Monday, June 13, 2011

Party dresses

Thanks for the comments on my last post about sewing -- since I'm on a roll, here is the latest item that I made, which was Vintage Vogue pattern #1172. It requires a lot of fabric -- 7 yards, mostly for the skirt -- so I had to go somewhere that I could get cheap fabric because I can't afford to spend $70 on a dress for myself! So this was about $4 or $5 a yard -- still adds up to a lot, by my standards, but it is a wonderful pattern. Great for dress twirling!!

As a side note I miss The Rag Shop. Their tables of $2 and $4/yard fabric were essential for me for the things I made for myself. I feel as though sewing used to be something that us poor people did because we couldn't afford to buy clothes, but now it seems to be more a boutique craft that people do because they want to create beautiful heirloom quilts or special occasion dresses. Which are wonderful things, to be sure, but sometimes I just need to whip up some $2/yard dresses to get me through the summer when I realize that I no longer fit into all the dresses that I bought last year. :/ Since I usually buy clothing at thrift stores or on sale, I can't imagine spending $50 on fabric for just one item of clothing -- but I keep an eye out for sales and I have a large hoard of fabric I got over the years that I am still chipping away at.

Anyway, complaining aside, I tend to favor patterns that use just a couple yards of fabric so I can stretch my fabric stash out a bit. Usually when I see a pattern that I like, I buy two yards of it, without even knowing what I'm going to do with it...just so I have it around.

What I really want right now is this book The Party Dress Book, since I love the idea of dressing up, and my own little innocent idea of what a party should be. (No alcohol, lots of confetti, sweets and home-baked goods, and some fun games, maybe a bit of croquet on the lawn). So, whenever I upgrade to a better sewing machine, that is what I shall do.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Where does the time go?

The plan to update here regularly is not going as smoothly as I had hoped since I seem to have a tremendous time remembering to log in, getting photos uploaded and -- well, sitting in front of a computer is not something I like to do these days.

The procession of shawls continues but I also wanted to take a little time to make some clothing this past week, because I have realized what is flattering for me and I am determined to replace all of the things that make me look ridiculous, with things that look nice. Just because I like a dress on a hanger doesn't mean that I should wear it. At any rate, when I buy patterns, I can at least keep adjusting them until they fit, which is what I've been doing, to make sure they are nice and long, but cool for the summer without being tight. I am mostly making things like this, where you have a strappy bodice and a skirt that kind of swoops out and is roomy. (Below, Simplicity 2175)

I realize though that I don't really sew properly. My late grandmother was something of a seamstress (she excelled in pretty much every art and craft, and was always doing at least one of them) and I learned from her, but it wasn't necessarily the way they teach you in pattern directions. We just cut out the pieces, glance at the directions to see what order they go together in, and get to it.

For instance, here is a list of steps or terms that I have not always followed or understood in printed patterns.

* Pre-wash fabric. Not when I'm sewing for myself. Since I either handwash, or cold wash/cool dry my clothing, I don't worry about things shrinking too much and I've never had a problem with it after making hundreds of outfits. I like fresh-from-the-store fabric and like to just get to work on it right away. Also, I have never had a washing machine on the premises before, so it was very impractical. If I am sewing for someone else I pre-wash it though.

* Nap. After a lifetime of sewing, my attitude toward the word "nap" was to take one, at that point in the directions. I finally looked up what it meant. Ohhhhh, THAT nap. Like pile. Like what velvet and velour do. And apparently it also refers to one-way designs. Okay, now I know what nap is and I can deal with that. For years I just kind of breezed over that term thinking "Oh yeah, sure, I'm...sure my fabric probably doesn't have nap because those layouts require more fabric..."

* Interfacing. Can't stand it. Maybe it's because I generally use fabrics that are fine without it, or that I'm not interested in making things for myself that have cuffs or collars or buttons. I have made things with it and honestly haven't noticed a difference. But most of what I want to wear wouldn't call for it anyway, so I will continue to keep my distance from interfacing.

* Transfer markings and symbols to fabric. Nope. Not since seventh grade Home Ec class have i ever done that. When I tried, it left permanent stains on the fabric, and I can pretty much eyeball those anyway, or put in pins where it is relevant.

* Hems - I fold and press, then fold and press, then stitch. Most pattern directions have these crazy instructions for steaming and hand-stitching and they have never made a bit of sense to me. Especially since I like things where the bottom hem is going to be like 200 inches around., and hand sewing that is a bit daunting.

So those are a few of the things in printed patterns that I don't necessarily follow by the book. The other thing I would like to be able to do, but can't, is to have an overlock stitch to finish seams but I will have to get another machine some day for that. As it is I usually zigzag the edges. If I get back to making things to sell it will be when I have the overlock option most likely.

One more thing I made recently --

Simplicity 2609, above.

This required an extraordinary amount of fabric, but I used some that came in a clearance package of quilting fabric from AC Moore and fleshed it out with (the darker bands) some from my stash, including two yards of Halloween fabric in the second tier from bottom. Gathering the 280 inch ruffle on the bottom and fitting it to the one above (which was only slightly less wide) was very time consuming, but worth it!

All of my sewing shortcuts are not things I would do if I was sewing for someone else, or for sale -- these are just little confessions about what I do when it's just for me. Because I am not picky. I guess I am also curious if anyone else feels the way I do about some of the things you're supposed to do in sewing that don't seem to make a big difference in wearability.