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.