Thursday, 18 April 2013

A Girl Inspired Make a Doll Party

I'm not a very "crafty"* person but when I stumbled across this free tutorial and pattern for a Doll I knew I had to have a go for the sake of my 6 year old daughter.

Today it turned out to be a perfect school holiday activity to keep 4 little girls amused.  They loved the stuffing part and choosing their head, body and legs to make their own customised doll.

I used fabric scraps for everything (so this was a great stashbuster) and only needed to purchase the felt for the hair.  The stuffing was from an old cushion and futon stuffing (yay, recycling).  It didn't take me long, just a couple of quiet evenings to assemble everything and do the faces.





I embroidered the faces on and used black buttons for the eyes and coloured in the checks using a red pencil.

The dolls also served as great entertainment as puppets just before they were stuffed and the legs and bottom sewn up!

The tutorial and pattern was great.  Thank you very much Stef for making it available. 

*By crafty I mean the kind of person who makes stuff (knick-knacks, doo-dads, stuff that does on shelves or walls purely to be looked at), as opposed to clothes or something that has a practical use.  

Monday, 15 April 2013

Lace Yoke Tee and Me Made May 2013

I cobbled together another t-shirt using some scrap lace and this pale pink jersey from fabric.com. The back and sleeves are sheer, the neckline and sleeve edges are bound using a 1" strip of the jersey.  I serged one of the sides, sewed the unserged side right sides together and then flipped over and did a line of top stitching on the lace just catching the serged edge of the strip.  Very easy and non bulky finish. 

The front is lined with the jersey.  I planned to have it sheer but I didn't like how I could see my bra so I lined it.


 




I wore it today with jeans but I think it would look pretty tucked in to a pencil skirt as well for a dressier look.

Anyway, not much more to say about that, its the same self drafted pattern I used for my other t-shirts.

I say it was cobbled together as I really didn't try very hard to make the binding perfect.  It was very much thrown together but hey, its just a t-shirt and its very wearable so I'm glad I didn't waste spend hours extra trying to make it all perfect. 

And also, here is my signup for Me-Made-May-2013.

'I, Janelle of Sew Hopeful, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '13. I will endeavour to wear a handmade or refashioned garment/accessory every day for the duration May 2013'.

me-made-may'13

Me-Made-May was a real turning point for me last year. I met some amazing people who I have maintained contact with over the past 12 months, I got inspired, encouraged and motivated.  I am SO looking forward to it again although it WILL be challenge.

The flickr group is here (no pics until May though) and the twitter hashtag is #MMMay13.  Two weeks to go and no panic sewing happening here (cough cough).

Saturday, 13 April 2013

The Elisalex Dress

Well, I finished my Elisalex dress. I really like it.  Other than the trauma of trying to take some photos for this post (I was all set for a photoshoot outside when my brother-in-law turned up.  There was no way I was going to do the "take 50 photo's of myself in an apparent narcissistic frenzy" in full view of him so I locked myself in the bedroom and hoped for the best.  So sorry about the underwhelming photos but better than mirror selfies I guess).


For a really good rundown of the pattern itself and some other bits of info that I am in full agreement with, have a look at Gabrielle's post of her lovely version here.

One thing I will note is that I would recommend eyeballing the skirt length before cutting it as it is LONG so you don't waste fabric.  I just folded my hem over to take off the length (I don't remember how much but it was several inches) which resulted in a skirt not so pegged at the bottom. 

The fabric was a total bargain - $4/m reduced from $30/m upholstery cotton/linen from Spotlight.  It sewed up beautifully and worked very well with this pattern.  Its not a colour I would normally wear - I think I may look a little washed out in it, but I do love it.  At $8 for the fabric I couldn't go past it.  I underlined the skirt with vintage silk organza from my stash that I purchased as part of a fabric bulk buy off ebay from a lady from Mudgee.  It has found a new home and was basically free.  The bodice is lined in a simple white cotton voile, also from stash.  The priciest part of the dress was the pattern ($20 from sewsquirrel) and the zip - I managed to break two in a row (!!!) before I finally managed to get the third one in trouble free.  I used an invisible zip.

My adjustments

I did make a few adjustments but did not make a muslin as I knew all my adjustments would be to reduce rather than let out.  Here is what I did and I hope this post will be useful to any others making this dress that had trouble with back folds/excess around the shoulder area.


I started with a straight size 6 and basted the bodice pieces together, but not the sleeves.  When I tried it on (tip: I pin a normal zip into the side seam making sure I get the seam allowances right.  It makes it really easy to check the fit on the bodice without having to sew in the back zipper) I saw I had excess fabric around my shoulders giving me wrinkles/folds of fabric front and back and gaping at the armsyce in the front.  The shoulders looked very wide and were drooping off the shoulders.

The fix:

Shaved an extra 1/4 inch off the front princess seam starting just past the notch and back to the armhole.

Took out the shoulder seam basting and repinned so no more excess fabric. The fix essentially doubled my seam allowance up there and also tapered it down and forward slightly (sloping shoulder adjustment of 1/8" and forward shoulder adjustment of 1/2" plus 5/8" extra seam allowance to get rid of gaping/folds/excess fabric.

This meant that my armholes felt too high (note: taking up all that extra fabric at the shoulders did not move the position of the bodice at all from the collar bone down, the adjustment was all in the shoulders) so I lined the orginal bodice pieces up, pinned together and just redrew the armsyce curve, essentially this meant that I lowered it 5/8" - the same amount that I took up in the shoulders.

I am an A-cup but in a padded bra probably measure as a B cup and the bodice size 6 fit my 34" front curves perfectly, other than the small tweak at the armsyce princess seams.  Anyone larger than a B cup will definitely need to do the FBA which By Hand London provide a detailed tutorial for here.

The back was also a bit loose and once the sleeves were in the shoulder still felt a bit "slippy offy" which I fixed as follows:

Stay stitched the back neckline.  Eased the staystitching in a bit, probably an inch all up and then steamed it and pressed it really well with my iron so it did not look gathered and the fabric sat flat again.  The linen-ish fabric behaved really well and did what I wanted.  When I put in the zipper, I increased the top 3 inches of the back seam allowance so it went from 5/8"  at the waist seam and increased another 1/4" at the top.  It kinda made the back seam a slight curve (accounting for my actual shape of a slight curved spine) not a straight line from waist seam up.  This got a really great fit in the back and stopped the sleeves and shoulder from slipping off my tiny narrow forward sloping shoulders.

I also did my usual adjustment to the sleeve head to get rid of excess folds of fabric at the back arm - I flatten out the back curve:

Showing my back arm sleeve adjustment.
Back sleeve adjustment to remove excess fabric
I also adjusted a smidge off the front curve of the sleevehead as well.

The skirt I adjusted as follows:

Once the skirt was attached to the bodice and I tried it on my husband announced that I looked like an Oompa Loompa.  Ha ha.  (think 1971 version) I actually really value his honest feedback and it did look a bit much for my frame so I shaved off an inch each seam tapering back to nothing top and bottom. I didn't want take off too much as I love the skirt shape and its exaggerated curve. 

My pinned skirt side seam adjustment

What I loved about this pattern

Other  than my normal big mess around with the shoulder area, the bodice fitted me really well.  I love the neckline front and back.

The box pleats and shape of the skirt is gorgeous.  The silk organza underlining really added something special, not only to ensuring the skirt shape and pleats sit perfectly but also it dramatically reduces the crease/crush factor of the linen to almost nothing and feels LUSH to wear. 

The pattern is extremely well drafted and came together really well.  Even my adjustments felt easy and trouble-free to do.

As a pear shape I wasn't sure how the skirt would look but I love it.  It actually hides lumps and bumps and skims beautifully over the tummy area.  I wore it for a whole day to a special occasion on Saturday and it was extremely comfortable all day.

The bodice pattern will be used again.  I'm eager to try it with a ponte knit with a half circle skirt and also in a wool crepe with a pencil skirt for a wiggle dress look.

The guts of the dress.  The underlined skirt feels so nice to wear.
Sleeve seam binding
I needed to open up the side seams to hem due to tulip shape.  I did a very hurried catch stitch the night before I wanted to wear it.




 

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Pavlova Top and Skirt


I was a tardy participant to the recent Pavlova 30 Minute a Day Sewalong held by Steph from indi pattern company Sewing Cake.  She recently released a vintage inspired wrap top and circle skirt pattern called the Pavlova.

I have never made a circle skirt before.  I always considered them too bulky for my pear shape and feared they would make look hippy.  Then Steph posted this version in softly draping woolens using a windowpane wool suiting and I really loved it.  I also really liked how the pocket looked in this type of fabric.  I decided I could make it work for me as long as I had a waistband that defined my waist and also got the length right to elongate my legs.  After all, getting the fit right creates a marvelous optical illusion it we do it properly!


So bear with me through a rather detailed post as I really wanted to record the details for my future reference and personal use.  Lots of construction photos and notes, which I love as I find them really helpful.

The Fabric


After reading about the quality, service and cheap shipping over at Fabric.com, I found this wool suiting that looked like it might work. Also, it was on sale for only $3.49/yard and was 60" wide.  Shipping to Australia was a mere $15.00.  So I purchased 2.5 yards and was stunned when it arrived (along with some other goodies) in something like a week.  I highly recommend this site to Australian readers.  It really is good value and worth considering if we can't find what we want locally.

The suiting is much lighter in colour in real life, with a tweedy black and ivory base with gorgeous lines of blue, pink and yellow running through the fabric. I actually really love it. The colours running through it are all colours I love to wear and make it such a versatile base that will work with so many different looks.

I rummaged in my stash and found some ivory merino knit and also some other lightweight coloured knits.  The advantage of running a week behind in the sewalong was that I was able to see the other projects and observe the issues that others were having, which was wonderful as it really helped me.  It is such a wonderful resource to have the input of so many sewers and I always follow the flickr feed closely.

The Pavlova Top Notes


So first up was the top.  I intend to make this up in the ivory merino to fully copy/imitate the Wintry Pavlova look but I decided to do a trial run on the top and used a bright aqua blue knit for my first pavlova top.  It worked beautifully and actually looks great with the skirt. That was an accident on my part but I do find when I buy a fabric I love it automatically seems to co-ordinate with everything else I have.


The lapped neckline finish was much easier to do than I anticipated.  The trick is to closely follow the instructions and match the pictures exactly, and it came together like a dream.

The rest of the top worked up quickly, the most time consuming part was using fusible stay tape on all the seams and then top stitching. I also managed to squeeze this top (size 30) out of 1 metre of fabric.

Pavlova Top Errata

There was one point where the instructions tell you to gather between two notches for bust shaping.  I wanted to point out that the size 30 does not have any notches so this instruction does not apply for this size.

There is one other errata when sewing up the neck facing where you are told to stitch TO the dot.  It should be TOWARDS (as in: in the direction of) the dot.  This is mentioned by Steph in the Sewalong post for those steps,

My Personal Adjustments

The only other change I made to the top was I trimmed off the back "muffin" cover.  I found it fiddly to tuck in and I intend on either wearing this top with a sufficiently high waisted skirt for it not to be needed or as a ballet style wrap over a singlet top with jean.

Next time I will pivot the shoulder darts forward about 1/2" to account for my forward shoulders and perhaps make the front part maybe 1" longer.

The Pavlova Skirt - A semi-couture version


OK, now onto the skirt.  I got rather carried away with the skirt.  The fabric was lovely to work with, it pressed really well and despite being rather heavy, still had lovely drape.

Sizing and Cutting Out

After reading on the Flickr Group pages that many of the skirts were running large I cut two sizes smaller than my size.  I am normally a 27" waist.  I cut a 25". I also eliminated the front and back seam and cut my skirt on the fold and moved my zipper to the side seam.  To reduce the waist stretching out I stay-stitched the waist as soon as it was cut out and eased it in a bit.

The Waistband & Side Zipper - My Personal Adjustments

I used my favourite waistband which is from the Burdastyle Jenny Skirt.  It is a two piece waistband with shaped side seams.  The zipper is inserted running right up the top of the waistband on the side and gives a great fit and a clean look.  I used an invisible zipper which was a bit tough to get it close on the waistband seams.

Seam Finishes

I used hong kong seams for the side seams.


On internal seams (eg: the pocket seams and the waistband) I catch stitched the seam allowance to the organza underlining.  I was basically practising some techniques I have learnt from the Craftsy Couture Dress course.  And then I decided it was fraying so terribly and to reduce waistband bulk I would use my lining fabric to face the waistband so I catch stitched the seam allowance to the organza and then attached my lining by hand.



Because of how I did the waistband and also because I wanted something silky not rough against my skin and to reduce the bulk in the waistband, I faced it with my lining fabric.  Because I was really getting into the whole handstitching thing I did this by hand.

The Shell Pocket

When I started the pocket, by this stage I was in love with the organza on the waistband so I decided to underline the pocket pieces as well.  The wool is a fairly loose weave so this way I can be confident that the pocket won't distort from use.

Underlined and 3 pintucks done
Pintucks finished.  I used a tiny tuck and love the finished effect

To avoid bulk I sandwiched my pocket piece in between
the top band front and facing
A peek inside the pocket band.  I hand stitched the lining to the
pocket so I could be sure the lining was not seen from outside.
Plus by this stage I was addicted to catch stitching so I did it
inside the pocket as well.
I attached the pocket by hand because I didn't want a topstitched look for this fabric.  I used a double thread for strength and reinforced the top corners so the pocket was firmly attached.


The Hem

Well, the challenge of a circle skirt is all in the hem.  It is a CHALLENGE to get the hem straight.  I had the awesome secret weapon of my mothers amazingly accurate eye.  I put my skirt on and she adjusted the hem by eyeballing it.  We worked out that the last time I stood on a chair while she levelled my hem was about 30 years ago! When I was 12! But Mum certainly hasn't lost her skill.  Thanks Mum.

I hand stitched the hem and did a simple double fold hem.  I thought that would add a bit of body to the hem.  I found I had to stitch quite loosely so I didn't get a ridge line.  This fabric was great to hand stitch.  I wasn't trying that hard but my stitches just completely disappeared into the fabric.

So thats it.  My beautiful woollen Pavlova skirt and top.  I am thrilled with the finished look: the top and skirt work so well together or as separates.  The minor issues with the pattern are all well and truely made up for by all the extra information and advice on the sewingcake.com website. 








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