Saturday, July 14, 2012

Sewing: UFO Massacre!

OK, not so much a massacre, but I finished two sewing UFOs, and actually wore them. Yay!

One was my third Sewing Workshop Liberty Shirt, a loose shirt with a front-to-back asymmetrical hem that Himself says looks like I ran out of fabric. I love this pattern. I fear that perhaps it has a late eighties or early nineties mood and may therefore mark me as being a style dinosaur, but I don't care. I love the completely finished bodice interior, the deep hem, the mitered edges, the cuff/vent things on the sleeves, the way that it's loose but nevertheless has a shape. It's a swinging tentlike shape, but that's OK with me.

My first Liberty Shirt, months ago, was a test garment in bargain-rack black cotton printed with big white daffodils--it has a disturbing floral vampire vibe. The result was flawed--shoulders too wide, sleeves too long, and I did one of the French seams backwards. I declared it to be a cooking coat. I slapped on some chicken-themed ribbon to tie it shut and a silver pig button as a throat closure, and now I can fry chicken while decorated with poultry, pork, and undead flowers.

For the second version, I shortened the sleeves and narrowed the shoulders using the instructions from Sandra Betzina's Fast Fit. At that point I should have made another test garment from cheap fabric, so naturally I used a high-quality black linen instead. I forgot when shortening that the sleeve length included three inches of foldover vent, so the sleeves ended up three-quarters length. But the narrowed shoulders came out just fine, so I pretended that I meant to do that. This one I actually wear outside, in the world.

I re-lengthened the sleeves on the pattern, cut a new version from tomato-red linen, let the pieces sit on a side table for weeks and weeks, and finally finished it this past weekend. And it worked! Woohoo! The shoulders could be taken in another half inch, but I'm declaring success. I think that this pattern qualifies as the elusive TnT (Tried and True) pattern, a pattern that I can merrily cut and sew at will, without any further fitting preliminaries.

Then I finished a HotPatterns Plain & Simple Princess Shirt, another TnT candidate, in a white linen/rayon blend. This is one of two white shirts that I declared to be "almost done" in February.  My estimates are unreliable.

I've used this pattern three times, but I put so much work into mastering the infamous notched collar all three times that I failed to consider other improvements. Next round, I'm planning to lengthen the bodice to allow for reliable tucking-in, give it a deep mitered hem on the bodice and cuff/venty things on the sleeves like the Liberty Shirt, and take in the vertical seams in by, well, a lot. I'll also create a short version of the sleeves.

There's no fashion risk in this shirt, because the collar already plants it firmly in the fifties and in my book anything that far back permanently counts as retro. So I'm imagining myself making an endless series of shirts that I can gloat over, Gatsby style.

I could have continued knocking off UFOs. I have two pairs of pajama pants, a pink linen shirt jacket, a denim skirt, and a blue linen shirt that each need only an hour or two of work to be done. I ignored them all and cut out a new dress in more black linen, using the Princess Frankendress pattern. I predict I'll have it done in a week or so. But tell that to the white shirt.

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