Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Big Reveal...That's Not As Revealing

I'd like to thank all my supporters, who encouraged me to hang in there, and especially Robbie and Rachelle, who provided me with links to useful tutorials and such. I'd like to thank my children for letting me sew uninterrupted, although they do make personal comments about my, uh, shortcomings (but only when asked for their honest opinions). Yeah, yeah, let's just get to it!

First, I'll have you know that I was ready to quit, but Pammie and Sheila commented at just the right time, so I went back upstairs and ripped that leg elastic out (a total of 3 times, if you must know). I felt better about it after I finished a leg, then Rachelle gave me some advice, and this morning I was just raring to go.

Here's the choice of bra cups. Kwik Sew says the sew-in ones can wait till last (those are the bottom ones, I guess), but they didn't do anything for me. The middle one must be meant to go inside the lining, because it itches like crazy - not a good look. So I used the top one that I cut out of an old suit, and sewed it into the side seam, then caught it in the armhole elastic when topstitching.

Here's what that looks like - and it'd sure be prettier if I didn't use orange bobbin thread. Talk about lazy, people!

I certainly still have some issues to work out. The fabric doesn't touch me at the lower back or lower ribs (see how I can pinch it out), so I have some fitting to do...

And here we go!

Woo-hoo - I'll take it!

Yo - margarita over here! (You know, to demonstrate the armhole and how I can move without it gaping or riding up.)

So I'm really just delighted that it fits decently and it doesn't ride up at all, unlike my RTW suits! Next I'm going to try and modify a 2-piece from the book into a one-piece, if I can, preferably with a halter top that I can stuff with more padding. And I'll refine my stitches, etc., but really, that elastic thing gets easier as you practice - duh! Let's say it all together: I'll NEVER buy another swimsuit AGAIN!

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Tank is Tanking

My mojo is waning, but I began the process of applying elastic today. The Kwik Sew book tells you several ways to do it, and since my Brother builds nests under elastic, I gave the serger a shot (it's my mom's old 3-thread Riccar). Promising results...this looks much better than the last time I tried a swimsuit.

But I realized that the fabric slipped out from under the elastic a couple of times, despite my best attempts - arggghhhhh!

Next time, I put the elastic on the bottom and the fabric on top...better. But then comes the moment of truth - folding it over and topstitching. I was scared to topstitch on the wrong side because of the nest problem that happens underneath, but I should've been more afraid of the uneven stitches I got from stretching inconsistently. (And I only applied elastic to the neckline so far.) Here you can also see my attempt to cover the legs more - but just on one side. Yeah, there's no matching that wavy pattern. Maybe the disruption in pattern will distract you from the uneven topstitching. (Each garment I make is a work in distractions from boo-boos.)

And I don't think you can see this at all, but below the scoop is not even touching me. There are at least a couple of inches between my lower back and the fabric. I saw one blogger mention doing a swayback adjustment on her swimsuit - may have to look into that.
In frustration, I decided to try the terrible boy shorts over the suit. I've created a new look - the swim john-john!

I went on to apply elastic to the elongated leg, but that bit about applying it 1 on 1 in front and stretching in the back didn't work out too well. I'll have to stretch a little bit in the front too. But that's for another day...and a better frame of mind.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Bathing Suits are Fast!

Holy moly - I traced the tank version one night, and yesterday I did the rest in 2 hours. Now that's without elastic, but I got the suit far enough to try on for fit. I lined the entire front. Here it is sewn together at the crotch - didn't think I'd get father than that, so I took a picture.

And here's a picture of my stitching. I used the serger for all of it but basting the sides, and you do have to be careful to get all layers in there. You can see the lining showing through where I missed it.

So I modeled it for the family last night because I was so proud, and everyone averted their eyes and groaned at the front view. The consensus was "too much crotch," because I used the high-leg version. (Now there was certainly nothing hanging out, but apparently when you can see the crease at the front of your hip, it's just gross.) So I'm not showing you that picture...also because my thighs are just so pasty and cottage cheesy in that picture.

But when I turned around to show them the back, they all went, "Oh, well that looks nice." (Probably because it actually looks like a real bathing suit.) Remember there's no elastic yet, so I'm holding the bottom to simulate the coverage.

So I'm headed back upstairs to see if I can creatively add some leg coverage and do the elastic. At least I can wear this at the beach around long as none of Drew's friends are there.

Monday, June 25, 2012

We Interrupt This Dress...

I have a minor crisis. Blue Angels weekend is in 3 weeks and I need a new bathing suit. Yes, I went with the same group of people last year and wore my bikini with lots of margaritas and no shame, but I've been wearing that bikini for at least 3 years now! Here's a picture of the setup. You're in the water for several hours (see people in floats and standing) so there's no point in wearing a cute pareo or wrap. (See the Blue Angels I caught in the right corner?)

Okay, so I cruised PR some last night for the 2 patterns I have and started on 2 years ago, and there's no hope of turning them into one-pieces, which I've decided to go with. (Enough of the stretch marks, already!) But I remembered I bought the Kwik Sew Swim & Action Wear book - hooray! I didn't have that when I ruined the boy shorts, so I'm hopeful the elastic will work out this time. So I began my research for the best style. First I tried on all my old suits (I never throw them away) and salvaged what I liked best about each one. Here they are being menaced with scissors!

And here's what I ended up with - lots of pads, a couple of nylon padding bra cups, and some buckles....

And here's where I get stuck. The princess seamed one-piece is slimming, but you can't do anything interesting with it besides contrasting fabric, which I don't have.

Here's what I do have - bought off 2 years ago.

So here's the other option - the spaghetti strap style, which unfortunately has a high back. (That's my skinniest feature, so I was hoping to emphasize it.) But you can jazz it up with beads to take the attention off the hips!

So I'm torn - whatcha think? The suits that I bought that I like the most are halter style, which also brings attention up from the hips, but there's no option for a one-piece like that. Maybe I'll have to draft one...

And on a side note - do you get Boston Proper catalog? I get one once a year for some reason, and look what I saw:

I made that very dress, see? I totally should've done the straps like hers. (I bet nobody told HER that stripes made her hips look wide!)

And check this dress on sale:

That is so totally my current dress in progress!

Maybe I should draft a swimsuit like the catalog has....wait, I don't have any leopard-print.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Dress in Progress

Good Lord, did somebody throw up on my dress form?! Oh, wait, that's the back of the dress - it's not really THAT shiny, but I told you it would be a surprise!

Let's talk about my awful zipper application. Now I've done fly-front zippers in pants, and invisible zippers in Mardi Gras dresses, but I'm not used to a straight-forward centered zipper. The pattern tells you to stitch the center back seam up to the small dot, then press the 5/8" seam allowance up to the neck, then, "Slide the zipper right side up under the seam allowance and topstitch." I'm serious. There was no "baste the seam closed and press seam allowance open," no "unzip the zipper and stitch the right tape to the right seam allowance," no nothing! Now, of course the zipper came with detailed instructions, but I was feeling the simplicity of the Simplicity, so I just pinned, basted, and topstitched...which was the wrong thing to do, as evidenced by my horrible wrinkles. I did go back and fix that glaring pucker in the blue, but next time I'll do the whole thing by the rules.

And here's the front. I TOLD you there would be a diamond over something, and the hoo-hah wins! Do you see how I carefully raised the fabric so the diamonds at the shoulders would not be right over the boobs? (This placement does highlight the ovaries, although you could argue that those are kidneys.)

I just attached the neck facing and pressed it under to see what it was going to look like - I haven't undersewn or anything. I like the keyhole.

You're supposed to attach a button and loop to close the top - we'll see. I also have to attach the sleeves.

So I think this is going to be really cute, but the REAL fabric will be even cuter. I may have to wear this at Lake Martin when we do the big family trip in July. (We will now pause for the backlash from my family...)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A New Construction Order

So I did go to Joann's and get the magnetic snaps that Gwen recommended for the purse, but they didn't have the sew-in ones - they were jam in! They have 2 prongs and you just cut 2 slits where they go, put the little cap on the other side, and bang 'em down with a hammer - yeehah!

So I started on the 60's dress next, and I'm just not in a mood for lots of altering pattern tissue and cutting, so I did a quick tissue fit and saw that I needed to add a couple of inches to the back around the hips, etc. Then I took a one-hour nap and went back to it - I love summer! Here's what the tissue looks like now, and I bet I didn't do that right, but this is just for the muslin.
I just realized I don't have a pic of the fabric, which will make it a surprise when you see it, because I got it on the sale table at Hancock, and I mean it was by the front door, which is where they put the really bad stuff! It's a polyester slinky thing, and my mother hated it. It's shades of brown with blue and yellow geometric shapes all over it. I worked hard on pattern placement, but SOMEthing's going to have a blue diamond highlighting it - you'll see. It screams 60's, so I think it'll be great.

OH! The whole point of tonight was to describe my new method of sewing when not really into it. I fixed the back pattern piece, cut it out, then went straight to the machine and sewed the darts and stay-stitched the neckline, then sewed and pressed the back seam to prep for the zipper. I would've put that sucker in if I had one tonight, but I didn't, so I went on and cut out the FRONT and sewed up those darts, etc.

Do you ever do that? I just get so tired of laying out and cutting, sometimes you just need to get to the machine!

I'll get a pic of it tomorrow, and we can take a vote on whether they'll let me out of the house wearing it...

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Jeans Purse

Okay, you know I'm always negative, so let's get that out of the way first, then I'll resign myself to the fact that it is what it is, and my niece is just a kid and not a fashion critic, so she'll probably be okay with it. So I thought the selvage of the silk shantung was fun and ruffly and tried to use that at the top of the lining, but it looked rough, and my mom said it didn't look finished. (So "fun and ruffly" - fail.) Well I had already sewn it in and didn't want to rip the whole thing out, so I just folded it down and stitched again. Here's what that looks like, and I don't know why this shade of pink refuses to be photographed appropriately - I messed with the tint to tone it down.

Now I'm sad about my purse strap, because it actually is too wide, and short of folding it in half and stitching, I can't fix it. Lucas tried it on for me (because he's closer to her size than I am, that's why) and then put it over his head to wear it across the body, and that looks fine. So this will be her travel bag or her book bag or something like that, but probably not her purse. Here's where I topstitched it to make it look a little quilty.

So here it is unadorned - no problem. Wide strap, but no problem....

Except look what that extra stitching did. (I cannot even believe I am showing you this. This is like baring my soul - I am lazy and don't even attempt to fix my tension before I start sewing the real thing.)

Yes, the tension was off and so the pink thread shows on the outside. (So pink up top and blue in the bobbin - fail.) And I was paying attention to the inside, not the outside, obviously. I hand-walked it over the zipper and the rivets, but I probably should've hand-sewed the entire thing. No, I should've sewed it higher up on the waistband instead of trying to stitch in the ditch there. (So "stitch in the ditch" - fail - I mean I'm on the other side of the road!)

So I was just disgusted with myself that I sewed the belt loops down and the whole plan was to put cute belts through there. I was fixing to cry. But look - I attempted to thread the belt....and it works!
And maybe tying it like this will hide the stitching you can see up close!

Okay, so on that note I will let all the disappointment go with a deep exhale, and I will be happy that my first attempt at a jeans purse is certainly usable. If she gets a job as a newspaper delivery girl, she will certainly be the most stylish!

Oh, anybody got any suggestions on a closure? It's too late to install a zipper (snorting with laughter), and Velcro doesn't seem very substantial...but if this is just to carry books around then you don't really need a closure...hmmm.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day - Too Busy to Post!

But here's a little preview of what I've been working on. My niece spotted a jeans purse at a craft fair with Auburn details, so I figured I could make that myself. This won't be Auburn, but I have 2 belts that coordinate, so she can change the look up if she wants. The color in the second picture is the true color - it's not red.

I got the okay for the fuschia lining from my SIL first, because I don't know what girls are carrying these days, but she said hot pink was in, so this is the leftover fabric from my vintage Butterick dress I wore to a breast cancer benefit.

I looked at EVERY image of "jeans purse" on the internet this weekend, and this is the strap I like - I sewed the wrong sides of the silk shantung to a strip of denim and turned them inside out with the plan to do some topstitching and sew them in the ends of the purse tomorrow, hopefully.

So when I finish that, I'll get back to that 70's dress I was so excited about...and then the baby clothes! Hope y'all had a great weekend. I supervised Drew cooking steaks for Father's Day dinner and Lucas setting an elaborate table complete with "silk" napkins (they're cotton, but if they're not paper he apparently thinks they're silk) and tall candles. He actually wanted to use the real silver, but I talked him out of it because I haven't polished it lately. Fancy, schmancy! (Drew told Dean that he would take responsibility for the steaks, but he had nothing to do with the candles.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Renfrew and a New Pattern

Done! This is the easiest shirt to sew - love it. The bands are great so I don't have to worry about hemming the sleeves and the shirt, which is my least favorite thing about sewing. I agree with SusieHomemaker and Kitschy Coo that the waistband is a little loose and low, so I put the shirt on my dressform and pinned the waistband where I wanted it to come, which was about 3 inches higher than usual, but I still need to tighten it up. Also, I forgot I had already serged and topstitched the neckband, so I'll just live with the wrinkles. (And yes, I haven't worn those pants yet, so the tag is still on them.)

The next shot is just to show you what I was up against last night. Lucas is copying Drew's desire to make movies, so he borrowed Drew's Flip camera and we started filming last night. It looks like I'm being mobbed by somebody from Goodfellas. This kid actually put on a coat and tie with sunglasses, and the plot is something out of The Bourne Identity...with Nerf guns. (I thought I did a great job as the interrogator getting shot and falling on the floor very dramatically - but I did skin my knee. I put everything into my acting, you know.) I do think I need to size up at the shoulders because I think I need more fabric between the armhole and the neckband. (Peggy would say circumference.)

Here's the back. I lowered the armhole about 3/4", but I didn't cut a new sleeve because I'm lazy, so I still have wrinkles but I'm beyond caring. I wore this to dinner last night - ha! And SusieHomemaker is right, I forgot to take out my usual swayback adjustment, but the pooling is just enough so that when I sit down the shirt stays put. This pattern was drafted for pears with swaybacks!

And I got it finished in time for dinner despite doing stupid things like attaching the right side of the sleeve to the wrong side of the shirt. They tell you to use twill tape to stabilize the shoulder seam, but I use Betzina's tip of using selvages - this one was from those wild shorts I made for Lucas a couple of years ago.

Finally, I got my vintage pattern from Katie already - you're fast, Sister. Look how she wrapped it. I feel like it's an early birthday present - you shouldn't have!

Look at that ink - and only one line to cut out, how awesome!

My next Renfrew with adjustments may have to wait - I think I want to get to work on this dress.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Renfrew Begins...and a Party

I mean, what is Renfrew? Is it a country? I think Kitschy Coo said she lived near Renfrew, but that's such an odd name for a shirt pattern. Anyway, we'll get to that in a second. First, I just came back from a party, and guess who else was there - Gwen!

I actually tuned in to Peggy Sagers webcast tonight on blouse fitting. I checked in an hour early to see if I had the time right, and there were already people there chatting. I felt like Helen Keller, seriously, because my screen was black and there was no audio, so when people start typing you realize that's the only way you're going to communicate until the show starts. It's like a PR chat session, if you've done one of those, which are always awkward because people talk at the same time and you can lose your thread of conversation...especially when 150 people sign on at once and start shouting out to people from their state. Wild stuff. There was even a woman there from Foley, which is just an hour from me! (Robbie, I started to ask her if she knew you, but that's like the time I asked the Japanese woman in the dentist office if she knew another Japanese woman who lives in Daphne. Ridiculous...but she did actually know my MIL - ha!) I learned from that pre-show chatting that Gwen is famous - I waved at her when she came in, but then a whole crowd gathered 'round and started asking her about her projects. You should've seen her working the room. I was just bursting with pride that she said hey to me. (If you haven't guessed, I suffer from low self-esteem.)

So I had taken Robbie's advice and sent Peggy some pics of my Ann's Top this afternoon and asked about fitting questions, and she actually MENTIONED IT ON THE AIR! (I know, take some deep breaths.) But here's the thing, she thought I put a woven sleeve into a knit top, so I think she was saying something about how dumb that was and no wonder it didn't fit. And that she didn't know how I added 1/2" for the bicep, so I probably did that wrong. I have to listen to the replay - I could've misunderstood (it's at 8:14 PM if you're checking it out too). I tried to type in real quick that I used her method and it wasn't a woven (I guess she thought it was from the picture), but that I would just move up to a bigger sleeve like she suggested. I got embarrassed and blushed a little bit, even though I was sitting here alone.

So I'll be honest and say that sometimes she talks down to you (like saying she was surprised that we the viewers didn't know things, and that by the questions she gets, she can tell that we have no idea what she's talking about, etc.), but on the plus side, she emailed me back about one hour after I emailed her and said to go with a bigger armhole and that she would discuss it on the air if that was okay. What other pattern maker is going to be that responsive? (Maybe everybody is that way except the Big 4; I just branched into smaller pattern companies so I have limited experience.)

Anyway, enough moaning, let's get to the Renfrew. (Can you tell Dean took the kids to the beach for his day off - how else would I sew for 3 hours and watch a webcast for an hour?!) Here's the back neck gappy thing some people have mentioned - I can handle it.
I just basted in a sleeve and one side seam. I think I need to size up - see the wrinkles across my chest - and I definitely will lower the armhole a good inch. Wait a minute, let me savor that statement - I need to size up in the bust. I never get to say that.

And I was just trying to use a happier face instead of my mad concentratey I'm holding the shirt against my body since I haven't done that sleeve or side seam.

I don't know, maybe my neckband is what's causing the wrinkles, but I sewed it carefully then steamed the hell out of it on a neckroll thing. I did put some stay-stitching on the front neckline before I put on the neckband - was that wrong? Maybe I can rip that out and see what happens. Anyway, minor stuff. I like the top so far and there's no gaping when I bend over, so this is quite promising. Maybe I'll get it finished tomorrow. (After I watch the webcast replay and feel ashamed again!)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Halter Blues

Well, I'm very discouraged about the Silhouette halter top (and it was a muslin, people, so I threw it together - please don't judge). I was a little suspicious from the get-go, because the pattern envelope doesn't have a great picture of it to start with. It's mostly about a jacket, though there is a small inset showing the neck, which shows a piece of fabric going around the neck.

Uh, mine looks nothing like that. Now there are a couple of things going on. First, the bra cups I bought are too big (rookie mistake - if you're trying to augment with air instead of real padding, be sure not to overdo it, otherwise you could get bumped and have a dent in your boobage). The bra is constructed with 3 pieces then sewn inside the shirt, but the shirt is supposed to gather a good bit, so my bra cups smashed into each other and looked really weird.

Here's a side shot...with the angry face!

And here's the back, which I know is wonky because I just pinned the casing in place to get an idea. I tried pulling the tie tighter to look like the pattern envelope, but the back doesn't want to come up any higher than that, unless I cut a larger size.

I don't like the way the bra was done - you end up with 3 layers of fabric sandwiching bra cups, which wouldn't work if you had anything to put IN them, unless you cut the fabric. Robbie pointed me to one of the swimsuit contest winners on PR, who had a great tutorial on inserting a bra, so I'd use her method next time. I'm also not sure that this top isn't just weird-looking. I didn't show it to Dean for his opinion, but I bet he'd vote for weird. However, one thing saved me from the engulfing sewing depression that hit yesterday - Katie from Kadiddlehopper put some vintage patterns up for sale, and I saw one I loved. (Watch out, I'm enabling you here, because the link takes you straight to her shop!)

See, I'm the blonde in the mini-dress with no hips. (No, not the barefooted cougar with the big purple earrings wearing the maxi dress - they should've drawn her holding a cigarette.) I'll deal with the reality of my hips when the pattern gets here, but I think a low-slung belt will totally help this work. And I've already got the white-pink lipstick to go with the 70's vibe.

Now to clean up the remains of the halter so I can start on the Renfrew....