Thursday, 23 October 2014

Completed: La Sylphide Dress in EEP, chiffon!

It's another La Sylphide! I already made the dress version once, and the skirt version too! This was definitely the most challenging version yet, as it is chiffon! 
I'd already handled the fitting on my previous version, so it was all about the construction.
This notorious fabric demands great care, and I did my best to do that. It was a slow construction process, which went fairly smoothly... until I accidentally chopped a gash in the hem. But let's skip that nasty detail for now!

I can't believe it's getting warm enough to wear this kind of thing! I wore this at fabricabrac, a local fabric event where I met loads of the WSBN girls (you'll ALWAYS find these guys where there's good fabric to be had)!
Thanks to Kat for taking photos of me :)

While I was there I hooked up with another La Sylphide wearer (totally unplanned actually!), fellow blogger Nikki!

I decided to underline the bodice with my white acetate lining, leaving the sleeves as one layer of chiffon. I lined the skirt part of the dress, and as my new philosophy is "just make stuff up", I figured out my own way to stick it in. The button placket is underlined with the acetate, and the lining is attached down the centre front to each side of the placket, but hangs freely around the rest of the skirt. It's similar to the way the Colette Beignet skirt is lined, actually!

It's hard to explain, and I totally neglected to get pictures of the guts! Gah, bad blogger! But I'm in another city right now so that's my excuse.

The bow isn't underlined either. I sewed the dress with a combination of french seams (mainly on the skirt), and overlocked seams (on the inside of the bodice where the underlining means the seams don't show through!).
I realised from seeing the photos that you could see the shadow of where my singlet meets my dark tights underneath, so I should have worn a slip. Even with a lining, it's still slightly sheer!

This length is as short as I'd like to go. I think I'll keep the skirt a bit longer next time. I had a moment of brainlessness when trimming the hem, and somehow managed to cut a 1" gash right near centre front. Such a panic moment! I didn't want to shorten the skirt any more, so I just did a manky diagonal blend, shortening only the centre front, and quickly blending out to the longer length.   It was suuuuch a hassle, as I had already finished the bottom of the lining and the placket, so I had to redo them (several times as I kept stuffing it up. NOT FUN!). You can't even tell the length is different at the centre front, thanks to the general volume of the skirt. Phew! But seriously, the hem is quite a mess when you see it up close. I've spared you the horror of the close-up, thanks to forgetting to take detail shots! :D

As with my last version of the dress, this fabric is a polyester. Not my favourite fabric for a sleeved garment. It gets a bit sweaty which is gross. But I'd rather cut my teeth on a polyester than worry about ruining a gorgeous silk yet. This fabric was given to me by fellow WSBN-er Gemma! Thanks!!
Actually sewing it wasn't too bad, but MAN, it dropped hugely on the bias. When I chopped it off to level it, there were sections that were about 4" longer than the rest, with one side significantly more droopy. In this post, Sherry describes most fabrics having a dominant grain which causes the opposing bias sections to hang differently. I think it sewed up a bit weirdly on the side seams. You can't really tell from this picture, but it hangs a bit strangely, so I probably should have let it drop before seaming it up. Again, I wish I had a detail shot!

There are diagonal droop lines which lead to the seam line, on both sides. You can only see it on one side of the seam here.

Anyway, I'm pretty happy with this dress, even though it was challenging at times! I like working with fiddly fabrics (well, SOMETIMES). It makes you feel very accomplished when you get it to behave.

As you can see, I wore it casually with my sneakers, but it would look proper classy with some nice heels.

Bows foreveeeeeer!
This is my third dress made utilising the darted bodice block I developed early in the year. So happy for circumventing another hellish trip to muslin-town! Yaaaay! In fact, I think that's worth of a new tag on my blog.

Oh yeah, and me and Nikki totally stole Kat and Mel's Papercut-love pose! (With Kat's permission of course):

Yay to dresses, and bring on the warm weather, finally! :D

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Brennan Cardigan and Vintage Skirt

This post is a two-for-one deal!
I made the skirt AND the cardigan.

The cardigan is the Brennan cardigan by Julia Trice and the skirt is a vintage skirt I've made before. I made it when I was just starting out sewing!

The skirt was a project that seemed simple and turned out to be... not.
I opted not to line it but I probably should have.  It needs a slip to stop it riding up. Also, I should have graded it up a size or two so it skims instead of clings!

After I made it up I realised it was quite clingy, so I let all the seams out a bit, which was a total pain!

I also made the mistake of getting my (ever-reluctant) husband to help level them hem WITHOUT wearing a slip. 
Which meant it rode up on my butt, which meant the level wasn't level at all.
So then I had to re-level it! This time wearing the slip.
I drafted a hem facing this time (I wanted to preserve as much length as possible, having chopped off too much initially!). Hem facings are a bit more effort, but it also means no pesky easing-in of hem excess. Yay!

Hand-picked zip strains open a bit, I think the skirt still wants more circumference.

It's funny that my previous version sits so much better.  I think that is due to the lining but also due to the navy crepe having more natural give to it. This wool also has a more grabby texture.
This skirt isn't my favourite but well, at least I finished the dang thing.
Bonus though, I can be part of A Stitching Odyssey's vintage pattern pledge!

Onto the cardigan:

I love the bobbles :)
I felt like this project would never end! After already knitting most of it once (out of a different yarn) and frogging it, it's no wonder. But I was okay with how long it took, I don't knit to speed through projects, I just enjoy it.
I'm not sure I'm convinced on the button band method, but I really wanted to try it as it was different to the usual method of picking up and knitting ribbing.
The button band is constructed as you knit the body, and is formed by a slipped stitch selvage which adds sturdiness and prevents curling.
One drawback of this method is that you have to knit the buttonholes as you go- yup, you better stay on top of counting your rows, eep!
It did kind of make it a pain to knit.

I think I like it best worn open.

Knitting the button band like that also means you can't just adjust the length on the fly like I like to do.  I adjusted the length to my preferences but it wasn't really worth the hassle- working out all the rows in the pattern was a pain.  Oops, I'm great at complicating matters...

Speaking of complicating matters, I decided to try out short-row bust darts. I know what you're thinking..."But your boobs aren't big enough to need bust darts in your knits!"
Well even though I don't have a large bust, I always find that my muslins for sewn garments tilt muuuuch lower in the back.  This is from my sway back I believe. I've also been told I have a tilted waist, though perhaps this the same thing as a sway back? 
Anyway, the point is, I need more length in the front than the back, regardless of the fact that I have a small bust. 
So I added short rows.
Also, I added a few extra decreases at the back, on the way from the hem to the waist, to account for the greater slope there.
And I'm really pleased with the results!

On previous knits, I always had a case of "back pooching". Or in the case of waist-length knits, it being longer in the back. 
Agatha: longer in the back
Peabody: pooching
Not today friends, not today.

Yeah, I'm sure it'll bunch up when I do things like move, but it's quite satisfying anyway.

More fiddly details: I hand-stitched ribbon on both fronts.
Sorry for the lack of guts photos in this post, I forgot to take 'em and I'm too tired to do it and add them in. Use your imagination? lol.

I've been trying to figure out my ideal length for a cardigan and I'm finding this slightly long, so I'll probably go 1.5" shorter for my next one.

The yarn I used is a superfine merino and that makes it very soft. I'm wondering if it's too soft! It feels lovely to wear but I'll be interested to see if it bags out over time.  If it tries anything funny, I'll think I'll stabilise it with crochet across the shoulders and down the side seams, as shown in this link. The fabric is actually slightly sheer so you can see dark colours underneath it. 
I just wore an old pink knit singlet (or "tank top"? to Americans), that I clearly need to replace with something much better. Like delicious silk. One day...

I like the idea of making this cardigan again. The bobbles are just so sweet.

Bonus pic: This is what I look like when my husband starts quoting Rick and Morty at me and making me laugh.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Velvet Three-Quarter Circle Skirt

A while back, I bought some velvet. I FINALLY got around to working with it!

I read up on velvet from a few sources and they all made it sound so hard. But it wasn't. So there.

I wanted a fancy velvet pressing board, as I was very concerned about accidentally crushing the nap with pressing, and I'd read about using a special velvet pressing board. Well, Threads saved me with this genius tip! I already had a dowel lying around (weird), and I bought some adhesive velcro from Made on Marion. The adhesive didn't stick well enough so I'll have to top it up with some super glue! Anyway, I used it to press my seams on. However, out of curiosity about the concept of crushing the nap (that all the expert tips go on about), I steamed and pressed the HECK out of a scrap of velvet.
The result?

I couldn't tell the difference at all!

Sooo, either:
a) I bought some remarkably hardy velvet

b) I am blind

c) The expert tips are from paranoid people

d) some combination of the above. lol :P

Because of my fear of pressing, I chose not to fusibly interface the waistband (though I reckon I could have!). I only interfaced the cotton facing I used. But I wonder if both sides of the waistband need interfacing and I fear it's going to be a bit of a saggy waistband. Especially with how heavy the skirt is!

Here you can see the cotton facing I used and the lapped waistband closure.

Everyone also said velvet is really hard to sew, and that you'll definitely need a walking foot and hand-basting etc. I didn't do those things and it worked fine, so I guess I bought magical velvet? However, it IS a very simple garment. I guess the tricky factors come into play a lot more on more complicated garments.

I generally obsessed about the cut of this skirt forever. So much to consider! With velvet, the nap runs vertically, so unless I cut it as a gathered or pleated rectangle, the nap would run differently on the side seams. I wasn't sure how that would look (turns out it really doesn't matter much, the folds and movement obscure details like that anyway!). And I didn't want to gather it as I was worried about adding bulk around the waist (though on images of wee models it looks fine!).

This one appears to be some form of circle/flared skirt Source
As does this one. Source
And this one appears to be gathered. Source

Pleated. Source
(By the way, notice how short these all are? That of course is one of the reasons I turned to sewing. Everything on the racks is so flipping short!) Also, notice how they're all burgundy? It must have been a big trend for velvet skirts.

Regardless, I wanted some volume in the skirt because the play of light on the texture of velvet is so delicious, I wanted yummy folds to bring out the contrast! I'm really obsessed with texture... My forays into corduroy may have been a gateway drug!

I was definitely getting obsessive (my achilles heel!). In the end I picked a 3/4 circle skirt because
1) I've made a full circle before and it is loads of volume. I loved the idea of fullness but maybe a bit toned down.
2) I've always been curious to experiment with different fractions of circles. Just to compare!
3) My Hollyburn (these photos show its drape better) is almost a half circle and I wanted more folds than that (although this velvet is so drapey it falls completely differently to my corduroy, so it's better compared to Lauren's lovely drapey Hollyburn.)

Overthinking! It's my thing.

When cutting, I made sure to line up the pattern pieces facing the same way so the nap fell in the same direction on the front and the back. Speaking of nap, did you know that whether the nap runs up or down affects the way the velvet looks? With the nap running upwards it looks richer and less reflective. But sadly, you can't stroke down your skirt because the nap is rough that way :(
I chose the nap going up because I'm not a big fan of shininess! Maybe it's for the best, I'd probably rub the poor velvet raw from constantly petting my skirt otherwise! Haha. It's still a bit shiny though.
Here, I took photos!

Note this is shinier than the one below. Here the nap is running down.

The nap running up. Gives a less shiny texture.
I put a lapped zip in the side seam, but I used fusible stay tape on the seam allowance first as a precaution (this fabric has stretch in it!). Hand-picking it gave me more control; I'm not sure my machine would have been kind. And hand-picked just looks sooo good!
...Except in this super crummy pic that makes the fabric look super dusty... but check out the invisible stitches!

I hand-hemmed the skirt after finishing it with bias tape. Took forever.... and I also made some puckers in one place because I pulled the thread too taut! Dangit!I have to decide if I can be bothered fixing it.

Actually, speaking of hems... I'm wondering if I should lop some off (though not to the level of the models!).
Yes, I am on the fence about this skirt. I think maybe I should have shortened it, so it's less overwhelming. I also wonder if I look like a wannabe elf or medieval maiden, not my preferred style. Haha!
The third thing is that I don't know what to wear with it. 

You can see the slight hem puckers on the right.
I wasn't even sure what I was going to wear with this- velvet is pretty intense, so I didn't pair it with anything that would be overwhelming. I love the romantic styling I've seen with lace and soft fluffy knits, but I don't have any of those things. (Yet!!)

This cardigan has gotten a LOT of wear since I made it, but it's definitely not my favourite. 
All together now: "More negative ease please!!"
It's casual and slouchy and I want more fitted and put-together. Another navy cardy is definitely on the cards.

Unflattering butt photo!
See how the cardy pooches out at the back? Ick. Also, I wonder if this skirt would benefit from a petticoat to bulk it out? Or maybe it would look super outlandish. Hmm.
Ooh. Maybe if I re-hemmed it I could use a wide facing that would give the hem more oomph?

How great would a structured blazer look instead of a slouchy cardigan? It's on my "one-day" list...

Falling asleep here.
SO guys! Do you have any styling tips that will save the day with this skirt?
And: Shorten or no? :)

(Such a weird expression here, clearly still sleepy, hee hee!)

Monday, 15 September 2014

Knitted Bunny

Well, today I became an auntie! So exciting! (Both my sister and the baby girl are well  :) )
Obviously I had to prepare for the occasion by making something cute for the baby. I used this pattern. I took these photos a while back but decided to save the post for the day. :)

I've made a few cute little stuffed animals before, mainly in the Japanese amigurumi style which have been crochet.  Amigurumi actually translates as knitted or crochet thing, so this is still technically an amigurumi!
This is the first knitted toy I've made.  The pattern has you knit everything flat and then seam it up, which is different to the crochet ones I've made.

I didn't change much in the pattern, other than sizing up my needle slightly. Oh, and I also seamed up the belly invisibly, unlike the pattern. This goes for the head and ears too- why would you want a visible seam in those places?

Pattern instructions- visible seam. Not sure why.

Mmmm, invisible!
At first I also seamed the feet invisibly, but it actually looked quite silly (they looked quite pointy and shrunken). Because the selvage was on the inside, it shrank the size of the feet. And since they are already small, a little bit of shrinkage on each side really makes a difference. So I pulled it out and whip-stitched the feet closed (in other words, following the pattern this time!). This way there is no selvage, and the feet were bigger, plumper, and cuter!

I made this lil' bunny using leftover wool from my Washington Square Cardigan, and its scarf is made from remnants from my Peabody sweater.
I made the pom pom too (acrylic I'd used for previous toys) and used the pom-pom method outlined here.

Pom poms are devastatingly cute.
The original pattern has safety eyes, but I opted to hand-sew on circles of felt instead. This is because someone once cautioned me about using safety eyes for baby toys- they can slip out of the fabric and be a choking hazard. No way am I going to risk being the Aunt whose present the baby choked on!!

I embroidered some shine with white thread to make it look less soulless.
It was hard to give this away as it's so cute... I hope it's treasured and drooled on a bunch! :)

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Whoop! I OWOP'd!

OWOP is where you document yourself wearing garments made from one sewing pattern for the whole week (One Week, One Pattern!). (More details here!) This was my first time doing anything like this and gave me a glimpse into what it would be like doing something like Me-Made-May where you have to do it for a whole month. Hmm, I hate taking photos of myself so I think it would drive me crazy. Maybe one day I'll do it though.
For now, one week was more than enough!

Considering I've made the Renfrew from Sewaholic a billion times and even have a compilation page of mods done on the pattern, of COURSE I chose that pattern! I really should have a "Renfrew" tag on my blog.

I got the pics on my cellphone....SO REAL-LIFE. lol!

Day 1: Wearing unblogged skirt and merino Renfrew.
Day 1 bonus: Shots of me hanging out with crafty friends Joy and Teresa (who is wearing a Hello Kitty dress she made, hence the pointing! So amazing!!)


Day 2: At University in my corduroy Beignet and striped Renfrew (the 2nd Renfrew I ever made!)

Day 3: Hanging out in Typography class with my new letter pals. I'm wearing my Marion cardigan and another unblogged garment, whoops!
So yeah, about this unblogged Renfrew dress! I got too lazy to blog it and consider this its bloggening. Hop over to this other Renfrew dress I made and it's pretty similar. Both are the same bodice, but this one has a pleated skirt! Knit dresses are so comfy <3

Day 4: Hamming it up in drawing the body class in my floral skirt and red boatneck Renfrew. Fun fact: Wearing a beret doubles your arty-ness. 
Hilariously, I didn't realise until later that I'd preeeeeetty much composed an identical outfit two days in a row. Red + black + floral. Haha, WHOOPS! I have been wearing my black tights a loooot because they're thick merino and nothing keeps me as warm when I want to wear skirts! I wish for more cozy tights like this but I've only found them sold in black :(

Day 5: My other Renfrew dress! Worn with my Blackberry cardigan at uni again.
Fun fact, these tights are size Extra Tall. Even though I fit into a size average by the chart on the package, these are STILL not long enough! The crotch hung around halfway down my thighs all day and was supremely irritating, what the HECK, Columbine?? I just want cool colourful tights :(
Awesomely though, one of the fashion teachers complimented my cardigan and said it was "very contemporary". A compliment from a fashion teacher is surely the highest honour! Haha!

Day 6: Selfie! Hanging around home in my cozy cowl-neck Renfrew with jeans. This thing is soo soft, I love it.

Day 7: Looking knackered after a day of work. My striped Renfrew again, worn with my pleated skirt.
This skirt is nice (and I got complimented, hooray!), but it attracts all the lint and dust in the world, and I really wished it had pockets all day. So maybe I'll remake it sometime. Dammit, it's so practical I'll probably never get around to it!

Wow, so that was my first OWOP! It wasn't too hard, but I hate getting photos, so it was a challenge. My love for Renfrew is well-documented, and it's really easy to wear every day. Hope you guys enjoyed a look into my life, you sick voyeurs, you!! (I'm joking!!).
Thanks for hosting Jane! And thanks Tasia for creating such an awesome, versatile pattern :D