Just sew It!

This year I resolved to get my sewjo back. I was frustrated that my “to sew” list just kept getting longer and longer. Also, I really needed some new clothes, but now that I know how good custom-made made clothing feels, I can’t bring myself to get ready-to-wear clothes. but I was stuck and couldn’t seem to start a sewing project.

Heather Lou, the designer behind closet case Patterns, was on Episode 23 of the love to sew Podcast last January. Her recommendations for procrastinators really resonated with me. “Just do the damn thing. stop thinking about it. stop making limitless lists. just do it.”

I really need a personal cheerleader telling me that all the time. I tend to think something to death because I’m so terrified of something going wrong, or I’m just not sure of how to get started, or I want it to be perfect. Also, I have way too much sewing stuff in too small of a space. I have things set up as best as I can on rolling carts and things, but there’s still the mental hurdle of having to step things around before I can get started.

Since I don’t have a personal cheerleader, I thought maybe I could print out a note reminding me not to procrastinate and hang it on the wall. I know from experience, though, that I’ll stop noticing a sign on the wall after a couple of days.

I thought maybe if I spent several hours sewing myself a note instead, I might pay a little a lot more attention to it. So I made this wall hanging, which I put on the wall just above my computer screen:

Did it work? Well, I still neglect this sign sometimes, but when I do really look at it, I have positive feelings about sewing. It is absolutely a lot more motivating than words on a piece of paper would have been. I think a paper sign would make me feel guilty for not doing something, while the attached sign makes me delighted because—hey, I sewed that, and look at those great satin stitches on the applique!

I’ve attached quite a few things this year. The funny thing is, I just haven’t felt like blogging about a lot of of them. I guess I feel I must have pretty pictures of them. But, you know what, taking pictures sucks. I don’t have good lighting or much room indoors, and taking everything outside is a substantial hassle. then there’s trying to get good pictures when I am a total dunce at posing. but this is my blog, and I can do whatever I want, so you get whatever pictures I feel like taking, even if they are just on my dress form or in bad lighting.

I’m writing this blog post mostly for myself anyway, to remind me, that yes, I’ve attached quite a few things this year. When I don’t blog about them, I tend to forget how lots of things I really have sewn.

After I took care of the two main things that had me stuck—I needed to make bras that fit me before I started fitting new clothes, and I really wanted a new custom-made dress form—I started sewing a lot more. That dress form has been absolutely amazing, by the way. I can’t believe how much faster and much easier fitting is now. I wish I could come over to your house and help you make your own dress form, but I can’t, so that’s why I wrote the tutorial on how to make your own dress form. Actually, I think writing that tutorial is what got me burned out on blogging for a while—it was a lot of work.

These are the attire I’ve attached this year but haven’t pointed out on my blog. They are all made from fabric from my stash purchased in 2017 or earlier. I spent too much on a set of thread and some vintage sewing machines this year, so I’m not getting fabric for the rest of the year. I’m making room in my stash, though, so next year I’ll have room for new fabric!

Here’s an Itch to stitch Davina Dress. I made this with a heavyweight cotton/spandex double knit fabric that I had previously cut down the middle lengthwise to make it into a baby carrying wrap. My babies are now nearly teenagers, so I converted the wrap into a dress. The fabric was narrow, so I had to do some creative piecing, but I made it work. I had some issues with the neckline gaping, so I sewed some clear elastic into the seam, and now it ripples. I need to remember to alter the neckline and do an FBA if I make this dress again. I do wear the dress, though. In fact, I’m wearing it ideal now.

Here is an SBCC Tonic Tee. I made some fit alterations, so this version fits a little better than the last one I made, although I may have overdone the flat upper back alteration just a tad—the carry seams are a little too far back now. but it’s a knit, so it all works.

Another Tonic Tee in mint green.

An Itch to stitch Lago Tank. This was the first one I made, so I consider it a wearable muslin. I must probably get rid of it, because it’s polyester, and I hate wearing polyester.

Another Lago tank made from cotton baby rib knit. this one has a very loose fit, because there is no spandex in the fabric. I don’t really care for the cut of this tank, because it shows my bra straps in the back, but it’s a good place to start from if I want to customize the pattern. I’ll wear this tank in the wintertime as an extra layer for warmth.

Here’s my first Helen’s closet York Pinafore. The fabric I used was a remnant of cotton twill. I made the bias facings extra narrow, hand basted them in place, and sewed them down from the ideal side with jeans topstitching thread. I did an FBA and shortened the pattern in the upper chest area so the neckline and the opening on the side aren’t down so low. I also made some fit changes to the back carry and made a full bum adjustment. The pattern alterations were so easy with my dress form! It is such a basic pattern that I just pinned the printer paper pattern onto my dress form and adjusted it. kind of like tissue fitting, but I didn’t even bother tracing the pattern onto tissue paper.

Here’s my second, longer version of the York. I made this in linen. I drafted narrow exposed facings for this one instead of using bias tape. The facing fabric is floral linen left over from making my Bootstrap fashion dress form.

I had some lavender linen left over, so I made another modified Scout Tee with it.

Helen released a cross-back apron expansion pack for the York Pinafore. I thought that was a amazing idea, but I had made so lots of fit changes to the pinafore already that I thought it would be much easier just to figure out this pattern hack on my own (plus I spent too much money on sewing stuff already this year, so I’m on a fabric and pattern getting break). I put my first York pinafore onto my dress form and pinned ribbon onto the back to figure out the apron back lines, then traced them onto tissue paper.

I managed to squeeze this apron out of just under a yard of cotton canvas I had in my stash. I had to cut the back pieces slightly off grain, but it looks fine.

The apron is ever so much a lot more comfortable than ones with a tie around the back of my neck. and it fits! The one-size-fits-all store gotten aprons I have are much too large for me.

I made a second, reversible York cross-back apron. I thought it would be much easier to sew than sewing on over five yards of bias facing, but it really wasn’t, and the edges aren’t as stable. If I make another one of these aprons, I’ll stick to finishing the edges with bias tape.

Is it a floral kind of day?

Or am I in the mood for food and farm animals?

Here is a loose fitting tee I made. My spouse got a complimentary t-shirt that ended up being a women’s large, not men’s, so he gave it to me. It is absolutely the best size for me, and I realized that my other ready-to-wear tees are all either too big or too small. So I traced off a pattern from the shirt, compared it to my fitting shell, and came up with a method for drafting the best loose fitting tee based off of a woven sloper. once I’ve perfected the method a bit and tried it on other people I’ll share it. This tee is nearly perfect. I need to raise the carry points just a bit on the next version.

I don’t tend to think of loose fitting t-shirts as needing much fitting, but they really are a lot more comfortable when they fit correctly!

I sewed three a lot more bras using the same self-drafted pattern as last time I made bras. The yellow and white checked fabric is Kaufman Carolina Gingham, which seems like an unlikely choice for bra fabric, but I really like it. It doesn’t stretch out too much over the course of the day, yet it has a good amount of give on the bias. I didn’t have yellow ribbon, so I made the bow out of a narrow tube of bias cut fabric.

I pulled out all of the scraps of knit fabric I had in my stash and sewed a drawer full of underwear. I only own two pairs of ready-to-wear underwear now. The pattern is one I made myself. originally I traced off patterns from three different pairs of ready-to-wear underwear and combined them. then I just kept tweaking the pattern. By the last pair I had the fit perfect.

Here are a couple of blurry mirror shots of my Avery Leggings. These are really just a wearable muslin. I actually made the lower rise, cropped version, but I’m so short they nearly come up to my natural waist, and go down to my ankles. I added length to the back waist for a full bum adjustment, but next time I’ll add just a little to the width, too.

The pattern calls for 1/2″ elastic at the waist. I’m sensitive to pressure, so I used some 3/4″ elastic instead. You have to use elastic with gentle stretch, or the elastic will be longer than the fabric and it won’t sew together right. even with the gentle stretch 3/4″ elastic, the waistband still cuts into me painfully. If I put my finger under the elastic, it doesn’t feel tight, but I just can’t tolerate narrow elastic around my natural waist.

I think I have enough fabric to re-cut the waistband and try to make it a lot more comfortable. I can try a slightly longer piece of elastic. If that doesn’t work, I might try figuring out how to fit two rows of elastic at the top. regrettably I haven’t been able to find large elastic with gentle stretch. The large elastic I’ve purchased is all pretty firm.

It’s too bad I find the waistband uncomfortable, because I really like the higher waisted look of the leggings, and the double layered large fabric waistband holds in my tummy nicely. It’s only waistbands up at my waist that I find uncomfortable, so I may have to get rid of the fancy waistband and just do a basic stitched and turned lowered waistband with broader elastic on my next version. I’d still get the benefit of the nifty hidden gusset in the pattern.

I sewed four pairs of woven pants for my son. I made the pattern using an experimental draping/drafting method I’m working on. I’ve learned so much about how pants fit during the process. It’s really been quite horrifying to realize how much pants fitting “experts” and pattern drafters misunderstand about the geometry of pants fit. No wonder those fitting and drafting methods haven’t worked for me. I’m not quite ready to share the method, but I think it’s going to work.

I also made him a few pairs of sweatpants using the same experimental patternmaking method for the pattern, and a matching sweatshirt using Jalie 3355. I reinforce the knees on all of his pants with interfaced patches. otherwise he blows out the knees in a few weeks.

Not visualized are four pairs of elastic waist pants I made for my daughter, a leather holster for my scissors, and some pillowcases I sewed with my kids.



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