Impulse sewing, planned sewing, and New Year’s resolutions

Over the past year, I’ve come to realize that I’m an impulse sewer. I have lists and lists and sub-lists, and addendum lists, of projects that I’ve been wanting to start, with the fabric waiting patiently in my stash, but I usually don’t get to the big ones or the ones that have been in planning for a long time. Why is this? Is it because I don’t really want them? Don’t want to do the work? They don’t fit my everyday, practical life? Well, in some cases the last one is true. (A lot of the things I’ve planned to sew have a distinctly “professional” flavor, and honestly, I spend most of my days at work in jean leggings, creative tops, and sometimes blazers; it is after all a creative, casual environment.) But in most cases, I’d wear the garments happily. Is it the work? Maybe. Many of them will take longer to suss out fitting details at least.

In looking back over my sewing habits during 2015, I find that most of what I’ve sewn has been the result of impulse–an “I want that in my closet NOW” feeling. And that’s fine to a certain point, but I feel like most of what I sew should be things that I’ve been planning, and purchasing fabric for, and actually do want in my closet, even though thinking about them doesn’t give me a rush of excitement.

Nothing can easily beat that rush of starting a project one week and wearing it the next, but there is a deeper satisfaction that comes from completing a carefully planned and carefully sewn project. And in 2016, I want to feel more of that deep satisfaction. Some of those impulse projects turned out well and are garments that I will wear the heck out of and be sad when they wear out. And they certainly beef up my wardrobe quickly. But a couple didn’t work out so great. Some of them have been historical costumes and have limited use.

I’ve been feeling for about a year that the beautiful fabrics in my stash need to be seen and worn: the gorgeous, quality woolens I’ve picked up here and there; the stunning silks I’ve had stashed away for years. They all have projects loosely planned for them. I suppose I’ve also been afraid of cutting into them and of the possibility of failure. But that’s the whole point of this blog, isn’t it? Plough through the fear, or shove it to one side and tell it to get the hell out of the way, because I’m ready to grab my scissors (or rotary cutter) and go to town on that fabric.

I’m not very big on New Year’s resolutions, but this year, I feel the need for a couple, in sewing and in other areas of my life. So, here’s my sewing resolution for 2016: sew less based on impulse, and more based on planning. Tick a few of those long-awaited projects off my list finally. I guess that Facebook quiz that took my name and told me the word that would guide me through 2016 was right: Change. It can be tough, but it can be very good and lead to better things. In this case, I hope this little change, this shift in mindset, will lead to greater satisfaction and a more useful wardrobe. And isn’t that one of the major reasons we sew?

Yes; yes it is. 😉

Happy New Year! (and may you stick to your resolutions, whatever they are)

Dirndling–the real thing

Well, October is gone, and I’ve done quite a bit of sewing since finishing this particular project, but somehow I never got back to posting details about the finished dirndl.

In the few weeks since sewing the first and second dirndl muslin, I was sewing up a storm trying to get it completed in time for my office group Halloween costume on Oct. 30. (We were all Edna Mode from The Incredibles.) See?? A plain black dirndl is so versatile.

I decided not to use fusible interfacing with my black linen, as I couldn’t find black interfacing and I didn’t want anything to dilute the color of the outer fabric. Instead, I chose black cotton duck as an interlining. I sewed a few samples of various ways of applying it, and also a few without it to feel the difference it would make to the garment’s structure. Hands down, the cotton duck interlining was the best option. So I had to cut and sew 3 versions of the bodice: outer, interlining, and lining. (the photos here are kind of blown-out because to get a good view I had to adjust the images’ brightness and mid-tones, etc.)

The dirndl bodice interior is cotton canvas: firm, heavy, and sturdy. It really helps the bodice keep its shape.

The dirndl bodice interior is cotton duck: firm, heavy, and sturdy. It really helps the bodice keep its shape.

I chose a silk twill in black with a purple stripe for the bodice lining; unfortunately the fabric was too narrow to accommodate the skirt pieces, so I had to use a different fabric for the skirt lining. The pattern didn’t call for a skirt lining, but if I’m going to wear this in fall/winter, I’ll be wearing tights, and without a silky layer in between, the tights and linen would stick together. I chose a polyester-blend jacquard lining fabric in gray tones from my stash.

One lining for the bodice (silk twill) and another for the skirt (some kind of poly/rayon jacquard).

One lining for the bodice (silk twill) and another for the skirt (some kind of poly/rayon jacquard).

From the numerous dirndl images pinned to my Dirndl Pinterest board, I’ve found that one of the common details in simpler dirndls is piping at the neckline and armholes. It gives a nice finished-looking edge and adds a really crisp, professional-quality detail. Some of the black linen yardage, combined with some narrow cord from my stash, became piping for the dirndl.

Piping at the neck and armscye edges stabilizes the edges and adds a nice dimensional detail.

Piping at the neck and armscye edges stabilizes the edges and adds a nice dimensional detail.

Unfortunately I didn’t really think out how the piping would affect the shoulder seam, and I had some trouble getting it all tucked under the lining in a neat, clean way; if I used piping again, I’d have to change the construction sequence a bit and apply the lining entirely by hand, wrong sides together.

From the lining side, you can see all kinds of messiness caused by the addition of piping BEFORE sewing the shoulder seams.

From the lining side, you can see all kinds of messiness caused by the addition of piping BEFORE sewing the shoulder seams.

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But from the right side, it looks okay…Not ideal, but passable.

Live and learn! EVERY single garment I make provides a lesson in some way. Which brings me to the next issue I ran into with this project…

What should I discover once the skirt front and back were sewn together but that the two cuts of linen I purchased–from the same store, of the same type/weight, but purchased a few months apart–are two different shades of black. Of COURSE they are. Le sigh. The front skirt section is a brown-black while the back skirt and bodice are a blue-black. Different dyelots. I should have expected this. Learn from my mistakes, people!

It's difficult to see the color difference in these photos--or any photos, really--but in real life, it's obvious. If you're looking for it. The bodice and back skirt are from one dyelot. The skirt front from a different one that's a brown-black. Oh well.

It’s difficult to see the color difference in these photos–or any photos, really–but in real life, it’s obvious. If you’re looking for it. The bodice and back skirt are from one dyelot. The skirt front from a different one that’s a brown-black. Oh well.

If I was going to wear this as a festive dirndl with an apron, the difference wouldn’t be a problem. I’m still considering it not that big a deal because the color difference was only obvious once the two different dyelots were sewn together and viewed in the weird light (tinged with lime green) of my sewing room. Fortunately, when I wore the dress to work (with other sewing people who really notice things like this), I was told that if I hadn’t mentioned the color variation, it wouldn’t have been noticed at all. But it is visible at the side seam. Oh well.

Now, dirndl dress patterns don’t include pockets–but I really like a pocket in a full skirt. So I added some on-seam pockets, taken from the Sewaholic Cambie dress pattern (thanks, Cambie!). The pockets are inserted into the skirt side seams, and they live between the outer skirt and the lining.

Oh how I love pockets in a skirt!

Oh how I love pockets in a skirt!

The pattern calls for an invisible zipper, but I chose to use a regular zipper because they’re stronger, and the multiple, somewhat thick layers of the bodice would be too much for an invisible zipper. A centered application with little flanges covering the zipper looks fine and is the more usual closure used on RTW dirndls. This closure change necessitated a change in how the lining was applied at center front, but it wasn’t a big hassle.

Zipper installation was a bit different from the pattern directions because I used a standard zipper instead of an invisible zipper. My installs of this type are usually a bit pucker, but it's stronger than an invisible zip.

Zipper installation was a bit different from the pattern directions because I used a standard zipper instead of an invisible zipper. My installs of this type are usually a bit puckery, but it’s stronger than an invisible zip.

I even dangled a pretty silver charm from the zipper pull. Overall, I’m really happy with how the dirndl turned out. I still have to make some longer-sleeved blouses to go with it, but all in good time!

I actually like this blouse with the dirndl, but it's not good for winter.

I actually like this blouse with the dirndl, but it’s not good for winter.

Here’s my review of BurdaStyle 7443 on PatternReview.