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Monthly Archives: April 2013

Is it still stashbusting when the fabric has only been in your stash for 3 weeks? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Luckily the pattern at least was unearthed from cold storage, where it has lain lo these many (well, maybe three) years. In what I think is the true spirit of the Pattern Review Pattern Stash Contest, I’m making up old patterns that I’ve remained really excited about, even though I’ve for whatever reason not ever turned them into garments. Usually that reason is that I’ve never found just the right fabric for them. That was certainly the case with poor Vogue 1179. I really liked this pattern, and had the perfect, beautiful silk jersey for it, purchased a few years ago at Michael Levine… where I didn’t notice that it was only 45 inches wide, and therefore I did not, in fact, buy enough for this dress. So into the stash box/pile they both went.

But as I was sifting through the pattern box for oldies but goodies, I pulled it out, and immediately my eye was drawn to the turquoise poly knit on top of the pile of my recent LA haul. You know, that fabric I bought with no project in mind at all? The fabric I assumed would be the last of the haul I’d get around to? Yeah, well, suddenly it had to be this dress. right. now.

Vogue 1179

This pattern, along with the ubiquitous 1250, were the popular 3-piece Vogue designer dresses that everyone and their mother were making a year or two ago. And with good reason – who doesn’t want to whip out a dress in a day? I certainly do. I washed and cut the fabric one day, and sewed it all the next, though certain fiddly bits did keep me at it for more than just the couple hours the three pattern pieces would seem to indicate it should take.

I started off quite well, whipping out the five pleats at the neckline in record time. Sidebar: does anyone actually do pleats as instructed by the pattern companies? These instructions would have you “crease” along the line with small circles (how do you crease poly jersey, pray tell?), bring the crease to the other line, then baste on top of the pleat close to the crease. What? I just fold along the middle of the pleat and baste down the marked lines. I don’t generally even mark the lines on my fabric, I just baste straight down from my clip marks a little ways. Then I unfold the piece and press the pleat in whatever direction is indicated by the instruction illustration and baste across the top. I feel this is not only easier than the instructed method, but makes a neater and more accurate pleat too! I know I didn’t come up with this method myself, which means that at least some patterns instruct you to do it my way, so why the “crease” rigmarole here? Vogue just trying to be obstinate, I guess. Anyway, end of rant. Here’s a comparison shot of crazy complicated instructions and super fast easy pleats (and you can also see the cool textured stripe this fabric has):

Vogue 1179 pleats

I attached the cowl easily (again ignoring the instructions to just attach one side then slipstitch the inside down… not gonna happen. I just folded the cowl in half and attached it as one; the seam is totally hidden when worn), but where I got bogged down was the armhole finishing. The armholes as drafted were way too high and tight for me. I first attempted to finish them using clear elastic as instructed (hadn’t I learned not to trust these instructions yet?), but that just made them tighter. I cut them down a little and tried again, same thing. After yet another trim and elastic attachment I called uncle, cut them down another half inch and just turned and twin needled, which is what I should have done from the start. I probably took the bottom of the armscye down about an inch in all (my low armpits strike again!), but in the trimming process I also whittled away the sides of the armscye too much, making the section between the armhole and the neckline narrower than I’d like. Whoops.

The hem that’s called for is a full 4 inches, and I like the idea of a deep hem on this design a lot. However, a 4 inch hem is not easy to twin needle, let me tell you. My hem is a little wonky, since even though I pinned the heck out of it, that still didn’t make me good at keeping my stitching line straight without a seam guide. But I don’t think the slightly uneven hem is too obvious when worn. I added an inch and a half to the length when I cut it out, but once it was together and I pinned up the hem I wanted it shorter so I took the extra off again, so it ended up the drafted length. Any longer and it exacerbated the flowy-fabric-catches-on-giant-thighs-and-pooches-out-over-stomach problem I’ve been having a lot lately. It’s still happening even with the shorter hemline, but to be fair I can kind of see it on the pattern envelope picture and I think it’s just a tendency of the design. I really should have cut a bigger size from hips to hem, I guess.

Vogue 1179 2

Overall I’m not sure this is the most flattering dress in the world (all the back pictures were appalling with the amount of fabric pooling above the butt, but how can you do a swayback adjustment on a sack dress?), but I sure like it. It’s a sack, but it’s a really elegant sack that can be dressed up with heels or down with leggings. I’ll admit that I’m a bit puzzled by the idea of a cozy cowl neck on a sleeveless dress, but it works. Of course, I’m totally going to be putting sleeves on it come fall. A girl needs a fancy sack for every season, right?

My full pattern review slash contest entry can be found here.

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So, March happened. Yep. In a whole month I managed to make one whole garment. And I’m so glad to hear that you didn’t find yet another knit dress boring, because really the only other sewing-related thing I accomplished in March was – wait for it – buying even more knit fabric! Because I need more fabric like I need a hole in the head. But it was LA! It was the fashion district! It was Mood and Michael Levine Loft and yeah, I have a problem.

As you may have gathered, I was down in Los Angeles for work for about three weeks in March. My schedule there leaves me free in the evenings, so I did my best to cram in as much LA-specific stuff as possible. Which mostly amounted to buying things. By things I mean fabric. Oh, what, you want to see it? Well okay then:

LA fabric haul #2

The pieces on the left are from F and S Fabrics, which is a lovely store along the line of Mood but not as big. They also offer sewing classes, one of which was happening when I was there – I’m glad the fabric stores are making an effort to secure their future by luring more folks into sewing. I managed (not on purpose) to buy two polka dot fabrics: the pink dot is a rayon remnant that will probably become a flowy sleeveless top (if I ever sew a woven fabric again, that is), and the other is the graduated dot poly knit I mentioned that I will certainly use to copy Amanda’s awesome dress. And what’s that behind them? Why, it’s my very first Burda mag! Found at the newsstand next to F and S. The stand was like a Burda jackpot, actually, with multiple copies of the January, February and March issues. I chose March because it contains a gathered front cardigan pattern that I’m dying to make up.

The middle row is my haul from the Michael Levine Loft, where everything is $2.50 a pound so you don’t have to count your yardage! Turns out this is important when you’ve arrived at the Loft only 20 minutes before closing after literally running there from the Metro stop. (Yes, LA has a very nice Metro, that will get you within about 7 blocks of the heart of the fashion district. Provided you are starting from somewhere with a Metro stop.) From top to bottom: an avocado doubleknit for a summer version of my sweatshirt dress, a textured deep turquoise poly knit for some kind of dress or other, a random colorblocked stripe fabric that will maybe be a Cation dolman top, and like 4 yards of a striped rayon knit for a Tiramisu finally (that pattern needs kind of a lot of yardage – I mean, not that much, but better safe than sorry, right?)

FInally, the last piece is the one thing I allowed myself at Mood. I only had about a half an hour for Mood, and without a specific need for anything I told myself I would only buy something if it was a statement fabric that I loved. And when I spotted this modern graphic ITY I knew I had to have it. I got enough for a maxi dress, and I’m excited about it. Black/white/gray/chartreuse modern art print? How could I not?

But hey, I didn’t just shop. (Well, mostly I did. Discount Swedish furniture is almost as hard for me to resist as discount fabric.) But I did manage to get to LACMA, the Los Angeles Museum of Art, which is a really, really nice museum. It’s open til 8 on Fridays and after 5 LA residents are free! And if you’re visiting LA, I highly recommend you skip the tourist junk in Hollywood and go to LACMA. They have a huge, very diverse collection and a lovely facility. I love their contemporary art building in particular, and was thrilled to be able to see the super cool sculpture/construction Metropolis II in action. It’s basically a little city that has thousands of Matchbox cars rushing through it. It’s loud and beautiful and complicated, just like a real city, but less stressful since I don’t have to drive in it. (Man I hate driving in LA.) Anyway, I can’t recommend LACMA enough. I also recommend the restaurant/bar at the museum, Ray’s/Stark Bar, where I had a good pizza and a fantastic cocktail afterwards. Do it!

Metropolis II

But the best part about being in LA was that I got to hang out with a fellow sewing blogger! I met up with Ms McCall at F and S (where I convinced her to buy a totally awesome red-orange stretch velvet, under the condition that if she hadn’t turned it into something in one year that it would pass to me!), again (brief as it was) at the Loft, and on my last day we checked out Golden Road, a great brewery/restraunt in Glendale. Sadly, my only photographic evidence of our awesome time is this really embarrassingly bad picture. Was I already 2.5 beers in at this point? Entirely possible. Anyway, the magic of the internets never ceases to amaze me, and I’m so glad I live in an age when sewing can connect two people who end up having a lot more than sewing in common, to drink beer and talk for hours and have a great time. Hooray for technology! And I know there’s more of you sewing-types in LA, so I hope I can meet up with you too the next time I’m down.

at Golden Road

As fun as it was, I’m glad to be home and back with my sewing machine, though I’ve been sadly neglecting it since I’ve been back. But this month? April’s got a lot of potential, I can feel it. And though my new acquisitions are sorely tempting me, April is the stashbusting month – Cation Design’s Vibrant Color Stashbusting Challenge and the Pattern Review Pattern Stash Contest are calling my name! Now let’s see if I can undo some of my March Madness…