Sunday, January 22, 2012

Princess Daisy, Weekend #2

I have underestimated the power of the gather. My ego has taken a sore hit. My instincts have failed me.

This is my progress to date on Princess Daisy:

Looks pretty great, right? Well, it's not terrible, but the picture above is something of an optical illusion. I spread out the skirt and made it look nice and full.

(HINT: It's really NOT nice and full)

This is what the dress looks like accompanied by the power of GRAVITY!!!!

Observe the severe lack of fullness and poofiness.

Here is what happened.

These are the skirt pieces. Number Twelve, featured on the left, is the front center panel. The pattern instructions call for one of these, cut on the fold. Ergo, Piece #12 is twice as wide as shown above. Piece Number Eleven is supposed to be cut out FOUR TIMES as shown per the pattern. FOUR!!! All five pieces are to be joined together and then gathered at the waist to make the skirt poofy, and then attached to the bodice.

Ungathered, Piece #12 and two cutouts of Piece #11 wrap around my waist one and a half times and I do not have a tiny waist. 

Surely, I thought, surely, doubling that even further would be WAY TOO MUCH FABRIC. I mean, after all, we're talking about a dress for a very petite three-year-old. 

In my hubris, I determined that the pattern must be wrong, or at least unnecessarily ambitious. I cut out only two of Piece #11 and moved on with life.

To bring it back around to my original point-- I have underestimated the power of the gather. Clearly, the skirt would not suffer the addition of two more #11's in the slightest.

A few points in my defense:
  • I didn't have quite enough fabric for four #11's. I could have squeaked it out, but I would've had to sacrifice the lining of the bodice. 
  • I brought my mother in for a 2nd opinion and she agreed with me.
  • I really, really hate cutting out pieces. It's my least-favorite stage of sewing. Okay, that one's a pretty feeble defense, I know, but I think I bring it up because it didn't help in my objectivity in making this decision.

What really scares me is how much puckered fabric I would have had to fit under my fabric foot and needle had I done it the correct way. *shudder* Someday I'll come face to face with the poofy skirt again, and it might not be all that far off. I'd better be ready...

What am I going to do now, though? Well, don't have enough fabric, and even if I did, pulling apart the stitches that are holding the skirt and bodice together would probably strain my eyes right out of their sockets and make me more irritated than Lucy when I step on her tail by accident. Also, it's a play dress. My three-year-old niece will love it regardless, and it won't be quite THAT flat when she's wearing it.The dress will stay the way it is, and I'll come away with a valuable lesson learned.

Maybe I could make a hoop for it or something...?

The weekend wasn't a total lesson in humility, however. There were positive aspects, as well. A friend of mine came over yesterday and helped me to thread Sergio. I have been using him for his main function: raw edge serging!!!

Behold! The beauty! The tidiness! The lack of fraying!! Finally getting to see it in action has gladdened me immensely.

It's nice to know that I won't be dealing with the sight below in future costumes:

(This is the inside of my Inara shirt as of today. Yikes!!)

So yes, a most hearty welcome to Sergio and his contribution to the sewing family.

So, what remains on the very non-poofy Princess Daisy dress?
  • The zipper
  • The hem
  • The orange ruffle trim
  • The broach
  • The crown (?) 
I have a date with all of these things next Saturday. See you on the other side!!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Princess Daisy, Weekend #1

After one whole weekend, I've made excellent headway on the Princess Daisy project. What a great feeling it is to just buy the stuff and get going! (by which I mean, no endless test garments, alteration experiments, or research on embroidery. Ha!)

I'll be doing a full start-to-finish post later on about my notes and slight tweaks to the dress pattern for any enterprising Moms/Grandmas/CoolAunts who are trolling the internet for Princess Daisy tips (or, to not stereotype genders, any male sewing types with similar interest). 

For now though, I will satisfy my readers with a progress-to-date photograph...


...and a couple lessons I learned about understitching and seam clipping.

For whatever reason, I had it in my head that "understitching" meant the final bit of stitch you sew by hand to finish off a lined garment, or any project you have to turn inside out (i.e a pillow). I thought I was going to have to do this with Rapunzel, but it turns out I could turn the bodice on the armholes before attaching the sleeve, so it never became an issue.

While researching the elusive technique, however, I finally figured out that my sewing dictionary was all out of whack. Understitching is something you do to a lining to prevent it from "rolling" up on a lined seam, such as neckline. For example, if the neckline seam in the photo above were properly understitched, you wouldn't be able to see the tiny line of yellow on the other side of the lace. It would be duly subdued to its proper place of being on the inside.

The neckline pictured above is not understiched. Why?

Because understitching should be done before seam-clipping. I'm a big fan of seam clipping, so I was a little impatient. Lesson learned.

While we're on the subject of seam clipping, though, here's the second lesson I learned. Eh... I should say, here's a lesson that was reinforced to me, because it's really kind of a gimme.


"Great, kid! Don't get cocky!!" 
(I was kind of on a seam-clipping binge of glee at this point, and as you may note, I was almost finished!).

This is what it looks like on the other side:

Since this is just a play dress and it's tiny and it's in the back, I'm going to just darn it together. Not too big of a crisis, but a small smudge on an otherwise very satisfactory day of work.

Another thing I've learned is that toddler-size sleeves are EXTRA HARD because you can't fit them around the skinny arm part of the sewing machine like you can grown-up sleeves. I'm not 100% satisfied with the distribution of the gather on that sleeve. It's kind of crowded to the front, even though I tried my best to get it even before stitching. I have a couple of ideas to get it better next time, mostly involving basting.

And that's it for now. I still have not used Sergio. A friend of mine who's a Super Sewer offered to give me some first-hand lessons, and I'm trying to arrange that to happen this weekend. If she doesn't respond, I'll probably experiment just enough on my own to finish off the in-seams of the skirt so I can keep going. In any case, I'll probably be sticking to the weekends for sewing. Between exercise and my writing/editing obligations (self-imposed), there aren't big enough blocks of time on weekdays.

(I won't lie-- I find Sergio highly intimidating)

Since the internet is all about cats, I'll close this post by pointing out that Lucy, as always, was very eager to help Mommy with her sewing.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Project #1 - Princess Daisy

Project: Princess Daisy gown for my niece
Deadline: February 3, 2012

This is Princess Daisy 

(I say blurb because apparently there isn't enough about her to merit a whole page)

My nephew has recently become a Mario fan, and he's pulling his little sister right along with him. Nephew dressed up as Mario for Halloween with an off-the-rack costume, and I got Niece an off-the-rack Rapunzel dress for Christmas. Somehow she's combined the reality of costumes with the acquisition power of her grown-up fan club and requested, on more than one occassion, a "Princess Daisy" dress. She asked so adorably at Christmas that I just couldn't help myself and I did a Google Image search.

My thought process went more or less like this: "Pffft. I can make that!!"

And so I shall. Starting this weekend.

The Supplies:


Daisy's dress is simple and generically princess in design, and finding a generic princess pattern was quite easy: I give you McCall's M6420. I will be piecemealing my own combination of the pattern variations, as usual. At least I don't have to worry about custom alterations (for once)!

Fabric and trim

The yellow was my splurge on New Year's Day in my mad rush to get to JoAnn's before the McCall's $0.99 pattern sale was over. I only have a month to complete this project and real life was about to rear its busy head again. I splurged for convenience. Also, Grandma is helping with the expenses on this one.

The orange is fabric I already had on hand. Keen observers of my costuming history might recognize it as the very same fabric I ordered off of eBay to make the shirt for my Inara Serra costume.

The lace is...scalloped eyelet. Also a splurge, really. 


I forgot to download a picture for reference, so the stone I bought was round and blue instead of oval and green, but really, it goes with the flower I found so nicely that I figured-- close enough! I will not be making the earrings, as Niece does not have pierced ears and most likely wouldn't tolerate clip-ons, anyway. I've put Grandma on task to find some gloves. The crown is the only thing I haven't decided on yet-- that is, whether to try and make it or not. It will probably depend on how quickly I finish the dress.

And there you have it! Project #1 for the year. A good way to put Sergio through his paces, a good way to get the cobwebs out of my system. I'm excited!

Monday, January 2, 2012

New year, New projects!!!

The holidays have come and gone and 2012 is upon us! With it comes a whole new slew of sewing projects on the horizon. To help in this endeavor, I present the newest member of my little sewing family:

 His name is Sergio. He's a serger.

 (Not the most original of names, perhaps, but too adorable to forego, nonetheless).

I also have decided to celebrate this year's ambition by launching a new sewing workstation!

(1) I moved an ancient computer desk from the laundry room to my traditional sewing corner. I had to put away my Christmas tree earlier than usual, but better to do it when I was inspired, I guess. Seemed like less of a chore that way, and less sad to boot. Behold:

 You can see Sergio is already nicely at home on the left there.

(2) I organized all my viable fabric remnants and put them into what was once a printer port, as shown below. (The yellow fabric on top is actually not a remnant, but a new acquisition for Project #1 of the year, on which I will expound in my next post).

(3) I organized all my patterns and put them in the hanging file drawer (lower, right hand) as shown below.

(4) I organized all the notions that we had on hand, including my purchases of the past two years, and everything carried over from when my mother used to sew.This drawer is also good for frying pan-shaped costume accessories you want to make sure nobody actually uses for cooking. ;-)

(5) More frequently used notions (thread, pins), have the honor of inhabiting the front cubby holes. The tall, conical bobbins are some overlock thread I bought for Sergio, when I finally work up the nerve to actually try him out.

(6) The big blue binder is my new project book, mostly to keep notes and photos of each successful costume (and or ordinary outfit, if I ever get around to those sorts of clothes). My little sewing box fits nicely in the space beneath, and that will hold things I always need on hand (measuring tape, snipping scissors), so that if I want to take anything on the road, it's ready to go. And my bolt of "test" muslin rests comfortably right alongside it.

I haven't put anything in the upper right cupboard yet, but it occurs to me that it would be a good place to keep a few other craft things I've collected-- cardstock, etc.

Not pictured are my usual card table and Darth Stitch, off the the left. ;-)

So there we have it! All spic and span and ready to take my craft to the next level this year. I have four major projects, one of which is finishing up the last details on Rapunzel!!

Project #1 introductory post sometime this week, hopefully tomorrow.