elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
Uneven plaids are from the devil.

That is all.
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
I just couldn't take my stays being too big in the waist anymore, so I sewed some darts to nip the waist in, and what d'you know, it worked!

I am much happier with my figure now. I know that 1770s/80s is not all about the teeny waist like Victorian, but I realize now that I need a minimum 2" reduction just so my stays aren't slipping around my body. I have that 2" now, and even better, I can neither see nor feel the darts. Score!

So I adjusted bodice mockup #3 to reflect the changes and now I think I am ready to cut! As usual I could probably use one more mockup but it's so close now I am just going to go for it.

Wish me luck!
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
Not quite done, but getting there.

fur 002

Not in love with the hood shape, but I never am with hoods so I will live with it.

I still have to fold the other edge of the fake fur under and stitch it down by hand. Somehow when I started this project I had the idea I could just lay a strip of the fur down and stitch it like an applique; that the pile of the fur would hang over the raw edges. Nope. It looked stupid, and I realized I have to turn an edge under AND wrap the fur strip around the edge of the wool like binding to make it look nice. Unfortunately I already hemmed the wool, which now seems to have been an unnecessary, bulk-adding step.

I stitched that first edge by machine, RS together. Then it got flipped around and I will have to spend a few hours stitching the other side around the edge by hand.

fur 001

As much as I enjoy hand sewing, I am also a huge cheater and I tried and tried to come up with a non-sucky-looking way to machine this. Alas, I couldn't.

The hardest part of all this has been psyching myself up to cut the fur. I don't know why it seemed so scary! But I managed to be REALLY frugal and saved a large enough chunk for a muff, which I will set aside for some future date.
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
Here are a few more details to wrap up this suit project.

Okay, first of all, this is my 3rd attempt at an 18th century suit for my man, and I think I finally nailed it. My number one mistake the other times: WRONG FABRIC!! The first one used a relatively stiff silk, and the second used linen. Now, both of these fabrics were used extensively in men's suits of the period, silk being popular for the shmancy set, and linen used in blends or alone for casual or working garments, especially in America.


Wool is much easier. Period. Wool is your friend. Wool makes everything happy. Wool steams and shapes and eases and stretches and bends and molds and drapes. Wool doesn't fight you. Wool doesn't look stupid just sitting there disagreeing. There is a reason why all those tailoring techniques work best on wool. They were developed using wool.

Wool is also kinda warm, which explains why I avoided it the first two times around; the suits were for summer events and I didn't want my man to get heatstroke. But it breathes, and I think it's comfortable for all but the hottest Midwest days. Like anything 85 or cooler.

My wool of choice this time was a navy blue twill that I got at a yard sale for about 5 bucks. When I got it home I washed it in the machine to felt it slightly (fulled cloth being popular in the era) and to make it clean, because garages = eew. It didn't felt enough to stop it from raveling, but gave the surface a nice napped texture.

More! )

The whole project diary is under the tag blue wool 18th century suit.
elizabeth_mn: (blue silk back)
How often does this happen: I'm trying to work on the new stays yesterday, and I figure I can do a bit of sewing even though I don't have the boning yet, but I realized I don't know how wide to make the channels, and I need to sew in sequence (channels first, then eyelets, and so on) so I can't sew it at all.

Then I figure I can move on to my Curtain-Along petticoat, but when I go to cut it, I notice that the print is big enough I'll want to fussy-cut the bodice (even if I don't match) so I can't just start hacking into the fabric haphazardly until I have the bodice pattern.

So: Can't cut the petticoat until I cut the bodice.  Can't cut the bodice until I have the stays to fit it over.  Can't make the stays until the boning arrives.

Normally, I'd be happy to fill in the time with a small, instant-gratification project, but right now, I am just in the mood for sinking my teeth into something complex and long-term.  I've been fiddling with the stays pattern for a couple days, so I don't really want to shift gears right now, and besides, the curtain dress is the next one I will need for an event.

So I am halfheartedly working on an apron, and darning some socks, for at least the next week.  I know there are so many better things I could be doing with my time, but I just can't think what they are!  I definitely don't want to be stuck in the middle of another project that I don't want to abandon when the boning arrives.
elizabeth_mn: (Default)
It's looking kind of sucky.  The plate has rows of soft, sheer drapery all across the front, ending with a level edge (this is crucial since it is hard to achieve).  However, assuming the front and back skirt are the same fabric, it must be something crisp to crate those back poufs.  I chose organza.

I started by making a skirt front of three gored panels in cotton, then I cut the organza longer and wider and started pleating.

draft 1 (1)

Saying it didn't quite come out right is a bit of an understatement:
photos )

After the last try-on, I gouged my thumb with a pin and decided I'd better quit before I add bloodstains to the list of ugly.  Sigh.  It's just as well because I have no idea what to try next.

elizabeth_mn: (Default)
Finally got up the nerve to try the bias-cut cloth hose on my HB yesterday, and they did not fit.  They were too tight in the thigh, and he could not pull them all the way up.  There is no way I can fix them without piecing, and I really don't want to get into that since the feet twisted weirdly, too.  They just didn't work and I'm ditching the whole idea.

Cut-cloth hose were a fun experiment, but I spent an incredible amount of time, thought, and work on them, and I'm just over it now.  They didn't work this time.  I might try again another time, but I just want to finish this outfit sometime this year.

I know part of the problem was my fabric choice.  If I'd used wool, the natural stretch would have helped, but I didn't want my hubby to be too hot and uncomfortable, so I tried using linen.  Another problem was the pattern's insistence that the bias line go directly down the front of the leg and over the top of the foot.  My feet twisted and when I tried to force the bias line into the directed position, I got horrible wrinkles everywhere, but if I let it go and fall where it would, the bias went around the foot all crooked but the wrinkles smoothed out. 

The new plan is to buy some cotton jersey in a coordinating color and sew some tights.  I might use the hose pattern in order to preserve the neat-looking seam structure in the back of the leg.  If all else fails, I will just go modern.  Either way, I'll probably use the serger!

Knit dress

Feb. 6th, 2011 08:43 am
elizabeth_mn: (Default)
I got distracted from my quilt and picked up this knit dress I cut out ages ago and never sewed. Except for sleeve and skirt hems, it’s done, sort of.

It’s looking. . . less than ideal. To spare your eyes, the picture is under a cut )

Mainly, the problem is too much ease. It’s loose and baggy and feels like a sack. I really don’t understand why the Big 4 pattern companies include so freaking much ease! Do they just think we are stupid and don’t know how to measure ourselves and choose a size? It’s a knit; it ought to have negative ease.

Then the drapey bit at the waist. I like the drape in theory, but without being fitted to the body, it just looks lumpy and stupid. Plus, my fabric is a rib knit, maybe not the best for showing off gathers. Ok, so that one is my fault.

I think I did a terrific job of applying the ribbing smoothly at the neckline, but the neckline is way too high. With the high waist, it just highlights a vast expanse of chest. Not the look I was going for.

On the plus side, my serged seams are looking great, and I still like the fabric. Besides, I think it can be salvaged, I just need to:

1.) Rip it apart

2.) Discard drapey waist bit

3.) Take in side seams

4.) Cut a new, plain waistband

5.) Lower neckline and re-bind

6.) Put back together and finish

7.) Keep repeating this: Learning Experience! Learning Experience! Learning Experience!

elizabeth_mn: (winter)

I made this mitten.

Which would be great if the mitten actually, you know, fitted my hand.

photos of the other side )

It's so tight and the stitches are so distorted when I try to pull it on.  I probably should have ripped it out sooner but I was so in love with the way the cables were looking that I guess I ignored everything else! 

I used a cable pattern from Super Stitches Knitting which I re-wrote the WS rows for to make it work circularly.

I wanted to make it tighter than my last pair because they are now so loose they almost fall off my hands.  I also tried a new gauge swatch method for cicular knitting: wrapping the yarn around the back and knitting every row flat to approximate circular.  Well, it truns out my gauge was 3.5 sts/ in on the swatch and 4 sts/ in in real life. 

Also, when I knit on DPNs I get really bad laddering unless I pull the corners extra tight.  With only 8 sts on each needle, that tightened up the gauge overall a bit.  That plus the tightening effect of the cables = super tight crappy mitten.

I was angry for about 10 minutes about this, now I'm just disappointed,  I'll need to rip the entire thing out and re-do it.

(Rationalizing my failure, now in convenient list form):

10 hours
feeling in fingertips
confidence in gauge swatches

knowledge that new gauge swatch method sucks
knowledge of how to convert a cable pattern from flat to circular knitting (a big deal, I think!)
insight as to how my gauge changes when knitting circularly
another reminder to check gauge often while knitting

I think after I rip it out I'll leave it for a while and work on my sweater for a week or two instead.

elizabeth_mn: (needlecraft)
I just wanted to share this shirt mockup I made last weekend because it gave me an Aha! moment. 

My goal was a curvy, fitted shirt with minimal ease.  I based the pattern off of one I originally took from an old shirt and which has been through several incarnations.

The first mockup looked okay in front but had all kinds of puffy ickyness happening in back.

At first I thought I just needed to take in the back waist, but then I realized the back is puffing up because the shirt was too tight across the hip.  So I took in a bit at the waist, but mostly I made the hip area larger (this is the aha!).  The next mockup looked loads better.

I'm planning on making a couple of these in bright, lightweight cottons with edges bound in bias strips cut from wacky striped fabric.
elizabeth_mn: (Default)
I have sewing anger.

I've been trying to finish this stupid @#$%! skirt that won't die (the teens-inspired skirt).  It's pretty hopeless by now.  This is just one of those projects where every single possible thing that could go wrong has.  And also a bunch of things that generally don't go have have as well.

First, there were all the trim issues. I thought the ribbon solved that, but now the ribbon trim is 
       a.) higher on one side than the other (how is this even possible?  I used the symmetrical seamlines as a guide!!),  
       b.) mitered really poorly, and 
       c.) really warbly and weird.

Then yesterday, I tried to cover some buttons with the petersham, and discovered it is too thick and looks really stupid, but not before I'd wasted an hour trying every single method of covering a button with fabric.

Today, I decided to just try to ignore the multitude of flaws and just finish the stupid thing.  I spent half an hour hemming it with the machine blind hem stitch.  It was a bit lumpy and wierd, but I was so relieved; it was done!!  Then I trimmed some threads and realized that I missed some places where the blind hem stitch is supposed to catch the skirt.  I looked more closely and saw that I didn't miss a few places, I missed about 3/4 of the hem!  Aaarggghhh!!

I'm so mad about it I don't know what to do.  I really just want to cut it up into little pieces and forget I ever started it.  I should probably not do this while angry, though.  I think if I can't rekindle at least some interest in it by the end of the week, it is going to the scrap bag, and in pieces.

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