Thursday, May 21, 2015

Crotch Pagoda

I just had to laugh when I saw when I saw the pattern placement on this muslin.

I'm happy with the fit of these shorts.  I've already got another pair cut out. This pair though, they will never see the light of day!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Needs Work Department

I've haven't been able to sew much, except "mind sewing".  You know what I mean by that, right? Like daydreaming, but with a sewing machine!

I have an area in my sewing room I call the Needs Work Department. Mostly what's there are thrift store finds that need just a little work, but there's also some things I made myself that need a bit of help. I know not all sewers like to, but I kind of enjoy remaking things. The way I think about it,  the garment is already mostly done and with a just a bit more time spent, you can have a new garment.

So anyway, I had a wedding to go to. An outdoor wedding in May. In the evening. In Michigan. So what I really needed was a long skirt! I had five pair of  pull on ponte pants in the Needs Work Department. Maybe I was going to make shorts out of them, I don't know. I do know that I never wore them. I got this bright idea I could make a skirt from them.  First I cut off the hems, then the inseams. I flattened them out on my cutting table with what used to be the crotch on the outside. Then I used my french curve to chalk a new hip line. I sewed the new side seam leaving a slit at the bottom. I did the hems on my cover stitch machine (which was already threaded black) and voila!
New skirt in about a half hour.

These pants were made with Lois Cuttings One Seam Pants pattern. The reason I never wore them is they always felt like they were going to slide off my butt. Maybe that's because I have the hips of a toilet paper tube.  But because the pants didn't have an outside seam turning them into a straight skirt worked great. I guess that makes this a No Seam skirt!

So what's in your Needs Work Department?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Vogue 7064

Have you ever read 25 or 50 pages of a book then decided you just couldn't finish it? Or wish you had that two hours back after watching a ho-hum movie? That's how I feel about this top. I wish I had the time back I spent on it. And I don't want to take any more time to hem it.  I don't think hemming it will help how I feel about it. I kind of like the collar and neckline but the overall shape of it is just a big bummer. I even added some shaping at the sides where the pattern didn't have any. And those sleeves? And the tucks in the back shoulder? It's just so...Correctional Institution. I'm not even going to bother putting it on to take a photo. Trust me when I say, its not doing me any favors.

 Maybe if I leave it outside the rabbits will eat it instead of the rest of my tulips.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A tail of woe

Image result for big wet dog

I cut out a third pair of pants after I finished the last two pair. I even bought a matching zipper. (I will usually use extraordinarily unmatched zippers in pants since you can't see them anyway). The fabric was a nice textured grey black denim from my stash. It was a free table acquisition. I had dutifully serged the edges and washed it as soon as I brought it home.

It's amazing how quick making pants is, once you get the fitting adjustments worked out. I was clicking along at good pace. Pockets on. Zipper in. Inseam sewn. Crotch seam sewn. Waistband attached. By then I noticed something strange as I was pressing it. It smelled like a wet dog. I don't have a dog. Funny how you can ignore such an obvious sign.

The time came to try them on to do the final fitting of the outside seams. They felt like poison ivy! That was no denim, my friends, that was wool!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Happy Pants

I do not shop retail much and I don't wear pants much, but last fall I bought a pair of Pixie pants from Old Navy. Mostly pants look like jodhpurs on me, but these Pixies fit really well  The wise Sewalatte complimented me on them and suggested I copy them.

So I busted out my TNT pants pattern. (listen to me...trying to sound all experienced making pants...its my only pants pattern)

I had already made my no butt, no hips, no thighs adjustments the last time I used the pattern (V1294):
  • Fold out the back dart all the way down to the hem
  • Shave 5/8 inch off the back inseam, tapering to nothing at the knee
  • Shorten the rise
The Pixie pants are slim legged and cropped (though not on me!), so I narrowed the pattern from the knees down.

Here's how they turned out:

Not bad, I thought, until I saw the back!! They are really comfy (the fabric has some spandex in it) and I'll probably wear them anyway. Because they're orange. If the right rainy day comes along, I may even take them apart and work on them a bit more.

In the meantime, I made a couple more changes to the pattern:
  • Added back some of the rise (the orange ones feel too low at the back waist)
  • Shaved off 3/8 inch from the front inseam, tapering to nothing at the knee
OMG!!! I feel like taking that little bit off the front inseam made a such a huge difference.

Now I have two pairs of pants that fit me well. And I'm proud to say I made one of them. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Nice to meet you, Mr. Mrak.

This project has been a long time in the making. It began many years ago when my friend Nina D. gave me this Magic-Fit kit. It came with a nice styling ruler that I use all the time. While I had only glanced at the booklet, I couldn't get the hairy hands of the handsome Mr. Mrak totally out of my mind. I had never delved completely into the box's magical mysteries. It was time to let Mr. Mrak out of the box.

Dusan, you beast!

The handy ruler with the handy slots for adding a 5/8 s.a.

I wish I could always have him by my side. (In the sewing room)

His system is a connect the dots approach to creating a fitted sheath dress. You take about a dozen measurements (which I did by myself-so pretty easy to do), locate the dots that correspond to your bust size, connect the upper body darts, slide the pattern to position the waist and hip, then connect the rest of the dots.

There is separate template to create the bust dart. I had a screaming headache the day I did this, so I was sure I misunderstood and had done it wrong.

I proceeded to make a muslin and, low and behold, it was actually not bad. Not perfect, but not bad. I had to tweak the princess dart in the front (made it shorter and deeper under the bust), the princess dart in the back (made the upper part of the dart longer) and made the shoulders narrower. Then it fit pretty well. The neckline was lowered also because I put the zipper in the side seam and it wouldn't go over my head otherwise. 

This system will not create a fitting shell-it has some ease built into it-but instead a fitted sheath dress. The dress has nice high armscyes, fairly narrow sleeves with an elbow dart and a shoulder dart, which I think are all really helpful for making a nice fitting garment for a large busted, small framed person such as myself. Now, I probably won't wear this dress much, but I do hope the pattern will be useful for comparing to commercial patterns.

Once the sheath is drafted, the booklet details how to use it to draft other styles, such as an A-line dress, princess seam sheath, jacket, coat and tunic. Emboldened, I decided to make a jacket. I also made a dumb mistake. I forgot to raise the neckline back up, so when I drafted the collar (with the help of Ms. Armstrong) the neckline is too low for the collar to roll or sit properly. I'm pretty happy with the general fit of the jacket, although the  shitty collar makes it unwearable.  I'm envisioning longer version of the jacket with a mandarin collar.

Even though I got a dress I'm not likely to wear much, and a jacket destined for the trash, I consider the learning part of this whole enterprise to be a resounding success.

So, thanks, Mr. Mrak. It was a pleasure.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Many years ago, I saw a very elegant Frenchwoman demonstrating Colorhue dyes at a sewing expo. She was wearing a beautiful scarf that was simply a piece of dyed rayon lace and, her being a very elegant Frenchwoman, it looked simple and effortless on her. Who doesn't want that?

I finally got around to making my own version. I started by soaking a piece of lace from my stash in warm water.  I covered my work surface with plastic, then sponged the dye straight from the bottle on the wet lace. I used the goldenrod and brown dyes, but the brown looks more like indigo once it dried.  I had used this dye once before on the trim for this robe and it turned out a much deeper color, so I think this particular lace may have some poly in it.  These dyes are really nice to work with because there's no mixing, heat setting or foul odors.

Once it was dry, I sewed two rows of beads along the length of it. I think I would have preferred smaller, more sparkly beads but these purple-brown and gold beads were the only ones I had that went with the finished color.

I am not a very elegant Frenchwoman, but I do have a pretty cool scarf-neck-lace.