Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Simplicity 8456 (1969)- Simple Purple Dress

What you plan on making isn't always what you end up with. That was the story of Simplicity 8456 from 1969. Nonetheless, the ending was happy. A truly "feel good" experience.


1.) FABRIC: I'm happy to report that the fabric (a soft, cotton blend) was okay this time. I will admit that sometimes my results are "flouncier" and less stiff than the fabric on the envelope pic. But, I don't really mind that. I just resisted the urge to make a "that's what she said" joke. Aren't you proud of me? Oh wait, I guess I just...never mind.

2.) DETAILS PART I: Okay, so I left off the welts on the front of the dress. I suppose that was the detail that really "makes" the dress. However, I remember the fiasco of trying to line up the pockets on another knit dress that I made (the red and white one). I couldn't get those buggers lined up, probably due to the stretchiness of the fabric pulling them out of place (despite me using pins).

So what did I do? I gave up and left them off all together. I RULE! (said in the voice of Kevin Spacey from "American Beauty")

But seriously, I dug the "simplicity" of the dress without them. I just did a pun. My dad would be so proud.

3.) DETAILS PART II: So there is much top stitching on the dress, but you can't really see it in pics or in life. Doesn't it suck when you work really hard to sew something straight and pretty and then you can't even see the detail? Any tips for making top-stitching pop out more?

4.) FIT: No trouble here!
5.) PHOTOGRAPHY: What's up with the photographs making all my dresses look "wrinkly" even when they're not? Perhaps one of the mysteries of the universe or just related to really shitty lighting. Take your pick.

I'm happy to say there wasn't a whole lot to report here. It went really well and raised my confidence level. Okay, so I copped out a tad, but eh, I'm lazy.

Happy Sewing,

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Simplicity 7749 - Mod Dress with Colorblocking & Raglan Sleeves (1968)

Before color band was added

I made Simplicity 7749 (1968)-- view 3. This was the first pattern I have made with raglan sleeves. Another first-- adding a rather large band to the bottom. Here are the highlights:

1.) FABRIC: I used a Ponte Roma polyester. It was the same softer stuff I used on the previous dress, so the drape was better and the fabric didn't chaff my skin. This made me happy. But...[there's always a but, right?] I didn't particularly like the "look" the fabric gave the dress. I have an association with raglan sleeves (especially color blocked raglan) with men's sports uniforms. You know, the "baseball shirt." This made me sad.

Nothing against men's sport uniforms, but view 3 on the pattern envelope has a much more elegant look. Not necessarily evening wear but a more formal day dress.

Fabric choice: you remain my enemy.

2.) SLEEVES: This time around, no problems with the shoulder seams falling off my shoulders. Alas, this was nothing I did, but rather the nature of the raglan sleeve. I did find it rather tricky to sew the raglan sleeve seams and the neighboring side seams. Since the armholes are always falling too low, I do have to bring in the side seams quite a bit, and this was a bit awkward with the raglan sleeves. Nonetheless, I brought those puppies in as good as I could, and I'm fairly pleased with the result. No actual puppies were harmed in the making of this dress. Only imaginary ones. I kid. I would never hurt an imaginary puppy.

3.) FABRIC BAND: I do not like fabric bands. That is all.

Just kidding. Let me explain. I like the way they look, but I find them entirely disagreeable to sew and in need of a good spanking. I couldn't get the dang band to fit quite right after bringing in the side seams. This meant that the circumference of the dress did not match the circumference of the band-- the band had a greater circumference.

Could I have fixed this? Yes.
Did I try? Yes.
Did it work? Kind of.
Could I have tried again. Yes.
Why didn't I? Too lazy.
Why am I still complaining then? Because I can.

4.) FIT: I'm happy to report fitting this one was fairly easy. Tailoring is becoming less trying. Hurray!

Back view & in motion

5.) DETAILS: I added the contrasting cuff detail. I thought it nicely tied things together.

Coming soon... Simplicity 8456.

Happy sewing!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Simplicity 7345 from 1967- Mod Red and Black Colorblock Dress

Simplicity 7345 from 1967- View 2


I love knits because I love pinking-- such a nice, lazy way to finish seams

Well, I've been sewing but I haven't been posting much. It's been a pretty busy month, but I've managed to get in some sewing now and then. I've made three dresses this month that I haven't posted so I'll have more to come very soon.

But first, let's begin with Simplicity 7345 from 1967. And here's the rundown:

1.) PATTERN SIZING: This is the second pattern that I have done with the 34 bust. So many of my fitting issues were solved by going down a size. As Michael Scott would say, "That's what she said." But seriously, this one went pretty well.

2.) SHOULDER SEAMS/ARMPIT AREA: The biggest issue that I face with the 34 bust is armpits/shoulder seams. If I leave the shoulder seams as is, the seam still falls off my shoulders. It's not as pronounced as the 36 bust, but it still isn't what I want. I have fairly wide shoulders and if I don't adjust the shoulder seams, I end up changing my shape from hourglass to inverted triangle.

Mid-way through & footwear challenged

How do I fix the shoulder seams? Well, I must say, I'm definitely in the lazy sewer category, so I know all the meticulous seamstresses out there will cringe at this one. Do I adjust the fit by redrawing the pattern during the cutting phase as a careful sewer should do?

Uh...well...actually no. I lay out my garment, grab my ruler, and use my chalk to draw a line from the armpit up to the shoulder seam. Then, I grab my trusty scissors and cut, hoping that I don't get scissor-happy and ruin everything. But I do use my ruler and I do measure the shoulder seams on RTW dresses that fit well in the shoulders, so that I know how much to cut-off. So far, this has worked well (no Lorena Bobbitt moments here), but I have to be careful not to cut off too much in the lower part of the armscycle. Wow, I used a big sewing word...but I don't think I spelled it right. At least it's better than calling it what I used to call it-- i.e. "that armhole thingy."

By the way, it might be more disastrous if I tried redraw my pattern. I got a D once on an Industrial Tech project that involved drafting. I'm pretty sure I cried.

I'm not crying here-- I think that means success

Back/Side View

The other big problem: the armpits. The bottom of the armscycle is too low with the 34 bust. I read in one of my sewing books that the bottom of the armscycle is supposed to fall approximately 1/2 inch under the armpit when the pattern has set-in sleeves. I ended up adjusting that issue by bringing in the seam line at that area by a couple inches. There was plenty of give, so it was easy to just pull it in. (Must resist "that's what she said" jokes) This seemed to cause the armscycle to migrate northward, which fixed the problem. On some previous patterns, I always had excess fabric (sort of like a bat-wing style sleeve) at the armpit area. I prefer a more tailored fit in the armpit area, so I'm glad I'm learning to fix this problem. A few dresses later, I found myself getting better at adjusting this area.

3.) THREAD: So, I bought this new black thread, because I was running out the previous brand I had bought. It said it was "all-purpose sewing thread." Is it possible that this is a fallacy? For some reason, this thread and my fabric did not mix. The thread kept bunching up in my machine, which in turn seemed to get my fabric caught in the feed dogs. When I first bought the new thread, I noticed that it was thicker than my previous thread, but I thought maybe it was just a better quality. Now I'm thinking it was somehow too thick for the fabric, which I'll get to next.

The shitty thread in action

4.) FABRIC: This time around I used ponte roma polyester. I was getting sick of the ponte roma, but it turns out there are different types, because this PR poly felt very soft and didn't have the same roughness of the previous PR I used. So, the question is whether that thread and the soft PR were somehow incompatible?

5.) HEM: This hem turned out better than any previous hem. I turned the bias tape inside again (as was so helpfully recommended--thank you, thank you!). This time, the fabric had more weight, so the method worked better. I am so excited by this hem that I want to redo all my previous hems, and I'm actually excited to do it. I'm having a major dork-out moment ; - )

So, overall, success! I'm not necessarily "wowed" by this one either, but I do like it, and I am proud to say that with each dress, I'm working out the various fitting issues.

Happy sewing!

It looks like a mod take on the Star Trek the Next Generation uniform