Monday, November 29, 2010

Gertie's Crepe Sew Along

As disappointed as I am to have dropped out of the Endless Combos contest, doing so has opened up the opportunity to Sew Along with Gertie as she tackles the Colette Crepe dress pattern. I haven't fully decided to participate, but geeze, it seems like a great opportunity to learn some new techniques while getting my hand held along the way. Gertie has scheduled the Sew Along to start on the 6th, which gives me about a week to get my pattern & fabric. It probably won't matter to much if I start out a day or two behind (surely I'll fall behind at some point).

There are downsides. The primary one being cost. The pattern is $19.40 including shipping & minus 20% off with Gertie's coupon code. Now maybe I'm cheap, but I've never spent more than $1.99 on a commercial pattern. However, Colette patterns are well known for their in depth instructions.

Also, being a wrap dress, it requires a lot of fabric. Over four yards. For each the shell & the underlining. But, I love me some fabric. So I've done some shopping. Here are my options.

First up is a really pretty Red Swiss Dot from It occurs to me that I don't have a red dress. And I got to thinking that maybe every girl should have one. Now, doesn't have red batiste, but does, so I could order the underlining from there. Of course, that means paying separate shipping. does have ivory underlining, but since the Swiss dot is semi sheer, I don't really want to 'tone down' the red. I figure if I'm gonna go for it, then it's gotta be red all the way. :)

Next up are a couple voiles. The first one is pink with white dots. Pretty cute, but the description says that the dots are painted on. For some reason I envision them flaking off with time. Would that be accurate or am I just imagining things?

And lastly, a turquoise voile. I really like this color. I'd get ivory or white underlining for this one & the pink. Also, I'm going to do the tie in the same fabric, so I don't have to worry about choosing a contrasting fabric.

So, what do you think? Red, pink with white dots or turquoise?? I find myself leaning toward the red, but I don't know. The other two seem to be more versatile.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Muslin Epiphany

Almost 2 weeks into the Endless Combinations contest & I don't have a wearable garment. Sure, my straight skirt is salvageable, but right now I just don't have the motivation to 'fix' it. And my cardigan is nearly done. I just might be able to whip out 4 garments before the deadline. But, without doing musins of the patterns, it is quite a gamble.

In fact, I've had an epiphany. Sewing garments sans muslins is like buying RTW without trying on (which I've done plenty of--and regretted it). Sure, you might get lucky & have a well fitting, nice looking top, or you may have the RTW equivalent of a wadder. Now, if you've purchased that particular brand & style of garment, then, well, you're probably ok foregoing the fitting rooms. But if not, well, be sure to hold on to your receipt.

And yet that is exactly what I was planning on doing. I've never even sewn myself a (fitted) top before & I was just gonna jump in & do it. Sure, the key to sewing (like everything else) is balance. You won't conquer new techniques unless you try them. At the same time, though, why set myself up for disappointment by skipping such a simple step? Needless to say, I've decided that muslins are the way to go. At least for now. Until I get some direction in fitting & such.

Do you regularly sew muslins? Did you when you were first starting out?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Valuable Lessons Learned....

Well, I finished my straight skirt. Sort of. It still needs hemmed. But the zipper went in beautifully, if I do say so myself. Not perfect. But darn good. However. When I put the skirt on after I attached the facing, the fabric at my hips bubbles out. It didn't before adding the facing. Although, admittedly, I could have been focusing on the zipper so much as to neglect the side seams.

I took them in a bit, along the whole side seams & they still bubble. More so at my right hip than my left. I think it is salvageable, but I've put it aside for the time begin & started with my cardigan.

Whether or not this skirt turns out "wearable" I have learned some valuable lessons:
  • How to do a vented skirt
  • How to attach a centered zipper (I've done one before, but in all honesty, I literally just threw the zipper in. I didn't' even baste it--the horror)
  • How to add a facing
  • The importance of a muslin
I'd like to expound up on the last one. Muslins. I've never done one before because I've only ever done baby/kid clothes. And everyone says you should do one (whether everyone actually does them is a whole 'nother thing).

Something I realized is that muslins do more than just help you figure out fitting. You get to practice the techniques that your garment will require. You get to see if the garment is going to flatter. I can't look at muslins as a waste of time, but rather an investment. I am probably going to aim for 'wearable' muslins, though. Using clearance fabrics. Of course, I didn't muslin any of the patterns for the Endless Combinations patterns so now I have to decide whether to forge a head, results be darned or...drop out. :( I'd hate to give up, but the whole goal of entering this contest was to make wearable clothing. Decisions, decisions.

I've started on my cardigan & since I've already made this pattern, I figure it will come together quite quickly. I'm planning on using a twin needle on my sewing machine for the hems & I think that will slow me up some since I've never done it before & this fabric is much slinkier than the fleece I used before. But that's ok. I'm forging ahead. How else am I going to learn if I stay only within my comfort zone?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Completed Project: Toddler Dress Coat

**Caution: Super Long Post Ahead**

I am so excited to finally show this to you guys. I finished it about a week ago, but was holding out to get pictures of Shawn in it. Well, Shawn is being less than cooperative. So, here it is, sans adorable model. I worked on it for about 3 weeks (not daily) & I cannot even begin to tell you how proud of myself I am.

When I started this project, I knew it was going to be worn often. I knew it needed to be hardy. I also needed it to look nice. It is, after all, a dress coat. Before I began it, I promised myself that I was going to take my time with it. If there was a seam I could do better, I would rip it out & do it over (and over & over, if necessary). I wouldn't take shortcuts. If I felt myself rushing, I would take a break. I would iron each seam. Before I took any major steps I would sleep on it & come back to it. And I did. I stuck to all those things. Which is part of the reason it took so long to complete. But it was worth it.

I got the pattern from an Etsy shop called DMK Easy Wear. I was surprised when I received it. The instructions & diagrams were computer drafted. This was the first pattern I had bought from Etsy that didn't have actual photos. And you know what? I like it. Very professional. Very easy to decipher. The actual construction of this coat was beautifully easy. Everything made sense & no steps were left out.

This pattern also left a lot of room to make 'personal preference' changes. After putting the lining on my little guy, I decided I wanted a straighter silhouette, so I took in the side seams, tapering out just a bit at the bottom. I also chose to hem it about an inch. Now, on the lining I made these adjustments after cutting out & sewing the pieces. So, before making the outer coat, I decided I would adjust the pattern pieces before cutting my fabric. After all was said & done, the outer coat was a little bigger in the back pieces. And I even figured out why. :) See, when I took in the side seams on the lining, I was taking fabric from both the back & the side piece. When I altered the pattern only, I took in only from just the back piece. It was an easy fix, but I took my sweet time fixing it.

Having never done it before, I did get confused when it came to attaching the lining to the coat at the sleeve ends. I convo'd Karen (the pattern maker) & she directed me to this tutorial. It was very helpful, and I have a feeling that I'll be using it often. So, I got the lining attached & went to turn the coat right side out, put my arm through the hole & sure enough, something was amiss. I panicked a bit thinking maybe I sewed the arm in backwards, but realized that if that were the case the other sleeve would be wrong too. Turns out I just twisted the sleeve lining when I was sewing it to the coat. Easy fix.

See the hand-stitching? No? Good. It's for the best.

I had to do some hand-stitching on the hem to close the opening used to turn the coat right sides out. You'll be glad to know that my slip stitch has improved but once again, it wasn't good enough. So, I used transparent thread. It wasn't the funnest thing to work with--it's just like fishing line--but the end result is....well...invisible. Exactly what I needed. When my mom gave it to me out of her stash I didn't think I'd ever find a use for it. Now, it seems, the possibilities are endless.

Then came the buttons. My sewing machine makes the ugliest, most inconsistent buttonholes. They would not do. I had initially decided to hand stitch them. Can't be that hard, right? Wrong (duh. I can't even do a slip-stitch pretty.). Turns out I'm even more inconsistent than my machine. So, I did them "manually" on the sewing machine. I referenced the Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing, but didn't like the way the bar-tacks were turning out. I practiced a good 20 buttonholes. In the end, I did a very short straight stitch &I liked the results well enough.

Buttons were also a a challenge. It was surprisingly difficult to find just plain ol' brown jacket buttons. So, I grabbed a button cover kit from JoAnn & used left over fabric to cover them. Looks great. Speaking of fabric, the outer shell is a brown minky. Soft & warm without being bulky. The combination of a bulky coat & a car seat is such a hassle, and more importantly, not safe. The lining is a cotton shirting I got from my MILs fabric stash (which I refer to as my Fabric Library) I initially wanted something fun, but nothing really struck my fancy at Joann, so I went for "nice" instead of "fun" and I really love the results.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Endless Combinations: The Fabrics

I received the fabrics I ordered on Thursday & they are all exactly what I had in mind. :) My contest plan has changed a bit. I decided to nix the dress-the fabric I want to use for it is just too slinky. I fully intend to use it, though, once I'm a little more comfortable with knits. So, instead I'm tentatively planning on sewing up another skirt (out of that gorgeous berry tweed) and/or another top. I'm playing that part by ear.

One of the fabrics I ordered is a crinkle gauze (the hot pink pictured above) & I was planning on using Simplicity 3750 but I've decided against it. The fabric is a bit see through & sometimes I have a hard time wearing a scoop neck cami under square necklines. Anyway, I think I'm going to pick up Simplicity 2892 instead.

Today I'm hoping to cut out my fabric for the straight skirt & cardigan. I considered attempting to do all my cutting before I started stitching, but I find the cutting part of sewing so tedious, I thought it better to do a bit at a time.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Endless Combinations: The Patterns

Here's what I have planned:

Straight Skirt (View C) from McCalls 3830 . I ordered a gray polyester suiting. Of course, I didn't take notice that it was polyester until after I ordered it. It's scheduled to arrive via UPS tomorrow. Hopefully it will work. If not, I'll start the contest off with a different garment & there should be time left in the contest to get a more suitable fabric.

Cardigan (View A) from Kwik Sew 3693. This will be a "topper" that will match everything else that I sew. I've done view B & loved how quickly it comes together.

Knit Dress (View C) from McCalls 5974. This will be a good one (I hope) since it already has the alterations on it. I'm also completely in love with the fabric I picked out for it. I may chicken out though, and use the funky print that I posted here because I just adore this fabric & I don't want to ruin it. We'll see where my confidence level is when I get to this piece. :)

Knit Top from Simplicity 4076. (View E). This pattern has gotten rave reviews on PR. I'm envisioning it in a deep purple, but I do have a few other options.

Tunic top from Simplicity 3750 (View A). This will be a bonus if I get to it. I anticipate a few fitting issues, but we'll see.

I also have Jalie 2794 on the way so I could use that, too.

All of these patterns have gotten really great reviews over on PR. I've also checked & they've also been rated "Easy & Great for Beginners" or "Highly Recommended" I am a little concerned that 3 of the 4 main pieces are knits, But I'm really determined to be able to use knit fabric so this will be a good opportunity to jump in.

I'm relieved to see that there are a couple others who are as new as I am to the whole 'garment sewing' scene. It makes me feel less crazy. :) I'm also glad to see lots of advanced sewers participating & I fully intend to take advantage of their knowledge & experience. :)

Stay tuned. This should be interesting.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Newest additions to my stash...

The first 6 yards of my new "stash" have arrived. And, I must say, they are quite lovely. I heard on PR that Fashionista Fabrics had some great deals in their Clearance section & decided to check it out. I don't think I had ever even been to their site before, but I instantly found 3 fabrics that I needed wanted. Two knits & a fabulous Tweed. I quickly ordered 2 yards of each.

First up, we have a white knit with black flower designs. This print is actually very large. Quite possibly too large for a top. But, having nothing to lose, I think I will use it as a muslin & I'll be happy if it turns out wearable. :)

Next, a funky knit. Again, the scale of this print is larger than I expected, so it will probably become a dress rather than a top like I had originally thought. This is much busy-er (busier?? More busy? AH, my mommy brain can't handle it. You know what I mean.) than what I typically wear, but I like it. It's fun. And fresh. And different.

And now, for the finale. Gosh. I'm SO excited about this one. Ready? A beautiful Acrylic Tweed. Whatever that means. (Ha. I wish I were kidding) titled "French Mulberry". All I know is that the colors are awesome. Fun but not outrageous. And very versatile.

She's dreaming of someday becoming a skirt. Paired with a custom made coordinating top. Or two.

I must mention how great Fashionista Fabrics was to work with. I ordered my beauties Tuesday afternoon & received it on Thursday. I thought maybe they were located nearby in the Pacific Northwest. But no. The return address is Michigan. So shipping was lightning fast. They shipped via USPS priority mail in a flat rate box. I highly recommend them. And, in case you were wondering, it looks like all 3 of these fabrics are still in stock. In case you were wondering. ;)

I almost forgot. I also received my Swedish Tracing paper which I ordered Monday. Looks like great stuff. I'll keep you updated. :)


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Non-Stasher No Longer....

Oh boy. I just added up all the fabric yardage that is on it's way to me. And, lemme just say. My days of not having a fabric stash are over. Finite. Gone.

Granted, I have very specific plans (and patterns) for each yard. I do. Never mind the fact that I have never sewn any of these patterns so whether or not they will work out for their intended purposes is anybody's guess.

They were all on sale. All but 3 yards (out of the 19 total. NINETEEN. GOODNESS. Somebody stop me) Total amount spent....$114 including shipping. That's about $6 a yard. I'm not sure how I feel about that. I guess it's pretty good if it's all quality stuff. Time will tell. There goes my 'housewife' allowance* for the next little while.

Ten of those yards are specifically for the Endless Combinations contest. The rest? Well, Fashionista Fabrics has some really great items on clearance. I decided it would be a good time to try them out--even if shipping did cost me an extra $10. I have some tweed, wool suitings, cotton gauze, and a bunch of knits coming. Looks like I'm going to have to learn to sew knits. :)

Also en route to yours truly is a roll of Swedish Tracing Paper. Since this stuff is sewable, I'm hoping it will cut down on my need for muslins in some cases. But if not I'll be glad to have something more durable to trace my patterns onto.

I will have to make one trip to Joann before the contest starts, I think to get my notions. And then there is preparing the fabric & tracing my patterns. And reading through the instructions. And then I'll be ready. I'm so excited to get started.

*For the record--this is my term for it, not my husband's. I handle the finances so in theory I could spend as much I want & get away with it. But that's just not my style. :)

Prepping for my first contest...

Photo courtesy of Hartlee Industries

I have been sewing. Really. I have. Three pairs of pj pants as a matter of fact. Two for my son & one pair for my mom.
And right now I'm working on a project that I'll be really excited to share. If I ever find the right buttons for it. :)
Right now my biggest sewing focus is the Endless Combinations contest on PR. It starts November 14 & runs for a month, so that gives me time to prepare & implement a plan.
The goal of the contest is to make a minimum of 4 garments that all coordinate with something else. Unlike a wardrobe contest, they don't all have to match eachother, but you should have no orphan pieces at the end. I'm pretty excited aobut it. A little anxious simply becuase I've only actually sewed one of the patterns I'm planning on using (Kwik Sew 3693-view A this time). But, really, considering that I've only sewn 2 garments for myself (one of which was lounge pants) that's to be expected. I don't know if I'll be able to do 4 garments in a month, but I'm going to give it a go. :)
Anyway, I'm excited. It will be a great way for me to broaden my sewing horizons & (hopefully) create some wearable outfits.
Have you ever joined a contest? Wanna join along with me? You can find the official thread here.
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