Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Oh Butterick, why do you mislead me?!

I completed my first shirt Monday evening, and wore it last night for the photoshoot Daniel was doing (I was the dutiful assistant/packhorse/prop master)! It was wonderful, light, breezy, and very comfy...even though I have a decently sized bone to pick with Butterick.

This was a "Fast & Easy" pattern, and it lived up to it's name. The directions, however, left something to be desired. I know, I know, I'm supposed to be smarter than the directions, but let's face it...I can't always be perfect, right? My biggest frustration was something I should have caught if I had read ahead. When attaching the facing to the neckline, the directions had me trim away the seam allowance,
then informed me that I was supposed to understitch the seam allowance to the facing. Interesting idea, Butterick. How exactly was I supposed to stitch 1/16" seam allowance to the facing??? I couldn't come up with a way to make that happen, so I edge stitched (1/16" from the seam) through the front, seams allowance, and facing...three times before I was satisfied with the outcome (that equals a LOT of seam ripping with a seriously dull seam ripper and a very unhappy me).

I'm new with the stretchy materials (this was a light weight matte jersey), and couldn't quite get the edge stitching through all those layers without stretching it (perhaps I need to learn more about this stretch stitch I've read about?), so the neck and facing still lay a little funny, but I think it would have been just fine if I could have under stitched the facing. My other big issue is that along a couple of the pleats' seams, the stitching is pulling through the fabric...not quite sure how.

Another thing I tried to figure out, with no success, was a way to put a tighter (not tight, just not draping) strip of fabric on the inside across the bust to keep the gathers from falling into the anti-cleavage area that some "well-endowed" women, such as myself, somehow have. I just wanted to attach a strip of fabric (about 4" wide) across the front, starting just below the arm holes on both sides, to act as a nice barrier so an undershirt wouldn't be necessary. Unfortunately, no matter how I tried it, that strip would pull the shirt and make the armholes pucker. So, I wore the undershirt.
In the future, I'll know to under stitch before trimming, and I know that 100% against the narrow hem the pattern calls for. It would have looked light years better with a 1" hem or a nice band. I have fabric for another, and I think I'll try out a nice 3" band at the bottom.

I'm also contemplating making one for my sister's birthday to go with the skirt I made her. I made it out of a nice "linen look" blend that was light and soft, perfect for a long casual skirt in a Georgia summer! I wanted the skirt to be very finished looking, and I may have gone overboard with my French seams all around and a top stitched hem, but I like it. That particular fabric, however, informed me that I have a thing or two to learn about pressing, so I've been reading up. I did follow the directions in my Top Fashion book for the zipper (keyed it and everything) and am pretty happy with how it turned out. If I had the paper backed fusible webbing it called for, I think it might have been perfect! All I can say now is if she doesn't like it, I gladly accept returns.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Research Underway

I had an eye-opening experience last week. Thanks to 5 months of unending problems with our cable service (TV, phone, internet...and I try to work from home), we made some changes and were expecting to be without a connection to the outside world for one evening...scary, right? As it would turn out, the sales rep we talked to was completely and utterly clueless, and our cable was turned off at 3:30pm Thursday and the technician didn't come out to re-install until 4pm Saturday. Yes kids, that's 48 hours with no TV, internet, or other words, painful. Under different circumstances, that would have been unpleasant, but tolerable. We had tornado warnings on and off and flash flood warnings constantly - needless to say, enjoying the out of doors was out of the question; we had been left under the impression that a technician could call us to come anytime Friday or Saturday, so no leaving the house until after 8pm. Needless to say, we didn't know what to do with ourselves!

The house is cleaner and we tackled some lingering projects...and I believe I plugged in my iPod and bopped around the house for a couple hours. One of my projects was creating patterns for all of my bags that I designed so I had an idea how much fabric I would need. I whipped together smaller, to-scale sketches of the pattern layouts and scooted to Hancock Thursday evening (since we weren't expecting anyone just yet and they were having their semi-annual clearance!) to grab some fabric. I can honestly say I had no idea it would be so hard to pick out fabrics (and the matching liners!!), but the task just about defeated me. At last, I had a variety picked out for a large handful of the bags (and a couple other pieces of fabric for some some tops I wanted to make - 60% the Value Fashion fabrics?!? How can you pass that up?), grabbed the zippers and thread, and headed home. I held off on buttons and handles...I think I had enough going through my head.

I still only had my mini-patterns since I hadn't decided the best path to take creating real patterns, and started contemplating how to move forward. That, of course, led me to the bookstore. Daniel and I spent an hour browsing in Barnes and Noble (he was looking at programming books, I was looking at sewing books) until it surprisingly closed on us (anyone else think that B&N closed at 11, not 10 o'clock?). At the 15 minute announcement, I still hadn't quite found what I was looking for, so I wrote down the information on all the other books I grabbed to look them up on Amazon if/when I ever got internet again.

We suffered through most of Saturday, then rejoiced in the returning of glorious cable that evening by playing with our new On Demand feature and looking up the lists of things we'd wondered about while without internet (what did people do before the internet when they had those little, unimportant, curious questions that just nag at you until you find out the answer??). I looked up the books and, after reading reviews and other suggestions, decided on two to buy:

So far I've received the High Fashion one and have only browsed the seams chapter, but I LOVE it! The illustrations are wonderful and make the instructions actually make sense! Plus, the little "Sewing Secrets" will be very useful. I'm attempting to be patient and read the books (at least the majority of them) before I start making my purses since I really want them to be quality.

Daniel and I are trying to figure out a good way to rearrange our spare room/my office into also being a functioning sewing area. We're thinking a good futon instead of a full bed, he's going to make me a convertible sewing table that I can make into whatever I need, but still fold down to just being big enough to hold the sewing machine when not in use, and some good storage! I also want to put a "project board" up somewhere so I can keep track of my plans :)

I also have the skirt for my sister's birthday present on the docket, but it should be a breeze since I'm using the same pattern I used before - just with more finished seams and hems. I prewashed the fabric today and think I'll get cutting tonight!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Rested and Ready to Go!

I'm back from my extended break, feeling rested and ready to hit the ground running. All of my clothes were wonderful for the honeymoon, and the travel-document-organizer-thing was a lifesaver. The wedding was beautiful, the honeymoon a dream, and I've had plenty of time to get the wheels turning for my next project.

A good friend of mine is going back to grad school this fall, and I decided I would make her a great custom bag (for books, laptop, and a purse double) for school. This, of course, sucked me down the path of "how can I make this into a job so I don't have to keep doing what I am?" and I landed me at the crossroads of Wishful Thinking Way and Getting Ahead of Myself Boulevard, planning out a line of purses/wallets/bags to make and sell (not to mention the idea floating around in the back of my head to create clothing and bridal accessory lines as well). So, all a twitter with my new and exciting idea, I began the planning process (my favorite!).

The Seedling line currently consists of designs for: 1 messenger bag, 9 purses, 2 clutches, 1 laptop bag, 7 wallets, and 1 wristlet. I decided to hold up a little on the designing side and crack down on drawing up some patterns since Hancock is having their semiannual clearance sale later this week and I want to know how much fabric I need for each project so I can scoop it up on sale. It's been challenging, but a lot of fun - although, I am finding that I will need to buy plenty of erasers ;).

I also have a logo drawn up that Daniel is going to help me make look better with InDesign, and hopefully then I can figure out how to use the scanner for the embroidery on my fancy-schmancy sewing machine to make labels.

I got to "Seedling" from the name of my blog and the hopes that this project will be the start of something exciting. Then in my daydreaming, I thought of some names for my "other" lines that are waiting to take shape:

Lily Grass: A line of casual, comfortable, yet trendy clothes centering around earth tones.
Lady Slipper: A line of simple, yet elegant bridal accessories such as veils, custom corsets (good ones that are comfortable), garters (Mom's hand knit garters are welcome, too!), penny in your shoe holder.
Dahlia or Black Orchid (can't decide): A line of evening wear that livens a classic look with a hint of trendy flair. From cocktail dresses to evening gowns.

In Chicago this past weekend, I had a great time window shopping down The Magnificent Mile. Plenty of ideas bouncing around in my head thanks to those wonderful designer displays!

So without further ado, my plan is to create this line of purses/wallets/bags (and do it WELL!) and hopefully sell them at some craft shows to start...we'll see where it ends up!