Monday, 30 March 2015

My Holy Grail

Where dressmaking is concerned my holy grail is the perfect fit.  It is the one element that I am most interested in: being able to make clothes in a colour and style I want is great, but to have them fit perfectly: that's what I want most of all, my top concern ambition-wise.

Other elements are nice to have, but a dress that fits really well says a lot about the wearer, just like an ill-fitting garment does too.

So imagine my disappointment at not achieving great fit in my self-made garments just yet. I am finding this so very discouraging, it is really down-heartening.

I just started a second bias cut sleeveless top, for summer because I made it before and it fit pretty well. My wavy white top did unfortunately shrink a bit in the wash, which is unfortunate but my own fault (I should have washed the fabric first, I know, I know) but at least I knew that it fit well. I now have to lengthen the bust darts a bit - but I am still happy with this one.

Not so with version 2.  I am using a firmer cotton, in a blue batik, but surely a pattern that fit well before should behave a lot better than this one does?

This top shows up all kinds of fitting issues even after I lengthened these darts straight away.  The bust darts aren't deep enough this time (seriously?), the underarm seam sticks out and so does the back nape.  I am so disappointed that I can't find enough words.

I know that I didn't have the original back piece, but I re-engineered it from a cut-down version I copied out, and drew the missing outline of the shoulder from the wavy white top.  So it should be pretty close.

Perhaps not close enough for the back nape fitting issue, but the rest should be okay.

I feel really down in the dumps on this.  I have tried to make a well-fitting top so many different times now and still haven't solved the major fitting issues

I finally figured out that the bagginess at the front of the shoulder/side of upper chest is down to my low-busted shape - I also realised that I need to transfer this bagginess into the side seam, which is an issue I already know about: all those sticky-out side seams where I have to remove a wedge of at least a centimetre in width and 5-7cm in length.  So it is very good to finally know what this issue is about. That helps a lot.

It doesn't help that I often started over because I couldn't remember how far I got with a previous version, or couldn't find all the pattern pieces, or wasn't sure what pattern pieces I had. Starting over is safer, but it does add to the frustration.  I don't follow an ongoing learning curve by re-doing the same thing over and over.

I did try with my 'template' top and got to four versions. It wasn't a good pattern to alter because it started out very baggy while I was trying to achieve a close fit. And I didn't yet know how a full bust adjustment works. I do now.

What held me back from trying for version 5 was that I forgot to make some of the changes I had identified in version 3 and basically just made a second version 3. I had put this aside for too long and hadn't made notes.

The next time I will document everyone at length.  My odd dotted pink mini dress toile did show up that I do need some darts below the bust that run vertical across the waist. Just bust darts alone don't provide enough shaping.

I should show photos of the back and sides as well: very shapeless!

Onwards and upwards!

Friday, 27 March 2015

Jade green top

Here are a few more photos of my simple green top.  Basically I forgot that I had already blogged this.  Oh well, here's more...

Apologies for the top looking so wrinkled, I didn't have anyone who could take a picture while it was still unwrinkled, and I must admit I didn't realise how much this fabric creases, and how quickly!

This is actually quite instructive - maybe I don't like the fabric as much as I thought I did...

Thursday, 26 March 2015

I am making a promise to myself

I want to sew more, which was the plan for quite a while, - and I decided this week that I also want to stretch myself in terms of how many garments or projects I complete within one year.

I know it's no longer January so this isn't a New Year's Resolution as such (I totally suck at them, so that's a very good thing!) - but I already caught up because of the sewing session on 8th March.


I made the jade green simple top in two and a half hours. I could add the time I spent on two previous evenings when I drew up the pattern from my simple black top (can't find that pattern) but I won't.

It was really good to see that I can do it when I push myself.  A wonderful experience!  I can recommend it.  To myself most of all.

I decided that I want to make one garment per quarter year.  So I have three more to do in 2015 to get there.  Which is more than do-able.

If I think that I am easily on track for four this year, then I want to see if I can increase my completion rate to one garment every two months.  This might also be achievable but whenever I put pressure on myself, I fold.  That's it: as soon as I phrase an intention, a promise to myself, an ambition or a goal... I can rely on the fact that I do not, will not and apparently cannot fulfil that.

Why?  Is it so frightening to get things done?  To do what I have an ambition to do?  I could kick myself but I have a real problem with that.  Increasing expectation has always meant decreased success for me.  It is maddening.

I tried to find ways around it: not make plans but try and go for it, split tasks up into smaller steps and just try do one thing at a time... whatever it was it didn't really work.

So now I am trying to push through this terrible resistance that I seem to have taught myself: I am putting up an obstacle to my sewing progress by not completing items.  I am probably scared of success: once I actually make all those garments that I dream about I will be able to compare the actual results with the original ambitious ideas. I am probably just scared that my sewing skills won't measure up. Which they will continue not to if I don't do enough sewing!  I trapped myself in a bit of a catch 22 circle there. It has to stop!

Going for four garments this year needs to be something I can do.  Otherwise I might as well stop sewing and I have no intention of doing that.  My goals are still the same: make garments in colours, patterns and styles that I like, that suit me and that fit me better than shop bought stuff.

And one day I would like to translate my design ideas into practical garment making: giving life to the ideas that run through my head.  It is a wonderfully creative thing that I need to have in my life.

Here's to four garments and finding out if I can do more than that!

I am grimly determined.