Thursday, April 25, 2013

Club BMV

It took a couple of days after finishing my daughter's prom dress to recoup the energy to even walk back into the sewing room.  I finally got around to cleaning it Monday evening.  [I use the term "cleaning" very loosely, even though a vacuum was utilized.]

My husband must have assumed that my sewing projects were on hiatus, and gave me his thoughts of how to spend my free time.  None sewing-related.  So he was a bit surprised last night when I mentioned that I'd just ordered several patterns.

"For whom?"  He asked.
"Guess!"  I answered.
"MEEEE?!" My eavesdropping daughter chirped.
"Nope.  Well, one is for you, but I actually bought a men's shirt pattern!"  I couldn't tell if the look on his face was surprise or horror.

McCall's sent me a $5 off coupon last week, so coupled with their current $1.88 sale, I couldn't keep myself away (even though I already own a dozen unopened patterns).  However, in order to get the $5 off, I had to first have $10 in patterns.  I ended the spree paying $14.95 in shipping and handling -- which is more than the merchandise.  How does that work?

Several months ago I purchased the Craftsy class for making button-down shirts, which listed Kwik Sew patterns in the recommended supplies - my rationale for trolling yesterday - however, I didn't like any of the KS patterns, so I migrated to McCalls and then Vogue.
Vogue 8889
I've read mixed reviews on Vogue 8889 - many negative - but I liked the cut of it better than the other men's patterns.  I am looking forward to trying this!  My husband has very long arms, so his dress shirts are made-to-measure.  I'm not hoping to replace his current tailor, but it will be fun to see what I can come up with for him - even if it's just a weekend shirt.

A button-down for me (I'm now worried that I already own this one - it looks so familiar):
Vogue 8747

For my daughter, some lace shorts.  We recently saw a similar pair, and they were really cute.  Perfect for a teenage girl's summer wardrobe.
McCall's 6756 ("Fashion Star")
Okay, I forgot about the SECOND pattern for my daughter.  This skirt seems so simple that I shouldn't need a pattern to make it, but how can you pass up $1.88 for a classic skirt pattern?  Actually $1.50 after my Club BMV discount.  It comes with a pant pattern, too.
McCall's 6757
So after the above four purchases, I STILL didn't have enough in my basket to trigger the $5 discount.  Even with the replacement rotary blades, because apparently they don't count.  So I ordered this:

McCall's 6514
My apologies to anyone who thinks these pants are stylish.  I still don't know what I was thinking.  Comfort, maybe?  I'm so glad it was only $1.50.  Honestly, I think pajama pants would be more flattering on me. Maybe I'm wrong, and I can come up with a great fabric.  I will have to check PR to see if anyone has made them -- I'm still shaking my head at this one.

In other news, I read that the SWAP deadline was extended to May 10.  I don't think that's enough time for me to get back into the game, especially since I had a really hard time finding the right fabric for some of my slacks.  I think my husband has other plans for me anyway.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Just under the wire!

The Prom Dress was a winner this year.  It is not your typical prom dress -- much more elegant -- but that was the goal.

It is even prettier in person, as the metallic details are more evident.  I highly recommend the lace.  In addition to being quite beautiful, there appears to be no right or wrong side to it, which made it easy to match.  I was pleased with how nice the pattern matched in the back.

Since I was running about a week behind, Stephanie made the necklace, which turned out quite similar to the inspiration piece (Breakfast at Tiffany's).  

We took pictures all over town, apparently that is the tradition here. It seems we spent more time taking pictures than she spent at the actual dance.  It is much more of a "red carpet" dress than a party dress, anyway.  

I managed to finish the last few stitches 20 minutes before departure, with just enough time for a final pressing.  The second batch of silk dyed quite nicely, and matched the first batch perfectly.  The underlining is a 12 mm crepe de chine, and the lining is 8 mm silk habotai.  Together, they are the perfect combination of opacity.  

The pattern (Butterick 4343) is a keeper.  It's a classic design, and fairly easy to sew.  It comes with options for a short version, as well as a one-shouldered version.  

The lace was Gorgeous Fabrics blue/silver Chantilly lace; the silk lining and underlining were both from Dharma Trading, custom dyed by yours truly.  I enjoyed the entire process, and am looking forward to trying some more "dye jobs."  Now that I'm comfortable with the process, there are many creative options available.  

Thursday, April 11, 2013

On Pins and Needles

My "prom anxiety" has dissipated a bit. It helps that my daughter does not seem at all worried about her dress being finished in time. After the prep-work, I do feel rather confident about dying the fabric perfectly, and expect to move through the dress construction fairly quickly.  Still, I will feel much better when the package of silk arrives!

My package from Nancy's Notions did arrive.  I ordered some silk pins, a double-headed tracing wheel and splurged on a big roll of tracing paper (instead of using the cheap tissue paper and taping it together, as I always have).  As usual, the box contained a bonus sewing machine needle.  My previous package from Nancy also included cat treats, a very random bonus.  The dogs enjoyed them, though.

no cat treats this time
Unfortunately, the tracing wheel didn't leave any marks on the paper.  Maybe it's the transfer paper I'm using?  How disappointing!  I purchased it in anticipation of making Burda 135 02-13 to assist with the seam allowances.
I will be sure to wear a bra with my version.
It looks so comfy! I bought a lovely purple rayon crepe for the main fabric, but haven't decided what contrast to use at the neckline and cuffs.  If I were doing it for SWAP, I would use some brown satin from my stash (and still may do that).  

Although I will very likely not finish SWAP by the April 30 deadline, I am still sewing my plan.  Such a good idea -- sewing with a plan.  Why didn't I think of that earlier?

While anxiously awaiting the mail delivery, I sewed the fasteners on my brown pants that I almost completed a month ago.  I suppose I can hem them next.  It has been calming to do a little hand-stitching here and there.  The RPL from Gorgeous Fabrics was a dream to sew with.  I'm sure it will be just as dreamy to wear, too!

I had some fun with the waistband, using pink satin ribbon to finish the inside edge with a fun machine stitch.  A whimsical touch that only I will see.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

B4343 Progress: A Fine Mess

The B4343 fitting is complete -- in addition to the FBA and swayback adjustment, it needed an additional FIVE INCHES in length.  I normally add about 2.  Glad I did a muslin first.  Wish I had given the same attention to detail to a few other items:

Lesson 1: Thoroughly dissolve the dye powder in water before adding the fabric.  Yes, it's a classic rookie mistake, and I don't know what I was thinking.  It's even stated clearly in the dye directions.

After waiting more than a week after the silk arrived to finally dye it, carefully calculating and re-calculating how much dye to use for the initial batch (don't want it to be too dark), I poured the powder directly into the pot of water on the stove and stirred it up really well.  Or so I thought.  It was a black pot, and apparently I couldn't see the dozens of little red pieces that didn't dissolve before I put the fabric in the pot.  

Lucky for me, I started with the lining fabric. Once the underlining is over it, the itsy bitsy red dots speckled across the entire piece of cloth are not visible from the outside.  More good news: the base color is spot on (no pun intended) -- it's the perfect shade of "nude." At least my calculations were good.
Out, damned spot!

With two layers and the lace, I don't see anything...but I know it's there.

Lesson 2:  Make sure you buy enough fabric.  Duh!  Who wouldn't buy enough fabric?  I can't remember a case when the fabric requirements listed on the pattern envelope have not been overly generous, which explains my piles of left-over fabric ranging from a few inches to a full yard.  There have been several times when I've squeezed out a jacket from 2 yards when the pattern called for 3!

So I ordered exactly three yards of silk habotai lining and three yards of silk crepe de chine underlining, just as suggested.  Of course, that was before the final muslin where I added five inches to the length. 

With two weeks to go before Prom, and the muslin fitting complete, I felt like I was way ahead of the game.  On Saturday, I calmly started to cut the lining fabric, planning one final "muslin" out of lining before cutting the lace and underlining.  Oops.  I'm about a foot short of silk habotai.  WHAT?  It's not like I can just run down to the corner and buy more!  I have to order it, wait for the shipment to arrive, wash it, dye it, wash it again and press it before I even start cutting and sewing...AAAAGHGHGH!

I tried several different layouts -- surely there's one configuration that will work?! I even sketched it out on paper, refusing to believe I couldn't solve the problem with more calculations.  After a few frustrating hours, I gave up and ordered more silk.  Of course I had to over-order, since the pattern pieces are full length bodice-to-hem pieces.  Thankfully, I ordered enough lace the first time (it's sheer luck).

Lesson 3: When in doubt, upgrade to 2-day shipping.  Now I'm worried it may not arrive in time for me to finish it over the weekend.  I really only have Saturday and Sunday to sew, because my work and kid schedule is just way too busy during the week.  Why didn't I pay the extra $7?  Isn't it worth the peace-of-mind?   

So, I've gone from a peaceful, easy feeling of having plenty of time to finish, to a state of panic over losing an entire weekend.  "What will I do if it doesn't come before the weekend?" I asked my husband.  "She can wear an old dress" he answered.  With a completely straight face -- I think he was serious! Hilarious. At least I got a good laugh from that!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Red Elephant (more Minky)

In between fittings for the Prom dress muslin and waiting for the fabric to arrive, I finally made the elephant for my son.  Sam not-so-quietly reminded me of it every time I started a project for Stephanie.  It was about time!

He decided he wanted the body to be Minky (instead of just the ears as we did with the others).  A knit for a stuffed animal, really?  Hmmmm.  Another interesting project.    I found that the legs do not support the body well -- perhaps this is a result of the flexibility of the fabric -- a woven would probably have been a bit stiffer.  But Sam loves him, even though he is currently eyeless.  My black yoga pants and black fleece vest were covered in red fuzz by the time I finished.

Sam with his animal friends

Sam also insisted that I make another Minky pillowcase, and I couldn't resist.  A sweet little friend had extensive orthopedic surgery last week and will be in a hospital bed recovering for as long as 6 months!  He's really the cutest little kid you could ever imagine and we wanted to do something for him, imagining how tough it will be to spend that much time in bed.  My kids love their Minky pillowcases, and thought Johnny should have one, too.  And since he has a sister, she should also get one.  It was a fun, quick little project.

I've realized over the last couple of weeks that I really enjoy sewing for other people more than I do sewing for myself.  Good news for my daughter.