Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Completed: Top Thing

Hello! I made a top! Oh yeah, and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and all that.

So this top, believe it or not, is Butterick 5526.

Except you may have noticed it's nothing like it. Don't worry, it's just because I'm a crazy person.

I really want to make a shirt, and have wanted to for ages, but I wanted to make up this pattern to test the fit first. So I took the button placket off, and made this top first to see if I was happy to proceed. Let me say first though, that this is not "straight from the packet". Heck no! That always looks beyond abysmal. Prior to this, I'd already made two muslins.

My usual set of adjustments is:
-Rounded upper back (this adds shoulder darts in the back)
-Large hips
-Huge sway back adjustment
-Forward shoulder
-Removal of stupid amounts of ease that plague modern patterns (although for this one, I really did overfit. I took a pattern designed to be only moderately fitted, and made it fitted.)
-Reshaping the armhole.
-Other little fiddly bits because I can't just leave well enough alone.

SO boring, right? Every time I make a new pattern I end up thinking "This would probably have been easier to draft from an existing pattern that already fits me!" Anyway, live and learn. I essentially just recreated the Pendrell blouse here, but with armhole princess seams instead of shoulder. Duh.

I also fiddled with the front princess seams in a not-entirely-successful way, so I will fix that when I make the pattern up again. I'll probably add back in a little ease too. I put in a zip on the side seam, but I could totally make it a pullover blouse with just a skodge more width at the side seams. Zips just don't seem right or necessary in a garment like this.

And my penchant for over-fitting really isn't necessary here either. If I'm planning to usually tuck it in anyway, it's going to bunch up, and no-one really sees the fit!

I drafted the little gathered cap sleeves by making it up and then fiddling with it. One of those things that starts out like "Oh, this will be super easy!" and then you have to keep fiddling with it to make it look right. This is not the best way to do things, but I guess it works eventually! I'm going to try it again another time to refine it further. I sort of lost patience at the end and bodged them in. Quality workmanship, not so much.

I also "drafted" (not sure such a fancy term is needed for something so simple) the keyhole. I basically did it, then found that Colette's free Laurel extras download contains everything you need to make this. Gosh, I'm just SO good at reinventing the wheel, right?? Lol.

The bias strips on the neckline and armholes went okay, though I do find getting very curved areas such as the keyhole to sit nicely when they have a bias facing. For now, aggressive pressing before and after gets me MOST of the way there. This bugs me on the curviest part of armholes too. I'll let you know when I find a magic trick... but I DO find comfort in seeing Tilly's yellow Fran├žoise sample seemingly showing the same effect around the armholes that annoys me when I do mine. Well, from what I can see, at least.
It may be best to stick with proper facings when possible, but that just doesn't work well for sheer and lightweight fabric.

Guts shot: I used a combo of bought bias tape and self-made.

Thanks to the Dreamstress for taking these photos at a Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network  Christmas get-together :) I neglected to get shots of it from the back, AND untucked though, naughty blogger! But, I got a photo with her cute cat, so obviously you'll forgive me :)

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!!