Monday, March 17, 2014

i love the sewing blogger community!

I want to thank you for your kind words in reply to my last post. After I hit "Publish" I thought... maybe it's not smart to blog angry. But I think its sometimes important for us bloggers to share our failures as much as our successes.

After a little thought, I think I may I found my pants fitting problem. In the original pair, I had taken in the side seams to get the perfect fit, so on my current pair I did the same. Now that I've had a little time to cool off and about it... I realize that I may have had already altered my paper pattern to reflect that alteration, and therefore ended up taking the seam in twice on my grey pair. No wonder they are too tight! So I've swallowed my pride, put on my big girl panties and ordered another 2 yards of the same grey fabric to try again. I'll get a perfect pair out of this failure after all!

My serger is still sitting without an installed needle. I have recently had it oiled, cleaned and tuned, and didn't have any issues until after I had re-threaded it with serger thread, but this is the first time changing the needle. It was my mother's machine, so I may ask her for advice. Maybe I have the wrong needle, or am installing it wrong. I'll let you know what I discover, but right now I'm still a little mad at it and am ignoring it.

So here is a little "thank you" from me to all you in the amazing, supportive sewing blog community: Parfait and Filbert in a basket! You all rock!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

elle pants disappointment

So frustrated! I was making up another pair of StyleARC's Elle Pants to wear to work, since my last pair came out so well. This time I was using a grey bengaline, bought from, with a similar stretch as my black pair. Inspired by Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow, I added back pockets to this pair. (Check out her amazing pink pair she just posted!)

But first the good...

They came together super quick this time around thanks to a little tip from Handmade Jane! Since I only have white serger thread, and threading the machine can be a pain, I have been sewing seams once on the regualr sewing machine with matching thread then finishing the raw edged on the serger. With Jane's tip I can cut out that first pass on the sewing machine! She points out that you actually only need to change one thread on the serger to match your fabric, since only one thread with actually show on the outside! Changing the first thread is way easier than the whole upper and lower loops anyway, and I just threaded it with a regular spool to match my project. Great!

And the waistband came together with no fuss at all this time around, and lays beautifully. I was feeling so good about how they were coming together!!!

The pockets are adequate, but not perfect. They ended up a little lower than they should but overall they are O.K.

Now the bad...

THEY ARE TOO TIGHT! So frustrated! The last pair fit so nice, maybe even a little ease to spare, and I don't think I did anything different this time that would have affected the sizing. Even the fabric had near similar stretch! A whole afternoon (and $20 in fabric) wasted for nothing, not even learning anything since I have no idea why they don't fit... and I really, really needed another pair of pants for work.

AND THERE'S MORE! I broke a serger needle. It's been a while since they'd been changed so no big deal... except I changed it and the new needle immeadiatly broke (and it's kinda scary when that needle goes!). Maybe I didn't tighen the screw enough... but then the third one snapped too! Mr. Sew Rachel thinks the tension must be off, but I swear it's not. So not only do I not have any pants, but I'm unable to use my serger and can't figure out why.

Sigh. I'm not sure what the goal is with sharing this discouragement. I guess we all have bad sewing days and sewing failures, I just usually can take some socalce in knowing I've learned something in the process. Maybe some time and reflection will help.

a stylearc marie jacket

I'd hinted a few posts back that I had another StyleARC pattern in the works, and here it is! The Marie Jacket! I still need to hem the sleeves but wanted to show your right away.

Looks like I installed my zipper on the wrong side... oh well!

Other bloggers have also noticed that the jacket has much more of a hi-low hem that the illustration suggests, and it's very long.  More on that later...

I used a really lovely, fairly thick, heathered charcoal grey knit from Joann Fabrics. I love this fabric! It has a metallic thread throughout, and washed, cut and sewed beautifully. The pattern calls for a snap to hold up the cowl when zipped, but I decided to try a magnetic clasp originally sold for handbags. It's a little heavier, but I think a fun detail. I was inspired by the same closure in my sister's Modcloth Jacket... in fact her jacket inspired the whole make!


I love the back seaming. I could see it done with an insteresting contrast... leather shoulder detail maybe?
Could use a little more back shaping... and sooooo long!  
When first constructed it was too big overall, so I re-set each sleeve taking out 1 1/4", took in just shy on an inch on each side seam and 1/4" in the sleeves. Still, after all that work it just wasn't very flattering.

Apparently my body no longer has a shape... well, I guess a pudgy rectangle is shape.

One, it's really long. That's not a surprise for me. The hi-low hits unflattering in the front, and completely covers my butt, and not in a cute show-it-off way. The cowl ended up bulky, with four layers when zipped of that nice, thick jersey. Even after taking things in, it doesn't fit snugly on my shoulders or waist, instead choosing to enphasize that pudgy ring between my bellybutton and lack-of-hips all the way around. (Yes, I am implying that my jacket has a mind of it's own and is choosing to hug my unflattering bits...) And maybe it's just overall too much fabric for my small frame. So I see two options, send it to my sister (same measurments, but 7" taller and a great hoursglass shape), or shorten to a bomber-style length. At that length, I would be cutting it off above the area it unflatteringly hugs, the rest of the jacket having about the same amount of ease. 

Sorry the picture it so dark! I've tucked the hem under to my hip level, where my hands are. I should have work lighter jeans!
So what should I do? Send the longer hi-low version to my sister, or alter it to a shorter bomber jacket?

Monday, March 10, 2014

finished by hand london georgia dress!

FINALLY! I finished my By Hand London Georgia dress! I'm so proud that I stuck with it and produced something that fits! Ok... so not perfect... but pretty darn close!

Getting all the pet hair off the black sateen took almost as long as making the dress!
After my last posts on bodice fitting, the rest was fairly straight-forward, although time consuming. I was having a hard time fitting the skirt myself while it was on me, so last weekend I drove up to my parent's house to have my mom help. Once there, we had it pretty much fitted in minutes! I ended up only needing to take in on the two back seams. I took out a little scoop to fit the curve on my back, snugged it up around the bum, took in a little more under that to hug the bottom off that curve, and about 1" from each of two seams (four inches from the total circumference) from that point straight down to the hem for a slimmer skirt. I ended up taking in between 1/4"-1" on pretty much the whole length of each seam.


Oops! Bra strap slip!

I decided to fully line my Georgia with the same pretty, floral cotton I used from my test garments (in fact, it is my altered test garment!), because I wasn't sure the best way to finished all those curved and clipped seams. It definitely makes the dress fell more substantial and warmer should I choose to wear it to a winter function, but next time I probably won't do that as it made the dress feel a little more bulky and curves sit a little less smooth (of course, that last part could just a less-than perfect seam on the part of the sewist).

And the pet hair has returned....
For the rest of the construction I broke everything up into little bits that could be completed in the evenings after work. I attached the skirt and finalized the fitting one evening, and instead of testing fate after that I walked away. Another night I altered and installed the skirt lining, then walked away. Another night I installed the invisible zipper perfectly, then you guessed it, walked away.

Check out that perfectly installed invisible zipper! Go me!

Then I hemmed by first turning up once and stitching on the machine, then up again  and finished with a newly learned hand stitch, a narrow herringbone stitch!

Like I said, I am so pleased with myself for sticking with it and being so thorough with the fittings and constructions. I realized that it's easier to put in all that time and effort when making a special occasion dress like this, and maybe that's why I wasn't able to for my more casual slow-sewing attempt last year of  McCalls 6503. And while I'm very pleased, it still came out a little less smoothed than I hoped, and I fear that all the trying on and off for fit checks made it look almost worn in (in a bad way) before it was even finished. But now that I have the pattern all figured out, the next one will go together much more easily and won't require all that extra fitting and wear-and-tear during construction. After all this work on my Georgia dress... I better make another!