Sunday, 14 December 2014

I'm back! With a Shirtdress!

Hello guys! I took a little break from blogging due to life, and I'm back!

This shirtdress.... wow. It wasn't an easy road!
I first attempted it about a year ago, when I decided to make the Shirtwaist dress from Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing. WOW, it was a huge disaster on so many levels. I never got past the "muslin hell" stage, due to a series of wrong fitting decisions (also, the pattern seems oddly drafted. Mine was about an inch too wide in the shoulders, and I have seen others mention this too). This meant I spent loads of time on making ill-fitting, sad, muslins. I set it aside, defeated.

Recently my determination was renewed so I tried again. (I can somewhat blame Mary from Idle Fancy with her rad shirt dresses and the sewing challenge she created too!) My idea was to frankenpattern Gertie's shirt dress with my new bodice block, thus circumventing the "muslin hell" stage. It did NOT work- I simply couldn't figure it out, and then I actually realised that the collar on Gertie's shirtdress is actually.... really weird looking. The floral sample in her book disguises it, but split of the collar seems to sit on top of the shoulders and just looks odd to me. I've looked at people's makes around the internet and yeah, just weird. Don't like it.

This pattern is my nemesis.

Plan B: A shirt dress with a GOOD-looking collar. 

The lovely Juliet lent me Simplicity 1880 because I decided the collar was nice-looking. I did have to spend a bit of time figuring out how to frankenpattern the collar onto my bodice block though! I had to compare the back and front necklines and change my block's necklines to match the Simplicity pattern. I essentially just made it up and fudged it, so I wasn't sure of myself.  I was really happy when I sewed it up and it totally looked like a REAL COLLAR OMG!

Small note on deceptive pattern art: Look at how different the short sleeve in the fashion drawing 2nd from the left is, to the photo of the same sleeve in yellow.

So this is a frankenpattern of three patterns. 
The first pattern is Vogue 8766, the pattern I used to create my fitted bodice block (which took a lot of effort and 3 muslins to get fitting right). This is my fifth dress using this base pattern. Why reinvent the wheel?  Banish muslins to hell where they belong!!

The second pattern is Simplicity 1880 (shown above) which I took the collar and sleeves from.

The third pattern is the Shirtwaist dress from Gertie's Book, which I took the skirt and pockets from.

I have my hands in the pockets in pretty much all these pictures, pockets are so good!

Mine is a lot more fitted than both of the shirt dress patterns I stole from; I used plain darts, while the others use gathers, pleats, and shirring to create a more voluminous bodice. Maybe I'll give it a try sometime in a softer fabric. But seriously, look how those darts fit! Like a dream! No pointy boobies today. Linen, you are so kind (enough that I'll forgive you for the rumpling! It's especially bad after you sit down for a while).

I forgot line up the pleats on the skirt with my bodice darts while frankenpatterning, but I've fixed it on the pattern for next time. It doesn't stand out in this fabric anyway.

Oh yeah, and I made this flower headband thingy out of fake flowers I sewed onto elastic! Sorry, I forgot to get better pics. Hopefully I'll remember for next time.

Construction thoughts:

I feel like I stretched out the bias on the side seams when dealing with the pockets. I sewed them on (without getting as far as sewing up the side seams), but then ripped them off when they looked super low. I compared them to the pockets on my Cambie pattern, and those are 5" higher. What the heck, Gertie? Ya got me again!! I moved them up by 4" as a compromise (just to be different, I dunno). For the record, the top of these are 2.5" below the waist seam. I think they would have been awkward if I'd left them low.

Regardless of the trouble these caused me, pockets are SO worth it! Whenever I make a dress or skirt without them, my hands keep searching for them!

I messed up soooo many times while sewing this, but I kept charging ahead. Many seams were ripped. I also messed up the hem (out of both mistakes and then laziness)- it's super uneven on the inside but it looks fine on the outside, so whatever.

The collar instructions weren't the best, but I got there in the end, albeit not as perfectly sewn as I'd like. I think next time I'll draft an undercollar too so the facing will hopefully roll under perfectly.

I sewed the buttons on by machine with my new button foot! Wow, that made life a LOT easier. Now I just hope they stay on! A button popped off my corduroy Beignet skirt while I was wearing it this week. Oops, shoddy workmanship....

I decided to use the cuffs from Gertie's sleeves on these sleeves. I quite like it, but I might shorten them and perhaps snug the sleeves in a bit more at the bottom too if I make it again. Oh yeah, and they are supposed to be eased in to the shoulder, but I just gathered them. Haha! Hey, I'd had way too much troubleshooting to do already so I decided to pick my battles. Plus, I like gathers!

My next shirt dress will be so much easier (well, I'd hope so anyway)! Puff sleeves make layering a little awkward (cardigans look odd on top!), so I might try plainer sleeves next time? Anyway, I'm so happy I persisted after all the trouble I had. Victory is mine!!

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Completed Knit: Chuck!

Ahh, a nice wooly, long-sleeved Chuck, just in time for Summer. Hmmm.

Anyway, I'm finally getting around to blogging this! Yay! This has been on my to-make list for ages, and Lauren can take credit for adding fuel to the fire with her dang cute version.

I don't have a whole heap to say about it, as it wasn't too involved! I chose about 3" of negative ease. I also am now (due to my love of/compulsion for fitting modifications) addicted to adding bust darts to knits. So there are bust darts, which keep the waistline more level and really, just satisfy my knitting nerdyness. I wrote more about them in my last knitting project, if you want the dirt.

I also lengthened it, as I wanted it slightly past the waist. Why? I hate that awkward situation that arises when you wear something cropped with a skirt that sits at the waist, and the top is just a little toooo cropped, so it rises up and flashes whatever you're wearing underneath. It simply won't do! Plus, I think it's flattering sitting below the waist.

In order to lengthen it, I added an extra cable twist in between the two main cabled repeats.

As usual, I lengthened the sleeves to full length. I just don't see the point in 3/4 sleeves when you're trying to cozy up in wool. Plus, I'm extremely cold-blooded so will get much more wear out of it this way.


Back view + well hidden camera remote (lol)

I always end up looking cheesy for the self-timer!
Also, I'll probably be blogging less for the next wee while. I'll miss it though! I have some big time-sucks coming up, so no time to sew unfortunately. Oh well, that's life! I'll still be around though :D

Friday, 31 October 2014

Cat Lady Sewing Challenge!

OMG CATS!! I jumped on Erin's Cat Lady Sewing Challenge as a great excuse to get a crazy cat dress into my life.

The awesome ladies of the WSBN pounced on this idea too, and we themed a meet up around it. Cats everywhere! If you want to stalk their blogs, they are all listed in that link ;)

Check out the cute fabric! I got it from fabric pixie, an Australian website.

We went to the botanical gardens, so here I am in a greenhouse pretending to know things about flowers (I don't know anything about flowers).

This is a pattern which may be becoming familiar to you all- my bodice block created from Vogue 8766. It took forever to fit, so now I'm going to thrash it! And a flared, gathered skirt from New Look 6799 which I've used several times now too.  If it ain't broke, right??

I changed the neckline and drafted a Peter Pan collar.
The thing about self-drafting is that you can't blame some designer if it looks funny. I was quite relieved that the collar looked quite "collar-y" by the end of it.  Teresa reassured me that it definitely "looked like a thing".
It took me ages to sew though. I have new respect for the Peter Pan collar. I had to trim, clip, and press quite aggressively to get it looking rounded! I think I also need to work on my sewing precision next time.  I drafted an undercollar with turn of cloth factored in, but you can see in this close-up, it's rolling out a tiny bit at the fronts.

Do you have any pointers for the shape of my collar or its construction?

Also, shoulder wrinkles! It might just be the way I'm standing, or I might need a sloping shoulder adjustment.
I underlined the bodice, as I felt the cotton was a little lightweight. I also lined the skirt, and I made up my own way of getting it in, because I'm sick of trying to look up the "right" way to do things, and wasting hours on the internet. lol! One day I'll know!

Lining, lining hem. lining is hand-stitched to invisible zip, but hangs freely below it.

Underlining is fancy times, because you can hand stitch the facing to it invisibly! No top-stitching here! I cut my own bias strips to face the neckline and armholes. I screwed it up the first time I did it, by using the collar fabric, which was a bit stiff, and not very malleable. The next time, I used the soft underlining fabric which worked much better. I also took the opportunity to scoop the armhole lower, as well as scooping the armholes a bit at the front and back too. What confused me about that was I've already made a sleeveless bodice using this pattern before, and it didn't seem to need that! Maybe my body has changed, or it's just the different fabric.

Bias tape armholes!

I didn't enjoy the process of stitching the collar with the binding on top. It was fiddly. I'm thinking next time a facing would be a better option for a neckline like that. Or I just need to get better sewing skillz!

I used an invisible zip, something which I don't have a lot of experience with. It didn't go well. Shall we leave it at that? Haha. I need more practice. It is however, in, and functional. It was just very annoying getting it there!

I didn't bother to pattern match anywhere, and instead of having a centre back seam, I cut it on the fold and placed the zip in the side seam. I had thought of having a keyhole opening in the neckline at the back, but decided against it. I can JUST wiggle my head into it without it, but a keyhole would be ideal. I'll know next time!

I added a pocket... but only to one side, as I didn't want to bother putting one in the zip side. I nicked it from the Sewaholic Cambie pattern!

The hem is machine blind-stitched. This is a great alternative to painstaking hand-stitches! I turned it up and pressed (after getting an awesome person to level it!), overlocked the raw edge, and did the blind hem.

Oops, all that construction ramble distracted me from the fact that I made a dress covered in CATS. It all ties into my plan to dress more ludicrously... I like to have fun with clothes.

Thanks to Joy for taking pics!

And here we have a... some kind of flower. Orchid?

"All I care about is dresses, sorry."

Of course, there was time for more photos:

OMG, isn't Joy's top amazing??

Cat ears, not devil horns by the way!
Joy told me to look serious here, which as I'm sure you know, is very difficult in a cat-print dress.

Much more appropriate:

Also, bonus lady in the background who probably thought we were crazy. Which is accurate I suppose!
So, would you ever wear a novelty print dress? This is my first one, and I believe it was a great life decision. More please!

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Completed: La Sylphide Dress in EEP, chiffon!

It's another La Sylphide! I already made the dress version once, and the skirt version too! This was definitely the most challenging version yet, as it is chiffon! 
I'd already handled the fitting on my previous version, so it was all about the construction.
This notorious fabric demands great care, and I did my best to do that. It was a slow construction process, which went fairly smoothly... until I accidentally chopped a gash in the hem. But let's skip that nasty detail for now!

I can't believe it's getting warm enough to wear this kind of thing! I wore this at fabricabrac, a local fabric event where I met loads of the WSBN girls (you'll ALWAYS find these guys where there's good fabric to be had)!
Thanks to Kat for taking photos of me :)

While I was there I hooked up with another La Sylphide wearer (totally unplanned actually!), fellow blogger Nikki!

I decided to underline the bodice with my white acetate lining, leaving the sleeves as one layer of chiffon. I lined the skirt part of the dress, and as my new philosophy is "just make stuff up", I figured out my own way to stick it in. The button placket is underlined with the acetate, and the lining is attached down the centre front to each side of the placket, but hangs freely around the rest of the skirt. It's similar to the way the Colette Beignet skirt is lined, actually!

It's hard to explain, and I totally neglected to get pictures of the guts! Gah, bad blogger! But I'm in another city right now so that's my excuse.

The bow isn't underlined either. I sewed the dress with a combination of french seams (mainly on the skirt), and overlocked seams (on the inside of the bodice where the underlining means the seams don't show through!).
I realised from seeing the photos that you could see the shadow of where my singlet meets my dark tights underneath, so I should have worn a slip. Even with a lining, it's still slightly sheer!

This length is as short as I'd like to go. I think I'll keep the skirt a bit longer next time. I had a moment of brainlessness when trimming the hem, and somehow managed to cut a 1" gash right near centre front. Such a panic moment! I didn't want to shorten the skirt any more, so I just did a manky diagonal blend, shortening only the centre front, and quickly blending out to the longer length.   It was suuuuch a hassle, as I had already finished the bottom of the lining and the placket, so I had to redo them (several times as I kept stuffing it up. NOT FUN!). You can't even tell the length is different at the centre front, thanks to the general volume of the skirt. Phew! But seriously, the hem is quite a mess when you see it up close. I've spared you the horror of the close-up, thanks to forgetting to take detail shots! :D

As with my last version of the dress, this fabric is a polyester. Not my favourite fabric for a sleeved garment. It gets a bit sweaty which is gross. But I'd rather cut my teeth on a polyester than worry about ruining a gorgeous silk yet. This fabric was given to me by fellow WSBN-er Gemma! Thanks!!
Actually sewing it wasn't too bad, but MAN, it dropped hugely on the bias. When I chopped it off to level it, there were sections that were about 4" longer than the rest, with one side significantly more droopy. In this post, Sherry describes most fabrics having a dominant grain which causes the opposing bias sections to hang differently. I think it sewed up a bit weirdly on the side seams. You can't really tell from this picture, but it hangs a bit strangely, so I probably should have let it drop before seaming it up. Again, I wish I had a detail shot!

There are diagonal droop lines which lead to the seam line, on both sides. You can only see it on one side of the seam here.

Anyway, I'm pretty happy with this dress, even though it was challenging at times! I like working with fiddly fabrics (well, SOMETIMES). It makes you feel very accomplished when you get it to behave.

As you can see, I wore it casually with my sneakers, but it would look proper classy with some nice heels.

Bows foreveeeeeer!
This is my third dress made utilising the darted bodice block I developed early in the year. So happy for circumventing another hellish trip to muslin-town! Yaaaay! In fact, I think that's worth of a new tag on my blog.

Oh yeah, and me and Nikki totally stole Kat and Mel's Papercut-love pose! (With Kat's permission of course):

Yay to dresses, and bring on the warm weather, finally! :D

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Brennan Cardigan and Vintage Skirt

This post is a two-for-one deal!
I made the skirt AND the cardigan.

The cardigan is the Brennan cardigan by Julia Trice and the skirt is a vintage skirt I've made before. I made it when I was just starting out sewing!

The skirt was a project that seemed simple and turned out to be... not.
I opted not to line it but I probably should have.  It needs a slip to stop it riding up. Also, I should have graded it up a size or two so it skims instead of clings!

After I made it up I realised it was quite clingy, so I let all the seams out a bit, which was a total pain!

I also made the mistake of getting my (ever-reluctant) husband to help level them hem WITHOUT wearing a slip. 
Which meant it rode up on my butt, which meant the level wasn't level at all.
So then I had to re-level it! This time wearing the slip.
I drafted a hem facing this time (I wanted to preserve as much length as possible, having chopped off too much initially!). Hem facings are a bit more effort, but it also means no pesky easing-in of hem excess. Yay!

Hand-picked zip strains open a bit, I think the skirt still wants more circumference.

It's funny that my previous version sits so much better.  I think that is due to the lining but also due to the navy crepe having more natural give to it. This wool also has a more grabby texture.
This skirt isn't my favourite but well, at least I finished the dang thing.
Bonus though, I can be part of A Stitching Odyssey's vintage pattern pledge!

Onto the cardigan:

I love the bobbles :)
I felt like this project would never end! After already knitting most of it once (out of a different yarn) and frogging it, it's no wonder. But I was okay with how long it took, I don't knit to speed through projects, I just enjoy it.
I'm not sure I'm convinced on the button band method, but I really wanted to try it as it was different to the usual method of picking up and knitting ribbing.
The button band is constructed as you knit the body, and is formed by a slipped stitch selvage which adds sturdiness and prevents curling.
One drawback of this method is that you have to knit the buttonholes as you go- yup, you better stay on top of counting your rows, eep!
It did kind of make it a pain to knit.

I think I like it best worn open.

Knitting the button band like that also means you can't just adjust the length on the fly like I like to do.  I adjusted the length to my preferences but it wasn't really worth the hassle- working out all the rows in the pattern was a pain.  Oops, I'm great at complicating matters...

Speaking of complicating matters, I decided to try out short-row bust darts. I know what you're thinking..."But your boobs aren't big enough to need bust darts in your knits!"
Well even though I don't have a large bust, I always find that my muslins for sewn garments tilt muuuuch lower in the back.  This is from my sway back I believe. I've also been told I have a tilted waist, though perhaps this the same thing as a sway back? 
Anyway, the point is, I need more length in the front than the back, regardless of the fact that I have a small bust. 
So I added short rows.
Also, I added a few extra decreases at the back, on the way from the hem to the waist, to account for the greater slope there.
And I'm really pleased with the results!

On previous knits, I always had a case of "back pooching". Or in the case of waist-length knits, it being longer in the back. 
Agatha: longer in the back
Peabody: pooching
Not today friends, not today.

Yeah, I'm sure it'll bunch up when I do things like move, but it's quite satisfying anyway.

More fiddly details: I hand-stitched ribbon on both fronts.
Sorry for the lack of guts photos in this post, I forgot to take 'em and I'm too tired to do it and add them in. Use your imagination? lol.

I've been trying to figure out my ideal length for a cardigan and I'm finding this slightly long, so I'll probably go 1.5" shorter for my next one.

The yarn I used is a superfine merino and that makes it very soft. I'm wondering if it's too soft! It feels lovely to wear but I'll be interested to see if it bags out over time.  If it tries anything funny, I'll think I'll stabilise it with crochet across the shoulders and down the side seams, as shown in this link. The fabric is actually slightly sheer so you can see dark colours underneath it. 
I just wore an old pink knit singlet (or "tank top"? to Americans), that I clearly need to replace with something much better. Like delicious silk. One day...

I like the idea of making this cardigan again. The bobbles are just so sweet.

Bonus pic: This is what I look like when my husband starts quoting Rick and Morty at me and making me laugh.