Sunday, November 4, 2012

New York and Company (Wannabe)

Gonna go ahead and start right off by saying - this is a fail.

I took another trip to the Salvation Army a week or so ago. I didn't quite find as much as I had hoped. I think I had myself all amped up from the past projects that I was expecting to find tons more. I actually found a lot of the same items that were there the last time I had gone so, unfortunately, I didn't find quite as much as I was hoping. Don't get me wrong, I still came home with some fantastically hideous things, but it definitely took some looking. Alas, I did find a few projects and I decided on getting started on this one right away:
Why this one? Well, I was in New York and Company a few months ago and fell in love with a blue shirt with flowers in pretty much the same fabric. It was a really pretty shirt (and apparently already out of stock because I couldn't find a picture on their website) but it carried a price tag of around $50. Too much for my blood, so I passed. Then, I saw this dress. Yes, it was lilac, but it had the same flowers and the same fabric. Yes, it was a dress, but I was pretty sure I could fix that. Yes, it was for $3.00. Yes, it was mine.

My plan was to get it home, slice it in half and make a bottom seam on the raw edges. I thought it'd be a pretty quick project and I was feeling a lazy Sunday. Boy was I wrong.

First thing was first - out with the ever-fantastic shoulder pads. I was amazed these held up throughout the years, as they were being held onto the fabric by one lone thread.

Then I chopped it in half. This was about the time that I actually tried it on. And lo and behold, it fit perfectly until trying to zip it up past the chest area. Damn; too small. So then I got out my seam rippers (don't act surprised) and decided "I could do this". First thing I did was rip out a side, and then I attempted to sew in a new seam. The first few times (yeah, you read that right), I kept on losing the fabric under the footer and the line of the sewing machine started to mimic the path of a drunk driver. Then I realized this function on my machine:
Don't be laughing at my flowers now :) Anyway, I realized the switch that I always often ignored was actually useful. I could move the needle over all the way to the right and get more of the fabric under the footer in the meantime. Luckily, this worked like a charm and I only had to rip out the seam once. (Record!) Lesson learned to not ignore this switch any longer.

At this point, I actually took a good look at the seams. The manufacturer of this dress did two seams - one about 1/2 inch in, and another about 1/4 inches in. I was unsure why this was done and thought this was a bit extraneous, but I decided to put this information away into the back of my mind for the next time I do seams - who am I to judge the professionals? This little amateur is willing to take all the "tips" she can. So, I decided if I were to rip out the 1/2 inch seam and keep the manufacturer's 1/4 inch seam, it would be an easy way to take it out and not have to take out the seams that kept the fabric from fraying - it frayed very easily. It was also a bonus that I wouldn't have to sew in a lot more seams, and instead could keep the original ones.

You can see the small dots of the seam that I ripped out, and the manufacturer's seam that I left there to help it not fray:
This is also evidence that I clearly use too many pins. That is a full three pins in about 2 inches of fabric. I have a problem.
After taking out all the seams, and finishing the bottom (I even amazed myself that this was done with no problems), I put the shirt back on. It didn't look all that bad when I was just standing there. Then I tried moving my arms. This is what I like to call my "Hulk Moment" because I could have flexed into one muscle move and ripped through the side seams. Replays of "fat guy in a little coat" ran through my mind.
Of course, I probably should have found a bit better of pants to pose with this - what "Say Yes to the Dress" refers to as "getting jacked up" but I was a bit upset that the shirt wasn't wearable. Although, if I were to ever pick up a second job as a statue, I suppose I could put use to the shirt for that. Let's do a close up:
You can tell that it's tight in the shoulder/chest area just by the stretching of my shoulder to even hold my phone up! Also, you can still see the gaps that the shoulder pads used to live in. How... cute.
One thing I am quite proud of is how good the back looks. I know, I know - I literally had nothing to do with it. The zipper was already there and so were the seams... but I did the bottom!
So that is that. I have a pretty shirt that doesn't fit. But that's fine, because I got practice out of it and that is the whole point of these projects. Yes, it does suck that I can't wear it around in public and show it off - but maybe once I start finish my new running program, it'll fit and I can debut it sometime soon? I won't hold my breath (because that didn't help make it fit either.)
The other good news, is I still have the entire bottom of the dress to do something with. It could be an interesting skirt, or maybe even strapless sundress for summer (yay for being short!). Any ideas on what to turn this into?
Few notes on the mental checklist: 1) When alteration people say "we can always bring it in a few sizes but only can let it out one" - I no longer think they are lying. 2) Dials on the sewing machine are much more useful than just looking pretty. I'm going to play with the different fabric scraps that I have and figure out what all the bells and whistles consist of. 3) It'd be really sweet to have a dressform that mimics me, but for a good $300 price tag, I think that's going to be an investment in the far future, when I know this is going to be a regular activity for me. 4) Find more locations of Thrifty Shoppers/Salvation Army. New items don't come around these stores as often as I had assumed. 5) Donate more clothes/items/etc. to these stores. I see a whole lot of people in there that truly depend on the clothes and items they find. I've always donated, but I've also kept a lot of stuff in my closet "just because". "Just because" doesn't help these people. I encourage you to do the same.