Sunday, December 27, 2015

Sewing Diary: Upcycling and U.F.Os!

Cutting out the top only of Butterick 5917
Over my winter break, I decided I wanted to clear out a small box of U.F.Os (unfinished objects) and upcycling projects I had set aside for - like -  years! In the past, these have not turned out very well, because I am trying to piece together bits and pieces, and make do, with less than optimal results. So we'll see how this goes. My first project was to take this black cotton knit skirt that I bought several years ago, but was too small for me. I didn't want to just give it away, though, because I am in love with the applique.

So I had removed the waistband, and decided to get some black cotton knit fabric and turn the skirt into an empire waist knit dress. My underbust area (where an empire silhouette would emphasize) is smaller than my waist so I moved the waist up there, and chose a commercial pattern for the top.

I had never used this pattern before so I did not know how it would fit. In addition, it is made for wovens, so I thought I had better size down, since I am using a knit. Anyone who sews a lot will hear warning bells going off: risky business #1: using a pattern for the first time without understanding how it will fit. Risky business #2: using a pattern meant for woven fabrics with knit fabrics. Regardless, I trudged ahead. I did not have to spend any money on this because I already had the pattern and the fabric in my stash.

What attracted me to this sewing pattern was the empire waist, the pretty ruffles around the neckline, and the fact that the neckline had a piece of fabric across the middle to make it not low cut. Of course, this piece of fabric was not high enough for me, and it was still low-cut on me - showing a decent amount of cleavage - but that's my life! I have such a high bust shelf, or maybe it's a short waist? In either case, almost everything except turtlenecks are low-cut on me!

I did not do any modifications on this pattern. I simple cut out the top, but in two sizes smaller than the pattern recommended, to make up for using knits instead of wovens. In case you didn't know, that is because you don't need the same amount of wearing ease with knit fabrics as you do with woven fabrics.

As far as design changes, there was supposed to be an opening in the back, but again, since I was using a knit fabric, I didn't need that because the lower neckline meant the dress could just go on over my head. 

The laying and cutting out of the pattern was pretty simple. There were not very many pieces, and it went quickly. The construction was also simple. I would call it "advanced beginner," so just a notch above beginner. My only real mistake was not stay stitching around the neckline, because it really stretched out and became floppy. Additionally, I was going to make this dress sleeveless, so that I could wear it year round just by adding or subtracting a cardigan on top. However, there were big gaps in the armholes, which means I should have done a Full Bust Adjustment. So I couldn't leave it sleeveless, and had to add short sleeves. So I laid out the fabric again and used the short sleeve pattern.
This will be really pretty on someone who isn't me.
All in all, I think it came out attractively, BUT I am not going to keep it. Yep, this one's being sent to Goodwill. (sad face). My issues are in the fit: the neckline is too big, gapey, droopy and low cut. And the skirt, even moved up on my body to a smaller part, is still too tight. Therefore, with the top being too big and the bottom being too small, it will never, ever fit me. So this was an upcycling fail, but as always, I try to focus on it as a learning experience. Better luck next time, and maybe I should stick with patterns I've had some experience with.