Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It is called the "Gnome Girl Dress".... WTF?

Sorry. Profanity (even coded psuedo-profanity) is probably not the best way to start a post, especially since I liked the outcome of this dress. But I had some trouble getting around the name. Which is weird really, since who cares what it's called? A rose is a rose, etc, etc. But for some reason, I did not like this whole "gnome" association. It really bugged me. I have no idea why.

Aaaanyway, I made this up as part of the Great Uniform SWAP. I was curious to try out the ruching on the skirt and see how it draped. The ruching is simply pulled up with gathering stitches and then the stitches and gathers are covered and held in place with a ribbon. The orginal pattern calls for a full lining (it also calls for the dress to be made from wool tweed, which is somewhat laughable in Texas). I didn't do the lining (or the tweed). Or the extra decorative details. Or the... Sheesh. Did I even use this pattern?

I really wanted to do this in a lovely midnight blue twill that I have in the stash. It was the perfect weight and drape for this pattern, which I thought might be important with those ruched pieces at the hem. I didn't want it to be clunky or stiff. I had the whole thing laid out on the fabric and ready to cut out, in fact. Until I realized something very, very important. Fundamental. Life-changing, even.


Hear the words of wisdom, children!

Because of course, while our uniform policy is pretty flexible it does very specifically say "jumpers and dresses must be "a solid color".
You would not believe how many trips I made to Hobby Lobby and Hancock's and (sob) WalMart trying to find a grossgrain or satin ribbon in midnight blue. I would go back, again and again, my sad little scrap of fabric in hand, trying to find that one elusive piece of ribbon that would match enough to not look like a stripe. There was baby blue, royal blue, navy blue, cornflower blue, turquoise blue.... you name, they had it. As long as you didn't name it "midnight blue". I lowered my standards daily, but still I found... nada. Bupkis. Doodley Squat. I even considered making a bias tape from the twill and covering the ruching with that, but I was worried it would be too stiff.

No. I'm afraid midnight blue was just not meant to be.

So, that left me with the khaki. And here it is:

It's not bad. In fact, it's cute. But it ain't no Midnight Blue. (sigh)

I was able to find some "tan" satin ribbon that didn't clash too badly. In the photos it's hard to tell, because it's pretty glossy and my camera insisted on flashing.

Actually, The Big One wears this to school quite often and I have to say, despite being khaki it does overwhelmingly fullfil my requirements for the Great Uniform SWAP. It's unusal and has great details, but not so detailed or unusual that people notice it in a crowd. It's comfortable (I'm assuming, since I've had no complaints) and it washes well. And it can be worn with virtually ever shirt I've made for this SWAP so far.

Wow. I guess it's a winner!

And yes. Those are suspender/mitten clips on the straps, as per the pattern instructions. Coolio!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Arrrrrgh, matey!

Ok, so today I decided to post about a skirt that I threw together this week.

"Threw together" being the operative phrase here. I made this same skirt over a year ago for "The Big One", as we like to call our oldest daughter (as opposed to her sister "The Little One"-- we can't be bothered keeping track of their names). "The Big One" is something of a misnomer, as in reality she is really little. She's actually gotten smaller since last year, smaller around the middle anyway, so I figured the old pattern would probaby still fit. It did. Unfortunately, I didn't get out the instructions to make the second version and had some... mishaps. You know, the "Oh, wait, it was supposed to have a zipper in it?" type of mishap.

For the original version, in a moment of irrational belief that a child of five can have some sort of logical thought process about the clothes she wears, I magnanimously offered to let The Big One pick her very own fabric from Hancock's. As we approached the store rational thought rushed back to me and I was almost immediately sorry. However, I was finally able (after several conversations about why Hannah Montana is not, in fact, a suitable... well, a suitable anything) to steer her towards something that I could live with.
Arrrrrgh, where's me hook? Batten down the hatches! Bottle of rum! Scurvy!
It could be worse.

Actually, this fabric was pretty cute in the scheme of things. And even though this skirt definitely bordered on generating the dreaded, unelicited "Oh... you make your own clothes?" remark, I sort of liked the outcome. The pattern itself was really simple to work with and gives the sense of lots of complexity, so what's not to like there?

Flash Forward (I'm likin' that show so far) to the Grand Uniform SWAP and I think, "Hey. This could be an easy, cute uniform item. We'll just knock that puppy out in an hour or two and we're Good. To. Go."

Ah yes. That ever-problematic over-reaching arrogance.

Really the result is totally acceptable and looks pretty dang cute when worn. But oy! the trouble! Sewing and then ripping out and then sewing and ripping out again because I forgot that this thing needs a zipper to get it on. And then again and again and again because I just couldn't seem to get the invisible zipper in correctly after I'd already sewn up the side seam and the hem (and just couldn't bring myelf to take apart the whole side of the skirt, even though of course that would have taken a quarter of the time). I mean, have you ever in your life sewn half of a zipper in backwards?? Well, I guess there's a first time for everything. The fact that I did it two times in a row.... well... hmph.
The really annoying thing is that bad interior finishes is one of my pet peeves. I'm not one of those "everything has to have a couture hand stitched lining" type of people, but on the other hand, it irks me to put on a garment that looks crappy on the inside, no matter how decent it looks on the outside. So this Really Bad Invisible Zipper is just frustrating.
Of course, not frustrating enough that it overrode my sheer laziness. I have a copious amount of laziness, plenty to spare in this instance, in fact. So I just let the Really Bad Invisible Zipper slide. Er. No pun intended. I'm hoping no one will see this but me and I will be spared the humiliation of explaining myself.
(In typical fashion, my daughter will no doubt choose to wear this article of clothing on the day she goes bonkers at school, strips off her skirt and runs around the room shouting "I don't care if a quick brown dog jumps over that damned lazy fox, I'm not staying here one more minute!" Or something to that effect. And all the first grade teachers will observe the inside of the abandoned skirt and nod their heads sagely. "Oh well, of course. Look at the hideous mess that the poor little thing has been forced to wear!")
In any case, I did finally manage to get the stupid thing together in a reasonable semblance of a skirt. And when it's on, you can't actually see the horrible interior fiasco that is the side seam and zipper. Hopefully.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Classic Oxford Blouse. Teeny.

I've been having some trouble working out what piece of my Uniform SWAP I should write about first... not because they're all so terribly interesting, more that I just can't get my brain organized around writing and taking photos and remembering what the heck I did when I sewed these up in the first place.

So I'm going to start with this little blouse. I have a fair recollection of the changes I made. And it was sitting on the table waiting to be ironed. Notice the wrinkles.

Actually, it's pretty cute. You can't really tell in this photo, but it's a very nice light blue oxfordcloth that I got for super-cheap from FashionFabrics.com.
I love them. They are the perfect enablers... er, I mean, purveyors of fabric. Nothing I purchased for this SWAP cost more than $4.25/yard. And with a teeny tiny midget to sew for, 1 yard was all I needed for almost everything. In a very few cases I bought (gasp) 1.25 yards.
Ooooo. The decadence.

This pattern was cut from Burda WOF issue 10-2008, pattern #139. Here's BWOF's version:

Très disco, non?

A little too disco for first grade, in my humble opinion. To tone down the, uh, tone, I decided to round off the collar point for a more girlie look. (It's a good thing I did. About a week after I made this, my daughter got a very short pixie haircut and does-- despite what we tell her-- sometimes look a little bit like a boy. The girlie clothes help.)

The collar and collar-stand on this blouse are HUGE. Seriously. David-Soul-circa-1977 huge. Throw in some flaired corduroy pants and a peace-sign pendant and you are good to go. Anyway, here's the collar redrafted.

(Oh. And please excuse the Aciphex pattern paper. Actually, I get this for free from a doctor's office. It's exam table paper. If you don't have a roll, get one. It is the bestest ever for tracing patterns and costs, well, nothing. Or at least, it cost me nothing. What a deal.)

(Seriously. I am the cheapest person ever.)

Here's the other major change I made to this pattern: I cut short sleeves instead of the long. Because the original sleeve was wide at the upper arm, I left it as-is and drafted in some pleats so that it would fit into a cuff. This gives it a nice puffed-sleeve effect with pretty minimal changes. I drafted the cuff myself and just used my daughter's bicep measurement plus about 2" for ease. I sized the peats to fit into the cuff length and added a vent with a classic lap. You could do the same thing without drafting the pleats by just evenly spacing them once you have your cuff cut out and then basting them down. Easy-peasy and totally cute.

Sorry, the following photos are horribly wrinkled. No, wait. I mean the shirt is horribly wrinkled. The photos are pretty flat. Either way, they're ugly. Here's the front and back of the sleeve.

Well there you go. That's about it on this one. I'm going to make at least one more for the SWAP in some other shirting fabric. It meets my requirements of being 1) different-but-not-too-different and 2) cutie-patootie.

That's a high-fashion sewing term, in case you were wondering.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

An Actual Blog Post

...which I'm sure not one single person on this earth will read. Other than me of course. What with me having to write it and all.

Question: How many individual articles of clothing intended for a school uniform can one woman sew in three months without tearing her hair out in sheer horror at the the words "khaki twill"?

Answer: Unfortunately, no one will ever know. She's now sitting in the corner of the sewing room surrounded by piles of fabric, psychotically muttering "brown... it's all... brown...."

So. This year my oldest daughter started first grade and her school has a Uniform Policy. Now, this uniform policy is actually pretty loose. No scary plaid polyester jumpers and uncreaseable white shirts. No hideous pants or skirts whose only advantage is that they uniformly fail to flatter every child who is unlucky enough to wear them. Our uniform policy is, as I said, loose. A blouse or shirt or dress with a collar and sleeves in a solid color. Pants or capris or a skirt or a jumper in khaki, navy, black or brown. Sweaters or sweatshirts or light jackets in a solid color.

Needless to say, this leaves a world of room open for making clothes. And of course I, in my madness, decided to make schoool uniforms a Project.

"Uniforms?" I said to myself smugly. "I can make uniforms. I can make the cutest uniforms George Washington Elementary has ever seen. They will be fashion statements. They will be paragons of school cool. I will have the Best Dressed Child in First Grade!"

"BWAH HAHAHHA!!" I declared maniacally. "Take that! yuppie moms who dress their children in overpriced designerwear! I see your $45 Ralph Lauren Polo shirt and I raise you a custom fitted, perfectly constructed, super-cute jumper embellished with silk ribbon!! Which only cost me $7 in fabric and notions! And I will finish this entire wardrobe before school starts. In four weeks. Ha!"

No doubt the sane amongst you have already forseen the astonishing hubris in this plan and are snorting with derision.

The sane amongst you who actually know me are most likely unable to speak at this moment due to astonished bouts of laughter at the thought that I would even consider myself able, against all previous example, to complete one school uniform item in this timeline. Let alone an entire wardrobe.

And yet, I ambitiously attempted just such a thing. And this blog will show you the results. Well, mostly the results in terms of the clothes I actually managed to produce (as opposed to such results as my running through Hancock Fabrics crazily waving a 14" khaki metal zipper and screaming "Why don't they ever carry any metal zippers samller than fourteen inches in this @!*&@! store?!"). Since (spoiler alert) I actually did manage to complete a few items before school started, enough to at least keep me from having to send a half-dressed child to school the first day. My first posts on this new blog will be about the clothes I completed. I'm also planning on posting them as reviews on PatternReview.com, since at least two patterns I used that I know of haven't been reviewed yet.

And because like I said, no one is reading this blog. Good thing I like the sound of my own... uh... typing.