Saturday, November 27, 2010

Vogue 9441 (OOP)


Vogue 9441 is a pattern I think I came across in my local op shop. The pattern's not a spectacular-looking thing, but I thought the green version ("C") might be a reasonable basic shirt, and although I know the sizing has changed since the 70s the shirt was described as "loose-fitting".  When I'm sewing I usually start with a 12, and I assumed that a loose 70s shirt might be like a normal shirt these days... I didn't bother with a muslin, and I only checked the dimensions of the pattern pieces in a pretty desultory manner.


Interestingly the sizing just felt 'off' for me. Maybe women in the 70s were expected to have thin upper arms and narrow shoulders, but this shirt felt restrictive around these areas when basted together, so I sewed narrower seams to add some more room. I think it looks really nice hanging from a tree, even when not completely finished - because I love the striped summery Japanese cotton from Tessuti ...

 

but when it's on, it looks terrible - certainly not at all loose-fitting:


 
 not even when disguised by a child in a car!



Pattern Modifications:
The band down the shirt front goes rather low, so instead I made it just as long as I thought it would need to be to get on and off.  But in a slapdash way I slashed a little too far down the centre front. This is why I've had to expose the lower edges of the band rather than neatly stitch together, turn inside out and top stitch in place.

I also left off the pocket from the left front because I didn't think my thin cotton would cope with the strain of a pocket.

Comments on the pattern:
I tried to follow the pattern step by step but I should have studied it more thoroughly before sewing; if I had I would've used a different approach on the neck band.  Not that this makes any difference to the fit, which is the real issue. Anyway, the pattern has the right side of the collar sewn into the wrong side of the shirt before you pin the basted edge of collar over the seam (on the outside of the shirt), baste, stitch close to edge, and finally topstitch.  I would have preferred to attach the collar to the shirt the other way around so I could finish up hand sewing the edge of the collar to the shirt on the inside of the shirt.

So here's the question. I've hemmed the edges and sewn down the collar, so all that's left to do are cuffs and closures - but is this shirt worth finishing? I think it would fit my sister-in-law, but would she want it?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Happy Birthday in a Sewing Way

It was my birthday recently, and although at my age I should be saying I'm not interested in presents, it just wasn't true this year! Among lots of lovely gifts from my family (including praline chocolates which I've hidden from the kids) I received some delightful sewing presents that I thought I would share with you:

1) This book:
Now I'm not a quilter but this book is gorgeous. There's some mad history (such as the 70-year banning of printed Indian cottons! Who knew???), inspiring photos (for example, white corded quilts, quilted silk and satin petticoats, and colourful cotton toiles piquees), and even projects and resources. If I suddenly get a lot of time on my hands I may well take up this sort of challenge - otherwise it's a joy to look through.

This book looks to be available through Random House in Australia, and of course is also available on amazon, albeit with a different jacket. 

2)  This book:

which is the follow-up to the hugely popular "Meet Me At Mike's", and contains 25 funky and cute projects for grownups / kids / house. It includes patterns (and they're not all drawn on top of each other like in the Burda mag), lovely and very Melbourne-like photos. I'm probably going to make the broad-brimmed hats rather soon, and I definitely want to make the shirt-front cushion covers too if I can find some ex-shirts that aren't too dull - as I do enjoy cushion cover therapy (excepting the zips).  Although these projects are straightforward they are very appealing for those times when you want to make something that you don't have to think too hard about - but that you know will end up looking good. The pictures are also very useful references for non pink=girl, blue=boy sewing for kids.

In Australia I'm pretty sure this book is sold through the major booksellers, and the Meet Me At Mike's blog also refers me hereAmazon should have it, but at the time of writing they say it's Out of Print - Limited Availability.  I wonder what that means.

3) These patterns (thank you self, how kind), during the brief $4.99 pattern sale at Vogue patterns, starting with my fave, and ending with those I'm less sure of:
V1186 Issey Miyake (good reviews)

V1202 Donna Karan (no reviews)
V1025 Anne Klein New York (good reviews)
V1133 Guy Laroche (no reviews)
V1158 Tracy Reese (no reviews)
V1207 Cynthia Steffe (no reviews)
V1174 Cynthia Steffe (good reviews)
I should have checked out their reviews first, but when I came across the sale it was ending soon, and patterns here in Australia are SO, SOOOOOOOOOOOO expensive all the time, and I kind of panicked. Actually I think I'm safe - they all either have good to very good reviews or no reviews (as noted in the brackets of the captions above).

I can definitely see myself making the first three (the pants, then the skirt, then the dress), but I'm wondering if the Guy Laroche may be a bit hard. The last three may be a lower priority too due to lack of reviews / boning (gulp).

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Japanese Pattern Book - Cute Clothes for Good Girls

About 18 months ago, before even getting a decent sewing machine to replace my thread-tangler, I bought my first Japanese pattern book - I think the title means "Cute Clothes for Good Girls" (ISBN 457911194x / ISBN 978457911194). 

The plan was to get back into the swing of sewing - without spending a fortune - by making some small cute clothes for my small daughter. I'd had a bad experience with Vogue children's patterns (rather voluminous) and loads of websites were raving about these pattern books from Japan.

My then sewing machine was not really functioning, but here are a couple of the things I made from this book:

Dress A, in a striped Japanese seersucker, bias binding on edges. This dress has a single fold in the front, and buttons down the back. I added a single patch pocket (very messily sewn!) and left off the sleeve ruffles. This is a great dress for a hot summer.

Dress front
Pocket detail

Buttoned back of dress (actually folded to show pocket too)
Dress A again, same details and changes, this time made up in a red patterned Japanese seersucker.

 

This dress is also good for layering with a skivvy and leggings in winter:


Skirt H, in a Japanese linen/cotton I think - I love this frog print :-). I didn't use the lace suggested in the pattern - just a regular elasticated waistband. And a feature zip, patch pocket and cute buttons - but the photos don't show these well so I'll try to locate the skirt and get a better picture.

 

Matching purse (no pattern)
A work in progress pic
Tunic Q, made in a delicious cotton voile (pockets omitted).




Tunic Q turned into a cotton dress after lots of modifications - pockets omitted, bodice changed, ric-rac added, button back from dress A used, plus leggings P made extra long to be like the big girls.





These clothes were made over a bit more than a year, so don't assume I'm a fast sewer!

If you'd like to see more sewing from Japanese pattern books, check out this collective blog. It's in French but easy to follow: click on the picture of the book in the left hand column you're interested in, and you'll be able to see images and short descriptions people have posted of the things they've made from that book. And FYI the top-most books are for women's clothes; the books for babies and children (Modèles enfants/bébés) start about half way down the page. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Melbourne Cup Dress 2010

At last year's Marketing Department Melbourne Cup function, I won the "Best Hat" competition for an OTT creation that involved a miniature bird's cage entwined with pretty little ribbons, with two tiny pretend birds inside it that sang and flashed like a car alarm at the press of a button. This was assumed to be a parody of the Bird Cage at the Melbourne Cup.

This year my team was again invited to Marketing's Melbourne Cup function, and I decided to go a bit more classy and enter the "Best Dressed" comp with a home-made dress. The Louis Vuitton 50s style dresses were an inspiration, but the closest matching pattern in my stash seemed to be this one, Vogue 1074 (yes, DKNY yet again), so this is what I went for:


I bought some zebra-patterned ramie at Tessuti fabrics, and made a muslin for the bodice from leftover fabric from a kid's dog costume (a future post :-) naturally). Amazingly the size 12 bodice fit without adjustment. And just in case you get bored easily, you don't have to read the details - here's how my dress turned out (I'm so happy):


V1074 is not a tricky dress pattern despite its "Advanced" rating - I intend to make the coat that's also included and perhaps this coat is where V1074's challenges lie. In this dress pattern you sew the outer fabric bodice and skirt pieces, sew in an invisible zip down the centre back, then make and place shoulder straps (and cut to size) before sewing up the lining pieces and attaching them at the bodice. Below you can see where I galloped ahead to make the lining pieces and sew them to the outer dress without having included the straps... which meant that after positioning the straps I had some unpicking to do!

positioning the straps
pinning the straps between outer and lining after unpicking
And here's what the bodice with straps looks like up close and the right side out - I sewed some black ribbon down the centre of the straps before attaching them:
bodice

close-up of a strap

Now there's nothing about this in the pattern instructions, but with the dress basically done bar finishing I found the edge between lining and outer wasn't crisp enough, even with lots of ironing spray. I've read this article by Kenneth King in Threads magazine about staying necklines and armholes with organza strips, but I wanted more stability. Somewhere or other (very late at night, and I can't recall where) I found some advice to use a strip of grosgrain or petersham ribbon to stabilise the edge... I didn't have any grosgrain or petersham ribbon so I sewed what turns out to be bra strapping along the lining side of the seam between outer and lining fabrics and it worked well. The black colour luckily isn't noticeable through the dress fabric:

sewing in a "stay" strip on the lining side of the seam
 Next up was an invisible zipper down the centre back, then some rather boring finishing, including a nice deep hem on the skirt. Then voila, the Melbourne Cup dress!

with jacket
What? I am NOT a sore loser!
I had plans for a matching fascinator but even though I'm used to staying up late sewing there are limits to just how late I'm prepared to stay up, and I simply ran out of time.  Instead I wore a black cloche hat with a tree of dusty pink feathers tucked into its ribbon... which was OK, but a matching fabric and feather fascinator would have been a million times better.

So thinking ahead, is it possible next year there'll be a "home made" category?? Well, more likely I'll celebrate the Cup next year with fellow analysts... and not so many dresses to compete against!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Case of the Misssing Donna Karan Tops

In my inaugural post I omitted photos of a gold top made from this pattern:


The top remains unfinished, but here's what it looks like:

Front view, with self-fabric belt
Front view without belt

Back view, inside out
The fabric wants to stand up by itself but can't quite do it... this pattern really needs a drapey fabric. The thing I want to do to finish this is sew on some gorgeous tiny gold beads around the neckline to hold the pleats in place. I love the beads but I don't have the patience right now for them, and in any event this was just a test run.

With fit established, as well as the need to cinch the top in at the waist to avoid the sack look, I made this dress again as a top using some lovely turquoise silk from Tessuti Fabrics. I bought JUST enough for a slightly shorter top, to be tucked into a work skirt. The photos show it's nice and drapey as it should be, but in this case the pleats seemed very slippery so I top stitched them (oh heresy!). And I'm unfortunately short-waisted.



Neither of these tops has worked out as envisaged, so even though I have lots of a lovely silk print in my stash, I will probably not make the pattern up as a dress - there are too many other new patterns to conquer.
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