Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cutting into adored fabric

I have an extremely bad habit of hopelessly messing up sewing projects using fabric that I adore and will never be able to find again. Case in point. Rather than suffer such heartbreak again, I decided that the next time I use my favorite - and rare - fabric, I will do something so easy that I cannot possibly mess it up.

I purchased this tiny piece of gorgeous lavender cotton lawn at The Fabric Outlet in San Francisco. They only had 1.5 yards left, which nearly made me cry right then and there, but I was determined to do something with it. I picked up Hot Patterns No Sweat Easy Sew Poetry in Motion Tops (HP105) not long ago, and bravely decided to use it for this fabric, even though I had not sewn this pattern before.

It all came together just fine, although I didn't have enough fabric for long sleeves, as I had originally planned. But overall, a success!

Pattern: Hot Patterns 105 (OOP, I believe)

I have been sewing a lot of Vogue patterns recently, with mixed success. From the picture on the envelope, Vogue 1027 is pretty much my perfect dress, so I had to try it! I decided to use some rayon jersey that I had originally carried in Bamblue Fabrics, but wasn't selling particularly well, so I discontinued it. (I do still have about 2 yards left, if anyone wants it!). 

The end result is ok, but not the "perfect knit dress" that I was hoping for. For one thing, the bodice does not fit me well. I'm not sure whether this is because all that fabric is pulling down the bodice, or my natural endowments just don't fill the dress out, but either way, it's an odd fit. Also, the dress ended up being way too long on my 5'7" frame - I had to hack off about 5 inches. Overall, I'm ok with the dress; I just don't LOVE it like I wanted to.
Pattern: Vogue 1027

Finally, it was picture day at the school this week. This event always sneaks up on me, so I needed something quick and easy - but still beautiful - for my daughter to wear. I chose the Pink Fig Lily Top (which is really more of a dress), because it fit the bill. I pulled out my Heather Ross Far Far Away double gauze, delighted that I would finally use this fabric before my daughter grew out of it!

This picture is not the best; my daughter was all hyped up for picture day, and simply could not stand still. This was the only shot I got of her that even remotely does the dress justice.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Vogue Rollercoaster

I have not had much luck with Vogue patterns. Of the four that I have tried, two of them ended up in the trash: both pattern and garment. That is a pretty dismal success rate. And it's not like I'm trying obscure patterns or anything; I chose patterns that had been carefully vetted by readers before making a move! I'm beginnng to think that Vogue patterns do not really fit my sewing style. My idea of a perfect pattern is one that isn't too fiddly, and where you end up with a garment that looks impressive but took almost no time to sew.

Vogue patterns are anything but that, at least that's my impression from the four I've done. And the pattern rating on the back is just humiliating. The dress I just completed is rated as "Easy." I did not find it easy at all, and therefore my sewing ego took a beating. I need vanity pattern ratings, like vanity sizing in the clothing world; a simple t-shirt with a warning label like, "Only very advanced, skilled seamstresses should attempt!" Of course, the pattern company wouldn't sell many patterns that way, but it would make me feel better.

Anyway, here is the one dress that did turn out fairly well, despite a lot of sewing frustrations. The biggest problem was no fault of the pattern, but that of my machine: it kept eating the fabric. Constantly! Ugh, it was a horror. I tried everything to correct the issue and finally through a magical combination of changing needles, cleaning the machine, and changing the thread, I was able to finish the thing. But not without a lot of swearing on my part.

Now I just need to go dancing. I'm not sure what else this dress is appropriate for, but I do like it!

Pattern: Vogue 1225

The fabric is a thin, slippery poly blend knit with glittery leaves sprinkled throughout. I originally was selling this on Bamblue Fabrics, but I sold not one single yard (probably a good thing, now that I know how difficult it is to sew with!). I only had 5 yards, so I decided to keep it all for myself.

Another Vogue pattern I tried recently was the much-lauded V8379 wrap-dress. readers ranked this as one of the best patterns of 2007 AND 2008, and it is in the 2009 Hall of Fame. But....I just didn't like it! I have a tried and true wrap dress pattern that I love (Onion 2010), and was resistant to trying a new one, but the Vogue pattern had so many good reviews that I couldn't help myself. But it is much fiddlier than the Onion pattern. Also, the facing pops out constantly, which is OK given my busy fabric choice, but I'd be really bummed if I had made this in a solid color. Finally, nearly all the reviews I read on Patternreview said to lengthen the bodice, so I did....but now it's much too long. Ugh.

Overall, I do like the dress, but next time I'll go back to the Onion pattern:

I do like the sleeve and collar detail on the Vogue pattern: I may steal it to put on the Onion pattern next time.
Pattern:  Vogue 8379

One dress I won't be showing you is Vogue 1235, which ended up in the trash. I adore the look of this dress, and badly wanted it to turn out nicely....but sadly, it just did not work for me. So many things went wrong, and by the time I joined the bodice to the skirt the whole thing was just a mess. I don't know if it was the pattern or me. I may try it again someday.....

Sunday, September 4, 2011

In love with bamboo jersey

I am literally up to my ears in bamboo jersey. I've been making good progress toward stocking every color I can get my hands on for Bamblue Fabrics, so I have a ton of it lying around. But I haven't gotten around to sewing much with my own stock lately, because I've been so busy sewing for the kids (and all that embroidery takes a LONG time!).

Last week, I decided to change that. I cut off several yards from my rolls, washed it up (it does wash up quite nicely - I even put the stuff in the dryer, but I know that freaks some people out). And then went through my patterns.

First up is Simplicity 2554. I used my burgundy bamboo fabric for this - what a dream to sew! The quality is just TDF. This is a fairly simple pattern, and I just love how it shows off all the delicious drapiness of the fabric.

The next pattern I did was McCall's 6408. It seems I can never have enough of these drapey knit cardigans during the winter. They are the perfect thing to wear over leggings! This particular pattern is fantastic. Ridiculously easy, and I just love how the ties give it a little something special. For this pattern, I used my mocha bamboo jersey.

Can't decide which picture I like best, so I'll throw in this one too:

Finally, I made McCall's 6078.  I have made this pattern before (although a different view), but I somehow managed to lose the shirt. I remember modeling it for a picture two years ago, and I have not seen that top since. It is so annoying, because I really need a black cowl neck shirt like that, but I refuse to make another, since I KNOW that top has to be somewhere in the hourse! Grrrr.

Anyway, I made View A this time, in my new forest green bamboo jersey. Love it. all the pleats are a little fussy, and I really don't like how the instructions say to stitch down the length of the pleat. Why is this necessary? Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but I don't like how that looks. I spent about 45 minutes carefully picking out all those stitches after I'd sewn the whole thing up.

And now for something completely different.

I was poking around on eBay the other day, and I came across the Matilda Jane Wendy Dress. What a fantastic use for all those knit scraps I insist on saving and never use (except for undies)! I spent about 10 minutes grabbing various knit scraps that looked long enough for the tiers, and then used the Farbenmix Uta dress as a base for the pattern. I love how it turned out. I still need to wash it so the hems (which are all unfinished) will curl nicely.

Pattern: Modified Farbenmix Uta
Leggings Pattern: Ottobre

Thanks for looking!

PS - all that lovely bamboo jersey is ON SALE at Bamblue Fabrics for Labor Day! Just use coupon code LABORDAY and you will receive 15% off anything in the store, including sale items.