Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sewing makes me cuss.

I love to sew when it goes right, but when it doesn't....well, it's a good thing I married an aviator. He has taught me a lot of good profanity that fits perfectly into bad sewing situations. Case in point:  maternity wear for eldest, pregnant daughter.

My eldest daughter lives in a small town in Oklahoma. The closest town has only a Walmart and K-Mart for her to shop at. If she wants any exotic clothes from Target or Old Navy, she has to drive 45 minutes to Tulsa to shop. Problem there:  the clothes are not well made, expensive for the quality, and ugly colors. Thus, I am trying to assist her (and empty out my sewing closet at the same time). Though, truthfully, I have probably doubled my stash since learning of her pregnancy rather than diminish it, but that's a topic for another day. Anyway, I began with the Megan Nielsen patterns. If you are unfamiliar with them, they are great. The skirt and t-shirt patterns are quick, easy sewing projects, take only about 1 yard of material, and look better than most affordable RTW shirts. I'd honestly place them up there with Pea in a Pod, and those tops start over $30. So, I made several shirts, skirts, and maternity/nursing tops. Unfortunately, success does breed pride and over-confidence, and I assumed (making an ass out of myself) that I could use any stinking pattern and be successful. WRONG!! Enter Butterick pattern 5796.

I began with the pants pattern. [Please ignore my husband holding them up for me. Photos taken flat on the bed or hanging on a hanger looked weird. He was forced to hold these pants up (the gun pointed at him is not visible at this angle)]. We tissue fit the pattern and found a 16 to be a perfect fit. WRONG!! I ended up sewing 1 1/4" side seams, 1/2" inseams, 5/8" crotch seams, and took 1 1/4" off the yoke before the pants fit. However, once completed, there were perfect!!! I was sewing on Cloud 9. I thought I had finally gotten the hang of fitting pants and could even adjust for pregnancy. My head was gonna need 3 pillows.

Then I started the cowl top. Being conservative by nature, I prefer to test new patterns with junk fabric. If it works, OK and I end up with something to wear around the house. If it is an absolute flop, I don't feel so bad wasting fabric. I dug up some stretch velour in a slate blue for my "muslin". I got online to research sewing maternity and size selection. All the instructions I could find said to use the pre-pregnancy size. Sadly, I didn't sew for my daughter pre-pregnancy, so I had no starting point. Then, some website told me to go 4 sizes larger than pre-pregnancy RTW. Since she had been a 5 or 6, I figured a 14 would work, but when comparing to the pattern back, I felt that would be WAY too big since I wear a pattern 14-16 and she is smaller than me (even pregnant). So I tissue fit the pattern to her and came up with an 8 above the armpit and 12 below the armpit. Feeling especially cocky, off I went humming and cutting and acting like a sewing big dog. The top hung like a sack--the back gapped, especially at the neckline, and she hated it. Pinning like a fiend, I reassured her I could fix it all the time reminding her it was only a sample--not really to be worn in public. That lie seemed to buy me some grace. I took in 1" shoulder seams, ran a 1" pleat down the back from neckline to waist, added size 10 sleeves with 5/8" side seams, and the thing was looking more promising. Just 3" off the bottom and we were in the money. I knew she wouldn't love it, but I was thinking we were on the right track--another assumption. When will I learn?

The cowl neck was an excursion into sewing HELL. I re-shaped the cowl to accommodate all the adjustments I had to make at the neckline. You can imagine how long this took me. I fit and tried then trimmed with paper until I finally got the right dimensions--then I cut the fabric and stitched it on. At first, I thought I had it backward because the cowl made a huge hump (like a camel) at the base of the neck. I rechecked my work and yup, all the pieces were in the right place; but it still looked like crap. So, I took out the basting and re-sewed the cowl which offered no improvement whatsoever. My daughter started looking at me like I was a novice and trying to permanently scar her pregnancy by "dressing her funny". After sending her back to Oklahoma, I went back to the drawing board. I pinned and trimmed until there was hardly a cowl left. I was tempted to toss the shirt in the trash and tell all involved of my experience with spontaneous combustion, but I knew the lack of smoke and scorched, burn marks would expose my lie. So I kept trying...and trying...and trying....until there were no ideas and no tries left. I opted to turn the edge, finish it off with a double needle, and call it good. Here's the final project:

I don't think she'll hate it--I know she will. Oh well, at this point I just want the Shirt from Satan out of my sewing room. I know it exudes bad karma. I don't care if she uses it as a bum-around shirt or rag. All I know is next week when I mail her the package of maternity goodies, this demon seed will be hers to deal with.

Next, is the maternity skirt. I morphed the 5796 pants into a skirt pattern. I did this because she prefers the stretch fabric yoke to the usual front panel found in most maternity RTW and sewing patterns. Sticking with the "cheap is the way to start" concept, I chose a black, grey, and off-white plaid as my fabric. Here's another new lesson:  material at Hancock's on sale for 69 cents that ends up 4 cents after the 10% off coupon probably has a problem with it. Mine did:  the plaid is off. Though I cut the plaid as meticulous as I could, the plaid only matches on 1 side. For me, it's no big deal. I'm not sure if she will care or not. I lean to the idea that she won't since a wool maternity skirt is a novelty where she works. Here's the final product:
Personally, I like it. It's slightly A-line and slightly pencil skirt with the
yoke at the top to allow for tummy. Just like the pants, She can wear the yoke over or under the baby bump. The knit yoke is another scrap from my stash and is a 4-way stretch similar to the fabric found in tights. I know she will catch the mismatch of the plaid, but I think the overall look with make her happy. Plus, it's one more free outfit for work. Go MOM!! Oops, I'm getting cocky again. When will I learn?

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