Sunday, 24 November 2013

Converging Lines: Brasilia-Style!

When Rachel announced her Brasilia dress and asked for a few pattern testers, I jumped. 

There was already a stampede. For a few anxious hours I thought I was too late; too many volunteers had jumped in before me and the time difference was doing me no favours, but HOORAY (ie time to dance like a loon), I was IN!

wandering off with a rock in hand - cheap prop, that's all! 
And as you can see, I've now made myself a very fetching, very stripe-some Brasilia dress. Very fitted too, and that's the fit the dress is designed to have - honestly, for once I feel like I've nailed the fit. With some of that fabric that no one won at my giveaway - huhWell if you won't take it, I'll have to sew it myself, so there! 

first jumping, now dancing?
As you can see, this is a fitted sheath dress, but it's got these really interesting details - bust darts that emerge from the centre front, and triangles at the side that came about when Rachel played around with fish eye darts. I loved the look of these details in the tech drawing, and I thought stripes would really show them off.  

My dress didn't need radical modifications from the original pattern - but I started out with a toile down to hip level made out of some funky black stretch fabric (hmm, this might also have been left over from my giveaway). I sewed all the seam lines and dart lines in neon lime thread against the black so it was really easy to see where I needed to adjust the pattern, and since I don't have a handy late night fitting buddy I sewed CB together and pretended my zip was going in CF.

I took off about 3cm in total in bodice length and added that to the skirt length, and took in the upper bodice at CF and CB (I have really narrow shoulders). And I ignored the grainline recommendation to cut the side triangles at an angle. Other than that it was just tinkering.

I did consider adding a waist seam, so that I could cut the front skirt on the fold and also cut the front bodice with the stripes in a different direction (I really wanted the upper bodice stripes to splay out towards my shoulders rather than converging), BUT this would have made the bodice stretch the wrong way. As it is, I felt like I was pushing it by cutting out those side triangles at an angle... but I really, really wanted those particular lines to be angled in towards my waist - optical illusion, hey - with the darkest (green) line running along the lower edge of the triangle.

And I have to admit I toyed with the idea of some sneaky pockets extending down from the triangles inside the skirt, but I reckon they would have looked pretty awful in stretch sheath dress. Maybe if someone makes this dress with a bell skirt they'd have room for pockets.  

Rachel's pattern doesn't include seam allowances, and even though I've sewn Burda magazine patterns before, this felt like a first for me (usually when I trace a Burda pattern I'll add the SA as I trace). Interestingly this felt really liberating - it was great to really see where the stitching line was supposed to sit instead of imputing it, and I felt like this gave me a better chance of success with any adjustments.

So, what else to say? Well, with a fabric like this and a pattern like this, both all about showing off interesting design lines, obviously you have to take a lot of care with how the lines meet up. I took a lot of care over my cutting out, but CB and CF were danger zones.

I'm really happy with the way my CF darts line up, but as you may have noticed in the pics above the skirt part of CF isn't perfect - and I'm kind of tempted to go back and take it in just a smidgen to make the stripe width running down the centre of the skirt consistent with the widths to the left and right.

On CB I really wanted my invisible zip to be invisible, and my first attempt failed because I just sewed it in assuming the lines would stay straight. Second time around involved a huge amount of basting (I basted CB so I could iron some fold lines to follow, and then I basted in each side of the zip).

Rachel's pattern doesn't include facings (easy to draft your own or use bias tape) or instructions (well, it's pretty easy once you've sewn a few sheath dresses!).

Trickiest sewing was those triangles; they went in perfectly in my toile but were uncooperative in the stripes. I ended up doing some judicious clipping and also basting the curves in place by hand, and this did the trick.  I didn't stabilise these seams though perhaps I should have... we'll see how the dress fares over time. 

And the end result? 

A dress that I love.

Rachel, what a wonderful pattern! I'll be in touch with some more detailed feedback, but overall, this dress was an absolute delight to sew :)

See you soon!

- Gabrielle x

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Pine-Lime Splice Dress

I've finished another dress - the dress-making binge continues.

I didn't plan on making this dress - I'd actually planned a different dress... Well, to be completely honest I had a couple of different dresses planned (always plenty of competing priorities on the sewing list!).  But then I got sidetracked by the splendid lime fabric.

The Splendid lime fabric..

Thinking back, way back when - about a week ago, tops... 

I'd popped into Tessuti Fabrics for something mundane, glanced at the remnants table and WOAH! evidently someone that just my taste had been in recently, buying up big time, and leaving some delicious remnants behind.

Top left to bottom right, here's what I found bought: 

and here's what I planned:  

a fitted sheath dress (coral), cigarette pants (black), a beach coverup to coordinate with my daughter's swimmers, a Splice dress (lime), and part of a swimsuit (the black lycra I'd popped in for).

The following photo shows the lime fabric colour really well (ignore what looks like a crankiness, please, it's just the sun making me squint!):

The fabric is a viscose-elastane stretch fabric, and probably a bit thin and clingy for the dress by itself, so I'm wearing a cotton voile slip under it.  I made this slip a few years ago to go under a dress that has since left the wardrobe, but the slip seems to be the perfect length to accompany many other dresses :)

And the pattern is one that's been made by many other sewists before - Vogue 8870, in the Very Easy series. It's an easy-to-wear style - loose, gathered at the waist - and just a little bit trendy with its high-low hem.

I started the dress in a rush, without checking Pattern Review (oops, if I'd read nicegirl's review I'd have known to watch out for the front bodice - shorter in the middle than on the sides!), and without checking the suggested fabrics (stretch fabrics aren't listed).

The changing bodice length doesn't seem to be that noticeable in real life, and I think the pattern works well in a lightweight stretch fabric.  Having said that, obviously making this *woven* dress out of a stretch fabric necessitated a few changes in technique - I used a walking foot and a twin needle in some places, for example, and instead of sewing a casing for the waist elastic I stitched the top edge of the elastic, stretched out, close to the seam between bodice and skirt.

The dress is supposed to have side pockets, and of course I'm in favour of pockets in everything, but in this fabric I left them off - I thought the pocket openings would get saggy. I also took out 2cm at centre back to try to reduce the risk of wardrobe malfunctions in the front wrap. 

The waistline elastic has ended up a bit loose, but the dress is super comfy and looks a lot better on than expected, so I'll be leaving it loose for now.  And I wasn't sure about the high-low trend (late to this party) but the low part of the hem in this fabric has a soft, swishy, caressing feeling against my back calves when I walk or when a breeze blows - is this sensation what the trend is really about, do you think :)?

I always like ogling other bloggers' shoes, so here's a closeup of mine. Nothing flash, but I'm very keen on the colour and the chunky sole.

Finally, for those of you unfamiliar with the Pine-Lime Splice, one of my top 3 summer icypoles, here's a photo of one. Refreshing and icy on the outside and creamy in the middle - I'll leave you to make any amusing visual comparisons:

See you soon

 - Gabrielle x

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Seaside Tee

Ahhhh, relax... Imagine the end of a sunny day at the beach, walking back across the beach, contemplating a trip home against the traffic... bliss!

But before we go, wasn't I going to show you something?

Yes, turn around.

There's the sea, the sand and the sky.  And a seaside t-shirt by the seashore.

This t-shirt is one I made at least a month ago, along with a couple more that are going to be ditched for just looking awful (poor fabric choices). This one's a keeper, but the fabric is very thin, so while it's a great weight for warm days in the sun, there's no hiding the tum.

The fabric is something I picked up at The Fabric Store earlier this year, and the pattern is the Kirsten Kimono tee (again, as in Day 4 of MMM - it's my go-to t-shirt pattern). I need to think about varying the size depending on the fabric - the weight and drape of the fabric makes a huge difference to how this t-shirt looks. I love how Winny wears this as a looser style, so maybe my next t-shirts will be a size or two bigger!

Easy sewing, but it just can't be jackets and frocks all the time, can it!

Speaking of frocks, I do have a few projects on the go (a stripey dress, as mentioned over at The Monthly Stitch, a loose summery dress in a lime jersey, and a blue and white stripey skirt).  If I can stick with one at a time there should be something to share with you pretty soon.

 See you anon

- Gabrielle x

Friday, 1 November 2013

Coconut Ice

I'm sure you can see what these are... no need to model them, is there? Phew...

I truly never thought I would make undies, and it's not something I've ever aspired to, but Carolyn's Scorpio set - after many other beautiful sets before it - made me give in.  I now really, really wanted my own personalised undies.  So I thought I'd just have a go, aiming for a simple sporty RTW style, and see how hard it was to make something wearable and halfway decent looking.

As it turns out, being a bit of a collector of swimming costume patterns (and hopefully I'll finally make myself some swimmers this summer), I had a second hand copy of the pattern Carolyn used for the undies (McCalls 2772). In my size too.  So with very low expectations and some non-favourite pieces of leftover t-shirt fabric and elastic, I cut out a straight size 14 in the same style (E) that Carolyn used. My sewing was rough and ready, with white thread throughout just because that's what was on the sewing machine already.  But the sewing was surprisingly quick and easy. Very easy. And then - get this - they fit me! In fact, they fit me just like RTW!

What's more, far from looking like an ugly mismatch, the pink and white reminded me of a childhood treat that I'd all but forgotten about; coconut ice. Is it even still around??

I'm going to have to plan some more interesting undies now. Maybe screen printed, maybe interesting recycles like Zoe's, maybe colour blocked, like Katherine's bikini...  Now I've started I'm not going to stop!
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