Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The making of my first skirt from scratch

in pictures...

Chosen pattern: Simplicity 2766, View D (the only skirt) size AA 10-18

Fabric: Gifted by parents, upon further inspection it's a light denim type fabric black with gold, and machine embroidered/stitched with green, red and goldy-yellow threads

There's only 2 main pattern pieces. Cut 4 pieces for the side panels front and back, and 2 on fold for the front and back middle panels. I cut size 18 straight, and added 3 inches on the fold for the middle panels. I know i'd have to adjust later, and will have to figure this out, but my sizing is weird post-Bean so that's where i'm starting...

New shears: Gingher! I love em!

Cutting all done. Sewing starts tomorrow!

 Hey Faye, I'm crashing your party! Wait for me!!! :)

Monday, September 24, 2012

what I did since my last post

I made a tunic top/blouse from a silk fabric (perhaps it's crepe de chine or habotai) that now it's done I think perhaps people here (in the US) uses more as a fun jacket's lining... If they are Malaysian like me, we turn it into a Baju Kurung (direct translation is confined dress, although it is quite roomy IMO) or Baju Kurung Modern (modernized version of baju kurung, which usually might mean maybe shorter, with shaping darts, have zippers, whatnots, and often also esp nowadays incorporate what's on trend in the runways). 

A lot of my tops/tunic and so on can fall under the category of baju kurung modern top I think - I realized now that I just gravitate towards that kind of silhouette. I can easily wear them with tights and boots as I would wear them with long skirts to events. Many might think it's too dressy, but in Malaysia, women (mostly Malay women, but others would too sometimes) wears them daily to work (in lieu of suits/shirt-pants combo) in colorful fabric of silks, lace, cottons and so on. :) 

Anyways, I had a pot-luck party to go to the Saturday before the last with fellow Malaysians that require us wearing traditional outfit :) My hubby and the Bean have their Baju Melayu (Malay dress for the men) ready (my mom had theirs made by a local tailor for my brother's wedding -for which we went back to Malaysia for a short time back in July, but I didn't have one color coordinated with them (in my family including extended family we like being color coordinated during celebrations, hehe) because of a mishap!! by another tailor there. FYI, i totally planned to make my own clothes for the wedding, but my mom changed the color scheme on me after I bought yards and yards of red silk chiffon and silk charmeuse and bought me a really nice beaded light silver/grey silk chiffon fabric back at home to make into a baju kurung which will match hers and my sis-in-law. With the sudden move to the West and packing etc, I'm happy to have the dress made in Malaysia, but it turned out too small!!! Even my mom's was ruined and too small eventhough he (the tailor and "designer") took her measurement himself! But mom had another baju kurung that she can wear that conformed to her color theme dressy enough for mother of groom, but I had to be the only one from our immediate family in red that night....) so I wanted to make a top that can pass as a Baju Kurung Modern top to wear with a long black skirt that I have. 

Problem is that I took forever making (franken-nizing) a pattern for it, so the night before the event I managed only to cut the fabric before I put them away and concentrated on cooking the food I promised to bring to the pot-luck... Instead I wore my silk charmeuse caftan top with a grey tank top underneath and the black skirt. I was colorful, but fit right in ;) We had a lot of yummy food and met quite a number of Malaysians and their families.

This top took me a little under a week to finish.
With a wonky hem to boot!
I love this sleeves, but note to self: the armscye could use more (ease?!)

The inside of the neckline binding, hand stitched
A little bit of gathers to adjust the fitting across my chest. This was added after I already sewn in my darts and so on and realized that the pattern i based the darts on is for the fabric to be cut in 2 and not on fold. I wanted to keep the fabric for the much needed room, so I made the gathers and finished the neckline with a self-fabric bias binding
I think a lot of time I take a while to finish a project because I am trying my best to have a better finish on the inside (however, my stitches still not that straight!!!)

French seams on most with hong kong seams on the rest (pics above are of my hong kong seams, looking much better than in my pink silk charmeuse top). Then I reached a snag...
The darts and its raveling fabric not covered by my french side seams!
So I stitched the darts together (fold the ends inside the darts itself and whipstitch? it closed)
No pic of me wearing it, but I went out to dinner with hubby and the Bean last Saturday in it. My thought: next time I should try to do full lining for such a top using such fine fabric so that it will flow better over my lumps and bumps!

Other than the above top, I also made a little alteration on my Fuchsia Exposed Zipper dress. I love the dress, but I felt that I needed to cover my neck with scarves (the dress also run a tad too wide across the chest for my comfort) all the time. Maybe I have a narrow chest and wider upper back situation going on...

What I did was I unpicked the dress's neck facing, and also raglan sleeves (the front side of the sleeves that's attached to the front bodice only). I took in an inch from the top of the bodice (tapered towards the lower armscye), and then sew the raglan sleeves back in. And added the collar, like so:

Since wanting to alter existing clothes and salvaging fabrics from otherwise can't be worn clothes were what brought me to learn garment sewing, taking apart my own sewn from scratch clothes and alter it is not a problem. Now I have a dress with a lil different look for Fall :D

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sewing Nook Update Photos

I  took over our coat's closet (only other closet we have) in the new apartment and converted it into my sewing nook. Luckily, hubby never complain about such things. In fact I think he'd rather me have that space (with "wood" flooring) rather than having to contend with stray pins and needles that can get lost on the carpet... ;)

Anyways, the space is now in acceptable working condition and I am currently working on another blouse. 

Here is the before picture:

And here are the after pictures:

 Left side of desk

 Right side of desk: My little Brother machine on the right side, and the dress form next to it. And I am so thrilled with the electrical box on the right side there where there is electric connection right in there for my light and sewing machine without the need of messy cords and extensions!

Upper right side: 4 clear containers of delicate fabric (others are stored in linen closets nearby)

Upper left side: 4 clear containers with patterns and 4 smaller containers with threads, ribbons and such (where is my button collection and zippers? :( must be in one of the 14 remaining boxes still in Iowa...)

I wished I can take the pictures in a better angle, but the hallway is pretty narrow. Full frontal of  my sewing nook is not a possibility.... But it's pretty spacious to do my sewing and putting things away. For chair, I just drag our dining chair to it. And I do my pattern and fabric cutting and so on on the dining table.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Beauty is Pain - Pink Silk Charmeuse V1170 top

When I first started frequenting my local thrift store in Iowa, I came across this Rachel Comey's Vogue 1170 pattern and really like the top's design. The blouse has a keyhole at the front with a knot and I think it's pretty sweet. However, at the time I was just using the sewing machine to make baby carseat cover and cushions, but that didn't stop me from starting my patterns collection!

A year plus (plus) later, as I felt more confident to try different patterns, I opened the said pattern's envelope to check out the pieces, but alas, the instruction portion were missing! Had to put it aside and work on others the way I usually do - very slowly! :) One day I decided that as it might take forever before I can work pattern pieces without instruction, I ordered the pattern online during their monthly sale, chose the fabric from my stash and hunt down buttons at my favorite thrift store..

It could be that while I was waiting for the pattern to arrive that Carolyn shared her Rachel Comey's blouse made in lovely ivory silk charmeuse! I'm super excited by this, because she always share her thoughts on the construction and I've learn A LOT all the time from her blog. THANK YOU, Carolyn! It doesn't hurt that she takes lovely photos that inspire me to sew as well.

Took me a couple of months though before I actually made the pattern adjustments and cut the fabric, and then after starting the project having to pack it for the move here to Seattle.

And I finally completed it the day before yesterday. Hooray!

Indeed it's a pain to make. But so lovely to look at. Slippery silk, raveling fabric and the tiny hems for the ties on the sleeves... That ties portion are a nightmare for a novice like me (and those ties were started before packing for the move back in May, finished while in tiny crammed Seattle inn room in late June). I do wish I have an overlocker/serger to make them nicer (rolled hem) like Carolyn's. Definitely on my wishlist!
Since I don't have an overlocker/serger, what I did was just just like how one would sew their hems, though I had to trim the seam allowance smaller, turn and press and then I zig-zagged it down as in the above picture. Not the neatest sewist around, but the zig-zag version I assure you is much neater than the different ways I tried! :)

I also had the chance to practice my French seams again. Much better this time around, although still not as tiny as I would like.

As for the back side, I ended up not making a full back button closing like I intended to. I found the instruction for that part pretty confusing, and I loathe to mess up the look or the fabric, so I sew the back seams up and left the upper part open and make a one button loop like so:

I finished the back with my rendition of Hong Kong seams... *I still need to learn how to make proper and neater HK seams... i might need to unpick my HK seams and do a turn and stitch finish instead. it is kinda bulky looking on this fine fabric.

Now on the the critique of this project: Let me get this straight, I do love the blouse. It's a labor of love I suppose. It's not my first silk charmeuse blouse, I made a caftan top from floral silk charmeuse back in April, so I anticipated the difficulties I might encounter with the fabric. However I do have some negatives that I will try and be more aware of in the future. Firstly this silk has more shine than I normally would like in an outfit, and that's what you get when you buy fabric online and not able to actually see and touch them before making your purchase. :) I usually prefer a more matte finish, and this is because I have a darker Asian complexion with a tendency to be shiny, and wearing shiny light colored clothes near to my face make me uncomfortable. Hehe. And also, because I have (still) a tummy that I think shiny light colored outfit would and could not conceal, I will steer clear of it in the unforeseeable future.

Then, take also into account that I do not know how to properly make pattern adjustments. Many times I just wing it. I might refer online or in a book on what to do, and then the info just get mushed together in my brain and I will make up adjustments that sometimes work and sometimes not. :) While I did with some "success" added what limited fabric it comes with (I might have purchased just 1.5 yard or 2 yards of this fabric, and it has a small 44-45" width only) to my bias top's width, I did not (or was not able to due to the limited fabric width) add to the length of my top. And I do need to add extra length to it since I won't be wearing it or any top tucked in and prefer it to at least hang loose to mid hip or at most cover my bum...

I will have to figure out how to wear the blouse outside the home... When and if I do, I will take a photo ;)

Now, on to the next project please!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Maxi dress to HiLo skirt

I've been meaning to take the scissors to one of my 2 maxi dresses made before our move/voyage out to the West for a while now and this morning I finally did it! The maxi dress I refashioned was unblogged, but basically I made it almost the same way as the first version.

It was a pretty simple refashion, turning the maxi dress into a HiLo/mullet skirt. The fabric of the maxi dress is a pretty heavy but luxuriously soft-to-the-touch knit. I bought it from FabricMart, but since I am no longer able to check my order history (or I don't know how to on the new site) I would have to guess that it's a modal knit Kelly green, or organic something Kelly green knit.

Because I made the maxi dress 2 layers (way shorter on the inside but enough to not have to worry that it's see-through), it added to the weight of the dress and I ended up having to always adjust it. Also, in the summer heat made the dress less wearable than I would have liked. Now that fall won't be too long away (I hope), cutting it into skirt will ensure wear-ability factor for me. Inside view ---------------------->

There's no sewing involved. I just needed some sort of ruler/curved ruler, chalk, pin and scissors.

I put on the maxi dress as a skirt and mark the length of the skirt I want. It was a bit tough doing it on my own, it will be easier if you have somebody mark it on you while you are standing straight. However, it can be done of course. So I made a small mark on the center back on how long I want it there (I want it to reach the floor when I wear my boots. And I marked the center front part, where I want it to fall just under my knee. (in the future I might even cut it to over my knee, but for now this is okay).

Lay the dress on flat surface with the center front on one side of the fold and the center back at the other side like the picture above.

Use your sewing chalk or whatever marking tool you wish and draw your curves.

Pin the folded dress together so that when you make the cut it won't move (you can also pin before you mark on the fabric).


All done!

I plan to wear it with my boots.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Thrifting in Seattle

Ever since we've been in this new apartment, the Bean and I visited this particular Goodwill outlet nearest to us (a bus ride and long walk away) 4 times already. And guess what, I found some sewing patterns and fabric! Although not as cheap as a quarter or 50 cent each back in Iowa, at between $0.99 and $1.99 per pattern, it's not so bad. And since I've got tonnes of patterns already, now I kinda know what to look for: design/cuts that I don't have yet (or that I don't remember having...) I'll be okay... ;)

Above are my haul over 2 separate thrifting days... 5 sewing patterns, some buttons, elastic and 3 cuts of fabric between 1.5 - 2 yards each.

I am resuming my sewing (the silk charmeuse blouse project that I started back in May just before packing to move - V1170 Rachel Comey pattern), but at a snail pace since my sewing nook is still dark. We also don't have lamp yet in the living/dining area, so I've been sewing on the side of the dining table nearest to the kitchen (it's galley type) where there's bright track light. Problem with this is that the Bean, who recently just turned 2, is always interested in pins and always pull them out of the cut fabric or pincushions and then stick them somewhere else!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Moved In!

Hello peeps :)

Finally after 2 closer to 3(!!!) months of moving to Seattle, we found an apartment and moved in the weekend before Labor weekend! Phew. Now that that's behind us, I am excited to start nesting, and also start sewing again. This place is significantly tinier than our last place in Iowa, but I have identified a space that will be perfect for my sewing nook:

This is a closet that most people would have used as coats' closet I suppose, being near to the entrance, and it's the only other closet in the apartment other than the one in our bedroom. However, since we very minimally used such closet as that back in Iowa, I am seizing it for my own. I'm less worried about storing our other stuff than my many boxes of sewing supplies and fabrics!!! I might even have to appropriate the cabinet next to the sewing nook (to the left of the fridge) to store them...

Happy Monday, everyone!