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Well, it’s been a busy week here, and I haven’t gotten much sewing done here other than the tutu I mentioned yesterday.  Just a quick update.  I had a little IM conversation with the intended tutu recipient and her mom yesterday, and when her mom told her that Auntie Elaine was going to bring her “a present” (she didn’t tell her what it was), the little girl’s most excellent response was, “When you give me that present, I’ll give you a present!” Whoa.  Now there is a child who knows exactly what a Selfish Seamstress wants to hear.  She then went on to say she’s going to give me TWO presents. Apparently she wants to make me “something warm for the winter and a card.”  I fully plan to take advantage of this two-for-one deal.  Finally…. the children are working for ME. The only thing I love more than a present is two presents!

Just because serious sewing progress in a bit of a lull, it doesn’t mean I’m not still planning lots of projects that I’ll never get around to.  Like knocking off this Anthropologie dress:

By now you may have picked up on the fact that I love feminine shapes rendered in menswear fabrics, and this one is just lovely. Have a look at the style lines and topstitching on the bodice:

It looks like it should be a straightforward draft.  That corset-esque midriff looks like it would be flattering too. We’ll see if I ever get around to sewing it anywhere other than in my head.

In other news,  I’ve got more travel for work this weekend.  I fly to San Francisco tomorrow.  Again, I’m pretty sure I won’t have time to shop, but just in case, does anyone have any great fabric store recommendations?

Tonight, I made this little tutu. There’s nothing spectacular about it from the sewing perspective- just a quick little crafting project out of some snowflake-flocked sheer something or other that I’ve had in my stash for years, a little wire-edged taffeta ribbon, narrow elastic, and a quick half hour.  In and of itself, it’s nothing that warrants a blog mention.  In fact, I planned to hide it from you so you wouldn’t know that your most Selfish of Seamstresses had of her own volition decided not only to sew for someone else, but for a child (like a regular person but smaller and with an underdeveloped sense of indebtedness.) I had a moment of weakness.  What do you want from me.  She’s cute and she’s sweet and she loves ballet and she’s going to see the Nutcracker this weekend.  And as a lifelong student of ballet (on and off these days), I couldn’t resist the urge to make a Waltz of the Snowflakes romantic tutu for her.  What.  WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT.

The reason I bring it up is that as I was starting this project, I needed to figure out how big to make the waist for a 5- to 6-year old girl.  So, I went to McCall’s website and looked up the size chart for children.  And this is what I found:

So, we’re looking at about 22″.  Now, wait a sec, wait a sec, wait a sec.  That number looks familiar.  Hey!  I know where I know that number from– that’s the waist measurement for the Misses’ size 4, the size I usually make… WHAT???  Here’s a chunk of the Misses’ size chart:

The smallest Misses’ size has the same waist measurement as that of a child described as “walking and not wearing diapers.”  For context, there are still all the Girls’ sizes 7 to 16 in between the Children’s sizes and the Misses’ sizes. Now I know that kindergarteners may have little round pudgy bellies, but… they are not grown-up people size! This is scary!  Do the pattern companies really expect that adults will have the same waist measurement as kids who are singing Itsy-Bitsy Spider??

Now, I cut size 4 when I make Big 4 patterns.  But that’s based on the bust measurement, NOT the waist measurement.  I have often puzzled over that number, because while I am certainly on the smaller end of the people spectrum, if we go purely by the measurement chart, my waist would probably fall somewhere in the 10 range.  (Who ever heard of grading from a 4 bust to a 10 waist and back to a 4 hip??)  And funnily enough, I pretty much never grade the waist up, because the size 4 patterns generally fit just fine in the waist when I make them up and all the wearing ease is factored in.  Once I made a skirt and decided I’d err on the safe side by starting with a size 6 (still considerably smaller than my actual waist measurement according to the chart), and I ended up swimming in it.

This makes me wonder if the prescribed waist measurements for Misses’ sizes are just vanity numbers and in actuality the pattern companies KNOW that no one really has that waist measurement and don’t even draft the patterns for those body measurements. Maybe they always tell you to go by the bust measurements because it’s the hardest area to alter AND because they know the waist measurements as given are inaccurate? I can understand why companies do vanity sizing in terms of the size numbers, but wouldn’t they want to be super accurate about the actual body measurements? I know I don’t have a very defined waist, but the waist measurements surely must still be off if they expect a small woman to have the waist circumference of a child just a year or two past toddlerhood, no? Or is my waist just that unusually enormous in proportion to the rest of my body?

I’m sure there are some women out there who do indeed have teeny tiny 22″ waists. (And NO, for the record, we DON’T want to hear about it so don’t go posting comments like, “Well, I have a 22″ waist and I have no idea why because I eat anything I want all the time and everyone’s always like OMG how do you stay so skinny when you eat so much!”  I have the power of DELETE which I will use in conjunction with EYE-ROLL.) My point is not that such people don’t exist. My point is rather that it is just bizarre that pattern companies use the same standard waist measurement for my grown-up pattern size as for children’s size 6. Oh, and for context, the size 10 Misses waist measurement (25″) is the same as the Girls’ size 10- roughly equal to that of a regular sized 10-year old girl.  Eh?

The upside of this is that if all these charts are actually realistic, that little girl will probably be able to wear that snowflake tutu from Auntie Elaine well into her 30s. And she’d better because she owes me now.

In addition to hypothetical sewing, mocking readers, and hawking stuff, it turns out that I also sew! Hahahaha.  Okay, this is sooooo not something that I would wear. Dan says it makes me look like I’m from Cirque du Soleil. 

But S.W.A.G. present #3, a sequined taffeta bolera for her mommy, is almost done. (Yes, I am a grown woman who calls her mother “mommy” still.  I’m not going to give it up, so mock all you want!) I hope she decides it’s her style at least. My mommy is a sweet person. But much like her Selfish daughter, she won’t wear something she doesn’t like just because it was a gift. She knows that people’s feelings are important, but looking good comes first!  Smart lady.

For having only 5 pattern pieces (other than the lining), this was an awfully fiddly project with difficult seaming at the collar and under the arms, and the taffeta is not very forgiving of tiny imprecisions.  You get to see it on me since I don’t have a dressform at the moment.  It’s cut in a size 34 as my mom is a smidge bigger than I am, so there’s a little extra room in there.  But then again, I’m not really sure how fitted a garment like this is supposed to be. I do need to finish hemming up the sleeves, but I’m trying to decide whether I want it to hit halfway between the elbow and the wrist or just below the elbow.  Thoughts?

I have some fabric left now, and I’m not sure what to do with the rest.  I’d like to make a matching top to go with the bolero, but I’m having trouble picking one out. I definitely don’t like what is going on in Burda’s photo:

That’s a whole lot of fussy for that much shiny.  I’m contemplating this Ottobre top, which would suit my mother’s taste for tailored sleeveless tops with necklines that are neither deep nor wide.  Plus it would justify the fact that I impulse bought this issue of Ottobre for something like $14 while on a trip to Switzerland even though I KNOW I never make anything from Ottobre:

But I’m wondering if that neck opening is too narrow to go with the bolero.  I don’t think it will look nice if you can see the shoulder straps when the bolero is on.  If it were for me, I’d just do a simple princess-seamed bodice with spaghetti straps and perhaps boned at the seams, but that might barer than my mom wants go to. What do you recommend?

By now you all know how the Selfish Seamstress feels about sewing for others. But mommy is an exception. I don’t know if it’s just the urge to relive the feeling of bring home a pretty drawing from school and have her face light up with delight, or perhaps the fact that I’ve realized in the last few years what a super nice person my mommy is (she’d do anything for us), or maybe I’m just excited to cut into the new, fabulous fabric I got for her S.W.A.G. project:

It’s a green shimmery lightweight taffeta, somewhere between apple and olive green, with metallic thread embroidery and greenish-gold sequins.  Sure, perhaps not what I would pick for myself (I’m not so much on the shiny fabrics), but just perfect for my mommy, don’t you think?  She loves elegant cocktail attire of the Ann Taylor variety.

Because the fabric is elaborate, I wanted to make something without too much detail, and I first thought of a knee-length sheath with some simple pleats around the neckline.  But then when I got home and spread out the fabric, I started thinking that maybe mommy would not be so keen on glittery sequins from the neck to the knee. So, out came the giant stack of Burda, Patrones, La Mia Boutique, Mrs. Stylebook, Lady Boutique, and a couple of assorted others:

And I found this bolero from the 12.2008 issue of Burda (Bambi style!  Everyone needs a Bambi gown because we all know how much of the population of Germany attends the Bambi awards….)

I’ll edit it for half or 3/4 length sleeves.  If there’s enough fabric afterwards, I have my eye on a simple fitted shell from an Ottobre issue to make it a glamorous little twinset to go with the sort of elegant evening pants or pencil skirts that my mommy undoubtedly has hanging by scores in her closet. Off to S.W.A.G., catch you later!

More S.W.A.G. progress! I finished the two cowl necked tops for my sisters this weekend:

You’ll recall that when I first purchased the fabric for these, I was disappointed that they weren’t as soft or pretty as my teal one. I was okay with the charcoal grey shade, and a little bit skeptical of the dark army green. I have to say, after a washing they have softened up quite nicely, and the dark army green one in particular is looking kind of awesome.  I started to wonder if maybe I like it better than I like the teal one I made for myself.  Naturally, I had to try it on:

Yeah, that looks good on me. And naturally I thought about keeping it.  Thought about.  The problem with that is that I would have to embark upon yet another S.W.A.G. project to replace the gift. What’s a Selfish Seamstress to do in such a situation?  The only viable solution is to give it  as a present, and then borrow it at some point in the future.  Borrow it permanently.

With two S.W.A.G. gifts down, I turn once again to the brown cotton velvet albatross that taunts me from the shelf:

Oh yes, that is a partially sewn brown cotton velvet sportcoat that I started for Dan in 2007, shortly after I began sewing in earnest.  A sportcoat with lots of fiddly details that I as an amateur seamstress in 2007 wasn’t ready for and that I as an intermediate seamstress in 2009 just don’t feel like doing for anyone other than myself (welt pockets in cotton velvet?  Come on!) 

Since I began the project, Dan has had numerous birthdays and Chanukkahs pass by for which he has been promised this jacket and instead ended up with something else.  Every once in a while I take it out thinking that this time is the last time and it WILL get done, only to put it away after some incremental progress. I have some deep forest green satin to line it, after having long ago re-appropriated the teal jacquard lining originally intended for it to line a jacket for myself.

Well, dear readers, let it be declared here that this S.W.A.G. albatross is the next project on my list and it WILL get finished for Channukah.  (Of course, I say that knowing that if I take the Selfish route and put it aside in favor of other stuff for myself, you’ll only be cheering me on. Enablers!)

A cotton velvet sportcoat.  Why would anyone take on such a complicated and challenging project in such a fussy fabric for anyone but herself?

Oh yeah, I remember now.

Has the Selfish Seamstress turned over a new leaf and learned to do things for others??

First of all, after leaving them dangling for months, I finally got around to weaving in the four little tiny yarn ends on Dan’s Ticuna scarf:

[The yarn is a local, random, heathered wine red, super soft merino worsted weight that I got at a farmer’s market in Chicago.]

But Dan is not the only member of the less-fortunate who benefitted from my skills (where “less-fortunate” is defined by inferior needlecraft skills). I bit the bullet last night.  I managed to refrain from finishing up my L’Wren Scott-inspired Simplicity 2374 and instead got started on my S.W.A.G. (Sewing With A Grudge) projects. This meant engaging in my least favorite part of sewing (cutting out the fabric pieces) for my least favorite people to sew for  (anyone but me.) Fortunately I’m making gifts for my sisters, who are among my most favorite of my least favorite people to sew for.

It’s now a matter of battling against myself and maintaining momentum.  I know if I put the projects down for too long, I will never be motivated to finish them before the holidays.  If that happens, they will sit unfinished in a heap, holidays will approach and I will hurriedly go out and buy alternate presents for the sisters, and then perhaps eventually I will return to the tops after having decided I need a couple of new tops for myself.  The Selfish Seamstress is nothing if not self-aware.

I forced myself to cut out both of the tops last night, knowing that if I cut and sewed one first, I would be too lazy to cut and sew the other. Fortunately my sisters and I are all relatively close in size and the knit is pretty stretchy so multiple sizes were not necessary.  Multiple sizes of the same garment are a surefire way of ensuring that only one will ever get sewn. (I am sewing one with slightly less seam allowance just in case.)

And, knowing that this was probably the most momentum I’d have for S.W.A.G. for the rest of the season, I decided I’d get some of the sewing done too (again both sweaters in parallel.)  Side and shoulder seams are done on both, as are sleeve and collar seams.  All that’s left is to set in the collars and sleeves, and finish all the edges with my handy new twin stretch needle. You can see the progress that I’ve made in the photo above. (I don’t know why the collar edge of the green one looks all raggedy- it’s not in real life.) I have arranged the pieces into the heartfelt poses of eternal indebtedness (left) and undying worship (right) which I fully expect my sisters to assume upon receiving the tops if they don’t want to get cut.  

What you can’t see here is that they are also on their knees in expression of their endless gratitude, but there’s NO WAY I’m going to make them pants too just so you can see that.

Every gift I sew
Is one fewer thing for me.
Bite me, holidays.

It is a common misconception that the Selfish Seamstress, and Selfish Seamstresses in general (you know who you are and I think you’re cool!), does not sew things for other people. In actuality, Selfish Seamstresses often find themselves in situations in which they have to sew for others, which is what led them to become Selfish Seamstresses in the first place. In fact, much like with bee sting allergies with which you don’t know if you’re allergic until you’ve actually been stung, you can’t really KNOW whether you are truly a Selfish Seamstress until you find yourself having to make something for someone else.

If you find that making something for someone else takes twice, thrice, ten times as long as it would take to make the exact same thing for yourself (or never gets finished at all), you might be a Selfish Seamstress.  If your only motivation to finish said object is so that you can get back to making stuff for yourself, you might be a Selfish Seamstress. If, when you finish it, you consider keeping it for yourself, you might be a Selfish Seamstress. And if you have thoughts like, “Yes, Mommy, you carried me and gave me life, raised and nurtured me from an infant and paid for college to boot, but once I’m done hemming your skirt, YOU OWE ME,” then you are one seriously ungrateful and impressively Selfish Seamstress.  Good job!

When a Selfish Seamstress cannot avoid a sewing project intended for someone other than herself, it becomes a S.W.A.G project – Sewing With A Grudge. We’ll do it, but there’s grudge sewn into every stitch. (Sometimes love too, depending on whether you are a mildly Selfish Seamstress or a full out egomaniacal B like yours truly, but always at least a tiny bit of grudge.)

And so I find myself with the holidays approaching, up to my ears in work at my job, with few precious hours for sewing.  I’m putting myself on a strict diet of S.W.A.G., namely something-as-yet-undetermined for my non-sewing mother, and cowl sweaters for my non-sewing sisters. Maybe I’ll finish the brown cotton velvet sport coat I started for Dan back in 2007.  (Selfish?  Check!) If I absolutely must sew for myself, I am only permitted to finish stuff that’s already in progress- no new selfish sewing until the presents are done.

I’ve already bought some sweater knit for the cowls, a charcoal gray for one sister, and a dark army green for the other.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find anything as soft and pretty as the teal knit I found in Switzerland, but they’re not bad.  I suppose I could give one of them the one I just finished for myself with the teal and just




Haha, did I have you going there for a sec?  Seriously.

About this blog

The Selfish Seamstress loves to design and sew garments, but only if she gets to keep them. I'm Elaine, known in the online sewing world as elainemay, and welcome to my selfish sewing blog.

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