Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Simplicity 2931: Quick Summer Tops

If it ever gets warm in Seattle, I am going to need some cute summer tops. So, I reached into the stash and pulled out some cottons I've had for a couple of years and this pattern:

I made this once in November during Faye's Month of Tops, and wasn't sure how I liked it. I've been wearing it recently and have gotten some compliments, so I said what the heck. I fixed a small fitting issue and cut out both shirts on Sunday night. (While watching The Hard Way. I looooooove Ida Lupino.) On Monday I set up my production shop and cranked them out. (Sewing movies: Angus and Alien.) Not the most enjoyable of sewing endeavors, but I needed some shirts, therefore the shirts must be sewn. My husband took some shots in the yard, after it RAINED.

Squinty me.

Husband is goofing off.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Another Cynthia Rowley Dress

I fell in love with the sleeve detail on this Simplicity 2406, but knew from previous experience that Cynthia Rowley Patterns are not going to flatter me at all.

So, I made it for my daughter, Senorita Ham.

I made the shorter version of the dress, and had to rework the sleeves to fit someones very little arms. Here is the first version.

She also felt that the armscye was waaaay to low, so first off, I raised that by 2 inches.

Then I took some out of the sleeve length and width.

The above changes resulted in this. Better, but not good.

I ended up taking another inch out of the sleeve width and making the cut-out bigger to make up for all that I had taken out. Now we have the final version. Much much better.

The fabric is a waffle linen I bought from Gorgeous Fabrics. It was a little too thick for this design, but it did ok. (My daughter really wanted a yellow dress and I really wanted to make this dress out of linen.) The thickness of the fabric made it a little hard to get the joins between the dress body and sleeves just right, but if my daughter doesn't notice anything wrong, I can totally be in denial.

One other very important change I made was at the top of the sleeve where the front and back meet. I added 1/2 inch width there so I could pass all the fabric through there when I was turning it right side out. Even with my muslin, I had a hard time with it. There would have been no way with this linen.

I also omitted the slit detail in the back so she could wear a bra with this see-though fabric. She was able to slip the dress over her head, so I just left out the zipper as well.

All in all, this was an easy and fun sew.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Dress Inspiration

My co-parent's girlfriend gave me a bunch of Workbasket magazines from the 1960s for my birthday this year. The needlework projects are pretty cool, but it was the mail-order pattern pictures that ended up really inspiring me. The lines are simple, but feminine. I'm not a big fan of the hippy 60s and 70s, but I am really fond of the fashions left over from the 50s. I'm pretty sure I am going to use these dresses as inspiration for my pattern-drafting adventures this summer.

February 1968

February 1968

May 1965

March 1966

April 1967

November 1966

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Thanks and a Request

Hello nice readers. Thank you so much for your comments about my first self-drafted dress. It feels really good to have that under my belt; now I feel that with enough hard work, I can do it again! (I'm gonna work on some simpler things this week. My brain needs a rest.)

On a completely different note, I am coming to you with a different type of blog entry today; a request. One of the organizations I volunteer with is the Western Washington Girl Scouts. I'm not a troop leader or anything, but am helping procure items for their auction on Sept. 11 at the Annual Girlfriends Weekend. (The weekend sounds like a pretty cool event. I am excited to go. For more info check here:

Two of the items I am putting together for the auction are a sewing basket and a knitting basket. I am adding things to the baskets and thought I would open it up to you guys to see if you had anything that you want to donate. Colette Patterns graciously donated a Sencha Pattern and Denise Interchangeable Needles kindly gave us a set of knitting needles.

What I am Looking for:

Sewing basket
  • Fabric. Anything cool will do. (The Sencha blouse takes 2 yards if you have something suitable for that.)
  • Really good reference book. (I am thinking The Sewing Bible, The Complete Guide to Sewing by our friends at Readers Digest, or Vogue Sewing.)
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Markers or chalk
  • Hand-sewing needles
  • Tape measure
(I am donating some Burda magazines and some vintage patterns, so we have plenty of patterns.)

(Striked out (Struck out?) items have already been donated.)

Knitting Basket
  • Sock size double-pointed needles
  • Really good learn - to -knit book
  • Yarn needles
  • Row counter
  • Stitch markers
Here's how this works:
  • The items need to be new (or used so little that they could pass for new.) Fabric should be unwashed, and things should be in their original packaging (although we can work around that.)
  • The only exception to this is things that are so old they qualify as vintage.
  • If you would like to donate an item, please leave a comment stating what item you would like to give with your email cleverly disguised against the spambot trolly things.
  • I will send you my address.
  • Items should be mailed by July 31st.
  • I have some old Burda Magazines and vintage patterns that I have no need for, so if even one person donates to the Girl Scouts Auction, I will start giving those patterns away on my blog.
The proceeds of this auction will send girls, who might not otherwise afford it to camp. (As well as helping to provide other leadership opportunities.) They turn no girl away, and I think that is pretty cool. Thanks in advance for any help you can give!

Monday, June 21, 2010

First Drafted Dress

* Note: I was hoping to get some nicer pictures but there is no sun in Seattle right now, so these will have to be good enough!

Well, here it is. I'll show the fancy styled version first. (It's not really so fancy; I'm just wearing shoes and a belt. And I poofed the dress out a bit before I took the picture. I hear they do that on those big fancy photo shoots.)

Unfancy shot with rare glimpse of my face. Now you know why I usually crop it out. Deer in headlights. I'm sure the camera angle isn't helping.

The fabric is what I think is a Michael Miller quilting cotton, although it feels like it has a little stretch to it. Go figure. Yes, I know I am not supposed to use quilting cotton to make clothes with; yes I do it anyway; well, not as much as I did before. Hardly ever actually. (Although I want to make it clear that I feel you should be able to make your clothing out of whatever you want. They're your clothes after all.) I have some three yard lengths of quilting cotton in my stash I want to get rid of, and learning how to draft my own dresses seemed a perfect way to do it. (Not too precious to cut into.)

Here are some close-ups of the front and back bodice. It's hard to see the details because of the loud and busy fabric. I PLANNED THAT. What better way to hide the wonky bits?

Artsy shot.

Invisible zipper is invisible.

I'm not really gonna talk about process here because I learned everything I know from reading my pattern books, specifically Metric Pattern Cutting for Women's Wear. Which you have heard me mention a million times. I worked and worked and worked on this bodice. Maybe 7 or 8 different iterations. (I still don't like it, but more in a minute.) When I got to a version I could live with, I learned to draft a set in sleeve. It fits in the armscye and I have mobility. Then I made the simplest skirt ever so I could just have a dress finally.

Things I learned, need to work on, or don't like:
  • If I had waited for this dress to be perfect, I would never have a dress.
  • It isn't going to kill me to make 8 muslins. (Although it feels as if it might.)
  • There is still a lot of wonkiness in the bodice. If you look at my bosom area in the toile, it appears that I may need an FBA by all those drag lines surrounding a certain part of my anatomy. (Btw, I could not see these until I took a picture. My bathroom mirror showed none of that.) I'm gonna start from scratch and make that bust dart bigger.

  • The bust darts are not as nice with a heavier fabric. Need to get the length just right.
  • I could probably take the waist down another inch or so. (Maybe. I need to experiment.)
  • Not my favorite skirt. I would like a gathered skirt with more volume, or something else entirely.
  • Length is everything. I was seriously hating this before I hemmed it. And then, like magic, it was no longer a dowdy house dress.
My final assessment. It's not perfect, but it is wearable, and I secretly love it a lot for being my first self-drafted dress. I'm just going to enjoy it in all it's imperfect glory.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Teeny Tiny peek

I wanna see if I can get some better pictures of my new dress before I post about it.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sneak Peak

Okey doke. Drumroll please. Here it is, my muslin for my very first self-drafted dress. It ain't fancy, but it's all me! (The light is weird on my bosom area, but I think you get the drift.)

This is a very simple bodice, sleeve, and skirt. For my first foray out, I wanted to make something achievable, so that I wouldn't get too frustrated. (Believe me, I got plenty frustrated without trying to get all fancy.) I am going for a sort of 50's vintage feel. We'll see.

I used Metric Pattern Cutting for Women's Wear by my homegirl Winifred Aldrich. (I went out and added the newest edition to the second edition I already had.) For the most part, the instructions were very clear and I didn't have many issues with the actual drafting. It was fitting that killed me. Finally, after many trial and errors, I figured out 4 very important things.

1) The close fitting bodice had too much ease for me and I felt it made things fit funny. Took out some of that ease.

2) I have sloping shoulders. I took at 1/2 centimeters from the shoulder at the arm end.

3) Armscye needed to be lowered just a little. (.5 cm from when I lowered the shoulder and another .5 just for fit.)

4) It's important to play around with those bust darts until they look good.

It is by no means perfect. I think there is a little weirdness going on in the back of the sleeve, there might be a little gaping at the neckline, and there is a weird drag line in the front of the bodice by the armscye. ( I'm not sure if it is supposed to be there or not. I've been checking out other shirts and dresses, and a lot of people have it. Not sure if it is poor fitting or not.)

However, I do not care about anymore imperfections. I spent so long on this bodice, I need a dang dress now! (Looking back on it, the changes are not so revolutionary, but I kept going off on wild fitting issue tangets. I kept having to start all over again because I would end up making changes that I didn't really need.)

View from the back:

I have my fabric for the dress all cut out to sew up. I AM SO EXCITED!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Trench Coat

I have decided to join the Trench Sew Along over here. I have a trench coat and I never wear it, so I am thinking I will probably make something more raincoaty. (I do live in Seattle.) While looking for coat patterns online, I ran across this little number:

I bought it. I'm not sure I will ever make it, but I had to have it. It is so wonderful/horrible that it needed to be mine. It's from 1975 and I love it!

Here is the back of the envelope.

On another note, I am much closer with my bodice drafting. Sometimes throwing a temper tantrum is all I need to get the frustration out of my system. I am still tweaking the pattern, but I have resolved some of the more obvious issues. And I drafted a sleeve that fit into the armhole. Very exciting, people.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Hi. I'm a little frustrated right now. I haven't sewn anything lately because I am working on learning how to draft a bodice pattern. I wanna make a dress. I can get just about everything right, but there is always some gaping at the armscye or some oddness at the shoulder.


Turns out, its not the pattern drafting that's a problem for me, it's fitting issues. GRRR. I have fitting and pattern drafting books up the wazoo, but I can't seem to fix this.

Ok. Tantrum over. Please return to your regularly scheduled program.