Monday, September 30, 2013

Onward and upward

A friend asked me this morning how my sewing was going. And I heard myself answering with words like "horrible" and "fail." Luckily for me, putting it into words, especially to this sympathetic and upbeat friend who sees the humor in many things, gave me exactly what I needed: a reminder to just get out of my own way already.

What I had found so dispiriting was a run of false starts and poor fabric and pattern choices, but on reevaluation no harm was done and in fact I learned a few things.

First up, a slip dress that was intended to kill two birds with one stone. One of the birds was Vogue 1287: I bought it for the dress but decided that its pleats and loads of fabric were not likely to be flattering on me. Slight pang over having bought a pattern that wouldn't be used. But wait, wouldn't the included slip make a nice little dress for the boudoir? The second bird was some beautiful and beloved georgette in my stash that I was having trouble visualizing as a garment; it's the middle one here.

Unfortunately, working with this georgette on the bias turned out to be beyond me. Even after experimenting with settings and presser feet, redoing seams, etc., I still had wonky side seams and spaghetti straps that went thick-thin-thick-thin. No picture of this one. The good news is that the slip fits and flatters, or, you know, it will when I make it up in a fabric I can handle.

Next, the lovely draped-neck dress that is Vogue 1351. I made this in a blue cotton jersey, leaving out the zipper and cutting it a bit longer. It was a pleasure to make, I like the fabric, the size is right (12 at the bodice grading to 14 at the hip), but . . . it just does not look good on me. Really. I have noticed this before about draped and cowl necks on me, as much as I like them in theory and on other people. Lesson learned. Or relearned.

There have been a few other issues with makes that didn't get as far as these two, and a missing invisible zipper foot, and so forth, but you get the idea. I was starting to lose confidence in my ability to make a garment I can live with.

Is all this as dire as I thought? Far from it! I'm getting to handle fabric . . . having fun reading other people's blogs and tutorials . . . trying things out, learning as I go . . . above all, I'm lucky enough to have the time and leisure to sew. Now that some beautiful autumn days and a chat with a friend have restored my perspective, I am off, with renewed energy and optimism.

Cooking note: If you're interested in home-style Chinese cooking (i.e., not the elaborate banquet dishes and not what passes for Chinese food in too many restaurants, at least in my part of the U.S.), take a look at Fuchsia Dunlop's Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking. We have been eating some very good dinners around here. You do need a Chinese grocery for some of the ingredients, but above is an example of the very useful pages that help you find what you want once you get there.


  1. Ooh, I like the Vogue 1351 - I have this in my stash to make. Had not thought of making it with a soft jersey and omitting the zip - will give this a go! Have you lined the whole dress, or just the boddice?
    Claire x

    1. Thank you, Claire! This pattern can be made in a woven or a knit, and in the knit you really don't need the zip. I did use a very narrow zigzag instead of a straight stitch on the waist seam and the waist topstitching, just in case the stretching to get the dress on over my shoulders was too much, but I don't think it was necessary. The whole dress is lined, per the pattern instructions. If you have access to Pattern Review, you might want to have a look there: I found Sunnysewer's review particularly helpful.