Monthly Archives: August 2010

Alterations

I found out last night that I didn’t make it to the finals of the PatternReview Natural Fibers contest.  I am a little disappointed, but not surprised; the other entries in the silk category were stunning. 

But in more exciting sewing news…  I finally started my dress for the wedding next week, another iteration of B5147.  It’s probably going to be a fingernail biting race to the finish.  Hey, maybe I should hire a play-by-play announcer.  “Will Elizabeth finish the dress in time for her cousin’s wedding?  Will she be hand sewing the hem on the flight?  Stay tuned next time to find out!”  Hahah!

So, I think part of the reason for my procrastination, I mean hesitation in starting this next dress was that I had to transfer all my alteration changes to the pattern and then cut out 3 fabrics (the underlining, the lining and the fashion fabric).  I have decided that tracing and cutting are my least favorite activities associated with sewing.  Can we get to the sewing part already??? 

If you will recall, the changes I made to the B5147 sheath dress were to deepen the neckline, decrease the shoulder strap width, change the shape of the armscye and increase the fisheye darts for a more fitted look and a bit more dressy/evening-ish look.   Once I transferred the change markings to the original muslin, I found I had a problem.  Can you see it below?

The pattern wasn’t flat.  I had known that I would have to change the side seam somewhat because of the wedge I added, but I didn’t expect that the pattern wouldn’t be flat.  As you can see above, there’s a pouf on the CF fold edge and the CF fold was no longer straight.  That’s not a very practical CF fold then, now is it? 

My first thought was to make a perpendicular cut on the CF fold line and then fold out the pouf until it was flat, but then I would have had to distort the fish eye dart.  Also, by doing that, I would swing the CF line out by almost 4.5 inches.  Then I would have to completely redraw the entire skirt of the dress, both sides.  Needless to say, I was very frustrated, and had no idea how to proceed. 

My next thought was to call Thea.  But as we all know by now, Elizabeth is a visual person.  So Thea’s explanations over the phone were next to incomprehensible to me. 

Next thought?  Wait for it… it’s brilliant.  Consult one of the many fit books in my sewing library.  You know, the ones I haven’t read at all?  The first book to find its way into my hands was Nancy Zieman’s Pattern Fitting with Confidence.  I looked at the section about increasing a dart which is how I got into this whole mess in the first place.  I won’t go into great detail about her methods but the gist of this alteration is you have to increase the length of your pattern by the amount you increased your bust dart.  This makes total sense.  When you increase the bust dart, you are actually shortening the side seam of your pattern once the dart is sewn.  Remember, if you make a change in one place on a pattern, you will most likely have to make a change elsewhere to maintain the integrity and shape of the pattern.  Nancy (we’re on a first name basis now that I’ve actually opened her book) uses the pivot and slide method.  Basically you move around the original pattern making marks on a blank paper to create a new pattern with your own alterations.  So for the increase a bust dart instructions, you determine how much you will increase your dart and use that measurement to increase the length to the pattern piece.  This was a lightbulb moment for me.  Essentially, that’s what Thea and I did with the wedge we added at the side seam to keep the hip curve in the right place after increasing the dart.  But I needed to add the length across the entire piece, not just at the side.  So the wedge became a rectangle added below the dart but above the hip curve.  Ta da!

As you can see in the picture of above, I had to redraw the fisheye dart after adding in my rectangle (that’s the fisheye dart that I widened at the top under the bust so I had a more fitted look in front).  Now I didn’t sew this up again, but I did pin up the bust dart and made sure the front side seam matched the back side seam all the way from the armscye to the hem.  And it did.  Perfectly. 

I made some progress on my dress so far.  I cut out the fashion fabric and the underlining.  I basted the front pattern pieces together with silk thread and staystitched the neck and armscyes.  Next up is basting the back pieces of the underlining and fashion fabric together then stay stitching and cutting out the lining.  Since the fashion fabric I’m using  is very different from the silk twill I used for the last version of this dress, I am only going to baste the side seams to check for fit one last time before I sew this puppy up. 

I have four more evenings and three nap times (Jack’s, not mine) before the wedding.  I think I might just be able to finish this.  It will definitely be a nail biter though!

Tonight though, this momma has a date!  Should I wear the Christian LaCroix skirt or the silk twill dress?

Happy sewing everyone!

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Sewing mojo lost — Knitting mojo found

As you all are aware by now, I have no sewing mojo of which to speak.  But my knitting mojo has taken me by storm.  I made the charity hat recently which I strongly suspect as the catalyst for my renewed knitting interest.  Then Robin and I discussed possibilities for my next knitting project.  And while waiting for my yarn to arrive in the mail, I picked up a UFO from last Fall, the Mohair Lace Scarf.

I had just a small portion completed on the scarf when I left it to languish on my sewing notions box for many a month.  I picked it up this weekend when I should have been sewing and am now about 1/3 of the way done.  It would be nice to wear this scarf this winter with my brown winter coat.  I have to admit though that my progress on it has been spotty.  There has been a lot of frogging.  Here’s how it went this weekend: I would knit 8 rows and then have to frog 6 over and over again, making incremental 2 row progress for every hour of knitting.  Sound like fun?  Very frustrating, but I still managed to make noticeable progress. 

Despite my frustrations, I have to admit it is much easier to watch TV while knitting.  I couldn’t possibly sew while watching TV.  In fact, my preferred “background noise” while sewing is my favorite TV show, “La Femme Nikita“, which aired on the USA network in the 90’s.  I. LOVE. THIS. SHOW.  I have the entire series on DVD and have watched it from beginning to end so many times I have lost count how many.  I want to marry Michael.

Roy Dupuis, who plays Michael on LFN

But looking at that picture…  Who wouldn’t?  Ohhh, here’s a picture of him as he looked in the series.

As Michael in LFN

Gets the blood flowing, doesn’t it?

Tell me, do you watch or listen to anything while you sew/knit?  If so, do you have any requirements?  The reason I ask is that I can’t watch new TV shows or movies while I sew because I get too distracted, don’t make any progress and/0r make lots of mistakes.  Watching a show that I know very well and love allows me to have the background noise company without the potential distraction.  I can pick and choose when I pay attention to it and mostly concentrate on my sewing.

If I choose to listen to music, I really don’t have requirements beyond that it can’t be opera.  Don’t get me wrong — I love opera.  I used to sing opera professionally.  But because of my history with it, opera demands my full attention.  It would be like watching a show I haven’t seen before — too much of a distraction.  My favorite music to listen to is Kurt Elling (Jazz), Jeff Buckley (Rock), Jump, Little Children (Rock) and David Sylvian (can’t be categorized).

So tell me all about what media companions (music, tv shows, or movies) you choose to keep company with while sewing, if any.

Public Humiliation

Um, yeah.

This would be me fessing up that absolutely no sewing happened last night even though I signed up for the Friday Night Sew-In.  Yep.  None.  Zilch. Zip. Zed. Zero.  That would be nothing. Nada. And nope.

Friday Night Sew-in FAIL.

That is all.

Stalled

I have had two solid evenings this week to start working on the dress for my cousin’s wedding and have not done one thing on it.  The Vera Wang fabric stares accusingly at me from on top of the sewing machine.  In fact, I spent all of last night helping a friend learn how to knit and uploading old photos onto Facebook. 

So if you came here looking for sewing progress, you came to the wrong place my friends.  Apparently, I am MIA in the sewing room.  Apparently, my MO is to sew at the last minute, backed into a corner. 

This dress might end up being named Disaster Dress or Dress of Doom.  I hope not. 

How many times can I say I am going to start my dress before you guys start yelling at me to stop crying wolf?  If anyone can loan me some of their sewing mojo, I would much appreciate it.  Thanks!

Image from Sisknit on Ravelry

In knitting news, I decided on the Peasy pattern for my cardigan and already ordered the yarn.  It should be in my greedy hands by next week.  Yeah!

EDITED TO ADD: Just saw on Reethi’s blog that she’s participating in the Friday Night Sew-In.  This might be just the thing to get my mojo going.  So I am publicly saying that I’m going to do it too.  (Uh oh…)

Let the shopping begin!

Robin just posted our PR Shopping Day schedule on her blog (on August 28th).  Check it out and join us!  I am still in shock that I was able to get Elliott Berman to open for us on a Saturday.

*doing a crazy happy dance*

Knitting?

I just finished knitting this super easy and quick hat for a charity project to benefit Young Runners.  My particular hat will be going to a young runner in Far Rockaway.  It’s a really simple pattern: 3 inches of ribbing, then 3 inches of stockinette and then several rounds decreasing every other round.  Even though it was such a simple project and was so fast to finish, I found myself really enjoying the knitting of it.  I guess I miss knitting more than I thought.  I think my last bit of knitting last year was all KWAG (spoof on the Selfish Seamstress’ SWAG but as knitting with a grudge) thereby making the process of knitting stressful due to time constraints and with no payoff to me.   😉   As a matter of fact, I think my poor niece Haley never got her winter hat.   Bad Auntie!!!

Anyway, I was talking to Robin yesterday about my newfound knitting love.  You see, I know how great a knitter she is having seen many a gorgeous sweater that she’s made on her blog.  Robin regularly adjusts knitting patterns for better fit and tosses out terms like top down knitting or talks about how she creates spreadsheets on the changes she makes to the patterns she uses.  We’re talking knitting goddess here!  I’m a fumbling newbie with knitting compared to her.  So I turned to Robin for advice on my next knitting project hoping she could direct me to the perfect pattern.  I would like to actually wear whatever it is that I end up knitting, so the bar is high for this project.  Ideally, the pattern would be for a cardigan that wasn’t too difficult yet had some interesting detail like a simple lace or maybe some cabling.  Something that wouldn’t take two years of tedious knitting to finish.  Something that would be a great topper for a dress or top to tie a whole look together.  I would like to use a natural fiber that had some nice drape.

Robin and I talked for a good long while and she gave me some great links to some sweaters that she thought I might like.    These are all Ravelry links, so you have to join to view them, but here they are…

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/peasy

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/lucky-cardigan

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/chic

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/tappan-zee-cardigan

I haven’t decided which one I will do yet, but I definitely have a great bunch from which to choose.  Incidentally, I passed by the new Purl store in Soho last night on my way to a dinner date.  It looks soooo pretty.  Unfortunately they were closed and I was just going to make it to the dinner on time, or I would have stopped in to buy some yarn.   I will have to decide before my trip so I can take the project with me.  You know what they say about idle hands!  Besides, my sister says that I always need to be entertained.  I’m not sure that’s a compliment though.

I was supposed to go out tonight with the girls, but Jack’s sick and I think I need to stay home tonight.  So instead,  I will start my new version of B5147 for the wedding which is *gasp* two weeks away while keeping an eye on the baby monitor and Jack’s breathing.

Sheath or shift?

I’ve noticed lately that the terms sheath and shift have been used interchangeably.  I’ve always thought of them as vastly different styles, with sheaths being fitted dresses and shifts being almost shapeless a-line dresses.

So I did a little interwebs research and this is what I found. 

“Shift dresses have no waist definition and are not snug against the body which makes them favorable for hot days as well as various body shapes.  Theses dresses do a better job at softening the body shape by producing a sleek outline on the outside instead of aligning with individual body shapes.  The dresses are easy to slip on and the comfort level is a total plus.”  From www.womens-dresses.net/everyday/shift

“A sheath dress features a figure-hugging silhouette with a defined waist (no belt or waistband).  From http://fashion.about.com/cs.glossary/g/bldefsheath.htm

This started me wondering whether wiggle dresses were sheath dresses or a class of their own.  And here’s what I found.

“The sexier option for women’s dress was the wiggle or pencil skirt. The shape of the wiggle skirt is high and tight pleated waist, form fitting through hips, and slightly tapered through the knee.”   From http://vintageclothing.about.com/od/1950s/tp/50s_womens.htm

Butterick 5147

Interesting, eh?  So the woven dresses I have been making, B5147 are definitely sheath dresses.  I guess I could make them into a wiggle dress if I tapered the skirt near the hem.  Hmm…  That might be a good idea for the dress I’m making for the wedding in a couple of weeks.  And no, I haven’t started it yet.  I am a very busy girl these days.  I’ll tell you why later.  😉