Friday, September 13, 2013

McCall's 5818

When I discovered OOP McCall's 5818 (through reviews on of course), I wanted it!  The simple dress is exactly the type of garment I like to sew and wear.  I like the other pieces (except for the crazy large lapels on the jacket), but honestly, I doubt I'll ever sew them.  I bought this one for the dress.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes, even though I used crazy fabric (see more below)

Were the instructions easy to follow?

Instructions are very detailed and have lots of information on fitting using the Palmer/Pletsch methods, however I don't like their construction process for this dress. I prefer an all machine clean finish. Nicegirl/Slapdash has an excellent tutorial on her blog. This dress is quite narrow at the shoulders, so I needed the long handle of a plastic cooking spoon to help push the fabric through.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

Talk about bang for your buck, this pattern has it all! I mostly bought it for the dress though since that's what I like to wear when I'm not working.

The lining for this dress includes the neckline pleats which seams odd to me because this could create unnecessary bulk.  Since this was my first time making it, I decided to go with the pattern.  I think for future versions (and given my satisfaction with the finished project, there likely will be more!) I will convert the neckline pleats to bust darts for the lining. 

McCall's 5818 line drawing

Fabric Used:

Not sure if I should be proud or embarrassed... It's a cotton/poly shower curtain (seems like a mid-weight twill) that I bought from Marshall's for $15, and I lined it with some lightweight white cotton from old sheets. I sew with lots of vintage silk saris, which doesn't embarrass me at all, but using a shower curtain is a departure from my normal projects.  I just loved the print though!  I wore this to my husband's cousin's afternoon wedding and hoped none of the guests had this shower curtain hanging in their bathroom, or it would have been a bit embarrassing.. HAHA

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I used a very large border print and spent HOURS agonized over the layout.  I copied the pattern so that I was working with full pieces, that were not folded.  This helped me more accurately determine the layout.  Since the print is so bold, I was concerned about inappropriate placement, and about transitions at the side seams, which I thought would be a bit jarring and detract from the design.  The best option I came up with was to invert the pieces for the back, so that I could semi-match the one side seam.  I hope the inversion is less obvious than having a drastic color change at both sides.  Since the blue flower was a bit more eye-catching, I chose to match it rather than the grey.  The center back seam is contoured, so only part of it could be matched.  I decided the very large flower on my bum was taking priority!

I thought the back neckline pleats were a nice design detail but they created quite a problem.  If you read the Palmer/Pletsch book, they do talk a good bit about how forward shoulders and high round back are becoming more common in younger people due to our computer work, and I think they've built this into the dress design.  While I technically have both, mine aren't severe, so I rarely adjust for it.  The pleats were too much in my heavier fabric and created a giant *pouf* over the shoulder blades that made me look like the hunchback of Notre Dame.

 My quick fix for this, since I didn't make a muslin, was to change the back pleat to a dart and create a seam joining it with the back waistline dart to eliminate the extra fabric over the shoulder blades.  This also revealed that the back neckline was a bit too large, so I then deepened the neckline pleat to remove the excess.  I also didn't like how high the back was (since this makes it difficult for me to zip) so I lowered it 1.5 inches.  I also prefer back necklines slightly lower in case I wear a necklace.  In future versions, I would probably attempt to redraft the upper back and neckline to eliminate the back neckline dart completely and avoid the extra bulk over the shoulder blades.  Mahogany Stylist mentioned that she normally makes a prominent shoulder blade adjustment, but didn't find it necessary in this dress, which confirms my findings.

lowered back neckline

after lowering neckline, increased pleat and merged with dart

I made a straight 10 and only hemmed it 1/4 inch more than the pattern suggested!  I was really excited to have something fit so well with no other adjustments necessary.  That never happens for me unless the skirt is full, because I normally must size the waist down to a 9 and the hips down to an 8 or a 6.  Consider this cautionary if you're pear shaped and measure carefully before cutting.

Since the shoulders are so narrow, I also added lingerie carriers to prevent bra straps from crawling out.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

Such a great basic but a bit more interesting than a plain sheath. I love simple dresses, usually because I like difficult fabrics haha. 


It's literally 2 pieces (front and back) plus a lining!  A simple sheath dress is a great staple and this one can be made with only 1 1/4 yards of 45" inch fabric (made in size 10 and not including your lining of course).  Once you work out any fit issues, this one can be a great canvas for indulging in expensive fabric.

Friday, September 6, 2013

My first Burda. Burda Magazine 12-2008-103 Daphne Dress

This is my first Burda and the instructions are sparse. I didn't use them anyway due to a few changes.  Plus, there's the weird Burda sizing to deal with.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I love the one shoulder design and how the back portion of the strap extends to the front and the nice pleating detail.

Fabric Used:
This is an inside out dress haha. The fashion fabric is a linen cotton blend and its lined with leftover sari silk. The silk looks pretty, but the grain is so uneven that it isn't really suitable for many applications. Unfortunately I made a dress with it before this one and I'm not quite happy with the results due to the grain issues.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I made 1" wide interfacing pieces (that I fused to the lining) for all neckline and armholes to stabilize the fabric and prevent stretching. I like this approach better than their method which doesn't stabilize the armsyces.

I didn't pay close enough attention when I traced this pattern, so I didn't notice that the front bodice lining isn't a full lining piece, but a partial with a neckline facing. I figured this out when sewing the lining in, and everything wasn't matching up! I just ended up cutting the facing and sewing it to the lining rather than cutting a whole new one piece bodice lining.

I swapped the skirt for a variation on my TNT. I was concerned the pleats on the original would result in too much poofiness over the tummy. My TNT skirt actually has a CB seam, but I wanted to eliminate this since the back bodice is princess seamed. It's pretty close to the original TNT but with slightly less shaping.

This skirt is different than what's typically provided with patterns, as it is slightly bell/tulip shaped and has very small and shallow front darts. Often the conventional skirts make me look like a barrel because they have too much tummy and hip ease. If I don't define the hip curve, my waistline disappears.

When lining up my TNT with the bodice to match the pleats/seams, I noticed the bodice waist measurement was a little large, so I was able to adjust this before cutting.

I had to add a couple of small darts to the front bodice into the waist seem and deepen the skirt darts slightly because it was just a bit sloppy at the waist. I also took the back neckline a touch, but it still gapes unless the bodice is sitting at a very precise angle. It looks like the back neckline is stretched out, but it was stabilized with interfacing so I think it just needs to be adjusted. This dress is also slightly long in the bodice for me, but I didn't care enough to take it apart.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Meh. Maybe. Maybe not. It's ok, but I don't love it. If I make it again, I'll have to make a few additional changes to the pattern.

I wanted to sew this in a really vibrant duipioni for my husband's cousin's wedding, but wasn't sure if the one shoulder design would work with my body. I wanted to make a more casual version first to test the look since diagonal lines typically increase you in both height and width. I'm only 5'5" (ok 5'4 1/4" but I'm an optimist) so heigth is good, but with one shoulder, I'm drawing that diagonal line at my absolute widest part (my massive shoulders and ribs) so you can see why I was concerned with the width issue. By taking it in a bit at the waist and narrowing the bottom of the skirt, this helps to define the curve of my lower body and makes the dress much more flattering for me. Still not sure the one shoulder design is the best for my broad shoulders though.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

New Look 6457

I love New Look patterns.  I think it's partially their great everyday price and that they put all sizes in one envelope.  That said, I wish all pattern companies would do a little better.  New Look seems to be geared more for a basic sewer and takes a few shortcuts in construction.  They rarely include a full lining and rely too heavily on facings for my liking.  It's not a big deal in most cases to draft a simple lining, but for more complex or pleated necklines, this is not my strength.  My wish is that all pattern companies would offer you the OPTION of a lining.  Include facings and instructions for bias tape for unlined versions, but also offer lining pieces.  Sometimes the lining offers a unique opportunity for a different garment altogether with its alternate darts.  I like this as added construction option.  Pattern companies, I hope you're reading this!!

Now on to the dress I made with New Look 6457.  I've had this pattern in my stash forever, but just got around to making it.  Drafting is not something I'm good at or enjoy, so I'm somewhat of a pattern hoarder.  So is my mother, so it's obviously hereditary.

Were the instructions easy to follow?  I was impressed when I noticed that several of the bodices feature an all machine clean finish. Great job NL! Slipstitching stinks

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
With so many bodice options and the great price, this is a lot of pattern for your money.  I don't think it would have killed them to include one straight skirt option though... just saying

Fabric Used:
Poly cotton blend seersucker, lined with really high thread count (heehee ;) white cotton

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I swapped the gathered skirt for the slim fit straight skirt I developed for the 1950's dress. It's become my TNT skirt due to it's shaping. It's more bell/tulip shaped than a conventional skirt pattern which helps emphasize my shape. I have narrow hips and sometimes look like a barrel in normal skirts! Apparently I don't know how to measure (or shouldn't do so after 11PM) because when I stitched together the lining as a semi-muslin, the skirt darts did not line up with the bodice darts and had to be scooted over. No biggie

I cut 1 inch wide interfacing that I fused to the lining on the front and back neckline edges just to prevent it from stretching over time. I didn't self line the bodice, so I self lined the halter ends so they wouldn't look weird when tied.

I also added purchased piped trim to the neckline and waist seam. It was my first time not making the stuff! Too bad they don't offer a million more colors and fabrics, cause purchasing it is so much faster.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
This pattern has so many bodice options and it's very easy to swap skirts for lots of sewing opportunities.  On my semi-muslin the bodice fit seemed fine, but when I wore this I noticed it's a touch roomy at the top bodice edge.  If I make another version, I'll probably taper it in 1/4 inch at the underarm for a slightly snugger fit.

I wanted something cute and comfy for summer that was nicer than wearing shorts. This fabric shouldn't wrinkle much so it will be quick and easy to grab for casual dinners out or nicer BBQs.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Dress for a wedding... the saga continues

When I planned this project, I had no idea how big of a PITA it would be!  I was very confident that Vogue 9668 view C would be flattering to my figure type (inverted triangle).  It seemed simple enough to showcase my fabric, complex enough to not be boring, and classic enough for a family wedding.  I've never had so much trouble with a pattern!  I'm normally a straight 10 bodice and all of my alterations are the waist and below (to account for very narrow hips).  I'm even a standard B cup.  The only change I make is a very smaller cheater version of a broad back adjustment, by sewing the center back seam with 3/8 inch seam allowance instead of 5/8.  That's it!  That's all I normally do for bodices, and you can see from my pictures, that fit is normally pretty good.

This pattern called for a redo of every single piece.  The back neckline gaped and required me to take out a wedge, the midriff was ever so slightly too long and tight in the waist (normally I take the waist in to a 9, not let it out), the back midriff had to be re-contoured as it was riding up at the lower edge, the front bodice had major bullet boob thanks to that large dart, and the skirt was a disaster.  It was poofy in all the wrong places.  It had weird ease in the lower back (above my butt) and really puffy in the tummy area.  My husband commented that I could easily be 3 months pregnant and still wear it...

I made at least 2 muslins, which I NEVER do, and then even decided to create a version in cheaper fabric before cutting my silk.  Not that the silk was very expensive, but since everyone knows I'm making the dress, I wanted it to be perfect.  I hate when people know I sewed something because then I'm never sure if the compliment is based on the dress itself or if they're just surprised I can actually sew something that doesn't look like a dress an Amish girl would wear to feed the chickens.

I just don't love it though... While the fit is technically OK, I just don't think it's very flattering, or as flattering as I would like it to be.  The midriff proportions seem off.  I'm only 5' 4 1/4" and it seems like too much, but I don't know how to reduce it without messing up the boobs.  Speaking of  the boobs, they aren't quite right either and I'm not sure how to fix them.  I'm sure it's my fault since I converted the dart to a princess seam, but I didn't change the position or volume.

This dress has to be ready for next weekend and I happen to work for a living...  So this past weekend I went balls to the wall and lived in my sewing room.  I thought they would have to send in a search party.

I've always loved the Burda Starburst dress and thought it would be lovely made in my olive green dupioni.  The muslin was a total and complete disaster though.  The starburst pleats complicate the alterations.  Given enough time, I think it may be fixable, but I don't have that kind of time for this project.

So on to plan B.  I've always loved New Look 6401 that I bought many years ago as a starting point for the wedding dress that I didn't have time to make..  Anyway, here's the line drawing

I had planned to make it knee length and maybe add some ruching on the front and back bodice for texture and to sort of disguise the gathers.  I made my usual size 10 and the thing was HUGE.  I probably need a 6 in the bodice alone!  FYI the pattern only goes down to an 8 and I just don't have time to deal with it... Another wadder muslin.

So in a fit of desperation, I did something crazy.  I pulled out a pattern that I've never used and cut the silk.  I'm insane, especially given all the crap going wrong.  Mazzygir on PR did a review on bodice A and eliminated the waist overlay and full skirt.

She used a beautiful turquoise silk dupioni that's a bit shinier than mine (mine is handmade and a bit nubbier).  I thought her dress was lovely and flattering.  Just when you think I couldn't be any dumber for cutting something given my current luck, I have to be honest and say that I further complicated the issue by eliminating the midriff and merging it with a fitted skirt... Cross your fingers and pray for me!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Next big project- dress for family wedding!

My sister-in-law is getting married in August, and since I have the time right now, I'm planning to make a special dress.  I had several patterns that I was tossing around, so I polled the ladies on Pattern Review and OOP Vogue 9668 view C was the overwhelming winner.  I didn't actually buy this pattern while it was in print but found it through some amazing reviews on PR.  I had to have it!  So I stalked it online to Ebay (of course) and made it mine!

I've always loved silk dupioni and planned to make this one in a green, and one of the ladies on PR recommended Silk Baron.  I am delighted with their products and service.  Initially I ordered samples in Brentwood and Tuscan Olive.  A representative from the company contacted me to let me know that they only had one yard of Brentwood, just in case that was the fabric I choose to order yardage.  Talk about service!  Most places would just wait until you order and then inform you that it was no longer in available.  When the samples arrived, I was in love!  The quality and prices are great, and I challenge you not to drool all over your computer monitor at the gorgeous colors.  With orders, you also get three additional swatches of your choice, so it may be a challenge not to create a whole wardrobe in their silks.

I made a variation on this dress before (currently a UFO) and the fit was terrible in the bodice.  I'm almost a perfect 10 bodice straight from the envelope, so this was quite unusual.  This dress definitely requires a muslin because the deep front and back are potential disasters of gaping and wardrobe malfunctions if not fitted properly.  Those bust darts are deep (which will be evident when I finish that UFO) which creates a major bullet boob.  For the dupioni, I'm going to muslin this one and change to a princess seam in the front, so that I don't blind any children.  I'm also considering eliminating the center back seam and moving the zipper to the side.  Let me know what you think and  stay tuned as I begin the construction process!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Sewing with Saris

For those of you who follow me on, I've posted the following information within various reviews.  I thought it would be nice to include it in a blog entry though, so that it would be easier to find for those seeking the information.

A sari is the garment worn by Indian women that is wrapped and draped. Most are 42-45" wide and they vary in length so check item descriptions.

I buy a lot of vintage saris, mostly from Ebay, because the fabrics are just so unusual and colorful. I love using vintage too because it's like the fabric has already led one life, and I get to reclaim it and use for something completely new! Anyone who has read a few of my reviews can confirm my obsession. Below is information on the basics and how I treat them. DO NOT CONSIDER THIS EXPERT ADVICE; this is just how I proceed.

*Common fabrics are silk, "art" (artificial) silk, or cotton

*For most saris the fabric is very thin (silk chiffon to silk habotai texture) so plan on lining or underlining

*Most saris have a drape portion on one end that is 30-36" of contrasting/coordinating print. This gives you lots of interesting options for bodices, midriffs, hems, or contrast piping.

*Most saris have borders prints on the lengthwise grains. Sometimes both borders are the same, other times one is more elaborate than the other. This gives great options for hems, waistbands, necklines, etc.

*Saris vary in quality, so the cheaper ones often have off grain.  Silk is no guarantee of quality

*I machine wash and dry all mine before beginning. Vintage ones often arrive with an odor, but it comes out in the wash. I despise dry cleaning, both for the expense and inconvenience, so nearly all garments I sew are machine washable. Silk is much more durable than we often give it credit for, and I now wear silk more for daily garments and not just special occasions.

*If purchasing vintage saris, don't depend on using the entire yardage.  They often have undisclosed damage or stains that you'll need to work around.

*Be careful about using pre-treatments or color boosters.  I'm not sure what they use to dye the fabrics, but these chemicals can have interactions that change your fabric color

just a few of my many saris

*A gelatin soak can increase the fabric body and make it easier to handle during construction.  Use 3 tsp gelatin to 3 liters of water (one package of gelatin is about 2 tsp) and soak the fabric for 1 hour before air drying. I confess that I make a huge batch of the gelatin and spend a day prepping multiple pieces. I also confess that I don't fully air dry; when I get bored, I toss them into the dryer on "no heat" then change to delicate.  I haven't noticed any problems with ironing, even when using steam.  If you pre-wash your silk, the gelatin is easily removed when laundering, returning it to it's original soft texture.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Would this be weird?

I have a shower curtain that is 100% cotton and I love the print.  It is fairly large though and I wonder if it would be weird to make it into a dress?

Friday, February 15, 2013

TGIF- Thank God It's Finished!

Ok so the dress threw me a major curveball and I wasn't sure exactly how to recover the project.  I finally (sort of) figured out the problem.  I really worked on perfecting the fit of the muslin, but somehow that didn't translate when I cut the antique fabric.  Somehow the front bodice was 1 inch smaller at the waist than the muslin, 1/2 an inch shorter at the side seam, and the skirt front was 1/4 inch WIDER at each side seam.  WTF???  I credit it to distortion of the muslin fabric because the actual dress was fully underlined in broadcloth.  That is the only thing I can come up with because everything matched up PERFECTLY on the finished muslin.  Still, it doesn't fully make sense.  I mean the muslin bodice grew, and the skirt pieces shrunk? I never make muslins, so why all the trouble after actually doing things correctly?  Anyway, all the discrepancies meant a lot of unplanned ripping out on the actual dress, scratching my head, and scrambling for a fix.  Anyway it's done, and I'm so happy!  Here's the finished product:


I'll be the first to admit that it's not perfect.  My major issue is the bust darts, there placement isn't correct and they're a bit pointy.  Since it's fabric from a 1950s dress (which had majorly pointy boobs) and they were trimmed on the inside, this is as close as I could get them to fit.  I hope it it's obvious to anyone who doesn't sew.

original bodice front

The following pictures really illustrate what I had to work with and how significant the changes were.

original bodice and new underlining

original skirt and new underlining

I applied narrow bands of interfacing (about 1 1/4 inches) to the inside of the underlining at all the armscyes and neckline edges to stabilize them and prevent gaping and distortion over time.

underlining with interfacing

I did carry over a few of the vintage details:
  • lingerie carriers (original were thread, I made fabric ones)
  • corded bias trim.  the dress came with a tie belt that I used, unfortunately there wasn't enough to do the waistline seam or armscyes
  • vent finish.  This one was a great lessons that I've carried over to other dresses.  The fashion fabric was finished as a standard vent, but the lining was finished like a back skirt slit!  This avoids the awkward joining of the two fabrics, which can creat bulk, and is such a nice clean looking finish
  • however, I changed the original lapped metal zipper for an invisible

After the wedding, I'll post pictures of me wearing the dress!

Monday, February 11, 2013

1950s dress... killing a modern woman

I was so confident going into this project.  I had made multiple muslins, fine tuned the fit, and thoroughly developed my plan.  I made full pattern pieces for the front so that I wouldn't have to fold the very old and beautiful vintage fabric.  I carefully traced all markings to my underlining fabric so that I wouldn't have to worry about them transferring to the fashion fabric.  I used the underlining as pattern pieces and placed them meticulously on the brocade and then basted them at the edges to prevent any distortion.  I proceeded like this one piece at a time.  I made lovely bias cord trim for the neckline and waist seam detail.  I even swapped my beloved over-sized quilting pins for actual silk pins (they're impossible to find when you drop them).  I fully assembled the bodice before noticing "dang this thing looks small".  Then I compared it to my muslin and nearly shit my pants...

Not only is it small, it's tiny.  The muslin required a bit of adjustment at the shoulder seams to ensure the angles were correct to prevent distortion of the front and back bodice.  I had drafted them a bit long so that I would have enough to work with.  Apparently when I transferred the changes to the paper pattern I neglected to add seam allowances???  I'm assuming this is what happened because I have no other explanation as to why they are too short.  Of course this realization comes AFTER I've trimmed and clipped the heck out of the seams to get all four layers to pull through the narrow shoulders. When I realized this I nearly screamed, cried, and vomited all at the same time.  I think if they occur simultaneously you also spontaneously combust.

Also the front bodice piece is 1 inch smaller at the waist than the muslin.  The only thing I can come up with is that the damn muslin fabric stretched.  FUCK.  Mom, I hope you aren't reading this.  If you had seen how much prep work I had put in to ensure the antique unreplaceable fabric wouldn't be wasted, you would probably say worse.  I think my perfect fit is just wishful thinking at this point.  I'm gonna have to rip this baby apart and either piece the shoulders or let them ride high.  If I let out all the seams, it should *just* make the bodice large enough.  This makes me wonder, I did everything like I should for once, why is the universe punishing me?  Universe, you suck!  I'm having a cocktail

Saturday, February 9, 2013

1950s dress inspirations

Before I started this project I spent more hours than I'll ever admit drooling over gorgeous vintage dresses and patterns on Ebay.  I wanted a finished project that felt retro without being so literal that it would limit its wearing potential (cause it's gonna be a crap ton of work).  These were some of my favorites:

I LOVE this one, but don't have enough fabric for the extended shoulders

I really like the contrast front and back neckline shapes.  With the roses in my fabric, I think I want something soft and rounded for the front and maybe the V neckline for the back.

I was so incredibly happy with the fit of Butterick 5455; you can read the full review which includes the various changes on my first version.  The line drawing below shows how simple and classic the back is.

Butterick 5455 line drawing (now OOP)

I think this may be a good starting point for the back.  The front was a bit more difficult.  I had drafted/frankenpatterened several bodice options until realized that the French darts on the bodice were trimmed.  Eeek.  So much for all of those lovely options... I was having trouble visualizing the proper way to manipulate them and wanted a pattern to compare.  Even though I'm a hoarder of patterns, I only had one, ONE, with a french darted bodice, Vogue 8725.

Vogue 8725 line drawing
I haven't made this dress yet, so I wasn't exactly sure about the fit.  This dress wasn't an exact match for the Butterick, and even though I cut the same size (10 in the bodice and waist grading down very small on the hips), the Vogue required shaving and additional 1/4 inch off each side seam.  I've adjusted the bodice darts several times and had to reduce the front darts on the skirt because they were creating too much poof in the tummy.  The final adjustment was the hem; I pegged it 3/4 of an inch.  This really helped create more visual curve at the hip which also emphasizes the waist.  Before these changes, the dress technically fit and had an appropriate amount of ease, but I basically looked like a barrel with linebacker shoulders.  I had to make quite a few adjustments to the Vogue for what I needed, but it was a good starting point and after 3 front bodice muslins and 2 front skirt muslins, I think I've hammered out the fitting!  Now on to cutting up all that glorious fabric...

Saturday, February 2, 2013

McCalls 5621- Not the simple project I hoped for

I needed a break from the vintage brocade dress and wanted some instant gratification so I pulled out my old copy of McCall's 5621 which is now OOP

I made this quite a few years ago in a lightweight eggplant linen with stitching detail on the yoke.  I loved it so much that I actually altered it to fit me now, because I have lost quite a bit of weight since its original creation.  The smallest size in my envelope was a 10, which is my normal bodice size.  I've learned through sewing that I'm actually an inverted triangle and for fitted dresses, usually need a 9 in the waist and a smaller than they make for the hips (maybe a 6) depending on how fitted I want it.  

I wasn't sure what the fit would be like straight from the envelope, so I traced front and back darts in case I needed them for shaping.  I used a silk sari (as this blog progresses, you'll see that this is more the norm than the exception) and underlined with a lightweight khaki poly/cotton broadcloth.  I know some of you are cringing that I used a blend under the silk, but I wanted something to help prevent wrinkling.  

Changes I made:
  • cut the back on the fold to not disrupt my border print and cut on the crosswise grain
  • underlined all the pieces, facings included, since the silk it too thin and lightweight on its own
  • front and back darts for shape
  • people hate facings, but I didn't want stitches on the outside from using bias tape, so I used facings.  Since it's underlined, I can add a few stitches to keep them from crawling out, without catching the fashion fabric
A couple of issues:
I like how they have you insert the yoke pieces by machine (versus turning the edges under by hand and then sewing it on) but really hate all the slip stitching this creates to finish the yoke lining.  I HATE hand stitching.  On my creations you will not find:
  • hand picked zippers
  • hand sewn hems
  • and as little hand work as possible
I often change the assembly process to create an all machine clean finish when possible.  I think its closer to RTW finishes and saves me a lot of hassle.  For sleeveless dresses this is easy, just leave the side seams for last and sew the neckline and armscye fashion fabric to the lining.  Open out the dress and then you can sew the lining and fashion fabric as one continuous seam and not have to bother with all that silly hand work.  Maybe this makes me lazy, but I don't care.  I waited until there were some old Law & Orders on TV (Briscoe and Green are still my favorite) to do all that finicky hand stitching.

Back to the issues of this dress.  It was a giant silk potato sack even with the addition of front darts (the back darts only half count since I eliminated the contoured back seam), and it looked like crap.  The shoulders extend out way too far.  This is sometimes the case on patterns that come with an optional sleeve.  I removed 1/2 inch at the outer edge of the shoulder plus 1/4+ inch all the way around the armscye.  I tapered in the side seams 1/2 inch at the waist and 3/4 of an inch through the length and it still wasn't enough.  I'm starting to hate this thing.

pinned together on my dress form Dolly- looks much better on her

Friday, February 1, 2013

UFOs... they do exist!

For all you sewists out there, you know I'm not talking about spacecraft being flown by little green beings.  What I'm referring to is much more scary.. (insert dramatic music) UN FINISHED OBJECTS.  Oh the terror!!!  Enough to keep us all up at night or invade our dreams.  Surely I'm not the only one out there who dreams about their new projects?  But I only dream about them when they're new, fresh, and fun.  Once they're PHDs (projects half done) or UFOs, I seem to forget that I was ever inspired.  I seem to forget about all the hours spent agonizing over the details.  And I certainly try to forget about any time spent ripping out stitches.

Right now I can clearly identify three major PHDs.  One of them, I'm a bit embarrassed to admit, was cut out over 10 (ok closer to 13) years ago and put aside.  I recently found it when cleaning out my sewing room.  I was so happy and inspired to finish this long forgotten project and began work to remedy the situation (and since I had originally only cut a bodice lining, I added a skirt lining too).  Well, it has evolved from just a pile of pieces to a full PHD UFO.  Progress indeed??

Upcoming goal along with tackling the 1950s trial to my sanity, will be to complete these 3 projects.  They are at different phases of completion and will irritate me to different degrees since I hate working on uninspired projects (which most become when I'm 85% finished).

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

1950s dress redo

Two of my dear friends are marrying each other later this spring in a 1950's themed wedding.  I've been asked to officiate and those who know me, know that I love a theme!  They've requested guests wear 50's attire and I purchased this AMAZING dress at a local vintage shop.

I bought it just for the fabric, because for me, the fit is very off!  The dress is a woven rose silk brocade and lined in silk habotai.  I just can't find anything like this anywhere else!  It doesn't look bad on my dressform Dolly, but it's a fitting disaster on me.  The bodice is at least 2 inches too long and much too wide/large in the bust and shoulders.  The waist is the only thing that is pretty close, and the hips are gigantic on me!  It's large enough that it can't be properly taken in without taking it apart.  I knew when I purchased it, that it would be a major undertaking, but I just couldn't leave that gorgeous fabric by its lonesome little self it that store.  I knew it wanted to come home with me!

I've been meticulously disassembling it (some of the stitches are so tiny that I'm nearly blind) and this baby threw me a major curveball.  For some reason, I never considered that those french darts on the bust were trimmed on the inside.  AAAHHHHHHHH!!!!  I had "drafted" three or four possible bodices, and like a good girl, was planning on making several muslins so that I could ensure this fabric was used to its maximum potential (and maximum flattery to my figure).  Well when I found those giant wedges cut out of my beautiful fabric, I knew the princess seams I had planned for maximum fitting potential were out, and I was just going to have to go with the flow on what the fabric would allow.  

I completed my first muslin now and while it technically fits, and the ease is the proper amount, it just doesn't seem to look that great on.  Taking a little break from this one to let it marinate...

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sew OCD (and ADD)

I love sewing as a hobby but easily get bored/distracted.  I like projects (and clothes) that are really simple designs, but I often use pain in the ass fabrics for all of my projects.  I have a slight obsession with Indian silk saris and love translating them into apparel.

Given that I work with a lot of saris (which are often similar in texture to silk chiffon), you'll notice that I often underline my garments in addition to a full lining.  As I'm getting older, I've realized that the nicer made garments are the ones I keep and continue to wear.  Also, I'm a sewing rebel and hate making muslins!  This has bit me in the ass on more than one occasion, and I'm slowly learning my lesson.

I'm including a few pictures of my most recent projects, so you can see what I like to make.  I hope you enjoy sharing my projects with me, and I hope to benefit from your feedback.