So I’ve been working on a dress, on-and-off, and then off for a long time because I reached the point where I had to hand-sew… And I don’t like to hand-sew, primarily because I end up spending most of the time poking my fingers with the needle or pins, ouch
I was reading this blog by the Selfish Seamstress, who is a really talented and funny lady. She was writing about how she made a cowl sleeveless top in under an hour and even provided the pattern she designed for it! She used a knit fabric, and I have never made anything from knits before because I thought you needed a serger machine, and I only have a regular sewing machine. But she wrote that she doesn’t have a serger, and used a regular sewing machine to make this, so I decided to delay hand-sewing and instead focus on a fast and easy project.
Woohoo! Thank you, Selfish Seamstress! This was really fast and easy to make – essentially you just cut out 3 pieces, and sew them together (and iron a little)! And since it is a knit fabric you can skip the time-consuming things like zippers. This definitely makes me want to sew some more knits.
And did you notice a label on the garment, har har. Okay so I may have purchased some labels with “fangaroni” on them so I could sew them to my garments. Hey, it makes me happy to see these labels on my clothes, teeheehee
So I have completed something that I am fully satisfied with and can wear for this fall/winter weather. I made a purple wool A-line skirt. I used a free pattern from BurdaStyle, you have to be a member to get the pattern but it is easy to sign up and you get access to so many free, great patterns. BurdaStyle had a contest to see who could make this skirt best, or a variation of this skirt, so many members made some really nice skirts! http://www.burdastyle.com/projects/a-plus-a-line
Notes on this pattern: It is relatively simple, but you have to print out 50 pages to get it, which is a ton. Luckily I have a lot of scrap paper. I also found the sizing to be a little off – judging by my measurements, it indicated a certain size, but that size was a little off. I just made sure to fit the paper pattern before I cut out any fabric, so no problem.
I used a purple wool from Fabric Mart which was on sale and now it is more on sale!
It is hard to capture the color of the wool; its color is in between these two colors indicated in the photos? The front of the dress has a yoke and pleats. The second photo is a picture of the back and side. The lining, I believe it is a gold polyester china silk. The zipper is lavender, and it isn’t supposed to be showing, but I really liked the bit of lavender on the side seam. Yeah so these photos are pretty bad, I’ll replace them when I take better ones.
I am working on a bunch of things. I have worked hard on this Black and White jacket, because its not a dress or shirt that if I make mistakes I can cover with a cardigan. I sewed a quilted lining on the inside, which I really like! The goal is for it to theoretically be reversible because it will look great on the inside and outside! To that end, I am adding black bias tape to all the edges, which so far I have sewed and removed it twice because it hasn’t completely lined up. The second is a dress made from Italian wool that I got for 75% off, quite a bargain. The skirt is supposed to be a full skirt – like a 1950s poufy skirt. I’m going to remove this skirt though, because to get that poufy look, you have to wear a crinoline or some sort of petticoat which I definitely have no plans on doing. Also, gathering the skirt was a hassle, even though this was lightweight wool I couldn’t get the skirt to gather evenly. I’m going to replace this bottom with a slimmer skirt.
Woohoooo! Thanks to my friend who is Yanks fan No. 1, I am going to the ALCS game tonight!!! Hooorraaaay!!! The Yankees are playing the Angels for Game 2. Game 1, CC dominated and the Angels made some surprising errors, and the Yankees won. For non-baseball peeps, if the Yankees win this series, then they go to the World Series! I doubted I would go to a postseason game cuz scalpers and enterprising people who were able to get tix were selling them at outrageous prices, but all’s well that ends well. The game may be rained out, and then they’d play on Sunday. It’s prob going to be drizzly and freezing tonight, but I won’t wear my red raincoat cuz I don’t want the Angels to think I support them heh heh
This positive bit of news is balancing out the, shall we say, disastrous sewing that has been going on over hurrr. So I bought some fabric on Ebay that the seller said was from the 1960s or something. Indeed it is, because when I received it it was not crisp and new, and after washing it got really worn and kinda thinned out. But that is quite alright because it shows that it actually is a vintage fabric! It is cotton flannel, a purple floral on white background.
This is what I was aiming to make, a sleeveless dress. And then because the pattern was a little big, I used this excellent advice to grade the bodice down. You sort of overlap a little of the pattern to make it smaller, but instead of slicing the pattern and overlapping, I just carefully folded it. Good news: I followed the directions correctly and graded the bodice down! And I didn’t slice into the pattern. Bad news: I wanted to make the bust measurement smaller, but it also made the waist measurement smaller, and the bodice did not fit! I also forgot that I have to add 1.5 inches to the top, because I have a long torso.
Okay so I used some “advanced” photo editing skills to illustrate the points of disaster. Red circles= bad, Black circle=correction. The bodice on top is the too-small one, which ended up being too small in the front, too short at the top, and way too small to fit around the back. The second bodice is my correction of that. I again forgot to add length to the top, but that is fixed. In my overzealous effort to make sure the front wasn’t too small, I added too much room and so now it is really big in front! But hey, at least that is correctable.
The weather got really cold, so I decided to put aside this dress cuz even thinking about it made me cold! I bought this plaid wool fabric from Fabric Mart, which is an online retailer that I am obsessed with. The prices are so good and the shipping is a flat rate of $8, so even when I got an 18 pound box of fabric, I didn’t have to pay like $20 for shipping. And it is based in PA, which means they ship it, and the fabric comes in ONE day. Great!
This pattern pic is for a princess-seamed short-sleeve dress. It inspired me to use some sort of checkered pattern, like the model has, and I had this wool plaid fabric ready to use. I cut out the pattern pieces on the fabric, and when I got ready to sew the first two pieces together, I realized I had made a HUGE Mistake.
I sewed the rest together because I knew there was no denying the fact. Nothing matched up! Okay so in a regular dress there are 3 pieces; 1 front piece and 2 back pieces. In a princess seamed dress, there are 7 pieces because there are 2 Front Side Pieces and 2 Back Side Pieces. I hadn’t sewn these extra side pieces before, and I neglected to make sure they matched up the front and back pieces.
What I also failed to take into consideration was that this was no ordinary checkered pattern. Instead of being like the model’s picture, where you would just have to make sure the black lines matched up, the squares on the wool plaid are in 16 different colors (I think)! This would mean I would have had to matched up Almost White color with Almost White color, Light Beige with Light Beige, Light Sand with Light Sand, etc etc. That would mean I’d need a ton of fabric, because I could only cut out fabric pieces that would match up exactly. This is why I decided to just sew up the dress, because I wasn’t going to buy SO much fabric, just to only use bits of it for the dress.
This dress needs a lining, otherwise it wouldn’t be that comfy against the skin. I originally was going to make a separate lining, and then attach it to the dress. I decided instead to follow the pattern’s instructions for an underlining, which meant I would sew the lining fabric onto each separate piece, and then sew it all together. Turns out it was a bad idea! There are so many seams on this dress, and then the lining fabric started fraying badly at all these seams. If I had made the lining separately, the fraying seams would be hidden between the lining and the dress. To fix this, I had to make a lot of bias tape, which means a lot of cutting and ironing. The goal is to cover up the seams with the bias tape, so it stops fraying all over the place. So far, sewing the bias tape on is not going well…
Lessons for me:
1) Well, at least I don’t make the same mistake twice haha! When I made a bodice too small, I then made it too big and finally for the wool plaid dress it fits correctly!
2) Do not use a fabric that has too much going on if you want to make a garment that has to match up.
3) Before cutting, figure out how the pieces go together, so if something needs to match up, it will!
4) Keep the faith! The plaid wool dress is a disaster, but I am envisioning ways of making the mismatch look intentional. I wanted a perfectly lined up plaid dress, but I could end up with an avant-garde colorblock dress. Who knows?
(Sorry for the long post! Go Yanks!)
Soo I have finally completed the pink floral dress!
So here is the dress front and back; I hadn’t added the zipper to the back yet, that is why it is so smooth haha but once I did, the zipper was pretty invisible. I haven’t hemmed it; will do that soon
I had a realization when I tried the completed dress on and it did not look good. It has a lot to do with the shoulder hole; the hole is too big so the armpit area has a baggy look. Basically it looks dowdy. I tried seeing what I could do to minimize that effect, for example maybe making the dress tighter, but I think maybe only taking off the sleeves will correct this.
The flippy skirt I like, and the top isn’t tight so it is comfortable. I may eventually take off the sleeves if I feel it would really help. The dress looks fine with a cardigan over it, which was the way I planned on wearing it after seeing the pattern drawing, so maybe I’ll just do that!
It was good to learn a lesson about fit and what styles are best suited for me. It appears this dress style isn’t ideal for my body type, so I won’t be making it again. Even if the sleeves looked right, I would still have to wear a belt with the dress, just to give it more shape because the dress just sort of hangs down. I was glad to make this, and to learn lessons from the dress, and look forward to wearing it with a cardigan!
I have been editing the purple tunic I made in the first post. But the main project I was working on, another dress, I actually made a bunch of big mistakes. If I have enough fabric, I think I’ll just redo it. Tune in next time, where I will learn another major lesson about pattern alterations and fit!
I am at the midway point of making this 1970s floral dress. Making the bodice went well, probably because it is just like the shirt I just made! I haven’t attached the sleeves yet, but the dress and shirt have the same types of sleeves and both have collars that you tie into bows.
Also, I made the bottom skirt, which is a gored skirt. That means it is kind of flippy at the ends. I laid it down because the flippiness doesn’t show when it is hanging.
So I have to sew on the sleeves, bring the bodice and skirt together, insert a zipper and finish it off!
I’m thinking next project will be something without a zipper, because I only have these really long green zippers, and I want a break from sewing them in haha
Yes hello! I have been distracted lately because I’ve been reading a lot of books and so I’ve recently finished The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, which Oprah loved and I did too! Highly recommended book, the author is a greaaattt storyteller. I was checking out the reviews on Amazon.com, and a lot of people dislike it, particularly the ending. I didn’t think the ending was very good, because I thought it lacked subtletly. But its forgivable because it was the author’s debut novel. But the vast majority of the book I thought was excellent. I do have one suggestion! If you want to read the book, don’t read the book jacket or summary, because the events in the book jacket/summary start happening about halfway through the book, and I read the book jacket when I was 40% through the book, and then I was like Dang! Now I know what is going to be happening in the next 100 pages or more.
I also read The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown, another good thriller with heavily researched historical details. It was exciting because the book was set in D.C. so I recognized a lot of the places. I think I liked The Da Vinci Code better, and I think I liked Angels and Demons most of all, but I read those years ago so I barely remember.
So I have been planning on making this dress for a while; I saw this pattern and loved it so I knew I had to make the dress. It is Butterick 3010 from the 1970s
At first I thought I would have to make the sweater too, in order to recreate the outfit, but I don’t really want to so I’ll just wear some cardigan I already have. I am selling a pattern that is really similar in my shop, it is Butterick 3531. If I finish the dress and really like it, I’ll make one with blue fabric and white trim, like in the picture for the Butterick 3531.
I’m using a pink floral cotton that I bought. Actually when I was in the store I asked for 2.5 yards, and then when I went to pay, the person charged me for 2.625 yards! The checkout process took a while because he left to check something; turns out he was measuring the exact length of fabric. I didn’t realize this until I went home and checked the receipt. Hmm this made me grouchypants because a) I asked for 2.5 yards b) an employee cut me a little more than that c) you charging me extra because you cut me extra fabric? I only asked for a certain amount, if you give me more, you can’t charge me more on the sly… is this a subtle scam they are pulling?? Booooo
So this is 2.625 yards of fabric laid out with the pattern pieces waiting to be cut! This is the floor, because I have no idea where else I would be able to lay out so much fabric, and my floor is clean. Now off to cut!
So the shirt is finished! So to speak…
So since I wrote that I would be finishing up this shirt, I felt a strange need to go and be productive and actually complete this shirt.
Here is where I left off. The collar is those two things hanging in the front, and when they are tied up they become a bow! I had to sew up the sides, but since the pattern was a little bigger than my actual size, I realized it would be baggy and not fitted. So what I did was something not recommended by the experts I’m sure, and probably won’t work most of the time. I tried this shirt on and grabbed the sides to see how much extra fabric there was. And so normally the seam allowance would be 5/8″, so I would sew that amount from the edge. But that would leave the shirt baggy, and so to make it fitted I figured out that I could lose 1.5 inches from the side. So I just sewed a really big seam… And it worked!
Next I had to make the sleeves. The directions for the cuffs on the sleeves were a little unclear, so I think I followed them correctly, but I’m not sure. Also, the directions call for 3 buttons and 3 buttonholes on each cuff. That’s a lot of matching buttons I don’t have, so I’ll leave that for when I get some buttons. I probably will only sew 2 buttons on each cuff in the end.
And then the next step is attaching the sleeves to the body of the shirt.
Yeah so I “finished” the shirt!! After I took this photo, I realized that the arm on the right- I actually sewed it on inside out! So then I went to take out the shirt by undoing the stitches with a seam ripper. Then I realized that I actually took off the sleeve that I sewed on correctly! Fail.
But… once I fix the sleeves (it is always easier to do the second time around, since I don’t want a third time around), add buttons/buttonholes to the cuffs, and then finish off the bottom seam… I really shall be done. Wheeee