Posts Tagged ‘sewing’

I made a shirt



Although “made” might be overstating it. As might “shirt.”

Imagine a shir that looks like this,  except that it's cuteThis pattern is Simplicity 2181 “Misses Knit Tops.”  It is a fairly simple pattern in that it is only 4 pieces — front, back, and two “overlays” sewn to the sides and twisted across the front. It is difficult because it requires knit fabric (I just realized that any shirt without buttons or a zipper needs to be stretchy enough to pull on). Knits stretch when you sew them, the pins slip out, and they don’t like to crease neatly when pressed. For these reason knits suck and I don’t know why I bother, except I like wearing them and I’m hoping that my skills will improve with time.

The fabric is a “watercolor stripe” knit I got for $4.99 on sale at Denver Fabrics.  It caught my eye because of that 2011-is-that-an-animal-print styling, plus these are my favorite colors to wear.

The pattern caught my eye because Simplicity Patterns were on sale for $1 each.  If you buy patterns but don’t know this yet, take heed: Pattern pricing (actually everything to do with sewing pricing) is a strange-ass racket. They are marked for sale at $9.99-$17.99 or so. They are always sold retail for 40% (which exempts them from most major retailer coupons “for full price items only.”) Then they randomly (?) go on ridiculous discounts like $1 each. If you’re interested in sewing, spend some time browsing the pattern sites (or better yet, a good sewing site like patternreview.com) and start keeping a list of patterns you’re interested in.  You’ll have it handy as soon as you see a “1$ sale” at the fabric store, which is good because everyone will be hogging the Simplicity books.  And the last thing any sew-ist needs is more wasted time in the fabric store.

I’ve known for a couple of years now that ruched and gathered tops work best for me. I was happy to see that my style instincts were right on track, there. My technique, unfortunately, is not. The neckline is wonky because I sewed the facing in along the V-neck — I can’t press it flat, so the lining poofs out like some extra-ruffled collar action. Like some kind of  Dickey . Seriously my husband trying to be nice said “oh is that another design detail?” NO IT’S NOT, Good Husband, it is just that  I’m not finished putting the shirt on! Come over here and give me a hand, will you.  I think I need to be more careful stitching the lining along the exact same V as the shirt front. Also I need to follow directions about “clipping curves,” and stuff like that, which always seems “extra” but you know it’s probably in the directions for a reason.

Speaking of directions, the sleeve is messed up there because I accidentally sewed things backwards and had to cut it apart. You can see where a leftover piece of backwards-stuff is still attached.  There is no good reason why I sew stuff backwards on accident; I sit there telling myself “Read the directions, Robin! DONT MESS UP!” and then next thing I know, Good Husband is trying to put the shirt on me saying “I really don’t think this can work, like it is mathmatically impossible for it to go on over your head.”  OKAY FINE I will fix it.  Everyone standing around waiting for the “look at my new shirt” demonstration, please retire and await the next announcement.

Next step: Carefully rip the seam out of the mistakie-place, avoid damaging the shirt, figure out to do with the arm holes. See if I can iron it into something presentable.

Then get ready to wear that baby out on the town. For real.

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Simplicity 4927

Good thing we have that "no toys in the living room" rule

Attempt 1: Purple floral with blue ribbon pocket trim.

Ok so. Until this summer, my last experience with sewing started and stopped in 1985, when I sewed two seersucker pillows shaped like the letters “K” and “M” (a birthday present for my sister) in junior high Home Ec.  I bought a new sewing machine without much of a clue: I was surprised  to see my hands remembered the “knob turn/back stitch/ flip up the presser foot” move at the end of a line of stitching. Have you noticed that Diane Keaton does this in Godfather II? Bam! Sewed ya, Corleone! Very satisfying.
But I didn’t find  sewing  as easy as, say, riding a bike. There’s the “threading” thing and what I’d call the “steering” thing to get the stitches where you need them to go.  Singer does have a pretty good instruction book and there’s plenty of help available online. Still, the bobbin vexed me for days. Days of desperately adjusting every tension setting possible, including taking the machine apart. DAMN BOBBIN.  I finally realized I had to slide the bobbin thread under that tight little place on the bobbin case, OOPS. Time to start sewing. Lesson learned: To save time, ask questions!  Call your mother as early as possible in the learning process. Preferably before you turn forty, although it’s never too late.
I knew my first dresses needed to be EASY PATTERNS and that, if they were going to be cute, I had to use CUTE FABRIC. These are my oft-repeated sewing mantras (the third relates to TECHNIQUE, a whole nother story). So to make my daughter a dress I first turned to Simplicity 4927, a simple two-piece pattern (front and back — really two back pieces and also two facing pieces).  No zipper. Sleeves optional. Attempt 1 was a fairly cute purple shift with blue ribbon on the pockets (too wide in the shoulders — Little Missy wears a 4T-5T in off-the-rack but a Pattern Size 3 is too big for her).  She likes the lavendar color, but was a little disappointed that the skirt was not more TWIRLY. This is a girl who knows what she wants and it is not this. If anyone wants a size 4-5T lavender shift dress with sloppy pocket stitching (Attempt 1, above), let me know.

Attempt 2

So for Attempt 2, I tried to make the skirt twirly by clipping it and inserting triangular panels to make it “full.” This mostly worked, although the panels fell into pleats which surprised me. I bought some blue ruffled trim, which was adorable on the hem. But it turned out not to be long enough. You know how 2-pi*R is the circumference of a circle? This means the hem of a full skirt is like SIX times the length! Six! So oops I ran out of trim for the hem. I had to cut the skirt to fit, which is why there is blue vertical trim (bias tape) and a bow. Lesson learned: Measure, duh.
Me hold still?

Attempt 3

Since that worked pretty well, I went for Attempt 3. This used a cute blue and pink paisley calico. I tried to make the skirt Yet-Twirlier by cutting each panel (the front and two backs) into a wider arc below the waist. This worked in two dimensions — it did look fuller — but when she wore it, it just hung like a potato sack. It also “needed something,” so I added a flounce.  This stiffened the hem so that it hangs a little more full-ly, and also has the added benefit of making the dress “Curly” in addition to “Twirly.” Success:
When will you sew something FOR ME?

To make a flounce, cut out a "spiral" of fabric. Then it ruffles when you stretch it straight.

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Royal blue polyester "highly suitable for band uniforms"

Things I could not have imagined, only a few short years ago:

1. I am preoccupied about a process called “blogging with Android.” Stop and think about this.  Do we totally live in the future now or what? Is this Battlestar Galactica? Will next year we be “Frakking with Cylons?”

2. I am the mother of what appears to be a second-grader (further investigation is underway) and my pay has been cut by 3%.  Yes, that 3% that was my clothing budget.  All I’ve bought to wear this year was two sweaters at Target.  I also bought a pair of pants for Aki, but those turned out to have an unspeakable problem with fit (rhymes with schwamel-toe).

3. I am sewing my own clothes. Gentle reader, I shit you not.

I blame the rain this summer: Too much time indoors trying to glue-gun a baby doll dress out of some quilt scraps.  I must have got stir-crazy enough that a $85 Singer “Simple” 23-stitch suddenly looked like the greatest invention in the history of civilization.  Turned out the doll dresses were kind of cute. This led my four-year-old daughter to become unbearably envious and led me, out of an inflated sense of competence, to make her a dress for her birthday. The birthday dress actually turned out pretty shitastically bad by all measures. But, I used great fabric and she is adorable. So it passed.

Note: sports bra making this more "flat" that it should be. Really!
Exhibit A

Then the summer was over. And suddenly I couldn’t find a suitably chic, affordable, early-autum, warm-weather dress to wear to a destination wedding.  I found some adorable red cotton lawn (really lightweight wrinkly fabric) on sale. I found a “sheath” dress pattern. I had many trials and tribulations that I will describe in due time.  And somehow I managed to make a dress — or at least a reasonable-enough fascimile of a dress — to wear in public as long as I kept my arms at my sides (Exhibit A). Sometimes this sewing thing works.

"I still DONT UNDERSTAND why you cut the boob out of that dress." -- S.Schulz
Exhibit B

Other times, this sewing thing does not work.

And all you can do is laugh.

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