Sunday, 27 October 2013

Completed: The Anna Dress

Let's start the post with a fail! I originally intended this linen to be this vintage pattern. It's very similar to Sewaholic's Cambie dress, so I thought I'd be so cool and make a Cambie lookalike, on the cheap with a vintage pattern. It was one size above my bust, so I thought, great, it'll fit in the waist and hips, and I'll just nip it in a little elsewhere.

Turns out excess ease in patterns was alive and well in the 70s??

HATE this thing! lol!
Ugh, I could NOT be bothered with it. I was really annoyed at putting lots of work in on doing a full length muslin like a chump. And it was so wrong in so many places. I wouldn't know where to start...So it got tossed aside for months. Then I realised I should just take the easy way and use a modern pattern. lol. Well, I hoped it'd be easier. The linen gained a new purpose in life.
I totally jumped on the bandwagon for the immensely popular Anna Dress by indie pattern company By Hand London!

I made a few modifications to the construction- I interfaced the facing with a lightweight fusible. I also thought it odd that the pattern didn't advise understitching the facing. I didn't want my facing rolling out so I added understitching. Better safe than sorry!
Then when I saw sewing legends Tasia and Gail had both done this on theirs too, I felt vindicated, and proud of my sewish instincts, lol!

I was really intimidated by the invisible zip (I've only done one before and it was a bit of a nightmare!). When I finally got the guts up, it wasn't that bad after all, even though it took me a while! However I must say I don't think the pattern booklet's instructions were very well written or illustrated for a newbie like me. I turned to the internet- I had several tutorials bookmarked (eep! information overload!). I ended up liking this one the best (nice clear pictures), though I gleaned tips off the others too! I just used a regular foot though I'd really like to get an invisible zip foot. I'm sure it would be lots easier!
One thing I'd improve on next time is to place the top of the zip higher. The hook and eye does a pretty good job though. The zip though, is very invisible, and I'm pleased with myself for that!

Here you can see my zip (OR CAN YOU??). You can also see I have some excess fabric in the back... still not fitting quite right.
The fitting on this did my head in a bit a lot. I made two toiles but my fitting skills still need work. Always learning... I don't want to go into the issues on this post (maybe I'll put a fitting post up), but I totally had body image issues when I saw how horribly it fitted me. I started comparing it to how everyone else seemed to get such great fit straight out of the envelope! Gah, I felt like a deformed freak! I'm mostly over it now. But I'm still jealous of those envelope-perfect people!!
As usual, the waist tilted to the back really badly, among other issues... I don't want to talk about it. lol.

Also, I totally should have sized down. 
I didn't notice how loose it was at the waist during my fitting, or maybe this linen has a lot more give (it feels quite loosely woven), but while sewing the final garment, I took it in by over an inch (and it's still got plenty of room!). Okay, that's just weird considering I picked based off my waist measurement, and the pattern says it is designed with 1/2" ease at the waist. Looks like maybe vanity sizing is alive and well with indie pattern companies? I think this is another lesson for me- when fitting a muslin, it's easy to ignore the ease at the waist, but when you add the skirt to the real garment, it really makes the difference.

I usually go down a size in the shoulders and grade out for the waist, but I didn't this time because my brain was broken and I couldn't figure out how to grade between sizes- the length for different sizes was added in different places on the front and back, and I couldn't be bothered thinking about it, lol! So I stuck with one size all over the bodice. I decided to take a smaller seam allowances for the facing or the shoulders and neck would be too big. And the armholes are extra breezy, haha! Definitely should have sized down eh?
I'm sure I'll make it fit better if I make it again, and I hope to. The sleeves are so pretty, and I love a high neckline.
Actually, it's similar to this vintage pattern I made. Both have kimono sleeves and a high neckline. I likes what I likes!

The back neckline gapes a little, so I'd definitely add some darts in there. I did try to ease the neckline in slightly to curve it into the neck, but evidently it was not enough!

The good thing about this linen is that it gives it a really casual, laid back feel. There's no way to escape the wrinkling, so you gotta embrace it! It makes it easier for me to give the imperfections in this project a pass. Like how I attempted to level my hem using my dress form (bad idea), and it looks low in the back. Oh well, next time I'll do better and my poor husband might have to help. lol! Another lesson learned.

Omg this hem... so uneven, BLECK.
For the hem, at first I thought I'd try learning how to use my blind hem foot, but then I was all "wait a minute, is this By Machine London, or By Hand London??". lol! I can't resist a nice invisible hem...even though it's crooked- again, BLECK! Oh actually, I mean, I totally made one of those fashionable "mullet hems". Yep, totally on purpose. Ahem.

Getting these photos was a nightmare, the wind was really strong (I feel like I always say this! Oh for a sheltered place to live!). Half the photos were of me struggling to stay decent.

Subtly trying to hold the dress down.
Grr. Wind!!
Stuff this wind, get me out of here!!!

Monday, 21 October 2013

Completed: Sewaholic Hollyburn and bonus Renfrew Mod

Oh yes folks, it's a toofer today! (Toofer stands for two-for-one, FYI. And FYI stands for For Your Information, keep up people.)

So yes, it's a two-for-one deal of Sewaholic Patterns!
The main star here is of course the Hollyburn skirt, which I decided to sew to get me out of a sewing slump. A nice easy pattern, I said. That'll get me back on the horse. What could go wrong? Well, everything went wrong, but I FINALLY finished the dang thing after making every mistake in the world and falling into a pit of crazy along the way. Eep. Not good!
I don't know if I can be bothered going into it, but I was not having a good time mentally with most of this project. For example, stressing out and getting all obsessive because I was in between sizes. This tied in with some body image issues I was having, and all of a sudden, sizing up became a really big thing. Silly ego, just go up a size!

So yeah, despite that, and making ALL the mistakes, I still got a garment in the end! Yikes though. Let's focus on the positives.
1) Umm, hello, CORDUROY! I am now totally obsessed with this fabric. The sumptuousness of the nap is so rich and delicious and I totally regret not buying the red corduroy I saw on sale when I bought this navy stuff! Haha! I can't get enough of that sweet sweet texture. More corduroy please (I also binged on velvet in that sale but I will have to wait until summer passes to sew it now. Boo.)

2) Navy, oh yes. I may have to put myself on a navy ban now though, since half of everything I buy and make is navy at the moment! I am almost considering making it a label on my blog posts, it's that omnipresent in my sewing/knitting. lol. I can't help it, I just love it so. It goes with so much in my palette! And it's way more fun than black.

3) Twirly skirt, eee! Full skirts are the bee's knees, fact.

Details of this project include: Facing the waistband with a contrast cotton. (I've wanted to do this for ages! This cotton first featured in this skirt. Aww, my very first blog post.) I wanted to do this to reduce bulk, but also, duh, it's pretty. That meant I had to chop the waistband piece in half and add a seam allowance.

Pretty flowers, eee!!
The tabs! Ahh, a sweet wee detail. My buttons had shanks on them instead of holes which means they stick out, so I created real button holes instead of just stitching them on fake-style as the pattern recommends. That way that won't droop and flop! It was good buttonhole practice for me. I've only made them once before! On my vintage machine it's a bit tricky, but I made it work, phew.

I faced the hem with bias tape instead of turning up the hem. This was for two reasons- One, bias tape is easier to mould around curves so I wouldn't have to deal with easing in a curved hem. And the second reason is to reduce the body of the hem. At one point I was having second thoughts about making a Hollyburn out of this fabric as I was concerned it wouldn't drape enough and I'd look like a lampshade.
I feel an extra layer of corduroy at the hem would lend it even more body, but my hope is the soft bias tape will let it droop into a softer shape.

I couldn't resist hand-stiching the zip and hem because the hand stitches melt into the corduroy beautifully. Ahh, corduroy, you have my heart!

Where's the zip? :D
I cut the middle length view, view B, and I shortened it by 1.5". Oh yeah and I lined it but I don't want to talk about it, it's too traumatic, haha! I also don't think the lining adds much. Sure, a bit of luxury and warmth I guess, but this flared skirt doesn't need assistance to glide over my body so it's not that important, right? Actually, I have resolved to line less things now. I've got this idea I should make a few slips which will be a) cheaper than lining everything, and b) less hassle, since I have a talent for messing up linings! What do you think guys, genius or what?

Flashin' that trauma lining.
Oh this post is getting long and I haven't blathered about the Renfrew yet! Well, as you can see, I made puff sleeves! Yet another one for my list of Renfrew mods!
I slashed and spread using this tutorial. However I found there was excess puff in the back of the sleeve when I sewed it and I thought it looked silly, so I pulled in that part to fix it. You can see in the badly sketched red line how much I tucked in, about an inch.

It makes sense that the back of my shoulder couldn't handle as much puff as it's much flatter than my rounded front shoulder! I don't know if this is a fitting issue for me, or if that's normal. It happened on my tulip sleeved top too actually. I also had to shorten the sleeves when I tried it on. I'm thinking maybe that's from the extra length of the puff, but maybe also just from the unique properties of this thin knit. Anyhoo, Renfrew! I want to try another puff sleeve. They are fun and add cuteness (in my opinion). I was worried it might look over the top but it's okay to my eye. :)

Puff + Cowl! Fun!
Oh and guess what? My new friend Mr. Tripod took these picture for me! I'm looking forward to getting better at using it. And clearly I need a remote too!

Now if only I could control the wind, I'd be set!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

We All Make Mistakes!

So a while back, I wrote a post called "Some Thoughts on Creativity and Self-Criticism". It was about how badly I've treated myself with negative self-talk, and the ongoing process of building a positive relationship with sewing and the creative process.

I was really wowed by all the amazing responses from everyone out there! What an inspiring bunch you all are! Anyway, I've been working on it, and decided I needed to create a reminder.
So I had a go at designing an embroidery.

Guess what? It's not perfect, and I don't care! So here it is.

Basically I wanted to create a retro-style image, that was cutesy and fun. I haven't much experience with embroidery so it's pretty basic and unpolished. Part of the learning process right?

As for the design itself, someone I showed it to mentioned the large rear end of the lady holding the iron. That may be because I got my husband to take a picture of me posing for reference. So yeah, the lady definitely looks like me, though I probably accentuated the curves even more. Haha! (Now I can't take my eyes off the giant rear-end!) I sort of wanted it to evoke the pin-up girl style without being sexy. Just cute and vintage-y.

I hope you can tell what the scenario is here! It's supposed to be a seamstress who's burned a hole in her latest dress with an iron!

Hair in stem stitch, and a thinner back stitch.
Pretty much all back stitch. The iron cord is a whipped back stitch (or was it whipped running stitch? lol)
More back stitch? You guessed it. All pretty basic stuff.

I haven't figured out how I want to display it on my wall, whether I want to do something fancy with the embroidery hoop or just leave it plain. (What do you guys think?)

But I hope it serves as a reminder to me not to take sewing too seriously. Especially the mistakes! I sometimes have this (false) view that things are easy for everyone but me, and no-one makes dumb mistakes but me. It's so not true. I hope I can look at this and use it to keep positive :)

Monday, 7 October 2013

Completed: New Look 6808 Teal Mod Thingy

Squint with me at my new garment!
So this was a big project for me. I challenged myself to design a new style using New Look 6808 (yes, we all know I have a traumatising history with that damned pattern). But I figured if I was going to attempt to design something, I might as well use it as a base since it fits okay after all that work.

My big idea was to have a go at rotating the bust darts down to the bottom of the garment, and using them as release tucks, which I like to call "boobie-tuck-thingies". This is quite an unusual detail in modern fashion I think, but you can see Shanni's 40s inspired boobie-tuck-thingies here, and Gertie's portrait blouse here (her version just uses one tuck each side).

I also changed the neckline to a boat neck and made tulip sleeves (or at least my best attempt at them!)

I got a few tips from Mrs C (who runs Made Marion), such as pressing the darts open instead of to the side (it makes a difference!). While I was at her shop I met a new blogger called Sophie. She makes gorgeous stuff, check it out! She happened to have her new Anna dress with her. It has the same kind of tuck detail at the bust, and they are pressed open too. Neat!

And while I'm talking about other bloggers, I MUST mention, the only reason I made something out of this fabric was a crazy idea we Wellington bloggers had- a bunch of us made garments out of the same fabric so we could look like crazy people in public together:

I don't normally wear teal, but to play matchy-matchy I made an exception. Spot a few other indies in the mix there? (Hawthorne, Pendrell, Chantilly)... See Nikki's or Juliet's posts for more details on the madness that was!

For the tulip sleeve I toiled up 3 different versions before it looked good enough. That's a lot of work ya know! (In defense of my hard work, the first tulip sleeve looked really rubbish, I swear!) Damn, all the other bloggers I've seen making tulip sleeves made it seem so effortless.
There are quite a few tutorials on how to make a tulip sleeve but I think this one is the best. The tip about overlapping the hem really helped me out. Before I did that, the sleeve flared out quite unattractively.

My body is twisted here hence the wrinkles, but it shows off the sheen of the fabric well (it's a silk/cotton blend)
I have a tendency to put too much detail into things. Upon completing it I wondered if bound edges + tulip sleeves+ boobie tucks are all too much in one garment. Now, I just don't want to think about it anymore. lol.

I was pretty over this project by the end of it, just from all the work I'd put into it. And after putting so much effort into it, I can't see it objectively. Does that sound crazy? Would I like it if someone else designed it?? Haha. I'm not sure if I like it yet. Maybe in time I'll see. I think I'm ready to just paint by numbers for a bit. This was a lot of mental exertion!

It's funny, I don't know why I'm driven to make things as challenging as possible for myself! I find it a lot more taxing for me to try and design stuff. It's so much more involved than colouring in between the lines, and it takes so much more time! Plus my inner critic pipes up far too often- hey, maybe it's just another way to grow, huh?

Hey garment, I have no idea if I like you or not!
It was a lot of work binding all those edges. I did it once before on my Taffy blouse, and had the same issue this time. The lightweight fabric tends to get puckered into the binding if you're not careful. I had to be very strict with it and pin, pin, pin. I think it's still a tiny bit puckered in some places despite that...
There are lots of little details on this garment that could be improved but I'm trying not to focus on them :)

Ooh speaking of puckers, my sleeve caps are puckered! Sleeve caps are so annoying, but I couldn't be bothered trying to get them perfect. It'll do. For one, I think there is too much ease built into the cap. And I'm not too sure the fit on the sleeves is that great either. I'm noticing on the back of the shoulder it kind of balloons out a bit. Maybe I need to shave down that side of the sleeve cap? Do sleeves drive anyone else bonkers or is it just me?

But yeah, I'm really glad this project is over and hey! it didn't turn out too badly I reckon. I'll give myself a pat on the back for that. As for the style? I think the release tucks are an unusual feature but I'm not sold on them. What do you think guys?