Category Archives: sewing

On this page:
  • Sewing: Of sewing more dresses and making more pots
  • Sewing, or on soldiering on
  • More gardening and sewing
  • The joys of making things
  • Sewing arghs
  • On sewing and improv

Sewing: Of sewing more dresses and making more pots

After I sewed the zipper on the Vogue 8020 dress I made using the butterfly blue fabric from Fabricland, I checked the fit in the mirror. I was beginning to think that the dropped waistline that hovered about my hip wasn’t the best place to put it. I tried smoothing my crooked seams, but they refused to behave. The more I looked at the dress, the more I noticed all the little things I needed to fix.

Then my happy-do defense mechanism kicked in, and I realized I was letting myself do negative self-talk. I focused on the positives instead. The dress was wearable, the fabric was pretty, and my friends would let me get away with amateur creations. =) It was my first time to make a dress with princess seams or a dropped waist, and I was happy about how the princess seams in the bodice turned out. And the blue ribbon was a nice touch, although other accents might be more practical in a house with two cats.

I told W-, “Sewing is good practice in celebrating the small wins.”

He said, “Everyone starts somewhere.”

I said, “It’s all about throwing more pots.” I started telling him the story. It turned out that he already knew the story. But you might not yet, so here it is:

There’s a story about a pottery teacher who divided the class into two groups. A student in one group would be graded based on the quality of one pot that they turned in at the end of the semester, while a student in the other group would be graded based on the sheer number of all the pots submitted throughout the semester. At the end of the semester, students in the second group–those measured only on quantity–had produced better pots than those who had focused on quality. In the process of creating a large number of pots, the second group had learned from their mistakes, while the first group had been paralyzed by endless theorizing about what a perfect pot would be.

Go ahead. Make mistakes and learn from them.

Here’s pot #4:

V8020 in butterfly blue

I’m going to hem this dress, and then I’m going to practice straight and curved seams on some scrap cloth, and then I’m going to work on that white embroidered-border dress. I’m going to fill my wardrobe with clothes I’ve made. Over time, the quality of those clothes will just get better and better.

Sewing, or on soldiering on

It’s amazing what a difference a hemline makes.

I hand-basted most of the hem so that I could ease it to lie flat. I ran out of thread three-fourths of the way through. I really wanted to sew it already, so I didn’t bother with the remaining quarter. After I trimmed the excess material, I hemmed it with my sewing machine, and I put it on.

And I’m happy with it!

Maybe it’s just that I’ve had more time to get used to the idea of the dress. It’s blue (not one of my usual colors) and has a somewhat dropped waist (not one of my usual silhouettes). My seams are still crooked, and I haven’t yet bothered to put the hook-and-eye above the zipper.

But it’s a dress, and it’s mine. =)

I tied the ribbon around my waist and dashed upstairs to show W- and J- before W- tucked J- into bed. Both of them cheered as I twirled around. I had told J- the pot story after dinner, and it was–well–fitting that I follow it up with an unexpectedly happy twist. I had been prepared for the possibility that this was going to be Just One Of Those Attempts (like the gray wool jumper I have to figure out how to tweak), but the dress actually makes me smile.

Must be the exceedingly cheerful glittery butterfly print. ;)

Pictures tomorrow or Sunday. I’ll ask W- to take them when there’s light out.

ANYWAY, on to the next dress, which will be my first experiment with borders…

I’ve been thinking about taking classes, but class fees can buy a lot of fabric. =) Maybe I can sit in on some classes to see what they’re like first. Anyway, I’m happy and I’m learning a lot.

On soldiering on: I’ve noticed that if I keep sewing, the project often turns out better than I thought it would be during the process. Red jacket, this dress… Lesson learned: sometimes I just need to keep soldiering on until the big picture reveals itself!

More gardening and sewing

We picked up a pair of planters for the porch. One of the planters is overflowing with strawberries, and I’m looking forward to enjoying a few of the hanging fruits. I think it’s amazing that plants will grow with just a little encouragement, and who knows, maybe I’ll get to experience the joys of being a locavore.

The bitter melon seeds (ampalaya) my mom sent me from the Philippines have germinated (and to think I’d given up on those seeds!), and seven or eight of them are working on putting out their first leaves. When they grow a bit bigger, we’ll move them near the fence. We’ll probably have to put in some cold-weather protection towards the end of the growing season, but it’ll be worth a try. I was pleasantly surprised to find bitter melon seeds at a local supermarket, actually. Might not be a bad source in the future.

W- helped me make a duct tape dress form, whom I have named Matilda. Oddly enough, it seems to be a common name for dress forms. ;) I made a quarter-circle skirt (thank you, high-school geometry teacher!) with a bold black/white/red print, which I’ve hung on Matilda so that I can hem the skirt tomorrow. I thought about adding fancy details like a yoke, but I figured I’d keep it simple for starters.

It’s interesting exploring these non-computer things… =)

The joys of making things

Today was a day for making things.

I made myself a simple lined tote with adjustable straps and exterior pockets–deep blue twill lined with a polyester satin print of roses on a beige background. It’s just a proof of concept, so I didn’t finish all the edges neatly, but it’s not bad. =) Next step: another tote, but this time with water-repellent cloth and white ripstop lining.

J- got inspired and came up with a design for a bag to hold her brand-new cellphone. It has one exterior pocket and one interior pocket. She picked the adorable penguin flannel I picked up yesterday, and she sewed most of it herself. I helped her sew on the pockets and attach the strap. She made a matching ponytail and cellphone cleaning cloth, too. =)

W- tweaked his camera strap design some more, and I think he’s found something that works well for him. Good stuff!

Pictures to follow!

Sewing arghs

I’m temporarily finding sewing frustrating. I should be precise: sewing dresses and blouses is frustrating for me, because the bodice never quite fits right and the neck facings always seem awkward. I need to find something that’ll break me out of that. Maybe it’s just a matter of going ahead and making something. The blue butterfly dress I made was fine, although the dropped waist is something I’d like to fix next time I make the dress. Aside from that, it’s been very difficult for me to be happy with the muslins I’ve made from other patterns.

Maybe I can take the simplest thing I can sew, and just go ahead and make it. And then make another one, and another one, and another one, until I get the hang of it. Or maybe I’ll sign up for sewing classes once I’m halfway through my improv classes, so I don’t have too many things going on at the same time.

So I started working on Butterick 3030 last night. Still not happy with the neck facings – maybe I should just bind all of my tops in the future. But at least it’s progress…

On sewing and improv

By golly, I think I’m getting the hang of it.

Today I started working on McCall 8107, a simple sleeveless princess-seamed dress. I decided to take lots of time doing so, applying one of the lessons I learned from improv class. I cut out pieces, drew the seamlines and snipped the notches, and made lining pieces so that I could turn it into a fully-lined dress. I find that I don’t like using neck or back facing, as they always flip up. As I worked, I tried to apy attention to how I moved and where things were located.

Working slowly–almost meditatively–changed the character of the activity. I would normally rush through transferring the markings. This time, I marked everything. This time, I did it while watching some of my favourite movies. I also took the time to pin-fit on my duct-tape dress form, which led to a few minor alterations. I normally feel frustrated when I get to assembly because things don’t quite line up. This time, I felt at ease, and I was happy with the way the dress turned out once I’d pressed the seams.

One of the things I noticed was that when I took my time to work on the dress, I started thinking of it as something I might be able to wear for a while. Perhaps that’s because I reflexively justified the time I was investing in making the outfit. Thinking of it that way made it even easier to slow down and try to get the details right.

Tomorrow, I’ll work on the lining and the zipper. I’m looking forward to the completed dress, and to using my new-found powers of slowing down and taking my time doing things not just for good, but for awesome!