MANY Minutes a Day Tiramisu–WIP

Tira Muslin Front

So, I utterly failed on sewing along with StephC‘s 30 Minutes A Day Tiramisu project! I got off to a decent start, muslining the bodice in some scraps, just enough to realize that I would certainly have to adjust the underbust seam, but not thoroughly enough (it turns out) to realize that I probably need to cut the next one a size smaller with an FBA. But that’s jumping ahead . . . .

I knew there would have to be adjustments, but little did I know how long it would be before I got to get into them!

Tira Cutting

First, I had to cut the pieces out of my fashion fabric, more of a challenge than expected. I had won fabric ALL the way from Australia, just the same as in StephC’s striped Tiramisu! She was kind enough to send me more than enough for the dress, and I was thrilled!

What I hadn’t reckoned with, however, were slightly wavy stripes. The printing seems to be slightly off-grain, or else my multiple pressings of the fabric never managed to make up for the wonkiness that was introduced in pre-washing, or . . . I just don’t know. But trying to get stripes to match up for double-layer cutting was in vain. After a a couple of hours of struggle, I finally resolved to cutting the pieces one layer at a time. I may just do this in the future for times when I want to match stripes, just as I do for pattern-matching.

Tira Bodice

That was all I could accomplish during the sewalong, and then things languished until I had a sick day midweek last week, and slowly got the bodice together (slow because I was pretty addled from a three-day headache, and had to rip some–gulp!–serged seams). So yesterday it was time to work on that underbust seam.

This is fitting #3 or so. I was a bit grumpy so I didn’t take pictures of each iteration. I do feel like I know what I need to do now, and will probably baste one or two more iterations today before moving on and (hopefully!) finishing this dress this evening! Or not. There’s always more to do in a weekend than I am able to get done.

Happy Sunday, all!

A Sweet Swap!

Goodness, but it’s hard to find time to blog in this busy resolution-full month of January. What with my resolve to work out 6 days a week and to make healthy meals for myself, plus going to work and doing laundry and cleaning house, and all the usual, it’s a busy month!

The good news is that I’m getting used to the early mornings again, which I almost always drop for a time in the month of December due to winter blues and just plain indignation that it’s still dark when I come back from the gym. The mediocre news is that either the shift in weather or taking on a little too much has given me a headache that lasted from last night through to the morning–no fun, but on the other hand, I’m going to make sure it doesn’t descend into the flu that’s going around by taking today mostly off of work, and taking it easy.

Which frees up time for some blogging! Hooray!

So, I planned this post two weeks ago, and it’s not a big one, but it’s lovely–I participated in my first swap, Vickikate‘s Sew Very Merry Christmas Swap. We each got to let our hostess know what we wanted to make, and she matched us up with fellow bloggers to send each other fabric for the make! It was a combination of many of my favorite things: planning a project, searching for just the right fabric, and getting something lovely in the mail.

Susie Homemaker, M.D. and I were matched up, and it was so fun exchanging information on what we like to sew, wear, and shop for. My only regret about the swap is that, as the holidays approached and preparation for our own trip to see family heated up, I became concerned that I wouldn’t make it to the post office in time. That’s one thing about living in the city–even though I have a car, there are certain chores that are just much harder than when I lived in a more suburban place. The post office is definitely one of these.

So, after looking at fabrics at Joann (totally uninspiring) and Britex (always a pleasure) I opted to have Britex send the order to “Susie,” rather than risk my perfectionism or busy schedule derailing the trip to the post office. I chose a wonderful pale grey cotton print for a blouse, and had them send it off for me!

“Susie” did herself proud, shopping her own stash, and I got this wonderful little bundle for a Sewaholic Alma blouse!

SwapThe great thing about “Susie” eventually deciding on something from her stash is that the fabric is pre-washed for me. As a city dweller with no laundry in our apartment building, it’s a little hard to force myself to take fabrics to the laundromat for prewashing before starting a project. I ~do~ know how important it is to prewash, but it’s great not to have to. Also, matching thread! How awesome is that? I wish I’d thought to send some thread off in my order. Sigh.

Here’s a closeup of the contrast printed fabric.Close up swap

I think I’ll use it for the ties on the long-sleeved Alma, but am also considering adding an area of contrast fabric to the body of the blouse, as I did with the Night Forest Shirt:

Night Forest Blouse and Skirt
Formal night on our cruise

What fun altogether! I look forward to the next swap!

2012 In Review

Well, it’s about that time again, when we renew our commitments to things (hello, crowded gym!) and try again at things that didn’t work out so well the last time. I’m wanting to participate much more actively in the sewing blogosphere this year, and there’s no better way to do that than POST. So here goes….

First, I’ll just look at what I did accomplish in 2012. I have been holding this post for a few more pictures, but I want to get it up as it is. It’s not so bad really:

2012 Collage

Given my very bad blogging habits, I don’t have pictures of everything I’ve made. Below is the more comprehensive list.

  • January: Durrow Sweater
  • February: Brown knit skirt and Blue tunic T, Failure: Simplicity Blue knit top
  • March: Clover muslin
  • April: Practice Shirt for the Lion
  • May: Night Forest Shirt and Cynthia Rowley Skirt, Cookie Shirt for the Lion
  • June: Taffy, Mom’s Dress Muslin
  • July: Miette Sweater, Vintage Tunic
  • August: Sister’s Pajama Shorts, Tiny Pocket Tank
  • September: Knit Pajama Pants for the Lion
  • October: Sundress–first lined dress!
  • November: Paisley Dress, Merino Swing Cardigan for Mom, StephC’s pants block Muslin #1
  • December: Gave up on Red dress, Renfrew 1 and Renfrew 2

I learned a lot this year:

  1. I really need a pre-flight checklist. See previous post about the blue knit wadder and the December Dress Debacle.
  2. It’s time to concentrate on fitting. Really, really time. Measure pattern pieces, make muslins, and the whole shebang.
  3. Sometimes you just need to give up. When it’s all getting me down and taking too long and not cooperating, I make dumb mistakes.
  4. Online fabric shopping demands burn testing. I shall learn how to do this!
  5. Though I don’t have a dedicated sewing space, I sew more skillfully when I stay in practice. Ergo, I’m trying the 30-minutes-a-day thing, starting with the Tiramisu sew-along from StephC’s Cake Patterns!

For 2013 I have some intentions, which I will make good on to the extent that they are practicable and fun:

The engagement ring! We had a family piece reset in a design of our own, and it's just right for me!
The engagement ring! We had a family piece reset in a design of our own, and it’s just right for me!
  1. Take my Craftsy classes: Susan Kalje’s Couture sewing, Sewing with Silks, and Sewing knits. I’ve started with Susan’s class, and am already learning a TON!
  2. Blog every object with a real photo shoot. I have a more than willing lion to take pictures, so why not?
  3. Really work on fitting. See #6, Duh.
  4. Tackle pants. I have StephC’s pants block just waiting for me to sew up a second muslin.
  5. Keep making cake. One thing I’m really happy with is the number of self-sewn things I wear every week. I will join in Me-Made-May and everything, because I have what it takes (maybe not for every item to be me-made, but some iteration thereof).
  6. In the middle of me-made-May, I aim to wear a me-made wedding dress! Yes, I’m still learning a LOT, but I’m willing to muslin and try and try some more, and come up with a plan B if needed. Actually, I want to figure out plan B before I start, so I have a good feeling throughout. In exciting planning news, I have talked with Debi of My Happy Sewing Place about possibly sourcing “peace” silk through her wonderful Weaving Destination!

December Dress Debacle

Well, the end of 2012 brought me some serious sewing lessons. Two dresses I worked on for weeks failed to varying degrees. One was a complete wadder, the other is wearable but with a limited lifespan, and I think I have to just consider it a wearable muslin. Here’s what happened, and what I learned:

The Paisley Dress:

It's not a tumor!
It’s not a tumor!

I got this wonderful border print ITY (ITY? I don’t really know how to tell if something is ITY.) on super sale, and thought I’d have a ball making a dress out of it. Well, it was the first time I tried to do something with a border print, and I learned a LOT! First, my original dream of making a Vogue wrap dress with it was all off, as that’s a fraction-of-a-circle skirt, so it wouldn’t play nicely with the border print at all! I finally settled on Simplicity 2145 and spent a good 2 hours one evening trying different placements for the pattern pieces to get a good effect with all the bold print options. I feel I did pretty well with this, with one exception: the strange “tumor” I created for my abdomen when the fabric’s 1) pleated and 2) NOT covered by the waist detail (as I’d expected).

With that tackled, I went about construction. I was a bit overwhelmed by the pleating and such, and made my biggest mistake by far due to the overwhelm: I sewed things with straight stitches. STRAIGHT STITCHES. On a knit. I mean, I get it when we’re talking about basting a pleat, but what in god’s name made me forget to switch to a narrow zigzag when it came to the first real seam? I am seriously considering embroidering a pre-stitch checklist to help me avoid this kind of thing in the future. I think I really need a couple of checklists, really. Pre-trace, pre-cut, pre-stitch. I’ll work them out and post them here, in case they might also be helpful to someone else.

Needs a swayback adjustment and a smaller tush!
Needs a swayback adjustment and a smaller tush!

Back to the dress, I happily constructed along, not realizing that I was setting myself up for popping stitches every time I stretched significantly as I sewed those seams. All was well, until it came to the zipper. This slippery, slinky poly jersey would NOT accept a zipper gracefully. I inserted and picked it out three times, the last time trying with Steam-a-Seam to get all the slipperies in line. Then I realized (except for possibly popping stitches) that it was likely stretchy enough without a zipper. And it is, mostly. Steam-a-seam is stiffer than the fabric, though, so I have some wonkiness in the CB seam, right over my Tuchus! Sigh.

All in all, I learned a TON on this dress. I like the pattern placement for the most part, and I am really happy with the fitting, except for a plan to do a swayback adjustment on the next version. I have enough of the fabric left over that I can make something else out of this fabric, perhaps reusing some of the skirt panels, and I think I’ll just chuck this dress after a few more wearings. Biggest lesson: Checklists! I have to work out failsafes for when my brain is completely out of it! 🙂

The long story of failed dresses on which I worked for WEEKS is not over yet, however! I also put a lot of energy into McCalls 5993, a pattern I picked up on Etsy when searching for flattering-looking empire waist dresses (See the comment about the tush to the left–sometimes a seriously large hip-to-waist ratio just wants a little camouflage.) With this one I learned a very clear lesson about making sure I don’t cut on fabric that’s not properly . . . weighed down? I’m not sure if my usual cat-food pattern weights failed me here, or whether the Ocelittle himself knocked things out of alignment when jumping onto my cutting table, which is something he likes to do.

And that's why you always stay-stitch when the pattern tells you to!
And that’s why you always stay-stitch when the pattern tells you to!

However it happened, the neckline for this one suffered from a wiggly cut, and subsequent forgetting to stay-stitch the neckline. I take two lessons from this: 1. Put the cat in the bedroom for a minute while cutting my fashion fabric and 2. don’t skip steps! For lesson #2, I think two things will help. I’m planning to tick off steps with a pencil as I sew along, and also I’m taking part in a 30-minutes-a-day sew along which I hope will help me hold my focus over several sewing sessions.

In the end I decided that the red dress was also in a fabric I didn’t love (gotta love online shopping!) and so I’ll recover some yardage from the skirt for a workout top or undershirt, and move on. I do actually like the pattern and will likely sew it again some time, again with a swayback adjustment. (Self, please take note: do some pinning and mark up the pattern before you salvage fabric from this dress!)