Thursday, May 21, 2009

Summer Fields Update #1

Summer Fields is underway.

Here it is, smocking complete, blocked and ready for construction. Yeah, the magazine showed it embroidered with bullion roses and leaves. I don't plan to do those. Yes, it would be beautiful, but-

A. I'm too lazy to do them and I don't particularly enjoy bullion knots.

B. My print is kind of busy and they won't show up very well anyway.

C. My daughter is growing like a weed and likely to decide at any moment that she no longer wants to wear smocked dresses, so time is of the essence!

I'll be cutting out the rest of the dress and starting construction this weekend. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Manatee Dress!

No, really... it's just a muslin! But those really are manatees (and dolphins) in the print.

This is Simplicity 2588, one of the latest Project Runway patterns to be released.
The photos on the envelope really don't do this pattern justice. The drawings are much more interesting. (And hopefully my dress will be, too.)
This is basically a princess seamed bodice with two skirt variations: straight or flared. There are two sleeve options as well as the choice to go sleeveless. There are also two neckline/yoke variations as well as several extra details to choose from: belt, waist tabs, bows, knot, etc.
The photos in this post are all of the muslin I made of this pattern last weekend. I used the slim skirt, wide yoke, and flat sleeves. For the actual dress I'll be adding the waist tabs and piping to some of the seams.

I cut a size 16 bodice and morphed out to an 18 at the hips. The only adjustment I made for the muslin was to add 1" of length to the bodice at the waist. Thank goodness I did, because it is just barely long enough!
It's really hard to see because I used a dark, busy print, but here is my assessment of the muslin:
Overall I like the dress. The slim waist and square look to the shoulders give it a retro vibe, even though it is not a retro dress. I am going to make it up for real, but I need to make a few adjustments.
1. I will add a 3/8" FBA. It's nearly impossible to see in the photos, but the waistline is pulling up ever so slightly in front. I need a smidge more length.
2. Let out the waist. The pictures look pretty good, but that waist is tight! I can barely breathe. Literally. I really should have cut an 18 in the waist and it would have been fine. I think letting the waist out will also solve some of the issues with the top of the skirt pulling.
3. I will add a smidge of width- maybe 3/8" to the back skirt piece. Although the circumference of the skirt is fine, the side seams are pulling ever so slightly to the back.
4. I will tweak the yoke. You can just barely see in the first photo that I've pinned out a scant 1/4" on the back yoke and a scant 1/8" on one side of the front yoke. The back really stood away from my neck and the front kind of rippled. Taking these small tucks helps it lay nice and flat.
5. Add a 1 and 1/4" hem allowance. As usual, the raw edge hits me right where I like it, so I have to add enough length for a hem.

So. Muslin is made. Pattern pieces are adjusted. I'm ready to cut out a dress. My only problem now? Which fabric to use. Right now I'm debating between a pink and black all-over flamingo print, and a multi-colored Kaffe Fassett print. Decisions, decisions.
In the meantime, here's a shot of me, Juno, and Banana. (Yeah, I let the kids name the kittens.)

Stay tuned for a progress report on Summer Fields and more kitten pics!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

May Flowers

It's mid-May, and what better way to celebrate than by making a floral skirt?

This is Butterick 4461, View F, in an old Michael Miller quilting cotton.

Just like the envelope says, this was fast and easy. (Okay, I'm not fast, but the pattern itself is.)
There are 4 pattern pieces: front, back, and front and back facings. There are two darts in the front, two in the back, and a center back seam with a zipper. I used an invisible zipper. I'm not sure what the pattern called for because I didn't even use the instructions. It's really that easy to put together.

I could have made this even faster and easier by eliminating the center back seam and putting the zipper in the side seam. I decided to go ahead and sew it with the center back zip just because I'm trying to loose a few pounds and I thought it would be easy to take it in at both sides if the zipper was centered in the back. As it turns out, I probably won't bother. I like the skirt, but I don't love it. I feel like it kind of emphasizes my round belly.
I like all of the different ideas this pattern gives for applying the ribbon trim. ( I used 3/8" grosgrain.) But don't run out and buy this one if you already have a good A-line pattern. You could do the ribbon treatments on any skirt pattern.
To apply the ribbon, I used a fabric marker and a quilting ruler to draw the placement lines on the skirt fabric. Then I used Wash Away Wonder Tape to stick the ribbon down along the marking. I didn't have to pin or hand baste, I just took the skirt to the machine and stitched it down along the edges of the ribbon. It needs a good pressing, but I will wait until after I run it through the wash and all the WAWT comes out.

Here's a pic of me and Juno:
She likes my skirt.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Finally- Some Sunshine!

The sun finally came out today, so I decided I better take advantage and get some quick pics of the yellow dress. Here it is in all it's googly glory:

I love the print, I love the colors, I even love the way the dress feels (the poly satin lining is so soft and, well, satiny), I just don't quite love the way it fits. Like I said in the last post, I'm pretty happy with the skirt. I just feel like the bodice is going to fall off my shoulders!
It doesn't look so bad here with my hands on my hips, but trust me, that neckline is wide! I have my bra straps pushed out so far, they're about to fall off. It's a shame, because the neckline depth is perfect. (Check out that pattern matching across the underbust seam!)

Here's the back. I can't tell if those wrinkles under my shoulder blade are because I need some kind of adjustment, or because I'm standing funny (always a possibility) or because the neckline is so wide and it's just kind of falling to the sides. I've got a nice pucker at the bottom of my invisible zip, too- right on my butt! I didn't notice that until I saw this shot. Guess I better work on that!
I cut a 44 bodice and morphed out to a 46 at the hip. The original muslin was a quilting cotton with no stretch and the skirt was snug. I made a second muslin adding several inches to the skirt width, but it turned out way too big. I decided to take a chance that the crosswise stretch in this pique would compensate for the snugness. I think it did. The only real adjustment I made was to take in the front darts about 3/8" on both sides. That snugged it up under my bust- it was kind of sack-like with out the adjustment. I also added 1/4" of width to the back skirt on both sides, taking up the excess at the darts. That's it. If I make it again I will do a slight sway back adjustment and add a little curve to the centerback seam- it's very straight and I- well, I'm not!

I really want to love this dress. I don't know if I should try making it again going down one size in the bodice and possibly doing an FBA, or if I should just try adding a little to the pattern pieces on each side of the neckline to try to narrow it a little. Opinions?
I love the style, and if I didn't know better, I'd think the photos look okay. I think I'm going to add lingerie straps (or whatever you call those little things you sew on the inside to hook around your bra straps) to attach to my bra and wear it anyway. I think if I felt more secure about the shoulders not falling off, I'd be okay with it.
In any case, it's a very simple 1.5 dot pattern. There are only 4 pattern pieces (6 if you use the facings). I lined the bodice from edge to edge rather than using the facings. This meant I had to change the order of construction a bit. BWOF would have you put the front together, then the back, and then sew them together, add facings, and hem the sleeves by hand. Uh, no thanks. I made my pique bodice (except for side seams) and my satin bodice and then sewed them right sides together at the neckline and armhole edges. I turned them right side out, folded the lining edges out of the way and sewed the side seams below the armhole. Then I folded the fashion fabric out of the way and sewed the lining side seams. I pressed the seam allowances and then attached the skirt at the waist seam. I did hand sew the lining down at center back along the zipper and at the waist seam. I was going to line the skirt as well- even had the pieces cut and started sewing them. But I realized after I serged the seam, that I had sewn the center back seam to the side of the skirt front. Doh! So I just tossed the skirt lining. The fabric is opaque and I can wear a slip.

I guess I will need to road test this one to know for sure if it's a keeper. Stay tuned for an update on it soon.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Sunny Dress for a Rainy Day

BWOF 02-2009-124 is done. I'd love to show you a pic of the finished dress, but it's cold, grey, and raining outside right now and I just can't muster up the energy to go outside and take one. Besides, my dress would get wet. (It's been raining pretty much since last Friday around here.)
So you'll have to settle for a couple of teaser shots:
This is the neckline and shoulder. (Yes, I still need to give it a good pressing!)

This is the armhole. I lined the bodice edge to edge. I love the colors! I can' t wait to see this outside in natural light. (Those googly circles kind of remind me of slices of boiled egg arranged all over a big tossed salad- Mmmm.)
Unfortunately, I'm not in love with the dress. Oh, it turned out alright, it just doesn't fit the way I wanted it to (in spite of two muslins). The skirt portion is great- very flattering, at least in my opinion. The bodice, however... not so much. The neckline is much wider than I thought it would be and the whole top of the dress just feels a little big. I'm wondering if I should have gone down a size on top. I don't know, though. I checked the magazine photos and it looks like the model has similar problems, so maybe it's just the style.
And as if it's not enough to be slightly disappointed in a completed project, my mojo seems to have gone missing. I can't even muster up enough of it to make a simple A-line cotton skirt. Perhaps a trip to the fabric store is what I need. Now if only I could find the time to go...

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Road Test Results and Sneak Preview

I am happy to report that the road test of NL 6674 went great! The dress was comfortable all day long- especially when I left my air conditioned office building and walked across the 90 degree parking lot to my car! I decided I need to make some more cool cotton dresses for the heat of summer.
I never did add the snap to the front bodice. I used a tiny safety pin to hold the front edges together right at the bust line. It worked great! I'm sure a snap would do just as well.

I was sort of worried that the average quality quilting cotton that I used might wrinkle really badly in back where I spent a lot of the day sitting on it, but it didn't. Of course, I did wear a full slip and panty hose, so that probably helped.

I've decided to go ahead with the Military Wrap Dress project, however, I need to find a suitable fabric before I can continue. I want to check my "local" (60 miles away) fabric store before I resort to ordering online, so it may be a few weeks before I can get started.

In the meantime, I will be cutting out BWOF 02-2009-124 out of stretch pique:

I've been wanting to add some yellow and orange to my wardrobe and this cute circle print will do just that. The orange satin will be used to line the bodice.

I'll also be working on Summer Fields from AS&E issue #83, using yellow seersucker, lavender gingham, and a sweet floral print with both colors. Often when I get home from work, I really don't feel like hunching over the sewing machine and I've been wanting something to work on while watching TV on weeknights. I figure a cute smocked sundress is a good choice. Besides, it's getting harder and harder to find smocked projects that both fit the Princess and appeal to her rather choosy taste. I better make it while I still have the chance!