Fabric for Fashion - The Swatch Book

Sunday, September 22, 2013
So, since I haven't been sewing, really, but apartment hunting and guarantor hunting and stressing about it in general, I thought I'd tell you about a book related to sewing I got myself lately. I'm really trying to cut down on actual physical books that I have, and this is not exactly the smallest, but this is something you can't get for kindle.

I've been wanting to get this book, since I first read about it in Tilly's blog (you can also find more pictures there, I'm lazy...). Now I decided I needed to get it. I'm having trouble of understanding all the different fabrics, especially in English (and in French!). And when you're ordering online, you don't really have a chance to feel how the fabric is. And it's not exactly something I'm great in Finnish either. So, I thought this book was just what I needed. And it's amazing! It doesn't go in very deep on the fabrics, just gives you the main idea of what and how the fabrics are made, but it provides swatches!

So, they introduce the main fabric types and the swatches are not dyed, so they're mainly white/grey so that you won't be distracted of the color of the fabric. This really gave me some understanding of the different common fabric types around. And leaves out a lot of guesswork. Also, the book is about 70 pages, so it's not a huge read. The book is more introductory, but I think a huge book with a lot of information wouldn't work with swatches. It already is quite thick and the nature of the information is such that I need to go back to this book over and over again before I've actually learned to recognize the fabrics without the book. But I can recommend this to anyone with the same problem: it really makes a difference to feel the fabrics.

Bombshell swimsuit --- or I'm always out of season

Sunday, September 15, 2013
The Stitchy Details:
Bombshell Swimsuit
  • Challenge Theme: Originally: Swimalong 2013, tried: Défi vintage - Thread and Needles: Plage (Août 2013), but missed both deadlines...
  • Pattern used: Bombshell swimsuit
  • Fabric: Turquoise lycra with red dots and swimsuit lining from Spandex House (love the selection, but the postage was huge!) 
  • Notions: Swimsuit elastic, cups (swim proofed)
  • Did you make any pattern alterations or design changes? I made the size 10 of the view A of the pattern and added some seam allowances to waist and hips, since my measurements were slightly bigger on those parts.
  • First worn/Wear again? For the pictures. It's not really swimsuit weather in Paris anymore... Maybe in Qatar in November if there's a place to swim.
  • Total price: ~75 €, most of this came from the fabric, because the shipping costs were almost the same as the price of the fabric. And also I ended up buying 2 patterns for this...
  • Time to complete: 16h

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Taping the pattern...
So, remember when I wanted to make a swimsuit in June? Well, I didn't abandon the plan, but I needed to pluck some courage to actually make it. And also, I tried way too many challenges at the same time. I thought I had time, but then, I have other things in my life too. Like work. That really cuts on my sewing time... Anyway, I have finally joined the wonderful group of sewing ladies who have pictures of their butt in the internet. The things sewing makes you do...

I actually had another pattern at first, as you might remember, but when the bombshell suit came along and there was no need for zipper like in the other pattern, I decided to go for it instead. Also, seeing so many awesome examples around, I just couldn't help. But, I didn't make the deadline. I mean, that was end of June and now it's September... I thought I would make it to the Thread and Needles vintage challenge for August with a theme: beach, but hey, I missed that deadline too... But, I finished the suit and finally I have a new swimsuit! That covers my butt and my stomach! I haven't seen bad versions of this swimsuit or unflattering ones either. I think this is one of those garments that look great on everybody!

I was a bit nervous, since I haven't really sewn anything stretchy before. Well I have, but I've always had a serger and now I just have my sewing machine, since the serger is my mother's and lives with her and of course at school I used the school's serger. But the pattern said, you only need a sewing machine and I have been watching a craftsy course about sewing knits without a serger, so I was sure it's doable.

Cutting, first time using weights :)
Well, I had some problems with cutting. I think my mistake was trying to use the rotary cutter. I think the idea of the rotary cutter is a good one, but mine is kind of dull at the moment, so it didn't give me a clean cut. Also, with back I forgot to grade the pattern to my waist and hips, so I had to cut that again... Luckily I have more than enough of fabric. Even with my screw-ups I think I have enough for another swimsuit. Well for a bikini anyways.

I decided to do this one right, although I wasn't really into making a muslin (and I haven't really read anyone making alterations), so that part I skipped. But I decided to hand baste my ruched pieces together since gathering and machine stitching with pins doesn't really sound like something that would work well if I do it... (also I was in the middle of a 2-part episode of Star Trek, TOS, so this way I could keep watching...).

Still a big mess...
I lost my faith so many times doing this... Mostly because I haven't sewn anything with a stretchy fabric before and I was so afraid that everything would turn out horribly wrong. I had some trouble with my added seam allowances. I didn't realize that I put them in the center seam in the back (yes, as it is pointed out in the instructions: the curved seam is the center back!!!). So I had to adjust the leg openings a little. I sometimes found the instructions a bit confusing, but then in the end I was just following the sew-along posts. And those instructions rock!

Bombshell SwimsuitThe hardest part however was the top part. It took forever for me to get those cups in place and I still think I sewed them on too low. Also, I'm wondering if I should've taken the smaller size I was debating about while I bought these. But I think the biggest problem is the shape. Although I'm not against the whole bullet style in general, it is the style favored in the 50s, but these are really hard, while the 50s style would come because the didn't have underwires and the bra's were made of fabric without any shaping material. Also, I distorted the top while I sew the elastic on and it's too big and the elastic is not holding anything. I did fix it a bit with the straps, so I think it looks ok in the pictures, but I'm not really happy with the top part.

Bombshell SwimsuitAll in all, I'm not over the moon about it, but as for it being my first swimsuit it's ok. The pattern is amazing, although I think I didn't need the extra I added for the seams (or I could've stretched the elastic a bit more), I could've gone for a bit more tighter fit, which is what I like when it comes to swimsuits. The style is very flattering, but I think next time I try to find cups that are less pointy and more comfortable. Lauren used a trifted bikini and ripped the cups off that, which might be a solution. But I think for my first swimsuit this is very presentable. And I was a bit worried about taking photos, you know, in my swimsuit, in the backyard parking lot 7:30 pm, when it's 15 degrees outside... The lighting could've been a bit better, but yes, my legs really are quite white. But no one walked by and it wasn't as cold as I thought. And I got my pictures from the first set of 10, so that helps. And see: I'm wearing heels...! I think they were the only suitable footwear with this suit :)

Monthly Stich: September - Vintage Patterns

Monday, September 2, 2013
So, september is here and so is the next Monthly Stitch challenge. This is right up my alley: vintage patterns. I haven' yet sewn one, so I'm quite excited. And as always I'm not taking the easy way out, as my pattern is unprinted one... But I think I can work it out. Let's hope so anyway :)

So, for my pattern, I've chosen one from my stash (yes, I'm starting to have a stash. It's from the 40s (hence, the non-printed situation), Simplicity 3194. I'm still going to trace this pattern, because I want to preserve the original. We'll see how it goes. I also will take a bit more time and measure everything from the pattern to do adjustments to the pattern before making the muslin. Because I really want this dress to fit nicely. That is I'm using my Craftsy course (Fast-Track Fitting by Joi Mahon) technique :) I'm not good with muslins if there are a lot of alterations, and this way I'm hoping that I have only few adjustments to the muslin. I'm thinking of making the short sleeve version, since I think that would be better for dancing. Although I think I'm skipping the rick rack braid this time. I might add some tatted lace, if I have time and energy to tat enough of it.

I'm quite excited about this. I have a fabric, I decided to use my flower fabric, which I bought from Paris about a year ago when I was here for the interview (so not the yellow one, I'm just too lazy to take a new picture of the fabric... But I still need a belt buckle and some contrast fabric: I'm thinking red. Or I might go for solid blue like the background color, or possibly white. Depends on what I find. Finding the right color to go with fabric you already have is not always easy-peasy. All the other notions I should have already. I found a huge amount of snap fasteners, since I tend to buy them and not remember I actually have some at home. Well, at least I'm not in danger of running out...

I'm kind of torn about this project. I'm excited and really nervous at the same time. But I guess I never learn if I don't try...