Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Vogue 1228 -- Shift Dress


This is the first woven dress I've made in a while; it is Vogue 1228.  I believe it's also the first Vogue pattern I've tried (although it's a designer -- Vena Cava -- it's still labeled 'easy').  I liked that it was a little artsy but wearable.  (The artsy part is not the fan blades emerging from my head.  A lack of willing and able photographers has reduced me to mirror self-portraits.  I think I need to get a tripod.)

The pattern I had only went up to a size 14.  I thought I had read that Vogues ran a little smaller than the other big pattern companies, so after cutting the 14 out (I didn't trace it since it was the largest size and all the other sizes were still preserved on the original pattern), I pinned the front to the back along the seam line, and "tried it on," so to speak. I just did not feel comfortable that it was going to reach around me all the way without being too tight.  So I added an inch to each side, front and back. I also added two inches to the length, just to be on the safe side.
You can see where I added along the side (top) and where I cut the pattern apart to add the length
I had also read the neckline was too wide and low, so I redrew the neckline in another centimeter or so on either side, and drew it a centimeter higher.  After making it, I think the low factor is more of a problem for women with a bigger bust.  Not sure that was a necessary fix for me;) I also left out the side zipper because it is easy to just pull on over the head.

The fabric I used was a blue paisley-ish polyester peachskin from Joann.  I used a microtex needle and had no problems with any of it except for the hem.  This is the second time I've tried to hem a peachskin dress (I never got the first dress right and it ended up in the giveaway pile).  I could not get this dress hemmed right either.  After ripping out the hem I did by hand -- which was lumpy and bumpy -- I finally just turned it under and sewed a narrow hem by machine.

As far as the sewing directions, there are a few unusual details that I had to think through, mostly the horizontal pleat that runs across the front and the back.  If you change the depth of the neckline that changes it a little bit.  Most of the seams are French seams, which I liked, but that makes it a little more difficult to fit as you go.
A close-up of the sleeve detail --the horizontal pleat is at the bottom of the neckline
I may make it again in the spring, with a silkier fabric that has a little more drape.  The peachskin worked fine but has more structure when sewn up than you might think.

And here's my forgot-to-turn-off-the-flash first photo:
Blogging is no simple activity.  In addition to working on my computer skills, I now need to work on my photography skills.  Maybe it will sharpen my brain:)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

New Look 6751 -- Tunic

(I neglected to get prior approval from my model, and she has requested I take the photo down. -- Let that be a lesson, Mom.  I will replace it when I get a better one.) [Ed. -- I FINALLY got some better pictures:)]

 This tunic is a dress pattern from New Look 6751,  just cut shorter.  This pattern is now out of print, but you can still find it on etsy or ebay.  I used a green jersey knit fabric chosen by my daughter.  While the fabric feels wonderful, this is the most difficult knit I have worked with so far.  It was extremely difficult to get that neckband on correctly.

The first time I tried it was impossible.  I like to keep the original patterns intact, especially since sometimes my daughter and I can use the same pattern just different sizes.  So I trace my pattern pieces onto a thin paper.  Tracing it also gives me a cleaner piece that I can alter and make notes on.  But you do need to be careful.  When I laid the traced neckband on top of the original pattern I realized I had been sloppy and it was off by around half an inch.  So.... I retraced the pattern piece, recut a neckband piece and tried again.  (This was AFTER I had sewn and unpicked the neckband, and unpicking the seams in knit fabrics is a PAIN).  LESSON:  Check your traced pieces against the originals BEFORE you cut your fabric out.

Two more issues here:  this pattern was not rated "easy" and it is a pattern suitable for wovens and some knits, but the directions are more suited for the wovens.  Also, because the bodice was not gathered into the neckband, it needed to fit exactly.  Easier said than done.  I never did get it exactly, but close enough. This was my first time using a solid knit, and I did find out that it is much harder to disguise mistakes on a solid than on a print.  Prints cover a multitude of sins, shall we say.

The neckband was really the only super difficult part, and I think it was exacerbated because for some reason I thought I had to use a straight stitch.  For the rest of the top I used a narrow zigzag (my normal setting for knits) and had no problems.  If I make it again, I will definitely use the zigzag on the neckband as well.

Also, if I make it again I will be sure to add a couple of inches to the sleeves.  My daughter is a little disappointed how short they came out.  I should know to do that automatically.  The first shirt I ever made -- in Home Ec class when I was a freshman in high school -- was a button-front woven shirt and the sleeves were way short on me.  Seldom does a RTW shirt have sleeves long enough for me, and my daughter's arms are even longer than mine.

However, keeping in mind MY goal (not necessarily my daughter's goal) for clothes-sewing success -- wearability, I deem this tunic wearable this winter -- sleeves can be pushed up;)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Shoes for Fun and Work

Last week I found these three pairs of shoes at the thrift store.  They were all cute as a button, in my size, and in great condition, so I snapped them up.  I didn't have to feel a bit guilty since all three pairs together cost me less than $13.  I wasn't particularly looking for shoes, I was looking for jackets (no luck), but when shopping at thrift stores you always have to keep an open mind -- and open eyes -- because you never know what you are going to find.

I love all three pairs but I have to say that I don't necessarily have anything to wear with them (although I have already worn the brown suede pair with the tiny bows).  I am far from a fashionista, and other than church I have a very minimal social life.  But I can afford to be less than practical at the thrift store, and take a little more style risk.

If I want to be totally practical, these are the kind of shoes I really need for my day-to-day life:

In my real life I mostly wear jeans and tops and I am mostly busy doing work around the house, grocery shopping, and running kids hither and yon.  I also spend a lot of time cleaning up messes.  When you live in a house with this many people and two horribly-shedding dogs, it's a job.  This past month has been particularly busy.  My mom had emergency heart surgery, so I flew east to stay with her a little over a week, and since I've been back it's been hard to catch up with everything. (I do have to give my kids credit:  they kept everything going while I was gone and actually did a great job:).

Also this time of year is fraught with birthdays at our house and holidays that have to be prepared for.  My kids requested we have Thanksgiving here this year (last year we went to a friend's house), so I will be doing all the cooking (you people with all the relatives nearby don't know how good you've got it during the holidays).  And I am just not great with the holidays because no matter how old I get, I am always slightly surprised they are already here.  While many of you are happily working on Christmas gifts, I'm still not finished with my summer projects.  Sigh....

 I have to remind myself not to compare, because the reality is I have to make sure there is something to eat and something clean to wear and somewhere semi-clean to be for seven people every day.  And try to keep everyone on an emotional even keel.  It is unrealistic of me (and others) to think that that is not going to take a lot of time.  And that is okay.

Anyway, despite being a perpetually-behind kind of person, and despite being envious of you people who are always prepared :), I have mostly kept up with exercise, I have still done some sewing, and still am plodding along.  I have a little more leisure this week, so I will try to catch up on blog posts and blog reading.  I look forward to seeing what you all have been up to.

I was going to say that my mom is now doing pretty well, but I just got a call that she is back in the hospital.  Prayers are appreciated.  Thanks.

***Update***  11/20/2012 -- My mom is now out of the hospital.  All her heart tests came back good and they think her pain was caused by abnormally tightened muscles in her back, probably due to her surgery and recovery period.  Thank you so much for your prayers. -- Angela