Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Ugly Truth

This morning Frida wore a new dress to school.

ModKids Maya, 1st attempt

The house is a bit messy, but neither the little bits of visible mess nor the blurry photo of a grinning girl in a decent homemade dress reveal anything about the state of mama's sewing last night. I made just about EVERY mistake possible, every sloppy manoeuvre imaginable. It is a MIRACLE that I ended up with a decent item at the end of it all.  In fact, Greg says that this is his favourite of all the dresses I have made for Frida.  Hey now!

Even as I type, I'm not sure I want to detail the ugly truth of last night's sewing misadventures...but I know that I always appreciate behind-the-scenes glimpses (and confessions) on sewing blogs, so maybe this will be useful (or reassuring) to someone out there! And it may be cathartic for me.

First off, last night was my first date with my new serger, a Janome Four-DLG that I had had on layaway for the past 7 months or so.  Not to worry: I got it at a great price, and it wasn't expensive as sergers go, but it took me a while to get it nevertheless.  This replaces my Brother serger, which was cheap and useful, but not fabulous, and whose presser foot lever snapped about a year ago.

About a month ago, I had cut out most of the pieces for a size 3T ModKid Maya dress -- using cotton interlock from my stashed garment fabrics.  When I decided to give the Four-DLG a whirl last night, I did so not with a bunch of scraps -- oh no, that would have been too prudent.  Instead, I dove right into assembly of a real clothing item.


My current sewing temperament is a bit reckless, and I find myself spending as much (often more) time restitching or dealing with sewing dilemmas-of-my-own making as just sewing.  I'm not always this way; there must be something in the air.

Here are some things I did, which I wouldn't recommend to others.

I eyeballed the positioning of the ruffles.  Of course, they all lean towards one side.  Hrumph.

I estimated the width of the neckband.  So now it is something like a turtleneck.  I guess that's okay.

This pattern has you attach the neckband to the top with just one shoulder seam sewn.  Once I did that I couldn't get the seams of the neckband to meet up nicely when closing up the second shoulder (they were way off), and I re-serged that seam about a dozen times, making the the pieces a wee bit smaller, and smaller, and smaller as I did so.  It still isn't right, but it's okay.  Next time I will close both shoulders, create a loop of neckband material and then attach, with the neckband seam at the back.  I have done this before, and I know I can do it. 

The neckband and ruffles actually look okay in this photo...but trust me, they're wonky.

I'm guessing that way back when I cut the skirt pieces, I did so on the cross-grain of the interlock (or maybe I did so on one of the pieces???).  Anyway, my first attempt at a scalloped rolled hem is a bit weird, curling in on one side and not at all consistent.  I need to be more careful about can be hard to tell which way the grain runs on a solid cotton interlock.  It can also be difficult to tell which is the right side, which the wrong side.  It just wants to curl everywhere.

I attached the skirt to the waistband beautifully!  Yay!

But I did it inside out.  Boooo.

I then had to slice it off with my rotary cutter and thought I would save time and the trouble of regathering by just using the process of serging to slice off the first seam, which was still attached to the skirt.  This made my serger VERY unhappy, and suddenly it wasn't looping at all.


I felt slightly panicked.  I sliced another inch off the now-mangled seam.  I did a google search, which was far from reassuring.  I watched the set-up DVD a couple of times.

I rethreaded the whole machine.  Three times.

Bingo!  I was back in business.

I decided that I did not care whether the dress ended up too short from all the slicing and dicing.  I figured that the waistband was probably going to be loose on Frida anyway -- it is meant to be tight and stretchy, giving the top some blousiness, but on a skinny marinny like Miss F I was guessing that it would just hang down straight.  And at this point I had nothing to lose.  So I regathered and reattached the skirt.


Feeling relieved but also frazzled, I started to clean up the mess I had created -- which was FORMIDABLE -- and which I did not want to document in any way...just wanted to pretend it had never happened!  But here I am, telling you all about it. And I'm glad it's behind me!

And I'm glad Frida has a new dress.  Just don't look too closely :)

  ModKids Maya, 1st attempt ModKids Maya, 1st attempt


LizA. said...

Despite all your trials and tribulations it's a darling dress and it's obvious that Frida likes it. Bottom line, that's what really counts, right Mom?

The first time I saw a pattern do the one shoulder/neckband construction I thought it was funky. But, it is quite common when sewing with knits because it makes cover stitching on the serger really easy. If you've ever tried to cover stitch a neckband in the round you will understand. Now I use only that method on the rare occasions that I actually attempt to garment sew.

Prof. S (the enchanted bobbin) said...

Thank you, Liz!! And I wish my new serger could do a coverstitch, but it can't (unless there's something I don't know...which is entirely possible...I might have to look over the manual one more time).

Annabella said...

Oh Jennifer - I totally feel for you but you know what, isn`t it worth it when you see gorgeous Frida looking so smiley in her new dress? Boo to bad sewing mojo - hope you are having a better day today.

quirky granola girl said...

regarding sewing kids clothes: i was once told not to fret about the mistakes that you couldn't notice if she was galloping by on a horse. kids move so fast that any other human couldn't see the things that glare at you when it is on the sewing table. Frida looks absolutely lovely.