Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Simplicity 2609 - Fail??

Hey, everyone!  I'm back to report on my second project for Finish It Week.  I bought Simplicity 2609 last summer and made a purple peasant skirt whew....back when my hair was super long.  

I also started making the same pattern (view B with the 3 gathered tiers) in a floral challis from Denver Fabrics.  I started sewing it and realized that I cut out the wrong pieces for one of the tiers.  A few weeks later I was back at the store again for another half yard of fabric.  Then I left my sewing machine for a month for the wedding in Utah, honeymoon in Alaska and a trip to Minnesota and Virgina.  After that, my shoulder injury was too severe to sew.  To make a long story short, by the time I felt like sewing it again, it was well into fall and I wasn't in the mood to finish a summer skirt. 

I dug the project out of my fabric bin yesterday and cut out the fabric for the bottom tier, but something wasn't sitting right.  When I sewed the bottom tier to the middle tier, there wasn't enough width for it to be gathered.  I have no idea what went wrong, but taking it apart would be fruitless since I don't have any more fabric to add to the bottom tier.  ***Sigh***

Here it is...what do you think?

I mean, I don't know if you can really tell that the bottom tier isn't gathered because of the print.  Should I finish it?  Should I scrap it?  If I was a mini-skirt wearing girl I'd just cut off the bottom tier and no one would be the wiser.

I can just hear my high school sewing teacher in my head saying, "Measure twice, cut once."

Self-Drafted Nightgown for *Finish It Week*

I had an open schedule this week, which made it easy to find time to sew.  I needed a little extra motivation to finish some projects, so I dubbed this week 'Finish It Week'.  Yeah....finishing things doesn't hold the same excitement for me as starting them.  However, starting a new project always feels better when you know you finished the last few that you started.

For my first project, I decided to finish a nightgown I've been working on.  I love wearing nightgowns in the summer.  I have a knit nightgown I bought last year that is perfect, except the neckline is a bit too low and wide and the hem is too short.

I made a pattern out of the polka dot nightgown, with a few adjustments.  I chose a soft, lightweight knit blend from Denver Fabrics at $4/yd.  It was a bit tricky trying to get an accurate pattern from the original piece of clothing, as the neckline is gathered.  Here is a picture of the upper bodice piece:

It was impossible to get an accurate pattern of the sleeve without cutting it apart, so I used a friend's basic knit sleeve pattern and added room for gathers.  Once I got the pattern figured out, it wasn't hard to serge the cut out pieces together.  Man oh man do I loooove my serger!  I finished the skirt edge with a twin needle stitch at the sewing machine.  It doesn't perfectly lay flat, but it looks okay.

I decided to leave the sleeve edges unfinished, instead of gathering them.  The fabric doesn't roll, so you can't really tell and it will be so much more comfortable in the heat of summer.

Instead of using ribbing to finish the neckline, I used the same fabric as the rest of the garment.  I used my knit go-to book, Sewing with Knits by Singer, to calculate the ribbing length needed.  I made the pattern so the ribbing would be 1/2" tall when finished.  I'm pleased with the look but now realize I should have drafted the neckline to have more of a gradual scoop.  It looks like it's in between a crew neck and a v-neck.  Oops!!  I'll have to change that on the pattern for next time.

Here is the finished project:

Not bad for a self-drafted pattern!  It fits great and is very comfortable.

The back view is one solid piece and is not gathered.

I felt a lot more comfortable sewing this knit pattern (which I knew would fit) rather than a pattern from the store that would probably need a lot of adjusting, especially in the bust.  Yay for finishing my first project of the week!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Jeans Shopping at Goodwill

I am extremely attached to my Petite Ann Taylor Loft Jeans.

They were the first jeans to fit me perfectly.  When I moved to Tennessee for a mission, I left them behind and craved wearing them for 18 months.  When I returned, they were just as wonderful as I had remembered.  However, 5 years have come and gone and the problem is, they just don't fit anymore.  I have since bought a couple other pairs that fit decently well, but I just haven't been able to part with these ATL beauts.  Now that I'm married to a student, I can't very well expect to buy $50 jeans every time I wear out a pair (or grow out of it...).  Jeans shopping now takes place at the local Goodwill.  There is a pretty sweet one on Broadway that holds the cast offs from a more affluent neighborhood, so I can usually find trendy and less-worn replacements.

My philosophy on jeans shopping is this:
If you like name brand jeans, you will either need to sacrifice a lot of money or a lot of time.  I have more time than money, so I choose to subject myself to the endless thrift store racks of jeandom.


Tip #1: Be Flexible With Sizes.  It is easy to get frustrated with the inconsistency of sizes from one brand to another.  If, say, you think you are a 5/6, you may also want to check 3/4 section or the 7/8 section.  You might get lucky!  If you know your size in a few different brands, it may be easier to narrow down the search.

Tip #2: Know your waist size.  Measure the waist of a pair of jeans you like and compare that to the jeans you want to try on.  This will save you a lot of time.  It will spare you the frustration of trying on size after size that doesn't fit.

**Womens' pants, unlike mens', are sized by a system of non-standard numbers instead of waist/inseam measurements.  Annoying, right?  This is so that companies can size their clothes larger to make women feel good for fitting into a 'smaller size.'  Another reason is that stores want you to spend MORE TIME trying their clothes on.  The more time you spend with an item, the likelier you are to purchase it.  Forget about what the tag says, and focus on finding something that actually fits!**

Tip #3: Know your desired inseam length.  You can use this measurement to determine if jeans are the right length.  I usually disregard this advice because 90% of the jeans I try on are too long.  I just plan on hemming them later.  (In the event that a petite pair fits around the waist, and the length is correct, there is much rejoicing!)

Tip #4: Pay attention to the cut and wash you desire.  I like my jeans 1-2 inches below the waist.  I refuse to try on low riders and at-the-waist jeans.  I like stonewashed jeans but will not try on jeans with huge holes in them.  

Tip #5: In the Fitting Room.  Collect a pile of jeans to try on.  When I'm trying on I start a 'maybe pile' and a 'no pile'.  I return all of the no's and try on the remaining pairs again until I narrow it down completely.  Remember to check the fit sitting and standing for comfort and coverage.  Always inspect for holes or stains.


Take your winners to the register!  If a pair has an unexpected hole, you may be able to get the associate to lower the price a few dollars, like I did.  Yay!  Check their return policy, so if a pair doesn't work out you can return it in time.

I ended up with three fabulous pairs of jeans:

American Rag, Curvy Boot, 3-Short, $6
Just the right length!  No alterations needed!

X2 (Express) Denim Laboratory, Straight, Size 4, $6

Tilt, Bootcut, 5 Reg, $4
These had a small hole in the inner thigh so they lowered the price.  It took me 2 minutes to fix the hole when I returned home. 

Total, I spent $16 for three pairs of jeans that fit just right.  If I had walked into Express today, I probably couldn't find one pair of jeans for under $30.   I hope this information has been helpful.  I'd love to hear about your successful thrift store experiences!

Have a great day!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Seersucker Shirtdress - Butterick 5315

I finished my new dress in time to wear it to church on Easter Sunday!  I've never had an Easter dress, so it was an extra treat.  

As I mentioned before, this dress is inspired by a dress I found in the BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook.  I decided to take an existing pattern, Butterick 5315, and change it up a little.  Using my pattern drafting book and my existing bodice, I converted the collar to a bodice with a shawl collar.  Last time I made this pattern, I used skirt View A.  This time, I used View C, a circle skirt.

I also re-drafted the fold out of the back bodice piece.  I used the regular sleeve, not the gathered sleeve.  I used a white and yellow Sew into Spring Seersucker from Joann's.  When I bought the fabric, I didn't realize it was seersucker.  I know what you're thinking...duh, Steph!  I haven't used seersucker in years.  Well, I washed it and it came out of the dryer all wavy and I realized my mistake.  I was a little disappointed at first and wondered how it would turn out.  Then, I read somewhere that seersucker clothing doesn't wrinkle (They pre-wrinkled it already!) so it's really nice for traveling.  I used a white poplin to line the front bodice (which flips out to show the shawl collar) and a thin off-white cotton for the lining.

 For the lining, I ironed my darts and seams the opposite way to reduce bulk.

I gotta say, the best thing about using a pattern again is not having to fit it too much the second go-around.

Finishing the lining edge with my serger made it a breeze.  

I used cream-colored buttons.  I usually like to keep my buttons simple.

This will be a great dress for blistering heat.  I know you can't tell, but the stripes on the side seams of the skirt match up perfectly.  FIRST.  TIME.  EVER.

I ended the shawl collar just above the original button placement and widened the jewel neckline.  This dress cost about $35 to make...a little more than I usually spend but that's because it is lined.  I love the silhouette and the seersucker!  Success!

(Mr. PS and me on Easter)