just beginners

Announcement: Anyone interested in drinking with me?  If any of you DC-area sewers (or readers) are interested in commandeering the back of a bar after work or sitting on a porch somewhere on a weekend afternoon, then shout me a holler here or at seamripped@gmail.com.  I am only sort of using you for companionship.  I’m not calling it a meet-up, but a “let’s kick it over sazeracs and see where the evening takes us.”  That sounds like I’m hitting on you.  Let’s keep it that way.

Per usual, I’m answering old comments late, but you should find responses (t)here shortly.  End of announcements.

I’m trying out a new sewing philosophy—you may have heard of it.  Giving no fucks?  No?  Unfamiliar?  I’m going for the proverbial quantity over quality, in hopes of technical improvement over time.  So, I’m taking a lot of deep breaths and just sighing through the suckage.  Usually, I rip seams and throw tantrums and agonize over the topstitching.  Now, I’m just sewing through it.  Waistband didn’t catch with topstitching?  Just slipstitch it down.  Topstitching uneven?  You’re the only one who cares about that.  Collar stand a little lumpy?  Character is what that’s called.  Naturally, it’s healthier than my old hair-pulling ways.  Obviously, it’s killing me.

All of this preamble to say: This dress sucks.  I know it does.  You probably won’t, just looking at it from afar, but deep in my soul, I understand that this is not my best.  It’s all made up in a Japanese salt-shrunk cotton gingham (read: those ain’t wrinkles, but are intentional).  It is the second of three M6696s I’d made within a seven-day span, and for some strange reason, the calamity kept coming.  (The other two are bangin’, if I may say so myself.)  Skirt pieces were attached the wrong way, the hem grew unevenly, my perfectly matched skirt rebelled against me.  That waistband comment was not a joke, this em-effer would. not. catch. because I ran out of fabric glue.  (Let’s bow our heads and thank the universe for glue basting.)  But, you know what?  I’m going to wear the shit out of it this summer, I just know it.

It all used to line up, I promise!
It all used to line up, I promise!  The buttons screwed everything up.
Before the buttons of horror and woe.
Before the buttons of horror and woe.  Collarbands, button of waistband, and hem lined up.  GAH.

Plus, after I put the buttons on, the pattern in the front just stopped matching up.  Don’t get me started on how every single thread I snip seems to have a dozen more rise up to come to its funeral.

Waistband of doom
Waistband of doom.  The placket is not smushed, it just doesn’t overlap all the way.

And the waistband!  It actually, believe or not, lines up when I line it, the collarband, and the hem up, but because one side is 1/8″ larger than the other (for serious).  But!  The buttonholes ruined everything.

And speaking of good old Bernina buttonholes:

That old Bernina buttonhole.
Perfection.  (And, yes, the collarband is symmetric in real life.  Miracle of miracles.)

My machine went ape on the last one, which happened to be the uppermost buttonhole.  APE.

This gets me to thinking about the Coletterie post on being a beginner.  Now, there is a part of me that thinks this is a gender thing, but the more I think about it, the more I think that it is a U-shaped curve.  True, rank beginners, in my experience, tend to be really confident.  As in, “I’m going to make an evening gown on a Saturday” confident.  Some people can do that, sure, but it takes a while to know your strengths, and to actually sew rather than simply put together a wearable-enough garment.  Then, after a while, you start realizing that it’s not that easy.

Then, you see really good sewing.  I mean, really good home sewing.  Then, you realize that your stuff just isn’t that.  At the same time, you’ve got the cacophony of sewing noise, the Susan Khaljes (who is still mean in my head, I don’t care what you all say), the Threads features.  You start really looking at your department store finds, and not just comparing your stuff to the goods at Forever 21.  This, friends, is the nadir.  The quitting point, even.  Some people get so discouraged here that they either stick themselves in a playpen, never to expand their skills outside of pinking and a whole bunch of the same garment, or they just flat-out quit.  Others see this as a challenge.

All of a sudden, after a really long time pounding at it, you lift up your head and see.  Hey, your topstitching isn’t that bad.  Same goes for your hand-stitched hems.  What’s that over there?  Is that a welt pocket?  You did that without a second thought?  Yeah you did.  And up that little ladder you climb.

I think that a lot of people end up in the doldrums, and either keep that doldrums mindset as their skills develop, or corral themselves into a certain sort of sewing that does not leave room for a lot of development.  I think I’m in the doldrums right now, and I’m trying to power through with sheer volume and force of will.  But, truth be told, I wonder if that welt pocket moment is going to come.  We can’t all be Ann of the Sewing Bee, can we?  But, should we try?

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a question of ease

A few administrative notes before we start, yes?

– We’re moving!  Hosts, that is.  I’ve had the WordPress.org business all purchased but not put together since, er, last November.  I have to figure out what I’d like this corner of the Internet to look like, and it’s surprisingly hard.  This will never be a capital-S, capital-B Serious Sewing Blog.  I’m probably not going to monetize it at any point, and if I did, we’d have a roundtable discussion about it.  I’m a total nerd for transparency and fairness, and you shouldn’t have to pay for this tripe, even if it does “just” mean clicking on an affiliate link or some such.  Furthermore, it’s more a blog about talking about sewing than it is about the act of sewing (I run the Seinfeld of blogs, folks!), so I have to take that into account.  I just want to land on something that is clean and approachable, without being too polished or too twee.  You’ll get a heads up when that happens.

– I am essentially having a fabric garage sale on Etsy.  Well, let’s not call it that.  It’s a dual-purpose experiment.  Purpose the first is to get rid of my some five bins of fabric.  It was easier when all of my fabric lived in New York, and I had a big old bookcase to accommodate it.  In my little, old, storage-challenged apartment?  Not so much.  (I have one drawer, reader.  There is one drawer in my entire apartment.  Isn’t that wild?)  I’ve been sewing up a storm, but I have made an awkward peace with the fact that I do not look good in orange or brown, and I do not need six yards of just about anything.

Purpose the second is to gauge how this sort of thing works.  I constantly agonize over the future of the Garment District.  I also want to find  balance between going to school, doing research, working at a (more likely than not) unpaid internship, but also living a life that involves money that does not come from my family.  So, you know, there.  It’s tentatively called I Refuse to Iron This, because it is so much damn yardage, that I’ve neither the time nor the patience to iron it.  Professionalism at its best.  Anyway, this is it: Shop Seam Ripped.  Buy something.  Or don’t.  Or just think about it.  Or get disgusted and frustrated by the entire enterprise.  Really, I run a very “Free to Be You and Me” sort of dictatorship.

On to the actual post.  Jeez, this is long.  I should have broken it up, no?  Anyway, we’re going to trudge through, almost there.

In the past month, I’ve made muslins and/or finished garments of the following:
– By Hand London’s Anna dress
– McCall’s 6696 (a shirtwaist dress)
– Colette’s Hawthorn dress
– Christine Haynes’s Emery dress
– Colette’s Zinnia skirt (versions 1 and 2)
– Megan Nielsen’s Kelly skirt
– Deer and Doe’s Belladone
– Simplicity 1873

I’m just learning how to do FBAs, and I’ve noticed this weird bagginess around the bust (but not directly at the apex and points latitudinal to it (I really need to find the proper geometric/sewing terms for this stuff when I finish this post—Catja, any opinions?) when I make them.  I’m a 34DD, but I’ll make a muslin that should bring things up to my measurements, with or without adjustments.  (I measure 40-30-41.5, with a 33″ high bust.)  I’ve had oddly mixed results.  M6696 is supposed to measure 42″ around the bust for a size 14 C/D cup, but I literally could not close the muslin at the bust.  I brought the Emery and Simplicity 1873 up to a level that should accommodate a 40″ bust, and they were seriously baggy around the bust, everywhere but the point of greatest projection.  I made the very same adjustment to the Robe Belladone, and it fit me like a glove.  Ponder.

Then I started thinking about the skirts I’ve made lately.  I always just go by the waist measurement, but with each skirt I make, I could comfortably lop off an extra inch or so around the waist.  Perhaps the answer is ease.  The Emery is built with two inches of ease in mind, the 1873 has 3 (but I made a smaller FBA to bring it down to 2 around the bust).  The Belladone?  She doesn’t list finished garment measurements, but mine seems to measure 41″ across the bust, as a size 42 with a 1.25″ FBA.  So that’s about .75″ of ease.  Big difference, no?

I thought my findings were rock-solid until I moved on to skirts, though.  Zinnia is supposed to have only .5″ of waist ease, 1″ for me.  Yet, I can easily pinch out a solid 2″ from the band.  I suspect this might have to do with the infamous misalignment of the waistband and the skirt.  (The waistband is more than 2″ too short for the skirt, on the size 10, and I had to add a supplemental piece of cotton.  Thrilling, as you can imagine.)  Anyway, let’s get to some pictures.

Behold!  My Zinnia!  (I’m trying to exhibit the waist room without doing the whole Jenny Craig, clown-car trousers thing.  “Look how many people I can fit into my old jeans.”  Shut up.)  This is version 2, in a size 10, with the length of version 3’s size 18.  (Back story: I am having a bit of a midi moment, because Kiehl’s discontinued their Imperial Body Balm (as they do with everything I’ve ever loved), and my knees look like early-20th-century Fascist dictators.  True story.  I can’t decide if it looks like I’m wearing longer skirts because Christ has compelled me to, or if it seems like a conscious fashion decision.)  Anyway, if you look in the middle, there’s a weird pucker out.  If I look down through my waistband, I can see the floor.

Zinnia Wearable Muslin I

 

“Why is your head cut off in the picture, Charlotte?”  Well, this:

Zinnia Muslin Outtake

Hey, I didn’t say I was cleaning up the blog today, reader.  This is a face I made, unprompted.   To answer your question, I totally have a tripod, but look like a turtle when I use it.  Not jacked like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, but like one of the slow-chewing oldsters at the zoo.  Not cute.  Not cute at all.  In any event, until I figure out how I’d like my face to look there, you have to settle for cute pictures of me in the cheapest mirror at Target, with the view of my messy-because-the-cats-went-on-a-tear closet/bedroom.  Only the best for you, reader.

Where were we?  Yes!  Ease.  Perhaps I am more comfortable with a smaller amount of ease than your average bear?  That translates easily into skirts, but what about bodices?   I’m unclear about the engineering, here.  For instance, S1873 only gives the finished garment measurement for the bust.  At a size 14, for which one is supposed to have a 36″ bust, the measurement is 39″.  It’s built for a B cup, so I figured 36″ – 2″ = 34″ but three inches of ease seemed ridiculous, so why not corral it into 2?  I made a compromise, and did a 1.5″ FBA.  Does the excess ease mean that I have to take a smaller FBA?  Should I assume that the ease is limited to the bust, or that is present throughout the garment?  Should I cut a smaller size all together, and then work up from there?  Do I decide on the smaller size and its accompanying FBA based on the formula Finished Garment Measurement = Body Measurement + 1, or do I go with the envelope back?  When there aren’t finished garment measurements available, is tissue measurement the answer?

Simplicity 1873 Botched FBA 1

Everything looks kosher at the bust, except for that weird side thing and then, bam!

SImplicity 1873 FBA II

Here we have wrinkle city, a peek at my Anna, and the my cat-ravaged closet (it is one of my intersession break goals to tackle that monster).  No, I am not sporting a baby bump, that is just a surfeit of fabric.  Oy.

Simplicity 1873 Side View

The issue is, I don’t want to look like too much sausage stuffed into too little casing, if that makes any sense.  I think I’m going to have to dive head first into Pattern Review and Artisan Square to see what everyone else does, and then cook up an answer that works for me.

The weird solution was to take out two wedges from either side of the bodice, going from 1/8″ to 3/4″, for a total of 3″ taken off of either side.  I think that might do the trick.  I’ll show you the results after I press the bodice, and give the old girl a hem.  Plus, I have to figure out how to finish the waist seam, which always kills me.  Overlock it?  Stitch in the ditch?  The options, they are endless.

Who knows, maybe I’ll see you in another six months?

How’re things on your end, reader?   Not a rhetorical question, I’d actually like to know.

sewing through (unintentional) weightloss

I’ve been unwillingly unplugged for the past few days.  Little computer, spotty telephone.  It’s been kind of blissful.  I’m rather not looking forward to Monday, if we’re being honest.  I watched a movie, I finally gathered the energy to start a book I’ve been putting off for half a decade (literally), I sat in cafes, and lingered in the bookstore for a little too long.  All good.  I have not sewed.  Why, you ask?  Well, in my special January rash of resolution attacking, I’ve come to a startling conclusion.  I’ve lost weight.  Well, actually, if we’re getting really technical, I’ve lost volume, as I generally don’t weigh myself.  We saw it with the Colette Chantilly muslin I cut out in August but a little less so with November’s Simplicity 1873.  I figured: whatever, different patterns, experimental seam allowances, all that jazz.  Then I assembled my UFOs.  Oy.

8723 front
No, Virginia, your photographer and/or tripod should not be shorter than you are. Also, I have Disney villain eyebrows from this angle.

Behold!  Vogue 8723.  I muslined it.  I adjusted the fit within an inch of its life, and now, no dice.  You can’t tell from the photograph, but the bodice is actually quite big.  I’m fairly certain I could fit a honey-baked ham in the back area.  (No flattering photographs that exhibit the problem, and no photographic assistance until tomorrow.)  It seems that I have to reduce the back bodice piece and do something (anything!) to the shoulder area.  I’m not quite sure what to do about length.  Since my shoulder area shrank, the whole thing just kind of falls.  Isn’t the fabric just the sunniest?  I’m loving the full, gathered skirt.

2444 full on

This is a Frankensteined Simplicity 2444 and 2215 (bodice and skirt, respectively).  The fabric is Nani Iro Saaaa Saaa and, if we’re being honest, a real bitch.  (I use the term bitch in the most pro-woman, progressive, Gloria Steinem manner, bien sûr.)  It doesn’t take well to seam ripping or ironing or interfacing or second glances.  I’ve actually done extensive alterations on this guy, as I think it has the potential for pretty.  I put darts on either side of the back seam, took five inches out of the center back, and two out of the sides.  I’ve ripped out and replaced the facings with a lighter weight cotton (double gauze: so pretty, so fickle).

2444 back
Let’s pretend I didn’t put that bubble there because I think that elbows are weird-looking. (Psst: Elbows are weird-looking.)

I’m beginning to think that the best solution here is to wear a cardigan.  Also, the darts are totally even in real life.  Gah!

Anyway, I like to pretend that I’m too cool to care about losing or gaining weight intentionally, so I have no idea how to plan for this sort of thing.  I’m set to do a mud run in June (which apparently requires training, eye roll), but there’s a new brisket place in town.  I’m back in New York so I walk everywhere, but everywhere usually means Shake Shack.  Here are my thoughts (ETA: for all makes from here on out):

1. Shirring!  Shirring would work, and I would have to spend less time fussing with grading.

2. One-inch (or more!) seam allowances.

3. Big old hems.

Our last Charlotte-photo post had an outtake picture.  So how about we go for another?

OuttakeAll of the real outtakes were on the scary side of hideous, so how about we talk about the fact that every time I try to take a photograph of myself I end up looking like a blow-up doll.  Surely there is some sort of cure for this.

Let’s have an excellent week, reader.