January 23, 2008

Tshirt Muslins...ad nauseum....

I am whining. I now don't like making muslins. I don't like it when they don't fit, and I don't like it when I don't like what I see in the photograph, even when I think it is close enough in real life.
I gave up on my PMB t shirt pattern. I couldn't make it fit. I tried. Really, I tried--but the side seams are too straight and the non-dart fit is just terrible on me. I drafted it with 1" of ease, and took out 4" total at the bust before I gave up, and switched to a different pattern. I've had this problem before--not often, but often enough that I get frustrated with the program, and switch to something else. Usually, it gets 'closer' than this, though. Not perfect (perfect is a pipe dream--I would actually settle for a more shaped side seam, however). To be totally fair, I did not use Curves to draft the tshirt pattern--and I probably would have gotten better results if I had started there because it does start with a more shaped side seam. But, honestly. As close as this is, it is just not good enough. I feel frumpy in this--and considering that this is muslin number 5 (or, was it 6?), that is not good enough. It does get all my stash sewn, but not one of those muslins is actually wearable in real life. I even made a slightly see through one that, well, someone else will be happy wearing.
So, I switched to a different pattern. A free, downloadable pattern from Burdastyle( http://www.burdastyle.com/) the Lydia pattern, which is a basic, long sleeved tshirt with a scooped neck with facing. I cut it a lot smaller on the shoulders (a 38) and a 42 on the sideseams. I shorted it a lot--the standard petite changes, including above the armhole. The first muslin was pretty close, except it was about an inch too wide all the way down the front. I used it to mark neckline choices. The second muslin was wearable, and became a (now missing in action) mock turtleneck tshirt. It was really stretchy fabric, though, not really a good muslin kind of fabric, but it is comfortable and I like wearing it. It was one of those 'I need to make something wearable' desperation pieces.
This is a picture of muslin number 3, made of a definitely NOT stretchy knit. It has no give whatsoever, but it was in the stash, and I am using up the stash. This picture of the front without sleeves or facings or hem is a lot better than the pink one. I still need a sway back adjustment, and some more hem leveling (mostly in the back), but this is a lot better than anything I got from my pmb pattern, sad to say.
Still, I don't like the process of muslins, particularly when you don't have any more muslin, and are on a 'sewing diet'. On the good side, I now have 5 empty cardboard bolts. At this rate, I will sew down the piles around the shelves by March Break. I have a couple of tshirts that fit well enough to wear in public. Not perfect, but close enough. And, this is close enough that I can sew some of the other fabric that I want for my Swap, after a couple of more muslins. But, I hate muslins. My black bag for Salvation Army is getting full.
Maybe, just maybe, I will get a few tshirts that I like out of this course. I finished this one into a scoop neck, cap sleeved tshirt for working out in. It fits well enough for that. I figure another two or three muslins will do it. But, I am tired of making muslins that are not even suitable for the black bag of doom! Eventually, I will be making up some doubled front tshirts for my Timmel Swap, when I finally get a pattern that I am happy with. I have a couple of nice strech laces that could use two layers in in the front and back. I also plan to make a nice crossover top that ties on one side from another stash fabric. I have plans. But, my plans did not include making 14 muslins before I got a good enough tshirt pattern! Ugh.

January 19, 2008

New Year's resolution--what resolution?

I had this bright idea that I would stop buying fabric and start sewing more, and so reduce my stash. Well, the sewing is happening, but the not buying--I laugh in my direction. (My husband does not.) I lasted 19 days. Today, I came home with 6 m pink linen/cotton that matches my swirl print dress, a wild purple/teal/grey/black knit for a cross-over top, a pink and white stretch gingham that matches the pink linen, and the rest of the bolt of the the navy stretch to complete my navy suit. I have worn those pants a lot, and really want to have a proper jacket to go with them.

On the good side, I am sewing more. This week, I sewed 12 head kerchiefs for my daughter's pirate party, a few more corn bag covers, and 6 t shirt muslins for my t shirt course. So, I am sewing some of it up, and you can almost put the fabric away on the shelves (which is really the objective of the exercise). I sewed up two fancied up duvet-type quilts, from my thinsulate stash, and a lot of fabric. That used up at least 14 m of fabric, since I made some matching pillow cases for the duvets.

Patterns, though, are my downfall. I purchased 7 new patterns last night. That and the half price of the clearance price on the Fabricland sale for members day. I only spent $38 for my four pieces of fabric, so it was worth the trip, because I think I now have everything I need for my wardrobe. Not that you ever really have enough fabric for your wardrobe. But, I do want to actually be able to sew it up, and put it all away, too.

One of the patterns I purchased was this Vogue:

I'm thinking that this might be the jacket for my Swap, in the pink linen, underlined with pink batiste. Not sure, but I really like the jacket, and I have lots of those buckles in my stash.

The next challenge: to see if I can actually go three weeks without shopping at all. Maybe then I will really get some sewing done.

January 14, 2008

Swap Part 1--The Wardrobe pattern bits

I decided to sew the wardrobe pattern pieces first, to get them out of the way since they would require the most fitting. Here are some pictures:

Top 1: Black bathing suit lycra print, with some glow in the dark grey that is barely visible in the picture. My copious stash is visible in the background, bolted and sorted by person/colour group.

The black sparkle top is a Swap wardrobe 'extra' at this point--it is a painted on sparkle slinky that is really comfortable to wear. I wore it to a party on Saturday night, with the pants and a sweater. Comfortable, and pretty. I may wimp and use the sweater as my 'bought' piece, since it works with everything so far. We will see.

The dress is a wild print, edged in my black stretch lace that is becoming my 'domino' element. The black and white top has it, too, around the neck.

The black slinky pants are done, but in need of more than a hanger shot. They turned into a frankenpattern more than anything else. I made the pattern into a one seam pant with no side seams, since the fabric was slinky, and it is just too easy to get the shrinkage issue in the seams of slinky. The bolt of teal on the bottom of the image is the next fabric I am thinking of using, along with plum purple, black crepe, white slinky and white stretch lace.

Last: a tip about hemming the dress:
The Jalie crossover top pattern suggests hemming knits by folding in the traditional hem manner, and then stitching it using a wide and long zigzag stitch that just barely goes into the folded edge. I honestly thought they were pulling my leg--but I tried it, and it looks great, my machine doesn't stretch out the hem on slinky fabrics. On my Bernina, I set the stitch width to just over 3, and put the needle position to the far right hand side, stitching barely into the fold of the fabric. With a perfectly matching thread, you really cannot see the hem. Cool. I always wanted to know a better way to hem slinky.

January 13, 2008

New Year's Resolutions, and SWAP

I've been doing more sewing than knitting for the last month or 'sew'. The Timmel SWAP has started, and I've been preparing , and now sewing, for that since about the middle of December. Eleven garments (1 jacket, 4 bottoms, 4 tops, 2 dresses) cut and sewn between January 1 and April 11. Then, pictures have to be taken and submitted. There is a possible prize, but everyone who makes it to the finish wins a pattern--that is my goal right now. Well, that and a finished wardrobe that actually works for my lifestyle, and my colouring.

Some links to check out about the SWAP concept:
SWAP sewing information from Timmel
The article that stared it all
More wardrobing articles

The actual sewing doesn't stress me out as much as the story board plan and the final pictures. Story boards are supposed to keep you focused on the task at hand, producing a wardrobe that works well together in colour, fabric and shape. These ladies have developed the story board to a fine art, using photo-shop and other programs to make beautifully intricate boards. They are posted to admire here. I've planned and changed at least 4 versions of my wardrobe, but I am slowly but surely sewing something, so hopefully by the end of February, I will have a more settled plan of attack. The more low tech board appeals to me right now: fabric swatches, patterns and hanging jewelry, pictures of shoes and handbags that go with the swap, etc. pinned onto a plain cork board. At this point, I would get too involved in the planning, and not spend enough time just sewing. With 9 weeks to go, that could be a problem.

There is always a twist to make SWAP more challenging. This year's twist (making 3 different garments from one 'wardrobe type' pattern) did stress me out (thus the 4 versions problem) until I found this Maggie London pattern from Butterick. I waffled about a lot of other patterns, but this one is cute, current, and works with my body shape and current lifestyle, always a plus. Dressier wash and wear is good.

So far, I have made the top, dress, and kind of morphed the pants pattern into a one seam version. It took a bit of work to make it look flattering below the knot. There is a lot of extra fabric in the 'knot' portion of the top and dress that give you this belly pouch if it isn't removed. You can see it, slightly, on the model, but it is pretty clear in the line drawings. I took the extra fabric out. It took a couple of muslins to get the fit right, but once it is, you can just sit and sew. I think the pattern is worth working at to get it right, particularly since it does come in a wide size range, and larger ladies have challenges finding great patterns like this, but others might find the process of multiple muslins frustrating.

What is making SWAP more challenging is that I have decided to use STASH. In fact, I have gone on a fabric buying semi-moratorium. I had to go on a moratorium, since I'm having trouble walking in the sewing room. I have to sew 10 items before I can spend $20 on anything sewing related. My husband suggested that I use the ratio of $1/m fabric used up (which I might actually try, we will see). I'm hanging out for $2/m, which is the cheapest replacement cost, but the point is really to use what I have with is copious. Overflowing beyond reason. I refuse to count up the number of meters of fabric I actually have; other sewers do not have rolls of lining hanging around, and each of those rolls has more than 100 m lining on them. So, no counting until I can actually see the shelves, not the piles in front of the shelves. This means I have to use up the piles lying around the room, which is good. The other part of this moratorium is that every 3rd garment or item has to be for someone else. I sew a lot for me--this is forcing me to share the wealth.

I'm also taking the 'Build a better T-Shirt course' on Sewing pattern Review. I will be able to use the variations from my t-shirt in my wardrobe, when I get something that fits. I used all my muslin up yesterday trying to get my 'pre-T-shirt muslin' to fit correctly; I went through 5 m of fabric on just muslins, yesterday. Now I'm working on fabric 'bits' that might work for the pattern, but they aren't muslin. I think I have a 'woven t-shirt muslin' that works that I can post to the class board (or at least, this muslin is a lot closer than the first 4 versions, anyway). But, it isn't really getting my SWAP sewing done.