Monday, October 25, 2010

Some things that make me go "hmmm"....

One of my favorite RTW dresses- see discussion in post

One of my favorite RTW dresses- see discussion in post

I have a few more dresses to post soon, but I wanted to share some thoughts. I've been contemplating a lot of random things lately, regarding sewing.

1.) MACHINES: I have a Singer Esteem II 2273. I bought it at Target for $130.00. At the time of purchase, I was brand new to sewing and wasn't sure whether I'd be able to learn, so I didn't want to invest a lot of money into a machine. The machine's okay, but I'm wondering if there are other machines that perform better. So, in your experiences, do you find that the quality of the machine makes a difference? I'm thinking of getting a new machine, but if one machine is basically as good as the next, I don't want to buy a new one.

If you think a better machine would make a difference in my sewing projects, let me know what machine you'd recommend and why it's better. Any help would be immensely appreciated! I don't really trust online consumer review sites-- so many times I've bought something based on reviews and the item was NOT good. I swear there are companies "padding" their products with good reviews.

2.) FABRIC OR FIT?: Because I'm a pretty picky person when it comes to my clothes, I like to be "wowed" by them. Perhaps my expectations are too high, but I always go for that "wow" factor when I'm shopping as well. Example: My friend and I will go shopping and we'll go to 10 stores. She's purchase something at least 2/3 of the stores. It would be a shock if I came out with one thing.

I haven't had much of a "wow" factor when it comes to my sewing projects. This frustrates me, because unlike RTW fashion, I had to go through a lot of work to make the item. As such, the urge to "wow" myself is even greater because of the work involved. I keep wondering: is my failure to "wow" myself due to not fitting my dresses as good as I could? Or, is it due to not using the right fabrics? I still have not found a fabric that I'm really in love with. I tried to compare my fabrics on my "wow" factor RTW dresses in my closet. Here's what I come up with:

1.) 100% polyester
2.) 67% polyester, 30% rayon, 3% spandex
3.) 100% cotton
4.) 92% polyester, 8% spandex
5.) 94% rayon, 6% spandex

So, there's obviously a trend toward polyester and/or rayon with a touch of spandex. But 100% cotton?? It's weird because the cotton dress has a lot of stretch to it, but there is no spandex in it.

And here's where I get more confused...I have used different 100% polyester fabrics and they weren't the same. I guess they have a different fiber content depending on the manufacturer?

Sigh...I must say that when it comes to sewing, fabric is an area where I'm really frustrated and lost.

Or am I wrong? Is it not the fabric but merely the fit being off? I'm running in circles, really.

Okay, so at the top of this post, I have pasted a picture of one of my absolute favorite RTW dresses. It fits me like a glove and it's this blend: 67% polyester, 30% rayon, 3% spandex. That dress is a black and blue sleeveless. The other dress is another favorite (fit wise).

3.) PATTERNS: Okay, I love the 60's mod stuff (as you know), but I'm wondering if I should also experiment with the early 60's more "mad men", Bettie Page style. Since I'm really struggling with getting the right fit as a beginning sewer, I'm wondering if I'd have an easier time with these styles (i.e. since the style is already closer to the body, which is what I tend to go for).

Okay and if I do go for these styles, I definitely need fabric recommendations. I've also posted pictures of some of the patterns I've bought in that style. Any help would be mucho appreciated.

Happy sewing!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Beautiful Blogger Award

I'd like to thank Alessa for nominating me for the Beautiful Blogger Award. Thank you so much! I really appreciate that. ; - )

According to the rules, I'm supposed to share 10 things about myself and nominate 5 other bloggers. Here is my list of 10 things:

#1 - I have a Bachelor's in English writing, graduated from law school, and am a few weeks away from getting my MBA. I am not a practicing attorney, however. I don't care much for working at a job-- I had other reasons for getting my law degree.

#2 -I have 10 pet rats, all females, and each one has a first name and a middle name. They live in a 5 foot tall cage.

#3 - My husband and I work for ourselves selling handmade crafts.

#4 - I am an obsessive collector. My collections include: vintage adults only novels from the 1960's, Victorian post mortem photography, antique circus sideshow photography, and original paintings by pop surrealist artists. And that's just to name a few-- there are more collections than this!

#5 - I have been a voracious reader since childhood. My favorites include Kurt Vonnegut, Daniel Clowes, Jack Kerouac, and George Saunders.

#6 - I am attracted to the strange, the taboo, and the outlandish. People who are outside normal social conventions fascinate me.

#7 - Most of my favorite bands/artists are very melodic. I love the Beatles, Muse, Elliott Smith, the Psychedelic Furs, and the Killers, just to name a few.

#8 - My dream is to become a fiction writer. Most of what I write is satirical. Kurt Vonnegut is my biggest influence.

#9 - I'm from a very small town in Northern Minnesota (only 375 people). I never felt at home in small town life and have lived in Atlanta for over 2 years.

#10 -I am fascinated by psychology, particularly personality analysis and differences amongst introverts and extroverts. I am an INFJ, so if you know anything about Jung types, this will tell you quite a bit about me.

And here are the most excellent bloggers that I am nominating:

Helga Von Trollop

Fairevergreen Sews

Ice Pink Stars

Sew Loquacious

and a non-sewing blog too:
*because I just loved watching these types of old movies on USA Up All Night when I was a kid (don't tell my parents)*

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Simplicity 8381- 1969- Long Sleeve Colorblock Dress

Simplicity 8381 from 1969

Pinning those tricky, curved front seams

Can you tell that my husband loves these "action" shots?

Notice the shift from "day" to "night"?

It's Fall here in Atlanta and while the temperatures are still pretty toasty, they will *eventually* cool off. So, I decided to make a long sleeve colorblock dress (Simplicity 8381 from 1969). I have a low tolerance for temperatures under 70 degrees, so it won't be long before I'll be ready to wear long sleeves. I get a lot of stares when I'm wearing knee high boots over pants in the middle of summer. But, I'm cold-blooded, what can I say?

My husband (Truman) always helps me pick out fabrics and colors. He doesn't necessarily know what looks good. He does, however, know when things look bad. This time around I had a pretty big snafu, though, due to his advice regarding colors for this dress. His color snafu was irrelevant. I had picked the fabric from hell. With that, let's begin the rundown:

1.) FABRIC: The fabric from hell? 100% polyester "Jet Set" jersey. The fabric felt soft and flouncy in the store. It was kind of light-weight, but it seemed like it could work. The reality? The fabric was cheaper than the fabric of the "sexy nun" Halloween costume I just bought. And that's pretty mother-loving cheap! And not to mention so thin that I'll be cold! What was I thinking? Apparently, not much.

What attracted me to this textile terror? The 100% polyester ponte roma I've been using isn't my choicest fabric either. I like it okay, but it tends to pull a lot, which makes the dress look like it's wrinkling in weird spots, even when the fit is good. Also, the feeling against the skin isn't the greatest. It doesn't breathe much. I really NEED to find a good cotton/poly blend. I would have went with the ribbed cotton/poly knit again, but I didn't think a rib would work with the design of the dress.

What else didn't I like about the fabric? If I thought the ponte pulled, this one REALLY pulled. At the center of the dress (see picture), there is pulling galore. It looks awful. It makes the dress look very tight in the middle, when in reality it is quite loose. What can I say? The middle looks more like a Shar Pei than a finely tailored garment.

This garment needs some Botox--where's Joan Rivers when you need her?

2.) THE SHITTY JUST GET SHITTIER: So, you've started the project. You've just realized that you HATE the fabric that you picked. It's flimsy. It looks cheap. You feel like you're making a Halloween costume for your dog (or in my case, pet rats). What do you then realize? The shitty just gets shittier. Your attitude is already bad. You feel like you won't like the final result. From then on out, the project is littered with stupid snafus that you don't usually make. You sew the sleeve on inside out. Your top stitching is slightly crooked. On the plus side, Mr. Seam Ripper is no longer lonely.

The sleeve was sewn inside out-- much cussing ensued

Me & Mr. Seam Ripper: a match made in hell

So, you ask, why should you even continue?

I didn't stop, though, because I was anxious to see how a 34 bust pattern would fit (this was one of the 34 bust patterns I was so excited to try after feeling the 36 busts were too big). Which leads me to the next point...

The garment before sleeves and hemming

3.) SIZING: Good news! The 34 bust worked SO MUCH better. I pretty much followed the side seam lines, and it wasn't too small, even in the bust. So, I guess the comments about vintage patterns having a ton of ease were correct. My shoulder seams no longer look macho, because the size is so much better.

Before hemming the garment

Nowhere was the 34 too small. I made hardly any adjustments. After completing the dress, I remeasured my bust. I had remembered it being a 36. Apparently it's 35. So, that's probably one of the reasons the 34 fit so much better. But, I had to ask myself, did my boobs shrink? Which leads me to my next point...

4.) COLORS: I had mentioned that my husband made a snafu regarding color choice. We debated how the colors should be after deciding on black and white. I had thought you were supposed to put the lighter color on the main bodice of the dress and the darker color at the sides and sleeves. I asked: Don't you put the darker color at the waist to make your waist recede and create a more hourglass shape? He was convinced it was the other way around. you notice that the colors seem to have an effect on the bust line do you say...makes it look a lot bigger? I'm not going to say that he purposely made the snafu, but you do have to wonder...

Is it just me or are some of my body parts a lot bigger than others?

5.) THE WORKHORSE: My time for completion of a garment is improving. I'm becoming like the horse in "Animal Farm." Let's just hope I don't get sent to the glue factory. Notice in the pictures, that the early ones are daytime pics and the later ones are at night. I went from 12 noon to 10 pm. My dinner consisted of coffee and Cocoa Pebbles. That's dedication, right? Although, I still do everything I can to finish things faster, even if it means sneaky little shortcuts. I am a lazy sewer.

Necklace is a Sarah Coventry pin that I used a converter to make into a pendant

6.) HEM: This time I turned the hem up and sewed the bias tape onto the inside to finish it off, instead of letting it show on the outside (this one didn't need a contrasting bias tape hem). Thanks to Heather for the suggestion on the hem. The technique worked well, although the fabric was so flimsy, it ended up having a "hoop skirt" look at the bottom. Ultimately, I thought it look better with the "hoop skirt" style so that was a plus! It gave a little more body to such a flimsy fabric.

So, that's about it! This is the type of dress that only the creator could love (okay, maybe not "love"). Oh well, I will definitely have to remake this one in the future using a good fabric, because I really love the design.

Happy Sewing Adventures!