This summer I set a goal of sewing clothes for myself. I was unsure how the start to the summer would unfold and we found ourselves afloat for a couple weeks due to a death in the family, bad weather (tornadoes) and no summer camp schedule to speak of. We were adrift for a bit, but I had dreams and thoughts of sewing clothes to keep me anchored (and sane) and therefore the kids happy. When I was able to schedule them with an activity I slipped away to my own activity and peace reigned for at least 20 minutes at a stretch.
I am very new to sewing clothes for adults. I have made kids costumes here and there and done some quilting, but never anything that required measurements and fit. I really didn't know where to start. I reached out to a friend, and the internet, and then dove in.
Two tips I picked up pretty quickly were: 1. Make a (wearable) muslin out of cheap fabric and 2. Pick the pattern size based on your measurements, not your clothing size.
My first three patterns to try were: 1. The Wiksten Tova, 2. The Washi Dress and 3. The Schoolhouse Tunic.
Coincidentally my neighborhood sewing shop (The Sewcial Lounge) was offering a class on the Wiksten Tank which I also signed up for. What a great experience! I learned so many little tricks and tips that I felt quite accomplished when I was done. I learned how to sew in bias for the armholes and use a sewing gauge. And while it wasn't a pattern I had initially picked out for myself it made a great top and starting point for my other projects.
My first tank (top left in first photo), that I made during the class, is a wearable muslin out of generic quilting cotton. [I don't particularly care for the fabric pattern, but it was a good trial run and now has been worn camping and weeding the garden a few times this summer.] I walked out of the store wearing my new tank top and the confidence to move on to something a bit more ambitious.
The other three tanks I made to add to my summer wardrobe and I consistently wear at least 2 each week. They came together very quickly and in about 4 separate 20-minute windows (cutting, sewing, armholes and neckline/serging seams). The blue is from some Ghanaian fabric a friend brought home for me from travels abroad, the yellow is a quilting cotton that is softening after many washes, and the voile is a lovely Anna Maria Horner print that I found on sale.
Once I had the tank down I moved on to the Washi Dress. My first go at that was not good - I made a dress entirely too big and learned the real value of making a muslin. My second attempt at a wearable muslin was much better. I opted for the tunic length, reasoning that I would save on fabric while getting a better fit and then could do the dress next. The teal/green tunic above is out of quilting cotton from my stash and I do wear this top out in public.
Then came the dress, made from a cotton voile from JoAnn fabrics. It turned out about as wonderful and I could have expected for my first dress. The shirring is not straight and I didn't bother to change the thread color for the facing. But it fits reasonably well and the hem is straight. I am excited to make another (with the notch and sleeves this time) in another lightweight fabric. Maybe a soft linen or another voile. I love the sleeveless look for this one too. A great all-around summer sun dress.
Two other details to note are the serged seams (!!) and 'handmade' tags. The serger was a gift from my husband this spring and I am in love with it. The finished seams make all the difference in a wearable garment. And the tags were a gift from a dear friend. They add the perfect touch this this first set of clothes.
I have taken to calling these items the Summer '14 collection.
And with August starting tomorrow I only have a few weeks before we roll over into the Fall '14 collection (smile). I have yet to tackle the Wiksten Tova - I tried it out in and the muslin is too big. Back to the cutting table for that one. And I also worked on a muslin for the Schoolhouse Tunic. This one fits well everywhere except just below the bust, where it is too tight. I am puzzling how to extend the pattern piece to give myself a bit more 'below bust ease' so it all comes together well.