On the Sidelines with a Sleeveless Skater

Me-Made-May, a celebration of self-stitchery and the daily donning thereof, is an event that I am wholeheartedly in support of. So, why am I not participating this year? Well, here’s the thing. . .

I decided a couple months ago that I probably wouldn’t take part in MMM14. I’m going through sort of a transitional time as I finish up one new job and prepare for another. Yep–that’s right! Starting in August I am teaching two new (one brand new, one new-to-me) classes in both middle and high school. Let the general insanity ensue! As I’m finishing up grading and lightly mourning for my departed seniors, I find myself also neck-deep in planning for a new writing class next year and the happy surprise addition of being the new yearbook adviser! This all just happened last week, and I’m still trying to wrap my brain around it.

So, while I’m happy to be free of the responsibility of daily outfit documentation, I’m also a little sad to be on the sidelines while everyone else proudly displays their lovely Me-Mades. I guess I am still following along in spirit since I wear things I’ve made almost every day. There are still considerable gaps in my closet, but doing this whole “Sewing a Wardrobe” thing has really helped me get ready every morning and–bonus!–be happy about what I’m wearing.

All that said, as promised, I do have something to show you today! It’s not the shift dress you’re expecting, but it is wardrobe worthy.

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I hesitate to call this a Lady Skater “mod” since all I did was go sleeveless. But, getting from the original plan to the final product was the sort of process that a mod typically induces.

So, here’s what happened. . .

Gaping armholes have always been a problem in my sewing life. Typically they require adding a dart and then rotating that dart into an existing dart which produces the scooped armhole that I need.

However, when working with a knit dress that has longย sleeves, it’s not really a problem. Until you notice it, that is.

I became very aware of the problem when I attempted to use the cap sleeve option on my red and white nautical flag Lady Skater. When I completed the sleeves and tried the dress on, something was very wrong.

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The sleeves were too, too big. Why? Because they were meant for armholes that were too big and the wrong shape for my shoulders.

Very poorly framed photo, but you can see the terrible sleeve on the right.

Very poorly framed photo, but you can see the terrible sleeve on the right.

Since I didn’t have enough fabric to cut out brand new sleeves, I had to improvise. The dress really looked more summer-appropriate than cold weather-friendly, so I decided to try going sleeveless.

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First, I had to cure the armhole gaping. The only thing for it was to cinch up the shoulder seam on the outside edge and add that armhole dart.

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I know. A dart in a knit. I know. It’s going to be okay.

But, you can see, it greatly improves the fit around the sleeves and bust. Well, the bust is a bit tight now, but that’s an easy future fix.

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Then, I cut a couple of bands to bind the armholes. First, I made them too wide, and they looked ridiculous. . .

Okay, you can't really tell in this picture, but the bands gaped at the bottom and it looked terrible.

Okay, you can’t really tell in this picture, but the bands gaped at the bottom and it looked terrible.

And then I got to rip those out and try again with a much narrower band. They looked much, much better.

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There were two reasons it took me forever to make this dress. 1. I was in shift-fitting hell. 2. Steam-a-Seam hasn’t gotten their act together yet and re-released their fusible tape. I always use Steam-a-Seam Lite to get a really nice, even hem on my knits, but several months ago they ceased production because they had run into a problem with. . . something I can’t remember. When I checked back in February to see how things were going, they were promising to re-release “soon.” Soon has not yet occurred.

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Well, not wanting to wait forever for the power to hem knits, I decided to try the Dritz version, Stitchwitchery.

. . .

I am not a fan.

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First, it’s fiddly. You have to use the wool heat setting and a damp press cloth (which, if you’re doing a hem of a full skirt means re-dampening your press cloth several times). Second, there’s no paper backing to allow you to press one side into place before fixing it to the other side of the fabric. Third, it doesn’t have the slightly tacky texture that keeps it in place before being ironed. Fourth, because it’s very lightweight and “floaty,” it easily slips out from underneath the hem you’ve attempted to perfectly fold encasing the stitchwitchery in between the layers and then gets fused to your press cloth (or worse, your iron.)

Altogether, I’ve become used to working with a much more user-friendly fusible tape. And I miss it and it needs to come back.

In spite of all those trials, I managed to create a decent hem which may or may not be even all the way round. I even attempted to use my twin needle. I didn’t have an extra spool of red thread, so I just used white. It’s whatever.

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Here’s the thing with twin needle hemming that I can’t get right: the tension. My bobbin thread never becomes the zig-zag that it’s supposed to. It’s always very easily pulled out. Even when I crank my tension up as high as it will go. I had better success this time with my Janome, but it’s still not perfect. And were this a fitted skirt, I would definitely have problems with the bobbin thread breaking.

In the end, I think we can all agree on one thing: This dress is finally done.

Outtake #1. Apparently, I wasn't aware there was one more picture to take.

Outtake #1. Apparently, I wasn’t aware there was one more picture to take.

I know I sound a bit sour, but I do like this dress. It’s only flaw, really, is that it’s too tight. And maybe the back waist is still too low.

I plan this summer to embark on a fitting journey to conquer the Lady Skater. I have quite a few legitimate mods in mind, and I need to start with a good fit. But, we’ll discuss Summer Sewing details in a future post.

If I never show up here again, it’s only because I’ve been shanked in a shady, back alley Steam-a-Seam Lite deal gone wrong.

Outtake #2. There was a wasp. I was worried.

Outtake #2. There was a wasp. I was worried.

Anybody doing Me-Made-May for the first time? How’s it going?

P.S. Raise your hand if you found the kitty ๐Ÿ™‚

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11 thoughts on “On the Sidelines with a Sleeveless Skater

  1. Glad you managed to make it work. The fabric is really pretty. When I’ve used a twin needle, I’ve just had one spool of thread, so I put some on a second bobbin, and used a spool and a bobbin for my upper threads. Works ok! Granted, you still might not have had enough to hem a skirt though – I’ve only done tees so far.

  2. Gah! I wrote a long comment that didn’t post! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    Basically, I was saying that as I’ve said before, this is my fave silhouette on you! And that you are such a trooper for finishing this dress after having to do so many alterations. I’m so glad you did because it looks awesome and I am obsessed with the fabric.

    Lastly, I didn’t know you were a teacher! I was on the yearbook committee in high school and I was wondering if the technology has changed since the days of cropping photos manually with a cropping gadget and blue wax pencils? LOL.

    Re: MMM. Ain’t no thang, girl! You don’t need to post about it to be about it ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Ugh–I hate when that happens!

      Oh my gosh–you remember the wax pencils and the absolute terror of manually cropping photos??? It’s all digital now! I’ve just barely scratched the surface. I have a lot to learn!

      Thanks, girl! I do love me a Lady Skater ๐Ÿ™‚ I can’t wait to start playing around with all the mods in my mind.

  3. Hi, i am in awe. I bought my first dress pattern today and am going to start my sewing journey come pay-day. I’ve foubd your blog quite inspiring so far ๐Ÿ™‚ love the dress x

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