Oh, Darling…

Please believe me, I never meant to leave you on my Fall Essentials Sewalong list for three years straight…

Darling Ranges FrontOk, so my rewritten Beatles lyrics don’t quite fit the music. But it’s a small blessing in disguise that the dress did have to wait, because it would otherwise fall into the oh-so-frustrating category of “things I should be able to wear while nursing, but can’t.” Like all but two of the button-down shirts I own. On the other hand, my larger-than-usual measurements did prove challenging at times. I probably should have made a muslin. But since I have to fight for every second of sewing time these days, it’s hard to stomach the thought of not having anything to show for it in the end.

When I originally planned to make the Darling Ranges dress, I was going to make it in a medium. I had to bump that up to a large, but thankfully, I still had enough fabric. Barely. The biggest challenge, and one that took me a couple of naptimes to sort out, was fitting the bust darts. They’re oddly wide on the pattern, which should have been a hint to me that this might need some work, given how much effort it took me to sort that out when attempting to come up with an FBA for the Cambie dress back in the wedding sewing days. Since I didn’t want to waste this gorgeous fabric, I had to resort to lengthening the dart and kind of curving it in on the ends, because the original was leaving me with some very unflattering, saggy points. In this picture, the top diagonal line is the original dart. The lower line is how far out I had to drag it to make it work.

Darling Ranges Back I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this dress, to be honest. On the one hand, I love love love this fabric. And there’s something rather delightfully 90s about it, which is probably the fact that it’s kind of babydoll and in a challis.

But at the same time, I feel like this pattern would need quite a bit of work to get it where I would want it to be. Aside from tweaking the bust darts, it feels like the waist needs to be lowered about an inch or so in order to hit my natural waist. As it is, it’s hitting this odd spot between that and an empire waistline. The ties would need to be longer to accommodate my current embiggened state. I wasn’t happy with the front placket construction, since the lack of interfacing made it so my normally compliant machine gave me hell on the buttonholes, despite using paper underneath to try and compensate. And I do have some odd gapping on just one side of the neckline that I couldn’t quite work out. The one tweak I did make was to the length of the sleeves, cutting them down to just above my elbow instead of the 3/4 that they originally were. With the busyness of the print, I think that was the right move, so thanks to everyone I polled on Instagram/Twitter who helped me make the decision.

So I guess the question is, do I care enough about this pattern to put the work into altering it? I’m not sure yet. I’ve seen one variation that Megan Nielsen made where the waist seam and gathers were eliminated to make it more like a button-down tunic, and that style looks like it would be lovely for a particular piece of fabric that’s been in my stash for quite some time. But I would definitely need to reconcile that dart situation first, and I wonder if I’d be better off waiting until I have some time to play with a few other button-down patterns in my stash.

Action shotAlso, here’s my shot for this month’s installment of the Better Pictures Project, just under the wire. This month’s focus was on action shots. None of my spinning ones turned out well–I just couldn’t seem to get the timing down between when I was moving and when Doug was actually pressing the shutter button. So I went with my daily weightlifting instead. And I know this particular shot would have been better if the flash hadn’t gone off and left me with that shadow. But hey, cute baby accessory.

Since it took me this long to get a day where the light cooperated and I didn’t have to try to juggle Hobbit and the tripod on my own, I actually managed to (mostly) finish my other two FESA projects! So more on those next time.

Rae, a drop of golden sun…

Yeah, I made two more of the Sewaholic Rae skirts, in two very different fabrics. Since I already briefly talked about the construction before, this is more to show how they ended up– and also my monthly post for Gillian’s #betterpicturesproject!

IMG_2736This month’s assignment was to find a new spot to take photos, ideally 5 minutes or less from your house. Admittedly, the thought of setting up a tripod somewhere while lugging around Hobbit’s car seat (and quite probably listening to him scream the whole time, since the car seat is one of his least favorite things EVER so far) was not very appealing to me. So my big brave move was out to the back yard! I’ve avoided it so far, because we’re in a central townhouse, and pretty much all we ever do with the yard is mow it and let the dogs out to do their business. That, and that tan strip behind the trees just happens to be one of the busiest highways in the state. But the lighting really is better out here than in my sewing room, and Doug was kind enough to take some pictures for me. Which is much easier than running back and forth between me and the tripod. I just may have to reserve my outfit photos for weekends for awhile, that’s all.
Recycled Rae 2I also experimented with setting the camera to portrait mode. I think it turned out well, and the bonus was that keeping it on a more automatic setting made it really simple for Doug! So I’ll save the more manual settings for when I’m the one behind the lens, I think. (Mastering that really is something I’d like to do sometime, but I think that will be better for trying to get artsy with the kid photos and landscapes while traveling.)

I guess I should say something about the actual sewing, right? This particular skirt is half a refashion. Several years ago, I made a dress for my brother’s wedding that was a complete and utter disaster from start to finish. Once the wedding was over, I promptly threw the dress into my refashion bin, along with an extra yard and a half or so of the same fabric that I purchased later, with the intention of turning it into something else. I was originally thinking maybe some kind of longer, fitted, belted vest. But that never came to fruition. I’ve finally redeemed it with this skirt, though. The fabric itself is a polyester shantung, and I was able to cut half of the skirt out of the original dress. I didn’t have the extra piece on my original stash list, since it was out of sight in the bin and I’d honestly forgotten it was there. But I have about 2/3 yard left, so I’m estimating I used half a yard for the other half of the skirt.

recycled RaePardon the slightly derpy face here– I’m including this one because it’s one of the best for showing the skirt detail. I had forgotten how absolutely awful this fabric frays, so I French seamed the whole thing. And since it’s polyester, of course it didn’t really press all that great, so I also ended up topstitching over all of the seams to give it more of a flat-fell look. Honestly, the effect makes me think of nylon parachutes. But since I’m coming to terms with the fact that my generally casual lifestyle doesn’t necessarily fit the shiny fabrics that I often adore, I think it’s for the best here, because it definitely helps the skirt look a lot less formal than I originally intended the dress to be.

I can also say that this skirt was for the Monthly Stitch’s August theme of twos, since this was my second Rae skirt that month. (I finished it on August 31!)

exploding TARDIS RaeThe third skirt sewed up a lot faster, since I made it out of quilt cotton and could just serge all the seam edges to finish it off! I kind of like this artsy black top that I bought for our Paris trip last fall with this particular print, and will definitely use this combo again when it gets its out-of-house debut. (I was waiting until I got pictures, mostly because I didn’t want to have to iron it again first.)

exploding TARDIS!A closer-up view of the print. Why, yes, that is a print designed around Van Gogh’s lesser-known “Exploding TARDIS”. And this little Whovian is rather psyched that the colors just happen to fall into the realm of the palette that I’m overall attempting to work with for my future wardrobe cultivation. (Especially because yellow/gold is one of the ones I’ve been meaning to add more of.)

dog photobombFinally, even though this is an attempt at better pictures, and I’m fully aware that the flash went off and left a weird shadow behind me, it seemed fitting to continue the tradition of golden retriever photobombing!