Tuesday, 30 April 2013

MMM'13 - Signing Up

I, Gabrielle of UpSewLate sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ´13. I will endeavour to wear one handmade garment each day for the duration of May 2013, with no repeats. I wil also try to sew at least two more garments during the course of the month.

This will be my third MMM... I'm sticking with one handmade garment per day as in previous years , but this year I'll try to come up with outfits that I like and that I'll wear again after MMM.  So although it sounds the same, it'll be just a little harder for me, especially come week 4 :-). I'm not planning to blog about my daily outfits though - perhaps just a summary at the end of the month? I found it really time consuming last year and I'd prefer to share a couple of recent makes with you instead (a dramatic winter jacket!! red pants!!!). That's OK innit?

I do hate a post without pictures, so here are some of my better efforts from MMM'12:



Unfortunately my team recently moved from our beautiful light-filled offices by Barangaroo to a poky little space in the central CBD. I don't know that it's going to be a particularly photogenic area! You'll know I'm struggling with my MMM photos if I start posting this sort of thing:

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Junior Sewing: Striped Skirt, Rollerskate Dress

My daughter made an elastic waisted skirt - with help to finish it - using some old fabric that was left over from a dress my mum made me as a child. I love this fabric, and am chuffed to see it made into something for another person to love.

And I made her an Oliver + S dress (the roller skate dress) which she initially claimed to hate but which became acceptable enough to wear today. Apparently dresses for big girls should have a fitted bodice and this shape is too young!  Anyway, I think it's a good fit, and I really liked the pattern (my first Oliver + S) - the fabric (quilting fabric) is not doing anything for me though and is hard to photograph.

One fabric for the bodice, another for the skirt, and a hot pink cotton full lining that you can barely spy at the top. And just one button; a perfect use for an orphan.

I finished some grownup sewing on the weekend too; a cosy yet elegant Donna Karan jacket! I am loving it to bits, but as usual struggling to get decent photos - and getting really bored with pics against the brickwork on the side balcony. I'll post as soon as I can get my act together! 

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Love My 'Lisalex!

 Ta daaaa - my Elisalex dress!

Is it a bird?  Is it a plane? No?? What then?
I'm sure you've already heard / seen for yourself the gorgeous By Hand London patterns - such a delectation compared to the Big 4! The Elisalex dress pattern comes in a pretty blue box, and includes a By Hand London label to stitch into your dress, the pattern tissue and an instruction booklet. The instructions were a bit sparser than I'd expected, but were really nicely illustrated - and it's not a complex construction so most of us wouldn't need more details. The pattern tissue is very lightweight and includes all sizes, but I found the print lines for the different sizes hard to distinguish.

I think you can tell... I like this one!

Finished about 2 weeks ago, then waited for ideal weather, and procrastinated on ideal locations. And after all that you're getting the same late afternoon balcony shots as usual and an unimpressive skyline - sorry!

I like the front view of the dress. I was aiming for very fitted in the bodice, but went a bit far with fitting in the bust - too tight! It's good to see how the other half lives occasionally isn't it?  The waist looks but doesn't feel too tight.

oops -  pulling it

Side view - and yes, you can walk in a tulip skirt!

There IS TOO room for striding

I don't know what my fabric is apart from an interesting Tessuti remnant, but it's definitely man made and unforgiving. Lots of mean puckering when I tried to speed up the seams, and any unpicked stitches left permanent scars. Plus I don't think it likes being ironed... On the plus side it's quite a glam fabric and quite a strong one, and the dress can pretty much stand up on its own if I run out of coat hangers or something. And I love that it holds the exaggerated skirt shape so well!  On the negative side the back view of the dress is not great - I inserted a hand picked zip but the fabric was really tough on my hand sewing needle and I must have been pulling the threads too tight. I may go back and redo this...what a mess!

I'm a bit shocked to tell you this was my first ever purchased independent pattern. Accordingly I was pretty cautious: I meaured the paper pattern (as well as myself) and made a muslin before attacking the real fabric. But the fit of my calico muslin was so different to the fit in my fashion fabric though that I had to make lots of new adjustments in the fashion fabric. \ ^..^ / 

Starting with the paper pattern, I used the sizes recommended based on my measurements. The skirt pattern pieces looked terrifically long so I measured them against myself before removing 10cm (I'm about 173cm tall, with most of my length below the waist, so I guess the pattern is designed for very, very leggy ladies...). To keep the exciting tulip shape I took this length out about 2/3 of the way down the skirt, in the section where the tulip was starting to narrow.  Interestingly the hem turn up doesn't get factored into the side seam shaping - so I took in / reshaped the side seams from hem level to about 15cm above the hems to avoid having to create hemline pleats.

In muslining the bodice I only made a very minor reshaping of the princess seams to fit my (smaller) bust. However in the very unyielding fashion fabric I had excess fabric above my bust and at the sides of my bust. To correct these issues I shifted the centre bodice piece upwards slightly against the side bodice pieces, and to made deep side darts which I then rotated into the princess seam going into the arm scye. These cunning moves worked reasonably well (although the bodice now looks too tight), but affected the front bodice shape of the arm holes. Luckily I didn't have to do any post muslin adjustments in the back.

Overall I'm really happy with this dress pattern and I am definitely thinking to make it again - with sleeves and a bit more ease. Love my 'Lisalex!

Friday, 5 April 2013

Top Trio and a Winner

Of course you wouldn't know it from my silence, but I've been participating in Faye's 2013 "Essential Top Sew-a-long".  And I've made a trio of simple tops, two of which are keepers:

The cute little striped top is a Kirsten Kimono Tee, a success here but a fail for me when I first made it (in the same red fabric as shown above - I'm trying really hard to sew from my stash!). My striped fabric is a loose-weave linen jersey; it's a drapey two-way stretch fabric and makes for a completely different and much more relaxed fit to my earlier effort. The shoulder seams and neckline are stabilised with thin, transparent elastic - I forget what it's called but I use it a lot with lightweight knits. Everything else was sewn with a twin needle - side seams and all hem finishes. I learnt the hard way that this sort of fabric stretches out a lot if you subject it to overlocking, so the seams are raw :-).

Late Edit: here's what the stripey top looks like on - already getting loads of wear:

The blue top looks crumpled because it's been sitting in a bag of stuff dedicated to be passed on to the local second hand shop. I did intend for this to be a wardrobe staple as I love the colour and have heaps of this fabric in my stash, but unfortunately I misread the fabric list for the long sleeved pattern (Vogue 8879, view A) and used a two-way rather than a four-way stretch for the blue top. This top fits but feels constricting, and I don't like the waist band on it so it's being passed on to the second-hand shop. With any luck it'll become a wardrobe staple for someone smaller than me.

Lesson learnt, second time around with Vogue 8879 I used a fabric (the red stuff) with four-way stretch.  This time around I left off the stitching at the bottom of the V-neck binding because I suspected the V-neck would turn into a scoop neck if left to its own devices. It does - the strain from the cut-in-one sleeves is enough to pull what looks like a steep V shape into something much rounder when worn.  I lengthened the sleeves by about 9cm, omitted the waist band, and sewed my seams a smidgen narrower. This top looks good on, and even feels loose through the body and shoulders (what a difference the fabric makes!), but I'm not 100% convinced by fitted cut-on sleeves...  I think I would have preferred an extra seam for the sake of having my sleeves on the grain.

So that's the trio, now for the WINNER of my dresses pattern pyramid:

                          it's Dal!

Congratulations Dal - I'll be in touch soon to get your mail details and send those patterns off to you!

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