Week 46: Underwear and More Fabric

I was totally planning to have those underwear done, but then my sister got me back into Skyrim and all my time was built killing draugr and building my virtual house, so the only part I actually finished was the enclosed gusset.

Pattern matching on underwear is for chumps - or at least people who care a lot more than I do.

Still, it should be pretty quick (if mildly annoying) to attach the elastic and finish these up.

My friend EV came to town today for my birthday weekend, and we made a trip to Fabric Depot that wound up being the entire afternoon – mostly just gawking at stuff, because while Fabric Depot isn’t far, it’s not nearly as close as Joann, so I don’t get over there very often. (I’m going to have to change that – FD has a much better selection. It’s probably worth the extra time to get over there if I’m looking for anything that isn’t extremely basic.)

My haul:

I decided that my next project is going to be that bag from the Japanese bag pattern book, done up in red ballistic nylon with navy accents. I briefly looked up needle types for ballistic nylon and am now terrified of this project, but I have all the pieces now, so it’s going to happen!

Just searching for the notions was exciting, since all the lengths were in metric and I don’t convert very well in my head. Then I bought piping and I’m still not sure if that was supposed to be nylon cord instead? Since something is being fed through into a cord stopper, but then something was also being covered with fabric? Anyway I really didn’t know which one I needed and I didn’t want to be mid-project and have the wrong one, so now I have both cotton piping and also nylon cord. I’m sure I’ll find some use for the one I don’t use.

Goals for next week:

  • Finish off the underwear (this time for sure)
  • Cut out parts for the backpack

Week 45: Selene, complete!

It’s done!

The hem is actually straight, I promise. I just can’t resist looking at that bias tape hem.

It’s been so long, I barely remember working on anything else. And although I’ve made this pattern before (the version without pockets), my unfortunate pattern adjustments made this one of the hardest projects to date. I’m frankly amazed it’s wearable at all! But actually, it mostly lays smoothly and I suspect I’m the only one who will see the problems. Plus I love some of the details – the pockets are great, I love the gold topstitching, and I am super proud of my hem now that it’s done.

In hindsight I probably should have gone with a quarter inch seam on my first pass attaching the bias tape, but I don’t really mind the wider strip there.

Lastly, I cut fabric out for two more pairs of underwear from my heart and skull knit fabric – which leaves me with just small scraps now – the first of my fabric stash I’ve officially used up.


Goals for next week:

  • two pair of underwear
  • ponder the next pattern

Week 44: Selene Waistband

Continuing the theme of this project, I had some issues with the waistband. Namely, after I’d gotten the pieces sewn together and went to pin it to the skirt, it was too small. By a lot. I… almost ragequit at that point, but I am so close to done with this thing that I persevered.

The finished waistband, all topstitched like real jeans.

One of my cutting mistakes was that I cut the two back waistband pieces doubled, which actually worked out in my favor here, since I was able to use those. I just had to cut out the center front piece again. And then since I’d had some problems getting the fusible interfacing to actually fuse, I opted to cut out some of my reclaimed muslin and use it as sew-in interfacing. (I can’t bear to just toss my old muslins, so I have them and and all my muslin scraps stashed in a box. This is the first time I’ve actually used them, haha.)

So it turned out that I’d somehow cut the waistband at the right size to begin with, and the previous adjustments I’d made to try to make it fit were totally wrong. I was within about 1/4″ of where I needed to be. The notches didn’t all line up exactly, but they were close enough, and nobody’s going to know but me.

I topstitched the waistband in that gold denim topstitch thread, and even poor Ethel was struggling with the number of layers at the bottom corners. I had to hand-crank my way through some of the harder parts since the needle kept failing to come back up. Then at the last corner, when the thread finally broke about half an inch from the end, I realized that I still had the universal needle in from when I was doing stuff with the lining. The jeans needle worked a lot better to get me through that last stretch. Good lesson for next time I use denim.

The inside of the skirt. Almost done! I do really love this fabric combination.

Now that the waistband is done, I’m on the home stretch – I even hemmed up the lining with no problems, and got the skirt vent hemmed at 1 1/4″ as instructed. I was going to finish all the hemming today and be down to just the thread chains (to connect the lining and the shell) and the hook and eye, but then I decided that I’m going to do bias tape over the raw edge of the hem instead of the blind hem treatment recommended. I did a blind hem on the sloper skirt that was in a similar weight fabric, and it’s really way too bulky. I’ve been considering re-hemming the sloper skirt as well – it’s that annoying.

So sadly, that means there’s one more week left on this project. But then it’s done forever and I can move on to a quick and easy project next. (Wait, wasn’t this supposed to be a quick and easy project?) I already know what it’s going to be: underwear. I tossed two pairs recently and that means it’s time to make some more.

Goals for next week:

  • Finish Selene! (Bias tape, hemming, hook and eye, thread chains)
  • Cut out fabric for 2-3 pairs of underwear

Week 43: Zippers and Interfacing

Hemming up my sister’s dress took longer than expected, mostly because trying to even out the gathering on that big a circumference was so time-consuming. It isn’t totally even, but I didn’t say anything about it and she didn’t seem to notice, and she said it was the perfect length, so hooray!

I french seamed it, because it was rayon and prone to fraying, and after one wash the factory seam was already coming out, so I decided to make it extra enclosed.

Today I tackled the lined zipper, which was a massive pain (as expected). My pattern adjustments hadn’t taken into account the need for the left lining to be slightly smaller than the outside, and even though I’d attempted to compensate when I initially sewed the lining, it clearly wasn’t quite right after my first pass at stitching the lining and zipper together. I wound up putting the seam for the center back at about 1 inch on the left, and the right back at about 3/4 inch. It’s definitely not perfect, but it’s the lining – if it is still too loose I can add a tuck all the way down to tighten it up and nobody will notice. It’s not that snug of a pencil skirt.

Contrast topstitching the lapped zipper was terrifying, of course, and I had to re-stitch a section in the middle where it had gone off the stitch line when I closed up the zipper. I opted to topstitch the vent in a dark blue instead of the gold, just because I felt like it would look weird in gold.

Lastly, although I know I had “cut out interfacing” on the docket for weeks ago, I skipped that step, and I’m glad I did – I had to make some significant changes to the back waistband pieces to make it match up to the actual skirt, so I transferred those changes back to the pattern before I cut the interfacing. I’m still not sure about how well it’s going to match up, but I guess I’ll find out pretty soon here!

Goals for next week:

  • Attach the waistband

I’d really like to finish off the whole skirt, but I’m trying to keep my stated goals very attainable, haha.

Week 42: Something completely different

Well I’d like to say that I achieved all my goals for the week, but in fact I achieved none of my sewing goals for the week. However, I had a friend in town this weekend, and she’s making costumes for her twin toddlers for Halloween this year, and I did help her trace and cut out fabric for those.

She’s making two hoodies and two pants out of polar fleece, which is not a material I’ve worked with before, and which was definitely a bit challenging to cut out and mark just due to the squishiness. She’ll be adding felt eyes and manes and tails and stuff in order to make My Little Pony costumes, which should be adorable as hell, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it works out!

Unfortunately, I only remembered to take one picture of the whole process, but it was involved, haha. I don’t envy her the task of finishing two hoodies and pants before Halloween, even if they are miniature. The last time I made my Halloween costume (in 2010 or so), I decided I was going to go as a dandy and started a tailored jacket October 1st without understanding how little I didn’t know. By the night of the 30th I had to give up on doing the lining because it wasn’t going to get done in time otherwise, and it didn’t go together right without the lining, and it didn’t fit quite right (shocker), and just in general it was such a terrible experience that I’ve been hesitant to commit to making a costume ever again.

I would love to do some cosplay (it’s part of why I keep throwing myself at pattern drafting and alteration, even though it makes me miserable when it fails), but if I’m going to do it I’m going to start six to eight months before whatever con I want to go to to leave myself plenty of time to find the right materials and figure out the patterns and everything.

I’m still planning to get my sister’s dress shortened before Thursday. I’m about halfway done ripping the seam on the flounce, so it’s definitely feasible, I just need to sit down and watch some tv and rip, rip, rip. After that, trimming off a few inches and re-stitching it shouldn’t take more than an hour (probably far less).

Goals for next week:

  • Attach the lining to the zipper!
  • Finish shortening sis’ dress FOR REAL THIS TIME


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.

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.

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.