Thursday, August 14, 2014

Summer Sewing Plans...Interrupted

Before my college education really sped up, I would spend summers sewing--filling baskets and boxes and hangers with UFOs and self drafted patterns and toiles and whatnot. My grand plans for Summer Sewing 2014 included a Female Hobbit Costume, a Daenerys Astapor Dress, a ruffed skirt for my mother and completing the Raspberry Smocked Dress and Edwardian Pintucked Shirtwaist...yeah right! 

(My camera cord has decided to hibernate in some undisclosed location so unfortunately pictures for this post will be lacking).

I was starting to feel burnt out from the Edwardian Shirtwaist, which I worked on in May; since I had no event or deadline, I set it aside and worked on my Raspberry Smocked Dress, which ended up being its own can of worms.

McCall's 6503 had a gross amount of excess ease. When I started the dress over a year ago, I took in the back darts and side seams, and replaced the front gathers with honeycomb smocking. I let the back darts out a bit in June and redid the smocking, and everything was going fine until it was time to attach the waistband and the skirt. The waistband front was too small and the back too large -- of course -- and the side seams were not matching up. One new waistband later and then I agonized for days because it appeared that my perfectly edgestitched waistband was on UPSIDE DOWN. After several nervous fits and many opinions from neighbors and family, I realized that it wasn't upside down but that somehow the front waistband was cut a smidge longer than the back....sigh. Simple snips with the scissor fixed that, but then the skirt...THE SKIRT! Like the waistband, the skirt was not matching up with the side seams. After fiddling for another week with the side seams (which, for the first time, I had finished with handmade bias tape from a remnant of vintage can see where the agony is coming from) and the pleats, the skirt was hopeless. I cut another skirt out of whatever fabric was left -- to accommodate the short amount I reduced the length of the skirt by 4 inches. 

Most of these alterations stem from my figure -- though I'm not complaining, my very narrow back is significantly smaller than my tummy. For the new skirt, I cut a size 14 for the front (the largest in the pattern envelope) and a 6 for the back (the smallest size in the envelope). The straight size 10 I had cut the first time around wouldn't work no matter how much I finagled with it.

By this time I was very burnt out with my sewing, having spent nearly a month trying to complete the supposedly quick and easy Smocked Dress. I had planned to have the Hobbit and Daenerys costumes completed by July, but by that point the deadline for the ruffled skirt I had promised my mother was nearing.

Some days of frantic sewing the ruffled skirt for my mother -- I drafted the pattern from a previous ruffled cotton miniskirt of hers -- and I realized I could not finish it in time without sacrificing other work obligations. Sigh...the material came from Wal-Mart, a lovely blue cotton shot with silvery green, creating a subtle shimmery olive color, for about $1 a yard. Unfortunately it appeared that this Wal-Mart hadn't replenished their fabric stock in months and the bolt only had 1 yard and 20 inches, just enough for the ruffles and waistband. The lining fabric was originally destined to be grey polycotton, but when I realized I didn't have enough I sent my boyfriend out on an emergency fabric run--he came back with an even nicer (though much more expensive) dark grey polycotton (presumably). I'm really excited to finish this and at this point have only to hem the ruffles, attach it to the waistband, and add the zipper.

And the Daenerys and Hobbit costumes? Those will be a scramble to complete during September as they are destined for ComicCon in early October.  Though it will be overwhelming, I'm sure I can do it and am glad I chose a very easy Halloween costume for myself this year. I will be [hopefully] be wearing  an embroidered ionic chiton and dressed as the goddess Demeter -- if that falls through I do have the Bronzino Gown from last year, which I love wearing!

I hope your summer sewing plans are going much better than mine this year!


  1. I'm right there with you! I've been stuck on an 1830s gown for my sister and an 1850s dress for me for similar reasons. I was lucky enough to find more Walmart fabric when I ran out, though. The costuming angels are just not hovering around my craft room (they must have gone on summer holiday)!
    I hope your sewing world gets sorted out soon. You can do it! :)

  2. I have sewing issues too with my proportions. I hope you get all of your sewing done.