Friday, May 28, 2010

Tucked + Smock = Smucked shirt?

Wow, the whole month of May is almost gone. I realized when I logged in to start writing this post that there's a half-written one from two weeks ago when I wanted to write about having gone to some local fabric shops in Somerville and Cambridge... I will sum it up here: cheap and beautiful fabrics, one store well organized with cute quinceanera tiaras on display and the other like something out of Hoarders. Like, I was afraid that the fabric (crazy long pile neon pink tiger fur! shrek green sequins! beautiful white flocked cotton lawn! all piled to the ceiling!) was at any point going to topple and smother me. Luckily I was shopping with a friend, because I don't think the employees would ever have heard or found me in that barely lit shop.

Despite my criticism of the second shop, I bought this light weight teal poplin, and two other shirtings. I decided against making the jersey top that I was considering in this post because when I traced out the pattern I realized that it called for a facing in the neckline. I hate sewing facings into knit shirts, hate it, so that was an easy decision. I made the shirt with the tucked bib inset instead. It fits really well in the shoulders and is very loose from the bust down. It turns out that there were a few surprises.
It's got 4 tucks in the back, which with the gathers under the bib in front make this a pretty voluminous shirt. These tucks are each 5/8", which isn't clear from the pattern markings.

In this second picture you can see I pulled another Paul Smith button trick. I had only 4 white ball buttons and then used a clear ball button for the collar. You see the front band below the bib? This was the next surprise for me... it's supposed to be a hidden button placket. Well, I'm not about to make more buttonholes than I need to or hunt down more buttons than I have to. So I sewed the bands together with topstitching, the shirt's loose enough that you can pull it over your head so long as you unbutton most of the buttons on top.

And then, the biggest surprise which I'm not sure was operator error or a problem with the pattern draft. In the teal shirt, the bib didn't have enough seam allowance around the edge to set straight into the shirt front. You can see my wobbly seam at the corners. Somehow on my muslin, I'd managed to not only set it in straight with enough seam allowance but do a french seam! I think if I were to make another one of these shirts I would cut the bib with just a little extra around the edges to make sure that I can set it in straight, because it was really tricky to do this without getting the tucks caught in the seam.

edited to add: This is #124 from the March 2010 Burda issue.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Seamstress' remorse

If you're like me, sometimes you'll buy something and bring it home and realize it's not really want you wanted. It's known as buyer's remorse. Luckily you can bring it back to the store and exchange it for something more suitable or get your money back. Not so with sewing! How many times have you charged ahead with a project, cutting into a piece of awesome fabric to make a garment that doesn't fit quite right, doesn't drape the way you want to, or just doesn't look the way you thought it would based on the pattern photo? Enter in, seamstress' remorse! This has happened to me so many times that I get a little gunshy about cutting into my fabric. I hate making muslins, but I've learned that this is the only way not to feel that pit in my stomach over having used a lovely piece of fabric for something that is only so-so.

Of course, I could argue that there are many other reasons why I sew; I enjoy the creative process, it is instantly rewarding in ways that my day-to-day job is not, I now have a wardrobe of clothes that fit me unlike what I can buy in a store. My sewing regret has more to do with the opportunity cost of having used a piece of fantastic fabric for something less than desirable. It's rarely about the lost time in the process (I've recently learned that if there is something I don't really want to sew, I should just buy it... Dear Reader, I bought a suit after much mulling over what kind of suit to sew and realizing that I'd rather just sew cute casual clothing) but the thought that I could have used that lovely fabric to make this other awesome thing.

Why this deep and digging post today? I traced off two patterns from the March 2010 Burda issue. The first is 118b, a loose fitting top that is made up in a jersey. I am a little leery of this pattern because it looks completely different on the model than it does in the garment photo. See?
Interesting draping going on with the model...
Kind of blah unworn.

I am thinking to make this up in a light and drapey DVFesque print. Here is DVF's Asher Tiger dress, my fabric has similar print but is cotton weave instead of silk jersey.
I've traced out the pattern, made petite adjustments, and now have cold feet. Does this happen to you too? A little hesitancy when it comes to project commitment, no matter how small?

In other news, the other top I've traced out is 124, which I plan to make from a poly sheer that's been in my stash for a few years. I think it will be the perfect summer top for work.