Sunday, October 21, 2012

Muu Muu Magic

I've been waiting for a long time to do this one! As soon as I bought this muu muu at The Salvation Army in Fulton, I was intrigued by it's sheer awfulness. As are most muu muu's, it was eerily similar to a parachute with a head-hole. (If you don't believe me, see these.) Given, I had not the slightest idea on what to do with it all this time, up to and including this morning when I hunkered down to tear it apart, but I was bound and determined to turn this into anything something.

Here's the beauty, with nothing yet sewn or torn apart. I didn't even untie the God awful bow at the top. If that's not blogger dedication, I don't know what is.
My "holy crap I spent money on this" look.

Speaking of price - this monstrosity was purchased at $2.99, so I figured even if it turned into a scarf I'd be making out. However, I really did fall in love with the bright pinks and oranges, and something about the brown in the swirls screamed "I need to remain a dress and you need new brown boots". Look close - I'm sure you'll see it too.
So it was decided: the muu muu will be a dress. This actually worked out well because that means it was a matter of taking it in instead of ripping it out and, after my last project, my seam ripper definitely could have used the rest. So the first thing I did was turn it inside out to start my pinning.

And I found a pocket (yup, just one)!! Who saw that coming. Sadly, I had to chop it off. First of all, pockets add volume to the hips. Not ideal. Secondly, I would have had to take all the inches from the dress from the opposite side, as I am completely clueless on how to bring a garment in while keeping pockets intact, and that would have been completely lopsided.

Before my pocket killing, I decided to chop off the bottom. Although I was keeping it as a dress, it fell in that awkward spot just below my knees that is severly unflattering on a 5' frame. So I chopped off the bottom. It was here that I realized my "trusty" scissors happened to be worth nothing when it came to cutting straight lines in fabric. It took a whole lot of swear words before I remembered that I own a rotary cutter. Way. Easier. So I put the dress on, found a good spot for it to hit on my leg and chopped it off.

And here, my friends, is probably where everyone who has actually sewed anything in their lives sucks in their breath and says "uh oh". Which is precisely what I did when I realized I should have added a few quarter inches on that to make a seam. Therefore, my "perfect length" would be shorter than I had anticipated. Whoops! At this point, the deed was done, so whatever length it ended up being was what I was going to have to work with. This is now known as "Compromise #1".

Then I measured out the sides, and used a copious amount of pins because I know I can't "guess" at a straight line to save my life, bringing in the muu muu about 5 inches altogether. Then I sewed my line and cut off the excess. I tried it on and it worked out perfectly. Who would have thought bringing in clothes was so easy?! This is where I should have stopped. It was done, it was fine. But no; I just had to get all footloose and fancy free on Google.

I don't own a serger which, from my elementary understanding, is an attachment for a sewing machine that creates a seam and cuts off excess fabric at the same time, and the seam is done in a way that makes it all tied into one little nice package that prevents fraying. So my Google search consisted of "mimicing serger results" and "creating seams that don't fray" and I found a tutorial by some random chick that does this type of seam on just a plain old sewing machine like mine. I watched her tutorial and got my confidence up by her ease of completing this task and her very convincing words of "this is so simple!". Well... tragedy ensued.
Random chick was very, very wrong. Much to my dismay,  my seam ripper had to come back early from it's vacation, and my seams are open and have possibility of fraying. That being said - it looks way better than that mess pictured above. This is Compromise #2.

Then I got to the arms. When I took a few inches from the sides, I took a few inches from the armpit as well, so already they weren't looking like the armflaps of the original muu muu, but they were still a bit longer than a typical arm of a dress should be. Again I got out my measuring tape and my massive amount of pins and measured a seam into it. It looked all fine and well while pinned up, but then it got to the sewing machine and all hell broke loose. I can't even describe to you what was going wrong or how I was messing up, I just know I went through an enttire bobbin of thread and tore out more stitches than I had on all my projects put together. Finally, I flew my white flag and tore it all out. Hence, Compromise #3.

At this point I was done so I turned it right side out and threw it on. I looked in the mirror - and holy moly it was short. My wannabe dress was now bound to be a tunic over leggings. (You guessed it, Compromise #4.) It doesn't look all that short while standing in one spot, but all it would take for an "R" rating was a bad posture, a large step or a small gust of wind. Leggings are more comfortable, anyway. All it took was a brown belt to break up the mono-pattern and a matching boot and I have an outfit.


It's certainly not a total win, but now looking at the pictures I think a brown legging will tone down ground the pattern and color a bit. And I certainly need new boots - I'm not even sure why I bought these things that I have on in the picture, considering they can't even zip up all the way over my dancer calves. Boot fail.

Few notes on my mental checklist: 1) It's okay not to have a detailed idea of what I want to do, because most of the time rolling with my mistakes is what becomes necessary. So far *fingers crossed* my lack of detailed planning is working out well. 2) Learn and price out what the heck an actual serger is because it is obviously not a "fake it 'till you make it" situation. 3) Start looking at these clothes more - I've already had a surprise zipper and surprise pocket in my last 2 projects. Probably a good idea to not depend on the "hey this is a pretty color" inspection alone anymore.

Up next: I think another trip to Salvation Army is due. The only thing I have left from my last trip is a very dressy dress, and I am enjoying me some casual weekender looks. I'm also trying to think ahead for the holiday season - holiday shopping, Thanksgiving, Christmas, my birthday. (Yes, it is a holiday.) Can I make it through an entire season full of parties in thrift store clothes?