This weekend was one of those weekends that really made a somewhat novice sewist want to chuck her sewing machine out the window.
In Casey’s Swing Dress Sew-Along, we started the muslin. Because not only have I never sewed a dress before but I’ve never sewed anything with that kind of overlapped v-neck, I have been very diligent in going through all steps. I cut my pattern pieces out of Swedish tracing paper (I love that stuff), measured my nape-to-waist and trimmed down the bodice pieces accordingly, along the line it tells you to. I sewed it all up and the waistline in the back was 2″ above my waist. I took it all apart, cut out another set of bodice pieces 2″ longer, sewed it all up again and it looked like you could fit a sack of potatoes in the bodice with me. I even posted the horrifying photos on the Flickr group for the sew-along, which was helpful if a bit humiliating. (I am so not posting them on my blog.)
The next day, I cut the bodice pieces again, this time a size smaller. Then I trimmed the overall height of the waistband a bit, but lengthened it to account for an extra 1″ in the skirt that I thought I could use at the waist. That extra 1″ is something I haphazardly let out in the skirt instead of actually cutting out the next size larger skirt pieces, because I basically have no muslin left to play with at this point. All I did was decrease my seam allowance on the front center and back by 1/2″ per side and ripped out the old seams.
I sewed it all together. This time I got a much better looking fit on top, with the exception that it feels like the bodice is riding up my girls a bit. The waistband isn’t sitting flat on my stomach at the top, but hovering in a little gap between my waist and my bust. (I also don’t like that the way you attach the waistband on the front is by top stitching, but that’s just me. Can you just turn the pieces right sides together and stitch that way?) I’m thinking an extra 3/4″ in length would help. Since I knew I was running out of muslin, on this third set of bodice pieces I cut the original size, folded up the excess I wanted to get rid of and sewed it. Because of this bit of trickery I actually think I’ll be able to rip out the stitches, re-fold giving myself the extra 3/4″, sew it again and not even have to undo the construction of the bodice and skirt (which is a pain in the ass…especially when you’ve done it three times already). I’m hoping that will get the front waistband in the right place.
I still have a lot of issues to overcome. The side seams look like a mess, with my size 12 bodice and half-ass modified size 14 skirt that’s going to eventually get cut between the 14/16 sizes—nothing matches up smoothly at all (I tried adding in a small fabric insert to make the transition from the bodice to skirt at the side seam smoother, but I didn’t need the width of the extra fabric above my waist). Plus, it occurred to me on the bus this morning on the way to work that the reason I haven’t been able to get my skirt notches to match up on the side is that I must not have the back waist seam in the exact center where the front waist would be if it didn’t have the wide waistband. I’m not sure what to do about that (and not sure which side is higher since I’m at work and my muslin isn’t). I also don’t have a dress form and this has a side zipper, so I’ve been making do with one side seamed and the other held or awkwardly pinned together, but I worry it’s not giving me a complete picture of how the waist will fit. (I’m going to have to install a zipper on my muslin, aren’t I?)
But overall, I feel better about it today than I did on Friday when I made the first two ill-fitting muslins, or Saturday when I took the ugh photos of the worst muslin. I do admit, on Saturday after taking the bad muslin photos I just abandoned the sewing completely for a craft I actually understand.
(Which reminds me, more info on the vintage sweater knit-along coming tomorrow!)
And in-between bouts of sewing nonsense, we did have a productive thrifting adventure yesterday. I found a 1960s yellow floral nightgown/house dress (similar to what Divine, as Edna Turnblad, wore in Hairspray while ironing), a simple vintage cotton blouse and a pair of cute red Hush Puppies. They’re from the 1980s (and I can’t even begin to tell you how much I do not consider something from the 1980s to be vintage *shudder*), but I think they have a cute kind of outdoorsy vintage look, with their sensibly tiny wedge heel. I think they’ll be fun for summer and camping.
I also got a fun Etsy find in the mail. Some deadstock plastic barrettes, still on the original cards.
The little ones are sadly too small to hold back my hair at the sides like I sometimes wear it, but they may prove useful for some future hairstyle. The large one, however, is perfect. It worked great for a casual hair day like yesterday, when my curls from my set had relaxed to waves.
The seller has several other sets of barrettes obviously from the same lot, for anyone interested. Now that I have long hair for the first time since high school, I’m remembering that “jewelry” for your hair can be fun.
Distractions aside, anyone else working on the Swing Dress Sew-Along who’s having better luck than I am? I guess at least I can say this is a good learning experience, even if I’m a complete hack at how I’m going about it all!