Friday, July 29, 2011

Oh Spoonflower, you are awesome.

Yes those are teeth. I know, gross, but also awesome, right?
I have spent quite literally all day making fabric designs on On the left is my absolute favorite design of the day. I'm glad I'm putting those mad Illustrator skillz of mine to use. My students would be so proud of me.

I made another one where the teeth rotate, and I have a bunch of recolors of the above design as well. I can't wait until the swatches come so I can see if these will be useful. It would be neat to make an apron or a pillowcase out of these. I could even see myself making a dress out of the rotate-y one, but I'd have to really force myself to wear something that light out of the house. I'd have to be careful to not eat anything ever in it, because I tend to have mysterious food accidents every single time I wear light-colored clothing out of the house.  I really wish I were exaggerating, but I'm not.
A closeup of my fancy-pants gold
tooth. I'm really digging the highlights.

I also ordered a Day of the Dead print for my next dress. I'm going to force myself to NOT make a bias strip dress, but I'll still use this pattern as a base. Maybe I'll appliqué a giant sugar skull on it or something? I can guarantee there will be a ruffle somewhere on it because I freaking love those things.

I want to create more designs but I'm very handicapped. My desire to create complex patterns combined with my inability to figure out how to work out the tiling is causing me to stall out at the gate. If anyone out there has a recommendation for a decent Illustrator or Photoshop template (or other program) that would help me tile patterns more quickly, please leave a comment.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Carry on

I have spent all day sewing, with one short dinner break in the middle. I cannot BELIEVE how much work I've put into this dress. Today, I did the following:

• Cut top into final shape
• Lined straps with interfacing and houndstooth cotton to correct the strap-stretching problem in Dress #1
• Edged entire top with houndstooth strips
• Made petticoat ruffle (had to re-do gathering 3 times because of stupid problems)
• Attached petticoat to dress at waist
• Sewed on pink strip at the waist and houndstooth strip to finish off lining

This may not sound like a whole lot, but almost everything on that list was like a giant I.Q. test for me. I basically did the straps backwards. The proper order would have been to cut out the interfacing and lining fabric when I cut the straps, attach everything but the lining when I made the base dress, and then attach the lining and the edging after doing all the bias strips. Instead, I spent 6 hours (not a typo) trying to add the interfacing and the lining without making the bodice look like I intended to hide ears of corn in my bra.

I'm not quite done, but all that's left is either fun stuff or finishing-type details that aren't a huge biggie. Still to do:

• Figure out what to do (if anything) with the black space at the bottom
• Check the back of the dress to see if the petticoat is really hanging a bit low there or if I'm hallucinating
• Hem dress so the petticoat peeks out evenly on all sides
• Edge dress bottom with houndstooth bas strip
• Attach either a black ribbon or more houndstooth bas strips to the line of stitching on the petticoat ruffle
• Sleep. Seriously.

Anyway, I'm mere steps away from the end, and here is the result:

The "oink" print on the wall makes this
look even more like something Miss Piggy
would wear, but whatever. I like it.
I promised myself I would go to bed when I finished the petticoat and attached it to Dress #2. I just did that. Once I post this I can go to freaking bed. Self-imposed goals sound so responsible unless you're someone like me, who seems to only make these types of goals when it will result in never going to bed, ever.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Stopping traffic is fun.

Thank you Elisabeth Moch for the perfect illustration
Today I ran some errands and I had a really crazy trip. I kept getting comments on my dress from strangers on the street. Like, lots of comments. A group of dudes passed my by and one said "oh my god you are SO beautiful!" and his friends were all "yeah man, she is!" It was really polite and friendly, like he was making an observation, not weird, creepy, I-want-to-get-in-your-pants-ish. It was neat.

Then I was walking down a busy sidewalk in the center of Harvard and this woman chased me down from across the street to ask me where I bought my "spectacular" dress. She said she was a designer and she asked me all kinds of questions about the construction. When I told her that I made it she gushed about what a good job I'd done. What a nice lady! I left that encounter with the biggest grin on my face.

So yeah, today has been a great day.

That's not so bad? BAHAHAHAHA no.

Ok, so I was a little bit delusional when I wrote that last post. Well, at least the last paragraph. If I had been doing exactly the same type of top as the last dress it would have been true, but I forgot that I was making a "minor" change that was actually kind of major.

Those straps look so harmless. Don't believe their lies.
The straps. Oh god, the horrible, horrible straps.

I didn't finish the top edge of the bodice before adding the straps like I did last time. Instead, I added the straps and then added more strips to them so they continued the dress pattern more fluidly. I like this in theory, but in practice it is fire devil. Why? Because the bodice has a seam there and I can't just add the straps to those pattern pieces.

Instead, I have to attach the straps separately, which makes a new curved seam right at the top edge of a bias strip. This makes the edge of the strip look weird and ripply unless it's sewn exactly right. Try hand sewing it exactly right in three different colors of thread on a curved seam so the seam is as invisible as possible. Wait, don't. I wouldn't wish that on you. You're probably a nice person.

Hours later I have a dress that may or may not look like a trainwreck right at cleavage height. You know, the place where people will probably look because, well, cleavage. Steve is asleep and I can't torture him by going into the bedroom and turning on the lights so I can use the full length mirror. I think I fixed the problem? I think the straps are even? If not, I'll have to rip about a million, tiny, almost invisible stitches and undo hours of work.

No. Just, no. Please no?

My mother said something earlier today that has become my mantra for this whole sewing adventure. They had their kitchen redone, and the contractor said something profound after the third time they had to tear down and rebuild the housing for the fridge: "Don't worry, it's only time." Yeah, it sucks to possibly have to undo something that took forever, but it's not like it'll kill me to redo it.

Still to do:
• Attach straps to the back
• Finish adding strips to the straps
• Cut top into final shape
• Edge entire top with houndstooth strips
• Make petticoat ruffle
• Attach petticoat to dress at waist
• Sew on pink strip at the waist
• Figure out what to do (if anything) with the black space at the bottom
• Hem dress so the petticoat peeks out.
• Receive back massage to undo knots in neck caused by stress

It's only time, it's only time, it's only time..... dammit.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Oh, and...

I realize I totally skipped the whole "pictures of the dress so far" part of that post. Here you go:

The fun part of adding the strips: topstitching!
Another fun part: playing with crazy patterns!

The dress at around 11AM...

... around 3PM...


This morning.
I still have to finish adding the little strips around the bottom edge, work out how to cover the ugly-as-hell tops of those little strips, attach the lining, make ruffles for the bottom of the petticoat, attach the petticoat, and attach the straps, then hem the dress and edge the bodice with houndstooth bias tape. That sounds like a lot, but it's actually not so bad. Maybe a few more days if I stay on task? I totally won't stay on task, but still, it's a goal.

Trip to Joanne's with mom.

I'm more than halfway through Dress #2 and my eyes are already onto new projects. As much as I want to make another dress just like this, I recognize that I should probably broaden my horizons a little if I want to actually learn to sew. Thus, the haul from Joanne's, as shown below:

Project #3: Bikini (with a little skirt to cover the badonk)
I have one bathing suit that's great except for one problem: the bottom is white. I kind of hate wearing white. It looks nice with my skin tone, but all I can think of is how terrified I am to stain it. Also, I'd like to have a second bathing suit in case something happens to the first one. Plus, buying a serger was basically a dare to myself to make either a swimsuit or some kind of dancewear or ice skating uniform. I'll get more use out of the bikini, so it's kind of a no brainer.

Black stretch fabric. Trust me, the other colors
were godawful. Boring photo, I know.
Tons of DIY bathing suit links insist that this won't take long. However, I don't believe them for several reasons. 1) I don't have a pattern and that scares me. 2) I don't look like the people who made the swimsuits. I can't just make a bandeau top and leave the house. I need.... support. 3) I don't have a pattern. It's worth counting twice because no guidance = scary.

One of the above fabrics is powermesh.
Does this make that photo more interesting?
Project #4: Corset (or, the project where I really test my ability to sew curved seams.)
Challenge time! My body is extremely corset-friendly because of my crazy waist-to-hip ratio, so this should work well with my natural shape. This involves more advanced curved-seam-sewing and working with new materials such as boning, a busk, and grommets. It's an excuse to try wacky embellishments that I might not wear on a daytime outfit like the dresses. I'll be using these fabrics:

Front and back panels - ivory cotton with little
black cameo shapes that are just asking for
something to be sewn in the middle. Buttons?
Side panels - coffee brown and black cotton. 
Trim - tan and dark brown cotton with a
weird tentacle-meets-damask pattern on it.
Lining - awesomely rigid canvas in
beige and dark blue stripe. I plan to
tea-stain this to better match the brown
in the fabric above.
I have no idea where I'll wear this, but I'll have to invent an occasion. Next year's Steampunk City in Waltham? No idea. I don't care. I'll wear it around my house or put it on a mannequin or something. I can't wait to have something really crazy and extravagant to play with, and if I can get this sewn in time for our trip to Provincetown I'll totally be able to bring it with me and hand-sew the buttons on the beach.

Lastly, I got some notions that aren't really that exciting to post. I will, however, post pics of the awesome little sewing box I got, because it was 40% off and it has a hilariously goofy print all over it:

It has dogs on it! DOGS! I like dogs.
Perfect for keeping the table clean when
it's too hot to sew upstairs and I have
to move downstairs. Also, for travel.
I can't wait to start these. I can't wait! This will motivate me to finish the dress more quickly. I'd better get right on that now.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Breaking through the bias-tape-making barrier

He thinks I'm making him a pink
fluffy toilet. I kind of hate him for this.
Ok, so I kind of lied in my last post. I wasn't only holding out on working on Dress #2 because of the heat (though MAN did that contribute). I was being a lazy jerk because I didn't want to cut out all the bas strips. You see, making continuous bias strips is a pretty slow process when you don't have a cutting table. You have to lay the fabric flat on the floor to cut and measure it while also preventing the pets from crawling all over it. Effort! This is best done on a flat, hard surface away from animals. I do not actually have a space like this in my apartment.

Not shown: the little purple bruise
on my thumb that appeared around
hour four. I am a total baby.
I tried to do this on our wall-to-wall-carpeting stricken floor and it took me about three hours to do a passable job on a half yard of fabric because I had to keep re-doing it when the measurements were off. Also, the effort of rolling around on the floor with a yardstick and tailor's chalk was hard enough in the hundred degree heat without being swatted at by the cat and aggressively snuggled by the dog. Thus, I stopped after that half yard and watched three days worth of reality TV while sitting in a deep slouch on the sofa and periodically screaming "IT'S HOT AND I HATE IT!!!" at my husband, who I decided was completely to blame for this horrible weather.

The temperature went down a bit yesterday and I promised myself I would dig in and cut the strips until I was done. My reward would be sleep. Either because I'm extra ADHD this week or because my hands weren't made for hours of cutting with plastic-handled scissors, it was slow going and it took me all day. I cut about 4 yards of fabric, bound each color into its own continuous roll, and passed out somewhere in the neighborhood of 3AM.

Pictured: my entire day yesterday.
Speed and I don't hold hands.
Someone more efficient would have been able to do this more, well, efficiently, but at least I finished it eventually. Now I have enough continuous bias tape to cover several dresses, and I'll likely use the excess to make an apron or something to go with this dress. I don't know if it's the pink or what, but it makes me want to bake cupcakes and do other girly-ass things, and I suspect I'll be pissed if I cover it with cake flour and confectioner's sugar.

More pics soon. I spent most of today applying the strips to the dress and I'm pretty far along. It's PINK, though, which makes me nervous. It definitely looks like a giant piñata, and I can't tell if this is a good thing or not. I'd like for it to be funky, but not so crazy that I look like I'm going to make balloon animals at a 5 year old's birthday party.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Too... hot... to... sew...

This, but with pants on.
It's a bajilliondy degrees outside right now and I don't want to move. I have this awesome new ruffler foot, a dress base ready to be appliquéd, and my sewing machines are downstairs in the living room screaming for attention. However, even thinking about sewing right now makes me want to cry because it would require me to move my limbs and risk letting my body parts touch.

Even the cat is just lying on the ground screaming at us. It's adorable, but also sad. He looks like a little kid rolling around on the floor pretending to be too sick for school.

I promise to sew more and post pictures. I just need to wait until I won't spontaneously combust, evaporate, or just die. It is that freaking hot.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

My new ruffler foot

Most people are ungrateful to be
alive, but not you... not any more...
My ruffler foot came today! I know that I bought a serger and everything so this might sound silly, but buying this made me feel serious. Somehow a $30 foot makes me feel more like a "sewer" than a $200 specialized machine. Maybe it's because the serger is so nicely contained and has color-coded things that make it look friendly and inviting, while the ruffler foot looks like something out of Saw?

I struggled with actually attaching this intimidating little monster because the instructions were clearly not written with "instructing" in mind. Step 2 in attaching the foot was literally "attach ruffler foot." Look at that thing. Even telling which way is up is a challenge. Thankfully, there are blogs that helped me work out what to unscrew and what to point where. This link even has useful pictures of another Brother machine with a very similar shank.

Once I got it going it was easy to use. Being able to make exactly even pleats is going to be AMAZING for me, and I can't wait to use this to gather the ruffles on the petticoat of Dress #2. I may have to rethink some of these strips of color and include some ruffled strips so I can make use of this new foot. I'm going to look like a giant walking bedskirt...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

About to see 4AM again. Damn.

My cat relishes my horrid descent
into being completely nocturnal
ARGH. I can't sleep again. This is horrible.

This is different than the "I'm so excited about making [insert awesome thing] that I'll stay up 15 more minutes" sleeplessness I've been enjoying lately. This is more like "oh god I'm so tired that my soul HURTS and I'd punch a small child in the face in front of her mother just to get even the slightest bit sleepy" insomnia. My eyes hurt. My mouth tastes funny. I hate this.

I tried to use my time to work on Dress #2 because I might as well be productive if I'm going to be awake. I basted the zipper on and fixed a weird problem with the seam on the back of the dress, and basted down some of the interfacing that didn't want to stay put. Then I realized that I needed my tailor's chalk and an iron to do anything else, but didn't want to wake poor Steve by clomping up into the attic. Productivity fail!

Now I'm bopping around craft blogs so I can at least pretend to be learning new things while I beg the sleep gods to please knock me out so I can function at tomorrow's scrimmage. I really, really hope I can manage to reach sweet, sweet unconsciousness before the birds start chirping and the cat starts thinking that it's time I feed him.

Crap. I am so bad at this whole "sleeping" thing. I envy all of you who get tired at night.

Party dress at an actual party

Pictured: party cat haz a party.
Tonight I wore my dress out to my friend's birthday party, and got a million complements. Talk about motivation to keep doing this! It felt especially good to have all the super crafty types inspect it and tell me that I did a good job. My skater sister said "it's like you made a list of all the hard things to do and you decided to put them all into one dress."

I love making things, but most of what I usually make isn't terribly functional. I was a painting major, I've worked in a lot of different media, and I've had art exhibits. This is so different, though, because I made something that's not just meant to hang up on a wall, so the attention feels different. It's not just "ooh that looks nice" attention, it's "ooh that looks nice on you" attention. There was also "ooh, that would look nice on me. Make me one?" attention, which I totally didn't expect. High praise indeed. I pulled it off!

Thanks for saying such kind things, you guys. Man, my friends rock.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Pausing from dress #2 for unpleasant medical stuff (I'm fine)

Remember, perspective is making that look smaller
than it actually is.
I haven't been doing too much sewing since my last post because I've been doing other things. I know, right? Things! Some things are 100% fun, like my friend's birthday party (hi Mal!), but some have been not so fun. The top of that list was my trip to the ear, nose, and throat specialist.

First off, I'm totally fine. Apparently I don't breathe enough when I talk and thus strain the crap out of my voice. However, at the time of the picture on the left, I was practically pooping my pants with worry about the possibility of throat polyps, or cancer, or perhaps something worse that I hadn't WebMD'd yet.

Still, the only thing that made the endoscope (pictured at left) up-the-nose part of that visit bearable was thinking about sewing. I am totally not kidding or exaggerating at all. While the doc was shoving that cable up my nose and down into my larynx (yes, that happened) I was gripping onto the dress I made and making a mental list of the steps I needed to take to make another one.

See? This post was totally related to sewing! Soon there will be more posting about fun sewing things, as the dress will have hung for 24+ hours and thus settled enough to take on a gazillion bias strips.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Must... resist...

Come and play with us, Jessie. ForEVAH,
and EVAH, and EVAH.
Tonight, my goal is to actually, for serious, totally not kidding around this time be in bed before midnight. I will not give into these two jerks calling me and begging me to go play for "just a few minutes." Seriously, now that there are two of them they're working together and it's so much harder to say "no" to them.

Moving them downstairs because it was hotter than the fires of hell in the attic was a huge mistake. Not only can they stay on my mind at all times, they can also monitor my habits. They're even waving Reese's Pieces at me tonight. They've learned my weakness.


Gah! Math!

I apparently have amazing beginner's luck or something. I'm running into all kinds of problems this time around and I'm getting really mad:

The cat is clearly siding with the
book on this one.
Problem #1: The Pattern and the Book are in a Fight
I'm quite sure that the book wants me to make a circle skirt, and that's totally what I did last time. However, the pattern pieces tell a totally different story. One says "place on fold" and "cut 1 self." That's totally right. The other says "cut 1 self" which is a total lie. Last time I was using the book extra hard and did the right thing. This time I was cutting everything on the living room floor and left the book on the couch and thus away from my face. Since it was after midnight and I was suffering from insomnia*-induced stupidity,  I forgot what I did last time and only cut 1 self. Fast-forward to several hours later, when I'm trying to attach the skirt to the top, but I keep coming up short.

Problem #2: Thread Tension = No
I have no idea why, but the thread tension on the machine is getting progressively harder to control. Even if I make the upper tension as slack as the machine will allow, it's too tight when I sew through more than one layer of fabric. Old thread, new thread, I've tried a bunch of stuff and the result is the same. It's tolerable with some of the thick variegated thread I got for topstitching the bias strips, but dammit, I don't want to use this stuff on every seam. My mother offered to take a peek at it, and if she can't find the problem it might be time to get this machine serviced.

I apparently breezed through the early stages of the first dress via blind, goofball luck. Argh.

*This is well past "it's summer and I'm wacked out on sleeping late" and deeply into "I've missed acupuncture twice now and am back to not sleeping at all, ever"

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

So hot...

I've managed to prewash and iron all of my fabric. However, it's so hot that I'm struggling to even THINK about laying out the fabric and cutting, because this involves:

Mr. Pants gets what he wants via cat mind control powers.
a) Getting up off the couch and away from the two fans pointed directly at my face.
b) Walking upstairs into the attic to get the pattern pieces, which collects all the heat in the universe and is easily, EASILY hotter than the surface of the sun.
c) Getting up and bending down a lot as I pin and cut the pieces.
d) Dealing with the cat, who is clearly angry at me for making the world so warm and will sit on whatever I'm cutting to scream at me.

I think that writing this blog entry has sufficiently psyched me up to make the trek upstairs. I can do this. I CAN DO THIS.

Photo, as promised. Update on the next one because I can't sit still.

Without further ado, here's the finished dress. Thanks Dad for the photo. Yes, I'm totally wearing it again today because I never left the house in it yesterday and all I did was sit in air conditioning so there was no sweating involved. Plus, it's summer vacation so I can do whatever I want. Nyah.

I wore it on my trip to the fabric store, and in this heat I don't anticipate going any further from my house. I love going to Fabric Corner because everyone there is genuinely curious about the projects the customers are making. It was neat to be remembered by the lady who sold me the fabric for the strips and base dress. "When I saw you buying all those stripes I was a bit [makes skeptical face] but now that I see it all together, it really works! Nice job!"

Trust me. This will look amazing.
I figure that since I have no plans to wear anything else in the near future (because I am perpetually five years old) I'll make another one from the same pattern. I'm going with a base of black (with little line-drawings of clouds in dark grey) and I'll make most of the strips out of pink fabric with little black flowers. I grabbed a yard of houndstooth and a half yard of this silly pink fabric with big light blue spots all over it. Thanks to the magic of topstitching, I know it will all work out, but when I look in the bag I think "YIKES".

Right now it's all in the wash, because I'm being good and prewashing everything. The last thing I want is to spend a week on a dress and have it buckle and shrink in weird, unpredictable ways. Now I'll bust out the pink thread and get to work on my hot pink petticoat before Steve gets home. That way if I pass out from heatstroke he'll come home in time to save me.

Monday, July 11, 2011

There will be pictures soon, I swear.

I look better in the dress than the counter does. 
Ok, so I finished the dress and it looks excellent. WOO HOO! In fact, I spent today wearing it and it was comfortable and easy to wear. I've never had a dress that fit that well, and I basically spent the afternoon running around my apartment saying "I totally made this whole thing all by myself!" over and over again like a little girl.

So yeah, pictures soon. Until then, I should list the order in which I'll assemble the next dress because I need to improve on that this time around. Fitting was way more complicated than it needed to be. That will change if I:

1. Assemble base dress, straps, lining, petticoat. Do not attach these to each other yet! Let them all hang overnight so fabric settles.
Materials, I haz them.
2. Attach in lining to bodice, but sew along the top edge only.
3. Attach zipper and correct the fit.
4. Make a ton of bias strips. Actually sew all of them into single-color rolls because it sucks to do that as they get attached to the dress.
5. Attach bias strips to dress. Keep the lining flipped up so it doesn't get sewn down yet. Wait to attach the strip at the waist until last step.
6. Finish the top edge and hem dress by folding bias strips along the edge.
7. Attach straps.
8. Sew zipper side of lining and attach petticoat/lining at the waist. Maybe put the seam at the back and keep the top part slightly open to make putting it on easier?
9. Post celebratory photos and prepare for "where did you get that dress?" conversations with strangers.

Now the fun part... what colors should I do next? I'm thinking a black base dress with strips in different shades of pink and maybe a few black and white houndstooth strips in there too. I already have the hot pink organza for the petticoat, so that's definitely part of the color scheme somehow. GAAAH this is so exciting!

Like this, but less humiliating.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

I am teh winnar.

I am currently wearing the dress while sitting in the living room and watching I Survived on Bio. I'm forcing myself to go to bed now, and will post pics tomorrow.

It looks absolutely perfect and I'm kind of freaking out I'm so happy.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

This is exactly how I feel right now, only with more dead bodies and blood and such:

My two big fears when I started making this dress were the lining and the invisible zipper. Tonight (well, also technically this morning) I did them both. The house did not catch fire, there was no plague of locusts to be seen, and I still have both my hands attached to my wrists and free of sewing machine induced holes. Look! I have photographic evidence and everything!

At this stage I promised myself I would go to bed before
midnight. Hah. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA that didn't happen.

Sewing in the lining while Steve goes to bed
at a reasonable hour downstairs.
These look more like dental tools to me. Am I weird?
Before taking this photo I was actually saying
"you can do this" out loud because I was scared.
Don't judge me.
Things I learned during this process:

The look on my face is half exhaustion and
half amazement at having all of my skin intact
while simultaneously wearing a zipped dress.
1. What a zipper foot is for and how to use it.
2. That it's important not to sew the sides of the lining if you want to cover your invisible zipper. Duh.
3. Next time, finish the top edge of the dress BEFORE adding the zipper, and sew in the petticoat AFTER.
4. Adjust the pattern a bit to accommodate for my rack or plan to wear a belt to cinch the waist.
5. Cotton lining material is hella flexible so don't pull it even a little bit when pinning.
6. I really need to stop promising Steve I'll go to bed "soon." It's a lie every time.

But seriously, I did the scary parts without causing myself injury or ruining the dress forever. Right after I took this photo I ran around in circles whisper-shouting "USA! USA!" because I guess that's what one does when one is celebrating a personal victory in America or something. Sorry Steve if I made too much noise. I made sure to take off my shoes first, I promise.

Next steps: add straps with the help of mom because I can't bend my arms back that far, finish the top edge with bias tape, hem the bottom and finish with more bias tape, sew on the bias strip at the waist and thus tack down the lining, clip loose threads, and wear it. Woo hoo!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Making ruffles [sung to the tune of "Making Christmas"]

I think that Conan forgot something in this little speech:

After spending much of today making ruffles out of blue organza, I can honestly say that this should be added to that list. Seriously, this is totally one of the best things in life. I might need to be reminded to sleep and eat. Plus, the results are great and the method is easy. Check out the results:

The organza strip, pre-ruffling. 7+ yards of "meh."

Organza post-ruffling. 3.5 yards of awesome.

Clearly too much awesome for the face I'm
making. I was tired, ok?

This ruffle became "foof" portion of the petticoat, which I added to the dress before derby practice. It looks excellent. Pics to come soon, when I can get someone to take some for me. I don't think anyone in the house would take too kindly to me waking them up to take pictures for my blog. Man, I really wish I could get back on a normal sleep schedule...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

So... many... strips...

I'm regretting choosing to cover a dress with a full circle skirt. Oh my god I have had to sew so many lines of stitching I can't even see straight anymore. Of course, the little fancy perfectionist in me wants to use lots of fun variegated thread because it's a way to add color without looking like a piñata. Of course it takes forever to keep changing thread colors in the bobbin. Of course no one will see the fun color changes unless they're looking at my girl parts reeeeeaaaaaally closely. 

Goal: finish this before I reach old age.
Of course I'm still doing this after numerous hours, because OF COURSE IT WILL BE TOTALLY WORTH IT.


My serger came it came it's here yes yes holy crap it's here!!!!!

Hands off. She's spoken for.
I am SO glad I got this during my summer break. I don't know how I'd manage leaving her to go to work. She's so beautiful and she works so well. Yes, she's totally a girl. Shut up.

I immediately spent forever watching video after video that came with this awesome machine. For those of you who think these things are scary and complicated, you're very right. Holy crap, I'm terrified of threading her myself. Thank goodness she came fully threaded with appropriately colored thread that matched the color-coded threading diagrams. Thank you Brother, you think of everything.

So far I've successfully serged a bunch of straight and curved seams on jersey, cotton broadcloth, and organza scraps. I've tied off the thread chain in several different ways. I've even *gasp* changed the thread from the little provided spools into cones of lime green polyester serger thread. THAT was scary. My next project is to alter a too-large men's tee shirt and make a petticoat for the dress.

Oh I love you serger. I love you. Steve, don't be jealous. I totally have a crush on this machine.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Thing I learned: bias strips

I have cut so many yards of bias strips that I can safely say I make some damned great bias tape.

I could be wicked industrious and make a "how to" here, but why reinvent the wheel? This tutorial explains it really well. It's tedious as hell, but it results in some wonderfully flexible, fray-resistant strips of fabric. I'll be covering my dress with these like whoa over the next few days. Man, I hope this winds up looking more "funky art-school lady" and not "I just finished following Phish around the country in a van." I can rock the former (thanks RISD), but the latter is not at all me. Don't let the dreads fool you.

I may go blind in the process of making this dress, but everyone else will be able to see how great it looks when I'm done. That makes it worth it, right?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

I started the dress and I didn't die. Achievement!

For you Calvin and Hobbes readers out there, this has been my relationship to sewing for most of my life:

One of my earliest memories is of my thumb being impaled on a sewing machine needle because I tried to play with the machine when my Mom wasn't looking. Once I started the derby quilt, I conquered the sewing machine's urge to kill me. Still, clothing eluded me because of that whole third dimension problem. Also, making a functional thing was tough because everything I made tended to fall apart, and let's not get into how unflattering everything I tried to make tended to be because of the "fit" issue.

Still, the dress I have going so far actually kinda sorta fits and kinda sorta looks like it might be kinda sorta good. Observe:

I know, right? I made that and I didn't catch fire or bleed out through wounds in my hands. It's vaguely me-shaped. It has room for boobs. MY boobs, even. I hope that this isn't one of those weird sleep-dep dreams I have where I do all these awesome things and then wake up to find none of them actually done.

Things I learned so far while making this:
• How to sew a curved seam that actually fits my boob
• What those little notches on the edges of patterns actually mean
• That my sewing machine's tension is insanely wrong and needs correcting (Mom? HALP!)
• That I just can't rock this much color. The goth in me just won't die. Sorry Dad.

Next task: make a mountain of bias strips to cover this, because there is no way I'm wearing that much green without looking like a giant walking mint.