May 012015
 

I have one more dress to show you from my Florida photoshoots, but first a word about Me-Made May.  Like I said last year:  nope.  I really don’t get Me-Made May as a concept that’s designed to encourage you to wear the stuff you’ve made.  I constantly wear the stuff I’ve made.  I wouldn’t keep making it if I didn’t.  I do own some RTW, though, and I don’t care for the idea of discouraging myself from wearing it.  I like it a lot, which is why I bought it.  I don’t buy a lot of RTW these days, so if it’s in my closet, it’s because I really liked it.  Plus there are some days where I don’t even leave the house – such is the life of a grad student.  Other days, I only go to the library, and I don’t get all gussied up for those days.  I usually end up wearing one of three super comfy knit dresses I own on those days, and one of them is RTW.  So for these many reasons, I give a hearty whatevs to MMM.

vlisco-made-by-rae-washi-front-1

This picture was taken on the only day of our trip that we were able to go to the beach.  It was still quite windy, as you can see – so windy that I think I’m gesticulating and barking at my mom to wait to take the picture until I can get situated.  I like how it looks like I’m doing a sort of stilted dance, though, so I decided to include the picture!vlisco-made-by-rae-washi-front-3The beach was really busy that day, which was crazy because it was a Monday, but I think it was the beginning of spring break for a lot of people.  This theory was bolstered by the massive group of bros that we unfortunately set up in front of.  Bros of the world:  feel free to keep on bro-ing, but could you try to be a bit quieter about it?  I don’t want to listen to your every inane conversation while at the beach, or as was the case last week, while at the library.vlisco-made-by-rae-washi-front-2But that’s enough about bros – what kind of dress is this?  This is the Washi Dress pattern from Rae Hoekstra.  One of the first things I ever made was the Made by Rae Buttercup Bag in a class at the shop where I learned to sew, The Needle Shop.  When Rae made a dress pattern, I snapped it up, having had a better experience with her bag pattern than a lot of others I tried.  I’ve made two other Washis, two of the first dresses I ever made.  I really love this dress because it has shirring on the back, which gives it an almost custom fit.  At the time that I made my first one, I was amazed at how easy it was to fit, especially after having struggled with a Simplicity pattern for what seemed like forever only to be foiled by poor fabric choice in the end.  The Washi is designed for quilting cottons and other similar fabrics, so it was perfect for me at the time because I had a lot of those in my stash.  I still wear those two Washis, one made of a gorgeous Echino fabric, and the other in a Valori Wells quilting cotton.  In the photo below you can see that the dress can sometimes have a little bit of a baby bump illusion effect, which is annoying.  My other two don’t have this and the bodice seems longer on them as well, so I think I may have lengthened the bodice but didn’t mark it on the flat pattern.  I think the longer bodice eliminates the empire silhouette, which is what gives me the pregnant look.  I’ll make note of this for future versions.  vlisco-made-by-rae-washi-sideThe fabric is another Vlisco pick ordered with Charlotte.  When it arrived, I knew I wanted to make a maxi with it because of the large print arranged vertically.  I wanted the fabric to go the other way around so that the longer lines were pointing down, but I accidentally cut it wrong and had no extra fabric to recut.  I was quite irritated by this, but I’m over it now.  I think it looks a wee bit obscene with those finger-like lines pointing up, but Ben said he didn’t know what I was talking about, so maybe I’m crazy.  vlisco-made-by-rae-washi-backYou can see in the picture above that there’s also some funky swayback issues happening on the back, which I’ll also correct in future versions.  I think I want to make another Washi with another Vlisco print Charlotte and I ordered, but I’ll probably keep that one knee-length.  When I make it, in addition to fixing the swayback and lengthening the waist, I’ll take a wedge out of the center front because I have some gaping at the neckline.  I guess I was a lot more forgiving of fit issues like these when I made the first two dresses!vlisco-made-by-rae-washi-detail-printHere’s a closeup of the print, in which you can see that it isn’t actually green, as it appears in the photos above.  It’s yellow with dark navy crosshatching.  I love the green look, so I prefer that everyone stand at least a few feet away from me when I wear this!vlisco-made-by-rae-washi-detail-selvage-center-backThe Washi isn’t supposed to have a center back seam, but I had to use one because I was cramming this maxi onto three yards of 45 inch fabric.  I used the selvedge as my fabric edge because it’s neato.  vlisco-made-by-rae-washi-detail-shirringThere’s my shirring, which is always so much fun to do.  For those unschooled in shirring, you just use elastic thread in the bobbin and the longest stitch length your machine with do (6mm in my case).  MAKE SURE you wind your bobbin the right way around!  The first time I tried to do shirring, I wound my bobbin backwards and thought my machine was broken when it made a terrible noise and refused to stitch.  Internets to the rescue:  if you google something like “shirring problems” there are tons of people giving you the sage advice above.  Very important.  The funnest part of shirring is blasting it with steam once you’ve sewn all the lines.  The first line doesn’t look very gathered at all, but as you continue to sew more lines, they begin to look slightly gathered.  When you blast them all with steam, though, they shrink up a ton and it’s nifty to watch happen.  vlisco-made-by-rae-washi-detail-bias-binderOver a year ago I bought this bias binder attachment for my sewing machine and never used it.  I was making this dress at the same time that I was making my silk Grainline Alder and since I was having trouble with my bias-bound armholes, I thought I’d test this thing out to see if it would make my life easier.  Um, NO THANKS.  It was hard enough to manage with a stable cotton like Vlisco – no way was I going to attempt it on silk!  As you can see more clearly below, the binding you end up with is very narrow.  I actually like the way it looks (and it looks this way on both sides because the foot works by wrapping the binding around the edge), but it’s so narrow that there’s no margin of error, so my fabric kept slipping out of the reach of the binding/stitching.  In a few cases, it looked like the binding had caught the edge of the fabric, but I discovered when I attempted to press it that it had only caught the very edge and any pressure made it come undone.  Those spots were annoying to fix.

Aside:  I know you’re jealous of my stack of theory books!  It’s actually not just a stack of books – it’s a stupid form-over-function bookshelf that makes it look like your books are just stacked, but without the risk of them falling over and crushing your feet or small animals.  It looks really cool, but it has a big footprint because it needs a large, heavy base to keep from tipping over, and you could definitely fit a regular bookshelf that would hold more books in the same amount of space.  Not recommended.  vlisco-made-by-rae-washi-detail-bindingBack to bias binding:  as you can see below, trying to finish off the edge is way messier looking than regular bias binding.  Blergh.  I’m going to sell this thing on Ebay, methinks.  vlisco-made-by-rae-washi-detail-binding-join

That’s it for this Vlisco Washi!  I finished a pair of Ginger jeans last week, but after wearing them for a day, I discovered several problems with them and have demoted them to wearable muslin status.  I’m not going to blog about them until I fix the problems because I want to make sure I know how to fix them.  Among the problems:  excessive front crotch length (and thus begins the discussion of crotches on my blog, ushering in a new era of spam, I’m sure); gapping at the back waistband despite my corrections after muslining; misplaced pockets despite MANY rounds of moving them up, down, and all around; too much ease at the back thigh; and overcorrection for my hyperextended calves.  I’m also not in love with the stretch denim I used, but I think I’ll make the next pair out of the same denim because it was cheap at Vogue ($5.99/yard).  Once I get all the fit stuff down, I’m going to try to get my hands on some better stretch denim.

Aug 282014
 

red-hair

So, first things first.  I bleached my hair and now it’s red!  I was bleaching it with the intent to dye it a more vibrant shade of purple, of course.  Once I bleached it, though, I really liked the gingery color that resulted, so I decided to do red for a little while.  Even though I liked this color a lot, it’s a little too light and orangey for my skin tone, plus it was uneven because I didn’t listen enough when people online said your roots would bleach a lot faster than the rest of your hair because of the heat from your head, so my roots turned out bright yellow.  I ended up dyeing it a much darker and more vibrant red, and I think it looks better with my skin and more natural.  I mean, it’s still pretty obvious that I’m not a natural redhead, but at least it doesn’t clash quite as much.  I think I must have been inspired by Tasha’s recent transformation, which I love!  I finished a Grainline Alder last week and already have some photos, so if I can get my act together and write up a post, you should be able to see the new red soon!  Once my roots grow out, I’m going to use hair dye remover, bleach out whatever red is left, and actually do teal first.  Once that fades, I think I should be able to put purple over top without too much interference.  Yay colors!

mccalls-5893-front

Now on to the actual topic of this blog!  Today I have a fairly altered version of McCall’s 5893, a maxi dress.  The two substantial changes I made were to make this a little bigger so I could sew it in a woven, and to make the dress out of a single piece in the front and a single piece in the back rather than having a separate bodice.  I didn’t really like having a seam line breaking up the length of the dress.  I’m so short that I thought a continuous piece of fabric would be more lengthening.  I don’t know how much of a difference this makes in a busy print like this, but it was especially important for the second one I made, which was a border print with stripes along the middle of the fabric.  Keeping those stripes intact made the dress look a lot better than it would have broken up.  Unfortunately, my darts are all kinds of wonky on that dress, and I really don’t want to wear it.  They were super pointy and I couldn’t do anything to fix them.  When I tried, the points actually turned from single points to these weird elliptical bubbles.  Ugh.  I really liked the fabric I used, but at least it was only two dollars a yard at Vogue.  It’s a poly and wasn’t taking a press very well, which I think is part of the problem.

Another thing that making the dress all one piece did is allow me to eliminate the gathered skirt.  I didn’t feel like a long gathered skirt would be a good look for me, so what I did was just leave the vertical bust darts open at the bottom so the dress would still give me some ease through the stomach and hip area, which makes me feel much more comfortable.  I really like how this turned out.  I think it’s flattering, and I have plans to use this construction method on tops and other dresses.

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In that photo, I was trying to smile at the voluminousness of the skirt, but I ended up looking skeptical, which I think is actually quite appropriate!  I’m not sure maxi dresses look that great on me in the first place, but the volume in this skirt especially made me worry it was too overwhelming for my short frame.  I’m still not sure if I should take it in at the side seams.  The width of this skirt was another thing I altered, come to think of it.  I was worried it wouldn’t be wide enough based on the pattern as drafted, so I used a maxi skirt I have from Target as a guide.  However, the skirt is a rayon jersey and has awesome drape, whereas this skirt doesn’t drape quite as nicely.  I thought it might because it’s a nice cotton lawn, but it’s just not as good as jersey.

So you might be wondering why I decided to make a maxi dress if I was so uncertain of how it would look on me.  I had kind of been wanting to try a maxi dress this summer, but my hand was forced about a month ago when I stupidly fell while out for a run and got a huge disgusting scrape on my leg.  It was truly gross and had to be covered with a huge bandage, and there was no way I was going to go out with it or even the bandage exposed.  So I pulled out this pattern, which I think was one of the first ones I bought back when I started sewing!  I also went to Target and bought a bunch of maxi skirts because I just didn’t have enough clothes to get me through the week and couldn’t sew up everything I needed quickly enough.  One of the Target skirts is so ridiculously long that I’ve actually hiked it all the way up and have been wearing it as a dress.  I know I’m short, but come on, Target!  These skirts are made for 7 foot tall women!

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So my foot looks a little pale and dead in this photo, haha.  But this photo captures what’s constantly happening as I wear this dress – I have to hold up the skirt to go up stairs, get in cars, avoid getting the dress in puddles.  It’s actually one of my favorite things about this dress.  It makes me feel like a princess!

mccalls-5893-back

Not much to say here, but I like to include a back shot because sometimes what looks good from the front looks hideous from the back.  I’m happy with this one, though.  I do think I’ll make the back narrower at the arms, though.  This extending pretty far out onto my arms, which happened because the neckline is really wide on this dress.

mccalls-5893-side

Not much to say about the side, either.

mccalls-5893-dramatic-frontThis picture cracks me up.  I wanted to do a dramatic shot, but I ended up looking like I’m leading the charge into battle in some old painting.

I’ve definitely been inspired by Oonaballoona’s maxi awesomeness, and I did sew this during Oonapalooza month, but I didn’t get my act together with photos.  So I’m going to say this is my contribution for the Sewcialists’ Tribute Month, and it’s a late tribute to Oona!  I only wish I would have caught on to her low-to-the-ground style of photography, because this just-shy-of-five-feet girl needs all the help she can get.  I’ll definitely try it next time.

So with all that being said, I’m sort of thinking of chopping this dress off at the knees.  A maxi just isn’t that wearable for me, and I would kind of like to wear this into the fall with tights, boots, and a cardigan.  On the other hand, this is a really summery print, so maybe it would look weird in the fall.  What do you think?