Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Grim Grinning Ghosts

Anyone who has followed this blog for any length of time has probably already figured out that I am a GIANT NERD.  (It's kind of a requirement for a software engineer.)  While I definitely have the typical nerdy obsessions (like last week's Ms Pac-Man dress), I also obsess over spooky things as well.  Disney's Haunted Mansion is one of those things.

I had been planning on making myself a skirt featuring the Haunted Mansion wallpaper for a while.  I do have an embroidery machine, but embroidering enough fabric for a skirt was not a something I wanted to do.  My next thought was using a fabric stencil.  I went far enough to cut the stencil out of wax paper, but I lost so much detail in the faces that I just gave up.  I decided I would just embroider a couple of large faces on the fabric and be done with it.  I cut out the fabric for the skirt and it's been sitting in my sewing room for over a year, waiting for me to get around to it.

And then DoomBuggies made an announcement on their Facebook page: Spoonflower had a fabric with the wallpaper design.  It isn't cheap, but I couldn't resist, and bought three yards.  And that meant digging through the pattern collection to find a dress that used approximately three yards of fabric.  The winner was McCall's 6071, a Laura Ashley design, in view B.  (This makes four McCall patterns in a row, the last two of which were Laura Ashley.  This was unintentional, but now makes me wonder how long I can keep this going.)  This view actually calls for 3 1/8 yards of fabric, but considering the feat I pulled off last time, I figured I could do it again.

(Note: if you're even a slight fan of the Haunted Mansion, prepare to lose an afternoon at the DoomBuggies site. And if that still doesn't sate you, head over to Long Forgotten for even more info.)

By not lengthening the skirt, I managed to pull off getting the dress in three yards.  I picked contrasting black bands for the straps and tie.  I did this partially to skimp on the fabric and partially to break up the pattern.

I'm not sure what you'd call this color.  It isn't quite blue, and it isn't quite purple.  I suppose that would make it indigo, right?  But indigo is usually darker than this, so I'm proclaiming that this color will forevermore be called blurpligo.  Blurpligo is a hard color to match.  This thread is periwinkle, and while it is in the same color family, it isn't quite dark enough.  But it was the closest I could find.  (NB: I didn't try all that hard.)  As for the zipper, nothing was close.  It was a choice between this purple and lilac.  In retrospect, black or white probably would have been better.

So, as for the pattern itself, it's fairly straightforward.  The bodice has some gathering, but otherwise there's nothing particularly tricky or uncommon here.  The way the straps are attached makes it easier to lengthen or shorten them as need be.  This does make construction a bit trickier, because you need to leave holes for the straps.  I would say this is good for an advanced beginner.

The tie is sewn on over the gathering.  I think I actually prefer it untied, and if I made this again, I probably would have made it longer.

While I like how the dress turned out, I was a bit disappointed by the fabric.  It's thin and a bit scratchy. When I washed it, the blurpligo faded a bit unevenly.  I would have to really be in love with a fabric to buy from them again.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Leader of the Pac

Welcome, Red & Black Week readers!

The Pac-Man fabric returns!  You may recall this was originally going to be Butterick 4790 (instead, I used a dot fabric and it became the disastrous Skittles dress).  I briefly considered making McCall's 6024 in this fabric, and even went so far as to cut out the pattern, which I promptly refolded and stuck back in the envelope.  The fabric has been sitting, folded and forlorn, in my stash, just waiting...   Watching...  Judging me...

So after more than a year of this, and with Red & Black Week approaching, I figured it was time to get this sewn and stopped being judged by a non-sentient object.  I started flipping through the pattern stash and came across McCall's 4444, a Laura Ashley halter sundress moondress.  A chose a combination of views B (for the contrast bands) and C (for the length).  View C actually calls for 3 and 3/4 yards of fabric, but I was hoping that since I was using the contrast instead of the main fabric for the bands that I would be able to squeeze the pattern into the smaller amount.  I managed to do it, but it took some creative laying of the pattern pieces and doing something I've never done before: I shortened the dress by an inch.  (Normally I need to lengthen the dress by at least 1.5 inches.)

This back is too low to wear
a regular convertible bra
I guess I am losing my touch because this dress (and the previous one) took me quite a while to make and I struggled with the bands a lot.  McCall's rates this pattern as easy,  yet it took me a week of evenings to finish this.  (By way of contrast, 5050, which is rated as average, I sewed in one weekend afternoon, which included an unexpected voyage to JoAnn's to purchase lace.)  The main body of the dress (essentially, the Pac-Man part) came together quickly.  There are no tricky parts to it, except perhaps the gathering in the bust and the zipper.  The instructions for the bands on the front are poor, so I think I ended up sewing them on inside-out.  You can't really tell except up close, but I know.

Perhaps it is because I am not used to sewing halter straps (my evening gown is the only time that comes immediately to mind), but the construction of these was really odd.  It wasn't really hard, but it was weird.  At least the instructions for this part were clear.  I did make the change of closing the halter with a heavy-duty locking hook-and-eye because I don't trust buttons (what the pattern called for) to the stress of holding a halter shut.  I didn't want to flash my cupcakes at an inopportune moment (or any moment, really).

Other than the changes I already mentioned, the alterations used the contrast fabric for the loop over the gathering, shorten the straps (typical for me), and add the Ms Pac-Man buttons.  (They were custom made for me by Brittany of microwavedtofu on Etsy.)  Because they are made of polymer clay, I didn't want them to go through the washing machine, so I attached them to snaps so I can remove them before laundering.  I still have one left, as well as some of the original fabric, so I will likely make a hair accessory out of it.

So after all the rigmarole I went through for this, I would recommend this one for an intermediate.  Or I am really losing my skillz and this is actually an easy pattern.

To make up for the lost inch, I think I might add some lace trim to the hem.