Archive for the ‘sewing’ Category

Project #182 – Metafilter Dress

Friday, July 17th, 2009

I need to learn to be more careful about vintage patterns where the cover art represents an artist’s interpretation rather actual finished product. For example, the above pattern looks pretty cute. It has a big, flowing skirt and nips in a bit at the waist. Lovely.

Well, the real thing is a tad poofier than the drawing above, like, 80′s prom dress levels of poof. I should have taken heed when the seller labeled it as a ‘square dance’ dress.

The top part does not conform to the front cover. Instead of a nice, trim waistline, the upper section gives one the appearance of a pigeon chest. I fashioned a sash to give me some curves in the right places, but the rest of the chest and shoulders are so poofy that I had to shelve the dress from its intended purpose. I was planning on wearing it to the Metafilter 10th anniversary party, but it is not the right dress for meeting strangers in a casual bar setting. However, if there is a 80′s or 90′s party in the near future I’m set.

* * *

I’ve been neglecting my fabric countdown, but I’ve been making lots of progress.

Yardage Countdown to buying more fabric:

1 yard – Yellow T-shirt
2 yards – Hiking Skirt
1.5 yards – Office Shirt
3.5 yards – Parasol Dress
2.5 yards – Interplanetary Space Travel Dress
.75 yards – Vintage 1950s Top
4 yards – 1950s Vintage Dress with Tie Back Neck
1.5 yards – Half Circle Skirt
1.25 yards – Cutsey Knit Dress
1 yard – T-Shirt Muslin
2.5 yards – Fourth of July Dress
5 yards – Metafilter Dress

Total: 26.5 yards
Remaining: 3.5 yards

Rats!! I promised myself that I wouldn’t buy any more fabric until I finished off thirty yards and I’m just three and a half lousy yards from being able to buy all the silk that I can fit into my budget. I thought it would take less than six weeks to blow through the full 30 yards, but it’s going to take at least twice that. ちくしょう!

Project #172 – Fourth of July Dress

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

I cut this dress out in February thinking that I would have plenty of time to get it done before the Fourth of July. Well, I starting sewing the buttons on at midnight, the midnight that technically started July the 5th. This was after a full sweaty day of frantic sewing, oh, and having fuzz from the serger fly around and stick to my skin so that I was kind of blue tinged by the end of the day. There is a reason why winter and spring are my preferred sewing seasons.

The pattern I used was M4769, view C, shortened a bit because it’s hawwwwt outside. My only complaint about the pattern was the difficulty of placing the collar facing. Wait, make that ‘complaints‘, plural, because the pockets are also too shallow to be useful. It’s a shame to have a dress that cares to have pockets but not be able to use them without worrying that everything is going to fall out when you sit down. However, I will forever love shirt dresses and I will put up with serious amounts of frustration because they are great.

Project #166 – Cutsey Knit Dress

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

Okay, this is crazy…but a friend, a very convincing friend, talked me into attending Anthrocon this year. Yes, it’s that Anthrocon, the annual furry convention. I had no idea that there was an annual convention, in my fair city of Pittsburgh no less, of people who like dressing up as and acting like animals. At first, I had absolutely no desire to go, but my friend convinced me over several months with stories about canine commandos and technicolor panther pimps. I am easy to wear down if you can tell a good story.

So, now I’m resigned to going. And of course, as with any special event I had to make a new dress, one that will serve as my camouflage. The fabric itself is covered with tiny frolicking animals.

It was my intention to make this dress using a new pattern, but the test run didn’t turn out too well. So, out of impatience I used a familiar adaptation of two patterns, S3835 from the neck to the armpits, and M5144 from there to the bottom hem. I also add darts in back to make the shape a little more fitted. I’ve now made this exact knit dress a total of four times, and this is the second one this year. Still, the pattern is really versatile and it’s as comfy as wearing a pair of pajamas.

Project #164 – Sewing Pattern Translation

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

**These pictures are far too tiny to be useful, but you can find a larger version of my translation here, and the original page here.**

It’s been about three years since I’ve actually translated anything from Japanese. I find it much easier to just read something without taking the time to write everything out, and lord knows I spent plenty of time doing that in college. Of course, this leaves me suspended at a reading level that can only handle crafting books and comic books, and I’m a little disappointed that I still have trouble reading the newspaper. Clark can just pick up a copy of the Asahi and flip through casually, while I’ll spend 20 minutes frowning over a two column article.

Still, translating something, even something withing my comfort level is good brain exercise. I also learned that I’ve been reading a few words completely wrong for years, namely the word for ‘topstitch’, which I’d been mistaking as a synonym for just ‘stitch’. Oh well, reading is fun, y’all!

My, my those are some mighty fine diagrams.

The pattern is from this book, 直線縫いでざくざくできるスカート, which I highly recommend to anyone interested in making their own skirts. I’ve been wanting this book for months, mostly for the pattern above, and some friends were kind enough to bring back a copy for me last week. Now I have the whole thing and not just a few thumbnails online, oh and there are sooo many good skirts, ones that I would never have dreamed up on my own. Japanese craft books are the best!

Project #160 – T-Shirt Muslin

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

Many sewists call test runs of patterns ‘muslins’ after the cheap, undyed cotton fabric used traditionally to make and test patterns.

I’m usually terrible about testing out patterns with inexpensive fabric before trying with the pricey stuff. Most of the time it’s that I don’t have time to make two of something. I just want one that is the right color, the right fabric and fits. Usually, I get lucky and the finished product fits with only minor alterations.

However, there are some fabrics that are too dear and some patterns that are too untrustworthy. I think my instincts were correct and I saved myself some frustration and heartbreak by trying out NL 6813 before cutting into my nice, cute fabric. Since this pattern calls for knits, I sacrificed some of my leftover green cotton interlock instead.

Sigh. This pattern won’t work for me without some major alterations. The sleeves are too loose and the cut around the waist is way too baggy. I could alter to fix these flaws, but there is something about the cut that is not cute. I really want a t-shirt pattern that can be converted to a dress and have a contrasting collar. I guess it’s back to scratch, then.

Project #140 – Half Circle Skirt

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

This one is in a bit late because it took me a while to finish and put together the support materials.

My pattern for a half circle skirt is essentially two quarter circles stitched together. There is also another, smaller cutout of a quarter circle, indicated by the white wedge in the diagram above, that is removed the pattern piece to create the top waistline edge of the skirt. Your waist size will determine the size of the quarter circle you’ll cut. The calculations for determining this are based on solving for the radius of a circle based on its circumference.

In this case, the circumference will be twice your waist size, plus a little extra for ease and seam allowances. Why twice the size? Well, you’re making a half circle skirt, so really the waistline is only going to be 1/2 of the total circumference. We really want the radius of this big circle because it will tell us two things: how big to cut the pattern piece itself and how much to remove from the waistline.

So we know that the formula for finding the circumference for a circle:
circumference = 2π * radius
…And from that we know how to solve for the radius:

radius = circumference/2π

I got the size of my circumference by taking my waist size, adding one inch for seam allowances, and one more for ease (too tight = not comfy), and doubling that to get from a half circle to a full circle. I then solved for the radius and got a measurement of about 9.5 inches.

The radius of the big quarter circle is based on two things: how long you want the skirt to be, and your waist measurement. I wanted my skirt to be 20 inches long, so I cut a quarter circle with a 29.5 inch radius. I used a piece of paper to gauge the 90 degree angle at the origin.

Next, I cut a quarter circle with a 9.5 inch radius out of the top.

I used double fold bias tape to finish off my skirt. If you’re interested in hemming the top and bottom, just change the dimensions a little before cutting. Add an inch to the radius (for the bottom hem) and one inch less of the top wedge (for the top hem).

Project #137 – 1950s Vintage Dress with Tie Back Neck

Monday, May 25th, 2009

I made my second dress based on a vintage pattern, Simplicity 4341. I’m not sure I’m in love with the styling, but this is why I try out new, complicated-looking patterns in cheap fabric. The cotton dotted fabric used here was $2 a yard on sale. That, along with thread, a side zipper and some interfacing adds up to less than $10 in total.

It’s kind of shocking how delicate the pattern pieces are in these 50+ year old copies. I tore multiple ones and had to tape the delicately back together. The instructions, too, are looking worse for the wear.

I really wish that instructions on how to tie the back tie into a bow were included. The interfacing doesn’t seem to help; instead of adding structure, its extra thickness makes it nearly impossible to form a neat knot that will stay tied. This is why first drafts are important, I wouldn’t want to waste important fabric on something that is less than fabulous. It’s nice to have a chance to learn from myb mistakes.

Japanese Fabric Finds: Nikko Jusco and Momenya Makino

Monday, May 25th, 2009

Momenya Makino (Shimokitazawa, Tokyo) – Really, you should just go there because Shimokitazawa is such a great neighborhood. There are a ton of little boutiques and shops to explore even if you don’t like fabric shopping.

Plus, the ladies who work at Momenya Makino are the nicest out of all of the places I visited. They were really great at helping me look for alternative colors and patterns. I guess they have to be nice just because the shop is absolutely crammed with fabric. The aisles are just wide enough for a medium sized dog to walk down. Any bit of free space is obliterated with tall stacks of bolts of fabric. Still, I found some rare colors of my favorite fabrics and got some great recommendations from the staff.

Jusco (Nikko City, formerly Imaichi City) – Jusco is essentially a Japanese Wal-Mart. They are in almost every town and carry a variety of products from food, to clothes, to toys, to liquor. Most of them have a small craft section and if you’re lucky they’ll offer fabric by the yard. This last trip had some good cotton-linen blends, but a year or two earlier there were some even better prints. Still, there was a lot on sale.

ABC crafts (Osaka, Tennoji) – This store is a lot more crowded than what I remembered. This is another store better suited for quilters and crafters rather than dressmakers. There is a good selection of small fabric pieces, though there are a fair number of cotton fabrics that can be bought off of the bolt. I’m also a huge fan of their remnant bin; I just kept reaching in an pulling out gem after gem. They also have a variety of vinyled fabrics pre-cut into 50 cm pieces. This is especially appreciated because this store is very popular and carrying bolts of vinyl through narrow, old lady-filled spaces increases the likelihood of an international incident.

Project #133 – Vintage 1950s Top

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

Sandritocrat has the best Etsy pattern store. I ordered four vintage 1950s patterns last week and due to a post office mix-up I was a few anxious days late in getting them in my hands. Why won’t the mailman leave packages at my door even when I’ve signed the orange card and marked ‘door’ as the place I want him to leave it? Arg!

Still, as soon as the patterns entered my possession I knew I would have to make something immediately. The top in the XXX hand corner offered the quickest gratification. I used some linen fabric from Otsukaya in Japan to keep it summer weight.

I don’t know if I’m thrilled with the fit, so I might make the next one with a lower neckline in the front.

Project #120 – Interplanetary Space Travel Dress

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

I never miss out on an opportunity to make a theme dress. The new Star Trek movie is coming out in a few days and despite the fact that I have seen exactly one Star Trek movie in a theater (Though I will admit that I do enjoy some Khaaaaan! when it comes on TV.), I’m going to be there at opening day with my husband and some friends. Well, if you’re going to go to a Star Trek movie it might as well be on opening day, because that’s when the cosplay geek pageant is in full effect.

I had some really dorky space fabric that I was planning on using for bag linings, but this seemed like a good opportunity to make a nerd dress. Of course, I made the mistake of showing it to my husband, who told all of his friends about it and now everyone is expecting me to show up today in a wacky dress.

In reality, I didn’t have quite enough time to get it done and get enough sleep, but I have too much pride when it comes to expectations, so I sewed this dress over the course of one stupid, stressful day. I even had to go to dinner at the home of another couple, which took a few hours that I could have spent sewing. I did get to eat the delicious pile of avocado and sushi tuna pictured above (Thanks, Melissa!), so it was worth it in the end, but I still ran straight to my machine as soon as I got home. I cranked away until about 2:00 in the morning, and I managed to finish with only a few shortcuts.

It looks a little more New-Age than Star Trek, like I should be wearing a crystal or something, but at least it’s finished. I guess I’ll have something on hand for my next trip to the Science Center.

Yardage Countdown to buying more fabric:

1 yard – Yellow T-shirt
2 yards – Hiking Skirt
1.5 yards – Office Shirt
3.5 yards – Parasol Dress
2.5 yards – Interplanetary Space Travel Dress

Total: 10.5 yards
Remaining: 19.5 yards