The post about the pretty pink dress

pink_dress

How do you like my dress? I think it’s SEW SEW.

HAR HAR HAR! Oh, I tells ya.

Actually I like everything from the waist down, especially the block of pink at the bottom. That was fun! I’ll be doing that on lots of dresses. But I’m not sure about the neck and armholes. I tried to make them extra big, so that in the winter I can layer a nice long-sleeved thermal shirt underneath. I tried the dress on (alas, no one around to take a photo), and it looks okay, but the fabric under the armpits sort of swims around, loose.

I really hate how the bias tape ended up so over-large in the inside of the dress. CURSE THE BIAS TAPE, and all it’s ilk. Curse necklines and armholes! I want a serger, and a pile of knits. I didn’t want the bias tape to show, so I had to iron it all the way over, but it’s huge, and so sewing it down meant lines of seams that were an inch or more away from the edge. I don’t know how to fix this without folding up the bias tape a third time, blah blah. I need single-fold tape, is the thing. Ebay seems to only have double-fold in bulk. It’s the quilters. Quilters use double-fold and use it in great quantity, so that’s what the bulk people seem to sell. But I will never shake my fist at quilters, because I’m pretty sure quilting is my destiny. Once I finish this huge DIY wardrobe that I’m building.

The pattern I used for this was Dress No. 1 again, from 100 Acts of Sewing. I’m not even sure I can say I’m using that pattern anymore, I’ve cut it up so severely. I have a dozen copies of it, with severed bottoms and various adjustments to armholes and necks and backs. It’s like a Dress No. 1 Frankenstein’s lab in my sewing room. Thank God for Swedish tracing paper, although I ran out tonight. Dear Amazon….

Today Tina Givens put her PDF patterns at 40% off – here’s her website so you can go and throw money at her. I threw my share. I love her style!  I haven’t tried sewing anything from her, so I’m not sure how difficult the pieces are, but on nearly every pattern page she gives the instructions, so you can estimate how many tears you’ll shed. Honestly, most of it looks pretty easy, but I hesitate to say that with much confidence, otherwise the sewing gods will smite me where I sit.

Also, and I’m not going to say how I know this, but if it’s over 90 degrees and someone says, “Want me to make you a drink?” And then they ask, “Between 1 and Drunk, how strong do you want it?” you might want to get the full scale of reference before you answer “2” and then start cutting things up with your very sharp fabric scissors. JUST SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT. <hic>

 

Twill tape isn’t bias tape. You should know this.

bias_tape_twill_tape

I thought I was SO SMART. Bias tape is really hard for me to make. Having fibromyalgia means that the cutting, bending over the table, then sewing pieces together, then ironing, then ironing again (double fold, ya’ll!), and finally sewing on that homemade bias tape entails, is basically torture. I spent almost two hours working on this a few days ago, and came away with about 4 yards of bias tape. I went out to where my husband was sitting on the deck, and I laid down in my hammock and said, “You know what’s stupid?”

“What?”

“BIAS TAPE.”

And then I went into my plan to just buy it in giant bulk rolls on eBay and never look back.

But then I had this idea. Why not just use twill tape? It’s so soft, and I have this huge roll of it that I bought for making bags (they’re good for drawstrings, and stability). It would look fine! And it DID look fine! But then….

IT SHRUNK.

I put my new dress through the washer, and the twill tape had shrunk just enough to create a nice little warped neckline and ruffly armholes. Don’t be smart. BE BIASED. Use your bias tape.

I ended up cutting off the tape, and making my dress into a tank top, like the pink one I just made. It looks great with its new bias tape facing. The roll of twill tape is laughing at me, but you know what? Sewing is all about life lessons.

Tank top made by shortening Dress No. 1

I’ve made a few more things, but today I’ll bring you the starry tank top I made, and just LOVE.

The fabric is Cotton + Steel’s Starry Seashell. I bought mine on fabric.com. It’s $9.98 per yard right now. I’ve been feeling like I needed more pink in my life lately, and this is perfect. Also, once again, I’m so impressed with Cotton + Steel fabric. It has a beautiful hand, it’s so soft and has just the right amount of weight. A lot of fabrics will say “for apparel” but really aren’t good for anything but quilting, because they’re too stiff. Cotton + Steel isn’t like that. The fabric is a great quality, great for quilts or truly great for apparel. I swear, they aren’t paying me to say this. Although if they read this and think, “Hey, let’s send that cheerleader some free fabric,” I would happily be sponsored.

Last night I was washing the fabric I’d bought, and this sweet pink stuff was one of the first to emerge from the dryer. I’d really wanted to make a Dress No. 3, I hadn’t tried that one yet. Unfortunately, when I laid out the pattern, it didn’t fit on the fabric. I tried folding it the non-traditional way: still didn’t fit. I was trying to make a 4x, which is one size larger than I really need (have been making 3x in everything so far, but I decided I wanted this one extra baggy), but it didn’t look like the size was the problem. Even the smaller sizes wouldn’t have fit well. I’m not sure what to do here. Maybe I’ll send an email to Sonya Philips and ask. Perhaps I’m supposed to be using fabric that’s extra-wide? I didn’t see that in the description.

Faced with this roadblock, I opted instead to try something I’d been wondering about. The Dress No. 1 pattern fits me so well, if I cut it off at the waist, would it make a cute tank top?

The answer is yes!

front_normalIt’s funny, now that I’m trying to actually show off my creative efforts, I want, you know, GOOD pictures. I’m asking my daughter or my husband to take them for me. They really don’t have the same aesthetic for photos I do – my husband Greg was taking these today and you should have seen the first few. He’s like, “I’m done!”, and I look at them and it’s as if I’ve just rolled out of bed (I had) and was coping with a major hangover (I wasn’t – I was coping with fibromyalgia, which is a bear in the morning). Let’s not look at those photos.

Let’s instead look at the ones he took when I was trying to do my “don’t smile too hard look” and he started telling me to say “smorgasborg” every time he took the photo, to which I replied, “shut UP!”

smorgasborg1 smorgasborg2

This is me laughing like a hyena. Greg says these pictures are far better than the rest, and I think he’s right.

Oh, but also, people usually take a photo of the back of their stuff, so here we go:

tank_back

Greg didn’t seem to care that my bra strap was showing in EVERY SINGLE PHOTO, because classy, that’s how we like it around here. I tells ya. He’s getting a photography lesson from me later. “Make sure I look normal, not drunk. Make sure I don’t have any underwear showing. Make sure you can’t see down my shirt. Make sure there isn’t anything weird in the background, like a broom.” He did move the broom out of the way.

How I did it:

I wore my sloth dress. I looked down, and estimated where I would like it to end if it were a tank top. I measured. It was about 10″ up from the bottom. I measured twice more to be sure. I marked on the original pattern copy I’d made, where that would fall.

I used my Swedish tracing paper and made another pattern, this one cut off at the mark I’d made on my first pattern. I just eyeballed the gentle sloping curve of the bottom, mirroring the bottom of the original tunic. I marked where the fold went, etc. I’ve also already modified the original pattern to have narrower shoulder straps.

Then I cut out the new pattern, and used it to make the top.

Conclusion:

I LOVE IT! It’s so comfortable! It billows nicely without looking hugely oversized. There isn’t any spots where it feels tight or cramped. The smaller pattern means I bet I can make this with scraps. I’d like to try one that’s split horizontally, with a cute print on top and a solid on the bottom. I think I’ll be making lots more of these!

 

Lots of hits for sewing!

I think I’m officially a sewing blog! 🙂 (Don’t worry sailors, I’m still sailing, but the fibromyalgia means those posts are far less common, I’m afraid.)

I woke up this morning, and noticed a couple more folks had followed my blog. I thought, “Hmmm, I wonder what my stats are like?” This isn’t anything I check often because (as you’ll see), my numbers are low. If a post I make gets 20 views, that’s a big day.

Today I checked:

Dashboard_‹_STEADY_AS_SHE_SEWS_—_WordPress

Holy cow!

Well, I love writing about sewing, so I’m happy to keep writing about sewing. I want to start posting links to other blogs I’m reading, too. There are so many great sewing blogs out there! And lots of very helpful YouTube channels. And the quilting! And the crafting! I’ve started using Pinterest again (my account), I can’t get enough.

And blogging about sewing combines so many great things. I get to create something with fabric and color (WIN!), and then I get to photograph it (I love taking photos), and then I get to write about it (love writing, too). And there is such a kind, friendly tribe of other women (and men!) out there sewing their hearts out and sharing what they made. I love it! Hugs to all of you. May your stitches be, uh, fast and firm? What’s a good blessing for sewers? May your stitches never fail?

❤ Nice to meet you all!