Life Be Crazy

I know.  I've been a horrible blogger.  But if it's any consolation...I've been an even worse sew-er.  You see, dear friends, this is what our sewing/dining/crafting/boardgaming/computer room looks like:

And it's pouring into our living room and kitchen too.  We are getting ready for a huge yard sale this weekend, so let me know if you see anything you want.  It's too soon for me to give up anything I've sewn (*ahem*), but I know that day will come, right?

I once read an eyeopening entry on a blog (that I regret not bookmarking) where she talked about donating some of her selfmade clothes to Goodwill.   That's when I realized one day I'll purge any less than perfect project, but for now that seems weird to me.  I'm such a new sew-er that everything handmade is darling and wonderful and worthy of saving from the scrapheap, but there must come a time when that switches over, right?  Have you hit that wall?  Early projects that just had to go, or whose trends faded away like acid wash?


Revisiting the Tenth Dress

After a weekend of reflection, feedback, and winning (more on that later) I am back with a renewed spirit and plans for the Tenth Dress!

As you may recall the Little House on the Prairie fabric I originally choose became totally washed out in the pre-rinse.  I asked for feedback and the sagest advice I received was some replica watch spam, so I scrapped that fabric and moved on to Plan B.  But before I do that, let's revisit that "winning" part since that is what ultimately got me here...

...This past weekend my roller derby team, the Reservoir Dolls, won the championship bout of the season!  I can't tell you how thrilling this is.  We have worked so hard and so long for the past year(s) and consistent training and strength of will really paid off for us.  Now, we have the sexiest of sexy trophies to show for it...the Leg!

Photo Credit: Pappa-razzi

It was a particularly adversarial year for the Res Dolls and I am so proud that we rose above injury of body and reputation to be the best we could be, which is all we ever asked of one another on and off the track.  I am so proud.

What does all of this have to do with the Tenth Dress, you ask?  Instead of Little House on the Prairie, I'm changing fabric gears and going full out Reservoir Doll.  Our uniforms are black and white, with ties.  Always looking so professional.  This is a girlie girl dress, which the Res Dolls are not, but I can always squeeze a little more roller derby into my life.  Plus, as I'm making this dress, I can share some of the team lore with you.  We're going from washed out roses to black and white.  This dress is going to be full black poplin, with the button strip in contrasting white poplin.  Like a tie.  Can you see it?

 Aside from our first place victory, this is the perfect way to mark the end the season.  CanIgettaBanBangonThree?  BANG! BANG!  (That's a cheer we do.  I told you, get ready for it.)



If you'll remember this fabric, a simple 100% cotton, bled like crazy on the first prewash.  On the second, things took a turn for the worse.  Instead of bleeding, the red dye damn near ran.  I never got a "before" photo, but I think it's pretty obvious.  The print has lost it's vividness. 

The fabric already looks over loved and I've never even worn it yet!  *sigh*  A friend suggested I take it back to the fabric shop, but then what's to stop this from happening again later?

What I loved so much about this fabric with this dress pattern was the "Little House on the Prairie"ness of it all.  I loved loved loved those Laura Ingalls Wilder books as a kid.  Of all the pages and totally engaging stories, though, two stand out.  They are funny and small, but they are easily the first things that come to mind when I think about these books: when they make maple candy and whenever the girls go shopping for calico fabric.  To this day I love maple candy.  And I think this fabric made me think of those trips to the General Store.  I know that sounds a little over dramatic, and I've over analyzing this thought enough that I am confident that this isn't some weird aging nostalgia.  But still, I wonder:  WWLauraD?  Do I salvage or start over?


The Tenth Dress Revealed!

Dun-dun-dun!  Here she is:

Another Cynthia Rowley pattern.  And I have another in the cue yet!  I love these!  Originally I saw this dress and immediately thought of my friend, Lauren.  It would be adorable on her!  And I was right...When I showed her, she immediately responded saying she'd make seven, one for every day of the week.  But she hasn't done that yet, so when I'm done, I'm passing this pattern along to Lauren so she can get started on her ambitious wardrobe plans.  Because what she needs is more projects.  But I'll confess I just had to get one in first, because let's face it, how cute is this dress??

I like it because it's sweet and modest, but no where near frumpy.   The reviews talk about how small the armholes are, which seems like a nice thing too.  I'm not as advanced a sew-er to consider these things when picking a pattern, but I'll look forward to them when I learn about these things.



Tenth Dress Fabric, with a side of Bad Pre-Wash

Hola!  Time to start the Tenth Dress.  Double digits, I'm a big girl now!  With only two months left and a million dresses I want to sew, I guess I'll keep this experiment up beyond a year...though I am looking forward to sewing things other than dresses for a bit...but for now, onward with the dresses.

As you may have guessed I've already hit a little snag-a-roo on this dress.  The prewash.  And now my husband will know the whole story....

I threw in a load of whites, along with my new fabric, into the washer.  Mid-spin cycle I went back in the laundry room for some reason and notice the water from the washer was running pink.  Crapcrapcrap.  Stop the washer, and there it is: pink underwear, pink undershirts, pink oxfords, pink socks.  I hadn't done this since 6th grade and I thought I learned my lesson for life!  Well, maybe not.  Here is the fabric I was prewashing with my whites.  Oopsies!:

This is post-bleed, obviously.  And not a white fabric, obviously.  Damnit.  Why am I so impatient?  I swear, aside from this incident and this past one, I'm actually a very capable laundry washer.  It's just been a bad year.

In my non-defense, I also found a pair of red underwear (the type our good friend Karl would eschew) in the wash.  Too much information?  Perhaps.  Too many variables to squarely place the blame on this cute new fabric?  Definitely.

So I'm washing the fabric again.  I think the bleeding fabric could still work, but I'll see how much of the dye I can get out in pre-wash, round two, flying solo.  Dress reveal manana!



Whoa, Cirque du Soleil was AMAZING.   It makes me want to run away with the circus, for realsies.  I got a little misty eyed as Matt and I were walking in because I've wanted to see Cirque du Soleil since I was a little girl.  I don't have a bucket list, but if I did, this show would have totally been on it.  And it did not disappoint.  

I got to wear my cute new dress, which was perfect for le occasion, too.  Here's the wrap up on that supa' fine wrap dress:

In some of the previous pictures I realized I hadn't undone the basting on the from pleats.  Looks a lot better now, doesn't it??

*Ninth Dress Report Card*

PATTERN INSTRUCTIONS: Easy, no frills.  It was a See & Sew pattern, so no complicated steps but no cushy guidance either.

PATTERN SIZING:  With a wrap dress, it's probably harder to tell, but for the first time ever I melded (my husband hates that word) two sizes and it fit great.  12 shoulders and hips, 10 waist.

FABRIC CHOICE:  Well, this should come as no surprise but YEESH!  I love the way this fabric looks and feels but I hated sewing with it.  I think I would hate it even if I had used a pattern that called for such a stretchy fabric, so the fact that this pattern didn't call for such a stretchy fabric made it. the. worst.

Stripes: I tried matching up lines previously and I was so conscientious of it then, but horizontal lines were a different lesson all together, so this fabric helped me there.  I thought the stripes laid in pretty good places once the dress was done.

The lining is suitable.  The polyester stretch is a heavy, but does the job which was to make the fabric less sheer.  (I still wore a slip under it yesterday, but also it was cold and I wanted ever layer possible!)  I cut off the bottom five inches or so off the skirt lining to lessen the load.  If I were to make this dress over again with the same fashion fabric, I'd definitely line the bodice.  The fabric is thin enough that with some undergarments, I have bra lines (like panty lines, but for your bra).

My construction of this dress is pretty bad.  I failed in a lot of cover-up-able ways, which I'm thankful for.  But I felt the same about my efforts with the Sixth Dress, and the Seventh Dress remains unfinished, so I really have to knock this next one out of the park!

Pattern: $2.99
Fashion Fabric: $11.14 (sale!)
Lining: $3.00 (clearance!)
Notions: $0 (though I used some leftover interfacing to stabilize the sashes)
TOTAL: $17.13...cheapest dress to date?

Good lord, that section has more notations than Barry Bonds' home run record.

PERFECT OCCASION:  Done and done.  I wore it to Cirque du Soleil last night!  I felt a little fashionista-y and totally appropriate with the crazy colors.

WOULD I MAKE THIS DRESS AGAIN?: Maybe.  I don't know how many simple wrap dresses a girl needs, but I wouldn't rule it out.  This dress can easily be cut and sewn in a day.


Off to the Circus!

Yesterday I posted that I was hoping to wrap up this dress before date night with the man this evening.  Not only did I have time to finish the dress, but I'm blogging about it too.  It's amazing what you can accomplish when you skip roller derby practice!

Speaking of roller derby, every now and then I have a small aside about how my team, the Reservoir Dolls, are doing.  You should know (!!!!!) that we won our semifinals this past Saturday and we're on our way to the championship round in TWO WEEKS!  May 7th.  Circle that dates, folks.  This is seriously exciting.  The team did great!  No more skipping practice though....but for now, back to the dress...

I just had to finish narrow hemming the lining.  Well, wait, back up...I had to undo the travesty that was part of the narrow hemming where one of the dress sashes comes in.

Please don't ask me to explain the picture above.  No, I don't know which side is up, or where that sash end is meant to be coming from.  And no, I don't know how this happened.  Well, I do a little bit.  Again, this fabric is too stretchy and light for this dress.  The sash is folded into the hem in a certain way, and when the sash is supposed to do an about face so it can be wrapped around your body, the fabric pulls all weird.  I seam ripped and resewed and STILL ended up with the same results.  But then I realized something wonderful.  This sash is the one that goes inside of the wrap part of the dress.  I didn't touch it again.  If I see you on the street, I'll happily unite my dress and show you the dirty details--no, the sewing dirty details--but until then, I'll spare you.

Next, I zoom zoom zipped around this dress and it's DONE.  Well, I haven't put in the recommended "stay" button on the wrap yet, but those crazy French Canadian contortionists can't wait any longer!  I'm off in my faboo new dress--toodles!


Happy belated Easter!

Looks like I took an impromptu vacation from sewing and staying in touch, but it was great!  My parents were in town...we painted trim, fixed cracked sidewalks, fixed fences, fixed a screen door, took down a tree!  It was amazing.  They are excellent and capable homeowners and Matt and I appreciated the lessons.  The house is in great shape, which was so nice to have confirmed by my home inspector dad, but there is always a bit of cosmetic work to do....

Needless to say it did not leave much time for anything else and I only have a few days left to finish sewing this dress.  Matt and I are going to Cirque du Soleil tomorrow night.  Can I finish it by then?  I have just a bit of hemming to do and to put in a button to hold the heavy thing up (as recommended by Tommie).

Wish me luck!


Getting it Lined

Welcome to the first episode of "Getting it Lined!", with your host....me!  Where you take an unlined pattern and try to make a lining for it.  It's even less exciting than that sounds (and certainly a lot less cheerful...)

So I mentioned yesterday I picked up some polyester lining.  It's a "moderate stretch", and I was hopeful that it would keep the crazy stretch that is this ITY fabric in place.

I thought a lot about, and has some missteps with how this lining should work.  (NOTE: Continue reading the rest of this paragraph only if you're looking for guidance on whether or not to make this dress.  It gets a little technical.  About the lining...)  This dress has pleats in the front..should I pleat the lining?  If I do, will that be too much bulk?  Do I ignore the pleats for the lining?  If I do, will the lining move enough?  This was such a mindbender for a novice such as myself.  After a lot of thought, turns out I wasted my time on thinking of a solution.  I only had enough fabric for one answer.  Based on the constraints of the too little lining yardage, I added pleats to the back, but just cut the lining into post-pleat sized panels for the front.  I figured, it's a wrap skirt.  I won't need that extra yardage in the front for movement.  Plus, this lining fabric is HEAVY, so every inch I can leave out, the better.  Here's what I did, while obviously enjoying the morning sun...

Pleats for the back panel

No pleats in the front.
So, I "solved" (by default) the problem of the lining shape, but I soon began to worry about the weight of the fabric.  I think I mentioned that already...

The next step was pinning the bodice to the skirt.  With each pin, though, I got more and more worried about the weight.  I am sad to admit that wasn't even excited to see the dress come together because it just sagged with the polyester.  Just before the moment of truth...

...then, voila!...

No, wait...I'm holding it there.....VOILA!

Excitement meter = zero.  Here's hoping the ties do a hell of a lot of good.  Putting the dress down now.  Full critical review of unstraight stripes, weird sags, and the questioning of this fabric choice coming soon....and this is supposed to be an easy See & Sew!


The Sleeves that Never Were

Here they are, the sleeves that never were:

I originally wanted short sleeves for this dress.  I thought they would show off the stripes a bit better, but in the half-waking life that is falling asleep, I realized fluttery sleeves are better.  I feel like I have a lot of good ideas in that twilight time.  I also sing really well in the shower and find things in the last place I look.  I guess I'm just a special little snowflake that way!

So, I scrapped the short sleeves and went onward with the pain-in-the-ass-to-cut-out curves of fluttery sleeves:

Pain in the ass, for sure, but I'm happy with the outcome...

So many stripes!!!

Also, I bit the bullet and stopped by Joann's to pick up lining for the dress.  I got a stretch polyester which I'm less than thrilled about.  While the bolts of novelty fleece were numerous, the options for sexy, slinky black fabric were not.  Do you think it will be itchy?


Started the Sewing...

I'll take care of the lining I'm missing later.  For now, I sew!  Since I won't be lining the bodice anyway, I say let's get started...

Oh!  I finally took a good picture of this fabric.  I don't think any of the other picture captured the vividness of the print, but we had sun yesterday, and it was glorious!

I love it.  And it's a good thing because this is a bear to sew with.  Sooooo stretchy....you're going along, sewing with right sides together...all you see is this vaguely colorful, mostly grayish coming together, getting caught in the bobbin feed hole (or whatever it's called).  It's awful.  But when it's done, you turn the fabric right side out and, ahhhh, you forget all the pain.  I'm pretty sure it's exactly like childbirth.  All the pain of labor, but then you see the baby.  Yes, I'm sure sewing stretchy fabric is exactly like giving birth.

I haven't gotten very far.  Just the bodice, but there was a little detail to the dress I had overlooked on the pattern envelope.  There is a little 'tuck' on the sleeves.  Intrigue!

So here's the bodice all put together.  I am not going to worry that the stripes don't match up.  I hadn't even though about it for these pattern pieces.  Sheesh.  Amateur.


Lining Update. A Short Story.

Someone has their bolts mislabeled...

See Sandy order lining fabric.

See wrong fabric arrive.

See fabric returned, replacement shipped quickly.

(Yes, I picked the 'cute guy' customer service pic.)

See replacement arrive.

See replacement is the same wrong fabric.



The End.


Thanks, McCall's! (and other shoutouts!)

BREAKING NEWS!  I'm excited about this.  My Eighth Dress was featured on McCall's facebook page last week!

 I got a very nice email from a very kind administrator, and was thrilled.  So not only do I have a great dress, but a shout out from the pattern makers themselves.  Hello! and Welcome! to those of you visiting from the fancy blue and white world of facebook! 

Since there are a few more new people here though, I'm going to put you to work.  My lining fabric is due at my doorstep any minute! and have a question about it: When you line a garment, do you serge the two layers together and sew as one dress?  Or do you create a second insideout garment and just attach it at the...shoulder seams?  ...waist seam?  I probably won't get to this part until the end of the week, so if you see this, let me know.

Also, in other BREAKING NEWS news.  My boss will be on NBC's Today Show any. second. now.  Way to go Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier! 


Cutting the Ninth Dress

Today I wore a wrap dress I've had in my closet for years without a single wardrobe malfunction, so I'm pressing ahead with this Ninth of Dresses.  You may recall I was a little nervous about the potential fabric sagging in the d├ęcolletage region.  Fears subsided.

So tonight I'm cutting, I'm cutting, I'm cutting.  This wasn't a mindless cut, mind you.  Silly stripes making it all confusing.  Since I'm working with horizontal stripes of irregular width, I had to avoid the really wide stripes falling across my bum.

Which is why there is a large gap between the fabric pieces in the picture above.

Also, the bodice front is cut on the grain line, so the stripes kind of fall downward to the sides on your body.  Not the most flattering way to have them go, but there wasn't much I could do to avoid it.  You can kind of see what I mean in this picture (piece marked '1' is the bodice):

Oy.  This fabric was not fun to fold and cut.  The fabric stuck to itself when folded, and the stretch made the stripes warp when I was trying to unstick the damn thing.  Good times.  Now that I'm done cutting everything, I get to wait for the same ITY lining fabric to arrive and then cut it out all over again.


The "Before Work Skirt"

Okay, the allergy melodrama is over* and I'm on to the "Before Work Skirt" timed session.  This is called the "Before Work Skirt" because it can be made if you use that extra time in the morning to sew and not, oh I don't know, to catch up on facebook and crush on Matt Lauer.

I used Freshly Picked's elastic skirt tutorial and followed it to the t/tee/tea with excellent results.  Freshly Picked and I share the same measurements, so I cut everything exactly the same size.  Next time I'll make the elastic about an inch shorter for a more snug fit, but obviously not shortening it worked too.

I figured this skirt would take less than an hour to pull together, so I wanted to time it to see if I could encourage at least one of you to get this cute little thing done.  To prove it's ease, I stopped to take a picture every five minutes.  Below are the results.  Note: I did not time the cutting of the fabric, and I'll explain that in the Preamble.  Also, I won't repeat the directions here because Freshly Picked deserves all the credit.  Oh, and one more thing.  Not only is this skirt quick, but take a minimal amount of fabric.  I'm a pattern size 12 and made it for less than a yard.  Here goes...

I picked a fabric with an extra trim pattern on one side.  I'm sure there is a technical term for it, but I picture is worth a thousand words:

See?  That thing on the bottom is the extra trim.  I didn't want to lose that, but only had a yard of fabric. which wouldn't be wide enough  Sadly, I had to lose that little bean motif in the middle there, but was able to salvage the rest.  I cut the remaining panel in half and sewed on what was left of the divided motif.  Here's what the panels I ended up looking like:

Not bad.  Now I start the timing:

5 Minutes

Crap, I forgot to cut the pockets.  I used the pattern from Simplicity 2443, but FP has a downloadable pattern too.  Also not hard to invent one.  I hadn't made it very far after 5 minutes.  I must have checked up on everyone on facebook.

10 Minutes

Not quite pinned the pockets on, but I can explain why...I had measured the skirt wrong and had to do some more cutting.  See!  You can make this skirt in even less time.

15 Minutes

Pockets sewn in and pressed.  I'm cruising now....

20 Minutes

Panels almost completely sewn together.  Rock star!

25 Minutes

Pressing the hem.  I like hemming a lot more when it's not the last, laborious step.

30 Minutes

Tickticktick... Hem almost sewn in...but whoops!...

35 Minutes

Bad thread tension strikes!  Seam ripping commences at breakneck pace.

40 Minutes

Elastic starts getting pinned in.  It helped a lot to match up the quarter-lengths of the elastic and the skirt circumference.  And since the skirt circumference, according to FP's tutorial, should be twice your waist measurement, when pinning you should gather your fabric twice over.  Meaning, the length between the pins should actually gather twice that length of fabric.  Like so....

45 Minutes 44:07 Minutes

The skirt is fully pinned and I stopped the timer because I didn't want to restart in in the middle of sewing the elastic on the band.  Justincase.  You can see my handy youtube countdown clock in the background. 

46:57 Minutes

TA DA!  Finished sewing the elastic in.  Another clock cameo to mark the timely occasion.  Yes, this skirt was done in just under 47 minutes.  Are you motivated yet???

Looks good with my pajama shirt, no?

So, there you have it, the Before Work Skirt.  What are you waiting for???

*No it's not.  I only shut up to save face.  Still bummed big time about the pecan allergy.