Wednesday, 29 January 2014

The Drowsy Dress

My dress, my dress, my fancy dress I don't know why I'm wearing it I must confess. My dress, my dress, I love my dress...will someone tell me why I put it on?

A wedding, a wedding hooray!

Lines, if you didn't know, from The Drowsy Chaperone. I feel like Janet Vandergraf in this dress...
(did you see they're making a movie too????)

Anyway. A dress for a wedding. In August. Last August.

It's Vogue 8766, which came free with Linda Maynard's Craftsy class. I've been putting her points into practice with my Sewlution/MW/Advent dress, but it seemed like a good idea to get her basic pattern right too. I had an almost perfect muslin bodice, then made 3 big errors of judgement:
- taking out length across the upper chest, thus raising the darts out of place
- taking in the side seams quite late in construction to add more curves/angles to the whole affair. I also think this has contributed to the bodice riding up
- arm movement is restricted unless I move like a ballet dancer. I think this is a sleeve/armhole issue
So that's some stuff to be corrected over my next few makes.


It's a burgundy cotton sateen from Goldhawk Road, lined in black Bemberg from the stash. Design-wise it's got a wide neckline with a squarish sweetheart detail. I copied the Rooibos for the neckline and did the same on the sleeves. There's also black piping at the neck, sleeves and waist. It's based quite heavily on one of my ancient pins but I think I must've also been chanelling the lady from Night Hawks while making it...

So the thing I'm most proud of on this dress is that there are a lot of different edge finishes and techniques going on. Including the facing and hems, I'm counting nine different techniques. NINE! Wanna see some of them?

Some guts for you to see
Some other guts for you to see

There's an all in one neckline and sleeve facing. I am incredibly proud of this, it took so long to figure out and a lot of different sketches  but the whole thing is machine finished and very sturdy. There's also no visible stitching on the outside (or the right side of the facing).

There are bound edges. Using fabric "liberated" from an old university event. Good stuff.

There area couple of flat-felled seams too...

The bodice side seams are turned under and secured to underlining using a herringbone stitch

French seams on skirt lining. I'm still new to Bemberg, but this is a technique I like a lot anyway.

The lining hem is a bit dodgy, the Readers' Digest 'The Sewing Book' advised the best method would be turn under once, zigzag and trim. YOU LIED READERS' DIGEST! YOU LIED! This is messy, but as long as it holds I don't care. Trying to level out the skirt after leaving it to hang was bad enough. The cotton didn't budge, the lining did.
Messy hem, for everyone to see
Some skirt seams are self-bound. This is fiddly, but quite sweet. It's my first time trying it out. Definitely using it again.
Self-bound seam

Finally there's a blind hem on skirt outer. The white basting is still in there, but I quite like it. This hem took about 3 evenings but none of the stitching shows so it's very smooth when worn.

There you have it! 


Tuesday, 21 January 2014

A note on women's tailoring...

Sewing Artistry has been arguing a lot about good trouser fit for women recently. It made me wonder if proper tailoring (suits specifically) aren't really the most flattering dress option for women? Is the actual garment infrastructure not cut out ('scuse the pun) for a big proportion of women?

To put it simply, a jacket front on a guy must curve over his chest in a smooth way. Canvas and fusing give a long steady curve with a lot of structure, they seem to work well for that sort of shape. But on most women those curves are very exaggerated, and definitely not consistent. Can the structural elements of a tailored jacket really support work with/support/flatter a big shoulder/bust/hip ratio? What is a good fitting suit jacket for curvier women?

In any case, here's a recent project: Burda 04/2013 #113 Pencil Capris, lengthened to be ankle-ish length. Made for the office!

They're black trousers...whaddya want?
There was a bit of an adjustment to allow more space at the hip, though the fabric sags very easily which is a shame. I may yet take them apart to add more structure and possibly some belt loops.

The most interesting interesting point about these trousers? The button fly!

It's a button-fly!


Of course you see
In essence, I was too cheap to buy a zip for a zipper fly so drafted a button fly for the CF seam. It took quite a lot of figuring out, but I basically copied PatternCutter206's tutorial for a hidden button placket and it seemed to work out quite well!

That's it for these, take care


Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Gift sewing for guys! (hint: it's a messenger bag)

After the Mythbusters Jacket, and the seriously lagging Sewlution/Matthew Williamson/Advent dress, I felt like I was losing my sew-jo and desperately needed a project at the end of the year to be proud of. 

Gift sewing is an odd place to look for this sort of gratification because everything needs to be perfect and the pressure is ramped way up. Still, I had an idea, some fabric and some fusible interfacing. So I pressed on.

Pressed on, geddit?
The fabric used was the brown stripe ticking used for some shorts and a luggage bag earlier in the year (there's still fabric left!), some heavy-weight crafting cotton, and some green/red silk scraps from the MW/Sewlution/Advent Dress.

Finished bag front
The pattern is Simplicity 2358, which came from the massive swap at Rachel's April Meetup in London. Thank you to whoever donated it! 

Finished bag back
I used the pattern as a general guide for proportion and shape but heavily modified the construction order and a few attachments. I think this is View B, with the front and side pockets removed. For reference, this size can probably hold a few A4-size books.

Zippered pocket on bag back

For the bag back, I wanted a zippered pocket so eyeballed an extra pattern piece and inserted the zip flat. I came up with some excess fabric on the flap and just folded it over to provide a bit of a guard over the zip.

There is an interior pocket, divided into a mobile phone and A5-size pocket.

Interior pocket in sandwashed silk with faux-leather binding

The webbing for the strap came from Raystitch, and the hardware from MaCulloch & Wallis. I eyeballed the sizes, which could have been a bit better but overall isn't a problem.

Look at that lovely topstitching!
Boy, am I proud of this bag! This was just the tonic after a few difficult projects: basically sticking rectangles together. It's by far the best bag I've made and I hope it gets a lot of use. It was reassuring to approach an unfamiliar project knowing it would work out, working through each tiny detail.

I really like it and am thinking of remaking it in a different colour scheme for myself too. With some personalised add-ons, of course.

Displayed on the whasijig

And now back to some more challenging projects, see you soon!