Week 32: Just Mending

This was not an exciting week for my sewing habit, I fear. I checked two items off my mending list, but I decided I’m going to use a fitting sloper to finish up my bodice sloper for now, and when I went to Joann earlier today they did not have the fitting sloper pattern that I could find. (My Joann is apparently very heavy on the Simplicity patterns rather than the other big 4, is that true elsewhere?)

I do have a couple of not terribly exciting pics of my mending.

My toe socks had just a little bit of a seam coming out. I decided to deal with it before it got worse.

All fixed up! Looks a little frankensteined since I did it from the right side, but it should be smooth against the foot where it matters.

Jonah helping with the photo taking
I’m not thrilled with how this came out based on how it looked in my head, but it was pretty frayed and hard to do the cute embroidery I was envisioning. At least it shouldn’t fray anymore!

I really need to do something to get my sewjo back – maybe a really simple pattern? Something I’ve made before so I won’t have as many fitting issues to annoy me? I’ll have to do some brainstorming. Meanwhile I’ve ordered the bodice sloper pattern from the interwebz so maybe it will arrive this week while I’m figuring out what I want to do. I haven’t even used a sewing machine since I got back! All that fabric and no motivation!

Week 30: Hemming and Instagram

It wasn’t a super productive week so far as actual output goes, but I did manage a few things!

First, I joined Instagram – I actually have never used Instagram, because I don’t normally take enough photos to make Instagram a viable social medium for me, but I started thinking it could be fun to have more process pictures there, and keep this space more for finished objects. (Today I’m just posting pictures I already put on Instagram, but I’d like to branch out more later.) My Instagram is here.

Secondly, I did indeed hem my yukata, and it’s my best blind hem yet, even with the fact that I started it off using a catch stitch (crossing the thread in an x shape) instead of a straight blind hem. Apparently the catch stitch is good for blind hemming knits, but the regular one is better for wovens? I’m actually glad, because it was seeming loopier than it should have been, and it laid much flatter when I switched stitches.

This is the right side of the above stitching, and you can’t see anything! I’m so pleased.

This wasn’t planned, necessarily, but I randomly decided it was finally time to put my skirt sloper pattern on poster board for future use. The remaining fitting problems I’ve had with the skirt I made from it are sewing and fabric problems, I’m pretty sure, rather than size. I’ll make another skirt from it here before too long just to double-check.


I also did some planning of my Belle wardrobe. I was watching Once Upon a Time before I went to Japan and I’m pretty inspired by most of Belle’s wardrobe. So I went trying to figure out what pieces I like the most and what their characteristics are, and I came up with a list:

  • Always emphasize the waistline – belts, seams, tucked in shirts
  • Ruffles/knots/interesting collar details draw attention to the neckline
  • Usually short sleeves or sleeveless
  • Textured fabrics: lace, quilting, houndstooth, etc

Keeping that in mind, I found a few patterns that I have already that I can use or tweak to give the impression I want. 

However! I’ve decided that I want to draft a bodice sloper before I make any more shirts – I’m excited to make skirts with my sloper to help fit, and I want to feel the same way about shirts!

Goals for next week:

  • Draft a bodice sloper 
  • First muslin for bodice sloper 
  • Knitting! Those socks aren’t gonna knit themselves. I don’t know how far I want to get, because I don’t want to burn out again, but I do want to make sure I do a little. 

Week 27: Japan part 1

I’m in Japan! (I hope I scheduled this right, since the mobile app apparently tries for local time, which is 16 hours ahead of when I want to post.) Here’s the capsule wardrobe I took with me:


I also brought my two handmade bras, an extra older bra, the handmade spanx, and a bunch of handmade socks. I thought maybe three bras was overkill but HOLY CRAP am I glad I brought them, since the humidity is so bad I want to rotate them every day. I hand-washed my underclothes today (since I didn’t want to machine wash the bras anyway, and also didn’t want to pay to do laundry), and am hoping they’ll dry by the time I leave tomorrow morning, otherwise things will be interesting.

As you might expect, I didn’t get a whole lot done this week as far as crafting goes. I thought there might be some time for knitting on the plane, but they turned off the main cabin lights for most of the flight and I couldn’t figure out how to turn my individual light on! Foiled by technology! I did manage to get started on a pair of socks, however, and made some additional progress on the Shinkansen to Nagano, when I wasn’t looking out the window. Someday I’ll master blind knitting, but I’m really not very good at it yet.


I also picked up a sewing book in the bookstore in Ueno Station, which is a Shinohara Tomoe sewing book. I didn’t know she had a particular clothing style, but I’m familiar with her musical style, which is quirky as hell. Her clothing style is apparently sort of 50’s vintage dresses, and I’m sure I’ll have to grade up almost every one of the patterns in here, but it’s a fun collection regardless.


In case you were wondering what Japanese sewing pattern instructions look like, they’re much less step-by-step than the Big 4 patterns and more with the pictures:


I’m planning to head to Nippori Fabric Town once I’m back on Tokyo (I didn’t want to go and then have to haul a ton of fabric with me for the rest of my trip), and I’m going to try to find the nani IRO atelier while I’m in Osaka. 

Week 26: Harrison Shirt

Happy halfway through the year week!

I leave for Japan on Tuesday, so I’m frantically trying to wrap up everything before then.

I did decide to go ahead and cut out the fabric behind the lace, which may have been a mistake. It’s fine when I’m standing, but when I lean over it pulls away from my chest a bit. Also it feels very fragile – this has become a hand-wash only bra for sure. (I usually machine wash and lay flat or hang to dry.) It looks very nice, though.

Here’s the weird fisheye dart I added:
It really looks like it needs topstitching, and actually the fabric on the back would probably stay in place better if I did that, too. I’ll have to do that by hand, to, though, so we’ll see how I feel after a few wearings. I was worried the dart would leave extra visible bulk but actually it looks much smoother with the dart added because of just how much excess fabric there was. It’s not perfect, but it’s wearable. I’m hopeful that my next one will be even closer to a perfect fit.

I made fantastic progress on the shirt, too! The only thing I have left to do is the buttonholes and the buttons, which I really hope go smoothly. I’m going to have to make a test buttonhole or two before I start so I don’t wreck everything with the final step.


I’m so pleased with the collar – it went together really smoothly (probably due to all the hand basting I did), and the stopstitching is pretty even. 

I really enjoyed this pattern – I’ll need to make a few fit tweaks for the next one I make, but there definitely will be a next one. I am also DEEPLY in love with this fabric – the seersucker is super easy to work with, and kind of sticks to itself so it doesn’t slide around while you’re working on it. It’s a nice change from the rayon. (I love the feel of the rayon but dang!)

The only official goal I have for next week is actually a goal for tomorrow – I gotta get those buttonholes and buttons sewn on pronto. But I’m bringing knitting needles and yarn with me, since I have a long flight and a whole lot of train rides ahead of me, and I’m planning to post as usual next week. I just… gotta figure out when to post so that it will come up at the normal time, haha.

Week 25: Pattern alterations

Firstly: I once again did not entirely finish off the last bits of the peach bra. I think my problem is just that I haven’t been able to decide how to finish it. I haven’t decided if I want to trim away the fabric behind the lace on the cups, or leave it and tack it down. And then I can’t decide if I want to take in the extra amount as a dart, knowing that it could be an uncomfortable seam to be right up against my breast. I really need to make those decisions and do the work this week, because I want that bra to come with me to Japan and it’s coming up real quick now.

I did successfully get all but one last thing on the nightgown done, though:

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The neckline trim worked really well, and gives it a more polished look, even if it wants to turn out unpleasantly near the middle. I also hemmed it (by machine this time), so all I have left is to trim the back straps and then hand-stitch them under the back seam so they don’t fray.

I figure some night this week I’ll sit down with a movie and finish up all the hand sewing for both the bra and the nightgown.

What I did do for the bra, however, was move the needed alterations to the pattern. And I took a lot of process pics.

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Here’s the amount that needs to be pinched out. I followed recommendations from the Craftsy comments last time in order to make my dart, but this time I decided to take out fabric where I need it. There was a very obvious pleat while wearing this, so I just traced the edges of it on both sides with my fabric marker. You can see it forms sort of a fishtail dart.

I measured where it started and ended, and placed the two relevant cup pieces together at the seams so I could mark it on the pattern:

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I’m glad I did that bottom cup split last time, it makes for a very convenient ending point for my weird pleat.

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Left is the 2nd draft, with the split cup and the initial cross-cup pleat taken out. Right is my new version, with a more substantial cross-cup pleat.

You can see that  the new version is much narrower to the left of the strap. I actually made one further modification after this that isn’t worth picturing – I had to take a 1/4″ dart out of the bottom cup to true up the seam lines.

It’s not worth ordering materials so close to my trip, but I think after I’m back I’d like to try out my new pattern modification. I have enough fabric left from the two kits I’ve ordered that so long as I’m willing to have a two-tone bra (spoiler alert: I am), I should just need to order the elastics and hardware, which will make it a much cheaper experiment.

As far as button-down shirts go, I decided on the Cashmerette Harrison pattern, largely because I’ve heard such great things about the fit. I’m a size 18 on top and between a 20-22 on the bottom, so I graded the pattern to a 20 and am hoping that the design ease will make up for the extra inch. I’m also planning to leave one-inch seam allowances on the sides to allow for anything I need to take in/out.

You’ll also notice that I traced off and shortened the sleeve pattern, because no way do I want long sleeves in July. I haven’t decided if I want to try to mod the cuff to work on the short sleeve or not. Given my time constraints, I’ll probably just hem it up and call it good. (I should probably add an actual hem allowance – I just sort of held up the sleeve at the shoulder and eyeballed where I wanted it to end, which means I probably don’t want to just cut the fabric there.)

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Taping this together and cutting it out took way more time than I anticipated, and I think there are more pieces to this pattern than any pattern I’ve made before (with the possible exception of an ill-fated Halloween jacket I tried to make many years ago). I’ve also never sewn princess seams, and I haven’t sewn a collar in god knows how long. I’m pretty nervous about trying to get this done in a week (a week, that is all I have left, holy crap), and I don’t want to stress myself out too badly before the trip, so I may reach the end of the week and just say “You know… let’s not,” and call it good. WE’LL SEE.

The handsewing I have left really does need to get done by next week, though.

Goals for next week:

  • Bra: handsewing (around lace, dart) and closing up the underwire channels.
  • Nightgown: trim and hand-stitch the strap ends.
  • Harrison shirt: as much as possible! Hopefully the whole thing!
  • Pics of the wardrobe I’ll be packing

 

Week 24: Nightgown

The problem with cutting out fabric is that I usually want to start sewing immediately afterward.

Which is why the nightgown is almost entirely done, haha.

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This fabric is 100% rayon, and it’s amazing how fragile it felt while I was working on it compared to how it felt when I tried it on. I’m not really convinced I made a good choice in using it for a nightgown, but I guess time will tell. (It’s almost too pretty to sleep in; I’m having second thoughts all over the place. But I certainly can’t wear it outside.)

It was a nightmare to cut. I don’t have a large enough cutting surface to hold the entire front skirt piece, and it was cut on the bias in a single layer, so trying to get it on the bias grain without stretching was a feat I only sorta succeeded at. The front skirt in particular wound up about half an inch shorter than it should have been, due to having to move the fabric around while it was pinned to the pattern. I have heard that spray starch is useful for keeping fabric from slipping around too much, so I might try that when I make something with the remainder.

Unsurprisingly, given the grading I had to do, the fit isn’t quite right – the cup size is a bit small, and the underbust actually wound up a bit too large – I took in the side seams and graded out under the waist to help a little, but it’s never going to be my best-fitting garment. Thank goodness it’s for sleeping.

I ran into some pattern weirdness on the bodice because I opted not to add lace like the pattern calls for, so I have a long front binding piece that I didn’t need at all, and I had to take out a row of stitching when I realized it was sewn wrong sides together so that it could have the lace attached to it. I went back and did french seams on the yoke instead, then top stitched them down to prevent the seams from flopping around.

The other problem that arose from not having any lace is that the 1/4″ seam allowance that they had me turn over in the first step is a raw edge, and even though I did a 3-step zigzag over it to try to keep it from fraying out, it’s going to fray a little bit right at the neckline unless I do something to stop it. Fortunately, I have some peach neckline trim elastic leftover from my peach bra (that I still haven’t done the finishing touches on…) that I think will work perfectly.

As for my sloper skirt, I finished it off on Sunday night, and then almost wore it out to coffee on Wednesday before I remembered that it still has fabric marker all over it, hah. I’m excited to see how it wears over the course of a full day.

I catch-stitched the hem, and you can see my hand overcasting on the seam edges, too. I left the side seams at 1″ in case I need to make future alterations.

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The last thing I want to make before my trip is a short-sleeve button-down shirt. I have this blue and white seersucker that I think will be nice and cool for wandering around in humid weather (of which, I’m told, there will be plenty).

Goals for next week:

  • Find a button-down shirt pattern and make fitting adjustments
  • Hem and add neckline trim to nightgown
  • Peach bra finishing touches (this time for sure!)

Week 23 – Nightgown Pattern Alterations and Sloper Skirt

Well! This week was filled with time-consuming stuff that doesn’t look all that impressive. Also I sidetracked from my stated goals from last week, but no matter. It’s my blog and I’ll do what I want to. 🙂

Firstly, it turns out that the pattern I ordered with the lingerie Craftsy class is a size bracket smaller than I needed – the largest size on the pattern was about seven inches too small in all three measurements, so I had to do some significant grading to get it up to the right size. I haven’t really done a tone of size grading, and this pattern had more pieces than I’ve had to alter for anything before, so it took quite a bit longer than I’d anticipated.

However! Results:

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Not shown: the front piece, which also had additional width added

Not the most visually appealing image in the world, and I probably should have pressed the tissue before working with it, but I was impatient. The basic width changes are probably fine, but I’m a little worried about the cup – I knew it needed more width at the bottom, but with a quick tissue-fitting before I made the cut, it didn’t seem like the cup needed to be substantially bigger, so I didn’t do a real FBA, just the width adjustment. Hopefully that works out all right for me.

I got the fabric washed and dried, too, so I’m ready to actually get this nightgown started this week.

Meanwhile, instead of putting the finishing touches on the bra, I got annoyed at all the skirt sloper pieces hanging around and decided I really wanted to finish that up, so I made some good progress on that.

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There is actually far more cat hair on it than you can see here, because that is what happens to things that sit around my house.

I fixed the dart positioning, although my darts are still a little puckery (I’m pretty sure it’s a sewing problem and not a pattern problem). It has a nice, snug-but-comfortable fit that I’m hoping will the skirt rotation issues I’ve had with my other pencil skirt.

I’m hand-overcasting the seams because I’m a masochist I need something to do while watching TV, and that is time-consuming enough that it probably won’t be done for a few days. Then I need to hem it up, and probably wash it to get rid of all the fabric marker I used trying to fit this thing. I’ve already made the pattern adjustments, so now theoretically I have a skirt sloper pattern that I can use to help fit my other patterns, which is very exciting!

 

Goals for next week:

My trip is coming up in just over three weeks, and I’d like to get this nightgown and a button-down shirt done before I go, so I’m going to have to be really on the ball.

  • Finish overcasting and hemming the sloper skirt
  • Finishing touches on bra
  • Cut out nightgown fabric and start assembly