Category Archives: spot of bother

Post Mortem on Sorbetto

So yesterday, I unveiled my finished Sorbetto top:

Which I wore the day before to work. And I got so many compliments! Which made me feel much better about the bits that didn’t come out perfectly (or even how I wanted them!).

Here’s a few of the things that went wrong:

When I pin fit the pattern, it looked like my bust point actually didn’t need any adjustments at all… so I didn’t move the dart and didn’t really even look at it much during the rest of the fitting. Big mistake!

As you can see in the photos from yesterday, the bust dart is both too high and too long. When I sew it again, I’m going to shift the dart down at least 1 inch, and shorten it by 1-2″. Right now, the dart sits right on top of my bust, which is uber distracting for me. My Mister says it isn’t noticeable, but I have to look at the darn thing all day, so it’s noticeable enough!

So I’ve marked that on the pattern for next time.

I also don’t think the dart took in enough ease because I had a small amount of gaping around the armhole at the top. I hear you can adjust this somewhat by having a slightly wider side-seam at the top, but I think I’d rather take the time to figure out how to get the bust right!

The other thing that went wrong…oh y’all! I don’t even want to show you the photos its so bad!

But in the hopes that someone else can learn from my mistakes, here it is.

Pardon me while I avert my eyes…
Stupid cap sleeve...buh-bye

Gah! I tried to be smart and use a pattern piece from another pattern to make a sleeve…but I forgot to look at the fabric! This was for a knit fabric so when I first attached it (I didn’t even get a photo because it came off THAT FAST) there was zero ease and I couldn’t move my arm. Ha! So I attempted to shorten it and make a teeny little cap sleeve with gathers but as you can see that was an abysmal failure.

Why did I want sleeves on this so bad? Because my office has a policy against sleeveless shirts. I will not pretend to like this policy, especially when we’re on day umpteen of 105+ degree days! So I really wanted some sleeves on this puppy, but it didn’t happen. I might try again with Mena’s sleeve pattern but I don’t know if it’s worth the bother.

I like the contrast binding a lot, but I didn’t really like the instructions Colette gave for how to install it… I used the method I’ve always used on the neckline and that came out well, but for the arms I used Colette’s method. Now, of course, I realize that she didn’t actually call for double-fold bias tape which is what I was using, so maybe her method would’ve worked better if I’d had regular bias tape? I don’t know! But the arm holes have a weird tendency to roll in funny directions. I guess it doesn’t really matter though, since I have to wear it with a cardigan (GAH YES A CARDIGAN IN TEXAS IN AUGUST GAHGAHGAH) so no one sees it but me.

I’m so critical!

But all in all, I really love the shirt. It was gloriously cool when I wore it around outside getting to and from work (when I kept the cardi in the bag, thankyouverymuch). So, it was a success… and as I said, i did get lots of compliments so I’m trying to take it easy on myself.

I’m just itching to modify the pattern and give it another go! I don’t know if it will happen this weekend though because I’m working on a massive writing project and have several social events planned, but maybe next week!

Have a great one, and stay cool out there, lovelies!


Posted by on August 5, 2011 in creations, Rookie Mistakes, spot of bother


Latest project: Colette Sorbetto

A full blow by blow to come, but for now, here’s a peek at my first Sorbetto top:


I learned so many things with this project!


Full bust adjustment
Waist and hip adjustment
Dart placement…or how to figure out where it needs to go and how long it should be
How to use my hemming foot for a rolled hem
How not to use double fold bias tape
How to hang dry linen to minimize distortion
How not to make a sleeve pattern (hint: don’t use a knit pattern piece for a woven fabric!)

But all that is going to have to wait because I’m exhausted just thinking about how hard I made this top! I spent about 5 hours on it, which is 5 times as much as most of you!


Project in Progress: Burgundy Linen Outfit

So what have I been sewing, you might ask me? And I would tell you that I’m treading very, very carefully, because I’m sewing my burgundy linen up and that stuff was expensive!

But! I finished the skirt!

And I learned a new skill! I can now do French Seams!


Yes, I know that French Seams are mostly used on sheer fabrics. Ask me if I care. I do not.

I like it when my garments are pretty inside as well as out. So there.

And all that linen was super ravely y’all! I felt like I needed to trap it in some other fabric or the whole thing would unravel itself while I was wearing it!

Only one teensy little problem. You seamstresses know what it is.

Yes, I sewed a little *too* close to the turned in edge, causing it to peek out from the exterior seams. Ask me if I care. I do not!

I love love love this skirt. It is so much longer than anything else I own, and I’m so surprised that I like it so much. But good fabric makes a difference, y’all. This linen is like butter. It’s delicious to wear, to feel against bare legs, even when sitting for ages like I do at work.


And, because I disregarded the instructions (again) and did not put in elastic (nope nope nope!) but instead a ribbon tie for the waist, I can adjust the tightness and wear it higher up for one length, or lower down for an almost maxi length. Oh yes, I love this skirt.

The top… I’m nervous about it. I’ve cut it out and I actually HAND BASTED IT TOGETHER Y’ALL. Yes, that is how nervous I am about screwing it up. I actually did what I was supposed to do. And it looks okay. Yes, it does. But I’m still nervous. So maybe I’ll let it hang there, basted together, for another day or two and instead whip up a Colette Sorbetto, since that seems to be the thing all the girls are doing these days.

It’s hot, I’d love a sorbetto. Yes indeed.

I would also love a burgundy linen top with black trimmings.

But I think I’m going to be patient and take it slowly. And maybe try it on half a dozen more times until I’m absolutely POSITIVE I’m not screwing it up.

Because screwing up that linen would really be like murdering a kitten. It would be so so evil.

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Posted by on August 1, 2011 in creations, new skills, spot of bother


The Rayon Files – Simplicity 3506, take 2

Here’s Simplicity 3506 again.. this time made up as a dress using some gifted rayon I got from my grandmama (merci, cherie!).

I’ll be honest here, I’m not a huge fan of rayon, and I pretty much abhor all but the simplest of prints. That said, who am I to look a gift fabric in the mouth? I need all the practice I can get, especially with slinky/troublesome fabrics.

This time around, I figured out how to do the neck of the dress properly, including the epaulettes…but then the neckline felt HUGE on me and it really wants to slip off… I guess I have petite shoulders for my size bust, so it’s going to be an adventure figuring out how to reconcile those two things!

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The Pattern:  Simplicity 3506 (dress pattern used), cut for size 24. Minor pattern alterations — just shortened the dress a few inches so it hit mid-knee.

The Fabric:   Donated rayon from grandma… this stuff is ravel-y! I had no idea how much so until I cut some, then accidentally brushed an edge too much and came up with a handful of thread! The fabric is really too thin for me to wear unlined… luckily, I have a wicked cool full slip that makes it look great!

The Notions: Fusible interfacing (needed it on this one) 20″ zipper (still overkill… didn’t even put it in this time)

The Costs:  $2 total. Re-using a pattern I’ve already used, the fabric was a gift, so this is just for the thread and the fusible interfacing.  This is more like it.. a cheap dress, finally! Whew!

The Cutting:  I used my rotary cutter and mat for the again on this project — I shudder to think what would have happened if I’d used scissors (even my newly sharpened shears)! Marking was still a pain on this fabric. If any of you seamstresses out there have tips, I’d love to hear them!

The Piecing: Again, super simple pattern!

The Fitting:  Still no fitting prior to sewing… silly me! Was missing the extra ease through the tummy area that I lost from the uber binding of the seams I did. Ah well, slip fixed it.

The Sewing: Figured out how to put the bodice together properly this time! I really liked the way the resulting dress fit my figure… but the neck seems too huge. I wonder how much of that is distortion from the rayon stretching, and how much is that I’ve got a small frame and big bust. Need to figure this out!  This time, I zigzagged the crap out of the folded edges before I even put the pieces together. This worked okay, except on one side seam where I had to go over it again because some of the zig-zag stitches were showing. Oops!

The Reception: I haven’t worn this out of the house yet, but I might… especially in the fall when I can wear it with a cardigan to subdue the pattern a bit! I’m picturing it with a black cardi, a wide belt, and some shiny black beads.

The Aftermath: This dress is surprisingly comfortable. Hooray!

The Future: I will absolutely make this pattern again — I still have some kinks to work out and want to know how much of it was fabric choice, and how much could be improved by a true fitting before I stitch everything together.


Posted by on June 5, 2011 in creations, new skills, spot of bother


Sewing Simplicity 3506 – First Attempt

my first complete outfit

Although I grew up in a family that sewed — my grandmother made the most beautiful clothing for her children and grandchildren — I was never confident enough to get started myself.

I’ve sewed a pair of pajamas here and there, but only once did I sew something I’d wear out of the house (a skirt). Apparently it was traumatizing because that was at least five years ago, and I haven’t tried again since!

The fear stops here!

I was talking to my partner, Don, about taking a dressmaking course at my local indie sewing shop, The Stitch Lab, (they are pretty awesome). But after much deliberation he asked me “Why don’t you just buy some cheap fabric and a pattern and try to make something yourself? If you have problems, then you can take it to Stitch Lab and they can help you work out the kinks.”

He is a smart man, that Don.

So we did, and I did, and the result is above. I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out! It took me about 2 days of working on it off and on, and I made some mistakes, learned how to fix them, and I think the final product looks pretty darn good.

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The Pattern:  Simplicity 3506 (blouse, skirt, and sash patterns used), cut for size 24. Minor pattern alterations — just shortened the skirt.

The Fabric:   Quilter’s cotton print in black with tiny white polka dots, which I pre-washed in warm water. I only ever launder in cold water, but I figured it *might* happen one day, and I didn’t want any surprises! I’m still wondering if this counts as the “laundered cotton” listed as an appropriate fabric on the back of the envelope.

The Notions: Fusible interfacing (overkill?), 20″ zipper (definitely overkill!)

The Costs:  $20 total. Here’s where I’m going to have a big learning curve… I don’t know how much things should cost, or what’s appropriate for what kind of project. For this, I bought 5 yards of the cotton (too much, since I wound up shortening the skirt to knee length), originally priced at $6/yd, but I had a 40% off coupon. Still pretty pricey, considering I made a rookie mistake and bought the pattern at nearly full price ($15… ouch!). I’ll have to make that pattern a lot to make it pay off!

The Cutting:  I used my rotary cutter and mat for the first time on this project — it went so smoothly! I still haven’t figured out a good way to mark darts etc on the fabric. This time, I tried a blue water soluble pencil (worked okay, but how do you mark darts after drawing the dots??) and a tool with a sharp edge that you press on top of the pattern to transfer a crease through for the dart. I forget what it was called. It worked pretty well, but next time I’m going to pin the bejeezus out of the pattern next to it because it moved all over the fabric!

The Piecing: This was a really simple dress – that’s kinda why I picked it! There was only 1 pattern piece to cut out on the skirt (4 fold fabric), and 8 pieces for the blouse. I decided to take baby steps, and made the skirt & blouse separates, rather than going full hog into dressmaking (I’m still a little spooked!). But really, it was more complicated to make the skirt separate… I’m glad I did though, because this length of shirt is really flattering to my less-than-perfect tummy area.

The Fitting: No fitting at all… just crossed my fingers this time. Probably not the smartest move 🙂

The Sewing: I had a spot of bother putting the bodice together, but that was just because I hadn’t ever done anything like this before. It wasn’t until I sewed dress # 2 from this pattern that I realized my mistake!  There are supposed to be sections (kind of like epaulettes) over each shoulder… silly me, I thought these pieces of fabric were just to stabilize the ruching at the shoulder! So I promptly sewed front to back, bypassing the epaulette pieces altogether (they’re inside the dress now!). The resulting bodice is significantly shorter as a result… but I still rather like it. What I didn’t like when I first tried it on was how I looked like a samurai…the elimination of the epaulette pieces jacked with the entire structure of the garment (go figure), so I spent several hours with Don figuring out how to add some pleats (can’t be darts if they’re on the outside, right?) under the bustline without it looking too stupid.

I sewed the pieces together and then treated the seams before moving on… pressing them flat and then doing a bastardized version of a finished seam. I don’t have a serger, and I haven’t been doing this long enough to know what’s going to happen to a piece when I launder it, so I tend to do overkill on the seams. I don’t want any wardrobe malfunctions! Basically, I stitched all the seams using the allotted 5/8″ seam allowance, and then folded each edge of the resulting seam down over itself, and then zigzagged the crap out of it 🙂  I’m pleased with it.

The Reception: I wore this outfit last week and had a ridiculous number of compliments on it. Even from people who *didn’t* already know from facebook that I’d made it myself. 😉  And that was kinda nice. Really nice, actually. It’s so easy to feel slouchy these days, with so much knit this and knit that. A little structure is an anomaly sometimes!

The Aftermath: There was a little bit of tugging on those darned under-bust pleats that I had to insert, but overall it fit very well and was gloriously comfortable on an unusually hot (even for Texas) day. Also, the zipper was ridiculous. I put it in, but I didn’t need it, so I took it back out again. Now I understand what all you sewers are talking about when you gripe about unnecessary zippers!

The Future: I will absolutely make this pattern again — in fact, I already have. Stay tuned for my first adventure in Rayon!


Posted by on June 5, 2011 in creations, new skills, spot of bother


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