Monday, June 27, 2011

Finished: Pamela's Pattern #104

After finishing BSM 06-2008-128, I wanted something that would require only 14 or 15 brain cells and no hand sewing.  Pamela's Pattern Perfect T-Shirt was just what I needed.  Besides, the serger was already threaded with the right color.  Whenever serger sales people said "You can sew a t-shirt in two hours!" they must have been talking about this pattern.  It is so basic you can sew it with your eyes closed.  An instructional DVD (purchased separately) is available for this pattern.  The DVD is easier to follow than the written instructions.  If you watch the DVD, you won't need the instructions. This is a very easy t-shirt and if you've made a t-shirt before, you can sew this one without any trouble.  This is Round 3 for this pattern and me.  The first try was just a tiny bit tighter than I like so I pivoted an inch more room into the bust and waist and I'm much happier with the fit.  The shirt has optional bust darts, which are recommended for larger sizes, and what Pamela calls "essence of waist".  These features yield a flattering fit for a t-shirt.  In her instructions, Pamela recommends "Heat 'n' Bond Lite" to prevent a wavy hem.  I used my serger's cover stitch and differential feed and waviness was not a problem.

This t-shirt was easy to sew because the knit fabric was cooperative.  It didn't shift and move every time I turned my back on it.   I bought it at The Needle Shop during PR Weekend 2011 - Chicago.  It cost more than I would normally spend for a knock-around t-shirt knit, but I was in a PR-Weekend-induced-shopping-frenzy. Coincidentally, while fooling around on the computer and googling random names, I recognized my fabric on a website.  Turns out it was designed by Jay McCarroll , the winner on the first season of Project Runway.   No wonder it cost so much! But, it behaved so nicely, it was worth the price.  I've learned the more selective I am about the knits I buy, the easier they are to lay out and cut.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Finished: BSM 06/2008 #128

This dress was the most labor-intensive project I've taken on in a long, long time.  I really, really wanted it to turn out well.  In order for it to turn out well, I had to commit to making a muslin and taking my time.

This dress came with a few challenges.  First was the band placement.   Since the  high-waisted band echoed my high-waisted body and I thought it would not be a challenge.  But, I'm large-busted in addition to being high-waisted.  My bust would raise the band even higher.  If ever a pattern cried out for a muslin, this was it!  Just as I expected, the muslin told me I needed to lengthen the bodice.  It also told me I need to increase the bust circumference.  This lead to the second challenge.

I'd forgotten how to make pattern adjustments to princess seams and I no longer owned the book, Fitting Finesse (Zieman, 1998) that addressed how to make those adjustments.    The simplest, albeit not the best,  solution was to order another copy of Fitting Finesse.  Luckily, I found a copy at Alibris for $2.45 ($6.44 including shipping – the shipping cost more than the book!).

The decorated waistband presented yet another challenge.   I wanted to duplicate the beading shown on the model, but I couldn't find large, flat beads in a matching color. So, I chose smaller beads and used decorative chain stitching to fill up the space.  I was torn between tone-on-tone and contrasting beads.  I chose tone-on-tone because that's my personality, but all those beads I sewed on one by one are barely visible.

Here's what I love about Burda Magazine instructions (she said sarcastically):   60% of the construction was condensed into the first sentence – "Stitch side front and side back seams on skirt and bodice of dress."  Once you've done that, add the waist band, sew the shoulder and side seams and the dress is practically finished!   Then, the instructions say: "Sew lining as dress."  Everything you need to know is there, but I'm amazed so much of the instructions are contained in two sentences.

This dress required more work than I've done in quite a while.  I sewed the lining to the zipper by hand.  Each and every bead is sewn on and back stitched to make it more secure.  Once I found the rhythm to the bead sewing, it went reasonable quickly.  I enjoyed working on it and it gave me a chance to take my sewing outside on the porch.  I wish I'd spent more time fitting the bust. The muslin fabric fit differently than the linen, so the bust is a little bigger than I expected. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sometimes, I'm My Own Worst Enemy

Every once in a while, I get fed up with the clutter and conduct a purge in the sewing room.  Most often I purge patterns;  sometimes I purge books.  Purging patterns isn't a big problem.  I use lots of Burda Style Magazine Patterns and if I absolutely have to,  I can always retrace patterns hastily purged.  Purging books is another matter.  Mistakes are not so easy to fix.  I got rid of several books a few years ago and I lived to regret it.  Gwen warned me, but I didn't listen.

Wouldn't you know,  I needed one of the books I so foolishly tossed aside in 2009.  Gwen is entitled to a big, fat "I told you so!"

My current project (BSM 06/2008 #128) needed a little enlarging in the bust area.  The dress has princess seams.  I forgot how to pivot and slide princess seams and I got rid of the book that would have helped me.    It wasn't all my fault.  Nancy Zieman should take some responsibility for my problem.  Her Fitting Finesse (1994) had information on using pivot and slide on princess seams.  The updated version, Pattern Fitting with Confidence (2008) omitted that information.  I believed having both books was just a waste of space, so I got rid of  the older Fitting Finesse.  When I needed to refresh my memory,  I discovered I didn't have the book I needed!  Who leaves important information out of an updated version of their book?!?  Thanks a lot, Nancy!

Did I buy a replacement?  I plead nolo contendere.  An observant reader will notice the photo above was taken in my own sewing room.  Please,  don't let me purge again.  Friends don't let friends purge sewing books.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Finished: Burda 8379

If I stick to my promise to not buy any more fabric until I sew most of my cache, the next four garments I make will be dresses.   I bought navy linen late last summer, but the weather got cold before I got a chance to use it.   Since it had the most seniority, it was next in line to be sewn.  When I bought it, it was supposed to be pants, but I decided I needed dresses more and choose Burda 8379.

This dress was very easy to sew.  The neckline is faced, the sleeves are finished with bias tape and it has a center back zipper.  That's it!  Nothing more difficult than a center back zipper.

I originally planned a different dress for this fabric, but I didn't have enough of the fabric for that dress. While the style is perfect for summer, navy blue isn't really a summer color unless it's paired with white.  The simple styling make a very comfortable dress to wear in hot weather.

While photographing this dress, I auditioned a few necklaces to wear with it. I like the length of the necklace pictured, but I think I need a necklace that is a little more substantial.

Better Late Than Never

Two years ago, Faye showed off the pattern weights  she made by wrapping ribbon around large, flat washers.  I've wanted to make a set for myself ever since.  I finally got around to it!    I adapted Faye's design by using single fold bias tape instead of ribbon and wrapping two washers instead of one.