Kelly stood straight and tall in her balloon-covered maxi dress. Did it really make her look taller and slimmer?
Jeannie struck a casual pose next to her. The pattern had promised to minimize her giant hips, but she had added the sunburst appliqué just to be sure. She knew it was working because The Boy couldn't stop staring at it.
The pattern had worked so well for Katie! She looked SO tall and SO slim that she spent the evening bent over admiring the boys, but all they cared about was that stupid piano.
All Linda and Brenda had wanted was beautiful fashion that made them look chic and slim. And here they were stuck in the corner of the rec room, all alone -- Linda puzzling over this, well, thing, and Brenda standing haughtily with one hand on her hip.
You know the saying "you can't see the forest for the trees"? When it comes to sewing, that doesn't quite describe me. It'd be more accurate to say I can't see the forest for the lichen on the rocks underneath the trees.
Take my latest project, McCall's 4576. Does it ring a bell? It might. I posted about it back in December, when I was thinking about making it for New Year's Day. When I say I'm a slow sewster, I mean it.
About a month ago, after a killer swath of work, I had a free weekend and was ready to sew. I whipped up a muslin of the other New Year's dress I had been debating and decided that all the stripe-matching and re-fitting required wasn't worth it. On to view A of this pattern! I spent probably 30 minutes making sure the grain was lined up (see what I mean about not seeing the forest?) and then cut that puppy out. (The corollary to my getting absorbed in details? I then get impatient and get a little sloppy on other things. The slippery gauze was a bitch to cut, and the pieces were a wee bit uneven.)
But my hope was still high at this point. I was documenting my steps for you, my dear readers. I had decided to learn what I could from the seamstress who had used the pattern before me. I'd noticed she cut out her paper pattern pieces differently than I did. She left paper overhanging on the "cut on fold" edge and cut her notches in, not out:
I followed her lead. Conclusions? I HATE cutting notches inward. Leaving paper overhanging for cutting on the fold? Very handy!
Anyway, on to sewing! Damn. I had hoped to whip through this thing. But with other errands and going to a movie and such the weekend was over. No problem. I picked it up the next weekend with plans to stitch it together -- it was an easy pullover, after all -- and, after all the other weekend distractions, managed to get one seam done. ONE SEAM.
But it was a GORGEOUS seam. Beautiful. I'd decided to do a serged French seam a la Sandra Betzina, since the fabric frayed so much. See, I was going to do this thing RIGHT. No skipping steps! I serged the right sides together. Turned the wrong sides together and pressed that seam carefully. Usually I just hold the fabric when I do the second part of a French seam, but this time I pinned it. Did I mention I basted in the seamline as well for accuracy? AND taped down my serger seam guide so there would be no nasty guide movement?
Wow, what a great seam it was. A few days later, I did an equally beautiful seam on the center back. The workmanship! I had such pride! Until I realized...
...I had sewn the wrong sides together.
I didn't cry. I didn't scream. I literally bowed to defeat, putting my head down on my sewing table. And then I left the room.
Days later, I decided I could sew down the exposed seam. It was enclosed, right? It would just look like a flat fell seam. An odd design choice, sure, but why not? Better than picking apart a serged seam and fray-happy fabric. It worked! On to the other side seam. Another beautiful serged French seam!
And, it turned out, ANOTHER chance to sew the wrong sides together.
By now I hated the dress. I hated the pattern. I hated myself. I folded up the fabric and pattern. Was about to put the fabric pieces away for that magical someday when I would return to the dress.
Then I saw the trash can. The semi-finished dress had found its home.
Later I read this great Kenneth King quote -- it appeared originally on the Threads blog, but I saw it on Polka Dot Overload:
When learning the craft of sewing...you should
expect to destroy several acres of fabric before you get good.
If Kenneth King says it's OK for me to destroy fabric, I don't feel quite as bad for feeling so, well, relieved by throwing that dress in the trash. The blue gauze is out to the back 40 and now I'm working on this project, Simplicity 5144 :
I'm doing View 3, with the rounded hemline and front zipper. With any luck I'll get it finished before the end of the year!
McCall 957 is an interesting artifact in the history of male/female relationships:
I'm glad it allows your helpmate to "have just as much fun as you!" in preparing dinner and doing household chores, and I do hope that husbands thought they were wonderful. I question the assertion that hubbies particularly appreciated the "I'm in again" note, though. Can't you imagine some hapless young bride making the aprons and presenting them to her beloved every night when he came home from work? "You're in again, honey -- now go peel those carrots." At first he'd think it was cute -- then there'd come the day where the boss had yelled at him and he just couldn't take it. He'd snap and she'd cry, not understanding why the pattern envelope had let her down so.
Between some fantastic reader submissions and new releases from Simplicity, McCall's and Vogue, it's like Christmas over here at Pattern Junkie HQ! Sadly a case of the stomach flu has slowed my posting ambitions, but I awoke today ready to jump right back into it. So much to share! Let's jump over to Vogue's new patterns, shall we?
Lately there have been some fascinating blog discussions as to whether or not dressing/sewing vintage equals embracing the feminine oppression of the era. I fall squarely in the "fashion is fun/embrace the freedom to wear what you want" camp, but I have a feeling the artist for Vogue 8643, Vogue's latest contribution to its vintage reproduction category, feels differently:
The aprons strike me as 1950s/early 1960s styles, but these aren't fun rockabilly chicks or sunny 1960s bakers. Check out the black and white mod sheath dresses and the short haircuts on most of them. These are mod girls! Mod girls who've been plucked off the streets of London and Rome and forced into Happy Housewifery School.
Asian Print Apron is the headmistress. She reminds me a little of the head ballet instructor from Suspiria, and if you've seen Suspiria you know that that's a scary thing. Heavy-lidded Red with her egg-beater print apron (egg beaters!) forlornly carries drinks, while Yellow searches her gigantic pockets for keys to escape the asylum. Polka Dot (with her broken wrist! My wrists bend like that, but I have hyperextended joints) calls for help on the Phone with the Cord to Nowhere, while Green Flowers presents her Cake of Despair. That cake has gray icing on it, people. Gray.
Still not convinced? If you click to see the pattern description on Vogue's website you'll be treated to an actual model shoot they did for the pattern. Tell me the real title of this isn't "Hopes Drowned in Palmolive and Chardonnay:"
After yesterday's post, I have to come clean. I bought this bracelet from an etsy seller about a year and a half ago:
SOMEONE was going to wear it, right? The pattern had already been
destroyed, after all. Better that someone who loves sewing buy it than
-- I mean, I've always meant to do an interview with the seller for the
blog, but I've been terrified to ask the "where do you get your
patterns?" question, and -- my intentions were noble, really -- I was honoring my love of sewing --