Thursday, August 30, 2012

the little denim skirt that could

Butterick 5649 skirt in stretch denim

At last – some more content on this little beginner’s blog!

Oh, Butterick 5649….  This is my most favorite flawed sewing project to date.  There are so many things wrong with this skirt, but that has not kept me from wearing it everywhere all the time.

here be the pattern illustration

I have wanted a denim straight skirt for ages.  I don’t know if these things are stylish.  It doesn’t seem like you can find them anywhere in stores, and I remember them being a wardrobe staple when I was in junior high in the late 80s.  I guess this should tell me something, but I just don’t care.  I wanted a denim skirt, so I made me a denim skirt!

here be the innards as seen hanging from the ole ironin' board

I used this wonderful, comfortable stretch denim that I got on sale at JoAnn’s.  Stretch denim has to be one of the best inventions ever.  I had some issues with the waistband and front closure – which, granted, was the only tricky thing about this pattern.  This was my first attempt at a fly-front zipper closure, and I kind of stumbled my way through it.

my first fly front zipper

I thought I had everything cut and marked and lined up properly, but I ended up having to sew directly over this metal zipper, which just doesn’t seem right.  Luckily it did not break a needle or throw my machine off-kilter, but it made a lot of scary noise, and it looks strange to me from the inside.

The waistband is wonky….

hand-worked buttonhole / ugly waistband with pretty button

In case it isn’t obvious, the waistband doesn’t really line up.  I am sure that 99% of this wonkiness is the result of my waistband ineptitude.  I think this is only my second attempt at a non-elastic waistband.  But the waistband pattern was confusing because there were a lot of different lines to be sorted out.  It would help tremendously if there was a different waistband pattern for each size.  Again, this is not going to keep me from wearing the heck out of this skirt.  (Actually, I already have.  Yes, I finished this skirt over 2 weeks ago and was too lazy to take pics until last night.  I hang my head in shame.)

Also, my cheapo machine makes questionable buttonholes at its best, and it did not like this stretch denim at all.  So I ended up having to hand work the buttonhole.  The result kind of makes me chuckle, and it’s OK if you chuckle a bit, too.

triptych of poses, including obligatory booty shot
(believe it or not, this is my legs AFTER tan-in-a-bottle)

Overall, I am thrilled with this skirt!  I have worn it to work with a pretty blouse and out running errands on the weekend with a plain t-shirt and statement necklace.  There is just something about dark denim…. It has an almost magical way of instantly multiplying your wardrobe.

AND!  Nice, deep pockets!!!

enjoying my pockets

On an unrelated note, have a look at all of my poor UFOs….

Aren’t they sad?  I have never, ever finished a top, which is problematic because I am sorely lacking in nice tops and blouses for work.  Here’s the rundown:
- New Look 1607:  Confused over what to do about the front facings, which will show right through this poly chiffon if sewn as drafted.
- Butterick 5615:  That front tie was much cuter in theory than it is over my belly.
- Simplicity 1779:  Way too low cut!  And also a bit too small.

As I hung them all up on the ironing board, it occurred to me that I seem to have a thing for the color blue.  You’ll never guess what color my wedding dress is going to be!

300 dollars worth of silk

Speaking of which, there is some progress on the wedding dress front.  Here’s a sneak peek….

oooh.... musliny!

Before I sign off, I wanted to thank all of you who have stopped by say hi and give me some words of encouragement!  As a newbie to both sewing and blogging, I really appreciate it.  Hope everyone has a great Labor Day weekend!  :D

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

summery green dress

Butterick 4443 in cotton twill
First sewing post - yay!

I live in the hot and humid South, and it is especially hot and humid right now.  I wanted to make something that would be cool and comfortable for work and also transition well into fall.  This dress fit the bill.  I made it up in a bluegrass-green cotton twill with a geometric print that I got on sale at JoAnn's about a month ago.  It feels heavenly on a hot day like today.

The pattern is Butterick 4443.

I wanted an A-line dress with a simple style, and I liked the lined, princess-seamed bodice and the somewhat retro feel.  I made View C without the self-fabric tie.  I wasn't sold on the high bateau neckline, so I lowered and narrowed it.  I also shortened it at the hem a tiny bit.

When they say "easy", they mean it.  This is a great pattern for beginners like me.  The only tricky part was attaching the lining to the bodice at the shoulder.  I know there are tutorials out there with much better ways to do this, but I had never lined a bodice and thought I would try it according to the instructions.  Yeah, next time I'm going for the tutorials.  I don't mind the hand sewing, but I didn't think I would ever get the shoulder seam to lie flat long enough to stitch it.

Here's a shot of the "innards":

I'm pretty proud of my lined bodice.  The lining is bleached muslin - so soft and comfy.

And here is the zipper, another point of pride for me on this dress (the pic might come out wonky - I had some trouble uploading it):

This is only my second zipper, and I think it turned out great!  I love the method of zipper installation in the pattern instructions.  First you line it up and baste it to the right seam allowance.  Then you lay the dress flat and baste all around the zipper on both sides.  This helped me get it lined up perfectly.

I put a lot of hand stitching into this dress.  The lining is slipstitched to the zipper and all around the waistline seam per the instructions, and of course the hem is hand sewn.  But being the crazy hand stitcher that I am, I went a little further. I understitched the lining by hand using a short backstitch.  And as usual, I hand overcast all of the seams to finish them.  Yes, I know I am a nutcase.  I love to sew by hand.  It's a zen thing for me.

hand understitching at the neckline and armholes

hand overcasting at seams and hem
This is the first time I've worn a dress with a zipper in maybe 15 years.  I am short and chunky AND short-waisted, so I gave up on finding ready-to-wear fitted dresses in woven fabrics years ago.  Any time I've bought a dress, it has always been either knit or loose or two-piece.  Learning to sew has opened up this whole new world of possibility for me.  I love my knit dresses, but there's nothing like slipping into a full-skirted, zip-up dress to make you feel like a lady.

I even kind of look like a lady - ha!  :)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

introductions are in order

Hi there, internets!

If you’ve stumbled across this blog, it’s probably because I’ve been leaving random comments on your blog, and you’re curious about whether or not I am a creepy stalker.  And maybe I am a little bit of a stalker, but mostly I just love clothes and fashion and sewing.

So… background info!  In case you’re interested…..

I’m 36 years old with a wonderful fiancĂ© and a day job.  After years spent living in a personal style oblivion, I hit my mid-thirties and suddenly felt an urge to reinvent myself.  I lost some weight and started frequenting thrift stores.  Although I have every Vogue fall fashion issue dating back to 1997, I started regularly sifting through magazines and scrutinizing details and looking for ways to translate high fashion into everyday wearable style.  I discovered various style blogs and lurked around for more ideas and inspiration.

Six months ago, I took another big sartorial step and signed up for a 6-session evening sewing class at my local community college.  I pulled out the sewing machine that my parents had given me for Christmas 4-5 years earlier, took it out of the box, and finally disengaged it from its Styrofoam padding.  And it was love at first sight.

Since then, I have started a dozen or so sewing projects and finished 6.  One of the six was a gift and came out great.  The other five were for me, and four of them are even sort of wearable, yay!

I am hoping to use this blog to document my progress, but I warn readers from the get-go that I am pathetically lazy about taking and uploading pictures, and posts might be few and far between.  Right now I have a bad habit of starting projects, realizing two-thirds of the way in that I’m not happy with them, and abandoning them.  Maybe blogging about projects will make me more accountable to myself.

Also, I am getting married in (gasp) two months.  And I am attempting to sew my own wedding dress!  We’ll see how it goes….

What about you?  Did you sew your own wedding dress, or do you plan to?  Does blogging push you to follow through with sewing projects or keep honing your personal style?  Have you always had a love of clothing and fashion?  If you had to wear the same outfit for a month, what would it be?  If you’re reading this and feel the inclination, tell me a little something about yourself!