Tag Archives: sewing

FO: New Look 6871, and a party

5 Jul

Look! I made a shirt! It’s New Look 6871, a yoke + gathered bottom for wovens. This is remarkable because 1) I’ve never made a shirt for myself, and 2) I’ve been pretty firmly in the knits-for-casual and woven-for-respectable camp. Here is one picture of it:

The background would be lovely if it weren’t for the towel, yellow bowl, and bag of tortilla chips.

I am horrifically unphotogenic. The other day, it took 37 tries with my new iPhone before I had something I was willing to send to my sister–my sister, who probably changed my diapers or something. You can thank my husband for the picture. We were at a barbecue yesterday, saying goodbye to A’s future husband, and I handed him (C, not the fiance) the camera with the vague instruction to “take some pictures of the shirt.” He obliged by taking pictures primarily of my face, but you can’t really fault a non-sewist. Here are some other pictures from the day:

Yes, there were a million fitting issues with the shirt. I resolved some and then created a few others when I made the second version, which is pink-and-white colorblocked linen. If this one looks a little like a muslin, that’s because it’s a “wearable” muslin, with emphasis on the scare quotes around the wearable. But you know what? I actually like it. I like flowered fabric, and this is a nice little voile/ lawn from Fabrics and Trimmings, who, by the way, are super-nice.

We’re going to miss you, D!

Anyway, I made a shirt! It fulfills my goals of being 1) basically equivalent to what you can buy at Old Navy for 24.99, 2) slightly cheaper, and 3) better made. You should see my french seams!

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FO: Oliver + S Puppet Show Shorts

24 May

I finally broke in a new Oliver + S pattern: the Puppet Show Shorts. (The Puppet Show Tunic looks a little too involved for me to handle right now. I’ll tackle it after the move/ dissertation/ giant contract writing project.)

In action and covered in sand.

This pattern is everything I expected it to be. It was easy, quick, and even fooled my friend/ A’s future mother-in-law into thinking the shorts were RTW. What more could you ask? I immediately went to Jo-Ann’s and bought fabric to make two more pairs–a gray seersucker and a striped linen.

Before I get to those, however, I have to finish my second Simplicity 2226, which so far has involved three zipper insertions and two broken needles. I don’t even know how I broke the second one, but that’s when I packed it in for the night yesterday.

I’m finally almost recovered from my plague, but my parents are both sick so I’ve only had three hours of drop-in daycare time to work for the past week. Then what am I doing sewing or blogging, you (or my editors) might ask? Well, it’s cheaper than therapy.

Notes and Mods: Evidently there’s some errata–the hem bias strip is too long, so the shorts aren’t actually gathered. I could unpick and fix it, but I’m not going to. I will, however, take an inch or two off the length next time. I also edge stitched along the center seam to give them a slightly more RTW look.

Simplicity 2451 muslin

27 Aug

I only started to like swatching and blocking after a lot of time knitting, because my focus learning a new craft is always on gaining experience, practicing technique, figuring out what kind of projects I like, that sort of thing. I guess the same goes for muslins. The thought of making an entire garment just for practice  seems incredibly depressing, even though I know perfectly well that a stitch in time saves nine and all that.

Does this look like the sheets in your grandmother's spare bedroom? It probably was!

Well, I figured there’s really no way around making muslins for adult garment sewing, so here it is: Simplicity 2451, a pleated yoked skirt. I’m into it! And I see the value in making a muslin so I can make all the mistakes now instead of on the fashion fabric–such as, for example, sewing about half of the seams the wrong way out, as you can see on the yoke. I also realized that sewing muslins is fast, because you don’t have to press and finish seams.

The design and construction of this skirt are exactly like something I would buy in a store, and the shape is very flattering. It is about an inch too big around, so I’m in a quandary: do I a) stick with the same size and take a bigger seam allowance or b) cut the smaller size and hope the post-baby weight loss continues at its glacial but steady pace, or c) cut the smaller size and take a smaller seam allowance? I’ll also have to cut the fashion fabric longer, since there isn’t enough of a hem allowance for the fabric I have in mind.

And I should probably take advantage of this muslin to practice inserting a zipper, because the last time I tried to make myself a skirt everything went beautiful until I totally biffed the zipper and had to toss the whole thing. Stupid zippers!

FO: Colette Madeleine Mini-Bloomers

13 Aug

long and lean!

If you are looking at the picture of this lanky model in her wee little bloomers right now and thinking, “Wow, that does not seem like it would be a good look for Firstmute,” you would, alas, be right. I’ve been working on these things for almost two weeks with the intention of boosting my sleepwear collection, which currently consists of one cute chemise and lots and lots of boxer briefs that I filch from C’s dresser. I actually had visions of making a whole army of these and debuting them here in a nifty little pile.

At first everything was going great: I used fabric from a hideous thrifted Victoria Secret nightgown (imagine a full-length prairie nightgown in this fabric and you’ll get the idea), got the pattern printed out and lined up and taped, and even ordered a 144-yd roll of 1/4″ elastic for the occasion, since I’d decided I’d leave out the ribbon for simplicity’s sake. Everything came together smoothly, and there’s no reason for these to have taken two weeks–two hours would have been more the thing–but, as I said, I’ve been really busy with the chapter lately. Anyway, I finally finished them up this morning during a surprise nap by A, thought they looked pretty cute, tried them on, and … yeah. Wee little bloomers, just not a great look for me right now.

Not too bad on the hanger, a little unfortunate on the butt.

Oh, well. Time marches on!

Frankenstein’s couch

20 Jun

It may not say much for my taste, but I’ve always liked the fashions of the 1870s because, not in spite of the fact that they look like upholstery: pleats, cording, heavy swags–love it.

Upholstered dresses, mid-1870s.


Making curtains into dresses, of course, calls to mind two famous cinematic (or novelistic) scenes: Scarlett O’Hara dressing up in drapery to go seduce Rhett Butler, and Maria Kutschera dressing her charges in drapery to, as it turns out, seduce Captain von Trapp. The critical commonplace (“critical commonplace” is what people say when they’re about to use a scholarly cliche) about women’s fashions of the mid-nineteenth century is that they restrict women’s movements as a symbol of restricted social roles, and that the upholstered fashions are symbolic of the way that women were supposed to be decorative rather than useful–in theory, at least, if not in practice. That’s why Scarlett’s use of curtains is supposed to be (I think) subversive: it upends the idea that women are supposed to be decorative by literally using curtains in order for Scarlett to do something extremely useful, when the men have all failed her. She’s performing being decorative in order to get the money that she needs: it’s an amplification of what women were “supposed” to be doing and I think is supposed to point out how absurd that is.

Anyway, my predilection for upholstery-inspired fashion is the only explanation I can offer for this:

A little blurry, but the only decent backside picture.

I don’t know what possessed me to think that this fabric would make a good romper. I wanted to make some rompers for Abby because she has a hard time crawling in dresses, and, well, rompers are cute! So, I spliced together the Sadie Shirt and the Big Butt Baby Pants and came up with something that can really only  be termed a monstrosity.

She’s been taking some steps!

Every once in a while I look at it and think, Hey, that’s not so bad. And then I see the look on my husband’s face and determine that, actually, it is that bad.

She's still pretty cute, though.

I’m going to detach the pants from the bodice and see if it works as a shirt–although, I cut the neckhole too big, so it may just end up in the “quilt” pile. That’s how I steel myself to cut into fabric: I promise myself that someday I’ll make a quilt out of all the scraps. As you can see by the mess on my floor in this pre-bias taped version, Abby located that bag of scraps.

What else can she destroy?

To say nothing of the fabric, I think my skills have not quite caught up to my vision. Maybe stick with other people’s patterns for now, hm?

Hippie skirt refashion

11 May

About nine days postpartum, I snuck out of the house to buy some new clothes. I couldn’t stand the thought of wearing any of my maternity gear (not to mention that most of it was borrowed, and I didn’t want to get it covered in any more bodily fluids than absolutely necessary), and I sure couldn’t fit into any of my pre-baby clothes. I went to Old Navy and bought everything on sale that had a stretchy waistband.

Including this.

Yep, it's over-edited because half of it was in pitch black shadow.

I mean, whatever, it’s fine, and I ended up wearing it a lot. But I’m really not much of an Earth Mother, cloth diapering aside, and it’s hung unworn in my closet since about October. So, I chopped it up and made three new garments: a knee length skirt for myself, and a dress and a skirt for Abby. Here’s the dress:

We can't quite stand by ourselves yet.

Very simple: I used the existing hem, sewed it in a tube, shirred in a spiral, and then made some folded straps because I didn’t want to fuss with turning them.

Of course she immediately got strawberry on it, but a little timely Shout took care of that.

I haven't quite figured out how to deal with a high armscye when the bodice top goes straight across.

Hooray for refashioning! I love sticking it to the man.

Tote bag(s)

3 May

I’ve had this fabric sitting around for so long that I’ve forgotten what it is, and the selvedges are long gone. It’s a bottomweight, I think twill, and I could never figure out what to do with it. The print is a little vertiginous in large quantities. Originally I’d intended to make an apron with some contrast fabric, but the store (possibly Purl Soho?) modified, shall we say, my order. And then I realized it was perfect for a tote bag! I cut two out of a yard of fabric; the other one is nearly identical, so I didn’t bother photographing it.

I pretty much used this tutorial, but honestly tote bags are really easy. If you can sew in a straight line (OK, that’s actually not as easy as it sounds, especially if you have a cheap machine), you can make a tote. They work in basically any size. I’ve also made bags from Bend the Rules Sewing and another book that I think I gave away.

One major note: this bag is unlined, which is functional for my purposes (grocery and library bags). But lined bags usually look nicer.

Mods and notes:

A strong needle helps when you’re sewing on the pocket and handles. I sewed an X a few times on the handles to make sure they were firmly attached, since I’m planning on using the bags to carry heavy things. (I just walked home with about ten pounds of groceries in each, and they’re holding up fine.)

Also, be careful that your handles aren’t twisted before you sew them on. Ahem.

Stash Acquisitions

19 Apr

Recently, Chris and I listened to a podcast about Freegans and decided to go on an anti-consumerist binge. Why this led within a week to a buying binge, I can’t quite answer. I suspect it has something to do with the fact that we felt we had denied ourselves–although we hadn’t really–and were entitled to buy a bunch of stuff to make up for it.

Anyway, I bought some fabric. Purl Soho has beautiful, expensive fabric. And it goes on sale! And I bought some for $5.40/ yd! (When the shades in my office are open, lots of morning light comes in. Unfortunately, there’s a giant cherry tree in front of our house which is lovely for providing shade and pretty flowers, but produces big fat shadows. I continue to work on a photo solution.)

This is a little mature, but I think it will make a nice dress for Abby. Maybe for the fall? I need to wait until she’s walking.

A shirt? A skirt? I think the print would look better as a skirt. It’s a little plain to make a whole dress/ romper/ sunsuit out of.

This is going to be a tunic and bloomers set or romper. The print is busy but it’s summery and fresh, and the colors are great.

I LOVE this print. Sunsuit, almost definitely.

Now for the real question. I went to Joann’s the other day to pick up a few things, including this country home print that I found in the 50% off remnant bin.

It’s a little less than a yard, total $3.55. Score! But I don’t know what to do with it. I bought it intending to virtuously hem a few napkins or dish towels, but then I pictured a pair of gathered shorts with a little tie on the cuffs. Or maybe paper bag shorts, like these. After all, when can a girl wear roosters on her butt, except when she’s nine months old?

New Camera! New Pants

11 Apr

After deciding that we’d be sad if, twenty years from now, all we have of Abby is blurry iPhone pics, Chris and I splurged on a fancy camera. We’re going to have to be extra-thrifty to make up for it (for like, YEARS), so I’ve been mining the nearest Goodwill for “fabric.” Abby and I happened to be matching yesterday: the perfect time for a pants-into-pants photoshoot. I know the photos aren’t great for showing off the pants–we’re both new to this photography thing. But they show off the baby just fine!

The pants Abby is wearing used to be from H&M. I repurposed the lace on the waistband into a butt-panel:

Lace panel on the butt

And then the front seemed a little plain, so I cut out a flower from some patterned linen in the stash and zig-zagged it on:

The side seams were supposed to be the pant’s original seams, since the pattern I used (from the genius Made by Rae) doesn’t use a side seam. Unfortunately, I’m a spatial idiot and cut out one pants leg backwards so that the seam was on the outside. I ripped and re-stitched, and I must say the new seam looks pretty nice!

They garnered two unsolicited compliments at the library this morning, and Abby seems to like them, too: