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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Back – again! This Time With Beads!

It’s been a long time. I shouldn’t have left you.

So, let’s catch up shall we? Since my last post, I’ve only done very little sewing (one skirt to be exact) and I’m still working on my French jacket, but mostly I’ve been just taking it easy, enjoying my summer and dabbling in jewelry.

As you know, I get obsessed with something and then go all in. Here’s my newest obsession: waistbeads (the sun was playing peekaboo, but I did the best I could with the pics.)

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I made some from rose quartz and amethyst a few years ago, but the clasp came off so they were buried in my jewelry box. Recently I became interested in repairing them. Then I started wanting more. Then I went on Etsy and bought new beads to mix with the beads I already had and I’ve been making new sets ever since.

You can find waistbeads made from plastic or glass beads fairly easily, but I knew I wanted mine to have gemstones because of their healing properties (I’m about that “good energy” life). I also wanted certain colors.

So after I restrung my first set (and while I was waiting for my Etsy order), I made these from glass seed beads and some amber-colored beads I bought at Michaels:

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These are turquoise chip and green glass beads. I might redo this one. IDK, I feel like it’s too green:

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I made these from citrine beads I got from Etsy, with glass beads, and seed beads I had on hand:

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These are jade, tiger’s eye, garnet and brass:

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I have a hank of those yellowish glass beads so I’m going to experiment with multistrands next.

I also got a lot of work done on my black Alabama Chanin skirt. It’s still not finished, but at least I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

As for the only skirt I sewed over the summer, I have to take pictures of that tomorrow when the sun returns.

That’s all for now, but since summer’s over, I plan on visiting with you more often. So, do tell, what have you been up to?

xoxo,

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Adjusting Sleeve Lift on My French Jacket

So in my last post I talked about finally finishing my French jacket (or my Faux-nel jacket as I call it). I really tried not to nitpick, but, well, I just can’t let some things go. I keep pinning and marking it up because every time I fix one thing, I see something else. It’s been a struggle to get it to fit the way I want. The main problem areas are the shoulders and sleeves.

First, the shoulder seam is too long. It was about an inch past where it should’ve ended. So that had to be adjusted. That was the easy part.

The sleeves have been giving me the blues since the beginning. I have NO idea why the Big 4 pattern companies make armscyes large enough to hold a toddler, but that’s also my problem with V8804, the Claire Shaeffer pattern I’m using. Not only is the entire underarm baggy, I couldn’t lift my arm at the shoulder without the entire jacket moving. I could only raise my forearms comfortably and it made me feel like a T-Rex.

Enter Threads Magazine. (If you don’t have a subscription, you need one. Seriously.) They always have a bunch of sewing articles that I read and say “Interesting, but when is that ever going to come in handy?” Well finally that day came. I recently read an article about sleeve lift (basically the amount of mobility your sleeve allows when you lift your arm), but I couldn’t remember which issue it was in. Luckily the Google machine works 24/7 so I tracked it down.

My friend-in-my-head Kenneth King wrote a pretty detailed article about how to adjust a pattern or muslin to make the sleeve fit better. It’s counterintuitive, but to make the sleeve fit better, it needs to have LESS room, not more.

For whatever reason I can’t embed his video, but here’s the link explaining the theory behind making the armscye smaller.

He offers three solutions: 1. Add ease throughout (lower the armhole and extend the biceps line of the sleeve); 2. Reduce the sleeve cap height; or 3. Raise the armhole.

I chose number 3 because it seems like the best solution for the silhouette of this jacket. And according to KK, it results in a “Chanel-like sleeve with a high underarm and a relatively slim sleeve with maximum lift” which is exactly what I wanted.

So that’s the alteration I’m doing now. There’s a side panel instead of a side seam so I taped the pieces together so I could just draw one curve.

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I added about 2-1/2 inches to the side panel (number 8) and tapered the line off to the other two pattern pieces. The red ink is to fix a line that wasn’t curvy enough.

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Here are the finished pieces with seam allowance added to the side front and side back.

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The other adjustment I’m working on is lengthening the sleeves because I’m just not a fan of bracelet length. Even when I was trying on the muslin, I just couldn’t get past how odd they look. So I added 5 inches so that the finished sleeve will end at my knuckles. And I’m going to flare them out a so they look like the ones from Tracey’s jacket below (the picture is from A Challenging Sew’s blog. Read the entire post here. Actually, go read the whole blog; she’s pretty amazing.)

I’ll be making yet another muslin tomorrow to fine tune the sleeves. Hopefully it’ll be my last and I can start cutting it out soon.

xoxo,

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Return of the French Jacket

Like most seamstresses, I have a stash of fabric I’ve been amassing for years. Everything from knits to silk to $1/yard cotton prints. Yet I can never find something I like when I want to sew.

The situation became more acute since I decided to stop buying fabric until I use what I have. (Okay, I did buy some fabric a couple months ago but it was on impulse. I got some orange ponte for $3/yard. Don’t judge me. What was I supposed to do? It was ponte. At $3/yard. Don’t look at me like that; you’d have done the same thing.) So now I feel stuck between using fabric that doesn’t inspire me or breaking my “no buy” promise.

My solution is to dig deep and pretend I have no options; that I have to sew my way to freedom. I haven’t been sewing much because, as I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been deep in my coding obsession (I’ll be writing about that in a separate blog so you won’t have to read about it here.)

To get back on track, I’m revisiting old projects that I’d put aside because a) this is, after all, a blog about making stuff; and b) it’s spring and I don’t have any spring clothes.

My first project is my super-overdue French jacket (Vogue 8804). The one I’ve been talking about since 2014. Yes, 2014!!!! I was waiting until I reached my goal weight, but you know what? I’m close enough AND I can buy more fabric for another one later. I found my old muslin and I’ve been tweaking it a bit, especially the sleeves, which are giving me agita.

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I know the sleeve isn’t set in properly, but I’m over it at this point.

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See those markings at the bottom? I got that idea from A Challenging Sew. Apparently adding length to the center back visually elongates the torso. Go read the entire post because her finished jacket is so beautiful, it’ll make your eyes well up.

Most of the adjustments I had to make are ones I usually do anyway, but some of them were just baffling. For example, when I made up the muslin, I had a HUGE bubble in the middle of my back.  I know I always need to make a swayback adjustment, but this one was extreme. In the pic below, the black thread is the original seam and the red one is the new seam. At the widest distance, the two threads are about 1″ apart.

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I’m going to do a couple more fittings then I’ll be ready to take the muslin apart and start cutting the fabric.

And for anyone who still remembers the bra underwire saga, I finally got my underwires in the mail (yay!).

That’s my less ambitious (and hopefully more realistic) plan for this week.

So, are there any projects you’ve been working on (or planning to work on) for 2+ years? Share your pain the in comments; I’m here for you.

xoxo,

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Loungewear, Dita and Me

So I got Dita Von Teese’ book, Your Beauty Mark in January. It was much more for inspiration than a manual I can use in my day-to-day life, but I loved that she’s just so put together all the time. I mean, who does that these days? As I mentioned in earlier posts, I decided to dress up more when I go out, but I didn’t really think about changing my home wardrobe which is equally important.

Now I don’t get paid to look good or maybe I’d be more ambitious about making the changes, but I decided that I would at least take baby steps in the right direction. I’m usually wearing capris or yoga pants and t-shirts or when I’m home. And while none of it is ratty looking (thanks to Marie Kondo, I tossed out all that stuff last year), it’s still not – I don’t know – dignified. Although it’s much more dignified than my tiger striped catsuit (complete with tail) that I used to wear. Don’t ask.

Coletterie’s recent Seamwork issue is about loungewear too so I know I’m not the only one thinking along these lines. Maybe it’s a move away from that dreadful “ath-leisure” trend that the fashion magazines have been pushing for the past few years. I don’t know. I just know I feel better when I’m in clothes I love and I want to feel that way whether I’m home or out.

After going through my closet, I decided I definitely need to make some comfortable clothes that were not athletic/exercise related. But before we look at the practical choices, let’s look at the stunning –  but impractical – Simplicity 8013. This pattern made me SWOON.

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It’s a complete fabric hog (5-5/8″ or 7-5/8 yards, depending on the fabric width), but it looks like it would be so worth the effort. I can picture myself in a challis or chiffon version twirling around my newly cleaned apartment while arranging flowers or something. This is not a post-cleaning outfit. And it’s definitely NOT a cooking outfit; nothing good can come from standing near fire with this much fabric.

Now for the staples. I decided maxi dresses are the way to go.  I’m going to make a couple of knit maxi dresses like McCalls 6559 (just the plain tank version) and see how they work for me:

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No comment on the styling or fabric choices; I have no idea why the Big 4 make their pattern pictures so unappealing.

I also like the snug t-shirt/maxi skirt combo so I’ll be working on a few skirts too. Finally, I have a capri pant pattern that I’ve been wanting to try for a while. Fitting pants is my achilles heel so I rarely make them, but I really like Simplicity 1373:

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Again, a bad picture, but the pants have a back zipper and I think they’d look fabulous in stretch denim or something similar.

Anyway, the idea is to keep it simple and make some pieces that (a) I can sew quickly; and (b) make me feel slightly more dressed up than usual. After all, you should put it least as much effort to look good for yourself as you would for other people right?

xoxo

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