Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Summer rain Lady Skater

So this dress has been a long time in the making. Probably about 3 or 4 years. After meeting the charming kitschy-coo at the Crafter's Ceilidh back in the day I purchased some lovely raindrop print jersey from her shop (stop by- she has a great selection now too!). I always intended to make it into a Lady Skater - but I was always too chicken because I liked the fabric too much!

So... years pass and I eventually decide to cut in! Of course then I realise that I only bought a meter and a half... Sigh.  Cue the most fiddly and time consuming piece layout jigsaw I've ever attempted!  It took about 2 hours and at the end I had all my pieces and a remarkably tiny amount of scraps- this dress ended up almost zero waste! I did have to piece the sleeves and back waistband but otherwise perfect! Here are the remains!

Once cut out it was very straightforward - the pattern goes together very easily. I was a little worried it would be too tight and too short, and I didn't have any extra fabric to extend, but I needn't have worried. I added an inch to each side bust area and it was all fine. The dress is super comfy and relaxed, though perhaps a little mad due to the raindrops! It still needs hemming but I'm at my parents and forgot to bring the hemming tape!

I also managed the best neck binding in my history - its not perfect, but it lies properly flat and hugs my upper chest - Result!

Thanks as before to my lovely photographer (ie my sister with time on her hands!) who coaxed some half decent facial expressions out of me (let's forget about the 30 or so photos that did not make the cut due to my inexplicable face pulling!). Also thanks to my mother, who's gardening skills have really paid off!

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

The weekend of binding begins...

So, stretch binding isn't really my thing. I've only managed two tops with bound necks that were remotely wearable, and one of them only works because the top is so slouchy! 
This weekend however I made / altered a number of things, most of which involved  stretch binding. I can't say I'm a pro now unfortunately - the last thing I made has ground to an unfinished halt after a few too many binding ****ups! But my technique has improved substantially. 

Item 1 - recutting a neckline in a scuba dress.

I found this rtw dress and loved the pattern and fit. The neckline however I was underwhelmed by. I tend to avoid high neck things to avoid the dreaded 'shelf boob', and while this isn't too bad for that, it's a little sportier looking than I like on me. (I am not sporty - a few years ago I took a quiz on the BBC website where you put in your age and general athleticism and it suggested the perfect Olympic sport for you - I got lawn bowls.)

I cut in a lower scoop neck (luckily the scuba meant it wasn't going to misshape). I then thought I'd have a go with some fold-over elastic I'd ordered after everyone on the Internet talked about it all the time.

Now fold-over elastic is easy to use. Of course that does require you to use it properly. ... I did no research and plowed in. Do not try to insert it in one go. It doesn't work. At all. Look at this mess.

I did some googling (and cursing), and realised I should have sewed it on the back first, and used a zig zag. I cut off the previous effort (screw seam ripping!) And tried again. Much better! It is lucky I was using scuba though as a softer knit would probably not have been recoverable so easily!

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Peacock (D)ruyere

Well I did it – I have completed the thing I always wanted to do but never have previously managed – I made something that fit, kept the pattern in a useable and understandable state and then made another thing using it without faffing about! Yeah! Unprecedented. Which is very silly given the dramas I have fitting things.

I took my Bruyere shirt pattern and made it into a dress! (Apologies for the creases -I had been wearing it!) The dress part was easy enough –I just lengthened the bottom section and added in extra width to the skirt so that it would fit over my hips properly. To make it a bit different on top I lowered the front and back neckline into deep scoops and took off the sleeves. I again dodged the buttonholes (my machine has been playing up and also, I just hate doing buttonholes!) and instead added on my new bright blue snaps.

It’s very comfortable dress to wear, I again used some lovely eBay rayon, this time from here, in this fabulous peacock print. I made no attempt to match as the pattern is massive and a sort of border print with a repeat so giant I couldn’t really spot it.  I did try and avoid any massive peacock print mishaps with pattern placement but I didn’t quite manage it –though the massive print across the bust is much less obvious in person.

In fact, that’s basically the story of the whole dress – I foresaw several problems and took steps to avoid them, and yet they all still seem to have snuck in anyway (though presumably less than they would otherwise have! So close! Just like the print issue however they all look way worse in the photos than in real life! (Oh unforgiving cameras! Anyone else like a project less once they’d photographed it?

I know from previous experience that if you drastically scoop out a neckline you get massive neckline/armpit gaping (not entirely sure why.. but is a definitely a general principle). I therefore rotated the straps in a bit on the front and back to stop this – I clearly did not do this enough though so at some point I’ll put in some darts which will hopefully help reduce the gap and strap slippage.

I feared that the skirt might hang a bit flat with the inverted box pleats. It does. I ironed the pleats quite a long way down and I don’t think this helped. It will probably look better when they've relaxed a bit. It looks much better in real life though as it moves quite nicely.

I also feared that my press on snaps wouldn’t go through the extra thick bits of the placket, and they didn’t, but I bodged that by sewing large snaps on the inside (with extras at the key gap spots) and then glued snap parts onto the front at those places so it looks like each one is a normal snap. This worked well.

Overall I like it – it’s very cool and comfy to wear and though the neckline is a bit gapey it’s also very flattering. I see myself getting a lot of wear out of this in the summer. I am also very pleased that for the first time ever I sewed up a bodice from a pattern and it fit perfectly (neckline aside obs!). I shall adjust the strappy pattern and put it aside carefully!

(In other news - I obviously didn’t have my lovely paparazzi sister to take these pictures and I couldn’t find my camera or tripod so I did it myself using my phone and a complex web of tape and pins stuck to the shoulder of my dress form! Worked pretty well! I am especially pleased with the burst function on my new phone camera app that I can set to take 10 pictures in a row, one every 2 seconds – really takes the stress out of photos without a remote). 

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Fitting clues

One of the hardest things about sewing is working out how to fit yourself- but it's also the most rewarding -and often the reason we started in the first place! As a beginner though it is very hard to know where to start. There is a wealth of tutorials out there for every fitting dilemma, but without knowing what you are googling its harder to find them.

I have therefore made a diagram with many of the common fitting changes on it. Obviously I haven't included everything - but I hope I've got most of them (let me know if you think any obvious ones are missing!). I have also not included any links (except to the insanely thorough pants fitting guide by Colette patterns which is amazingly detailed and I know nothing about pant fitting myself!) as everyone finds different resources helpful and I certainly haven't seen the whole internet!

I've done it by body area, and generally stuck to things which wouldn't automatically require you to just make a different size -though I have pointed this out as an option in some places. For each problem I have just listed possible solutions -obviously you need to look at your body and google stuff and see which one is likely to help you.

I hope this is helpful!

(EDIT -for some reason the image isn't coming up on mobiles-probably too big, so click through to the full page if you want to see it or here.)

Monday, 4 April 2016

Check out the "pins" on this lady!

It's only been a bajillion years since I made Agentha (my dressmakers dummy) (see here and here for the how to) and since then she's been attached to an extremely wobbly lamp stand. This meant that she kept falling over backwards and sideways - not entirely helpful! She also had stuffing falling out from having to wedge her on the lamp (which led to some impertinent remarks from my mother!). In addition -she was a good 5 inches shorter than me - not helpful for hems.

So I finally got round to giving her legs! (Well one leg!) It's a simple metal coatstand - only I attached the hooky bits upside down.  Somewhat magically it's exactly the right height and hooked perfectly into her neck so she needs no stuffing at all! She's now super stable, very light and perfect! She looks somewhat wonky in the picture - sadly that's because I am! Nothing like blog photos to show you how uneven your shoulders are!

Friday, 25 March 2016

First Swallows of Summer Bruyere shirt

Attention all -  I LOVE this shirt! It is by far my favourite thing I have ever made! It makes me feel super summery (especially combined with the fact the sun shone today) and also slightly like a waitress in a 50s beach bar, which I like.

As I said in an earlier post, I never find shirts that fit, and yet am too chicken to make them. Enter the Bruyere by Deer and Doe, a shirt with slightly more curves and character than your average work wear staple and hopefully easier to fit with less emphasis on bajillions of perfect button holes. 

Now some places call this pattern intermediate, and some advanced... eek! However I can safely say that the vast a majority of it is perfectly straightforward. I cheated a little as I skipped the long sleeves and cuffs, instead going for short sleeves with cut on cuffs. I have never made a shirt before, and collars and stuff are new, but it all worked out ok luckily! 

First up - the absolute star of this shirt is the fabric. I had a revelation a while ago that if I made shirts out of viscose (rayon to you yanks) I wouldn't immediately sweat straight through them. I therefore did some internet searching, and came across this stunning blue, cream and pink swallow fabric on Ebay (still some available here if anyone wants any). It's very drapey and was a little fiddly to cut but hangs and presses be-au-tifully. I bought it and was so keen to have a shirt made of it I used it for the first go at the pattern which I felt was bold -but successful! I only bought 2m rather than the 2.5/3 they suggest but as I shortened the sleeves this was fine. I made no attempt whatsoever to pattern match as it was such a bit and complex pattern but I did make sure I wasn't going to have any weird combinations/placement. 

I'm trying to stick to the theory about not being negative in these posts and its surprisingly hard, as there are a lot of flaws- but amazingly basically none are visible! yay! 

I did a "me" FBA, basically cutting it a bit big and then pinning it on Agnetha. I did however use this excellent post in the Curvy Sewing Collective about how to rotate bulk out of darts into different places so the darts are much smoother than usual. I added an extra dart into the armscye which was very effective. I was very worried when I was making the shirt as I couldn't really try it on until the very end and I was terrified it wouldn't fit -but then it did! LIKE A GLOVE !

There were a few hiccups during construction but mainly due to me skipping through the instructions and missing bits! The button band was a little narrow for my buttons and I liked the way it looked when I pinned it up so I instead just sewed giant snaps to the inside for a cleaner and less "pully" look. Buttons and the larger bust can be a bit tricky so I just avoided it. 

Main pattern adjustments  - short sleeves (I just cut them off square about the right length plus a bit and then turned them up),  FBA and I lengthened the bodice about an inch. I also put the sleeves in on the flat (partly by preference and partly as I missed the instruction to sew up the sides!) and no buttons. 

Again- I just LOVE this! The photoshoot was masterminded by my sister who enjoyed herself immensely being photographer! (EDIT - I've just noticed my collar is rucked up - it sits fine usually!)