My first attempt at sewing an article of clothing: Part One

After pouting about how I felt like I wasn’t getting any better at sewing, I looked back on my list of “completed” projects and realized I really didn’t sew all that much, for a handful of reasons.  I decided that I should really try to commit more to sewing projects.

I’ve been pinning a lot on my Pinterest boards on DIY projects and sewing projects lately, and yesterday, I finally started on a dress pattern that I had since summer.  I can’t just keep pinning things and adding further things to my “to sew” list if I never even begin on what I already have on it, right?

Part of the reason why I held off from doing this dress for so long is because I was afraid I would mess up.  But what comforted me was the memory of meeting a wonderful lady who spent many years sewing and had worked on many more projects than I have.

She said, “It’s just fabric!

So true. It is, indeed, just fabric.  With that in mind, I set to work yesterday on a trial run of the Vogue Easy dress pattern designed by Rebecca Taylor. I already had gathered the fabric and notions… it was time to do it!

Naturally, since I had never sewn clothing before or even read a pattern, I was sure I would mess up, so I practiced on muslin to spare the that expensive Liberty of London blue-and-white floral fabric that I adore so much.

I’m glad I did the muslin first.  As it turns out, there are a lot of things I forgot to do, or just sort of messed up on, because admittedly, I am TERRIBLE at following instructions.

Also, some of the instructions (when I actually tried to read them instead of just interpreting pictures, hah) were confusing and unclear. Like, why would you pin the skirt to the bodice before you install an elastic waistband, huh? WHY?! I never figured out the solution to that, so I just didn’t sew it in, causing the dress to be much looser than intended.

The result, which is still very much a work in progress, is this:

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You can see I’m pulling back the excess fabric.  Um, I think I at least I got the gist of the dress, right?  Here’s the goal dress for comparison (I’m still mad this pattern is only $18 at this site, whereas I paid $30+ at Joann’s!  REALLY?):

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 I’m trying to figure out the waist band situation, and I forgot to sew in a couple darts in the bodice and finish the raw edges, but I think that once I figure out the waist band, I could probably start with the pretty fabric, which is Liberty of London Tana Lawn Josephine’s Garden.

Isn’t it lovely? And it’s soft, too.

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 This is also the first time I’ve sewn pleats. They’re not that bad!  I was freaking out a bit when I first saw the directions, but once I started to crease the fabric, it kind of just fell into place… and then I sewed it down.

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Note to self:  Buy flat-head pins!

I’m going to be avidly searching Google to gain a better understanding of how to install a waistband elastic now…

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Owl Plushie: NAILED IT.

I created something that reminded me of a meme.

Expectation:

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Reality:

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Here’s what I’d do differently next time:

  • Use felt for the beak and maybe the eyes, as well as for accent pieces of the owl.
  • Cut out a bigger pattern!  I forgot about seam allowances (I haven’t sewed in a while, okay?!) so it ended up becoming smaller than I intended. Oops.
  • Make sure to sew the individual pieces of a “side” first before trying to sew the front and back pieces together!  That’s why there’s a fuzzy situation going on, on the right of the owl.
  • Add wings! I initially cut out wings, but then I forgot to add them.  Oops No. 2!

I used some scrap fabric I found at the reuse store and tiny bits of my “good” fabric as well as buttons I already had laying around, and I got some practice in, so it was definitely a learning experience!

Here’s my cat pretending to cuddle it for the photo.

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She later kicked it away while taking a nap.

Credit:  The green owl is found here by the Manic Muffin Totes Etsy shop.

What I’d like to sew

What I'd like to sew

A flouncy floral skirt with plenty of soft pleats and a little black dress with a chiffon layer… because, you know, you can never have too many little black dresses.

Finding inspiration for sewing things is easy… finding things for sewing what you want is hard.

Image credit:  Left – Hapa Time; Right – Unknown Pinterest source.

Sewing a Christmas Gift: The Naughty & The Nice

I first started my Christmas shopping a week or two ago.  One of the things of my list of Christmas-related things to do was sew a small makeup bag to contain a couple gifts – an eyeshadow palette and a small set of makeup brushes – that I purchased for my boyfriend’s mom.  So, I got started this evening…

Behold.  The straightest seams I have ever sewn to date.

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Isn’t it amazing?

Then, also amazingly, I managed to bend a pin.  I guess you could say, it bent to my will…

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It still got through in any case!  I mean, with much, much effort on my part.

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Then, after that, another little problem came up.  I was trimming the excess from the seams, and I hadn’t realized I was cutting right into a zipper.  The pinking shears quickly become stuck, and I just sat there for a couple minutes, unsure of what to do as I had tried to pry them apart with my hands, and it didn’t work.  After a while, I was like, “NOOOOOO, NOT MY FISKARS!!” and with the jaws of life, I used my hands to force apart those scissors, thus freeing my precious pinking shears.

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I just really love my pinking shears, okay?  Look at those perfectly pinked edges. Hah? Get it? Pinked… and the fabric is pink…

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The finished product.  Luckily, this time I remembered to unzip the zipper so I could have an opening in which to easily turn my bag inside out.  The first time I sewed a makeup bag, I didn’t do that – I spent quite a few minutes trying to get the zipper to unzip without being able to really put on the zip handle, but I eventually got it.

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It fits these small makeup items perfectly!  Because you know, I customized it to fit that way.

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Look! No open holes at the end of the zipper piece!  The first time I sewed my makeup bag, I had a small little gap, which wasn’t that bad, but it still bothered me.  This time, I ensured there was no gap.

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And here’s the naughty part.

I opened the door to my bathroom to find this.  The aftermath.

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I had kept my cat in the bathroom with the door closed so that she wouldn’t attack my sewing equipment and cause trouble while I was working on this project.

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You can see the tip of her tail on the right.

So, that’s another Christmas gift I can cross off my list!  Off to clean up that mess of what was formerly toilet paper now.

My fingers hurt, but I still sewed!

If this looks like the face of evil, that’s because it is.Image

This furry-faced feline, who I adopted two-and-a-half weeks ago and just happens to match the sweater I’m wearing, sunk her fangs into my fingers!  The left index finger and the right thumb, to be more precise.  And now they’re all hurt-y.  That’s okay, though.  I still love my cat.Image

(Look!  A muslin-covered pillow form I have yet to sew a cover for.)

See?  This photo was taken after I came home from the urgent care center.  This finger is much more ridiculously swollen in real life.  Still, even with a puffed-up index finger that doesn’t bend much and feels painful when anything so much as tickles it, I managed to sew.

This.

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(Oops, I forgot to get rid of the iron and the cat toy from the picture!)

Okay, okay.  To be fair, I got this apron from a thrift shop.  It was made for a 7-foot tall person and went down to my ankles, but when I saw this, I thought, “That’s okay. I have a sewing machine now!”  So I took it home and cut out maybe a foot from the middle, into these two parts you see here:

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I used my pinking shears for probably the second time ever.  I LOVE THESE…Image

…SO MUCH.

Look at how I managed to iron this double-fold hem in preparation for stitching.  It’s really hard to iron when two of your fingers are sensitive and virtually useless.  It’s even more annoying when you thumb touches the part of fabric that was just freshly ironed, so it gets even more sensitive and touchy.  But I still did it!

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I did have this minor issue, though…

When I was finished stitching, I flipped the fabric over and realized there was a pile of thread in an otherwise nice, straight stitch.  No matter!  I cut it out and stitched out it.  Then, I reattached the straps on the sides at a more flattering location.  Previously, since the apron was made for said 7-foot-tall person, the straps went around the middle of my butt.  That was neither flattering or comfortable.  I sewed on the straps near center of the apron so they would wrap around my lower back. MUCH BETTER.

And, in case you’re curious why the cat bit me – it’s because I picked her up from the kitchen countertop she jumped on, and I was trying to get her away from the heavy duty cleaning products I just sprayed around the kitchen.  She got scared, especially getting too close to the stove exhaust fan which was on “high,” wanted to get out of my grasp, and bit me.  Boo.  Next time I’ll use a spray bottle as some people have suggested to me!

Fabric shopping day!

I woke up to a grey, rainy day.  Normally, I’m pretty fearful of clouds and rain, but I was feeling pretty optimistic today because I got to go to the fabric store!  It wasn’t as overwhelming as my first shopping experience at Jo Ann’s (so, so many fabrics, aisles and aisles of them!!)  but there were still some fun, different fabrics I haven’t seen at other places yet.

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I love how everything is organized by color!  And there were so many pretty floral patterns, though I didn’t pick those up.

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You see, I’m trying to come up with projects I should start instead of doing what I keep doing, which is buying pretty fabrics and trying to come up with things to do with them.  I’ve started to accumulate quite the backlog of fabrics!

So I tried to stay practical…

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Got my threads…

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Then, I unwittingly selected a couple fabrics that matched up with the threads!  I wasn’t planning on it, I swear!

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Aren’t they pretty together?

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These are 440 yards each, if I remember correctly.  This is great for avoiding moments like this:

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How many times has this happened to you?!

cosmetic bag attempt

I created this cosmetic pouch using scrap fabric pieces and a 9″ zipper. This is my first time sewing on a zipper! I didn’t use a pattern for this bag; I thought “winging it” would be a good way to learn so I could trouble shoot things on my own.

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This only cost me $3 to make!

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I lined the inside with a colorful striped fabric as well.

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Next time, I will try making the bag more structured and stiff with fusible interfacing or batting, or maybe using oilcloth instead of regular cotton fabric! I think inner or outer pockets would be useful for small items such as lipsticks and lip balms, too!

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In the end, I’m happy with how this project turned out. Now I have a makeup bag that can fit extra big items like that Lorac Unzipped eyeshadow palette, which my other makeup bag could not accommodate due to its shorter width!