Saturday, August 29, 2009

I Actually Sew Something

I haven't been sewing a lot lately because, frankly, I've been dating. I had forgotten how much time that takes out of your life! But I finally had a whole Saturday just to sew, and I got inspired to make a wool circle skirt. Yesterday, I wore the yellow dress to work:I realized I hadn't worn it all summer, and summer is waning fast. This is my tried and true bodice with a circle skirt from this dress pattern:

I got compliments on it all day long from both friends and strangers (thanks to the woman in Panera who told me how much she liked it!), so you'll have to believe me when I say it looks better on me than on the hanger. I had forgotten how much fun it is to wear a circle skirt, so I decided I needed to make just the skirt with a waistband from a beautiful piece of wool I have had aging in my stash from 2003. I got it at The Fabric Place outside of Boston which has now gone out of business. I still had the write up the saleslady gave me: 3 yards of 60 inch wide wool at $9.99 a yard. It is a dark, dark blue, with a very subtle plaid to it and has such a wonderful hand, it could slip through the proverbial ring.
I spent some time laying out the fabric so the sides would match up horizontally. I laid the excess fabric over my ironing board so the fabric wouldn't stretch as I cut it out.

The width of this fabric was just barely enough to eek out this skirt. As soon as I cut it out, I put painters tape on the wrong side of the garment pieces because it is a great way to keep the right side and the wrong side differentiated until you get it put together:

I ended up putting in a black zipper instead of a navy one because the fabric was just so dark. Here you can see the difference:

Circle skirts are generally easy because there are no darts, and very little fitting other than the waist. But for some reason this skirt took me nearly all day.

Blogger is aggravating me and won't let me move my photos around, but you can see from the photos up top that I used my serger to finish the seam allowances, even though the thread didn't remotely match, but I figured no one was going to be looking at my seam allowances. Also, you can see the horizontal plaid matching at the side seams. I used my walking foot to sew the side seams. I used a button as my closure rather than a snap, mostly because I can get my sewing machine to do the buttonhole AND sew on the button automatically, while the snap closure requires actually hand sewing. And we don't want that.
I used bias tape to hem a la Summerset, as I did for the silk dress and it worked well. I tried the walking foot to sew the machine hem, but that didn't work very well and went back to the regular foot. Circle skirts are a PITA to hem, though, just because the hem goes on forever and ever. I considered lining this skirt, but that was going to require me to hem the lining as well, I decided I would just wear a slip instead.
I was aiming for a 29 1/2 waist for this skirt, but it ended up being nearly 30 inches. Don't know how that happened since I clearly marked 29 1/2 inches on my waistband, but there you go. That extra 1/2 inch will probably come in handy this winter when I am tucking in sweaters. I have discovered that the trick to wearing circle skirts is to wear them with closely fitting tops. If you don't, you look shapeless.
One last note, I cut the waistband on the bias. I do this for all my wool skirts ever since a Korean lady in Massachusetts told me to do this because it would make my waistbands lay closer to the body. I don't know if it is true, but I like the bias effect on my plaid skirts and I don't have to worry about matching the plaid with the skirt.
Bring on Fall!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Crab Dress Goes to London!

I spent last week in London; business for me, but a vacation for my mother, who hadn't visited in fifty years! Of course, the Crab Dress had to go too, and on our first full day there, we headed over to the Victoria & Albert Museum which is my absolutely favorite museum in London: The V&A is dedicated to art and design, which includes fashion. Mother and I enjoyed the wardrobe displays of women's dresses and suits from the 1600s to the present day, as well as the history of the man's suit. I always hit the V&A on every visit to London, and if you go I heartily recommend it. I have never been able to see the entire museum as I always begin with the fashion collection. My next favorite collection is the British furnishings displays from the 1500s to the 1700s. Just let me live there and sleep in the Bed of Ware!
The museum also has an excellent cafe and a paddling pool which the British used because they thought 76 degrees was hot:

We were exceedingly blessed with excellent weather, the better to show off Big Ben:
We went to the British Museum as well, near our hotel:

Is this not the most stunning museum you have ever seen? I was able to see the Rosetta Stone, one of my goals in life, along with an excellent Egyptian collection which included several mummies. As my mother said, "The British really know how to do a museum." And it is all free.
We stayed near the Covent Garden area and went to a restaurant one night that is decorated to look like the theatre itself:
Apparently, the restaurant has live opera singing every Sunday and Monday nights, but fortunately we missed that and just had a quiet meal instead.
No fabric shopping for me all week; I was tempted to go to Liberty's to shop for Liberty fabrics, but I've been there before and I have decided I am just too bourgeois to pay that much money for cotton fabric. (Now silk - silk is a different story!) It was a great trip, and I won't bore you with too many photos, but London is a city you could go to year after year and never see it all. Still, it is good to be home!
Parting Shot: One of the most moving experiences of the trip: a group of the blind were visiting the Battle of Britain Memorial and were feeling the relief sculpture:

Friday, August 7, 2009

London Calling!

I'm off to London for a week on business - Mother is coming with me; she hasn't been in London since she was twenty years old. I think she will have a better time that me!

I'll post when I get back - I think the Crab Dress is going . . .

Saturday, August 1, 2009

A Sewing Angel Gets Her Wings!

This week I was lucky enough to give my friend, Aimee, her first sewing lesson. (That's her on the right.) I usually start off with a pillowcase for a first time sewer, but Aimee could already sew a seam and had operated a sewing machine, plus she had bought enough fabric at our LQS for five skirts, and a skirt is what she wanted to make. So we made this one, McCalls 3341, which is a good choice for a first skirt, and I've made many times. Simple, 4 darts, no waistband:
We made view D, the above the knee version. This skirt usually takes me 3 hours to make. We made it in 4 hours on Wednesday night, which is pretty good for a first time sewer. She did a great job:
The fabric she chose is an upholstery weight twill, which was a dream to work with. I didn't note the designer, but we both loved it. Here is the back and you can see what a great job she did on the darts, the waist and the zipper:

Strangely enough, I am the one wearing the skirt in these photos. Aimee wanted me to model the skirt while she took the photos once we finished! The best part about teaching her to sew is that she and I are the exact same size, so alterations are not even an issue. I showed her how to put in the zipper according to my zipper tutorial and she was surprised how easy it was.
Aimee wore the skirt to work on Friday with a brown sweater and looked great. My plan was to take her photo in the skirt, but of course, I forgot to bring my camera to work. She enthusiastically wants to make her next skirt Monday night.
Aimee and I played with my new serger on this skirt and used it to finish the seam allowances. It was a LOT of fun and Aimee was really fascinated with the serger.
This morning, however, I started the day slowly. I finally decided an easy project was the way to go. My friend, Kevin, turns 30 years old on Monday, so I made him some boxer shorts as a gift:
I used some quilting fabric manufactured by Alexander Henry that was left over from a shirt I made my friend Glen a few years ago. I was able to play with my new serger with this project:

As usual, I put in a button on the fly, rather than a snap because I think it looks nicer:

I used this pattern, Simplicity 9958 which I have shown you before:

I think Kevin is spending the weekend celebrating, so he'll get these when/if he returns to work next week!
Last week I spent the weekend at the beach at the bay in Mathews County:

It was really beautiful and really relaxing. The backyard of the house I stayed:

The shell of a horseshoe crab:

The New Point Comfort Lighthouse in the distance:

More sand:

Parting Shot: The Crab Dress goes to the beach! Like I would leave it at home . . .