I picked out this half-buttonhole twice already and have weakened the fabric in this area. Grr. Finally, I am running out of thread and still have five more buttonholes to make! Of course, this means another trip back to the store for one measly spool of thread.

I am soooooooo close!


11 June 2011

Almost Finished with M5847

I am about 80% done with the shirt dress. I need to bind the armholes, topstitch the front and collar, work the buttonholes, and sew on the buttons. Hmm...make that 70% done...

I decided to go with the light gold/brown topstitching thread. Finding the ideal buttons is another thing. I went to a local craft store and found great buttons - but they were not machine washable. The assistant suggested that I hand-wash the garment. Yeah, that's not happening. I should be able to find something at JoAnn's 50% off sale this Sunday.

The most annoying part of sewing this dress involved slipstitching the facings. I can tolerate slipstitching small areas, but not the entire vertical length of a dress...twice...plus the collar and shoulders. My middle finger still hurts; there must be a better way. I'm thinking that I can postpone topstitching the princess seams until after the facing is sewn. That way, I can tack the facings down and topstitch all in one shot. I'll have to think about it more...

While I'm sure I can improve the fit, I'm not going to tinker with this dress any longer. Since I will likely sew it again, I will make the necessary adjustments in the next version. In fact, I've got an idea for the second version that I'm going to keep on lock for now. I don't want to get all excited only to have an epic fail in the end. =)

More dresses
Trinicity's dresses and Faye's sew along have really inspired me to sew more dresses. I have several in queue that I hope to sew before summer's end.

I'm jumping on the Donna Karan bandwagon with V1250 and V1220.

I tried on a version of this dress at Christine Jonson's open house.
It fit rather well with only a few minor adjustments needed.

McCall's 6279

Simplcity 2406

McCall's 5752

That's all for now. Until next time, be well!


07 June 2011

Fitting McCall's 5847 (sleeveless version)

For the first two weeks of June, I'll be working on McCall's 5847 for Faye's summer dress challenge. Since the start of the sew-along, I've made a lot of progress on fitting.

Size & Flat Pattern Measurements
I started with a size 14 based on my high bust measurement. Normally, I would select a myriad of sizes. But because I began cutting out the pattern over a year ago, I decided to follow through with a straight 14 and work from there. I marked all of the seamlines and took flat pattern measurements of all the major pieces, taking into account the following areas:
  1. bust point or bust fullness
  2. total bust circumference (front and back)
  3. full bust circumference (front)
  4. full bust circumference (back)
  5. back-waist length (from neck to waist)
  6. upper back width (across the shoulder blades area)
  7. middle back width (armhole area; shoulder dots on the pattern)
  8. shoulder length
I decided to focus on just a few areas of adjustment despite the number of differences I found between my and the pattern's measurements.

Bust Fullness & FBA
The bust fullness seemed really high on this pattern so I lowered it 2". To raise or lower the bust fullness, draw a box around the fullness with lines perpendicular and parallel to the grainline. The notches can be kept intact by drawing the lines an inch above and below each notch.

Cut the box on these lines and lower/raise the desired amount.

Fill in the open area with paper, true the seamlines, and add back the seam allowance. Repeat the same process on the front.

I neglected to take a picture of the pieces before doing the 1.5"FBA. Here are pictures of the completely altered side front and center front.

I removed 3" of length from the bottom of the dress. I didn't take all 3 inches out at the same place because I wanted to preserve some of the flair. I measured up 4 inches from the hem and took out 1.5 inches. From this line, I measured up 2 inches and removed another 1.5".


The Good:
  • After hemming, the overall length will be just where I want it.
  • The back doesn't look too bad and fits nicely. Ignore the wrinkles; they exist only because I am twisting my body to snap a picture of the back.
  • Belts will be my best friend with this dress. Un-belted, this is not flattering.
The Bad:
  • Hmf. There is quite a lot of pulling at the bustline despite making the FBA.
  • The shoulder seam is actually a little short. I may have to take smaller seam allowances.
  • The waist and hip area is quite large. The finished waist and hip measurements were 35 and 46 inches, respectively. The FBA added an extra 3 inches to these numbers.
The Solution:

I was going to make this in a stretch denim (4% Lycra), but I don't have enough fabric. Instead, I will use a lightweight non-stretch and use 1" seam allowances. Hopefully, this will give the extra room I need to prevent the pulling. I say 'hopefully' because I already cut this out of the fashion fabric!

As for the extra waist and hip width, I removed 3/4" from the front side seam and reshaped it. I think I'll be safe.

Up Next
I'm not sure where to go with buttons and topstitching. I have an idea in mind, but having perused some images of denim shirt dresses, I'm not so sure anymore.

  • tone-on-tone topstitching with flat, light-coloured (ivory, ecru, etc.) buttons
  • tone-on-tone topstitching with gold, metal shank buttons
  • light gold topstitching with gold, metal shank buttons
  • light gold topstitching with flat, light-coloured (ivory, ecru, etc.) buttons
It looks like a trip to the craft or fabric store is in order.

Until then, be well!


02 June 2011

Last Completed Project for May 2011: Simplicity 2614

May was definitely a productive sewing month. I completed a total of nine (!!!) garments, with the ninth being Simplicity 2614. I made a hoodie, five activewear tops, yoga pants, a pair of jeans, and a top. I probably did this much wearable sewing in all of 2006. But I digress...

I started and nearly completed a skirt, Colette Patterns 1005, but I didn't get to finish before the end of the month. All that's left to do is understitch the facing, finish the hem, and do twelve buttonholes. I am determined to wear this skirt on Monday, so this has to get done this weekend!

Fitting S2614 wasn't too bad. I had some prior knowledge about the fit before tackling it myself. I had the opportunity to try on two versions of the top made by two different people. For starters, I cut a number of sizes:
  • neckline: 14
  • shoulders: 14
  • armhole: 16
  • bust & waist: 18 and the D cup pattern piece
  • sleeve band: 22 (decided after making a muslin)
It's no secret that 99% of the time, I make a muslin. Even though I already sampled two versions of this top, I still needed to make sure the sizes I selected would work. Additionally, muslins not only give information about fit, they also provide a chance to test out the instructions as well as construction techniques used in the garment. This muslin revealed a few things:
  1. the empire waist seam was way too high
  2. the sleeve cap has a pouf (not noticeable on the model or line drawings)
  3. there is no defined seamline at the natural shoulder
  4. no FBA needed
  5. the top has a lot of gathers (empire waist, dropped shoulder, & sleeve band)
I lowered the empire waist seam 2" so that the seam fell below my bust. To compensate for the extra length, I removed 2" from the lower front.

Even though my intended fabric had crosswise stretch, I wanted to make sure I had enough room across the upper back. So I made a small broad-back adjustment by drawing an "L" around the armhole, slashing across and up to the back shoulder seamline, and pivoting out about 5/8". The pattern is cut in a single layer and I made the adjustment on both sides. There are probably slight differences on each side. A better, more efficient way to do this adjustment is to make the adjustment on one side and then trace the other half from the adjusted piece.

I am not at all a fan of pouf-y sleeves. I lopped off an inch of height, tapering to nothing at the front and back notches. While this alteration did remove some of the poof, the cap could stand to lose another inch or so. If I make this this top again, I will find another sleeve to use instead. The adjusted sleeve piece is on top.

In my quest to get some FLOTUS Obama arms, I've increased my upper body strength training and it's starting to show. Initially, I used a size 16 band and found it to be too tight. So I cut the sleeve band in the largest size and took advantage of my fabric's stretch. Now the band is quite comfortable. I didn't need to cut a larger size in the sleeve/cuff seam; instead I just reduced the amount of gathers. It worked out perfectly.

Finally, I added 1" to the hem.

Nothing fancy here. I finished all the seams on my serger.

I still have to get better at sewing v-neck openings. I know that Sandra Betzina discusses how to do this accurately Power Sewing. I just forgot to refer to it before tackling this project.

Hopefully I'll get some pictures of the top with my finished Beignet skirt soon!

Up Next:
For the first two weeks of June, I'll be concentrating on McCall's 5847 as part of Faye's Summer Dress Challenge. I've made some progress on the pattern alterations and have the first muslin ready to sew.

I am in the middle of writing the blog post. Until then...

Be well!



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