The Inside Scoop

When I was first learning to sew, I’d often remark, “It’s a good thing no one can see the inside!” I’ve heard the same comment from others who are new to the hobby, and I always try to reassure them that it will change and some day the insides of what they sew won’t have to be hidden.

I finished this jacket today and have to say that I’m particularly pleased with the insides. While I always turn a garment inside out during and after sewing, this is the first time I think I’ve ever photographed the results. (I’m not sure if the person to whom this jacket has been sent reads my blog but she has a great sense of humor and I think she’ll laugh to see it inside out and hanging from a tree.)

The pattern is a modified version of Butterick 5187. I combined a couple of the views so the jacket would look more like a smaller one I’ve sewn, right down to the binding on the sleeves. This particular jacket has gone a step further with the addition of welt pockets with flaps (which is a post for another day).

What makes this jacket special in my eyes is the amount of hand sewing involved. I’ll be the first to admit that I avoid hand sewing whenever I can. I’m kind of an immediate gratification sort of girl; I equate hand sewing with “labor intensive” and “time consuming.” Seriously, who has time for that?

Let me tell ya: sometimes it is worth it. This jacket would be lovely no matter what but I really think the hand sewing — the facings, hem, bindings — elevate it in the construction department. Yes, I could have finished the jacket two hours faster but it wouldn’t be quite the same.

Surrender

I’m going to take a break from sewing for the next day or two. Why? Because everything I have attempted to sew in the past five days has been a disaster. The Sewing Gods/Goddesses are talking and it’s time for me to listen.

You know, the whole blogging process is incredibly selective. No one sees my mistakes and disasters — or even knows they exist — if I don’t talk about them. I think it’s far too easy to get a skewed perspective about what I do when all I share are the successes. Let’s head into the Craft Addict Confessional and look a little closer at what’s sent me into temporary exile.

Exhibit X: I made myself the cutest skirt, sewn from a 2007 issue of Ottobre and made with the prettiest babywale corduroy from Joann’s. Only one problem: It’s two sizes too big. I could possibly wear it if I were willing to tug it down until it barely covers my bikini line. Ummm, no thanks.

Exhibit A: I bought an out-of-print Butterick pattern and decided to give it a whirl. Although the pattern calls for knit fabric, it also specifies the use of a zipper. I have no idea why, since the neckline appears to be plenty big enough.

Since it was my first attempt at the pattern, I opted to use a cute, expendable knit I bought at Joann’s, rather than one of my pretty (and spendy) finds I bought elsewhere. That proved to be a wise decision.

First goof: I flipped the bodice pieces when cutting them out. According to the pattern, the right side of the bodice is supposed to cross over the left. Not a big deal and I cut both pieces wrong, so it worked out.

Second goof: Because I changed the neckline (omitting the zipper down the back), I didn’t really read the directions too closely. Big mistake. After I coverstitched the entire neckline, I realized that I needed to cross the larger bodice piece over the smaller and topstitch them closed. Not as easy to fix but it actually turned out OK; I just crossed them and did a second pass with the coverstitcher. Didn’t notice until later that the smaller piece isn’t quite in the right position but that doesn’t really matter because of …

Third goof: I never checked the sizing of the pattern pieces against Miss L’s measurements. Not once. Which is why the dress is waaaaaay too big. See the rolled-up sleeves? That’s where they needed to be hemmed to fit her arms. Doesn’t matter, though, because the shoulders hang over hers by about two inches. The hem, however, is barely long enough.

Exhibit B: I’ve been itching to try my hand at a corduroy version of the Fledge/Studio Tantrum Feliz and, having made three of them, figured it was a good pattern to get my sewing luck back on track.

These cute cord coordinates were in my stash and I just knew they’d be fabulous with the pattern’s layering. I was going to love this dress!

Ha!

First goof: At what point did I decide to check the nap of the fabric? After I cut out the overdress. Ya know what? The nap runs the wrong way. Luckily, not a tragic mistake but still annoying. Too bad that wasn’t where my mess-ups ended.

Second goof: For some unknown reason, I decided to attach the ties to the outside of the overdress instead of the inside. It would have been good to realize this before I sewed, serged and topstitched the two seams. The smart sewist would have redone the seams from the bottom of the straps to the top of the bodice edge. Smart me decided to pull apart the seam just enough to cut the straps, re-sew the seam and re-attach the straps on the backside. That course of action left me with weird little bulky areas on each side of the bodice.

Third goof: And then I decided to place the ties too high when I reattached them. Which means the channels I stitched on the outside of the overdress are too high.

Fourth goof: Neglected to cut the elastic in the back channels short enough so I’m pretty sure the dress will be too big around the upper body for my sweetie.

I have enough of this fabric to make a second dress and originally thought I’d offer it in my Etsy. For.Get.It. I don’t even want to put this dress on L, much less make a second one.

Tonight, I’m going to watch some TV or maybe read a book. Maybe do a little drawing. And tomorrow, I’m going to play with some paper and Sealah Tape so I can finish a project (and tutorial). Because it’s just not fair to the fabric to be sacrificed in the name of stubborness.

Time Flies

I realized yesterday that it’s been about a week since I updated ye olde blog. Yikes! Time gets away from me at the end of the school year, and this year has been no exception.

Yes, we are out of school already. Miss L finished up May 16. The boys were out last Wednesday and Friday (they attended two different high schools this year). Lots of activities as the year came to a close, both school and social (with some family obligations thrown in for good measure). I spent about seven hours in the car on Thursday and Friday.

Whenever I could get the chance, though, I sewed. Earlier this month, I realized that the temperature had changed but the bunny’s wardrobe had not. A quick closet check revealed what I already know: my daughter had few seasonally appropriate clothes. I wrapped up a couple of things and took two weeks to sew for my girl (with a couple of things for me thrown in for good measure). I’ve still got quite a few things I’d like to do but I’ve made a lot of progress.

The mosaic shows a bit of what I’ve been up to. Plenty of things have not been photographed. Some are in the laundry (the madras Bermudas I made come to mind), while others are awaiting coordinates (a pair of Oliver+S linen shorts). I also made a few alterations to existing clothes. Take this Tinkerbell dress. There’s plenty of life left in it now that I’ve given it short sleeves. I also made a pair of yellow bike shorts to wear under it. A Tinkerbell iron-on applique I picked up at Joann’s was the perfect touch for the shorts.

OK, so back to the mosaic. (You can see the full pics at my Flickr.) Here’s the run down of those projects, from left to right:

1. The coordinating set I made to match one sewn for L’s friend as a birthday gift. This one has a skirt instead of cropped pants. Again, I used a Snow White & Rose Red imported fabric.

2. A detail shot of the pocket on the skirt. (Pocketed lifted from an Oliver + S pattern.) Skirt is self drafted and so cute that I’m going to have to make more.

3. My favorite Butterick curved bodice dress with a modified pair of Ottobre leggings (shortened). I used some cute jersey knits that I think I bought at Sewzanne’s. I don’t like sewing with jersey any more than I did before, but I still think it turned out quite cute. Especially considering the fact that I ripped out and re-did the neckline at least four times.

4. Abracadbra wrap dress made using a Baby Nay knit that I picked up from Some Art Fabric at the sewing expo in March. Seriously cute dress but I think I need to size up. It’s also in need of some leggings or knit shorts underneath, as it’s a little on the short side.

5. My friend Samantha let me be a pattern tester for her new Miss Molly dress. Love! I sort of combined views A and B, making the skirt a bit of an A-line and also using the ruffle. Super, super cute. I think it definitely will be a wardrobe staple this summer. I bought the strawberry fabric last year; it’s a German import and previously was used to make an Anna wrap dress. I’m so glad to get another outfit from it.

6. One of the three Bermuda shorts I’ve made for L with the Little Smarty Pants pattern. I have one more pair ready to cut out and sew. I think I actually managed to get two pair done in about 90 minutes, the ones in the picture plus a pink madras plaid pair. (It helps to not have to change thread.) I made the first pair a size 2 and have since sized up to the 3. I suspect the pattern may run a little small although there’s always the chance my child has actually grown.

7. Last but not least, a new purse for me! This is not the only thing I’ve sewn for me but, really, how many skirts do you want to see? The pattern, Run Mama Run, is by Rose Baby Designs. I used some of my favorite imported Japanese fabric, Little Red Riding Hood. It’s a heavier cotton fabric, more home dec than apparel. I think it lends itself well to this pattern. I used canvas as interfacing on the bottom/side panel, and added fusible fleece to the straps (don’t look too closely at the straps; they are all kinds of messed up with the topstitching). When I bought the pattern, the designer had a buy one/gift one special so I had it sent to an unsuspecting friend. Hee! The purse is nice and roomy, bigger than my usual bags. I wish I had used some flannel to interface the lining; I think it would have given it the hand I like. You may notice the little embellishments I added. I couldn’t help myself! (BTW, The Creative Needle has a nice article with yo-yo ideas in the latest issue.)

I’m also working on some ideas for another tutorial, probably a video (but shorter than the last one, I promise). I also just picked up a few more really cute embroidery patterns that I can’t wait to stitch up. And I’m eager to start playing around with some of the ideas I have for my oldest son’s senior portraits. Yep, lots of things on my plate. Crossing my fingers that I get at least a few of them done!

Skirting the Issue

I’ve had the Amy Butler Barcelona Skirts pattern for about a year, yet have never made the first one. I did trace off the pattern, and I bought plenty of fabric for making a couple of them. I just found other things to sew first. Why? The zipper. I have an irrational fear of sewing zippers, for no other reason than the unknown.

Not anymore.

In the past week, I’ve sewn two skirts and one pair of shorts, all with invisible zippers. They’re not perfect but unlike previous zipper experiments, they are functional and wearable — and they don’t look half bad. In fact, they look pretty darned good!

This is actually the second of the two Barcelona skirts I sewed. I bought this fabric when I bought the pattern, brought it home and washed it, then promptly ignored it. And that’s a total shame, because I could have been wearing and enjoying it all this time.

I made this more or less as the pattern dictated. Instead of using sew-in interfacing for the waistband of the apron, though, I used flannel. While I like the feel, it’s a bit too heavy, especially when folded over.

I also had some issues with stitching the waistband closed. If you could see it close up, you’d understand what I’m talking about. I think part of the problem was the thickness of the waistband, courtesy of the flannel. The other part? Sewing too late again. Yes, it’s the bane of my existence. Unfortunately, it’s sometimes necessary and I guess I really need to learn to keep it together when the clock ticks past 9 p.m.

I did make a bit of bigger goof in sewing this skirt that had nothing to do with the time. I thought the first skirt I made was a little on the small side, so I added a half an inch to the middle of both the front and back sections, then used a smaller seam allowance. I now have a skirt that is too big. Guess I’ll be taking it in before I break it in.

This was my first attempt at the Barcelona skirt, using a pretty blue floral fabric from Joann’s. Boy, do I like this fabric! It’s very spring-y and sweet, but not in a cloying way. You know? I think I may even have paid full price for this fabric, I liked it that much. Glad I did, too, because it’s sold out around here.

The apron was sort of a last-minute project. I decided on Saturday to make Miss L a coordinating outfit for Easter, since we were going to church the next day for her big brother’s baptism. I thought the apron would help pull together our outfits. While I got her dress finished before I went to bed Saturday night, the apron was only about half done. Woke up early Sunday to finish it before church — and then managed to leave it on my bed when I walked out the door.

Brilliant.

I opted not to make this apron reversible, and also did not use any interfacing on the waistband. Because it’s not reversible, I did need to finish the back side and bottom edges. I think it’s one of my favorite aprons, and I actually wore the outfit at left all day Monday — even out and about. (By the way, the picture is actually a self portrait. I used my handy dandy tripod and the timer on my 30D.)

The dress on the left is Miss L’s Easter dress. It’s just a simple A-line dress, fully lined, with buttons at the shoulders. I think it’s going to be a great dress for spring and summer, very cool and fun and classic. The Easter bloopers actually continued Sunday morning. I didn’t realize I’d put the dress on backwards until after lunch. Guess I need to sew some tags on it!

My little “Stinkerbell” had fun posing today, especially the photo on the right. What a nut! Tomorrow is “green day” in her class and she needs to wear something green. I recently acquired this Tinkerbell knit fabric and knew it fit the bill. I’m not big on buying anything with characters on it but I made an exception for this one because Miss L loves Tinkerbell and I couldn’t resist. The pattern is Butterick, 3316 (I think). It’s no longer in print but definitely worth searching out. It has a curved bodice, which does make it a bit more interesting than just a basic swing dress. Fun to sew, pretty fast — except when I sewed one section wrong and had to re-cut two pieces to fix the goof. When the weather warms up, I’ll shorten the sleeves so it can be worn through the summer.

This Burda pattern is another I’ve had for a while, just waiting to get up the courage to sew something with a zipper. I hate that I missed out on a year of getting use out of it, because these pants are cute as can be. I made the bermuda length but there are two other lengths, so they can be worn year round

I love this fabric, a pretty embroidered twill with bumblebees on it. I found it at Joann’s, along with two other twills. One is pink with strawberries; the other is green with ladybugs on it. I was only going to buy the pink and blue but that little blond cutie insisted on the green ladybugs.

I’m planning to make tops to coordinate with all three pairs of shorts, but I figure I’ve got a little time since the weather is not quite warm enough for wearing them. (I can already tell that t-shirt isn’t going to make the cut for summer, cute as that pumpkin belly may be.)

I’m meeting my goal of sewing more for me this year, that’s for sure. Today, I broke in my new coverstitcher with the top on the left, Butterick B5185. I made it with short sleeves with a pretty teal knit I bought at … yes, same place. (Really, I do shop other places; it’s just how it worked with this sew-and-show.) I messed up while sewing it and had to rip out some stitches and fix it. It would help to read the directions before I start sewing.

A little love for the CP900: I never thought I’d own a coverstitcher. It just didn’t seem like a must have for me, and I was making do just fine with twin needling on my sewing machine. But then I learned about a great deal on a Janome CP900 and decided to splurge. So glad I did! It’s really amazing how great it does on coverstitching knits (and it should, since that’s what it’s supposed to do). In fact, my son was surprised to learn the shirt I was wearing was made by me and not store bought — and that made my ego just swell.

On the right is my new Favorite Things skirt, the Hip Skirts pleated skirt. I used a fabric I found at Hobby Lobby that’s one of my favorite colors (aqua). I like the skirt but did not cut the elastic small enough, so it’s a little roomy in the waist. It’s an easy enough problem to fix; I just haven’t done it yet.