Week 41: Seam Finishes and Lining

I suppose the title is a bit of a misnomer, as I haven’t actually finished lining the skirt. I did, however get it basted in around the top. But first I got to deal with all the seam finishes I’d been neglecting and forgotten about.

I was going to press the side seams open and finish separately as recommended in the instructions, and then top stitch over each side to keep the large seam allowances down (I opted not to trim them ahead of time to help with potential future alterations), but then realized I’d be topstitching over the pocket openings, and I really didn’t want to do that. I caved and did mock flat fell seams on the side seams as well, and then topstitched like I did between the center front and side front panels, to give it a nice line. There’s just something magical about that denim topstitch color thread on denim – it looks way more professional than it has any right to. Those side seams will be a pain to take out if I need to make alterations, but they lay much more nicely right now.
Then I finished off the side seams for the lining, which I’d been waiting on until I fit the shell. I then proceeded to finish the seams off and stitch over the basting I’d initially done without making any adjustments based on the final fit. When I went to pin the lining to the shell, the lining was a good inch too short at least. The left back lining was supposed to be a tiny bit short to help pull in the lapped zipper, but there was just no way this was going to work. So I took out the top of the side seams and re-pinned them so that the lining was the right length to match the shell, and then it went together much better.

It’s hard to see in this picture but I had to significantly reduce the seam allowance at the waistline (bottom of the picture) so it would match up the shell


I’m extremely ready to be done with this skirt at this point – it’s been an absolute bear, and it’s pretty much all my own alterations that have done it. None of the notches have matched up, the lengths haven’t even matched up, I’m still not sure the lining isn’t going to be weird and lumpy when it’s fully attached or what I’m going to do about it if it is. I’m eyeing new patterns longingly, and between work being hectic and stressful and my own lack of motivation, the project really just isn’t going fast enough. I refuse to move to another project before this one is finished, because if I do that I know I’ll never finish it. So I’ll keep baby-stepping my way through it.

I do have to spend some time on mending this coming week, though! I offered to raise the hem on one of my sister’s dresses, and although I’ve had it for weeks now and am about halfway through picking the seam on the flounce so I can re-attach it later, she said she might like to wear it to a function at the end of the month, so I need to, like, actually finish altering it in the near future. Probably this week.

Goals for next week:

  • Attach the lining to the zipper
  • Finish picking the seam on the sister’s dress, and at least get it trimmed to the right length and the flounce pinned in place.
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Week 40: Fitting Selene, part 2

Those crazy seam lines were definitely a bear to sew. I hand-basted them first, which was good because I discovered I hadn’t blended well enough around the pocket and there was a weird pooch under my hips. I took in about a quarter inch on either side right at the hip since it still felt too big (I should have gone with a smaller size, I have realized), and after blending that in, I have something that doesn’t lay flat by any stretch but actually fits reasonably well. It’s definitely not perfect, and I am sure I broke all sorts of cardinal sewing rules to get there, but you do what you gotta do!

Front and back pinned together, pins where the seam is going to be
After stitching everything up by machine, trimming the seams, and then pressing them flat, I’m happy enough with the fit that I opted not to tweak the darts at all.

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Front and back seams complete, front on the top and back on the bottom. Lots of extra fabric there on the sides.

You can see just how much I’m taking off the back here – I’m essentially taking a massive dart out of the bottom. In the process of course I broke the alignment wth the bottom front, so I had to trim some off there, and the back already is a bit lower at the center back than at the sides, so I trimmed some off there as well.

After looking at the instructions, which say the lining is intentionally a bit smaller to help pull the lapped zipper in, I’m worried about getting the lining in, so I guess I’ll do some substantial measuring before I do that step. While I think the end result of this project will work out okay in the end, I’m looking forward to being done with it – I’ve made so many errors along the way that I am ready to start fresh with something new!

Goals for next week:

Getting the zipper installed to the lining is a whole process, I remember, so my only goal for next week will be to get that done.

Week 39: Selene fitting

Well, I hit the moment of truth – the side seams. Annnnnd… yeah I pretty much hosed the pattern in my alterations. Fortunately those one-inch side seams make up for a variety of sins.


The front that I didn’t alter really should have been trued up to the back that I did alter so the seams would match. I wound up pinning them like this and then stitching at one inch from the edge of the bottom piece (the back), and they went together all right from there. I just basted the side seams because I knew there were going to be problems to work out and boy are there.

The waist was a bit looser than I wanted it and there seemed to be a lot more fabric below the hips than there should have been. My first step was just to take some out near the bottom and grade it back out again at the hips, essentially just redrawing the seam line so it was about an inch in on either side. That helped a little bit, but I still had the rudder problem in the back. I know I have seen that specific problem and its fix somewhere on the internet before but I definitely couldn’t find it again. I finally just pinned a bunch of the excess out to each side until the back didn’t hang so loosely, and then I chalked in what is going to be a new seamline I guess…

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I also am going to need to trim off some of the front since it seems to be a bit high:

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I chalked that originally too and then thread traced it because it started to rub off while I was taking the skirt on and off.

I’m not thrilled with how my sloper worked out for pattern alterations, probably because it seems my sloper itself still isn’t quite right. I still have a few dart problems, and the center back looks fine when it’s flat but clearly needs to be dropped about a half inch or so once it’s on me. In a lot of ways the Selene I made last year that was two sizes smaller fits better – it’s possible that all I really needed to do this time was a minor full rear adjustment and to tighten up the waist. I’ll certainly try that if I make another one in the future!

I have been watching a bit more TV, so I actually got some knitting done this week! I’m just still working my way through those socks I started in Japan, so it’s not all that exciting, but here is a picture anyway:

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Goals for next week:

Fix the fit. This could seriously take the whole week, since I’m not really sure what will happen when I try to sew that funky line, or if I’m going to need more adjustments after that. I might tackle the darts again as well to try to get then to lie nice and flat. If that all does go well then it’s time to get the lining installed!

Week 38: Selene front top stitching

After sewing the side front panels to the center front panel, I was left with figuring out how I wanted to finish the seams. The instructions, of course, just say to press the seam toward the center front (and presumably overlock or pink), but I knew the double layer of denim was going to be awfully bulky, and I was pretty sure I wanted some kind of topstitching. I thought about pressing the seam to each side and topstitching them both down, but then I came across the mock flat fell seam, and decided that would be perfect.

Below you can see the front after I finished the mock fell seam, done in blue thread because I wanted the real workhorse stitching to be further out than the visible topstitching.

 

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Cat hair gets on everything when you have three cats, you just gotta roll with it.

I’m really extremely pleased with the topstitching! I’m not thrilled with the fact that the needle in some places seems to have broken the threads of the denim. I’m using a denim needle but this denim does have like 5% spandex, so I’m not sure if I should have gone with a different needle? Anyway hopefully it just won’t be noticeable after a few washes.

I didn’t finish stitching the front lining pieces together, but I did manage to get the darts sewn and pressed on the back lining pieces, even with Ethel being temperamental about backstitching. (Ethel has been a bit temperamental through this whole project. I think multiple layers of denim might be just about the limit of what she can handle.)

In non-project but still sewing-related news (although not clothing related, I suppose, sorry), I ordered this book last week from my local Kinokuniya, and picked it up yesterday:

I mean bags are great in general, but after seeing this review I decided I had to have this book specifically for this pattern here:

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I’ve been trying to walk more, and there’s a Safeway about 20 mins away that is pretty much the perfect distance for a productive walk, but I keep winding up with more things than will fit in the bag I’ve been bringing, and also it’s a pain to have to swap hands regularly while carrying a normal bag. This backpack not my favorite styling as far as bags go, but it’s so practical that I don’t care.

I wish I’d seen this pattern before I went to Japan, though, because the mall craft store I went into had a ton of great backpack supplies. Is it just more common to make backpacks over there, I wonder?

Goals for next week:

I should be able to get through the initial side seam assembly by next week, I’d think, which will put me just before the step where I do the vent. I’m still worried about how the side seams are going to turn out, since they changed a lot while altering them based on my sloper, so this week could potentially be a bummer. At the very least, I did leave a full inch seam allowance specifically for the side seams, so I have that going for me. *fingers crossed*

Week 37: Selene front panels

The front panels didn’t wind up being as complicated as I feared. I could have done a much better job with the points on the little triangular cut outs on the one side, but I think the top stitching visually evens it out enough that it’s not going to be terribly noticeable.

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I chalked the seam line for top stitching because I absolutely did not trust myself to sew that thing straight otherwise. (You can see that I even fought a bit with the chalk, haha.) One point is definitely a little steeper than the other, but hopefully I am the only one who will notice that when it’s all put together.

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I haven’t made much with pockets before so I don’t know if this is a standard visible pocket construction, but I like it! I know it’s a lot easier than the pockets in the last pair of pants I attempted to make. You could even make it super easy and not include the little notch. It’s probably how most jean pockets are done now that I think about it. Hmm.


They are also decent sized pockets so I can actually use them for things!

The top piece and pocket lining didn’t quite line up, and when I investigated I determined it’s because they didn’t quite line up on the paper pattern due to my sizing adjustments. So that doesn’t give me a lot of hope for the more extensive alterations I made along the side seams! But it should be a nice big seam allowance that I can take in if I need to, or clip seams that don’t match up exactly. I’m hoping for the best, because I’m liking this skirt more and more as I work on it and I really want it to turn out well!

Goals for next week:

Things are going much more smoothly now that I’m into the actual sewing bit of things. I’d like to hit juuust before the side seams this week, which means finishing up the front of the main body and the front and back of the lining, all of which are just simple seams. I’m also thinking about topstitching to accentuate the seams (except that unintentional center front seam) once they’re done. I don’t have jean hardware and this skirt closes in the back so it’s a bit nonstandard for a denim skirt anyway, but I think the yellow topstitching would do a lot to make it look more casual, which is what I want.

Week 36: Selene lining plus first steps

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I have excellent taste in pattern weights.

Lining is cut out! I haven’t marked everything yet, but because I keep the paper with the cut pieces, that’s easy enough to do when I need the fabric. I’m sure this will come back to bite me in the ass someday, but for now it’s working out.

I didn’t cut interfacing, but I did get the front center sewed together so I can treat it like the normal piece, and thread traced the  back pieces so I can get started on the sewing bits here very soon!

I used the selvage as one edge of the center front pieces, so I won’t have to finish these edges with anything, and they should lay nice and flat.


Goals for next week:

  • Sew the back pieces (darts, staystitching)
  • Sew up to the pocket steps on the front side. The instructions look a little confusing, hopefully it will make sense when I get there, haha.

Week 35: Cutting out Selene

Things are not going super quickly in sewing land. I’m trying not to feel guilty about it – this is a hobby, after all, it’s supposed to be fun – but I do feel bad when I don’t meet my self-defined goals.

 

I was able to cut out the main fabric of Selene this week, though! I had to make some last-minute alterations when I lined up the front and back patterns and realized the front was more than an inch longer than the back. In focusing on the width of the skirt, I totally forgot that chopping off the waistline to match my  sloper was going to result in a length difference as well. I’m infinitely glad I double-checked it, as this skirt is already at the limit of how short I’m willing to wear a skirt (above the knee! Scandalous!) and I would have had to do some weird piecing thing to add length if I hadn’t caught it.

Then when I was cutting things out, I ran into a problem with the very last piece, which was of course the center front and thus the most noticeable. I didn’t have enough fabric left to cut it on the fold with the grain line going the right way.  I’m not sure how this happened exactly, I bought a quarter yard extra fabric as usual and I followed the cutting layout…. but yeah that was some bad luck. I wound up adding a seam allowance and am just going to piece the front. 

The paper clips are a new strategy for me. I like it so far. I don’t like cutting with pins in but I like to keep the pattern with the cut pieces until I’m sewing them.

It will probably be fine, but it was just one more issue to pile on top of this being kind of an annoying project so far. I’m hopeful that once I’m actually sewing, things will get better!

Goals for next week:

I’m going to be conservative and put my goals at just cutting out the lining and interfacing the pieces that need to be interfaces. I’m out of town next weekend during my primary sewing time, and I’m in need of a mental victory, haha.