Sunday, 30 October 2011

Cute Top for a Good Girl

I was going to finish off V1158 but there was another distraction - the crazy (hot-cold-hot) weather over this past week.

On about Monday at my son's school the temperature reached 34C - the teacher said if it hit 35C the class could have icy poles from the canteen. My daughter was at her new nearby, mostly outdoors kindy that day, as opposed to her farther away, totally indoors and air-conditioned kindy, and she got rather hot and sweaty.  I decided she might need more summery dresses / tops to suit the heat and sun. 

The fabric was one of the pieces I got at Tessuti's sale some time back - I just love it! I wish I could have gotten more of it (if anyone has some, can I barter with you?) It's a striped cotton in colours that remind me of the 70s, with lots of embroidery over the stripes. My daughter wanted it made into a dress but that was never going to be possible.

This top, made from pattern A in the Japanese book "Cute Clothes for Good Girls" is breezy enough for the heat and covers little shoulders. I received two criticisms initially: 1) it's not fair that the other hand will get cold, and 2) tops should have a straight shape (ie not used to the flare). But once on it stayed on all day, and it seems to have been very comfortable for a muggy Sydney day.

Sewing details: I made this pattern in a size 110 cm height but used the widths from the 120cm height pattern pieces, which looks to have been unnecessary. I made it as long as could with the remnant fabric I had, but it should normally be about knee length. I replaced the pattern's back buttons with a bright blue zip (quicker!) and free-styled the pocket somewhat, adding a little elastic to the top. As I've made this before in smaller sizes I didn't even look at the instructions - so I'm not sure if my bright orange bias bound neckline and sleeves were what was intended - I added the sleeve cap things after I'd sewn in the bias binding, so you get a peek of orange between shoulder and sleeve cap on the sides, a bit like having piping in there! Finally the hemline is a rolled hem as I wanted to lose as little length as possible.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Pattern Giveaway Winner

On Saturday night midnight came and went, and so I've drawn the winner of my first ever pattern giveaway. And the winner is...

... lakaribane!

Congratulations lakaribane - you've won yourself a copy of Vogue 1192!  I have your email address so I'll be in touch to get your mailing details soon. I hope you enjoy the pattern!  

If you missed out there will be more pattern giveaways coming up - stay tuned!

To draw a winner I counted up entrants (9) numbered in date-time order of comment and then used the random number generator over at with 1 as the minimum and 9 as the maximum.  I hit "Generate" and got a "5" - so the 5th entrant was the winner. I did take a screenshot - but then I realised the screenshot proved nothing, as I could have rerun the calculation to get the result I wanted and you'd be none the wiser! In any event a screenshot of a random number is pretty dull.  Next time around I may use a pseudo-random number generated based on clock time so that I can rerun it and prove my honesty :-)  

In other news

I feel remiss in not posting much in the way of sewing progress this weekend.  My Vogue 1158 dress is proceeding nicely, with not too many issues (I won't count redoing the zipper several times), slowed by the fact of several kids' parties over the weekend and a fair amount of tiredness. No photos to show though as the little bits of sewing have been late in the evenings.  The Vogue 1203 top was probably not photographed as badly as it should have been - thank you so much for your encouragement, but I don't think I would be comfortable wearing it - I can imagine sniggers from passersby and colleagues, all merrily assuming I was (not very artfully) trying to create a false bust. The back is also not looking so grand. It will probably go to Vinnies.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Sacrificial Polka Dots

This weekend I took a break from my lovely stripey nautical dress because I'm scared I'm going to stuff it up. My getaway was a small piece of polka dot satin and a Tracy Reese pattern (V1203). Unfortunately this top has proved to be a fabric sacrifice :-(.  The problem is that the neckline drape is puffing out in front of my bust and looking really odd.

Here's what it looks like:

an average looking cowl
side on is at best not good...

and sometimes very puffy!

This pinned version shows you what I thought was going to fix it up - the photos are telling me otherwise:

pinning some of the puffy drape into the under-bust seam

the puff creeps out to the sides
bust puff be gone!

I do like the fit below the bust, but I fear this pattern needs a very different fabric. The recommendations were lightweight beaded fabric, charmeuse and crepe de chine. Very different.

I also only had 1m, whereas the pattern needed 1.2m. To fit the pattern pieces I added a horizontal seam in the back at around shoulder blade height (yes, that is a strange idea and not necessarily one that looks good) and I narrowed the neckline drape somewhat. Perhaps these changes played a part in this little disaster. I also used a long zipper from just below the neckline to just above the waist instead of a back opening and shorter zipper - but I don't think this was an issue.

Of course it looks better on the dummy!

I don't know that I will be fixing this... I am curious to see how it would fare in a knit, but I may not get to that particular experiment - too many other exciting patterns to try out!

PS Don't forget - you have until midnight Sydney time to enter my Vogue pattern giveaway.  And if none of those patterns appeal, over the next few weeks I'm planning a few more sewing pattern giveaways - part one year celebration, part enjoyable declutter - so stay tuned!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Pattern Giveaway

It's nearly my one-year blogoversary or whatever it's called, so let's have a practice giveaway! This giveaway is open to everyone - it doesn't matter if you're not in Australia - and while I'd like it if you followed me, you don't have to. To enter please leave a comment and let me know your preferred pattern. I'll draw the winner next weekend; entries will close next Saturday 22nd October at midnight Sydney time*.  

The winner will receive their choice of these three patterns:

Vogue 1192, Anne Klein New York, size 8-10-12-14
Uncut, as new, still available on the Vogue patterns website
Misses' Dress. Fitted, straight, above mid-knee length, lined dress has side front tucks, back zipper and hemline vent.
I haven't made this but from what I've read this dress is best made in a stretch fabric - ignore the pattern envelope recommendations, You can then also skip the zipper and the lining.

Vogue 7954, Vogue Men, size 15 - 15 1/2 - 16
Uncut, as new, from 1991
Men's Shirt. Very loose-fitting shirt has collar on band, extended shoulders, yoke with forward shoulder seams, pocket variations, left front band, back pleat, shaped hemline and above elbow sleeves with stitched hems or long sleeves with pleats, placket and button cuff variations.
I've made this pattern (from my other copy) and was very happy with it. This pattern has all the basic men's shirt details in it - the sleeves are a bit wider than current fashion but can easily be narrowed.

Vogue 8060, Vogue for Me, size 1-2-3-4
Mostly uncut (only the trouser pattern has been used - in a size 2), still available on the Vogue patterns website
Toddler's Jacket, Top, dress, Panties, Pants and Hat. Loose-fitting jacket has tucks, button front opening and edging trim. Top has front tucks, side slits collar and back button opening, also edging trim and purchased rosebud. Dress: mid-knee length, contrast overlay and collar, back button opening and purchased applique. Panties or pants: elastic waist. D: elastic leg. E: ankle length, tucks and edging. Contrast lined hat: brim and ties.
I've only made the pants from this pattern and they were quite wide in a size 2 but very easy to make. 

* 12pm on 22nd October Sydney time means 2pm that day in London and 6am that day in Los Angeles.

I'll be going through my patterns some more in the weeks to come so there should be some more non-Vogue (and likely retro pattern) giveaways soon.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Making Progress on Vogue 1158

Just to let you all know - I am sewing. Slowly.

I'm making Vogue 1158, a Tracy Reese dress pattern. Here's what my bodice is looking like:



It's an interesting fabric, isn't it? It's a cotton voile which has red ribbon and navy blue wool sewn across it on the bias. I haven't quite managed to make the red and blue lines symmetrical about the centre front - but I tried! I'm lining it with plain white cotton voile.

You're supposed to make your own bias strips from the dress fabric to edge the neckline and armholes with, but instead I'm using a piping from my stash. I decided to use the piping after I'd stitched my bodice outer and lining pieces together, so (as you may be able to tell) I'm not using the normal approach to sewing in piping. Oops. I hope it will still look alright.

If you're thinking of making this dress, the neckline is low cut front and back, and I found I needed to raise it in both places so as to cover my bra :-) The armholes seem to be low cut but have insets that bring them up to normal level. The dress is fully lined and so far the seams are French seams, which is ideal if you don't own a serger but would still like the inside of the dress to look neat.

And here's the Vogue pattern picture - they didn't line up their stripes perfectly either!

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Burda dress again

I've made another of those BurdaStyle dresses (10/2010-151) for my daughter, another variant from the same original pattern. My earlier versions are here and here. This one is loose and light, intended for active summer wear but also good for layering with optional fairy wings.

I am really not keen on this fabric - it's a quilting quality cotton that's way too fussy and floral for my usual tastes - but it's the one my daughter selected from a huge (stash) selection. And I suppose it was only ever in there because I'd thought she'd like it.

these colours are true

In this version of the dress I made several changes:
  • lengthened the bodice by a few centimetres, 
  • significantly narrowed the skirt (fabric constraints...), 
  • added in-seam side pockets, 
  • added facings for the neckline, and 
  • lowered the neckline a little all the way around. 
I also had a go at making this sort of tulip sleeves, but I didn't do a fab job with them. The rolled hem or whatever it's called went quite well but I haven't angled the wrap over steeply enough. Oh well, I'll know better next time - the technique for creating this sort of sleeve certainly works though!

but these tulips don't look quite right, do they!
I'm pretty happy with the rolled hems

The Boss is satisfied for the time being.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Taking on a Vintage Dress

I'll be off the "I had a holiday" posts soon, but I do have just one show and tell - this is a TLC sort of project rather than a sewing from scratch project. I won't do the actual sewing etc until I have a better understanding of exactly what I should be doing, so if you are reading this and you know a bit about caring for vintage clothes I would welcome your advice...

So - this is a dress that I bought from a small vintage dress shop in Lismore called The Black Angel (not currently online, but the owner was seeking advice as how to set up an online shop, so look out for it) which had a rack of mostly 1950s and on dresses. This green silk dress is the one that really caught my eye.  It felt a bit tight when I tried it on but the zip coped and the seam allowances looked generous - so I bought it. 

BUT while I was checking out the seam allowances, look what I found (and yes, in case you're wondering, this little surprise did mean a discount on the original price):

A total mess! Someone had hacked out the lining - chop, chop!  I guess the dress got a little tight for the previous owner and this was their quick solution.

Evidently the dress needs to be completely relined. Some of the stitching around the facings for the neckline and sleeves is also coming undone.

I'd like to see if I can let out side seams without leaving stitch marks behind too.

And there are some stains down the front and around the neckline, so the dress needs some kind of a bath:

I think this is going to become a sort of TLC and sewing repair project.  If you can suggest how I should clean a vintage silk dress, or you have any views on how I should go about relining it, I'd love to hear from you - I am not rushing into this project by any means!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Vena Cava (V1228) on holidays

This Vogue 1228 Vena Cava dress was finished on our recent holiday near Lismore.

We were staying at the house of friends - a beautifully appointed home on a lovely hillside farm property.

The neighbours' cows and a small pony roamed their field... I think that's called agistment?

The kids played together nicely - there was tag, soccer, swimming and some gentle piano playing, and they made biscuits:

as well as a huge variety of paper & texta-based toys - everything they needed for a pirate adventure, and a large number of colourful credit cards (!!) because they hadn't brought their piggy banks with them.

We made a trip to Byron to show the kids the lighthouse:

We visited a koala hospital, and saw mum & baby koalas in the trees outside the hospital:

And we went to the circus:

It was a pretty relaxing holiday, and the hand sewing to finish a few hems was all I did in the way of sewing for a whole week!
Back to the sewing.

Although I know my fabric was too lightweight, I can't help thinking that this pattern is problematic too.  I raised the neckline a few centimetres (which I probably shouldn't have, but I wasn't sure what else to try - and this was supposed to be a test dress), but my bra still shows in the corners of the neckline. I couldn't have raised it more because raising the neckline shifts the bodice pleats upwards and puts them in a place that just looks wrong with respect to bust and underarms. Even though I'm relatively tall, I'm short waisted - so I'm sure this fit issue would be pretty common. The neckline might not be too low on someone busty but then I think the bodice pleats wouldn't be full enough.

I really think the designer didn't work this idea through properly... maybe a separate band of fabric needs to be attached above the pleat to raise the neckline by the width of the band?  I have read other reviews that say this dress doesn't work if you are too hippy, or too busty... and I'm wondering who it would suit.

I love the idea of this dress - I am a pretty big fan of interesting pleats and kimono sleeves - but I'm not sure it'd be worth my while to make this dress in a more expensive fabric.
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