Sunday, 26 July 2015

Audrey Dress

Who doesn't love the simple classic elegance that was Audrey Hepburn.  Whenever I see a classic black dress I think of her.  Prior to making my Anise Jacket, I wanted a classic wool dress to wear for events this winter, and it turned out just as I envisaged.

To get the look I was after I mishmashed a variety of patterns together:

For the sleeves I used Butterick 5813, which have a wonderful triple elbow dart.  This feature allow for a close fitting sleeve that still allows for plenty of movement.  You can read a great post about this feature over at Iconic Patterns here.

Close up of sleeve darts.
For the bodice I used a combination of Simplicity 1873 (made before but not yet blogged) and the neckline of the Emery dress, which I have made before here and here.

It was blowing a gale in these photos.
To make sure the sleeves fit, I measured the armscye and the sleeve head, and ended up trimming a bit off the top of the sleevehead to get a perfect fit, very much like this tutorial.  The Fashion Incubator post about Sleeve cap ease is also worth a read here.  I also made a slight forward shoulder adjustment on the sleeve which you can see in the picture below the curve of the sleeve cap is pushed forward slightly, you can see a great illustration showing this over at In House Patterns. The sleeve is a size 12.

For the skirt I used a simple half circle skirt, drafted some time ago using this spreadsheet from Patty the Snug Bug, or you can use this online app from By Hand London and added pockets from whatever pattern was handy, probably the Emery.  It actually was a skirt I had already made ages ago but I removed the waistband and added the bodice and pockets.

Its sounds like a bit of faffing about but really very simple - I used the patterns that I knew fit me well and gave me the look I was after.  Here is a shot on my dress form so you can see the darts and it without belt, the dress is a little wrinkled after being worn all morning...

I lined the bodice in cotton voile and the skirt in the same lining that I used for my Jacket (although I don't intend to wear them together), which makes the top comfortable and breathable and the skirt silky for wearing with stockings or tights.

The back zipper I hand picked, I really love how the stitches just disappear on a spongy fabric like the crepe.

I adore this dress.  Its one of those "bucket list" dresses that I have wanted to own ever since I saw Audrey in her stunning black dress in Sabrina.

I also have a new camera - my first ever DSLR, a Nikon D5500 with the 18-55mm VRII lens kit.
I chose this one purely because I could use my reward points to buy it, the lens is just a "entry level" lens but a billion times better than what I have been using. It's been fun learning how to take shots with it.  It takes such clear pictures I felt obliged to (sorry, very dodgy job) blur my background in these shots so that the sign behind me wasn't readable and announcing my address to the internet. Please bear with me while I work out what on earth I am doing but hopefully I will be able to show some improved photos eventually on the old blog. 

And of course, how awesome are pockets:

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Emery Cabbage Roses

I forgot to blog this dress! Its the Emery dress, this is made up exactly as is with only a small forward shoulder adjustment.  The fit on the sleeve is very good which tells me it is drafted for those with a forward shoulder.  I found the fit in the waist rather loose and ended up taking it in, in fact the over all sizing is intended to be looser so if you want a close fit (and you are small busted), size down.  Because of the loose-ish fit I prefer to wear it with a belt. 

I personally am not a fan of gathered skirts, they always feel frumpy on me, but I decided to follow the pattern exactly as I hadn't made a gathered skirt before and wanted to give the look a proper "go".  The end result is that I prefer the look with heels but that really is my own personal preference.

I HATE what I ended up doing with the pattern placement so ended up with a big honking cabbage in the middle of my chest (what was I thinking, I ask, what!!!!).

The fabric is a Kaffe Fassett print of cabbage roses.  It was much softer and drapier to work with that a standard quilting cotton and worked beautifully for a dress.  I was inspired to use this print after seeing it made here by Leisl - just beautiful!

Would love to get my hands on some more Kaffe Fassett fabric so I can make another dress with some better print placement.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Colette Anise Jacket #2

This is my second version of the Colette Anise Jacket and what a world of difference a couple of years of experience makes, as I viewed this pattern so differently this time around, with a much more critical eye.

This version is heaviliy modified from my first version, I adjusted the fit on the back significantly to remove the boxiness from my first version and added in a small narrow back adjustment which made a massive difference to improving the fit.

Basic Cutting:

Size 4 front and sleeves
Back is so modified its hard to say but it ended up smaller than a size 0
Size 0 (slightly less) shoulders
Sleeve caps reduced to less than a size 0
Added 2"/5 cm to the length
Reduced the downward curve in the hem (not obvious on the pattern line drawings but on my shape it dipped/curved down significantly at the back back) - it didn't take it all out, but I made the curve less dramatic.

Adjustments and associated Helpful Tutorials:

Narrow Back Adjustment (about halfway down this post)
Narrow Shoulder Adjustment (from the Colette Anise Sewalong) - my shoulder width ended up roughly on the size 0 line
Forward Shoulder Adjustment (rotated the shoulder seam forward by 1cm).  Instead of adjusting the sleeve, I just rotated the sleeve forward by 1 cm to match the new shoulder seam.
General useful posts on the Colette Anise Sewalong
Everything from my library of Tailoring books.
Bound Buttonholes Patch Method.

Materials Used:

A medium weight black wool crepe, it was lovely to work with and extremely forgiving.
Vintage black buttons inherited from my great aunty, probably from the 1950s.

The lining is from the Alannah Hill Clear It store in Melbourne.  I was so overwhelmed when I finally made it there that I ended up buying a heap of lining fabrics, some buttons and not much else. 


The entire jacket is underlined in silk organza.


Rather than fusing the interfacing direct to the wool crepe, I followed the suggestions by Sandra  Betzina who says "Application of fusible interfacing onto the wool crepe is not recommended because it changes the hand of this beautiful fabric. Fuse interfacing to jacket underlining." This worked beautifully.

I used Pro-Weft Supreme Light for the body and Pro-Weft Supreme Medium for the collar and shoulder reinforcement, all from Fashion Sewing Supply.

What I Did Different to the Colette Instructions:

Added in a back stay and shoulder reinforcement, as per instructions from my Tailoring book. 

I completely ignored the instructions for the lining and instead bagged the lining by machine using my usual method, including the excellent steps for machine finishing the area where the lining and the facing meet up.

It completely does my head in that the suggested method for finishing off the hem of the facing and lining is this (go to the last image), which is to trim off the facing to a standard seam allowance, and then "Turn the facing front (E) back to the inside of the garment. Hand stitch the hem of the facing to the hem of the jacket using a fell stitch".  I followed this to the letter with my first jacket because I didn't know any better and I am totally bamboozled by the unfinished and exposed hem of the facing.  It looks so bad.  Also not machine finishing/closing the facing hem is just unexplicable, but I guess Colette was trying to keep it simple for beginners.  Needless to say I got away with this in my first jacket due to using a wool melton but the finish on this wool crepe version looks a billion times better .

I also really hated how the instructions have you just zigzag or serge the bottom edge of the welts where it joins to the pocket lining.  Although it is inside the pocket this would annoy me everytime I put my hands inside the pockets, so I made bias strips from the lining and hong kong bound those edges without adding too much bulk.

A black jacket is rather tricky to take photos of but here are some finished shots...

I have a comfortable jacket to wear, it took way too long to make, with plenty of mistakes along the way, but now that its done I am happy.  I don't think I will make this pattern again though, the next time I am inclined to make a double breasted jacket I plan to tackle this one, Vogue 1467 (minus the super shiny buttons though).

One thing is for sure: wool crepe is just wonderful to sew with an to wear.  My question is: why is it so difficult to find here in Australia?  Does anyone know some good local sources for wool crepe? The downturn in the Australian dollar combined with massively increased postage costs mean that ordering from overseas is no longer as easy as it once was.

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.
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