Ruffles Have Ridges

I inexplicably love ruffles. Inexplicable because the ruffles I gravitate to are not ones that balance my pear shape, but emphasize it. I love a big ruffle at the hem of a shirt, but I’m pretty sure ruffles don’t love me. Not that this has stopped me from making and wearing the heck out of a View Ridge by Straight Stitch Designs… 

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Photo from last summer featuring Chuffy’s pincushion sculpture that says “oOoOh”

but the cropped length of the Peplum Top gave me pause. So I made a muslin! Just to try it out and see if it would work! I hurriedly tried it on and it was so ill-fitting that I decided I would use it as a PSA about how making a muslin is useful because sometimes that little bit of extra effort will prevent you from wasting time and money on a garment that just isn’t going to work. So I was shocked when I put on appropriate undergarments to take photos with the express purpose of showing you how bad it was and…

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*Spit take*

It turns out trying a muslin bra-less over the oversized t-shirt you sleep in is not going to give you a fair assessment of a garment’s fit. WHO COULD HAVE KNOWN? Obviously I didn’t. It fits and I stand in disbelief. But would it flatter? I certainly wasn’t going to wear an 80’s-athletic-wear-inspired crop-top out of the house (or around the house, for that matter) so I attached that ruffle to get an idea of what this style would look like on me.

I’m a definite pear-shape with short-ish, muscular legs. I love the volume and the movement of this top. But it’s a style that favors the slender-thighed and narrow-hipped and, dare I say, the youthful. Does it work on me? Do I care?

This is what I’m self-conscious of looking like:

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What is even happening up there by my head?

And yet I know that people don’t look the widest part of me straight-on from the angle that unflattering photo was taken while I stand stock still so they can take in all the lumps and bumps. In real life I think I might present more like this:

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In my mind I aspire I look like this:

So I don’t know. What do you think?

So Nice I Made it Twice

After digging around my stash for inspiration for baby things to make I remembered that I had made all those toddler aprons. Good news! Two babies taken care of and I found this tunic which happily is exactly the right size for MJ to wear this spring:

Pattern: Hide-and-Seek Dress + Tunic, Oliver + S
Size: 3T

This pattern and this fabric was what started me sewing. I can’t tell you exactly how or why; it was a confluence of cute fabric that grabbed me and discovering Oliver + S patterns and chronic insomnia that gave me time to fill and thoughts filling my head I needed distraction from. The insomnia and depression also compromised my decision making processes and handicapped memory formation, so I’m not altogether clear what happened or in what order or exactly when or why it seemed sensible to make dozens of garments for no immediate purpose in the middle of the night. My memory is so bad that while looking through my Google photos and online order history to put some sort of timeline together I discovered that I made this exact thing in size 6 months for MJ and had completely forgotten. But look, photographic evidence:

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Back when she used to let me pick out her clothes

So there, she gets the same top 2 years apart. I guess I should try to be delighted that past me left these little surprises for present me. That sounds better than being frustrated by my muddy mind and sad about the things I don’t remember.

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Respite

When I started dipping my toes into sewing I told myself I wasn’t going to make the same mistakes I did when I got really super into knitting, specifically the undiscerning accumulation of anything and everything relating to my new hobby and even more specifically the enthusiastic and often misguided procurement of materials. Yarn, people, I’m talking about yarn. Yarn bought for projects I never made, yarn bought that was unsuitable for its intended purpose, yarn bought because it was pretty or to get free shipping or because it was on sale. I bought so much of it and am still dealing with the repercussions of that years-long binge years later.

My fabric stash creep has me stressing out. Fabric stash has some advantages over yarn stash, though. Project-for-project it takes up less space and it can be used up more quickly. And if I buy some fabric, for example, with some vague idea of finding a coordinating fabric and making a child’s dress which I never do, I have a much easier time finding another use for that fabric. I can, for example, easily find a pattern for an adorable top to use up that fabric whereas a skein-or-more of yarn is so encumbered by its yardage, fiber content, and weight that I’m wracked with indecision.

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The pockets on this are THE BEST POCKETS.
Pattern: Wiksten Baby + Child Smock Top
Size: 3T
Fabric: Kawaii Japanese Fabric in hedgehog
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I want one me-sized

Let’s not talk about the resulting increase in my pattern inventory this example produces.

Wearable Schwearable

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?

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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!

 

Pattern: Willow Tank by Grainline Studio
Size: 6
Fabric: Cotton something from Jo-Ann
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I’m just sure the neighbor’s crew is coming over to drum tonight.

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.

Digging Out

To quickly reprise: in this post I will discuss the alterations I made to attempt to salvage a long-ignored ill-fitting top I found stuffed in a drawer:

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Before…

Emboldened by my recent forays into fit I analyzed the problems here. Clearly this pattern is drafted to someone with a larger cup size than I have. Fabric that would be crossing and cascading from my ample bosoms instead puddles and pools around my waist and belly.

I’ll spare you the exhaustive detail and cut to the chase. Blathering on about trying to get clothes to fit my body is entertaining for me, but I don’t expect it to be entertaining for anybody else. One thing led to another and this was what I ended up with:

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…After

Oh, no, too tight. Perhaps I over-compensated for my under-endowment. Not uncomfortable, but not pretty. Especially across the back:

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That’s a lot of yuck across the yoke.

It’s impossible to know if I’ll reach for this when the weather is warmer than this mornings 3-degree windchill… but I think not. I can’t get over how terrible the back looks. I still like the idea of this pattern and might try it again with proper sizing and adjustment. After ignoring it for another spell. I’ve had enough of Ella for now. I say this even as I’m contemplating inserting gores under the arm add fabric back in around the bust and back. Hmmm.

The series of ambivalent events follow if you want them.

When you do a small bust adjustment you cut width and length. Ideally I would have sliced and diced from the front of this shirt (where my boobs are) and not from the back (where my boobs are not). I also ideally would have cut at the bust and graded to the hip which actually fit well. I didn’t trust myself to grade symmetrically on both sides so I took the lazy route used my rotary cutter to cut a full inch off each side and hoped for the best. I sewed over the existing bust darts to extend them, serged the sides together, and tried it on. Now it was too narrow at the hem (picture me shaking my fist at my past-self. I knew that would happen!). I couldn’t undo that serger seam so I folded the top in half length-wise and ad-libbed a scooped hem to release the side seams without shortening the front or back. My hem is wonky and homemade looking: I barely turned it up at the side seams, but it’s turned up an inch at the front and back. This is probably Wrong, but it accommodated the curve while shortening the top so whatevs.

Musing about the shoulders and if there was any possible way to shorten them after the fact made me realize how much better the back fell when I lifted it up. Since I couldn’t shorten the back from the shoulder I got to wondering if I could shorten it at the back yoke. I hated to lose the piping trim detail, but I decided the best way to shorten the back without increasing bulk was to fold at that seam and serge it together, cutting off the the piping in the process. I topstitched my new seam down, finished the armholes, and called it done. It seems I traded a shirt that bagged in the back with one that is stretched thin across.

The more I talk about it the more I think maybe I’ll experiment with gores and get back to you. I’ll stuff this in the drawer again until then.

Digging In

Look what I found stuffed in a drawer!

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I am thrilled.

It’s an unfinished and long-forgotten Ella Top by Liola Patterns! I started this sometime last year. The fabric is a double gauze that frays like crazy and I had french-seamed everything like I like to do. French seams would normally be a prudent choice for a frays-like-crazy fabric, but in this case their use backfired. There was no possible way to tear the seam without tearing my fabric. I couldn’t even discern the seam from the fabric’s warp and weft. When I tried this on and it looked awful I just didn’t know what I could possibly do to try to salvage it.

If I hadn’t had an attachment to the fabric I may have chucked it. But this is the same print that I selected when I was inspired to make a tiny baby baby jumper from 1 Yard Wonders for my first baby years and years ago in a sewing-as-nesting jag that didn’t take hold.

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Exhibits 1 and 2

I don’t think I ever put her in it. I was intimated by buttonholes. I used to be embarrassed to admit that buttonholes intimidate me, but having recently used my mother’s borrowed Bernina with a programmable buttonhole function to finish Hubs’ shirt I challenge any of you to use a nearly-40-year-old machine to make manual buttonholes and tell me it isn’t intimidating. The gigantic snaps I sewed in (badly) as a substitute were bulky and awkward and it turns out that jumpers are simply not my go-to garment when it comes to dressing an infant.

You can also see that I made some curtains with that print. I made those for my last baby.

And it was a gift! I would hate to not use a gift. It makes sense that I would choose the same print myself, but in this case my mother-in-law chose it for me! Thus this print has turned into a bit of a theme just as dandelions have become a personal metaphor for accepting life’s small frustrations. I think that’s not typically the way people read meaning into dandelions, but I am my father’s daughter. His lawn preservation battle rages on.

I was able to eke out two sleeveless tops from the two yards of coordinating fabric she gave me. A Ruby top came together well enough:

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I’m not sure about that sagging in the front, but I don’t care enough to do anything about it, either. Is it a bust fit issue or did my fabric stretch? Dunno. Don’t care.

This Ella one, though. Nope. Not working. Tune in again to see if my hacking and fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants alterations helped.

Shouty, not Dowdy

When we last spoke about York I had decided I should grade between sizes to get those shoulder seams up onto my shoulders. I was surprised to pull out the pattern and discover that there was only a negligible difference in the shoulder measurement between sizes. I took a half inch off the shoulder using a narrow shoulder adjustment and this is what I got:

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A quick photo shoot in the gathering light
Pattern: York, by Seamwork
Size: 6
Adjustments: Small bust, narrow shoulder, forward shoulder
Fabric: Gertie Collection Cotton Sateen from Jo-Ann

I’ll take it!

I used to consider myself a dexterous person, but quarter-inch bias tape has upended that assessment of phalangeal adroitness. I was glad to kiss quarter-inch bias tape good-bye when I finished those bottle aprons and dismayed to read that York called for quarter-inch bias tape to finish the neckline. Maybe I misunderstand what is meant by quarter-inch bias tape, I thought. Nope. It just seems my fingers turn into sausages when working with it. After washing this top this happened:

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I am afraid that the tie has frayed

I cut the ties off and sewed in a hook and eye. You might also note that I turned the bias tape entirely to the inside of the garment and used it as single fold instead of double fold because I just can’t with that stuff.

The hat is Beau Cloche that I made, golly, 3 years ago already. I love hot pink, but any pink makes me feel dowdy, even when it’s so bright it’s practically glowing. I combat this feeling with a more-is-more strategy. Making a dowdy pink hat? Put a gigantic dowdy bow on it! Making a dowdy pink shirt? Pair it with a dowdy pink hat with a gigantic dowdy pink bow! Post title is a quote from Hubs. It’s meant as reassurance. I think.

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My best dowdy expression and posture.