My Day and My (Last) Night

In sewing, I am trying to understand tissue fitting, using my dress form: 

I can say that my first attempt to pin fit convinced me to add to the side seams at the hips, meaning that this top is graded from XS at the shoulders to S at the arm pit, grading out to a L at the hips. 

I never thought of my hips as large (~38″), but I do tend to have problems with my RTW shirts pulling and riding up. Maybe some extra room would help?

The top​ above is Kwik Sew 3242. It is just two pieces, with a wide scoop neck. I plan to alter the pattern somewhat by adding bands around the neck and armholes (the directions call for essentially facings). I think the result will look more professional…

This is what I’ve been working on outside sewing:

Socializing feral kittens!

Time Machine Tuesday: (Almost) First Dress

My one and only picture wearing the first dress I ever made--with much assistance from the costume shop manager who was teaching me to sew (1997).

My one and only picture wearing the first dress I ever made (1997).

Here is a little, tiny picture of me wearing the very first garment I ever sewed.

I made it while working at the costume shop at Mill Mountain Theatre, along with a few pillows. Since I was working as a dresser backstage, it behooved me to know how to do some emergency sewing. The costume shop manager taught me the basics, and guided me through making this dress.

Her help with fitting was invaluable, and I wish I had such assistance now, when I can actually sew a bit better than I could then.

This dress turned out nicely, though a little wonky around the neck (probably due to my bust size). It was lined, as I recall, with a pretty printed purple cotton.

I wish I had kept it as a souvenir of my earliest efforts.

New Look 6470

On Thursday, I finished my first knit skirt sufficiently to wear it to dance class. I was surprised how much I liked it, because I picked the pattern mainly to practice working with knits and using my new coverstitch machine, ie I made this skirt to build sewing skills rather than because I wanted to wear a skirt like this:

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The flounce moves very well when dancing, and the skirt is actually a flattering length for me (knit skirts in stores are overlong for me, dragging on the floor).

In the photo above, I paired the skirt with the v-neck top (Kwik Sew 3115) that I made from scrap fabric.

Here is New Look 6470, which is now out of print but was very popular for some time for the crossover and 6470 (1)cowl-neck tops. On PatternReview, there are over 70 reviews of this pattern, though few are of the skirt!

Here is my review:

Pattern Description:
Misses tops and skirt.

Pattern Sizing:
A (8-18). I sewed a size 14. I hesitated about what size to make and decided based on the listed finished garment hip size: 40.5″. My hips are 38″, and I decided I wanted some ease since I used a very lightweight knit and wanted to be able to move/dance in it.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes. This is a very simple, four seam skirt. Just two pattern pieces!

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
Likes

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I used a new technique for attaching waistband elastic. 

This skirt is extremely simple: four seams, waist elastic/casing, and a hem. Considering how simple it is, it is fairly flattering. I wore it to dance class, and got complemented on it: “Great dancing skirt!” It is also quite comfortable, moves well, and does not fit too snugly around the legs. The flounce moves very nicely when walking and dancing! Overall, a nicer skirt than I expected.

Dislikes
I don’t like running elastic through a casing, so I tried a new method for attaching the waistband, which is described second on this page. In short, I ignored the directions in the instructions, sewed the elastic into a circle, then stitched it to the top of the skirt (1/4″ below the top), stretching the elastic to fit. Then I folded the elastic into the skirt and used my coverstitch machine to stitch the elastic down. It was my first time using this method, and with some trial and error it turned out reasonably well.

I also hemmed using my new coverstitch machine, and followed a tip by happycamper on the Amazon review page for the Brother 2340CV. I did long straight stitch an inch from the bottom of the skirt, then used that basting thread as the “hinge” for pressing the hem up. Then, when stitching the hem with the coverstitch machine, I pulled gently on that basting thread to help the fabric feed evenly. The hem that resulted was just beautiful.

Fabric Used:
A lightweight, denim-look synthetic knit. It looks nice, but I wouldn’t buy it again because it develops pulls easily!

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I am proud of my neat hem, made with my new Brother 2340CV.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I didn’t make any alterations to the pattern. I did make a minor “design change”: I serged the flounce to the skirt pieces, but when I wore the skirt the first time, I managed to rip that seam by stepping on the skirt. Ooops. I reserged that seam, then I topstitched the the flounce to the skirt. That should give a little extra strength.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I actually might! I’m not wild about elastic waistbands, but this skirt looks surprisingly nice, goes together easily, and is lovely to dance tango in. I dance a lot of tango, so it might be nice to have a couple simple, pretty long skirts.

Conclusion:
Super simple skirt, suitable for a beginner, that helped me learn several new skills. It moves well.

 

 

Tango is dangerous for your sewing . . .

Dancing has many benefits. One of those is getting into shape. But no one told me about the disadvantages. I’ve just discovered that in the past three weeks (thanks to 15+ hours of tango a week), my body has changed enough that my three new Simplicity 1500 skirts no longer fit me.

My measurements are exactly the same. But the skirts now sit an inch or two lower on my body, and instead of looking cute, they look dumpy.

Such a small difference, such a short period of time. And yet, I don’t have any idea how to fix this and salvage the three skirts I’ve made from that pattern, so happy that I finally would have something that fits.

Lightbulb Moment With Lekala

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Lekala 5088

In my quest to sew things that actually fit well, I decided to try out one of Lekala’s free patterns, 5088. It’s a three-seam straight skirt with a waistband. Lekala’s system drafts a pattern for you based on the measurements that you input, so ideally the pattern will fit you perfectly. I ordered through the Russian site, using a string order, which gives you more options in terms of saying what adjustments should be made to the pattern to get a better fit. 

However, I’ve never really had a grasp on what my proportions are compared to the average block. I’ve gathered in ballroom dancing that I have quite long arms, and I’ve gathered through sewing that I have narrow shoulders. The others measurements, however, baffled me. Do I have I long neck? No clue. 

I left the majority of the adjustments on “average” and printed my custom pattern. Since I was already cutting out Simplicity 1500, which I’m sewing up several times over, I decided I might as well squeeze a pencil skirt out of the remaining fabric. If it didn’t work out, it was no big loss–because that leftover denim was just going to be wasted otherwise. 

The Lekala skirt sewed up quickly (though adjusting to a 3/8″ seam allowance was tough!), but when I tried it on (sans waistband) I found the fit was rather loose. Considering how little ease Lekala is supposed to have, I was surprised. I tried the skirt on several more times over the course of the day, and again this morning. Finally, I realized that it seemed like the pattern was expecting the widest part of my hips to be higher than they are. The looseness is, I think, because the widest part of the skirt is a couple inches above the widest part of me!

It occurred to me that, perhaps, I needed to ask for an adjustment for being short waisted. I did some googling, and found a couple methods for determining if you have a short, long, or balanced waistline. Lo and behold, I am indeed short-waisted.

I will adjust this skirt to adjust for the actual location of my hips, and as it uses so little fabric and is one of the free patterns, order another one and test whether my adjustment fixes the issue. If I can figure out my body proportions and get Lekala to draft a pattern to fit me, it would make my sewing life so much easier.