Friday, September 23, 2011

Fun-loving, happy sewist seeks smock-waisted, off-the shoulder dress pattern

     I love this dress from Rachel Zoe's fall 2011 rtw collection - she wore it on last week's episode of Bravo's The Rachel Zoe Project.  The price tag is sort of awful though.  So, I'm on a quest to find a pattern that I can use as a starting point to make something that looks similar.  The dress also comes in this lovely peacock print.  It has a smocked waist, which I will probably be able to execute right after I cure cancer.  I'm workin' on it!

Zoe, left, and model.

Polyester + hot iron = molten goodness

     Yep, I'm posting again today.  So in my first post, I alluded to a mishap with polyester and an iron.  That happened about a week ago.  To make a long story short, I'd turned up the heat setting on my iron (no, no, no, boys and girls!) to press the hem on my newly finished, gleaming, 100% wearable (hey girl!) Vogue 8241 dress:


It's a beaut', huh?  My dress form is ready to hit the town!  Anyway,

     I was "called away" momentarily by my fiance to look at something cute one of the cats was doing.  I returned to my iron after a few seconds, lifted it up, and - what do you know - there's now a hole in my dress!  How original!  And melted polyester clinging to my iron!  After a few choice words, I ruled out re-hemming the dress (would have taken off about 4 inches, and I had just finished hemming it in the first place... the horror!) and decided to try my hand at patching it.  I found a section of the fabric that matched with the dearly departed portion, meticulously lined it up, and Stitch Witchery'd it until the cows came home.  It was sort of fun actually, though I think I would have enjoyed myself more if I hadn't burned the dress in the first place.  I don't have a before picture for you, but I took these "after" photos today:

                                                                         Wrong Side
                                                                         Right Side

     You can see the oval-shaped hole (complete with singed edges) in the wrong side photo, and the little line cutting diagonally from side to side in the right side photo.  Plus, the hem is a little warped due to the Stitch Witchery.  But it's not that noticeable, which means it's wearable!  Success!  I haven't worn it out yet because it's gotten cooler here the last several days, but when Indian Summer rolls around, I'm busting this puppy out.  To more experienced sewists, this is probably unseemly and repulsive, but I'm a newbie.  Let me savor my little success : )  Plus, I think the supplies for this dress cost me something like $14.00 (I got the pattern on sale back in May, along with a slew of other Very Easy Vogue patterns - a birthday gift from my mom!)

     This is also the dress on which I lazily omitted the bodice lining and used Stitch Witchery to finish the armholes and neckline.  Never. Again.  But we won't go there now.  If you're looking for something easy and quietly glam to sew, this is a great pattern.  I reviewed it on patternreview.com - which I love.  This dress is tough as nails, because it endured a scalding iron, improper construction, and misapplication of fusible findings.  But it pulled through and is doing well.  Can't wait to wear it.  'Till next time.

Skin irritation, blogs, and sewing

     I went home sick from work today with some sort of strange, very itchy rash on my legs, arms, and torso.  I know what you're thinking, and no I'm not playing hookey just because it's Friday : )  After a scratching frenzy, a hot bath, and collapsing into an exhausted heap, I found myself finally creating this blog (while still scratching).  I want to document my progress as I teach myself to sew so that I can look back and see how far I've come, and appreciate all I've learned.  I've been wanting to blog my progress since I started sewing in April, but haven't gotten around to it until now.

     So, what have I learned so far?  first, sewing takes practice.  I'm glad that I tempered my expectations when I first began this journey, not really hoping to produce anything wearable (without public shame, anyway) out of my first few projects.  Think about it - rocket scientists-in-training wouldn't send their first attempt at a space probe into orbit (would they?).  So why would I cobble something awful together for the first time and expect to be able to wear it with pride?  Not to say that sewing rates comparably with rocket science in terms of difficulty, though I sometimes wonder if the grass is greener over at NASA than it is under my sewing machine.  Maybe I should take up making rockets.  At any rate, I'm no Beethoven of needle and thread, so I focused my very early efforts on the process and not the end result.  However, I have made tons of progress over the last several months, and am now producing wearable stuff.  Hooray!

     A few other lessons I've learned, in quick-fire order:
  • Don't press polyester on the "linen" setting.  Press it on the "polyester" setting.  No matter how much of a hurry you're in.  That's why it says "polyester."  They should change the name of the "linen" setting to "linen or burn your house down."  Luckily that didn't happen to me because...
  • ...on the bright side, polyester seems to melt instead of catching fire if you leave a hot iron sitting on top of it to go see the cute thing your cat is doing at the moment.  Then it flakes off of your iron quite easily once it's cooled.  Don't try this at home.  And the silver lining...
  • ...patching a burn hole in fabric can be fun!  Really!  But best not to go there in the first place.  See first bullet.
  • Zippers are the handiwork of the devil.  However, I suppose I should be grateful for zippers, because buttons/buttonholes are even worse... unless you have a crazy machine that does all that button jazz for you while you sip a mimosa.  If so, you're a jerk (j/k).  Anything that requires "accuracy" or "precision" is not up my alley right now, though I am making progress on zippers.  What the heck happened to quick-fire?
  • Tread carefully when making design changes or omitting lining on a garment... you really have to think many steps ahead instead of merrily telling yourself, "hey, I can omit this, and it's one less thing that I have to do!"  and if you do omit the lining...
  • Don't use Stitch Witchery to finish the neck and armholes on the bodice of a dress because you were too lazy to do the lining or topstitch.  You're just cruelly making more work for yourself.  Somewhere, the sewing deities are pointing down at you, laughing at your foolish pride and naivety.
  • The last lesson for today is to find the value in missteps - what you learned from a mistake, how to avoid it in the future, and how to "make it work" now (as the wonderful one and only Tim Gunn urges us all to do).  Don't get down on yourself, and keep a light heart about the learning process and those inevitable bumps in the road.
     Okay, that's more than enough for today.  FYI, my "hard-learned lessons" are a reflection on my experiences and are not meant as instruction or advice to anyone else.  It's really just me laughing about my gaffes as I develop this new hobby of sewing.  If it sounds sarcastic, good ear!  However, if I seem cynical, I promise I'm not.  I'm really just here to document what I've learned, share it with friends, and not take myself too seriously.  I'll get started soon on posting the hall of horrors, better known as my sewing projects, and some things that managed to turn out pretty great as well.  'Till then, I'll keep scratching : )