Sunday, February 1, 2015

Confessions of an Impulsive Seamstress: A Semi-Successful Skaterfrew

I impulse sew a lot of things. Some of them are successful, some of them are wadders, and a lot of them are meh. So I decided to start this series to document the things I make for basically no good reason and their successes/failures.

Maybe I should start acting like other sewers and carry a sketch book around with me so I can document my ideas. However, 1) I am not a good artist and 2) Ha yeah right! So when an idea strikes, it consumes me entirely until I can make it and get it out of my system. Just recently I became obsessed with making a giant red plaid cocoon cardigan and I refuse to shut up about how awesome it's going to be (sorry, sewmies) until I can source the perfect red plaid knit and make it. On Saturday, I had another one of these moments. Immediately after finishing a wrap dress I've been working on for a week, I suddenly was obsessed with making a hunter green Lady Skater to wear with dark brown tights and boots. I was literally trying to nap on my couch when suddenly it hit me and I had to get up and start scouring Pinterest for inspo.

I bought this dark green French Terry from Girl Charlee a few months ago, intending to make a Linden sweatshirt from it. But then I realized I already had two Lindens from the same fabric in two different colorways and decided that was overkill and I needed to reevaluate my priorities (As an aside, I know Girl Charlee has been getting a lot of shit recently about the quality of their fabrics. I can 100% say that this fabric is wonderful and soft and durable and well worth $8/yard). So it sat in my stash. Green is my favorite color, by the way, so having a neglected piece of green fabric staring at me from the top of my knit stash was torture. I had two yards which was perfect to cut out a lady skater with some to spare.

Lazy sewing move #1: Last time I made the Lady Skater I traced off a size 5, even though my measurements are obviously a 6 (vanity is a cruel mistress) and my first version was way too tight. Instead of printing off another copy and cutting the right size, I decided (like an idiot) to just leave an extra 1/2" between the pattern piece and the fold to make up the difference. This was stupid because it made the neckline weirdly wide, and after finishing the damn dress I realized the reason the first dress was too small had way more to do with lack of stretch than my vanity sizing. I ended up having to take in each side about 1/2" at the waist (go figure).
Clyde isn't out of focus, he's just a blurry dog.
Other than that the dress was fine, I love the color, the fabric is so soft and warm, and the sleeves fit fine. But I just hated the neckline and was kicking myself for being a lazy idiot. Flash forward to Sunday morning. I'm stuck in bed (because of the blizzard, obviously) and keep staring at the dress on my form. I have a Really Good Idea to add the Renfrew cowl to the dress to make it exponentially more cozy.

Lazy Sewing Move #2: I didn't actually walk the seams and just laid the Lady Skater bodice pattern pieces over the Renfrew pieces and guessed which size cowl to cut. Warning: The neckline on the Lady Skater is much bigger than that on the Renfrew. Public Service Announcement: If you want to make a Skaterfrew, use the Renfrew for the bodice and blend it to match the Lady Skater at the waist! You also need a shitload of fabric for that cowl, so I had to get a little bit creative.
Ha, nope, ain't nobody got time for that.

Lazy Sewing move #3: After ripping out approximately 3 of the neckline stitches and realizing how much work it would be to rip out the whole thing, I decided just to pin the cowl piece to the existing neckline and hope that the seam allowance and serger would take care of the rest. Wrong. But I also didn't want to cut the neckband off and make the neck even wider than it already was, so at least I was being sort of logical and not 100% lazy?
Stretching the everloving shit out of the cowl while sewing.
So this is where me not actually measuring the cowl bit me in the ass. It was quite a bit smaller than my neckline opening. Whatevs, I thought, I'll just stretch it like a neck band and it'll be totally fine! Nope, it just caused puckers. Which, by the way, are totally visible because the neckline is so much wider in my version that it would be had I used the Renfrew pattern that the cowl doesn't cover it completely.
Puckering and really awful topstitching. I also had to add a seam to the under cowl because I ran out of fabric.
At this point, I gave about zero fucks about how it looked and did a really shoddy job topstitching the seam allowance down around the cowl. The old neckband also wasn't completely removed by serging so there are some thick spots in there.
But with the cowl down it really isn't that noticeable. Somebody suggested that I tack the cowl down in a few places to cover the neckline and maybe someday when I feel like hand stitching anything I'll do that. The puckers are still there, but I will press them into submission. All in all, it is a really cozy dress and even with all the crap I messed up I'm happier with the cowl than I was with the original neckband. So, we'll chalk this one up as a win?

Okay, off to buy fabric now that my January fabric diet is over. Gorgeous Fabrics, I'm coming for you and that silk covered in elephants!


  1. Tacking the cowl down is a good idea, and I think it looks cute. I am the worst when it comes to making ridiculous decisions while sewing. Also, I don't unpick my mistakes, and I don't think that helps.

  2. Haha I'm all for lazy sewing. To be honest, I doubt most people would even notice the puckers since RTW is normally so poorly made

  3. Unpicking is the worst! And thanks, I'm hoping to get some wear out of it, even if it's just on the couch. It's soooo cozy.

  4. You?! Lazy sewing? I don't believe it! I equate willingness to hand sew with couture, though, so maybe that's just me?

  5. Oh believe it! I only have two sewing modes: lazy (why even bother finishing seams) and intense (silk organza underlining for all!)

  6. I share in your lazy sewing! I dislike hand sewing with every fiber of my body!

  7. I am a shamefully lazy sewer too :( lol. I've been wanting to skaterfrew it up for a long time now. I had horrible results with the skater bodice but love my renfrews. I' seriously have to just go ahead and do it already. Love your version, the color is really pretty. Blurry dog is awesome too :D

  8. That's too bad about your experience with the bodice on the Lady Skater, but I have heard from a couple people that it just flat out did not work for them! Definitely go with the Renfrew, it'll make your like 1,000,000x easier!