It’s been more than a month since I posted about Belladone, but that’s not because I haven’t been keeping at it. A few weeks ago I hit my parents up for babysitting to go see the movie Phantom Thread and while I was at their house I hit Mom up for some muslin she wasn’t using, too. Thanks, Mom!
That I went to see a movie that prominently features dressmaking on the same day I lifted muslin for my own dressmaking efforts is a narrative parallel so on point that it seems contrived. Nonetheless, here we are:
This is my 2nd Official Muslin of this dress, a number which doesn’t include the 3 paper versions I made to get close enough to move on to muslin. I stopped to get some similarly badly-lit photos of the first and didn’t realize until I was uploading pics that it still had pins in it where I was trying to resolve the back wrinkles so you can’t see how bad they were. Oh wait, I sent a pic to Mom:
who wisely advised me to take length out of the back. Thanks again Mom! Much better.
I took some out of the front, too, but I’m going to add another quarter of an inch back in. It’s a little too high. Look, I borrowed a trick that was in the film and tied some yarn around my waist to demonstrate:
Can you see the waistband sloping up at the front in these tiny pics?
The scene where Reynolds measures Alma has stayed with me. Their interaction echoes the hopeful conversion of every home sewist. Alma says:
I never really liked myself. I thought my shoulders were too wide, my neck was skinny like a bird, that I had no breasts. I felt my hips were larger than needed and my arms strong.
The measurements have meaning to her. Judgment. Embarrassment. But to Reynolds they’re just numbers. He can dress her beautifully no matter what the numbers are.
I’m surprised every time I read a sewist’s sewing-with-knits-is-so-much-easier-than-I-previously-thought story. They’re everywhere. Or do I only notice them because I seem to have nothing but trouble? I find knits utterly befuddling. Partly my problem is that I overthink it. I couldn’t figure out, for example, how to finish knit seams. Answer: you don’t.
So, Moneta. Again. I tried to sew it last year as my first sewing-with-knits project. It was an utter failure. I was trying to be good and made a trial run or two of the bodice but it didn’t seem to give me a good idea of how things would turn out. Then I got to the part when you gather the fabric with clear elastic. I couldn’t manage that at all. I was wrestling with the elastic and wrestling with my fabric and wrestling with my machine and each one seemed to be pulling in a different direction. My results were abysmal.
I stuffed it in a drawer, but instead of forgetting about it this project weighed on my conscience. After making that tiny t-shirt I decided to go for broke. I already at the double needle installed and raring to go, why not take it for another walk?
I graded from a size small bust to medium waist and added 1.5 inches to the bodice and got…
a somewhat drop-waisted Moneta. Turns out I didn’t need all that extra length after all! Not bad, huh? This came together like a dream one Saturday morning as the children were making a horrible mess playing. A serger can make a big difference! Especially with clear elastic. It was happening! I too would have a sewing-with-knits-was-easier-than-I-previously-thought story!
And then? And then (dramatic pause) the dream turned into a nightmare. I sat down at my Bernina Nova. As I was winding a bobbin the double needle broke spectacularly. Weird, right? No matter, I had a jersey double needle on hand. I could sub that one in. I tested. It looked terrible. Was it the needle or something else? I investigated and discovered that the screw on the bobbin casing that I had so carefully loosened had, in fact, flown out of the bobbin casing entirely. STRESS.
My priority after that was to get my machine and the bobbin tension back in good working order for regular sewing. I have no confidence in my mechanical abilities, but I’ve made a dress muslin or two and a top since then and they’re all sewn together which is as much as one can ask for from a sewing machine if a brain doesn’t overthink it (I refer you back to the first paragraph of this post: I excel at overthinking). But I haven’t tried the double needle again, yet, and so the dress in the picture that came together so quickly on a Saturday morning languishes for want of hemming and finishing and my sewing-with-knits-was-easier-than-I-previously-thought story continues to elude me.
I’ve lied to myself over and over telling myself I was making a “wearable muslin” when in fact I was too lazy or uninterested or intimidated to make the adjustments that are implied by the term “making a muslin.” I wasn’t testing the pattern – I was making it as drafted in a hail-Mary pass and living with the consequences. Sometimes it was fine. Sometimes it wasn’t exactly fine but I wore the garment anyways. Sometimes a garment was unwearable. I mean, if you make a “muslin” and it’s wearable it qualifies as a garment, right? So what does “wearable muslin” even mean? That you got lucky?
I’m on a mission to make some loose, easy fitting summer dresses. Enter my “wearable muslin” of the Willow tank from Grainline Studio. True to habit, I made it up as drafted. Also true to habit, I used french seams. And finally, true to habit, I was shocked – shocked! – when it didn’t fit.
I unpicked those french seams, swore to myself I would use my serger to finish seams on untested garments in the future, and moved the bust darts up an inch. This was the result. Wearable? Yes! Improvable? Yes!
It looks OK, but the neckline gapes a bit. Not a big deal by itself, but when I use it as a layering piece it bunches a lot. I thought about tearing out the bias tape finish and putting in a small gather or pleat at the center bust, but, true to form, I forgot.
The opportunity of a simple pattern is that I get to try different adjustments to see what works best. I can try, for example, a square shoulder adjustment and see if that does the job, and/or a small bust adjustment, and/or a gaping neck adjustment. If I were a more organized person I might try each of these to see what the results are. Hold that thought, Mom gave me yards and yards of white-on-white quilting fabric she wasn’t going to use and I’m suddenly thinking it would be a terrific idea to try each of these ideas in turn. Some things I have to learn by doing and this may be one of those times.
I carry socks everywhere, the idea being that if I have them with me I’ll be able to whip them out and work on them in found moments when I’m out of the house. No matter that those found moments are so few and far between that it takes me 3.5 months to finish a pair of socks I could have made in a week back when I commuted by subway.
They were ostensibly socks for Hubs for Christmas, but they didn’t make it and I wasn’t really trying. I sourced a finished pair from my box ‘o finished socks for the holiday and threw these into the same for next year.
Hubs wears the socks I make him, even the traffic cone orange ones. But only on weekends, he informs me.
Those socks, the glaringly bright orange ones, our neighbor was laughing at them one day when Hubs was wearing them with shorts. “I made those socks!” I proclaimed. It felt silly and intimate and very us.
After putting Leaves of Grass in time out I picked up a swatch I’d made last fall for a sweater I just can’t make a decision on which got me to looking for my size 8 needle. I found it in my knitting basket along with a partially completed Lottie cardigan that was holding it hostage. I subscribe to the philosophy that if you’re going to make something for a new baby it’s best, if possible and reasonable, to also give a gift to the older sibling(s). I’d started this project more than a year ago as a big-sister companion gift for a new-baby sweater and left this, the larger, to languish when I decided two handknit gifts was possible but not altogether reasonable. OK, then, I thought. I guess I’ll go ahead and finish that up.
And I did! The knitting went along fine without incident, but… there always seems to be a but. Things are just not going my way lately in a death-by-a-thousand cuts sort of way. When I soaked this little sweater to wet block it it grew to gigantic proportions. With dismay I remembered that this had happened before with this pattern and Cascade 220. I threw it into the dryer which restored it to its original child-sized proportions, but fuzzed it up. It emerged looking hard worn without ever having been worn at all.
Not without it charm, but not gift-worthy. We don’t need another sweater that my child will deny and ignore, yet into her sweater drawer it goes to be denied and ignored. If it doesn’t have Minnie Mouse on it it doesn’t rate. Wait, do they make Minnie Mouse buttons? Of course they do! Silly me. But will that be enough? Worth a shot.
Windmills have been a Thing for me since visiting Kinderdijk a couple years ago. So cool! Holland was a stop on our family’s Viking River Cruise (SO FUN – thank you ever and always to Auntie Em and Uncle Popcorn). Those tours are seriously fast-paced. Shopping is a trade-off to sightseeing and I would always rather see sights than shop so I came home with only a few souvenirs for the kiddo and nothing for myself except for an extra 5 pounds around my middle. Maybe I should have spent more time shopping than I did eating and drinking.
This little project serves as a memento of that trip.
I made it from a lovely Cozy Blue kit that my mom gave me for Christmas. I could make every design Cozy Blue puts out.
I get a little thrill whenever I have a glue-gun sanctioned project. THIS is why I keep them around I triumphantly think to myself in an attempt to assuage the guilt of having so. much. STUFF that I hardly ever use. Especially when I have to dig it out from the back of the mess of other stuff I hardly ever use in the attic closet.
We’ve got some backstitch, brick stitch, satin stitch, and split stitch in there. Weave stitch would have been awesome for the windmill blades, but I didn’t learn about it until after I’d already backstitched one and a half of them. I was tempted to tear out what I’d done, but those stitches are teeny and I worried I’d do damage to the piece.
No matter, it’s done and I love it. I added it to my hodgepodge of keepsakes and mementos and lost no time picking out a new project to fill another hole on my wall of places that are meaningful to me: Satsuma Street’s Pretty Little Italy. I’ve been spending my evenings revisiting the plodding pace of cross-stitch, my first craft obsession.
IT’S A T-SHIRT! A tiny t-shirt at that. RAAAAAAAH! THE CROWD GOES WILD!
OK, maybe not exciting for you, but very exciting for me! This is my first t-shirt, you see, and only my second successful attempt to sew with knits. This is also the first time I’ve used my serger to assemble a garment and the first time I’ve used a double needle. Even my mother, when I called for advice, said she’d never used one of those. Go me! I wish I’d followed up by asking her how she’d hemmed knits because I steadfastly used every tip and trick listed here (except for buying a 2nd bobbin casing because it would have been $70) and I still have tunneling, especially where my stitching missed the wonder tape. How does one sew over tape she cannot see? I expect the answer here is “measure better.”
One small step for a sewist, one giant leap into a world of stretchy garments.