Monday, June 1, 2020

Are Old Lady Dresses Inevitable?

First of all, I must say it feels like it's been forever since I posted anything here, but I see that the last post was March 18th. It's been a while but not as long as it feels like. I have sewn a few other things besides this latest. I might get around to blogging them or I might not. Anyway...

My closet is full of bright, cheerful colors and prints. That's the way I roll, but I feel like one should have at least one serious outfit. For many years my serious outfit has been a plain gray polyester skirt and a dark blouse but I thought it couldn't hurt to have one more and I liked this fabric a lot even though I normally avoid gray like a flesh-eating virus. (Sorry. Probably shouldn't joke about viruses right now.)

I used these two patterns because why buy a new pattern when you can Frankenpattern it? (Why buy a new pattern...? Well that's silly even for a rhetorical question but you know what I mean.)

It turned out that I cut the bodice a little too short so I added a band between the bodice and skirt. I kind of like that detail even though it was just done to fix a mistake. (I feel like the skirt is hanging oddly in this photo but I didn't feel like going back and trying again.)

The whole time I was sewing this I kept worrying that it was going to be an old lady dress. I cannot have old lady dresses! Yes, yes, I'm 62 but "old" is and always will be 20 years older than I am. Right now old is 82+. When I am 70, old will be 90; when I am 80 old will be 100 and so forth.

Anyway, now that it's finished, it does look like an old lady dress but I don't hate it. I may wear it once in a while when I don't necessarily need to wear a serious dress. It would be a shame for this lovely, subtle floral to end up neglected and forgotten in the dark end of the closet.

(Photo taken in the new house, which is still unfinished but we're getting close. It feels like it would be bad luck to estimate when it will be ready for us to move in, though.)

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

One Thing Postponed, One Thing Completed

I really hate not finishing things. I hate quitting in the middle of things. But sometimes it's the best thing to do. Shortly after Christmas I started making a coat. I was excited about it and it wasn't really difficult but for some reason, I don't know why, I couldn't make myself work on it for more than 10 or 15 minutes at a time, two or three days a week at most, and there were some weeks I didn't work on it at all. Needless to say that is not the way to get things done.

I did finally get it done to the point I could try it on, the outer part and the lining separately. It's going to fit fine other than I can't move my arms. I don't know what to do about it and by that time it was the middle of February and I realized that by the time I got it finished - if I could fix the problem and finish it - it would be too warm to wear it. So I decided to put it away until this fall and move on to something else.

After that experience I wanted a sure thing and something happy. So I got out this piece of lovely pink striped shirting and New Look 6963 and made this:

It's view C. I added three inches to the length, for no particular reason. The sleeves are from another pattern. I also added a fake pocket. I normally despise fake pockets but I thought it might make a nice accent and I have no need for a pocket in that location.

I had some small green buttons that I thought would go perfectly with it. I hesitated to use them because I was sure I bought them for some specific purpose but I couldn't remember what. I finally decided it didn't matter and used them and I'm glad I did.

I am extremely pleased with it. It's pretty and cheerful and very comfortable. The fabric has a slight stretch.

Since finishing that I have made a pair of stretch pants (trousers) for myself that I am somewhat less pleased with but one can always use another pair of comfy stretch pants for at home. Then I made leggings for the granddaughter and I'm seriously worried that she might outgrow them before I can get them to her or that the weather will be too warm for leggings and in that case she will definitely outgrow them before it turns cool again in the fall. Oh well, they were quick to make so not much loss of time. Maybe she can give them to one of her smaller cousins. (All her cousins on our side of the family are boys but she has several girl cousins on her mom's side)

So that's my sewing so far this year. Usually by this time of year I'm very excited to sew dresses but so far this year I'm not feeling it, even though we have had some lovely spring-like days already. I have been distracted by other things. In my personal life they have been all good things, which are much easier to be distracted by. For other things, the bad things the world is throwing at us, sewing is the distraction so I'll get back to that when I run out of other good distractions.

Stay safe everyone.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

New Year, New Sewing Coming Soon

Wow, it's been a really long time hasn't it? And I'm probably being excessively optimistic to assume that there's even anyone out there reading this. I have done a little sewing in the past few months but not a lot - a few things for the granddaughter, a few minor fixes and re-fashions, and one new thing for me that I need to photograph but no promises as to when I will get around to that.

But today I want to talk about my new life-changing gadget that I got for Christmas. Electric scissors! (The lower blade is the same color as the upper one. It just looks weird in the photo for some reason.)

To be honest, I used to have a slight disdain for electric scissors, when I thought about them at all which was hardly ever. But we all eventually reach an age when our various parts don't quite work the way they always have. It was becoming nearly impossible for me to cut out a whole garment without taking a break. Or several breaks. So, with Christmas approaching and my other half begging for ideas, I dropped a hint that I might like to try electric scissors.

And they are amazing. They cut through any fabric like it's not even there! It's not an exaggeration to say they're life-changing. Well, not much of one anyway. My only complaint is that they are really loud, almost "hearing protection required" loud. And yes, I love that they are pink.

I cleared out a drawer of my treadle sewing machine, which is what I mostly sew on, for the new gadget and its accessories (charger, extra blades) and it amuses me that this modern gadget lives in the drawer of a hundred-year old antique.* I love little incongruities like that.

This week I started a wool coat, cut out with my new electric scissors, and so far it's going well, although I'm taking it really slow, only working on it a little bit at a time, for no particular reason other than I want to be lazy, drink tea, read books, and spend too much time on Twitter but I expect to get back into sewing as we get closer to warm weather.

(*I can now officially say it's one hundred years old. Various websites give its date of manufacture based on serial number as between 1910 and 1920.)

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Just a T-Shirt

I like it and I don't. I like wearing it but I don't like the way I look in it.

I used a Butterick t-shirt pattern. (Can't remember the number; too lazy to look it up) I made a facing instead of the neck band because neck bands often don't work out well. And I lengthened the sleeves a little bit.

The fabric is a cotton/modal blend from Girl Charlee. I always feel like I'm taking a terrible chance when I order from Girl Charlee because some of their fabric is very poor quality but some of it, like this one, is very nice. I love the cotton/modal knit and I haven't seen it anywhere else.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

A Quick and Easy Tunic

When I saw this adorable fabric with antique pickups and flowers and such on it of course I had to have it. And what else could it be but another McCall's 9065?

Short sleeves this time and an un-banded collar because a band is just too much fabric up around my neck in the summertime.

(Yes, that's my front door. Of the new house which we're not living in yet because we're still building it. But we're getting closer.)

Thursday, August 29, 2019

OMG! Orange!

A while back when I was talking about how little I have been sewing for myself this summer Marcy practically ordered me to sew some wax print. Well, I sewed the dress in my last post first because that's what I really wanted to sew. But I did have a piece of fabric in my stash that has been calling out, "Hey! Sew me next!" It's not the only one calling to me but as you can see this one is pretty loud. (See what I did there?)

This came up on my Etsy search for "Dutch wax print" but it's different. It's not double sided and it's lighter weight and not as tight a weave as other wax print I have sewn. It's exactly like typical quilting cotton. But that's okay because I love quilting cotton too.

When I have a big beautiful print I like to keep the pattern simple so I used the bodice of Butterick 5748 and a half circle skirt (with pockets, of course) instead of the full circle that came in the pattern because I just don't want to deal with a full circle.

OMG! Orange makes me look so fat! I didn't realize until I saw the pictures. I don't really care much though. Let me tell you how much I love orange, especially with a little hot pink thrown in. Orange is such a happy, fun color. It has the hotness of red with the lightheartedness of yellow.

Just a little showing off:

Before, when using this bodice, I have cheated and made alterations on the fly which usually works out okay but could be better. This time I buckled down and did it right. I carefully measured and put the darts where they need to go and fixed the too high and wide neckline and the armholes that don't fit quite right. So it's not really Butterick 5748 anymore; it's my basic summer bodice pattern. The armholes still don't fit quite right. They're slightly gaping. I think it's because of my sloping shoulders and I think I know what to do about it next time. When I square up my shoulders in a way that feels unnatural to me the issues go away.

In the best picture of the dress I had my eyes closed but I'm going to post it anyway because this isn't about me; it's about the dress.

I'm going to wear it to a family get-together this weekend. Look out, family; get your sunglasses ready.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Goal: Everyday Wearability

As I've mentioned before recently, I haven't been sewing as much as normal this summer and much of what I've made is for other people, mostly my granddaughter. Which is fine. I love sewing for her, but I do want to sew at least a few more dresses for myself and I have been thinking I will only have time for two or three more this summer. With that in mind, I want to make something that I will definitely wear a lot, so this dress has all my favorites: colorful floral print on a dark background,* not paisley but sort of a paisleyish feel, fitted princess bodice with a low back from one pattern and a plain gathered skirt from another, side zipper, my favorite length, low mid-calf, and of course, pockets!

First the fabric:

Just look at those colors! So many of my favorites in one print.

And the dress:

The pocket picture was badly out of focus and the back picture was overexposed due to the sun literally glaring off my pasty white back so you'll just have to use your imagination on those 'cuz I'm not tryin' again.

I love it. It's exactly what I wanted it to be. I will definitely wear it often for the rest of the summer and maybe into the fall and even early winter as a jumper because I have several long sleeved t-shirts in the right colors to go with it.

*I love lighter prints too but I can never feel entirely comfortable in them because I'm always afraid of spilling something on them or brushing up against something dirty so I feel like I have to be very careful all day. Yes I know, the same things can happen with bright colors. It's not logical; it's psychological.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Sewing Therapy

Something sort of weird happened yesterday. First a little background, though. I mostly sew on a 100 year old Singer treadle machine left to me by my grandmother and I sew buttonholes and hems and such by hand. At one point I had planned to do a lot of this the easy modern way on my electric machine even on the things I make on the treadle but it turns out my electric machine doesn't have a blind hem stitch (What?!!) and buttonholes are just way more fun and actually way easier (though slower) to do by hand.

So that's the background; here's what happened. For about two weeks I have had a pain in my right hand in the joint where the thumb joins the rest of the hand. You really don't appreciate what a useful thing a thumb is until yours is not functioning properly. But I'm stubborn about these things so I just kept trucking along, mostly still doing what I do, just a little more carefully, so when it came to time to do the buttonholes I did the buttonholes.

And after stitching six buttonholes by hand my hand had stopped hurting almost entirely! There's still a hint of an ache when I move it a certain way and I still feel inclined to do things carefully but wow. The difference is dramatic.

Now let me be clear, this is NOT a recommendation for alternative therapy. I just wanted to share what seems to me a slightly bizarre and puzzling scene from my life.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Another Little Dress

Here's another dress for the granddaughter. McCall's 9227 with the addition of pockets and full sleeves. (The pattern has only cap sleeves.)

So far she has liked everything I have made for her but currently her favorite color is blue so the next thing I make for her will be blue.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

The Fine Art of Never Letting Go

I'm sorry I don't have a Before photo. So here's the story. I made a dress ages ago - maybe 20 years, I can't remember - out of this really cute yellow and white check with ladybugs. But it didn't turn out well. I loved it until I put it on and looked in the mirror, then it just didn't work for me. I tried once to fix it by making a complete new bodice for it. Slight improvement but it still didn't work. So for years I tried to think of something else to do to fix it. I considered giving it to Goodwill but it's so hard to let go.

Finally a few weeks ago it hit me. Why not make something for the granddaughter! The pattern is McCall's L9462, plus pockets from another pattern.

Yes it's wrinkled. Don't judge; Her mom honestly doesn't have time for ironing.

You may notice she's holding something very small in her hand.

It was quick and easy to make and she likes it.

But the story doesn't end there. I had a few little scraps left and I had an idea. So I searched for and quickly found some black and white stripe fabric. I used New Look 6963, my current favorite long shirt pattern and here's what I came up with:

And the back:

This is different for me. I don't often wear stripes and never anything as plain as black and white stripes but I love this. Sometimes less really is more. Less of this adorable ladybug check fabric works so much better than more. And best of all, I was able to let go and yet not let go.