When sewing projects go wrong

This skirt was supposed to be a Well Made Garment, the kind of thing that I’d be proud to have made instead of buying at H&M or the Gap. Plus it was going to be cheaper. I started with a New Look pattern that I bought as 6873 but seems to have morphed into 2543, and some seersucker from the bargain area at G Street.

New Look skirt

I’m still a little intrigued by those shorts, too.

I added a white cotton lining, piecing together the pockets and the skirt front to cut out the front lining. Things started to go downhill when I sewed it together. The seersucker is some kind of bizarre synthetic that you can’t iron and it won’t hold a crease anyway. The yoke lining suddenly became an inch bigger than the outer part. I hadn’t accounted for the zipper when I decided to line it, and even with the help of various tutorials over on Sewaholic I made a total hash of it.


I guess it doesn’t look SO bad…

THEN I tried it on and realized it’s a little too big – but also a little short. The pattern is meant to sit 1″ below the natural waist, which is an odd place for a skirt. Tuck your shirt in and it looks like your skirt’s just too big, leave the shirt out and the A-line shape gets in the way. But even if I could figure out how to adjust it through all the layers of pockets, linings, etc, this beast is SHORT. That’s when I set it aside for 4 months, hemless and too big.

When I finally got around to hemming it, I pressed the lining up the wrong way. I decided that the thing is already cursed and just went with it. Continuing with the same ham-handed approach, I left the off-white thread in my machine even though this is really grey and white-white. I just about managed to press up a narrow hem, and I was going to measure a proper hem when I remembered how short the darn thing is. So for now, it’s just got a single narrow hem, which the fabric is doing its best to escape. One day I’ll get around to putting a hook and eye at the top of the zipper, but today I decided life is too short.

New Look skirt

The lumpy tucked-in look

In the end, the quality is still probably about on par with H&M – weird fit, strange fabric and some kind of questionable stitching that might only survive a few wears. Let’s just call it a wearable muslin and move on…


Aaaaaaand, we’re back!

I don’t know what happened – there I was in May, blogging away about my new projects, and suddenly it’s July. Don’t worry, I’m still here and still making things. Two quick trips, the end of the school year and the crazy exhaustion that comes from working at summer camp have slowed things down, but I have several new projects to share soon. There are two knitted shawls, two dresses and a whole lot of pickles waiting in the wings here… plus ricotta that’s so fresh it’s still chilling!

A few weeks ago, I dug out all my fabric to see what I had lurking in the closet and under the bed. It turns out I had four dress lengths and four skirt- or shorts-sized chunks of fabric squirreled away. An inventory of the pattern collection revealed a TON of skirt and dress patterns waiting to be matched up with fabrics. I tend to buy fabric and patterns separately, so even if I have a project in mind it’s not like I bring home 2 yards of fabric and one skirt pattern and immediately execute The Plan, which means sometimes I get overwhelmed by all the possibilities and just don’t make anything. (This is one of the reasons I thought a blog might be good – a place to give a little structure to all my vague ideas)


This isn’t even ALL my dress patterns, just the ones I want to make soon!

After making a bunch of piles on the floor (husband and cat were a bit bemused by this, since it didn’t seem very productive to outside eyes), I have some pairings in mind. The Cambie  dress would look fabulous in anything from the peach-print sateen to the herringbone-weave chambray, but I’m going to limit myself to one for now. Besides, the chambray is definitely reserved for the Lisette Traveler, since I’ve been envisioning a chambray shirtdress for over a year now. That might be my next garment project – I initially thought view A or B, but now I’m leaning towards the fuller skirt on view C.

I’ve also made my first foray into vintage pattern shopping, inspired by Tilly’s version of Simplicity 7341 from 1976. It had been a rough day at work, so I got 7341 plus two other vintage Simplicity patterns. 7049 is from 1975, while 5063 must be a few years older. For one thing, the sizing is considerably different from the other two.

Vintage patterns

I love the topstitching and modified kimono sleeves on 5063! I can see myself wearing the short-sleeved version in a neutral color, maybe gray with red or aqua topstitching – probably no gloves, though. 7049 is almost painfully 70s, but at the same time I quite like the blue dress. I don’t know why they were so into wearing dresses and tunics over turtlenecks back in the day. I think I’ll skip that part too. I may end up shamelessly copying Tilly and making the same view of 7341 in Japanese double gauze. I got some with a birthday gift certificate, in black with giant pink trees and animals on it. I’m also envisioning a tunic version in super lightweight chambray – it would be rather Anthropologie-esque if it came out properly. Just have to take a deep breath and start unfolding that elderly tissue paper!

A Friday MMM13 update

I fell off the wagon a bit this week, what with catching a nasty little cold, having to go to a soccer game (not the place for a stylish handmade skirt!) and generally getting lazy about outfit-planning.

Me Made May days 6-9

The extent of my me-made clothing lately – some pajama pants I made, probably about 8 years ago at this point! To my teen-aged self’s credit, I shortened the pattern to get some cropped summer pants.

Plus, the weather in the DC area has exposed a major gap in my homemade wardrobe! I have plenty of sweaters and scarves for when it is 50 degrees or below, and enough skirts and dresses for when it’s truly summery, but on those days when it’s too warm for long sleeves or tights but not warm enough to go bare-legged, I’m stuck.  Today’s project won’t help with that, but now I have another skirt option, PLUS it’s my first re-fashioned garment!

Continue reading

More MMM

Since I have so little me-made clothing, I figured I’d skip it on weekends when my outfits run more towards sweatshirts and old jeans. But I just finished this top, so here we are! That’s one May-made garment done.

Me Made May 13 day 5

This is a Kirsten Kimono T-Shirt, made up in a mystery knit from my coworker’s attic. Total cost, $0! Which is just as well, since it’s not perfect. The red-and-white and nautical theme makes this not quite my usual style, and the fit’s not perfect. But it’ll do. Next time (and there will be a next time for this super-quick pattern!) I’ll grade from an XS at the top to S for the hips instead of cutting a straight S. But this fabric is pretty stable so it made for good practice sewing knits, and I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out. Plus now I have a July 4th outfit if I need one!

Finishing this little top so quickly (I spent about an hour on it yesterday, and an hour today, with plenty of distractions in the meantime) has my confidence back up, so I think I’m ready to tackle marking and sewing my already-cut McCall’s 6512, and after digging through my closet I have some alteration ideas for a couple of my summery dresses. So stay tuned!

Me Made May and another attempt at blogging

‘I, Susanne, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’13. I endeavour to wear at least one handmade garment at least 3 days a week for the duration of May 2013.’ Additionally, I pledge to finish at least 3 projects during May.

And with that, I’m making another attempt at blogging. I think this is my third try, not counting the dark days of Live Journal back in high school. But I’m hoping that Me-Made-May will give me the motivation to get started here, and I think blogging might help me bridge the gap between planning knitting and sewing projects and actually executing them (note to self: buying a pattern or eyeing fabric on the internet isn’t the same as adding a garment to your wardrobe).

Since it’s my first time, I’m setting the bar relatively low – 3 days a week, and finishing 3 more garments. Right now my me-made options are limited to 2 skirts, 1 dress, 1 t-shirt, 1 sweatshirt, some pajama pants, and assorted sweaters, scarves and socks. Plus my wedding dress, which isn’t exactly everyday wear. So even though everything I’ve made fits pretty well into my daily uniform of cardigan, knit top and jeans or a print skirt, the options are limited. How many days a week can you wear a green cardigan, anyway? (I have 4 me-made and 1 store-bought, all different shades).

Anyway, here is Day 1 of Me-Made-May:

Me Made May, day 1

Cardigan: Tangled Yoke, raveled here. I made this back in 2009 and I wear it a lot more now than I ever did then.

Top: New Look 6940. I used a really floppy rayon jersey from the clearance section at Joann. The construction of this shirt means the stretch goes both directions, and it’s sagging. I’d make it again in a slightly firmer fabric, though. It was also my first time sewing stretchy fabric, so the finishing leaves a lot to be desired!