Sunday, May 17, 2015

I did it! I made (and modified) a dress!

Last week I finished my most ambitious project yet.  A dress.  The pattern displayed a sundress with lightly gathered straps that I pictured as a different color and print with a coordinating shirt underneath.  Or even white with a bright pink or tie-dye shirt.  I don't do black or white underneath unless those colors are integral to the dress nor am I enamored with putting shrugs  over the top.  They often ruin the look and are too hot for summer anyway.

Here's the pattern:

When my daughter saw it, however, she wanted to wear to make a white dress to perform her soliloquy that she wrote for a character from Way of Kings in her English class because that's the way she pictured her character.  However, she wanted sleeves rather than a strap with shirt.

How hard could it be to modify the pattern?  My mother did things like that for me all the time when I was growing up.  Umm, yeah.  Perish the thought.

At first I thought that using view D, the dark print view, would be the easiest one to modify.  Except that my pattern collection isn't that extensive yet, and I couldn't find a sleeve pattern to fit so I designed a shell using that didn't quite work.

The dress needed to be finished for the next morning so after a second try, I went online and fooled around with modifying the large view.  I made a new mock-up, but those failed too.  Finally I just cut it into a rectangle and sewed it onto that bodice and created the following look:

I really like the dress on this pattern because it has an empire waistline with a gored skirt.  Very graceful.  I picked a white gauze which of course was too sheer so I also had to line everything, but it looks more floaty when she walks.  The pattern only calls for a lined bodice.

Additionally, I learned to find a new lining fabric next time because the official lining fabric frays abominably.  I controlled  the friction that expedites the fraying by serging every raw edge on the dress.  That means I sewed the seams on the Janome and followed by serging the raw edges so basically making the dress three times.  Once for the top layer, once for the lining, and once for the lining's edges.  I'm so glad for my serger!

The original pattern also included a ribbon sewed directly into the seams, which I excluded because:

  1. I didn't have a ribbon on hand, 
  2. My son had my car at work that day, 
  3. The dress needed to be solid white for the part.  

I figured I could make thread belt loops and add a ribbon later if wanted.

My daughter delivered her soliloquy excellently, and her teacher was shocked to learn the dress was homemade.  Score!


My mother who taught me to visualize ways to make clothing more flattering by design and by colors and fabrics.

My daughter for wanting certain kinds of outfits to go along with favorite books.  Prior to this year, my sewing was limited to capes, and I'm pretty good (and quick) with them.  Her next wish involves Tauriel's dress from the movie Lord of the Rings which will also involve some modifications although much more simple changes since she already dresses more practically (and modestly) for her role.

To designers who give me a basic pattern to begin.

To all those who share what they have done online with tutorials.  Bless them!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Overcoming fear: Actually making something

After I bought my new Janome, I let it sit for a little bit and mostly looked at different projects that I could try.

I even bought a jacket course from Craftsy but have yet to purchase fabric for that jacket.  Someday I will!!!

But I'm chicken and only made simple things at first.  After all, it has been a few years decades since my mother taught me to sew, and I've only made a few things in between.  Mother had to rescue a few of those projects like my daughter's pioneer dress, pinafore, and bonnet because the directions were so very, very confusing to me.  Mother was an amateur seamstress only because she would never sew for pay.  She always said her time was too expensive, and the price would take any item she might sell to sky-high levels.  She made things as gifts sometimes but never for pay.

Then I discovered diaper clutches.  They are simple, require minimal lengths of fabric, and seem like a good idea.  I like the pattern from Modest Eve:  Oh, and I learned that you can make four clutches with the amount of fabric she lists.

I've already made a bunch of these.  What I really like is that they can be used as a wristlet for the child to carry things around or a quick clutch for diapers and wipes.  

So far I've given a few as gifts so I hope others find them useful.

My life as a sewist begins

I love my husband.  I love him for lots of reasons, but this time it is for telling me to buy a new sewing machine.  Let me be clear.  I already had a nice Viking that I took into the store for some maintenance.  I don't sew a lot--okay, very minimally, like repairs and hems.  However, I had been playing with the idea of sewing crafty items of some sort to sell.  I could have done that with my not-so-basic Viking, but the ladies at Luke's showed me the latest and greatest Janome sewing machine.  They would have shown me the embroidery machine, but I drew the line at the cost.  So I learned what their best deal was (a really good offer), and I went home to think about it and (hopefully) forget.  I'm sure the saleslady didn't expect to see me again.

But I mentioned it to my husband.  Like immediately before I left the store.  Okay, I texted him about it because he works a regular day job and it was mid-day, mid-week.  And he wrote back about an hour later after leaving his meeting: "Buy it."

I can already hear some people saying, "Oh, how sad that she has to have her husband's permission to buy something."

Let me set the record straight:  I am a stay-at-home wife and mother with an excellent paycheck.  My husband's.  I keep track of it, make 98% of all purchases, and rarely ask permission to do anything. Unless it costs very much money (and that can be $50 if it's just for me because then I need to know if he thinks it's worth it because sometimes it's not.  And maybe subconsciously that I'm worth it.  Poor guy.  He works minimally 40 hours a week and gets about $100 biweekly and that's mostly for gas.  But he told me to buy the machine.

So my new baby arrived:


I bought myself this Janome sewing machine ostensibly to make things to sell but really because I wanted to create things.  I may or may not EVER sell something.  By the way, the name of the machine is pronounced like the name Jan followed by oh-may with the emphasis on the last syllable according to their instructional DVD.  Whatever.  I've heard it pronounced at least three different ways, but the DVD's way sounded the most glamorous and appealing to me.