Tag Archive | live and learn

UFO #2: Peasant blouse

Oh youse guys.

This is bad. Like, really bad.

This peasant blouse was supposed to have been a transitional maternity top for me last spring/summer. And in that respect, I made an excellent choice in pattern (Butterick 5217 for anyone who really cares).

Guys, I can't see my toes.

Guys, I can’t see my toes.

When I put it away last spring, or, more accurately, when it just sat in a lump on my table for months on end, I had already sewn the yoke together, constructed the sleeves, and had sewn the front and back together. I even put French seams in this bad boy! All I had to do was put the above-mentioned pieces together and it would have been done! But…

I decided that beige linen was boring. It needed something to spruce it up, give it a little visual interest. I found some kind of whirly fiddly little design that I wanted to embroider on the yoke. For Christmas, Mr. Gren had given me one of those fading ink fabric pens. I drew on the fiddly little design and set to work. When I was 80% done with it, I left on my trip back East. That was the last time I touched it. The ink had faded by the time I returned and, for some reason, despite my growing belly, I had no interest or inclination in finishing this particular project.

I got the embroidery 95% completed this time before I decided I didn't care anymore.

I got the embroidery 95% completed this time before I decided I didn’t care anymore.

And let’s face it, peeps, my embroidery skillz ain’t so hot. But the whole project was hung up on me finishing the embroidery before attaching the yoke and bodice, otherwise I’d embroider through the yoke facing and I needed all the ugly side to be sandwiched between the two layers of fabric where it would be protected from unraveling. So I got to this point and went, “Eh, less is more” and sewed the yoke and bodice together.

Then I thought it would be fun to try it on.

i haz a sad.

i haz a sad.

You’ve heard the phrase “sad sack”? Now you have a visual reference. This is a sad sack. No, I take that back. This sack is downright depressed.

Plenty of room to grow! Except... baby was born 4 months ago.

Plenty of room to grow! Except… baby was born 4 months ago.

The plan was that this could serve me through pregnancy yet also be something that wasn’t overtly maternity and even have an extended life as a cute top postpartum and beyond. Obviously that’s not gonna happen.

“What about belting it?” you ask. I asked myself the same question and tried it out with a belt. They’re all worse. Laughably worse.

There's no helping this atrocity.

There’s no helping this atrocity.

Baby Sprinkaan was asleep in my room at the time of the photo, so I couldn’t get to my belt, but you get the general idea. Cinching in the waist does strange and unflattering things to the bust region. The heck is up with those pleats?? There really isn’t any point in attaching the sleeves now. In fact, this UFO is destined for the scrap basket. I think there is enough fabric in the bodice that I could make something for one of the kids; I just haven’t hit on that something yet.

Next up on Disasters in Linen…

Remember this dress? IMG_0073

I unpacked it recently to find a large, yellow stain on the front. It looked like mustard, but surely I would have noticed that when I packed it away? I ran it through the washing machine. Heh. Not only did the stain not come out, this happened:

IMG_4092

It’s unsalvageable. There are two more rips like this on the skirt. The peasant blouse makes me laugh. This one actually does make me sad. So, I’ll be clipping all the buttons off and throwing this one in the scrap heap, too. {sigh}

Enough of that. Next up in the quest to conquer my UFOs:

IMG_4095

I’d better get a move on.

 

 

 

 

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Bag lady

I have returned! My trip back East was wonderful beyond words. We didn’t really “do” anything other than just spend time together. It went by so quickly (well, maybe not for anyone else staying in the same hotel who had to listen to us), but it was worth everything it took to get there.

A couple of days before I left, I assessed my carry-on luggage options and decided that I needed a new bag. I had a small carry-on suitcase for my clothes, but I needed something that I could actually get into on the plane without thunking another passenger on the head, not to mention big enough to hold all my entertainment during hours of layovers. My purse doesn’t cut it. I like to keep my purse as small as possible. This bag needed to be able to hold my purse plus a water bottle, book, and small crochet project all while still looking like a purse so as not to arouse the ire of picky flight attendants.

I needed the body of the bag to be big enough to hold all the aforementioned items without being too big (Please store your personal item under the seat in front of you). Neither did I want it to be just one big cavern where small items would sink to the bottom making me That Person in the security check line. Obviously, multiple pockets were required to hold those smaller things. Also, knowing that I would be schlepping this thing through multiple airports, I wanted to have a long strap that I could wear cross-body to keep my hands free. This is more practical in my daily life, as well, when I’ve got to be ready to guide kids across parking lots and through busy stores. It needed to be a wide strap that could bear the weight of the bag without digging into my shoulder. With those criteria in mind, I spent some time searching online and I found two tutorials for different bags that I liked and created an amalgam of the two. I used the body of the Pleated Tote by Artsy-Craftsy Babe and the strap and pockets from the Olivia Bag by Dixie Mango.

Both of these tutorials are well-written, well-illustrated, and produce great-looking bags. And that’s high praise coming from me, because I’m not normally one to get excited about bags and purses.

Finished bag ready to fly!

Finished bag ready to fly!

So next came the question of fabric. Since it was only two days before I left, I didn’t have time to go to the store and I knew that I had enough in my stash. Sadly, the fabric I had in mind for the interior was actually yardage I had bought to make another blouse like the rose/leopard one of a few weeks ago. Why “sadly”? Because the print was terribly, obviously off-grain. That made it unsuitable for clothing, but for the inside of a bag — who cares if the stripes are a bit askew? I needed something heavier than just a plain cotton for the outside and, lucky for me, I had enough denim leftover from a skirt I made years ago (I think that was pre-blog). Well that was easy!

After cutting out pattern pieces, the first order of business was getting the pockets sewn onto the interior fabric. I made an easy pouch pocket for one side of the bag and sewed it down in little sections to fit my phone, pens, and pack of tissues.

IMG_2311

But, the most fun was the zipper pocket that I put on the other side! I have never done anything like this before, but it went together like magic. More scrounging in my stash turned up this bright green zipper that I had bought years ago. It was originally intended for a dress, but… I changed my mind about the fabric and all of a sudden I had a bright green zipper with no immediate use in sight. Ah, but that’s why I save everything. The zipper was a few inches too long for this pocket, but a little zigzag stitching at the right length and *snip* Hello, appropriately sized zipper! The link to the zipper pocket tutorial is included in the Olivia Bag post, but I’ll give it to you here, too, just in case that’s all you’re interested in. Show me the zipper pocket!

Interior of the zipper pocket, in progress

Interior of the zipper pocket, in progress

Zipper inserted and looking all professional!

Zipper inserted and looking all professional!

 

Two other features that I wanted for my bag that were not included in either tutorial were an elasticized pouch for my water bottle and a flap to keep the bag closed. The flap was easy enough to devise on my own, just taking measurements of the bag and sketching out a pleasing shape on paper to use as a pattern. I sewed it onto the exterior of the bag at the same time that I sewed the ends of the strap on, before attaching the lining.

The pouch for my water bottle wasn’t necessarily difficult, but it did take a little bit of advance planning. I measured around my water bottle, allowing enough for seam allowances and a slight bit of ease, and I also measured how high I wanted the pouch to come up on the bottle. It took a few pinning sessions to figure out the placement of the pouch within the bag. I actually sewed the side edges of the pouch onto the individual interior bag sides before sewing the bag sides and bottom together. The rest of construction was the same as the tutorial.

IMG_2320

I found the outside a little plain in just the denim, so before I had sewn the exterior together, I cut out a little flower from the interior fabric and appliqued it the the bottom front. It’s not really “my style” necessarily, but it’s nice enough.

IMG_2312

So how did the bag fare on the actual journey? Well, I packed that thing to the gills. And therein lay the only real problem I had with it: When I had sewn on the toggle button, I hadn’t taken into account where the buttonhole on the flap would fall once the bag was packed. I ended up really straining the buttonhole to reach the button. It doesn’t look so hot anymore. I’m going to have to reinforce the buttonhole and move the toggle button up higher on the bag so that it won’t be a problem for next time. Other than that, though, the bag worked beautifully. The strap gave nice support, the pockets held my stuff. The water bottle pouch was a wee bit flimsy so next time, I would interface it first to give it a little more structure. But all in all, I deem it a success! And was surprised to find that I had a lot of fun sewing it. If you’re on my Christmas list, you may end up with a bag.

The last successful sewing project

Remember that wedding I went to this summer? Remember how I told you that I had sewn a new dress for it? Remember when I used to blog three times a week? Yeah, I suck. But hey, I’m here now.

So about that dress. I had fallen in love with a vintage Vogue reprint.

Vogue 8789

It looked like a good wedding-y type of dress for a summer wedding. But it was also an evening wedding, so I felt like the fabric needed to have a little sparkle. I chose an Asian print — cherry blossoms on a plum background with a touch of shimmery gold here and there.

One thing I particularly loved about this pattern was that the facing was actually part of the bodice piece. Sheer genius. Why aren’t all V-necks made this way? Tell you what, from now on, that’s what I’m going to do. I just had to finish the edge and then fold it in and tack it down. Brilliant.

One thing I did not like about this pattern was the armhole facing. The pieces are weirdly shaped and continually want to flip out, even with understitching. I think I would have been better off just binding them in bias tape. And that’s what I’m going to do if I ever make this pattern again.

But I may not because this thing is a fabric monster. 5.25 yards. That adds up fast. This dress turned out to be much more expensive than I had intended. With the look Mr. Gren gave me after I bought the fabric, I kinda feel like I should wear it everyday just to make it worth it.

I’m also coming to the conclusion that, while I like the idea of this style of dress, this particular silhouette is perhaps not the most flattering on me. To really give that dramatic look I need a tiny wasp waist and, let’s face it, after three kids, that tiny waist may never come back. I’m thinking princess lines are going to be my go-to from here on out.

As I said, this thing takes over 5 yards of fabric, and obviously, the majority of that is in the ginormous skirt. But one can’t just leave those swathes of fabric hanging from the body. If you’re going to do that, you may as well just pin Miss Ellen’s portieres over your shoulders and call it a day. So, I am wearing not one, but two petticoats under this sucker (both of which I made myself and I will write about some other day). I probably could have even gotten away with a third, but in this day and age, people just aren’t accustomed to dresses that poof, so I figured it was best to go the conservative route. Or something.

Even big girls like to twirl.

You may have noticed in the pattern drawing that there is a cummerbund as part of this look. And you may have noticed that I am not wearing one. I made it, I did. It’s gold. Remember how I don’t have a wasp waist? Yeah, Vogue, your one-size-fits-all cummerbund: bad idea. Even with the couple of extra inches that I added on. Even with it being cut on the bias (that gives it some stretch). At that point, it was the night before we had to travel and I was out of fabric, so… ya get what ya get. I made the executive decision that zero cummerbund was a better look than being slowly sliced in half. Personal preference. You can do what you want. I won’t judge.

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In other news, today is Rana’s 7th birthday! No homemade presents this year, but I did buy her a tiny little sewing kit of her very own. Singer has these cute little pink and black tackle boxes that come with a few sewing “essentials.” I had already bought a few a la carte and decided to swap out some of the ones that came in the box with the ones I had chosen because I liked them better. I also included three fat quarters so that she will have her very own fabric to work with and not just my scraps. I hope she loves it!