Word of the Day!

Word of the Day

Monday, June 30, 2008

Not sewing

I haven't posted anything lately because I haven't been doing any sewing since I finished the shirt dress. I wore it to the Frontiers in Writing Conference in Amarillo a couple of weeks ago, and since then I've been concentrating on my writing instead of sewing!

I found a local writer's group, which is the most exciting thing to come out of the conference. It will be so nice to be able to "talk writing" with someone again. I haven't had much of that in the last couple of years.

Brandon and I have also started putting a new roof on our house - there was a big hail storm that pretty much demolished the shingles, so we're going with a metal roof now. It's red. I'll have to repaint the shutters (the faux shutters) on the front of the house to match. Why is it that roofing and fencing always have to be done in the summer, when it is entirely too hot to be out doing things?

I did sew something yesterday. I hemmed a pair of pants, because they were about three inches too long. I used to not mind long pants, and just dragged my hems through the mud and wore them out, but now it bothers me.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Adding Side Seam Pockets to a Garment Without a Waistband

I will try to explain as clearly as I can how I put the pockets into my McCall's 2016 shirt dress. I've included some quick illustrations I worked up in Paint. They are meant to be only rough approximations of the pattern shapes.

Adult pockets are pretty much one-size-fits-all. The easiest method of getting a pocket pattern piece for your pattern that does not have one is to take one from another pattern that incorporates side seam pockets. The pockets I added to one of my husband's jackets came from a woman's robe pattern. The pockets I put onto the shirt dress came from another dress.

The pattern piece should be shaped something like this :

If it looks like the piece below, with the flattened top portion, it is meant to go into a garment with a waistband. I think you could just trace it and eliminate the top flattened portion (as the blue dotted line illustrates) with no harm done.

To determine the correct placement of the pockets in my dress, I guestimated a little. I measured from the approximate point the underarm seam was going to hit on my body to where the a pocket would be comfortable for me. Then I folded in the bust dart in on the pattern piece and measured down the same distance, making a new notch to mark the pocket placement. To make a matching notch on the back pattern piece, I measured from the notch that the pattern company put under the armscye (for matching front and back when sewing the side seam) to the new notch I'd made, and made the new notch on the back pattern piece the same distance below the existing notch on the back pattern piece.

Cut FOUR pocket pieces. Pocket pieces are sewn to dress pieces BEFORE the side/underarm seams have been sewn.

Right sides together, match the top point of the pocket pieces with the notches you made for pocket placement. Sew at the seam line (represented by blue dots). You should end up with fabric pieces that have the general shape shown in the illustration below. Press the seams flat.

When it is time to sew the side seams (which in the case of the McCall's 2016 dress is after the side seams of the raglan sleeves have been sewn), put right sides together, matching notches and seams as usual, and matching pockets pieces, and sew the side seam AROUND the pockets, illustrated by blue dots below. Backstitch for reinforcement at the top and bottom where you pivot to go around the pockets.

Turn your dress inside out and press. You have pockets!

If you have a copy of the Vogue Sewing book, it also has instructions (a little more fiddly then mine), and a pocket pattern piece drawn on a grid that can be enlarged.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Another day, another dress

Last Saturday I finished another dress. It's funny, I had very little desire to sew dresses from October on until the weather started warming up, and suddenly that's all I want to sew. It's just the weather. I don't like cold legs, so I don't like to wear dresses in the winter.

For some time, I've been searching for the mythical "instant gratification dress". I want a dress pattern that is both quick and easy to make, but which is flattering. I made a couple of dresses in high school that were "2 hour dresses" (although believe me, they took me longer than that), and the reason they were so fast is that there was NO SHAPING and no details (pockets, collars, belts, etc). So they weren't very flattering, and I didn't wear them often. Unfortunately, I've decided that I probably won't find the kind of instant gratification pattern that I am looking for, because I like details and shaping, which add time to both cutting out and sewing.

Another feature of this mythical dress is that it is something not too dressy, that I would feel comfortable wearing on everyday occasions. A day dress. Now, if you've seen the last two dresses I've made this spring, neither of them is what you'd call a day dress.

Though it falls short of my lofty ideals for an instant gratification dress, this pattern comes as close as anything I've seen (it's the only pattern I've liked enough to actually try). It went pretty fast, but I still spent between five and six hours on it, including cutting out, but not including the changes I made to the pattern itself before I actually cut the pieces out.

The changes I made were: adding side seam pockets, lengthening it by 6 inches (the previous user of the pattern had cut it to the mini-length view), and changing the collar shape. I also omitted the top button and loop, so that the collar would spread out and turn to expose the facing a little.

In the end, I only spent a total of $0.59 on this dress, since the tan fabric came from Goodwill, and the contrast collar fabric was given to me, as were the vintage buttons and the belt. Okay, and maybe a quarter's worth of interfacing on the collar and facings.

Although the dress looks okay without a belt (better on me than my dress form), the belt does improve it a bit.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Indiana Jones / Patsy Cline Dress

While I was making this dress, I happened to do a google search for images of dresses that Patsy Cline wore (The Internet is great, instant whim-gratification!) and noticed that when she wore dresses they were often the slim-skirted style, instead of full. So I began thinking of it as the "Patsy Cline dress". I usually prefer full skirts, and so this dress was sort of an experiment for me. I prefer the look of full skirts, but then you have to buy four or five yards at a time, and so slim skirts are definitely less expensive. This dress took just under three yards, and if I'd been more careful with the layout, might have taken less.

The night before I finished the dress, when it was all starting to come together, I had Brandon pin it up the back so I could try it on (before hemming and the zipper, before the belt was made). I nearly quit right then, because it looked sort of like a potato sack. A bright blue potato sack, but still. Brandon said something about Mormon religious compound ladies. I figured since I'd come that far, though, and I loved the fabric so much, I'd at least try to finish it.

Actually hemming it (it called for a 3" deep hem) to a more flattering length helped a lot. Putting in a zipper helped some too. What really makes the dress, though, is the belt, which I modified from another pattern (from the 1970's).

I think of it as the Indiana Jones dress because I finished it right before we went to see the new Indiana Jones movie, and I decided to wear it. I always have an awful itch to wear something the moment it is finished, and I was literally cutting the last loose threads off as we got into the car. I was a little over-dressed for a matinee, but the movie was set in the 1950's, so I was decade-appropriate.

Then I wore it Brandon's cousin's wedding, which was actually the reason I was making the dress now and not later. Weddings are a great excuse to start a new dress.