Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Lacy Shirt And An Almost-Failed Skirt

  It's been a terribly long time since I've said anything here... I just haven't felt like talking anymore about those time-consuming boleros I've had to sew! And since I hadn't sewn anything but those until this week, I had nothing else to talk about. I finally finished the boleros, so I've allowed myself a small sewing break and whipped out a few things that aren't wedding-related.

  First, I had the exciting opportunity to be a pattern tester for Jessica at Craftiness is Not Optional. I'll share more about that in another post, but here's a teaser photo:

  Today what I want to show you are two (Two! Really!) things that I've sewn for myself... both of which were surprisingly quick sews.

  Remember this pretty grey suiting that I've been using as a tablecloth?

   I mentioned that it's only temporarily there since I wanted to use it for a skirt. Well, our 4th anniversary was this week, and I just couldn't bring myself to wear one of the two worn denim skirts that still fits me out on a date with my husband. I almost had to anyway though!

  I started out with a half-circle skirt, and added a dip in the front to make room for Beckers, then added a knit waistband with extra in the front to fit the dip. Unfortunately, it was way too big! I guess the dip added more width to the waist than I was expecting. I ended up taking out a total of 8 inches from the back center seam, tapering into the original seam. I didn't worry about a fancy interior on this skirt, just serged off all the seams (I love having a serger!) and did a narrow rolled hem on my sewing machine to finish.

  So it doesn't look like much, but it is a tremendously versatile addition to my wardrobe... so far it works with every top I've tried it with. =)

  It was simple enough that I want to try it again and see if I can't figure out how to get the measurements right on the first try. If I do, I'll be sharing that here. =)

  The other thing I made was the shirt I'm wearing with it. I found a pretty lace curtain at a yard sale a while back, and decided to make something with it this week. It had a little bit of horizontal stretch, so I treated it as a knit and underlined it with basic white knit. I wish I'd had another color to put underneath, because you can't really see just how delicate and beautiful the lace is when it is paired with white.

  I mimicked the first thing I posted on this blog, a high-waisted shirt with a slightly a-line skirt to it, and lettuce edging on the hem and sleeves. I changed things by making a simple round neckline, then adding a touch of elastic at the center front for a little detail. It was feeling a little loose, so I added ribbon ties to cinch it in a little under the bust, and a bit of elastic in the back.

  And then I tried many times and failed many times at taking decent photos. All grainy and dark, no matter which settings I put my camera on, and all of the time having to use the self timer since my remote is out of (the very oddly sized) batteries.

  But I'll share them anyway, since I feel like grainy photos are better than no photos! =)

  I used a pretty scalloped-edge, plush-backed elastic instead of a binding or facing at the neckline, and top-stitched it with a twin needle. It's a nice little detail that most people will probably never notice, but will still be there for me to enjoy.

  Did I mention that I have quite a lot of the grey suiting fabric leftover? I have a different skirt in mind to make with it, but I may wait until Beckers has arrived, because I feel the design is more suited to a fitted waistband than a maternity one. Hopefully I won't get distracted and you'll get to see that design in a few months. =)

  Anyway, I'll show you more of the tester photos and tell you more about the pattern I tested soon, and then it will be back to wedding sewing... only two more things to finish: the alterations on my dress, and the flower girl dress. And only 3 weeks until they have to be done! Eep!

Thanks for stopping by,

Linking up at The Train To Crazy

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Wedding Sewing: Finished Bolero

  Well, I promised you a couple modeled shots of my bolero once it was finished, and it finally is. That was WAY too much hand-stitching for a slowpoke like me! First, I succeeded in neatly (though imperfectly) finishing the edges of the bolero:
  I started off with a whip-stitch for the first 4 inches, realized I hated the way it looked, and sewed about half with a ladder-stitch before finishing with a slip-stitch. I liked the way the slip-stitch looked on the inside best of the three, but it does show a bit under the lace... whip-stitch is on the bottom right and the show-through from the slip-stitch is on the left.

  I finally looked up how to do an invisible hand blind hem stitch (Fourth diagram on this site.) and used that on the sleeve hems. That came out beautifully, though I'm not sure how well it would work if I were to try it on the curved areas.

  And now, how it looks on me. I'm not wearing it with the bridesmaid's dress, since I haven't finished the alterations on mine and it isn't anywhere close to fitting me right now. I may have to change the sleeves on mine, since they are already a little tight and I have over a month to gain 'pregnancy' weight. ;-)

  I feel a little awkward with the way the bolero is open in the front, but I think it will look a lot better over the dress than it does over this tank. =)

  I might go back and add a hook and eye at the center front, since the bolero actually does easily meet there if I hold it.

  Left on the list of wedding sewing: Boleros for the sisters, alterations on my dress, and a flower-girl dress for the daughter.

  I managed to get all the pieces for the boleros cut out today! My bolero took a ridiculously long time, but I ended up with enough lining fabric to actually line the bodices of the other two. That makes me very happy, since I will only have to hand-hem the sleeves. Honestly, I have enough lining to line their sleeves too, but I don't want to make them too warm or bulky, since this will be a mid-summer wedding. Also, I think another layer in the sleeves might make them tight even on my sisters' slender arms.

  I find it odd that I ended up with so much extra lining... and so much extra lace too. I suppose when cutting three boleros instead of one, I can be more efficient in my layout. I DID buy an extra yard of each in case of accidents... but I have a whole lot more than a yard leftover. I think the extra must have come from miscalculating how much I would need for the length additions.
  I'm really hoping to get all this done soon, since I feel like I'm missing out on so much other sewing I want to do. I have a unique and fun maternity top planned out in my head, and it would fit perfectly in Made by Rae's Spring Top Sew-Along, and a skirt planned out that I would love to enter in Crafterhours' Skirt week... I just need to get the wedding stuff done first so it is out of the way.

  And that's all the talking I have to do today! Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers, grandmothers and mother-figures out there. =)

Thanks for stopping by,

Friday, May 3, 2013

Wedding Sewing: The Dress Additions

 I have now successfully completed additions to two out of three bridesmaids dresses! As you probably know if you've read my blog for a while, I'm pretty modest in the way that I dress... I prefer high necklines, long skirts, and long sleeves. My sisters dress the same way, and will also be bridesmaids in my brothers upcoming wedding. So obviously we couldn't keep the dresses like this, cute though they might be:

  Happily, my future-sister-in-law is the farthest thing you can imagine from a bridezilla, and was perfectly fine with us making a few changes. I didn't have to alter the sleeves, since I'm also making boleros, but I did need to change the length and neckline. I knew I wouldn't be able to find a satin that matched well, so I went for a different texture and used lined lace.

  Here's what it looks like with the changes:

  To be honest, I don't really love the look of the length addition, but it does serve its purpose. The color matches a lot more closely than it appears from the photo. I'm kind of proud of the neckline addition though:

  I cut two pieces of the lining and one of the lace in the shape of the neckline opening, with seam allowances. Then I sewed them together and flipped them right side out. I wasn't sure how exactly I was going to attach it to the neckline until the last minute, but I ended up doing it similarly to how I would hand-sew hexagons for a quilt. I lined up one short side, right sides together with the neckline, and whip-stitched it together with tiny little stitches. Then I finagled and folded the pieces until I could line the longer sides up, right sides together, and whip-stitched those together. And finally I did the same thing for the last short side.

  It even looks decent on the inside, and there are no raw edges! And I was really happy with my hand-stitching this time, except for the parts where one of the daughters suddenly jumped on me. I was also pleasantly surprised by how quickly it went. I was expecting each neckline to take at least an hour, but I finished each in under 30 minutes:

  I used French seams for the side seams of the length addition, and a narrow rolled-hem (those are hard even with the rolled-hem presser foot!) on the lining. Then I gathered both layers together and sewed them upside-down to the lining of the dress, flipped them back down, and topstitched. It looks like this if you lift up the outer layer of the dress:

  Most of the time all the stitching will be hidden by the outer layer, like this:

  So the additions may not be perfect, but I think they came out well. =)
  Left to do on the wedding sewing list: Alter my dress and make these same additions, finish my bolero and make two more, and sew a flower-girl dress. I'm getting things done, slowly but surely! =)

Thanks for stopping by!