Sunday, 31 January 2016

Completed: Roses Dress

Happy Summer! I'm so enjoying making summery clothes and not being bundled in 100 layers.



Isn't the print the cutest? It's a cotton I got at Fabricabrac.
I didn't fuss too much about this make, as the fabric gives it a casual feel.

If I had been fancy I would have lined the skirt, but I wasn't feeling like putting the effort in, given how casual this dress is. I probably should have, as I can't wear dark undies under it now. lol :P

I made the pattern from my bodice block (big surprise) and I added a button warp extension, as well as a turnback facing, so the edge of the bodice is on the fold. I made a lining pattern to seam onto the shell fabric at the edge of the turnback facing. Clear as mud?


So when I sewed it the vertical seams, the lining and bodice formed a tube! Then I turned back along the fold line and sewed the neckline and the rest of it.
Have you read about people trimming off a few mm from the lining edges to help it roll to the inside of the bodice? My lazy way to do that is to misalign the shell and lining as I sew to achieve the equivalent of trimming. Haha!
I've probably said this before, but I only use 6mm seam allowances on the neckline and armholes. It's so much easier and eliminates bulk and trimming.




I really like the bright buttons, I feel like they work well with the cute, bright print. I don't normally wear warm, orangey colours, but for this scattered print I feel it works fine :)

Pockets! And hem

This time, I experimented with turning my bodice darts into a princess seam. I feel I didn't get the shaping perfect, as I just free-handed it on the pattern, but I have altered the curve for next time so it's a bit more smooth as it comes out from the armscye. As it is, it looks a little bit too rounded for my taste. Hidden in the print, no-one will notice I'm sure!



I went with a gathered rectangle for the skirt. It's gathered at a ratio of 2:1 which I find to be a nice amount of fullness.

Also, pockets are the best.




I am really enjoying wearing my dresses and skirts with skinny belts right now, I feel it adds a finished look to the outfit, and I can have it tighter or looser depending on how I feel!



Maybe you guys are getting a little tired of seeing my bodice block in all the iterations I've been making with it lately. I'm not! I love a fitted bodice. I feel like I exist in a weird little non-commercial-pattern space right now. In many ways, I feel that makes my blog less popular, but I'm really happy cos I'm doing my own thing.
Maybe we need a blog event for people who like to draft their own patterns, so we can all celebrate together! I know I'd like to find more blogs where people do their own thing, not just use commercial patterns and review them.
What's your stance on patternmaking, and do you have any blogs to recommend me? :)


Sunday, 24 January 2016

Completed: Stripy Boatneck

Hi! I made another dress from my bodice block.
I love boatnecks; I've already made quite a few things with this neckline, and I'll probably be making more in the future! 


You can barely tell from the photos, but it's covered in stripes! It looks quite grey from a distance.
I made it from a cotton/spandex blend. It's quite crisp. I decided to line both the bodice and the skirt in a cotton voile, but it wasn't really necessary to line the skirt as it is not too sheer.
I did think to myself that it might end up a bit full and puffy, but then I realised I DO quite like full and puffy skirts. Haha. Because I pleated the lining of the skirt in the same way as the shell, it's quite voluminous because of the crispness of the cotton. I considered using a more streamlined skirt pattern for lining the skirt, but I couldn't be bothered going to the trouble. 

This shot of the back shows off the fullness quite well.



Also, this fabric LOVES to wrinkle so it's got that rumply look going on. The back looks like it fits a bit weird here, but it's the same bodice I always use so I think it might just be the belt I'm wearing. It's puckering in the extra in the waistline. I feel like my dresses are a bit extra roomy lately, but I don't think I'll bother altering it as it's not very significant.


You can see the pleats a bit better in this pic:

Also, PUFFY BUTT! :)

I made a new pleated skirt this time. For my last pleated dress (below), I felt like the pleats were too far away from the centre back.


I moved them towards the centre back this time and I like the effect better; it looks less like an awkward flat space across my butt.



I also increased the number of pleats from 3 on the front and back, to 4 on the back and 5 on the front. I was having a really hard time figuring out the best spacing and depth of the pleats! I wanted them equidistant, but not too far from the centre front OR side seam, etc. I just kept playing around until I got something that seemed about right. The pleats are at a ratio of 2:1 to the waistline.

Anyway, here are the guts:

Hems. I just top stitched the hem on this, keeping along the white stripe so it wouldn't cross onto the dark stripe and stand out.


Lined bodice
As I mentioned previously, I am getting more confident with lining bodices and doing it my way.  To close up the waistline seam  I decided to go inside the bodice to machine stitch the lining and bodice waistline seams together as far as I could, and then close up the holes near the CB zip by stitching in the ditch. It looks a little wonky from the inside, but hey! No hand stitching, which is a win.
I thought I might have taken notes on my order of construction, but I can't find them! So maybe I didn't, lol.
Close up of janky-looking machine stitching. You're welcome


Invisible zip!





For next time? I would consider making the boat neck "boatier" (lol) by widening it even more. Also, increasing the neckline darts slightly to take away that last little bit of gape.

Also, there is a weird pucker near my shoulder on one of the armholes, caused by ??? It might be the lining fighting with the shell at the armhole. I found the sewing of the very narrow, anglular shoulder a bit tricky so I wouldn't be surprised if that was the cause. This fabric just shows every wrinkle so that doesn't help. Hah, it didn't annoy me that much until I focused on it just now. Curse you, wrinkle!
Update: I think I'd just pressed a crease in, a hot iron seemed to get rid of it. lol :)


Anyway, all in all, I'm pretty happy with this dress, as it is a versatile basic!
What's your favourite basic? More and more I'm in love with dresses... they're so easy to wear. :)




Sunday, 17 January 2016

Completed: Another Floral Pendrell

Hello! I did once threaten to make an army of Sewaholic Pendrell Blouse, so this is the latest. It's made in a lovely lightweight rayon.



This was a really simple make, construction wise. The decision making behind it was a bit more complex though:  I used this make to test my attempt to move the princess seam of the Pendrell blouse (which I have made a few times before.. I love it!). I wanted to move the seam from the shoulder to the side bust.
This bit was NOT simple, as I spent a long time deliberating on how to do this. I previously made  Butterick 5526 as a shirt, which has a side-bust princess seam. I debated on using the shirt pattern, the Pendrell, or a combo of both.


Basically, I just wanted a shell top with a side bust seam. (Why? Just for style variations!) Having already made Butterick 5526, I thought this surely was the answer, as it already has a side bust princess seam! But I was unhappy with the fit (even after spending so much time trying to fix it). Eventually I concluded that it wasn't worth my time trying to fix the fit on the Butterick shirt.  The fit is horrible compared to my Pendrell top!

So I simply altered the pendrell, and it was pretty easy once I decided on it. I just closed up the shoulder dart by taping the pieces together, and then drew on my own side bust seam by eye. I made sure to add notches so they would sew together nicely, and made sure the seam would sew together without too much easing in the side bust.
I was looking at the pictures of my previously-made Butterick shirt and thought it made me look a little droopy in the bust.  Well no wonder, check out the comparison in the side bust pieces!

Left: Butterick   Right: Pendrell. I think Pendrell looks like a nicer smoother curve, and the Butterick looks too low in the bust point.
ANYWAY, I know you can't really see the seams in this make, but that's what made it so ideal for testing; if it was a bit off it wouldn't really show! Haha. But I'm quite happy with it anyway.




When I got the pattern out, I saw that I'd previously penciled in an armhole alteration to lower it, but I'd not cut the paper off.  I thought "okay Jo-of-the-past, I trust you", and cut it off. And now the armhole is too low! SELF-PRANKED! I can't believe it, lol! It's still wearable though.
Next time I will re-raise it.



You can kinda see it's low here... kinda.



Something I found helped the front princess seam IMMENSELY was just the simple act of pressing it towards centre. At first I pressed it towards the side seam and when I tried it on I thought I might have to tweak it a lot; it looked a bit wavy and misshapen. But simply re-pressing it towards centre fixed everything!! I see why now too; it's because the seam allowance can relax, instead of getting compressed and bunched into the side bust, which is smaller than the seam allowance. I hope that makes sense! Just look at the shape of the pattern pieces and you'll see!



I feel like I'm having a much easier time of sewing the bias facings around necklines and armholes these days, practice makes perfect eh? My tip for you: Understitching is good! Most instructions I have read don't have this step, but I find it super helpful. It keeps everything where you want it, so the pressing and top stitching steps are so much easier. 
Another thing I've done now that I'm 100% happy with my pattern is to reduce the neckline's and armhole's seam allowances to 6mm. You're going to have to trim it off anyway, so why not make life easy from the get-go? The sewing is easier too! Just be careful with keeping notches shallow  ;)




Oh, and I rehemmed this polyester crepe vintage skirt I made ages ago... like when I first started blogging (so long ago!). It was a bit long which I felt wasn't that flattering. I shortened it so I'd get more wear out of it.. I had also let out the waistband to make it less tight a while ago which means the waistband is less than ideal as there is now no overlap. Lol. I'd really like to upgrade this to a nice wool crepe skirt one day so I can fix all the odd bits about this one!

Here are some shots of it untucked. I have noticed the hem is too long in the back on previous Pendrells, but I never fixed it as I don't like it untucked anyway.

Ooh, unflattering.



Anyway, I know this has been a wordy post (mine usually are!), but I just wanted continue a conversation on something Karen of Did You Make That? brought up recently. She called to abolish what she called "ablogogising" which she defines as an apologetic tone found on blogs. However, she did mention that pointing out issues in order to share constructive information was worthwhile.

I really don't mind highlighting my errors, in fact it's a major part of my process! I'm committed to sharing my imperfections because I want to be a real, honest blog.

I don't self-critique because I'm inviting my readers' judgement, I do it because I love to share what I've learned. I want to constantly improve and invite discussion on how to do that.
I will admit though, back in time I did have a much more negative outlook on myself, so I think Karen's post is a valuable reminder to us all to be aware of the messages we are telling ourselves....Essentially, we have to critique our self-critique!

This isn't a rebuttal of Karen's words, as I know we are on the same page. I just wanted to clarify that my own self-critique doesn't come from a place of negativity.

I love reading my fellow sewers' blogs and I hope nobody takes Karen's words in the wrong way. I would hate to see a whitewash of anything perceived as "negative". Blog posts which omit all the mistakes and learning opportunities contain no substance. I'm here for more than pretty pictures!

Anyway, that's my two cents. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this! And thanks to Karen for bringing up this interesting topic!






Sunday, 10 January 2016

Completed: Vogue 8465


Hello! Happy New Year and all that! Here's a dress.

Sorry about the weird face :D

The pattern is Vogue 8645, which I bought a few years ago, made a toile/muslin and then never proceeded with. I guess it's slightly branching out from my style (okay, well, not much; it's still cinched at the waist). I didn't take any pictures of it untied at the waist but let me assure you it looks hideously dumpy on me. lol.
I made it in rayon crepe, and because it was slightly sheer, I lined it with more of the same. Not sure that was the best idea in retrospect; lining it with something lighter weight fabric would be better I think (not to mention potentially cheaper haha) Crepe seems so lightweight but it's so spongy that bulk builds up in no time!

I also think the crepe sags a lot under its own weight; I took the shoulders up by 2cm on both the front and back of the shoulder seam because the neckline and armholes were so low! I made a toile/muslin for this ages ago and didn't have this issue, so I think it was the crepe.
Actually, I suspected it would sag, so the first thing I did during construction was cut some fusing tape to the same length as the V necklines. I then sewed it onto the neckline edges, easing in the fabric to the correct length. The neckline had already stretched out by about 2cm!

I think I was also deceived by the fabric when levelling the hem; it turned out a bit shorter than anticipated (not that that is a problem, I still don't think it's toooo short). I have a theory that the fabric bounced up a bit after having fabric cut off the hem, as it had less weight pulling it down.

Oh and by the way, this pattern is a MAJOR fabric hog! You could always skip the lining to save fabric though. You can't really see in my pictures, but it has a centre front and a centre back seam. I found it a little bulky at the V-neck. Hardcore trimming is your friend here!! Well, hardcore trimming is your friend always really. I hate bulky seams :)



I didn't follow the instructions for how to do the lining, because I hate commercial pattern instructions... They're so poor, and always seem to involve unnecessary hand stitching when it comes to linings??  I also skipped the top stitching in favour of understitching around the neckline.

We took these photos over the Christmas break, horsing around in my hometown of Tauranga. Having your husband photograph you is not always best- OMG, one of my straps came loose and he didn't even notice!! Haha, the man cares not for fashion.
So most of my photos have one of the straps in various silly positions. Hah!

Maniac in a tree. Strap: sliding down shoulder.

I like how there's a dog coming out from my shoulder here.

Hijinx on the rocks....lol

Back in the tree (don't judge). Strap: fully loose.
Sooo I might recommend stitching the straps in place so you don't get caught looking silly like me :)
Other than that I guess I do recommend this pattern for a casual dress. When I asked for a review, both my Dad and husband said I looked Greek, so I guess it's pretty toga-like. Haha. You make the call on whether that's a good or a bad thing! Oh, one more quick tip: Don't level the hem without the straps tied! I had to re-level it because it sits differently with the ties done up (obvious in hindisight, lol).

My left shoulder strap is gone so imagine the shoulder is tied, lol

Oh there's the strap, falling out of my armpit. NICE

Here is where I figured out the strap was gone and returned it to its rightful place :


Heh :)



Sunday, 27 December 2015

Completed: Christmas Candy-Cane Dress

Merry Christmas! It seems I always seem to end up making red dresses (see 1 and 2, but looks like I skipped the tradition last year) at Christmas, and this year I inadvertently dressed as a candy cane. No regrets!



This project was a resurrection of an old UFO. I'd cut it out and abandoned it, mostly because I wasn't convinced on the style I'd chosen.
This fabric is quite stiff, which made me a bit cautious about what to make with it. I was concerned it wouldn't work as a dress.
The original design I'd chosen was another one of this Vogue pattern but I'd planned to do the gathers as pleats for my 2nd version of it. The reason I abandoned it was that I decided I didn't like that plan after all. When I dug it out I decided to cut a different design from the scraps and existing cut pieces. I had just enough!

I just made this from my bodice block (no surprises there). The button placket is a separate pattern piece so I could have the stripes running in different directions.

I figured pleats were the only choice for the skirt. I wanted the stripes running straight across, which limited me to a gathered rectangle or a pleated rectangle. No way would gathering a fabric this stiff work!
I'm sure you can see from the photos it is quite crisp. It would probably work really well as a summer jacket.

Creating the pleated skirt was based on my best guess at what would look good, in terms of the spacing and depth of pleats.
I wanted the first pleat to align with the waist dart and went from there. It's basically a very similar look to the skirt on my shirt dress pattern, but with deeper pleats and no flare to the side seam.

Overall I'm pretty happy with the pleats, although maybe I would move the back skirt pleats inwards  so there wasn't such a large gap at centre back. Maybe the centre pleat could align with the back dart instead of the inner pleat...


Also, butt wrinkles from sitting.

I think the last dress I made I mentioned I wanted to properly conquer dress linings so I have started on that mission.
There are so many different ways of lining different bodices that it can be overwhelming!
With a bit of research I figured out how I wanted to do it.
In a few words, I bagged out the whole bodice except for the centre front and waist seam.
Then, I attached the skirt to the shell. Then I reached through the centre front opening and pulled it inside-out to enclose the waist seam in the lining.  Then I sewed the button plackets on at cf, enclosing the edges of the lining and shell in there.
That probably makes no sense!

Anyway, I'm pretty committed to figuring things out for myself these days as searching for the perfect tutorial actually makes life harder.  Once you've got the gist of a technique, I say go for it and figure the rest out as you go.


Let's talk about the bow. I tossed up between red buttons and no bow, and white buttons with a bow. I know the bow is ludicrous but I couldn't resist. Sorry, it's too cute. My husband said it looked weird but I kinda love it so there.

As you can see, I placed a button underneath it to hold the dress shut there, with the button hole on the opposite side to all the others. Fastening it is a bit of a pain but not too bad!






So I actually cut this fabric on the cross grain, because I didn't want the stripes going vertically. It is a 97% cotton, 3% spandex fabric so that unfortunately means the stretch runs vertically! Oh well! I didn't even bother trying to match the stripes across the seams. They're too small for me to care about.



Ooh and there are pockets in the side seams (of course). I tried a different way of putting them in where I sewed the side seam above and below the pocket opening first, and then sewed the pocket bags to each of the seam allowances. Then I sewed around the edges of the pocket bags to join them together, finished the edges and tacked them to the seam allowance above and below the pocket opening so the top and bottom didn't flop around. Clear as mud? I like how you can finish the edge of the pocket bags together instead of separately, and that the seam can be pressed open without clipping.


However, I normally do it a different way, and I think I prefer the original way as it is easier (Sew pockets to front and back skirt separately, then sew around pocket edges as you sew the side seam).



I also find these gape open more easily than my normal pocket technique... boo! I'm sure I could edit this technique to set the pockets back from the seamline just like my normal technique though. 

Pocket grump face


I kept the furry selvage as the hem, and thought I was very clever to cover it with rayon seam binding, but as you can see, my shonky top-stitched hem didn't catch the hem perfectly at the edge of the seam binding, so after sitting on it, it got mushed down and my selvage shame was revealed. lol :P



Anyway, that's my dress! Thanks to my friend Joy for taking the photos. You can thank her for this lovely shot of my armpit as I take flight! After she took this I flew off into the sky in search of fabric stores in the clouds.