Monday, 25 March 2013

Cosy Dress: Vogue 1338

Here's my latest completed project - a new Anne Klein for Vogue jersey dress. I like it very much, and I think it makes a great dress for winter.

Winter? In March? Of course not! Blue skies and an uncovered BBQ; believe me, winter feels a long way off.  It's not winter, but it IS autumn - a Ridiculously Hot Autumn, aka Feels Like Summer is Supposed to Feel. Unlike the summer just past, which was much more ridiculously hot than autumn.

It's been 30C+ (that's 86F+) for days and days and days now. Perfect for the beach. Absolutely sweltering if you're fool enough to stand under the sun dressed in swathes of dark coloured jersey, doubled over on your chest and bunched for extra warmth on your arms.

Grin and bear it, ye foolish sewist of cosy clothes in hot weather.
                  Hence the foolish smile and proud bearing  ;->.

Pretty odd to make such a cosy dress in such warm weather, but the logic got lost when I followed my whim ("I want to make a flattering but simple little jersey dress I can pop on in this warm weather") over to the pattern stash and focussed on jersey + dress.  Be warned; these are the perils of a lack of planning.

Look yonder, it's a plane carrying patterns to Australia!
I didn't change this pattern much - simple changes to accommodate my slight pear-ish-ness and a slight lack of fabric, and then a couple of minor "personal taste" changes.

The pattern envelope back says "NOTE: No provisions provided [sic] for above waist adjustment. Purchased belt."  Although above waist adjustments are possible if you need to widen the dress at the waist (grade up to the next size, as I did), unless you're prepared to lose the interesting cut-in-one, foldover drape design, I don't think you could lengthen the bodice without scaling up the width of the rest of the bodice. So if you're a longer in the torso than the standard Vogue sizing this is probably not the best pattern for you...  I don't think a purchased belt has anything to do with the above waist adjustments you can't make but (note) my belt is also purchased. Silly!

This pattern demands fabric 150cm wide (60"), but if you have enough yardage you can get away with a slightly lesser width by giving your sleeves an additional seam. I have a seam below my elbow on both sleeves at the point where the elastic for the ruched part of the sleeve is supposed to start - but I decided to leave the elastic off and instead sewed the lower sleeves a little narrower.  You don't need to do this on the back bodice / sleeve pattern piece, but I wanted the back of the sleeves to match the front.

And the other little change I made was to use a shiny black bias binding on the back neckline instead of a self-fabric back neck facing - in past stretch dresses I've found the back neckline can grow over time, and I wanted to curtail this tendency.

Cold weather, I'm ready!

A big thank you to my patient camera holder, who never complains and rarely drops the camera:

And I hope to be reporting back here soon - my Elisalex is taking shape, but I'm running late for Faye's Essential Tops Sew-a-long...

See you!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Dresses Pattern Pyramid

I have too, too many patterns. The filing cabinet is full, the bag on top of the filing cabinet is full, the bags under the sewing table are overflowing, the "special patterns" shoe box is full, and there's another whole big bag of patterns besides all that. And yet I am still always tempted in the second hand stores...

The friendly blogger solution?  A pattern pyramid giveaway! 


My first* selection is of dresses only. Let's call this the Dresses Pyramid!

I've tried to select a mix of summer and winter patterns as well as a range of decades. The sizes are not such a big range because I don't tend to buy patterns more than a few sizes away from my own; sorry if this means there's nothing in your size! 

* Yes, I am implying that I'll have other pattern pyramids to follow, but my free time is too disorganised for me to commit to particular timings. If you fancy shirts / jackets, or skirts / trousers you'll just have to keep in touch!

Top to bottom, left to right, here are the descriptions and envelope backs:


Vogue 1049, bust 30.5"- 31.5"- 32.5": Badgely Mischka designer pattern. Fitted, lined, tapered sleeveless dress + loose-fitting, below hip jacket with notched collar, princess seams, welt pockets, two-piece sleeves with mock vent and button trim. 


Simplicity7255, bust 34": For stretch knits only. Top-stitched dress with low round neckline and set-in sleeves, plus optional self-fabric tie belt. Long or short sleeves.


Simplicity 8466, bust 38": Dress or jumper with back zipper, bands, shoulder straps and pockets concealed in side seams. Version 1 has a button trimmed pocket in bodice centre. Pattern includes special instructions for fitting.


Style 1234, bust 36": Panelled dress has back zipper. View 1 and 2 have set-in sleeves. View 1 has round neckline and long sleeves. View 2 and 3 have lowered neckline. View 2 has short sleeves and purchased belt. View 3 is sleeveless. Fit-to-figure basic pattern.


Butterick 5673, bust 32.5": Fitted V-neck "flip" dress in above knee or mini length, with high bodice gathering under bust. Full length sleeve with button and loop closing or cut-away armhole. With or without shoulder button trim.


Style 2303, bust 34": For woven fabrics. Raglan sleeve panelled dress has front pleats and button fastening, collar and revers and top stitching. Short sleeves with cuffs or long sleeves. Optional patch pockets.

I'm pretty much sticking to the rules set out by Karen when she originally distributed Catherine's excess patterns around the world.

With minor updates, here are the rules:


1. Anyone, anywhere can enter the giveaway by posting a comment below by midnight Eastern Standard Time Sunday 30 March BUT you must have an active blog so as to be able to host the next iteration of the Dresses Pattern Pyramid if you win.

2. I will randomly select one winner.

3. I will post the patterns to the winner.

4. The winner will pick one pattern to keep for themselves, then host their own giveaway. They will randomly select a winner, post the remaining patterns to that Person C. Person C will pick a pattern for themselves, host their own giveaway and post the remaining patterns to the winner, Person D. Person D will…

I haven't checked whether these patterns are complete.

If you win, please launch your own giveaway soon after receiving your parcel - and please be happy to post patterns worldwide.

That's it!

If you'd like to be considered in the draw, just leave a comment below :-).  You've got 2 weeks!

Friday, 15 March 2013

Work(ing) the Skirt

Here's my newest skirt, unwinding on the deck with the red shoes after a day at work...

Turns out even a basic ponte skirt feels a bit rumpled after being subjected to the cold, then warmth, then humitity and rain, and (the final straw) unexpected exercise including a near nobbling by an allied umbrella.

This little skirt is an incarnation of Vogue 7333, a "Today's Fit by Sandra Betzina" pattern. Though the pattern is new to me it dates back to the year 2000, when hemlines were apparently down to mid or lower calf - I had to hack a fair length off to meet this year's corporate dress guidelines.

I always find the Sandra Betzina patterns to look a bit daggy (does that mean I'm not their target market?) so I was a tad worried I'd end up with a daggy skirt. Count me pleasantly surprised!

V7333 is a straightforward pattern with optional diagonal seams on the front skirt ("opportunity for embellishments") and the choice of a waistband or none. I'm not really big on embellishments where there's no duress (that's why my daughter gets them), and I'm short waisted, so I chose the most minimal version.

The skirt has double darts front and back (4 in the front, 4 in the back), which is all about sharing the load (otherwise known as the tummy). Somehow this works without being too obvious.  And what this means is that the skirt feels really comfortable on and doesn't re-enact a whirlpool as you walk.

My fabric is a thick black ponte di roma, bought last year at Tessuti Fabrics. It's stretchy but hasn't sagged after being sat on at work. It's a good weight of fabric for the skirt, and my overlocker loved it.  Oh, and it seems to have amazing light-absorbing skills.

Conclusion: Don't judge a book pattern by its cover! I'm really pleased to have found a basic skirt pattern that fits my post-childbirth proportions, so you may be seeing this pattern again in more adventurous fabrics.

Sorry it's so hard to see the details in the above photos. I took lots of close-ups when the skirt was resting with the shoes, but then my camera card died in the middle of uploading to the computer and all photos not already uploaded have gone. I did consider taking new late night photos - but the details aren't all that scintillating really.

Sorry for the long gap between posts! I've got another finished garment, a dress - much more exciting than a black work skirt - but I haven't yet taken photos! Maybe this weekend?

Sorry Hazel for taking so long in passing on the award and answering your questions... sorry, sorry, sorry; I don't have a good excuse.

Got my Elisalex pattern in the mail today - and the packaging is just so gorgeous that I am now convinced this pattern will give me the most gorgeous dress in the world!  

Monday, 4 March 2013

My Yellow Dress is Just All Wrong

This week I finished a dress. Frankly, it's a disappointment!

This is a fake smile.

I made so many mistakes that I nearly made this post a "how not to" tutorial... but then I figured no, everyone makes mistakes.  But I made so many mistakes... OK, I accept I have puckering in my curved hem, but why do I even have puckering on the straight side seams - how did I do that????

Yes, that look expresses how I really feel about it. That's not a fake smile.

 There are a few details I'm happy with - like the nicely coordinated vintage metal invisible zip:

and the alignment of the side seams at the waist:

The top stitching isn't messy either.

But the mistakes!!!!!

Like fabric choice... oops. The stuff I bought is lovely but too heavy for a summery dress.

And considering the directional print, I didn't really buy enough for a dress!  Which leads to cutting out... oops again. What's grainline mean again?

I also mixed together two patterns without confirming their fit (my size has changed lately) or whether they would fit together. Double oops! Come ON, d'oh!

this skirt

this top, sleeves OFF, zip shifted to the side, peplum OFF
Vintage Vogue 8811 (a 1950s reissue, in vintage sizing) for the skirt + Vogue 8815 for the bodice (a current pattern, in modern-but-running-smaller-than-Vogue-designer-pattern sizing) - funnily enough they don't line up at the waist seam. So (oooooops) I added width to the bodice with narrow strips of fabric (have you ever heard of such a stupid idea?). And then the bodice was too big so I extended the front waist darts into princess seams to the shoulder - but it still doesn't fit nicely (can you believe it? after two clever ideas like that?).


So in the end it's a dress, but it's a let down. A dress that nearly became a skirt, then went back to being a dress - and that may yet become cushions.

Next up I'm working on a Sandra Betzina pencil skirt and one of the new Vogue pattern dresses. It's early days but I haven't done anything crazy with them yet :-).

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