Tag Archives: sewing

Not a Lot of Sewing Round These Parts Lately

But I’ve been thinking about sewing a lot. It is comforting during this time of unrest in the US. I like to mentally plan all of the stages of a project, from matching fabric to a pattern to how the project fits together.

I haven’t actually had the energy to actually sew lately, though. The last few items that I’ve made have been duds; some of them I didn’t even have the energy to complete after realizing that they wouldn’t fit at all (I’m looking at you, Simplicity shorts). All these misfires have been discouraging. Normally, I would forge ahead and try again, but I’ve been rather down, so I’ve been dragging.

As I mentioned before, I’ve been working on losing weight for the past couple of months. This is for health reasons; all of my doctors have noted my weight and told me to lose it over the past four years. Unfortunately, all I’ve done is gain weight over the past four years. After suffering increasing joint pain, I decided to seek assistance, so I’ve been following a plan set by a doctor and have succeeded in losing some weight. I will continue to work on losing weight over the next few months, until I am no longer overweight. I know this has to be a permanent lifestyle change, so I am adjusting my outlook accordingly.

I’ve been changing sizes with every passing month. That also makes sewing a challenge for me right now. Plus, since I have gotten older, my body has become overall shaped differently. I still have a big derriere and thighs, as well as narrow sloping forward shoulders, but I now have a thicker waist too. I have to learn how to adjust for these things so that I feel less awkward in my clothes.

I’ve been wishing that more people would post in their blogs, as I love reading about others’ project details, but it occurred to me that I am not giving what I am getting. I feel badly about this. I want to share; I want to be as productive as others are; however, I am tired and uncertain. I’ve been reading books more as a way to escape.

How have you dealt with a changing body? Does stress make you turn to your handmade hobbies more, or do you deal with it in other ways?

Simplicity 2258, View C: An Easy Skirt

Originally, I’d started out trying to make the shorts pattern (View E) included in Simplicity 2258. However, when it came to the basting and trying on stage, I realized there was not enough room in the seat to actually cover my whole bottom. There was, however, a lot of room around my upper thighs. 😦

So, I decided to try the shorter skirt pattern (View C) included in the packet, with a wedge added at the top back to accommodate the length I need to cover my bottom. I think it’s cute!

Simplicity 2258 in Denim

I particularly like the way the pockets are formed. They are one-piece pockets, where you fold over the fabric to make the pocket bag. Topstitching them keeps things neat. (My topstitching is not particularly neat here.) I like the curvature of the pocket opening as well.

Simplicity 2258 Pocket

I used a chambray from Joann’s, with Gutermann thread. I think I chose the size 20. This pattern uses very little fabric, even in the larger size range–1 5/8 yards of wide fabric. I would say, by that measure, that it is an economical sew.

By the time I was finished making it, I’d lost some weight, so now I need to adjust the elastic so that it stays up. The pattern has a good amount of ease as well.

What have you been making lately?

Sewaholic Cambie Muslin: I Got a Lotta Work to Do!

I’m typing this from my phone, so please forgive any typos. This is my first draft of the Cambie, sewn in the largest size out of the packet. I need help! I welcome feedback. I think I need to schedule a lesson with a local teacher–the type who’s been teaching since the 60s–I need an expert who’s gonna tell it like it is! The look on my face expresses how i feel. Things I can see right off the bat:

  • The bodice is too long on me (waistband is near my belly button) (big poof of fabric in back)
  • Waistband dips in the front (potbelly issue?)
  • Stomach area is snug
  • Skirt feels okay, is a little overlong
  • Sleeves are giant (shoulders are narrow?)
  • Bodice is too loose around the bust (I am wearing a brand new supportive bra bought specifically for this event, so the bra isn’t the issue)
  • High left hip/longer left leg seems to be causing bodice wrinkles on that side
  • Is there anything I am not seeing? What type of adjustments should I make??? (I have FFRP and the Sarah Veblen book about fitting, but I am not sure how to translate those changes to myself.) Here are the photos:

Cambie front

Side
Side
Back, where you can see my high left hip/extra long left leg
Back, where you can see my high left hip/extra long left leg
The other side
The other side

Vogue 1247: An A-Line Skirt in Black Twill

I got all excited about Vogue 1247 after seeing so many versions of the skirt portion online. As soon as I could, I went to Hancock’s when the Vogue sale was on and bought it, along with a length of black twill (total of around $5) and the notions that are needed for the skirt.

Skirt Front:

Vogue skirt
Vogue 1247 skirt front (see how high the waist is? it’s the ridge under my shirt)

I was perplexed by how to position the front yoke for sewing the horizontal seam that connects the pockets, the skirt front, and the front yoke. I realized that I had to flip the pockets up, so they were above the skirt front, after understitching the pockets and then match the yoke front to the rest so that both sides of the pockets lined up and so that the middle seam lined up as well. Because the front yoke and the skirt front have curved side seams, the fabric doesn’t quite lay flat as you sew the seam.

I serged most of the seams in this skirt because I am impatient and I also sew very slowly, in short bursts of activity.

Because my waist and hip measurements are 1″ larger than the measurements listed for the largest size on the envelope (18), I reduced the front darts by 0.5″ each, and I sewed the side seam starting under the point of the dart at 3/8″. I thought about doing a full butt adjustment, since that’s where most of my “hip circumference” lies, but I didn’t for this version.

Skirt Back:

Vogue 1247 skirt
Vogue 1247 skirt back. See how my shirt pulls up in the back. I need more room for the rear (and for, well, everything) in all my clothes.

I lengthened the skirt by 6 inches, going from 15″ in length to 21″. I’m 5’4″. I also plan on wearing this skirt to work and need more coverage. It all still fit on the 1 1/8 yards required by the pattern! Magical!

The cotton twill from Hancock’s is soft and fairly substantial. I bought the same type of twill for my man’s shorts, due to the softness and weight. It shows chalk marks really well and behaves on the machine.

I love the hidden pockets on the front. This will be perfect for going out dancing, when I don’t want to carry a purse.

Edit: I wrote this post three months ago! I saved it as a draft because I didn’t have any photos. Cut to the zaniness that happens after a job change (for my man), a proposal, a move, and a job change (for me). I now live in South Carolina, and let me tell you, there is a big difference between here and New Orleans, Louisiana! I’ve been adjusting to the new environment and haven’t had much time for sewing during this whole move. I did, however, purchase a tiny tripod and a remote to use with my phone, and I tried that setup for the first time yesterday to photograph this skirt. The photos aren’t the best, but they’re my first!

McCall’s 6972: Men’s Shorts with Oodles of Ease

My boyfriend requested a pair of comfortable shorts for lounging around on the weekends.What’s more comfortable than an elastic waist (says the woman who wears 90% elastic-waisted clothes)? I went looking for a suitable shorts pattern for him and only found one elastic-waisted non-swimsuit men’s shorts pattern: McCall’s 6972.

I bought 2 yards of dark blue 100% cotton twill from Hancock Fabrics for the shorts. (He picked out the fabric, actually. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t making him something he would find uncomfortable or ugly.) The fabric is quite soft and has a medium weight. Twill was not one of the recommended fabrics, but he doesn’t like seersucker, broadcloth, linen, or chambray (the recommended fabrics).

I was undecided about what size to cut, but I decided to go with the larger size, since I know he doesn’t like close-fitting clothes. That was a mistake! There’s about 10 inches of ease in the pattern. I didn’t realize how that would swamp him until I basted the sides together and had him step into the shorts. He then laid a pair of his regular, non-elastic shorts on top of the in-progress shorts. The size difference was dramatic. I should have chosen the smallest size, actually.

So, I sewed the side seams at 1″, rather than 5/8″. I couldn’t bring myself to unpick the inseam, so I told him this version will just hang low. I think, for a future version, I might trace off a pair of his regular shorts and add a little extra width for an elastic waist. That might make for a better fit.

The directions are pretty clear to me, although I’ve been sewing for a couple of years now. The pattern is billed as a “learn to sew” pattern, and it includes tips in the directions.

A pattern-maker really needs to come up with a modern cut for elastic-waisted shorts for men. Simplicity has several elastic shorts and pants for women; do a little something for the guys who also don’t want to have a waistband cutting them in half!

I will post pictures when I wrangle the model. 🙂

McCalls 6654: My Favorite Straight Skirt Pattern

I love McCalls 6654. I’ve made it several times: in mustard, grey, black, brown, and now floral fabrics. Here is the floral version.

McCalls 6654 elastic waisted straight knit skirt
My old tried and true!

The elastic waist offers comfort, while the cut of the skirt is conservative, which I like. The instructions are also clear for this pattern, which is fast to sew up, even for a slowpoke like me! Usually, I use the lightning-bolt stretch stitch to sew this kind of skirt, but this time, I used the serger to sew the side seams and to finish the edge of the hem before I turned it up. I used the lightning bolt stitch to sew the waistband and to secure the hem. It has a lot of stretch.

I feel stylish in this skirt…probably because this type of floral was in when I was a preteen. 😀 It looks like something I would have worn in the form of a slip dress (with a cropped t-shirt underneath, of course…even though I asked my mother to let me wear it with bare shoulders).

I definitely recommend this pattern to others!

Working on Stuff; Swing Dancing Outfits?

Hello, readers! I’ve been working on three things for the past few weeks: shorts for my boyfriend, a skirt for me (that only needs the elastic now), and the V1247 skirt. I have days where I don’t do any sewing, or where I do one small thing, which is why it’s all coming along so slowly. However, I have–as of this week–decided to dedicate 30 minutes to sewing every weekday, so I think I will be making more progress. Also, I think I will be happier, having spent 30 minutes daily doing something I enjoy. 🙂

Speaking of activities I enjoy, I have gotten back into swing dancing, now that I can physically do it again. I don’t have many going-out outfits anymore. I did several closet purges after gaining a lot of weight.

What are some good patterns for dresses I can wear for a little lindy hopping? I prefer to wear sleeveless dresses that allow me to move. If you have any vintage or modern pattern suggestions, I would love to hear them!

Simplicity 8523: A Loose Top

Backtracking a bit: I finished the Vogue dress, except for the hem. The fabric around the zipper puckered, as it did on every seam, and the bodice fit loosely in a weird way, while the skirt was snug on my curves. I probably should have done a 16 in the shoulders and 18 in waist and hip.

On to the Simplicity 8523 top! I chose to make view D, the scoop neck with sleeves. I read others’ reviews of this top and I knew that it would be a loose-fitting top, which I wanted. I used fabric that I found at a thrift shop, something light…maybe a rayon challis? I already had the thread and interfacing in the stash.

front top
Whoops, facing on the loose!

I found this top to be easy to put together. This was my second time doing sleeves and I have some gathers that I know shouldn’t be there, but I’m choosing to think of them as slightly puffed sleeves. I might be able to avoid this by sewing them in the flat, rather than in the round, as the pattern instructs. You can see this in the back view here (such an awkward view!).

back view
Back view, always so awkward.

The bust darts point to about an inch and a half above my bust apex, so that is something that I will adjust on the pattern for the next time I make this top.

There's a big difference here!
There’s a big difference here!

I believe I will make this again with the different variations. I wore it out for milkshakes and a stroll with my fella on a hot, humid night, and I found the blouse to me comfortable and breezy–the perfect thing for summer. The copious amounts of ease–I think it’s 6 inches or so–allow for airflow under the shirt.

I can move!!!
I can move!!!
The side vents allow room for hips.
The side vents allow room for hips.

After I work on inserting sleeves better and lowering the bust dart, I feel that this will become my go-to woven tee pattern. What are some basic woven tee or shell top patterns that you like?