Wednesday, August 22, 2007

autumn threads

I am actually SO NOT ready for autumn. We had a nice stretch of cool days this week, and some much needed rain, but I'm still soaking up the sunshine and enjoying going out without jackets and whatnot.

The end of summer actually makes me feel very...I don't know...agitated? Yes, I think agitated is the word. The weather is changing, bringing cool nights and mornings, the days are starting to get noticeably shorter, and soon we will be trapped in the house, chilly and bored. The older I get, the harder winter is for me from a mental and emotional standpoint. I truly think that at some point we may need to move to a nicer climate - someplace that isn't buried under 6 months of cold darkness!

Add those changes to the fact that I am no longer a student, and don't have children in school yet, and I just end up feeling weird at this time of year. Like something is supposed to happen, but nothing does. Our days remain fundamentally the same, just with more noisy school buses trundling past our house.

However, there is one good thing about the cooler weather and dark, yucky days...more knitting and sewing of woolly warm things. First up, an all-purpose corduroy dress for Daughter:

I say all-purpose because it is really just a basic pleated, long sleeved dress...nothing too fancy here, but it will work equally well for playing and for, say, Thanksgiving. I think this lovely paisley corduroy (Joann Fabrics, in a rare awesome score) dresses it up enough to make it appropriate for holiday wear.

Here is a closeup of the pleats and the bodice:

I was tickled with how well the pleats worked out, and happy to have learned a new sewing skill - these are my first pleats, and I'm happy to say they're totally easy to do and much more fun than stinky old gathers.

The back:

There are 2 pleats in the back, and a 12" zipper, making it very easy to put on and take off. The zipper went in without a hitch*, the pleats matched up perfectly across the shoulder seams, and the sleeve seams are smooth. Happiness!

Here is the inside, to show how I finished everything:

I used a serger to finish all the raw edges, even those where the pleats are sewn. I want this dress to hold up through lots of wearing and washing, so some sort of finishing technique was definitely necessary. I highly recommend doing something to finish the seams on the garments you make, even if you don't have access to a serger - use pinking shears, zig-zag the edges with your sewing machine, use French seams or flat-felled seams, bind the raw edges (time consuming but gorgeous), or use seam binding/hem tape to prevent fraying.

One of my main goals is to make my homemade garments look more like off-the-rack items. Good finishing techniques go a long way toward making that happen. This dress is actually not 100% finished, as I still have to get out a needle and thread to tack down all the facings and sew in a hook & eye closure above the zipper in back.

For now, I'm putting sewing on the back burner. Sometime in the next month I'll whip up a quick pair of denim pull-on pants for Daughter because I bought the fabric and she needs jeans, but beyond that, I need to wait and see how much she grows and what she has vs. what she will need for cold weather. There's knitting going on, though, so watch this space for woolly wonders.

*If you have trouble sewing in zippers, I can offer this little bit of advice: sew your zippers in with the garment open. I follow the directions to sew the garment together and backstitch at the large dot/notch/whatever, but then I do not baste the garment closed where the zipper will be placed.

First, finish the raw edges (serge, pink, whatever). Then press these edges back 5/8" or whatever your seam allowance is for below the zipper stop. Carefully pin the zipper to one folded edge, then the other. The brilliance here is that you can very easily check both sides and open and close the zipper to check placement and get the zipper teeth lined up perfectly. Otherwise you are working blindly, which I think is silly and really difficult, too.

Finally, baste and sew as usual.

I know this works for things like dresses and skirts with back or side seams. I've never made pants with a fly, though, so definitely follow your pattern directions for those!


Pam said...

What is it about corduroy that screams fall?

I'm not ready for the shorter days either. I need all the sunny days I can get:)

Karen said...

Bring on Fall for me! I am ready to kick the hot weather out the door.

The dress is adorable! I love, love, love it!

Ruth said...

Really adorable dress. I am in awe of your mad finishing skilz ... even though I know from quilting how important it is to take that extra step, I'm often too impatient and rush things.

I'm ready for my kids to go back to school, but everything else can wait a while. We have so many changes coming this Fall, and I am Not Ready.

HangerMom said...

I'm saving this post for next time I do zippers. Because I've hated them with a passion so far. Maybe your tips will make it more workable for me. Thanks!!

Kila said...

I love the dress!

Like you, I really dislike fall, because it means that summer is ending and we are in for many months of cold, dark weather.

We have an exciting school year coming up, and I'll be starting a new job, so I'm not as upset as I usually am when September hits, but most years I feel quite depressed when I have to turn the calendar to Sept.