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...