Thursday, January 23, 2014

EDITED: Officially Finished!

Well, well, well - turns out it was pretty easy! I am done with the colorblock muslin and I'm fairly pleased with how it all turned out!

Look at me balance awkwardly on the edge of the tub! (Shoulda left my shoes on...)

Backing up just a little, here's how my Monday went: I had already done all the princess seaming - the five panels were all attached and fit Genevieve perfectly. Which gave me a wonderful feeling of, oh, it's nearly all done! I'll just put in the zipper and attach the sleeves and then I'll play Dragon Age 2 the rest of the day!

Well, not quite. I'm still quite slow at all of this. And I forgot that I had facing to deal with. Confession: I HATE facing. With a purple passion. I can't ever get the seams to line up right, and it always turns out all floppy and awful and I can't do a blind stitch to save my life. Deep breath.

Witness: making it up as I go along.

So, in my infinite lack of wisdom, I decided that I would just do what made sense to me. I pinned the front piece in place, starting in the middle, and left an inch or two unpinned as it approached the Danger Zone of existing seams. Then I took the two back pieces, started at the center back and did the same thing. Then I marked in chalk the intersection point, attached the facing pieces to one another, pinned and pressed the now-matching seams, then sewed the whole thing down. Please do not follow those directions. Every reliable source I consulted tells me this is the exact wrong thing to do. And not even expressly tells me that, because this is such a dumb, counter-intuitive way to go about attaching facing. It took forever and I was sweating it the whole time. But:


IT TOTALLY WORKED. I even figured out how to wiggle things around so that the edge of the facing is hidden by the edge of the dress...there's a word for that, too, but I can't even remember where I saw it, let alone what it is. Infinite unwisdom.

That was my major ugh moment through this whole process - I'm really just not great at the finishing parts of sewing. If you need it whipped together quick and dirty, I'm your gal. (Thanks, years of costume construction. Forty foot rule applies in real life, too, right?) But onto the next: sleeves. (UGH)

I don't mind a set-in sleeve. I always prefer the fit, and once I figured out the starting from the bottom trick, I was pretty much set. I am not, however, a fan of gathering. I end up breaking threads and can't get it perfectly even, and I end up frustrated and saying unkind words.

This time that problem was compounded by several factors: first, that there were already darts sewn in. So much fabric. Second, when I cut out the sleeves, I forgot that I graded the bodice all over, so the sleeves were about two sizes too big for the armsyche. Which means more fabric. Oh, and there were no markings on the pattern to gather from point a to b. So I was just figuring things out, and did my best to make them even. My original intention was just to gather from dart to dart, but it was just too much fabric. So I kind of cheated it out, and my sleeves are a little rumply, and don't hang as well as I would like. But they're presentable, and they match. So it looks like a choice, which is what matters.

The end in sight! Time for the zipper. I've never had too much trouble with zippers - they always end up working, at any rate. But there are so many tutorials and gosh-how-do-I-s online that I feel like I must be doing something wrong...

So I decided to baste it in before sewing. This is where you all gasp dramatically. I hate basting. (See above paragraph on gathering.) But I did it! Proof:

Isn't it hideous? But hey - I can see it to unpick it.
I don't have a zipper foot, and certainly not an invisible zipper foot, so I just put my needle all the way to the left and went for it. The zipper track kept everything lined up the way it's supposed to be, so I have a beautifully straight row of stitches running down either side of the zipper. (And I just realized that I failed to top stitch the thing - so, hemming and tacking the zipper down for Saturday morning.)

I did pull out the embroidery needles to tack down the interfacing and zipper top at this point - took FOREVER and I need better lighting in my room, but it's something approaching neatness, so I'm putting it in the victory column.(Forgot to take a picture of that, too. Later, I promise!)

<EDIT> So, Saturday, before my audition and before the final evening performance of the show I was directing (all said to say it was a busy day), I finished the hem, even managing to figure out the blind hem stitch without the fancy foot (only two small snafu-s, both of which were easily picked out, yay, me). I also picked out the zipper, which was super easy since I hadn't tacked it down! I simply seamed the center back the rest of the way up and retacked the facing across the neckline. It slips on and off easily, even being tentative as I am with a me-made anything.

So fuzzy - and that mirror is FILTHY. I really need to dust. Anyway, you can kinda see the way it lays without the zipper, and the ugly pulling on that sleeve...but the weirdness across the back is just from awkward camera arm.

Some lessons learned - first and foremost, this fabric is too light to make such a formfitting dress. (And it is quite formfitting. I had some real trouble getting it off Gennie - had to add another tank to her because it kept holding to the cotton.) It's lovely and comfortable, and truly makes the dress seasonless, but who's wearing Spanx in the summertime? Not this gal. Now that I've got things figured out, I'll make it again in a heavier ponte, and maybe even in wool blend one day when I'm rich, but not in this stuff. (Which leaves me wide open with the dark grey that I bought for my chorus dress...I'll find something...) One thing I will have to account for in a heavier material, though, is figuring out some sort of swayback adjustment. I can fake it in an attached skirt or with a higher waistline, but something this line focused I'll need to adjust somehow.

Second - absolutely no need for a zipper. I didn't think I would need one, and I should have gone with my gut. There's just enough stretch that I can pull it off over my head, and due to the lightness of the fabric, the zip kind of detracts, anyway. Instead of top stitching it, I might just take this guy out and seam it - which is what I did!

And third - this pattern is way too long for me. Maybe I just like scandalously short skirts, but I had to take nearly ten inches off the bottom. I think I might need to use the petite adjustment...but I'm not petite (5'5"). More measuring confusion. I might go back and compare my redrafted lines to the indicated waistline, but I don't remember it being too far any rate, the dress hit me mid-calf, folded up to mock the hemline. Worst possible length for me. So I hacked at it to make it manageable, and still have a 2-1/2" hem...Really, I'm not that short...

At any rate, I'm 90% pleased, and super excited to learn that Gennie is in fact a size match for me! Next up is a super simple top (that I already have half finished because I was so excited about the fabric).