Sewist’s Block

You probably remember my Hot Patterns Jeanious Jeans that I was so gung-ho about… The ones that were looking totally awesome?

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Well, I finished them up, complete with the hot pink pocket and waistband lining.

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And some funky pink twin needling on the hem.

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Pretty fresh, huh? I thought so, too. And they fit great. Seriously, Hot Patterns’ fit works really well for me.

Anyway, I wore these jeans/trousers to work the day after I finished them. I got a number of compliments on them, including my favorite,

You made those didn’t you? I can tell because there’s hot pink lightning bolts on the ass.

I guess normal people would be annoyed by a comment like that, but it was meant in the nicest way possible. (For the record, I wasn’t thinking lightning bolts, I was just going for something geometric and even possibly “designer”—whatever that means.)

Anyway, I was feeling pretty good about my fancy pants, and Josh picked me up from work that day. I hopped in the car and the second my butt hit the seat I hear,


Yep, my jeans, that I’d worked so hard on, and was so proud of, ripped—and ripped big. Good thing we have heated seats—that’s all I’m saying.

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Anyway, upon inspection, I remembered something I’d noticed when I was sewing these jeans. You see, this was some super cheap denim that Josh had bought at The Despot for a project that he’d thought the better of. So, I commandeered it for my first pair of Hot Patterns Jeanious Jeans. And at one point, when I was doing some topstitching on the yoke or somewhere, and noticed what can just be described as a fabric “nub.” I though, “weird,” and sort of pushed it out of my mind.

I’m thinking that was a mistake. The nub seemed to be the epicenter of the tear—with the fabric basically “running” up and down.

This whole episode has totally gotten my head out of the sewing game. I just can’t seem to get anything going. The only thing I’ve managed to make since this near-catastrophe is my “Not Knitted” Burda World Fashion sweater. It’s stupid because I know that this had nothing to do with my sewing ability, but nevertheless, I feel like I’ve lost my sewing mojo.

I can think, think, think about sewing. Help Josh with sewing. Even cut out another pair of Jeanious Jeans. But when it comes to putting thread to needle to fabric, I just can’t get my head around it.

Maybe it’s Sewist’s Block?


Mamma Mia!

Or, sometimes sewing projects just don’t work out for a reason…

If you remember, this fall I participated in the Great Trench Coat Sew-Along on Pattern Review, and I mentioned that I had e-mailed the pattern company, Indygo Junction, and let them know that there were a few (minor) issues with the pattern that I had used. I just thought that was being helpful, letting them know that there were some issues, thinking that they’d want this information for future editions of the pattern. They were super-receptive to my input and even sent me a free pattern—the Retro Raglan Jacket—for my trouble. I was pretty impressed.

Anyway, a little while after that, Josh placed an order from Fabric Mart for a specific weight of wool for a yet-to-be-started project. Because we were first time customers (we’re able to get almost anything we could ever want fabric-wise within a half-hour of our Portland home), they sent us an additional, free box of yardage. In it was a real gem—some beautiful gray wool.

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After letting the fabric and pattern “cure” for awhile, I decided that they’d go nicely together. I had even tried on similar, but not identical, styles at Nordy’s on my lunch break a few times. So, I was feeling like it would be a good pairing.

It wasn’t. Well, I’m lying. The fabric and pattern matched perfectly. The piece that didn’t work was me. The style was all wrong for my small-shouldered self. It was absolutely huge, despite my going down a size after measuring the pattern pieces (a note to anyone making Indygo Junction patterns: they’re sized very generously). When I was done, I literally looked like I was being eaten by my jacket. Whatever that looks like. It looked so bad on me, I wouldn’t even let Josh take a picture of me in it for the blog.

I was pretty pissed off. This jacket had (unnecessarily) been a pain in the butt to make. I had stupidly tried to add a snazzy hot pink lining to the jacket that I ended up taking out because it screwed up the way the jacket hung—it was no longer “swingy” with the lining (the pattern calls for it to be unlined). So what should have been a quick, simple project really ended up being a stressful nightmare, because I removed the entire jacket lining that I’d sewn in. Not fun. Not fun at all.

I had the jacket, that was really lovely and well made (if I do say so myself), hanging in the kitchen (isn’t that where you’re supposed to keep your sewing projects?) staring at me for a couple of weeks while I thought about how to make this too big, wrong style jacket work for me. (I’m stubborn, in case no one’s noticed.) After this went on for awhile Josh must have gotten sick of me dissecting all of the possibilities that would make this wearable. He said to me in the car one weekend afternoon, “Why don’t you give that jacket to your mom? Everything that makes this not work for you, would make it look great on her.”

Well, he was right.

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She looks pretty fabulous, doesn’t she?

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My mom is built completely differently than I, and she can really pull off clothes with strong design elements, like big, face-framing collars and swingy, A-line shapes. On me, I’ve figured out that they, well, look like crap. I’m just too small-boned for that look, which is really disappointing, actually. (Incidentally, I went back to Nordy’s, and now realize that the styles that I tried on that looked good on me were much more fitted and had much less dramatic details—you live and learn, I guess.)

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She has worn here new jacket to work a couple of times this week (keeping in mind that this is a four-day week, and it’s only Thursday) and, according to her, everyone has complimented her on her beautiful jacket, telling her how well suited it is for her. She’s pretty proud of how sharp it looks, and really enjoys telling folks that her daughter made it. Paired with her High Street Messenger Bag that I made her this summer, she’s got a lot of bragging rights, I’d say.

She also really likes the remnants of my well-intended, yet ill-fated, hot pink details…

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Here’s one more picture of my mom in her new jacket, just because she’s got her smart-ass teacher look on her face in this one (hi, Mom!).

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Oh, and I sent this pattern home with her too…


No So Charming

from sarah the sewist

I should have quit while I was ahead.

Last weekend I picked up the Betsy Ross Patterns’ “Charmed Dress” pattern. It’s not really anything that unusual or special, but it seemed like a nice, classic style dress produced by an independent pattern company. I regularly read the designer/owner’s blog and really like supporting the independent companies, so I’d wanted to try one of her patterns.

This should have been my first clue that this simple, straightforward dress wasn’t meant to be.

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If you could see my face in the photo, you would notice that I’m absolutely perplexed. The pattern pieces simply don’t fit on the two yards of fabric called for in the pattern. I ended up contorting the pattern pieces, and myself, trying to make it fit (I can be a bit stubborn—just ask Josh). Finally, as the picture shows, I got the pieces to fit, but they were touching, so I was cutting it (har, har) very close. Measuring the pattern pieces and the fabric, the math simply doesn’t work.

But I pushed on. Using a Michael Miller pink and brown polka dot fabric my mom picked up for me, I cut the thing out. Following the (really excellent, way better than most you see) directions, I proceeded to sew the skirt together—which went fine—and then the bodice. It was at this point something went very, very wrong. The bodice and the skirt literally couldn’t physically connect to one another. The bodice stopped well above my belly-button, while the skirt ended where it’s supposed to—at the natural waist. It simply wasn’t going to happen. Now, I am not a tall person, so this cannot be explained away by an oddly long torso or something. I would post a picture, but that would be scary for the readers and mortifying for me. There were several other issues (that were resolvable), such as the dart needing to be moved somewhat, but I just can’t get over this one. It’s definitely a first—usually I’m able to at least get to the point where I can sew two major parts of a garment together.

Anyway… What to do? What to do? It seems like this is an entirely fixable problem. I really just need to make a new bodice that’s much, much longer. I could just make a skirt out of the bottom half and call it a day.

Either way, I am very disappointed, as I really like the classic styles offered by the company, and like that there’s a real person behind the business. I almost wonder if I got a defective pattern. I noticed on the web site that the size range I bought isn’t even offered anymore, so I do wonder if there have been others with the same problem, and it’s a design flaw? I’m also really annoyed with myself, because there were many, many points at which I knew that there was something wrong with this pattern, that it wasn’t going to work, but I continued working on it. I really should have listened to my instincts. I have enough “sewing sense” that I’m usually right about these things.

All, in all, here’s what I think of the Betsy Ross “Charmed Dress”
The Good: The directions are formatted in a little booklet, which is much easier to deal with than an big ol’ sheet that I can’t ever fold back correctly; the tone is very friendly, but not annoyingly so; I also like the black pattern envelope (weird, I know); the style is classic.
The Bad: The pattern doesn’t adjust fabric quantities for various sizes, which is annoying and just plain inaccurate. The dart placement is a bit low, and a little more straight on, if that makes sense. I prefer a more diagonal style. There aren’t finished garment measurements or ease amounts included, which I find annoying, but that’s a common gripe I have with any number of patterns.
The Ugly: Uh, the fact that the pieces simply don’t connect? That’s really ugly.

I’ll keep you posted if I decide to re-draft the bodice.

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