Friday, April 27, 2012

Garment Sewing Challenge

Garment Sewing Challenge: May 2012
[psst...this banner is button linked to the challenge on it]

I'm a bit apprehensive about the month of May.  Not the entire month.  Mother's Day is a nice event to look forward to.  However, the sewing challenge I got myself into.  Now that's another matter.  I have challenged myself (and others) to make a garment that I would be proud to wear in public.  I have a short history of sewing myself tops that rarely leave my closet and almost never leave the house.  Curious?  Kindred spirit?  Keep reading and I'll explain my dilemma.

First, I found this lovely top on the BurdaStyle website:  
Isn't it cute?  Casual, but stylish, right?  A pleasant step away from my usual uniform of t-shirts.  Plus, it was a free pattern and it looked quite simple to make.  What could go wrong?  Silly question.  First of all, I chose to work with knits for the first time.  I found a crazy good deal on all sorts of knits at a garage sale.  The seller used to make clothes for her whole family.  She had these striped knits that she used for making polo style shirts for her husband.  (Here's an example of I'm talking about.)  The price was right so I bought them all up.  When I found the BurdaStyle batwing top pattern, I thought I'd be so creative and use some of this polo shirt fabric.  Then I thought I'd blow the mind of the sewing world and turn the stripes vertical.  Yes, I thought I was so clever.  I was so wrong.  Take a look at my end product:

You might be thinking that it's not so bad.  I admit, it's not terrible looking.  However, it did not turn out anywhere near as cool as I had hoped.  I look like a rugby player or maybe a referee.  Structurally, I didn't take into account that the knit I chose only stretches in one direction.  So when I turned the stripes vertical, I ended up with a shirt that has no give "around" the torso.  Instead, I can stretch it down to my thighs.  But really, what good does that do me?  The biggest element of design that suffered was the bottom hem.  It has absolutely no give so it's tighter than I'd like it to be across my hips and more difficult than it should be to take on and off.  I'm not sure what happened to the neckline either.  The photo of the original shows a much deeper v-neck with thinner trim.  

I decided I had learned from mistakes and I'd try the pattern again.  This time I figured screw the neckline, it was too hard.  I went with a boat-neck style instead.  I used some velour knit from the same garage sale.  Here's how it turned out:
Halfway through cutting out my pattern pieces, I realize I don't have enough fabric.  I solved the problem.  You might notice that the front panel is divided in half.  When I was done, the top top was really big and bulky on me.  I ended up adding elastic to the bottom hem.  Conclusion:  this top is doing me no favors figure-wise, but it's OK for keeping warm while sewing in my basement craft room.  I think this style would look OK on me if I could get the fit and fabric right.  But I can't bring myself to try it again.

I researched my body type:  I'm a busty pear.  Not something I like to brag about, but I do enjoy joking about it!  What that means is that if you were to measure under my bust (my rib cage) I would be a size 8, my bust is a size 10, my hips a size 12.  Basically, I'm a small, medium and large sizes all at the same time.  According to my research, I should look good in tops and dresses with empire waists, deep v-necks, and no flaring out at the hips.  So I found and bought this pattern: McCall's M6120.  Here's an image of the top:
And here's how it turned out:

Once again, I used garage sale fabric.  This time it was a slinky, stretchy, metallic, synthetic fabric.  I feel like technically, I sewed a decent garment.  However, I failed in the fit and the fabric.  My bust was too big for the size I chose making the nice thick empire waist band curl up under my bosoms, and look sloppy.  The pretty little pleats are stretched to the limit, and my bra shows.  The fit across my shoulders and middle are is great though, so that's a plus.  The fabric, well you can see it's not very cool.  Literally, it's not very cool.  I sweat like a pig in it and it's so slinky, it just creeps up my body settling under my chest.  Not good.  Discouraging, in fact.  I haven't tried to sew a top for myself since.

So now you see why I NEED this sewing challenge.  I can sew handbags and am beginning to quilt with ease, so why can't I sew a stinkin' shirt?!!  This time, it will be different.  I have looked back on my past efforts and decided I need to step up my game and fork out some dough for better equipment (e.g., fabric).  

Look what I found:
Pippa is our cockapoo.  We rescued her from the pound a few months ago.  I love her!

I found a really cool piece of fabric at an actual fabric store, not someone's backyard (not that quality items can't be found at garage sales...that would be blasphemous to my thrifty principles), although it was on clearance at JoAnn's.  What can I say?  I'm cheap.  Anyway, I know some of you are thinking that fabric would be perfect for a skirt, right?  Well, I don't really do skirts, sorry to disappoint.  To back on subject, the fabric is a polyester knit.  It is a little silky, with a little bit of stretch.  I think it might work for this circle top pattern at a cool blog called Sweet Lemonyde.  I think this flowy top just might work with my fabric.  Thoughts?  Please, I need feedback so I don't hate myself.  Maybe that was too much pressure I just put on you?  How about you all just be friendly and keep me from making a wrong turn?  Please.  :-)

I'd like to make the neckline and edges finished very professionally, so I pinned this great tutorial by ikat bag.
One stipulation of this challenge is that you MUST try something new.  Making a top I actually liked is something NEW for me, but somehow I don't think that conforms to the spirit of the rule.  Instead, I'm going to learn how to bind edges with knits, AND how to tailor a pattern to fit my busty pear dimensions.  

Hopefully, I can pull this off and make a top worthy of public viewing.  Unless of course, you think I'm not on the right track.  Geesh, can you tell I have no confidence in this area?  Help.  Please.

While you're hear, please vote for your favorite Typography Challenge entry (during April 2012) and then check out the garment sewing challenge homepage.  You should join us.

Happy crafting and big hugs from Montana,
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  1. Have you ever tried doing a full bust adjustment to a pattern? That may help with fit. I have a few links saved on my computer but have to run off to work soon. If you want them, I can look for them. The problem with most patterns is that they are drafted for a B cup, so most of the time, adjustments should be made either way. I personally haven't done this myself because I haven't sewn a garment for me since middle school. I will be joining in on this challenge for sure. :)

    Sewaholic Patterns are meant for a pear shaped body. Tasia (the creator) has a blog as well where she talks about sewing for that body type.

    With the new fabric, all I see is circle skirt. I imagine a circle top could work too, but I've never heard of that term for a top.

  2. It's hard to make a garment look just as it does on the pattern cover!!! To top that off, it then has to fit a body that is not identical to the one on the cover, plus the fabric design comes into play. I've been happiest with my garments, when I've stuck to the recommended fabric... as close as possible to the picture. I think you would have been happier with your top shirt, if you'd chosen slinky fabric in a solid colour. I like the style of top you are going to make and it will suit you. I also like the fabric you've chosen, but I can't see it as a top. The way the fabric falls is a big part of the top you have chosen. This would be lost with a large patterned fabric. I'd go with a solid colour for the top.

  3. Like Pam said, it might be worth your while to try out something in a solid color first. Patterns can be really, really tricky and can ruin a perfectly good top if they're placed wrong. I have a pattern for a shirt I LOVE that I've made a million times and been happy with turn out god awful just because I placed a patterned fabric incorrectly. Save yourself some headache and start solid!

  4. Lot's of great input! Thanks ladies! I'm liking that print less and less......


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