Why complain, you might ask, when I have such a happy post at hand? I mean, here's where I get to tell you - nay, show you - how I set a challenge, developed the parameters, stayed within the timelines, surpassed the required output and made 7 really cute spring basics:
Indeed, I even conducted a challenge within a challenge. Wow, when I put it that way, I'm awesome!
I'm here to say that I have worn all of these garments at least once so far - and some of them a few times! Here's a run down of some of the interesting features of this challenge:
- At the start, I owned the floral rayon jersey, the orange rayon jersey for the bonus sleeveless top and the orange double knit used to make the dress. Nonetheless, I spent quite a bit on fabric, in the scheme of things, somewhere in the neighbourhood of $100.00. Mind you, a hundred bucks for this kind of haul is miraculous, no?
- I really like pink, cerise and orange, apparently :-) Actually, I'm starting to think that everything I make is in a variant of pink or navy.
- Best outcome? Well, it's impossible to say! I've had very good response to everything (except the house-bound lounge pants, which no one's seen). I think the Magic Blouse may win for most intriguing but the Jalie floral blouse has been a big hit.
- Hardest slog: Ha! It's a toss up between the culottes and the Ginger skirt. I probably gave 75 per cent of my total energy in this challenge just to those two garments.
- Best Lesson: Where to begin? On the macro level: The right, complex challenge can keep you going for a long time. If it solves a problem, feel free to make shit up. Vintage patterns aren't necessarily more special or better-fitting than modern ones. Sometimes, the more you pin, the less you succeed. You have to be intuitive! On the micro level: Inner leg pleats that don't meet up with the waist of your culottes are a nightmare to insert and sew. Pleats that go up to your waist are a nightmare to wear. Zipper insertion on bias cut garments is a crap shoot. Bias tape is fussy but endlessly useful. I could take up 6 posts coming up with observations learned in this challenge alone...
- Most practical new learning: Not that I didn't know this, but I can confirm that pretty "vintage" seam finishing bulky; it takes more fabric and adds twice the time required to make any given garment. I'm really happy to be able to finish something nicely without a serger, but I'm just as happy to have a serger. PS: You can still finish seams without using vintage techniques or a serger, in case you're worried. Most knits, for example, don't need any finishing to speak of, except close clipping. And pinked seams with a straight stitch will often work on wovens. I will say, though, these sorts of finishes often do not look as good. They may also be weaker than the vintage or serger methods. Which is why the sewing goddess invented lining to encase a whole whack of unfinished seams presto. Mind you, I don't much like lining.
I didn't think I'd be one of those capsule wardrobe, "sewing challenge" kind of people, but perhaps I am. This project has shown me that I have a decent attention span and the ability to put together interesting designs in coordinating fabrics and patterns. Furthermore, knowing what I was going to tackle next allowed me to bridge learning of new techniques from one project to the next, i.e., the faux Hong Kong finish on the cowl dress turned into real Hong Kong finishing on the centre back seam of the Ginger skirt. Nonetheless, I kept my bizarre, sub-optimal (self-invented cuz it's probably not even a method) wrapping-seam-binding-over-the-hem technique on the Ginger. I like the way it completely encloses, with minimal bulk, a seam that's prone to fray. Fit doesn't always work, but - in this challenge - I'm happy to say it did. By employing a combo of factors: items I've made before, use of forgiving fabrics and skill improvement, I produced a variety of items that fit well.
I'm also happy to say that it's given me confidence to tackle some tailoring next. I'm going to make the Starlet Suit Jacket with a coordinating skirt - which should be a very useful addition to my wardrobe and an great challenge. I'm going from a challenge that took 10 weeks for 7 garments (my final stats) to one that gives 6 weeks for 2 garments, most of that time to be spent on the jacket i.e. 1 piece.
So, what do you think? What have you learned from tackling a sewing challenge? Would you do it again? Will you do one, if you've never tried it before? Let's talk...