Friday, April 4, 2014

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men Often Go Awry

Catching up for time lost...
It was sometime back in January when I first noticed a pain in my leg.  I thought I pulled my hamstring – though I was unsure how it happened.  I wasn’t comfortable, but I muddled through some sewing completing most of what I wanted to accomplish for January.
Then February came along.  And March.  Now it’s April.
After two primary care visits, some unsuccessful traditional physical therapy, an MRI, and a visit to a Spine Center, it was determined that I have a herniated disk in my lumbar back.  Here is my MRI to prove it! 
Sorry for the poor resolution.  The healthy disk are white.  I added a red arrow to designate the herniated disk extrusion.  That “extrusion” is narrowing the passage for my nerves and causing radiating pain from my butt to my ankle.  It was often like having a really bad charley horse that you can shake off.
Sewing was pretty much out of the question during much of this time.  Sitting down is one of my pain triggers, and often I could barely move.  I walked more similarly to an 85 year old woman than a 36 year old.

Now I am going to physical therapy twice a week at the Spine Center and I seem to be on the mend.  I hope to get back to a more regular sewing schedule now that I feel like I can move around.
But the issue is that I had so many plans for things to make in February and March, so I feel like I am so far behind schedule.  Hopefully, I can start getting caught up because while I sat around for 2 months, I came up with a lot more ideas!

Look for at least one new item to be posted this coming weekend!

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Hit and A MIss

To finish my posts about January completed projects, I will include 2 items in today’s post.

First, the HIT!
Late last year, I decided to take my wardrobe options to a new level – I was going to learn to knit.  Okay, so it’s not a huge stretch for me since I already know how to crochet.  I started snooping around Raverly and discovered a set of patterns for beginners from Tin Can Knits.  There are 8 patterns in The Simple Collection and the best part - they are free!   happened to have a skein of 100% wool hanging around, so I started with the first project, the Wheat Scarf, in December.
The other 7 patterns in The Simple Collection include a baby blanket, a hat, a cowl, socks, mitts, a pullover sweater, and a cardigan.  Child through adult sizes are included for all the patterns.  Not only was the pattern great, but the tutorials are also extremely helpful!  There was not a step that was not covered in detail!  And the final result?

It's not perfect, but I really can't complain for being my first knitting project. 

I was so inspired by my first finished knitting project that I have ventured onto bigger and better projects in the world of knitting.  Stay tuned for a another finished project sometime in March!
And now THE MISS!
I saw this wrap dress on BurdaStyle and thought it looks super cute.  It would make a perfect swimsuit coverup!  Bonus #1 - The pattern is free!  OK, so there really isn't a pattern, just instructions telling you cut 2 rectangles and sew them together.  Still, it is FREE!  Bonus #2 - There are several ways to tie the finished fabric into different styles of dresses.  Basically, you could have 3 dresses by just sewing one!

The instructions for inserting the elastic for the neckline were a little confusing.  Here a look at how I pinned the elastic before I sewed it down, then turned it, and sewed it the second time.

  And the result - an utter disappointment.  I am small.  I made the smallest size.  I tied it using the View B Variation.  The fabric is not long enough to tie in the back!  Here are some pictures on my mannequin to give you an idea.
So, I tried View A, Variation 1.  I was still not able to tie it together.  Closer, but no go! 
I was able to make it work with 2 possible dress ideas - See below.  However, the first one has a waterfall of fabric sticking out from the bust - really not attractive.  Lighter fabric could make this better.  For the second dress, I just tied the ends together and put it around the neck.  It looks okay, but it is not what I was going for.


Maybe making a larger size would create the look I am desiring, but it will have to wait. 
Instead you will probably be seeing this fabric again in a different project in the future.  Luckily because you only cut one slit for the neckline, I have plenty to work with. 
Did anyone have success with this pattern?  Anyone else have issues?
Happy Sewing!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Matching Robe and Nightgown

Burda 7627 View D

Burda 3379 View B (OOP)

I started this set in December, hoping to finish by Christmas so that I would have something other than knit active wear to wear as pajamas over the holidays.  I set out to make a long nightgown and a full length robe – feminine, fashionable, but still providing coverage.
The holidays came and went.  The project was finally completed mid-January.  (I'm trying to get caught up posting my completed projects - hopefully by the beginning of next week I will be current!)

I purchased the fabric from Hancock Fabrics, a matte polyester “silky” fabric in royal blue.  The nightgown was first as I had completed this pattern (Burda 3379 View B, now out of print) several years ago to be used a black slip under a couple dresses.  The made a few changes to the pattern including adding about 12 inches in length and cutting on the bias rather than straight grain.  Due to the bias cut, I removed about 1/2" in width from each seam from my armhole to the bust dart.  All the seams were sewn using French seam technique.  The top detail of the bodice encases the top edge and eliminates any facings.

On the robe (Burda 7627 View D), I also added to the length.  The length added was about 18 inches since I wanted a full length robe.  I ignored the lace detail along the front, but instead created a detail similar to that on the nightgown so that they would truly match.  The detail on the robe is 2 inches wide when finished. 

Similar to the nightgown, this detail encased the raw edges along the front and neck, eliminating a different finishing technique.  Also like the nightgown, the seams were completed using french seam techniques.

Purchases for this project (all purchased in 2013):

Fabric                    $15.26                  4 yards @ $3.81, Hancock Fabrics (Robe)
Fabric                      $8.48                  2 yards @ $4.24, Hancock Fabrics (Nightgown)
Thread                    $1.29                  
Pattern                   $2.67                   Burda 7627

Already in stash:
Pattern, Burda 3379

Total cost for this project:  $27.70

Check back for more finished January projects later this week!


Monday, February 3, 2014

BurdaStyle 01/2012 #106

Wow!  I actually got so much sewing done in January.  I just wasn’t able to get photos of my garments until this weekend.   The polar vortex has put the kibosh on outdoor pictures, especially in Minnesota.  Plus, we are still dealing with limited hours of daylight, so by the time I get home, the lighting is just horrible.

So on with it – This is actually my only non-UFO item that I completed in January.  I had been eying this pattern for a while, looking for the perfect fabric online.  I wasn’t finding much in the color palette or the price range I wanted.

Over my lunch hour one day, I was wondering around JoAnn Fabrics and noticed that their Simple Luxury Collection was 60% off.  AND I had a coupon for another 25% off my entire purchase!  I spied this off-white wool blend boucle knit (regular price $39.99 / yard) and knew that it would be a great fit.

The fabric was wonderful to work with Since it was a knit, it was not going to fray, but I wanted the inside to look "finished."  So, I finished all the seam allowances with a hong kong finish.  I didn't have quite the right color for the binding, but I found a cream on cream calico in my stash that the reverse matched quite well.

The only change I made to the pattern was to eliminate the seconf row of "frills" from the collar.  I had them on originally, but found that the fabric was a little to thick to accommodate 2 frills.  You can see the jacket with 2 frills attached in the picture below.  Too much, right?

And here I am modeling the final product.  I have worn it twice already.  I love that I can wear it casually with jeans or dress it up with a skirt.

One great thing about this pattern was that there were actually 3 different options:
                      BurdaStyle 01/2012 #107 - Ruffle Neck Coat

Lastly, since I am tracking how much I spend on my sewing projects during 2014, here are the details of this project:
Fabric                    $29.99                  2.5 yards @ $11.99, JoAnn Fabrics
Pattern                      5.99         01/2012 #106

Already in stash:
Cotton calico for binding   

Total cost for this project:  $35.98
Happy Sewing!

Monday, January 6, 2014

2014 RTW Fast

That’s right!  I have vowed not to buy ready-to-wear clothing between the dates of January 1 and December 31, 2014.  Of course there are a couple of exceptions – shoes, socks, and underwear can be purchased.

To tell the truth, it’s not like I usually purchase a lot of clothes throughout the year anyway.  A couple years ago, I tried on EVERYTHING in my closet and only kept the items that I truly loved to wear and had a spectacular fit.  It was hard letting go of certain items because I knew how much I spent on them or because I felt like I got such a great deal, but in the end it was TOTALLY worth the pain.  I may have fewer clothes, but I never have a time when “I have nothing to wear.”  My closet now only has things I love to wear.  And when I go shopping now, if the fit isn’t 100% right, I don’t buy it.  So, the end result is that I buy fewer items, but they get worn a lot more.
Furthermore, I am adding a couple of additional limitations to my RTW Fast.

1.      I will complete at least one “NEW” wearable garment per month.

2.      I will complete at least one “UFO” wearable garment per month (unless I have none remaining – haha!)

3.      I will not spend more than $1000 in total during 2014 to compete the garments.  (This does not include anything already in my “stash”, but does include anything I purchase to complete UFO projects as well as new ones.)
Don’t forget to check out some of the other 2014 RTW Fasters as well!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Project from the Past – Wedding Dress (2003)

10 years (and a couple months) ago, I married my best friend.  There was little doubt that I wanted to make my wedding dress.  (I also wanted to make the bridesmaid dresses, but knowing my procrastinating tendencies, my dad put the kibosh on that.)

I wanted to share my dress with you.  It was actually 2 pieces, a separate top and skirt.
As I prepared for the big day, I tried on many dresses, but I had a hard time getting a decent fit due to my long torso.  I found that the 2-piece wedding dresses were better, but the tops were still not long enough for me.  My inspiration was a Maggie Sottero dress that I can not find a picture, but had some of the same features as this one.  It was a two piece gown with blue beading on the corset top.  It did have the one-shoulder tulle detail.

I started with McCalls 3853 (now OOP).  I used the pleated skirt pattern with zero alterations.  For the top, I first made a muslin from the corset pattern, getting a perfect fit.  Then I added a seam under my bust to all the front pieces so that I could attach my tulle along that seam on the final top.  I also adjust the bottom front of the bodice so that it had a smooth curve rather than the sharp “V” of the pattern.

The purchased my fabric from Ginny’s in Rochester, Minnesota.  The majority of the dress is 100% silk dupioni in an off-white color.  The bottom portion of the front of the bodice, along with the fill bodice back was the same silk, but all-over embroidery. 
I lined the skirt with black-out drapery lining for 2 reasons.  I loved the heavy weight of the lining to keep the pleats looking full.  The second reason was because I made my crinoline using dark maroon netting, which I wanted to peek out when I walked or danced, but not show through the silk skirt in pictures. 

The top was lined and then I added an interior bodice made from power net.  Even though the top had a strap over one shoulder, I really did not want there to be any stress on this detail, so the bodice was made to fit me as if it were strapless. 
It was a huge accomplishment for me to complete this dress.
Maybe you have noticed that I speak of my wedding dress in the past tense.  The reason is because my dress was taken to the dry cleaners and they shrunk my dress.  The outer skirt was 2 inches shorter than the lining and the bodice barely covered my midriff.  This was not noticed until I visited my parents’ home where the dress was stored several months later.  Since the dress had served its purpose, I really had no qualms about just trashing it.  So, it is buried in some landfill in Northern Illinois at this time.
Maybe I also did not have any issues about disposing of the dress because I still had some significant yardage leftover.  Someday I will finally get around to making something more versatile with the fabric.  I’ve even considered dyeing it another color.  Nothing has called to me yet, so it sits for now.  But when I decide to make something, it will even better.  I promise.