Friday, January 29, 2016

Less-selfish Sewing

Thanks for sticking with me! I have a completed wearable muslin (read: round 1 finished project -- round 2 is soon to come!) for my Elisalex Dress that I'll be sharing here shortly. In the meantime, I've also started the planning and supplies-gathering stages for another project: something decidedly less selfish than an unnecessary sparkly party dress.

Historically, I've remained squarely on the selfish side of the sewing spectrum, only really devoting my sewing time to making things for myself (except for a brief attempt at men's shirt-making in 2012, that was quickly abandoned amid head-scratching and fitting challenges). However, this Christmas, handmade gifts abounded, and the unselfish less-selfish spirit has spilled over into the new year. You may have caught me on Instagram this week dabbling in some home decor sewing for my sister, using upholstery fabric for the first time! Now we're back to apparel sewing.

My dude's birthday is in early February, so, like you do, I've decided to make him a shirt. Since I already own McCall's 6044, I'm planning to use it, and it's been well documented as a good place to start your unselfish man-sewing. It's done its rounds on the web (like here, here, here, and here, to note a few).

My plan is to sew up a first draft out of some chambray, and use white buttons and thread to get somewhere close to this look, from j.crew.

I like the classic style here with a simple left chest pocket (no cowboy style western detailing or lumberjack-ish pocket flaps). One of the most exciting parts of the sewing-for-someone-else experience is choosing the fabric! I went for this red chambray for this first round, to mimic the inspiration shirt.

Robert Kaufman Interweave Chambray

Hopefully there will be minimal adjustments required before I'm able to move onto the final masterpiece (thinking positively!) in this fun Cotton + Steel print. He picked the fabric out and I think it's going to be great. I really like the subtle flower print (doesn't scream FLORAL) and the color scheme.

Cotton + Steel "Mustang" Collection, Daisy

I happened upon the kit pictured below (on for a shirt dress pattern that was done in the same fabric. I grabbed this image because, inspiration-wise, I think it gives a good idea of the feel of a button-down shirt sewn with this stuff -- and also has me starting to consider thread and button colors. I'm actually thinking all Navy to match the background, so the print can do the talking. Is that boring?

Craftsy Kit

What about you guys? Have you sewn much for your friends and family?

Do you have any men's button-down shirt recommendations?

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Party Dress: Tips

For the past few years, read: most of my sewing career, I've been afraid of two things in particular: making full bust adjustments, and sewing princess seams. Now, by "afraid," what I really mean is lazy.

The last time I can remember sewing princess seams on anything is way back in 2013! Fitting the two curved bodice side-front pieces into the curve of the center front piece was always easier said than done. I remember practically losing my mind trying to magically ease them together (amid inadvertent pleats and rippling ...and cursing) on the fitted bodice of my Turquoise Taylor Dress. They look OK in the photos, but we all know there's often more to the story.

princess seams, c. 2013

For my current project, the Elisalex dress, I'm trying to cut the crap and I refuse to be lazy or scared. I have no idea why I did not simply Google techniques (how novel!) for sewing princess seams before, but this time I did -- and I am so glad! I found this simple tutorial and gleefully used it to produce perfectly-sewn princess-seamed bodices, one after the next, for my muslins.

The game-changers for me were: stay stitching and then clipping the curve before it's sewn. Magic!

That's all really great, but the truth is that it does not matter how lovely your princess seams are if your bust measurement exceeds that of the size you've sewn. Enter the dreaded FBA. Why "dreaded?" Because I'm lazy. This time, perhaps inspired by the ease with which I'd tackled the princess seams, I sucked it up and followed the easy tutorial on BHL's blog. ...Et voila! A bodice that fits both my bust and my waist.

BHL's tutorial

I'm happy to finally be ready (mature enough?) to step away from my sloppy, instant gratification sewing mindset, at least momentarily, and actually focus on making something that challenges my tiny little sewing skill set. And if I can do it, you probably already have can too!

I think my goal previously had been: produce a quick, cute garment! Now my goal is quality, and I mean it this time. I've seen bloggers write the same thing, but I don't think I'd truly felt it myself until now.

Have any of you found you've built unnecessary walls to avoid learning "scary" new skills? Please tell me I'm not the only one!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Party Dress: Fabric

I ordered six different fabric swatches, from three different online fabric stores, before I could bring myself to make a decision on the fabric for my party dress. After looking at everything in person, I was stuck between the least expensive option, from Gorgeous Fabrics, and the most expensive fabric, from Mood. I would "decide" on one and then change my mind the next day when I'd attempt to finally check out online! After taking a mental-fabric-break for a couple days, I revisited the swatches I'd received and held them up to my dress form, trying to imagine them as a dress. I liked the idea of a more sparkly fabric, and that paired with the lower price is what brought me to my final choice: the Spanish Couture Lame Brocade from Gorgeous Fabrics. Wish me luck!

How do you decide on fabrics for a bigger project? Do you plan the fabric and then the pattern, or try to find the perfect fabric to match an idea that only exists in your head?