Thursday, September 29, 2011

Simplicity 2403 preview

I'm so close to finishing this dress, I can taste it!!
Here is how it looked this morning. It still needs a hem, and that's it! Hopefully my kids will sleep a little and I'll get a chance to finish it. I cannot believe how long I've been working on this thing. I don't usually have that much stamina for a project.
I snapped a quick (read - blurry and poorly composed, sorry!) picture while I was measuring the hem. I'm so happy with how the fit turned out. I'm so bad about skipping the muslin stage and just blasting forward, but I'm glad I put in the effort this time.

I'll post a better review and a summary of my alterations as soon as I'm done and can get a few good pictures. I'm also planning to make a belt out of the tangerine sateen to go with it. How fun is that?! I purchased a beltmaking kit from Sunni at A Fashionable Stitch. I think it will be a nice vintage-y touch.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Some knitting and more Simplicity 2403

Now that Duncan is a little better at playing on his own, I've picked up my knitting needles again. I have a few projects in the works, and I was knitting away at a scarf for Myra the other night when she asked if she could help. I asked her if she knew how to knit, and she said, "Can you show me?" Yes, please!!
She's determined!! I think these needles are too big for her though, since she quickly gave up on actually making stitches and started just wrapping the yarn around the needles.
It's still fun though! We've started a little nightly tradition of knitting together. She picked some Barbie pink yarn and I got her some smaller needles. She sits in my lap and holds the needles while I maneuver them for her and she wraps the yarn. Not bad for a three year old!

I've also started work on the Simplicity 2403 dress from my last post. Thanks to everyone for the input!! I tried out a few things with the muslin, and found that I did need the wearing ease provided in the upper back. I loved the idea of moving the ease to the sides. Mitch has several RTW shirts that are pleated that way, so that was what I did.
Here is how it looks! Nice and flat without any pouf at all. I love it!!
Here is the front. I have some gold half ball buttons to put there, and the skirt (which is a tangerine sateen to match the flowers in the print) and lining to attach. I'm not 100% sure how I'm going to insert the side zip around the waistband and lining. I'm hoping for a flash of insight as I construct.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Simplicity 2403 muslin

I've been working on fitting Simplicity 2403.
I'm making the view on the model on the right, but with the shorter sleeves. This dress is very fitted in the bodice, with a back yoke and a menswear style collar with stand and front button placket. To fit the bodice, I started with a tissue fit on my dressform, which demonstrated a desperate need for an FBA. As you may know, the traditional method for doing an FBA also adds width to the waist, which I don't need, particularly in this fitted dress. In the book The Perfect Fit there is a princess FBA method that doesn't add width, so I decided to give it a try.
Click the picture if you'd like to see it larger
Here is my initial alteration. The purple pictures above describe it. I deviated from the instructions in that they only had a 1/4 inch addition for each cup size above a B, which for me would have only been a 1/2 inch addition. Laugh with me. I added 2 inches, then shaved off about 1/4 inch just at the bust point to correct a bit of a "bullet" look.
Here is the first muslin on Sandra Dee. As you can probably see, she's got a bit too much fabric around the bust, particularly at the bust point.
In back, I did a 1/4 inch broad back adjustment.
Here is how the back looked on me. I'm so not liking the wrinkles all over the waist, which were saying to me both "too tight" and "too long" at the same time. I'm also not a fan of the pouf created by the gathers at the upper back.
You can see the gathers a little better here, although they don't pouf quite as much on Sandra Dee. She's longer in the waist than I am. Lucky girl.
For muslin #2, I shortened the back waist by 1/2 inch, tapering to nothing at the side seams (basically a sway back alteration), and I added 1/2 inch of width at center back, both in the bodice, as well as the waistband and skirt. Then I added back the 1/2 inch I took out of the bodice to the top of the skirt. Instead of gathers at the upper bodice, I did an inverted pleat.
Here is how that looks on me. I didn't re-muslin the skirt, since the alterations were minor. I think the fit is better, but there is still a little pouf. So, gentle readers I put the question to you. Pleat? Gathers? Get rid of the whole bit? Do you think the fit needs more tweaking? Tell me what to do!

Saturday, September 17, 2011


This weekend my ward at church participated in a day of service. There were a ton of different projects to choose from, including weeding, painting, cleaning, even roofing! I know you'll all be shocked to hear I chose the one I could do with my sewing machine.
Here we are, working on our quilts! The ladies in the middle are tying and quilting, and at the lower right, Magali is making the "sandwich" from a completed quilt top. On the lower left is the squares for the quilt top that I worked on, which we actually got finished!
Our women's group actually meets weekly to make quilts to donate to a local Hopi Indian reservation as well as to Primary Children's Hospital. I recently donated a bag full of fabric, and Magali had brought the quilt top she had incorporated some of "my" fabrics into. It is the green one she's sandwiching!
Here it is a little closer up. Isn't it beautiful! She is an amazing quilter. It was fun to see some fabrics that I recognized. The green print in the border is this blouse and this dress. The larger tan and cream squares are left over from this skirt and if you look closely at the smallest squares, you'll see this batik print!

In other news, I'm working on a dress from Simplicity 2403. Yes, Her Selfishness is working on this as well, although hers is silk and mine is cotton, which may be a bit of an analogy for our different lives. Friday night my good friend Beth came to visit and helped me fit my muslin. It was so awesome to have her help!
Here's a preview of how the muslin looks on Sandra Dee. I've still got some work to do, but I tried a new FBA method for the princess seams that I really think I like. I'll tell y'all more about it once I get the details nailed down.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Simplicity 2065 "muslin"

I've mentioned that Myra has requested a Rapunzel costume for Halloween, and Simplicity was kind enough to provide an excellent pattern, but the last Simplicity/Disney Princess pattern I made for Myra had some major fit issues, so I knew I'd need a muslin. Have you ever tried to get a 3 year old to sit still long enough for a fitting? I don't recommend it. Myra is a sucker for a new dress however.
It's a bit more Bavarian bar wench than I envisioned, but she LOVES it. It would make a great Ren Fest costume...
The pattern is Simplicity 2065, the licensed Disney Tangled costume pattern. Since this was a trial garment, I didn't go to all the trouble of lining it, skipped the overskirt and the long lower sleeves. I used some remnant cotton coordinates from Hobby Lobby, so I shortened the skirt based on what my fabric would allow. I ended up having to add the bottom ruffle to make it a wearable length, but I think it's cute.
Since it really is mostly a fit muslin, I considered just using the lining pattern piece as the bodice front, rather than going to the trouble of assembling the lacings, but I wanted to make sure the construction wasn't weird, (it wasn't) and I wanted to try stitching the eyelets rather than using metal ones. My vintage buttonholer makes a very pretty eyelet, and particularly in this dress, where the eyelets bear no real stress, I thought that would be nicer than those dreadful metal ones that I can never seem to get in without destroying something.
I didn't have an invisible zipper in the right color, so I put in a centered one. It's like riding a bike... I've actually been contemplating closures for the final, costume dress. My friend, Lynn, who also has a wee princess and is making this dress, suggested velcro for ease of dress up play. Myra needs help getting in and out of this much dress anyway, so I'm on the fence. I already have a pink invisible zip and velcro in the stash.  What do y'all think?
After stitching it all up, it looked pretty short, so I tried it on Myra, and it was even too short for a bar wench, so back to Hobby Lobby for more polka dots we went. 160 inches of gathering later (whew!) it is wearable. Even without the extra ruffle, this pattern has a LOT of gathering, with the sleeves, skirt, overskirt, lining and net petticoat on the lining. I think I'm going to learn to use my ruffler.
All that gathering does result is a very full skirt. It curtsies well.
And it is seriously twirl-tastic!!
But I'm definitely going to have to raise the neckline. I noticed that with my last Disney pattern - the neckline was quite low and it was large in the shoulders, which is what I'm seeing so far here. I'm going to watch her wearing it a few times before I decide what all needs to be changed, then we'll be cutting a ridiculous amount of satin and organza.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Simplicity 2738 + Butterick 4222 = comfy PJs

My MIL came to visit a few weeks ago, and brought the kids some I spy bags she had made. Logan's was the coolest Thomas the Train flannel, and I asked here where she got it. She couldn't remember, but before she headed back to Florida, found some at Hobby Lobby for us. Logan was thrilled! My kids love fabric presents. They're well trained. He was even more excited when I unveiled the finished product!
I used the neckline from Simplicity 2738 with the width, length, sleeve and armscye of Butterick 4222. The bottoms are Simplicity 2290. I'm much happier with the fit and he says they are comfortable, so I think we have a winner, at least until he grows again.
He really likes the buttons.

Friday, September 9, 2011

McCalls 5696

I'm such a tightwad that even though I absolutely hated sewing that cheap polyester I made Mitch's pants out of, I couldn't throw away the half yard I had left.
So, Myra got a new skirt.
The pattern is McCalls 5696. I don't sew many envelope patterns for the kids, but this one had so many cute skirt options that I picked it up anyway. I even matched the color scheme on the envelope. The pattern is for a yoked skirt with a zipper and waistband. Two views have pockets, one is a circular skirt, one pleated and the view I made included contrast godets.
Before I put in the zipper, I tried it on Myra. She doesn't have much waist definition, so it went over her hips without a problem. I decided to convert it to an elastic waist both for ease of sewing and for ease of potty breaks. I also bound the pockets in bias strips of my contrast fabric rather than hem them. I like the little pop of color and the finish inside is nicer.
I cut the godets on the bias, although the pattern has them on the straight grain. Mostly, I did it because I like the look of gingham on the bias, but it does make them drape nicely. The godet insertion in the pattern instructions was unnecessarily complex, I thought. Since the tips of the godets are caught in the yoke seam, there isn't really any point in carefully sewing to the tip and making sure it is nice a smooth there. I just stitched them onto one side, and then stitched the second side up to the tip.
For the hem, I tried a new (to me) technique that I've read about in several of Sandra Betzina's books. The navy poly suiting wouldn't take a press for anything, so in order to get a smooth crease at the hem edge, I stitched a staystitching line at the fold of the hem with fusible thread in my bobbin. Then when I turned and pressed my hem, the thread fused the fold of the hem, resulting in a nice sharp crease.
I think this one is a winner! It weathered a trip to Joann's, several hours on the playground and a trip to Ikea (where it was doused in milk) and she's still wearing it. And it still looks good!
It's good for jumping. I think she looks like a little cheerleader in this one.
She likes the pockets. Perfect for stashing the caramels she spent all day eating.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Vogue 8719

I love that Vogue has released some new men's patterns with the last couple of pattern releases. I picked up Vogue 8719 in the hopes that it would inspire me to sew for my poor neglected hubby. My track record with regard to sewing for him has been pretty erratic. He loves his scrubs, running shorts and running shirts, but the couple of shirts and slacks I've made have been a big fat flop.
But these are at least wearable. Comments on the pattern itself: I like it in general. It is designed to be a casual pant, with sporty topstitching (much of which I skipped since this fabric puckered if you waved a needle in it's direction) and patch pockets in the rear. There are some dressier elements however, like the inseam pockets, dart rather than a yoke for back shaping and a hand sewn hem. The waistband is contoured, which I like, but since the pants are meant to sit on the natural waistline, may not be necessary if your man actually wears his pants at the natural waistline. Mine doesn't, so a shaped waistband is essential for a good fit.
Fit-wise, I'm happy with the front, although those darn inseam pockets are gaping, of course. Do they lie flat on anyone?? From the side, you can see how the pockets gape, but otherwise the side seams are pretty straight, if puckery. This fabric really sucked. It was a cheap poly suiting from Mitch loves it. Argh.
But the backside, alas. Wrinkles everywhere. I have to say, I think this is mostly the fault of the fabric stretching out of shape. The muslin fit like it was made for him, but when he put on these so I could measure the hem, the waist had stretched out in crazy ways. I had to take out 2 inches at the center back waist, which affected how the seat fell otherwise. Note to self: Staystitch.

The major fitting challenge for Mitch is actually more about the way he wears his pants, and I suspect this might not be unique to him, so I thought I'd talk about it a little. Basically, he likes his pants to ride at the level of his hip bones in front, but in back, they are about an inch below his waist. So, his "waist" is tilted forward. I've also seen men with a bit of a Santa belly wear their pants this way in order to accommodate the fluff.
Here is what the pants look like lying flat. As you can see, the back waist is significantly higher than the front. In order to fit this, I made a muslin. I know, not something I generally do, but for an alteration this significant, I feel like it is needed. You could probably do this in tissue though, if you prefer. Anyway, with the muslin on Mitch, I drew a line with a Sharpie where he wanted the top of the waistband to be.
Here is his muslin of the right front pant. The top green line is where I want the top of the waistband to be. As you can see, it doesn't make a smooth curve. This is because the pants dip down significantly in front. So, to draft pattern pieces, I just measured down from the top green line (where I want to top of the pants to be) the width of the finished waistband. On the muslin, you can see my second green line, indicating the waistband.
Here is the finished pattern piece overlaying the muslin. As you can see, I added my 5/8 seam allowances to either side of the waistband. Since this particular pattern has the waistband in 2 pieces, with a seam at center back, I actually pinned together the front and back pieces at the waistband and pinned out the back dart to draft the back side of the waistband.
Here is what that looks like. The waistband pattern piece is overlaying the muslin in this photo. After you've lowered the waistband, you may also have to change the placement of some design elements. For example, I had to move the back pockets down 1 1/4 inches and shift the placement of the belt loops slightly, since the waist circumference changed slightly. If you are moving anything major, I'd try it out in muslin first.

Overall, these pants are wearable, and I'm happy with the fit changes we made, particularly the waist. RTW pants on Mitch are ridiculous. He still wears them low on his hips, so he ends up with the crotch at his knees and tons of extra fabric billowing around his backside. Not an appealing look. With this waist alteration, everything falls where it should.

With all this talk about the waistband, I must mention interfacing. In the last few pair of pants I've made, I've used Pro-Weft, which I love for most things, but my waistbands have been wimpy. I asked Pam what she recommended and she suggested simply using two layers of Pro-Weft. It worked like a charm! The waistband is nice and stable, but still pliable and comfortable to wear. Thank you so much, Pam! I'll be doing this for all my waistbands from here on out. If you haven't tried Pam's interfacings, now is the time. Head over to Fashion Sewing Supply. She's having a sale through September 8th!! I stocked up on all my favorites.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


My big boy is heading off to preschool on Wednesday, and his school provided a tote bag to all the kids. They had an orientation last week, and while the parents talked, the kids were supposed to be decorating their bags. Logan is never one to follow the crowd, so his bag was undecorated.
I thought his at least needed his name on it. I used fabrics from his last two Easter shirts. You can see the Thomas shirt here and the gingham here. The satin stitching for the applique edges was done on my vintage Singer Touch and Sew, which really has a far superior stitch for this sort of application. She makes a nice dense zig zag while still being very maneuverable around the curves.

Next up - pants! They are done, I just have to get pictures. I'm not thrilled with them, but Mitch likes them pretty well, and that is what matters.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Monthly Roundup: August 2011

Well, September totally snuck up on me! I usually write this post the night before, and set it to post in the morning, but I totally forgot. We've had a bit of a crazy time around here lately, with lots of birthdays, getting ready for school to start and still settling in to a new town and a new routine. The time just seems to be flying by. August wasn't my most productive month, but I got a few things done.

1) Colette Sorbetto muslin for me
2) Vogue 8724 dress for me
3) Simplicity 2377 dress for Myra
4) Baby doll dresses for Myra's babies
5) Simplicity 2738 PJ top for Logan
6) Simplicity 2290 PJ pants for Logan
7) Simplicity 4711 romper for Duncan
8) Vogue 1250 dress for me
9) Ottobre 06/2008-16 skirt for Myra

That ended up being a total of 11 items, with 12 1/4 yards used. All of the yardage was from stash! Woo-hoo!! My favorite item for me this month was the Vogue 1250 maxi dress. It's comfortable and easy to wear, but still looks great no matter what.

At the moment I'm still plugging away at the pants for Mitch. It isn't that they are complicated, just that my sewing time has been pretty limited these last two weeks. So, I've bit sewing in bits and dabs - pocket here, zipper there. I'll get there. After that I've got a lineup planned to make most efficient use of the thread on the serger. There's even a dress for me in there. We'll see how it goes... I've really got to start thinking about fall and winter sewing. We're actually going to have a real winter this year! I need to get ready.