Monthly Archives: April 2010

Pattern Review – Vogue 8379

I should warn you right off that I only have crappy pictures of my finished dress — my usual photographer, my sister, has been sick for several days — so I used the self timer in crappy rainy day lighting.  IRL I think the dress is more flattering than these pictures seem to suggest.  Really!

I just posted my review on Pattern Review, but here goes…

Vogue 8379

Pattern Description:  Wrap front dress has soft pleats, side tie, and sleeve variations. Dress B has collar.

Pattern Sizing:  BB (8-14) I made a size 12.  I probably should have made a size 14, but I am in the process of losing weight (yeah, I know you should sew for the body you have, but I am really determined to lose this baby weight!)

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?  Yes, except my ties weren’t as long.

Were the instructions easy to follow?  Yes, very easy to understand.  I can’t believe I am finally able to say that. For the longest time sewing pattern instructions were written in Greek to me.  Yeah!!!

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

Likes: close fitting bodice, adequate girl coverage, cute silhouette, great directions, pretty easy pattern, and loved the swishy skirt.

Dislikes: interfacing not necessary, facings are stupid, ties could be longer, bodice is too short, skirt length could be short for tall people and sleeves are made for twig arms.

Fabric Used:  some gorgeous knit from Metro Textiles in NYC.  I loved working with it.  It was easy to cut, didn’t curl, and was a dream to sew.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:  I lengthened the bodice by 1 inch which caused me to widen the front skirt pieces a titch, and I would need at least another 3/4 inch if I made it again.  I would lengthen the skirt by an inch also so that I have an adequate hem — I was forced to hem at 1 inch and it seemed a little skimpy.  On the plus side, having such a short hem meant I didn’t need to gather it first to do the hem since there was not much difference in size from the bottom of the hem to the top.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?  I probably will not sew it again.  I was hoping this would be a TNT (Tried & True Pattern, one that you use over and over again as a wardrobe staple for those of you not familiar with this acronym) for me, but I think the bodice needs at least another 3/4 inches in length for me.  And while I like the swishy skirt, I think I would prefer more of an A-line skirt for my TNT.  The sleeves were really snug on me and I prefer the sleeve of Simplicity 3678 to this one as you don’t need to hem it but don’t know that I trust my skill set to interchange the two.  Note that if you lengthen the bodice you might want to sew down the pleats down a little higher (longer) so you don’t get saggy boob syndrome. Ask me how I know.   😉   Now that I think of it, I may sew mine up a little higher before I wear it to work tomorrow (ETA: did not do this, but probably should have.  I am just so over this dress now though).  The interfacing of the facings is NOT necessary and only serves to make them flip out more because they are stiffer.  I hate the facings and had to topstitch them 3/8ths in so that they would stay put.  I don’t mind the top stitching, but I much prefer the facing/binding method of Simplicity 3678 for the neck edges.  Basically they have you do a self fabric bias tape treatment.  Note: the sleeves while being skinny had a huge sleeve cap and could not be eased in by stretching as you sew.  You definitely need to follow the instructions to easestitch, baste and then sew them in.  It gives you perfect sleeve insertion, but why do you have to go to all that trouble when you could just use a smaller sleevecap to begin with?????  Annoying!  Also, I would make the ties at least a good 5-6 inches longer.  I tie them around my waist from the back to front and they are too short.  I can’t see tying them any other way and having the wrap work.  So, make them longer.

Conclusion:  So while I most likely won’t be making this ever again, I see that many people on PatternReview love this pattern.  For me there were too many alterations I had to make to make it work and I was still not entirely satisfied.  I think a different pattern will work for me better.  I am not saying that I should fit a pattern right out of the envelope, but rather that this pattern was not to my liking because the changes I would make had to do with the design and not just my body.  

This was a comedy of errors project for me from day one.  From cutting out the bodice with the stretch going the wrong way first, to cutting a v-shaped hole in my bodice front…

To attaching the ties to the side seams instead of the bodice fronts…

resewn on tie interior

resewn on tie exterior

tie stubs cut as close to seam as possible

And ending with finishing the hem incorrectly because I “remembered” the directions incorrectly.

That being said, the pattern goes together well when user errors don’t occur, is well marked, is drafted well and the directions are impeccable.  The only serious flaw is that the neck facings are just wrong, wrong, wrong!!!

And without further ado, the craptastic pictures.  Hopefully my sister will be up for more pictures later which will show that this dress is nicer than I’ve made it out to be in this review.

Next on the dockets is a muslin of the Knip Mode skirt that Cidell made a while back.  Also, I want to do a little tutorial on how to lengthen a bodice, because while it seems simple enough once you do one, to the innocent beginner it can be baffling!  Ask me how I know.  😉 

Happy sewing everyone!

PS: Sorry for the crappy pictures today.  I feel compelled to say something again about it.  I was rushed trying to upload them before I left for work, so there was no time to futz around with them.

Sneak Peek – Vogue 8379

 

So I didn’t make it to finish line last night.  I was able to correct my massively idiotic error of attaching the ties to the side seams rather than the front edges of the bodice wraps.  I set in my sleeves very successfully (but I have more detail on that in the pattern review post later).  BUT, I was too tired to push ahead and hem the dress.  I hope to finish it tonight and take some pictures this weekend.  I will write up the review this weekend as well.

Here’s a sneak peek at the dress in it’s almost completed state, but just a peek of my perfect sleeve.  I am emphasizing the perfection of the sleeves because they are the only thing about this dress that went smoothly. 

I will give you a little taste of my review ahead of time though just to keep you wanting more: Vogue 8379 will NOT be a TNT pattern for me going forward.  I am going to look at different options.  Robin suggested Kwik Sew 3408.  Check out her post and her review for her comparison of the two patterns.  Sounds like a winner to me.

May your sewing be free of idiotic mistakes.

Is there a cure for stupidity?

I hope so.  Can you tell me what wrong with these pictures?

Yep, that’s right.  Yours truly, idiot extraordinaire, put the ties of the dress on the side seams, not at the front edges of the bodice.  How am I supposed to wrap this wrap dress?   I don’t know because it ain’t gonna wrap without those ties in the right place. 

I made great progress last night and thought I only had to attach the sleeves and hem the dress tonight.  But when I tried on the dress last night I was at a complete loss as to how to wrap the dress.  It took me 10 minutes and a lot of staring at the instructions before I finally saw my glaring error.  DOH!!!

I’m sure I can fix this hot mess too, but I was too tired to do it last night.  I hope you’ll all still be my friends after this comedy of errors.  😉  

On the good news front, I was able to patch my cutting error and solve the facing problem.  Instead of removing the facing, I just topstitched it down.  And I used fusible knit interfacing to patch the cut.  Here’s a blurry picture of the patch and topstitching for your viewing headache.

Anyway, tonight is another night.  Let’s see what miracles I can pull out of my butt tonight.

Happy idiot-free sewing to you all.

Disaster averted, hopefully

Last night I was happily making progress on Vogue 8379 and not one, but two disasters struck. 

First, I was clipping the seam allowance 0n the neck facing and cut a v-shaped hole in the front of my bodice.  *sniff sniff* 

Then to rub salt on the gaping wound, the stupid #$%$^*^%$# facings wouldn’t stay put when I tried on the bodice.  I had heard tales on PatternReview many times before of the faceless facings flopping in mute mutiny.  Did I listen to these tales of woe from more experienced sewists than me?  Did I give in to my misgivings regarding these $#*&$#*&% facings? 

No, as a true 4 (sorry to interject numerology here, but my friend Cayce has determined that I am the epitome of a 4, doomed to face a lifetime of having process beaten into me — sounds like fun doesn’t it?), I stolidly carried on, faithful to the Vogue instructions, stubbornly disbelieving all those who have walked before me.  They must have sewed the facings on wrong somehow.  Why else would Vogue have you put facings on these dresses?  Right?

WRONG!

And to make matters even worse, Vogue tells you to interface the facings.  In my heart of hearts, I knew this to be wrong.  But did I heed my heart’s warnings?  Did I listen to the reviewers on PatternReview?  No, because Vogue is God.  OMG!!!!!!  Those facings were stiff as a board (note: I did use a fusible knit facing).  And my facings didn’t want to be hidden inside the bodice of my dress.  They wanted to “face” the world dammit.  Whether I wanted them to or not.  Even despite my meticulous understitching. 

So I thought I could take off the offensive facings and finish the bodice edges differently.  I sat on my couch with my friendly neighborhood seam ripper and commenced to unpluck stitches.  After an hour of studious and hard work, I had managed to undo less than one inch of the understitching.  The UNDERSTITCHING mind you!  Not even the actually seam stitching. 

I was ready to run out and throw myself under a bus to Kashi’s at Metro Textile today and buy more fabric and start all over.  And then Thea, my teacher, talked me off the roof told me how I could bring this project back from the dead the UFO pile.  She said to cut the facing off as close to the seam line as possible and attach a binding instead, possibly in a contrasting color as a design element.  And if I compromised the size of the front bodice, I could add some width with the binding.  GENIUS!!!!  This is why Thea gets paid the big bucks!  😉  

Needless to say, I did not run out to Kashi’s and I will attempt this fix tonight.  Oh and I will use fusible interfacing to fix the snip in the front as invisibly as possible.  Phew!!!

Despite these major setbacks, I am loving this dress and this fabric.  It’s a dream to work with (when you don’t deal with #$(*#%&*%^ interfaced facings).

Happy non-disastrous sewing to you all.

A Mixed Bag

Today’s post will be a mixed bag.  I have received so many great comments on my last few posts (thank you!!!) that I want to call out a few several for you all.  

FRUSTRATED

In response to Frustrated, many of you commiserated with me on the process of fitting a pattern to our bodies.  Phew!  I am so glad that I am not the only one.  Patricia  linked to her sewing forum where she has tips and tutorials for fitting.  Check it out! 

Several people recommended fitting books/videos like Nancy Zieman’s “Pattern Fitting with Confidence”, the “Fit for Real People” book, “Fast Fit” by Sandra Betzina, Peggy Sayer’s video (sorry no link) for fitting a muslin, and the G Street Fabrics book, “Customize your Sewing Patterns for a Perfect Fit”.  I definitely have to get my hands on one of these references.  Sue suggested joining my local ASG chapter which I have considered, but since I have challenges with childcare, it’s not an option right now for me. 

I loved Helen’s comment about those annoying I mean prolific sewists who just whip up garments left and right.  She rightly pointed out that they’ve probably worked with the pattern before and are very careful with their fabric selection.  Sewingatnight also mentioned working out slopers for each kind of garment.  TNT’s are the way to go people.  I know that and that’s why I am on a quest to find some.  There’s just that painful process of getting patterns to fit you that’s the problem.  😉   

BUT HOW DO THEY WEAR? 

My post about how our home sewn clothes wear generated some good discussion too.  But first let me post some pictures of my trench where I think it’s showing the wear and tear which prompted the post in the first place.  Some of it is poor hand sewing and some of it is lack of interfacing for the buttonholes.  DOH! 

faulty hand sewing of the lining

more faulty hand sewing

button hole fatigue

button hole sadness

My mom suggested that I get my local dry cleaner to water proof my trench coat.  Great idea.  Thanks Mom!  I didn’t know they could do that.  Mary Nanna pointed out that as she became more experienced, the more durability she built into her clothes.  I am noticing that already with my clothes.  Sheila got me to thinking that I probably shouldn’t have used silk charmeuse as my lining in the trench coat as it is an item which will get much wear.  Live and learn.  *sigh*  Wendy also commented on the trench saying that she interfaces everything in coats so they will last longer.  Noted!  

Mary in FL asked which pattern I used for the red border print dress.  Simplicity 3678 of course.  The only dress pattern I’ve used yet (until this week). 

Toocutedobs mentioned that she’s not worn any of the clothes she’s sewn, but promised to do so last weekend.  And I can report back today, that she did.  Yeah!!!  Heather said she also had a mental block about wearing her own sewn clothes.  Heather, how about this weekend?  Wanna make me a promise to wear something you’ve made like Toocutedobs? 

Carolyn pointed out that in thinking about what clothes I’ve made that I wear on a regular basis, I’ve discovered what I like to wear.  My mom will most likely note for you all that I was known in childhood as the girl who wore dresses all the time.  So I guess that is my true nature.  😉 

Peter admitted to wearing the same pair of jeans he made last August almost every day since.  I hope they make it to the washer every once in a while. 

Sherry shared that she had a tutorial on her blog on using twill tape for waists when there is no waistband.  Thanks!  

Evelyn offered some ideas for making clothes more durable like using your sewing machine after serging a seam to make the seam stronger and using twill tape on curved waist bands. 

TAKING THE 30 MINUTES A DAY PLUNGE 

My last post about taking the 30 minutes a day plunge came up with some great tips as well.  Sheila takes her projects to work when they’re portable.  Now that’s dedication.  WOW. 

Darci says she sets herself up to start sewing right away the next time she’s at the machine, so she doesn’t spend precious sewing time prepping.  I’ve done that several times before including last night and can vouch that it works.  Not only does it set you up, but it stops you from sewing when you’re tired because you stop early enough in the evening to do the prep work the next session.  A win-win situation! 

Trena mentioned something of which I suspected about the 30 minute a day method: that while you do make progress on your projects every day, you don’t get the high of making something in one long stretch.  There’s no immediate gratification.  And speaking of Trena, go check out her new vintage dress.  It’s gorgeous!!!!!

So, the last two nights I have been working on my DVF knockoff using Vogue 8379.  I worked longer than 30 minutes each day which is what I was hoping would happen.  Let me tell you though, Everything. Takes. So. Long.  OMG!  I guess I will get used to this process eventually, but for someone who’s always impatient, it’s such a pain to endure.  But back to the wrap dress – I can tell already that I will be making this dress again and again (with some tweaks of course!).  I even have plans to make it with my navy ombre knit that I bought from Kashi a while back.  Oooooohhhhhh, I can’t wait (remember, I’m impatient).   I feel a TNT coming on folks.  

Anyway, that’s my mixed bag post today.  Hope you liked the round up.  I’m not promising anything here, but I think I can finish it by Friday.  Here’s to hoping! 

Happy sewing my friends.

Taking the 30 minutes a day plunge

I’ve heard so much around the interwebs about sewing just 30 minutes a day.  I know I”ve told you how I’ve built whole evenings into my schedule, but I’ve found that I procrastinate with a whole evening ahead of me and then justify that it’s too late to start anything after some time has passed.  How’s that for progress?  A whole week has flown by with me excited to sew during the day, but when my evening arrives, I’m tired or procrastinate.  No new dress for me last week.  😦 

I was beginning to feel like it was my job and then feeling guilty that I wasn’t sewing.  As I have stated before, this isn’t my job, it’s my hobby.  I want to keep it enjoyable.

So, even though every day I have a whole evening, I am going to commit to doing only 30 minutes at the beginning of the evening.  That way, if I get into the groove, I can continue, and if I do it first thing, I can’t procrastinate myself out of it.  Am I not clever?  So obviously I’m hoping for a whole evening of sewing, but I will take the 30 minutes a day if that’s all I can motivate myself to doing. 

What do you do to motivate yourself?

Happy sewing everyone!

But how do they wear?

So here’s our Question of the Day: How do your handmade clothes wear?  What do I mean by that?  Well, I guess I am asking several questions with that one question.  How do your clothes look on you ( Professional?  Fits well?).  But also, how do they hold up over time?  Do the seams hold, does anything come apart? How does it look after multiple washings? And on and on…

The reason why I ask is I have found that I wear some of my home sewn clothes all the time and others not so much and it got me to thinking, Why?

For instance, I wear my knit dresses all the time.  My purple rain dress and the latest iteration, the red border print dress are the favorites in my wardrobe.  I would wear them more than once a week if I could get away with it.  And they have worn really well.  They look the same as the day I finished the hem on them.  The seams are still great, nothing’s coming apart.  They wash fine, never wrinkle.  They’re perfect!   🙂

My trench coat I have worn quite a bit, especially with the rainy spring we’ve had here in NYC.  And while I am still very proud of this coat, it is starting to look a bit bedraggled.  Some of the hand sewn bits are pulling apart (totally my fault I guess).  The fabric is not waterproof, so after that day I got stuck in the rain while shopping with Karen and Mario, I was soaked.  And ever since then, there’s been this slight chemical smell coming off the coat.  The buttonholes are becoming more raggedy in appearance with each wearing (guess I really should have interfaced the facings on the coat – lesson learned). The machine sewn seams however look great.  The pockets are holding up beautifully, and I love my belt with my hand installed eyelets.  And actually, my sister recently gave me the nicest compliment on this coat.  We bumped into each other at the grocery store a couple of weeks back and I was wearing the coat.  Later on, she asked me if that was the coat I had made because it had looked so professional and beautiful.  She went on to say that when I had first finished the coat, she had only looked at the individual parts of the coat, not the sum total.  And that, now that she’d seen it worn in out and about, she could see the overall effect and she loved it!

Remember my Burda inverted pleat skirt which I raved about?  While it still looks beautiful, I just don’t wear it that much anymore.  And it’s not just because it’s Spring now and warmer out.  Even though I used fusible interfacing, I think the waistband stretched out.  So know the waist looks huge.  It doesn’t help that I really only have one top to wear with it, a bulky sweater.  So when I wear the outfit now, I feel and look thick in the middle.

And Katie’s birthday dress did NOT make it through the wash ok.  😦  The delicate floral cotton voile was most delicate.  The part where the straps are attached to the bodice front looked like the would just fray off.  So, since the dress was a little big on her to begin with,  I folded them down on the inside, sewed a few times back and forth and then hand sewed a heart-shaped abalone button on top of it.  It looks super cute now and won’t come apart until Armageddon. I don’t have a picture of the repair, but let’s look at beautiful Katie, shall we?

Thor’s shirt, despite being a cotton with lycra shirting, is even a delicate little flower with the addition of a fabric paint stencil.  The care instructions listed on the paint say to not put it in the dryer.  So air drying is the way to go.  Fortunately, I told my sister that and she has been very faithful.  The shirt is in excellent condition and it’s in heavy rotation as Thor loves it.  Phew!

So in answer to my own question, I think the most successful things I’ve made so far are my knit dresses.  I will definitely be making more of them.  I am not going to shy away from making more coats, because I learned a lot making my trench and know what I would do differently the next time.  I think once I get back on the TNT search, I will be making a lot of things that will fill my closet with easy to wear items.  Can’t wait!!! 

When I first started to write this post, I was a little down on my sewing.  I thought my trench hadn’t held up well, but my teacher showed me how well it is doing despite heavy use.  And just thinking about my knit dresses puts a smile on my face.  After all this perspective, I guess I could say my hit ratio is pretty good.  So, I’m mighty pleased with myself.  *patting self on back*   🙂 

And so, I ask all of you now:  How do your clothes wear? 

Happy sewing everyone!