Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Sewing

I don't usually sew Christmas gifts. I often will knit Christmas gifts, but that didn't happen this year, for a variety of reasons. Several days ago I was evaluating the gifts I'd purchased for my daughters for Christmas and I realized it was scant offerings this year, especially considering that I didn't knit any hats, scarves, or wrist warmers.

So, at the last minute, I decided to sew something. I rarely sew for my daughters. Probably the biggest reason is to avoid frustration. They are both very choosy about style, fit, pattern, and color. Particularly about fit. It's just easier to buy them clothing or, better yet, let them buy their own.

But I decided to bite the bullet and hope for the best. I spent a lot of time anxiously considering various options. I wanted to use stash and/or remnants for everything. I measured each of them when they visited on separate occasions. (I know they are expecting jammies this year, so I hope they won't be disappointed.)

I was very surprised that the girls (at 20 and almost-18 years old) have virtually identical measurements, though the oldest is 2 inches taller. Yay! That was very considerate of them.

I poured through my small pile of Burda pattern magazines. I scoured my stash for multi-sized patterns that might accommodate them, but still be youthful and current. (Even if my girls shared my aesthetic, which they don't, most of my patterns are in a range that is too large for them.)

I wanted the outfits to believably mimic RTW and be coordinated - no point in sewing fashion orphans. I poured through various RTW websites intended for the young, such as Delias, Urban Outfitters, and Zara, to make sure I wasn't off base in my ideas.

In the end, I decided on a wrap skirt (#128) from the Sept 1994 issue of Burda (size 38) and a Jalie Sweetheart Top (size S). For the two skirts, I had some stretch denim remnants from my recent spate of skinny pants sewing, though I really had to work it to get the skirt out of the tiny piece of blue flocked fabric and ended up piecing the waistband. In my stash, I had some nice viscose/lycra (in black) and rayon/lycra (in eggplant) - each fabric coordinates with one of the skirts.

I made the skirts on Thursday and Friday evenings, after work. I made the two tops on Saturday. What quick, satisfying sewing! (So this is what it's like to just sew right from the envelope!) From my stash I had snaps (I love to use my SnapSetter tool) and closures for the skirts. I had tried sewing the black denim skirt with contrast gold top-stitching, but didn't like the result and spent an hour ripping it out.

Amusing aside: I had one small spool of eggplant thread in my stash. I'm sure this old style Dual Duty spool was from my mother's cache. I neglected to notice as I was winding the bobbin that it used up almost the entire spool. Not wanting to head to the fabric store two days before Christmas for a spool of thread, I sewed most of the top using a "close enough" brown thread in the needle and saved the eggplant thread for where it would show, such as the hems, top-stitching, and attaching the bust elastic. I have more of the eggplant fabric, so I'd better buy more of this color!

We celebrate our Christmas on the 24th, so I am crossing my fingers that these outfits will fit and they will like them! (Though, in full disclosure, I only attached the snaps and skirt closures to the right side of the skirts. This way I can have them put them on, mark the correct positions, and quickly attach the other halves.)

I was happy with both patterns and think that the Jalie top is especially cute. It's a bit fussier to sew, with it's 1/4" seam allowances and small pattern pieces, than a normal tee, especially with these flimsy non-stable knits, but is not too bad.

The only change I made on the Jalie pattern was to the little band on the front. Because of the vertical elastic, the band on top flopped a bit, so I sewed out a small wedge of fabric so it would lie flat. The photos show what it looks like:

For the skirt, I omitted the pocket and contrast top-stitching.

I hope you have a nice Christmas, if you celebrate. For me, I have the week off between Christmas and New Years. My sewcation begins on Dec 25th as the kids spend the day with the other side of the family.

Ready, set, SEW!