Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Flashdance flashback

I'm an unapologetic child of the 80's.  I'm also biracial.  Under those circumstances, I had two options for style icons back then: Lisa Bonet or Jennifer Beals.  I was far too young to really dress like either one of them, but let's be honest, in any style competition--Lisa Bonet is the winner.  I mean,  she had eye makeup that looked like Hollywood's sunglasses from the movie Mannequin.  Nevertheless, Jennifer Beals in Flashdance was the quintessential look for the decade.  Like many stay-at-home moms, my look these days is a hilarious farce of athletic wear that is worn to the grocery store or Starbucks, but not ever to work out in, because frankly I don't want to.  It's no mystery why so many moms like this kind of outfit--they wash and wear easily, they are usually figure skimming but not revealing, which makes them forgiving to post-baby bodies, and because you quickly figure out that wearing your other cute stuff is a futile exercise in keeping yourself clean and preserved all day.  While I love making dresses, I really find myself reaching to find occasions to wear them.

In light of all this practicality, and the inescapable influence of my youth, I found myself looking for easy knitwear to make that I would really wear.  I decided to tackle my take on the Flashdance look.  You know the one?

I also wanted an easy project to acquaint myself with my serger, since this would be all knit.
Here's my version... of the shirt AND the picture.  This is how I entertain myself.

I picked up one yard of a super inexpensive hacci-type heathered grey knit at Hancock. Hacci knit and ITY knits have a really loose weave and are unstable. It probably wasn't the best material to start with, but all the problems with it ended in happy accidents.  I didn't own a pattern, or even see a pattern that had the exact look I was going for, so I drafted this top from another pattern that was close to what I was looking for... Simplicity 1690.
This pattern is not meant for knits, which is important to know because the ease plays a big role in the end fit.  Ease is the difference between your body measurements and the finished garment measurements--the tightness or looseness, if you will.  Knit patterns usually have 0 ease or even negative ease due to the elasticity of the material.  I knew I wanted this extra drapey end fit, so I used the ease included in this shirt pattern.  I wanted a wider neckline, longer (tunic-like) length, and a straighter line on the side seam (obscuring the waistline more), rather than a shaped line.  Using the landmarks on this pattern (like bust point, armhole opening, waistline) I drafted those changes onto a fresh piece of paper.  I'm not exactly comfortable drafting from complete scratch yet, though I make things with the intention of learning how to make them and not just following the directions.

As I mentioned, this fabric was really tricky.  I tried to hem it with a twin needle on my sewing machine, but the hem was all over the place.  It looked like I let my kids take turns chewing on the edge of it... not good.  The solution I came up with for the hem was to make them all cuffs!  I cheated!  To do it, I just measured the length of each edge that required finishing-- the armholes, the neck hole, and the bottom.  Then I cut a length of fabric to each of those lengths.  The width was determined by what I wanted the end cuff width to be.  So, the width would be 2x's the desired cuff width + the seam allowance. So for a 1 inch cuff with a 1/2 inch seam allowance, you would cut the fabric 3 inches wide.  The benefit to doing a cuff was that I could use my serger for the entire thing.  I think it finished well too...

So, I love this shirt.  Its comfy.  Its semi-stylish.  It took only a yard of fabric, and I know I'll wear it.  In my mind I am indeed a maniac, maniac on the floor.

And I'm grocery shopping like I've never grocery shopped before.

1 comment:

  1. C'mon....You didn't cheat. You added a design feature. Grocery shopping. ...bleccch