The Reconstruction, Day 2

After making yesterday’s post about my old ball gown, I repaired the waistband, and spent a ridiculously long time ripping out the stitches on the two panels that hung down the sides of the bodice. You’d think ripping about about 24″ of stitching would be fast and easy, but apparently the girl-who-can’t-follow-directions not only sewed the bodice together all wrong, but she also kept changing the stitch length on different seams making some of the stitches very tight and very difficult to pick out. That’s not so bad though, right? Just slow going?

Oh wait! And then it gets better. On one side of the bodice, I used pleats to make the panel fit. On the other side, I used gathering. What the hell was I thinking? Oh wait. Not only was I not reading or following the directions, I was not thinking either. I’m kind of embarrassed to have done this, even if it was years ago.


I remembered as I put the gown on my dress form that when I wore it to the ball, we had to use safety pins to hold the skirt up to the bodice in the back because there was a big gap at the waist. If I had sewn the panels on correctly, they would have made an overskirt, and that gap would have been hidden. Oh boy!


This afternoon I realized the reason the contrast panels in the bodice are not even on both sides is because I sewed one on upside down. I spent some more tie tearing the bodice apart so I could flip the panel over and put it together right. That led me to a new problem. The lace trim was cut and measured with that panel being upside down, so it stops about an inch short of where it should and I don’t have any of that lace now to replace it. I decided to solve that by creating an overlap of the front bodice pieces where it fastens- something I should have originally done because it kind of gaped before.

There was also the fact that the lining of the bodice was cut larger than the outside, so I had to pleat it to make it fit. I resewed a few seams in the lining and that was taken care of.


Anyway, after hours of work, most of it spent tearing out stitches, I feel like it looks a lot better then it did before and the fit is better too. I’m hoping someone will want to be a princess for Halloween and grabs this dress up. Its not a bad dress, its just a little rough up close. From a distance though it looks pretty damned good!

Is it exactly like the pattern envelope? No. Probably not even close. But its a lot better and I’d actually be willing to wear it like it is now.



The Bane of My Existance

gownAbout 5 years ago, little new-to-sewing me decided she was going to attend the Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade Ball for a second time, and she needed a dress. She decided to sew up a pattern she found, but apparently she had no idea how to follow directions.

Today I pulled this dress out thinking “Hey! Halloween is coming up! Maybe I can sell this!” and found the waistband a mess, which I repaired. After doing so (and gathering a waist of 175 inches down to about 36 inches is a pain in the ass!) I discovered I had originally put the zipper in between the wrong two panels, that this skirt has a definite front and back. That means I will have to undo what I did, and move the zipper to the right location or else the zipper has a very odd placement when worn.

I also took a good look at the pattern envelope and found I did not even come close to putting the bodice together right. I knew I never dd the pollinading (however you spell that) but apparently the two purple panels hanging over the hips are supposed to go around the entire bodice except where the blue panels are in the front. I think because of how I put it together I can rip a few lines of stitches out and fix that too. As it stands now, the panels hanging down on one side is noticeably longer than the other.

I honestly cannot comprehend how I screwed this up so badly except by flat out not following or probably even reading the directions. The pattern I failed to follow is Butterick 4315. (Click to see the envelope) I am hoping I can fix this in a few days time without completely taking it apart, and really hope I can sell it. Its been hanging up in my craft room since it became my craft room and every time I see it I kind of cringe. I can’t believe I willingly made myself a purple and powder blue (with glitter) ball gown.

What I’ve Been Doing & Some New Mock-Ups

capeletI did a lot of sewing the last few days, but unfortunately, I can’t share the most exciting parts of it with you yet and that’s driving me crazy. I stitched up my prom dress for Joann’s party in November with only a few weeks to spare, plus I whipped up a really quick capelet using my leftover dress fabric, plus some other stuff in my stash to line it. I will show you the capelet though, as it doesn’t give away anything about my dress except color and fabric.

I based the capelet off of McCall’s 5006, view G or H, but I only went as far as cutting out the fronts and back piece using the pattern and ignored the rest. I had a few small pieces of black velvet ribbon in my stash which I used for the ties, and I used some gold satin that I have no memory of buying from my stash to line it. Its one of those fabrics I want to use up to get rid of it, but can’t think of many applications where I’d actually want to wear it. I also made a small gold clutch, and am going to go with gold sandals.

I also cut the pieces of the pattern out for the polka dotted top I showed you a mock-up of in this post on Sunday, and put it together on Tuesday. It turned out really cute, and I love it- its exactly what I expected, even though I altered some of the construction methods to finish off the neckband and armbands in a way that would be nicer than what was called for. This shirt was super easy to put together, and it took me about an hour and 40 minutes from start to finish. Part of that time was me ripping out a seam because the upper shoulder edges and center back edges on the back of the shirt are almost identical, and I stitched them together wrong and had to rip it out. I also had to restitch my sleeve cuffs on one sleeve twice as I completely missed snagging the cuff’s fabric on the inside of the sleeve when I stitched it in place.

I finally remembered to check and see if I have a matching zipper for the maroon dress I made months ago because after trying the dress on after I made it, I discovered the zipper sticks really bad, if you can zip it up at all- obviously that is not conductive to wearing it. Unfortunately, despite the fact I have literally 200 zippers of varying sizes and colors, I do not have one in a wine or maroon in the right length so will have to actually go out and buy one for it some time.

Anyway, here’s the top I did today, in a horrible dimly lit mirror shot. I can’t remember if I mentioned it or not, but my camera took a crap on me, so right now its pretty much cell phone pics (sadly mostly in the mirror) unless I can get Mattie to take them for me. The fabric is actually navy blue with light blue dots, though its hard to tell in this awful photo.

I also did some new mock-ups this evening for a new pattern I recently picked up- I love leggings, and while I have two pair, I feel like I could use a few more. The pairs I have are black and grey, wit the black ones having huge metal grommets all over them and the grey ones are studded up the side seams. The grey ones are more versatile of the two, but the black ones can be hard to wear because of the grommets.

The new leggings I will be making fall into two places- calm and quiet, and crazy and wild. View A from McCall’s 6173 features a waistband and zipper, as well as zippers at the ankles. I chose two crazy fabrics for that view, with black and purple zebra stripes, and bold leopard print that channels my inner Peg Bundy.

The other view I like has an elastic waist, and no additional detailing. I’ve chosen a plain black rib knit for one pair, and a tan and brown houndstooth pattern for the other pair. There is a third view in the envelope, which features extra length so they are bunched up around the ankles. I don’t really care or that view.

4I also did a mockup of a mini-dress I have in my stash that I initially purchased for the top variations. But I’m thinking the mini-dress will be a great with leggings (its too short for me to wear otherwise- I’m not comfortable showing that much leg) and the teal colored rib knit I found will be great for it. I could wear it with either of the tamer leggings I’ll be making, as well as the two pairs I already own. Really trying to give myself some wearable Winter options that are still cute and fun while hopefully not freezing to death.

Tomorrow I will see about working on another of the tops I have had fabric for for a while and maybe knock something else out of my stash.I’m thinking of working on one of these variations of Simplicity 2365 View D as I really like the shirt I’ve already made form this pattern, though I did a different view- the one with the short sleeves. I’m not sure which fabric I want to dive into first though I do know the next time I do this pattern it will turn out better then before as I have a better understanding now of some of the finishing techniques used in it after making Mattie’s dress shirt.

I’d also like to see what I have in the way of bigger knit scraps that might be usable for other small projects and see about maybe listing them on eBay. Figure if I sell off some of them, I can make a few bucks and clear some room out in my fabric drawers. I need to pick up a few Priority mailers from the post office when I mail out patterns I sold tomorrow and see how much I can fit into one of them.




Tearing Down McCall’s 5330 View B

italfabric-110x110Years and years ago, I had this fun (yet rather odd) novelty fabric. I was on a food-themed fabric kick, and decided to make a skirt. This is the fabric I used, along with McCall’s 5330 View B for the pattern. Its got bread, pasta, olive oil, cheese, grapes, and a few other things, with text in Italian. The pattern I decided to use was one I regretted afterwards, as my weight at the time gave me more of a belly than was good to have (is any belly good to have?) and the three box pleats at the front of the skirt accentuated the bulge. It just was not a good fit or a good style, and now that I’ve pulled it out of my closet at my mom’s, I’m also seeing what a fantastically bad job I did at sewing it. :sick:

Tonight I continued on my trek through my old sewing, tearing it almost all the way down, ripping out all the seams except for the center back one because it actually looks okay and I don’t think I’ll need to rip it out to make any real modifications. I did have to rip out the zipper though as I’ll have to re-size the waistband dramatically so it had to come off too.

I tried the skirt on before ripping it apart (but did I take photos of it before? Nope.) and its at least 2 full sizes too big, and those pleats in front are really uneven and just badly done. The plan is to take off about an inch from each edge of front and back at the sides, remove excess fabric from the waistband, cut a second waistband piece to sandwich this piece with and cut interfacing to match for added stability. I’m also going to redo the pleats, but not box pleats- just normal pleats- I don’t know what you would call them, so I can at last make them look good and even without a lot of fuss and bother. Either way, I am hoping to add another wearable skirt to my wardrobe before the weekend is over, though I’m not quite sure what I will wear with it. I do have one black tank top I think.



I also did some work on cleaning up and organizing my craft room Wednesday night. I bought (from Closetmate) a 6 foot shelf with the hanger rod below it and installed it all by myself. I’m especially proud of this because I only screwed it up a little, kind of smashing one of the wall mounts with the hammer, and setting another one about 1/3rd of an inch too low so its not really doing much unless I put some serious weight on the shelf. I’m currently waiting on some file boxes to arrive so I can organize my patterns that are for sale and stack them neatly on the shelf, along with all of my beading and sewing books and catalogs.

As of right now, the shelf has all of my books, but none of the catalogs on it, and that huge pile of clothes on the end of my sewing table are temporarily folded and stacked on the other end of the shelf. I’m hoping to find some plastic hangers for cheap at the thrift store this weekend so I can hang up the clothes I have listed for sale, as well as the clothing that are in various stages of repair or being re-made.

I’ve also spent some time in there doing some dusting and general cleaning, as the window doesn’t seal properly and a lot of dust and dirt ends up all over my beading table’s back edge.

Simplicity 4189 View B is Done (Again)

This skirt was in my “fix or repair” pile, and while I did manage to do that, there’s still things I’m not pleased with, namely the cut of the skirt itself. I took three sets of pictures for this skirt in two different shirts, tucked in and out, and all I can figure is I just don’t like it because it makes my hips look big. I’m also not crazy about the asymmetrical handkerchief hemline- its just not appealing, though its one of those things I own several patterns for with this hemline, though most are tops.

One of the sore points of this skirt when I first sewed it was some severe puckering at the top corner of the slit in the front- the fabric was puckered, bubbled, and just made the slit awkward. I was able to fix that part, though hemming the edges was tricky for me.


I’m also not terrible pleased with the fact that I should have swapped the two fabrics so the obvious angling of the panels wouldn’t have been so obvious in the pattern layout, and that I hadn’t cut one of the panels upside down. The brown fabric literally faces every possible direction in this skirt and that bothers me.

The other sore point in this is where the brown (upside down) panels meets the two white panels below it in a point. There was also terrible puckering and bubbling there, and while its still not perfect, it is a lot better than it was. Its actually barely noticeable now.


S4189-fabricThis is a close-up of the two fabrics. I saw these and fell in love with them years ago. I still think the Pink Panther is pretty cool (and I still love Henry Mancini’s theme for it) but not sure I would have chosen to use these fabrics if I had made this skirt today. I’m really trying to get away from so many crazy prints but its hard- I am loving prints like crazy right now!

I also think I might have used a fabric with a softer drape- this quilting cotton is just stiff enough to give this skirt a lot of body and I think that adds to the wide hips problem. Maybe a light knit fabric would have worked better for this instead.

I really don’t think I’ll be making this again though.

Butterick 5350 – The Resurrection is Complete!

I went out to get Subway for dinner, so I stopped by Walmart on my way there and grabbed a zipper to dive in and finish Butterick 5350. When I got home, I stitched the zipper in, and hemmed the bottom. I was a little worried about the dress not zipping up, but there was no reason to be worried. It not only zips up, it actually fits really well. There was even an added bonus to the slightly adjustments I made to the fit of the bodice- I can literally get away without wearing a bra (no need to worry about bra straps showing) and still be supported enough unless I decide to go running, which is highly unlikely.

Some of the changes I made from the original pattern are as follows.

  • I ended up adding a small pleat to the lower edge of the bodice towards the outer side of the front. This was to take up some extra fabric that didn’t line up with the skirt. Considering I have no idea what size the skirt was originally cut as, I wasn’t surprised to see that there were some small issues with lining things up.
  • I added a front center seam to the bodice. This was due to me not checking to see which side of my fabric was the fold and which wasn’t. My bodice front pieces were supposed to be cut on the fold. They weren’t. Dumb mistake, but easily worked around.
  • The waist of the dress is actually supposed to have two bands, one above the other. I apparently never cut both or if I did, I threw the other one out with the scrapped bodice. Leaving one out gave the dress an empire waist, which I love.
  • I cut the cap sleeves 2 sizes larger than the bodice to give me a little more coverage. Its only a difference of about a inch of fabric width on each one, but I think its an improvement.
  • B5350-front-finish


I like that the length is short enough to be a little flirty, but not so short as to be totally immodest and make me wonder how much leg I’m really showing. I also love the cap sleeves, which were maybe the easiest “sleeves” I have ever and probably ever will make. They were simply slight ovals, folded in half, and stitched onto the bodice. It also reminds me a bit of an older dress style with the capped sleeves and empire waist, but not sure when. I’ll have to research that a bit.



I’m really proud of myself for actually having my two back pieces line up perfectly. I’m not sure I’ve ever had that actually happen before, so it feels like an accomplishment. The only thing I’m not super happy with in this dress is the pockets. I added pockets to the dress in my first go at it, but I didn’t think to shift them down a little when I re-made the dress, so the pockets sit a little too high. That’s fairly minor though as I’ll probably never put more than my car keys in them anyway.

And finishing this off lets me mark one thing off of my list of projects to re-make before Summer arrives! If I have the orange corduroy jacket here at the house, I’d like to tear it down next and get it ready to wear come cooler weather.

M5165 – Again? Really?

I know how many little dog coats can I make this year with M5165? I’ve made what, three in the last few months? I made another one tonight, this one for my Mom’s little dog for Christmas. It was its own challenge and I really hope it fits her as the dog in question is very overweight, and I had to heavily modify the pattern to (hopefully) make it fit. I added about 2 inches to the width of the coat, so it will come down a bit lower on her sides. By doing it this way, it gives the coat more coverage, but also meant I didn’t need to lengthen the belly straps as well. I also had to add multiple extra inches to the neck, which was done by simply extended that part of the coat outward a few inches on each side. The closures are still with velcro, but I used longer pieces than usual to allow for more adjustment in sizing.

The coat was done in two blue cotton prints- one which was a leftover from when I made a cute semi-peasant-styled top, and one which I had a fat quarter of that I picked up for some reason or other. The fat quarter was barely big enough to cut the coat and straps out of. Sandwiched between the two layers of cottons is a layer of insulated batting, and the entire thing was top-stitched with ice blue thread.

It looks good, but the true test will be on Christmas Eve when we see if it actually fits her or not. I’ll see if I can get some photos of it then when Moppie is wearing it.

I also did some beading this evening, finishing up a pair of earrings I started a few weeks ago. Tomorrow I’ll be repairing two t-shirts I have that have a hole forming in the underarm seam.