Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sewing from My Stash

There are online seamsters who sew something new every week, but I'm not that sort. While I need clothing and own more fabric than I can make up and wear, I approach each project with the speed of an arthritic tortoise. 

When I'm sewing for myself, I'm very picky. I rummage through my patterns and winnow things down to 20 or more possibles. Deciding on a fabric is also a production. My basement is full of boxes with fabric. Some fabrics are bits and pieces, but a few boxes are marked "Dress and Pant lengths." I haul upstairs a bag of patterns and a box of fabrics, and cogitate at length. Eventually everything gets taken back to the basement, and sometimes is even returned to the correct places. More rarely,  I've even cut and sewn something.
Jacket with darts, but before shortened sleeves and sleeve linings.

The magenta plaid jacket has simplified things. Refashioned with lots of darts in the body and linings for sleeves, it is my focus. My stash yielded two moderately astounding fabrics. The brighter one will be a jumper or a dress, mostly because I need a success and dresses are easier to fit than pants. It's lightweight cotton and rayon, and will require a lining. I've settled on an eye popping scarlet batiste because I've already got it and won't need to visit the fabric store where temptation lies.

The darker fabric is heavier weight, and will be pants when I achieve a reliable pants pattern. I approach each attempt at pant making with great trepidation because of  past unhappiness. There is hope. Last spring I happened upon Make Your Own Clothes by Marie Clayton and PatternMaker, a book and CD combo, gave it the pants test, and discovered that the wearable muslin for pajama pants needed only minor adjustments. 

Despite this success, it took awhile for me to approach the software again. This time, I mastered the "move" command, and achieved better use of paper. It took me a couple of weeks to approach cutting the pants after I printed out the jeans pattern and taped the bits together, and even longer to baste them together. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that once again, alterations will be minor! The waist is too big and the back rise is a hair too short, but I can fix both things by redrafting the back yoke. Right now I'm croggling at the near-success. Soon I will undo the basting, put in the zipper,  and inch toward a wearable result.

Technically, the pants are "jeans cut." The fabric is not a twill or denim, but an olive greenish cotton waffle weave from the clearance counter somewhere. I'm not cutting decorative back pockets. My rump doesn't need the attention. Belt loops? Don't be silly. The last time I wore a belt was 15 years ago. If this pattern works, I will use  jeans cut for many many pairs of pants, I hope.

Make Your Own Clothes  came out 3 years ago, and is still available in stores and online for $25 or less. If you have no patience with commercial patterns and passed cutting and pasting in kindergarten, this book /CD will work for you. It is a scaled down, training wheels version of PatternMaker software. I don't think I'm a serious enough seamster to blow the budget on the full version, but things may change.