An hourglass in a pear-shaped world

 It took a little longer to fit the bodice of the Lonsdale than I’d anticipated, but I think I’ve got the kinks worked out now. I really wanted to take my time and do it right with this one, since the fact that I’m basically building a corset of sorts into it means that I need it to fit pretty closely. I also discovered that my phone is a pretty handy fitting tool in a pinch, thanks to the camera! (And much easier to take mirror shots with than my actual camera.)

So I did the FBA as directed in Tasia’s Lonsdale sewalong, and it worked much, much better than my original attempt. But I still had a few things that needed work. Exhibit A: The back was doing this weird diamond-shaped wrinkle thing. I didn’t take any pictures of the muslin once I’d fixed it, but here’s what I ended up having to do:

That off-white bit sticking out at the side is the original muslin. I did have to take some of the slantiness out of the side to the left, where it joins the bodice. I also had to add 3/8″ at the top, because once I did all of the other adjusting, they just didn’t match up anymore. For the center back, I suspected that I needed something along the lines of a swayback adjustment, but I just couldn’t find any instructions for how to do a swayback adjustment in a dress where it actually curved in well above the waistline seam. So, in typical fashion, I winged it and just curved the actual center back seam. It seemed to work pretty well, so I’m running with it and adjusted the pattern accordingly.

I ended up having to make some pretty major changes to the front, too. This picture was after redoing the front with a real FBA adjustment, and it fixed pretty much all of the unsafe-for-public-viewing issues. But there was still a bit too much bagginess in the front for a successful attempt at using the boning, as you can see. So after some fiddling with the front and side seams, I realized that the best solution would just be to add a couple more darts.

So that’s what I did. Pretty different from the originally dart-less bodice, but I think that this will work much better for me. Makes sense, anyway….after all, this pattern was designed for women who are generally less top-heavy than me. Ahem.

But wow…the difference between the original pattern and what I ended up with is pretty crazy!

There ended up being a difference of about an inch between the original pattern width and what I ended up with after the FBA, but the dart that I needed to add in front ate most of that up. I still needed to add about 3/8″ to either side of the waistband after pinning and fiddling with the pattern pieces to “walk” the length of the waistband. So then I added half of that to all of the side seams on the skirt, as best as I could estimate between 1/8″ and 1/4″ on my gridded ruler. I’m not too worried about fitting the skirt, since that’s going to be much easier to adjust as I go.

I made three more adjustments to the pattern– I shortened the ties so it will be an actual halter dress, I split the front bodice lining so that I had a facing of self-fabric for the top and ties (didn’t have enough fabric to do a full self-fabric facing), and I’ll be lining the skirt too. I did manage to get the dress entirely cut out last night. It’s a good thing this isn’t a one-way print, because it took some very creative pattern layout work to get this to fit! I did manage to squeeze it all on with only scraps left over, so one more piece entirely busted out of my stash, hurrah! Aside from figuring out the boning, I think it will be fairly quick to sew together. I actually went ahead and cut out the pattern with my pinking shears so the seams can just be pressed open and not otherwise finished. Since it will be fully lined anyway, it will still look nice, and that will save me some bulk at the seams. I’m rather excited to see how this comes together, and am hopeful again that I can get this all done in time for the Summer Spark Sew-Along!

Muslins, muslins everywhere…

….and not a project to show! Seriously, everything is in that completely not safe for work zone. Or safe for public consumption, period. But I actually have made some progress, so I figured you all wouldn’t mind if I at least talk about it a little, right?

First off, the Lonsdale dress. Long story short, I have to start over completely on the muslin stage. I thought I was being all smart–after double-checking my measurements, I figured that since it looks like I fit perfectly into a size 10 at the bust and a size 6 at the waist and hips, I could just cut it as a 10 at the top and grade down those two sizes and it would work. WRONG. It was so ridiculously gappy at the top (and surprisingly a little too small at my waist–that pretty much never happens). So then I tried taking it in at the top, and letting it out a little at the waist. The waist was fine, but now the top pretty much doesn’t cover enough of anything I want it to cover. Of course, it wasn’t until about halfway through this adjusting process that I remembered that Tasia has a post about making an FBA for this particular pattern. Oops. So I’ll be starting over with that in a proper fashion once I get some time to do so–probably not today, but maybe tomorrow. I’ve also gotten the boning, and I decided that I’ll make the rest of the support (hopefully) easier for myself….to be explained in a future post. So, over a third of the way through the month and I have zero visible progress for the Summer Spark Sewalong….can I finish this in time? Stay tuned….

So since I didn’t have the time to go through that process at the moment, I worked on the jeans muslin some more. And I think I’ve actually got that pretty close! I still need to test it with a waistband, and perhaps let out a teensy bit more in the thigh area, but I’ve just about got it to the point where it’s not too tight-looking in the back, there isn’t a whole lot of wrinkling in the front like the last attempt and I can pretty much sit down in it without feeling like my circulation is being cut off. (I probably should let that extra bit out, just to be safe, since I’m making this is a non-stretch denim.) So then the next complication is figuring out how to transfer the multitude of changes back to the pattern, seeing as how the only pattern tracing paper I can get around here is crap that won’t even mark on other paper. That, and seeing if I can still add pockets if I straighten out the side seams like Mr. King says to do. Because wow, if I drew this line right, the wedge that I have to take out of the front is HUGE.

(Incidentally, has anyone reading this ever purchased from Sil Thread? I found this, after reading the recommendations in the question section of the Jean-ius class, but there’s no descriptions on anything so I’m not entirely sure this is the right stuff. A shame, because this is waaaaaay cheaper than the other site he recommended. Plus I’m not sure if I could find enough useful stuff on the other site to make the $35 minimum order…)

I can show one thing, at least. This is how far I’ve gotten on the Strafford Tee. It doesn’t look like much other than a block of purple, but you see that little twisty bit towards the right? My self-figured “darts” are working out much more nicely on take 2. I’ve actually started increasing again, sooner than I’d done the math for, because this is about 6-7″ long now and according to the pattern I only need to do 10″ before I have to start actually following the instructions again. But I figured that I’ll just get it back to the right number of stitches and take it from there–I don’t mind if it’s a little longer than what it calls for.

In the jungle, the mighty jungle…

That’s what this dress makes me think of, anyway. After a couple of months of not getting much done, and just wanting a project I could sit down and sew while hanging out with my boyfriend (i.e. not the jeans muslin, with all of the fitting involved), I knocked this one out in about 3 days– I cut it out on Wednesday, assembled most of the bodice on Thursday, and sewed like a crazy woman until about 11:30 on Friday night to get this one done. I was originally thinking of wearing this for my Saturday day trip to Washington, D.C, which is why I rushed through the end just a bit (don’t look too closely at the lining hem, k?). But then I ended up not wearing it. Which is probably good, because I would have blended in too much with the bamboo and such that was scattered around the National Zoo (where we spent most of the day). So here’s the review…

Pattern: Butterick 5642

Pattern Description: Lined to edge A-line dress has fitted bodice, empire waistline and double fold bias tape finish.

Pattern Sizing: 8-14. I made the 10.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, it did!

Were the instructions easy to follow? I thought they were pretty simple. It probably helps that, for once in my life, I didn’t overly complicate things by deviating from the pattern and think I could construct it better.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I liked the style of it–the slimmer-cut skirt meant that I was able to (barely) squeeze a maxi-dress out of limited fabric. I had just under 3 yards of the batik, and all that was left was a few scraps large enough to cut some quilt blocks out of. (So I gave those to my mom, since she’ll have a better chance of actually being able to use those.) And though it has a deep v, the inset is a good length and kept it from being too low-cut for my comfort. I do personally wish that the skirt was just a teensy bit fuller around the hem, but I take big steps when I walk so this probably wouldn’t be an issue for most women. I do also wish it had pockets, and I probably could have added them if I’d wanted to take the time to do so, but I didn’t.

Fabric Used: A cotton batik that’s been in my stash for a long time–I think my mom passed it to me as a possibility for this quilt, since I’d been planning that for years before I actually made it, but it didn’t quite work with the colors I was planning my room around. I lined it with a cotton sateen.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
Rather than take the time to make a muslin–I wanted a quick project, remember?–I fit as I went. I cut the size 10 because the finished measurements indicated that there was a lot of ease in the bust, and I didn’t want this hanging off of me. I’m glad I did, because if I’d cut even one size larger, I would not have had enough fabric to do this! But I did make some tweaks:

  1. I sewed the bodice to the skirt in a 1/4″ seam instead of the called-for 5/8″ as a cheater FBA, which worked beautifully. I also didn’t gather that bit quite as much as it called for.
  2. Since I therefore needed a little more room in the front, I sewed the side seams in a 1/4″ seam, and let 1/4″ out of the inner pleats in the front.
  3. After that, I had a little too much fabric in the back, so I added a second dart, about 3/4″ away from the first one and towards the center.
  4. I also sewed the zipper in a 1/2″ seam, I probably should have curved it in just a bit at the top, because it does gap away a little, but it’s not terrible.

So that pretty much covers that. I still might go back sometime and add a slit to the back or a side for ease of movement, but aside from that, it’s very comfortable and I think I did pretty well with the fit! 

Also, check out the bottom of that zipper in the back seam. See a bump? Yeah, me either. So I think I can say I’ve finally gotten the invisible zipper down–check!

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? If I do sew it again, it won’t be for a long time. I did a quick check in my closet this morning, and seeing as how I have about a full week’s worth of dresses that I didn’t get to during MMM, plus a couple that were thrifted or otherwise purchased, I don’t really need more dresses at this time. Truth be told, I have very few pieces of fabric left in the stash that have the yardage to make a dress, anyway. But this fulfilled my long-standing goal to make myself a maxi-dress. So I think I’m going to allow myself 2 or 3 more dresses to stay in the queue (the Butterick pattern I want to revisit from MMM, my SSS project for this year, and perhaps one more), and otherwise focus on sewing up jeans and pants and knit tops and layering pieces, since that’s what I actually need. 

That being said, I would recommend this pattern. It was just the thing to make me feel better about sewing again!

And now, for the next thing…

Thank you Ali, Alessa and Sarah for rethinking this in such a way that I can actually participate without feeling too overwhelmed!  One project sounds totally doable. As I mentioned above, I am going to allow myself to make one more dress for this sew-along, and the winner is the Lonsdale dress. I’ve had the fabric paired with this pattern ever since it came out last year, and I think this one would be a great opportunity to try one of the techniques on my list that might otherwise not get tackled–I’d like to try adding some boning (and other support) to the bodice and turn it into a regular halter top dress. I saw a nice version of that here, so I know it’s doable. I cut out a muslin of the bodice this afternoon, just to check the fit there, and then we’ll see how this goes!

Wrapping up: thoughts on Me-Made-May (and the month in general)

So now that I’m at the end of another month of me-made, here’s some thoughts and stats….

First off, the day I apparently forgot to post, which was day 16:
MMM'12, Day 16
The “If I Had $1000000” dress, worn with a Modcloth belt and those Montego Bay sandals. Jewelry is the “Earth” set from the elements series. I was a bit ambivalent about the outfit, personally, due to the over-poofiness of the skirt. I’m strongly considering chopping out the organza that makes it do that in the lining, and just letting it hang a little longer. (It also feels a little too short for comfort to me.) However, this was one of the outfits that got the most love in the Flickr group, with 7 comments. (A lot for me.)

Now, some stats:
# of me-made/refashioned clothing items worn: 36
# of repeats: 0
# of pieces of handmade jewelry worn (counting necklace/earring sets that were designed to go together as one): 29
# of repeats: 5
# of non-jewelry handmade accessories: 1
Favorite outfits: Days 3, 4, 8, 13, 21, 23 and 30
Least favorite outifts: Days 2, 7, 9 and 31– the common thread in all of these was that I just didn’t feel like the store-bought pants looked good and/or flattering with the tops.
Separates combinations that I’ll be most likely to wear again: Days 3, 4, 8, 10, 11, 14 and 17
New articles of clothing made: 1 (the “Zeros and Ones” blouse from day 10)
Articles of clothing discarded: 1 (the Pendrell blouse from day 22, due to unfixable fitting issues).
 I’m still on the fence about the t-shirt from day 19, but I guess with the right pair of jeans, it won’t feel too short. So we’ll see.

Other thoughts:

  • Me-made May, June, July or August is not going to be a struggle for me, for a very long time. I’ve been switching out my wardrobe in pieces due to the up-and-down temperatures this spring, and when I was hauling out the summery-est of my warm weather clothes near the end of the month, I did a quick little count…I could probably go for at least 2 more weeks without repeats, depending on how I mix things. And that’s not counting things that are seasonally inappropriate, like all of those jackets I made earlier this year. (Now, if they ever do a Me-Made December or something, I’ll be in trouble for that.)
  • I am surprised at some of the clothes I ended up not getting to this month. It’s not that I didn’t want to wear them, and I can think of at least 3 pieces off the top of my head that I thought about wearing, but just didn’t get to for one reason or another. Mostly weather-related, I think. It’s certainly not that I still don’t like them.
  • A fashion blogger I am not. It’s like I’ve said everything interesting that I can about an outfit, once I’ve blogged the making of a piece. And I still feel a little silly taking all of those pictures of myself.
  • That being said, I did have fun putting the different outfits together! And I do think that my little unspoken challenge to myself to not repeat outfits (and to not repeat them from Self-Stitched September, if possible), helped me to put together some more daring, interesting combinations than I would have otherwise.
  • Though it’s still my least favorite part, having a boyfriend who really likes taking (multiple) pictures of me every time I hand him my camera definitely helped on the photography end of things.
  • The handmade accessories bit was surprisingly hard! I wouldn’t have thought so, given all of the jewelry I’ve made over the years. But there were some days that all I wanted to do was throw on a pair of dangly metal earrings and be done with it, especially if said dangly metal earrings would have gone with the outfit better IMO. There were also days where I’d wished I had accessory options other than jewelry. So I’m trying to expand my repertoire there a bit–I have one in-progress answer to this, and an idea for a second project that also isn’t jewelry, (I think handmade accessories might actually end up being easier in cooler weather, because then I always have the option of knitting a small project! When things are as warm as they’ve suddenly gotten around here, the last thing I want to do is throw on a knitted scarf or hat!)
  • I know I’ve said it before, but this month certainly reinforced that the biggest holes in my wardrobe are casual knit tops and pants. I have plenty of t-shirts, but not that many that I’ve made, so that part of my wardrobe certainly suffers in the me-made months.
  • Since this seems to be a list of contradictions, I did find that wearing dresses is more comfortable than I thought! At least, this time of year. But I still want more jeans/pants!

Other thoughts on the month in general– I’ve found myself very discouraged about my sewing lately, mostly due to the lack of time. Except for the one weekend where I was visiting friends out of town, every single weekend was taken up with long hours at work. So I barely got anything done, and I sadly have to admit that I really didn’t do so great on the Colette Palette Challenge. The top got done, and I have been working on the jeans (which are being more difficult than I’d hoped.) I guess I can’t really call the skirt a total fail, since it was more a case of discovering that I already had that spot in my wardrobe filled with the red dress from day 4, in a more versatile way than the skirt would have allowed. But I still didn’t make it.

As far as the other goals go, I did succeed at Me-Made-May, with only one flakeout day on the photos (and given that I was at work for 11 hours of that day, I think it’s allowed.) And I did finish clearing out my wardrobe, though the pile is still in my room and not at Goodwill. The knitting project did get worked on, though I ended up ripping out most of it in order to fix an issue with my decreasing–it was too much too fast, and looked awful.

For this month, I do want to keep working on fitting those jeans. It’s one of those projects I can do when I have a few moments here or there, but not when I’m around other people due to all of the trying on and adjusting. So I think my new goal there will be to get the jeans muslin fitted and the pattern altered by the end of the month. I’m going to keep knitting on my Strafford tee, of course. And despite my Colette challenge failure, I am strongly considering the Summer Spark Sew-Along. I mean, I only have to sew one thing. Surely I can manage that, right? I do have one particular project in mind, which will also nicely assist me in my Check The Technique list. But I’ll save that for the next post, along with some show and tell….stay tuned.

    MMM’12: The final days

    Day 27:
    Dress: the “Dahlia” dress
    Barely-visible jewelry: a very simple chain-and-white-shell-bead set
    Shoes: My other pair of silver shoes, leftover from my last couple of times being a bridesmaid. (I forgot to check the brand, but I do remember that the style name was “Hot Date”!)

    Wore this to church in the morning. I still need to sew a hook and eye onto the back of this thing…

    Day 28:
    Tank: The “Indian Summer” recon (premiere wearing, since it’s finally warm enough!)
    Shorts: Thrifted
    Necklace/earrings: me-made silver and turquoise
    Sandals that you can’t see: Birkenstock

    This was from my boyfriend’s backyard– we had a little cookout at his parents’ house after I got off work (yes, I still had to work on Memorial Day!), then we hung out at his place and watched a movie.

    Day 29:
    Dress: The “Sea Flowers” dress
    Camisole: Jockey
    Bracelet: Kohl’s
    Earrings: me-made, repeat from day 1
    Sandals: the Birkenstocks again

    Day 30 
    Top: The “Odyssey” tank (yeah, that’s right, my Me-Made month knitting debut!)
    Skirt: The “Sunflower” skirt
    Jewelry: Me-made, from my last bridesmaid gig (though you can really only see it on the bride in the pics)
    Sandals: Array

    I’m feeling a little silly here…. I guess I was giddy at actually getting to play with some fabric, even if cutting out is generally my least favorite part! (Hint: This is not the jeans. I’m still working on that test muslin, but I have a little side thing going now too. You’ll see…later.)

    And finally…

    Day 31
    Top: “Time for Tea(L)”
    Capris: a hand-me-down from a friend
    Sandals: Softspots

     Well, my photographer for the day decided that I needed a closeup view of the jewelry. And my freshly henna’d hair, I suppose. (I think he just wanted an excuse to take pictures of me….he does rather enjoy that.)

    This was a bit new for me, actually…the embroidery is metallic gold, so I’ve always gone more tan and gold with this before. So this was partially me experimenting with cooler colors (since you can barely see the gold tone anyway), and partially me being too lazy to change out of the capris that I wore to the retail job today.

    So, that’s it….I made it through the whole month, wore something me-made every day, and only slacked off on the photos once!