Saturday, October 31, 2009

Back on the Horse (Joyce don't read this)

My latest sewing project was an easy one to get me back on the horse after the problems with the last few. Last month my sister Joyce surprised me with a box of beautiful sari fabric. A note said she had meant to make pillows for her couch but never got around to it. (Keeping track of a one year old will do that to you, I imagine.) So she sent me the fabric hoping I'd get some use out of it.

I made her those pillows for her couch with tassels at the corners and invisible zippers. I'll send them for her birthday in December.

One gift has been crossed of the list. Now there's just my father's December birthday, everyone's Christmas presents, and Corey's and my nephew Caden's January birthdays. If anyone has suggestions on what to make, please speak up!

Here is a detail shot of the fabric.

Happy Halloween/Blessed Samhain

Here are a few photos from the annual pumpkin carving party. From left to right they were carved by Sarah AKA Greta GroundnPound, Sarah 2 AKA Truckstop Trixie, me, Sarah 3 AKA Dill Dozer, and Mike "Wundamike" Whitely.
Have fun tonight and be safe!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Over $4,000 Raised for The Keep-A-Breast Foundation

The art show was a success! TXRD Lonestar Rollergirls raised over $4,000 for The Keep-A-Breast Foundation, which raises money for breast cancer research and awareness. Their main fund raising avenue is to partner with organizations, such as TXRD, and arrange for participants' breasts to be cast. The casts are then painted by artists and the finished products are auctioned with the proceeds going to KAB. Here are photos of the casts at last Saturday's Championship Bout between the Hellcats and Cherry Bombs.

Mine were painted by the fabulous Rodger Roundy. Check out the detail!

Lessons Learned

Well...I am an idiot. But at least I learned some valuable lessons with this one.

Lesson 1: Know your fabric.
Lesson 2: Mark the right side and wrong side of fabric when it's hard to tell.

Here's the story.
This was my first attempt at a vintage pattern. I saw a 1958 Marian Martin 9000 on ebay and had to have it. (Can someone with access to the Vintage Pattern Wiki upload this to the Marian Martin page? 9000 is not there yet.) I found some gorgeous bright violet linen-look fabric at JoAnn's. The store near me only had a yard left, so I drove 20 miles to the other end of town to get another three yards. I thought polyester would be easy to work with. I somehow totally overlooked the fact that it was a polyester WOVEN. Woven as in stretchy, and unravelly. It was a linen look for pete's sake. How did I miss that it was woven?!? Woven calls for binding seams, not lazily pinking them. And the stretch factor? Read on.

I cut the pattern out and started sewing. The instructions were fairly clear. I had a little trouble trying to figure out if I still needed to fold and stitch if I was using fusible instead of sew-on interfacing. Also, they didn't say anything about stay stitching, but I knew to do that. But the bodice stretched like crazy anyway. The top half was cut on the bias. Even with stay stitching and a needle meant for stretch it just wouldn't cooperate. The self-made bias tape around the armholes was especially bad. Instead of a nice clean line at the shoulder, I got stretched out wrinkly waves. But I continued on thinking I could fix it later.

While working on the skirt, I kept thinking how odd it was that the illustrations were backwards. When I got ready to attach the skirt to the bodice, I learned why. They weren't backwards. I somehow got my right side and wrong side of the fabric mixed up and made the skirt backwards. Notice the pattern photo shows the dress coming across the front and buttoning? Well my skirt closed on one side and the bodice on the other. (*sigh*) Back to the drawing board. I recut the front skirt pieces, carefully marking the inside of the fabric and recreated the skirt.

(Notice something wrong?)

This time the bodice and the skirt went together. But...because the bodice was stretched out, it just looked...wrong. I took the bodice and skirt apart and sewed them together several times trying to make them come together without the bodice sagging and hanging strange. I finally reached the point that even if I got it to work, I'd still need to take the bias binding off the armholes and do them again before I'd feel comfortable wearing the dress.

I decided to try to save the piece by doing away with the bodice and making it into a skirt. I created a facing, sewed it on, top stitched, created button holes, sewed on the fabric covered buttons (which were easy and fun to make), hemmed, stepped back and assessed.

I ended up with a skirt that would be flattering if it sat snugly on the hips. But the skirt I made had pleats and button holes that would pull out of shape if the skirt was snug through the hips. I had to give it enough ease that the pleats and buttons laid flat, so I ended up with a skirt that was too loose through the waist to be truly flattering. Also it has a high waist. I assume this was the style at the time. But it means the pockets are practically right below the bust line. Not comfortable for strolling with hands in pockets. But at least there ARE pockets. Modern skirts rarely have them. And somehow it looks A line, not straight and sleek like it is in the pattern photo. Perhaps the fabric is too stiff?

So here is my skirt on Lily and on me. Ignore the yellow chalk marks. Yes.Yes. No head. I was having a decided to name my dress form Lily after my maternal grandmother, Lillian. After struggling through this and my last sewing project, I've decided to do something easy next. I need a confidence boost. Then I'll tackle another of the vintage patterns I just bought..but with cotton!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Whoa oh oh she's a lady...

Look at the lot of 1950s vintage patterns I just won off ebay! All sizes 16 and 18 which is what I usually buy. I shouldn't have to do much grading. They are all so ladylike. I especially like the short sleeved bolero type jacket a couple of them show. I can't wait until they arrive!

I am eager to try another 50s pattern after the problems I've had with the Marian Martin 9000 I am currently working on. I've learned a lot of valuable lessons. I hope to complete it tonight. Stay tuned for the post.

Photos by dbdoucette.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Do You Name Your Dress Form?

(image from

I just posted this to Sew Retro too.

I have a question if you don't mind. I have been reading a lot of sewing blogs lately where the dress forms are referred to by name, such as Delores, Dotty, etc. This got me to thinking. Is this traditional? Do the people who name their dress forms also name their sewing machines, Kitchen Aid mixers, cars, bicycles, etc? I see there is a post today about Betty, a new (vintage) and beautiful sewing machine.

Does your dress form have a name? What is it and what is the story behind it? I'd love to know. Thank you!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Ugly Chair Gets a Makeover

In August, my friend Dawn and I took an upholstery class at the fabulous Spruce Upholstery here in Austin. It was a two-day class. We had a great time! Above is the ugly chair I bought on Craig's List for $15. Below is it in process. Scroll down to see the finished product.


Much, much better. It looks like more than $15 now. It's upholstered with Robert Allen's Sperling fabric in Noir. I love the little green details.

I am going to make a green pillow to go on it. I've decided to attempt to do its mate myself at home. Here is how it looks so far. I've been pulling out staples while watching the tube (even though I swore to myself I was going to give up all TV except True Blood.)

The Maxi Dress

This one was a doozy. It's Simplicity pattern 2587 - Cynthia Rowley Misses Dress

I have been wanting a maxi dress all summer. I finally got around to sewing one. Below is my review from (my first). People left such nice comments. It makes me really happy.

Pattern Description:
Empire waist maxi dress

Pattern Sizing:
I bought the 4-12 but I should have bout the 12-20. I am a relatively new sewer. Everything I've made before was sized s-m-l or was ready to wear sizing. I somehow never realized that pattern sizing was different. I wear a 10 or 12 in RTW so I cut the size 12.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes, BUT... I ended up adding 3-inch panels to the sides of the bodice to make up for the fact that I cut a size way too small for me. I wish I had read the other reviews before I had cut the pattern and fused on all the interfacing. After reading another review stating that the skirt was too large, I decided not to size up the skirt and just sew the size 12 onto my adjusted bodice.
It does look like the photo but I think if I had made the skirt the same size as the bodice, it would have ended up much fuller than it appears on the photo.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Somewhat involved but not difficult.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
Like the other reviewer I disliked that the pattern called for interfacing the midriff bands. I had already fused my interfacing before reading the reviews. It made the area so bulky, after trying to attach the zipper about 12 times I had to give up. I broke two heavy duty needles. When the needle didn't break, it jogged around the bulky area missing the zipper tape entirely. Finally when my zipper tape had holes in it from sewing and ripping out the thread so many times, I just sewed the back together, said a prayer and pulled the dress over my head. Luckily because of the style of the dress, and the fact that I'm small breasted, it worked out just fine.

Fabric Used:
Keri Beyer Proud Peacock light weight cotton

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:
Had to add 3-inch panels to adjust the bodice from a size 12 to a 16/18. Sewed the size 12 skirt onto the now 16/18 bodice.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
It's such a distinctive style I probably won't make it again. But I would recommend it to someone as long as they read the reviews first.

Despite the problems I had, I LOVE the finished product.