Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Space Invaders I

I'm making this dress (view C) in the following fabric:

I'm not really sure what I should do for the contrast in that dress. That yellow-green invader color is quite unappealing (sure, it looks okay in the print, but a large expanse of it would be, quite frankly, somewhat nauseating). The light blue and aqua invader colors (yes, there are two colors there, though it's a little difficult to see) are options, but that's so boring. I'd like a contrasting print, I think, but mixing prints can be tricky. Thoughts?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Bolero Pattern Review

I'm not really a fan of short-sleeved jackets. Frankly, I just don't see the point. I can get behind shawls, wraps, and shrugs, but a short-sleeved jacket just seems silly to me. But with warm weather fast approaching, I was reminded of one my beefs from last summer.

I live south of the Mason-Dixon, which means summers here are HOT. I'm sure it's worse in a place like Arizona or the Sahara desert, but it does get warm enough here (100F/~38C for weeks on end) that it's difficult not to be uncomfortable. I'm a tomboy at heart and prefer wearing pants, but dresses become a must down here if you don't want to melt. I've taken up wearing moondresses (which are sundresses that one doesn't wear in the sun), but even wearing strong sunscreen, I still get sun damage on my shoulders and upper arms from riding in the car. Skin cancer runs in my family and I don't want my ink in that area to fade, so the solution here seems to be to cover up as best I can, and that means a bolero or something of the sort.

Enter Simplicity 2183. I intended to make view D (the elbow-length version), but got home from JoAnn's to find that my fabric had been cut too short! By the time I realized that, the store was already closed, so I begrudgingly made view E (short-sleeved).

I made it in black, of course, so it will match every item of clothing I've owned since the age of 15. The fabric is quilting cotton. Really, the only other feasible choice would have been linen, but the cost and ravelly nature usually make me shy away from it.

This pattern is rated easy, but it does have a couple of tricky parts. First, instead of a buttonhole (which can be a big problem even for those that aren't beginners), it has a strip cut on bias to use as a button loop. Sounds good, right? Well, with the seam allowance and the tiny nature of the loop, it isn't so easy to turn right side out. The instructions state to tie a pie of thread to the stitching and pull it out that way. I tried that and didn't like how it looked, so just top-stitched it. Looks fine to me, and it will be covered by a button anyway.

There's another problem that might present itself for beginners.

Can you see it in there? If you can't, try this one:

DARTS. Damn darts! One is easy enough, but getting them perfectly symmetrical can be tough, especially for a beginner. This pattern isn't too fitted though, so it doesn't have to be all that great.

And lastly, this pattern calls for under-stitching. In the view I made, it was easy enough, but it looks like it could be difficult in the sleeveless versions (which are constructed differently).

Despite my complaints, this isn't a difficult pattern, per se, but it wouldn't be something that I'd recommend to a total beginner. It's a nice wardrobe builder, and I might try it again in the elbow-length version, which is what I originally intended.

Here's the final product:

The button came from my stash. I think it was from a suit I made a few years ago.

Please forgive the cat hair. She decided the best place to sit in my sewing room was on the jacket.

I have nothing snarky to say about the last photograph.

Friday, February 24, 2012


I had an unexpected surprise when I came home from work last night. (An aside: wouldn't all surprises be unexpected? Otherwise, they wouldn't be surprises.)

My pattern order from Simplicity! The FedEx tracking info said it wasn't supposed to arrival until today. Yay! Here's my haul:

New Look 6099: Love those lacy lapels!

New Look 6107: I like the blouse - it has a nice 1930s vintage feel. I'm thinking a nice solid in linen or cotton would rock this.

New Look 6244: I mostly wanted to try this because the seams on view D are interesting. This one doesn't recommend cotton, but watch that stop me.

New Look 6587: I recently decided that I needed a Wednesday Addams-type shirt dress. This is more fitted (as I am curvier than a six year old) and the neckline plunges a little, but this should make a nice starting point. I have a blouse pattern with French cuffs that I think would adapt nicely to the look.

New Look 6886: I liked the bolero, and of course, I could always use more Halloween-print moondresses (which are like sundresses, but I have no intention of wearing them in the sun). I particularly like views A and C - maybe in a nice subtle candy corn print? (Another aside: I don't even really like candy corn, but I love how it represents Halloween. An aside in my aside: I haven't had it in years, so maybe I'd like it now. Is candy corn vegetarian? It seems like it would have gelatin in it.)

New Look 6900: The necklace and pockets on view A are cute! It looks like the length might be too short, but that is easily adjusted. Probably in a nice bold print, with a bright color for the contrast.

Simplicity 3556: Probably my favorite of the haul. I love view D. I was thinking black velvet with navy blue satin trim! Or maybe satin with velvet trim? A nice burgundy might work too. Ideas abound!

Simplicity 3781: Eh. Not really sure why I bought this one. The keyhole in the back is interesting, but not that interesting.

Simplicity 3785: The gathering under the bust is unusual. Not sure which view I'm going to make yet, or in which fabric, but time will tell.

Simplicity 4077: I think I bought this for view A? It kind of has a neo-Victorian feel to it. I bet it would look smart with a bold vest and a solid black pencil skirt. Maybe with contrasting lace? Hmm.

I don't normally buy patterns online (I wait until they're on sale for a dollar or two at JoAnn's), but this sale included out of print items and New Look (which don't go on sale because they're only $3.99 to begin with), so I bit the bullet.

No, I didn't need more patterns.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Skirt & Vest Pics

My apologies for the delay. I took pictures with camera phone and none of them turned out. So I tried again last night with my actual camera and they didn't turn out much better. Ugh. On top of that, I am not the world's greatest photographer. Anyway, these should at least give a sense of how the outfit turned out.

Without further ado, my skirt and vest:

I only felt like I was wearing wallpaper a little bit. The pictures of the back and sides were too blurry, sorry. :/ Here's a close up of the pocket modification.:

I wore this with my pocketwatch (of course!), a black tuxedo blouse (purchased from a thrift store for under $5), opaque black tights, white and black heels, and copious spider jewelry.

Monday, February 20, 2012

First Pattern Reviews

This fabric has been sitting in my fabric stash for a while now:

That's Haunted Mansion by Moda and it is now out of print. When the designer Halloween fabrics come out (usually in June or July), I usually don't jump on them unless I can't live without them (such as the Riley Blake Eerie Alley fabric from two years ago that featured multi-colored hearses - I quite literally squealed with joy). This was no exception: though I'd seen this for sale in several stores and on eBay, I was kinda "meh" about it, especially at designer prices. It grew on me though, and when I saw it on eBay at clearance prices, I snapped up two yards. I had no particular plans for this fabric, but at that price, I couldn't resist.

The fabric has been sitting in my stash since September. I was consumed with other projects and didn't give it much thought. Then when I was finishing up scrubs for my sister a couple of weeks ago, I saw it sitting on top of a trunk, just barely peeking out from some other fabrics I'd purchased (probably under the same "I don't know what I'll do with it, but I have to have it!" philosophy). The idea of it bounced around in my head until I had a "by Jove!" moment - a matching skirt and vest! How could I go wrong?

Well, I had only bought two yards and getting more would be tough, so I had to pick patterns that would be able to squeeze into that tiny amount. A pencil skirt seemed ideal, and well, there isn't a whole lot of variance in vest patterns, so one would be as good as pretty much any other. I went digging through my embarrassingly large pattern collection and came up with Simplicity 9825 (since out of print) and New Look 6008.

First off, I'm going to apologize for the lack of in progress pictures. I was considering starting the blog as I was constructing these pieces. I will post finished pictures later.

The skirt comes in three lengths and in two fullnesses. I made the medium length in the narrow fullness (view B). With my long legs, I figured it would hit me about mid-knee. For work, I would consider the top of the knee as short as I'd go, so it seemed like a good plan. The recommended fabrics are heavier than the quilting cotton I used, but whatever.

This pattern was pretty simple. I left off the trim and faux pockets. The hem length was 1.25 inches, but I halved that to 5/8 - lo and behold, the skirt hit just below the knee (yay). I didn't make the vent as long as the pattern said - shortening it by two inches - and I am able to walk around okay, so I guess that was a win too. Everything about this was win except for the stupid dumb horrible awful mistake I made. I want to stress that this was in no way the fault of the pattern, but all me. Here goes: I was only half paying attention and inserted the zipper on the side instead of the back. That wouldn't have been the end of the world (some skirts do zip up the side, after all), but I panicked and didn't think of the side zip. Instead, I began frantically (and not as carefully as I should have) ripping out the zipper, and ended up snagging the fabric a little. It isn't too noticeable, but I know it's there. After the zipper was inserted into the correct place, everything went swimmingly.

This would probably be a good pattern for beginners. The only real difficult part is inserting the zipper.

As for the vest, I made view A (the lilac-colored one in the lower corner). Now, half the reason to wear vests is so you can sport a dapper pocket watch, and those are flaps without pockets. As always, I modified the vest so it included real pockets. This is a giant pain in the ass, and that's probably why the pattern just has flaps instead of real pockets. Even knowing what I'm doing and having done the pocket insertion several times, the two pockets took longer than the rest of the vest combined. Urgh.

The rest of the pattern went smoothly. As I said, most vest patterns are pretty much the same. The only real differences here the straps (meeting in the middle) and the top-stitching. Honestly, I really liked the top-stitching because it meant no under-stitching. And even with under-stitching, sometimes vests still won't lay flat. One quarter of an inch seems a little large, but one eighth would have been too small. Eh, whatever. It looks good. The other modification I made was the straps: I shortened them by half an inch. This is a typical adjustment for me and shouldn't be seen as the fault of the pattern.

I wouldn't recommend this pattern to someone just starting out, but a beginner with a couple of projects under their belt could probably handle this.

Will try to post pics tonight!

Here We Go Again

So this is now my third attempt at blogging. The first was eons ago, in the Dark Ages of the mid to late 90s, before they were even called blogs (IIRC). The second was so short-lived that I don't think it lasted longer than a week. This third one will focus on my adventures in sewing, pattern reviews, and a possible clinical obsession with fabric. (And there was much rejoicing.)

The impetus behind this was the realization that extremely few people in my life actually care about my sewing adventures, and even fewer can understand what I'm talking about. I'm under no illusion that the wide world of teh intrag00glz cares about my personal experiences, but perhaps the eventual pattern reviews will prove useful to some. I guess only time will tell.