Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Brief Pause to Finish an UFO

Oh unfinished objects, how do you taunt me?  Last night instead of working on my V1419 Coat, I set it aside and finally finished my muslin for the Prada style dress that I started all the way back in July.  That seems like a lifetime ago.  I really have been missing Sao Paulo, especially now that winter has pretty much set it.  I miss the sunlight too.  Anyway,  here is a reminder of what inspired me:
found on Pinterest on Instyle Magazine's page, better pictures can be found here     
 My progress was documented previously here and here.  I got caught up on the sleeves, as they were too poofy and the poofs were uneven.  Luckily I had only basted them in.  I unpicked them, and took out at least an inch of poof, maybe a little bit more.  This made them much more wearable. There are some other issues, that I'll have to figure out for the final dress, but I went ahead and wore it today to see how it worked.
Excuse the pictures, they were taken when I got home, so it was already pitch black out.
It was super comfortable to wear.   I think the changes I need to make are minor-ish.  I am going to take out some of the pleats- the ones closest to the seam on both the bodice and the sleeves.  I think that this will fix my couple of issues with it.  Here is the biggest problem I have:

Holy Batman- does it stick out in front.  Part of this problem is the lack of darts in the in the front, so there is excess fabric under the bust, making me look like I could be pregnant.  A belt would probably fix this.  I might also be able to sneak some of the fabric into the pleats?   I also need to add about a half inch- inch of ease in the sleeve.  The last thing I need to fix is the pleat on the side of the bust.  It's pulling forward too much, but I think that's just placement.  Taking out the pleat under the arm would mean I could scoot it over without any issue.

Here is the back.  Ugh, it's not looking so great in the pictures.  I promise in real life it's not so uneven.  The sleeves sit better and the hem isn't all wonky.  I had just taken off my coat, and made Conor take the photos.  It looks like I might be able to use just a smidge of room in the waist on the back.  It might be worth transferring a bit from the front, maybe that will fix the problem?

Anyway, I really wanted to wear it, because I adore the fabric.  In the end my love for the fabric outweighed the issues I have with the top.  Is it my most well done make? No way, but it's wearable, and I got loads of compliments on it it.   Let's take a closer look at some of the details.

See it's not just me- it makes my dress form look preggers.

The collar is even too, I promise, it's just not pressed well.  Ooops!

You can see the wonkiness in the side pleat here.  It will be fixed.  I think that it will end up at an angle to appear straight.

See the sleeves look more even here!

My first ever loop made with bar tacks.

The pleats I'm getting rid of, They just need to go!

There you have it, once I've finished V1419, I will probably go in and fix the issues and make the dress.  Or I might wait until spring/summer- since I can't wear it when it's 32F/0C.  I have also made progress on the coat.  The bound button holes are done, the pockets are in (I went with the side seam pockets), and the side panels are sewn in.  The sleeves are sewn and will be attached tomorrow, I hope, and then the back, and then the lining...  Here are a couple of the button holes.  They turned out pretty good.

 Well once again, it's well past my bedtime, so I'll have to leave it with these questions for you: do you finish projects for the shear love of the fabric?  How do you keep up with all the projects that you want to finish?  I have a list a mile long of garments I would like to make.  Anyway, until next time happy sewing!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Sewing Room Art

This week was a momentous week in my household, our art was hung.  Having art up really makes a space your own, right?  Especially when the vast majority of the furniture isn't yours.  It has made a difference in how I feel at home.  The biggest impact I think is in my sewing room.  I love how it turned out so much that the red carpeting isn't bugging me as much.  That is saying a lot!  (On that note, I think I have it figured out.  The issue has been bunching- both the carpet squares and the carpet have bunched up when I've laid it down.  But I haven't used a rug pad, which I think is the missing factor.  Maybe I'll pick one up this weekend to see if it makes a difference?)  Enough of me rambling, I'm sure you want to see how it turned out!
As it has turned grayer and colder, I have been missing Brazil more and more.  I thought that I would bring some of my favorite parts of Sao Paulo to Kyiv.  You may even recognize some of these photos from previous blog posts (Perhaps this one and this one?)  All the pictures are from either the Sao Paulo Botanical Gardens or Batman's Alley.
I had our picture hanger hang them on every dark blue stripe- it made the spacing much easier.  He and I went back in forth on how to ensure they were level and spaced correctly top to bottom.  He did pretty well I think.  Below the pictures are bulletin boards that I covered with batting, white cotton and then ribbon from Turkey.  You can't tell in this picture that the background of the ribbon is turquoise.  (I would take another picture, but it's late, so you'll just have to trust me on that!)
Here is the other side.  I split up both the bird and the flowers below them to keep all the pictures square.  When I was in college, my parents bought me a medium format camera- as I was a fine arts photography minor, and I've loved square photographs since.  To be honest, it really made me happy to create these photographs.  It really forced me to figure out who the newest version of photoshop works with my printer.  My printer is ten years old, but still prints amazingly.
Originally my plan was 16 photos on this wall, but I decided to use four in the living room, leaving me two photos short in the sewing room.  I had the carpenter put in the nails for the final two, which are currently at the framers.  I should be able to hang them up next week.  Now, I know you've been asking why would she have someone come and hang her pictures, when she can do it herself. 
This is why.  We don't have power tools, as we move from country to country and the voltage is different in every place.  (Also we have weight restrictions on what my work will pay for moving.) Well, that and I thought that the walls were concrete, but they're merely plaster, so I could have done hanging that just required nails.  However, my job will send out someone one time to hang all the artwork, so why not take advantage of it.  My sewing room has limited storage, so I needed a place for my patterns.  They are now above my sewing table and easily accessible, meaning I might actually put my patterns away.
This is a more accurate picture of how it looks.  After the carpenters left, I realized that I missed putting up one of my favorite groups of pictures.  In either my first or second photography class in college, the assignment was to make a mini-collection with photos from one square block.  This was D.C. in the late 90's/early 00's, so back when Chinatown was just one block and before the revitalization of the area.  I wrote a sentence in photos- Forbidden beauty equals enlightenment. 

Its a good reminder to find a little bit of beauty every day.

I have been progressing on coat, albeit, very slowly. I thought I had finished one front, and was about to move on the second, when I realized, there are too many layers to fold the lining back neatly.  So I set it aside and started the belt- trying the bound buttonholes there differently, but still using both fabrics.  That didn't look as nice as I thought either, so I went back to the drawing board, and decided to just use one fabric for the button holes.  I ripped out all the ones on the front, and redid one.  I think it will work.  I haven't actually sewn it in, but you can fold the fabric even with the masking tape still on the back of the button hole.  Hopefully this weekend I'll get some sewing done.
I'll leave you with one last picture- I moved all my sewing books.  They now have a storage spot in the closet, rather than on the windowsill.  This will save them from my lovely darling son.
How do you decorate your sewing room?  Do you store books in odd spots?  Let me know in the comments, I love looking at and hearing about other people's places and how they are utilized.  Until next time, happy sewing.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Shoe Tuesday, Shoes as Art?

Woah Nelly, two post in two days, and the third one this week?  Something must be up.  I've been wanting to write this post for the last couple of weeks, but haven't gotten around to it.  On a whim, about a month ago I bought a pair of shoes from  These shoes were over the top ridiculous, but the thought of them made me happy.  I was super excited to get them two weeks ago, and on a Tuesday went to wear them.  I was so excited for shoe Tuesday, but then, I left for work.  I made it almost to the parking garage, when I realized that there was no way I could physically wear these shoes.
The heels were too high, and there was no give in them.  They made my ankles turn.  Dejectedly, I hobbled back home and put on some more sensible shoes.  Now, what to do with these lovely things?  They've been hanging out on my dresser, just chilling.  My coworkers have suggested that I bring them to work so I can sit there and stare at them during the day.  What do you think?

You may wonder what is so special about them, but you have yet to see the heels. 
Yes.  I spent a fairly significant sum on bambi shoes.  They're just so happy.  Here are some more shots of them.  What do you suppose I do with them?

The pictures in the background are part of my art collection.  The abstract was given to my husband by his father.  The one on the right is our art purchase from Brazil.  It's by an artist named Jaca.  We bought two of his lithographs, because his paintings are out of price range.  Hopefully all the artwork will get hung up this week.  Then our apartment will finally be fully in order.

Moving on, I started my next project today- V1419  I am late to the sewalong run by Meg from McCall's and Lauren from lladybird, but hopefully I can finish it before next week. 

Line Art 

I've decided on a couple of changes- first and foremost, I decided to line it.  The pattern calls for finishing all the seams with bias binding- which my fabric is a brocade that is printed only on one side.  The other side is bright white, so it would look weird.  I also reduced the flare in the sleeves by a four inches.  They'll still be plenty flare-y, but not as much as the original.  The other change (which I am debating as I look at the line drawing, was the move the welt pockets to seam pockets.  I think that might do the welts.  The repeating horizontal lines would be interesting.
Here is the fabric I am using.  One of the most interesting features are the button holes.  They are bound,  I spent most of the day figuring out how to make them with the lining.  I think I got it figured out.  Hopefully it will work out.  I am about 3/4ths of the way done with the first one.  What do you think?  Do you think it will work?  Of course the basting will go away.
 Well, it's past my bedtime, so I'll leave it here.  I am super excited for this jacket.  I have my fingers crossed that it turns out as cool as it looks in my mind.  Until next time happy sewing!

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Closer Look at the Marine Ball Outfit? Gown?

As promised, let's take a closer look at what I wore to the Marine Ball here in Kyiv.  Every year around the world, the marines who guard our Embassies and Consulates celebrate the birthday of the Marines in early November.  This year it was the 239th birthday.  If you do the math, the Marine Corp was born on November 10, 1775, meaning it's close to a year older than the United States itself.  Anyway, enough history.  As a reminder- here is what it looks like on.  I was a dork and didn't take any pictures while at the ball, but I'm sure there are some out there.
I began the making of this outfit on last Saturday.  Yes, only a week before it needed to be done.  Bad planning on my part.  Originally for the bodice and waistband I used Butterick 6094, which I have already made twice.  On Saturday I cut and painted the waistband, and then re-cut and painted the waistband again.  Sunday, I spent making the bodice, lined it, and attached it to the waistband (including hand tacking the lining down at both the neckline and one armhole.  I stopped at that point, and decided I needed to try it on.  I had not inserted a zipper, and hadn't planned on it- as the neither of the first two version actually need a zipper.  I couldn't get it over my head.  So I unpicked a side seam and hand basted a side zipper.  I was then finally able to try it on.
I did not take pictures of it on me.  It looked tortured.  That's the only way to really describe it.  Terrible.  The darts were a pointy mess, the fabric pulled at the neckline and armholes, and it was way too tight in the waist.  I pre-treated the wool, but apparently not enough, as the waistband had shrunk almost two inches somewhere during the sewing process, but only at the bottom.  It was too small to even put on my mannequin, which is smaller than I am.  Honestly, I think it had to do with the painting, it somehow shrunk the fabric.  So I rethought the look.  My actual internal monologue went something like this:
"If I was on Project Runway, this would be the moment when Tim Gunn comes in and says something like why did you torture the fabric?  Then he would be all like make it work."
You can totally see the weirdness happening with the darts here.  (Please ignore the little piece of thread in the picture.) Anyway, I decided to make a top, belt and skirt. This was Sunday night.  I pondered it Monday at work and sketched out a couple things.  I knew I wanted a silk top with sleeves, but was waffling between one with a collar or a super simple kimono sleeve one.  I finally decided on hacking B5813 into a top.  (You can find it here.)
Line Art 
I cut out the pattern Monday night, and found the fabric I eventually used, but didn't think I had enough of it.  So on Tuesday, I went to the fabric store, first to find ribbon for the skirt waistband, and second to find a cream raw silk.  I only found the ribbon.  I didn't work on any of it Tuesday night, as I went to bed around 7 PM.  On Wednesday I started freaking out a little bit, because, I still hadn't finished any of it.  I went to the other fabric store, and found silk that would probably have worked, but wasn't awesome.  That night I made the skirt, which had been cut out since Sunday. 
To make the skirt, I cut a 3 yard long piece of the wool.  I used the curve from the Victory patterns Nicola.  When I was still going to make it a dress, I had cut a seam into it.  Even though it was a superfluous seam, it actually helped with the sewing.  It is fully lined, and the lining was all machined sewn.  
 I sewed the bottom and outside edge of each piece.  I then , flipped, undersewed the lining, ironed, smoothed it out as much as possible, and serged the top and the seam edges.  The smoothing out wasn't perfect, so it pulls a tiny bit, but no one noticed it.  Then I made the pleats- the waist is 31 inches with a 9 in overlap.  To do the pleats, I cut the ribbon 41 inches and folded over the edge 1/2 inch on each side.  I messed around with the pleats until it fit the ribbon.

I sewed the ribbon like bias binding with a half inch seam allowance.  I hand slipped stitched the inside.  I was careful not to iron it too much, as I wanted the pleats to be soft (and the fabric didn't like pressing).
The wrap is held together by heavy duty snaps.  They worked pretty well.  The next step was to make the top.  I ended up cutting it out of my original cream raw silk, but as I only had remnants, it was a tight fit, and the back was cut on the fold, versus with the seam.  The only other change I made was a cheater full bust adjustment.  I didn't need any extra width in the bust, but it was way too short, so I added an inch in the length.  I honestly could have used another 1/2"- 3/4".  I'll do that next time.  I used french seams for almost all the seams. For the front seam, I folded and stitched the seam 1/4" before I sewed it, so then the raw edge is turned underneath.  I also did that with the facing.  I used silk organza for the collar. 

I started the top on Friday and finished it Saturday morning.  On Thursday, I worked on the belt/waist piece.  I used black coutil for the the back.  I was going to use horsehair and boning to make sure it didn't collapse, but it was already really tight (even with making the side seams 1/4 inches at the bottom), so I just used the coutil.  To be honest, it was more that I didn't have any plastic boning, and didn't want to have to waste more time going to the fabric store yet again.  For the closure, I used four hook and eyes.  Which I sewed on Saturday at 2:30 PM.  Mind you the ball started at 5.  Cutting it close eh?  I would have had it done earlier, but for being sick on Tuesday and celebrating my birthday on Thursday.  Oh well!  Here are closer looks at he painting and the waistband.

You can see that it did wrinkle some, but overall it held up really well.  You also may have noticed something else.  I rearranged my sewing room once again.  It felt way too crowed as it was, so I sacrificed being able to walk around my cutting table to having more space.  It feels so much better in there now.  I'll leave you with some pictures of what the room looks like now.  It's about 80% done- I am waiting for the artwork to get back from the framers.  Until next time, happy sewing!