Monday, July 31, 2006

This is the blouse that would not end ...

... it just goes on and on, my friend.

OK, now that you've got that song in your brain for the rest of the day. ;-)

As of last night, I had everything done except to sew the bottom hem and do the buttons/holes.

Then I tried it on again and something just wasn't right. So I walked away. Went to bed and slept even. Got up this morning, put it on again and still, it wasn't right.

I flipped open the magazine to look at the pattern photo and try to figure out what IT was (or wasn't). What exactly did I like about this particular pattern? What style elements called to me? The empire seaming, yes. The fringe ... not so much, but I went ahead and added it to mine too. Oh, wait — it's the DARTS! The darts in the photo are at an interesting angle to the empire seam. I really like that. But, when I looked at my final blouse, they're almost straight up and down. Then I tried on the muslin and there's that cool angle again. Which means that somewhere between muslin and alterations, I lost the dart angle. Rats, and double rats because ...

Of course the darts have already been sewn, pressed, and topstitched, and the empire seam has been sewn, pressed, overlocked, and topstitched. Of course.

So, here's what the darts looked like this morning.

And here's what they look like now.

Time to make dinner for the menfolk. I *will* finish this $#@&! blouse tonight. Or die trying.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

15-plus days and counting

Holy cow! I never take this long to finish sewing projects. (And no, I'm still not done.) Chalk it up to other obligations and not much time spent at the sewing machine for the last couple of weeks.

Picking up where I last left you (on the edge of your seats, I know), I added more width at the biceps to my sleeve pattern, cut two new sleeves, ripped one sleeve out of the muslin, and sewed one new one in. Success. I will finish this muslin to be wearable because as I look at it, it only needs the other sleeve, hems and buttons. It would be silly to just toss a perfectly wearable blouse. I may keep it but more likely I'll donate it. But I won't finish it until after I finish the final version. I'm bored with it. I've been looking at it on my dressform for more than two weeks!

This afternoon, I spent a couple of hours adjusting the front upper and middle bodice pieces. At first, I thought the solution would be to add a bit to the bottom of the upper piece at the underbust area and scoop out a corresponding bit from the middle and so I did that. Then I pulled out my good fabric and starting laying the pattern pieces on it for cutting. I actually cut out the back upper bodice piece and then I started second-guessing my alterations. I'm glad I did because I don't think they would've worked. By adding and then scooping, I decided I was essentially making no adjustment! Duh.

So I pinned the pattern pieces together, draped them on me and started fiddling and figuring out. I knew I needed more length over the girls to get that empire seam a bit lower. If I slashed too high, the neckline would be too low. If I slashed too low, the dart and seam angle would go wonky. What I ended up with was a slash that added about 3/4" near the center front but tapered to zero at the sideseam so I wouldn't screw up the length there. Doing this, however, added 3/4" to the upper empire seamline and so the adjoining piece had to be adjusted so they would fit together. I slashed that adjoining piece vertically, starting at the underbust curve, spread it 3/4" and tapered to zero at the bottom. I didn't want to spread the entire piece evenly outward because its bottom seam has to join up with the "peplum-y" piece below it and I didn't need any more width across the waist/hips than what I'd already adjusted for earlier. With the second series of adjustments done, I trued up my seamlines and finished cutting out. I'll detail these adjustments in more details (pics) later, if/when I ever finish this darn blouse.

This is the fabric I'm using. It's a medium-weight linen. I still have lots of summer to go here in Florida even if the calendar says otherwise and so autumn sewing isn't even on the horizon yet. We tend to dress tropical here in Florida long after autumn officially rolls in.

So far, I've sewn the darts and topstitched, sewn the upper bodice to the middle, overlocked and topstitched that seam, and sewn the shoulder seams together for a quick try-on. I think it's going to work. And the topstitching looks a lot better on the solid fabric.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Progress (very little) Report

I bet you were expecting to see a photo of my finished wearable muslin. Me too. But the Sewing Gods had other plans. Or maybe it was the Flabby Arms Gods (or are they Demons?).

But first, let me back up to go in the order I sewed yesterday ...

The collar is in and bias faced, with NO HELP WHATSOEVER from the Burda instructions, tankyewvellymuch. In fact, I turned to Kwik Sew 2927 after my 7,948th read of the Burda instrux. Really, I'm usually pretty good when it comes to written instructions of any kind. Except those darn WOF instructions. I usually get the general idea and already know a good/better method even when I don't fully get their step-by-steps, but yesterday I just couldn't get past a particular sentence (I'll add it later so you can share in the crosseyed-ness) and there I sat. Stuck. I tried a few ways I thought might work, but I wasn't particularly happy with those attempts. Rip, rip, rip. So I flipped through my personal pattern catalog to see if I had anything even slightly similar. KS 2927 to the rescue and I was back on track.

Until the sleeves. They went in perfectly -- nary a pucker. Which should've been a tip-off right then and there. But since this was a muslin, I already had figured they'd go in perfectly because they don't really count. Thankfully, I did have the foresight to actually try them on my arms before overlocking the seam allowances. And that's when I discovered they were too tight. A look in the mirror also showed the neck and shoulders now bunching up horribly. Arghhh.

Time for a sleeve sacrifice. I took off the blouse and slashed the sleeves from just above the hem area straight up overarm to the shoulder seam. Ahh. Much better, and confirmation that the neck/shoulder bunching was because the too-tight sleeves couldn't get down my arm to where they needed to be.

I'm still deciding whether to re-do the sleeves for this. I have enough fabric, but I'm getting kind of sick of it at this point. I really want to move on to the real version. But, will it be Catch-22 if I don't do another sleeve test?? Of course it will. Except that it would be so much easier at this point to just make this blouse sleeveless and bind the armholes. Oh! Idea! I could do one sleeve, baste it in, and revert to Plan B — Sleeveless Wearable Muslin. Hmmm. Now that has possibilities.

On another front (pun definitely intended), I'm going to be reshaping the empire seam under the bust like in the pic below. If you look closely, you can see the blue marker line I drew on myself while wearing the muslin. That line follows my actual underbust curve. (Thanks for the nudge, Belinda.)

So that's where things are at the moment — close, but no ceeeeegar!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

PSD ... no, PSA

Because I have too many other things on the endless To-Do list, I couldn't decree the whole day as a PSD (Personal Sewing Day), but starting now ... I'm decreeing a PSA (Personal Sewing Afternoon). Hopefully, I'll finish my Burda muslin and have something to report. I did work on the collar a bit last night (or this morning, depending on how you view post-midnight timeframes). I will go ahead and finish this blouse to make it wearable because the 100% cotton is comfortable, but it will be a house-blouse only. Something to wear when I don't want to get the "good ones" dirty.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

First Fitting

I haven't progressed much more since my last entry. Life exploded. But I did take a couple of pics over the weekend after my first try-on with the sideseams sewn. So far, mostly so good. I think it wouldn't hurt to lower the empire seam about 1/2" but I'm still debating on that. If I put an empire seam at my true underbust, it makes the girls really prominent -- more than usual even. If I "fudge" the seam, it helps to minimize the bust. But there's a fine point between fudging and fitting. I think I'm there, but I'm not sure.

The back is also looking pretty good. I haven't yet sewn the waist darts because I prefer to fit them to me and not just where the pattern indicates.

I'm also still deciding whether I will finish this completely to make it wearable or keep it as a tester. I think that will depend on how the collar turns out. ;)

Sunday, July 16, 2006

A Wearable Muslin

I have a love/hate relationship with muslins. Yes, I think they are necessary and more helpful than not. They save the "good fabric" from potential disaster, and let you test out fit and techniques. Those are the parts I love. What I hate is wasting all that prime sewing time on a wadder, because if you use true muslin fabric, it will end up in the bin. So I usually compromise with potentially wearable muslins sewn from the more-aged/less-loved fabrics in the stash. But ... this means (a) I may end up with two of the very same garment when I really only wanted one and (b) I may be tired of the pattern by the time I finish the tester and the "good fabric" version, the one I really wanted but had to test first, never gets made.

Last night I finished cutting out the blouse-in-progress (#109 from the July Burda WOF). This afternoon I've been sewing it together off and on around other household stuff going on. The photo at the top is how it looks at this very moment. I stopped because of that love/hate thing.

I forgot that I wanted to add about 1.25" to the bottom piece so the blouse will hit a more flattering spot on me. To fix my mistake means I have to rip out those bottom pieces, recut 3 new pieces (2 front, 1 back) and re-sew the front. Here's my dilemma. I don't really love this fabric. It's plain semi-cheap cotton from Joann's. It's not really *my* colors or style but it's OK. If I don't make it longer, chances are I will never wear it but it will serve a purpose in testing fit and style. If I do fix it, I probably will wear it. But it still won't be loved — and never a Holy Grail — because I don't love the fabric. So how much will I really wear it?

Switching gears a moment — I took a photo in progress to see if I liked the topstitching I added. The Burda instructions have you topstitch the dart and the lower seam on middle piece where it joins the bottom piece but you are not supposed to topstitch the underbust seam. Well, I like the underbust seam and want to emphasize it and the line it creates on me. I topstitched one side and not the other, took a pic to compare and ... you can't really see the difference because of the print!

Here's the two sides. The one on your right is topstitched. Yeah, I know. You can't tell.

Here's a close-up where you can see the topstitching better. If you squint. But in a solid, I know I'll prefer it so that's what I'm going to do.

Back to the length ... I have cut out new pieces and because I'm quite anal, I'll most likely fix it. OK, I already know I'll fix it otherwise I wouldn't have cut out the new pieces. Thankfully, I hadn't yet overlocked the seam allowances on these pieces so ripping out will be easy. In fact, if I had just done it instead of writing about it, I'd be finished by now!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Thinking Out Loud

Earlier I was taking out some clean laundry from the dryer. One of the items was a pair of light green linen capris I made last summer. I "rediscovered" them a few weeks ago. (For any readers who may not know, we're in the midst of remodeling a 3-years ours Money Pit and actually moved into it last November, so most of our stuff is still packed in boxes and every so often I unpack another and find treasures.) Until I found them again, I had forgotten how much I like wearing these capris and so they've now moved to my "wear-first" list especially since they perfectly match a new favorite blouse made for this summer. I really have plenty of clothes to make it through between laundry cycles but I find not all of them actually make it into the weekly laundry which means I'm not reaching for them first, which in turn made me start thinking ...

One of the reasons I sew is for fit. I really prefer my sewn clothing because it just plain fits me better than most things I can buy. But I think I'm starting to move beyond just the fit criterion now as my pondering in front of the dryer today keeps running through my head.

I think I'm now on the quest for *all* of my clothing to be on the wear-first list. The Holy Grail of perfect marriage of pattern, style and fabric that moves something from the merely-like list to the wear-first list. And I think this is contributing to my analysis paralysis! I don't know if this is a blessing or a curse ...

Friday, July 14, 2006

Slowly Unslumping

I'm sporadically working on a pattern from the July 2006 issue of Burda WOF. I love the lines in this blouse but to get it to fit me will take some alteration and probably a test in fabric.

(No, that's not me.)

I traced the pattern on Wednesday night after watching the season premiere of Project Runway. All that cutting, draping & sewing motivated me to actually start something and this pattern was calling to me in the loudest voice. I still have no idea what final fabric I'll actually use, but in the meantime I'm enjoying the pre-flight process. BTW, I love what Amber's written about PR on her blog. I love reading what she says about most everything.

The first step was an FBA (full bust alteration). To start, I pinned the existing underbust dart closed and slashed the pattern to create a horizontal bust dart opening so I could keep the underbust shaping from the pattern. Then I filled in the spread with more tracing material.

I needed to add a good 2 inches of FBA (an XLFBA??), which really whacks out (technical term!) the armscye. So, I decided to see what I could come up with using my Pattern Master Boutique (PMB) patternmaking software. My trial pattern piece is laying under the de-altered pattern piece in the photo below. I know this armhole fits so I morphed between my PMB pattern and the Burda tracing, keeping the exact Burda neckline (so the collar fits) and re-angling the PMB underbust dart to match the Burda dart angle.

If I didn't have PMB, I would just continue on with the FBA I started by rotating the side bust dart back to the underbust, which will somewhat open up the armhole again. But since I already know I would also need to adjust the Burda sleeve pattern (bigger), I just took the easy way out and used my TNT armhole/sleeve from PMB. Why reinvent the wheel, right? You can see that the PMB pattern piece is wider in almost the exact amount as the "manual" FBA added.

Here's the re-adjusted pattern tracings pinned together for a quick fitting on Zillie (my dressform). So far, so good.

Now to raid the stash for fabric I only mildly like so I can further test my alterations. I already know the peplum-y thing has to be a bit longer in lieu of the tummy not being flatter, and I'm thinking the neckline may end up too low. Time (and fabric) will tell.


I've been sort of in a sewing and computer slump and the days have been whizzing by filled with errands and other not-fun stuff, so the blog has been on the back burner. From other blogs I read, Slump Fever seems to be going around. In my case, I think it's a bit of slump mixed in with decision overload, or analysis paralysis as my friend and I have dubbed it. I've got a lot of sewing projects I want to work on but I'm having trouble deciding what to start on and which fabric to sacrifice ... er ... use.

Plus, a pair of striped capris left in a state of almost-done had me stalled too. I wasn't loving them and so I left them in a heap on the cutting table unfinished. But then I couldn't make myself start anything with them mocking me every time I went near. Finishing them meant a fair bit of ripping out and well, blech.

In the meantime, my sister called to remind me of her upcoming birthday but mostly to drop not-so-subtle hints that she really wanted me to make her a couple of new scrub tops. Since these are easy and fast, I decided to grant her wish ... thinking that sewing *something* would ease me out of the paralysis. I always have fun putting together fabrics for her scrubs and I even had fabrics earmarked for scrubs prewashed and ready to go.

Well, those capris were still staring me down so I plopped myself in front of the TV, seam ripper in hand, unstitched where needed and then put them out of my misery and finished them. I still don't love them but at least they are done and off the table, which left me now both mentally and physically free to start the scrubs.

But then I started overthinking again. I have a much TNT (tried-n-true) scrubs pattern I've used many times for my sister. Four easy pieces, dolman sleeves, a fast sew. But could I be happy with that?? Nooooooooo! I decided my sister needed a new style scrub with set-in sleeves and an FBA'd front bust dart. So, it took me a day longer than I had first thought, but Monday's mail had one TNT and one untested scrub on their way to my sister in Richmond. She should've received them yesterday so I'll call her tomorrow to see how the new pattern and my "educated guess" alterations worked out.

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

I've got you covered

Lest you think I've fallen off the blog scope, nope! I've just been busy putting together some info and tutorial pages for home coverstitch machines and accessories. By no means complete or exhaustive, you can find the new link in the sidebar to the right.

Now to go dig out the dog crate for The World's Most Skittish Dog During 4th of July Fireworks ...