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April 12, 2014

The Flaw in the Plan. (SFV Progress, Part Two)

So, by Wednesday afternoon I had pretty much convinced myself to go with the aqua and white seersucker for my Sew for Victory dress. I got out the fabric that evening to start cutting and--oh. Right. Maybe not. There was way less of it left than I thought. Maybe enough to make a blouse, of the same approximate length as my muslin. But certainly not a dress. And I didn't want to make a blouse, I wanted to make a dress.

After that, I went through every single piece of fabric in my stash to see if there was anything else that would work, and I decided there wasn't. Aside from the brown crepe. Which I decided I can't make up right now. I do think I will probably make it--just not right now, at the beginning of spring. Maybe about six months from now.

So that plan's kinda shot.

I spent the rest of the evening going through all the fabric and patterns/designs available to me, trying to come up with something. Eventually, after looking through a Make Do and Mend booklet, I decided to not actually use any fabric. Or, for that matter, a proper pattern, either. During the war, women were encouraged to remake old clothes rather than making (or buying) new things, so that's what I'm doing here.

I'm still not totally happy with the outfit I've decided on, and started making, though. Kind of hoping I wind up having enough spare time this month to wring out another project, too. However--

Anybody remember these pants? They were one of the first things I posted on this blog. At that time, I was planning to take them in so they fit me better, but still keep them as pants. And, er, that never happened, and a while ago I decided that I would never wear them, even if I made the fit perfect. I hadn't gotten rid of them yet, though (probably because I had already ripped them apart at the seams; I guess I thought it would be better to sew them back up and give them to Goodwill, rather than just throwing them away. I mean, they're decent pants, and retro is in, and there are definitely people who would wear them. I'm just not one).

One of the things the booklet I have suggests is making a skirt out of men's trousers. And I thought that, while I wouldn't wear these as pants, as a skirt, I just might. I highly doubt that any man went off to fight in World War II and left pants like these in his closet to be remade, but it's the idea that counts. And at least people did wear plaid in the 40s. Maybe not polyester plaid--the label doesn't have any information on fabric content, but I'm pretty sure these are 100% polyester. And that isn't 40s-appropriate, either, but it's Make Do and Mend so I'm counting it. (Hopefully others will too.) And maybe from a distance it looks wool-like enough, too. Maybe.

I actually finished the skirt this morning, but I won't post pictures yet--I want to do the whole outfit. I'll probably talk a bit more about the construction, too, in the final project post. Well, here is one "preview."
I reused the original waistband (cut down a bit), and left the tag intact. So now if anyone ever sees the inside of this skirt without knowing that it was remade from a pair of trousers, they can be really curious about what the Sears Men's Store was doing making a thing like this...

But a skirt is only half an outfit. For the top half, I'm remaking a blouse that I have (still, for who knows what reason; I haven't worn it in years) from my table-waiting days, copying McCall 4580. In general, the booklet suggests making men's shirts into children's clothes, so this is going to be a pretty tight squeeze. The girl in the booklet's sample picture like she's in her early teens, and the shirt I started with was pretty big on me, but still.
(Here's the original, on Annie Laurie because I couldn't bring myself to put it on. Poor Annie Laurie; I make her wear all the ugly clothes. Although to be fair, this particular garment looks way better on her than it does on me.)
I drew out the pattern, or an approximation of it, earlier this afternoon, and managed to get everything to fit. Well, I had to omit the pleats at the center front (for this particular remake, you reverse the sides, so the buttons go down the back and the front is one piece) and I also had to cut the yoke in two pieces rather than on the fold. And it's also going to be pretty short (the sleeves, too), though that was expected. All my skirts--including, yes, the one I just made--are high-waisted anyway.
(I didn't wind up using the original yoke pieces at all. The two pins on the sleeve mark where I cut the yoke facing. I didn't do a facing for the back neck--maybe I'll see if I can squeeze that out somewhere. Or not.)
My original intent was for the skirt and blouse to go together. There's not really any white in the skirt, and I thought it might be fun to dye the blouse fabric blue. I already had the dye. So after I cut it apart, I dyed all the pieces. I wasn't going for any particular shade, just blue, and figured it would end up being quite light, since the fabric here is also a poly-cotton blend (which, again, is not period-appropriate, but in light of the fact that I'm being very period-appropriate in practice, I'll allow it). And for a while it was a very nice blue, but once all the surface dye washed out, it wound up being a very pale purple--close to, but a bit lighter than, the fabric I dyed for my Sew for Victory project last year. Yeah, pretty much everything I've ever dyed has turned out purple. I guess I'm okay with it, although now it's made so little difference to the color that I kind of wish I'd just not bothered and left it white. On the other hand, if it had kept all the color (and still been purple, not blue), I don't think it would've matched the skirt. Now it's so pale I think it might work anyway.

So. At this point, I've finished cutting out the blouse pieces and doing my markings. Now I just need to sew everything together and see if it even comes close to fitting me as a blouse ought. We'll see...

April 6, 2014

Sew For Victory Progress

If you didn't know, Sew For Victory is going on this month. Of course I'm taking part again. (Here's what I made last year.)

This year, I'm attempting to use a 1976 pattern, McCall's 5084, with some modifications to make it look a bit more 40s. It kind of seemed 40s-inspired to begin with, so hopefully it'll fly. And I made a small pinboard with similar yokes and collars from the 40s (and early 50s) to help with the design.
(Yes, all those sketches are subtly different.)
The main changes I planned to make were to add a collar and move all the gathers from the middle of the bodice to the sides (directly over each... let's say bust point, rather than in between them). Which I did. Except I messed up in my drafting (so I'm really glad now I did a muslin) and didn't "move" enough fabric over. So there are still some gathers in the middle--but on the final version, that part will be flat, and the small side gathers will be a bit bigger.
But I also didn't want to do the tie belt that the pattern uses. Nothing against tie belts in general, it just wasn't what I was going for in this case. Especially since it's actually sewn to the dress in the front. Kind of weird. I'll most likely make a self fabric-covered belt. And that's fine, but at some point I realized there was still an awful lot of fabric to be gathered in by the belt. With the sewn-on tie, a lot of the waist is gathered in (underneath the sewn-on part), so it's not as voluminous.

So I figured I'd move that gathering out to the sides, in line with the way I'd moved the gathering at the yoke. Actually my first thought was to do tucks, as tucks for waist shaping seem to be a fairly common feature in 40s garments. But then I thought gathers might be better, as they'd actually match what was going on up top.

I couldn't decide, so my muslin has both. I was hoping once I saw them sewn, I'd be able to decide, but I'm still vacillating. Well, I am kind of leaning one way, but it's still very up in the air, and when I asked my mom's opinion a few days ago, she fairly firmly chose the other option. So--thoughts, anyone? Which do you prefer? I need your advice.
(Gathers on the left, tucks on the right.)
(No gathers or tucks here on the muslin--but they'll be added in on the final version.)
(Tucks on the left, gathers on the right.)
(Again, tucks on the left, gathers on the right.)
I've included pictures from all four angles, with and without the belt. (Although I'll probably always wear this with a belt.) And I've cropped my head out of all but the frontwards ones, because my face clearly has a good side and a not-as-good side, and I don't want that to affect anyone's opinions. Also, note that I'm making a dress, not a top. But since this is a muslin, and I wasn't making any attempt to make it wearable, I didn't see any reason to cut the full length of the skirt.

If I go with tucks, I think I might move them slightly more toward the middle. The gathering row might move slightly higher, or I might just add a second row. I'll probably add a set of either tucks or gathers to the back (matching whatever I use on the front) to keep it from being too voluminous, and to make sure things stay even.

...And then there's the question of what fabric to use. I have this nice, thick brown crepe (I think it's crepe) in my stash. I think it would work well with this pattern, and I don't have anything else in mind for it. But it's very fall/winter. I'm not a huge fan of fall/winter to begin with--and especially not now, at the beginning of spring. I want to make something springtimeish.

But none of the seasonally appropriate fabrics I own seem right for this. (Keep in mind that I need a fabric that not only fits with the pattern and season, but also could pass as reasonably accurate to the 1940s.) I have some striped seersucker (the leftovers from this dress, actually) that I guess could work. Seersucker's one of the suggested fabrics, and one of the pattern illustrations is shown in stripes, but I'm worried that with the modifications I've made--namely, the waist shaping--having stripes (and texture, since seersucker has that, too) will look awkward. And I just don't like it for this.

So I don't know. Obviously, unless I post my entire fabric stash on here, which I'm not going to do, you can't know what I have to choose from--and I want to use stash fabric; it seems appropriate re the 40s, and I'm also just trying not to buy any more fabric unless I have to--but if anyone has any fabric suggestions, feel free to let me know. I'll take any advice on this one that I can get.

March 30, 2014

Why It's Good For Me To Be Told What To Do.

This is the blouse I was instructed to make for the Miss Bossy Patterns challenge at the Monthly Stitch. I am so--so--happy with it.
I'm sure I would've made up this pattern, Simplicity 3260, eventually, but it probably would've been a really long time. I'm really, really glad I was told to make it because--oh my god--now I think I might have produced a blouse (and have a pattern for future use) that actually fits. That's the first time I've managed such a thing in seven years of sewing, and I'm so excited.

There's not a lot to say about the construction, because I sewed this up pretty much exactly as directed. When I opened up the envelope, I found that the previous owner had made a couple alterations--both the front and back pieces had about an inch folded out width-wise, and she'd cut off another 3/8 or so from the seam allowances (which were cut in for the sleeves, too). I measured a bit and decided that these measurements were correct for me, too, and didn't unfold or redraw. I think the fit probably would've been fine, too, if I'd made the pattern as it was originally, before previous owner took it in, but I guess that's neither here nor there. Of course, when I traced my pieces, I added a couple inches in length above the waist, as is standard for me.

And yes, there is a waist. I know I was worried initially that this would be super boxy and potentially awful because there are no darts at all, but the waist is curved in just a bit, so it fits nicely.
hanging f
And I added about a half inch in width to the very bottom of each side seam, to accommodate my disproportionately wide hips. In the future, I'll add in another inch or two for the hips, but I think the fit through the shoulders, bust, and waist is spot-on. It fits! And I can move in it! I can wear this to work!

That said, the usual tight-armscye problem is still there, although it's less severe than it has been. I think I'm going to try making them like an inch deeper to see if that helps. And I don't know what I'll do with the sleeves... enlarge the heads proportionately and then immediately taper them way down? Or maybe I'll see how well it works with just having a bit less ease.

I'm also thinking about trying a broad back adjustment. I don't think I actually have a broad back (but does anybody disagree?) but I think that might help give me a bit more room for comfortable movement with all the leaning and reaching forward that I do.
(In the left-hand one, I'm standing normally. On the right, I'm reaching forward. It kind of looks like I need a swayback adjustment (?) in both of these, but I think it's actually just bunching up because I didn't make it quite wide enough over the hips.)
And--this is mostly cosmetic, but--I might make the hem a little flatter. I'm happy with the length the long part (at the front and back) reaches, so I'd leave that alone, but I think the short part of the hem (at the sides) could do with being an inch or two longer. (Because the illustrations are all wearing their blouses tucked in or tied up, and apparently I didn't look properly at the line drawing on the back, I didn't realize until I got the pattern pieces out that the hem was curved at all. It wasn't what I was expecting, but I do like it.)
And the collar should maybe be a smidge wider, too. And I actually had to move the pocket, down and a little bit inward. It looks fine in the photos, but in real life, it was slightly too high and in my armpit. I still probably could have left it alone, but it was such an easy little thing that it seemed silly not to fix it.
(The one on the left is the before, where I installed the pocket exactly where the pattern markings directed me to. The one on the right shows where I moved it to. Only a slight change, really, but it does make a difference. I cropped my head out because you don't really need to see it for pocket placement anyway, but mostly because in the first picture my face somehow looked like I was twelve years old.)
So I guess that sounds like a lot to change. And it is. But I'm very confident that I'll  make future versions of this blouse in which I'll implement those changes. Often I make something and think 'this is what I should have done differently,' and never do another version, rather than 'this is what I'll do differently next time.' I can see this very easily becoming my go-to blouse pattern, and I can see how it would lend itself quite well to customization-style changes. I could do a button placket or a collar stand. I could do a yoke. I could do long sleeves (the pattern actually comes with long sleeves, already) or short puffy ones. I could change the shape of the hemline completely. I'm sure I could think of more.

And the reason I'm so excited about making all those changes is that I'm really, really happy with the garment I've already made. And that's not just because it's blue and white striped. (In my defense--I know I have way too many things that are blue and white--I actually picked the fabric to go with the buttons, which I love. I was hoping for some green and purple in the print, too, in sort of a 40s abstract floral pattern, and I went to three different stores to look. This is what I wound up with.) I think that with the possible exception of my blue jacket, this might be the best top I've ever made. And I expect I'll wear the hell out of it.
button cu
Oh! And it was easy to sew. (Or, as the pattern itself says, simple to make.) No darts, to start with. And there are only five pattern pieces (four if you leave off the pocket). Most of the blouses--and, in fact, most of the dress bodices--I've made in the past have had facings and weird bits they want you to do, so I was trying to follow the pattern instructions pretty closely here. That's why the collar is stitched entirely by machine. That's not what I usually do, and I probably won't do it again, but I did it this time because that's what the pattern said to do (it calls for a lot of machine stitching) so I thought I'd try it. And I kind of want to unpick and hand-sew it, but it's a casual enough blouse that I think it'll be fine.
I was also really surprised to see that the pattern called for setting the sleeves in flat (as opposed to in the round, after the side and shoulder seams are sewn up). My understanding is that this is used primarily in production assembly, like in a factory, so I was very surprised to see it in a home sewing pattern from 1959.

I'd never sewn sleeves this way before. It may have made it easier; I'm not sure. I think putting the sleeves in flat and sewing the side seams last (or even just sewing the side seams last, if the garment is sleeveless) would be really useful, though, on a dress with a zipper--much less fabric to bunch up under/through the machine. So maybe I'll try it on other garments (not just those made from this pattern) in the future. Or maybe not. It's a trade-off, I guess. Not having the side seams sewn up early on means that, unless you're basting or really good with pins--which seems like a trade-off in itself--you can't really tell if the bodice fits or not until you're nearly done with the entire thing. So we'll see.

I guess that's all. (Actually, one other thing: this is the first pattern/make I'm counting for the Vintage Pattern Pledge. I think I said I'd do five this year, so I'm about on track. The hard part now will be not just making this up four hundred more times and ignoring all the other patterns I need to sew...) Every few months I decide I'm going to write shorter posts, and I was actually really excited for this one--I thought, 'oh, this will be super short; I followed all the pattern instructions and barely made--or need--any fitting adjustments'. Yeah, that happened. I suppose I'll always find something to go on and on about.

But I really am happy.

Okay project details:
3260 Fabric: 2 yards blue/white striped cotton from Knittn' Kitten, $4.00.
Pattern: Simplicity 3260 from Scrap, $0.50
Year: 1959
Notions: seven vintage Czech glass buttons from Knittn' Kitten, $2.00
Made before: Nope.
Make again: Yes. Yes. Yes.
Sewing soundtrack: Jarvis Cocker
First worn: Not yet; just for photos.
Wear again: Yes.
Total cost: $6.50

March 2, 2014

Sew Grateful Week: At Long Last, A Dress

Oh, wow. I almost can't believe I got this done.
s main
This was actually going to be my Sew Grateful dress last year. And when I started working on it then, it was already a UFO.

I feel bad saying it, but I won't lie. Through most of the process, I kind of hated making this. Mostly it was because of the skirt. Usually full skirts are the easy part--not this time. I don't know why I thought making 72 tiny pleats (yes--that's how many there are), all lined up exactly on their lines, would be anything less than pure torture, but... Really, the skirt is what made this take so damn long. (Well, there's also a ridiculous amount of hand-sewing on the dress, but that I don't mind at all. In this case, it was actually quite relaxing to do, after everything else.)

But I also wasn't very into making this because, well, it's not really something I felt I'd want to wear anymore. I started working on the dress about a year and a half ago, and I've changed a bit since then. I still love shirtwaist dresses, but the rest... Those pleats do look nice, but they're not really me... I look better in dark colors than light... The bodice was looking way too big (and ultimately I cut four inches off the bottom, raising the skirt, and that helped a bit. Of course I didn't do this until after I'd already installed the zipper the first time).

Also, when I first saw this fabric, it was folded inside-out. I fell in love with the wrong side. It wasn't until much later that I realized it was the wrong side, though. Probably most people wouldn't be able to tell--it takes rather close inspection--but I can tell, and that's the kind of thing that bugs me. So I made the dress the right side out, even though it's the reverse that I really wanted. Oh, well.
It was very, very tempting on multiple occasions--especially after I realized I wouldn't have this done in time to post on Thursday with the rest of the group--to put this away again and maybe it could be next year's Sew Grateful Week dress. But I made myself finish. In a few places, it's 'done is good enough,' but for the most part, I actually finished it pretty well. And, now that it's all put together and done, I do like it more. I think I did a pretty good job with the pattern matching, and I'm particularly fond of the (self-drafted) cuffs. Even if the pleats aren't perfect (and they aren't; don't look too closely), there's no denying that they took a lot of time and effort.
cuff cu
This is the third time I've made Simplicity 3486. The fit still isn't quite right. (I wonder if that's partly down to the fabric--it has a loose weave and is pretty wiggly, so I wonder if it stretched/expanded a bit.) And I'm sure that part of the reason the waist fits a bit big is that I changed up the construction of the skirt. I wanted to use the selvedges as raw edges, and I wanted my pleats to be the width of the stripes, and fortunately that worked out to be fairly close to my actual waist measurement, but I definitely didn't make this one to measure the way I normally would. And it definitely needs to be worn with a belt.
skirt held
I also wish the skirt was about an inch longer--it would've been, but this is what happens when you shorten the bodice dramatically. But I'll still wear it at this length.

And... the armscyes. As always, the main issue. I still haven't gotten them quite right. They feel great when I'm sitting or standing normally, but I spend a lot of time reaching forward, and that puts a strain on the back and causes digging in in the front. It isn't too bad, compared to some other things I've made. I'll keep working on it, though.
(I don't know what I'm doing here. Demonstrating reaching forward? I never know where to put my arms in side-angles.)
On a related note, I tried for the first time easing in the sleeves using a bias strip rather than gathering stitches. And oh my god, it worked like a charm. This is my new method for always. And, even better, once the sleeve was attached, I flipped the bias strip over and used it to enclose the raw edges. It's pretty comfortable.
I think it also helps that this is a comfortable fabric. I'm guessing it's 100% cotton, but it's nice cotton. As I said before, it's a bit... springy. It's incredibly soft--I keep thinking maybe it's flannel, except it's too thin to be flannel. Also, the pattern and stripes and flowers are all woven in. (Well, maybe just the different colors--beige and white--are woven; the black could be sort of embroidered.) Either way, it seems like it's toward the fancier side of stuff.

So. Why is this my Sew Grateful dress? A couple summers ago, I unexpectedly got an email from another Portland woman, Arellis, who read my blog. She was cleaning out her stash and wondered if I'd like any of the fabric. This was one of the pieces she gave me.

At that point, I had posted on the Sew Weekly site a couple times, maybe left a few comments here and there. My blog probably only had a very few comments, too. I hadn't really made any connections. Aside from people who work for local sewing-related businesses, she was the first seamstress I'd met in real life via the online sewing community. (And is, in fact, still the only seamstress I've met in real live via the online sewing community.) And she's also the only person (aside from my aunt) to ever have said to me, oh hey do you want some of this fabric? and just given it to me. I remember it was very startling--in a pleasant way, of course--for me to get that first email. I was surprised not only that she'd found me, but also that she'd picked me, and considered that I was a worthy recipient of her stash pieces.
So, Arellis, I hope that you like the dress. And thanks!

Also, kind of--the buttons. They're from my mom. They were salvaged from some other (RTW) garment that she was getting rid of. She doesn't like to give me fabric--she thinks I have too much, and is probably correct--but I've gotten a lot of buttons from her this way. I'm pretty sure these are real shell. (The backs certainly look genuine.) There were only four, and initially I worried that wouldn't be enough, but I think they look fine.

(These weren't my first choice of buttons, but I picked the original ones to match the wrong side of the fabric. And now I actually think this is a better match than the first pairing was, anyway.)

waist cu
I purchased the buckle--can't remember when (before I started making this, though), where, or how much, but it can't have been more than a dollar. I'm guessing more like fifty cents. I'm pretty sure it's also real shell, and it matches the buttons beautifully.

That said, I can't decide if I prefer this with the self-made belt or with the little black one. Any thoughts?
b main
And now this is unrelated to being grateful, but I do also want to mention/brag that I hand-stitched the following: outsides of facings; two pleats closest to zipper; zipper insertion the first time (it was hand-picked; then I had to rip it out to move the skirt up, and just machine sewed it when I put it back in); underside of cuffs; bias covering at armscye; button and buckle attachments (obviously); and, finally, the hem. Yeah.

Here are a whole bunch of detail photos:
zipper cu
(This isn't the best zipper I've ever done; far from it. But with all the pleats, and the way the fabric comes out below, it was quite difficult. I'm extremely proud of how well I wound up hiding it.)
(This isn't really detail. But! It's the wrong side of the fabric. Isn't it cool?)
(Well, this isn't detail, either, but in case you wanted to see the right side of the dress, on a hanger...)
(And here's the back. This time with me in it.)
hem and pleats
(More innards. At left is the hem, and you can also see the side seam. The skirt's folded up so that on the right, you can see the inside of the pleats at the waist, as well.)
cuff down
(I even matched the insides of the cuffs. This is the underside--the cuff's folded down (or not folded up?), and the seam here was stitched by hand.)
(This is not just a gratuitous photo of me smiling. It's also a nice close-up of the collar and bodice.)

And here are the project details:
Fabric: From Arellis, received summer 2012, free. (No idea how much I used--2.5, maybe 3, yards? I still have almost a full one left.)
Pattern: Simplicity 3486 from Knittn' Kitten, used before so free.
Year: late 50s/early 60s?
Notions: four shell buttons, salvaged, from Mom, free; zipper maybe $.50; two packages of rayon seam tape, say $.40; shell buckle, say $.50; 1 yard belting, let's make it a round number and say $.60--all from stash. (And yes, these are realistic costs, about how much I would expect to pay if I bought these same things, from the same places, now.)
Made before: This is my third time. (With variations, of course.)
Make again: Probably I'll wait a while again, but it's a shirtwaist dress, so eventually, I'm sure, yeah. But good god, not with those pleats.
Sewing soundtrack: No idea. It's been quite a while.
First worn: Not yet; just for photos.
Wear again: Yes.
Total cost: $2.00

Thanks again to Debi for putting this all together. Is it to early to say looking forward to 2015?

March 1, 2014

And We Have A Winner!

Actually, three winners.

I'll start with the two Sew Grateful Week giveaways. And thanks to everyone who visited the blog and entered to win!

Since I don't have a cute pet to pick from a hat for me, I just numbered all the comments in order of receipt and used the random number generator at random.org. The 60s giveaway had more entries, so I drew for that first, and the winner is...

And for the 70s giveaway, the winner is...

Congrats, both of you! I have emailed you both, but in case for some reason it doesn't get through, please get in touch with me at bringmesummer . email @ gmail . com--I need to know your mailing address, as well as which pattern you'd like from my Etsy shop. (And, if you didn't win, remember that the 10% off code--SGW2014--is still good through Monday.)

The third winner is the winner of the Miss Bossy Patterns voting for the Monthly Stitch. Again, thanks to everyone who visited and voted. The voting was fairly close between the top two patterns, but looks like I'll be making up Simplicity 3260 this month.
Now to pick the fabric...

February 25, 2014

Sew Grateful Week: Reflections on a Quiet Life

This is a difficult post for me to write. And it's maybe a bit depressing. I didn't intend to write quite this--it's just what came out. I'm actually a little afraid to post it (I don't totally think I should), but I'm going to anyway. Right now.

So. Reflecting on what the online sewing community means to me--well, I've never been very good at participating in community, either online or in real life. I'm a shy introvert, and it's hard. I know some people who're shy in real life do very well with online interactions. I'm not like that, though. It's just as difficult for me. I'm very concerned about giving the wrong impression, so I often don't say anything at all.

I should be more active, in my own blog as well as in the community overall--and that means leaving comments, participating in forums, linking and cross-posting. That's all a struggle for me. Especially in something that has become as large a part of my identity as sewing--I don't want to damage that. I'm also a compulsive worrier--seriously, everything possible to worry about, it is there, in my head, right now. I've never had a single negative experience from anyone in the online sewing community (or anyone offline, sewing-related, to be honest), but I'm constantly worried--what if I somehow mess up, say the wrong thing (or even the right thing in the wrong way)? And I'm reluctant to comment if I don't feel I have anything new to say or add to the conversation. But then I also don't want to be the first person to say something.

February 24, 2014

It's February, So I Made Shorts.

As I mentioned earlier, I've been wanting to take part in the Monthly Stitch for a while. This is the first month I've done it--and I'm even more excited for next month's challenge. (If you haven't voted on a pattern for me yet, please do here!)

The February theme was sewing pants. And... I kind of did. I mean, shorts count, right? At the very least, I'll count these as a pants muslin--because I'd certainly make one before sewing something with as much fitting necessary as trousers or jeans, and I see no reason to waste fabric making full-length legs on a garment that I'm really only making for the purpose of fitting my crotch. You know? But I'll be honest--I have no real desire to sew (or wear) long pants, anyway. So these are really probably just a shorts muslin. Because, for the two weeks a year it's warm enough for them, I do kind of love shorts.
So I made these things. I'd been meaning to for quite a while, intending to use this fabric for my shorts practice run. And this fabric... oh, my. I did actually buy it myself. Several years ago, for some reason, I decided I wanted a very loud, late sixties-style mini shift dress with a slight A-line. Actually, "very loud" may not have been part of the initial description, but I remember that at some point during fabric shopping, I decided that with the style of the dress, and for it to look more authentic, it might as well be. So I wound up with this. And I did actually wear the dress several times. But I never liked how it fit--shifts don't suit me--and it was shorter than I was comfortable with, and, oh, right, the print. This print is, unquestionably, several thousand times louder than anything else I own. Even when I bought it, it was a stretch. And now--well, even if the fit was absolutely perfect, I wouldn't wear it as a dress.
See. It was a dress. Really.
Shorts seem somehow less offensive/obtrusive (they can be tempered by a solid top, I suppose; I mean the picture below looks almost normal) and there was also the fact that I could make a muslin without feeling guilty about wasting good fabric (which is often why I skip making muslins... and therefore wind up wasting good fabric making things that don't fit anyway...) so I cut the dress up and made these.

I started with Simplicity 3435 and made some changes (in addition to the fitting ones)--moved the zipper from the side to the front, added pockets, and dropped the waist a couple inches. Next time, I'll make the waist either even lower or put it back at the original height. Aesthetically, I'm fine with where the waist is, but it puts the pocket openings right over my super-prominent hipbones, which unfortunately makes the pockets pretty much non-functional.) I cut the legs/inseam exactly as they were on the pattern, though, and was pleasantly surprised with how much I liked the length. In the future, I'll cut a little longer because I like cuffs, but this is the length I'd probably cuff them to.

pattern and book
For fitting, I have several sewing books and they all have sections on fitting pants (except for one, which apparently is so old that women didn't wear--or at least sew--pants yet, because they aren't even mentioned). Those are fine and good, but I decided to go with this book I have that's specifically and exclusively about sewing and fitting pants--Sewing Pants for Women by Else Tyroler. I actually read the whole thing before I started--it's only about 60 pages. And full of illustrations that are hilarious.

I do think it was helpful, although there are still a few fitting changes I'd like to make before I make these again. One weird thing--the shorts felt spot-on fit-wise when I tried them on before attaching the waistband, but something about putting the band on messed up the fit overall. (And I'm sure I didn't it too short--the waistband itself fits great; since I pieced it the sides even curve exactly.) Wearing the completed shorts, they do fit and I can move freely and everything, but I feel like they'd be perfect if I'd sewn all the seams maybe 1/8" wider.

Now that I'm thinking about it more, I realize it wouldn't really be that difficult to unpick and resew with the slightly smaller seam allowance. I'll probably do that at some point--maybe when it's closer to summer. Although, I also have a big project which I've been doing everything I possibly can to avoid for the last several weeks, so maybe I'll fix them tomorrow...

side full
Overall, I'm happy. These aren't the most comfortable garment I own, and even if they were, they won't get much wear, even in the summer, thanks to the print. But I managed to fit a pair of shorts to my body pretty well, and I've got a good muslin, pattern, and notes for next time I want to try something similar. And, best of all, aside from the fifty cents (yes, really) that I paid for the pattern, these cost me nothing at all, and took only the space of an afternoon to make.

Here are a couple more detail shots: 
front cu
The front.
back cu
And the back (though I could barely tell--the print is so crazy).
Since it was a muslin, I just did a regular lapped zipper instead of an actual fly. They're basically the same thing anyway, though, right?
Pocket detail (as seen from the outside).
pocket open
Another pocket detail--this is the inside of the pocket, seen from the outside (i.e. looking into the open pocket).
And here's what the insides look like (pocket on the right). You can kind of see my very favorite thing about the project here: I took advantage of the multi-coloredness of the fabric to use up all the little ends of thread I had accumulated on bobbins from previous projects. There were ten different colors of thread used to sew these shorts. Yesss.
And I'll finish with the project details:
Fabric: I don't even know what to call this print, but the fabric is 100% cotton, probably meant for quilting, little to no stretch. I originally bought it at Cool Cottons, but it was a dress for several years in between then and now, so I'm counting it as free. The orange pocket lining is also scrap cotton from my stash.
Pattern: Simplicity 3435, $0.50 from SCRAP
Year: early 1960s?
Notions: zipper, hook and eye, both stash.
Made before: nope.
Make again: with a few changes, as outlined above, yes.
Sewing soundtrack: New Pornographers (again)
First worn: not yet; just for photos
Wear again: we'll see.
Total cost: $0.50