Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Finished Project: silk top

My favourite part of any fabric store is the remnant bin.  I love, love, love the treasure hunt that it can be.

What can I say?  I just love anything that feels like a quest.  As a kid, I always had something or other that I was collecting.  It became a quest to finish the set of baseball cards, Barbies, Superman Comics, or Battle Beasts.  I loved it!  As an adult living in this digital age, collecting sets is less exciting.  I can just search online for almost anything and it'll be available for purchase from somewhere.  Except the Toejam and Earl video game for Sega Genesis. I have never found that, and stopped looking once I was able to download it onto my Wii.  My bother has our old Genesis now, so I have no need for it anyway.

So, now I hunt for bargains at fabric stores, thrift shops, and garage sales.  The remnants bin holds many treasures for kids' garments, contrast fabrics, or luxury fabrics I couldn't otherwise afford.  I've collected fabrics to make dresses for the entire cast of Disney princesses in the remnant bin (upcoming birthday gift for Itsa.  It'll be great.)  And the last time I rummaged through the bins at Fabricana I came up with a metre each of pink silk charmuse and knit sequin fabric.  I'll parade out the sequin garment at a later date.

What does one do with 1 metre of silk charmuse?  During a heat wave, a floaty, loose top is the obvious choice!  I used Runway Sewing Project # 9 silk t for my pattern. 

I used french seams

Machine rolled edges

Hand finished over the seams as my machine was having none of that.

And made lingerie straps to keep it on my shoulders.

Mistakes? Oh my, where do I start?  Basically, this was a reminder to myself to slow down and think about what I'm doing.  The pattern is actually just a guide, and you draft up the pattern yourself.  I thought it would be no big deal as I'm good at following directions and it was all straight lines and easy stuff.  That's all true, but if I don't follow the directions, then it's not so easy.  First, I added length.  That was a good change, worked out nicely.  Then I measured the armholes from the wrong spot and they were incredibly small.  I knew they were small, I even measured, but went on anyway because... crafter's denial?  I don't know.  Then, I saved cutting the neckline until the end as it's the only difference on the front and back pieces.  Stopped what I was doing, did something else, turned back to the fabric and just cut out the same neckline for both pieces.  Crud.  It looks good, and like it was done on purpose, but I wanted the higher back neckline.

So, those sleeves?  They were a total no go.  Luckily, they were only a 1/2" long, so I just chopped them off and opened the side seams up more to make it a sleeveless top.  Well, first I put everything away and went to bed, then the next night I fixed it.  Never try to fix a stupid mistake when you're sleepy.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Corset back

Whew.  I had a client job to do for a bridesmaid dress that was too small.  I've been following Mrs.Mole's blog for about a year now, and all I could think of was "this is not your dress".

As seems to be the trend, the dresses were ordered online from China.  Measurements were sent in, ignored, and dresses were sent out.  3 ladies had dresses that fit well enough, but this one ended up with the dress that was 6" too small.  Sigh.

I didn't take a photo of the dress itself, but it was similar to this one

photo from

photo from
At first, I was surprised at how well structured the dress was.  It had boning galore inside and no visible stitching on the bodice.  Then I noticed that the straps were topstitched in the back.  Ah, it was a strapless dress that had straps added to it, that explains all the boning.  The straps were sewn in the front at the wrong spot, making the bodice gape at the underarms. Ick.

I started by shortening the straps, fixing the gape, and making a corset back.  At the first try on, however, the back was now 9" too small and looked so awkward.  So I sent my client away and took it apart.  I took out the darts I had sewn in and did a better corset back.  This one was longer, spaced out a bit more, and the modesty panel was made wider.  On her return it fit much better.

Lesson learned: You can't fix everything on a completed garment.  Fix what you can to make it wearable first, then see if the other problems can be addressed.

I took a couple photos of the corset loops in progress.  This was a bit of a panic for someone like me who usually avoids pinning if possible.

These are the first loops I did.  The ones that made it onto the dress were spaced at 1.5cm instead of this 1cm.  I didn't want to have her lacing up the back of the dress all day!  

I also made a bias tube about 4 m long for the lacing.  Sewing down the seam allowances on the joins and using the bobby pin method really made it pain-free.  I cut the strips 1.5" wide, and sewed them at a 1/4" loop.  Just the perfect size to get the bobby pin through without snagging.  The extra 1/2" of fabric inside the tube made it just a little bit sturdier when all done.  I advised my client to use a crochet hook or angled tweezers when lacing to save frustrations.

In the end, it all turned out well.  She will be able to breathe at the wedding and wear a dress that fits. (-ish.  The worst part of being a garment seamster is noticing how few people wear clothes that actually fit them.  And noticing how few people mind that their clothes don't fit right.)  She said that bridesmaid dresses and double sided tape go hand-in-hand.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Going on holiday

I'm heading out on holiday all next week, and the kids and I are taking a technology break and unplugging ourselves from the internet while we're gone.  I hope to get up one more post before I leave, but we'll see how that works out.

Off to camp Stillwood where my uncle and aunt run things, so that Aki can attend day camp, Itsa and I can explore the forest, and we can all spend some time outside and in a honest to goodness rainforest.  Ahhh,  Blissful.

See you next week!

Monday, 6 July 2015

Finished Project: Bombshell Bikini

Woohoo!  Both May projects done before the end of the month!  That's not likely to happen again.  Swimsuits are so quick to sew and so forgiving of fit.  (I know it's July before I am blogging this one.  Life got in my way.)

I used Closet Case Files' Bombshell pattern, view C with a top made from View A.  Every photo I've seen online of this suit looks amazing.  I think the center back seam really adds that extra oomph to the design.  It adds a bit of shaping without overdoing it, and makes it flattering on so many body types.

I am super happy with the bottoms, but less so with the top.  Maybe I'm just over picky with how my top half is represented.  It's totally functional and looks alright though, so I'm sure I'll get over it.

I cut a size 12 for the bottoms and an 18 for the top.  I agonized over adding foam cups to the top for days.  In the end, I just decided that it wasn't comfortable.  I really don't care for foam in my bras and swimsuits, so I figured why bother using it here.

The fabric is regular ol' nylon / spandex for swimsuits.  I bought it at an Our Social Fabric sale last year for some crazy low price.  Maybe a quarter or something.  Isn't this just the best teal ever, though?  I scored quite a bit of nylon spandex swimwear fabric from that one sale I attended.  It was totally worth the trek into Vancouver on a hot, hot Sunday last August.

The swimming pool in our townhouse complex opened on the May long weekend, and so did all the spray parks in the Metro area.  I also could go lounge on the beach with this suit, but I usually only do that a couple times a summer.  With small children it's less lounging and more "DON'T PUT THAT IN YOUR MOUTH!"  Aki is not so bad, he usually takes a pail and collects little crabs, but Itsa is determined to eat something from the tide pools.  Makes it less relaxing.

Pass the sunscreen, please!

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Finished project: Simplicity 1373 shorts

Last shorts for the year!  Simplicity 1373 in a stretch cotton sateen from Fabricland last year.  I bought the pattern after seeing how nice Mimi G did it up.

This fabric?  Love it!  I had bought it with a Sewaholic Robson coat in mind, and then I scored a Liberty of London trench coat for super cheap at a clearance sale, so I no longer had a need to make a coat.  Shorts now and a Belladone dress later I think.  I have 4 or 4.5 metres of the stuff (sigh, I can't actually remember how much I bought) so there is room for a few garments. 

Photo taken after wearing them for a day
These shorts take some shortcuts to make them super quick.  I'm not sure how I feel about the waist construction, but I think after some wear it'll be easier to evaluate.  Instead of a waistband or facing, the top is sewn to twill tape and folded over.  It does finish the top edge nicely, but gah, it feels like cheating.  I've never used that finish before, but it went alright.  It feels strange to wear though, so I don't know if I'll use it again.

I cut a straight size 20 and didn't make any adjustments.  Not even to the length.  They are shorter than I've worn in many years, but I don't think scandalously so.  And they cover my thighs enough to prevent chub rub, so that's really all I need.  Should I have made alterations?  Yes.  I should have cut a size 16 and then did a full abdomen alteration.  That would have made them fit much better.  They're wearable though, and I don't wear shorts too often, so it's all good.

I surprised myself by not having any yellow thread at home.  It was nothing new that I didn't have the right zipper, but thread was unexpected.  I had to make a quick trip to Fabricland to buy all the notions for these shorts!  That's a first for me.
This face says "Spart, seriously, just take the photos.  Stop freaking out that I changed into the shorts in public."

Now that I have my three pairs of shorts, I will be moving onto those dresses.  I can sew the Cambie dress without muslining it as I made it before for my MIL and tried it on then (just need to do a FBA), but I do need to sew a muslin for the Butterick dress because I can't even pick a size until I do.  Tissue fitting didn't help at all.

I do have a client alteration to do, but I need to buy some satin on Wednesday, so nothing will happen until then.