Thursday, April 25, 2013

Simplicity 1652 in a zigzag/chevron batik

wow, sewing on a cotton has gone soooo much faster than my last dress. plus, no lining! i like linings now, but i needed a faster project. and this is kinda a muslin. i always say that, don't i.

this is Simplicity 1652, which i got for a whopping 99 cents (blog post with photo here) and it's also the dress i was working on when i graced you with my fabulous masking tape darts tutorial. i liked that this pattern has princess seams and a funky back cut out. i have 2 fabrics that i thought this pattern would work well with - a blue and white striped cotton, which would need a lining, and also a plaid seersucker, which would probably also benefit from a lining. thank goodness i tried out this pattern first without a lining, because i made a bunch of changes.

i thought it would be fun to switch up the direction of the stripes (zigzags in this case), so i threw grainline out the window, and did horizontal on the front panel, vertical on the sides, horizontal on the back panels, and diagonal on the upper back pieces to emphasize the triangular cut out shape. the skirt ended up with vertical stripes because that's what fit best after i had to hack out a second back piece because of my own tracing error. oops, forgot to flip the pattern piece over so i had a back left piece and a back right piece. so i ended up with 2 back right pieces and no left piece. i even thought about it while i was tracing and cutting but in my head i said to myself it didn't matter if i flipped it because the design was running the same way. it does matter. had to re-do it, which cut into my skirt piece. i decided not to even bother making separate skirt pieces because i wasn't sure this thing would even be wearable, so i just did a long rectangle with gathers. wish it was fuller, but it is what it is.

if you're saying to yourself, "this dress has princess seams, so why were you doing darts in your masking tape dart tutorial?" it's because the 2 back pieces have darts. so there ya go.

i pulled out my tiny tripod and got all fancy with the self-timer. i started shooting outside, but then immediately our neighbors got home and i felt ridiculous so i retreated indoors. i thought some of the outdoor shots looked good until i pulled them up on the computer. no good. i'll try again next time. so these photos are where i had the camera sitting on a shelf in our linen closet shooting down our tiny hallway which has several large bookcases (that i've been meaning to stain or paint, but will never get around to now that they're filled with books). there were several hilarious shots of me trying to pose, but most of them were all out of focus, sadly. these 2 were the best i got. i'm trying, i really am.

not too bad on the fit right? well that was after i took it in a lot. i went according to the measurements on the back of the pattern envelope, but they must have a ton of ease build in. i should have gone by the finished garment measurements instead. but i really didn't even look at the sizes on the pattern when i grabbed it. my measurements matched the smallest size pretty closely, so i just cut out my pattern pieces from the tissue. this was just a 99 cent pattern anyway. well there's more ease than i wanted so i need to go down a size or maybe two, but in order to do that i need to re-buy the pattern because there are no smaller sizes on the one i bought. oops. but if i can get it again for 99 cents, i'd buy it again. 

the pattern also included different pattern pieces for the most common cup sizes A, B, C, D, which is a nice feature. i think that worked out well. my real issue was with the ease in the sides and shoulders. i had to remove a whole inch from both the left and right sides of the bodice, and i think it was 2.25 inches in the back tapering to an inch in the lower back. i feel like i'm becoming a fitting ninja. or a contortionist - bending my arms around my back and pinning. worked out pretty well. could still use a bit more taken out of the front neckline, but i won't bother with that this time. also the 2 top back triangular pieces ended up overlapping, so i added 3 snaps. that's where the pattern instructions really fail. in one step a loop and button magically appear in their drawing, but there is no explanation that i could find in the text. i'm sure i could've done it myself sans instructions, but my pieces didn't come together in a point anymore, because they were too large and overlapped instead. i don't hate the overlapping though. i can get my head in without the snaps, but who wants to risk messing up their hair, amirite?

actually in that second photo i hadn't put the snaps in yet, it's just pinned.  but the invisible zipper was in. i've since added the snaps and a hook and eye. (look at me, sewing by hand, what what!) i still need to hem it though. that's the very last thing to do. but i can put off hemming like no other. need to just do it, so i can start something new!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

in case you needed some proof

last night i decided to try and take photos of the current dress i'm working on (i'll post those later) and while i was at it, i took a few more photos of that last dress i finished - the fully lined one for my 2013 sewlution. the only photos i had were from right before i left for work (here's the link in case you missed it) and i realized i hadn't taken any of the inside of the dress. so i couldn't really even prove i completed my sewlution, right? how do you know i lined the dress if you can't see the lining!

here's the finished dress


and here's the dress inside out from the front

and inside out from the back (please excuse the wrinkles, it needs a little steam.)

so there you have it! now you got to see the insides! the lining wasn't as complicated as i thought it would be. the pattern didn't call for a lining, but i just used the same pattern pieces as the dress itself. i included the facings, as you can see. i went back and forth between sewing them down or not. i ended up not sewing them down to the lining because i wasn't sure what was best. i guess i was worried the seam might show through more or something? but anyway, next time i'd just go ahead and sew the facings down to the linings, less fuss.

i was super proud of how well the invisible zip went in, sandwiched between the main fabric and the lining. yay me! fear conquered! mission accomplished! (i've been sewing less than a year so this was big for me)

anyway, so there you have it, proof that i did a full lining. i bet you guys trusted me and i didn't even need to show you the photos, right? ah well!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

organized, for once!

this almost never happens! my sewing space is clean! i sometimes say sewing room, but it has to share the space with our elliptical machine, so it's more like a sewing corner, but usually i take over the floor and there are pattern pieces and fabric and pins (yikes!) everywhere. i tried to get organized and hang up some stuff. so here's the result:

i put a few nails in the side of my desk to hang my ruler, pinking shears and fabric scissors. so hopefully i'll remember to keep them there. very handy. (the fabric in the background is the curtain covering the window and the door on the left side goes to the closet, which is jam packed with my stuff, mostly artsy stuff. i should really clean and organize that. but instead i just close the door on it)

my grandma gave me this little glass display case, so i hung it up and stored my larger thread spools. i've started using Gutermann mostly now and i have those in a cigar box, but i think these look cool on display, esp. the 2 old wooden ones which i think i borrowed/stole from my mom at some point over the years.

i found that my bias tape stash fits nicely into a box that greeting cards came in. the box was just so pretty that i had to find a use for it after i sent out all the cards. love me some greeting cards.

p.s. the desk and chair i scored off craigslist for a pretty good price. an adjustable height chair would probably be better though, and a cushion. oh too bad i don't have another one of those curtains or i could sew one in matching fabric. man.

moving along. this is the bodice of the dress i'm working on. it's Simplicity 1652, posted a pic of the pattern here.

i like the back cut out. this is kind of a wearable muslin, hopefully. if i get the fit right, i have a blue and white striped fabric or a plaid seersucker that i'd like to do this pattern in. it has princess seams, so i thought it would be a good opportunity to play with changing the direction of the stripes, zig zags in this case. (or chevrons, or zigrons or chevzags, right?)

sewing with cotton is such a nice break from the slippery fabric i was using on my last dress. so much faster.

but then i bought more slippery fabric. couldn't help myself. okay only one is slippery (the one on the right), the other two aren't. but i made sure to pick fabrics that don't really need a lining. need a break from all that. these are from the joann's the opened last friday. did i forget to mention that? we got a joanns! yeah yeah, they don't get a great rep among sewing bloggers. but i had to see for myself. and we don't have a ton of fabric store choices, so any new fabric store is a step in the right direction. so i went the day they opened. we weren't super impressed with the selection of apparel fabric, esp the knits. so i didn't end up with any knits, sad face. but these three did come home with me. (thanks to a joann's gift card from some sewing friends!) who doesn't love getting some new fabric? yay!

Friday, April 12, 2013

sewlution complete!

confession: i already finished my sewlution that went in karen's jar! my first fully lined dress! and then i finished something else. and then i started something new (if you couldn't tell from my last post about darts.) and i haven't posted any pics!

it's just that i'm not that great at having my picture taken. i blink a lot. and then i just don't know what to do. and then the weather wasn't cooperating. i really wanted to do a full-on shoot outside. i was going to try out the self timer on my camera and set up my tiny tripod and everything. didn't happen. but today i decided to actually wear the dress out of the house. weather was overcast and blah this morning, but my husband snapped a few photos before i ran off to work. so i'm going to just go ahead and post these and hopefully take better ones outside later. maybe.

i threw on a yellow sweater because it's always chilly in the office. i was originally thinking black sweater or white sweater, but those looked even more blah with it. i decided the color of the fabric looks blah on me. i love the shape of the pattern up close and i do like the colors, but when they blend together it's not as great. here's an up close shot of the fabric. anyway.

this one is good, but you can't see the hem

ok, now we can see the hem

oh wait i should take of the sweater

and show the back too

and this last one is just because i love so much when you guys include photo outtakes. 

i usually make stupid faces in photos

so there you have it! fully lined dress is complete. not my fave dress. but i learned a lot in the process and now feel comfortable adding a lining. and this pattern didn't include any instructions for a lining. also my invisible zip is sandwiched neatly between the fabric and the lining and i included facings as well. and this fabric was kinda a bi-a to sew, very slippery. but i conquered it. and i fixed a lot of fitting issues. i'm happy with the fit now, so i'll probably use it again in a better fabric and change the neckline and maybe scoop out the back. now i'm going to fully line everything. ok maybe not everything.

Monday, April 8, 2013

masking tape darts

i wish i could go back and teach my former self some of the sewing tips i know now. i hated marking and sewing darts with a passion. okay i still don't like marking pens or transfer paper. they never feel quite accurate enough (not that i'm the most accurate or anything) and they aren't easy enough to see and then i'm never 100% sure the markings will come off the fabric when i want them to. ugh.

enter masking tape. i had some masking tape nearby that i was using when altering a pattern and piecing it back together. so i decided it would be helpful for marking the fabric too. it's visible, it stays put when you need it to and it comes off easily.

*you'll want to test your tape on some scrap fabric to make sure you're happy with how it comes off. you'll be taping to the wrong side of the fabric, so i haven't had any problems with the tape messing up the fabric, but you may not want to use this on your $60 a yard silk. (are any of you sewing with $60 a yard silk? if so, bravo!!) you could also try a less-sticky painters tape. i've just been using run of the mill masking tape.

i use masking tape on all my darts now. when you're cutting your fabric, make two cuts at the base points of your dart. then i like to use bright thread and make a tailor's tack at the top point of the dart (google sewing tailor's tacks for a tutorial - or let me know and i can expound on that)

if you're doing a fish eye dart (shaped like a diamond), i use 4 tailor's tacks because you can't cut notches in your fabric there

fold your fabric and line up your two cuts (aka notches) for the base of the dart. hold tailor's tack so you get a nice even fold along the center line of the dart. press flat with your iron. 

you're going to be stitching from the widest point down to the smallest point, and i like my tape the the left of my needle so think about that when you're putting your tape down. the photos below should help make that more clear. you only need to put tape along one side of the dart, the side that will be facing upward when you're stitching.

stick one end of the tape down right at the outside of your notches, pull the tape taut and angle toward your tailor's tack. once you have the correct angle, flatten the tape to your fabric. pull it off and try again if it isn't quite right the first time, no harm done. 

i like to fold over the end of the tape at the base of the dart so it holds both sides of the fabric together. at the point of your dart, where your tailor's tack is, i like to fold the tape over into a right angle that points at the end of the dart. here's what it looks like:

line up your fabric so that your needle goes down right next to the edge of the masking tape. remember to start at the wider part of your dart and sew down to the point. (for a fish eye dart start at the middle and sew to one point and the go back to the middle and sew to the other point.) use your hand crank to lower the needle and get right up next to the tape.

the masking tape gives you a nice line to sew down. just follow along the edge of the tape. don't sew on top of the tape, but if you accidentally sew over the edge of the tape, you should still be able to pull the tape off.

you'll sew all the way down to your tailor's tack and then stop. (i've heard some people like to decrease their stitch length in the last half inch or so before the end point to make it more secure) i usually just knot it off.


here's what it looks like sewn up. (i really tried to take good photos, but my camera's nothing fancy.)


 peel off your tape.


remove your tailor's tack, tie at knot at your dart end point, and clip your thread ends.

ta-da, a dart that's super straight and not headache inducing.

here's the dart with the fabric opened out flat.

give it a good press. (yeah my iron is cheap-o, but it's still alive and kickin) i like to press darts in the opposite direction first and then press them back down the way they go (i read that somewhere) vertical darts face toward the inside of the garment and horizontal darts face downward after pressing.


and we're done!

there's my dart. nice and neat.  hope this helps someone out there who is frustrated by marking darts as much as i was! i don't plan on writing a lot of tutorials because there are already so many great ones out there. just thought i'd share this trick. actually searching for sewing tutorials is how i found the online sewing blogging community, and then started my own blog. you have helped me immensely, through your tutorials, inspiration and support and i hope i can help others out as well.

masking tape is my BFF

Friday, April 5, 2013

succulent pillow

i'll get back to some selfish sewing shortly, but my new sister-in-law had a birthday the day after mine and i wanted to send her something cute. at their wedding she did succulents as her flowers, she loves them and they looked amazing, so that was my inspiration. i searched for some succulent fabric and Spoonflower came to the rescue.

i didn't design the fabric myself (which is a cool option through spoonflower) because an awesome artist Emily Ann Studio already had the perfect design up. loved it!

i ordered 1 yard of the Basic Combed Cotton (they don't do half yards, but you can do fat quarters). the pricing wasn't super cheap, but i was fine with that because the print was just what i wanted. i paid for the basic (cheapest) shipping option and it felt like it took awhile, but i was probably just anxious to get the fabric so that i could get the gift made and shipped (she lives out of state). 

the colors are great and the print quality looks awesome. i'd definitely order from them again, maybe even try my hand at designing my own fabric to have printed. how cool would that be?!

so stitching up the pillow was pretty quick and i serged the seams. i also inserted an invisible zip on one of the side seams in case the pillow gets dirty, she could take out the stuffing and give it a good wash. i just used regular cheap polyfill from hancock's, and unfortunately the little fibers started trying to poke through the fabric. not a huge deal, but a little annoying, and it's a gift so i wanted to make it right. so i went back to the store and bought some pellon fusible interfacing and added that after the fact and then restuffed the pillow. that solved the polyfill poke through problem. i read online somewhere that you should always interface pillows, drrr. now i know.

here's the result!

and good news, the pillow made it safely to my sister-in-law and she texted me a cute photo of her hugging the pillow, yay! sewing success!