Thursday, December 4, 2014

Pattern Review Sewing Bee!!

Hey guys!  I know, it's a long time no see, right?  Well, to be 100% honest, I haven't been sewing much.  I have had a really rough year.  I always have a problem with over sharing details of my life, so I am not sure what I can and cannot say about it.  Of course, I am making sounds a thousand times worse than it really is.  Suffice it to say that 2014 and 2013 have been incredibly draining years for me emotionally.  I felt like I had lost myself.  So, in October, while I was sewing my daughter's Halloween costume, I found out about Pattern Review's Sewing Bee.  I thought it might get me out of my funk so I joined the challenge, hoping I would make it to Round 2.  Well, I did!  Then I made it to Round 3!  Unfortunately I didn't make it past Round 3 and was eliminated.  I was disappointed, but the contest was so much fun and helped me move past my emotional funk that I was stuck in.  I also discovered my passion in life, which was totally unexpected!  I realized that I was passionate about CREATING THINGS.  I told my husband about my epiphany and he rolled his eyes and said, "obviously". LOL!  Sometimes it's hard to see what's in front of you sometimes.

Anyways, I am sure you guys are waiting for the pictures of everything I did.  So, full disclosure, I am not going to go into 100% of what I did, because it is all in my reviews on Pattern Review, it seems superfluous to go into that kind of detail again.  So, I will link to my reviews.

Challenge 1: A-Line Skirt
A seemingly simple task.  But, wait, I don't have a lot of bottom weight fabrics and I don't really wear A-Line skirts, opting for fuller skirts.  So, I went to my new favorite fabric store in the Bay Area.  If you are ever in the area, stop by-it's amazing!  While I was at the fabric store, I found.....wait for it.....Hedgehog linen fabric (insert explosion sounds as my mind blows).  It was an amazing linen blend that doesn't wrinkle and presses like a dream.  So, if hedgehog linen doesn't get you excited then something is wrong with you then maybe you will be interested in the TOADSTOOL BUTTONS I found!  What?  I know, they're amazing.  Anyways, I used Gertie's Pencil Skirt pattern in the Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing and I made it into an A-Line Skirt.  I used Sunni's tutorial on adding pockets to your skirt.  The lining sucked...seriously.  It was put in great, but the fabric really sucked.  The pattern was wonderful (could you expect anything different from Gertie?) and the linen was amazing.  Now I just need a shirt to go with it. 

Aren't I overly enthusiastic? lol

Pattern Review

Challenge 2: Refashioning a Men's Button-up Shirt

So, this one was rough for me.  I don't refashion that much.  So, this one really had me thinking about everything.  I would do a lot of this differently if I were to do it again, but I still like it...I think.  I don't know, I go back and forth on this dress to be honest.  It's a little...much for me (says the person who made a hedgehog skirt with toadstool buttons...), but I think I can get used to it.  I've worn it out and have gotten compliments soooooo.....

Okay, the cool thing about this dress is all of the detail I added! 
So, I kept the original pockets on the skirt (as you can tell by my boobage picture).  I took the pocket flaps off of one of the shirts and put them in the seams of my skirt, which I thought I was the bee's knees when I thought of that.  I kept the sleeve plackets intact (and functional), but I put it at the hem of my skirt, again I thought I was the coolest kid in the room when I thought of that!  Then what REALLY made me excited was when I decided to make a mock lapped zipper using the snap placket from the front of the shirt.  I call it mock lapped zipper because underneath that placket is an invisible's all I had!  There is a whole step by step process on my pattern review of it.

Also, those are new shoes...and I'm obsessed with them and convinced that they go with EVERYTHING!
Pattern Review

Challenge 3: Winter Street Dress

So, for the third challenge they gave us all a pattern and told us to sew it.  I interpreted the rules as keeping the integrity of the pattern intact, fit the dress perfectly to you, and add in your own minor tweaks.  Oh, and you had to use two different knit fabrics!  I think my minor tweaks is what got me eliminated.  Seriously...check the contest gallery, insane!  I think everyone did great, but they had to eliminate people, and I fell in the category...perhaps it was because I threatened them?  I don't know lol.

Anyways, I bought this fabric while in LA last time.  I was in love with it, but I was unsure what to do with it.  So, I broke it out for this challenge.  I added an 18" flare to the skirt(!) and eliminated the pleats.  I lowered the neckline about an inch to make it more flattering (and apparently so I can add another boobage shot...seriously, I didn't do it on purpose lol!!)  Instead of adding 2 inches to the length of the bodice, I wanted to show a different way to add length and I made a pink polka dot waistband (with waist ties!).  I also added in gathering at the center, because I thought it needed a little something something.   My favorite part of the dress?  The sleeve ruching.  I did this by muslining twice (groan) and testing out different starting points and positions of the ruching.  It's crazy easy.  You grab some clear elastic, put it at your starting point on your sleeve (or whatever) which you carefully marked beforehand (right?), stitch a little, backstitch, then you pull the elastic tight (in a straight line!), and stitch a straight line-backstitching at your end point.  Not going to lie, the first time will feel awkward and you will feel like you need three hands, but once you practice a bit, it will be easy and provide really pretty results (that look like it took a lot of time lol).  Anyways, at the end, I used a tutorial for freezer paper stenciling and I put two little deer at the hem of my skirt...why?  Because I could lol!  Then, I hemmed with some lace and called it a day. 
I love how this picture makes me look like an old lady lol
Sleeve Ruching!!
Funny story about this dress.  After making it, I realized that I NEEDED more knit fabric to make this dress again and I wore it to go fabric shopping.  Now, I also needed white satin for my daughter's flower girl dress so I went into the City (which is the Bay Area's fancy way of saying, San Francisco) and I went to the Fabric Outlet (another great fabric store).  Anyways, while I was looking at the knits, a woman walks up to me and says that she loved my dress and asked if I made it.  I smiled and said yes and we exchanged pleasantries.  Then, as I moved to another section, she followed me...then she followed me to the next section and so on.  Then when I was getting my fabric cut, she followed me up there.  All this time NOT TALKING!  Lol, she was pretty awesome, but I think she wanted to talk to me, but was too socially awkward to know what to say, and I was too socially awkward to know what to say to her!  Anyways.  I have also gotten compliments from small children in my daughter's class.  So, my dress is cool according to 6 year old standards...I'll take it!

Oh what?  Some of you noticed that I said I threatened the judges?  what??  I would never...


Maybe I did.  Well, after years of watching The Sopranos and The Godfather movies, I knew that when you were in a sewing contest and you wanted to win, you IMPLY something bad will happen.  So, I told them that if I didn't move on, I would call in my muscle and she would tickle them until they peed their pants (her words not mine)

Pattern Review Contest Committee: She's coming for you, and she will tickle you...mercilessly. :P

Pattern Review

**Also, sorry about all the links!  I didn't want to bombard you guys with copious amount of pictures! 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Beginner's Series: Fabric

So, you want to go out and buy fabric for the dress?

Ok, great.  So you walk into the fabric store and have a panic attack because of all the different kinds of fabric and you don't know which one to buy!  So, I wanted to write this post just for making this dress.  BUT!  If you are just starting to sew, one of the things I recommend to you is to go to a bunch of different fabric stores and touch all the fabric you can.  This is the only way you will be able to start differentiate between a challis and a chiffon; a damask and a jacquard; a lawn and a voile.  Or, you can do what I did, scout online sales and buy cheap fabric and work with it.  This is how I discovered my love of lawn.  I just loveses lawn. 


for this dress, I recommend using a cotton (especially if it's your first dress!).  It's easy to work with and easy to wear.  But, just saying cotton doesn't tell you anything.

Quilting Cotton:
*le sigh* no matter what I say, I will be saying something wrong here.  Some people are anti-quilting cotton (to use when making garments).  Other people think quilting cotton is the best thing!  My personal preference is to not use quilting cotton because 1) I can never make a professional looking garment with quilting cottons 2) I don't like how heavy it is in the summer 3) and I don't like the scratchy feel.  That being said, quilting cotton is a great place to start for beginners and those prints just pull me in!  As a warning, if you are going to use quilting cotton, I would advise against the shawl collar.  You can try it; it could work.  But, quilting cotton is pretty stiff.

Some ideas: Rainbow chevrons, records, I may have to get this fabric to match my glasses, photography dress, don't like bright prints? how about a pirate dress?, you know I love me some floral, fancy some sushi?, cherries?, or what about a nautical dress?

So, those are just random fabrics pulled up on Hart's fabric. 

Cotton Lawn:
I just love lawn.  Seriously, I could make me entire wardrobe out of it and be happy...cold during the winter, but happy. Next year for my birthday, I am going to get 3 yards of liberty.  I think this dress would look beautiful in this lawn, no?  Hmmmm....did you hear that?  Oh that's just my husband having a heart attack upon seeing the price tag of that one!  It is beautiful, but $47 a yard is a bit much.

So, cotton lawn provides a lot of prints, but is lightweight and breathable for the summers here on the northern hemisphere.  The only catch with lawn, is that you need to make sure that it is not see through!  If you buy it, bring it home and then realize that it's see through, don't panic.  Hop online, buy some batiste and underline it.  Don't know how to underline?  Stay tuned, I'll show you :)

Some ideas: alternative to the libertyretro asian lawn, more floral, yellow floral, ok, ok I have a slight obsession with floral lawns! 

Seersucker is pretty amazing stuff.  It hides wrinkles (see Mom, I listen to you!) and it hides puckered seams!  It's also super lightweight and pretty much perfect for summer.

Some ideas: gingham seersucker, striped seersucker, I can't find any more online, but sometimes Joanns has some pretty cool seersucker.

Swiss Dot:
You have probably seen swiss dot before.  Swiss dot is essentially a cotton lawn with little embroidered dots all over it.  It's like cotton lawn with chicken pox.  One thing to keep in mind, make sure that if your fabric is see through, grab some lightweight cotton to underline the pieces with!

Here is an example of what it looks like.  I can't really find too much on the interwebs right this second.

Have somewhere fancy to go?  This dress would look great in a brocade.  Brocade really isn't too difficult to work with either.  I do have some pretty black brocade, however if I use it for this, you guys wont be able to see too much. 

Some ideas: this is super pretty, if I had a complexion other than "pasty white" I would buy this fabric in a heart beat :), love the dark colors on this one!

Sateen is on the heavier side of cotton.  I personally love sateen, I haven't sewn with it too much though.  I have a 3 yard piece in my stash and I don't know if I will ever use it.  It's just so pretty. Sateen is not very drapey at all, so the pleats on this dress would stand out a little more than if you use swiss dot or lawn.

Some ideas: Green/Purple floral print,

Well, anyways.  I hope that gives you guys some ideas. 

Things you should keep in mind when buying fabric:
1) If this is your first big project, stay away from anything slippery, silky, or shiny (other than sateen).   Sateen isn't super shiny, but don't go and get satin or silk/silk-type.  Trust me, do yourself a favor and stick with easy right now.

2) Ask yourself what you want the dress to look like.  If you want it light, go with a light weight fabric (swiss dot, lawn).  If you want it to have a little more body, go with a medium weight (sateen, brocade, some lawn). Pick up the bolt of fabric and unroll a couple feet.  Is the fabric stiff?  Is the fabric light and airy?

3) Ask yourself what collar you are going to use.  A light airy voile (similar to a lawn, but less crisp) will not react well if you try to make the structured stand collar, but it would look nice as a shawl collar.  A medium weight sateen would look good with both collars, but the shawl collar will be stiff.

4) Don't buy knit fabric.  Seriously, just don't do it.  Knits are easy to work with, but you would have to adjust this pattern.  

5) Remember the pleats in the dress.  A lighter weight fabric will kind of disguise the pleats, while a medium weight fabric will make them stand out a little more.  Does this make sense??

6) Check the opacity of your fabric BEFORE you leave the store.  That way you will know that you need a voile, batiste, or a lawn to underline with.

GSWDS: Bodice Darts and Skirt

I was going through my posts and realized this one never posted!  It just hung out as a draft!!  Sorry!!

Oh my goodness gracious!  The reason why I scheduled the sew along in February was because I usually don't have much going on in February.  This last month was so insane that up until yesterday I didn't even have time to check my email, now to top it all off I am sick.  I didn't get sewing or blogging or reading my blog done for almost this entire month.  So yeah, that's why it's been quiet on the blog and I haven't been responding to any blogs.  But, I am here now :) and I feel everything getting back to normal.

So, darts.  There isn't much to say about darts, honestly.  I do it the same old way as everyone else.  However, I wanted to post about this because I wanted to talk about how I mark my projects.
For this particular project I am using the Pilot Frixion Erasable Gel Pens.  I love these pens!  When I first started using them, I would actually make my husband and daughter watch as I ironed them.  So basically they are pens whose ink disappears when it gets hot, which makes them pretty perfect for sewing.  However, the one thing you need to do is test it on your fabric first.  On a little test square, just make a couple marks in a couple different colors and then iron them away.  You will see that some colors disappear better and some colors may actually discolor your fabric after you put the iron on it.  They are pretty awesome and they're definitely worth a try.

When I am using dark fabric, I use my allary chalk set.  There are two things to mention when using this chalk set.  1) sometimes the chalk doesn't want to come off your fabric 2) sometimes it doesn't want to stick to your fabric!!  So, once again you have to try it out on your fabric.

I used to use this, but I don't use it much any more.  It's not because I don't like it, because I do really like it.  However, I am running out of ink and I have yet to buy another one.  They aren't really expensive, but I just haven't gotten to the store and bought one-I just keep putting it off.  It is worth mentioning, though.  The purple end has ink that disappears after prolonged exposure to air and the blue end has ink that disappears after exposure to water.  I find that the blue end works really, really well for buttonholes.  

Then of course there is tailor's tacks.  Which I really like doing, however, they have a tendency to slip out.  There are directions in Gertie's book on how to make these.  I always use silk thread or handbasting thread for tailor's tacks.  I find that these threads are just easier on the fabric.  

So, mark your darts and sew them up!

I also figured pleats were pretty easy, I do have pictures if you want them, though!  

Now, you need sew the bodice fronts to the skirt fronts.  Since I was working with challis I used a french seam to attach them.