Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Project Notes: Woomera Dress

Thanks all for your encouragement! You're the best. I'm still trying to get things settled with my vision of what I want this space to be, so until then, here are some pictures of a project I made back in August. I thought it would be a fun way to share my latest projects and related tips/rants/lessons learned.

First project: The Woomera dress by Liberty Jane Clothing

Fabric: a yellow bird-print chiffon. I really wish I'd bought more of it, it's really cute (although chiffon is a major pain to sew). The chiffon is silky and the colors look great, though it doesn't iron very well.

This pattern was a real challenge; the label says "intermediate" but it felt more like "advanced." I'm really bad about making mock-ups before breaking out the good fabric, but I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to do that. See where I attached the back left yoke backwards? This is something that you should figure out with your cheap practice fabric, not with the good stuff. (Especially since chiffon frays like crazy, so it's good to minimize the number of seams you have to tear out and redo.)

Also, did you see the bottle of Fray Check in the photo above? I used to swear by it, especially when sewing with chiffon, but after getting through this project I'm going to minimize how much I use it. For those who aren't familiar with Fray Check, it's a fluid that effectively "glues" raw fabric edges so they don't fray. This sounds great, especially since not everyone has a serger to finish raw edges, but it leaves behind an awful crunchy residue. It's also impossible to remove, which is great when you finally get the bodice to look right and then spill Fray Check all over it and have to start over. Moral of the story: don't use Fray Check or similar products. 

Sewing over the edges of chiffon pattern pieces with a tiny zigzag stitch is a much better way to keep pattern pieces from fraying, and is the method I'll be using from now on (as you can see in the photo above). 

Speaking of zigzag stitches, the pattern calls for a zigzag stitch to keep the gathers at the shoulders in place. For some reason, that never worked out for me - maybe the zigzag stitches on my machine are too big? Running a straight stitch over the gathers worked, though. 

Some notes about the pattern that I would change the next time I make this: the opening in the back of the skirt doesn't need to be that big, so feel free to sew up the back of the skirt higher than the instructions say. Also, while French seams are a major pain, they're really good for sewing fabrics that are prone to fraying. I'll also make the skirt longer - while it looks cute as is, the extra length would give it some more drama, especially with the uneven hemline.

My biggest tip, though, is to match up sleeve seams with side seams. Few things are more annoying than the seam closing the sleeve not lining up with the seam in the side of the garment. You can avoid this whole issue by sewing both the sleeve and the side as one seam, which is my personal favorite technique. Here's a good explanation with photos.

And here's Sabriel Madeleine (can't decide which name she'll go by) looking adorable in her new dress. I don't have any fold-over elastic, so I haven't made the slip that goes with this dress, so a white sleeveless top will have to do. I'll also take some better photos when the lighting isn't so gray and abysmal.

I hope you enjoyed this episode of Pattern Notes. Any suggestions for future posts?

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Should I Continue?

It was brought to my attention that I've only written three posts this entire year. That's only one more than I made when I first started this site, back in 2012, and then I had the excuse of starting the blog in December. And yes, I can give all the standard excuses of work, a big move, general life stress, etc., but while these are all true, they're getting old. I want to do better, and you loyal readers who have stayed and haven't unfollowed even despite my silence here (particularly one wonderful reader who emailed me the other day - I don't have permission to reveal their identity, but you know who you are) deserve better. 

Honestly, while all the above issues are valid, my biggest blogging roadblock is my changing interest.  I'm having trouble figuring out what I want this blog to be; it started as a place to share papercrafting tutorials, but I think that it's outgrown it in some respects - not at all that papercrafting is in any way childish or immature, but there's really only so much to make tutorials for, and to be honest there's only so many times and ways I can say, "draw this shape, cut it out, fold and tape it" before everyone gets bored. And I have other interests that I'd rather pursue and share with you too, but would you even read about them? I think that's the root of my lack of blogging: I want to write about other things too, but I don't know if you would want to read them since you come here to read specifically about paper dolls. I could start another blog, but I don't want to lose the wonderful community of readers that have stuck around for almost three years (can you believe it's been that long?). And what's the point of blogging if it doesn't make you happy any more, just because you committed to a URL? (To be clear, I still very much like papercrafting, but I'm starting to feel boxed in.)

So, question for you: would you continue to read this blog if it wasn't a straight paper doll site anymore? I want to give you content that you enjoy, and above all I don't want to bore either you or myself.

Here's a photo to help combat the angst you just read.

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