Friday, August 29, 2014

Adler Sew Along - Week 2

It's the best part of any Sew/Knit Along: RESULTS!

Adler Shirtdress

This was, by far, the most difficult sewing project I've ever tackled. I was glad to have Jen's super-helpful sew along instructions to refer to as I went through the project. Pattern assembly was going well until I got to attaching the collar. Here's a visual representation of how I felt about that process:

"I'm just going to Chippendale it and call it a day"
It was a matter of my brain not understanding the instructions OR the tutorial. This can be a real low point for any crafter. If you can't figure it out from two different resources, you start to panic a little bit. Usually, the best thing to do is to take a break, text your sew-along buddies and get some air. Unfortunately, it was almost midnight on a Wednesday and I really wanted to get through at least the collar and hem before bed.

Fortunately, I had decided to start my annual fall re-watch of my beloved Friday Night Lights. Right when I was about to throw in the proverbial towel, Coach Taylor was there to remind me that football doesn't build character, it reveals it. I wasn't about to let Coach down by giving up! I powered through and somehow got that thing attached after another 30 minutes of muttering to myself.

So, you can thank the Dillon Panthers for this dress, is basically what I'm saying.

"Clear eyes, steady hands, can't lose" - Crafty Night Lights
Droopy = unimpressed

I got a hair cut! Surprise!
In the end, it was worth it. I love how it turned out and can't believe my luck with the fabric choice. I went with Allyson to Kalamazoo, Michigan on a hunt for bargains at the Field's Fabric tent sale earlier this summer and we bought the fabric for this project together. Hers turned out beautifully and, I have to say, so did mine! I've been privy to a sneak preview from Katie, and (spoiler alert) we all pretty much crushed this project. Stay tuned for Katie's progress next week and brace yourself to be super impressed with this trifecta of style and talent. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Alder Sew Along: Week 1

It's been a sewing-obsessed week for me. The Adler Shirtdress Sew Along is in full swing and it looks like Katie and Allyson are off to a great start!

I've had this project rolling around in my head for a good month now, so I took the time to print the 55 page  (!!) pattern and assemble it last week. Based on my measurements, I selected the Size 10 of the B version and cut out the various pattern pieces.

From there, it's hard to fight the urge to just start sewing, but the fact is: I want to wear this dress, so it makes sense to do what I can to ensure my hard work lasts. That means I washed my fabric in advance, something I do maaaaybe every other project. I was proud of myself, until I realized just how long 4 yards of fabric is and how much ironing it takes to get 100% cotton in reasonable shape.

O, the Ironing
Laying out the pattern pieces was another small challenge. The only space large enough to lay everything nice and flat was the floor. The only other individual who spends time on the floor in this house is my dog Droopy. He remains, as always, as cute as he is unhelpful. 

Hit the bricks, Droopy! We've got a pattern to cut!
Laying out went mostly without incident, although I did find that I needed to flip Pattern Pieces 6 and 13 upside-down to match the layout in the pattern booklet. This felt a little funny, but I trusted the pattern and started cutting.

Tracing Pattern Piece 7 - The Yolk 
Cutting all of the pattern pieces in both fabric and interfacing took a bit longer than I thought it would. There are a lot of components to this dress and it can feel a little overwhelming when you look at them all piled together. You try not to think about the fact that your last project was a baby bonnet for a 1-year-old and that you might be majorly out of your depth and you deploy that time honored strategy: fake it 'til you make it!

In other words: time to dive on in. Remarkably, the actual sewing goes by at quite the rapid pace. You begin with the button bands. I have a weird love of fusible interfacing. It's just so satisfying to iron it into place... PERMANENTLY. 
Buttoned Up

Fun with Fusible Interfacing - working title of my worst selling craft book
And then, it was time for pockets! I've never made visible pockets before, let alone ones that would sit right on my boobs. If done correctly, they should just blend in nicely to the garment. If done poorly, my chest becomes a focal point and I'm just not prepared to deal with that. I'm 30 years old, after all. I demand respect!

Pockets going solo

It's tricky enough to make sure your pockets are lined up with the marking from the pattern, but there's an added challenge with the Adler pattern. Part of the pocket sits on a bust dart, so you're adding pockets to a rounded surface.

Placin' those pockets
Jen at Grainline recommended using a tailor's ham to ensure that your pocket lies smoothly. While that sounds delicious, I don't have this particular piece of equipment. I was able to make due by using the corner of my ironing board and pulling the darted fabric around the edge, which flattened out the fabric. For the most part, I was able to get reasonable placement (after a ton of ironing and accidentally pinning the fabric to my ironing board cover).

Pockets = Placed
Tune in next week, when we add an actual back side to this puppy. Who knows, it might actually start looking like a dress (fingers crossed)!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Adler Dress Mini-Sew Along

I've been expanding my hobbies! For Christmas this past year, my family (after years of not-so-subtle hinting) surprised me with a sewing machine of my very own. The delight I felt pretty quickly morphed into a feeling of distinct intimidation. I hadn't touched a sewing machine since 2002. It had been ELEVEN years. Ho boy...


I let it sit on the shelf for a few months and worried that I'd never actually put it to good use. Then, I found the perfect pattern that I could use to test my memory and skill level. The Purl Bee Soho Baby Sunbonnet pattern. Anything baby is going to go fast/ not use up too many resources when you forget that tension is a thing or how to properly insert your bobbin... not that I ever did those things. Those would be STUPID things to not know about.........

Anyway, there was success!

This bonnet brought to you by the Partridge Family

And suddenly, I was back in the game. Local Chicago designer Jen at Grainline Studio had captured the attention of crafters I knew primarily as knitters: my friends Allyson and Katie plus other designers I follow like Ysolda Teague were enthusiastic about her design aesthetic. I decided to give her Scout Tee a try.

Thumbs up for SUCCESS

Aside from not being super on point with my sizing, I was really proud to have produced a cute, wearable garment after only hand-sewing buttons since high school. So, why not keep going?!?

Grainline Studio is doing a sew along for its latest pattern The Adler Shirtdress. Because I need a little extra burst of confidence for a more advanced pattern, I'm pleased to announce a Mini-Sew Along with Allyson of Sweatshop of Love and Holla Knits and Katie of Under the Red Umbrella! On Mondays, you can check out Katie's progress. On Wednesdays, Allyson will allow you to peep her sewing game. On Fridays, I'll have all of the chit-chatting about sewing a baller dress that you can stand. It's going to challenging and it's going to be fun.

All My Fabrics

I'm excited, you're excited, they're excited. Gangway for good times!