Friday, August 26, 2011

Finding an off-line sewing community

I love the on-line sewing community. Sewing blogs and on-line fabric stores make my hobby possible. I wouldn't have found the whole world of sewing - especially the vintage and retro sewing community - if I didn't spend too much time in front of a computer with a really good Internet connection. It seems like the resurgence of sewing as a hobby for my generation has its roots in the Internet, with blogs, YouTube tutorials, downloadable patterns and the cool factor of all those hipsters sewing stuff to sell on Etsy. Lately I've been enjoying the off-line sewing community too. I've wondered: Are any other on-line sewing enthusiasts making the transition to a sewing community IRL?

Last night I attended the monthly meeting of my local sewing group. I've been a member for more than a year now. We're a neighborhood group of the St. Louis chapter of the American Sewing Guild. The ladies in the group are generous with their interest in each others' projects, assistance with learning new techniques, contributions to the "free stuff" destash table, charitable sewing, and snacks. They are not good at publicizing their good works and recruiting new members. I'm one of the very few members who is under the age of 40. Last night a couple of us talked about ways to raise our public profile and help potential new members find us. So lurkers, I'm curious. Do you have sewing friends in real life? Would you ever consider joining a group? Is the perception of sewing groups as grandmas showing off appliqued sweatshirts too strong to overcome? What activities would appeal to you?

If you're curious, and you're in my neck of the woods, you can check out the Belleville sewing group in action. At our September meeting we are doing a sit-and-sew to make caps for cancer patients. New faces are always welcome, with or without sewing skills. E-mail me for details: chronicallyuncool at gmail dot com.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Today I am 32

No biggie. Just marking the day on the blog like I have for the last few years (29, 30, 31).

I'm a little disappointed that I haven't done much blogging this year. I'm running about 3 months behind on posting my projects. The important thing is that I'm still making things and my skills continue to improve.

I find it hard to get motivated to make things for myself when real life keeps on sucker-punching my loved ones. News that would have seemed monumental last year is hardly a blip on my radar this year. I'm so glad I have a hobby that is suitable for frequent daydreaming to pass the time as well as occasional intense focus that helps block out everything else when shit really hits the fan. I used to hide in books to escape from the world. Now I can work on a sewing project to escape for a little while and feel productive at the same time! All the escapism of reading, with none of the sloth!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Avery's Strawberry Birthday Party Dress

I made a dress as a birthday gift for my little friend Avery using the Oliver + S "Birthday Party Dress" pattern. And then Avery wore the dress to Henry's birthday party!

This is the same pattern I used for Micah's ridiculous peachy striped silk dress. The pattern has pleats with folds spaced 1" apart, so it's perfect for 1" stripes, plaids or ginghams. I used a "homespun" woven cotton from JoAnn Fabrics with strawberries woven into the white squares. I will admit that I originally bought the fabric to make a dress for myself (maybe this one?), but I've decided that maybe it's just a bit too juvenile and cutesy for me. Also, I would describe this fabric as shifty, warped, and unpleasant to cut. It took longer to lay it out and cut it than it did to do everything else.

This was all about the plaid-matching. I did pretty well, except for one of the back sections. I am pleased with the way the plaid worked with the box pleats on the bodice fronts. I am not so pleased that the little strap and button doesn't line up perfectly.

The back side of this fabric has lots of very long, loosely woven threads between the strawberry motifs. I underlined each piece of the dress with white batiste to keep the long threads on the back from pulling. This pattern is well-suited to the "apply underlining right-sides-together and turn each piece before assembling" method. It's easy and gives a nice finish to the inside seams. The only tricky part is remembering to use a narrow seam allowance on all the vertical seams when underlining and when assembling the underlined pieces. I used the neckline and hem facings as instructed (regular seam allowances) to finish the top and bottom edges. I fudged the buttonhole placement on the back to match up with the squares on the fabric.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Easter 2011: McCall's 6759 and the mysterious bodice wrinkle

You've already seen my Easter dress, with the mysterious horizontal bodice wrinkle. The pattern is McCall's 6759 from 1963. I love the curved seams! The bow, not so much.

Yes, my slip is hanging out. It's because my vintage bias-cut slip is uneven.  Really! The hem on the dress is fine! ...except for the massive wrinkles across the bust

As you'll recall, I made my dress and my sister's dress for Easter. Even though I had to hustle to get it done, I took the time to do some nice details. I made a muslin of the bodice. The facings are interfaced and lined for a clean finish. I used dressmaker's tracing paper to transfer the curves for the bodice so I could make perfectly lapped seams. I even took a few photos during the process! There's an inside belt, lingerie straps (with tiny little snaps) at the shoulders, and a custom label. (More about the lovely label soon.) Hell, I even made a thread loop for a belt carrier in the back and a hidden snap to keep the buckle centered in front!

This should have been my best project ever. But no, somehow I managed to completely whiff on the bodice. I did a muslin! It was fine with my usual tweaks. It seemed fine in the fittings. Here's a crappy cell-phone-in-the-mirror pic for proof:

But when I actually wore it for Easter, the shoulders moved forward or the bust moved up or something, and I had a giant horizontal wrinkle across the chest. (That's in addition to all the usual wrinkles that are expected with linen.)

Now I want to make it again just to see what the hell went wrong. I've actually dreamed this dress in a lightweight denim with contrasting topstitching on the seams...and maybe a different skirt. With this style of skirt I always feel a little like it's saying "Here is my crotch, right here!" Maybe that's just me. Never mind.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

"Proportioned" Skirt Patterns - Useful or not?

I'm a taller-than-average person, so I'm often frustrated by the fact that Petite and Half-size patterns are available but the vertically gifted have no customized options in vintage patterns.

Or so I thought!

I stumbled across a few patterns for skirts in Proportioned Sizes:
Short: 5'3" and under
Medium: 5'4" to 5'6"
Tall: 5'7" and over

Of course, I had to have one. I'm a sucker. I was hoping for more length between the waist and hip, or maybe side seam pockets that had longer/lower openings to accommodate my lanky arms more comfortably.

Nope. The only thing proportioned about this pattern is the hemline. Bummer. I don't find this proportioned pattern stuff helpful. Do you?