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Tim Gunning It

Results are in= stabilo markers > colored pencils. Also I am DYING to make this @namedclothing Kielo wrap dress again…

A photo posted by Jasika Nicole (@trycuriousblog) on

I made an absolutely beautiful Kielo Wrap Dress a while back and blogged about it here, and, as seen in my 2016 New Year post, another version of the dress was added to my To-Make list. I loved how Named Clothing used a simple striped fabric to create a bold look with the design, so I thought I would take some inspiration from their blog and make a replica. I chose a medium-weight super soft striped knit jersey from organiccottonplus.com in an earthtone shade, and I even used my new croquis book by Gertie to sketch out the idea of the dress. The additional sleeve pattern hack that Named provided on their blog and accompanying instructions were definitely lacking, but I figured it out like a champ and managed to complete the dress, from start to finish, in one day.

Here was the result.

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I don’t even know where to start with everything that looks terrible about this dress, and if I am totally honest, I am still not sure exactly what went wrong. I know it’s not the pattern, because I made the dress before to much success. So I am blaming it on my fabric choice. Why is my fabric choice so wrong, you ask? I don’t know. Sometimes the universe provides you with questions but no answers. Honestly it’s probably a whole combination of weird reasons, and I could sit here and speculate forever about it, but I wont. I’ll just focus on what is terrible instead of trying to figure out why it’s terrible. Here we go.

Reasons This Dress Is Terrible:

-It looks huge on me. And I don’t know why. This dress is actually a smaller size than the original one I made!

-It doesn’t retain it’s shape or any of the design features. As you can see in the Named Clothing blog photo below, the folds on the sides look crisp and defined and the wrap holds it’s shape.

Not so with my version. Mine looks like a three-day old soggy burrito wrap.

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-Also do you see how uneven my darts are? I have no idea why they were in separate places and in different lengths; you would think I had never sewn a dart before in my life! This fabric was posessed I tell you.

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-When I tried to hem the sleeves, the bottom of the dress, and the neckline, my fabric went berserk on me and stretched out to twice it’s size like this.turrible2blog

I did everything I could to keep this from happening. I switched from a twin needle to a single needle. I switched from ironing the folds of the seam allowance to simply pinning them down, just in case my iron was inadvertently stretching the fabric out. I steamed the hems to see if they would shrink back to their initial lengths. I used my walking foot to keep the knit fabric from getting stretched out under my needle. Nothing really seemed to do the trick.

Simply put, this fabric and design, for whatever reason, did not go well together. Which was a shame, because I had been dreaming about this dress for MONTHS! Every time I walked by this fabric draped over my couch in the craft room, I would wipe a bit of drool off my face and think to myself, I am gonna look SO DAMN FLY when this is finished!

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As you can see from the pitiful look on my face, I don’t feel fly at all. I even tried to pair it with different shoes, hoping with all my heart that it wasn’t the DRESS that was a mess, that it just needed to be styled in the perfect way (as you can see, no styling could fix this thing). I contemplated cutting off the ties and having it be one of those baggy sack dresses that tall girls in NYC always seem to get away with looking chic in. But I was only fooling myself. This dress needed either a dramatic makeover or it needed to go in the Butthole Bin. I hated the thought of wasting this beautiful fabric on a pattern that it was just not meant to be paired with, so after laughing with Claire for a VERY long time and taking these horror movie-like photos (I look like a fashion forward version of that girl in The Ring, right?), I took the dress off and plotted what I could possibly do to save it.

I am now pleased to present to you one of my most successful Tim Gunnings to date!

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OK, so as I mentioned, the major issues with the dress were…well, the whole thing. It was too big, with too much material to make the cute wrap-tie feature work, and all the hems were wonky. To start, I carefully took out the stitching for the awful baggy neckline and I tried to apply a length of seam binding instead, hoping it would shrink up the stretched-out opening. That ended up looking even worse than when it was just folded over and sewed down. Because I had serged the neck binding, I considered it too much work to unpick all those stitches, since I wasn’t even positive that I could save the dress, so I cut the binding off, leaving the neck opening even WIDER. As a last resort, I slowly and ever so carefully sewed a tiny 1/4 inch hem around the neck, using my walking foot and a single needle and barely touching the material as it went through the feed dogs. The end result is…passable. Not perfect, but a far cry better than what I had started out with. The boat neck is so wide that I can’t wear the dress with a regular bra cause the straps will show, so I have to wear a strapless bra underneath instead. Not pleased about that, but it’s better than having to throw the whole thing away. The sleeve hems were thankfully a much easier  fix- I cut out some fabric for bands a bit smaller than the sleeve opening, and they were inserted without any problem; they actually ended up looking really cute. Lastly I cut off the bottom of the dress because it was several inches too long, and I carefully sewed a very small hem with my walking foot; it turned out much less wavy than before.

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Now for the actual body of the dress. This wasn’t too tricky since it is a knit fabric and pretty forgiving. I fixed the funky darts on the front so that they were a bit more even, I cut the wrap and ties off the sides, then I put the dress on my dressform and pinned the sides in so that they hugged the curves of the form instead of sagging around it. I reattached the ties right under the arms as the original design calls for and then I serged the seams from bottom to top. There were a couple of small adjustments I made to keep the side seams even and flattering around my hips, but other than that, this was probably the easiest thing to fix.

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And there you have it; I Tim Gunned it! I made it work! If I could do the re-design all over again, I probably would have moved the ties down just a bit so they were more at waist level instead of right under the bust, and I would also bring in the side seams just a teensy bit more so that it is a little less roomy overall. But even as-is I am happy with this garment! I managed to wear it to some Behind The Scenes footage for our movie Suicide Kale (did I tell y’all about the movie I produced with my friends? This topic is waiting to be turned into a blog post titled TryCurious gets BEHIND the camera, but until then, you can find out more about the film here)! Thankfully the dress held up well and I felt great in it! Maybe I am not at the caliber of SO DAMN FLY that I was initially opting for when I envisioned this dress, but I am pretty close to it, and honestly, saving a #sewingfail from the garbage can kind of increases the intellectual FLY factor when you lay it all out on the table, right?

I recently wrote a two-part article for one of my favorite sites, autostraddle.com, about sewing. There is probably nothing new in it for you seasoned sewists out there, but for beginners and people who think they might be interested in getting started with sewing but have never done it before, you might find some valuable information! You can check out Part I which is all about sewing machines here, and Part II, about fabric, patterns, resources and inspiration, right here!

2016 Projected Projects

How quickly time flies- it was only a year ago that I wrote a post about New Year’s resolutions and how they aren’t really my jamp, but how I do like to occasionally map out plans and ideas for the year ahead. I promise I am not going to do a repeat of that in this post, but I did want to keep you up to date with how my plans for this past year went. My main goal was to be more thoughtful about how I spent money, because I was noticing a penchant for fabric hoarding (among other things) that felt wasteful and, at times, gluttonous. I wanted to limit my monthly spending so that I wasn’t buying things to fill some kind of gap or avoid experiencing a negative feeling, so I gave myself a monthly spending budget, which in turn made me think really smartly about what I divulged in. I am happy to report that the budget was a success; I haven’t found myself swimming in excessive amounts of unused fabric and almost all the fabric that I have purchased has been with an express purpose in mind. There is certainly still room for improvement so I will keep working on being a thoughtful consumer in the new year, but I consider 2015 a win in this department, so YAY, ME!

For my 2016 new year’s post I thought it would be fun to lay out plans for what I do (and don’t) want to work on this year; I am hoping this project list helps to keep me on track.

First up, more GINGER JEANS! Claire was promised a pair of her own for Christmas which I unfortunately did not get around to making, what with the loads of other handmade gifts I had to finish before the holiday. So she is getting her pair in the new year. I will be simultaneously making myself another pair since I have been dying to try out the stovepipe version of the Gingers and haven’t had a chance to in the past year (for one thing, it was hot as Hades in LA over our “summer”, so my body didn’t even touch a piece of denim from like, May to November.) I am super inspired by this awesome photo (seen below and grabbed directly from her site) of blogger Suzy Bee Sews jean pocket design for the pair that she made, but I am planning on using a mint green top stitching thread for my next pair, and something tells me that both of those design choices wont work well together (I particularly like how Suzy’s blue thread underscores the boldness of the pocket design). Experimentation might be required here, so stay tuned.

Next on the list is this gorgeous bag that Cut Cut Sew made from this pattern.

I have to admit that I would never in a million years have made this bag based on the original photos accompanying the pattern. NO SHADE TO THE PATTERN DESIGNER! But the fabric choices/styling just aren’t to my taste and I am unfortunately not very skilled at envisioning different design choices in this manner. I can do it with physical spaces and things, like poorly decorated homes or empty rooms, or even pieces of furniture that need reupholstering, but with clothing and accessories? Nah. Spotting good “bones” in patterns just isn’t in my wheelhouse, which is one of the reasons that this fashion sketchbook by Gertie was such a great Christmas gift for me- I want to get better at visualizing and manipulating projects before they are constructed, and I am hoping that using croquis will help me. Anyways, I got this ruck sack pattern as a gift and I immediately headed to etsy to buy some waxed canvas fabric, D-rings, webbing and hooks. I have been using a crappy stained canvas tote (which is much better suited to cart groceries around) as my “purse” for months. It’s easy to grab and go at a moment’s notice, and because it is so simply made, it kind of “goes” with everything . But I am ready to replace it with something more unique and fashionable, and I cannot WAIT to get started with this project, especially after I made THREE Desmond Backpacks as Christmas gifts for other people this year! It’s time for me to have an awesome handmade bag of my own.

Yet ANOTHER awesome Christmas gift I got this year was this DIY quilting kit.

It’s from a company called Haptic Lab and I saw it for the first time on cashmerette’s instagram several months ago. I am a smitten kitten now. The design uses a tear-away template that you use to guide your hand stitching/quilting (which is pretty genius), and their online store has even more cool designs. I am in the middle of a giant knitting project at the moment and I really want to finish it before I start working on something new, but I am not sure how long I am going to last- these constellations are just so pretty, and a quilt is the perfect thing to work on during this chilly LA winter we are having.

Next up: outerwear!I have never made a coat before and I would love to try my hand at it this year. The window of cold weather in LA is pretty small but it definitely still requires warm clothing- it has been getting down in the thirties at night for the past several weeks, which is customary for all you east coasters but pretty rare for So Cal. The only kind of coat I am missing from my wardrobe is a fancy one, one that I can wear with long dresses and gowns. It took me a while to find the exact silhouette I was looking for but eventually etsy showed me the way with a beautiful and simply designed floor-length vintage coat pattern.

https://www.instagram.com/p/-FrrfuRF4w/?taken-by=trycuriousblog

I took a recommendation from someone’s blog and purchased an inexpensive tailoring how-to book to help me figure out the best construction techniques to use since the instructions for this pattern are pretty bare. I still haven’t found the wool I want to use- it would be fun to go big and bold with pattern and color, but I want to get the most wear I can out of this so I will most likely choose a stately charcoal colored wool with a bright and pretty lining for the inside.

Several months ago I blogged about making the Kielo Wrap dress with fabric from Girl Charlee, and recently Named Patterns came up with a fun little hack for the dress– they introduced a sleeve pattern piece and some small alterations to shorten and take in the dress to below-the-knee length. I fell in love with the image they shared on their blog for the altered dress, which you can see below. I haven’t even had a chance to wear my fancy version yet (I’m still searching for the perfect black strappy heel), so this more casual rendition really excites me because I think I will get a lot of wear out of it. Before the holidays came around, I bought a beautiful and sturdy striped organic knit in an earthtoned colorway specifically for this dress, but of course I never had any time to make it. Every time I see these stripes I want to stop what I am doing and just run down to the craft room to whip it up (it only took a day to make my original Kielo dress), but I am being patient. It is definitely at the top of my priority list, though.

I requested the Simplicity pattern below for Christmas after the delightful blogger behind Miss Celie’s Pants tweeted about it.

It will be the latest addition to my small but growing collection of #DIYRedCarpet dresses (two of which I haven’t even blogged about yet, even though I have worn both of them to events in the past year! Bad blogger!) It requires something ridiculous like 10 yards of flowy fabric, which I find both daunting and fantastic, and I am hoping that both Renee (Celie’s Pants) and Marcy (of Oonaballoona fame) will join me in posting about all the antics that come with constructing this monster because I know it’s in their project list, too.

There are quite a few gorgeous patterns posted up on the indie company Republique du Chiffon’s website, but this jumper is the first one I am attempting to make. It took a while before this pattern was available in English but as soon as it was I rushed to my computer to buy it because I had already spied it somewhere in one of Ginger Make’s posts from months ago and pinned it to my “Clothing Inspiration” board.

I bought a super soft, medium weight twill fabric in oxblood colorway from Miss Matabi, which has been sitting very patiently on top of what I like to refer to as my “fabric couch” (once upon a time it was a regular couch used for sitting and laying down, but the more my project queue gets backed up, the more the couch becomes a storage unit for my unused fabric and my in-progress pattern pieces). Is this the right kind of silhouette to compliment my frame? Do I have the right boots to wear with it? Are the dimensions and measurements going to work well on me? Honestly I have no idea, and I don’t usually take such leaps on faith on patterns anymore, but this jumper was just TOO cool to pass up. Fingers crossed and hopes high!

I have been reading about this new book, Boundless Style, for months. I am absolutely in LOVE with the concept (mix and match patterns to help you become familiar with designing your own clothing in striking, feminine silhouettes- oh my!) but my experience with Victory Patterns (of which Boundless Style is an off shoot) has been pretty disappointing. I bought two of their paper patterns, the Ava dress and the Nicola dress, and followed the directions to a tee, but the fit/proportions were so horrific on one of the dresses that I actually threw it into the garbage can after spending days trying to salvage it. The other dress had to be altered and manipulated so much that some of the main design elements were totally lost on the finished product- the petal sleeves were clownishly large and had to be redrafted and re-inserted, the darts were the wrong sizes and in the wrong places, and it was unwearable without a slip underneath because the front flaps open so much when you walk and sit down that you end up flashing everyone; not necessarily a design flaw but definitely something to note in the description of the garment. I love the designs and the styling of these patterns, but so far 100% of my attempts have been unsuccessful, so I am nervous to spend money on a book which might contain patterns that are equally as problematic for my body as the Victory styles have been. But the pictures…oh, the pictures! SO many gorgeous dresses and shapes and cool ideas for making unique garments. Ideally I would buy this book and just spend the time working on all the pattern blocks included with it so that they fit my body and I can use them as intended. It’s a nice project for the new year, right? And I would only become a better sewist with that kind of work under my belt. But is it really going to be worth my time? Will ALL the patterns need to be altered? I need some outside influence with this one. Anyone have issues with Victory patterns before, or is that just me? Care to rant or rave about this book and push me in one direction or the other? Please, comment away!

My last project for this next year is to NOT make all my Christmas gifts in 2016! Making my christmas gifts for friends and family has been a point of contention for me, which I touched on in my last post about pottery. As Claire and I boarded the plane to head back home to LA after spending Christmas with my family in Florida, I was overwhelmed by how excited I was to get back home and get into my craft room again. There had been so many personal projects piling up over the season and now that Christmas was over, it was the first time in months that I would have a chance to work on them. I always told myself that I never wanted my hobbies or my art to feel like work, but when you are putting in hours around the clock to finish making gifts on a tight timeline, it’s impossible for it to NOT feel that way. Sure, making gifts for friends and family feels more personal and more thoughtful, and I do enjoy a lot of the process, but I am not sure it’s worth the stress and anxiety I put myself through trying to finish everything on time and praying that it fits or that the recipient likes it (cause you can’t get a gift receipt for the stuff I make). So my plan to remedy this is…well, to just stop doing it. I am not sure exactly how this will play out, but maybe one year I can make some gifts (not all of them anymore, just some of them), and the next year I can either buy local, or buy handmade. Or maybe I will always buy local and handmade Christmas gifts from now on and stop making them entirely. Sewing and crafting and knitting is mostly self care for me, and it doesn’t seem fair to deprive myself of that support in the way that I have been. If I feel inspired to make a gift for someone then I will certainly honor that feeling, but I wont force myself into becoming a one-woman Santa’s workshop anymore. Surprisingly, I feel really good about this decision because I know it’s the best thing for me. And hopefully this next year will be chock full of more decisions that I feel really good about. I hope the new year brings the same for you!

Happy 2016!!!

 

 

Single Spandex Knit + Kielo Wrap Dress

I have been preaching here about the wonders of the online shop that is Girl Charlee for over a year now. I first learned about them in a post by Heather of Closet Case Files who suggested their store as a resource for making her famed Nettie bodysuit and dress. If I haven’t made it abundantly clear on this blog, I am a big fan of Heather, and pretty much anything she says I will do. Like, if she started a sewing cult I would most definitely run for secretary. Anyways, I have been buying up Girl Charlee stock like it was my job ever since. I love this online retailer because they have a huge variety of prints, their site is easy to navigate and their fabrics are affordable. Plus, they separate all their inventory by type, which has allowed me to learn the difference between a cotton jersey, a cotton lycra, and a jersey rayon spandex; two years ago I wouldn’t have even known that there was a difference between these fabric contents.

Recently Girl Charlee contacted me and asked if I was interested in a blogger collaboration with them and they sent me a couple of yards of a single spandex knit. I was excited to note all the differences this fabric had from the knits I had become accustomed to working with; for one, it’s slinky, but it hugs and drapes the body without looking (or feeling) clingy. It doesn’t wrinkle easily, and it was lovely to work with- the edges don’t curl up as much as with some cotton knits, and it didn’t stretch out under the foot of my sewing machine, so I was able to sew a lot of the pattern pieces together without the use of pins. As you can see, the right side of my fabric has a black background with a white rose-looking pattern printed on it (the roses kind of look like they are made out of zipper teeth, which is why I was drawn to this fabric- I liked that it was a floral print that didn’t look too precious). However, the back of this fabric is all white with a little bit of the black showing through, so this fabric is best suitable for projects where you wont be able to see the underside of it- unless that is what you are going for.

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The pattern I used for this project is by indie company NAMED CLOTHING. I always thought that their patterns were a little too modern for me since I prefer more traditional silhouettes. But I gotta tell you, I am now a convert.  With only 3 pattern pieces and 4 darts, I was very skeptical of how the Kielo Wrap Dress was going to look. The instructions suggested either a knit fabric or a woven, which inspired significant side-eye from me. A knit OR a woven? How do you get a successful look from one design using two very different materials? But I ignored my fears. Why? Because I am TRY CURIOUS, that’s why! Armed with my single spandex knit and 3 pattern pieces, I went to work. This dress was cut out, sewn and hemmed in a matter of hours. If you are anything like me, you know exactly how satisfying it is to start a project in the morning and have it ready for wear that night- not like I had any place to go on a Wednesday evening, but it’s the principle, right?

3The dress turned out to be stunning.

HOW?! Magic, I tell you! You can’t imagine how many vintage patterns I have sewn that say things like “Easy Sew! Make It In An Afternoon!”, only to look like I am wearing a giant fabric bag with a matching belt by the time evening rolls around. NAMED seems to have taken the concept of simple, straightforward construction and injected enough thoughtful design elements into the patterns to make the results look elegant, no matter what your body type (and I have a sneaking suspicion that those vintage Easy-To-Sew patterns look so amazing on the envelopes because the illustrated women are 11 heads tall and have 16 inch waists).

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2Here is what I love about this dress:

  • It doesn’t look like a traditional wrap, because you can actually see the wrap (most wrap dresses wrap inside of itself).
  • It can successfully be made with a woven or a slightly stretchy knit fabric, so the possibilities are limitless; depending on your fabric and print, this can be made into a casual or a dressy look.
  • The instructions were uncomplicated and the whole pattern was a quick and easy sew.

And here’s something unexpected- the dress looks really cool even without the ties. It’s definitely a modern kind of silhouette, but left untied, the sides hang down and give the dress a really interesting look that is not unflattering. This is the kind of pattern you can play around with, by either leaving off the ties or color blocking the back and front pieces to create some visual interest.

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I am so happy with this dress; matched with this uniquely printed fabric, it came out looking a lot fancier than I anticipated. This is being added to my #DIYredcarpet wardrobe, and hopefully I will have the opportunity to wear it out soon.

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