Tried and True Review: The Sew U Ruffle Blouse

The ruffly shirt in 2014

As a craft-blogger, who reads a lot of craft bloggers,  it seems as if we'll often make something, take some photos, put together a blog post, and it's on to the next project with the previous one never to be seen or mentioned again in blogland. We share how the project turned out fresh off the needles or sewing machine, but we rarely take a look back at how it fits into ours lives. (Me-made months being the major exception).

Part of the reason I started blogging is because I wanted to share my creations with a like-minded community of makers. The excitement of showing off what I just made.  Heck - finished object  is my 2nd most frequently used tag and accounts for 25% of my posts here.

But this year I've been thinking a lot about sustainability of fashion in general and of my own closet in particular. Emma's post on wardrobe metabolism and the life cycle of clothes was one that really hit the nail on the head for me. One item in particular that should out from that piece was bullet #3 - "Keep tabs out what works & what doesn’t."

This isn't about reviewing the pattern, but the project. If you see someone (or multiple someones) making a the same pattern multiple times, you can get the hint that it's a keeper. But individual projects can vary so much, even out of the same pattern. I'm certainly guilty of getting caught up in shininess of a newly-completed project only to find out weeks, or months down the road that it just doesn't work - the fit was off, the fabric was a poor match, it just doesn't fit my lifestyle anymore (or never did).  Or perhaps I didn't care for it at first when I was being over-judgmental on my construction technique at the time, but I now wear it at least once a week.

So in an attempt to show how my projects have stood the test of time and/or to learn from the mistakes of my yesterdays, I'm going to better document the role of handmade items in my life in two-ways:

  1. I'll tag the post anytime something I made appears in a post, even if it isn't new. For my clothes, it's me-made; for LMC's stuff, mama-made; and for items I made for Mr. Cleaver, miz-made.
  2. The Tried and True Review, where I'll look back at old project and discuss how it's held up since I made it, both successes and closet rejects.

First up?

Ruffly Shirt

The Sew U  Ruffly Shirt

Made: August 2008, the last thing I made in Chicago, before I moved to Maine. Almost six years ago!

Update: I still wear this -  actually, I'm wearing it today. I wear it 2-3 times in a month in the summer then retire it for the cooler weather.

Fit: It was a relaxed fit to begin with, so this one had held up when weight changes pushed other shirts aside.

Style: It's cute, without being overly cutesy.  It's a little bit retro with the polka dots and it looks nice enough for work.  I need some more similar things in my closet.

Materials: For $2 fabric from a garage sale, this has held up surprisingly well. It's super-duper lightweight cotton, so I have to wear a camisole underneath, but it's great for summer. I do have to iron it after washing though.

Construction: In truth, this is not the greatest sewing job, but it hasn't effected it's wearability. The collar stand and bias binding on the sleeves were both new techniques to me at the time and are rather sloppy in places. I could still use work on collar stands. There are also multiple lines of stitching along the ruffle on one side where I had some trouble in attaching it. But it's all white on white, so unless you're unreasonably close, you wouldn't notice.

Lesson(s) Learned: Mistakes are most obvious to the maker and don't mean that it isn't still usable

Final Verdict: It's a keeper, and I'd make the whole thing over again, but better this time.

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Tale of Two Skirts

It's a very rare experience for me to make a pattern twice - I made the same shirt from the Built By Wendy Sew U book twice, but that's about it. I'm changing my perspective on this though as I get more into pattern drafting and perfecting fit on commercial patterns. If I'm going through all that effort, it seems silly not to use the pattern again. And so, I give you two takes on McCall's 5591, both done, strangely enough, in fabric that reminds me of old wallpaper patterns.

Rabbit Wallpaper Skirt Victorian Wallpaper Skirt

In many ways, the turquoise skirt on the left is my highly-wearable muslin. Having matched the pattern envelope measurements exactly, I cut out the pieces exactly to the pattern size suggested, with the exception that I added about 2 inches to the main body length.

Rabbit Wallpaper Skirt

After putting it together I found the waist to have way way way too much ease in the waist, so I took it apart, then took the waist band in a few inches. (Of course, the time between taking it apart and putting it back together was about a month - I was a bit bummed). After which the waist band fit great.  I love the skirt - especially the secretly rabbitty fabric (sew below) - though I did think it hung a bit squarely from the hips down.

Bunny Fabrics

I love the skirt - especially the secretly rabbitty fabric and the look of the pocket facings- though I did think it hung a bit squarely from the hips down (see the top photo).

Slash & Spread

So on version 2.0 I did some skimming on the waistband pieces and did some slash & spreading on the skirt - adding a total of about 6 inches to the lower hem circumference- for a more flared look. Also, being short on contrasting fabric, I did a single layer on bottom hem, as opposed to the folded hem on the original (though I think the folded hem looks/hangs better)

Victorian Wallpaper Skirt

In the end, I prefer the fit of the yellow skirt, but love them both.

What about you? Do you have favorite version? Are you a once-only pattern sewer or do you find patterns you love and make them over and over?

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Unemployed, but no longer homeless

So last week, when I said I'd post this week, I forgot to take into account that I'd be living out of a suitcase at the mother-in-law's with dodgy internet and looking for a job and an apartment. But after week here, I've managed to secure a place to live starting September second and have sent out a dozen job applications. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for some interviews next week. 

In other words, it's been both slow and crazy/stressful all at the same time. Yay for moving!

Beach in Winter Socks

But I have had plenty of down time, which means I finally finished my Shock Wave socks that I've been working on for over a month, which considering the relative ease of the pattern, is longer than usual. They turned out very nice though, and since it's about 15 degrees colder here, have come in handy already.

I've also done about 34 rows of my Forecast cardigan since Monday evening, which is fast for me, so it evens out. In between job and home hunting, I did manage to check out a new (to me) yarn shop and bought some more sock yarn, so I'll be set for projects for a little while.

As all my belongings are shoved into two cars, I haven't had an opportunity to do any more sewing, which I miss more than I thought. I'm itching to get out my machine and start stitching, but it'll have to wait until the new place.

That said, I've yet to share the last project I finished just before the move.

Ruffly Shirt

It's basically the same shirt as the one from my new favorite outfit, but with a ruffle. But the best things about this shirt are threefold: 

  1. I got the material for $2 at a garage sale
  2. I actually got the collar stand right
  3. I did my first bias tape on the sleeves and a french seam on the insides.

So all in all, it was a great learning shirt. And also fabulously snazzy. Of course, now all my projects will be more fall/winter in nature.

Well, I'm all internet/computer burned out after spending several hours on applications, but I'll be back soon!

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My New Favorite Outfit

I am excited:

How excited am I about this outfit?

Why am I excited? Because I made this entire outfit myself.

Remember back in the day when I said I have this dream of hand-making my entire wardrobe? Well, I just got one new favorite outfit closer.

Seriously, I love this outfit, like the time between washings is too long and I find myself sneaking the shirt out of the laundry basket in the morning before shamefully slipping it back in, because it does, in fact need to be washed.

I made the shorts right when ye olde camera died a few weeks back, and the shirt shortly following that. 

These are my first pants/shorts I've ever made ever (as in I skipped that whole making a drawstring pajama pants step). The pattern is Ruby from burdastyle. 

The great thing about the pattern is that is was free, the bad thing was that I had to print out and tape the pattern together.

Pattern all taped together

Also, not always the clearest instructions. I couldn't figure out one part in particular, so my front welt pocket, well, sucks. I kinda knew if would going in and briefly considered leaving it off, but I decided I wanted to challenge myself. 

Ruby Shorts

I know they're wrinkly, I took the picture after wearing them. Same with the shirt below.

The shorts are pretty basic - a lightweight blue woven material I got one sale, which I really like, but does stretch out after a few wears and needs to go through the dryer to regain its shape. I made the pocket out of some yellow gingham for a bit of fun and as not great-looking as the pocket is, it is a great place to hold my lens cap. My favorite bit though, is the buttons.

Button Button...

I think buttons are such a great way to add flair to something, and I think that without the button on these shorts (not to mention the teal ones on the shorts) I wouldn't like either of these pieces quite as much.

My  New Favorite Shirt

Shirt is pretty basic. The body of the shirt was from the pattern included in Sew U, the sleeves were made following the cap sleeve tutorial (just not gathered) on Wikstenmade. I was a pretty quick sew, though I am still having some trouble with the collar stand/band. If anybody has some hints for that, I'd love to hear em.

Shirt Close Up

So the collars a bit funky, and some of the inside seams didn't finish as nicely as I'd like, but I still really like this shirt and plan to make a number more of them, as soon as I finish some of the other projects I have cut out, and then I'll have a new even favoriter outfit. ;)

Favorite summer outfit

p.s. -later this week, an apron tutorial!

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