Saturday, April 30, 2016

Operation New Dress Revisited

I've decided to revisit "Operation New Dress" and am hoping to have much more timely success this time around than I did the last time!

I've got one month from today before N's next pop up restaurant and I WILL have a new dress to wear for the occasion come hell or high water.

I just have to decide what the new dress will be.  I've narrowed down my choices and I have fabric at the ready.  I've also made sure I have appropriate cardigans already in my wardrobe as well as shoes.  (well, one choice of shoes is actually not in my wardrobe yet.  I just ordered them, but once they ship, Lotta From Stockholm has super fast shipping so I'm not really worried.) I'm good to go.

So here's my pattern and fabric choices for Operation New Dress (revisited).

The first up is Tiramisu from Cake Patterns.  I've had this pattern for a few years now and am likely to be the last person in the sewing world to jump on the Tiramisu train.  I bought it, I printed out the PDF, and put it in an envelope down in the sewing room and there it's sat.  One of these days, even if it doesn't make the cut for "Operation New Dress" this month, I'll assemble that baby and get to work on it.  The fabric is a nice cotton knit that I found in a bin at Fabricland in the city last fall.  It was a great price and those daisies with their navy blue heart shaped centres make me  smile.  I figure this one will pair great with either my white Miette cardi or even possibly my red Sunshower cardi.

Another choice on the list is another Emery dress version.  Still no gathers.  No way. Not happening. I  am planning pleats again, but this time using box pleats across the entire skirt instead of just the few small pleats I did on my last version (operation new dress, the original version).  I really love the gathered yoke mod I did last time, but am thinking going more with a traditional boat neck might be fun with this fabric.  I'll likely decide using the very scientific  method of "Eeeny Meeny Miney Moe".  Speaking of this fabric, I absolutely ADORE it!  It was an Ebay purchase from Thailand that I was a bit unsure of how it would go, but turned out great!  When it arrived, within record time (I think about two weeks? Maybe slightly more!) I was quite surprised.  Not only with the speed in which it arrived, but also the quality.  I was really happy with how it seemed right out of it's packaging, but thought things might go south when I pre-washed it.  Instead it turned out even lovelier than it's original state.  It's soft and got just the right amount of drape to it.  I can't wait to sew it up!  Again the Miette or Sunshower cardis will fit the bill!

My third choice, (by the way these aren't in any particular order at all), is from Sew Over It.  The Doris Dress has been offered as a class in the past from Sew Over It but just recently they released it as a stand alone pattern and I have to admit I'm pretty excited about it!  I've got it all printed out and assembled and just waiting to be muslined so I can check for any fit issues I might have.  The fabric is a fun rayon print that I got at Fabricland in the city a week or two ago.  It's so different from my usual type of print I gravitate towards that I was a bit unsure of it at first, but I'm going to be brave, branch out and give it a whirl.  This dress, once made, will be paired with the new low braid Lottas and my Vianne cardi.

So there you go!  One month to make one dress to wear to N's Southern BBQ pop up restaurant. 

Before I head off for the day -  the sun is shining, the thermometer is climbing and there is no way I'm staying indoors today - I want to just finish off with my pledge for Me Made May since tomorrow is May 1st!  Here's what I pledged on So Zoe's sign up post.

I, Sarah Jane of Prairie Girl Knits, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '16. I endeavour to wear at least one handmade item each day for the duration of May 2016' (not including my bras and handbags as that would be cheating since I only ever use handmade for them. LOL) I also endeavour to discover what "holes" are in in my wardrobe so that I can begin to fill them up.

I'll be back over the next few weeks with some updates as to how my challenge is going as well as hopefully some finished projects to tell you about!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Selfish Sewing Week - The Reality

Selfish Sewing Week is now over of course and as promised I'm back with my reality check post of how my week went.

For a brief bit of time I thought this was going to be an incredibly short post stating, "It didn't happen." However, at the end of the week I was able to get a bit more sewing time in and finish up at least one project in the nick of time.

I'm a bit disappointed that I wasn't able to get all three done that I'd planned, but you know what? I'm not going to beat myself up about it.  I was still having quite a bit of discomfort from my back and hip and was trying to get caught up on all the things I couldn't get done the week that I couldn't do anything at all.   Also, the one item I did get done, was a complete winner.  I absolutely ADORE it! So that is an extra big bonus in my books!

Onto my finished item.  It was, of course, project number one, the Susie Blouse.  It was my first ever time sewing a Sew Over It pattern and I was really impressed.  I did muslin it first and I'm really glad I did as I definitely needed to tweak the pattern to fit properly. I actually did two muslins, which of course also cut into my planned schedule, but I'd much rather take the time to do the leg work at the beginning and finish with a garment I love rather than forge ahead and have a dud sitting in my closet unworn.  Now that I have the size down pat I can definitely see making more Susie Blouses in the future!

I ended up sizing up from my original muslin to accommodate my broad shoulders then doing a sloped shoulder adjustment, and tapering down a size for the waist and hips.  I think in retrospect I could have lengthened the blouse a touch as well for my personal preference, but it'll do alright as is for both tucked in and untucked.  I also could have shaved off a smidge more in the hips, but again.  It'll do.  The only other adjustment I made was to adjust the sleeve cap slightly.  My sloped shoulder adjustment brought the previously drooping armscye up pretty much the perfect amount, but then the sleeve cap was a bit uncomfortable so a quick shave off to make a gentler curve and it was perfect.

The fabric was a great bargain and I've enough left over that I'll likely either make a Tortola Tank or a Sorbetto with the remainder.  It's a polyester with a silky feel and great drape, but was lovely to sew with, not slippery at all. It's showing up on the photos as shiny, but it's actually a matte.  It rained all weekend though so we had to use the flash when taking the photos and maybe that's what accounts for the shine?  I've no idea.

I did finish all the seam allowances with my serger though as I discovered much to my horror how much it wants to fray when I trimmed the seam allowance a wee bit too close on the collar and ended up with it fraying apart at the seam.  EEEK.  Thank goodness for extra fabric!  I cut and new collar and was far more cautious after that.  Also, as you can see in the photos, static cling.  OH MY WORD!!!!  Unbelievable amounts of static in this fabric.  Must find a remedy for that!!

I did manage to also start sewing my Wedgwood skirt but didn't get it finished.  I'm now in limbo on it's construction waiting for my Ebay lace zipper order to arrive.   I'll finish it up quickly enough once the zips arrive (providing I get a dark blue in my "random assortment pack") since I've decided I don't really want to use the red one I have in my stash currently.

As for the Shelley?  It didn't even get cut out, but that's ok.  Its pretty much a no brainer, quick one or two day project at this point.   So that was my Selfish Sewing Week in a nutshell.   Not as successful as hoped, but certainly not a complete bust.

Next on the agenda will be participating in Me Made May!  I just realized that's coming up in a hurry so headed over to So Zoe to throw my hat (or pledge as the case may be) in the ring today.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Selfish Sewing Week - The Plan

Today kicks off the start of the Imagine Gnats Selfish Sewing Week!  Now, I know what you're thinking.  You're probably saying to yourself, "But Sarah, you always get excited about this sewing week or that sewing week and then you never get anything sewn!"  Or maybe that's just ME saying it to myself, because I can pretty much guarantee that happens 99.9% of the time around here.

But this time will be different.  This time I have a plan!

See?  An honest to goodness plan.  I even wrote it all out for myself on the handy little printable planner from Rachel at Imagine Gnats.

The only caveat I have to all this planning business is that I don't yet know if I can really sit at the sewing machine.  I've been down for the count since last Monday with horrendous low back/hip pain.  Bad enough that I couldn't actually dress myself and had to rely on the kindness of my five and six year old each morning.  (and all the result of merely bending to tie a garbage bag of all the unheroic and unathletic reasons. BAH)  It is slowly getting better but it's been a long haul this time, possibly the worst I've had in the last ten years.  I got dressed all by myself today including my socks though, which I feel is a huge improvement!! I also didn't want to cry getting in and out of the truck to drive the boys to and from school and I can get in and out of a chair without needing a hoist.

So here we go. As you can see from my plan I've got a busy week scheduled for myself.  First up is a Susie Blouse from Sew Over It.  I love it's sweet simplistic design and could see it working in all sorts of different fabrics.  The fabric I've set aside for it is a feminine little scattered floral on a navy background. I know it's showing black in the photo, but I swear it really is navy.

For Susie

Next up on my schedule is a chambray Straight Stitch Designs Wedgwood Skirt.  I was drawn to both the big pleats and the cute side pockets detail on the pattern.  And although I've been a staunch disapprover of the exposed zip, I've suddenly switched sides and am now smitten with the idea.  Initially I'd ordered a red lace zip for this skirt and I thought red button accents on the pockets, but then I got to thinking that I'd rather have a navy zip and navy buttons, because I'm currently on the hunt for the perfect navy and white polka dot fabric to do another Wedgwood in and I think the red zip and buttons would go so well with that instead of the chambray.  Only problem is I am awaiting a shipment of zips that I bought off of Ebay and they are taking their sweet bloody time in arriving, so I'm not sure I'll be able to actually finish my skirt this week.  Ah, the trials and tribulations.

For Wedgwood
Last on the list is a new Pin Up Girls Shelley bra.  It's my go to pattern and I've got the fit perfected now, so it's a no brainer.  My ivory lace, power net and duoplex as well as findings just arrived from Bra Makers Supply last week ready to be cut out.

For Shelley
Wow. I've got to say that it's all kinds of weird to be talking about my under garments publicly like this.  Sooooo... Anywhooo... moving right along.  Nothing to see here...

Of course throwing a bit of a wrench into my plans was the arrival in today's post of this gorgeous sateen cotton from an eBay purchase a few weeks ago.  I wasn't expecting it until the end of the month and yet here it is already! I'm beyond impressed with both the quality of the fabric and the speed in which it arrived all the way from Bangkok.  (Well damn.  I can't manage to ever even think the word Bangkok without having One Night in Bangkok start playing on continuous loop in my brain. So know that as I'm typing the remainder of this post I'm actually singing along with Murray Head.  Which is ridiculous because I didn't particularly like the song back in '84 when it was released and I don't like it any better now.  It just gets stuck there. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.)


The fabric in question is this:

For Emery???

It's so lovely I wish I'd bought an extra yard of it to make a Sew Over It Betty, but since I didn't (WHY OH WHY????) I think it may become another Emery.  And I may switch up my schedule a bit to include it this week.

What is it with the navy blue kick I'm on this spring?!?  I just realized I've mentioned navy in relation to an astounding four different projects in this post alone.

Anyways, back to the plan.  We shall see how much I can get done on it.  So far in little bits today I've cut out my pattern and a muslin for my Susie.  I've done some basic pattern adjustments, but need to tweak it a bit further I think yet.  I was hoping to sew a few seams this evening, but I think I'll have to pass on it tonight.  Hopefully tomorrow will work out better in terms of actual sewing.

I'll be back sometime in the next week to tell you how Selfish Sewing Week actually goes and if I manage to sew anything at all!  For now though I'm going to say goodnight.  I've taken all my meds for my back now and the pharmacist wasn't kidding when he warned me about the drowsiness from the muscle relaxant.  I'm starting to feel a bit cross-eyed at the moment.  Hasn't put the least bit of a damper on One Night in Bangkok mind you...

Monday, April 04, 2016

"Operation New Dress"

Emery Dress with Vianne Cardigan

A few months ago I took a notion into my head that I wanted a new dress to wear to N's pop up restaurant I was going to on February 8th.  I wisely took my brand new Anouk cardigan that I'd just finished knitting for Untangling Knots Selfish Sweater KAL along with me to the fabric store on February 1st and selected a nice weight charcoal grey/purple fabric.  It matched beautifully under the shop lighting and I can sew a dress in a week easily.  No problem!

Spoiler: There were problems.

Gathered shoulder yoke pattern hack
I had dress woes from the start on this one!  First off I chose to do Colette's Peony.  I had won it in a sew along last year and thought why not?  I blithely ignored all the comments and complaints about how hard it is to get Peony to fit.  Perhaps in arrogance?  Maybe in delusion?  I figured, how hard can it be?  I did decide to make it easier on myself and do the gathered yoke hack they have on the Colette website.  I loved the look and thought two less darts to worry about.  Sweet.  And it could've been, but then I made my muslin and OH DEAR BOB!  What the heck?!?!

Not sure what body type Peony is drafted for but it is definitely not mine.  It was laughable.  Gaping at the neckline.  Bust darts no where near the right spot.  Too short in the bodice.  But the worst offender by far was the back.  Oh the back.  I should have taken pictures.  It was the most ridiculous thing imaginable.  I had a huge poofy balloon of fabric going the entire width of my back from the middle of my back on up.  I could have used it as a papoose to carry a small child in.

The Peony disaster was on Friday.  My dinner out was Monday.  I didn't have time to start messing about.  So I consulted the inter webs and chose Christine Haynes' Emery dress instead.  Everyone loves Emery.  There's nary a complaint I've read about it.  Awesome!  Just what I need.  A tried and true pattern.

Emery printed off, assembled and cut out.  Please be good to me!
I decided to do the straight muslin first and then once that fit do the gathered yoke hack from Colette. My first muslin did not go too badly.  A few minor fit issues.  Take in the shoulder darts, take in 5/8" on either side of centre back and things were looking fine.  So I did a new front with the hack.  Things were still looking fine although I was getting a bit suspicious about those armholes.  They seemed pretty low and gape-y.  I decided to sew in the sleeve and assess from there.  WOE IS ME.  I could not move my arms.  The sleeves themselves were fine, but that armscye?  Disaster.  So back to the drawing board.  I raised the armscye by about 3/4" thinking that would help, but then could for the life of me get my little brain to figure out how to adjust the sleeve pattern that obviously would no longer fit.  Out of frustration and not just a bit of laziness I decided that sleeveless probably looked a little better anyways, so moved on.

Sailing right along and feeling good about things I cut out my good fabric and set to work.  I pleated the skirt so as not to have poofiness of gathers at my midsection.  Then  I painstakingly did my first ever in over 30 years of sewing invisible zip and it looked good!  I was so pleased with myself!  All that was left to do was hem and facings.  Easy peasy.  By this point it was Monday afternoon and I had an hour and a half left before I needed to leave for the dinner.  I tried on the dress so I would be able to see how much I needed to hem it up.

First problem.  Threw my Anouk cardi on to get the "full picture" even though the neckline and hem were still showing unfinished.  It looked ridiculous. Remember that aforementioned matching business?  It so did not match.  But all was not lost.  Grabbed my Vianne.  Looking much better cardigan wise!  Awesomesauce!!!  Problem one solved.

Second problem.  Oh what the hell?  I lengthened the bodice by about 3/4" because on my muslin it felt a bit short.  This is not an uncommon problem for me, so I didn't even hesitate to blithely add that length in.  What I forgot to take into account is that the weight of the skirt would pull that bodice down a bit.  Damn.  Definitely starting to look school marmish and matronly instead of cute.  But it would be ok.  At least for that night.  My cardi would hide the too long bodice.  So phew!  No problem two for the time being!

Third problem.  Something is still off on the armscye.  Really off.  And what the heck!  My neckline gapes.  Still Vianne could hide a myriad of fit sins.  Third problem could wait until after the supper.

Fourth problem. I turned around to look at the back view.  My painstakingly done invisible zip had a bit of a weird buldge right at the base of it that I swear I didn't see when I ironed it all nicely.  Worst than that though?  I did my blasted pleats on the back the opposite of the pleats on the front.  And as it turns out pleats that face towards the side seams are a whole lot more flattering than ones that face towards the centre on me.  I had what appeared to be a giant ol' bubble butt.

At that point "Operation New Dress" became Operation Damn it All to Hell, I'll Just Wear Jeans. There are days that I honestly feel I should just toss out the sewing machine, fabric, all the patterns and give up.

A welcome distraction of deliciousness.  
So, I wore jeans and my favourite red Itch to Stitch Irena Top and I sulked about my lack of a new dress.  I didn't sulk for too long because the food was too yummy to worry about what I was wearing.

After a few days in the time out corner, I hauled the dress out again and set to work taking it apart.  I did a new muslin of the bodice in a size smaller (graded out at the waist) and tried it on for fit.  It was so much better, but there was still some funky armscye excess fabric happening since I wasn't using sleeves.  I pinched in a dart in the front armscye, then transferred that to my pattern, rotated the dart, reshaped the armscye and redid the bodice muslin.  Things were pretty close at that point to a fit I liked.

Next, I was still fixated on the gathered yoke hack, so with a good fitting bodice I did yet another muslin to test out the yoke.  At this point in the proceedings I figured I might have a new dress by the time I was 90.

Gathered Shoulder Yoke
Not so invisible, invisible zip -
 I think it's pulling a bit due to how I'm standing
Which finally brings us to today. Almost two months later. No, I'm not 90, but I do feel I've aged considerably through "Operation New Dress" hell.  But, at least I  have a dress to show for all that work. And I even learned some new tricks - making continuous bias tape from a square of fabric and using my Clover bias tape thingy as well as re-learned some tricks - moving and repositioning darts. However, I don't even like it anymore.  It's drab. It's dreary.  It's boring as all hell.  BAH.  I want flowers! I want birds!  I want quirky and fun!  C'est la vie. Least it's done and perhaps someday I won't dislike it quite as much as I do right at this very moment.

A new to me technique for making bias tape for my neckline and armholes.
Also the first time I've ever used my Clover bias tape gadget even though I've had it for about five years...
This is a game changer for me.  It was so easy!
Now, even though Mother Nature doesn't seem to be wanting too,  I'm setting my sights on spring. A Wedgwood Skirt, another Emery, a Susie and I've got some nautical fabric en route from an eBay purchase...  How about you?  Any exciting plans for spring crafting?