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Sunshine + Storm Clouds

14 Dec

Ah, the infamous hanger shot; often a sign things have gone horribly wrong.

This is the blouse pattern from the new Burda Style Book. It’s a gorgeous pattern and obviously it’s been well tested as they show a dozen examples from sewn around the world.

 

Sadly somewhere in my alterations I screwed up and it looks dreadful on me. The back fits great but the front is just a horrible ill-fitting mess.

The fabric is a lovely sunny mustard poly and the lace yoke is a scrap left over from my white lace tee. I’m kicking myself for not buying more of it as it’s really lovely to handle and according to the salesman it takes dye well too. Coincidently, it seems Toast must have got their hands on a few bolts because they’ve used this exact lace to make this dress (I couldn’t find a close-up of it but I inspected it in the shop) selling for a whopping £159. I think I paid £4.50 per metre.

So bummed.

The Sew Grateful Dress: Vintage Simplicity 4908

6 Dec

 

The gorgeous and gracious Debi, who I’m sure you all know from her blog My Happy Sewing Place and her work on the Sew Weekly, recently hosted a challenge in celebration of Thanksgiving.

The instructions were to use a piece of fabric or pattern you had won or been gifted or to use a tutorial from another blogger in the spirit of saying thanks to the collaborative community that we are all a part of. And lucky me, the day after reading Debi’s Sew Grateful challenge, I won a blogiversary giveaway of two vintage patterns from Amy of Sewing Through the Motions.

I decided to make Simplicity 4908, which according to the Vintage Patterns wiki is from the early to mid 60’s.

 

The dress has a princess seamed bodice and kimono sleeves. The front panel and the belt are all cut as one piece and it finishes at the back with a bow. Which makes me feel a little like I’ve accidentally made a bridesmaid dress…

Image via Aeva Couture

I blame Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Still, I think a 60’s vintage dress in coral sounds just lovely so I didn’t let that put me off. Nor did I get defeated by the amount of pattern alterations that were needed.

To start with, I graded it from a 36in to a 41in bust before tackling the full bust adjustment. Frustratingly because of all the angles involved in the side front panel it just wouldn’t come together so instead I created a new pattern from a hodgepodge of ones I already knew fit.

The first pieces I needed were for the shoulder princess-line bodice, so I grabbed my Sewaholic Pendrell blouse. Next the kimono sleeves, which came from the white lace tee I made a few weeks ago.  I fit the pendrell pieces under the bust (it’s usually a loose blouse) then cut the side panel at the midriff to mimic the curve on the original piece. The bottom of the side panel attached to the front piece. The kimono sleeve addition was pinned to the side panel before tracing it off again and adjusting the seam allowance.

The back piece was the only originally graded piece I used, except for the bow. The only change made was to make the neckline scooped rather than V- or bateau necked. I continued the belt from the front piece around the back tracing the outline of that piece.

The skirt I adapted from Burdastyle’s Jenny Pencil Skirt, and the pockets came from another pattern.

You can see the original pieces above and below you can see how they sort of piece together.

 

In the end, it came together pretty well despite all the improvisations. By the time I’d made all the changes, a muslin might have killed me so I just went ahead and whipped it up but next time I’l remove a little length under the bust and definitely add more ease at the hips.

Still for my first attempt at sewing a vintage pattern, I’m chuffed.

 

Honey, I shrank the sewists!

2 Dec

If you follow many sewing blogs, prepare to see miniature versions of bloggers (check out mini-Joanne, mini-Ali, and mini-Marie) popping up all over the place as the Colette Sewing Handbook is shipped worldwide.

One of the many fantastic activities included in the book is creating a personalised croquis for sketching inspiration. I’ve written about my love of ursa major’s curvy croquis before but I couldn’t resist playing with one of my own.

The basic premise is to trace a photo of yourself in tight-fitting clothes. To make it easier I printed the photo and scribbled on the back in pencil before placing another sheet underneath and drawing over the top of the photo. The result is a true to scale version of yourself in all it’s glory.

For me this was a  positive activity but I know body image is a really personal and potentially emotionally-charged area. If I’m being honest, (and I really try to be on this blog) my own feelings about my body change on a daily basis. I was raised in a feminist, body-loving hippy house-hold but I also know what the outside world says about other bodies like mine so whilst I try most of the time to be kind to myself, sometimes those nasty voices get in.

Now what does this have to do with making a croquis, you ask? Well it’s a little like stepping on the bathroom scale. If you’re the type of person who sees the number and it sends you into a self-hating hurricane, skip this activity and download one of the many cool croquis available for free online. I chose to give myself a little pep-talk, install definatalie’s ‘No Diet Talk’ blog badge, then dove right in.

And you know what? I actually really love my mini-me. I expected to feel those nasty twinges about my hips but instead I got a series of a-ha moments like, Holy Cow that’s why pants are nearly impossible to find or make.

I’ve found that the longer I sew the more inclined I am to look at myself with a sewist eye rather than a critical one. I don’t feel bad about my hips, I’m much more interested in what adjustments I can make to get garments that fit… it’s like crazy pattern-making sudoku and I love a challenge.

Thoughts that popped into my head:

  • No wonder I have to add like four inches to any crotch length.
  • My pelvis seems to tilt so I think that the front crotch curve will be a very different shape to the back crotch curve.
  • Having a full bust leaves very little waist height.
  • My back length is proportionally short but being 5′ 10 the actual measurement fits most patterns.

I’m not really a pear or an hourglass. I’ve decided that my body-shape will here-forth be called the snowman as it’s like two spheres stacked atop each-other.

So from a fitting perspective it really get’s you thinking about possible alterations you might need.

From a design perspective, it’s quick and easy to see which shapes and silhouettes you like on your body.

Pants are a bit of a mare as anything that sits below my natural waists slips down to that groove between my high and low hip, but I think the bootleg works ok.

One final use… De-coding deceptive vintage pattern illustrations like this one (from Amy’s lovely give-away) on my sewing table at the moment.

Sewaholic Minoru Muslin/Sweater-dress + FBA

29 Nov

I find myself with a bit of a problem. Whilst my brain knows that making a muslin is not a waste of fabric I seem to be physically incapable of disposing of one once it’s made.

Which goes a little way to explaining this odd sweater/dress hybrid.

I want to make an all-weather version of Sewaholic’s latest pretty and practical pattern – the Minoru Jacket. Tasia’s sew-a-long begins in earnest in January but I thought I’d get a head start on the muslin being that it usually causes much feet dragging. I had some double-knit which would work and really I just wanted to check that the full-bust adjustment would work okay on the dartless bodice.

Here’s how it went:

(click to enlarge)

ETA: On regular version add the length created at Line 3 to the front placket and zip, too.

 It worked just fine and I now know when it comes to making the real version I’ll need a 34in separating zipper not a 32in due to the additional length from the FBA.

Still I didn’t want to waste a zipper I can’t really afford on a muslin so I thought to myself… what would happen if I cut the front on a fold (adding in the width of the button placket)? Answer is… a Sweater-Dress. It’s very comfortable despite being unlined and the fact I messed the collar up royally. I didn’t notice the front placket went up to the top of the collar so I forgot to add the additional length and then I went and sewed it on backwards. Oh well, good thing it’s just a knock-around for home.

 The pattern itself is so lovely to sew, and now I have my alterations all done I can’t wait for January.

Fall Challenge: The Seasonally Inappropriate Sorbetto

11 Nov

I love this fabric but it is entirely unsuited to the season. A super light weight silk cotton, I purchased it in June with the intent of making a light and floaty summer top. When you see the fabric up-close you can tell the cotton thread is the warp and is a more maroony red than the silk which runs across the weft and is more a burnt orange so it’s nice and breathable with a saturated colour.

The shop I bought it from was my local fabric store in Onehunga and is an Auckland legend. Antique Fabric and Lace have the self-proclaimed “largest range of Beaded Sequin Motifs in the world”. Like a museum they only display a small proportion of their collection at a time and still check out the walls.

I can’t even explain the mix of things you can find here, just look closely at the pictures and you’ll get the idea.

But back to the top…

It’s the trusty Colette Sorbetto pattern, of course, with some alterations.

I split the front and back pieces in half horizontally then slashed the bottom piece in four places from the hem to the stitching line and spread them each an inch apart. The fabric has a nice balance of drape and body so I wanted almost a circle skirt effect. The gaps were filled with tissue and seam allowance added to the midriff top and bottom.

I only had 1.5m of the fabric but it’s quite sheer so I was very lucky to eck out an extra layer for the top of the bodice, the rest is finished with bias strips.

Unfortunately when I tried it on it felt too shapeless and it was too late to add more darts. Instead, I added two black ribbon ties under the bust where a waistline dart would form and when they’re tied they produce  just the right shape.

So there it is, and I think I may be in denial about the cold weather. Still, with a cardigan I think it will still get some wear… silk is warm right?

(Braving the cold)

Floral Straight Skirt: BurdaStyle October 2011-136

16 Oct

The Pattern: Burda Magazine October 2011-#136.

Size: 52 – No alterations.

Fabric: Floral Cotton-Sateen remnant from Ditto Fabrics.

I was on the hunt yesterday for something simple but pretty to wear for my sister’s birthday dinner and this skirt fit the bill perfectly. The fabric has been in my stash a little while after picking it up from the remnant table at Ditto fabrics on a trip to Brighton and I was quite happy to put it into use.

The pattern is from the plus section of October’s Burda Magazine is really just 6 panels with a side zip. It is lined rather than using facings and although the back has two vents, the lining is cut to finish above them so you don’t frazzle your brain attaching it.

In fact, the only thing that required creative thinking was the hem.

The skirt is shaped by the curves of the panels meaning the circumference at the hem is smaller than were it’s folded.

In the end, I unpicked the seams between the top stitching and spread them apart so they sat flush before stitching each panel in place which left everything neat and tidy inside.

On to the fit – for the first time I made a straight size 52 without any alterations which fit fine size-wise although I have a small issue with the shape.

Every figure has it’s quirks to work around and one of mine is a large high hip that juts abruptly out as you can see in this picture.

This means that skirts and pants that sit below the natural waist and with no waistband sit oddly on my hips like my Suedette Skirt (A-line skirts are the worst).

For styles like this I definitely don’t tuck in my top and style-wise, high-waisted pencil skirts are a better way to go (this is where I sing the praises of BurdaStyle Jenny yet again).

Rooibos Sew-along: Muslin Two

24 Aug

 

Today is just a brief one as I’m off to Edinburgh for a couple of days, but I’ve adjusted and re-cut the bodice of my Rooibos muslin so I think I’m ready to roll on the full version, hurray!

Going back to the first muslin here is the photo showing the length issue in the bodice.

The pins indicate where the midriff line should fall.

To make the adjustment I measured the additional length needed (1.75in at the full bust + 1in at the  centre front).

Then I cut a line from beneath the underarm bust dart to the full bust point then vertically down (avoiding the under-bust darts). I left a hinge at the side seam stitching line so the side seam length remained unchanged, then pivoted the bottom piece down 1.75in.

Then I drew a line from the full but point to the centre front (perpendicular to the CF) and slide that piece down 1in before filling the gaps with paper and truing up the line.

This seems to have added the right amount although I had to play with the dart position and length a fair bit in the muslin form because the angle had pivoted down. I think now though, the problem is solved.

Here is the first muslin:

And here is the second:

It certainly feels like a better fit even if the process was somewhat of a guess :)

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