This month I have been sewing like I've got something to prove. Perhaps it was the beginning of the Summer Essentials Sew-Along or a few sewing classes that revved me back into gear, but I have sewn eight (!!) wearable garments since June 1. Compare that to the entire Spring, when I think I sewed one or two finished garments.
The summer tally so far: four blouses, a silk slip, a full skirt, and two dresses. Half of those items were on my SESA list. Oops.
Enter Jessica of A Yen for Craft's Challenge: Ridiculous, which I'm going to
Challenge: Ridiculous is all about taking your craft to zany and unexpected places. Maybe it means taking on a "stretch" project that pushes your comfort zone - venturing into whimsical prints if you're usually one for whipping up basics, trying out a new technique you've been eyeing for ages now, pouring gobs of time into getting the details right if you're usually a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type of crafter, or drafting a pattern for the first time ever. Or maybe for you it's about bringing the spontaneity back into crafting - she saw! she coveted! she plunged in without a second thought! - which could be the perfect antidote for us overthinkers out there (ahem). Great! That's exactly what the Ridiculous Challenge is all about! There is nothing Too Ridiculous or Not Ridiculous Enough. But if you ever catch a thought that begins with, "I really shouldn't be doing this ..." then 1) Go do it, please! and 2) consider it Ridiciulous Enough!
Overplanning, overthinking, overplanner? Check, check, check.
I think the striped Rooibos is what got me, really. Though I love to WEAR essentials, I love to sew in a way that forces me to frankenpattern. It is the spontaneity that Jessica mentions above. But it is not complete whimsy, rather it's wanting something and seeing if I can make it with the materials I have on hand. To me this is the best part of sewing, marshaling together my vision with my growing skill. And because it's clear it may not work from the get-go, there's sort of a built in, "Well, I tried." Sewing without conviction: A marvelous playpen.
Back to the Rooibos. I wanted a striped dress, and guess what? With a little pattern alteration, a thrifted striped shirt and an old muumuu, viola!
It sent me down the path of ridiculous. I found myself enamored with these two garments from EmersonMade, a designer who I am deeply in love with. I suggest you check out all her wares, they're so beautiful!
How about this white and blue seersucker blouse?
Or this pleated red skirt with pockets?
Could I create a similar red-white-and-blue ensemble over the Fourth of July weekend, inspired by a designer from the Live-Free-or-Die state? Could I do it without buying anything new?
On Friday night, I cut out a blouse and Challenge: Ridiculous began.
RED, WHITE & BLUE
Blue & White:
According to my nifty Fabric class, I have what I can most closely approximate to voile. Yards and yards of the stuff, in blue/white and red/white stripes. I suspect it's 100% cotton because, dang, it loves to wrinkle. Definitely not the tailored looking seersucker in the inspiration blouse.
I began with my bodice block, which has given me sleeve problems. So I traced the armholes from the Lisette Market Blouse (Simplicity 2211) onto my blouse block and also traced the sleeve and sleeve band. For the U-shaped neckline, I used a modified version from a 60s pattern, though any pattern would work.
For the pleated neckline—which I can't imagine doing again without a ruffler—I cut a long, long piece of fabric, sewed it into a tube so it's final width was 1-1/2 and made a series of pleats that measure about 3/8 inch each.
Saturday: My blue and white blouse! Yes, it's wrinkly. It feels like no amount of steam or starch can make it perfectly flat.
With my Ruby Shorts in Denim
I waffle between loving this and wondering if it's "my style." I'm not used to puff sleeves, but I do think it does something to balance out my body, and I love it with skinny/slim pants. It feels good to have something blouse-like to wear.
I had this red stretch fabric with a lot of drape and a twill weave, which actually used to be my curtains some cities ago. Lucky for me, I also already had a pleated skirt block from last year's SESA, McCalls 5803.
I have a blue version of this skirt, but the fabric is a bit too heavy and stiff and I sometimes feel costume-y wearing it. Really, for a pretty skirt, it hardly gets any air time. I was hopeful this fabric would revive my interest in this pattern. Here's the drawing:
The EmersonMade skirt has front pockets—rather than side seam pockets—and fewer pleats. So I folded in the pleat closest to the side seam and drafted a pocket in its place. I relied on previous knowledge, but Casey's pocket tutorial is essentially what I did. I widened the waistband to 2-1/4. Rather than a rear zipper, I made it a side invisible zipper.
And here it is:
Leaned against the swiveling closet! I'm falling backwards here.
A side view:
I love this skirt -- it goes with so many things! And the pockets and the waistband. Sigh. In fact, this will swap out the red A-line skirt on my SESA list. I wish it was a wee bit longer, but I'll live.
Some observations on Challenge Ridiculous:
Since this was a time-limited challenge, I gained a few insights on how to speed things up
- Think in terms of technical drawings, not pattern photos. How can those basic shapes be adapted? Do you have something from a different pattern that may help you? I'd guess most of us have nearly all basic wardrobe shapes in some form or another in existing patterns
- Adapt the pattern on the fabric. I didn't draft new pieces, I drew directly on the fabric before I cut it out. This saved a lot of time.
- Cut on the fold. The McCalls front skirt is drafted to be cut in a single, large piece. I folded it to save space on my cutting table.
- Don't pin. I just purchased a handy sewing guide and for stable wovens, I either don't need to pin at all, or very rarely.
- In that vein, use pattern weights, also saves you from pinning.
- Save all seam finishing to the end. I imagine this is a divided issue -- but I wanted to get everything done, so I've saved serging until today.
- Sway back? Make a center back seam even if there isn't one. So far, it's the easiest way I've found to make a sway back adjustment.
Happy Fourth of July, and happy sewing! And it's your last chance to enter the RococoNouveau giveaway to win a handmade, gorgeous collarette! :)