Monday, 22 June 2015

Projects in process - coat and jacket making, and great discoveries

Its what passes for winter here in Sydney and while the northern blogosphere are in full blown summer dress mode I have been working with wool, and along the way making some thrilling discoveries.

First up, I am making a second version of the Collete Anise Jacket.  My first one has died, in part due to its lack of interfacing but also the fabric had held up rather disappointedly for a wool melton.

I've taken the opportunity to apply the experience since I last made this  two years ago, making some considerable adjustments to the pattern in terms of fit.

This new and vastly improved version I am making is a beefy wool crepe, underlined in silk organza and also interfaced.  I found some good information relating to working with wool crepe, one tip being to not fuse interfacing directly to the wool, rather to underline and fuse the interfacing to the underlining.  I've done this and it is working beautifully.

Thrilling discovery #1 - I know so much more about fitting and jacket making than I did two years ago.  This Anise jacket has been a completely different experience made with very different eyes.

Second up I have been looking around for a point presser, a clapper and sleeve board to assist in the tailoring process and found this Australian supplier - Judi's Studio.  I have just ordered the new supplies from them and I'm very excitedly awaiting my delivery!

Thrilling discovery #2 - An Australian made supplier of quality hard to find tailoring tools.

Thirdly, after seeing this review by Tany from the wonderful Couture et Tricot blog on a new to me designer I have splurged on the Cassock Coat pattern by BCN Unique Patterns.  Tany gives a great overview about Paco Peralta and his work here.  I was absolutely taken in by the beautiful sleeve head shape seen in this post here - I just knew from the shape of it that I needed to get my hands on the pattern.  The pattern arrived very quickly all the way from Spain and it comes hand traced and writen on by hand by Paco - the pattern itself is made using couture methods, and I am so excited about starting it!

Thrilling discovery #3 - Language is no barrier when you have google translate!

I also have some finished projects to post - my most favourite being a wool crepe dress with a triple darted sleeve, but struggling to find a moment for photo's.  Soon I hope! Prepare for a blogging onslaught.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Vogue 8379 Wrap Dress

I finally made Vogue 8379.  I was inspired by the Wrap Dress Sewalong hosted by Meg at McCalls.  So many great versions were popping up and the long sleeve version is so perfect for the in-between weather Sydney is getting right now.

Vogue 8379 Wrap Dress

Overall, I am very happy with the fit.  I cut a size 12 which is a little roomy, next time I will do a 10.  I did a small bust adjustment on the front, folding out two little tucks from the neckline and the facing using the tutorial from the sewalong here, and it was very effective.  I didn't sew any twill tape to the neckline though as I felt that was overkill and the area is already well stabilised from the interfaced facing piece.

Vogue 8379 Wrap Dress

I cut one tie piece longer than the other so that when tied they ended up the same length.  The overlap/top/right side is longer and the underlap/underneath/left side is the shorter.

Vogue 8379 Wrap Dress

I also did a forward shoulder adjustment, not just on the shoulder bodice pieces (I pivoted it forward 1 cm or 3/8th") but also on the sleeve. Usually I am lazy and just move the shoulder notch forward, which is perfectly acceptable and gives a good result but this time (and in all makes I've done since, because it results in a perfectly fitting sleeve) I have done the actual adjustment on the sleeve.  This involves "pushing" the top of the sleeve cap forward - you are removing excess fabric from the back and adding it to the front.   A good illustration for this is here.  The black line is a standard sleeve cap, the green and red lines both show two levels of a forward shoulder adjustment.   A great tutorial on this is here - its so clear and shows the "flatter back" and "bubbled front" really well.

I also didn't make the cuffs as per pattern, I just did simple bands.

The fabric is a cheap ITY knit from  I was a bit taken aback as I didn't really know what an ITY knit was when I ordered it and when I received it, it seemed very "swimwear".  Now it is made up it is lovely and silky to wear.  It's a great travel dress as it doesn't need ironing but I am a bit ambivalent about the polka dots.  

In summary, great pattern, I love the sleeves, the pleats in the front are very flattering and I have two (or three) more fabrics ready to make some more of this pattern and also McCalls 6884.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

That lace dress, Mark II. AKA the hundred hour dress AKA morphing Vogue 8766 to Butterick 5748

This dress had been completely made to almost finished stage when I decided I didn't like it.  Because I am a total perfectionist, and love to torture myself, I unpicked it completely and started again.

Lace Dress

This time I decided to underline in a lovely cotton voile in a soft creamy yellow from Spotlight.  It worked much better than the silk I used before (you can see the previous version of this dress here).  The lace is rather heavy and using a soft drapey silk as the underlining caused all kinds of problems with how the lace sat.  With the more stable voile it behaved much better.  I also took the time to run horizontal rows of basting in a fine silk basting thread, which also helped the lace and underlining act as a single layer.  I did this for the bodice but the skirt is free hanging and only attached as the side and centre back seams.

Lace Dress

Next up I recut the bodice in a completely new pattern.  Instead of Vogue 8766 I switched to the bodice of Butterick 5748, I managed to do this as I was cutting a full size or two down.  As I didn't have enough length to cut the full bodice out of the old pieces, I modified the pattern to make a wide midriff yoke, which I was able to eke out of the unused sleeve pieces.  I also had to cut the shoulder straps thinner, which makes the bodice a little skimpy for me but I plan to make a linen jacket to wear with it so I don't feel so bare.  The benefit of this is that the vertical join in lace on the bodice front (just slightly to the left of the centre front in the pictures) is now virtually invisible.

Lace Dress

Sorry for the life of me I couldn't manage a decent shot of the back.  I am still doing dodgy phone camera photos - the zipper doesn't look straight to me but I am hoping it is just how I am standing - that zipper got handpicked in three times and I am finally running out of enthusiasm to fix everything.

Finally I recut the skirt pieces using Gerties pencil skirt pattern from her first book, which is a good shape for me, and shortened it a tad, which brought the heavy lace pattern up near my hips to a more flattering place.  I also pivoted out the darts in the lace layer of the skirt to remove some of the bulk there as that top band of lace on the skirt is really heavy - it broke my overlocker thread trying to finish off the seams.

Lace Dress side

These photos ended up being the best of the lot - I really struggle with the photo taking at the moment, le sigh. 

So internally it is fully lined with the same cotton voile as the underlining which hides any shadowing from the seams showing through.  It also gives the dress a nice firmness, and feels lovely to wear.  There was a fair bit of handsewing in this dress and it really did drag on a bit too long, I was totally flagging at the end, but I am happy to have something wearable, although now the weather has shifted in Sydney and its much cooler, so I have to wait I think till next summer to wear it, which is OK as it gives me some time to make a lovely linen jacket to wear with it.  Any ideas for colours to wear with this dress?

So there you go, I finally got to  use the lovely lace from Mel from Poppykettle.
Thanks Mel!!


Tuesday, 3 March 2015

A Jaywalk Maxi Dress - Vogue 1027

Remember the Jaywalk sewing competition from Tessuti last year? I purchased some the fabric mainly because it was so well priced for a good quality jersey and then sat on it for the entire competition.  I am not very competitive by nature, so wasn't really interested in entering, although seeing all the entries was very handy to help me decide what I wanted to make with my share of fabric.  The pinterest board is great!

For casual daywear in summer, I live in maxi dresses.  So I made up the Vogue 1027 bodice with a self-drafted quarter circle maxi skirt. 

Like alot of other people with this fabric, I had fun matching stripes for some cool chevron effects.

I ended up with matched chevrons at both the side and front and back seams, which I was really happy about.

Bit of a sway back adjustment needed
For the next time I make this pattern I can see I need a swayback adjustment. This pattern does run large.  I sized down one size from my measurements when I made it.  It is looser now as I have lost a bit of weight but the one size down worked ok when I first made it.   I wear this with a belt to break up the stripes.

The front waistline is a bit uneven, but as I always wear a belt, I can live with it.  I finished the neckline and sleeves with a band rather than the suggested fold over and stitch method.  The bands help prevent gaping - I stretched them quite a bit as I was sewing them on.  I probably pulled the neck band a bit too tight as you can see it is pulling up at the waistline a bit, but it makes it feel nice and secure when I am wearing it.  I reinforced the shoulder seams of this dress with some rayon seam binding tape.

I've made this dress before in a solid black crepe jersey which is impossible to photograph, but like everyone who has made this pattern, I really love it and highly recommend it. 

I also really love the drape of a 1/4 circle skirt.  It works so well for a maxi skirt, and is not as much of a fabric hog as other styles. 

I have the other colourway of Jaywalk and have made that up into a maxi dress too, but with the stripes doing something totally different.  Its a great fabric and has held up really well to repeated machine washings.
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