Monday, October 29, 2012

Finished wrap dress - New Look 6674

Another finished item! This one is going up quite late, as I finished it back in August. I took the photos several weeks ago... I don't even think it was fall yet! So there have been two rounds of procrastination on this one. It's a little difficult to remember the sewing process at this point, so sorry for that. Anyway, back to the summertime... I started to have the hankering for a wrap dress and settled on New Look 6674.

I can't remember why I chose this pattern. Looking at it now, it strikes me as plain. Then again, I have been trying to sew more wearable clothing - "cake", if you will. And this dress is casual enough that I should get a lot of wear out of it. And when I wore it to my internship a while back, the other intern asked if we were supposed to dress up. Cake is a relative term, doncha know.

The fabric is a linen/rayon blend from Joann's. I'm still digging usable fabric out of that place, but it sure isn't easy. I really liked this print, though. It reminds me of ikat. I'd like to get my hands on some actual ikat. Anyone know a good place?

I'm a bad seamstress and didn't make a muslin for this. I'm usually a bad seamstress, actually. Instead, I tried to adjust the pattern based on my measurements and reviews I read on the Pattern Review website, and then just cut right into my fabric. This resulted in some unfortunate fit problems which necessitated me taking apart the darts and side seams - which was a real bummer because I had already finished the seams with bias tape. BIG SIGH. Turns out wrap dresses can be tricky to fit? Maybe someday I'll learn. Some others had complained about a gaping neckline on this pattern, which I think is a common wrap dress problem. I redrew the shape of the neckline curve, making it straighter, and I didn't have issues after that. But I'm also in the A-cup club, which also might have helped.

The skirt has an A-line shape which works well for me, but it doesn't have darts in the back and I probably could have used some. Oh well. I don't think it's a big issue.

Aside from not making a muslin, I took another big shortcut on this dress - one which actually worked out okay. I used Steam-a-Seam to hold down the bias tape which I used to finish the neckline, front opening, and sleeves. This stuff is totally cheating... I know! It's like gluing your dress together instead of sewing it. But I just couldn't bear the thought of catch stitching all that bias tape down, and I didn't want a line of stitching all the way around. So far, the stuff has held up... well, with the exception of the sleeves. Those I did have to catch stitch in the end. Steam-a-Seam is no match for holding things down where multiple layers of fabric meet.

I didn't bother with the bow/sash from the pattern, but instead used a vintage button from my stash. Nice match, eh?

Then, just to prove that this dress is a very functional garment, I put it through the "mobility test" ala Steph at 3HoursPast...

Flying leap!

Less than graceful jumps!

Ah, whatever guys! It works! I've worn it to an interview (got the internship), out for drinks (got compliments), dancing (cuts a rug)... and I deem this one a success!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Finished gingham blouse

Gee, has it really been over two months since I posted? Whoops. It's not because I haven't been sewing, that's for sure. In fact, I have quite the backlog of projects to report! Unfortunately, most of them still need to be photographed, but the weather hasn't been cooperating. Last night I forged ahead anyway and took some photos indoors. They aren't great, they certainly won't put me on the cover of Burdastyle, but they'll do.

I guess high resolution can't make up for poor lighting. Oh well. The pattern is vintage McCall's 5946, view A.

Originally I had wanted to make the button-up from Built-by-Wendy: Sew U, but I didn't for two reasons. First, I bought my fabric on the cheap off Etsy and ended up with not enough after I discovered some of the yardage was polyester (and not all cotton like the seller said). Second, the Built-by-Wendy pattern has wacky seam allowances which aren't marked and which aren't consistent (just read the reviews on Amazon), thus leaving you in a dangerous guessing game that can only lead to extreme sewing frustration and seam ripper angst. Somehow, despite that problem, I managed to make a very nice shirt from the pattern years ago. It was one of my very first projects, and I'm still proud that I tackled a collared shirt (with cuffs!) without hesitating. It was probably that naive enthusiasm that got me through the seam allowance stupidity without being fazed. Unfortunately, that was before I knew how to identify polyester and avoid it like the plague. So while the shirt fit well, it also stifled me like a plastic bag. CURSE YOU POLYESTER!

Long story short, I went with a different pattern from my stash that looked interesting. And it turned out okay, although I made a mistake or two because I didn't read the instructions (whoops). I also had to do a bit of hand stitching to get the collar to lay correctly. It seems like on rolled collars like this there's never enough fabric to do the roll neatly. Anyone else have that problem?

I used a larger gingham for the facings. Originally I wanted to do the whole shirt in this. It's a Robert Kaufman gingham, and I bought it new, which I don't do very often! Sadly, when it arrived I discovered it was more like a bottom-weight or a home decorating fabric. Boooooo. But remembering my experiment on my shorts, I used it as the facing and cuff material thereby eliminating the need for interfacing. Success!

I guess I'm moderately pleased with the overall result. It definitely has a vintagey feel to it. I did have to make the arms a little larger for my big elbows. And I wish I had made it slightly longer. Annnnnd I might have forgotten the vertical darts which leaves the shape quite boxy without a belt. Maybe I should go back and add those. But the one big thing this pattern taught me is that I'm no big fan of the low arm scythe, otherwise known as "baggy armpit." You can see from the pattern illustrating that it's an interesting design feature, but it didn't make the sleeves much easier to insert, despite what you might think. And if you try to lift your arms in a shirt like this, it pulls the rest of the shirt up with it. So it's not going to stay tucked, and no reaching for things on high shelves without your belly showing. Unless you added some length. But you didn't, did you Claire? ALSO, I can't wear a sweater over this very comfortably, unless the sweater has low arm scythes too. I think it's a cute blouse, but I might have to hack it into short-sleeves to overcome these issues.

So that's all, except for a photo of Pidgin wearing some polyester gingham.

Gahhh! Frickin adorable. And the rest of the polyester I glued over a cardboard box, thereby making it an attractive container for my pattern stash. Take that polyester!