It’s a Small Small World and Unicorn Sighting

Guys. I’m drinking my coffee this morning from the BEST CUP EVER. Check it.

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How did I happen upon said Nigel-inspired MINI Cooper awesomeness? It was hand delivered from the  UK by Melissa FehrTrade (as I’ve been calling her for years).

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She’s visiting the US and has family in the city. Trena came up from DC (wearing this BurdaStyle dress)  and we all got together for a really really amazing dinner at Jack’s Bistro here in B’more. Chocolate Mac and Cheese, yo. It sounds weird. But, it’s DELICIOUS.

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The cool gifts don’t stop with the BEST MUG EVER. I have finally seen the elusive Vilene bias tape for those Burdaphiles. American friends, it is real. It does exist. And now, I have yards of it. I’m going to hoard it like unicorn tears. I’ll write more about it when I get my first chance to use it.

I’ll say it again, these are the wonders of the internet. You can meet people and be fast friends because of the shared sewing experience. Plus, you already ‘know* them so there’s NO awkwardness at all.

Now, I just need to make my trip to GB. I have family there and haven’t been since middle school.

Vogue 1252: Tracy Reese Ruched Leopard Print Dress

Tadaa!! It’s finally done, Vogue 1252: the Tracy Reese Ruched Dress. While I still have a little Golden Girls vibe from the animal print, once I added the skirt, I started to like it a lot more. I found myself having to just walk away several times in order not to give up on this pattern.

Issues: As Amanda pointed out, this dress has no negative ease built in to the outer fashion fabric. I had to take a total of six inches out of the bodice to get a ruched look.

And, I still don’t think it’s ruched enough at the front since I only took out two inches from the front bodice vs four inches in the back.

Also, I didn’t make a FBA — which I could use. Paticularly in the drape. Some extra length and width there would make it lay the way I want (all the way across the boobage).

When you sew this dress, you’ll notice that the lining needs to be stable because it must carry the weight of the very full four-panel skirt and support the ruching of the bodice.

I decided to skip the elastic at the skirt waist casing. Well, I didn’t decide. I forgot about it during construction. The dress is snug  enough at the waist without it. But, I’d likely take in the waist another inch or two if I were sewing again. I think this cut (or maybe the gathered skirt) makes my waist look a little thicker. This might be better suited to someone who is not as well defined in the middle.

I also messed up by sewing in the bodice lining before the skirt lining. I had no interest in taking it off to add the skirt lining so I just left it out. I do like the clean finish the lining provides. I never really think about linings on a knit. I will now.

At first I thought I put the pockets in the wrong place. As drafted, they are in the front skirt seam instead of the side seam.

So, why is it impossible to find a non-seperating 20 inch zipper with aluminum teeth that’s not custom? My friend’s roommate makes felted wool bags (available here). He had a roll of aluminum zipper teeth on black tape and he cut one for me to my specs for $4. That’s what it would have cost to order online special – minus the $8.95 shipping. Oh, the zipper was also waaaay shorter than the opening the pattern called for.  Not sure if this is a pattern error or how you sew a vaguely exposed zipper. I confess to not reading the directions on inserting the zipper.

This dress is so far outside of my comfort zone in this animal print. I have many reasons for not loving animal prints, all are nitpicky and solely my issues. But, I’m glad I went with it for this. The fabric was a G Street / Groupon special and I wouldn’t have bought it otherwise. I do think I had this dress in mind when I purchased. And, of all the animal prints, this one seemed not so bad.

My dress was wildly popular in the office Wednesday. The women where I work are snazzy dressers. If totally get extra credit for making my own clothes. If I didn’t, I’d be considered one of the least interesting dressers at my job. My big boss is trying to talk me in to giving this dress to her. She loves an animal print.

As much as I like this dress and as good as I think it looks. I don’t think I can recommend this pattern. I love it. But it needs a lot of tweaking to work. The tweaking is in part based on the amount of stretch your material has. But, maybe the trick is to start by sizing down one or two sizes. If you’re patient, go for it. If you are not patient, leave it alone.

** It was 34 degrees this morning. I’m not ready for winter! So, I’m starting early with the indoor photography. I want to get better at getting the coloring (well… my coloring) right. I really need to check out an external flash and some classes.

Re-Ruching Vogue 1252

Thank you for all your sympathy in taking out the stretch stitches. I’m just happy I’m not sewing this knit on my serger! Thank goodness I am a political nerd. I turned on the US Presdidential debates and sat down with my seam ripper. A cramped hand and a final debate later the dress was taken apart. Here’s a quick post on how I took the width out of the front bodice and back bodice pieces for my Tracy Reese ruched dress.

I saw that Amanda took 1.5 inches from the front. When I pulled my bodice front that much, it still wasn’t ruching. So I took three inches out the front by folding out 1.5 inches along the ‘fold’ line of the pattern (piece 7) which is center front. For the front drape, I shortened it by one inch — mostly toward the bottom / skirt portion. Probably a hair too much. But, it looked pretty good when I tried it on.

You’ll see now on the dressfrom that  the bodice is still not super ruchy, but, it doesn’t hang down at center front any more.

For the back, I got overzealous and took two inches out of each back section for a total of four inches gone. Total ruching and snug. Luckily, the lining is thick so I won’t have back fat :)

Here’s the original again: Big Diff

I think I’ll finish up in the next week. There is quite a bit more lining to install plus a FOUR piece skirt to construct. I don’t think I’ve ever had two mid-construction posts on non-black tie dresses — nevermind a knit. Heh.

Oh, I need a zipper too. I hope Joann’s carries nice bold metal zippers. I ordered my last one online for my purple friday dress and the shipping was high but the zippers were gorgeous.

In Progress: Vogue 1252, Tracy Reese Ruched Dress

I’ve been toying around with the idea of sewing Tracy Reese’s Vogue 1252 dress for a while now. I love all the draping, ruching and the fitted bodice. But, I was scared to make the FBA to about four different pattern pieces. And, I detest gathering. Like really really detest it. Yet, I still wanted to make this dress.

You ever have a project that you start to regret as soon as you start cutting it? Yeah. That’s me and this dress.

I decided to sew this in the ONLY animal print I have every purchased and will likely ever own. I so do not care for animal prints on me. Even now, it still has a Golden Girls vibe to me. But, it was on the sale table at G Street, I had a Groupon and I thought I would try to sex up my look a bit.

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The first problem, I barely had enough material. This is my second Vogue pattern this year where I seemed to not have enough material. And this is despite meticulously following the layout and cutting directions.

Problem #2: I was a wuss and decided not to make an FBA. See, I figured I was sewing a 14 (one size larger than I need) and it was stretch fabric. So, between being a size too big and a knit, I thought it would work. I just couldn’t bring myself to alter the myriad of pattern pieces. Heck. I didn’t even make a swayback adjustment! It’s like I’m setting myself up for failure here.

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Problem #3: There are 18 pattern pieces. Holy. Cow. They were spread everywhere in my sewing basement. I couldn’t let Linus in the basement because he always manages to sleep, step or scratch himself on any and every pattern piece laying about. So, while cutting, I got to listen to him whining at the top of stairs, outside the door begging to come in.

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Problem #4: I hate marking patterns. It’s true. I find Big 4 patterns so fidly with their ‘little circle, big circle, triangle, square etc. I just want you to tell me to stop sewing before the seamline. Sigh.

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Problem #5: As other reviewers have noted, this is the kind of dress you can’t get a sense of until it’s done.

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So, what’s really wrong now? Well, I have to take most of the dress apart. As you can see, there is no ruching in the midsection and barely any ruching in the drape. I need to take it apart and cut about two inches off the sides.

You can also see it hangs super low at center front. When I tried the the bodice on, it’s about 1.5 inches longer in this section.

I think the pattern is good. But, without knowing how much stretch and drape is needed, it’s impossible to know how your knit will react. I suspect I should have sewn a 12 in a super stable knit, instead of the this lycra.

Ugh. So, that’s my week. Unpicking four seams of stretch stitch. Hopefully my next post is a completed dress :)