Tuesday, 24 September 2013


For the last couple of weeks  I have been so discouraged.
My energy-levels has been through the floor-boards, and my personal life has thrown some curve-balls that I really was not up for (not to worry, I am fine!).

I hoped to get some sewing done in between work and chores, but it has really not been much to brag about.. The deadline for the FFC is in just a few days, and my dress is nowhere near being finished. And the work I have been able to do, really isn't up to my standard.

But instead of letting all this drag me down, I have tried to seek inspiration from other talented seamstresses online. It is so good to read about others beginning struggles, and stories of projects that really turned out beautifully, despite looking hopeless during the process.

Being creative is just as much about being able to solve "problems" as it is evolving one's skills. Being creative is also a process of trial and error, making mistakes and learning from them. People handle this journey a bit differently. I have a tendency to be somewhat impatient with myself, and really need to cut me some slack :)

My Happy Sewing Place is one of my favorite blogs. Debi is such a talented woman, and just the mere smile on her face is enough to get me up from the dumps :) Browsing her blog, I found this amazing post, so perfectly relevant to my "current state".

Reading this was just so immensely helpful, I instantly felt better!
I am now going to fight my way through with that dang dress!!
And to Ira Glass, who wrote this genius "poster" in the first place; I salute you :)

Saturday, 14 September 2013

The dress of Doh! and Uh-oh's...

So you're probably wondering how I am getting on with my fabulous 40s Fall for Cotton dress?
Well, there has been sewing going on since the muslins, but it has not always gone according to plans, or expectations.

It all started with an epic laundry fail. I suddenly realised I had to pre-treat my fabrics, so in the machine they went. I figured since the cotton voile and the baby cord would live the remainder of their lives as siamese twins, I let them get to know each other in the washing machine. Uhm.

When the cycle was done and I went to pull out all those 9 yards of cotton, I didn't quite recognize the voile... It was supposed to come out in all it's powder pink glory, but instead it was this blue/grey/lavender-ish non color. Gah!
The corderoy was fine (thank you Universal Sewing Goddess!) but clearly had not been getting on with it's new friend, and bled on it beyond recognition.

The lining color of Blah.

So, the thread I had bought for sewing the lining was not anywhere near matching anymore, and I didn't have that shitty non-color thread in my stash either. So I did a face-palm, and got on with the dress.

The cutting went swell, no boo-boo's (as I know of at this point), but it was a pain to handle and iron that 6 yard long piece of fabric in my tiny "dining room studio"(Yes, I bought extra :))
If you are now thinking "-Eew.. sewing and eating in the same space!" , don't worry. There has not been possible to fit a plate of food anywhere in this room for over 6 months.

Sewn up bodice.
(Crazy grid fabric)

Interfaced yoke. Good girl, Siri :)

So now my bodice is sewed up, after some Doh's. The yoke was a bit of a pain, because the fabric had some weird stretch, not to mention the seam being that curvy! I actually had the brain to use fusible interfacing on the bias cut yoke pieces to avoid them behaving like monkeys. It also gives a little more structure to the bodice front which is nice. Problem was the bodice front pieces did stretch and I had to redo it a couple of times to get rid of puckers and wrinkles.
When I finally had the yoke down and looking good, joined on the back piece and sewn the side seams, I read the pattern instructions. I noticed a little text mentioning shoulder pads. Uh oh.

Totally forgot about those... I do remember tracing the pieces from the original, but in all my muslin-enthusiasm, they didn't even cross my mind. Once.
The text clearly stated: "Make shoulder pads before the dress is fitted, and always use pads when fitting the dress." Oh c*ck..!
I have rather strong prominent shoulders, so I am not sure I would like them to look more "pointy". However, I do think this dress would look good with abit more structure on the shoulder area, because looking at my muslin shot with the sleeve attached, it looks a little droopy. So plan now; make pads, insert in bodice, hope for good result. Gulp.

I have also decided on sleeve-length and ended on the 3/4 sleeve. I sewed them up, but now I think it needs some contrast. The grid pattern is so messy, and the cuff kind of disappears despite being on the bias. So I have been thinking maybe I should get some solid corderoy for the cuff. What'cha think??

This needs something...

I am now pondering how to line the thing. Never lined a dress before, but I think I will manage :) I have sewn the bodice lining, with new self-drafted front pieces because of the yoke. I figured it would be stupid to do the yoke on the lining too and add bulk where the seams are.
Sleeves will not be lined, and now I am wondering if I should skip the skirt lining too. I am really afraid of bunching, but I will just have to try it out.

This dress really is a lot of work! I don't get how people manage to sew an entire dress in a day. Makes me really respect experienced seamstresses even more! You rock!

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

You must be my lucky star... ;)

I have never been especially lucky. I've not been very unlucky either, I was just never the winning kind.
But on Sunday, I was super-lucky and won a give-away!

The host of the party was the talented Kathy over at The Nerdy Seamstress- blog.
She has a really fresh blog, and sews up the cutest dresses, tops and other garments. She also draft some of her own pattern, which I think is awesome ;)
I found her blog through the Fall for Cotton-challenge, and really loved it!
Like me, she has only just started her blogging adventure, but I am sure her blog will grow to be an interesting site I will continue to go back to.
If you haven't been at her "place", you should check it out ;)

This post will not be complete without me flaunting my prize! Hah!
I won this super awesome pattern from Colette:

I have heard alot about Colette patterns but never gotten around to buy one, and try it for myself.
I really liked this dress, it has a 40s vibe (which I luuuuv) and a super cute neck line, and interesting curved and gathered details. By the looks of it, I will get plenty of buttonhole-practice too....!

I have lots of green linen I got from my mom, and I think it will be great for this dress.
So this is officially on my to-do-list!

Thank you again, Kathy! You are my lucky sewing star ;)

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Muslin fitting #2 (and #3....)

I haven't touched my sewing machine for almost two weeks, just too much life in the way. Which necessarily isn't a bad thing. I kind of lost my spiff on the last fitting, it was fun making a proper muslin, but discovering that I would have to make another one, was a bit blah..

After posting pictures of my first attempt, I was advised to do a full bust adjustment. A small one.
I would never have guessed in a million years that this was something I needed (seeing as I have no bust at all). So I found one of the many excellent tutorials on FBA's, and slashed my pattern pieces the way described.

I do apologize for the dark pictures, I really need to get that flash fixed...

I only added 1" in total to the bodice width, as I feared more baggyness. I also lengthened the bodice front by half an inch. I also added half an inch of width to the middle of the back piece, to help with the tight neckline and the possible tightness across the back with the sleeves attached. The armscye was also widened because of the FBA, so I was a bit excited to see how that would turn out with the sleeve piece being unaltered.

I lowered the front darts as they went all the way up to the bust apex, and just looked silly. Although they now look a little better, I think I need to move them about an inch towards the side seams.

I think the pull-lines from the bust are less on this muslin (than here), and it isn't tight so I will not add any more in terms of another FBA. However, now I think the problem area is the excess on the back piece, just below the armscye. The sleeve sits well on the shoulder and feels comfortable.

I was being lazy, and only tucked in the seam allowances on top and bottom, and didn't manage to do that properly either. At this point I was a bit disenchanted with the whole thing, to be honest.. So I put it away for a bit and went back a little later.

Here I was a good girl and basted the seam allowances in, took up a bit of excess fabric on the lower back of the armscye, which helped alot! I have to say, the muslin fabric is very thin and behaves a bit more sloppily than the fashion fabric will. Any wrinkling left on this muslin, will probably be helped some by the weight of the skirt that will be hanging from this bodice. I cannot expect it to look as it is painted on me either. There has to be some room to move.

So I am very tempted to announce that this will be my final pattern layout, to call it that. Besides, the mere thought of fiddling any more with this old bedskirt muslin, makes me want to curse and swear like a sailor. I have so little time to sew, so if I am ever to finish this dress for the Fall For Cotton challenge, I need to press on!

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Old fashioned ponderings and treasures from the past

I love snail-mail.
Going out to my mailbox is kind of nostalgic, something that has always been a part of my day.
When I grew up, we didn't have a mailbox at our house, but we had one at our local post office, and as a little girl it was a big deal going there with my mum. She used to lift me up, so I could reach the keyhole and I got to turn the key and be the first to look inside. It was almost like a Christmas calendar all year round. Quite often there were letters from loved ones, my grannies that both lived far away often sent letters, and my aunties too. Around my birthday and Christmas was of course extra rewarding, mail-hunting-wise! But even letters to my sister and my parents were exciting. Letters from family were always read out loud when we got home.

When I got older, I found that I preferred writing my thoughts in a letter, rather than talking to someone. There is more time to choose your words and describe your emotions. I left home early, at only 16, but I remember writing letters to my grandmothers all the time. If I had a dispute with my parents, I often wrote letters to them afterwards, when I had calmed down and could think straight again. I was never good at confrontations.

And then there were letters of love :) Things you were too shy to say out loud just poured onto paper like water. The constant rephrasing and countless drafts, until it was just right. The thrill of finally letting go of the envelope corner and hearing it hitting the bottom of the mailbox, knowing there is no way back. He will receive it! The agonizing wait until you heard back, or got some clue that he had read your thoughts. Not to mention his replying letter. Or not. Love letters must be the most romantic thing ever...
Ah, youth :)

A lot of this is being lost in this computing age of ours. Emails are so quick, just a click of a button and it's at the receiving end. Before you can even say "receiving end". Sure, it is convenient for work and such, but for personal corresponding, I prefer that handwritten envelope in my mailbox. It saddens me a bit, that Christmas cards now are emails, and that people I know never send me postcards when they travel. Instead I get an email with photo attachments. There is something about that little piece of cardboard that you know comes from the other side of the planet. You can smell it, and hold it in your hand.
I still keep some of the letters my grannies wrote. They are sadly gone forever, but the letters are like little pieces of their life, conserved. The time they spent writing them, ARE those letters. The thoughts they were thinking are there, written on those very pages. When I read them, I can hear their voices in my head.

It's kind of weird, thinking about when I am old, or gone, there most likely will be nothing left that can tell my story. No old yellowing letters in a box with a ribbon around it. No handwritten diary. No old photo albums with stuff written on the backs of the photos. Best case scenario, there will be a computer, with some files on it. Electronic footprints. Imagine that... Can't even remember the last time I received a handwritten letter, and it's been over a year since a wrote a card... I guess I'm no better than anyone else, but I think I will write Christmas cards by hand this year ;)

This post was initially not intended to be such a philosophic one! If you're thinking "-Hey! This is not even remotely related to sewing!" you are kind of right.

But hang on!

I found this in my mailbox today! I almost forgot it was on it's way, from America! Although not handwritten, it still is lovely oldfashioned snailmail! 
A couple of weeks ago, the lovely Tasha wrote a great post on patterns and fabric inspiration for the Fall For Cotton-challenge. I had already decided on both a pattern and fabric, but the first pattern she listed in the post was purrrfect for a dress I need to sew for an upcoming event!
So, I scurried over to the Etsy-shop to check out the listing. It was both unsold AND my size!! What are the odds!??
Needless to say, I hit that Add-to-cart-button like I was on some quiz-show, and now it is mine!

It is a 1959 dress pattern from McCalls (#4987). It has a lined skirt with four unpressed pleats, front and back. Short sleeves cut in one with the bodice and a a contrasting panel down the front. And also supercute button trimming (and not so cute side zipper placket *gulp* ....yes, I have an issue with zippers.).

I can see this dress in so many different colors and print-combos. The variations are endless, and depending on the fabric, it can be both everyday and really dressy. Can't wait to sew it up!

Btw, while we were on the subject of writings from the past. Look what was written on this pattern envelope: "Momma's pattern". Don't you just love that?  :)