Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Now what?

I've been thinking about my crafting priorities for the rest of the year.  While looking through A Verb for Keeping Warm's website, I came across a group endeavor called Seam Allowance.  The members pledge to work toward increasing the number of handmade items in their wardrobe to be at least 25% of the total.  Practically speaking, they are talking about being able to wear at least one handmade item every day (this includes accessories, such as scarves, jewelry, and headbands/hats/fascinators, etc.).  This seems like a very worthy goal and a good way to be a bit more thoughtful about your wardrobe and your creating. 

For instance, if you are hoping to wear one handmade item a day and you don't usually wear a lot of dresses (and don't want to), then your sewing goals should reflect that.  Sunni of A Fashionable Stitch has been talking about this issue as well.  You may really enjoy sewing dresses, but if you never wear them you might want to curb your enthusiasm a bit.  Likewise, you should think about sorts of clothes you wear everyday and if they are the kind of clothes you want to wear or are you looking for a change.  Then, you can plan your sewing/knitting/crocheting/weaving/jewelry-making appropriately.

Right after I had Cate, I really tried to dress thoughtfully most days.  I was (and still am) worried about "letting myself go."  It's so easy, after having a baby, to wear yoga pants and a t-shirt most days, just put your hair in a ponytail, and forget about make-up, but it seems to be difficult to break that habit.  So, I worked on wearing business (very) casual most days and tried to put on make-up everyday.  However, I let that slip somewhere along the line.  Maybe it was because as Cate became more aware of and involved in her surroundings, it was harder for me to find time to put myself together each day.  Whatever the reason, these days I throw on whatever's handy and rarely wear make-up.

I want to get back to being more thoughtful about my appearance.  I almost always feel better (happier, more self-confident, less self-conscious) when I feel I am dressed well.  I want to put on clothes that make me feel good, not just whatever is easiest (and still clean!).  This is going to take some thinking about what I would like to wear and what is practical to wear (since I spend quite a bit of time on the floor with Cate, or chasing after her, or having her suddenly start gnawing on my leg).

My Meringue skirt was a step in that direction.  I made it out of navy blue cotton sateen with no embellishments beyond the scalloped hem.  It's comfortable, practical, looks good, and, because it's fairly plain, it can be worn more than once a week.  It's a neutral color so it should go with most of the shirts I own.  It's lined (or rather, it soon will be) so that I can wear it with tights in the winter.  I need to finish up this Meringue, however.  I barely got it wearable in time for the launch party.  I did that by not lining it and choosing to ignore a few issues (like the puckering at the hem).  I still need to cut, sew, and attach the lining, fix the puckers, finish some seams and fix a couple of issues with the zipper.  I'm hoping to get that done by the end of the week.

But, what to work on after I finish the Meringue?
  • Meringue v2.0:  I should have done a swayback adj. for Meringue v1.0, so I'm going to try to do that in Mv2.0.  I'm also thinking about playing with some piping and using contrast fabric for the facings and attaching them to the outside.  I have a khaki cotton sateen similar to the navy I used for Mv1.0 and I was thinking of dark brown gingham for the facings.  That will make it different enough from Mv1.0, but still neutral/basic enough to wear with most things in my wardrobe.
  • Renfrew:  The weather in the bay area is such that I could probably spend most of the year wearing 3/4 sleeve shirts, but I don't often find 3/4 sleeve t-shirts that I like.  Therefore, I purchased the Renfrew pattern from Sewaholic which comes with three neckline styles and three sleeve styles.
  • A button-down shirt:  I'm trying to get away from wearing t-shirts all the time.  I don't want to get rid of them completely (which is why I want to make a Renfrew or three), but I would like to be able to wear a fitted button-down shirt once in a while.  Unfortunately, my bustline makes it difficult to find a RTW fitted button-down shirt that actually fits well.  Sewing to the rescue!  I'm not sure what pattern I'll use for this project.
  • Thurlow trousers:  Another Sewaholic pattern.  I would love to wear skirts every day, but, realistically, that's not practical at this time in my life.  However, I have a helluva time finding pants that fit properly.  Between having a curvy figure, large thighs, a super-long crotch depth, and a swayback, it's really a miracle I can find RTW pants that fit at all!  Fortunately, I have one pair of jeans that actually fits fairly well and since I know the rise/crotch-depth is right on these jeans, I'll measure them and use that measurement as a starting point for my muslin.  The pattern is geared toward pear-shaped women, and while I'm not exactly pear-shaped, I do have all of the issues the pattern is supposed to address.
So, that's my current sewing queue.  Next up:  my knitting queue!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Colette Party at Verb

Camnesia  (noun)  Forgetting you have your camera with you while at an event.  ex. I won't be showing pix of the Colette launch party because I had camnesia.

The Colette Launch Party at A Verb for Keeping Warm was wonderful!  I got to meet Sarai and have her sign my The Colette Sewing Handbook.  I had forgotten that I had bought my book from the Colette website and therefore it was already signed (which is why I bought it off the website to begin with).  So, it was amusing when Sarai opened the book to sign it and her signature was already there!  I asked her to sign it again which she was happy to do.  :)

Double-signed by Sarai

Sarai was really lovely.  I got to talk with her for a little while and I may or may not have gushed over her in a fangirl sort of way.  It's not often you get to meet a famous person that you have admire.  The party at Verb was just the right size for the space and ended up being intimate enough that not only was it possible to get Sarai to sign my book (again), but I also was able to talk to her a little bit about sewing and writing a book. I was even able to show her the scallop hem of my Meringue and ask her how to fix a small issue with it (OH YES I DID).

Sarai suggested clipping closer to the seam to get rid of that pucker.

I loved talking with bloggers and non-blogging sewists (I had a little discussion with a couple other stay-at-home-moms about the challenges of being a mom including trying to sew with baby brain + exhaustion and the frustration of your kids being more happy to see Daddy when he comes home than they seem to be to see you all day!).

This was really so much fun and that leads me to this point:  if you have an opportunity to attend an event like this (a blogger meet-up, a launch party, a book signing)--GO!  Seriously.  I have attended these sorts of events for science, knitting, and sewing and even if I don't know any of the people before getting there, I always have a wonderful time.  The reason, I think, is that it is an opportunity to be with "your people."  Seriously.  How often do you get to sit with a group of people and talk about your hobby and everyone understands 1) nearly everything you are saying and 2) your enthusiasm for it?  At the launch party, I was surrounded by people who love to sew (at every level of experience), enjoy Colette patterns.  People who actually recognize the garment I was and complimented me as only another sewist could.  People were asking each other about the garments they were wearing and what they had made recently and did they have any tips for making Clover?

I can't wait for the next blogger meet-up!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

No waistband

I'm not sure what is going on, but every time I try to add a waistband to Meringue, it throws off the fit.  So, I'm doing away with the waistband.  I really would like to have this skirt done by tonight and I'm starting to realize that part of my problem with sewing right now is perfectionism.  I could fuss with this skirt for eternity and never achieve perfection.  And therefore, never have a skirt.  Well, basta!  Enough!  I'm going to sew this skirt sans waistband and I will love it and wear it to death!

Friday, September 21, 2012

A change of plans

Previously, on e-beth knits:

In trying on the Meringue muslin:  the skirt had no ease, the waistband gaped, and there was fabric pooling above my butt.

The next day, I decided to try the muslin on again--this time with a pair of Assets on board and without the waistband.  I also tried the advice of Palmer-Pletsch and let out the front darts over my "full tummy" (or as I like to call it, "that part of my body that has not been the same since pregnancy").  At that point, it seemed like I had a ridiculous amount of extra fabric at the side seams.  So, I pinned it in at the sides, and compared it to the pattern.  Now it appeared I should cut a 12 at the waist, expanding to a 14 by the hips (I originally cut an 18).  I modified my paper pattern accordingly, took out the side seams of my muslin, drew the new seamline, and tried it on again.

It looked awesome (well, as awesome as a muslin can look)!  I'm not sure how to explain how I went from needing to add extra room to a size 18 muslin to taking in that same muslin several sizes.  I mean, I know letting out the darts and wearing shapewear helped, I just don't see how it could have helped that much.

I still think I want a waistband and I drafted one last night but then didn't have time to cut it out and try it on the muslin.  I'll do that tonight and then (fingers crossed!) I'll cut the fashion fabric as well.  I'm not sure I'll have much time on Sat. to sew which means I'll need to get as much as possible done tonight.  I can see myself wearing jeans and hemming my skirt at the Bay Area Sewists Meetup that's before the launch party, then putting on the skirt right before the launch.  :)  I don't think there's any way I'll get the lining put in by tomorrow afternoon, either, but I can add that afterward.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Meringue (hold the lemon)

This weekend, the Colette trunk show is coming to a local fiber store, A Verb for Keeping Warm (Verb carries yarn, fiber for spinning, knitting, spinning, and weaving supplies, and fabric).  As soon as the date was announced, I knew that I wanted to make a garment from a Colette pattern to wear to the show/party, so I decided to make the first project in The Colette Sewing Handbook, Meringue.

Meringue is a scalloped hemmed, slightly A-line skirt.  There are two skirt pieces--the front and back--plus the facings, and a side invisible zip.  I am adding a waistband to the pattern because I think that will be more flattering for my figure type.  I am also lining the skirt so that I don't need to wear a slip.  The fashion fabric is a navy blue cotton stretch sateen from Joanns and the lining is a fuschia poly lining material.  I've decided that I will hem the lining to where the scallop-hem facings end because I don't want to deal with a scallop-hemmed lining.

I tried to do a tissue fitting Monday night and gave up in frustration, which was what prompted me to write the Tissue Fitting is Dead to Me post.  Next, I cut out the front and back in cheap broadcloth, sewed the darts and seamed the sides together.  Then, I needed to think about the waistband.  Colette has a tutorial for making a waistband for Meringue which involves slashing the pattern near the top, adding seam allowances to both pieces and then sewing the top piece as the waistband.  I like this idea, but I decided that I wanted the skirt to sit higher on my waist and I didn't want to show more leg.  So, I decided to try Gertie's method of making a waistband (tutorial here, but I used the method from her new book which is slightly different).  In her book, Gertie says that the waistband pattern can be used with any skirt type, so I thought it would work for my skirt.  I sewed the waistband and attached it to my skirt and tried on the skirt.

Several issues showed up right away:
  • The skirt had no ease.  I wanted it to be fairly fitted but this was a little over the top.  To add ease to the skirt, I think I'm going to make my seam allowances 3/8 inch instead of 5/8 inch.  That adds 1/2 inch to the body of each side of the skirt resulting in 1 inch of ease over all.  I think this will be plenty because the fabric has some stretch to it.
  • The waistband gaped.  This is likely due to my swayback.  I think this problem may be solved by using a curved waistband.  Therefore, I'm going to draft a waistband by closing the darts and tracing the top of each pattern piece, adding two inches in height, adding 5/8 seam allowance to all sides, and adding one inch in length to the front waistband piece so that I can make a tab.
  • Fabric pooling just above my butt.  This is also a swayback issue, I think, and will hopefully be solved by taking a wedge shaped tuck near my waist in the back.
So, I'm going to try drafting the waistband and trying it on my muslin.  I'll also take the tuck out of my muslin and transfer it to the paper pattern.  If all goes well, I should be able to start cutting my fashion fabric soon.  Cross your fingers for me, because the weekend is fast approaching!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tissue Fitting: Not a fan

So, for Christmas last year, I received the Palmer-Pletsch book, Fit for Real People.  Since then, I have been trying to follow their advice as much as possible, and their method is based almost entirely on tissue fitting.  They claim that if you do a good tissue fit, then you don't need a muslin.

Well, frankly, tissue fitting is just not working for me.  I had my doubts about it to start with, really.  I mean, generally speaking, tissue is not going to act the same as fabric.  I've been tracing my patterns onto Swedish tracing paper (the idea being that I could actually baste it together at the end and sort of have a muslin), but I think this is actually making things worse not better.  The Swedish tracing paper is pretty stiff and, as I'm not making everything in taffeta, doesn't give me anything near an accurate representation of how the garment will actually lay once I make it in fabric.  Tissue paper is a little better, but I don't like working with it because it's too delicate and prone to ripping.  This is why P-P recommends stabilizing certain areas.

Well, I've come to realize that, by the time I trace off the pattern, mark the seam allowances, put tape everywhere I'm supposed to put tape, then snip to the seam allowance in the armholes and tape the thing together and try it on, well, I could have cut out a muslin, basted it together, and seen how things actually look in fabric.  So, that's what I'm going to do from now on.  I will buy fabric that I don't necessarily like but is being offered at rock bottom prices and use it for muslins.  Thrifted sheets seem to be a popular source of muslin fabric, so I'll stop by goodwill and see what I can find.  In the meantime, I have some cotton broadcloth I got on sale at Joanns that I'll use, and I do have actual muslin fabric that I can use, too.

Knitting News
I'm almost done with Cate's sweater.  I have the major pieces knitted.  Now, I need to sew the sleeves into the armholes and knit the collar.  I've been needing to do that for a week, but I haven't found time to sit and carefully attach the sleeves (sewing seams is not my strong point).