Monday, June 8, 2015

A Long Dry Patch Interrupted by Vogue 8793

I rarely make New Years resolutions, other than the "get back in shape" pledge necessary after an indulgent holiday season.  This year, I privately resolved to focus my sewing energy on improving my skills.  I resolved to only spend my valuable time in 2015 creating "couture" pieces with intricate hand sewing and custom fitting.  After finishing my daughter's orchestra dress, I thought quite highly of my sewing skills.  My hubris was punished quickly, with the sewing gods dropping the most annoying projects in my lap: zipper repairs, alterations, and other mindless mending.
My first sewing project of the year was replacing the zipper
in my step-father's "Squall" jacket from the 1980s.  
Early in the spring, I finally started a muslin of a sport coat that my husband had hinted about for some time.  After a couple of fittings, it still hangs on my dress form.  I lost interest after he came home from Hong Kong with a mini-wardrobe custom made for him in one day.
Yes, it has hung on that dress form for 3 months!
It's beginning to look very sad.

My own wardrobe requirements have become very casual, consisting of knit tops and yoga pants or jeans (I work from home).  Nothing to get me very excited about sewing for myself, especially since RTW fits me pretty well.  Why sew my own t-shirt?

Months ago I purchased the Tilton sisters' Craftsy class on "The Ultimate T-Shirt".  It was entertaining to watch the Tiltons sew a simple tee, but it took me quite a while to finally give it a go myself.

A nice piece of cotton interlock hanging in my sewing closet nudged me.  The color seemed a little "off" to me, and I spent several weeks thinking about surface design options that would make the color more pleasing.  Painting?  Overdying?  Stenciling?  Would the surface techniques work on a knit? Or will it look like a teenager's art project? After hours experimenting on the dusty purple/lilac/plum, I finally decided it was fine as-is and just sewed the shirt.

The tell tale signs of an amateur dyer.  At least the
defects were only visible at the selvages.
While cutting, I noticed  a strange color change at the selvage and realized that I must have dyed this fabric myself a few years ago.  I don't remember doing it, but I do remember buying white interlock and some fiber reactive dye as part of an aborted SWAP.  Hmm.   Shh!

I like the end product, though I should have fitted it better.  It didn't appear to need a dart before I put the sleeves in, but after the sleeves were in, it seems to need a bust dart!  I didn't put the funky neckband in my shirt per the pattern, rather I followed the flat neckband in the Craftsy class.  It's a great scoop neckline, and I can see making this shirt again (with a little more room in the bust and a dart).

The pattern seems to run big (I feel that way about most of the Big 4 patterns).  I cut a size small, even though I measured larger (I don't recall how much larger).  The small is perfect for my shoulders and waist, but more room in the bust wouldn't hurt.
An "action shot" of me walking.  I thought my son
was finished shooting, but this was actually the only
decent shot.

It came together quickly, and I can see myself making a few more of these.  I may or may not do the funky neckline, or mix colors and patterns as the Tiltons do.  I love their style, I am just not sure that it's my style.  I'd like for it to be my style, but I am shy about pattern mixing.

As for the Craftsy class, it was entertaining, but I honestly didn't learn anything new.  It is well-suited for a beginner.  I do believe that I am addicted to Craftsy.  I pledged not to buy anymore classes, and made it a few months before breaking down and buying one of Suzy Furrer's pattern making classes.

Apart from alterations and mending, this has been my only sewing project since the fleece jacket.  Life and death have gotten in the way this spring.  Sadly, my dad died in April, yet there has been little time for grieving, with all the work required to wrap up his estate and affairs.  We spent an exhausting week clearing out his house, which had previously been my grandparents' home.  It was a week in the Twilight Zone for me, finding things that belonged to my great-grandparents, as well: pictures, report cards from 1908, utility bills from 1945 and one treasure -- Spadea patterns still in the mailing envelope from 1961.
My daughter knew I would be excited to open this envelope, untouched
 and hiding in the dining room buffet since 1961.

Spadea "Dinah Shore" patterns, the sixth is a large lace collar.
Apparently Dinah Shore patterns were very popular.

We filled a large dumpster after donating all the furniture and working appliances to a domestic violence shelter and begging relatives to take some of the "keepsakes" home.  Like me, most of my cousins are in a minimalist frame of mind.  We did encounter several dumpster divers who were happy to cull through the cast-offs in search of treasure.
The three amigos, REALLY happy to be finished.  It's hard to see just how big that dumpster was.

The experience of hauling off refrigerators that haven't worked in 15 years and monogrammed bowling balls belonging to someone who died in 1969 has spurred me to think about downsizing my own junk.  I don't want my heirs to dispose of closets, cabinets and cartons full of fabric.  I own very few patterns that anyone would be excited to find in 2060.


  1. That tee shirt looks great. I would love to be able to sew, but just know that projects would languish in a drawer and never be finished. I do knit, though. But my commitment there has flagged as well. It takes me forever to finish something. Last winter I finished a sweater that I started knitting years ago and was excited to find a new project. My husband quipped, "Make sure you choose something that will keep you warm in the home." Ha! He meant the old-age home. I settled for a scarf...didn't finish it either!

    1. Hi Susan,
      At least your projects would languish in a drawer. Mine languish all over the dining room! I like your husband's humor. Knitting is quite an ordeal for me, as well. I'm not sure I've finished a (decent) knitting project.

  2. I really enjoyed reading this post! The old patterns are AWESOME! Sorry about the loss of your father. 😞

    1. Thanks Lisa. The patterns are fun! I'm trying to decide if I want to make them. They're probably my daughter's size or at least close enough. I was surprised to see my grandmother ordered a size 12 -- I don't think I ever knew her when she was that small.

  3. Why sew my own t-shirt? I stopped asking myself that question after making one! I loved all those little design options: neckline, sleeve length, better quality fabrics, prints... Sorry about your loss, clearing out the house of a loved one must be very hard.

    1. Yes, I am now sold on making my own tees. I find that even though I was happy with RTW tees, my hand sewn shirt fits me much better. I am now on the hunt for nice jersey!

  4. Your t-shirt looks fantastic - I think it fits perfectly, but of course I am not the one wearing it. And how wonderful that all your hard work of clearing out your father's house yielded those patterns. They are treasures. I am so sorry for your loss, though. Take care.

    1. Thank you. It does fit me pretty well, but I tend to be pickier about fit when I make it myself! I am on version 2 now.

  5. I love the colour and fit of the T shirt, and I would also be very excited to discover a set of patterns like that. We don't have Spadea over here, but I do have one or two in my collection. Will you make them up?

    1. Thanks for visiting!
      I really would like to make up at least one of the patterns, but I'm not much of a dress wearer. Maybe my daughter will want one.

  6. I too have suffered a recent dry spell in the sewing room. I wish more good this for both of us in the fall.

    1. Thanks Diedra. I appreciate the well wishes. For you, as well! I enjoyed your post about your shift dress.


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