Monday, February 28, 2011

The Knit Ball

The what? Well, you know, I've taken up knitting and one of the benefits is that I find it very therapeutic and relaxing. But, I've finished the puppy sweaters, and needed a new project. A quick one, that took little brain power, and one that I could use just any old yarn. I used the inexpensive green from the puppy sweater, pulled out the dpn's (double pointed needles), the Itty-Bitty Toys book and THIS was created:

And what, you ask, does one do with a knit ball? Well, THIS of course:

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Vintage Vogue Special Design 4350 or Mary Lou is Finished!

Mary Lou made her debut yesterday at the Junior Achievement black tie event. First, remember this?

And now, without further ado:

At this angle, you can't really see the petticoat very well. How about this?
A back view (where there are some unfortunate wrinkles but more petticoat showing):

A few observations:
  • The sleeves don't stay on my shoulders that well as I opted not to put in the recommended elastic. I just had to go with an off the shoulder look after fussing with it the first hour or so.
  • I'm not that happy with the fit over the bust. It looked great in the cotton muslin that is more form fitting than the stiff taffeta. Oh well.
  • I need a different strapless bra.
  • Tulle is itchy even over the polyester lining that it was sewn to.
  • The entire outfit is probably highly flammable.
  • The sleeve seam became not really noticeable. Something I was initially worried about.
  • For a formal dress, it is actually very comfortable (aside from the itchy tulle and slipping shoulders). Primarily because I didn't need any belly smooshing undergarments.
  • The pattern includes instructions and a pattern piece to make a belt. I just happened to have a RTW belt from another dress that matches perfectly.
 My photo shoot buddy, Danny

Friday, February 25, 2011

Mary Lou Needed a Slip

Crinolines are all the rage over at Peter's abode, and while it might seem I'm jumping on the bandwagon, this really was part of the plan. I was going to chronicle the making of said crinoline, and I took a bunch of pictures, but they really don't look like anything but a heap of tulle. It's not really a crinoline either.

And then, as I was making it, just about every step was kind of different than what I planned, and took way longer than I expected. Anyway, it's a little bit big around the waist, and I might have to safety pin it to the waist stay, and alone, looks kind of sad. Good thing there will be a dress over it. Oh, yeah, and I'm pretty sure the whole thing is highly flammable.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

More Peeks at the Finished Mary Lou

I've named this dress Mary Lou after the woman who made the original skirt. She's a friend of my mom's who was (and I imagine, at 80 still is) quite the fashionista. And quite the sewist! My mom and I are still not sure how the original skirt came into our possession, but a skirt it is no more.

I'll do a full photo shoot with accessories, hair, makeup... you know, the whole works... on Saturday. The dress is finished, and tomorrow I'll make the petticoat/crinoline. Until then, here are a few of the details.

Grosgrain waist stay (to help support the skirt, and for general couture fabulousness):

Hand-picked zipper and another view of the inverted box pleats:

Original velvet trim on the skirt. No side seams, only a center back seam and lots of fullness:

You've already seen the bias trim on the yoke, lined with silk organza:

Finally, inside out, the lined bodice, French side seams and a full view of the waist stay:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Trim Solution

Thanks so much for everyone's input. For all those that said "no trim", given the choices I gave you, that's what I would have picked, too. That trim was pretty lame, if I do say so myself.  One of the things I should have mentioned that I was concerned with is that the delicate yoke/sleeve basically holds the weight of the dress. I was feeling like adding something would give it more structure. But not the trim.

Ginny (who didn't think she was being helpful - HA!) gave me the great idea of the narrow bias trim, and voila! I've lined this, and those points gave me fits! I started with the back pieces, and the front definitely looks better. Still needs some pressing finesse. And I haven't sewn the side seams.

So there you go. What's left? Side seams, obviously. Get the pleats worked out on the skirt, and rehem (parts of the hem are ripped out). Attach the skirt, and install the zipper. That's it for the dress. Then a petticoat/crinoline of sorts.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Opinions, Please

We're not going to mention any finished Unfinished Objects from last week, because there weren't any. It was a strange and crazy week, that resulted in me not being at home as much as I usually am. And this Saturday is the day I'll be wearing the vintage dress, so that's the agenda for this week. And here's where your opinion is needed.

I've done the yoke/sleeve piece with the mesh tulle, lined with silk organza. And of course you can see the seams because the fabrics are not just sheer, they are super sheer. No surprises there. But I can't decide if I want to somehow cover them up around the neckline and sleeve hem.

This picture should give you the sort of view of how it will look. On the left side (as you are looking at the picture), no trim. On the right side, 1/8" satin ribbon around the neck edge. Just as an aside, I accidently cut a huge hole in the organza on the sleeve/yoke piece on the right, so it is now a trim guinea pig. In the front, I tried gluing it on.
Doesn't look too bad in the picture, but up close, it's a no go with the glue. On the back, because the ribbon is so narrow, I just sewed a line of stitches smack down the middle.
If I go with the trim I might *gasp* sew it on by hand, but if not, I'll just stitch it. The line of stitches is hardly noticeable.

The question is trim, or no trim? I know these pictures aren't great, but what do y'all think? Please leave me a comment with your answer. No time to figure out the inside the post poll thing. You can even just say Trim or No Trim.

Thanks ever so much!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

What's Better Than Puppies?

Not much, really.

You've already seen this green sweater, but of course, Sister Ella needed a sweater of her own. I finished this about a week and a half ago.

So, knitters out there, I'm pretty sure that my picking up the stitches method for the ribbing around her little butt is completely wrong, but, hey, it worked. I made her sweater a little bigger, but I think that Sam has grown!

I decided that sometimes those sweaters would just not be warm enough, so I made some liners out of fleece that can also be worn on their own. And my dear fellow blogger (who knows who she is), there is no orange here!

I made 4 little fleeces so they each have a UK and a Georgia one. And with the leftover fleece, I made some toys. Apparently, they are delicious!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Black Taffeta Glam

Just a quick post to show off my fabric for the vintage dress. Black taffeta may sound a bit... well, boring? Predictable? Hear me out.
I've had this long, taffeta skirt in my possession for a long time. How it got there is a bit of a mystery. I thought my mom had made it, but after questioning her, she thinks perhaps one of her friends did. Anyway, not sure why I have it, but it has been hanging around for at least 15 or 20 years. Egads! I've never worn it. It has a bit of an Amish/wicked witch feel to me. And then there's that way too small waistband.

So, here's the plan. I'm not really thinking of this as a "refashioning a skirt" idea (though you could make an argument for that), but rather a "here are two 51 inch wide by 39-1/2 inch long pieces of fabric" idea. A dress with the skirt part already made and hemmed. Well, at least partially hemmed. I did notice a safety pin lurking in the hem area. First, I'll cut off the waistband and remove the back zipper (hand-picked, by the way). I'll figure out how much length I'll need for the front and back bodice pieces. Then I'll cut off the bottom part for the skirt. I'm thinking I'll pleat the skirt instead of just gathering.

For the yoke/sleeve combo, I've got my fingers crossed that this tulle I bought from Gorgeous Fabrics will work. (Mine has black dots, but I haven't taken a pic.)
I plan to underline the tulle with a nude silk organza, and hope it gives it enough body. It's kind of a meshy, soft tulle. The original pattern only lines the skirt. I'm going to attempt to line the bodice, and not line the skirt. Rather, I'm going to make a petticoat of sorts with the tulle peaking out the bottom, and possibly some stiffer tulle as well to give it a little poof.

And, I'm really hoping that this will actually happen. Life, as it so often does, has gotten a little messy at the moment. Now that the bodice is fitted though, I don't think the construction will take me that long. Oh, yeah, I still need to buy some black lining. There's that. And maybe buy a belt buckle. That's on Friday's agenda at the moment.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Vintage Formal Muslin Challenge

Since the new year began, I've had a post in mind that I really wanted to write... Sew Along Envy! There were so many sew alongs that started that I was interested in, but I just couldn't commit. One that I was particularly interested in was the Great Vintage Sew Along, and I hope it's successful and repeated. The dress that I'm making now is what I would have made. Yes, I've had this one planned out for awhile.

So now about this pattern. The bodice is all I'm muslining, and there are 2 main challenges. The first is fit. I do not have a vintage body. No waspy waist here. Every time I make a muslin, I plan to make it "as is" first, and then do the tweaking. But really, if you know you are going to need to add about 6" or so to the waist, well, why not go ahead with that change.

So, that's all I did initially. Most of my "width" is in the front, so I only added 1/2" to each side seam on the back. There are 4 waistline darts in the front, so I shaved 1/4" off each dart "leg", and then added another 1-1/2" to each side seam. Oh, and almost forgot, moved the darts 1/2" toward the center on each side. Seems the girls are closer together than the darts.

Challenge #2 is the construction. There are 4 pieces: bodice front and back, and a sleeve and yoke combo piece for the front and back. There is a seam at the shoulder that runs the length of the sleeve.

Ordinarily, I do all my seams in machine basting length for easy rip out. However, this is a tricky attachment so I made the stitches only slightly longer than a regular stitch. The pattern instructions have you sew with the bodice piece on top, and do it all in one go, pivoting at the "peak". They do give you 3 options for reinforcing that V on the sleeve/yoke piece. They are kind of funny... I'll do a "funny vintage pattern instructions" post another time.

Since I had already tried this last year, I decided to experiment, and had 4 chances to get it right. Step one, do each attachment separately. By that I mean:
Actually, what I should say is first, stay stitch the seamlines on both pieces. Then stitch the sleeve seam. I did that on the front.
When pinning and stitching the yoke seam, the yoke will be clipped. When I did the front, I discovered it was easier and more accurate to stitch with the sleeve/yoke piece on top, so that's what I'll do for the real thing.
Now for the fitting. The pattern is a Bust 36, and while that matches my measurements, in reality, I have kind of a narrow upper chest, so the neckline was far too wide, and the under bust area turned out to be too loose. I ended up taking about an inch or so on the neckline by pinching out small darts on the front and back. I also just cinched up the side seams by sewing more of an hourglass seam. Now for the blurry pictures of me actually wearing it. I tried to crop out the worst of the muffin top to spare your eyes.

In this version, I cinched up the side seams just a wee bit much. You can see the pulling, horizontal lines there around my middle. I came back out just a bit, and it fixed that right up. There is a big wrinkle still by my armpit, but the top of the shoulder is finished with a bit of elastic, and I think that will pull it up enough to remove it. I may sew the shoulder seam just a bit deeper, as well. Now the back view, which is pretty hideous, but if you've stuck it out this far, well, here ya go:
Oh, I did do a sway back adjustment. I think that where the waistline hits now is actually a good spot, so I'll add a seam allowance to the bottom, lengthening the bodice just a little bit. And yes, I did put a zipper in. I find it very frustrating to work with a bodice that you just are trying to pin on, so it's basted in, and can be easily ripped out.

A couple of final thoughts... in the original design the bodice has buttons, and then the skirt has a zipper. I think I'm just going to put an invisible zipper in the whole thing and be done with it. I'm also going to use, for the first time, the muslin as pattern pieces, at least the 2 main bodice pieces. I think I'm just going to cut them along the seam, and then add seam allowances, though the jury is still out on that decision.

I'll talk about the skirt portion tomorrow, and show you the fabric.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Finished Object Friday -- Week 3, and Another Experiment!

I've made an executive decision on behalf of you, my readers, and have decided that my non-sewing UFOs are too mind-numbingly boring to share. Seriously. Do you really care if I manage to clean off my desk heaped with piles of paper? Or that I do my ironing from last fall? I don't really even care, and so, um, I didn't even do those chores that seem to just be hanging around to taunt and harass me.

I did manage to finish a sewing UFO though, and made 2 clutches for my shop. Now, these 2 actually are almost identical, and I've already sold 2 like them, so was in the process of making these last spring when I got sidetracked. Who knows with what. Perhaps I was afraid of an accident with teeny, tiny seed beads. And it was well that I should have been afraid, because Wednesday afternoon there were dozens of red beads stuck in my white-ish berber carpet. Nevertheless, knowing Friday was looming, I soldiered on, and finished.

 It's one of my favorites, so if it never gets sold, I won't be too heartbroken.

 Now for more experimental sewing. The ingredients for this experiment were the last remaining bit of baby blue interlock knit, some black foldover elastic, and my coverstitch machine, still threaded with baby blue thread.
What did I learn from this experiment? Mostly, that I still have a lot to learn about sewing with knits, elastic and the coverstitch. The hem looks awesome though! And it only took me about 45 minutes from start to finish! And yes, I might sleep in it in the heat of the summer. I slept in the tee last night, and that interlock is so super soft that I was cozy all night long. Too much info?

Finally, even though I had a friend drop in and visit most of the afternoon, I still managed to cut out the muslin bodice for my formal dress. Here's the pattern I'll be attempting:
I've already tried this once, but I have no idea if I even saved this attempt, so I'm starting fresh. Hopefully, I'll have the new attempt posted this weekend.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Experimental Tee -- Vogue 8670

I've called this tee that I just finished experimental because while it's kind of a muslin, it's more than a muslin. Huh? I'm not really a believer in wearable muslins, as the times I've needed to make a muslin, the finished garment would have been anything but wearable. So, this is more like an experiment in fabric use, and in practicing my new coverstitch.

A reminder of the pattern:
Originally, I had planned to make the scrunch-necked turtleneck (view C). After reading reviews, though, I got nervous. People didn't like the effect of the neck, and overall said it was too big. But still, I wanted to try it out, and toyed with the idea of playing around with the turtle collar to make it look like the picture. I had some baby blue cotton interlock though, that I also wanted to use with this pattern to make the short-sleeved tee to use as a pj top.

And that's what I decided to go with first. PJs are safe, because if the fit isn't quite right, then who really cares?! Plus, the pattern pieces are all the same, so I would be able to test the neckline. Here's the result:
I cut the straight size 14 with only one alteration. I took 3" off the length. And it is still about an inch longer than I would like. With the exception of the darts, I made the entire thing on my serger, and did the hems with my coverstitch. Practice is still needed there, but overall I'm pleased. You know. For a pj top. That doesn't actually match the pants.

It's roomy, but not huge, and I think it fits pretty well around the hips, where I usually grade out farther than the 14. I was surprised that only 4 people had reviewed this pattern, but perhaps it's the raglan sleeves. The cotton interlock is from Gorgeous Fabrics, is super soft, and comes as a complete circle of fabric, like a huge tube. I had enough left over to make a cami that won't have side seams. It will also be an experiment with foldover elastic, and I'm thinking it's doubtful I'll be modeling that! Maybe on my dress form.

I've decided to look for a different scrunch turtleneck pattern, but I've had to rearrange my sewing list! Turns out, in 2 weeks, we'll be attending a formal dinner, and I know just what I want to make. Look for the muslin (a real muslin) perhaps this weekend.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


Back before I started reading sewing blogs, when I went shopping for RTW, the thought never crossed my mind to change something I didn't like on a particular garment. Oh, sure, I've hemmed more than a few pairs of pants, but that's because I'm short, not because I was changing the look. Now I look at things with a completely different eye.

Remember last spring, when Target had that Liberty of London tie in, and had some cute inexpensive things? I bought a couple of tops, and one of them was just not right for me, but it had a really easy fix. I was going to use this as a UFO, as this top has been crumpled in a pile in my studio since last March, but this refashioning idea is pretty fascinating to me. I've put aside a few things that normally would just go to the charity pile, but I think they can be reworked.

Back to the Liberty top.... loved the 3/4 sleeves, and the peasanty vibe. Hated the ruffle around the hips. It took, oh, about 10 minutes yesterday, but the ruffle is gone. What do you think?

Yeah, I took the before picture back in March.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Finished Object Friday -- Week Two

Um, yes, I realize it's Saturday, but I was successful again this past week, and, well, it would be pretty lame to just have a "week one" and then not continue.

So, with that little excuse introduction, what did I finish? My non-sewing UFO was not the one I had planned, but with the absolutely gorgeous weather we had last weekend, some much needed raking was accomplished. Those of you with a front and back yard may experience this phenomenon. The front yard gets precedence and always looks, if not great, at least acceptable to the watchful eyes of the neighbors, most of whom have yard services. The back yard is another story.
Last Saturday, when Thomas, Laura and puppies were visiting, Thomas raked up a huge pile of these very leaves for the dogs to play in. Well, dogs, unlike children, don't really get the excitement of jumping in a huge pile, but, the job was already started. Sunday, Thomas and I finished it, resulting in this:
OK, not really an exciting picture, but there were 10 bags of leaves. So, moving quickly to my sewing UFO...

I decided to finish a project for Jenna Belle Designs that I had gotten this far back in December (maybe it was November):
Yes, these are simple zipper pouches. Seven of them. No more than an hour, or an hour and a half's worth of work. And now they are finished and listed in the shop!
I will say that I had wanted to do a few more projects, but had a back injury sorting laundry. Kind of pathetic really. Who knew you should warm up before doing something as simple as decided which pile to toss the socks in?! After a visit to the chiropractor on Friday, it seems I've pinched a nerve, and it turns out I have a pretty significant curvature in my lower spine. The spine will always stay curved, but she'll be able to adjust the twist out of it, and already my knee (that I've had problems with) feels better. Anyway, I hope to get back up to speed this week! Oh, yeah, the raking didn't help.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Queue

I managed to get one thing completely sewn in January. The raincoat. But there is so much that I have lined up, and I actually have fabric (or have ordered fabric), so like my UFOs, I'm going to put it out there, and hopefully I'll pick up some momentum.

One thing that will really help, is that I bought a coverstitch machine! It's still in the box, though, as my basement redo is not finished. It may just stay unfinished, for the moment, but it is considerably better. Still I have some things I want to make before winter is over. It would seem there is no fear of that happening from the amount of snow being dumped on the U.S. right now, but Atlanta is blissfully snow free. (Hopefully I didn't just jinx things.)

First up:
I plan to make View C in a gray knit I bought in Maryland in September. I hope I won't turn as green as the poor girl in the picture!

Not sure which one of these will be next, but I have fabric for both:

[Interesting how these pictures turned out... seems I scanned them as illustrations, and not photos.]

Finally, a vintage pattern that I bought from The Blue Gardenia.
My inspiration is this Talbots jacket in their spring catalog:
I may work on this while I'm working on the knit tops, as it's definitely going to be a more involved process.

In the meantime, I'm still working on turning UFOs into FOs, and this week has been successful. More on that on Friday.


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