Apr 112015
 

This morning, I whipped up a taggy crinkle toy for my little baby BOY!  Yup, this week we found out that we’re expecting a sweet little baby boy and I am so happy and excited.  I know I would feel just as happy and excited if baby were a girl, but it feels so much more real to know either way.  Anyway, we are over the moon!

So, the taggy crinkle toy.  This took about 30 minutes from start to finish.

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Here are all of my supplies.

  • Two fabrics (jersey, for softness, and because I had scraps in my stash that I wanted to use up, with high-contrast patterns.
  • Ribbon
  • Plastic crinkle material – – this is actually a washed cereal bag that I fished out of the recycle bin
  • Felt to match the fabric – – to just add a bit more squish to the toy

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I matched up my felt fabric and jersey and pinned the cut up ribbon to the outside of one side.

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Yay, blurry photo!

Sandwiched everything together.  Note that the plastic crinkle material needs to be sandwiched on what will be the inside of the toy (I actually did this wrong and had to rip the whole thing out).

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Then sewed three of four edges, trimmed edges, carefully turned the work right side-out, and handstitched the open edge.

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Lessons learned – – if I were to make one of these again, I would add more taggies and maybe make them a bit shorter.  I also didn’t add taggies to the end that I handstitched but I didn’t have enough ribbon material for anymore taggies, so whatever.

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Apr 042015
 

Today I sewed my first creation for the SHB Sewalong, two “Ultimate Catch-All Baby Bibs.”  This was a super fast and fun project to work on – – I finished both bibs in about 40 minutes.  The fabric is Babyville PUL from Joann’s and I believe the snaps are also Babyville brand. I had originally bought this fabric and these snaps because I was planning on sewing my own cloth diaper covers, but I have since lost interest in that project.  Fortunately, there are a lot of things that a person can sew for baby using PUL, like say, baby bibs.

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I think the catch-all pocket is pretty cool.  The bib can be worn without the catch-all pocket deployed, just as a flat bib, but two quick snap clicks create the nice pocket.  The bib is double sided (both sides PUL for easy cleaning).  The neck seems a bit small too me, but I compared it to a McCall’s pattern for a baby bib and it seems comparable.  As I am a complete newbie when it comes to baby, I have absolutely no idea how many bibs a person needs, but I figured that two would be a good start.

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Tomorrow, I’m hoping to sew up another items for the sewalong.

 

Mar 272015
 

It’s been a while since I felt capable of joining an along, be it for knitting or sewing or running or anything.  In addition to being 20 weeks in my baby-growing journey, I’ve been very busy with a lot of different commitments.  Earlier this week, however, I learned of a sew-along that sounds so serendipitously perfect for where I am at with life and am excited to participate; the SHB Sew-Along for the month of April is intended to help inspire, motivate, and compel those of us about to welcome or who have recently welcomed a small human being into our lives (or another person’s life) to sew baby clothes, baby accessories & toys, as well as maternity and nursing pieces (or other items for parents of small humans).

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The list of things I want to sew for my small human being (as well as for Josh and I to support us as parents) overfloweth and I’ve also been adding to my fabric and supply stash with the intent to complete these projects, so it’s about time that I make some headway.

Here is a list of things that I would love to sew during the sew-along:

Baby Clothes

I actually don’t plan on making very many baby clothes right now, except for maybe:

Baby Accessories & Toys

  • Ultimate Baby Bib w/ Catch All – This bib looks absolutely perfect.  I’ve got a few different yards of PUL and appropriate snaps specifically for this project.
  • Burp Cloths – By Rae pattern.
  • Baby Sleep Sack from Sew Mama Sew or Baby Sleep Sack from DIY Mommy both look like great sleep sacks that I can make from my stash.  I might try making a light weight one for the warmer months and a fleece version for the winter.
  • Sensory plushie or blankie – – like this Seahorse  or this Green Monster Rattle Toy, a Pinterest search brings up so many different ideas that look really fun to make and fun for baby.  Options include having some crinkle material or rattle sewn inside, ribbon sewn to the outside to play with, and even attaching a rubber baby chewy thing (actually, one of my co-workers gave me a nice rubber baby chewy thing, so I already have supplies to make this!).
  • Amish Puzzle Ball – okay, so this looks like something a quilter would make, so I would most certainly not do a good job of this, but I think it’s AWESOME

For Parents

  • Nursing Pads – Of all the disposable items that are probably easier to make once (and reuse over and over) than to go to the store and buy repeatedly, nursing pads have to be at the top of the list.
  • Nursing Cover – A nursing cover would be a great stashbusting project for an item that would surely be indispensable to me.  There are so many DIY tutorials around, but I do like the concept of this one, though I will probably make a few modifications.
  • Maternity Clothes – I have several patterns for maternity and nursing tops, skirts, and dresses that I’m excited to make, for which I’ve already procured the fabric.
    • McCalls 6966 –  which is for a maxi skirt but I think it would be so easy to convert it to be maternity-capable.
    • McCalls 6612 – is for a maxi dress with cowl neck and actually is listed as suitable for maternity wear
    • Simplicity 1469 – is a Megan Nielsen design for a maternity and nursing top and dress
    • Simplicity 1359 – is one of those patterns with a blouse, a skirt, and pants, all maternity specific

That’s probably a good place for me to stop.  If I were able to make even a handful of these items during the sew-along, I would consider that a HUGE success.

 

 

Mar 222015
 

I am so happy to have finished this dress, just in time for spring dress weather.  The pattern is Simplicity 1653, which is for a faux wrap knit dress.  I bought the pattern a few months ago, when I was on the hunt for patterns that would be suitable for both maternity and non-maternity wear.  The fabric is a knit from Mood and is very soft and amazing to have next to skin.

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I was excited that this is for a faux wrap dress because there is absolutely no way to have a wardrobe malfunction.  Though, since it’s not a real wrap dress, I don’t think it will work as a nursing dress, for after baby arrives.  Win some, lose some.

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Oh, here I am wearing my brand new maternity leggings!  I’ve been hesitant to buy much in the way of maternity clothes, because I’ll need mostly hot weather clothing, but right now I’m still wearing cool weather clothing.  But maternity leggings are basically normal leggings with a long super stretchy waistband, and I think that I could basically live in maternity leggings for the rest of my life… so comfy!

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Here’s the back of the dress.  Obviously, I didn’t bother trying to match my pattern across seams.  In hindsight, I have no idea why there is a seam across the back.  If I ever make this dress again, I will omit this seam.

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Yeah… I guess I don’t have much to say about this dress except that I’m pretty happy with it.  Because there is not seam across the waistline, I anticipate being able to wear this as long as the fabric is able to stretch across my belly.

Oh!  I don’t think I’ve shown off my haircut yet.  In a fit of hormonal duress, I took some sewing shears to my hair and tried giving myself some layered bangs.  I think they turned out pretty okay.

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Feb 142015
 

I’ve finally finished the baby blocks that I started about three months ago!  Considering that I made 48 blocks, I’m sure any reasonable person would think that a titch excessive but I’d prefer to have too many blocks than too few.

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I first found the idea for these blocks on Pinterest.  Naturally, now that baby is on the way, I’ve spent a lot of time browsing baby and toddler crafts and Pinterest and my ‘queue’ of things I want to make overfloweth.

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The instructions that were included with the original pin that I saw for these blocks, unfortunately, weren’t very good.  They basically suggested that you cut upholstery foam into 4″ cubes, cut fabric into 5″ squares (0.5″ for the seam allowance on each side), sew 6 squares of fabric together to form a fabric cube (leaving one side unsewn), squish the foam cube into the fabric cube, and handstitch the unsewn side.  VOILA!  A perfect baby block.

Of course, my blocks are FAR from perfect.

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The first problem I ran into was cutting out the upholstery foam.  The Pinterest tutorial suggested that one can simply use ordinary scissors  for the job.  Nope.  One does not simply use scissors to cut upholstery foam!  I ruined several pieces of foam attempting that.  Upon further research, I learned that a much more successful and precise approach is to use an electric carving knife.  I then embarked on a journey to find such a device at a thrift store and, lo and behold, found one for just a few dollars at only the second thrift store that I went to.  And I was equally delighted that cutting the foam using an electric carving knife was also successful.  Hooray!

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The other problem I encountered from the instructions was in cutting the fabric with a 0.5″ seam allowance on each side, resulting in a fabric cube that was the same size as the block.  After I cut out ALL of the fabric and sewed together my first fabric cube, I squished in the block and found that the fabric was much too loose and floppy. I removed the foam from the fabric and resewed all of the sides, so that there would be some negative ease, and that worked much better to fill up the block.  I later found an Amy Butler sewing for babies book wherein she has a pattern and instructions for blocks, and she likewise recommends negative ease.

This meant that I had to sew all of my fabric sides with a 5/8″ seam allowance (which was just a lot of wasted fabric).  I also chose to trim the excess with pinking shears.  And of course, handstitching was a great opportunity for me to make that final edge look bad.

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So yes, these blocks are not perfect.  But they are soft and squishy, with some different colors and patterns of fabric.  They can be stacked in many different ways, matching colors and patterns, or not matching.

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And one of the joys of building blocks is always knocking one’s creation over into a big block heap.

As a kid, I loved playing with blocks… so of course, anticipating my own baby is an opportunity to recreate some of my favorite childhood moments.

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Dec 262014
 

I’m officially calling this sewing project DONE.  This is the winter coat that I’ve been working on (very haphazardly) for months and it was a huge SLOG, so cumbersome, unwieldy, and bulky.  I’m mostly happy with the “finished” result, but I’m mainly happy to be done with it.  And, I’m honestly happy to be done with it in time to enjoy wearing it during the cold winter.

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Just as a reminder, I used a vintage sewing pattern – S5930 – and the outer fabric is boiled wool, unerlined with fleece (so warm!) and had intended to line it with some vintage taffeta.  Because I just really need to be DONE with this project, the full taffeta lining is not currently attached to the coat.  Maybe one day, after I have regained my sewing mojo, I will attach it, but maybe not.  When the process of sewing for me is not enjoyable, it’s very difficult for me to continue with a project, and this was my struggle with this project.

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The coat turned out pretty okay.  I think it would hang better with a nice taffeta lining (of course!) but it fits just the way that I had wanted (big enough to wear multiple sweaters underneath) and the bottom hem hits just at my knees.  The big front patch pockets are awesome and the collar can be worn upright or folded down.  The coat is very warm, cozy, and comfortable.  It also weighs about 30 pounds and is fairly cumbersome to lug around if I’m not wearing it.

Oh, and in the below photos, I was trying to pose with the deer in the background (we have lots of urban deer in Boise) but it’s mostly just their butts facing the camera.

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I’m very much enjoying my current sewing project, the foam blocks that I wrote about in my previous post.  They are so quick and easy, not bulky or cumbersome.  Fortunately, I do like my finished coat and maybe one day I will attach the taffeta lining.  Maybe.

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Aug 262014
 

Greetings Readers, long time no blog!  I have been SO BUSY for several months and sewing has really taken a backseat on the priorities.  The garden is going bananas (see here), the Day Job is bananas (I’m transitioning to a new role and that makes it extra bananas), my knitting has been bananas, and then I also try to ride my bike and do yoga everyday, so there is just no time for sewing.  I’m hoping that once the weather stops being nice, I won’t feel as inclined to putter in the garden or ride my bike as much, so maybe I’ll hunker over the sewing machine more regularly.

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These two projects took me about a month to complete, even though the total time I spent working on them was maybe 3 hours.  This is a Renfrew tee that I made with some fabric in my stash, modified with a peplum that I drafted based on a skirt pattern.  I used the rounded neck version of the Renfrew and cut a few sizes larger to give it some extra ease and I think it turned out very nice.

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Using the gray knit fabric, I also drafted a maxi skirt.  It’s really nothing fancy. I measured the width of my hips and basically cut two rectangles half that width with a bit of flair towards the bottom.  The waistband is 2″ less wide than the total width of my hips, eased into the waist of the skirt.

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Really, so simple.  But I love the result!

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And I love my top!  I know that I’m pretty late to the party on both the peplum top and the maxi skirt, but I’m so pleased with both of them.

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The top just feels so effortlessly flattering.  I actually really like having several inches of positive ease on this – – it’s so comfortable but still has a nice shape.  Obviously, I used contrasting fabric for the peplum and bands for the sleeves and neckband, which I think adds some interest.

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Despite having no time, I have felt very inspired to sew lately.  There are some new Vogue patterns in the latest fall collection that excite me and I’ve identified several pieces that could really enhance my fall wardrobe options.  Coming up is a four day weekend away from the Day Job and I’m hoping to spend some time with my trusty Singer.

What about you, Readers?  Any excitement for fall sewing???

 

Mar 052014
 

I’ve always understood that, in order for my crafting to be successful (and for me to actually finish projects), the process needs to be enjoyable and satisfying.  This is not to say that every single moment of the process needs to be filled with delight and joy, but that most of the moments need to be so.  This project is a good reminder of that.  For the entire month of February, I was working on a sewing project (for my quilt curtains) that I did not enjoy at all – – actually, I worked on the project hardly at all because I did not have a desire to spend time with it, but the project remained in progress for the whole month.  Over the weekend, I forced myself to finish that project, and I hated every moment of its finishing, but my motivation was to begin work on a project that I was certain would be enjoyable and satisfying to work on.

I began work on this dress Sunday evening, cutting out all of the pieces.  I took Monday off from work and spent the day sewing, mostly filled with joy, and finished this project less than 24 hours after I started it.

This is Simplicity 1882, which I’ve made before.  I am so delighted with how well it turned out.  As a recap, I used the smallest bust cup size with the “curvy” skirt pieces, it fits perfectly

This project was a 100% stash busting project!  The main fabric is an Amy Butler cotton print, the yellow is some linen, and the lining fabric is a generic poly lining (for the skirt – – not shown), and they have all been in my stash for years.  I’m participating in a stashbusting sewalong, and I’m finding it motivating to get my stash down to reasonable quantities.

This dress has some really nice pockets.  On the last version, I added the pocket flaps (and love them) but when I was working on this version, I forgot that the pattern instructions for the pocket flaps don’t make any sense to me and I became so frustrated trying to install them that I threw the flaps away in frustration (this was the moment while making this dress that I was not filled with joy).  Considering that I made the other version of this dress in January, one might think that I would have remembered this frustrating pocket flap business, but no, my memory is apparently very short.

Except for that pocket flap business, this dress came together so easily.  I’m thinking that I should write down some sort of sewing mantra about only working on projects that I enjoy the making of, because otherwise they will sit on my sewing table, in progress, until I force myself, literally kicking and screaming, to finish them.  Incidentally, I will not be blogging about my stupid quilted curtains because, even though they “technically” turned out okay, I really just hate them because they remind me of frustrating times.  In fact, I want to throw them away and just buy curtains from the store… they have such bad memories for me.

What about you, Readers… are you able to motivate yourselves to finish a project even if you dislike working on it?  Do you have any crafting mantras or ways to stay motivated to work on projects that are not fun?

Jan 112014
 

Barely into the second week of January, I have my first finished project of the year, though I suppose this is cheating on my goal of finishing two sewing projects a month in 2014, as I began work on this project in November of 2013.  If you recall, I had done up a muslin for S1882 and was critical of my handiwork (though, you all had nice responses; thank you for the encouragement!).  Based on my learnings from that version, I crafted this dress.  I would have finished it months ago, but I had some extreme serger frustration that compelled me to take an extended break (if memory serves, I was also extremely stressed out at the day job (lots of presentations and other anxiety-making things) and I couldn’t handle the idea of possibly adding to my stress.  Upon returning from my vacation, I couldn’t really remember what I had done to make this dress or what had been stressing me out about it, but I was able to finish piecing it together in no time.

All in all, I am very happy with how this dress turned out.  I ended up hemming it shorter than I had intended to, but it’s fine (particularly with some tights).  I don’t believe I had to make any alterations to the pattern – this was some sort of magical pattern that fit me right out of the envelope. These Amazing Fit patterns have individual pieces for each bust cup size and then skirt variations for average, slim, and curvy fit. I used the smallest bust cup size with it’s curvy fit skirt.  I also cut a larger size sleeve because I always tend to require some extra room there.

Here are my fabrics. They are both linens that had been in my stash for several years.

I tried matching the plaid along the seams but missed.  I had to cut the sleeves along the bias because I didn’t quite have enough fabric for the dress otherwise.  I also had to cut the yoke in the contrasting fabric because I didn’t have enough plaid.

The pockets are amazing, placed at the perfect height and are a really nice depth.

The bodice has princess seams that fit me really well and I think the shape of this dress is very flattering to my figure.

Here is a view of the inside of the dress.  I ended up lining the entire dress, which was a challenge for me because I’ve only lined one or two dresses in my life.  The lining was also a stashbusting experience for me as I was able to use up all of this dotted lining fabric that I’ve had for years, but didn’t have enough so I randomly used another lining fabric for part of it. I was able to line the bodice in the navy linen contrast fabric.

Here’s a close up of the neckline, princess seam, and sleeve. You can see how I totally failed to match my plaid but I do like my nice clean neckline.

As for my next sewing project, my Saturday is young and there is still a lot of time for me to do more sewing. I’m excited to work on a simple button up shirt.

Nov 242013
 

Well Readers, I am humbled.  I thought I was doing so well with the making of this dress, but it is so riddled with errors that I cannot imagine wearing it in public.  Readers, I would appreciate your thoughts about this dress.  Keep in mind that it’s not actually finished… the sleeves and skirt still need to be hemmed and the seams pressed.  I was working on this dress last night when I got to this point of being able to try it on as a mostly finished garment and it wasn’t until then that I noticed all of the errors.  Josh had a male friend over for a social engagement and when I showed them my dress, they assured me that no one would notice the errors… but I’m pretty sure that anyone who sews or has an eye for garment construction would notice, and would be appalled.

First off, I need to do my normal apologizing for my photos.  Not only is the black fabric hard to photograph, but behind me on the wall is my dark green decorative ruler holder which makes it look like there is something strange going on with my left shoulder.

Anyway, I’d like to start off with the positive… I love the fit of this dress!  The pattern is Simplicity 1882, which is an “amazing fit” pattern that has separate pieces for each bust cup as well as separate skirt pieces for “slim fit,” “average fit,” and “curvy fit.”  I used the piece for the A cup and the “curvy fit” skirt piece and the dress fits me very well right out of the envelope.  Which is very awesome!

The black fabric is some stretchy twill that I’ve had in my stash for about a year.  I am very happy with the pairing of this fabric and this pattern – – the fabric has a nice slinky drape that is well suited to this dress and it feels very nice to wear.  Even though I don’t need anymore fabric, I would like to procure some more of this fabric and make a well-made dress.

As I’m looking at these photos, I’m wondering if there is excess fabric at the front of the skirt or if that’s just how I’m standing.  hmmm…

Here’s the side view, where one of the errors is pretty obvious.  Josh and his friend said that this particular error is not a big deal, but I think that it is a big enough deal to actually be a deal breaker and I’m kind of annoyed that I didn’t even notice it until I had the dress almost fully sewn.

Back view.  I’m sorry that this fabric is not very discernible in these photos.

Yeah, there definitely seems to be excess fabric at the front of the skirt.  I wonder what is up with that…

Anyway, except for all of my errors, I love all of the style and construction details of this dress.  It has a contrasting collar and flaps for the pockets (OMG, I love these pockets!), princess seams that actually fit and flatter my bust, and a really nice waistband that works well with my proportions.  The sleeves are funky and I’m going to change them next time.  I also like the degree of fullness of the skirt.

Now the errors!  (And again, I haven’t yet done a pressing on the seams and the fabric is covered with fuzz from the sewing / serging process, so ignore those for now).

Here’s a close-up of that error from the side view photo.  Somehow on just one of the pockets, I have the wrong side of the fabric on the right side.  If I had done this on both pockets, then I don’t think it would be as bad, but to have the wrong side showing on just one of the pockets I think is a big deal breaker for the wearing of this dress in public.  I’m wondering if I need to get a better light to have next to my sewing table… the only reason I can fathom for how I did this without noticing until the dress was almost finished was that perhaps my lighting isn’t good enough.

This next photo shows four errors, but I’ll only discuss two now, and the other two with the following photo.

One PAINFULLY OBVIOUS error is that I did a very poor job at matching up some of my seams.  This is one of those sewing skills that I need to do research on how to do better.  For the front bodice, I had to rip out and re-sew the princess seams and the waistband several times before they were satisfactory.  But this particular seam, which is where the front bodice and front skirt meet the back bodice and back skirt, don’t match up at all.  Part of that is due to another error that I made (discussed with the following photo).

Another PAINFULLY OBVIOUS error is that my stitches are showing through and I obviously forgot to check the tension on my serger.  Perhaps if I had used black thread rather than white and purple it wouldn’t be as painfully obvious, but this is still a grave error to make.  Shame on me!

This is all really embarrasing, by the way.  I feel really ashamed.

The next two errors I don’t think are as painfully obvious, but they do significantly impact the other errors and the overall appearance of the dress.

The first error was somewhat intentional.  After I had cut out what I thought were all of the pattern pieces, I realized that I hadn’t cut out the pieces for the back bodice and that I had cut everything out in such a way that there weren’t big enough fabric pieces leftover for my two back bodice pieces.  I returned to the fabric store from whence I had procured the original black fabric (approximately one year ago) and procured a somewhat similar fabric for the back bodice.  I couldn’t find an exact match but convinced myself that this new fabric was similar enough that it would be okay.  Well Readers, even with my sometimes low standards and lackadaisical approach to stuff, it is not okay.  It looks like crap!  It looks like my pocket with the wrong side showing.

The other error, that I also didn’t discover until it was too late, was that I somehow forgot to attach the back waistband pieces in between the back bodice and back skirt until after I had already installed and fully finished the seams of the zipper.  For me, installation of a zipper is a point of no return.  And let me just boast that I did a really good job on this zipper.  And I used my serger to finish all of the seams.  There was no way that I was going to rip this out.  I rip out a lot of seams in my sewing life, ripping out zippers is too much.  So on this dress, I have a finished front waistband and no back waistband… no wonder my front and back didn’t match up at all.

I would like to direct your attention to how I managed to match up the darts on my back bodice and back skirt.  At least I can do something right.  And I love all of my serged seams!  The twill fabric was actually very prone to fraying, so the finishing of the serged seams worked very well.

As with most things in life, there are some good things and some opportunities for improvement with this dress.  I’m trying hard to not be disappointed with all of my errors and focus on the positive (a dress pattern that fits right out of the envelope!).  I’ve already started cutting out the pieces for version two.  Both fabrics from my stash, I’m going to have the below plaid linen as the main fabric and the navy linen as the contrasting fabric.  I intend to take on the challenge of matching the plaid across seams, as well as improving the quality of my sewing from the error-ridden black dress to this one.

What do you think, Readers… any words of wisdom? Words of sympathy?  Have you ever all but finished a sewing project only to realize that it was filled with egregious errors?