Monday, September 22, 2014

Sewing So Far in 2013: I would call it a success!

While I have been terrible at blogging, I have been quite good about sewing in 2014, my first year with a sewing machine.

I have been even better at fabric shopping! I am on a self-imposed ban while I whittle down my stash, which according to all the blogs I follow, is a common problem among dressmakers! The ban might be broken as I have a trip to NY next week, and by all accounts, Mood Fabrics is not to be missed ...

Back to my progress update: When I bought my machine at the beginning of the year (it arrived the 3rd week of January), I set a goal of 12 makes for the year. One per month seemed quite reasonable for a first-year dressmaker.

With the year almost 3/4ths over, how am I doing?

I am proud to say that I have exceeded my goal, and while not everything I have made is wearable, I have made some lovely pieces that are quite good for my novice skills. And more importantly, I am wearing them!

Here is a quick overview of the first 6 makes, along with some learnings:

Miette Skirt: Tilly and the Buttons

Miette Skirt, but too big!

Came together really well but was entirely too big, even as a wrap skirt. I am pleased with the overall construction, but I certainly learned a lot about sizing and looking at the finished sizes. I find that Tilly’s patterns have a lot more ease than I am used to. This is in a pile for a possible alteration one day, we will see. I love the contrast I did with the grey and pink. (Forgive the pictures, as it is hard to photograph something on a hanger.)
Learned: first time ever sewing by a pattern (and a PDF one at that! BTW, I prefer paper patterns in general) and following instructions. Learned a lot about basic sewing. Love Tilly’s on-line tutorial.
My helpers with the PDF pattern assembly

Colette Crepe Dress

I made the Crepe dress with a stunning raw silk fabric I bought at Manor. It was quite pricey (although this is Switzerland!), so I was nervous about cutting into it, but I did. I was quite pleased with the end result and have worn it once. It fits quite well, except the bust area is a bit big. I did make a muslin of this dress, and I learned that you do not need to cut every possible piece out, just the necessary parts for fitting. So I have pockets and facings lying around in muslin, ha ha! I am not really sure the muslin helped, because I did not really understand how to do a small bust adjustment. I also do not really like the facings, as even though I understitched them (thanks Gertie for that tip!), they still flip out a bit. I want to try bias binding as a finish for necks and arms, so something to learn. I also put the pockets in upside down (ha ha!), and I could not figure out how to fix them without a lot of unpicking, so I just removed them. Overall, very happy with the dress and received lots of compliments.
Learned: to only cut necessary pieces for a muslin, so much easier! Learned understitching. Learned how to pay attention to pocket insertion! And, I only discovered Gertie's sew-along after I was finished, so I now know to search for sew-alongs before beginning any new project.

I made the pencil skirt in a blue suede that I have had for ages, when I used to make curtains and such for my house. This is a fairly simple pattern, with only a few pieces, and it has no waistband. I did not have an invisible zip, so I did something like a lapped zip, although I am not quite sure what I did and where I found the instructions. The stitching around the zip leaves a lot to be desired, but the thread color is such a good match that it is not too noticeable. But, it was my first zip ever, so I am going easy on myself! I was not sure how to iron suede, so I neglected to press the seams, until once when I forgot and scorched the inside waste band facing. At least it is inside the skirt, but it itches a lot if the scorched area is touching my skin!!! I have worn this skirt twice and am semi-pleased with it.
Learned: zipper (sort of!), sewing with suede, need for a press cloth!

Colette Sencha
Note my assistant photog in the corner. Always helping!
Inspired by the Tilly and the Buttons Sencha blouse, and with some amazing cotton voile that I found in Paris, I made the Sencha, version B. I love this blouse. Again, with Colette, I really need to learn how to do an SBA, but this is not too bad with this blouse. I also really do not understand the sleeves and while I understitched and handstitched them, they kept flipping out. I finally topstitched them a bit shorter than I think they should be, but they look better now. I love the buttons down the back, and I found the most beautiful pearl buttons, also in Paris. My button holes are stunning, but I credit my fantastic Janome machine for this. This is one of my favorite makes. I have worn it three or four times.
Learned: button holes, neck darts

For my first knit, I went with the Coco dress. There were so many reviews and great tutorials, so I thought it was a good place to start. I like the knit fabric I found on Goldhawk Road in grey. I also bought a similar weight in purple and made the sleeve cuffs and a band at the bottom of the dress in the purple. I did not add any pockets, as I find the pockets look really small and out of sync with the rest of the dress. I am really pleased with this make. There is a slight bit of pulling on one side of the neck, but it is not terribly noticeable, and I received lots of compliments. I like the instructions and tutorials from Tilly. I have worn it two times.
Learned: sewing with knits

I next tried the wrap dress in the GBSB book. This is still undergoing revision to see if I can ever wear it. First off, the pattern and instructions are not that good! The instructions seem a bit out of order in a few places, like hemming the sleeves, which seems like it would have been easier before stitching up the side seam, as the wrist hole is quite small and hard to get around the sewing arm. It also has pleats in the bum??? Who needs pleats in the bum? They stick out a bit in an area where I need no additional help! This is also a knit which is challenging, and I am sure it has stretched out with my sewing. I am not sure I chose the right type of knit, as I bought it in Annecy, and the labeling was not great, and my French knowledge of fabrics is not much better. I followed all instructions, but in the end, I took off the bias binding that edged the entire dress. It was too heavy/bulky for the fabric and made the dress look a bit awkward, plus my installation was not really that good, with seams in some very visible places. The hem is not quite even when wrapped (due to stretching, I am sure), and it is a bit large in the top area. Overall, not sure if I will ever wear it ... we will see after ironing it and trying it on once more.
Learned: bias binding as a decorative edge, more sewing with knits, pleats. Also learned that just because the instructions say it, there may be better ways. I will do more research before starting a project.

I will add the next batch of projects in a future blog post, as this is already quite heavy. If I were a better blogger, I would have done an individual post on each of these. Let's see if I can improve in this area in the future!

Thanks for reading, and Happy Sewing! I am off to work on the Mortmain Dress from Gather in a light-weight denim-look fabric. We will see! I love the style of this dress!

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