Friday, December 30, 2011

OMG I'm Trying Pants (Again)

I know I've been really quiet as of late, both on my blog and on others. Between work being insane and the holidays, I haven't really been up to much on the sewing side of life.

But I'm dedicating tonight to sewing, and I can't tell you how excited I am about this! So of course I had to share.

I'm working on...wait for it...a pair of pants! My first pair since this disaster. No, it's not the trouser pattern I've been sitting on forever to make (mostly because it's the wrong size and also sort of complicated), but a simpler straight-legged version from New Look 6082.

I know I know, you're all saying "But Heather, last time you learned that the crotch-curve sucks on New Look patterns, especially if you have a huge butt", but whatever, I'm trying it out anyways. It's Stacie's fault for making her lovely clovers, and since I am obviously jealous of her straight-leg pants and want a pair of my own to fit into my knee-high boots (and don't actually own the clover pattern), I'm trying these.

Don't worry, I'm making (hopefully wearable) muslins, and have my copy of Pants for Real People sitting beside me as I snip and cut.

This is one of the first coordinate pattern sets where I actually love almost everything on it. I adore that cardigan jacket (the short version, the long looks too much like a lab coat to me), and am tickled that it's a woven! Might have to (for once) make multiple garments from this one.

Do any of you actually make multiple different garments from a coordinate pattern set?

And in lieu of anything productive to share besides some rambling, here's my slowly growing cross-stitch project. (Some photo editing since I suck at taking pictures, and then suck at editing. But the colours look more true this way, even if it is blinding.)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Rush Order Christmas Party Dress

I've mentioned here and there (twitter, comments on other blogs, facebook, etc) that I was doing a sewing marathon yesterday, trying to finish off my Christmas party dress (never in the world thought I'd make myself a 'party dress', but that's how life goes sometimes) in time for my work Christmas dinner, and then a friend's party afterward.

Well, I get 'er done.

For a specific definition of 'done'.

I decided a few months ago that I needed Simplicity 2305 - a Cynthia Rowley garment - out of green satin. This is probably the very first time I just wanted to make a pretty party dress. I think I need to make more, because dresses are awesome!

Anyways, I had most of the pieces cut out of a crepe-back satin by Friday night, and even attached the front and back bodice pieces. Saturday, I procrastinated...a lot, but after a short walk and a cup of coffee, I rolled up my sleeves and started sewing at about 11:30. And barely stopped until I finished the darn thing.

Of course, I finished at 6 pm, exactly when my work dinner was starting. BUT there's nothing wrong with being fashionably late, especially when you're wearing a knock-out dress!

I got tonnes of compliments on it, and loved people's reactions when I told them I'd made it. The best part, though, was when they asked how long it took me to make it, and I said ''. :)

Of course, I didn't point out all the problems with it. For one thing, the whole dress is too big. I cut a size 16 for the arms, 18 through the bodice and waist, and a 20 for the hips, as per my measurements. I should've stuck with a 16 for the entire bodice and an 18 for the hips. You can see in the two pics below how much nicer the dress would've looked if it was snugger around the waist.

And look! I did my first successful FBA! While the dress was big on me along the sides, the bodice was really comfortable, but not too baggy. I think if I hadn't done the 1 inch FBA, it would've been too snug and ill-fitted in the bust. Okay, I'm sold. It's wasn't even that hard after all, probably thanks to my copy of Fit for Real People.

I found the sleeves a bit too long. It'd look much nicer if the cuff ended just above my elbow, instead of hanging over it when I stand. Think next time I'll shorten the cut-on sleeves a bit.

Also, I did my very first invisible 5:40 pm. I didn't even have time to do a practice run. It's not very invisible, but since it's on my side and covered by my belt and arm, I don't think it's that bad. Plus look at how well lined up that waist-band is! I'm that proud.

The zipper is really rough on the inside, but I just didn't have time to finish it. I'll have to though, because the satin frays like crazy when you simply look at it and even worse when you don't.

Most of the seams were finished in a mock serger fashion, using a tight zig zag stitch. I think this is my favourite finishing technique, since it's simple and strong.

I did take the time to hand stitch the hem, since I didn't want a visible stitch line along it. For a 10 minute job, it looked decent. This satin refuses to be pressed sharply, so it's a little poofy (as are all the seams).

I'd like to think I'll take the dress apart and at least take in the waistband and the skirt, but I probably won't. That's why belts were invented, yo! I wouldn't mind making another version of this dress, though. It's super comfortable to wear, looks awesome, and I don't think it's too distinctive of a pattern to have two versions of. I think it'd even look good as a day dress, if you use different fabric.

Here she is, inside out. I LOVE the crepe-back satin, and sort of wish I'd used the crepe side somewhere on the outside of the dress. Oh well, next time.

So despite all these problems and the rush, it was a successful dress (although next time I'm adding pockets). Now I just need to figure out how to wash satin, because I got a couple drinks spilled on me, and you can see the marks on the dress. :(

Oh also, look what I made while waiting for the cab to arrive! Cut out a circle of fabric big enough to contain your wallet and whatever else you need, tightly zig-zag around the edge and trim, zig-zag a length of ribbon on the outside, and voila, instant purse!

For more specific details on the dress (sizes, fabric type, alterations, etc), please check out my review over at PR.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a great holiday, from me and my three little plant pets! (From left to right, Lowell the Aloe Vera, Tiny Tim the...tiny tropic, and Agetha the Aglaonema)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

PR Day 2011

Photo taken by Sheila. Bag owned by Brenda. That is, until I can sneak it into my purse without her noticing.

So ages ago (on November 19 to be exact), sewists around the world gathered to celebrate Pattern Review's 10th anniversary. While we were a small crowd (of three: Sheila, Brenda and myself), a gathering did occur here in Winnipeg.

From left to right: Brenda (aka goal100 on PR), me (Heather aka bare_bear), and Sheila (aka SheBear0320). Photo by Sheila's husband, who was a good sport, an ice cream enabler, and basically hid in his man-cave the entire time, poor man.

The celebration included:
  • tasty scones (ala me, extremely fresh out of the oven when Brenda arrived a bit early to pick me up while they were still baking away in the oven)
Mmm scones. Photo by Sheila.
  • tasty coffee (ala Sheila)
  • sewing chatter and oogling Sheila's sewing studio (I WANT HOMG)
  • full body measurements (yay I finally know how wide my shoulders are and what my crotch curve measurements are - the latter of which was extremely awkward to take, btw)
  • an excellent lunch at Mongo's Grill
Our fabric haul. Photo by Sheila.
  • bubbly back at Sheila's place, then a tasty pizza dinner to stave off the effects of the bubbly
Mmm bubbly. Photo by Sheila.
  • and finally, an excursion for ice cream (did I mention it was something like -25C outside? That's just how we 'Peggers roll)
All in all, it was a fantastic day! Exhausting, but so much fun. The best part was meeting two awesome and talented Winnipeg sewists, even if they are horrible enablers. (Stop tempting me to go back to Northwest Fabrics, Sheila!)

Also, it turns out that Sheila has the best job in the world and sews for a living (hence her amazing sewing studio). She makes athletic apparel, most notably figure skating outfits, but is branching out to other sports as well. Please go check out her website Chianto by Sheila to see what she gets up to. Someday I'm going to convince her to hire me so that I can spend my days sewing too!

So we hit up three fabric stores that I didn't even know existed in Winnipeg. I'll bet you're wondering what I come home with, eh? I didn't go crazy, but I think I won the fabric race out of the three of us. I found some pretty black underwear elastic ridiculously priced at 10 cents/m at Economy Textiles, as well as a stack of quilting cotton. Need to go back there, because the prices are out of this world!

I found this lingerie pattern for wovens from a local woman at ...uh, I can't remember the name of the place. Not a huge selection of fabric, but they had some unique stuff, and the man who runs the place is apparently a wizard with sewing machine repairs. They also had a room in the back with some lovely pelts and leather pieces. Very cool.

Finally, I was done in at Marshall's/Northwest Fabrics, which is the biggest fabric store I've ever seen! Maybe it's about the same size at Mitchell's, but it's all laid out on one big floor, and everything is sorted according to fabric type. I obviously need to spend more time here, to uh...learn more about different fabric types. Yeah, that's it...

Despite being completely overwhelmed, I managed to pull my wits together enough to trackdown the wool and lining I wanted to make a winter coat. Aren't they pretty! I love the burgundy. That was entirely Brenda, because I was going to make myself get the black wool, and she talked me into going with what I was drawn to, which was the burgundy. It's a melton wool, and the black is a flannel-backed satin.

Obviously I need to fabric shop with other sewist more often. OR NOT, because youch I bought a lot of fabric! Thanks Sheila and Brenda!

And thanks, Pattern Review, for encouraging your members to celebrate and have fun for your 10th anniversary. Congrats on reaching such a milestone!
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