Sewing Up a Storm

I’ve been sewing up a storm for the last few days. The dining room table has been covered with sewing debris for over a week (which, in a NYC apartment, is a big deal, as it is our only big table). I have sewn through a significant portion of my fabric purchases. I have a pile of “almost finished” things that need hemming.

I feel good.

The projects are going . . . reasonably well. My linen skirt is still waiting for a hook and eye and to be pinned for hemming. Hubby’s flannel pjs need hemming as well.

My poor Sorbetto top wants to be hemmed, but instead I keep giving it the stink-eye because I:

1) didn’t listen to my own instinct and enlarge the armscyes, which are now too tight

2) didn’t do a great job with the bias tape finishing around the neck and arms, either, so the top isn’t really wearable.

I would fix the bias tape binding by ripping everything out and starting again, but the fabric is such a thin, fine weave that doing so would destroy it. This one is, unfortunately, a wadder.

And right now I’m finishing off my yoga pants: only the waistband and (of course) the hems remain.

If I want to keep sewing at this rate, I’m going to have to pre-shrink some of my wool suiting next. I’ll also have to go shopping again. I don’t have much of a “stash” to work from.

Bias Tape By Hand

A better way of making bias tape. Wish I’d seen this before . . . (Image by debcll).

I think that I can safely say that making my own bias tape (especially by hand, without any tool to assist in folding the bias strips) is another of my less favored parts of sewing so far. I have spent hours over the past two days learning how to stitch the bias strips together so the seams are always on the right side and always face the same direction.

Just now, I finished pressing the bias tape for my real version of the Sorbetto top, which is all finished except for the neck and arms (hence the need for bias tape). It is looking good. The fabric I chose is a nice, very thin purple cotton. It drapes beautifully, giving me the most flattering fit on the Sorbetto (or any top) that I’ve had so far.  I’ve got a couple cute bone-colored buttons that I think I’ll add to the pleat for a bit of visual interest. I’m eager to finish it and wear it around the apartment.

Alas, it’s sleeveless and NYC is now too cold for me to wear it outside. I’ll have to enjoy it privately, or else wear it under a nice toasty wool jacket.

One thing I have learned from the Sorbetto is how much I prefer the bias tape finish to the facings that I’ve had to use for the other tops I’ve made. So, in return for the discomfort of making this stuff, there is the benefit of not having to deal with flippy floppy facings. I’m sure it will be more than worth it–especially once I get a better method of folding the tape.

In Progress . . .

I have two sewing projects in advanced states of progress. My linen skirt (Simplicity 5941) is complete save for hemming and inserting a hook and eye. I am pleased with it, and have put some notes on a post-it in the envelope so that it is even better next time (when I hope to learn how to make a waistband for it).

My second muslin of my Sorbetto top is much, much better in terms of fit. I just finished applying the bias-tape around the neck (in order to practice what is to me a new technique. It feels great . . . though it doesn’t look nearly as good. I’ll need to practice making more consistent tape, get better at sewing around the tape in a smooth fashion (no squiggling!), and definitely use a thread that matches my real Sorbetto top’s fabric very closely. Now, I just have to make enough tape to bind the armholes so I can see whether the size is fine the way it is, or if I need to scoop them out a bit more.

I have to say, after my first muslin I did not expect the Sorbetto to even approach “flattering.” It’s just a really shapeless garment. However, adjusting the darts and going down by one size has helped a lot. The back still has a lot of extra fabric, but I don’t think I want to mess with that since the top still has to go over my head.

Plus, there is a such thing as overfitting. In my case, that would mean that I do muslins until I’m sick of a project, and thus never end up with anything wearable.

That’s why I threw together the linen skirt. I was starting to get frustrated by my “failures” and wanted a sure-fire success that was for me (so hubby’s pjs were out of the running).

I need to push forward and get a couple more things done, then I’ll do a photo-shoot and share the fruits of my very busy week of daily sewing.

About Sewing

I think least favorite part of sewing is tracing the pattern pieces out. But I’m not willing to sacrifice the patterns I’ve paid for and not cut on the smallest lines. Why? Because that one time I did it wrong really infuriated me (and my more-used patterns that I cut out of the pattern tissue are getting a bit beat-up).

My favorite part of sewing is, believe it or not, pressing. I just love taking a seam I just stitched and blasting it four ways with my iron. Whenever I do that, I feel a sense of accomplishment. The seam smooths out and suddenly looks all kinds of crisp and professional.

Lekala Free Patterns

Lekala Offers Super-Customized Patterns

Lekala Offers Super-Customized Patterns

I love all things Russian. And I love all things custom. And I love the idea of sewing patterns that are inexpensive and customized to me. Who wouldn’t like that?

So when I read on Artisan Square about Lekala, I was intrigued. They are a Russian company that offers a dizzying array of patterns (especially of dresses) for sale, each for between $2 and 3. What makes them unusual is that instead of selling multi-size patterns, they customize each order according to your measurements. That way, ideally, you have fewer adjustments to make.

Even better, they offer a package of fifteen customized patterns for free. The bundle includes a knit top, a blouse, two dresses, and a whole bunch of skirts. I went ahead and ordered it last night . . . greatly increasing my current pattern stash. Within an hour, I had received printable PDFs of all fifteen patterns.

Apparently, the non-Russian version of the site–which I linked above–offers a smaller range of customization than the Russian version. The latter site, which is much less fancy looking but also in English, allows you to place a “string order” which includes a massive number of customizations, including high and low waistedness and the “distance between the protruding points of the breast.”

If I find I like the free Lekala patterns, I’ll make sure to purchase using the string order in the future. I think that having custom patterns for a few dollars a pop sounds like a fantastic time-and-headache-saver.