Friday, July 29, 2011

Throwing in the towel... (and doing something else instead)

As I said yesterday, the dressmaking didn't work out quite as well as I expected... Today I awoke bright and early with new hope, but it didn't help. As I started to finish a few more seams, the whole bodice just got more and more pointy and stiff. I got an idea to add shoulder pads so some weird folds would disappear, and it worked a little bit, but after finishing all seams, trying it on for the twohundredeleventh time, thinking oh my lord that looks ugly, I realized it was time to throw in the towel.

I am saving my pattern pieces for a day when I have got my hands on a softer fabric that will work for it. (I also saved the skirt pieces and the cuffs that I had cut out but I very much doubt I'll ever use them...)

To make myself feel a little bit less like a failure I did a few small things I've been meaning to do for a long time now. I made two simple tops, inspired by Vogue pattern 6453 from 1948. Both tops are made from old pillowcases that cost me 10sek (less than $2)!

 I also took the waist in on my 1930's "sailor pants" and added pockets while I had them opened. They were a little bit big when I made them but now they were close to fall off! I took out almost five inches (12 cm)! Guess that diet change made some difference after all! (I am a total chocolate junkie, but nowadays only on weekends!) Although now they're almost almost a bit tight instead. Oh well, hopefully that will sort itself out!

So - quite depressing to not be able to show you a finished dress, but here's what I did - in four hours, (plus I started another simple dress but got way too tired to keep sewing)...

Compared to the three days of hard work I put into that miserable dress... well, you know how these things feel. I should have given up earlier, but I really wanted to try my best since I already told you about it. (Maybe I jinxed it?)

Somehow this day just rushed by as well, so now I will start packing my vacation bag. I'm going home to my friends and family for little over a week, and I plan to just relax, have fun and try to stop stressing so much about everything. The train leaves at 8 tomorrow morning! I'll be trying to pack as much me made stuff as possible, it's so fun to show everyone at home what I've made! And I guess I will just pick one of my other dresses to have as my birthday dress. It will be fine :) I might not be able to do any sewing while I'm away, but I will try to finish that crochet bikini!

Until next time: take care and happy sewing! :)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The thing that should not be...

The dressmaking is not working as well as I planned... It's extremely annoying, especially since I spent hours on making the pattern work, made a muslin that looked quite well, only made a few small alterations after that, then spent forever on cutting and zigzag stitching all edges... But the top half of the dress comes out looking like a potato sack! :( The pieces are the same size, I compared them both to the pattern and the muslin, but it still looks completely different.

I will whine some more, but I will show you some process pictures first:

 Planning and some mathematics in the beginning
 This is the basic bodice pattern I started with. I attached the front and back piece together and cut off the front in a straight line from the armhole out. Then I sliced the lower half and closed the dart. 
 I originally intended to cut the dress on the bias, but I was about five inches short of fabric... I wonder if it would have made all the difference...
 Lower half of front bodice
 Here's what the complicated part looks like, it is the back bodice, the sleeves and the upper half of the front all in one piece!
I even constructed it so that the part that ties in front is cut in the same piece! This part would have been double (had facing) if I had more fabric, now I just planned to use some white bias tape around the edges to stop it from fraying and give it some more structure.

...So what went wrong?

I realized, after sewing, ripping, sewing, tweaking, and so on over and over, that the potato-sack situation wasn't my fault, it's the fabric! It's secretly stiff! It looks all nice and soft and silky, but as soon as the seams go in, all the softness go out! Every fold goes all Madonna-pointy-cone-bra instead of soft and flowing. And since this pattern basically depends on the fabric being soft and drape-y, it really does not work. I guess that's a lesson to learn...

One of the things that bugs me most is that I really liked that fabric, and my first plan for it was a very simple 50's dress... which probably would have worked a lot better. But, then there is the part in me that sees something that looks really hard to sew, or is constructed in some super-complicated but intricate and gorgeous way and just has to go for it! Sure I can make the easy stuff too (like the tube dress from a few days ago) but that's not at all as FUN!

Well, so after ten hours of the not-so-fun part of sewing, the top is looking as good as it gets (not very well, that is). I have resewn the four seams that connect the pieces more times than I would like to admit... but nothing else. So basically, in ten hours: cutting, zigzaging, attaching a tiny piece of facing, and four seams. I think I just broke my maximum-Murphy's-Law-in-one-dress record!

Work so far:

 Facing on front lower bodice
 Sewing the two bodice pieces together at the front...
 ...and the sides/under the sleeves. Looks good as long as it's on the table, right?

Anyway I hate giving up, so I guess I will try to put the whole thing together tomorrow, despite a very certain feeling of it being pointless... Since I'm leaving for the other side of the country and my family and friends early morning the day after tomorrow, it would be nice to get this over and done with by then.

I promise to let you all know what happens!

Edit: And now a drinking glass exploded in the kitchen. Without anyone (neither cat nor human) even being near that room. Right, Murphy's it is today yes.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Drafting a 1932 dress pattern....

I've spent a lot of time on the vintage pattern wikia lately, and oh do I love it! There are so many wonderful patterns, a lot of them are probably extremely hard to find. Considering I have been doing some pattern drafting before (or more accurately, I've constructed everything I've sewed myself up until a year ago when I realized there are some great patterns out there), I figured I might find a few patterns where the envelope shows the construction fairly well, and try to make my own pattern solutions!

After looking around for a few days, there is now a folder on my laptop containing about a hundred things I would love to make, mostly things from early 1930's to mid 1950's. I love smart constructions and how they sculpted the clothes by cutting the fabrics in ways we rarely see today. Well, I have to start somewhere, and since it's my birthday in less than two weeks I decided to choose a dress that would make a lovely birthday dress.

Here it is: McCall 6893, from 1932

I will be using this fabric:

And for some advice on how to construct the dress... I am using my all time favorite book on pattern cutting, "Iduns bok om tillskärning", a Swedish book from 1956. I already have a basic bodice pattern made with that book as a guide that fits perfect, so I've been working around that.

As soon as I'm done you'll get to see the dress and the process of making it!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Rainbow dress and a curse!

I'm finally on vacation! No more management studies, no more Japanese summer class. Finally, nothing I must do... Of course it's raining.

However, that means more time for sewing! Today, my plan was to finish/save a shorts project I had started a couple of weeks ago. They were made of way-too-lightweight fabric and were more than just a little see-through, so I was going to make them in another fabric as well, and then sew them together and make them reversible... Yeah, great plan. I've learned today that when making something like that, if you do not cut and sew all pieces at the same time, they will not be the same size. Also, I have to stop trying to sew zippers on the machine, it almost always gets stuck and looks like crap. So, basically, I ended up with two pairs of unwearable shorts, semi-sewn together. I cut the zipper out and just tossed the rest. Oh well, the fabrics were super cheap/almost for free anyway.

After being cranky for a bit, I ended up doing something a lot less useful, but very very pretty instead. On Friday, after the final exams in my Japanese classes, I went thrift shopping! I found a few great things, among them this wonderful silky fabric that looked like a whole rainbow... for 10SEK (thats about 1,5 USD)!!!

Noticing that the fabric frayed like crazy, I very quickly decided not to cut it at all... And made a tube dress of it.

To make the dress simpler and less gala (the fabric!) I used elastic ribbon both on top and in two rows around the waist to hold the fullness in. In the picture below, you can see all the lovely colors of the fabric!

For once, I actually made the inside look pretty as well!

So how does it look on me? Like this:
(Please overlook weird face and major tan lines! ;) )

...apparently some of the ribbon I used to make the hem stand out a bit is rolling over and peeking out... I will get that fixed.

Anyway, so what about the curse? I seem to be unable to make those everyday thingys, simple tops and shorts. It always messes itself up. However, whipping up a dress like this one took me three hours. Must be a curse. (I'm planning on breaking it tomorrow though if the weather stays this crappy...)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Vintage buttons!

I just got an amazing delivery! I bought these vintage buttons on Tradera a week ago, today they arrived. And how I've been oohing and aahing! I probably spent an hour this evening just looking and sorting through the box, color coding in piles and whatnot. Oh yes I can see the 'crazy collector' sign that is blinking above my head... but I love them!

Here they are!

I guess I won't have button issues for a few years! :) (or, I might, but at least not any lack-of-buttons issues!)

Friday, July 15, 2011

New project: Crochet bikini!

It's been a little quiet here for a few days... I don't really have a great excuse for not sewing, I have even a super simple skirt cut out laying on the sewing table, I just haven't got to take the sewing machine out. (I must have it in its case when I'm not using it because of the way-too-curious cats.)

So, anyway, I'm up to something I haven't done since, well maybe it was ten years ago, crochet! There are crochet bikinis everywhere I look right now (and they are NOT cheap I tell you) so I am currently making a bikini, 70's style! :D This is so much fun, why did I ever stop? It is going to be white and yellow (and perhaps a third color, I am just about to go and dig through my stash...)

Here are some inspiration pictures (courtesy of  "cemetarian La Dolce Vintage", pics found via google)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Tunic is finished despite evil pattern!

I got out of the sewers block pretty much directly after posting about it... I guess that's how it works, as soon as everyone knows, you can't stay a slacker! ;)

As I showed you yesterday, my plan was to use a 1960 dress pattern and shorten it to make a nice and simple tunic. Should have been easy...

I cut the pattern and everything looked fine.. only thing changed was some extra fabric added to the front piece to make sure my boobs would have some space. Now that I look at the picture I can see that the pieces have very low and short shoulders and small neck. I know that 60's fashion usually is a bit tight around the neck and shoulders, but this was bad!

The crazy thing is that it looked only a little bit weird all up until I finished the neck, the kind of weird that usually disappear when it's all done. This is the most annoying part of sewing, that you can sew, try it on, sew just a few more seams, and then the whole thing looks completely different on you.

Not so pretty folds up front, and miserable hemming around the neck... At this point, when I tried it on, it looked like it was the right size for a skinny twelve year old around the neck and shoulders, and for someone very pregnant elsewhere. Plus the shoulder seams were halfway over on the front... Angry time!! After a few minutes of despairing and yelling at my poor boyfriend, I decided to chop up the shoulders of the dress and add about 10cm more fabric.

...which, ironically, solved the whole problem. I did not have to change anything else, and the arms of the tunic fitted perfectly in the armholes that were now this much wider... Hm, non-functioning pattern anyone? Heh. That pattern is gonna be tucked away deep down in the pile where it can't hurt anyone.

So, time for the truth: how did it come out? Here it is! (My boyfriend has taken the pictures of me, and the wonderful place we're at is just a five minute walk from where we live. Nice huh?)

Also, look at these wonderful little fellows we saw on our walk:

I love summer...

Friday, July 8, 2011

I have a plan!

So, yesterday I got some new patterns, and was complaining about not getting my behind out of whatever I'm sitting on and start sewing. Today, I am at least a bit closer - I have a plan!

I chose one of the easiest patterns in the bunch, and a fabric I LOVE... Here's the plan:

The pattern is one of the newly bought Swedish ones, and was printed in 1960! I'm making the middle dress, but will make it tunic length instead (partly due to lack of fabric, as always, and partly because I need more tunics). I am planning to wear it with skinny jeans or short shorts! :) Still keeping it sixties style! The fabric is from the vintage bunch I got a while back, and is real silk (and I pray that it won't be as hard to sew as some of the fake silky fabrics I've tried before. If it is, I'm screwed).

Hopefully I'll make it tomorrow, you will get to see it then! (I am still procrastinating and dare not start today, lol.)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

New patterns and "sewers block"

I have been a bad blogger for a while now, days are just rushing by like crazy. But I am having fun! However I am having a bit of sewers block, or what one should call it. I have loads of fabric and patterns I want to use... I just don't know where to begin, so instead I do nothing :P (Or, well, there has been a large amount of friends, traveling, concerts and a significant amount of beer lately.)

These things are of course not stopping me from getting new patterns... I am becoming more and more like my dad in terms of collecting stuff for later, in huge stashes. But they will be used, someday, I'm sure.. eh. So today I threw myself at some old 50's and 60's patterns that just came up on Tradera, and way too cheap for me to say no to. Then it turned out that the seller lived very close to me, so I could just walk there and get the patterns today - great success! (I really hate waiting...)

Here are the patterns! In one of the plastic bags there were three patterns, one of them a kid's pattern. I might let this one go in a future giveaway, since I have no kids (yet, and if I keep the pattern planning on making that cute little girls coat in the future, I bet I will only have boys, haha!) The third pattern from that bag has no picture, and no instructions, but from the pieces it looks really interesting. I am thinking of trying to make that dress first just to know what it will look like!

By the way, if you have any tips or suggestions on what to do to break the curse of not being able to start a new project, please let me know, this is getting annoying! ;)