listening to the fabric

First off, wow, thanks for all of the compliments on the jeans! Provided the metal doesn’t disastrously rip out in the wash (which I’m going to be so nervous about until I actually wash them), I suspect they’ll be a staple this fall.

McCalls 6559Speaking of staples, this finished project probably won’t be all that exciting to look at, but I think it does fill a little gap in my wardrobe. I took a break from DragonCon sewing to knock out this little black tank dress, so I could get it done in time for The Monthly Stitch‘s monochromatic theme month that’s currently going on. I also wanted to make sure I got this done before the end of the summer, so I’d have it for traveling–Doug and I booked a trip to Paris! I’ve never been to Europe, so you can imagine my excitement. I’ve also been told that he’s ok with me buying a little souvenir fabric, so I will happily take suggestions for places to shop there! (Especially places that are reasonably priced and have interesting prints. Despite what this dress may make you think, I’m definitely more interested in buying those!)

The pattern is McCall’s 6559, and it was a quite easy sew. Two pieces, and the edges are just turned under and stitched. I’d probably do a binding on the armholes and neckline next time so it would lay a little flatter. I’d originally thought to make this a more fitted maxi-dress. Obviously, that didn’t happen, because the fabric said no. It ended up being too narrow at the bottom for the full width of the skirt. So rather than slim the skirt and end up annoyed walking in it–I definitely have a long stride–I figured I’d just go for the shorter length. So I still have maybe a yard left over, but it shouldn’t be terribly hard to figure out something to do with a lovely black organic cotton interlock, right?

IMG_1495(He just can’t stand to stay out of the photos for long!) I did take it in at the armholes a little, and would normally have taken in the waist more, too. But I think I made the right choice in leaving that as is. The interlock doesn’t drape as smoothly as it would probably need to for a more fitted dress. So I figured that leaving it looser would give me some styling flexibility, plus probably be a little more comfortable when August around here is doing its usual 90+ degrees with 2000% humidity thing. This was how I wore it for its first outing, to see a local exhibit of costumes from Downton Abbey. (Yes, I took detail shots, and will happily share them in a future post if people are interested.)


But I also did some playing around on Instagram after I finished it–the right is unbelted (and you can see a little how loose it is), and I tried it with a wider belt and then a skinnier belt and blousing it out a la the Sewaholic Saltspring dress. I do think it kind of needs some kind of belt to work on me, to be honest.


But I do like the versatility of it. This was from last night– after I got home later than expected, Doug suggested we hit the Waffle House instead of me cooking dinner. Isn’t he great? So I threw on a recently-acquired chambray shirt, threw the belt back over that, and was ready to go. I’m glad I did, because I get cold in air conditioning fast. 

So, even though it wasn’t quite what I originally had in mind, I’m satisfied with how this turned out for such an easy thing to make, and I’m sure I’ll have fun this fall with layering it up to make it more functional for that season, too.

get the skinnies

Despite last weekend’s difficulties, I’m proud to say that the jeans are DONE!
IMG_1453So here are my new skinny jeans. I paired it with my Hummingbird shirt, because it was the most Oona-esque print I had clean that wasn’t a dress and wouldn’t kill me from heat. (It’s supposed to get up to 90, so between that and the fact that town workers are currently outside digging up our yard, because all those recent power outages apparently broke a line in just our yard, it’s an indoor photo day!) That’s right– I didn’t think I’d get to do it because I have SO much to do before DragonCon, but Oona herself said on twitter that shiny skinny jeans totally count for Oonapalooza!

Which makes sense. I stayed away from skinny jeans for a long time, because I’m definitely more of a curvy girl. And shiny metallic on my backside is definitely a little out of my comfort zone–at least when not in the context of a TARDIS skirt. But that isn’t quite so figure-hugging, you know?

IMG_1455Case in point. But I’m pretty proud of those pockets, darnit!! Even though they will be covered up most of the time, because I tend to pair the skinny jeans with the longer, flowy tops. I’m only wearing them with a shirt this short for the sake of pictures.

So, obviously, I can get the jeans on now. I ended up just removing the stitching from the lower waistband, then making lots of clips in the twill tape from both sides of the stitching so that it’s now in lots of little pieces instead of one big piece, and therefore the waistband has some stretch again. I asked about it in the Craftsy class, and the instructor clarified that the twill tape is only supposed to be in the back. So that’s where I went wrong, because I did it for the entire waistband.

It really is a good class overall, and I’d like to go through it again the next time I make jeans. I didn’t do any of the distressing this time, just because the nature of the fabric was screaming dressy denim at me. Also, as much as the metallic threads in particular fray, I figured that would extend this pair’s life if I just let it distress itself naturally. But hammering and sandpapering look like a lot of fun, so there will be distressed jeans in my future somewhere. Oh yes.
shiny jeans innards
I had to show off the insides, because the fabric is fun! I had this scrap of cotton left over from covering a photo album, and thought the metallic gold suns and stars would be a good pairing with the metallic silver insides. I had to cut the waistband in two pieces to make it work, but I just squeezed it out. The inside is a little wonky just under the fly, so I do need to work out how to finish that more cleanly for the next pair.

Aside from that, here’s what I’d change the next time:
IMG_1459 -Checking the zipper more carefully before sewing the waistband on. I thought I had it lined up, but obviously, I didn’t, because this happened.

-Make the waistband wider. I mostly used my self-drafted pattern from the last pair, and just made the legs skinnier, but I took the curved waistband from a J. Stern jeans pattern. I like the fit, but the width looks a little narrow for the average belt. Not that I do wear belts with my jeans often, because I rarely tuck shirts in, but it would be nice to know I could if I wanted to!

-Work on my rivet skills. I got impatient and bought rivets and buttons from Joann’s, even though I have some on order, because they have those now and the others haven’t arrived in the mail yet. I broke two button screws trying to hammer this in, because I kept doing it crookedly. I’m not 100% sure I got these rivets and the button right here either, and am fervently hoping that they don’t fall out the first time I wash this. My dad basically ended up doing this part for me the last time I made jeans, so I need to learn to wield that hammer properly myself!
Shiny jeans!One last picture. Overall, though there are some minor issues here and there, I’m quite happy with how these turned out. It’s nice to have the look of skinny jeans without the feeling of my thighs being poured into sausage casings! Taking my already-drafted pattern and using it for stretch denim worked beautifully, too. I initially cut this with extra-wide seam allowances to allow for any fitting tweaks, but when I basted it together, it was fine as is. I do have one piece of stretch denim to make a future pair out of, and will probably go back to my beloved bootcuts for that. But that won’t happen for awhile, since I have several other things I need to finish first!

I’m also laughing at myself, because after all that, I’m not sure if I use these for my DragonCon Amy Pond outfit after all! In most of the pictures I’ve seen, they focus on Amy’s shirt. But I was looking yesterday to see what shoes she’s wearing, so I could figure out if I possibly have anything that would work, and I saw this picture and realized her jeans are cropped, and the jeans I was wearing for work at the time were actually a much better length! But these are much less faded, so I have to think about what would be the greater crime against cosplay. Hmm.

Also, despite having used this for two projects now, I still have fabric left! It’s a full yard, plus rather large remnants on either end from pieces I had to cut single-layer. So any ideas of what I can do with more stretchy silvery denim?

A cautionary tale

See my jeans.

See how close I was to finishing? Topstitching, belt loops, cool fabric for the lining, buttonhole, the works.

I say “was”, because as it turns out, following the Craftsy class instructions to stabilize the top edge of that waistband with twill tape means I can barely pull these previously well-fitting jeans over my backside. And the front won’t quite overlap as well as it was supposed to. Which means that I now have to undo my entire afternoon’s work. Which was actually an afternoon off from my retail job, so it’s way more work than I would have gotten done otherwise. I’m so upset!

 I checked, and I do have enough of the denim to cut a new waistband and lining. So I guess that’s better than unpicking every single stitch of this. Though I am quite sad that I’m going to lose that waistband lining–that and the pockets was all I had left over from using this fun print to cover a scrapbook awhile back. 

I’m not sure if that means it’s always going to be gapping in the back, since now I’ll have to use two pieces of stretch fabric vs. one piece of stretch plus one slightly bias non-stretch. I’m afraid to try the twill tape again. But I still feel like I’m going to have to stabilize the back somehow so it’s not always riding down on me.

So how would you keep a curved waistband from gapping out in this sort of situation? Have you ever had a completely demoralizing sewing disaster close to the end of a project?

I guess the moral of the story is that girls with curvy butts should take fitting advice from teachers who state they have a flat butt with a very large shaker of salt. If you need me, I guess I have a hot date with my seam ripper.

a simple tee

Does this fabric look familiar? It should, since I just used it for my Tiramisu maxi-dress. For once in my life, I got on the stashbusting right away! (I made this in June, but didn’t get a chance to post until now.) After I realized that I had a decent yard left over after I cut the dress out, I grabbed this untried top pattern and cut it out, since it was only two pieces. I figured that if it didn’t work out, I still had the Tira, but I think it worked out pretty nicely!

This is the Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono tee, which is a free download! I really do love that so many of the indie companies are generous enough to offer some simple patterns for free. I grew up sewing mostly the Big 4, which you can easily get for $1 on sale at Joann’s, so the frugal part of my brain really likes getting to try a company out before spending the average $10-25 dollars that the indie patterns usually cost. (I’m not complaining about the price, because I think they’re well worth it! I’m just saying that I have a tendency towards being cheap. It’s a necessary survival skill when you went into the arts.)

Kirsten Kimono TeeThe top went together quite quickly and easily, since there were only two pieces and a neck binding. The only issue I had with it was that I didn’t read the directions before I started, so I didn’t realize that seam allowances weren’t included! So I just did as narrow a seam as my serger would allow, and then did a narrow hem on the sleeves and shirt bottom as well. It still fits, and actually is quite loose around my waist compared to, say, my Renfrew tops. You can’t see it so well in these pictures, since I had to resort to using indoor flash photography in order to get any pictures at all. But the busy print and the drapiness of the knit camouflages it pretty nicely, and keeps it from looking too baggy. Good thing, since it is still quite fitted at my hips. So mental note to self, a thicker knit with less drape probably wouldn’t work out so well for me.

Whenever I make this again, I think I’d add some length to the bottom, and especially the sleeves, to make them a little less cap once they’re hemmed. But overall, this was a great instant-gratification project!

I’m going to end this post with something I haven’t done in awhile, at least for my sewing–an in-progress shot.
IMG_1451 As I’ve mentioned before, I’m doing the jeans sew-along that Sew Busy Lizzie is hosting. And my progress has been a little slower than I would have liked– I didn’t get much in last week because I had my annual teaching-flute-at-middle-school-day-camp job, and on the night that I’d actually reserved to do some sewing, the power in the entire town went off for the whole evening and didn’t come back on until it was too late to start anything! I was home all day on Saturday, so I did make quite a bit of progress then–pretty much everything you see on the front, plus the inseam. But then the power went off again before I could do the topstitching there, so that’s where it’s stayed. I do have a little extra time off from my retail job this week, so I’m hoping I can finish this up rather quickly now that the hard part (the fly zipper, obviously) is over. At least the sewing part, since I realized I didn’t have enough silver rivets on hand and had to place an order.

This is the same denim that I used for my TARDIS skirt back in the fall, and would you believe I still have a yardish of this left? I’m running out of ideas for what to do with shiny metallic stretch denim!

sewing swap!

We can all agree that giving and getting goodies in the mail is fun, right? So I decided to participate in this year’s Spring Sewing Swap, hosted at Kestrel Makes. I got paired with Emily, who was a blogger I hadn’t “met” before. But she makes lovely vintage-inspired things and enjoys going to historic events, so I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read of her posts so far!

I got my package in the mail on Monday, and this is what was inside:

 Two pieces of colorful printed cotton (at least, I’m pretty sure it’s cotton– I haven’t done a burn test, or even measured them yet!), along with two vintage patterns. Isn’t that maxi-dress fun? And the pullover blouse looks like it will be a good, easy-to-customize basic.

Beads! And earring hooks to go with. This is a fun color combination, so I think more jewelry-making will have to happen, once I get a little more caught up on my DragonCon sewing.

There was also this partially-finished dress in a nice jade color, along with the pattern. Several of the pieces are still pinned to the pattern tissue! So I’ll have to try this one on and see what needs to be done.

All in all, some very lovely things! Thanks, Emily, and I hope you enjoy what I sent you in return! (I feel bad that yours was packaged so nicely and I had to resort to stuffing them in a post office envelope!)

June in review

All things considered, it wasn’t a bad month, sewing-wise. I did two of the four challenges for The Monthly Stitch‘s Indie Pattern Month, busted a couple of pieces of stash, and made some progress towards what I need to get done for DragonCon.

1. Projects completed: 3. There was the Tiramisu maxi-dress, my Tiramisu-Moneta mashup for my Belle costume, and since I had a yardish left of the maxi-dress fabric, I tried out the Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono tee. I haven’t had a chance to take pictures of it yet, but will try to do so soon. I also hemmed a skirt for the same friend whom I did some prom dress alterations for a few months back–she gave me the skirt at the same time, but I’d been slacking.

I ended up with approximately half a yard left of the blue from the Belle dress, plus some large, oddly shaped scraps. So my stashbusting total for the month is 6 yards used up (2.5 from the Belle dress, and 3.5 from the maxi-dress and Kirsten tee.)

I also added some stash, though– my mom was cleaning out a bin at her house and found all of these fabrics she’d been given that wouldn’t work for quilts, but would work for clothes. So I took four pieces off of her hands, which adds up to about 11 1/2 yards in. Yikes! That light greyish lavender solid piece is going to need some work–there’s some rusty-looking stains on it, and that’s not a color I’d wear, but I figure it could be a good candidate for a dyeing experiment. And they all need to be washed a second time, because after one trip through the washer and dryer, they still have a weird musty smell. But I’m kind of in love with the colors on that plaid. And already plotting possible shirt ideas for how to use the gingham without the results looking too country, and found some cute ideas on ModCloth, which are now on Pinterest.

Side note–I’m not surprised, but slightly annoyed, that it’s so much easier to find stashbusting ideas for fabric I wasn’t planning on having than, say, the pieces of brocade that have been sitting in my stash for years!

On the knitting front, I’m making slow progress on my Roheline cardigan. I haven’t gotten past the point where I’m increasing every few rows yet, but I tried a sleeve on the other day, and they’re almost up to my elbows. I am planning on making the sleeves about an inch longer than the pattern calls for, to accommodate my monkey arms, and I still need to do the shoulders and yoke once I get to the point where I can attach the sleeves to the body, but that gives me hope that I might actually finish this one before it gets cold! Which is good, because I already have my next cardigan picked out and have the yarn for it. I’m also working on a couple of smaller projects on the side. One of which is for a gift. So I’ll talk about those later.

One non-clothes thing I made, which might be a little cheesy: an anniversary gift for Doug! Since the traditional gift is paper, and I didn’t have a ton of time to make anything, I decided to go with an idea I’d seen on Pinterest awhile back for those nights we want to hang out but aren’t sure what to do. I kept the basic principle of different colors for different kinds of dates (at home vs. cheaper nights out vs. dates that take more planning and/or money), but decorated the sticks with scrapbook paper that I already had in addition to the paint. And since I didn’t get all of the sticks written on before our anniversary, we did some brainstorming to add some things that fit us a little more than the ideas that were on the original website–there’s at least two sticks in there that have something to do with hockey! He liked it, and we did finally have a chance to pull an idea from it for what to do last Friday night (board game night!) So I think this will be a fun thing to have around.

I sat down recently to review my capsule wardrobe list, and all things considered, I’ve been doing pretty well with it so far! Though I forgot to factor in the DragonCon stuff at the time. So for the upcoming month, here’s my goal list:

From the capsule wardrobe: the black maxi-dress, which will be super-fast since it’s basically a long knit tank top, and the Reglisse dress, hopefully in time for the Sundress Sewalong that Heather is hosting. Also, the skinny jeans, which I have somewhat started already, at least as far as pattern retracing and altering goes. I’m hoping to get those cut out today and start sewing by the end of the week. They’ll double as part of the DragonCon sewing (yay for Doctor Who companions who wear normal everyday clothes!), and the timing is perfect for Lizzy’s Jeans in June/July sewalong!

Aside from the jeans, I’m also hoping to knock out the rest of my Belle costume– I need to make a white top to go underneath the dress, which I’m pretty sure I have something in the stash I can use for that, and a hair bow.  The Monthly Stitch’s theme this month is monochromatic (all black and white), so between that and the black dress, I should be good to go! If I have time, I can probably also finish my Amy Pond outfit, since all I’ll need to do aside from the jeans is to slightly refashion a plaid top that I found at Goodwill awhile back. But if not, I can easily knock that out in August. I have one other costume to do aside from those, plus buy a wig. (And now that I decided to go with my old Eowyn costume instead of finish the Tauriel costume, I found out yesterday that Simplicity just released a pattern for one of the other Tauriel costumes! Go figure.) I’m trying to get better about being realistic about what I can accomplish in my sewing time, so let’s see how I do, shall we?