Friday, April 19, 2013

McCalls 6654 -- Skirt Remake

Winter version -- don't be frightened by my red eyes;)
This is a skirt I made back in March.  Let me preface this by saying that I do not like sewing skirts.  I prefer to wear dresses because they are stand alone, so to speak.  Skirts mean you must also have a suitable top, and those are not very plentiful in my closet.  In addition, most of the dresses I've made hang from the shoulder, allowing me to bypass my waist.  Sewing a skirt, however, requires me to fit my waist and my hips, and on me there is not a whole lot of difference.  Hence my dilemma with skirt patterns:  do I choose the pattern based on my waist and then make the hips smaller, or do I choose it based on my hips and then make the waist wider? least two years ago my mother gave me a thrifted maxi skirt made out of tencel fabric.  I love maxi skirts and dresses, but this one was slightly too big and it was rather full.  I never wore it--even once-- because I just didn't have anything to wear with it.  I do love the feel of the fabric, though, and it's not a fabric easily found in my local fabric stores.  Rather than donating all that fabric to the thrift store, I decided to try to transform it into a short, straight skirt.  Straight skirts generally look better on me than A-lines.

I have tried the book Sew What! Skirts book several times, but unlike my friend Elizabeth at MrsThomasinaTittlemouse, I have had no luck.  The skirts have turned out too big (no matter who I was making them for) and unflattering.  I'm either having a problem with the math or the measuring (or both).

So I opted to use a conventional pattern, McCalls 6654, view B.  It is an easy pattern with several skirt variations, designed especially for knits.  The hardest part was deciding what size to use, what with my aforementioned size issues, plus the fact that each knit stretches differently.  After cutting off the waistband and cutting the skirt apart at the side seams, I wrapped the fabric around me to where it looked right, and then measured the fabric against the sizes on the pattern to see which to choose. This seemed to work, although with a different knit the size might need to be changed.

While I was at it, I thought I really need more room in the front and less in the back, so I ended up cutting a size 14 in the front and a size 12 in the back.  The front and back are both cut on the fold.  I raised the cutting line on the front fold by 1/2 inch because I read that can help to disguise a fuller tummy.  I don't know if all that really made much difference, but the skirt did at least fit.
It was impossible for me to get a good photo of the seams
I left a seam in the back center because it was in the original skirt.  The waistband was cut between a 12 and 14.  I used a 1/2 inch seam allowance instead of a 5/8 inch when attaching the waistband to the skirt because I was afraid the one-inch elastic wouldn't fit in the casing otherwise.  Once I decided on all the calculations, the actual sewing took only part of an afternoon.

This is closer to the actual color
It is just a simple plain little skirt, but I like that it transcends seasons.  I can wear it in the winter with boots, as here, but I will also be able to wear it this summer with flats.  At least now it gets worn.  And other than choosing the proper size, McCalls 6654 is a very easy pattern -- good to have in your sewing arsenal.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Spring Has Sprung

Sage in my side yard

"For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;" -- Song of Solomon 2:11-12 (KJV)

Despite having a fairly mild winter, our spring this year has been rather cool (for Texas).  Today I have my windows open and it's very pleasant, but another cold snap is predicted for later this week. So it seems that spring is lingering a bit longer than usual.

These photos were taken a week or so ago, all in my yard.  I really enjoy peeking in at your worlds through your blogs, but if that is all I do, then it can make me feel dissatisfied with my life and inadequate. It's very easy for me to overlook the beauty around me as I do the daily rounds of cooking, laundry, picking up messes, etc.  Part of the reason I started my own blog (and maybe why some of you did as well) was to remind myself that there is beauty and wonder and fun and even finished projects in my world, too:)
I know the dandelion is supposed to be a weed, but it is a marvelous combination of engineering, beauty and whimsy.

Irises do very well here (in North Texas).  These white ones -- I think of them as 'ghost irises' -- have naturalized in the tiny finger of woods in my backyard.  I also have some tall purple ones, which are just now coming into bloom.  I can't take credit for any of them; they are gifts left behind by former homeowners.
This is a blossom on one of my trees, the live oak if I recall correctly.  We have oak trees aplenty here -- live oaks, post oaks, and other miscellaneous ones.

Some more sage.  Sage is one of the few plants that has done well for me with almost no effort -- a plus in my book.
We have two lovely crepe myrtle trees in our front yard.  Their leaves are just beginning to come in, but the bark is beautiful year round.
And here are my two sheep, Mocha and Latte, enjoying some fresh grass in the backyard.  Originally purchased to eat our sand spurs and awful stickers, they have basically become ornamental pets.  Not the most practical of decisions, in case you are similarly tempted:)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Butterick 5706 -- Lace Dress

I made this dress at the very beginning of March -- just in time to wear it to my friend Janette's daughter's wedding.  I also wore it as my Easter dress.  The black and silver lace is from Joann Fabrics.  It was the end of the bolt and I paid around $13 for all of it (I still have a sizeable piece left to use for something else later).  I have been wanting to try making a lace dress.  I have a few patterns that use lace, but I chose Butterick 5706 view D, partly because it was labeled "easy" and  also I didn't want to have to cut the lace up into lots of pieces.  There were only three pattern pieces to cut out:  the front, the back, and the sleeves (plus the lining).
Close up of the sleeve and fabric
The lining fabric is a muted silver satiny solid from Hancock Fabrics.  I'm not sure of its name, but it does not fray at all, which is nice.  I cut a size 14, but I added 1 inch to the side seams starting under the arms and I added 1/2 inch to the length.  I also added 1/2 inch to the sleeve length and did a full bicep adjustment on the sleeves. In retrospect I wish I hadn't done any of this except for the bicep adjustment because the dress turned out a little big, and that made it look frumpy.  It needed to fit closer to look right and I ended up taking most of what I added to the seams back out.  I also wish I had made the dress shorter, but because the lace is cut on the edge there's no way to shorten it.  I will just take comfort that I've heard hemlines are getting longer again;)

The pattern was labeled "easy" and there were no problems with the directions.  However, sewing with this lace was like sewing blind -- I could not see what I was doing or even where I had already stitched, and marking the fabric was almost impossible.  (I used a universal needle and a narrow zigzag to sew the lace parts).  Also, this was the first time that I have put in a conventional zipper.  Probably not the wisest move to put your first zipper in on a lined, lace dress, and it certainly is not perfect. But I'm very happy to report it works, and now I will not have to be afraid of zippers.

Erratic zipper application
This dress is very comfortable to wear, and I already have plans to use the pattern again. I will say that it turned out more "afternoon" and less "evening" than I had anticipated.  That's really okay because my life has lots more afternoon events than it does evening ones anyway.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Easter 2013

White irises in my backyard

It's hard to believe that Easter has come and gone.  We had a good day.  We colored eggs on Saturday, went to church on Sunday, we had friends over for lunch, and the rest of the day relaxed.  Although there were Easter baskets, there was no hiding of eggs, and it struck me that there will probably be no more hiding of eggs around here until some future time when little grandchildren will be present.  It's a little poignant to think that era of life is over for me....

However, this Easter was made extra special because earlier in the week my youngest son had met with the elders of our church and professed his faith in Jesus and his desire to become a communing member of our church.  So Sunday he joined, and this past week all my children stood with me and we all took communion together for the first time.

As a mother this was a very happy moment for me.  I, like probably every Christian parent, asked that the Lord not give me any children that would not love Him and be His.  Is this the end of having to worry about and pray for my children?  No, of course not.

I have a lot of children teenagers/young adults, and there are many, many things I worry about for them and about them.  Often that is the first thing I think about when I wake up and the last thing I think about when I go to sleep.  There are many dark things that my children have already had to walk through, and many more to go I know.  There have been hurtful things done and foolish choices made.
Hard things have had to be dealt with, and will have to be dealt with, as long as we live here in this fallen world.

I have absolutely no confidence in my abilities as a parent, either.  However, my confidence rests in the word of God, which says this:

"Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:"  Philippians 1:6

And also this:

 "...for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day." 2 Timothy 1:12

For now, I rejoice in the resurrection.  Light has overcome darkness; Life has swallowed up death and sin, and will continue to swallow them up until they exist no more.  Alleluia.