Archive for September, 2011

September 30, 2011

Wrap Up: Fall 2011 Wardrobe Challenge

I can’t believe the deadline has arrived, but my Fall 2011 Wardrobe Challenge is over! Although I don’t consider it a failure, I only managed to put together eight pieces out of my proposed thirty. Where did I go wrong?

  • No clear theme

Although I had the best intentions, I only managed to make one theme post. Even with that theme in mind, I wasn’t clear how I wanted to incorporate that theme into my wardrobe. The next challenge is going to have a clearly defined theme with a plan of how to incorporate it into each of the pieces.

  • Too many pieces

Honestly, thirty pieces is way too many for me. I can’t imagine bringing in that many pieces because each time I made an item, I was amazed at how it opened up my closet. It was also too difficult for me to plan for this many pieces and because of this, my motivation took a major hit. For the next challenge, this number is going to be greatly reduced and I’ll work up to more pieces later.

  • A complicated palette

Although I loved my palette, it was difficult to find fabrics (especially considering how many yards I needed for thirty pieces) that were in my budget and fit into my vision for particular garments. While I’m still learning,  I’ll gather fabrics before deciding the palette or pick a simpler palette to work from.

  • Restricting usage of commercial patterns

Since I was enrolled in a patterndrafting class, I wanted to utilize my new knowledge and (originally) restricted myself to self-drafted patterns. Unfortunately, I miscalculated how far I would be in the program and kept waiting to make certain projects until I had the ability to draft the items (for example, blouses). Instead, I chose to work on projects outside of the challenge. This is a serious reason why I only made a few garments. Next time, there won’t be a a restriction on the types of patterns I use.

I’ll be unveiling my next challenge on Monday and I can’t wait to share it with you. I hope to take what I’ve learned here and make this next challenge a success!


September 29, 2011

Coming Soon

This is the bodice lining of a dress I’m working on. I’m probably the only person who chooses silk habotai for their first serger project but thankfully the hard part (princess seams) is over. I love seeing a project slowly come together and this one is no different.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a summary of my Fall 2011 Wardrobe Challenge (I can’t believe the deadline is here). I’ve learned a surprising amount and I look forward to sharing it with you.

September 25, 2011

My Newest Addition

When I first started my pattern drafting program, I was told that I would want to invest in a serger within 6 months. There was a part of me, though, that wanted to resist. I thought, people have been sewing intricate garments ages before the home serger was available, why do I need this expensive equipment? Little by little, I began to see how a serger would make my life easier. In particular, the princess seams from my latest unit made me see the light. How are you supposed to finish a curved and clipped seam on easily frayed fabrics without one?

When it came to purchasing one, I really had no idea what I needed. Years ago, I took a t-shirt class at a local sewing studio and was able to play around with a serger but other than that, I’ve had very limited time with one. Considering how expensive these little buggers are, this inexperience scared me. Do I buy the entry level ($250 – $300) machine and hope that it does everything I need or do I invest in a mid level ($500 – $1000) blindly? I considered used machines. The repair stores around me said that they rarely have a used machine for sale and craigslist/classifieds frightened me. I didn’t know what to look for and if I spent $150 – $200 on a machine that later needed to be repaired, I wouldn’t really be saving much. Also, who would show me how to thread it?

Last week, I wandered into my local craft store only to find this machine in the window for $125. Rose, the owner, has been fixing up used machines to sell and all proceeds go to Rainbow Kids, a local nonprofit for local at-risk children. I can be confident that the machine has been recently serviced and is in working order and the best part is that they’ve agreed to teach me to thread the thing. If you happen to live in the area and are looking for a serger, there are a few more ready for sale!

The machine, a Singer 14u34b, is nothing fancy but reviews say that it is a workhorse. The machine can run 3 or 4 threads which means I don’t have coverstitch or 2 thread options but I don’t anticipate this being a problem. It has the capability of doing rolled hems but I’ll have to buy the throat plate since it was missing. All in all, I’m really happy with the purchase. I think it will serve me well and give me a chance to learn what it is that I need from a machine. Also, I can’t wait to try my hand at some knit fabrics!

Do you have a serger at home? What’s your favorite feature? Any advice to someone just learning?

September 23, 2011

Squares

Although last week wasn’t the most productive for sewing, I did manage to finish the squares for my  blanket!

I’m thrilled to have these done but I’m not kidding when I say that my work is not over. Next, I’ll be spending a good amount of time sewing these together and then there is the backing and binding and quilting that will need to be done. I’ll be lucky if I manage to finish before the winter is over!

*edit* I just noticed my title misspelling. I feel awesome.

September 21, 2011

One More…

I finished the second skirt I had planned. I used a similar pattern to yesterday’s but changed up the details a bit. Instead of two layers I chose to make a small ruffle and hide the stitching with the ric rac.

If Evy wasn’t such a peanut I’d add a second ruffle but I’m afraid she might drown in all that fabric! It’s pretty poufy as is. They are going in the mail tomorrow morning. Hope they like ‘em.

September 20, 2011

Back to Work

Now that Kelley is back on his feet, I’ve found time to sew! Last week I made a list of projects I wanted to complete and first up were my nieces skirts.

Pattern: loosely based on this

Fabric: unknown fiber content – both purchased at Fabrix

Time to Complete: about 2 hours

Cost: less than $5 with plenty of fabric leftover

Notes:

My niece received her skirt in the mail last week and we confirmed that the waist and the length were just right for her and her sister. So with the same general measurements, I went to work this morning on a skirt made from a medium weight pink plaid with a sheer overlay. The skirt body is a simple rectangle with side seams (french, of course) that I gathered into a waistband casing. I then thread elastic into the waistband for more gathering. Nothing fancy but very fun to make. I love it because it’s girly with an edge (in a kindergarten-rock-star sort of way).

September 19, 2011

Welcome Coletterie Readers!

If you are visiting A Good Wardrobe from the Coletterie, welcome! I was so flattered to be a Featured Seamstress this week. One thing I love about blogging is being part of an extraordinary community of talented seamstresses on the web. I’d love to get to know you so don’t be shy and drop me a line!

If you are a regular of this blog, here’s the post featuring one of my Sorbettos!

September 14, 2011

Brief Update

You’ll have to excuse my absence lately. My husband had surgery on Tuesday. I’ve been both preparing for it and caring for him afterward so there has been little time for sewing or blogging. Thankfully, the surgery went very well but he’ll be bedridden for another few days. I’ll be back next week with more sewing and my thoughts on the fall project.

September 10, 2011

Scallop Hem Shorts

I hope you don’t think I’ve abandoned you but my latest project took much longer than I had originally anticipated. I was so excited about my Kimono Sleeve Dress that I purchased three more patterns from Pattern Runway – the scallop hem shorts, the sundress, and the shirt. I got right to work on the scallop hem shorts and when I say “right to work” I even skipped the muslin!

Pattern: Pattern Runway’s Scallop Hem Shorts - $9.50

Fabric: cotton twill remnant purchased at Britex – $6

Notions: invisible zipper – $2

Notes:

I cut out the pieces on Monday and started in on the back welt pockets. I thought that these would be fairly straight forward since I’ve made bound buttonholes before but I just couldn’t get them right. After turning the first welt, the welt backing was facing the wrong way so I cut out the pieces again. No matter how many times I read the instructions through the welt backing was still backward. I decided to continue going forward but my brain was fried and I couldn’t figure out how to attach the pocket. I put the project away for the evening, hoping that my brain would solve the problem in my sleep. It didn’t. But I decided to fake my way through it and give the pocket my best shot. This approach worked and I was able to move forward.

After the welt, the project was more comprehensible and I slowly finished it up on Thursday. Unfortunately, I’m just not thrilled with the results. These pictures are, sadly, more flattering than the shorts in person and there are both fit issues and sewing issues.

Fit

  • The crotch length is way too long. I could shorten it a good two inches in the front and possibly the same in the back if I lengthened the crotch depth as well.
  • I would cut a medium rather than a large and then give myself a little bit of breathing room in the waistband.
  • The center front bags. I’m not sure how to fix this. Perhaps cutting a smaller size or taking up the crotch length will help but any suggestions are welcome!

Sewing

  • This fabric wrinkles like crazy. Combine that with the ill fit and it makes for a really sloppy look.
  • The waistband was sewn well and the seam was really smooth until after I added the facing and secured it. You can see how the seam bunches and waves and it drives me nuts. I’m really at a loss as to why. It’s mostly in the front and is really bad near the sides.

The instructions, overall, were good. I contacted Sarah at Pattern Runway about the welt pocket and she said that she has a tutorial  in progress. There were two small issues that I wanted to note as well. First, the pattern pieces for the waistband do not mention cutting interfacing but the instructions (and experience) do. Second, when sewing the side seam together, there is a typo. It notes a 1cm seam allowance but converts that as 1/4″ not 3/8″.

Although the finished garment is less than thrilling, I really like the scallop hem. I would have thought that drawing attention to the largest part of my thigh would be a bad thing and I’m surprised at how flattering it is. I do plan to make another pair – maybe in a woolen for winter – so hopefully these pattern changes will help. Any and all advice is welcome!

 

September 1, 2011

Feeling Good in Your Skin

Pattern: Kimono Sleeve Dress from Pattern Runway, $9.50

Fabric: 4 ply silk crepe purchased at Satin Moon Fabrics in San Francisco

Notions: 1 shank button from stash, silk organza for interfacing

Cost: I’m embarrassed to admit this but about $120

Notes:

Like I said yesterday, this is my favorite finished garment to date. It was so satisfying to make and even more satisfying to wear. This is the type of dress that makes your feel good in your skin. Here’s the low down on the process:

Since I did a run through with muslin last week, there weren’t any surprises this time around. I can’t say enough good things about Pattern Runway’s products. The assembly of the pattern was made really easy with little paper ledges and graph lines. The instructions were straight forward with diagrams where needed. If you get stuck there is also a tutorial on the blog that has step by step pictures. This project has really changed my mind about print at home patterns and I already have plans to make the sleeveless sundress before fall gets here.

I made an error in judgment by cutting out the pattern late Friday night. The combination of poor lighting and a tired seamstress could have ended in disaster but (thankfully) I only fouled up in cutting the skirt portion. One of the edges was off kilter when I went to examine it the next morning and I spent some time pulling threads trying to get the pieces on grain. I’m so thankful that I decided to cut the length as printed because otherwise I wouldn’t have had length to sacrifice.

In addition to not cutting at midnight, I’d lay out some cotton flannel underneath to give me better control. The fabric isn’t as shifty as charmeuse or chiffon but it isn’t as stable as cotton either. I didn’t have any flannel so I chose to use pins in lieu of pattern weights, my normal method. The pins added some bulk in places so the cut wasn’t accurate. This didn’t affect the garment though.

Although most of this was mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’m going to repeat it here so that it is all in one place. I used a 2.6mm stitch for construction with Mettler mercerized cotton thread. I finished the seams by hand overcasting using silk thread and blanket stitch. I chose a braided no-roll elastic which was heavy enough to hold up the skirt. For the hem, I used my machine blind stitch. Although the average person won’t notice, you can see the prick stitches on the right side. If I were to use this fabric again, I would blind hem by hand.

To interface the facings, I decided to go with silk organza. I wanted the crispness without interfering with the drape and it came out as desired. If you’d like a sleeve that is less pronounced at the top, you might consider using a silk georgette for the sleeve facings.

I varied from the given instructions in two places. One, I reinforced the underarm with a row of stitching an 1/8″ from the seam line at the curve and then clipped the curve. Two, when I overcast the sleeve facings I took a few prick stitches along the way to anchor the facing because, even with the understitching, it kept peaking out. Other than that my construction followed that of Pattern Runway’s.

The dress feels so good on and is really comfortable to wear. Any wrinkles from sitting down are quickly released within a few minutes of standing. The style is great for both day and evening wear with a quick change of accessories and shoes. Depending on the culture, it could also be work appropriate. Just imagine it with a belted waist, some sensible shoes, and a blazer! I have a feeling that I’m going to be living in this dress.

 

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