Friday, September 24, 2010

1967 pattern- Simplicity 7470- Mod Green & White Tab Dress

I did version 2 but with long sleeves

Notice that my husband gave the pattern cartoon a blond wig to make her look more like me-- don't you love how technology enriches our lives?

That's a Reader's Digest sewing book from the 1970's. I was trying to "perfect" my dart process.

Oh boy, I love to iron...NOT!

I made this green and white mod dress from the 1967 pattern shown- Simplicity 7470. Here's the play-by-play of the making of this dress:

Trying it on over my clothes-- before hemming/side seams

1.) FABRIC: Okay, so I said I'd never use cotton again. I totally lied. The posters who said that not all cottons are the same. They were 100% right. I used a ribbed 95% cotton, 5% spandex blend. It behaved nicely, and the drape was flattering. I'm happy to report that I avoided over-tailoring once again. Trust me, this is an accomplishment.

I'm really OCD about trying on my dresses at various stages.

I don't know why I was so dense about cotton before. I should have realized that not all cottons are the same. My own closet has 100% cotton RTW dresses that have a beautiful softness and drape. One in particular is even body-con despite not having any spandex mixed in. I liked the ribbing on this cotton too-- it gave the final result more texture, which I sorely needed in the gray dress.
I still haven't found my "perfect" fabric though. Are you out there fabric? It's me, Astrid.

WOMAN SEEKING FABRIC: Wanted: the perfect fabric. Must be soft yet firm. Must be thick but not too thick. Must be stretchy but not too flimsy. Must not unravel on me...

2.) COLLAR: Okay, so the collar is kinda high. It actually photographs higher than it looks in real-life. I consider it a "stylistic" choice, rather than a fitting mistake. Even though it's supposed to be a "bias roll", it looks more like a "funnel neck" collar. I suppose I could have sized it down. Maybe size does matter, but what also matters is how lazy I am.

I also learned something new about "bias roll collars" this time around. When I made one before, I was confusing it with the stand-up collars and thought it was crazy high on my neck. Duh, I now realize you have to fold them over. I guess my head/neck size isn't super freakish after all. Just moderately freakish.

3.) DETAIL: After the lack of detail on the gray dress, I decided to add some detail to this one. The contrasting white bias tape on the hem and the sleeves was not on the original pattern. I rather like the result.

4.) MILESTONE: I didn't use Mr. Seam Ripper even once for this dress! He's wondering why I've stopped calling.

Okay, okay, I did have to use him to fix about 2 inches of hem that I messed up on, but it was 2 inches, come on!

This dress was the first-time I've finished a dress in one sitting. Sure, I had to go from noon to 8 pm, but it was worth it. I remember when I first started, I'd start at noon and be trying to finish the zipper at 10 pm.

Happy sewing adventures!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Simplicity 7796 (1968) Beatles-inspired mod gray dress

The pattern- I picked the middle view

Ironing the invisible zipper- I just LOVE them now

Uneven collar band pieces=weird Gomer Pyle face

I created this gray, mod dress from Simplicity 7796 (1968). It's inspired by the gray nehru suits the Beatles wore in the 60's (the ones with the stand-up collars) My favorite band=fashion inspiration.If they were stars today, the media would nickname them J.Len & Paul Mac

Making the dress was a fairly smooth process, but I'm not all that happy with the results. For some strange reason, the dress looks really great in pictures but not so great in person. The last dress I did, the peter pan collar dress, it was just the opposite. I thought that dress looked better in person than in the pictures. Hmmm.... I have no explanation for that, but here's the rundown:

1.) COLOR CHOICE: In person, this dress looks like a prison guard uniform. Methinks that gray wasn't a great choice-- at least not the flat gray I picked. For a solid color dress without a whole lot of detail, I probably should have used a fabric with more sheen or more texture-- more SOMETHING to make it stand out and not look so flat. I used ponte roma polyester again. I really need to try some new fabrics, but now that I'm somewhat used to that fabric, I'm finding it hard to change it up. Fear of failure? Probably. I'd love to try a soft, cotton/poly blend.

A VERY SPECIAL NOTE: My husband agrees that this dress looks way different in pictures. I swear I am not crazy.
2.) STAND UP COLLARS: I just can't get these stand up collars to look right. In one of the pictures, you'll see what I mean. I used the interfacing as directed (god, I make it sound like medicine), but it still doesn't stand up properly. It droops like Justin Bieber's career will in a few years.

Button detail and drooping collar that won't stand up properly--my boobs frighten me in this pic-- blame my Bohemian grandmother for these-- all flesh, no silicone

I'm wondering if the neck hole is too large for me? Since I still haven't tried the 34 bust pattern, I'm wondering if the neck would fit me better on that size, which in turn would cause the collars to stand up and fit better? Could a too large neckhole cause a droop? I tried to starch the damn thing, but it remains flaccid. Either I totally don't know how to use starch or starch companies have been scamming people for years. Probably the former.

I also had some problems getting the collar to be even (height-wise) on each side, since it was made of two pieces divided by a small space. That wasn't so bad, but I did have to bond with Mr. Seam Ripper to fix the issue. I'm seriously reconsidering my friendship with him.

3.) SHOULDER SEAMS: Since I made this dress before I noticed the problem with the misplaced shoulder seams, I didn't fix that problem with this dress. I think this dress has more of a shoulder problem than the last dress. The seams are almost off my shoulders, making them look too wide (once again, I wish you all could see this dress in person).

4.) LENGTH: For some reason, I liked this dress better length-wise before I hemmed it.

I liked it better longer (that's what she said)

5.) HEM: I did the bias tape technique again which is working for me. I do want to try the rolled hem, however. Haven't gotten the right foot yet. I do wish I had matched the bias tape closer to the color of the dress. It seemed like a better match in the store.

Well, that's about it for this one. I'm going to get some sewing in tomorrow. I'm excited-- it's been a busy month, and I haven't put as much time in. I'm also working with a ribbed knit for the first time so wish me luck.


Oh how I wish this dress looked like it does in the pictures!

Happy Sewing Adventures!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Ahhh...For the love of peter pan collars -- Simplicity 7852 (1968)

I picked View 2

I look happy, but I really just want to get
the pattern marking done so I can move on to actual sewing


TIRED, so tired...

Before sleeves, before hemming

Whew...It's been a busy busy last couple weeks. I've been sewing, but I'm behind in my posting (mostly because my husband and I have been too lazy to take the photos).

Time to crack that whip Devo-style.

Simplicity 7852 (1968) was a joy to construct. So few problems. So little bitching. I hardly recognize myself.

Making this dress, I decided to go with a white and navy blue color palette. I LOVE =peter pan collars (yep, I'm using caps locks to shout out how much I love them) and thought the dress would look adorable with the color scheme of a different view shown on the pattern (i.e. the view in the middle of the navy dress with the pointed collar).

After sleeves, before hemming

The tailoring went a lot better with this dress. I like the drape, but it skims the body too. I think I found a good balance there.
I also got a new toy this time around. I hated using a ruler to hand-draw my cut line for my hems, so I got this nifty tool. It's this weird do-hicky from Dritz that spurts chalk in a straight line where I set it to mark. It looks like a Victorian medical instrument but somehow it manages to work. Although, I did have some problems with the chalk clogging up and coming out messy. Not sure what the deal is there. That was annoying.
I got another product from Dritz that I hated and will never use again. I normally mark my patterns with chalk but decided to try a disappearing pen (i.e. blue for light colors, white for dark colors). The white hardly worked. The blue was so very annoying to remove. I had to wash the dress to get rid of the blue. This annoyed me, because the directions said a wet rag would work. I'm back to chalk marking...
So, there is one issue I'd like to discuss. I'm having this issue with long sleeve dresses. I'm not 100% pleased with the way my sleeves are sewn on. I follow all directions, but I feel like the shoulder seam should be more towards the middle of my shoulder. For some reason, the seam always lands at the far end, almost onto my arm itself (and this causes an uncomfortable fit in the armpit area). I'm not 100% fond of the look, because my shoulders are pretty broad, and I don't want them broader yet. The way the shoulder seams are landing, they tend to widen my shoulders. Not sure why this is happening? Could it have something to do with my adjustments at the side seams? Hmmm.....

You can sort of see the broad shoulder issue in this picture

Also, what's the deal with pattern sizing? I need some input on this. I had read that you should use your bust measurement to pick your size. I have a 36 bust, so I bought vintage patterns in that size. From the get-go, I've felt that the 36 bust size has produced results that are significantly too big. Not just a little too big, quite a bit too big. That's why I went a little "tailor-happy", I think. My results were so baggy; I tended to overcompensate. But I didn't really question my choice of a 36 bust, because I was terrified of making something that was too small. You can't make something too small bigger, although some men would beg to differ.

But, I have finally decided to try a 34 bust pattern, so I'm going to hope that it's perfect since the 36 is so big on me. I read something about "ease" in the pattern sizing. Does that mean that a 36 bust is closer to fitting a woman with a 38 bust? And that if the waist is listed at 28, it's more like a 30? My measurements are 36-26-36-- would a 34 bust accommodate me better? I'll know soon enough... I've got some 34 patterns in hand. It won't be the next dress and probably not the one after that, but it will be soon. Sorry to leave you with a cliffhanger (ha).

Happy sewing adventures,

Monday, September 6, 2010

Simplicity 8437 (1969)- Red Mod Dress with Contrasting Tabs

Okay, is it just me or is "Jiffy" a bit of an exaggeration?

I got a new iron but still haven't been able to get my pattern pieces very smooth...

I sew sew sew

Midway through

Here's the dress that I completed after the black and white dress. It's Simplicity 8437 from 1969. I decided to go with the look shown on the front of the pattern (i.e. the red dress with the white contrasting tabs). My only changes were going to be shortening the dress and omitting the pockets. I used my favorite fabric (thus far), which was ponte roma polyester.

This dress was mostly a breeze. I spent very little time with my bud Mr. Seam Ripper. Even tailoring it wasn't so difficult. I machine basted it once, too loose. I pulled out the stitches. Rebasted it. And voila! I feel this dress has a nice drape, while at the same time skimming the waist. I didn't over-tailor it, like I did with the last one. Yippee! ; - )

I did struggle a tad with the sleeves. When I initially sewed them, I discovered that they were significantly too large around my arms. I had to pull out the stitching and bring them in about 1 inch. That did the trick, and I was pleased with the fit.

Hemming was also a lot easier, because I used the bias tape method of encasing the hem. I used angry chicken's great video tutorial to guide me: ( I want to thank Fairevergreen for recommending that method. I think my hem turned out much smoother. I'd also like to try the rolled hem method that a few of you recommended. I just haven't had time to research which type of rolled hem foot to get. I'll have to order one online, as local fabric stores didn't carry the appropriate one.

I think my husband was trying to capture the invisible zipper

Of course, I did have one major snafu. What kind of project would this be without one? Well, it probably wouldn't be one of my projects!

Now, remember that I said that I was omitting the pockets originally. Well, that didn't work out so well. I took one look at the dress and thought, "Okay, this is alright, but something's off." I asked my husband his opinion, and we both concluded that the dress just looked like one big sea of red without the pockets there to break it up. So, even though I had a meeting with my local Congressman the next morning (I'm a volunteer for a non-profit called RESULTS), I decided at 10pm the night before to throw the pockets together.

What crime was I guilty of? The crime of sewing while exhausted. I had spent hours and hours sewing that day, and I was t-i-r-e-d. Now, I've committed the crime of sewing while exhausted before, but this was especially exacerbating, since I had to get up in the morning (I work at home and usually roll out of bed whenever I feel like it).

Okay, so the pockets aren't terrible, but I'll admit that they would have turned out a little neater if I had taken more time and if my eyes weren't so crusty and all. One pocket is a little larger than the other, and the distance each is from the center seam isn't quite the same. There's also a little pulling at the area where I sewed on the pockets. I could have re-done them, but I'll admit, I was too lazy and exhausted for any re-dos.

Also, I struggle whenever a pattern asks me to sew the raw edge of a curved seam 1/4 inch (or what have you). I struggle with curves as it is. It doesn't help to add a very small edge to the equation. Anyone know of a foot that would help with this? Perhaps a rolled hem foot?

Overall, I like the result. I think it's a cross between 60's stewardess and Star Trek crew member. Both are fun retro looks in my book! When I wore this at Dragon Con, someone did ask if it was a Star Trek costume. I thought about being a Star Trek crew member for Halloween, but I have my heart set on Barbarella.

Happy sewing adventures!