October 11, 2014

Where I'm Anymore.

So, I'll say it.

September was a rough month for me. A lot going on, that I won't get into here. And Gladys died. My great-grandmother.

Even if you know nothing else about it, the fact that I named my blog after her should tell you at least a little about how I feel.

It wasn't like it was a big surprise. She was ninety-nine years old (I'm allowed to say that now), and her health had been failing. But a loss is still a loss. She was one of my favorite people in the world.

For the past few weeks I've wavered on whether to write about this at all. Eventually I decided that, well, the blog is named, at least in part, after her, so it's probably something I should mention. But that--what I've already written--is all I really plan to write. This isn't a personal blog, and it probably won't ever be. Don't get me wrong, I love that there are people like, say, Tempest, who's written very frankly and openly about her mental/emotional state, or Roisin, who starts every new dress post by spending a couple of paragraphs telling us what her week was like. But in the past several years, every time I myself have written a blog post that feels more than a little bit personal, I wind up just saving it as a draft (or even deleting it) and writing a new one. Emotionally, I'm not a big sharer. To be honest, I'm not even much of a shower. So that's that.

Anyway. I haven't felt like doing much of anything for a while, and I know that that's probably attributable far more to the changing seasons (I have seasonal affective disorder pretty bad) than to my great-grandmother's death or even any of the events related to/surrounding it. My sewing has been way down, but I do actually have a finished project to show you.
cannot see
It's my green sweater oh my god! I finished it!

(Side note: Gladys was a big-time crocheter--mostly afghans, not many sweaters, but it still feels kind of fitting that I have this now.)
I actually finished crocheting it almost two weeks ago (and took not a single in-progress picture), which means that really, the construction took me only a couple weeks. But then I waited a while to do the blocking, and then it took three days to dry (and this was in pretty arid weather; I'm worried now about what blocking will be like in the rain), and then I waited a while longer, too, before putting the buttons on. I just didn't feel like it, I guess--or, more likely, I didn't feel like taking photos, and knew that once the buttons were attached, the sweater would be completely done and there'd be no reason left not to. I finally did both those things--buttons and photos--last night, though.

I'm super pleased with how this turned out. I used the Cinnabar pattern by Doris Chan. It's from a book, Everyday Crochet, which has (in my opinion) a really unflattering/off-putting cover, but some of the other patterns are nice. Obviously I liked this one.
pattern cu
It's crocheted in the round from the top down, and it's a pretty basic repeated pattern. On the third row from the top, you have to tie off and start again with new chain stitches, and that's so early to be tying off that I totally missed that direction (several times) and wound up re-doing several rows three or four times before I finally went on Ravelry and found an old Cinnabar crochet-along forum thread to see if I was actually making some weird button loop that wouldn't look right until after I'd added the binding or something, and someone had said, "well, you did tie off at the end of the row and start again, didn't you?" and I went back and read the directions yet again and was like, "ugh, sara, you idiot," because there it was. But other than that, it was really straightforward to make and it came out really nice.

Once I'd gotten through the yoke, I finished the sleeves all the way before continuing on the body, the opposite of what the directions suggest. I knew I'd just barely have enough yarn, and I like my sleeves long--I decided it was more important to me that the sleeves be long enough, even if that meant that the bodice wound up having to be a bit cropped. (Also, there are only four rows, instead of the directed five, on my button bands. Not enough yarn.)
leftover yarn
(Right. That is how much yarn I had left when I finished. I measured it: exactly 36 inches.)
As it turned out, the bodice is what I consider full-length. I wouldn't mind if it were an inch or two longer, but I'll have no problem wearing it with low-waisted garments. Another change I made was to put buttons along the whole length of the front (as opposed to just one set in the middle). They're pretty low-profile, so I can easily wear the cardigan unbuttoned, too, without them drawing attention or clunking around or anything. And they're small enough that I didn't make buttonholes on the opposite side; I just shove them through the spaces the stitching had already made in the band. Maybe not the most secure thing, but for me it works.

The only thing I might change is adding a little width at the bottom to accommodate my disproportionately wide hips, because it doesn't quite close evenly at the bottom. It's still plenty wearable, though. I guess I might also make a future version a size or so bigger, because, while I really like the fit of this one, it's so closely-fitted that I suspect I won't be able to wear certain of my shirts with it; they'll be too bulky. However, I do still have a number of shirts that will work.
(Fortunately I do this weird menswear thing where I almost never button the bottom button of my cardigans. So the hips not being quite wide enough is much less of a problem than it could be.)
I'm looking forward to wearing this. Even though it's openwork, because it's 100% wool (vintage Dutch wool, no less) it's still quite warm, which is nice. (I had worried about wearability. The point of a sweater, to me, is warmth. Sweater-vests I understand, too, but I'm so confused as to why I made a sleeveless sweater earlier this year. Just--why? I haven't worn it since the day the pictures were taken.) I won't wear this all the time, like I do some of my other cardigans, because it strikes me as more of a special garment than an everyday sweater. (I don't mean special as in for special occasions only, just that it seems a bit too nice to wear ten days in a row like a jacket.) Maybe when I've made more cardigans--I've already started on the next one--that assessment will change, but for now, it feels special and nice and I'm pretty proud of it.
faking it
If anyone's interested, my Ravelry notes (which are mostly about where I added rows to increase length), and a few more photos, are here.

And here are project details:
Fabric Yarn: 8 skeins (~800 yards) Scheepjes Superwash Zermatt, from Knittn' Kitten, purchased September 2013/January 2014, $24.25
Pattern: Cinnabar, from Everyday Crochet by Doris Chan, borrowed from the library so free
Year: 2007
Notions: seven half-inch buttons, from Knittn' Kitten, $0.60
Made before: no
Make again: possibly
Sewing soundtrack: eh, this took several weeks, so probably a bunch of stuff
First worn: not yet
Wear again: yes
Total cost: $24.85

September 22, 2014

Summer Sewing: Month Three/End of Season Check-In

So, I started out strong, and then my sewing just... stopped. I had this one project that I wanted to do. I got out the pattern, traced it off and made size adjustments, had the fabric ready, and then it all just sat there for, like, two weeks. For whatever reason, I couldn't get myself to do it. And I didn't work on anything else either. Eventually I put that project away again so I could get on with other things. Maybe next summer.

All in all, from August 21 to September 21, I:
  • sewed one additional sleeveless, yokeless Carme (that makes four), a pair of pyjama pants, a new cover for my bike seat (all unblogged) and a messenger bag (blogged here)
  • finally started on, and have now got around halfway through(!) my crocheted cardigan
  • and, uh, I guess that's it. 
For fabric usage, I:
  • used up one whole piece of stash fabric, and parts of two other (very large) ones
  • bought two pieces of thrifted fabric, one yard and three yards
  • and have used up the one-yard piece already (the three-yard piece is earmarked for a Bruyère (the newest Deer and Doe pattern), which I should have in a couple days)
As far as meeting my goals, well, I did do the new messenger bag. I also desperately needed to replace the bike seat cover, so I'll count that as a very solid make, too. And I finally started on my sweater. I'm super pleased about that. I know there are only eight days left in the month, but I think it's not inconceivable that I could be done by the first of October. Mid-October (my original goal, I think)--definitely.

And I did also trace patterns off a couple ready-to-wear garments, though I've not done anything with them yet.

I did not make any of the skirts I planned to. I think that's in large part because I didn't wear dresses often, and skirts almost never, this summer--certainly less than in the past. I kind of expected that to happen (less wear, not not sewing), but it still wound up being more extreme than I'd expected. I know that I didn't wear skirts often because I didn't have the right tops to go with them, so it isn't wholly rational to not make more because of that, but it does make sense that if I observe I'm wearing a lot less of something that I still do possess, I shouldn't sew a bunch more of it. I do still think that my particular skirt fabric will get made into skirts at some point (if only because I don't have any idea what else to do with it); I just don't know when that'll be.

Same is true of the T-shirts to tank tops: I haven't worn any of them very much, so I also haven't made any more. 

I also didn't sew anything from a vintage pattern. So I have just over three months now to complete my pledge.

As for the summer overall, I think I did fairly well. I did buy some fabric, but I used more stash than what I added. I sewed a bunch of shirts (mostly all from the same pattern, but whatever) and although I won't wear them all to work, some I will, and having them all has definitely helped. And I now have a few shirt patterns worked out to the point that they fit me properly, without the need for future alterations. I got my Skirt Fixation challenge done in time (and even took pictures outside for it).

I didn't make any skirts or dresses, but that's okay. I also didn't ever put any of my unworn me-mades up for sale (oops) (but I did at least sort them out and take photos and measure them).

I think that's about all that I stated explicitly in my original planning post, so on the whole, I'm going to call it a good show. And now on to fall sewing... I'm actually very excited about this for once (usually in the past I've only wanted to make sundresses). I think the more people I've seen talking/writing about fall sewing plans, and even some already posting early fall makes, the more interested it's become to me. I also spent several hours over the past few weeks on Ravelry, and have favorited, I don't know, maybe three hundred sweaters. (Realistically, probably more like thirty. But still a lot.)

Around the beginning of September, I think, Sarah at Rhinestones and Telephones The Creative Perfectionist announced the Fall Essentials Sew-Along, and I got real excited for a bit, but ultimately decided not to let myself think about fall sewing (much less, actually perform any fall sewing) until it was actually fall. September 22, it is now actual fall, but since this is still my summer post, I think I'll leave fall plans out of it and do those as a separate entry. Also because my plans are not fully formed yet. Stay tuned.

September 12, 2014


So I finally did it--something I've been meaning to do for more than a year, maybe more than two years: I replaced my messenger bag.
The old one, as you can see, was hideous. I've had it since 2008, although I don't think I used it much at first. For the past three or so years, though, at least, it's been my regular bag, and for something as lightweight as this, that's a lot of use. It's actually in better condition in the photos here than it was; I sewed up a number of good-sized holes along the edges several months ago (although I did this only after one too many times of getting to work or home from work, opening the bag, and having the "where's my [small-to-medium-sized object]? I swear I put it in. Damn it, it must have fallen through one of the holes again" moment).
 orig damage
To be honest, aside from where you can see the top support poking completely through the fabric, the outside photos look pretty decent. But it's really the inside that was most messed up: the lining is so torn up, and continuing to disintegrate, that every time I took something out of there, it had little pieces of black plastic stuck to it. And the bag itself didn't hold its shape anymore. So.

It was long past time for a new one.

I didn't use a pattern. I didn't want a complicated project--this really only took me an hour or two--and I liked the shape of my old bag, so I just measured the various rectangles and copied it. Then I cannibalized the top and bottom supports and the shoulder strap to reuse in the new bag. (The original bag has a little briefcase-style hand carrier, too, that you can't really see in the photos, but I left it off the new bag because I never used it.)
I did make the patch pocket wider, and sectioned off an inch and a half or so at one edge to put my fork and spoon in, so I don't have to rummage through everything (because they always end up on the bottom) when I want to eat my lunch. And I used two buckles and straps for the flap closure, rather than Velcro. I think that'll give me more room for adjustment, while still keeping the flap down securely. (And I won't have to worry about it ever snagging my tights.)

Speaking of the buckles, they're actually reused from old bike helmets. They're a bit smaller than what I initially had in mind, but I wanted two that matched and that's what I found. And they do get the job done.
The fabric isn't exactly what I was going for, either. I have in my stash some quantity of thick white canvas, acquired for reasons now unknown. I've been trying to use it up over the last few years, but it's slow going. Anyway, I figured it would work for a bag (the old one is canvas, too, albeit with the weird plastic-y lining). Obviously I didn't want a white messenger bag; it would already be unspeakably soiled by now. So I dyed it. I cut the fabric first, because I didn't want to dye all of it, and because I figured with less fabric, the dye would sink in and be darker. I was hoping to get black, or at least a dark grey. I wound up with a light grey (with a hint of purple), which is about what I should have expected using pearl grey dye (it was what I had on hand). (I should have expected the purple, too, because almost everything I've ever died has gone a bit purple.) At first I was worried it might be too light and look weird with the black straps, but now I think it's fine. I used black thread instead of grey to tie things in better, too.
hanging clean
Being plain canvas, the bag isn't at all waterproof, and in Portland, that may be a problem. In light rain, it'll probably be okay, and I have a decent-sized drysack that I can toss inside and use for some stuff, but it's possible this may wind up being a summer-only bag, and I'll have to figure something else out for the rest of the year. For now, though, the rain hasn't started yet, so I'm happy. We'll see what happens.

Project details:
Fabric: White canvas (dyed) from stash, so old I can't remember and am saying free
Pattern: Measured off existing bag
Year: n/a
Notions: Shoulder strap and supports cannibalized from existing bag so free; two buckles and strapping from SCRAP, $1.00; one package Rit dye, probably $1.80 when I bought it
Made before: no
Make again: in the foreseeable future, no, but I guess if/when this one wears out, I might
Sewing soundtrack: ?
First worn used: not sure exactly, but I've been using it regularly for a few weeks now
Wear use again: oh yes.
Total cost: $2.80

September 1, 2014

This Is My Playsuit / I Don't Do Playsuits.

I first made this three summers ago. Based on the very poor job I did, I would've guessed it was longer ago than that, but there's a picture of my younger sister wearing it while holding our newborn cousin, and that cousin just turned three, and I remember I finished sewing the romper like five minutes before we left to meet her. (And finished the belt in the car.)

Originally I made it for myself, but it was way to short in the torso, so I gave it to Rat, who's slightly shorter but with similar horizontal measurements, but it didn't really fit her any better. Since it was a romper, she loved it anyway and I let her keep it, but then a while later, when I was visiting, I decided it was too awful and went and took it back. For "repairs" or to replace, I don't know. (I have since then made at least two other rompers for her.
romper orig
(Yeah, I can get it on me, but it's really unpleasant to do. I think you could probably tell that without my saying, though, just from looking at all the places it pulls.)
I don't remember now why I was so determined to make this fabric into a romper, especially with how little I had. I think there was one yard. And I really like the fabric print, so I do wish I'd saved it for something else. (That seems to happen a lot.) Now I'm kind of impressed that I squeezed this out of that... except that, oh, it didn't actually work because unwearable. I even added a (horribly, horribly, horribly done) white waistband in between the bodice and shorts to lengthen it, and it probably is only because of the waistband that I could get the garment on at all, but it was still incredibly uncomfortable.
(Seriously. Atrocious. Even with the belt keeping it covered, I don't know what I was thinking to decide this was acceptable.)
I'd been meaning to do something about this for quite a while. There was the possibility of replacing the waistband with a longer one, because neither the shorts nor the bodice seemed to fit that badly on their own (the only problem was inadequate length) but the waistband would've needed to be probably four to six inches longer to work. And that would've made it quite obvious. The original waistband was narrow enough to be covered by the belt (which is probably why I made it that size and not longer) so it was okay that it didn't match the rest of the fabric. But a solid swath of plain white in the middle of the romper? Eh, not cool. Also, three years ago, I really wanted a romper. Now, well I guess if I had a romper that fit me, I'd wear it, but I'm not as excited. I don't know if I would feel really comfortable wearing a romper. It isn't who I am any more.

So. Eventually I decided the best course of action would be to just toss the waistband and make separates. Although when I say make... all I really did was remove the waistband, finish the newly raw edges, and reapply the closures. The rest was already sewn and I didn't mess at all with it, top or bottom.
(Eh, no. (So flattering, this is, by the way.))
I wasn't really sure what to do with the top. I'd need a separating zipper to close it, or else some other kind of closure, and there wasn't enough fabric for the sides to overlap. So, first I was going to do buttons with loops. Then I thought, nah, I'll put loops along both sides, and lace it up in between them. And then finally I thought, no, that will take too much work, and I'm never going to wear this anyway. I'll just use some of that massive stash of eyelets. So the bodice back has ten eyelets and laces shut.
(Sorry, it's a crap picture, I know, but I didn't get any close-ups of the back, and I didn't want to go through the rigmarole of putting it on again.)
Obviously this is the kind of thing that's much easier to put on and take off if you have a maid who dresses you. This is, in fact, only another reason why I won't wear it. The real reason I will never wear it is that it bares the midriff, and I cannot think of any scenario (including lounging on a beach or poolside, which I never do anyway) in which I might wear a top that bares the midriff. Really. I'll wear a bathing suit about once a year, and I'm fine with that--I have no issues with my midriff--I just hate having skin showing between what I'm wearing on top and what I'm wearing on the bottom. Holdover from growing up as the super tall girl whose clothes never ever fit, I'm sure.

Anyway, the shorts are a bit better. I stuck in a purple nylon zipper because it was the right length (and I wanted to save the original long white one for when I actually need a long white zipper). I was figuring that I'd never wear the shorts out, either, so it wouldn't really matter. (This is also why the zipper application is not my best.)
(This is the original zipper that went through the whole romper. I was a bit sad to have to take it out--I'd hand-picked it, and did a really nice job.)
But then I kept trying the shorts on, and then I wore them around the apartment for a while taking photos, and they're actually really comfortable. They're fully-lined, everything is French seamed, and they have pockets. And they fit my crotch, and the inseam is long enough that I don't feel self-conscious, and the legs are narrow enough that I bet the won't even gap when biking. So maybe I will wear them out from time to time, for very casual outings. Like groceries.

Obviously not with the matching top, but this isn't so bad.
Actually, this isn't even probably the best top I have for it, either; it was just the first thing I found that had an acceptably similar color in it. But the shorts do look decent with a normal top, don't they? I think they'd be acceptable for public use. At least I hope they do, because I wore them out to the market whatever day that photo was taken.

I honestly wasn't expecting to get anything useable out of the romper, no matter what I did with it, so I'm pretty happy. Granted, I still won't wear the shorts to work, and work clothes are what I really need right now, and I don't really need any more non-work clothes, but at least that's one more thing I've gotten out of my sewing pile. That was my real goal, so yeah.

Project details:
Fabric: 1 yard cotton(?) taken from Mom's stash, ages ago, then made into a romper in 2011--free
Pattern: McCall's 4535 for the bodice; can't remember on the shorts
Year: 1975/?
Notions: lots and lots of bias tape, but I mostly used that the first time around, so I'm not counting it. This time maybe one yard and I'll round up and say $0.25. Also--from stash--ten eyelets ~$0.45; and 7" zipper $0.45.
Made before:no
Make again: if I can figure out what pattern I used for the shorts, I might attempt those
Sewing soundtrack: nothing
First worn: bodice--not yet; shorts--eh, Thursday a couple weeks ago, I think
Wear again: The bodice, um, maybe as a costume. Or as a joke. But the shorts, yeah, probably I will.
Total cost: $1.15

August 27, 2014

Summer Carmes.

Recently I've seen a number of different posts talking about how it's almost fall. To which my internal response is always something like, 'What? Don't talk like that! Don't even think like that!' We're just slightly past two thirds through calendar summer, and it's not like the rain immediately commences at 12:01 am on September 22. (At least I hope it doesn't.) Even after that, we should have a few more, perhaps intermittent, nice days still.

A question that was posed in at least one of those fall-is-coming posts was whether you've started sewing for fall and winter yet/how long you keep sewing for summer. Me, I pretty much keep sewing for summer until the weather gets so bad that even I can no longer delude myself. Sometimes even then.

In the past, that focus has meant I've wound up with a lot of sundresses. This year, as I've mentioned before, I'm trying to do more separates. Here are three of the last several tops I've made.
where i'm doing something stupid
Bam. Bam. Bam.

As you can see, they're all the same pattern: a bit unrecognizable, perhaps, but it's the Pauline Alice Carme blouse. I grafted the yoke, minus the pleats, onto the shirt front, so it's all cut in one piece. And I left off the sleeves entirely.

Really, I did this mostly to conserve fabric. (I really like the Carme as originally designed, too. The next one I make will have sleeves, and eventually I'm sure I'll also do one with a yoke.) All three of these were made with very small quantities of fabric. With the first blouse, I think I would've had enough to do a yoke--with pleats or without--or short sleeves, although not both (I don't mean not enough fabric for two sleeves; I mean not sleeves and yoke together), and certainly not long sleeves, but I'm happy with the simplicity of it this way.

The second version, on the other hand, I actually re-cut from a (really awful) dress that I made years ago. (It's this dress--the Wednesday one--if you want to see a picture.) I originally wanted to make a different top, but that didn't even come close to fitting the fabric. I barely squeezed sleeveless, yokeless Carme in, and it's several inches shorter than the other two. And I was really scraping the barrel for the bias tape--I managed it, but there's a join about every three and a half inches.

For the third version, I used an uncut piece of fabric again, but it was really small--39" from selvedge to selvedge, and only 34" long (it's vintage I know, but I'm also guessing it was a yard originally and shrunk). Plus one of the corners was faded; I tried my very hardest not to use any of that part, but ultimately I did have to use a little. Fortunately I was able to place it so that the fading falls in the bottom corner of the back piece (so it's actually at the side), so hopefully it won't be very noticeable.
collar up
I also had to piece the inner collar, and I do like the diagonal stripes from cutting the placket on the bias, but it wasn't a design choice that I did it that way--it was the only way there was enough fabric for the pattern piece to fit. Instead of self bias tape, I used plain navy blue store-bought, because seersucker bias tape is weird--which is just as well, because it would have been incredibly tedious to piece all the tiny scraps together to make it. Let's just say there would've been even more joins here than there are with the green tape. 

One thing I'm excited about, particularly with the first blouse (with the others, it's not because version one showed me otherwise; more because the fabrics are kind of too obvious, I guess), is that I'll be able to wear it in the summer by itself, and in the rain with a cardigan.
(Side note: I read somewhere, several years ago, that Portland doesn't have spring-summer-fall-winter. We have summer and rain. (Rain takes the place of the other, usual, three seasons.) And I thought that was the most accurate description of Portland weather I'd ever seen. I still do.)

The first version is, like most slightly-too-big tops, incredibly comfortable. (The fabric is also super soft and smooth, which helps, too.) I cut a size 34 (the smallest size) and lengthened it by three inches without making any changes to the width. Obviously I didn't need to deepen the armholes quite so much (well, you can kind of see), and with the added length, it's borderline tunic on me, almost longer than I'm comfortable with. RTW tunics are laughably short on me, and I've never thought to sew one, so I'm having to get used to something that's clearly shorter than a dress, but also longer than a shirt.
For the second version, I took in the sides by 3/4" at the top of each piece, grading to 1 1/2" at the waist and then quickly tapering out to nothing at the hips (i.e. I left the hip measurement alone). That took care of the underarm gaping. Unfortunately, in the second version, the main deterrent to being super comfortable is that that armholes are too far forward. I could easily fix this by cutting the fronts out a bit, but it's not so much of a problem that I've bothered. Besides, I'll probably only wear this blouse at home, where I don't need as much arm range of motion as I do when I'm at work or biking.
That--not wearing it out much--isn't because of the length (it's just long enough) or the armholes. It's because, as I said before, I recut this one from an old dress. Apparently I wore it a lot in the early years (not so much more recently) because the fabric faded a lot. That means it's really soft and feels wonderful (especially considering I'm pretty sure it's a quilting cotton) but also that the parts that were inside the darts are significantly darker than the rest. And there are fairly pronounced needle holes where the thread was before, holding the darts together. And even some probably-permanent creases. I've washed it once so far, and that helped smooth things a bit; I'm hoping that after a few more trips through the wash, it'll all fade out, but until then... it's kind of a Monet blouse, I guess? So, indoors only.
After the second blouse, I redrew the front armhole. (The back was fine.) I'm not sure how these changes will affect the fit of the sleeves, once I make a Carme that includes them, but for the third version, the front armhole is great. Back armhole--slightly too big. I think that's because I decided version two was slightly too tight across the bust and added a quarter of an inch along the side of each piece at the top. I don't think the back needed that, so I've taken it out of the pattern again, and hopefully that'll solve the problem next time I make this up.

I don't know, probably it's one of those things where you're always either going to have to have it skintight and uncomfortable or else a bit gappy, unless you're using a stretch fabric, and you just have to settle for as close to the middle as you can get. Obviously, I'd prefer it if there was no gaping around the back armholes, but it's very minor (especially compared to the first blouse) and I'm probably the only one who'll ever notice it. Other than that, fit is spot on.
Blouse three falls right between one and two in length. It's two inches shorter than number one, the same length number two would have been (two is so short only because I didn't have any more fabric. Actually, while the third version is exactly the length I wanted, it's good that I didn't want it any longer, because fabric limitations mean it's also exactly as long as it could possibly be).

I should also mention that, after finishing version three and having worn each blouse around for at least an hour or two, I went back to the pattern and moved the shoulder seam forward about half an inch. (Taped the front and back pieces together, and cut off part of the front piece so it'll in future be part of the back.) I did a straight line all the way across, because the seam is still straight, rather than being too far forward at one edge and back at the other, as I've sometimes found with other patterns. This won't change the overall shape of the blouse at all (maybe it'll do something with sleeves?) so I don't see how it could affect fit, either; I guess it just looks better to have the seam right down the middle.

All of these blouses are incredibly basic makes, I know. (They don't even have placket buttons! I wanted to put them on the first one, really bad, but I went through my entire, not inconsequential, button collection and I didn't have any that would work. Well, I had one that would've been perfect. But only one. So they just have snaps to hold them closed. (A few more on version one, because it's looser and so has more potential to be revealing. Versions two and three have just one snap each.)) But I think that, with the collar and placket, and light shaping, they're not so basic as to be boring or too casual. I mean, they are casual, but in a nice, classic way.
I really like them. And it's nice to have such a quick project at hand--now that I've got the pattern sorted, I can make up one of these in a few hours. I'm not a fast seamstress, so that's really saying something. Obviously when I make the pattern up properly, it'll take longer, but I like to think that with all the practice I've gotten on these, it'll still be a faster project than it might otherwise be.

And right now I really need fast top projects. I realized after Me-Made-May that I owned like four work-appropriate shirts. (Okay, that's a slight exaggeration, but something really low.) And most of my shirts, work-ready or not, are not super wearable during the hotter days of summer.

So. Let me conclude. I really like this pattern. I like the details (even if I haven't sewn them yet) and I like the fact that it can be made up quickly and simply, too. And I really like the fact that I was able to get it to fit myself with only minimal adjustments.

I bought the Carme in PDF, right before Pauline Alice launched the new webstore and started releasing paper versions of all the patterns. (This really annoyed me at first, until I realized that even though I don't like PDFs, I probably would've bought that version anyway, partly because of the lower up-front cost, but mostly to avoid having to pay shipping from Spain.) It cost somewhere around $11 (it'll vary now, depending on the exchange rate), which, with one long-ago exception (for something I still haven't used yet) is the most I've ever paid for a sewing pattern. I've already used it three times, though, and I foresee more in the future. I think it's pretty safe to say it was a good investment.

Project details: #1
Fabric: 1.25 yards from Knittn' Kitten, $4.00
Pattern: Pauline Alice Carme blouse (with a few modifications), $10.70
Year: 2014
Notions: three snaps from stash; self-made bias tape
Made before: no
Make again: yes; I'm thinking lots
Sewing soundtrack: nothing really
First worn: Monday for work
Wear again: yes
Total cost: $14.70

Project details: #2
Fabric: Refashioned green dress, free (and the fabric was a gift originally, so free that way too)
Pattern: Pauline Alice Carme blouse (with a few modifications), previously used so free
Year: 2014
Notions: self-made bias tape; snap from stash
Made before: yes
Make again: yes
Sewing soundtrack: Sin Fang
First worn: Thursday
Wear again: yes
Total cost: $0.00!

Project details: #3
Fabric: 1 yard navy blue flowered seersucker from Knittn' Kitten, $1.00
Pattern: Pauline Alice Carme blouse (with a few modifications), previously used so free
Year: 2014
Notions: maybe 1 yard of navy bias tape from stash, I'll overestimate and say it was $0.25; snap from stash
Made before: yes
Make again: yes
Sewing soundtrack: nothing
First worn: not yet
Wear again: yes
Total cost: $1.25

So that makes the total cost for all three $15.95, or an average of $5.32 each. And (assuming I keep the fabric price down) each subsequent version will just cost less and less. So, again--yeah, pretty happy.

August 23, 2014

Summer Sewing: Month Two Check-In

Guh, I can't believe we're already two months into summer. I feel like I've been more productive with my sewing this month, even if my blogging has not necessarily reflected that.

But let's see: my official progress. From July 21 to August 21 I:
  • sewed four tops (one blogged here; the other three not blogged yet (the writing-up is done, but I still need pictures)
  • finished a UFO dress from late 2012 (also unblogged)
  • refashioned a me-made romper into shorts and a top (alllllso unblogged)
  • chopped the ruffle off a (me-made) denim pinafore and re-hemmed it (not going to blog this)
  • sewed two pouches for my sister to take to college, one as a "commission" from Mom, and one as a gift (not blogged)
  • sewed two dinosaur-appliqued dish towels (not blogged, though I should)
  • and, for some reason, attempted to sew a bathing suit, which I did not finish and never will (I have in fact thrown it and all remaining fabric away, and took great pleasure doing so) (not blogged)
 In terms of fabric usage, I:
  • used up three (small) pieces of stash fabric and a few very small scraps, and used/destroyed a fourth (which was nearly a scrap anyway)
  • used up all the fabric salvaged from an old, disassembled me-made dress (which is now one of the as-yet-unblogged blouses)
  • finished one UFO and used up the remaining uncut fabric to go with it
  •  refashioned two previous me-mades (still recognizable, not taken apart)
  • and the only fabric I bought was a single fat quarter for the commissioned pouch, yay!
dino towel
This next line I have copied and pasted from last month's post:

I still have more than half my pile of T-shirts to convert, and I've made absolutely no progress on the crocheted cardigan that I was supposed to start working on. Maybe that will happen this month...

Also last month, I identified three sewing projects I wanted to do. None of those have appeared on the blog yet. Two of them I haven't done any work on, but I did sew a blouse using the third fabric (the abstract one I hadn't decided what to do with yet) and I'm really pleased with it.

As for the other two--the not-peplum blouse, I decided I didn't want to deal with the re-drafting, and also that even if I did and got it perfect, I wouldn't wear it much because of the fabric. This is one of the fabrics that I've been debating for a while whether I should keep or not, and while I do think it would look good made up in that pattern (assuming I could get it to work without facings, because the fabric's sheer and facing it would look awful) it's no longer a fabric that really feels like me. Every time I look at it, I love it again, but I think it's too cute for me to actually wear. I still kinda want to keep it and try, but I know that I'll probably never do anything with it (or if I do, it'll just languish in my closet and I'll feel bad about the waste). I'm pretty sure now that this is one that's better off finding a new home.

The sailor dress--the fabric print is also a bit precious, but I'll definitely wear it. It's pretty sheer, too, and I was thinking at first I should line it, but didn't have any lining fabric; that stopped me for a while. Then I decided lining was unnecessary. I haven't made it now partly because I haven't decided yet what I want to do with the collar (piping? contrast?) but mostly because I don't need any more sundresses right now--and this one, for some reason, feels a bit dressier to me, and I wouldn't have anyplace to wear it--and I wouldn't wear this to work, and what I need are work clothes. Rest assured, eventually this dress will get made. I just don't know when.

The maroon abstract blouse, as I said, did get made. I'll have a proper post up about it soon, so I'm not going to discuss it now, but here's a quick teaser picture:
collar cu
I went back and forth on whether to talk about the swimsuit attempt here; I have no plans to do a proper post, at any rate. I was going to just say it was an experiment that I didn't really expect to work, and leave it at that. But I like wring, so here's a rambly bit more.

I said "for some reason" up above--no idea what that reason might have been. I certainly don't need a swimsuit--I already have two, and I go swimming maybe once every other year. I actually made one of the suits, in spring 2012 (and did not blog), and I think it, along with this recent swimsuit project, was about the most exasperating sewing--possibly anything--I've done in my life.
 swimsuit attempt
I think (hope) the problem is not me, but rather my materials and equipment. I used the same fabric both times, and I swear, it is the devil's own. Compared to my RTW suit, and my sisters' combined dozens of RTW suits, the fabric is very thin and slippery. (I've used thin and slippery fabrics before, but for impossible to work with, this takes the cake.) This go, I backed every piece with that beige swimwear lining stuff, and my machine still wouldn't sew it. So many skipped stitches.To be honest, I could barely even cut the fabric. Maybe--probably--I'd have had more success with a sturdier fabric, but it's also true that my sewing machine is a straight stitch from the early '50s. I was able to replace my regular needle with a knit-specific one, but that's it for fabric accommodation. It doesn't have stretch stitches (did stretch fabric for home sewing even exist in the early '50s?) or even do a zigzag. It's great for what it does, but the more I sew, and the more my sewing improves, the more I'm starting to feel its limitations...

Anyway, though. I love my sewing machine.

I'll wrap this up with my plans for the next month. (No collages this time, sorry.)

I have several pieces set out to make skirts, and I still need some more tops--even after the four new ones this past month, I'm finding myself woefully low on separates (mostly tops) that I can wear to work. (And I'm super confused--I'm trying to remember what I wore last year, and I have no idea.)

I also want to sew up at least one not-yet-sewn vintage pattern this month. I signed up for five in the Vintage Pattern Pledge, and so far, I've only managed one. I have been using modern patterns a lot more lately, but this still really surprising to me, though I guess a lot of the vintage patterns I do use are repeats, and I'm not counting those. I've got a few likely candidates, but haven't decided which pattern (or fabric) will be first. I had picked out a dress that I was already to do, fabric and everything, but now I've decided to save that until Fall for Cotton (because the chosen fabric is one of the only pieces I have that I know is 100% cotton).

The messenger bag that I use for work is in horrible condition and I've been meaning to sew up a new one for, um, years. I'll try to do that this month, too, so I can have something without holes in it before the rain starts again. I really like the look of the Colette Cooper, and almost bought it when it first came out, but I think it's a bit more robust than what I need. Certainly I could still change my mind, but right now I think I'll probably just copy the very simple one I have now.

I'm still trying to sew from the stash and not buy anything new, although I'll probably check out the Pendleton Woolen Mill outlet's fall sale in September, and if it's marked down as much as it was last year ($2.50/60" yard) I may come away with a few pieces.

And that's about it for me. How's your summer sewing going?

August 20, 2014

Pushing the Envelope.

Let me start by saying that I am well aware this is not the most flattering blouse shape for me. In fact, I knew that well before I started the project. When I'm not the one wearing them, I really like the delicate look of tucks and pleats and gathers, and breezy, loose-fitting summer tops. And I knew this probably wouldn't take much time (or fabric) to make, and I got set on trying it.
I like how the blouse turned out. I just don't like it on me. Actually, I like the back (elastic included), and the peplum, and the armholes. Those all fit really well. It's just the bodice front that doesn't suit me.

I want to talk about the pattern a little--or rather, about the pattern company. This is a Papavero pattern. Probably no one has heard of Papavero, unless I have readers in Poland; then maybe. Papavero is a Polish sewing site that is, from what I can tell, similar to Burda or maybe Pattern Review (although I'm not really that familiar with either of those, either, so maybe not). There are forums, blogs and photo galleries, articles, and an active community, in addition to the patterns. All of which are free. Yes. All.

Of course, that free comes with a price. (Not monetary, but--) Obviously, everything is in Polish. There's a button on the main (and most) pages to translate all the content into English (or any of a number of other languages) but it's just a machine translation from Google, and I think we're all aware that Google Translate, uh, has its limitations. Like this blouse. (Go on, translate it to English. I'm pretty sure "shirt for tall cupcakes" is not the name they intended.) Note that each time you go to a new page, it will appear in Polish first for a few seconds, then (depending on how fast your internet connection is, I'd guess) translate back to the selected language. Just give it some time.

And, if the website is in Polish, it follows that the directions for the patterns would be, too. (Actually, I was surprised to find several English words on the pattern. I can't remember what, though, now.) Except there are no instructions. (Unless I entirely missed them, which impossible.) Not really a problem, though, as I don't always use pattern instructions, and even if I did, well, instructions in a language I can't understand would do me no good, anyway. There is a cutting layout, yardage requirement, and they do tell you how many to cut of each piece, but as far as how to put them together--you're on your own.

For this pattern, which was pretty basic, that wasn't too much of a problem. But for patterns with more detail (and a lot of their patterns do seem to have some very unusual details) I can see where issues might arise.

That's why, with this blouse, I did actually make a full muslin. Three reasons, in fact: 1) I'd never worked with a Papavero pattern before and had no idea how accurate the sizing might be, 2) Re the absence of instructions, in case I did need them, well I wanted to work out any possible assembly quirks before I got to the nice fabric, and 3) I knew I'd have to lengthen the bodice, and with the rather oddly-shaped pattern piece, I wasn't exactly sure how to do that (what if I accidentally made it wider instead of longer?).

As it turned out, my muslin was actually too long. (It was also much too big in the bust and front waist, which should have told me not to bother making up the final version, but somehow I was able to delude myself into thinking that the lengthwise adjustments, and maybe also tacking the two pieces together where they crossed, would fix that.) I will concede that it's possible that, because of the aforementioned oddly-shaped pattern piece, I inadvertently lengthened the bodice even more than the two inches I intended, but I'm about 99% sure that this happened because the blouse was designed for someone more buxom than me. (Proof: the back bodice wasn't too long at all. Although to be fair, the back pattern piece was also a normal shape.)
open side
In the final version, the bodice is the correct length, but still very blousey. And the part where the one side overlaps the other is very... open--observe below. I tacked the pieces together at the top where they cross, and that helps, but I still very much doubt I'll ever wear this without something underneath.
(Cos yeah. It gets real gappy sometimes.)
That said, I think it mostly looks, on me, like Papavero's sample blouse looks in the pictures. But I think it looks even more like the sample when I'm not wearing it. I think it just isn't my shape. That's that.
In case anyone is interested in making this up, but a bit wary of going it with no instructions, I'll do a brief rundown of the changes I made and the construction steps I went through. I used this pattern--translated into English, it's called Envelope for the Summer. There are multiple sizes, for 30-48" busts.