Sep 27, 2012

DIY Chevron on Vogue 8771 Dolman Tee

I leave my laundry mountain in the photo to make you feel better. You're welcome.

Yesterday was Yom Kippur, which meant my four-year-old had the day off pre-K. When my big plans to hit up a museum were dashed because she wasn't feeling well enough to leave the apartment, I decided to enlist some old-fashioned child labour in creating the above Dolman-sleeved sweatshirt, sewn from Vogue 8771. (I'm wearing it as I type this, but have no pics of me in it, because my photographer got a real job and is now gone during all daylight hours. It's just as well because I have a few fit issues I will need to correct before I sew this again — which I will.)

Here's the line drawing, on top of which I photoshopped a chevron design for inspiration. (Are we still into chevrons, people? I'm digging it. I'm also still really into Vampire Weekend.)

You can see from the top photo that in the end I opted not to make the long sleeves. I put it on midway, and it just seemed like it would be too hot and constricting for me. NYC apartments are overheated, ya'll. I also cut off the bottom asymmetrical hem because it went a little low over my booty and was a little tight on my hips. 

I have this box of fabric paint a former neighbor passed on to me a few years back, and it just keeps coming in handy. All I needed for this project was a ruler, sponge, and some tape (I would have preferred masking tape, but you can see here all I had was packing tape. It worked fine). 

First I marked center front on the top and bottom using pins. Then I used a strip of tape to create a straight line down the center. Then, using my picture for a guide, I used the tape to mark off my stripes. The stripes are 2 inches wide, while the "white space" between them is 2 &1/4 inches.

After I had one side perfectly spaced, I used a pencil to mark a straight line up the center front of the tape, and cut away the piece I had used to mark it. There's possibly an easier way to do this. It's probably been done before. But it worked. So why are you arguing with me? Go to your room.

Then I taped off the other side of the chevrons, again using my ruler to make sure my spacing was as exact as I have the patience for. It should be noted this little stinker here was helping me the whole way:

Then we sponge-painted the stripes, first with a chartreuse color I mixed up, and then adding black to the mix with each stripe to achieve a cool reverse ombre effect. Or something like that. We did our best:

I know what you're thinking: there's paint on your floor. It's cool. It comes off. Also, I needed the tape to hold the shirt panel down, and I couldn't think of a better way:

After it dried, I sewed the shirt, which took me about 20 minutes. That's how quick it was. I won't show you how to do that, because if you have the pattern, you have the instructions.

Ok, fine. Here's a pic of me in it. A four-year-old took it. Can you tell:

It was a bit of an experiment, and not a bad way to pass the afternoon indoors with a slightly sick kid. (We also baked a chocolate cake, to celebrate Ryan's good fortune). As I said before, I have some fit issues to clear up because this top looks a lot better on my dressform than on myself. But that's for another day — and another post.

Sep 24, 2012

Fall Sewing With Knits, Leather and Leggings

I'm pretty sure I resolved some time last winter to sew more garments that I would wear every day, rather than these cute dresses we all love but are useless to a work-at-home mom such as myself. If you saw my closet, you'd have no sympathy when I whine, "I have nothing to wear!" But I can't kick it at the playground in a dress. (You're thinking, "Yes, you can! They do it all the time on TV!" But real life goes something like this: stubborn kid refuses to go down slide unless you accompany her + gust of wind =  all the Russian and Dominican moms get a good laugh at the lack of elasticity in my underpants. Now they're really never going to talk to me.)

I've said too much already, haven't I? Anyway, I have a few patterns on deck, but little in the way of fabric (I should start accepting donations). 

First up, these leggings — McCall's 6404, View C. I have a black double-knit and faux leather for the knee patches. They're very similar to a pair I Macgeyvered last winter, using some old Mountain Equipment Co-op longjohns. I loved those to death. (Truly: they're in a landfill somewhere now). Hopefully this pair will be sturdier:

I also like View A, though minus the welt pockets. I think those make these leggings look too much like ski pants:

Of course, I'll need something to wear on top of my new leggings, and I still love me a Dolman sleeve, so: Vogue 8771. 

I like how a cowl neck balances out my pear-shaped figure, so Vogue 8831 is another knit option with a myriad of possibilities.

I've done so well at sewing out of my stash this past year that (other than the aforementioned pleather) all I am left with is odd yards of chiffon for kid craft projects and quilting-weight cottons. So get to the Garment District I must, so I can find some good knits for all of these. Anybody have a favorite source for knits in NYC?

Sep 23, 2012

Finished Project (Ruby shorts) and Sway Back Silliness

If you haven't already seen it, there's a lovely video of Amy Poehler giving advice to a teen girl about how to love her body. In the video, which is making the rounds on the Internet, she suggests considering the parts of your body that are awesome (like 20-20 eyesight, for example), and giving thanks for those, rather than fixating on all the things you dislike. She also wisely suggests to compare your inner dialogue to what you might say to a future daughter or younger sister. "You would tell her she was beautiful — and you would not be lying. Because she is. And so are you," she says. Try not to tear up. Just try.

Meanwhile, in sewing, the adjustments we need to make for fit can go a long way to highlighting those things about ourselves we feel most crappy about — AND even give a bad name to the things we thought were pretty awesome.

For example, I previously would have called myself long-legged. But now I know I am just short-waisted. I was also pretty happy with what I'd call my skinny-back/round butt combo. But unfortunately in the sewing world, this is known as "swayback" — a term that sounds a little close to "hunchback" for my liking — and requires constant vigilance when it comes to adjusting patterns to prevent against fabric "pooling" on the lower back. It's enough to make you want to wear lycra every day.   

Sep 22, 2012

Amy's Bombshell Dress (My First Dress Commission!)

This August I sewed a very special dress for my husband's friend who will be taking part in a  wedding-like event in Scotland this fall (Ryan keeps asking me: is Amy getting married? There's no ceremony but people are traveling from continents far and wide for the event, so let's just call this a non-traditional wedding dress).

Anyway, Amy liked the Peacock Print Bombshell Dress I made, and wanted something similar. And, an artistic person, she wanted the fabric to be special. So she made her own print, using Photoshop and a photograph she took while vacationing with her boyfriend/fiance/husband in Prague, and had it printed by If you look closely in the print below, you can see clocks. And the repeating pattern nearly looks like plaid, appropriate considering the wedding-like event is at a castle in Scotland. I love it:

The challenge with this dress was the fact that Amy is living in London right now, so there was no opportunity to fit a muslin on her in person. So she bravely commissioned me to make it, and we agreed to fittings via Skype. She gave me her measurements and I made a draft bodice (using the Burdastyle Bustier Dress pattern), which I mailed to her. Then she tried it on and I studied the fit while we had a video chat. 

Sep 21, 2012

Back With a Finished Project! Spoonflower Print Simplicity 1872

Ladies (and gentleman), I've been regretting every day how little I have contributed to the online sewing community in recent months. As Peter so aptly noted in his post yesterday about Lost Bloggers, sometimes life just gets in the way, and we have to juggle our priorities. My little community of three needed me these past few months, and though I have been sewing, I haven't had the time to document, discuss, or leave doting comments on those of you whose blogs I also adore. But my husband has almost certainly found himself a job (knock on virtual wood that he won't be gone 16 hours a day throughout the fall like he had been during the summer months), and my kid is in daily pre-Kindergarten now, which leaves me a little more time. I'm working from home, but only am taking on enough assignments to leave me mildly concerned for my deadlines and not thoroughly consumed with anxiety. 

I do miss blogging — and reading others' blogs (which I find to be an important part of blogging). I don't have any close friends who sew, and though I've met a few New Yorkers who make their own clothes (thanks to Peter, again, with his meet-ups!), I don't see them regularly. So when I drop off the virtual map, I can feel like I am sewing in a vacuum. 

Anyway, on to the sewing projects! 


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