Saturday, 31 January 2015

Two Simple Garments with Complicated Origin Stories

So this is the Colette Meringue skirt, but actually not at all, really. Warning: long post ahead!

This skirt was one of those projects that took forever (I feel I say that a lot!). But seriously, I've had this planned since.... pretty much when I started this blog? I wanted a darted skirt that fit me. Now that was a tall order, for someone who had no idea how to fit things to my body.

At that time when I knew so little, I struggled soooo much with the fit of the original muslin. I went down into a deep sewing darkness of muslin after muslin, with no satisfaction. It was BAD, people! I never blogged it because it was just too hard, and I couldn't get anywhere! One of the worst sewing experiences of my life!
I eventually gave up. The drama.

After I abandoned the Meringue skirt, I got more experience with fitting, and tried again with the Beignet skirt. Turns out a full butt adjustment and fine tuning of the side seams, (as well as a few other things) is necessary for me! And I finally got a fit that worked, after a few muslins. So this time, I thought, why reinvent the wheel? I shall turn my princess-seamed Beignet pattern into a darted pattern.
And I did. See Kat's post for how this concept works!

For a large dart reduction, you must split the darts into two. This is pretty usual for a fitted skirt, so my backside has two large darts. I did a muslin and it looked pretty okay (at this point, I was ready to settle for "pretty good", not perfect!).

Also, it was windy that day!

The fabric is some cheap polyester I bought when I first started sewing. I didn't find it very kind. I have found with other polyesters too, they want to show every single pucker, and of course you can't press them out!

I had to finesse the darts a bit in the back, taking them in a bit more near the tip and making them longer. I probably could have done even more with this adjustment, as they still look a little puffy near the ends (much better than they did though), but I also just think this fabric doesn't press overly well. Thoughts, anyone?
Oh yeah, and I underlined the poly with a lightweight cotton to take some drape out, which may have made the dart tips a bit tricky too, who knows?

Overall though, I'm very pleased with myself with creating this shaping for my tricksy rear end:

As for the front darts, I think they look a little bit puffy too, but I didn't adjust them. If there is a second attempt (I do think it deserves one), I am considering making the front darts smaller and taking the equivalent out of the side seams, so it remains the same circumference at the waist. I've seen this in my favourite fitting book (Sarah Veblen's The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting). I'm hoping this would decrease the puffy look of the darts at the bottom as it would have less intake at the top. Not sure if that makes sense!
It also is supposed to give you a flatter look across the front.

So, the Meringue skirt has scallops. Mine DID have them!
They were a total pain in the rear, because I had to redraft them onto the bottom of my skirt (which took me stupidly long because learning), and because I screwed up the sewing.

In this Threads article (and other references I've seen too, such as the Colette Sewing book), you are recommended to notch into the curves to get them to sit nicely when turned out.
But in this article on Pattern Scissors Cloth, Sherry recommends to simply trim closely, which she says produces a superior result. Faster AND better? I'm in!!

I 100% should have made a sample; I am really bad at doing this. The stupid thing is it's because I'm impatient, but it would save me a lot of time in some instances (like this one)!
I had to clip in very close to the points to get them to turn out, yuck. I keep saying I hate this, because I do.

I opted to top-stitch because I wanted to make sure the little suckers stayed in place, and to try to bully out the stubborn puckers at the apex. Also, according to Sherry, this strengthens them (since they're clipped in so close, they're a lot weaker!)

After all that....I decided the scallops were too poorly executed, so I chopped them off. Argh!! I don't want to look "Becky Home-Ecky" as Michael Kors would say... haha! It wasn't a good feeling though, with all the time and effort I put in.

Taking this blog back to its roots with poor quality in-progress shots.

The thread lines are where I basted the underlining to the shell fabric through the darts to keep them together. Also, you can really see the dodgy puckers at the tops of the scallops here.

For next time, I think I would have better success with scallops if I pivoted more at the points. For points such as scallops and collar points, you should take a horizontal stitch or more (depending on the bulk of the fabric) at the top of the point, to help it turn better. The ones where I didn't pivot enough looked the worst. Overall, I think I can blame the fabric a tiny bit, though. This polyester didn't enjoy being pressed (which I think also made the darts not look as good either).

I still love scallops though. I'll have you one day, my dears. Here is some scalloped inspiration for you from Colette.

Construction stuff:

I drafted a facing and lining. I pleated the lining instead of darting it. This is supposed to reduce the strain on the lining. As for the lapped zip application, I always end up bodging them in, as the weird seam allowances mean the facing doesn't line up right. This has always annoyed me, so I found this lapped zip tutorial from Fashion Incubator. BUT, I'd already put my zip in the normal way, so I decided to try this one next time, instead of working out how to apply the tutorial to my already-in zip!

Okay, so this project was totally frustrating for me and I felt pretty annoyed at it, so here is a list of positives:

-Even though I screwed up the scallops, hey, at least I learned something! (And hopefully I'll remember those lessons for next time. That's always the tricky bit.)

-At least the plainness of the skirt will make it versatile.

-Whoa, I finally fitted a skirt to my butt, that's amazing! I should be able to get some decent mileage out of this!

Oh, and by the way, if you're still here, I made the top too!

THIS garment has a convoluted story behind it too. It started life as this:

This was an Anna dress, and I put LOADS of work into it. Check out that lovely chevron in centre front! I got so far with it, and decided I just hated it. I'd never wear it, I wasn't satisfied with the fit, and it had to go. So I chopped the dang thing up and made a singlet. I did have to seam the singlet to fit the pattern pieces, but I think it's very unnoticeable.

Eagle eyed viewers might spot the shadow of the seam allowance just above the waist, since the fabric is slightly sheer.
Anyway, I totally self-drafted this top, so I'm patting myself on the back for it. I won't blather on about that for now, as this post is already feeling mega-long. I opted for no vertical darts, as I didn't want to disrupt the lovely stripes. So it's very loose, but I love the blousey look tucked in.

Awkward pose!!! Haha! Showin' off that side seam though. Such matching stripes.
As you can see, it has a bust dart. And omg, don't you love striped tops? They go with everything!
I finished the neckline of this top with hand-stitched bias tape. Also, my apologies for the lack of garment guts shots in this post. I'll remember next time I hope. :)

So....are you tired from reading all about the making of these garments?? Here's to simpler garment-making processes in the future, eh? Haha!

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Birthday Polka Dots! La Slyphide, again!

You guys, I had the best birthday this year! And I made this dress just in time to wear it on said occasion! Hmm, combining nearly all my favourite things. Dresses, pink, polka dots, and bows. What could be better? I've already made this dress twice before, but one more couldn't hurt. This is a delightful silk cotton blend that my dear sewing friend who blogs at A Charm of Magpies convinced me to get, and she was SO RIGHT.

Speaking of friends, I went out for lunch with my friends, and I'm so glad that I have friends now! Is that weird? Well, when I was so sick with CFS/ME (for 10 years), I had no social life, and I guess it's still pretty novel for me, even 3 years after recovering. Heh. I'm at the point now where I feel like an honest-to-goodness real person in the world. Spooky! Anyway, I digress. Pretty clothes.

I neglected to get close ups of the fabric, but I hope you can see the polka dots! I went with buttons to match the yellow dots. So cute! I don't normally do contrast buttons but here they are just right, I think.

Oh! And I also swapped out the usual semi-circular skirt for a gathered A-line. I always use the same one from New Look 6799, cos I don't want to reinvent the wheel! But I use the largest size, for more fullness. ALWAYS more fullness. More fullness, more bows, and more pink please. Also, less bias on the skirt means it's easier to hem, hooray!

Back view and OMG shoulder blades

As you can see, we are finding sun here in Wellington, which is a nice change, so I got out my ridiculously floppy hat.


I don't have a bunch to say about this pattern, having made it a few times already! Hooray for no fitting! One thing that still bugs me when I make it though, is how you have to clip right into the seam at the neckline at the collar to get everything sitting right. Eeeeeew, I hate clipping that close, it makes me feel like it's going to fray to pieces, so I shoved some Fray Stoppa stuff on there (it's this liquid you apply and it stops it fraying. It's my paranoid crutch). I know Sonya mentioned she hates this too recently, so I'm not alone!! 

One other thing I've noticed (I think this has happened on all three makes), is that when top-stitching the placket, the top (uninterfaced) layer wants to bubble a bit, like it's longer than the fused placket underneath. The placket is just turned under, not seamed on with a separate pattern piece. I'm not sure what causes it, but I'm thinking it could be some of these:

-my machine just wants to feed the bottom layer through faster because it's a jerk like that
-maybe the different weights of the top and bottom layer exacerbate the above process?
-the interfacing shrunk the fabric a little when fusing it?

Anyway, I managed to ease it in without puckers, but I'm just curious why it happens!

Requisite "I have a bow" photo:


Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Jacket for my Mum (kinda)

So, this jacket has been finished for... quite a few months, and I'm finally blogging it!
Do not be deceived by appearances though, I am not as unselfish as you may think. Yep, this was originally for me! But who's the gorgeous model? Why, my Mum of course!

I made this jacket as part of a class. I'd decided to take a class for both the social aspect, and for the learning too. I thought as this class was about making a jacket, that I'd learn about tailoring, but well, my assumption was wrong (it's a simple untailored style). Also, the friend I was going to do the class with couldn't come because life happened, so I ended up taking a class for none of the reasons I'd signed up for!
Also, this style of garment isn't really me, but I thought it'd be worth doing anyway for the aforementioned reasons. Fail!

I don't often see my family, as they live in a different city, but I took the opportunity to get these photos in my Mum's garden when I visited. I should have got some more pics of her garden- she's a terrific gardener (unlike myself, who has killed a cactus before).

I had to sew a snap on to keep the collar closed, but it's not strong enough. It's just a small plastic snap and needs to be replaced with something heavier duty.

I didn't get any pics on myself, but it definitely didn't suit me, just trust me on that. lol! I'm happy to see it going to a good home. It has a lining and everything. I think I'll have to make a million lined garments before I feel competent at them!
It's also got quite a lot of hand-stitching (this was just part of the class). I want to learn to do it by machine though! I think in many cases, hand-sewing is a bit of a crutch.

My Mum found being a model highly amusing, and I couldn't stop laughing when looking at these photos!

She does make a great model though, don't you think?
I don't have a whole bunch to say about this make. I feel like a bit of a lazy blogger lately; I don't feel very compelled to blog at the moment!
So have some pics.

Ooh dear, looks like I'll have to do some more unselfish sewing soon. It's much more fun to photograph others!

Monday, 5 January 2015

Happy New Year! (a little late)

I wasn't sure if I could be bothered doing a year-end post (well technically I'm a little late anyway), but well, I am doing one!

I'm going to keep it brief though. Here are 5 of my favourite garments this year.


My floral Pendrell Blouse because the fabric is beautiful, and ruffles. And because I got it to fit really well!

My burgundy Beignet because I was super scared of it and got there in the end. Also, I finally got a skirt to fit my butt, no mean feat for me!

My Washington Square cardigan. To be honest, this is a little bit of a token knit project in my top list. I guess none of my knitting projects are my favourites this year! I still like it though.

La Slyphide because I made chiffon do my bidding, and it was yet another successful make based on my bodice block, which I fully intend to thrash for the next year too. I'm at five makes using it so far.

I know I posted this recently, but my shirt dress too! Seems like a theme of ALL of my favourite makes are "Wow, it took me a lot of effort to get the pattern sorted, but I finally got there!".

Note: I don't feel like counting how many things I made. I've noticed a lot of people do this, but I prefer to stay away from these numbers. It makes my brain want to make unnecessary comparisons and judgements,which is something I'm trying to get away from! I want to not care how many things I made, as long as I made things!


Do I want to do these? Well, why not. It's good to learn from them.

Definitely at the head of the fails list is this cardigan:

The pattern was rotten from the start, and my fumbles to save it were unsuccessful. It's current sitting in balls. Yep, I pulled it apart!

The next I would say is my Cambie dress. Successful overall, but I spent waaaay too much time trying to get away from nipply bust darts, and the fit still isn't good enough for me. I still like it and have worn it, but I may re-attempt Cambie this year.

I think that's the extent of the garments I made that I was QUITE unsatisfied with. The rest of my fails are projects I never finished (which I might blog about), and all the fussing around I did in general over sewing. I tend towards analysis paralysis and it prevents me from powering through and getting stuff done. HOWEVER, it also means I don't make as many fails, because I think things through. I'm proud to say most of my garments this year are wearable successes! Though I definitely wear some more than others.

Bonus "fails":

My velvet skirt, which I like overall, gets on the list because I'm planning to shorten the hem this year! That hand-stitched hem (sob) has to be re-done!

Brennan cardigan. I didn't like the styling in my photos, I thought I looked very "old" and not in a cool vintage way. This is a totally cute cardigan (I want to make another, I looove the bobbles!), but it is too long to look cute with skirts and dresses. It looks good with pants, and I've worn it a bunch anyway, but I would like to improve it. I also find that the shoulders droop, so I'm considering reinforcing it somehow (if I ever get around to it). This was SO close to being just right, but it's just a little off!

Goals and Thoughts:

How did I do with last year's goals?

-Last year my goal was to break away from my own self-criticism. Did I achieve that? No. I tried though! I'm going to keep trying... if only I knew where the magic switch was to turn it off! I've got a little better though- or am I just deluding myself? lol!

-Another goal: Work with more tried-and-true patterns to reduce the time spent in muslin-town. This was a success! I made lots from my bodice block, and multiples of several garments.

-This tied into another goal: Making more mods from base patterns. I achieved this too, and hope to go on from here with more drafting!

-With life changes, I wanted to be okay with doing less sewing and blogging. I feel I did blog less, but yes, I am okay with this. I feel I may reduce my blogging even further this year (sad face), but that's sometimes what life demands.

-I also wanted to keep a tidier, better organised creative space. I sort of did this, but there's still a long way to go. Heh. No photos allowed, lol!!

This year I broke away from sewalongs and new patterns. I'm no longer interested in being one of the "cool kids", always testing new patterns and running promotions. I'm just going to pootle away doing my own thing, at my own pace (which is sometimes totally slow).
I still get frustrated at how slow and useless I feel sometimes, but there's only one way to improve, and that's practice.

It's been great continuing to do social sewing and have some silly sewing too, like my dress covered in cats :)

Me and Joy in cat-themed garments

I feel like I can totally justify stealing last years goals and using them again! Haha! If I had to add anything, it would be to be okay with being slow.
Because when I'm drafting my own stuff, of COURSE it's going to be slower than taking someone else's pattern and sewing it up per the instructions!

So there, I jumped on the bandwagon and did my round-up! Here's to another year of creativity guys! I really enjoy you sharing your creations and will endeavour to continue to share mine! :)