Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Lighter than Air

This is another garment that I am just so proud of. Because this didn't really have any new skills hat I haven't used before, I really focused on quality and finishing. There were times when I would see the end of a task (ironing pleats!) in sight and get so excited, only to realize I had to do the same thing to the lining. Argh!

But! All of the hard work was definitely worth it. This is the first thing I've made that to me, doesn't feel home-made. And it actually feels pretty expensive!

When I found this fabric, I thought it looked familiar. Then I came back across this dress on modcloth and realized why. 

It's adorable. It's $80 and it was sold out in my size.

So I snapped up some of the fabric (from superbuzzy.com), and thought about what to make. I chose a fairly simple knee length dress with a pleated skirt and cap sleeves.  The pattern called for a lined bodice, but I also lined the skirt because this was a pretty light fabric. 

So, here it is!

Love it, love it, LOVE IT. 

It's so comfy and flattering and adorable. 

The first time I wore it, the clerk at the gas station asked me if I was a teacher. Um, are you trying to imply that anthropomorphic hot air balloons are anything other than professional, sir?

The sleeves have this really adorable pleated detail that gives them a little volume, but not too much. 

But really, what I'm most proud of is the finishing. 

The inside is almost as beautiful as the outside!

Look at this encased zipper!

The seams in the bodice are all stitched and pinked. The skirt seams on the lining are French seams, and the skirt seams are all bound with bias tape. The hem of the lining is bound and the skirt hem is finished with grosgrain ribbon.  All of this gives it some nice weight and will make it last if I take care of it. 

I am really so proud of this dress. And it's shown me that if I am patient and take my time, I really can do this.

Project:  hot air balloon dress
Pattern:  Simplicity 1873 (by Cynthia Rowley)
Fabric:  Balloon Ride in Garden (bought from superbuzzy.com)
Notions: 22" invisible zipper, I used 2-3 packages of bias tape for the seam binding, one package for the lining hem, and probably 2-3 yards of ribbon (this skirt is heavily pleated and it has a really long hem).  But that is all optional. 
Skills involved:  placing an invisible zipper, fitting a bodice, pleating
Changes made:  I fully lined the dress, instead of just doing the bodice. And I also eliminated some of the pleats on the sleeves because I wanted a little less volume after I did the muslin. 
Fuckups:  I didn't pay enough attention while cutting and the layout wasn't meant for one way designs, so I ended up with two upside down panels. Luckily they weren't too far off square so I was able to flip them and just trim a bit. 

Truly adorable!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Follow your Arrow (but not in this case)

This skirt sucks.

I wrote a big long post about it, but dude.  It sucks.  So that's what I'm going to say.

I'm kind of upset about it because this was the first item that I had a real clear vision for when I got my new machine.

I love arrows, and I loved the colors in this fabric.  And I knew I wanted a skirt with a border of them around the hem.  So I ordered the arrow fabric and a coordinating solid from Spoonflower, and got to work.

I used a new pattern and didn't do a muslin because I'm dumb.  So the skirt is a little tighter than I would prefer across my hips.  I can easily fix that next time, and it's not the real problem with this skirt either.

The problem is the fabric.

It's the cotton poplin from Spoonflower and it was 20 freaking dollars a yard!  But I liked it so much I was okay with paying that.  I chose the poplin because it was suggested for skirts.  But it sucks.  It wrinkles like CRAZY.  Which I could honestly deal with.  I have an iron.  But it also sticks to everything.  Tights, underwear, even my silk top.  It just grabbed everything and would not let go.  Which made the back zip a bit of a challenge.

My main issue with the fabric was first that it wore so easily.  I noticed this on another skirt I made with the same poplin.  But when I washed it once, the color was wearing away on any edges or seams.  After ONE wash, on gentle, and being hung to dry.  And when I pulled out this fabric to make it, I noticed that where I had folded it when I washed it, the printing was wearing away from the folds.  Just from being folded and sitting in my craft closet for a few weeks.  It's really ridiculous that this is what I got for $20 a yard.

Another huge issue was the fact this it shows needle holes so easily.  I mean, look at this where I took out some basting stitches.  I don't expect it to completely disappear but this is ridiculous.  Holes from pins look the same way.  It's not leather, it's cotton!  It shouldn't require this sort of care.

Anyway.  It's the worst, and I'm sad about it.  I'm going to try the pattern again.

Baa Baa

I love this dress!!

It's actually a good thing I made this right before the arrow skirt because I was still on a high and not TOO upset about how horrible that turned out.

This one is all about the fabric, for sure, but I also love the button front bodice and the silhouette.  I had used the skirt part of this pattern twice (on the bird skirt and another one I haven't posted, and might not ever. It's quite a bit too short!).  I liked it, but didn't feel it was super flattering with the uneven pleats.

I did do a muslin of the bodice for this, and pinned it to the bird skirt for fitting purposes.  This fit me almost perfectly as printed.  I just needed to take a little bit of length off the shoulders, and take it in at the sides slightly.  This wasn't unexpected as the bird skirt was a bit too big.

I cut the skirt pieces for one size smaller than the bodice, but I didn't pleat them.  I gathered them instead and just spread the gathers to fit.  I wanted it to be a bit less full than the last skirt and I think it was perfect.

I loved, LOVED this fabric from the minute I saw it.  It was not cheap ($18/yard), but I just loved the print so much.  This light mauve color is one of my favorites to wear, and the adorable sheep and sheepdogs was just right up my alley.  It also washed wonderfully, and it has a great weight and feel.  It's probably my favorite fabric I've ever used, no joke.

Because it is a little cutesy though, I wanted to stick with a somewhat clean, classic design.  I think this pattern was spot on for that.  The button front gives it a bit of interest, but there's not too much detail and it's a very simple silhouette.

I took these photos immediately after I pulled it on this morning (because I am somewhat triangle shaped, I generally can pull dresses on without unzipping.  Am I the only one that does this?  It just makes it easier getting dressed by myself in the morning), and it's pulling to one side.  Dangit.  It doesn't do this all the time, I promise!

The bodice is not very fitted, which I really like with this style.  It's so comfy!  I do think I could stand to do a slight small bust adjustment next time, but it really does fit well.

All styled up for the office.  Side note, I got upgraded so a corner suite with tons of windows this week, so I couldn't resist using it to take outfit photos.  We also start work a bit later at this office, plus it takes me like 5 minutes to drive to work from my hotel.  It's such a nice change to go to work when it's already bright and sunny!

So, the breakdown

Project:  Sheep dress
Pattern:  Cynthia Rowley for Simplicity 2215
Fabric:  Sheeeeep by Cotorienne, bought from superbuzzy
Notions:  9" invisible zipper, 4 7/8" buttons
Skills involved:  placing an invisible zipper, making buttonholes, sewing buttons, fitting a bodice
Changes made:  I gathered the skirt instead of pleating, and also did a full lining on the skirt.  The pattern calls for 1 yd of lining, but that's just for the bodice.  I think I used roughly 2 yards of a 60" width lining.
Fuckups:  somehow the bodice back ended up longer than the front on the zipper side.  It's not a really visible error, but it was pretty funny the first time I noticed it (photo below!).  I also should have finished the hem of the lining better (I just pinked it but that's not really suitable for the fabric at all).  I might cut it off and do a bias binding to give it some weight.


Monday, January 6, 2014

It's a new year!

And it's going to be a tough one for me.  Work wise, mostly.  I am still commuting to Houston each week, and will be doing that for a few months.  At which point, we are hoping to sell our house, find a new house in New Orleans, and move down there.  Then I'll be working half time outside of New Orleans and half time outside of Baton Rouge.  I don't know why I can't pick a role that just keeps me in one place...

On top of that, I'm transitioning into a new job with a lot more responsibility and leadership.  It is exciting, but it will be hard.

So, with all of that in mind, my goal for 2014 is to remain focused on what is important.  My job is really important to me.  I love it and it brings me a lot of satisfaction.  So that's on the list, but it's not the most important thing.  I also need to keep focusing on my health and my family.

One of the things I want to do that I think will really help in this area is to eliminate clutter.  Both physically and mentally.

I started this year with a huge clean out of my closet.  As my husband pointed out, I do this occasionally, get rid of a couple of bags full, and then go shopping and cram it all in again.  Which is totally true.

But as I went through my clothes I was really thinking about focusing in on what I need.  I got rid of SO MUCH.  I used to have my side of the closet completely crammed full.  Zero room (and I use the huggable hangers so I'm already maxed on usable space.  I should have counted my items before I started!  But I had about 6 feet of linear feet, plus another hanging bar with another 3-4 feet.  Just full, and full of things I never touched.

Now, I've eliminated the second bar, put in a little hanging shelf unit for my sweaters and workout clothes, and have TONS of additional space.  It's absolutely no trouble finding stuff.  It's so much easier now!  I would estimate that I probably got rid of 100+ items.

A couple of things I noticed as I was going through.  The vast majority of things I was getting rid of fell into the "fast fashion" category.  Target, Old Navy, Gap, H&M.  LOTS of Target stuff.  I liked things and bought them, wore them a couple of times and moved on to the next thing.  Most of my higher quality clothes (Anthro and J. Crew purchases mostly) were held onto.  The ones that I did let go of, I'm going to try to sell online, because they're still in great condition.

Also, I got rid of barely any shoes.  2 pairs of worn out house shoes and a lone black ballet flat that didn't have a match.  I made a decision a couple of years ago that I would spend the money on quality shoes that would last.  I think that shows that I need to extend that thought to the rest of my wardrobe.

The only real gap I noticed was the lack of basic solids.  I wear a lot of prints.  I love prints and I don't see that as an issue, but I do need some more basic pieces to mix in.  I think this was a really good exercise because now I know exactly where to focus my efforts in my sewing projects.  The problem is, I have 12 projects planned (and have material bought) and all of them, every one, are with prints.  I know I need to mix some solids in there, and I am definitely going to make that happen.

Taking the giant (seriously GIANT!) box to goodwill was such a good feeling, just to be rid of it all.  I am excited to extend that feeling to all of the areas of our house, as well as my life.  I think this will be a good year. :)