Deconstructed

I’ve been having difficulty finding comfortable things to wear around the house that don’t make me look like Bummy McBumerson. In my head, I wear really lovely robes with marabou slippers. In reality, I’m in t-shirts and leggings or jeans. So I challenged myself to make something that I can wear at home that’s an upgrade but still comfy enough that it doesn’t feel too precious to wear. I also wanted something that I can throw a jacket (soon to be a coat) over and go out. Once I knew what I was going to do, I also knew I wanted it to look deconstructed and have have minimal waste. Et voila, I came up with this dress (it looks much better on me than on my dressform, especially since I my torso doesn’t just end suddenly).

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I made it with some t-shirts I bought for $.99 each at a thrift shop last year. I think they were leftovers from the summer program at the Manhattan School of Music. Anyway, I originally intended to make them into an A Chanin dress. But since they’ve just been sitting in a bag and I’m still on a no-buy until I work through most of my stash, I used them for my experiment.

For the base pattern, I used the much beloved (and spectacularly simple) M6886, but tweaked it a bit because I wanted a flared maxi-length skirt and bell-ish sleeves. I drew the new pattern free hand onto the t-shirts and just patched it together as I went along.

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My seam allowance was about 1/2″, but I trimmed all the seams down to 1/4″ once I was finished. I thought about serging them, but I like how they look raw.

And I FINALLY used one of the decorative stitches on my machine. I really don’t know why I waited this long.

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I love that it’s going to get softer the more I wash it. And I look forward to making more comfy “home” clothes with old t-shirts.

This dashiki skirt I made over the summer. It’s too old to warrant it’s own post, but I think I mentioned it at some point so here it is.

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I used a different method to install the zipper. Instead of just putting the pockets inseam, I used this really clear tutorial to add the zipper to the pockets.

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I’m not sure what I’m going to work on next. Right now, I’m just glad to be working with my hands again.

xoxo,

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Grey Dress from V8787

So much for my moratorium on starting new projects

I wanted a new dress to wear this past Wednesday so I made Vogue 8787 in a maxi length. The neckline is lovely and since I made a version of it a couple of years ago, it came together pretty easily, and the fit was great, I thought “what could go wrong?” A LOT, as it turns out.

Let me tell you where things went left.

The last time I made it, I was about 30lbs heavier. Now most people would take that into consideration, but I didn’t. I cut the same size and it was a hot baggy mess. So my “easy ” dress turned into a nightmare of picking out stitches (no problem with wovens, but a PITA with knits) and resewing pretty much every seam except the sleeves. I ended up cutting a total of 8 inches off the hip area and 4 inches off the waist. All of these changes were because of my issue with phantom weight which I define as the size your mind still sees even though your body has clearly changed physically. I’ll go into this more in a later post because it’s really affecting how and what I sew.

Anyhow, it’s overcast here (again), but I did my best with the pics.

 

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My measuring was also completely off for the dress length AND the sleeve length. I had to add 4″ to the sleeves (you can see the seam in the picture below) and about 6″ to the bottom. There’s no explanation for this one; I swear I measured and re-measured the lengths. I’m chalking this up to being tired.

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My zipper was super ripple-y, but I steamed it to within an inch of its life so it flattened out.

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Finally, it’s fully lined with a thin black jersey from my stash.

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I sewed the last seams on my dress about 3 hours before the event. Even though I took quite a few shortcuts, for the most part everything worked out and it fit very nicely. I was thinking about going back to fix a few things, but more likely I’ll just make a new one with my new measurements. For now, I’ll just be glad that I finished it – and had a good time while wearing it!

xoxo,

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How A Sewing Break Helped Me To Get Excited Again

I started a new job (which I LOVE!!!) in May and I haven’t had much sewing time since then. To be honest, at that time my sewing mojo was suffering so I wasn’t worried about having to take a break. As a matter of fact, I think I needed one so I could regain my enthusiasm. During my “break” I read other blogs and wondered how people kept their excitement about sewing month after month and sometimes year after year. Then I noticed a pattern: at some point, everyone took time off. Some expressed a sense of burnout. And one of my favorite bloggers, Sigrid, announced she was taking a few weeks off so I knew I wasn’t not alone.

I have a lot of interests, so it’s normal that I move from one to the next fairly regularly, but I’d put unnecessary pressure on myself to keep sewing even when it was obvious that I needed to do something else for a while. That stubbornness only prolonged my “blah” period. I was surrounded by projects but had ABSOLUTELY NO DESIRE to even turn on my machine. Instead I did a lot of reading, spent as much time as I could outdoors, watched movies and discovered some new programs on Hulu. I even developed an appreciation for British crime dramas – some of which are painfully bad.

I think it worked. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been missing my machine terribly. When I see all the beautiful clothes on other sewing blogs, I make lists in my head. Even my “To-Sew” board on Pinterest is seeing a lot more action.

Anyway, I was walking home from Manhattan and I decided to stop by a fabric store. I saw a couple of  lightweight fabrics that would make great maxi dresses – the quick and easy kind. I needed to ease my way back into sewing so I didn’t want to take on anything too challenging.

This is the first dress. Actually it’s Dress 2.0. The first one was slightly too short.  This one has pockets, a belt and bra guards.

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Shirring on the shoulders

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More bodice action!

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Anyway, I’m glad I took my break because now I look forward to sewing and checking things off my list.

xoxo,

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Let’s Start With A Couple of Garments

I’m realizing how impractical my dream wardrobe is.  My goal is to make everything in my wardrobe, but I keep gravitating to full skirts and dresses that need crinolines when what I need is more drawstring skirts and simple tops. Oh well. One day I’ll close the gap between the woman in my head who wears pearls, heels and lipstick daily and the woman that needs to run out to the farmers market and ride the subway.

Anyhow, now that I started sewing again, I’m obsessed. When I’m not working on a project, I’m thinking about one. For the past few months, I’ve been working on improving my sewing skills and adding couture touches to my work because I believe the details separate a homemade garment from a handmade garment. I’ll be posting here about my adventures (and misadventures) with sewing  – and occasionally other crafts that interest me.

I don’t yet have a dressform so I’m working with hangers. While they were very cooperative, they don’t do justice to the clothes so I may have to get a tripod and take my own pictures. Sigh.

Here’s what I’ve been working on:

First up, my strapless dress from McCalls 8766.
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Hanger loop so I can hang up my dress. I also made a thread bar for the loop. Yes, that’s  hem tape.

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Hanger loop again. Here you can see better how it’s attached at the waist seam.

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Zipper on the lining side

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My modifications:
1. I used the shorter circle skirt
2. I changed it to a sweetheart neckline
3. I did the full bust adjustment
4. I added much more boning. The pattern only calls for boning at the side seams, but I knew that wasn’t going to work so I added boning at the back, the sides, diagonally from the center front to the side seam and in the center front to give the bodice much more structure and support.

The only thing I haven’t done is a belt. I have a 1″ buckle that I’m going to use.

Next up, a skirt inspired by Mimi G’s Regal Maxi. Mine has four belt loops and two side pockets, an invisible zipper in the back and a separate lining. I bought the fabric for $3/yard at a fabric shop in downtown Brooklyn.

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Right now, my table is overrun with fabric and notions.  I have about 6 projects to work on and I’m desperately trying to stay organized.

One thing I need to get better at is taking pictures while I’m sewing.  I never think to do it, but I do want to create some tutorials in the future, so I’ll try to take more pictures during the process.  Until next time.