Sunday, November 30, 2008

Premio al esfuerzo personal blog award

I'm terrible at keeping up with this blog (if you hadn't noticed), so it's wound up taking me way too long to acknowledge Melody (aka "crazed sewer") of my favorite online fabric store, Fashionista Fabrics for awarding me the Premio al esfuerzo personal blog award last month. I'm really touched by this, but have had practically no free time to sew, let alone blog, lately, so I'm really behind here.

Here are the rules for the award:
  1. Select 6 bloggers to whom you would like to give this award- prize
  2. Put the award - prize on your blog and indicate who gave it to you by identifying her/his blog;
  3. Paste these rules on your blog;
  4. Write 6 of your most important values and 6 negative points you condemn,
  5. Inform the 6 recipients by leaving a comment on their blog.
So...I'm giving this award to the following inspirational bloggers:

1. Sherril Miller of Sherril's Sewing Saga - Sherril has been like a personal tutor to me on the Pattern Review message boards and can find ways around any fitting/design problem. For one of my upcoming projects in the new year (after I establish a TNT t-shirt pattern), I'm planning to knock off a great looking designer t-shirt that she knocked off.

2. Lynelle of Sewl II Sewl. Lynelle has some similar fitting issues to mine, and observing as she perseveres through them on Pattern Review has provided me with a lot of inspiration and encouragement when I feel like throwing in the towel.

3. Belle Noelle of Sewing in the City. Her lovely creations in her Etsy shop were part of what inspired me to dig out my grandmother's old sewing machine and sign up for a sewing class almost two years ago now.

4. Keely of Keely Sews. Always funny, always upbeat, Keely's blog is a joy to read.

5. Melissa (aka "squirrelypoo") at Fehr Trade. An amazing seamstress, and funny as heck, Melissa takes patterns and completely remakes them into something her own and something much more interesting than what they start out as. I drool over her wardrobe. (Like me, she's also getting married next year, too!)

6. Leora of Journey to Couture. We always seem to zero in on the same patterns, and I know that we have some of the same fabric in our stashes. Her posts and reviews on Pattern Review are always a joy to read.

My six personally important values:

1. Integrity
2. Compassion
3. Open-mindedness
4. A sense of humor
5. Accountability
6. Balance

Six things that I condemn

1. Being judgemental
2. Self-centeredness
3. Ignorance
4. Pettiness
5. Lack of sensitivity
6. Greed

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Hoodie Experiment

I fell in love with the menswear collection in the October 2008 issue of Burda World of Fashion as soon as I saw it. I showed it to David, who while not particularly into fashion, seemed excited that there was actually something in BWOF that I could make for him.

Unfortunately, the BWOF men's sizes go only up to a 42.5" chest--about the equivalent of a men's Large in RTW. David's extremely broad shoulders alone usually call for an XXL, so I knew that actually sewing one of these garments would present a bit of a challenge. I'd have to grade up at least two sizes to get a decent fit with any of these patterns.

I chose the hoodie pattern as my first experiment in pattern grading. For the most part, I followed the method recommended by Threads magazine. I traced all of the pattern pieces (all 13 of them), and held them up to David to figure out how much I'd need to add where. I then split the main body pieces along the lines shown in the article (neck, shoulder, side seam, etc) and added the appropriate amount at each slash line.

Once I felt that I was going to get a decent fit through the shoulders and back, I used the alteration method described in Off the Cuff for a prominent abdomen to get enough ease through the abdomen area.

On top of some of the fitting challenges that this project provided, it also required that I tackle welt pockets for the first time. I'm not particularly happy with how these turned out in the final hoodie, so I won't show a closeup of them, but each practice try turned out a little better, so I'm pretty confident that after a few garments with these, I'll get them looking decent.

Of course, the big thing with this hoodie that I'm proud of is the fit. It's not tight or pulling anywhere...and it's not baggy (and therefore pound adding), which is more than I can say of most things in David's closet.

The top-stitching on this took forever. Or maybe after recently finishing a pair of jeans, I'm just really burned out on top-stitching. I think it adds a really great detail, though, and really elevates this from your standard hoodie. I think I need to add a snap or two to keep the top pocket flaps from flying up, but it's not an urgent alteration.

Overall, I think the pattern grading experiment was a success. There's another sweatshirt/jacket (a non-hoodie) in the same issue that uses the same body pattern pieces, so after all of the fitting work that I did on this, you can bet that I'll be making up that view, too.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I just completed my first pair of "real" (i.e. fly front) pants recently, and I could not be more excited. After going through such an ordeal to fit my upper body (lessons learned: stick with princess seams and use patterns with different cup sizes, if possible), sewing pants (even with the fly) was a piece of cake. Given that I've barely bought any pants or jeans over the past two years, I'm pretty bored with every pair that I own, so I think that I'm going to go on a pants sewing kick.

My next project (I already have these cut out) are these linen pants from the July 2008 issue of Burda World of Fashion:

I'm not sure how those pleats will work on my body, but they are stitched down to reduce bulk, and I love the wide waistband. Given that my fabric was about $3/yard, they're a pretty low-risk experiment.

If those go well, I'm contemplating to sewing my first pair of jeans, using this jeans pattern from the August 2007 issue of BWOF:

This is only, of course, if I don't get sucked into sewing other things, first. I'm loving the idea of sewing up some of the new menswear patterns from the upcoming October issue of BWOF for my fiance. Finally--some fashion-forward patterns for men!

And I also love this faux Persian lamb coat from the September issue (love the wrap dress that it's over, too):

This would be a bit of a splurge for me, fabric-wise, but I'd really love to make this up in a similar faux Persian lamb fabric. I do have a birthday coming maybe this could be a birthday present to myself. ;)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Here come the sundresses!

I haven't had much time to sew these past few weeks, but I've working on additional versions of New Look 6457 when I've had the chance. Except for my lovely linen jacket (which, of course, the weather has been to warm for me to get much use of), this dress is pretty much the only thing that I've sewn in recent months that I've been happy with. Feeling very much like I needed (okay, wanted) some new clothes this summer, I lined up an assembly line of three different versions of this dress. Amazingly enough, I'm really happy with how all three of these new dresses turned out.

First up are two different embroidered cotton versions (one is an eyelet, one is a batiste) made with fabrics that I purchased from Gorgeous Fabrics. I left the piping detail off of the first one, and I think it looks fine that way.

The next version is very similar to the envelope picture. I think that this one might be my favorite in that it's the first one that I've been pulling out of the closet when they're all clean.

And finally, this last one was my attempt to make something flattering/wearable with the navy blue and white fabric that I bought from Yardage Town last year. I made a top with this last summer (one of my very first garments), and although it looked cute as heck on the hanger, it was NOT a good style for someone who was full-busted. Throw in that I needed to do an FBA on it (and didn't know what that was at the time), and you get a top that's hanging in my closet waiting for me to lose a significant amount of weight. I do still like this fabric and think that it made a very cute dress.

I'm currently working on a couple of shirts (McCall's 4399) for my fiance. I'm just doing a few fairly boring versions of this for him to have a few new shirts to wear to work and probably won't bother photographing them or updating my reviews for this pattern. Between that and us going on vacation next week, it'll probably be a little while before I sew anything interesting and/or post anything here. :)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Taking a step back

I'm sick of fitting. I've said it.

It took me 3.5 muslins (including one wearable muslin...that wasn't supposed to be a muslin because I loved the fabric) to get a passable version of the Emily blouse. I'm still not thrilled with this one. In the photo, it looks like it's pulling across the bust, but I think it's the way that I'm standing because I don't see the pulling when I'm standing in front of a mirror. I guess it's okay, but I'm pretty "meh" about this, especially after all of the work that went into this. Obviously, this is a lot better looking than that first muslin that I posted a picture of, but I can't say that I'm particularly excited about it.

And with that thinking in mind, I decided about a month ago that I'd stick to sewing princess seamed tops/dresses for a while. I know that I have a higher chance of success with princess seams than darts (especially with having to cut chunks out of bust darts and rotate them elsewhere and all of that other fun stuff). part of my contribution to stash reduction, I recently sewed up New Look 6457. This was the opposite of frustrating. For pretty much the first time ever, I was able to simply follow the fitting instructions in FFRP and lower the bust fullness, do an FBA, and I wound up with a really cute sundress.

I LOVE how this turned out. It fits me like a glove, and I don't think the picture does justice to how waist-defining and flattering this dress is. As soon as I tried on the finished version, I decided that I wanted to make up several more of these. It's the perfect dress to throw on after work when the condo is still friggin' warm or to wear around town on the weekend. It's ridiculously comfortable, and I don't feel like a shlump in it.

Still riding the high of NL 6457, I decided to tackle the very similar (from the picture) New Look 6805. It's got a similar princess seamed bodice and a pleated skirt...and without all of the piping, it should go even faster, and therefore be a recipe for success, right?

Wrong. Of course, this couldn't actually be easy for me. Given the similarities of the bodices, I used NL 6547 as a sloper, thinking that I could just transfer the changes. Well, I transfered the changes, but apparently not the fit. And because I'm a masochist and enjoy suffering, I didn't make a muslin of this one because I was so sure that it would fit. Ugh. Bad idea.

Really bad idea.

At least the skirt in NL 6805 turned out cute, but the bodice is wonky in a ridiculous number of ways. I futzed and futzed and couldn't get the straps to lay at the same angle (I suppose this is because these are true "straps", whereas NL 6457 was more of a tank style.) The back on this thing gaped initially, and I had to add a center back seam to fix that. The princess seams themselves needed to be taken in on this (I guess it runs large in the bust and my transferred FBA from NL 6457 was overkill), and I'm still not happy with how those look.

So, in the past two months, I've had one raging success, one meh (after way too much work and fitting work), and one I-can-wear-it-around-the-house result. I really feel like I need to take a break from fitting for a while. My confidence is shot. I recently got engaged and had hopes of sewing my own dress, but I'm really not feeling that at the moment. Granted, I have just over a year until our wedding (during which time I'm going to try to lose weight, also, but that's another story), but I really don't think I could pull off the dress that I want at this point.

I've decided that I'm going to take a step back and just concentrate on things that I know that I'll enjoy SEWING for a while...things that don't require much fitting work. Next up in the queue is a pair of Simplicity drawstring cargo shorts for my fiance. After that, I'll work on a few more cotton versions of NL 6457.

If I'm feeling up to it, after that, I've got a few versions of Simplicity 2930 that I'd like to make. I'm thinking that this will be a good one for me because it has both princess seams and separate pattern pieces for different cup sizes. I should be able to get away with using a 16-D-cup, doing a narrow shoulder alteration, and a normal-sized FBA (instead of a huge one) and should be able to get a couple of nice, flattering tops out of this. Famous last words, right?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Wonky Darts

Bust darts have given me fits in the tops and jackets that I've sewn so far. At first, I thought that it was me and some strange dart ineptitude that I have, but then I noticed that my waist/butt darts never seem to have the same problem. My bust darts usually seem to be overly pointy, and I have a heck of a time getting them to lay flat.

Fairly recently, I realized that it might not all be my fault. I usually have to do a pretty large FBA to accommodate my bust, and this usually results in a huge bust dart. I've started playing around a little bit with rotating the bust dart elsewhere. The Emily blouse has been my first attempt at splitting the bust dart into a second dart (in this case, I used an armhole dart, which someone had recommended to me)...but *sigh* this clearly didn't fix the problem of my wonky darts:

Here's a closer look at my oh-so-prominent dart:

And a front view (ignore the fact that there's too much ease in the sleeve cap and that the blouse has no waist shaping--I can fix those things):

This is a muslin (thank you $1/yard swap meet fabric) that I went ahead and finished to practice collars, shaped hems, etc. But, I'd like to make this again and actually try to make this work. Sadly, even as wonky as my bust darts are, they don't look as bad as they usually do, so I think that I may have been onto something with my gigantidart theory...just that I didn't decrease the dart size enough with this one. My thoughts on what I'd like to change for my next version:
  • I hate the armhole dart. I'm rotating the bust dart excess to a waist dart next time.
  • I think the bust dart is still too big--I'll rotate out more excess next time.
  • I think that I lowered the bust dart too much. I usually lower my darts 1/2-1", but when I did the tissue fitting this time, it looked like I'd need to lower them by 1 1/2"...which I think was too much.
Any fitting gurus out there have any other thoughts?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Next up: Emily

I'm currently about 1/3 of the way through sewing up 5 pairs of boxer shorts for David, assembly line style. By the time that I'm done with these, I'll have totaled making 9 pairs of boxers in the past year. Yeah, I'm a little burnt out on boxers at this point. At least I won't have to look at my boxer shorts pattern again for another 6 months or so after this.

And, after I'm done with these, I'm back to sewing for myself again. I entered the Advanced Beginner sewing contest on PatternReview. My goal is to make my first fitted (although the pattern says "semi-fitted") blouse for myself. If I'm successful, it'll be the first time in years that I've had a shirt that buttons without being huge elsewhere.

I'm using the BurdaStyle Emily blouse pattern for this project. It's your basic darted women's blouse. I tissue fitted it over Memorial Day weekend....and it was a total PIA. I needed a huge FBA on this one (shocking, I know) AND had to lower the bust dart more than normal. I wound up combining the new Palmer/Pletsch Y-shaped FBA on this *and* still split the bust dart and rotated part of it into an armhole dart to avoid Gigantidart syndrome on this one. I've got my muslin cut out, but haven't sewn it up yet. We'll see how this looks in the muslin and if it looks like it'll be worth working through.

If it *does* turn out okay, I'd love to make up a few of these. I went on a mini-spending spree that was funded by my recent Etsy shop windfall at Fashionista Fabrics and picked up a couple of really nice stretch cotton lawns there. If the muslin shows promise, I'm planning to use these for my "real" version(s).

Sunday, May 25, 2008

My new summer jacket

After having somewhat mixed feelings about how my last few garments have turned out, it was quite a relief to make something that I really love: Jacket 131 from the May 2008 issue of BWOF. It's a little overcast here today in San Diego, and unfortunately, my flashed washed out my gorgeous fabric a bit: an Italian Metallic linen from Fashionista Fabrics. The fabric has subtle little silver threads running through it, and in person, I think that the silver buttons really help the fabric pop. Granted, with the flash, I think I look a little washed out, overall, in this picture, but in person, it's a really cute jacket.

Even better, I feel like I really nailed the fit with this one. There are no weird wrinkles anywhere, and nothing is pulling or feels tight anywhere, and it isn't too large across the upper back or chest. I used the Burda Plus 44 as my starting size and didn't even have to make many adjustments (just an FBA and full bicep adjustment). This is the first time that I've made up a BWOF in a 44, and I think I'll be using this as my starting size from here on out (although in patterns that only go up to a 42, I'll probably play around with that and just add to the places where I need the extra fabric).

This was also my first successful project with princess seams. I'd played around with another pattern that had them a few months ago and through a botched FBA and failing to stay-stitch and clip the seams, I wound up with a pretty ugly wadder. I feel a lot better now that I have something princess seamed under my belt...especially since about half of the patterns in my stash have princess seams. With my full bust and generally curvy figure, I think that these are a lot more flattering on me than patterns with only a few darts (or ugh, dartless patterns).

I'll be wearing this jacket open most of the time. I think that it looks particularly cute with a brightly colored top underneath. In fact, this outfit with the green t-shirt is exactly what I'll be wearing when I head out to see the new Indiana Jones movie with my mom in a little bit. (Gotta show off the new jacket to her, too.)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Catching up...'s been a bit of a whirlwind of a month:

  1. I changed jobs and no longer work at a company that expects me to be on-call 24/7 as a "trade off" for "letting" me work from home (the story behind this is that my old company relocated to the Bay Area but kept me on staff). Yay. Of course, this means that I'm back to commuting into an office again.
  2. I've been getting a lot of custom orders through my Etsy shop. It's wedding season, and I knew that my styles have generally been popular for wedding party orders, but wow, I never expected things to take off like this. I'm not trying to brag, but I've been a little overwhelmed with my spike in orders.
I'm still trying to sew when I can. I'm currently working on Jacket 131 from the May 2008 issue of BWOF. I'm absolutely loving the fit that I'm getting with this. It's a little loose in the waist, but I can take it in a pinch, and that semi-empire-waist band hits me right at the thinnest part of my torso. This has been my first successful experiment with princess seams, too, so I'm also really proud of how those came out. Not to mention that the fabric that I'm using for this is gorgeous: Italian Metallic Linen from Fashionista Fabrics.

The only bad thing is that this is a really trendy/distinct style, so I'm not sure that I'll want more than one of these, but with what I've managed to sew so far, this jacket has done a ton for my fitting/sewing confidence. I think you'll be seeing a lot of princess seamed garments from me in the future.

Caity, I did actually finish the dress that I talked about in my last post. The fit is really nice (I'm loving these Burda Plus patterns for those of us who are a bit curvier), but the fabric that I chose turned out to be a bit conservative (in the quantity that it's used in the dress) for my taste. You can read my review of the dress on Pattern Review. Don't get me wrong, it's a cute dress, it just reminds me of something that I'd buy at Ann Taylor Loft...a look that I'm trying to get away from a bit, since it seems like everyone my age does most of their shopping there.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Dress decision made

I wound up going in a different direction from either of the dress possibilities that I posted a few weeks ago. I've been so ridiculously busy that I decided that it was probably safer for me to go with something that would be easier to fit/sew.

I'm now nearly finished with Dress 413 from the Spring/Summer 2008 issue of Burda Plus. It's a fairly simple dress with a chiffon-type fashion fabric and a lining. Between the outer dress and the lining, the dress has twelve darts (!) total. I felt like I was sewing darts for forever on this one. The rest of the construction was pretty easy--it only has 6 different pieces, total, including the lining. Other than the darts, everything else was pretty much just sewing seams and a little bit of hemming. I managed to use my serger for just about all of the construction, other than the darts and the hem.

I'm not sure that I'm liking the fit on me. I started with the smallest size available--46--and did a moderate FBA, but I'm feeling like I should've graded down probably by about two sizes and done a much larger FBA (although that probably would've meant getting into dart rotation and such-- something that I'm not real confident with). I think I need to take it in a bit in the waist or something-- it still feels a bit "big" all over. Depending on if that works or not, I still have enough fabric left over (I think) to make a tie belt--that could help, although I don't generally like how I look with belts.

I'm also second-guessing my decision to lower the bust dart by about 1/2". I definitely needed it in the tissue fit, and I know that darts drop in fabric and accommodated for that, but in looking at the dress on me, the darts seem a tad low. I'll be playing around with pinching things to see if I can figure out a way to raise the dart up a tad. It's definitely not a full-blow wadder, but I don't know if it's something that I'll feel "pretty" enough in to wear to a friend's wedding. I'll post pics when I've got the dress completely finished.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Tagged for 7 random things!

I've been tagged by fellow seamstress keely to post 7 random things about myself on my blog. :)

Here are the tagging rules:

The rules:

* Link your tagger and list these rules on your blog.
* Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
* Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
* Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog. 7 random things:

7. Even though it's over ten years old, Ben Affleck is now a punchline, and I've seen the movie a bazillion times, I still cry every time I watch "Good Will Hunting".

6. One of our cats is named after a "Sopranos" character.

5. I make an awesome penne arrabbiata that's based off of a recipe that I got in Rome and is way yummier than you'll find in most Italian restaurants in the US.

4. When I lived in the Bay Area, I volunteered weekly for the Marine Mammal Center, an awesome marine mammal rescue organization.

3. In a side-by-side blind tasting, I can distinguish red wine that's been aged in American oak vs. French oak.

2. The guy who I grew up next door to now plays major league baseball for a team in the American League.

1. I really, really want a dog. I grew up with dogs, and I so miss having a dog. I have the cats trained to greet me at the door when I come home, but you can't take a cat to a cafe or to a dog park or to the beach. Unfortunately, for the foreseeable future, we'll be living in my 900 square foot condo, and we already have three cats, so a dog is probably out of the question for a while...

I'm tagging the following bloggers/seamstresses/creative people:

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A whole new world

Bad Disney references aside (although, keep in mind that it's not a coincidence that I have a cat named "Jasmine"), I recently had the opportunity to take a sewing workshop that for me, I can see being a life-changing experience. The workshop? Anne St. Clair, owner of Needle Nook Fabrics visited San Diego a few weeks ago to give a bra making workshop for the local ASG chapter. I hadn't been a member of the ASG, but I joined specifically for this workshop.


This workshop was so educational and so much fun! Anne, her daughter Monica, and her colleague (who I've embarrassingly forgotten the name of) helped fit over 60 women individually for the correct bra size during a Friday lecture session where we went over common fit issues and other bra-related things. On Sunday, I attended the "hands-on" workshop where I actually constructed my custom-fitted bra. Like the rest of the 20-or-so women in my workshop, I left class on that day with the best-fitting, most comfortable bra in my lingerie drawer. Like many of the women in the class, Anne moved me up a couple of cup sizes from what I'd been wearing (I had actually been sized into my RTW bras at Nordstrom a little while back)--now I'm no longer seeing cup "spillover" or feeling like my breasts are being smashed into my chest. You can really see a difference in my "before" and after photos:

Before (my previously most comfortable, best-fitting bra):

After: (the same t-shirt... wearing my workshop bra)

Luckily, with the handbook that we used in the class and the well-drafted pattern, constructing a bra isn't *that* difficult, although it probably helps to be very detail-oriented. I've already made two more bras at home (it went much faster the second time), and now I own my first "pretty" bra in years.

I couldn't be happier with my results from this workshop. I purchased a few more kits from Anne at the workshop (the black and toile bras were made from her kits), and still have two more kits to make up (these will result in black lacy bras--woo-hoo!). As someone who hasn't been able to shop at Victoria's Secret in over 10 years and who is limited to boring beige bras in department stores (if I can even find any that come anywhere close to fitting), being able to actually sew my own bras really opens up a ton of possibilities for me. And that makes me happy.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Fitting (class) frustrations

I apologize in advance that this blog entry will be more of a rant than anything else, but I need to vent.

I'm currently taking an advanced beginner/intermediate level sewing class through the San Diego Community College Continuing Education program. On one hand, this is a free class, so I feel like I shouldn't complain. On the other hand, I've been getting increasingly frustrated over the past few weeks. This is a continuation of the class that I took last fall (where we concentrated on basic fitting for a skirt and a blouse or unlined jacket), so a lot of what we're covering is review to me. I'm fine with the idea of that--I could certainly use some reinforcement on some of these concepts. However, it's become increasingly clear that there are two very distinct skill levels in the class--those of us who are continuing from last semester and those who (like I was a few months ago) are completely new to fitting. You'd think that this would be okay in a sewing class, but it isn't.

The format for the class is that each student puts her name up on the board to get in "line" for help. Keep in mind that there are around 20 students in the class. The class is about 3 hours long with a 30-45-minute-ish lecture that breaks things up in the middle of the class. We're doing tissue, a typical class meeting would have each of us "sign up" for help, and during that "help" session, we're told an adjustment to make to the pattern for our individual bodies. For example, a few weeks ago, I tried on the tissue of my dress bodice, and was told to make a 1/2" broad back adjustment. So...I went back to my seat, made my adjustment in about 10 minutes...and then had to "get back in line" to have her look at the fit of the bust of my dress to determine how much of an FBA I'd need. With 20 students all vying for the teacher's attention, needless to say, I had to wait a week for the next session to get "help" again.

For the class project, I'm working on the HotPatterns Plain and Simple shirtdress. I love that it's a bit fitted, which I'd have thought of as being a plus for a fitting class, and that it's such a classic style that once I get the damn tissue fit, I can make it up in a bunch of different fabrics for different looks. Unfortunately, we've been working on fitting this for FOUR weeks, and I still don't even have the bodice fitted. With the "line" system, I've been told to make an adjustment, wait for the next week, and then am told that the adjustment was too much, take it in a little...and then I have to wait another week.

Given the ridiculous hours that my company has me working, I'm starting to feel like this class is becoming a waste of my time. 3 hours in class to get told to make one tiny little adjustment...and then wait for the next class??? How is this an efficient use of my (limited) free time? I know that at least one other student has asked if the more experienced students could break into a small group and become "fitting buddies" for each other, but our instructor didn't care for that idea. Sigh.

I just want to get this dress tissue fitted. I realize that with my ginormous full bust that I'm going to have more pattern alterations to make than most people, but I've also *done* most of these alterations before. I don't need to be hand-held or personally walked through a simple, darted, full bust adjustment at this stage. (One great thing for the less experienced students is that our teacher *will* hand-hold them through any alteration that they need help with.)

I don't want to drop the class, but on the other hand, it is free...and the thought of actually having those three hours back to do something productive is starting to get awfully tempting...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

What to sew next?

I'm a little torn as far as what I want my next "big" sewing project to be. I did promise David that I'd make a pair of pajamas for him, and I do want to sew a couple of bras using the pattern/manual that I obtained in a recent bra-making workshop (more on that in another post). However, in early April, one of my best friends from college is getting married, and I'd love to sew up a new dress for her wedding.

The dress that I'm leaning towards at the moment is the Wong Singh Jones wrap dress from HotPatterns (at right). I'm fairly new to HotPatterns, but I've had fairly good luck with them so far. Their drafting seems to be pretty friendly to the curvy figure--I'm not running into the large back/ shoulders/ upper chest-but-made-for-only-a-B-cup issues that I've had with other patterns. And given that this is made for a knit, I could probably get away with a fairly small full bust adjustment with this dress or even just go up a size and sew it straight out of the envelope. I've had fairly good luck with wrap styles that I've sewn, so I think that this would be a fairly safe choice for me.

I doubt that I'd have time, but I'd really love to be able to sew two dresses and wear whichever one turns out the best and/or is the most flattering on me. The other dress pattern that I've been eyeing is a dress from the Spring/Summer 2008 issue of Burda Plus magazine. I really loved several of the dresses in this issue, but this one with the slightly empire waist and princess seams really caught my eye.

I love that the contrast band on this hits right at what is the thinnest part of my torso. I think that this could be really flattering on me.

On the other hand, my one experiment with a princess seam FBA didn't turn out so well. I did get a bit of feedback from my sewing teacher, so I think I know what went wrong there (and how to not make the same mistake again). This dress would be a bit more difficult for me to sew, but with my fabric choice for this (a stretch, stylized black-and-white floral sateen), I think it could potentially look pretty decent on me. I love that this dress is already drafted for a "petite" also. (Granted, I'll probably have to lengthen the bodice as part of the FBA, but in theory, I like the idea of the pattern already being petite.

So, this isn't as "safe" of a choice as the wrap dress, but I think the payoff (at least in how I feel about how I look at the wedding) could be greater. However, if I screw up, I'm sort of screwed. You'd think that it wouldn't be all that big of a deal to try to sew two not-overly-complex dresses in a little over one month's time, but given the everything-is-an-emergency mentality at my company, I can never count on having much time in the evenings to sew. And, as I mentioned before, I figure that the next week or so of sewing time will be taken up working on David's pajamas and trying to get another bra or two that fits decently into my lingerie drawer.

The line drawing gives you a little better idea of what the dress could look like. I love the flare out of the skirt, and when they *do* fit me, princess seams are usually flattering on me. On the other hand, this dress has double princess seams (or whatever that additional seam is called). With my fitting skills, I'd be tempted to avoid doing an FBA on this (too many moving parts with all those seams) and just going by my full bust when I pick my dress size...and hope that I don't have a ton of extra fabric or gaping issues in my upper chest area.

I already have fabric bought for both dresses. I guess I'll have to see how I feel and how much of an adventure I'm looking for when it comes time to trace a pattern for one of these.

After the fire...

I need to get better about this blog thing...

It's kind of strange looking back and seeing that the last post that I made here was on October 19th. That was a few days before one of the worst firestorms in California history broke out and tore through the neighborhood where I grew up. Several of my friends' parents lost their homes, and my own parents nearly lost theirs--the house that they've owned for 20 years and where I grew up. Our neighbors on either side of us lost their houses (from what we understand/saw, the fire tore through our backyard, but our house never entirely caught fire). The photo below shows my parents' side yard (and part of the house) next to what's left of our neighbor's yard.

In this picture, you can see the mini-blinds in my childhood bedroom...they're melted from the inside of the house:

And here, you can see the Red Cross relief supplies on my parents' lawn. This is certainly something that you never expect to see in a boring suburban neighborhood...

And finally, here's the view of what's left of our other neighbors' home from my window. The streaks in the glass aren't a result of my mediocre photography skills--the glass cracked from the heat of the fire. (Note all of the news crew vehicles...)

I haven't really wanted to blog about this since hundreds of families *did* lose their homes. On the other hand, it's hard not to talk about since it's been heavily on my mind for the past few months. For the first couple of months, the whole neighborhood looked like a war zone. It's depressing to see my old neighborhood look like this, even if some of the homes are starting to be rebuilt now. Sometimes, I tear up just driving through when I stop by to visit my parents, or if I see news footage on tv of a street or a house that's near them.

Hopefully, this will help me to get this out of my system (although this might not be my last post about this), and I can move on to blogging about important things like jewelry making or fashion again. ;)