week 45 – Aprons

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The Facts

Fabric: mystery cotton

Pattern: McCall’s Easy Stitch & Save M5358

Year: recent, yet anachronistic

Notions: thread, snaps

Time to complete: a week

First worn: for Halloween party at work

Wear again? Hopefully

Total Cost: $25 for time and materials

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As I have stated before, my coworkers told me that I would be Alice for our work Halloween party, because I have the hair for it. I knew that I had this pattern, and I knew that it would be perfect for an Alice in Wonderland apron. I was planning on using this pattern to make a pinafore for a long time. Now, I no longer had any reason to put off making it any longer. This is the first thing that I made for my Alice costume.

I was expecting a super quick, really easy, beginner level sewing pattern. This is not a super quick, really easy, beginner level sewing pattern. The other aprons featured in this sewing pattern might be beginner level, but this apron is more along the moderate level of sewing capabilities. It uses things like button holes, narrow seams, gathering and basting stitches, and ruffles. I know, I know, ruffles can be used in beginner sewing patterns. This pattern just did not feel like a beginner level pattern. I’m glad that I started with it, because I started on the apron about a month before Halloween. I gave myself plenty of time and I took things slow. One day, I cut out the pattern pieces. Then I put everything aside and started construction the next day. Whenever I got to a point that was too frustrating or confusing, I just laid everything to the side and walked away. Sometimes I would come back to it in the same day. Other times, I would come back the next day. It all ended up working out in the end.
The only modification that I made was that I did not add the ruffle along the bottom of the apron. This ended up making me miss a step where I was supposed to hem the side and bottom of the bottom of the apron. As I have already said, it all ended up working out in the end. I was able to finish all of the edges, hide all of the seams, and make both the front and the back of the apron look good. I knew that the apron would be the main part of the costume that everyone would be able to see, so it was very important for it to turn out well, and it did. There were several people who did not believe that I had made my costume, because it did not look homemade to them.

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While I am very happy with how different pieces of the costume turned out, overall I think I could have done better. Maybe next year, my group will win first place instead of second! What do you recommend for four coworkers to dress up as for a work Halloween party?

Happy sewing!

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week 35 – Book Inspired. Children’s book, novel, text, etc. TAG: Book

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The Facts

Fabric: mystery cotton

Pattern: self drafted

Year: 2015

Notions: thread, elastic

Time to complete: frustratingly too long

First worn: for work Halloween party

Wear again? If I can figure out how to fix it, maybe

Total Cost: $30+, figuring time and materials

My coworkers told me that I would be Alice for our Halloween party at work, while they went as the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit, and the Cheshire Cat. I was ok with the idea as I already had the shoes and a hairband that would work. I just needed to make the bloomers, dress, and apron. And a petticoat to give the dress that classic bell shape.

I was able to sew up the bloomers in an afternoon. They were super easy to make. The apron will have a post of its own. The dress gave me a bit of a headache.

I could not find a sewing pattern that combined all of the elements that make up Alice’s dress. I tried to draft my own pattern, but that ended in catastrophic failure. Ok, maybe I am exaggerating a bit, but I really am not happy with the results. Since it is for work, I was trying to make sure that the bodice was tasteful and fit well. The sewing patterns that I could find, included a deep neckline, or lots and lots of button holes. I still am learning how to make button holes with my sewing machine, so any pattern that calls for them is an instant “no.” I’m also still learning how to modify patterns to create a uniquely different garment, so any pattern that I have to change the neckline from plunging to work appropriate, is also an instant “no” at this stage.

I had a pattern that I thought might work, but the sleeves were wrong. I had another pattern that had the correct sleeves, but it was an untested pattern that seemed really weird. It required me to cut insanely large pieces of fabric, and then to sew elastic in parts to make it fit. I tried combining the two patterns together. It seemed to work at first, but when I sewed it together, I found that the back of the bodice was at least two inches too short. Running low on both fabric and time, I tried to make as simple of a bodice as possible, and add sleeves to it. When I put it on the dress form, it seemed to work all right. When I tried it on me, the sleeves were all wrong. I tried multiple ways of attaching the sleeves. Each time ended with the same failure. Eventually, I gave up as, at that point, I still needed a peter pan collar and a petticoat.

After I gave up on the dress as being, “good enough,” I turned my attention to making a petticoat. I have had this Simplicity pattern for ages, and I dream of one day making an outrageous, over the top outfit with ribbons, and lace, and bows everywhere. I figured I could make the petticoat for my Alice costume, and that would get me started in the right direction.

I read the instructions. Then I read them again. Then I reread the instructions. Then I looked for tutorials online, as well as pattern reviews. The main topic involving this pattern seems to revolve around whether or not it is a pattern for a lolita outfit. (In case you are wondering, for those serious about lolita, this is not a lolita pattern, but it can be if you modify it. For those who are not serious about lolita, it is a lolita pattern. )

After many times reading through the sewing instructions for the petticoat, I thought that I had it figured out. There is an upper ruffle, an under ruffle, and a tiered skirt. All three layers are gathered and sewn together, then sewn to the next layer. Then they are sewn to what will become an elastic waistband.  If you look up how to sew a tiered skirt on YouTube, you will get the idea of what this pattern is trying to convey. What is at once so great and horrifying about sewing this petticoat skirt, is the amount of fabric required for each tier. To make a long story short, I could not get my sewing machine or my serger to machine gather the fabric, and the hand gathering was not working well as my thread kept breaking. I eventually ended up purchasing a petticoat from the costume store because I could no longer stand to try sewing the same basting seam another time, just to not be able to get the fabric to cooperate. I hope to return to it someday. When I have forgotten how frustrating it is, or when I have ample time to work on it.

The next post will be a much shorter one about the apron. Happy sewing!

week 34 – Collared. Making something with a collar. TAG: Collared

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The Facts

Fabric: mystery cotton blend

Pattern: made from approximating what other internet patterns were doing

Year: 2015, also – timeless

Notions: ribbon, thread

Time to complete: 1 hour, approximately

First worn: for work Halloween costume contest

Wear again? Possibly

Total Cost: $5.00, figuring time and materials

My workplace loves to celebrate the holidays. Every year for Halloween, we have a costume contest. There are prizes for the best individual costume, as well as for the best group costume. There are also prizes for the runner’s up. My coworkers told me that we are going as Alice in Wonderland, and that I would be Alice. I looked in the thrift stores for a dress that would be suitable, however I was unable to find one. I then looked for a pattern that would be simple, and capture all of the elements of Alice’s dress. I was unable to find one of those as well.

So, I made an Alice costume. Her dress in the movie includes a full skirt, puff sleeves, and a peter pan collar. I had trouble with the bodice of the dress, so I made the peter pan collar separate. There are a multitude of free patterns for all sorts of cute different peter pan collars. I somehow managed to miss the start of the trend of the peter pan collar necklace, but it seems to be still going pretty strong. I used the same fabric that I used for the dress, cut it, and sewed it with ribbon used for the closure. I’m not sure that I like how it looks on me. It seems to be too big to just wear as an accessory, but it works for the costume.
More pictures of the rest of the outfit to come soon.

Happy sewing!