Thursday, December 5, 2013

Red Knit Dress - Completed

Saying that I've been neglecting my blog would be the understatement of the year. Between completing my Master's Degree in Library and Information Science, job searching, and then acquiring and working four part-time jobs, I haven't posted since February. Since so much time has passed, I'd be lying to you if I said I had nothing to post here. I do have a few new(ish) makes. Not as many as I would have liked by now, and not enough to keep the Mistress of the Sewlutions Jar at bay, but hopefully enough to make up for my disappearance from the blogosphere.

My make from March/April is actually on the drying rack right now, so that will have to come later.

This dress was my June make. It was my first foray into knits, and I can't possibly tell you how happy it makes me. Every time I put it on, I feel good, and I almost always get compliments on it, which makes me feel even better. :) I wear it more than any other article of clothing in my closet, except perhaps the black wrap cardi I'm wearing it with today. (I must get the Coppelia pattern to make a replacement. This cardi is starting to die, and I'll be devastated when it goes.)


So. The red dress. It's Vogue 8787, view C with the cap sleeves from another view. I honestly have no idea what size this dress is, just that it spans several. 8-12? 6-10? No clue. I did shorten the bodice by 1 1/4", and I took in massive amounts of side and back seams. I also ditched the zipper because...knit. In retrospect, this particular knit probably could have used the zipper. But I do what I want!

I added the cap sleeves to this version of the dress to make it more work appropriate. Not that sleeveless wouldn't have been appropriate, but, well, I also wanted to make this dress a dozen times and have all of them look different. So there. Those were the only modifications I made to the dress, and it fits like a dream.

I love the interesting details on the bodice. The side gathering and the swooping asymmetrical neckline make the dress interesting, rather than it just being a boring basic knit dress.

 Also, pockets!

Onyx was fascinated by the whole photoshoot thing. Also a little miffed that I was up in his space when he was trying to take a nap.

Honestly, Onyx doesn't get miffed about anything. Ever. He's one of the most mild-mannered dogs I've ever met. Except on walks. And when there are cats. But our other dog can steal his toys, bones, etc., and he just looks at her and lets her take what she wants. In these photos, he looks more like a statue of a dog than a real dog. He hardly moved at all! :)

And just because when you make a full circle skirt, you have to have a twirly picture:

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Two Altered Pairs of Jeans - Completed!

Okay. So. Y'all almost didn't get a blog post from me this month. It's been a crazy month. Three classes and an 8-hour-a-week practicum plus a part-time job and dogs, my wife, and friends have all made for a very busy semester. In spite of all of that, I did manage a tiny bit of sewing, and I'm here to share it with you. :)

I didn't actually sew these jeans from scratch. I feel obliged to tell you that. One pair is from Banana Republic, and the other pair is from Express. What I did was make basically unwearable items into super cute, perfectly fitting jeans. Sadly, I don't have before pictures, but they looked kind of like this:

And now, they look like this:

And this:

No more gape! One pair of perfectly hemmed short jeans for flats and long jeans for heels! Yay! So how did I work this miracle, you ask? You would. ;) I found a tutorial through that shows you how. Basically, you rip out the waistband seams, cut out however much you need to in the center of the waistband, put a couple of darts in above the pockets (like below),

...then you stitch the whole thing together again, and you end up with this:

I took two inches out of each waistband and two more inches off the hem of my "skinny" jeans (the ones I'm wearing with gray flats...those are about as skinny as it's going to get around here). I hand-stitched the topstitching, because I wasn't super confident about my sewing-two-perfectly-straight-parallel-lines skills with the machine, but the darts, the center seam, and the hem were done by machine.

These are the first pairs of jeans I've ever had that fit properly, and I'm super excited about it. I couldn't manage to get the back beltloops back on prettily, so I just tossed them both, and I don't really care, because my shirts always cover the waistbands of my jeans anyway.

Just skating in with a February post. I hope you all had a wonderful short month and are looking forward to March and maybe some spring weather (or fall, for those of you in the southern hemisphere)!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Wool Flannel PJ Pants - Completed!

If you haven't yet heard about Karen's Sewlutions Jar, it's time to come out from under that rock! My Sewlution is in the jar, and like 21% of other Sewlutionists (new word? can I coin it?), I've vowed to complete at least one garment every month for a minimum of 12 garments, and post about them for evidence. My blog posts tend to be few and far between sometimes (all right, often!), but you're guaranteed at least one new make post every month, starting now! Yay!!

My first make is pj pants for my wife. They were part of her Christmas gift, but I wanted to make sure that I made the style she wanted, so I didn't make them until we came home after the holidays. I finished them two weeks ago, but the weather has been sucky for photos, so I didn't get any good ones until today.

Fabric: gray plaid wool flannel from Mood, maroon satin for waistband, tie, bias binding on hems
Pattern: none - traced my own pjs onto pattern paper
Notions: athletic elastic for the waistband, thread
Time to complete: 4 hours
First worn: January 26
Wear again?  Every day since, and hopefully a lot more to come!
Total cost: ~$33

The fabric is a gray wool flannel from Mood fabrics, and it's really just delicious. One side is super soft and slightly fuzzy, and the other side is smooth and looks like it could be used for a casual button-down (the fuzzy side faces inside, of course!). I have more of it (not quite enough for another pair of pjs), and I'm not sure what to do with it! I used a maroon satin (also from Mood) for the waistband, tie, and the bias binding on the hems.


Instead of using a pattern, I traced my own pj pants onto tracing paper and used that as a pattern. I also checked out the construction of my pjs as I went. I vaguely followed the instructions from the book Patternmaking for a Perfect Fit, which I got for Christmas, and I found it useful and pretty intuitive. I think the book will be even more useful for more complicated garments.

There was a minor problem with what I did, though. I couldn't figure out how to get the proper grainline, so I just kind of made it up, and I ended up with the plaid not quite matching up. So I forced the plaid to match, cut the waistband and hem to make up for it, and hoped that the pjs wouldn't skew because of my mistake. :) Next time, I think I'll use a pattern instead of going prancing off into Pants-making Land with no map. (Sorry for the wrinkly photos! The pants have been super well-loved!)

I used French seams for all four seams, so the pants are just as pretty inside as outside. Also, see how fuzzy? :)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Gender Expectations - Is Umbrella the Key to Equality?

It's been a while since my last post, but next week is finals week, and I'll have so much more time to sew and blog after the semester is over. You'll definitely get more frequent posts starting next week. For now, though, I do have one thing to share with you.

I've been thinking a lot lately about gender norms. It comes up everywhere I look, from class discussions about how male graduates from my program get higher-paying assistant-director and administrative jobs while female graduates get lower-paying reference librarian jobs, to the presidential debate question about equal pay for equal work, to the expectation of gender role conformity in lesbian relationships (I'm supposed to wear dresses, and she's supposed to wear men's button-downs and ties...she actually questioned whether or not I'd still be attracted to her if she stepped just to the other side of androgyny and started wearing women's answer, of course, was to tell her I'd love her in whatever she wore, and to be honest, the women's pants and button-downs and sweaters she's purchased recently are really flattering), to shopping at Target.

Yes, you did read that right. Shopping at Target yesterday, I came upon some pretty awesome wall art for kids:

How amazing, right? Fun, bright, and educational (The alphabet! With animals! The names of states and their capitals and pictures of what they're known for! Dinosaurs!), these are exactly the kinds of pieces I would want in my (future) kids' rooms.

The three pieces above were on the right side of the aisle. When I turned to the left, this is what I saw:

Umm... Yeah. Flowers, fairies, and ballerinas, all in pastels. No one actually comes out and says, "this side of the aisle is for boys, and that side over there is for girls," but I'm going to go out on a limb here and say the right side of the aisle was almost certainly intended for boys while the left side was similarly intended for girls. Is there anyone reading this who disagrees with my assessment of the artists', distributer's, and Target's intentions for these canvases? For the sake of this post, I'm going to assume that those are the intended recipients of the above wall art.

The lower three pieces are very pretty, but what does this say about our expectations for our children? What does art like this tell our children about themselves and their abilities? Why is it that the colors that represent boys (and possibly the boys themselves) are expected to be bold and bright, while the colors that represent girls (and possibly the girls themselves) are expected to be soft and muted? When I looked at Target's website to see if maybe the best girl's art was online and not on the shelves (maybe it was all bought up?), I found that everything was very gender-defined. There was a picture of the solar system in "boy" colors, complete with the names of the planets, and there was a dollhouse in varying shades of pink, to list just two among several other items that implied through various images that boys are somehow worth more than girls. If we create things like this for our children and put them on their walls, we tell our children that boys are more athletic, more intelligent, more talented, and girls are only good for being pretty, empty-headed future housewives (and possibly pop music stars?).

How is it that we are still (silently but very clearly) perpetuating this idea and yet we say that the time for feminism is past? How can we expect to get equality as adults when we treat our children so differently? Boys are given engaging information about exciting and interesting things, and they are encouraged to read and express an interest in geography and science, while girls are given flowers, ponies, dollhouses, and fairytale castles. Obviously, this is a slight exaggeration; I know that many of us (girls) learned to read before any of the boys in our class, we climbed trees and played sports and became scientists and IT gurus and CEOs. I guess my question is this: Why, in a time when women have supposedly gained so much equality, does the art we create for our children's rooms still reflect a massive gender divide?

The need for feminism is still here, and yet the extreme feminists in our society seem to have given the idea as a whole a bad name. I say feminism and you envision a mob of angry women burning bras in street protests and forcing other women to leave their children at home and go work. It's this warped extremist idea of feminism that has women like Katy Perry, and Carla Bruni claiming that they are not feminists. Feminists do not want to force women out of their homes and into the workplace. Feminism is the belief that women should have the choice, and should be treated (and compensated) equally should they choose to work. You don't have to be an activist to be a feminist.

Anyway, off my feminism soapbox, if I had children right now, I'd buy all three of those top pieces along with the outer space one online, regardless of my children's gender. :) And I wish I'd had that wall art as a kid. I kind of want them in my room now!

Back to my search of Target's website, I did find one (and only one) semi-educational item that was directed toward girls. It was an alphabet piece, and the reason I say semi-educational is because I'm not sure I'd want my little girl to learn that J is for Jeans when it could be for Jaguar or Jet, Jar, Joust, Jade, Jack-in-the-Box, Jay, Jam, Jelly, Jellyfish, Jester, Jungle, Jupiter... I'll leave you to compare it with the equivalent boy-intended alphabet and wonder why the girl one has jewelery, clothing, flowers, and fairies while the boy one has monsters, outerspace, sports, and a treasure map. The only similarity is U is for Umbrella. Is the umbrella the answer?


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Blogtoberfest Giveaway Winner

Hi y'all. I'm sorry it took me so long to announce the giveaway winner. I'm trying to keep up with more things than I can reasonably expect of myself. :/

Anyway, the winner is....


If you haven't yet checked out her blog, you really should.  She recently made an adorable Alma blouse. Some day, when I'm not being eaten alive by grad school, I'll make that blouse. :)

Congratulations! I'll contact you via email.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Blogtoberfest Giveaway!

As promised, I'm having a giveaway today, in celebration of Blogtoberfest. Today, you have a choice, and I hope I have something everyone would be interested in!

The giveaway is for a length of fabric and a pattern, your choice.

There are two options for fabrics, both a bit summery, but if you're anything like me, you like to sit on your fabric for a while before sewing it up. :) The first is 1 7/8 yards of a pale lavender linen blend. The photo doesn't really do it justice, since you can't see the color very well, but it's very pretty. It would make a great skirt. The second fabric is 1 1/4 yards of gray, white, and fushia striped seersucker. It would make an adorable top. Maybe the Sorbetto?


I have a couple of patterns up for grabs. The first is Simplicity 2996, a 1959 pattern for pants in four lengths. The pants have waistline darts front and back and side zipper closing. there's a pocket int he right side seam that's optional. It fits waist 25 and hip 34.

The second pattern is one that I posted for a giveaway a while ago but was never claimed. Oh, sad, beautiful vintage Vogue pattern! It's Vogue S-4067 from 1950, and you have to admit, it's just stunning. It's drafted for a 32" bust and 35" hip.

Pattern number three is Simplicity 5134, a shirt dress pattern from 1963. It's for a 33 bust.

If your taste runs a little more to the modern patterns or you prefer multi-size patterns (I do, just because my body spans about 4 sizes), I have something for you as well. Vogue 8787, in sizes 6-14.

The rules:
 - Leave a comment below telling me which fabric and which pattern you would like.
 - You must be a follower of my blog.
 - You have to have a way I can contact you (email, or a link to a blog profile with your email in it).
 - If you win, please don't sell the pattern. If you decide at some point that you no longer want it, pass on the sewing love to someone else in a giveaway or gift. :)
 - The giveaway will be open until noon (Central Time), Tuesday, October 30, and I will announce the winner on Halloween.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Muslin for Craftsy Couture Dress - Vogue 8648

This month is just flying by! I missed the last two posts, and suddenly it's the end of the month and I'm planning my giveaway post for Friday! :) I finished constructing my muslin for the Couture Dress course, and I'm pretty excited about it. It took me a while to fit it, though, because it's not possible to do that for myself. :) Anyway, some photos and thoughts about my muslin.

The front. Here, you can see there's some weird wrinkling at the top of the midriff band, and you can also see a ton of horizontal lines across my hips. I need to do an FBA, take in the top of the midriff band, and let out the side seams in the skirt. The waist is a little too high, but it will be lowered when I do the FBA.

On the side view, you can also see a little fold pointing toward my bust point from the armhole, which is another indicator of the need for an FBA. You can also see a little bit of the diagonal lines at the top of the midriff band and the top of the skirt. These indicate a massive need for a swayback adjustment, which you'll see more of in the other two photos.

If ever I had any doubts that I was a pear shape, this photo has put them to rest. Damn! I need to let out the princess seams along my butt to make a little more room for it, and in this photo, you can see a whole lot of those swayback lines. I'm thinking about adding a vent in the back as well.

This last photo shows the lines at the hip and back as well as the way the side seams pull forward, which I'm hoping will be fixed with the swayback adjustment.

Do you see anything I don't see? I'm pretty happy with this muslin, even with all its issues.