Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bowtie blouse

My sewing mojo has still been a bit low lately despite the fact that I do have time in the evenings (and even a nice little room to sew in!), so I decided to try to kick start myself by sewing a simple, gratifying project. I often have a habit of making overly complicated things that take forever, and this bowtie blouse seemed simple enough.

Actually, this project turned out to be a bit of a headache due to some bad decisions on my part and some issues with the pattern. The fabric I was using was a remnant from Sew Green, an awesome store that sells vintage/recycled fabric at very little cost (I'm pretty sure this piece was part of seven bucks for all you can fit into a grocery bag haul from one of their sidewalk sales). The piece seemed pretty big so I just started hacking into it, but my lack of prior planning came back to bite me in the end. I was forced to make the blouse a little bit shorter just so I could squeeze it out, and now I have a bunch of oddly shaped scraps instead of useable leftovers. Not very green of me!

The other issues I had were with the pattern. The pattern is from an old-ish (2003 or so?) issue of Burda magazine. This being Burda I knew that the little keyhole neckline was likely going to be quite low, so I raised it by more than an inch when I was tracing out the pattern. Even with that modification, it's still low. I had intended this to be a work-appropriate shirt when paired with some navy slacks (like so), but it's really a bit too low cut for me to get away with that. The fit of the shirt was also quite blousy, so I had to add some front and back darts to keep it from just hanging straight down from my boobs. I think those modifications worked pretty well; it's still blousy enough to be comfortable but definitely has some shape.

One thing that turned out really well with this project was the seam finishings. I used a whole bunch of different techniques in here -- french seams on the side seams, flat felled seams on the armholes (it was a little tricky to do, but looks sweet!), and I took some extra time to fiddle around with a few different stitches for finishing off the facing. In the end, I went with a zigzag stitch around the edge of the facing, which I then trimmed, turned under, and straight stitched over top to hold it in place. The result, I think, is pretty neat looking. Normally facings are so floppy and ugly that I avoid them, but in this case I'm proud enough of the finished result to post a picture of my facing. Voila!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

My own skirt sloper

I posted a picture of this skirt previously, but I thought it deserved its own post because I'm really pleased with the way it turned out! This skirt is drafted from my own skirt sloper. The idea of making personalized slopers and working from them for modifying or drafting new patterns makes so much sense, but I've never managed to get around to making them. I thought that I might be more motivated to make a sloper if I could use it to use something right away, like this simple pencil skirt. It's basically a sloper with a back vent and waistband!

For the base of this pattern, I started with a pencil skirt pattern from an old Burda magazine and started fitting from there. This vintage guide was really helpful for fitting the pattern, although a warning that it has a lot of frustrating body shaming language sprinkled throughout. If you have sanity watcher's points to spare, though, it's really helpful. My fit problems were similar to the problems shown in Fig 3/4 -- my butt tends to lift up the back of skirts so that the back is shorter than the front. Usually I just deal with this by shortening the hem at the front, but this time I tried shortening at the waistband. You can see on the houndstooth pattern here that the waistband now dips down slightly at the center front:

The advantage of doing it this way is that it makes the front of the skirt smoother because it hangs flat from the waist, rather than being pulled by the back by my butt. I also eliminated the front darts because they just dig into my stomach at the front (one of my major annoyances about RTW skirts), and then deepened the darts at the back for a better curve over the butt:

You can see that I still have a bit of a weird divet thing than happens at my hip. I'm not sure how to fix that. I always end up with a little pooch of fabric there right underneath my hip bone where my hip actually curves in before it goes out again at the thigh. I pinched a bit of fabric out at the seam there but it still looks weird in certain stances. But I think the problems here are fairly minor -- all in all this skirt is really comfy to wear and I think it looks good, too!

I'll leave you with a few pictures of the inside finishings of the skirt. I get so anal about seam finishes and all then no one ever sees it but me (well, my SO does, but he doesn't always know what he's supposed to be appreciating!).

The houndstooth was a little ravely, so I finished it off with hong kong seams on the inside. It's time consuming, but since there are only a few seam to finish here it wasn't such a big deal. I also hand stitched the hem so it would be super duper invisible. Figuring out what to do with the lining at the back vent had me stumped at first, but fortunately The Cupcake Goddess has a great tutorial on how to address just this problem. With the lining and the seam finishes, I hope this skirt will hold up for many years of wear!