Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Some unicorns may have been harmed in the making of this project.

Some suggested listening:

There isn't too much to say about this project as it's something I've made a couple times before. Here is a similar project I previously posted.

I'm doing a post anyways because I really like this fur. It's so soft, and so colorful, and blacklight reactive. It feels like I'm wearing unicorn pelts. I made fluffies/ leg warmers/ what have you out of it a couple months ago, then this week got myself together and made the matching skirt.

The bands on all the pieces are white spandex. I add elastic or drawstring anyways when I do bands like this because the bands tend not to say up perfectly on their own while dancing. Nothing really stays in place when I dance... which is to say I dance really hard. Less energetic clothes wearers probably wouldn't have this problem as the spandex is pretty stretchy on it's own and can stand up as elastic.

This is what the inside looks like. It's really just a super short slightly a-line shape, with a sewn on waistband. The fur can be difficult to sew, but the pattern itself definitely isn't. You can see I also added pockets, because girls' party clothes desperately lack and need them. I don't know where to put my stuff in any of my store-bought going-out skirts. These pockets close with velcro. I originally made the skirt a little too long and had to shorten it after putting everything together, so I hope the pockets don't stick out when loaded up. I did tack them in place, so that will hopefully help avoid the problem.

Sewing machines are too loud.

This post is a little different than my usual ones. I just want to rant a little about how loud sewing machines are.

I like sewing when I visit my boyfriend because there is less distractions than if I am in my room. Unfortunately I don't have a separate space to sew at his place and my sewing machine (1960s Kenmore) is crazy loud. It keeps him from getting work done. It bothers me too. I've noticed that when I sew at home (1990s Kenmore), my ears begin to hurt after a while. I wear earplugs sometimes, but then I can't watch tv or listen to music at the same time. Headphones are cool but get tangled up and also start hurting my head after a while because they press my eyeglasses into my temples.

I tried searching for solutions to make a machine quieter. All the suggestions are to get it serviced (why does servicing a machine cost $100? My machines didn't cost that much), oil it, and put it on a foam mat. I went as far as checking the sound levels of the machines with a decibel meter, placed on the table next to the machine. I realize this is checking very close to the source, but while I'm sewing, my head is pretty much on top of the source too. The 1960s machine got 97 decibels, and the 1990s machine 98. This is far too loud. Prolonged exposure to sound levels like this damages hearing. I already have the hearing of someone much older than me (don't go to concerts/raves without ear plugs kids!), I don't need it to get worse.

I know there are some machines that are quieter, sometimes, maybe. The ones I used in college were eerily quiet unless you were sewing full speed. That's great and all but I sew at full speed really often. People would give me strange looks in the school's costume shop when I'd go off, pedal pressed all the way to the floor. Still, perhaps they were somewhat quieter. The problem is that these were $1500 computerized machines. I don't want to spend so much on a machine that frustrates me constantly because it has a mind of it's own and too many ways to mess it up. If I take my foot off the pedal on a mechanical machine it'll stop instantly, none of this taking another stitch business, for example, or sewing at half the speed when in reverse.

Another option that someone has suggested is an industrial machine with a servo motor. I haven't had the chance to try one so I can't say how loud they are. I could use an industrial machine, but again they're a bit pricey. I guess that's worth it to save my hearing, but with these machines the other issue is portability... and where in the world do I put this tank of a machine?? I definitely can't lug it back and forth to my boyfriend's house.

One day, I went to a sewing machine store, decibel meter in hand, and asked to try out a bunch of their machines. Some seemed quieter than others, but all ended up about the same, ranging from 95 to 100 decibels. We tried some with and without foam mats underneath. The mat made a decibel or two difference. Perhaps the difference is more noticeable from further away. In any case, my $15 Kenmore, $100 Kenmore, and all these machines ranging from $200 to $1600 reached about the same volume at full speed.

I oiled my machine because it wasn't running as smoothly as usual, and I hoped it would help some with the sound. I am assuming error in measurement, but funny that it registered a decibel louder than when I measured before oiling.

I haven't found a solution. I don't know if there is one, short of covering the machine in soundproofing materials. It'll probably overheat.

I prefer to look like a rainbow fell on me.

As much as I promise myself I'll dress fancy, I still look for easy outfits more often than not. This leads to a need for simple dresses that don't wrinkle like it's their job, and that don't require 4 layers of underpinnings.

A few weeks ago I got a comfortable, super simple knit dress from H&M that still looks appealing to me. I'm not a big fan of sewing knits, but eh... (come on, self, this is so easy! You can totally make more of these!) I could easily fold up the dress and use it as a pattern.

My first idea was to make a super shiny top to wear out, but somehow, despite both the dress fabric and the fabric I had for the top being about the same level of stretch, the top came out much too small. It cut into my underarms and squished my chest. I didn't leave enough seam allowance to fix it. I thought I would just use the rest of the fabric to make a skirt (my default) but because I had cut the top out, there wasn't enough left. Ugh, okay. Next project.

I had some leftover knit fabric from when I made leggings a couple years ago. I grabbed one of those and figured I'd have just enough to make one of these dresses. Since the fabric was a 4-way stretch, I ended up cutting one dress panel with horizontal and one with vertical stripes. No pattern matching required! I'm really quite happy with how this dress came out, and the lack of problems making it. It all went together well the first time.

As you can see, I bound the edges with some bias strips of the fabric. If you stretch the binding as you sew it on, it pulls the dress (or tank top, t-shirt, whatever) edges nicely to your skin and keeps it from gaping. If I had to pick out a problem with this dress I'd say I wish the joints in the binding were smoother. The fabric is a little thick and having 5 layers of it in places made some obvious bumps. I doubt anyone will notice except me. 

Horizontal stripes where you need em', vertical stripes where you don't! Or wherever you feel like it. There isn't a front and back to this.