Thursday, August 30, 2007

I Need New Clothes

Lately I've been feeling like I don't have a thing to wear. I finally took the plunge and purged my closet of all my pants that were too big, and a few things that I just didn't like anymore. I need to go through it again and get rid of even more. The problem is, what do I wear now? I really want to replenish my wardrobe with some up to date pieces for work, and I really want to sew some of them. Unfortunately, my stash is geared more to summer sewing- it's filled with colorful cotton prints. I have managed to dig through it and come up with several pieces of fabric that are suitable for fall sewing, and since this is a long weekend, I figure I need to at least get started on a new project for me. First up is this:

I've had this pattern for a couple of years, so maybe it doesn't really qualify as "up to date," but I like it and I've had the fabric, a chocolate brown gauze with turquoise embroidery, picked out for a couple of years too. Also, my pattern is sized 16 through 24, and if I don't make it soon, I won't be able to use it. I think the dress is pretty and will be flattering on me, and the shrug will make it modest enough (and warm enough) to wear to work. It looks pretty easy, too. I guess I'll find out this weekend!

I will also be putting the finishing touches (buttons) on the Children's Corner Emma that I've been working on, and I need to sew the Hello Kitty dress, or Savannah won't have a chance to wear it. I guess I better stop blogging and start sewing!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I've Been Tagged

My friend Angie has tagged me. I'm supposed to share eight interesting things about myself. Hmmm. I had to think hard to come up with eight things that are both interesting and shareable. Here goes.

1. I have five kids. Four boys and one girl. Some people think this is a lot.

2. When I was in high school, I was in a public service add that a local tv station did for MADD. I played a drunken teenager getting stuffed into the back of a police car.

3. I actually like frogs, lizards, and snakes. I once wore a live python to school.

4. I have a copy of the Xanadu soundtrack in my car. Yes, I listen to it- I know all the words to all the songs.

5. I love anime. I own a complete boxed set of Neon Genesis Evangelion.

6. I'm a big fan of Vampire Hunter D. I own both movies, and I own and have read all of the novels that have been translated into English so far.

7. I'm a published author. I've had several beaded jewelry projects and a needlework sampler design published in magazines.

8. I can't give blood. I tried a few years ago and I was told that since I lived in Germany and shopped at a military commissary that got it's beef from Great Britain, I might possibly have been exposed to Mad Cow Disease.

Whew! That's enough interesting stuff for one night!

Monday, August 27, 2007

I'm Still Here

Wow, it's been awhile since my last post. You'd think it was because I've been so busy sewing, but unfortunately that's just not the case. I got sidelined with computer problems and had to go a few days with no internet connection. What a drag! And then, once I got that under control and got back online, I started a "Home Improvement Project." I'm re-doing my two youngest sons' bedroom. We're using a John Deere theme. Brendan wants to be a farmer and loves anything to do with farming and tractors, and Bryan loves frogs, which, like the John Deere logo, are green. He also has a collection of pumpkins (not real ones) that will look nice in the new green and gold room. Hopefully, we will get the project completed this weekend.

In the meantime, since I don't have any new sewing projects to share, here is a peak into Savannah's Closet.

This is Mabel's Garden from AS&E. I fell in love with this dress the moment I saw it, shown in a pink colorway, in the magazine. I knew this fabric, which I had been saving for a special project, would be just perfect. It's a small scale floral quilting cotton in shades of purple, blue, and green on a white background, with metallic silver accents. The dress is smocked from shoulder to waist in shades of purple and white, and is accented with purple bullion roses. The rouleau around the collar and the sleeve and hem bands are attached to the dress with bridging. The collar, sleeve bands, and hem are hand embroidered with purple bullion roses, white flowers and blue bows.

Savannah wore this dress for Easter 2006 and then I entered it in the county fair in the fall of 2006 where it won 1st prize. Savannah also wore it for her school picture last year. This is one of my favorite projects ever. I think one of the reasons is all of the hand embroidery. This is the first (and so far, the last) project I have done with this much decorative handwork. This is definitely a dress I will put away for a future granddaughter. However, I think Savannah might get one or two more wearings out of it before it's time to put it away.

Friday, August 17, 2007

A New Dress!

New Look 6348 is done, and it's pretty much a success. I say pretty much because there were some issues during construction, and it's not perfect, but overall, I'm pleased.

I used a quilting cotton with an "Asiany" print. It felt more like broadcloth, though, and I think it worked great for this pattern. The dress is light enough and cool enough to wear now while it's still hot, but I think the color will take it into fall with hose and a light jacket or sweater. I'll be able to wear it again in the spring, provided it still fits.

I started with a size 14 bodice, tapering out to a 16 at the underbust seam/waist area, and then on out to approximately an 18 at the hip. The pattern only goes up to a 16, so I had to add to the side seams of each of the skirt pieces, approximately 1/2 inch. That was the difference between the 12 and 14, and between the 14 and 16, so I figured it would approximate an 18 to add that much. There are only five pieces to this dress: skirt front and back, sleeve, and bodice front and back. The bodice pieces are cut twice, once for the outer pieces and once for the linings. Lining the skirt is optional. I chose not to since the fabric is opaque and I plan to wear a slip under it. I serged the seams and used an invisible zipper. I also topstitched the underbust seam to hold the seam allowance in place inside, and because the neck edges are topstitched and I thought it would give it a more finished look.

The "issues" that I encountered had to do with my FBA. The dress itself is quick and easy. I originally did a one inch FBA without a dart. All of the added fabric was controled with the underbust gathers. The muslin looked alright, but I thought I needed a smidge more ease through the bust, so I went back and increased the width of my FBA to 1.5 inches. This time I slashed from the side seam to the bust point and opened a dart to control part of the fullness. I didn't do a second muslin, but went straight to my fashion fabric. When I got to the point where I could try the dress on, I was disappointed to see strange puffy areas at the outer lower bust area. Clearly there was too much fabric in the wrong place! I didn't have any fabric left to recut the front bodice, so I had to "Make it Work!" To correct the weird puffy areas, I undid the basting under the bust and took a deeper seam allowance on the lower bodice, blending it in to the side seam. This took out most of the puffiness, but my dart points are a little low now. Of course, no one but me will probably ever notice it. I'll just have to remember to stand up straight when wearing the dress! When I make this dress again, I will go with my original FBA. Since I'm still loosing weight, I think it will be okay for the bodice to be a tiny bit snug. It might fit longer.

I learned a valuable lesson from this experience. I like patterns like this with underbust gathers because they allow for an easy FBA with no dart. But there's only so much fabric you can gather and retain the look you're going for. I think the dart I ended up sewing was a good thing, but I needed to position it higher for the correct look.

All in all I am pleased with this dress and the experience of making it. I'm thinking I might make the sleeveless version with the cut in shoulders and mandarin collar next spring. It's a very simple, but flattering dress that really shows off the fabric it's made from.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Letting it Rest

I worked some more on NL6348 last night. I ended up basting the whole dress together, even basting in the zipper, to check the fit before the final stitching. I had some issues with the fit through the bust, so I took it off, adjusted it, and basted again. It was better, but still, something bothered me. I decided to just take it off and take a break for a little while- just let it rest and I'll go back to it when my eye is fresh. I may decide no more adjustments are necessary. For tonight, I'll just relax and watch CSI. Maybe I'll even get to bed at a decent hour.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Slow but Steady Progress

I made a little bit of headway on NL6348 last night. I sewed the bodice to the lining at the armholes and got the bodice pieces turned right side out, pressed, and topstitched. Attaching the cap sleeves to the bodice and then attaching the lining at that point was the only fussy part of this pattern, and then only because it entails sewing a convex curve to a concave one. I also put in the gathering threads under the bust and basted the bodice pieces together at center front. So far, so good. Tonight I hope to stitch the skirt backs to the front and check the line where I morphed from one size to the next. I made need to smooth it out a little. Then all I have to do is attach the bodice and put the zipper in and I will know if this project is a success. Cross your fingers for me!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A Quick Update

I didn't get quite as much done today as I'd planned. Funny how life just steps in and does whatever it wants. But, I did get some work done on NL6348. And here's the picture of the pattern envelope- just in case it takes me awhile to get the dress completed.

I'm making view E, which is the one in the photograph. Today I stay-stitched all the necklines, stitched the darts, made and attached the cap sleeves, and sewed the bodice pieces to the lining pieces. Then I had to stop and take time out to start reading The Martian Chronicles to Bryan, my eight year old. He wants to be an astronaut and he's obsessed with Mars right now. My little sweetie fell asleep while we were reading about the second expedition.
It's back to work for me tomorrow, so I don't know how much sewing I'll get done in the next few days. I'm hoping this project will be quick since it's relatively easy. I still have two dresses in progress for Savanah, and a new pattern that I want to try out for her. If only I could figure out a way to squeeze just a couple of extra hours into each day....

Friday, August 10, 2007

New Day, New Project

Wednesday was the first day of school for the youngest three of my five kids.

Bryan started second grade, Savannah started first, and Brendan started eighth. They were happy to go back. I think they were bored after two and a half months at home.
And speaking of new starts, I started a new project for myself today. I'm making New Look 6348, an empire waisted dress with a surplice top, cap sleeves, and an ever so A-line skirt. I'm using a quilting cotton, but it's thin and has pretty good drape. It helps also that the skirt is cut on the bias.
I cut a 14 bodice tapering out to a 16 at the waist and then on to an 18 at the hip. I had to do a bigger than usual FBA, 1.5 inches, rather than 1 inch, since I cut the smaller size, but I think the fit is better now through the shoulders.

Here you can see both my FBAs. I originally did one inch and had to go back and add another half inch. I ended up adding a dart to the side seam, because this bodice is lined, and I thought all those gathers under the bust might be too much for the doubled fabric. This is the fabric I'm using for the dress, too. It's a rusty red with cream, grey, and metallic gold highlights. I think it has a vaguely Asian flavor to it.

I made a muslin of the bodice to test fit, and I discovered that the back neck was really wide and it wanted to gape a little bit. So after testing on the muslin, I pinched out approximately 3/8 of an inch on the back bodice piece to help snug it up to my back. You can see the little tuck here:

Cutting went really slow because it had to be done single thickness due to the large skirt pieces being cut on the bias. I'll have to wait to start sewing tomorrow because I'm wiped out for today. It shouldn't take too long to put together. There are only five pattern pieces and the construction is easy. The muslin went together quickly. It's just a matter of making the time to do it and not letting myself be interrupted. Easier said than done....

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Good News and Bad News

So I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that I've lost a little more weight. The bad news is that my Threads shift dress no longer fits! I finally got up the nerve to wear it to work today and when I put it on, it was just too loose. I suppose that's not such a bad problem to have, but it was a little frustrating. I suppose I could try to take the dress in, but you may recall that I lined it completely and so taking it in will be a major undertaking, and not something I'm looking forward to. Also, I think the dress is too wide through the shoulders. It would probably make more sense to just make it again and go down a size, and just consider this one a really, really detailed muslin. I was considering making the long sleeved version for fall.... I guess I've learned an important lesson: No more fully lined dresses while I'm trying to loose weight. What a coincidence that Sew Stylish ran an article in the new issue about sewing clothes that keep fitting when your weight fluctuates. If I do make this dress again, you can bet I'll be using some of the tips from the article!
And speaking of dresses that fit and remaking things... Simplicity 3874 fits great through the hips now. The bodice still looks crappy, but I'm seriously considering doing it again in the raglan sleeved version. It would be more appropriate for work with sleeves, anyway. Now to pick a stash fabric. Well, I've already admitted how difficult it is for me to choose a fabric from stash. No use stressing about it now. I'll think about that later.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Summer Dreams

The title of this post, Summer Dreams, is appropriate for two reasons. First, because I want to share Summer Dreams, the sundress I finished while on vacation, and because that vacation is, sadly, over. I went back to work today. Summer seems like just a dream. Sigh.... Where did it go?

So here is the dress, Summer Dreams, from Australian Smocking and Embroidery Magazine. It's made of pink and white seersucker, smocked with pink floss, and features tiny pink bullion rosebuds sprinkled around the smocked waist.

This is the back. It's an adorable, but simple sundress. Savannah wore it out and about and she was cool, comfortable, and pretty all day long.

We bought a plain white t-shirt to wear under it for school. It's a little bit big on Savannah. I made a size 6 but I probably could have gotten by with the 4. AS&E garments run a little bit big, in my opinion. I figured that summer will be over soon, and I want her to still be able to wear it next spring, so I went with the larger size.

Seersucker is one of my all-time favorite fabrics. It's so cool and pretty and it looks great with smocking. This is a dress I made for Savannah when she was about 2 or 3, about the same time I made the mermaid dress from the previous post. This one is lavender seersucker and is smocked with Gwen Milner's Ballerinas. The tutus are made of 1/4 inch lace edging gathered and stitched down to each ballerina's waist. I love the 3-D effect. The dress was worn a lot and Savannah loved it. It's a little worse for wear, but that's okay. You'll have to excuse the wrinkles, this dress has been hanging in the back of the closet for some time. I think it's time to pack it up so it will be ready for a grandchild some day.

My vacation was nice, but it was just too short. I had planned to get a lot of sewing done and have lots of finished items to show for my time, but it didn't work out that way. Summer Dreams was the only project I completed. I did start smocking a BSY, and I cut out the Lizzie MacGuire/Hello Kitty dress and a Children's Corner dress, but I got precious little actual sewing done, and none at all for myself. The kids go back to school this week and we will be getting back onto a schedule, so maybe I will be able to get some sewing done in the mornings before I leave for work. And I guess there are always the weekends. Maybe I'll take a long weekend sometime before the end of the year. One can dream....