Saturday, March 31, 2012

It's back to typical March weather in Wisconsin, so I've put a hold on the sundress factory for now and made a jacket.  I am not really a jacket person.  I prefer cardigans because they are comfier and more flattering, and collars annoy me.  But, I'm trying to branch out and try new things, and I do have one jacket I LOVE, but I try not to wear it very often because it's from the Forties and it sheds sequins every time I wear it.  I usually just trot it out for special occasions.

It's collarless, and the sleeves and shoulders are perfectly fitted, and it's the prettiest little thing.  I wish I had more like it.

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Joann's had a $1.99 pattern sale a couple weeks ago, so I picked up this New Look and thought I'd give it a try.

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I made the v-neck with 3/4 sleeves version. I have some black crepe, but first I wanted to try out the pattern with something else, just in case I don't like it. I got 6 yards of this bow-print rayon on eBay for $10.

It's really a great little pattern, this New Look 6028. Instead of having a ton of finishing to do at the end, you do it all as you go so once you sew up that last seam, it's done. It's fully lined, and it could totally be made reversible if you wanted to. All the seams are completely encased. It was easy and fun to sew.

I am on the fence about the finished product, though. Something is not quite right. It fits great, especially across the back and shoulders. The length is good. The sleeves are a little looser than I like. I am unsure about it in this fabric, too. Is it too twee? I mean, everything I make is pretty twee, but this might be taking it up a notch. I also feel like it needs....something. Buttons? Embellishment? I am not ready to give up on it yet so I will have to play around with some options. I do really love this pattern though and will make it again in the other neckline variations and different fabric.

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Mike and I are going to see Hunger Games in a minute (second time for me) and then to a suprise birthday party, so no sewing is going to happen today.  I hope to have some progress made on my orchestra dress tomorrow.  Have a great Saturday!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Paris Ville Dress

Also known as the "Pain in the Butt" dress.  I had so many issues!  It seemed simple enough but I kept making huge mistakes.  It ended up turning out beautifully, at least, and looks pretty dead-on to the original.

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The original has the zipper on the back, but I moved it to the side so I wouldn't break up the print.  Unfortunately, I sort of forgot I was doing this and followed the pattern directions too closely and sewed up the side.  Whoops.  There was screw-up #1.

Screw up #2 is my hem.  I never cut off the selvage, I just fold the fabric under and tuck it in.  It usually works great (no fraying! No hem tape!) but I forgot to take into consideration that my fabric is white.  You can clearly see "Michael Miller Fabrics LLC" through the hem.  Ha!  It's not super noticeable when I wear it, and I doubt anyone will see it but me, but it bothers me enough that I am going to have to re-hem it.

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Screw up #3 was my zipper. I am pretty sure this is the ugliest lapped zipper ever. It's a mess! It doesn't even line up at the waist. The problem was that I gathered the skirt too far and some of the gathers were getting in the way of the zipper. Couple that with the fact that I lined it, it was super bulky. Ugh. I see I got a couple puckers one one side, too.

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The inside looks pretty, though! I lined it and I finished the waist seam with double fold bias tape.

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I also learned a new trick for making spaghetti straps. I've never been able to turn them inside out before, and frustration has led me to avoid them altogether. But thanks to a quick tip from my handy Better Homes Complete Guide to Sewing, I got this one. You sew the safety pin inside of the strap!

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Then just jimmy the safety pin through!

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Voila! Everyone else probably knew this trick and I'm late to the game, but I'm super excited about it. It makes it so much easier!

It's back to typical March weather in Wisconsin, so I did not get to wear the dress. It is supposed to climb back into the 60's next week so hopefully I will have a chance to bust it out.  Last night I started on a jacket, and I hope to finish it today and wear it, so I should have an update on that soon!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Bicycle Haze Dress

Good morning!  It's been a gorgeous summer weekend, which is kind of hilarious since it's the middle of March and still winter.  It was 75 yesterday and supposed to be even warmer today.  I really wanted to wear my bicycle dress yesterday, so I got up early and finished the hem and the zipper. 

It turned out so cute.  It's pretty spot-on to my Anthropologie dress I used for inspiration.  The Anthropologie dress has detachable straps and can be worn strapless, but I'm not the biggest fan of strapless. 

I'm in love with my fabric covered buttons!

Mine:

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And the original:

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I did a side lapped zipper, and it turned out awesome! Learning to sew lapped zippers has made sewing them SO much less of a chore, and it looks so good. I wish I had learned this years ago.

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Since it was such a beautiful day, we spent most of it outside. We grilled, had beers, and watched all the college students dressed in green walking to the bar down the street from our house. I seriously heard bagpipes a few times.

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Have I told the story about how I got my bike? Well, I stole it. Before you judge me, I'll explain that it was warranted! I've been wanting a vintage bike for ages, and one day this one just showed up, chained to a stop sign on my way to work. It sat. And it sat. A month went by and it never moved. I couldn't believe someone just chained that awesome bike to a stop sign and left it. So I put an ad on Craigslist asking if it's your bike, can I buy it from you. Of course I got a million responses of people saying it was "their" bike. Yeah, right.

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So winter came, it snowed, and the bike started to get rusty. Then it fell over. I figured it was done for and was just going to rust into a forgotten oblivion. Then one Saturday morning, Mike woke me up and said "get dressed, we're stealing that bike." (I'm pretty sure he was sick of hearing me talk about it.) One YouTube tutorial on breaking a U-Lock later, the bike was mine. It was rusty and in pretty bad shape, but I fixed it up. It's heavy and hard to ride, so I pretty much only take it around the block every now and then. Mostly I'm just happy that the 6-month saga of the beautiful abandoned bike ended up with it being mine.

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Well, I'm off to enjoy this gorgeous summery day! Have a great Sunday.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Perfect Note

I feel like I've been a sundress factory lately.  In addition to the two I made last week, I bought fabric for two more, and also made this one.  It's loosely inspired by this Dolce & Gabanna worn by Katy Perry.

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I love that dress so much, but finding music note print chiffon is probably impossible.  I'm kind of over gathered skirts, too.  Instead, I used this Simplicity pattern from 1949.  I paid a whole dollar for this at an antique store in Minocqua, WI.  The fabric is quilting cotton from Joann's and it was around $6 a yard and I had a coupon.  It was Coupon Commotion (!!!) Week again.

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I live in Wisconsin, so usually around this time of year it's cold, windy, and snowy.  Well, we had record high temperatures and it hit 78 yesterday.  I don't know what's up with Mother Nature, but I am LOVING IT.  I've worn sundresses and sandals and no tights all week long.  I've had beers on my porch twice!

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My cat Lamb wanted to pose for you all. I think she was starting to feel left out since Bone is regularly featured in my photos.

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Not one to leave anyone out, I let Bone get in on the action, too.

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It's been a rough week, cat-wise. I found out last Tuesday that Bone has diabetes, an underactive thyroid, and elevated liver enzymes. He'd been drinking water like crazy and the litter box was out of control. I brought him into the vet and his blood sugar was 410 and normal for a cat is 70-150. The vet suggested we switch him to wet food, and I swear it helped so much. The water bowl has stopped being empty every day and the litter box situation is back to normal. My gut is telling me that no way can it be that easy, though. I thought for sure we'd be doing insulin and having to bring him into the vet weekly to have his blood sugar checked. I just dropped off a sample this morning and I am anxiously waiting to hear from the vet if he's improved. I'm optimistic, but I still have that nagging feeling that it's not going to be that simple.

Anyway, enough about feline diabetes. I feel like that is all I've talked about and thought about for the past week. I'll leave you with some construction photos of my sundress.

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Extreme Closeup!

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Lapped zipper. I am becoming obsessed.

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My Michael Miller bicycles fabric will be arriving today, so that should keep me busy this weekend. Have a great day and enjoy this fantastic weather!

Monday, March 12, 2012

A small road block with my Paris dress

The fabric came on Saturday, and it's beautiful and soft, but there's one huge problem.  The print goes horizontally along the length of the fabric, not the width!  Since it's (obviously) a one-way directional print, I don't have enough fabric for the skirt pieces.  My music note fabric was a one-way directional, and I had no problems, which is why I only ordered two yards!  The stripe went along the width of the fabric, though.

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So, looks like I am ordering another yard before I can start.  In the meantime, I have to just do the hem and zipper on my music note dress and it's done, and my Michael Miler bicycles have been shipped and their estimated date of arrival is tomorrow.  At least I have backup projects!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Musings on muslins

Does anyone else ever feel disappointed that you spend so much time on a muslin, only to throw it away or stuff it in a drawer?  I've always felt guilty about this, so lately I've been making my muslins in a wearable fabric, usually something I didn't pay a lot for (like from a thrift store), on the off chance that it fits and is flattering and cute.

I ended up making two muslins for my Christian Dior dress.  For the first one, I used a Simplicity pattern with raglan sleeves and a pleated skirt.  I LOVED how the skirt turned out, but the bodice was somehow frumpy and bulky but too tight at the same time.

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So, I kept the cute skirt, ditched the frumpy top, and made an entirely new sundress!  It only took an hour to do this bodice, which is from a New Look mix & match pattern.  I did the hem and zipper while chillin' at a friend's house.  Sewing and socializing at the same time!  Sure, I didn't exactly broaden my sewing horizons with this project, but I sure do love a sundress, and I just took 25 summer dresses to a consignment store.  Everything that is ill-fitting, unflattering, or unexciting is GONE. I hope now that I've pared it down, I will be able to better "see" what I really have, and fill in the gaps with things I'll sew myself.

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I used it as an opportunity to practice my lapped zipper application, too.  Getting better! I've been machine stiching the side you can't see, and hand sewing the side you can.

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The next muslin for my Christian Dior dress was to try out a new top. I've made this Simplicity pattern before, but the scoop neckline and longer short sleeves were just not right. So, I changed the neckline to a boatneck and made the sleeves shorter. Now, the neckline ended up being too high, but I got that figured out while making the real deal. The top was cute though, and I love this thrifted chambray (which I had about 10 yards of), so I threw a quick gathered skirt on it. I hemmed it super short to avoid looking like a sister-wife.

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So now I have two new summer dresses that barely took any more effort to complete, and there's no feeling like I "wasted" hours.

Friday, March 9, 2012

More on the Paris Ville dress

A reader named Brooke has just pointed out to me that the Paris-print dress is also available on Modcloth!  Where's Mena with a "Make This Look"? 

The pattern I'm using is New Look 6886 View D.  It's only $4.29, and I was able to find the Michael Miller fabric on Ebay for around $9/yard.  So you could make it yourself for $22.00!


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The Sewing List

It's nearing spring, which means there are about a million things I want to make.  I sort of lost interest in sewing over the winter, but that's not surprising because I really don't like winter clothes.  Sundress season is almost upon is, and I've been finding inspiration everywhere I go.  I can't look at Google Reader without adding something to my inspiration folder!

Right now in the queue I have:

  • Fabric and a pattern to make this dress that I saw in Glamour magazine.  I have the muslin done and I am just waiting for the fabric to arrive from eBay.  I can't believe I found the exact fabric!  I just Googled "Eiffel Tower fabric" and this came up.  It's Michael Miller Paris Ville, if anyone is interested in making their own.
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  • Fabric and a pattern to make my own variation of Anthropologie's Bike Lane dress.  I couldn't find the actual fabric, but Michael Miller again saves the day with his Bicycle Haze print.  I like the color scheme of the Michael Miller better, anyway.  I already had the PERFECT pattern in my stash, which is a 1940's Simplicity that I got at an antique store for $1. The pattern doesn't have the buttons up the back, but I can easily add those.
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  • Simplicity 2861 again in music note print fabric.  Sure, it's silly, but I play the cello and it reminds me of this Dolce & Gabanna dress worn by Katy Perry.  I've already started this one, and so far I have everything cut out and the darts on the bodice done.
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  • Speaking of cello, I need a do-over of my Orchestra dress.  This actually went to Goodwill a couple days ago.  The bodice was so, so tight, and I couldn't move my arms because of it.  Not very good for playing the cello!  The new plan is this Simplicity which I got at Joann's in a $1.99 sale, made up in Kaufman Cotton Sateen.  This one will have to be a priority because I need to wear it for a concert at the beginning of May.

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So the next few months will be very busy with projects to work on! What's on your list?