Wow, it’s again been a month since my last post! I’m just so busy writing this dissertation that I don’t have time for much else. I haven’t even been sewing much for myself. I’ve made some cushions for an architect friend’s clients, some unpaper towels for my sister-in-law, and a dress for a friend’s little girl, but nothing for myself. This week I began working on my Victory Patterns Anouk muslin, which I had cut out in the fall but never sewed up. I got all the fit issues worked out last night and I hope to get the real version (I almost typed final draft – too much dissertating!) done in time for a sewing meetup on Sunday with some local Chicago bloggers. I always get inspired to make something new when I have big events coming up, despite the fact that big events = people I don’t see often or I’m seeing for the first time, which means whatever I wear, it’s likely new to them. But whatever gets me back at the sewing machine is A-ok with me! I also downloaded the Bluegingerdoll Winifred dress pattern and began taping it together. When I got sick of doing that, I thought maybe I’d finally get my act together and write a blog post.
Today’s post is about a top I made and took pictures of last fall. That’s how behind I am with blogging about my makes – so even I haven’t been sewing, I have things to write about! I think everyone and their mom has made this shirt by now, so I’m way late to the party, but there’s a reason it’s so popular. Jalie patterns are pretty well-fitting because they’re mostly knits, and knits are hard to screw up in the fit department. For this one, I wanted a little more ease than what’s built into the pattern because I don’t like my knits to be clingy, so I made the two pattern pieces a little wider using my Renfrew pattern piece as a guide. I love the way my Renfrews fit, so I figured this would be a good bet, and it was. The only other alteration I made was to sew the center seam a little bit higher to raise the neckline to a height I was more comfortable with. The version you see below is a sort of wearable muslin. The fabric was really cheap from Vogue and I wasn’t super emotionally attached to it or anything, so I figured it wouldn’t be a great loss if it didn’t work out. Luckily, it did!
One weird thing about this fabric is that it comes out of the washer looking all twisted up but when it dries it’s fine again. I always do my best to cut things on grain because I always hated those t-shirts that twist around your body because they’re cut off grain. I use the fold and hang method: I fold the fabric in half and then hold it up by the two corners that AREN’T at the fold, if that makes sense – so I’m holding four free corners and letting the rest of the fabric hang free. If the bottom part, or the fold, is smooth, that means you’re on grain. If the fabric has diagonal drag lines leading toward the bottom fold, then you’re off grain. If you’re off grain, you adjust your corners at the top until the drag lines disappear, thus indicating that you’re now on grain. I’ve heard about people thread-tracing along a vertical line of the knit rib, but I think that’s totally excessive unless we’re talking about a couture garment or something, and I kinda don’t think I would make myself a couture garment out of a knit fabric, so I don’t see myself doing that anytime soon. I like the fold and hang method because it gets at what’s important about locating your grain, which is that the fabric hangs nicely. In my mind, it’s not critically important that it be ZOMG PRECISELY ON GRAIN. It’s important that falls from your body in a straight line and not in a twisted mess.
Ok, so that was a really long discourse on finding the grainline! Like I’ve been saying, dissertation brain. So I used this method on this fabric, and all seemed well. Before I washed it, the fabric hung nicely and I suspected no problems. But when it came out of the washer it was so twisted that it looked terrible. This top has a front center seam, so it’s really obvious if it’s not hanging straight. If I had put on the shirt as it was when it came out of the washer, the top of the front seam would have been at the center of my body, but the bottom of the seam would have been completely on my side. I decided that I must have been sleep-deprived when I cut the fabric and that the shirt would be a loss. Oh well, the fabric wasn’t that important to me anyway. Not wanting to throw a wet shirt into the trash to molder, I let it air dry hanging on the back of a chair. Imagine my surprise when I returned the next to see that my seams had magically migrated back to where they were supposed to be! Very strange. This fabric has done the same thing every single time I’ve washed it. Anyone have any clue what this might be about? I’ve never seen such a thing.
The skirt in these photos is a denim skirt I made last summer when I decided that I had a massive shortage of skirts. As soon as I made a bunch, I realized I had a corresponding massive shortage of tops to wear with them, leading me to realize that what I’d started with was simply a shortage in clothes. I lost some weight last year, so I didn’t fit in a lot of my clothes. I’ve gained some of it back, so I think I’m going to have the same problem this summer. Sigh. Anyway, this skirt was one I threw together using a skirt pattern I’ve modified from a Kwik Sew pattern. The original pattern has a center box pleat, but I’ve only made that version once. If you just hack off the part of the pattern that corresponds to the box pleat, it’s a pretty good moderate a-line skirt. I like the shape on me, so I’ve made it a ton of times. I made this one super simple without a top waistband because I was trying to get it finished before leaving on a trip.
I actually hate this skirt because I didn’t realize how super stretchy the denim was when I bought it from Joann’s. I really hate stretch denim – especially when it’s cheap stretch denim because gets baggy. I like denim because it’s structured. Making it stretchy defeats that purpose. I wear the skirt occasionally, but it bugs me every time. Below is how I usually wear this top – with a sweater and a cami underneath. The fabric is sooo sheer that not wearing a cami is out of the question.
So that’s Jalie 2921 and a sort of crappy skirt! I hope to report back soon with Anouk success and some thoughts on the Winifred dress, which I haven’t seen a lot in the blogosphere. I also want to show you the dress I made for my friend’s little girl because I think it’s adorable!