A Nautical Ceylon

Happy Fleet Week to you, AKA the cutest week of the year. I really wanted to make a little 40′s-esque sailor suit for all of the navy ships that are downtown right now. I had plans to wear this dress downtown and take some photos with a sailor (or 10), but life gets in the way sometimes. Instead these photos were taken walking home from my friend Sofia’s garden party (visit her blog if you’re interested in permaculture/urban farming). My bike makes an appearance, her name is Mamie and she’s a real fancy gal.

I finally made Ceylon!!!! Yippeeeeee!!!! This pattern was one that I’ve always held off on, waiting until I was “better” at sewing. It’s been a whole year since I completed my first garment. A simple skirt made out of quilting cotton with a bias tape hem. Check out my shit eating grin, I was so proud that I made something that could be worn. I’ve come a long way baby!

I made a straight size 4 and the only alterations I did were to raise the armscye 3/8″ and I lowered the sleeve head by that same amount. I also slashed and spread the sleeve to add 1 1/2″  to the width. I used some mystery poly-lycra blend fabric from the thrift store. I also used white piping to make the interesting design lines pop. The piping does match in the front, but it was difficult to press this fabric due to the synthetic fiber content. I really wanted to add some brass buttons with anchors, and I was able to find them when I made a special trip to the Button Emporium. It was pretty great being able to find what I wanted, because it can be difficult when you have something super specific in mind. I feel very fortunate to have discovered this hobby living in the city I do now, because of all the resources available.

I love the flare of the skirt and the curved yoke. This dress came out exactly as I envisioned, however I don’t know how often I’m actually going to wear this. It’s a little too “Easter dress” as is. It feels like something is missing, I’m not sure I can put my finger on it. I really love the shape and style of this dress though. I can picture myself making more versions in the future with soft floral cotton and fabric covered buttons. If you’ve been eyeing lovely Ceylon but too afraid to try you should go for it. It’s a lovely pattern and I’m glad that I finally took the plunge.

I’m sorry it’s been so long since my last post. I had to take a hiatus from my life to do my “civic duty” and serve on a jury. Out if all of the cases I could have gotten I’m pretty sure mine was the most riveting/ fascinating case on the docket. We awarded a woman 900K after she was infected with genital herpes. The story made national news and you can read about it here.

I’ve done a bit of fabric retail therapy recently so you should expect some pretty summer dresses in fun prints soon. Until then…

The Yee-Haw Rodeo Shirt

The Christmas season is upon us and I was inspired to make this shirt for my husband (especially since I never got around to making one for his birthday).

He’s always loved western shirts and I was pretty stoked when I found this legit pattern from 1978 at a yard sale.  The pattern, magically, is his same size. YAY ME! I made a men’s size 40 with a 15 1/2″ neck. I used some soft orange plaid cotton flannel from Joann’s, white piping, and pearl snaps. The yoke, front bands and cuff are cut on the bias to add visual interest.

I had a lot of sewing “firsts” with this little shirt. Since this was a gift I really wanted to take my time and do everything right. This is hard for me to do, because I have a hard time planning out how to finish my seams. I think it’s because I can’t visualize how everything goes together until I’m actually doing it.

Chris is incredibly hard on his clothes so I decided to do flat-felled seams for as much as the shirt as possible. However, I goofed a little bit by only skimming the directions in the book I got from the library. Therefore, the pretty flat-felled seams lay on the inside of the shirt instead of the outside, where they would look nicer. Oh well, c’est la vie! I couldn’t figure out a way to do a flat-felled seams on the side seams. Is that even possible? While poking through his other shirts, it appears that most of them are serged along the side seams. So, maybe not.

Chris likes to wear his clothing on the more fitted side. He once to my chagrin, purchased several pairs of stretchy girl’s jeans. I made him return them all due to the appearance of his camel toe. Ick! But I digress, I didn’t need to take out any of the ease, because, well, dudes in the 70′s also liked their clothes supah tight. He doesn’t tuck his shirts in so I shortened this pattern by 4″. I went by the length of a shirt he likes. I didn’t calculate in seam allowances, whoops! So it’s probably an inch too short, but I may just be hyper critical of my work. It’s so hard to step back from something you’ve made and look at it from the macro rather than the micro level.

I originally had planned on using black piping when I purchased the fabric, but I woke up the next day worried it would be too “Nightmare before Christmas”. I switched to white, and I find the result rather pleasing. The white pops against the orange and black and doesn’t make the yoke look like a spider’s web. I was really freaking about that.

This was the first long sleeved shirt I’ve ever made. I became really stuck on the sleeve placket. I ripped it out twice and cussed up a storm at it. I couldn’t figure it out! So I used another style of placket I found in a shirtmaking book. While this is the first cuff and placket I’ve made, I still feel like I need to make another proper placket to be able to say I’ve successfully completed that task.

Another first  was using pearl snaps instead of buttons. This was actually pretty fun to do. I didn’t buy a special snap setter or anything. I had to hammer them all on. My apartment manager came up (his office is below our apartment) and asked me to move my little construction site due to the noise. I finished in the lobby which lead to lots of questions, stares, and requests to alter clothes. I’m glad I decided to add another “first” to this shirt by doing snaps. I feel like it’s a proper western shirt with them.

Poor Chris, I made him try it on and realize how awesome this shirt is, so I could take photos for this blog. Now, I’ve hidden it away and he can’t wear it again until Christmas. I’m a mean wife.

In other news, we saw Other Lives last night at Mississippi Studios and they were rad. They’re also pretty groovy and western. You should give them a listen.

Tutorial: How to Insert Piping on a Western Shirt

I’ve begun work on my mister’s Christmas gift and I thought I would put together a quick how-to. I had originally planned on adding black piping, but I realized with the orange and black fabric and the “spider-webiness”  of the yoke design it would look Halloweenie. And by realize, I mean that I woke up in a panic thinking about how I was making a Halloween shirt for Christmas. What would Michael Kors say? Oh the horror!! The solution was simple, switch to white piping.

When you purchase store bought piping there are two sides. One that is flat and one that sticks out. You want the part that sticks out to be on the right side of your fabric. The best way to attach the piping is to hand baste it to your fabric. I have used machine basting as well as tried Wonder Tape and you just don’t have the control you need to get around tight curves. Hand stitching is the only way to have total control of where your piping will lay on the finished garment. I like to use an obvious mismatched color so that it can be removed easily later.

Once your piping is basted on and you’re ready to start sewing on your machine. It’s easiest if you switch to your zipper foot. This foot allows you to get as close as possible to the piping. Go slowly around the curves, and make sure that you always leave the needle in it’s down position whenever you lift the presser foot.

As soon as you’re are finished sewing your piping in with the machine, it’s time to pull out your handy dandy seam ripper.  I’m intimately acquainted with mine. Get to work removing your hand basting. Go slowly and try to not catch any of the fibers of your fabric.

Voilà, you have perfectly placed piping.

In sad news when I got around to basting the front band to the sew-in interfacing this is what I saw. Yikes! The bias really is stretchy. Now the band is about 2 inches longer than the pattern piece and about half an inch too thin. It’s now too skinny to work as the front band so I will have to recut those pieces tomorrow morning (yuck! I *hate* cuting). Good thing I bought a little extra fabric. I definately reached the end of my sewing patience when I saw that. Adios!