That’s right: another failed clothing project. This just isn’t my month! This time, it was Vogue 6999, a boxy jacket. And by “boxy,” I mean “boatlike.” I cut out all 16 pieces of the main fabric (a very expensive wool boucle); cut my interfacing, underlining, and lining (an even more expensive silk charmeuse), and went to work. I tried on the shell. I looked like I had the torso of Frankenstein, but I plowed forward. “I just can’t waste this fabric,” I thought, as I set about removing a full 3″ of shoulder cap ease. At one point, I had to admit to myself that it wasn’t just an issue of fit. The jacket really looked awful on me, so I cut 1.5″ from the front panel of each side.

That was not one of my better ideas, as when I went to do the pockets (yes, I even went ahead with the pockets), they took up the entire chest area. Don’t ask me why I didn’t think of this beforehand. They looked horrible. STILL, I continued, far past the point when any reasonable person would have said to herself, “It’s only sixty or seventy dollars’ worth of materials. Just let it go.” I tried to sew in the sleeves. I know you’re cringing right now. Even after reducing 3″, there was about 2″ or 3″ of ease remaining, and the shape of the shoulder cap just would not fit into the armhole. At this point, I tried it on again, just so see if it was worth salvaging, and the answer was a resounding “NO.”

Do you ever go through periods like this? And if you do, at what point do you look at a garment that’s destined to fail and just call it quits?

In other news, I do have this dress waiting for its turn on the blog…but I finished it back in April, so it doesn’t do much for the self-esteem right now 🙂

Oh, Vogue 5295, I had such high hopes for you. You were a spur-of-the-moment purchase, the kind I hardly ever make, because I thought you were adorable, wearable, and insanely versatile.

I loved your fabric buttons and even your lovely shade of pink, which I thought would look nice with my coloring, since the model kind of “resembles” me. You didn’t even require a zipper (not that I mind putting them in). You were a nice, relaxing vacation project…at first.

Soon, you became a mockery…the functional equivalent of Barbie’s chef’s apron.

You asked me to follow your instructions for bound buttonholes. They were terrible. Why didn’t I use a tried-and-true method (not that I’m very good at any of them to begin with)? Why did my final product turn out looking like a brightly-colored pilgrim costume instead of a pretty, wear-to-work-and-then-out-for-drinks frock?

The shame.

The only thing I like about you is the hanger I hung you on, which I found buried in my grandmother’s coat closet. <sigh>

But I will not hang my head sadly! I do enjoy posting about my failures as much as my successes, in the hopes that others will find comfort in my (frequent) sewing mishaps.  I don’t know if it was me or the pattern this time (probably 90/10, with me bearing the brunt of the blame), but these things do happen.

I hope your sewing is more fruitful than mine!

P.S. My friend Amanda over at modernAcorn is working on a plan (involving quilts, of course) to aid an animal rescue organization that assists animals affected by the recent, devastating gulf oil spill. Hop on over to her blog to learn more about it!

Y’all probably saw this post on the Colette Patterns blog yesterday, but I wanted to really hammer the point home because, well, it really applies to me. It has, at the very least, made me less embarrassed to share this disastrous dress, RIP March 2010:

It’s Simplicity 4358, which I purchased from the lovely Sarah of ColorKitten last month. Here is the original pattern:

I included the large version of the image because you need to see the detail to really understand what went wrong in my execution. I bought 1.5 yards of a very nice wool twill for $3 at Sew-Fisticated (yay for remnants…or so I thought).  I altered the pattern to fit my measurements, which is why I was comfortable attempting to use less fabric than the pattern calls for. The wool twill did fit the pattern specs, so I was pleased with my thriftiness.

It called for a facing around the neck and armholes–an interfaced, turned-under facing, to be exact. A more skilled seamstress would have said, “Multiple layers of wool twill with a medium-weight interfacing? Obviously not,” whereas I blindly charged ahead.

Problem 1: A turned-and-stitched facing is too thick and is obvious on the front

Problem 2: Interfacing was completely unnecessary

So I attempted to solve this issue by ripping off the interfacing and tearing out, then overcasting, the raw edge of the facing. Result:

To paraphrase Amy Bloom, a blind man can see how bad this looks. I actually went through the process of re-sewing the facing on and turning it right-side out, only to find the most unbelievably bulky gathers right underneath of the points. I don’t know if it was my fabric choice, but I honestly don’t see how you could take 4 layers of thick fabric, turn them inside out, and hang them from a curve…and expect them to lay completely flat, as shown in the pattern photograph.

I returned to the scraps of my fabric in an attempt to cut and sew a new facing (I really wanted to make that $3 worth it) and did not, it turned out, even have enough fabric to cut a new facing. Now the fabric pile has become a sleeping bag for my cat.

…all of this leads me to the article from Threads to which I referred earlier, in which Kenneth King discusses the merits of practice and really screwing up:

“I’m often asked for advice for people who are just embarking on the journey called exploring sewing and design. If I were to say one thing and only one thing, it’s this: perfectionism is a disease, and a form of fear!

When learning the craft of sewing (which I believe is absolutely necessary in order to know what’s possible when designing), you should expect to destroy several acres of fabric before you get good. This is an acquired skill which can only be perfected by means of repetition—practicing over and over, learning from mistakes, learning when you can save something, and when you need to cut your losses and start over.

If you are afraid to make a mistake, afraid to ruin some fabric, or afraid to waste some time, you won’t ever get really good at this craft. It’s the dues you pay for becoming proficient.

However, if you are willing to charge forward, cut into that fabric, try something different, and risk making a mistake, there will come one day when you realize that you’re sewing without that knot of worry in the pit of your stomach, and the process effortlessly glides along.”

It couldn’t have come at a better time!

Monday stash

March 15, 2010

The weather here is beyond terrible, so I can’t photograph any of my WIPs or finished projects. I completed my log cabin quilt top, two small projects, the blocks for another self-designed improv quilt, and three muslins (all of which I’m glad I did because the projects require extensive alterations)…but no photos until the rain clears up!

Instead, I want to share some images of the antique lace that my grandmother gave me to incorporate into my projects:

I haven’t decided how I’ll use them yet, but I love having them in my stash! They are living next to a pair of electric scissors she bought from Sears when they first came out (year unknown).

Hope you all had a productive weekend, regardless of the weather!

Pattern: Madeleine Bloomers from Colette Patterns (it’s free! go get it!)

Fabric: Yellow silk twill purchased from Denver Fabrics

Notions: 1/4″ navy blue ribbon, some comically old buttons I picked up at Winmil for .50

Time to complete: 4 or 5 hours(ish) (it took me longer than the pattern said it would because a. I’m slow; b. I’m extremely slow when working with silk c. I spent a lot of time overcasting my seams because they began raveling the moment I started looking at them)

Modifications: only one band of elastic at the waistband (pattern calls for two) and the button/ bow combo on the waistband. It looked naked to me without anything there.

Total cost to complete: Probably about $10

Will I wear it? YES.

Made while watching: Season 1 of Glee

This is a fantastic pattern (and free! Seriously, go get it). Sarai is a brilliant pattern-writer, and sewing it was blissful. The only thing I struggled with was threading the elastic and ribbons through the waist and leg bands. I think they were getting caught in the seam allowances.

This project is even inspiring me to actually post my photos to Flickr, which I never do.

In other news, I tried to make a silk blouse from Sew U with the rest of the fabric, and it was ill-fated from the start. It never passed the “Would I buy it?” test, but I thought it would be a good learning experiment. And it was…just not a pretty one:

I had high hopes that I would change my mind during the process, though…but I began to dislike it more and more, especially after my seams came out so strangely. Can anyone tell me why a seam that looks like this when laying flat on a table:

slight puckering at the top, but mostly flat

looks like this when hanging:

flat on top, puckering on the bottom

flat on top, puckering on the bottom

?? This was very frustrating, and the final kick in the pants I needed to abandon this project…after spending most of Saturday on it, sadly.

I have a few more FOs to show you and am finished stippling the wonky star top…it does look much better now that it’s washed and quilted. Thanks for cheering me on!

So, I have REALLY wanted to make a bed-size quilt (full-to queen-size, to fit my own bed, to be specific). I love throw quilts and decorative quilts just as much as the next person, but I feel compelled to make a quilt suitable for long-term, everyday use.  I waited patiently for my recent trip to Purl Patchwork, where I bought fabrics to make said quilt (of course, I ran out five days later and had to race to the computer, palms sweating, etc etc in order to buy more–because Purl is the ONLY US retailer that carries this one fabric I was obsessed with–but anyway).  Then I made a mock-up log cabin block, to make sure I was fully committed to the project, and this was the result:

I. LOVE. it.  The block measures about 17″ square, and I plan to make 30 of them (I got to 24 before I ran out of fabric). The fabrics are:

The two house/ town fabrics are Lucy’s Farm by Liberty (of course, I had to…y’all know how I feel about Liberty prints).  The pink dots are a Lecien fabric, and the cherry blossom print is Olympus Soleil (in my second order, I bought enough to make pillows, and effectively bankrupted myself).

There’s also Denyse Schmidt Hope Valley, the Princess and Frog gauze by Kokka, and something from the Retro Garden collection by Kokka.  I used a variety of KF shot cottons (my favorite solid). Despite the relative success of this project so far, it was not a good week for me for sewing. I tried to make a shirt this week using this awesome Cynthia Rowley pattern:

Winmil had run out of the cotton I wanted, so I hopped on the bad idea train and picked up a silk charmeuse…and I’ve never sewed with silk before, and it’s been years since I made a garment (and it was an evening gown…don’t ask me why).  The voice of Wendy Mullin (of Sew U fame) was echoing in my head: in her recent book on dresses, she explains that even very experienced garment sewers avoid this fabric like the plague.

I carried on and I got the shell completed…I even got so far as completing the gathers, but the binding just. wouldn’t. iron. I thought, “I’m a quilter, I can make a decent binding in no time.” But it was a no-go, and I had to put it away for another time, when I have more experience (plus, the fabric was only $5). I’m actually going to try again, this time with cotton. Usually, this would really get me down, but I desperately want to learn to make my own clothes, so I will persevere!!

Happy quilting, sewing, garment-making, etc…and good luck to those participating in the Ravelympics!