Sewing: Moneta Dress (Two Ways)

The Moneta dress has been on my “to sew” list for a long time. I got the pattern back when Colette first released it and at the same time I got the Mabel skirt pattern. I think there were a number of things that kept me from diving in and making the dress, namely concern about how it would fit, concern about the elastic waist, and general laziness.

Moneta dress sleeves

In the end, I made two versions of the dress, the sleeveless and the 3/4 sleeve. And, I’m not happy with either.

moneta sleeveless

Why not? Well, for a lot of reasons. Let’s review.

Moneta Dress Review

Fabric: The pattern calls for a medium or lightweight knit jersey, baby rib knit, ITY, double knit or French terry. I used a French terry for the sleeved Moneta dress and a lightish weight jersey for the sleeveless dress. Although the pattern calls for 2.5 yards of 60 inch fabric for both versions (for sizes s, m, and l), I found that I used much less than that and had AMPLE fabric left over after cutting both.

Cutting: I hate cutting patterns. Moneta wasn’t too bad, you need two pieces for the bodice, two for lining (for the sleeveless version only, six for the collar, and two for sleeves. I omitted the pockets on both dresses, so didn’t worry about those. I used the skirt pattern for the sleeveless dress, but then cut my own for the sleeveless.

Construction: OK, so sometimes you read the pattern directions and you’re just like, hm. Why would you do it that way? The armhole construction for the sleeveless Moneta is just weird. I’ve never seen that way of doing it before. You’re supposed to line up the boding and lining with wrong sides together, then the edge of the armholes in 3/8 inch, then reach between the bodice and lining, pinch them together and pull. I mean, it worked, but it was tricky.

My other construction issue was with the waistband. You’re supposed to gather the waist, using clear elastic. I’ve never done that before and after having elastic smack in the face several times while I tried to sew, I gave and decided on the pleats.

You  might notice that the green Moneta dress has a belt. I added that feature because the waist area looked like a hot mess. I hand sewed the belt to the dress to cover up my shoddy work.

As for the hem – well, the pattern calls for using a twin needle to hem the skirt. I thought using white thread would be a great idea, but it looks terrible.

moneta dress

Fit: I adjusted the pattern to get a better fit. I increased the waist to a medium, because I had a sense that the small (which has negative ease and a finished circumference of 24 inches) would be too tight. In some ways, I was right. The fit of the pattern really depends on the type of fabric you use. The French terry is super stretchy and the dress ended up being a little too big. The neckline also stretched out a lot and is way oversized.

But, the sleeveless version is actually a bit snug, even though I didn’t adjust the pattern between making the sleeved and sleeveless version. Milly (my dress form) is wearing it now and it was a challenge to get it on her.

In all, if you  make a Moneta, I’d say to keep the amount of stretch in your fabric in mind. The pattern doesn’t really seem to account for the fact that there is varying stretch across knits and makes no recommendation as far as how much stretch you want in the fabric, which I think is a bit weird.

Consensus: I feel like I wasted my time (and fabric) making both versions of the Moneta dress. I’m not terribly happy with either of them. That fawn fabric is so cute and I know I’m not going to wear the dress (it is quite tight).

I think I’m finished with Collete patterns, at least for the time being. Everything I make from them turns out not quite right in some way, and I’m not sure if it’s them or me. But, I think it might be them.

Sewing: Violet Top

I hate giving up, but I have to call this one. You know sometimes, you’re working on a project and you lose sight of why  you’re working on it? That’s  how it’s going with the Violet Top, from Colette Patterns.

Violet_top

I seriously don’t even remember when I started working on this shirt. It was at least a year and a half ago. There’s really no excuse for dawdling like I did, except that I just wasn’t feeling the top. As I kept working, my thoughts about the shirt kept getting worse and worse.

And that has nothing to do with the pattern. Dear pattern, it’s totally not you, it’s me. I chose the wrong fabric for the top. It’s really stiff; it doesn’t drape right. It’s kind of unflattering on me. I think the interfacing I used was too heavy.

This shirt is a trainwreck, so I’m stopping, just short of putting the buttons on.

Lessons learned:

  • Don’t use a quilting weight cotton. It’s way too (at least the one I used) heavy and stiff
  • Stop sewing when you lose interest in a project. I’ve a backlog of sewing projects because I wanted to finish this one before I stared anything else.
  • Buttonholes aren’t that scary. You can always use snaps instead (at least I’m guessing; I quit before the buttons).

I’ll revisit the Violet top in a few projects, using a lighter fabric, and maybe skipping the interfacing, to see how it goes.

Sewing: Pleated Midi Skirt

After much delay (partly due to the fact that the room I sew in isn’t climate controlled and gets pretty hot during the summer months), I’ve finally finished a few sewing projects. First up is a pleated skirt, based on this skirt tutorial, made using a wool/cotton gabardine from Liberty of London.

pleated_skirt_liberty_fabric

There it is on Millie, my dress form. And here’s a picture of me wearing it on Instagram.

All in all, the skirt was pretty easy to make. I used less than a yard of 55 inch (or so) fabric. There’s an invisible zipper on the side, and a few hooks and eyes to  close the waistband.

liberty_skirt_zipper_closeup

Were I to make another version of the skirt, I though I would reduce the size of waistband. It’s currently 2 inches. I think I’d make it 1 inch or so, as that would work better with the actual shape and height of my waist (I have a short one). I think I would also position the zipper a little higher on the skirt, so that it attaches on the waistband, too, not just on the body of the skirt.

And, I wouldn’t second guess myself when it comes to the size of the skirt. I fussed with the size of the pleats because I was terrified that the skirt wouldn’t fit (for the record, Millie is actually a little bigger than me, which I should probably adjust, so that I stop panicking that the things I make don’t fit.) Anyway, fussing with the pleat size messed with the balance and overall fit of the skirt, making it too big, so that I had to trim from the sides. It wasn’t a good scene.

I went with a length that is just below the knee. I was thinking of making the skirt longer, but I wanted a thick hem to help it hang better, so I ended up having to hem it to 25 inches, folding the hem up 4 inches.

All in all, a good skirt to make. Now that I know what I’m doing, my plan is to make one out of a faux leather. We’ll see how that turns out.

Sewing: #MMMay2015 Wrap-Up

sorbetto tank tops

I’ll admit it: I didn’t have a productive “me made May.” That photo up there, of the two shirts, is the sum total of what I made last month. Two Sorbetto tops, made without the pleat. The blue has bias tape binding while the houndstooth has elastic on the edges The interesting thing about those two tops is that both began life as different pieces of clothing, which I also made and decided I wasn’t a fan of.

arrow_dress_marcjacobs

As you can see, I originally made the light blue arrow print fabric (a cotton lawn cast-off from Marc Jacobs) into a dress. Although it was pretty comfortable and light and breezy for wearing in the summer, I wasn’t a huge fan of the it. I didn’t like the elastic empire waist or the narrow skirt. So, I cut it up and turned it into a top.

houndstooth skirt

The houndstooth print shirt, which was is made from a cotton jersey knit and features elastic on the armholes, neckline, and hem, was originally a skirt that I absolutely fcked up. So I cut it up and transformed it into a shirt.

Houndstooth sorbetto top close up

Here’s a close-up of the elastic edging on the neck and arms. You can see the serger in the background, but I didn’t use it for this shirt. Instead, I did a simple zig-zag stitch with French seams. I used French seams on the blue top, too, since that’s my favorite way to create a finished edge. It looks very neat and professional and doesn’t take that much more time than finishing a seam with a serger or zigzag stitch.

I still have a few sewing projects in the works, including the Violet top, which I’ve mentioned before, and another version of the pleated skirt that I messed up so well earlier. The Violet top is coming along nicely, I just need to attach the sleeves, buttons and hem it.

Sewing: What I’m Working On

Since one half of this blog’s name is “sewing,” it makes sense to do a post about sewing projects, after so many devoted to shopping. This winter’s really gotten me down, in terms of creativity and productivity, so I haven’t actually completed anything, but I do have a number of projects in progress.

Violet Pattern

First is the Violet top from Colette Patterns. I bought this pattern (and the fabric for it) a pretty long time ago (so long ago I don’t remember who designed the fabric, but do know that it’s a quilting weight cotton), and never got around to sewing it up, until last spring, when I finally started cutting out the pieces. Then they languished in a zip top bag for another 10 months, before I decided to actually sew the shirt together.

Violet Shirt in progress

It’s still very much a work in progress, but at least at this point the front and back shoulders are sewn together and the Peter Pan collar is finished. I’ll have a review of it when I finish the shirt — which judging from the speed I’ve been working at, should be in another year or so.

houndstooth skirt

Next up is a pleated houndstooth skirt, made from a cotton jersey knit I got from Girl Charlee, again about a year ago. The skirt is modeled after this one, except the knit isn’t stretchy enough not to have a zipper. And I completely messed it up by sewing the zipper in first, before sewing on the waistband.  You can sort of see how the waistband doesn’t fully close, near my arm. There’s no way to get it to close cleanly without completely ripping out the zipper and redoing the side seam.

For that reason, the fabric will be a skirt for only the briefest of moments. I plan on repurposing it to make another version of one of my favorite tops. I might get a different hounds tooth fabric and try the skirt again, but for now the plan is to try the design with a woven gabardine fabric from Liberty. I’m thinking of the hounds tooth one as my muslin, a practice run before sewing up the fancy fabric.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Life changing magic of tidying up

Hello, 2015. I’m not usually one to make resolutions, since I’ve learned over the past few decades that all I do is break them. Instead, I set goals or give myself little projects to work on. On New Year’s Eve this year, I was boasting that I didn’t have any resolutions. That might be true, but I still have several things I want to tackle over the next few months. One is unsubscribing from most of the seemingly random emails I get. Another, more strenuous one is to seriously get rid of a lot of the stuff in my  house.

I’ve recently read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. It’s a lot more interesting and . . . different from many organizing books out there. Kondo, who I think is just barely 30, claims to have three month waiting list for her services and that over the course of running her business, she’s never had a repeat customer. Meaning that, her method works.

One of the things that makes her process, dubbed KonMari by her, different from the standard organizing advice we get from uncluttering pros in the US is the concept of aninism, or belief that objects have a soul. Although I’m not really spiritual, this belief kind of vibes with me. I talk to inanimate objects all the time and believe that you should treat things respectfully.

The two big pieces of advice Kondo gives in her book are to purge your stuff first, then put it in order, and to only keep those belongings that spark joy. When you do decide to give something up, either by donating, selling or plain out discarding it, she tells you to thank it for its service to you, then send it along. I know that type of advice won’t jive  with everyone and plenty of people are going to think its’ nutso, but it just makes sense to me.

Kondo has a recommended order for purging, starting with your clothing and moving on to more emotional items, such as letters and knick-knacks. Really, for someone like me, clothing tends to be pretty emotional, so I was a bit worried about starting there. But, there were no tears, although there was some disagreement, since my POSSLQ was in the same room while I was sorting through my stuff, and let’s just say he and I disagree about some of my sartorial choices.

Life changing magic of tidying up
Most of my clothes, pre-purge

The book recommends sorting through all your clothes at once, putting them all in one area. Did I cheat? Kind of, because I split the task into two days, tackling the tights, knickers and socks on day one and the dresses, shirts, sweaters, jeans and skirts on day two. One both days, deciding what stays and what should go was surprisingly easy. There was no well, this still fits and I sometimes wear it  . . . so I guess I’ll keep it.

The idea of only hanging on to things that “spark joy” really  helped draw the line in the sand. I have (or I guess, had) a few skirts that were, eh, okay, but didn’t really fit right or didn’t really  match  a lot of things or just weren’t my style any more. I’ve been hanging on to them because they are decent skirts, a bit pricey, and there’s nothing “wrong” with them, except that they didn’t make me  happy. In all honestly, one of them I was hanging on to because it was Marc by Marc Jacobs. It was too tight in the hips and I felt self-conscious wearing it, but was keeping it because of the designer brand. Dumb, I know.

The discard pile. It looks smaller than it felt.
The discard pile. It looks smaller than it felt.

They’re gone, into the pile, along with a few dresses that were just blah or that were worn out in really weird ways. I had this lovely dress from CK that I’ve had for five years. It still fits, but I hardly wear it because it smells like gasoline. No idea why it has that scent, but it’s kinda of gross to wear a dress that smells like a gas station. Into the pile it went.

Deciding whether things spark joy or not does make some decisions a bit tricky. I’m not really a shoes person, but I have a pair of black and white menswear style brogues that I love. You could definitely say that these shoes spark joy.

steve_madden_brogues

But, they also hurt my feet. They hurt my feet so much that I’ve them for more than five years and can count on one hand the number of times I’ve worn them. I love the shoes, but I also know that it’s time to say goodbye. Bye shoes, thank you for making me happy and for protecting my feet the few times I wore you.

Up next: thoughts on the value of purging a lot of stuff at once.

Sewing: The Mabel Skirt

Mabel skirt

I have to admit, when I first saw the Mabel skirt pattern from Colette Patterns, I wasn’t that into it. It looked like it would be really tight and really short (at least the first two versions). But, I convinced myself to get it anyway, thinking I would make the pencil skirt and that it would be good to play around with making a skirt using a proper pattern. Usually, I just sew a rectangle, add a piece of elastic and end up with something I don’t want to wear.

Mabel skirt

Fabric: Depending on the size and version you make, Mabel needs less than one yard of fabric. Since the pattern calls for a heavier weight knit, I used a navy blue ponte de Roma from Girl Charlee to make version 1. It’s not terribly heavy (12 oz), has a nice drape to it and feels very soft. It’s stretchy enough to pull the skirt on without any fasteners or closures. I pre-washed and dried it, so I’d say it washes well.

Cutting: Seriously, cutting is my least favorite part of any sewing project. I’m a left-handed person forced to use right-handed scissors my entire life, so that might be part of the problem. Mabel was pretty simple to cut out. Version 1 has seven pieces total: 2 back, 1 front, 2 waistband and 2 waistband lining pieces. I think it took me about 30 to 45 minutes to cut the pattern pieces, lay them out and then cut them. I used a pair of dressmaker shears, though I suppose I could have used a rotary cutter, too.

Construction: Part of the appeal of Mabel is that the skirt comes together quickly. I think it took less than an hour to sew together.  You have the option of using a zigzag stitch on a regular machine or your serger. I didn’t feel like buying four spools of navy blue thread, so I just used my regular machine and a jersey/ballpoint needle. The instructions also say to use a twin needle to sew the hem, but I used a single needle and all was fine.

My construction isn’t perfect. The seams on the waistband and the skirt body are supposed to line up and mine just don’t. Something to be more careful about next time I make the skirt.

Fit: I wavered between making a size small and a size medium. According to the measurements chart, a small would have fit, but this skirt has negative ease, meaning it ends up being smaller than your body size when finished, since it’s supposed to stretch. I’m pretty self conscious about my hips and thighs, I went up to the medium. The skirt still fits well. It has a body-conscious fit, but isn’t inappropriate looking.

Consensus: Mabel was definitely worth making as it was quick and simple. The mini skirt version isn’t my usual style, but I wore it with a longer, untucked shirt and thought that worked. As far as the actual wearing of the skirt went, while it was comfortable, I felt very self-conscious about the length. It was never scandalously short, but was shorter and tighter than I’m used to wearing, which meant I kept tugging at the hemline all day long. I’ll try the pencil skirt next time.

Have you made a Mabel? How’d it work for you?