Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Must. Pipe. Everything.

I've found that the best way to cope with sewing failures is to destroy all evidence of the failure as soon as possible. After my depressing skirt flop, I decided to cut that sucker up and turn it into something I could be proud of: a piped-to-within-an-inch-of-its-life "Geranium" top for Maggie.


Maggie Geranium top.


Take that, ugly unflattering skirt!

Maggie Geranium top.


Maggie is sniffling and teething, so she was naturally in a little bit of a bad mood during this photo shoot. Thus, there were only two things that really cheered her up: (1) being allowed to climb the stairs, which are generally gated off and forbidden; and (2) being allowed to eat toilet paper.

Maggie Geranium top.


Maggie Geranium top.


Wow. The light in my upstairs bathroom is beautiful. Soft, white, glowing ... I wish the light in the rest of the house was like this! I should do all of my photoshoots in the bathroom! I bet Maggie would love that too. (Although it was annoying having to put down the camera occasionally to fish TP out of her mouth.)

Maggie Geranium top.


Oh, I am so proud of this top. Sewing failure transformed into sewing success! The piping really suits this fabric, which has such a soft, old-fashioned, sepia photograph feeling to it. Initially, I was just going to pipe the waistline and armholes (as suggested by this great post), and I even sewed it up like that. But I wasn't happy with the neckline. It needed to be piped too! So I picked out the stitches and redid it with more navy piping. And I am so glad!

This is the sleeveless/gathered skirt version of the pattern, with a plain neckline, in size 12-18 months. It fits perfectly! It may not fit for long, but it's satisfying to put something on Maggie that works perfectly right now. She is at such a funny size lately - I feel like I am constantly guessing at what size to cut out for her. Many of the things I sew for her turn out too large. She can be anywhere from 6 month size to 18 month size depending on the garment. I guess I should actually measure her? (Crazy!)

The only change I made to the pattern was to lengthen it somewhat, by cutting out the next largest size in length. (I also used hem facing rather than hemming it, which adds a bit more length.) I am glad I did, because the length is just right. It is what my friend calls a "knicker-skimmer."

My piping skills are definitely improving, and the piping mostly went in without a hitch. Corners are a challenge, so the button placket on the back is a bit curved, which I think looks fine. Sewing a gathered skirt onto a piped bodice is no picnic, though, partly because you have to sew it with the the gathers underneath, which is normally not how I do it. If you can't see the gathers, there is a good chance they are getting all bunched up and messy down there. Luckily, I just bought myself a nice sharp new seam-ripper. Ha.

Those little blue mother-of-pearl buttons from the stash look just right. When you are on a fabric/pattern diet and trying to sew solely from your stash, you really appreciate the value of having giant stockpiles of fabric, buttons, notions, and sundry. Which is sort of self-defeating, if you think about it! Alas, I don't think I will ever be a minimalist when it comes to sewing supplies.

This fabric diet was made possible by an enormous stash.


Maggie Geranium top.


Much of the finishing of this dress was done by hand. Once you've done that much piping, it doesn't pay to rush through the finishing, right? I stitched down the lining by hand (I have never figured out how to stitch in the ditch successfully), and used navy hem facing to finish the hem, hand stitching that in place as well. The piping and hem facing came from my box of vintage notions, picked up at some point on eBay. I know I have been singing the praises of bias hem facing on this blog for a while now - here you can see it in action. The deep hem is clean, pretty, and old fashioned. And being on the bias, it can be hand or machine stitched without any puckers. (When I come off this fast, I am going to have to buy more vintage hem facing.)

This is my third Geranium, so I probably don't have to tell you that I really like this pattern, huh? It's great. I love that it can look very minimalist and modern (as here) or very old fashioned, as with this top. When I first started sewing, I used to buy a pattern that exactly matched what I was looking for, and then make it once or maybe twice at the most. Now, with the help of amazing indie designers like Rae, who draft very versatile, adaptable patterns, I am much more likely to buy a few patterns, and make them over and over again, with different variations. (Of course, before I sound too virtuous, I should note that any savings realized from this are quickly invested in my giant stash of supplies, see above.)

I will leave you with an impromptu shot of both my children - dirty, a little snotty-nosed, with miscellaneous detritus in the background, but (in my eyes) just beautiful.

Maggie Geranium top.



13 comments:

  1. Oh this is adorable! I love the piping everywhere, so fun!

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  2. This is beautiful! I love it!! YAY, for piping! :)

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  3. I like the curved button placket - it looks really nice. Also of course the piping! Taking it apart again to add piping at the neckline is dedication indeed - but I reckon it was worth it :)
    Is bias hem facing like bias tape but wider? I've never come across it but it looks lovely. (Plus, I hate folding and pressing my hems before stitching them, so another method to try would be excellent).

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    1. Hi Kato! It is exactly that. Very wide bias tape. You can still buy it new at fabric stores, it's usually sold next to the bias tapes and blanket bindings. Most of mine is vintage, picked up in bulk lots off eBay (I discovered that older bias tape came in a larger assortment of pretty colors, and was 100% cotton, and I have been tracking down the vintage stuff ever since). It is useful for hemming heavier fabrics because it does not add much bulk. It is also a pretty detail - if you make your own, you can face your hems in the same fabric you're using or a contrast (several Oliver + s patterns have this detail). Because it's cut on the bias, it presses right into a curved hem, with no puckers or gathering required. :D

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    2. I'll definitely try it some time soon!

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  4. Adore the tunic - the fabric is so perfect for it. And the details are perfect.
    Love your description of your stash (sounds rather familiar.....)

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  5. Yum, yum, toilet paper! :)
    This top is beyond adorable! I love the piping! (but of course, I have a total soft spot when it comes to piping).
    Piping forever!

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  6. Look at me, I am posting a comment. I think this top is adorable and I love the vintage feel.
    The variation in children's clothing sizes are insane.

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    1. Ha! I shamed you into posting a comment! Sorry 'bout that, but I am so happy to see you here!

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  7. All your photos are adorbs! It's amazing how the piping draws out the beauty of the fabric. A print like that would be perfect for smocking too...

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  8. You are tempting me with all your great versions of this pattern. And I also have this stubborn resistance to actually measuring my daughter for anything... I just try to make it too big. For me sewing for kids is about NOT having to care about exact fitting.

    Love the adorable photos, love the piping...

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  9. oh inder, i've been wanting to comment on this since i read it in my google reader when you first posted it. but i have trouble commenting from my phone and i keep my computer upstairs, so i'm not so tempted to go on it! i mean, seriously - look at sewing pics on flickr or clean my house? it's kind of a no brainer. ;)
    i love this dress. it was meant to be! it's gorgeous inside and out. i had a similar mishap with a shirt for me turned tea party sundress! http://www.stitched-together.com/2010/05/new-dress-for-newest-member-of-fam.html
    anyway, all of your hard work paid off. the piping is perfect and M couldn't look any more adorable!

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  10. Gorgeous! The piping really makes it! *runs off to put piping on something*

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