Monday, April 30, 2012

Two Bodices

Evening Empire Dress bodice detail

Wow!  I didn't sew a single thing last week. Not one stinkin' stitch. Lots of good intentions and preparatory internet surfing, but no sewing.

That's what happens when you fall into the internet rabbit hole.

AMH Evening Empire Dress pattern

Anyhoo, two weeks ago when I was in Minnesota, I thought to myself, "self, you should try Anna Maria Horner's Evening Empire Dress, again." So, I decided to do just that. I had purchased several yards of Lisette fabric at Joann's during a sale and I had planned to make a Continental Dress with it, but given how mine turned out, I changed my mind.

I have tried to make the Evening Empire Dress (view dress A with the straps) before - I made a muslin with some homespun. It was not a success. There is quite a bit of volume there and it's lined, so two layers of gathered homespun did not make for a nice silhouette. The top fabric here is a light poplin (if I remember correctly) and the blue floral is an even lighter cotton lawn. I love that you can get these fabrics at Joann's and they are affordable. Getting this weight 100% cotton, with the nice hand feel and drape, at an affordable price is a challenge. And though I drool over the quilt shop lawns and voiles, those just aren't in my budget. (Oh Liberty, you high-priced temptress!)

Evening Empire Dress bodices

I was able to get the two bodices kind of done last night. There is some gaping at the sides, so I'm hoping to finnagle that this afternoon. (The open side is where the zipper will go.) I made a medium and when I cut out the skirt, I left off about 2.25" of the width, so that it will gather a little less full. I am going to do something with the lining too, to make it less full, as well. I went with a very thin, soft 50/50 cotton poly knit that shouldn't interfere too much with the drape of the fabric and still feel nice in the summer.

Some day I will get back to quilting.  Some day I will get to making that Ice Cream Social Dress that I have the perfect ice cream fabric for. And Anna Maria Horner's Baby in the Hood Jacket which I've had cut out for over a year... And my bee blocks... And my Patchwork Chevron blocks... So many projects, so little time. Having a job really gets in the way!

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Simplicity 2147

I finally made something I can wear.

Here are the final projects from two of the hilarious muslin patterns.

The Simplicity tunic is definitely better in a flowier fabric. I used a silky print from JoAnn's, but it's not shiny, silky. It's a heavier, matte texture - I think it might be a silky moleskin, if there is such a thing.

Simplicity 2147 pattern alteration

I shortened it up, about 2.5" further than the tunic length. I modified my size 14 pattern by folding in the sides about an inch and a a half and tapering it from the waist. The only modification I need to make now is to make taper it back out a titch at the hips.

Simplicity 2147, bodice

I did a facing, instead of using bias tape (I totally made it up, because even though it sounds like I know what I'm doing, I was just flying by the seat of my pants). I accidentally switched up my front and back facings, so the longer side is in front. No big deal. I just like the finish better than bias tape because I suck at bias tape. The neck is gaping a little in the photo because I was doing a self-portrait with my arms out in front of my body - classy!

I also did French seams, which I thought would be good with the ravelly fabric. It added a little bulk at the shoulders, since I had the facing pieces in there, too. But it's not that bad.

Yea for a wearable a project!

Simplicity 0353-Continental Dress

Here is my final Continental dress in a size 10. Somehow I messed up the neckline because I added the bias binding in the length called for by the pattern, but it was way too small and pulled the fabric so it distorted the armholes. So, I had to detach it, re-gather the front, lengthen the binding and try again.

Simplicity 0353-Continental Dress

I added some hastily-made back darts, as well (totally eye-balled these). And again, since this is part linen - I did French seams.

Simplicity 0353-Continental Dress

The neck and armholes are still a little too big and I think I could go down one more size, but I didn't want to re-trace the pattern a third time. My only problem now - it's a tiny bit itchy. It's a linen/cotton blend and I'm wondering if I wear it and beat it up a little, it will get softer.

Anyway, I'm hard at work at my striped dress and off once, again to MN for a week. So, I think I'll just bring along My Precious quilt to work on.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Potholders for Swap

BA{M}S potholder detail

I am taking part in my first organized swap as part of the Bee a {Modern} Swapper group. You'll remember that I made my March bee blocks for this same group.

My partner said she liked neutrals with blue, green, brown, grey and mustard yellow. And she mentioned she like Heather Bailey. So, Nicey Jane it was!

Ba{M}S Potholder 1

I had this folded star potholder bookmarked for a while, so I thought it was finally time to try it out. My center star isn't as crisp as I'd like and the star itself could be flatter but all-in-all, I am still pleased with how it turned out. (I always have to fight the urge to point out every major flaw in everything I make. When I'm giving gifts, I usually fail and say something like, 'I made this for you, but look how crooked that stitching is and that binding is terrible and I wish I had done this or that...')

Ba{M}S Potholder 1 Back

I wish I had flipped my binding the other direction, because the back looks nicer than the front, but I never like the bindings I produce. (There I go again!) C'est la vie. I just used one square of cotton batting with this one because the folds of the star make it pretty thick, already. So, I figured it didn't need the insul-brite.

Ba{M}S Potholder 2

For my second potholder, I was going to give my partner a crazy blue, green improv one, but then I decided it might be too out there, given the star one. And my improv curves got a bit puckered. So I just did a simple block with more Nicey Jane and so, it's more matchy with the other one.

Ba{M}S Potholder 2 back

I quilted the heck out of it and as a result, it got stretched a bit, so it doesn't lie as flat as I would prefer. But it's a potholder, so hopefully it will be held flat by a heavy pot! I intended to give this one a loop, too, but typically I started my binding in the wrong corner and so, the flowers would have been hanging upside down, so I clipped the loop. This one has insul-brite and one square of cotton batting.

Hope you like these, partner!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Everything Old is New Again

New Old iron

My husband and I like to visit thrift and antique shops from time to time. This weekend, he was on the hunt for turntable because, for whatever reasons, he likes to buy records (yes, vinyl - when my soon-to-be-16 year old niece was 4, my dad was cleaning his record collection and she exclaimed, "Grandpa! Those are HUGE CDs!") but he didn't have a turntable to play them on.

So, we went to St. Vinnie's and on the way to the Goodwill we saw signs for an estate sale, so we thought we'd pop in. My husband found a variety of 45's (Diana Ross, The Doors, Simon and Garfunkel - I have the MP3s...) and I found a trove of vintage patterns AND...

New Old Iron

Ta dah! This is the exact iron my mom has, which used to belong to my grandma. So, I'm not sure how old it is, but I'm guessing 70's? We went on the last day of the sale, so it was half off at $2.50.

I tell you, this iron can press a serious seam! It's heavy and it could definitely brain my little dog. It also doesn't have that newfangled safety shut-off and this thing can heat an entire room. So, like all old electronics, it can definitely be a hazard. But with a little caution and foresight, it can be awesome, too. I'm so happy I finally found one.

Vintage patterns

I also picked up these patterns from the 60's and 70's for 25 cents a piece! They are one size per envelope (I guess that's how it was done then), so they are already cut out and everything! No need to trace.

Vintage patterns

You can tell how popular that yellow was, since it's in four of the pattern pictures (it's in the one below, as well).

I love, love this striped dress.

Simplicity 7977

I'd like to do it in a solid color or chambray with a contrasting bodice but I found this great Little Lisette striped lawn at JoAnn's on red tag for 50% off - $2.50y. Score!


It'll be a pretty wild muslin, but with the authentic 1977 feel :) Once I get the sizing down right, I will be able to make a kinder, gentler version. It's a 12 and I'm guessing it might be a little small, except for the fact that it is a pullover and ties in the back, which leads me to believe there will be ample wiggle room.

Simplicity 7977 view 1

That little square on the bodice isn't just for looks. It's functional, too: it's a pocket! I am not sure what you'd need to keep in your under-bust pocket, but I think it's pretty awesome.

I think I have one more clothing post this week and then I'm off to MN on Wednesday, so I will be doing some quilting while I'm there. Oh, I also finished up my pot holders, so I'll post those, too.

Monday, April 16, 2012

I Didn't Wanna Do It

Labyrinth Block #1 - My Precious QAL

I didn't wanna do it. You made me love you!

I did it - I cut into my precious text prints. I made my test block/block #1 from prints that I was attached to but not as attached to.

But, I knew I had to bit the bullet and cut into my most precious Annie's Seed Catalog, the Yuwa Je Vous En Prie, and the Pez fabric for block #2.

Labyrinth Block #2 - My Precious QAL

The first cut is the deepest - isn't that what Cat Stevens tells us? But I did it and I'm moving on. So, I am poised to make four more blocks. I decided to take out the pure white fabrics, since the majority are off-white and I'm using Kona Snow as the background. Haven't decided what to use, yet for the sashing blocks. Not sure if I want to throw another color in the mix. But I don't have to decide for a while, anyway.

The goal of this quilt along is to use the fabric we've been hoarding, rather than just keeping it hidden away and bringing it out to pet and ogle. But it's tough. I still have several bundles (two words: Tula Pink), that I can't cut into yet. I know I will be happy to have the fabric in usable form but it's still hard to commit to a pattern and make that first cut.

Lots of posts this week! Back to sewing a lot - good times!

Friday, April 13, 2012

My Precious

Black and White and Re[a]d all over

These are my picks for Kelly's My Precious Quilt Along.


I'm a little late to the text print fun, but I really love them and I've been saving them for "just the right project." I don't know if I'm going to get the whole quilt done during the summer (I'm going to cut one block at a time!), but I'm going to give it a go. I'll be using these for Rita's Labyrinth quilt pattern. Even though most of these are technically off-white, I'm still calling it Black and White and Re[a]d All Over.

Should be fun!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Hilarious Muslins

Sew Out Loud Block 1

This is a slapdash block that I made from a design in the Sew Out Loud Quilt Along. It was my first attempt at paper piecing and I just wanted to see if I could do it. So, I didn't even do any ironing and I just added more fabric when I positioned the pieces incorrectly. I love this design, but my paper piecing skills leave a lot to be desired.

Anyway, I thought it was a good way to start off my muslin post, since it was kind of a quilt block muslin. So, I really want to learn to make clothes for myself, but I've only done a few very simple sundresses a couple years ago, which I wear all summer. (Get ready for some awesome headless photos!)

Mendocino sundressModified Mendocino Sundress Museum tunic
The first two are Mendocino sundresses (free pattern from Heather Ross), the one on the right is the Museum Tunic (free pattern from Anna Maria Horner).

But, I really want to learn how to sew one of the many patterns I've collected. So, I dove in and made three hilarious, half-made muslins - the three stooges, if you will. After much hemming and hawing and surfing the internet for tips, I picked two fairly simple patterns and one a bit more challenging (for a newbie). I used some yardage I had lying around (not final dress-type fabric-you've been warned), but first I traced the patterns onto tracing "fabric" (it's with the interfacing - it's Trace Ease or Sew Ease tracing, something... Helpful, right?!) and then cut the pieces from there. I checked my measurements and I measure somewhere between a 14 and a 16. (Oh, and when I say "muslin" - I mean a total Type B muslin. I didn't iron anything, I didn't stay stitch, I didn't finish any edges, and on one, I didn't even finish the placket.)

The result: three hospital gowns/inmate-at-a-mental-institution-type dresses. Observe:

This is Simplicity 2147.

Simplicity 2147 tunic/dress

It's called "Learn to Sew"; it literally has 4 pattern pieces.  So, I read reviews and blog posts. I figured I'd just go with a size 14, because that's what my measurements said. Let's do this...

Hilarious Muslin #2 - on

I don't actually have a pillow in my shirt in that picture. The shoulders and bodice were good. Everything under that horizontal seam... I have actually sewn in about 2.5" on both sides of the waist in that muslin. Hospital gown, much? Trash bag dress? Check and check. I can see it being cute in a drapier fabric and the proper pattern size, but I'm not holding my breath.

The next one is super-awesome (but not) - the Continental dress from Lisette - Simplicity 0353.

Simplicity 0353 - LIsette Continental dress

Again, I went with a size 14. Hilarity! What, what, what is going on here?!

Hilarious Musin #2

I don't know either. The sides could have been taken in at least 5" (each!) and the armholes were gaping, to say the least.

Hilarious Musin #2 detail

I made this out of some Ikea cotton that I have decided not to use in quilting. It didn't even make sense for me to finish this one off. I was actually able to make a second muslin out of this one - in a size 10!

Finally! Another Lisette pattern - Simplicity 0451.

Simplicity 0451 - Traveler dress

I really, really want to get this one right. because I love the idea of a simple shirtdress. I used some free fabric that I got when made one of their rare cutting mistakes. I've been trying to swap this one for a while because I had two yards of it and it wasn't something I was going to use. But - enter the muslin. I knew I wanted short sleeves, so I was able to eek out all of the pattern pieces except for the button placket using 2 yards of fabric. This one, I just bit the bullet and cut out a 12.

Hilarious Muslin #3 - on

I couldn't really figure the placket out and then it turned out much more narrow than the photos I've seen (plus I messed up by attaching the collar before I attached the placket - oops). I have a great black/grey chambray that I want to use to make this, but I need to tweak this muslin a little bit. I think I can just let out the seam allowances a titch (they are the standard 5/8") in the skirt and it might do. Otherwise I might have to figure out how to grade the skirt portion to a 14. (Yep, I eyeballed those pockets and they are totally crooked!)

Hilarious Muslin #3

Even though I bungled my way thru all of these, they were never meant to be wearable muslins and I think I learned enough about shape and to some extent, sizing, to use in the final projects. But a big part of the hesitation in sewing for myself is the fit issue. The sizes are ridiculous. You should, theoretically, be able to measure yourself, find the the size on the pattern and that size should correspond to you. But it doesn't. And that's what's kept me from really getting into sewing for myself. Each project takes two or three iterations before it's something worthy to be worn outside (rather than just worn and mocked on my blog!). I generally don't have that kind of trouble with quilting. Sewing time is precious and these muslins are the black hole of time suckage. I think I'll get back to quilting, instead :)

My husband is going to help me make one of those duct tape dress forms soon and I hope that will help with some of the fitting issues.

The adventure continues...

Friday, April 6, 2012

I'm Baaaack

Patchwork Chevron in progress

Well, it's been a while, but I'm finally home. Three months of essentially couch surfing at other people's houses and now I'm home. (I actually had a bed at every house I was fortunate enough to stay at.)

Back home and back to sewing. Here are some of my blocks for my Patchwork Chevron - a free Moda Bake Shop pattern - that I sewed on the road.

I was able to do a little bit of other sewing, including three hilarious muslins that I can't wait to share in another post.

Basically, I'm just getting back into the swing of things and hopefully, I'll be able to take up some blogging again, too. But for now, I'd just rather do some sewing!