Thursday, September 17, 2009

Making the Muslin

Which is actually not made of muslin, but of Silk Essence (the essence being that it's 100% polyester). So far I've cut the thing out and when I return from vacation I will begin to sew.

And let me tell you, cutting it out was epic.

First of all, this was a few weeks ago, when some may know that Justin & I had a weekend from hell. Friday night we notice that our cat Chiana, typically squinty eyed, was insanely squinty in the eye department. She tried to do her usual thing of sitting between us and alternately glaring at one person, then the other, but was hampered by the fact that her eyes really weren't opening. We weren't positive something was wrong, but with Labor Day coming up, we didn't want to risk her not being able to see a vet over the long weekend. So Saturday I was up early on the phone to the vet and then taking her to the vet two hours later. Joy. Chiana is generally a very calm cat, but I believe anyone with a pet knows how delightful a trip to the vet can be. An hour later I came home, $150 poorer, with two different medicines which needed to be given to her a total of 5 times per day and with one of those crazy collars to keep her from rubbing her eye (she had a cyst in it). She didn't like the collar.

Approximately 20 minutes later, Justin & I smelled smoke and heard fire engines. Fortunately our building was not on fire, but the one behind us was. The street was shut down. Huge ladder trucks were pulled up with their ladders on our roof. Justin watched out our back window and saw fire fighters rescue two people. And could feel heat from the flames. It was that close. I had gone out to look around outside and saw a fire fighter rescue a dog from a fire escape. It was crazy, but we were lucky. Our apartment just smelled like smoke for a few days. We did promptly check our smoke detector and our renter's insurance policy though.

So anyway, traumatic weekend. Sunday I decide to cut out the dress. This is very difficult with a cat. Cats feel that the should be able to la on anything and they love tissue paper, which is of course what patterns are made of. So there was a lot of this:
And she was so miserable in general that weekend, that I felt really bad making her move.

Actually the first problem came when I realized that I could not find the pattern envelope or the first page of the directions. I took them with me to Maryland to buy the fabric. They have vanished. I have no clue where they are. I'm worried I threw them out by mistake. I was able to get the sizing measurements off the internet and I could live without the first page of instructions, fortunately. It was mostly the suggestions for how to lay out the pattern pieces and I generally ignore those anyway. But I'm very frustrated that that envelope is missing.

Also, I need new scissors. Really, really badly. Because mine have a serious dull spot which meant that every few minutes they'd catch, not cut and I'd end up with this:

Oh and the six yards of fabric I bought? When I opened it all up and unfolded it, I found this: In case you can't see it too well, there's a 3" slash on one edge, two huge red X's in some kind of grease pencil and also a red stamp of some kind. And the stamp does show through onto the other side of the fabric. Yeah, that made laying things out really interesting. Fortunately I was able to cut around a lot of it and what did make it in is all in the train. And if I do convert this dress to something I could wear normally, the train will be the first thing to go. But I was mightily annoyed.

The final thing is this:

That's the train pattern being wider than the fabric, something which I confess I did not think of AT ALL when I was drafting the pattern. Now this fabric is about 44" wide, not 45", but I don't think that extra inch would make much of a difference. Which means I need to either 1) buy only 60" fabric, 2) redraft the train or 3) make the train in several pieces. I ended up going with option 3 for this trial run, and we'll see how that looks. Even in the finished product, the train will be entirely under the knitted lace, so a couple seams are the end of the world. But I'd been laying out and cutting for about 2 hours at that point. So I wasn't real thrilled.

Still, it's cut out! And I drafted the slight changes to the top of the bodice to allow for straps - I want it to swoop up a bit into the straps, rather than just go straight across. Fingers crossed on that one.

I used the pattern to cut out a new top for an old dress of mine - the green one I wore to my friend Mary's wedding. I'm a little nervous about my size selection now, b/c that version at least was way big. I was swimming in it. Now granted, I am not a well endowed woman by any stretch of the imagination, but it appeared to be meant for someone with double D's. Hence my nervousness. I'm thinking that a lot of alterations may be in order.

Mostly done. Really this time.

So I've cast off for the skirt. Twice actually. I haven't actually cut the thread, so the skirt is still attached to the enormous cone of yarn. But the knitting on the skirt is, in essence, done.

It was actually done about two weeks ago and since then the dress has been sleeping quietly as I contemplate what exactly to do next.

The first bind off - took place on a Saturday night. I'd worked the decrease rows that come with the lace chart, which are actually meant to gather in the top of the knitting for attaching to an empire waisted bodice - perfect. Exactly what I wanted. I was still worried about it being a little too big, so I bound off REALLY tightly. I mean really, I knit tight anyway. It was crazy tight.

Of course the next day when I tried it on I realized two things:
1) The top was now too small and wouldn't meet in the front when wrapped around my chest. There was about a one inch gap.
2) The whole thing was too long. Fine if I was planning to wear heels. But I'm not. Also the last few inches weren't blocked and there was no room for this thing to droop AT ALL. Not good.

So I had to pull back about six rows. The decreases are meant to be done on lines 13-14 or 6-7 of the pattern. I'd done the 6-7 decreases. Essentially what I did was pull out those 7 rows, then the 13, 14, 15 & 16th rows of the repeat below. That was a little rough since I'd foolishly put in a lifeline at the end of the pattern repeat (you can see the beige lifeline in the pics above), ie. above row 16, instead of at the decrease point, between rows 12 & 13. Fortunately I was able to drop the stitches down and pic them up one by one, which was vaguely nerve-wracking and extremely time consuming, but worked.

I did the new decreases. Mindful of the 1" gap (which really was more like a 2" gap), I bound off REALLY loosely.

It is now the correct length.

It overlaps about 2" in the front, which I think is good and will provide visual interest.

It needs to be blocked, but it is done.

And it can't be blocked til I scrub out the bathtub and buy a new stopper for the drain, to replace the one I threw out months ago in a fit of pique. I tried to register for a new drain stopper, but Justin refused to scan it with the gun at Bed Bath & Beyond. He was opposed to putting a $2.99 item on the registry and said he'd just buy it for me if I wanted it so damn bad. He didn't though. I really should have pressed him on that one.