Cutathon, the first batch of summer projects

I don’t know about you guys, but I find cutting and sewing to be two very different types of activity. Each feels like a separate sort of creative process. They’re both satisfying, but because of the differences between them, I want a different mood and a different mindset for each.

When I’m cutting, it feels a bit like puzzling through a planning stage. I trace all my patterns, and then I make alterations on the tracings based on the actual measurements at certain critical points like shoulder and bust and waist. So a lot of decisions have to be made here that will affect the final garment. How much wearing ease do I want, and wear do I want it? I’ve been sewing long enough that I don’t have to really ponder these decisions most of the time, but sometimes these can be tricky calls.

This is also where I’m learning how a particular fabric will behave. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been sewing or how many times you’ve knit with other versions of a fabric. No two rayon jerseys, for example, will behave in exactly the same way. Cutting the fabric lets me start to get to know it and think about how I might need to adjust the construction methods to accommodate different characteristics.

So I like cutting, but it feels more cerebral than sewing, which I find almost mindlessly soothing by comparison. And this is one of the main reasons I tend to cut things in clusters, several projects at once. When the mindset is there, and I have a bit of time for it, it makes more sense to knock out a bunch of cuts at once. And as long as I’m pulling out the mats, French curves, tracing materials, etc., I might as well make good use of them.

This past weekend, I cut out three new projects for summer. The first is a white mesh baseball jacket. The cuffs, collar, and front band will be in white cotton ribbing. I had to do quite a lot of puzzling and thinking to figure out how to adjust the pattern to accommodate the mesh — eliminating the lining and pockets, for example — but for the most part, this pattern is better suited to this task than any other jacket pattern I looked at. This will be one of those things I can toss on over jeans and a tee or over a sundress, and it will work easily with any casual style. Side note: I’m really taken with mesh lately. Don’t know why. Mood had some really nice ones and I snapped up two, this white one and the black bonded mesh knit I used to make the tunic I blogged about last week. This white mesh is heavier, with a denser drape, and I think the cotton ribbing will give it good structure.


I also cut a cotton batik sundress with a mullet hem. This one required a bit more pattern adjustment prior to cutting — it’s really, really loose. I wanted it sort of skimmy and loose, rather than just a big cotton sack, so I tried to narrow it through the shoulders and reshape the upper bust. I’ve already started sewing this one, and I still need to take it in a bit through the shoulders, but it’s going to work out pretty much as planned. I love this print, a deep stash length from the Needle Shop. I usually shy away from browns and golds, but this one had to come home with me as soon as I saw it.


Finally, I cut a jersey maxidress in a striped knit from Fishman’s that was originally intended for a much different project. I’d thought to make one of those folded, crossover drape front blouses with it, but then I tried one on in the store to see how it would look on my figure. It was awful. I looked pregnant and drowning in fabric. So I decided to make a summer maxi out of this fabric instead.


This had to be cut in a single layer to make sure the stripes matched just so. My trick for cutting patterned fabric is to always cut in a single layer and lay the first piece on top of the fabric to cut the second piece. This guarantees that all the matching points will match. In this case, because everything had to be cut on the bias, it took a little extra time and care, but my cutting trick always works pretty well. If you look closely here, you can see the white outline of the pattern piece under the first bodice piece that I already cut. It’s a little hard to see because the patterns are matched along the cut edges.


And then, after cutting, this is how the two bodice fronts look, right side up and side by side.


That’s a pretty good match. I’ll have to be careful during seaming to make sure the stripes align properly, but it shouldn’t be too hard to make it work.

So this is my first batch of warm-weather sewing for the year, yay! I can tell I’m antsy for summer because every time I look at my pattern stash, the sundresses are the only things that appeal to me. Nothing beats an easy, soft summer dress! I can’t wait to wear them!

Are you ready for some heat waves?



Slowly getting it back together


Isn’t that lovely? That’s a silk taffeta with silk organza appliques, painted flowers, and sewn beads. Love it. This is about to become a 3/4 circle skirt. I started stitching it and then realized I was out of lightweight seam binding, so I’ve ordered a bit more and am stalking my poor mail carrier, Frank. Feel sorry for Frank. He has to cart a lot of packages for me.

So, this round of remodeling is all done but for some tile repairs in both bathrooms, and that means I was able to put my sewing room back together. Literally — honestly, literally — as the painting crew started carting their stuff out, my laptop screen exploded with a virus. Within one hour, the painters were gone and so was my laptop, to the repair shop, where it lived for six days.

This is why my blog has been quiet. Hectic life, quiet blog, right?

But there has been a little sewing progress. I hemmed this little summer tank dress, which has been lingering for far too long in my UFO pile.


New Look 6210

I made only minor alterations to this pattern, adding a little room in the bust and making the racer back a little more modest. Here, I’ll show you the racer back as altered.


You can see that the back armscyes from underarm to shoulder are slightly cut in, but not super cut in. I just thought that would be more comfortable. It’s not anything wrong with the pattern, just a personal preference.

I don’t wear many prints, and cutting this dress reminded me why that is. The fabric is a lovely rayon jersey from Mood (link), and the scale of the print plus the muted color palette were what drew my attention to it. Print scaling on a petite body can be a little tricky, but this one is so large that you almost can’t see the repeat. A trained eye will spot it, of course, but to most people, that will look like a pattern with no repeat. I liked that, and it turns out to look pretty good on my 5’3″ frame. (I’ll be sure to update with a modeled shot when the weather permits me to wear this.)

In any case, I wanted to take advantage of the scale of that pattern to make it look like a no-repeater, but I also wanted to make sure that none of the curves were hitting me in awkward spots. So I spent a lot of time fussing with the placement of the pattern pieces until I found something that would work. I swear, cutting prints is more work than sewing them, but in this case, it was worth all the tinkering and shifting a quarter-inch this way or that. I’m very happy with the way the pattern swirls around my torso. This is a fitted dress, and the curved lines accentuate the fit rather than fighting it.

A couple weeks back, I sewed a very large cardigan/jacket thing with a sweater knit also from Mood (link). I had just enough of this fabric leftover to make a quickie skirt. I lined it in some nylon tricot (also called lingerie knit) that I had in my stash. That worked out well. The knit is a wool (a bit sticky but not itchy) with metallic lurex threads spun into the yarn that give it a silvery halo. I don’t think I gave you a good look at this fabric before, but here it is.


You can just see how the silver threads add to the overall stickiness of the fabric, right? So lining it was the right move, especially given that this is a heavy knit skirt, suitable for winter wear, that would really need tights with it. We all know what happens when you don’t have a slippery layer between a sticky skirt and a pair of tights. Hellooooooo, good china!

I doubt I’ll wear the skirt very often, but what the heck. I had just enough length for it, and given the choice between whipping up a quick skirt and either tossing or storing the leftovers, I’ll take the skirt. Even if I only wear it once or twice a year, it’s still better than no skirt at all!

What do you do with your leftovers and scraps?