Saturday, 30 April 2016

Vogue 1482: Antidote Dress

First of all, thank you so much to everyone who left a kind message on my last post.  I have yet to reply to them all, but I really appreciated your words. Knowing friends were thinking of us made life feel a little less sad, so please accept my very sincere thanks.

And of course life has been getting back to normal. Work for the adults, school for the kids, and the usual hobbies - sewing for one.


This dress is a pretty good representation of my current frame of mind: predictably, I'm feeling like life's too short. Too short for not sewing your favourite fabrics, for worrying about embarrassment, and for dressing staidly.  Too short for being a wuss. Too short for putting off the small pleasures that don't hurt anyone.  It's time to be bold.

So this dress is bold and abstract and sack-like - a reminder to relish life; an antidote to fearfulness.

Now one of the really cool things about this dress (I think) is that worn normally, the print looks semi-abstract - just interesting lines and blobs on a lovely blue background.

And yet when I assume Australian Sugar Glider pose, the abstract reveals itself to be an illustration for an interesting story involving animals of the air and sea:

The pattern is of course Vogue 1482 by Rachel Comey (Vogue patterns listing here), aka Wades dress. The tech drawing already gives you a hint of sugar glider-ness, doesn't it! 

The pattern is described as follows by Vogue:

"Very loose-fitting, tapered, pullover dress has bias neck facing and loop, front seam with left side pocket, sleeves, cuffs, stitched hem, back neck slit and button/loop closing. Note: No provisions provided for above waist adjustment."

I didn't think the back neck slit was necessary - the neckline looked wide enough to get over my head, and I had enough fabric width to cut the dress without a centre back seam - so the back of my dress looks like this:

My dress has I think ended up at the original length - I cut the dress out significantly longer but then trimmed away some of the length and used a deep hem. If you're shorter than about 5'8" I think you'd need to remove length in that space below the angled seam on the dress front - if you take length out higher up the dress you'll need to change the degree of the angled seam and the pocket.

It's probably also worth noting that most of the original Rachel Comey Wades dresses that you can find online are made from light looking silk or polyester georgettes that drape in thinner folds than my fabric - as does the one on the pattern envelope: 

My amazing Japanese fabric came from Tessuti Fabrics' Surry Hills shop last year. The blue is my idea of stunning, and I think the stylised drawings on the fabric are gorgeous too. In other words. this fabric immediately joined my favourites list.  And I've pulled it out of my stash so often since buying it - but you know, always held back by the usual excuse: "what if I mess up my amazing fabric with a dodgy make?"

Well once sewn up, I have to admit my first reaction was UH OH!

I'd cut the dress out in my usual Vogue size (12-14) but that size looked oversized on me; the curve of the side seams was swamped by excess fabric and the fabric hung on me with curtain-like vertical ripples. The kids gave me the side eye and extracted a promise that the dress would not be seen by their teachers :(.

Happily when I pinned out the excess down the side seams, the dress looked much improved.  I removed 5 centimetres from each side seam in the size 12-14 I'd initially cut out, tapering to 2 centimetres at the hemline and nothing at the cuffs -  basically a size smaller than I'd usually wear. It's possible that with a lighter weight fabric my original size would have been fine, but my fabric is quite heavy, with a reasonable amount of give despite its not being a stretch.  Due to that weight I included clear elastic down the length of my shoulder seams - I think it'll prevent the weight of the fabric from distorting the sleeves.

I had some great suggestions on Instragram as to what that creature flying across my chest might be (a seal? a pigeon seal?), but I'm now thinking it must be a seagull. The creature crawling over my pocket is a lobster, of course, and I'm really pleased with the way I placed this critter, ready to snap.

From my kids' perspective the dress is still not a safe enough choice for parent teacher meetings, but in my eyes changing the fit has made a huge difference.  This is definitely the kind of look I want to wear out.

A favourite fabric, a bold shape and very little embarrassment in the scheme of things - I want to make more of these dresses!

Finally, thank you mum for taking these photos for me!  We had a lovely afternoon out last weekend, and mum took these pictures in front of some grand historic houses on a very busy Johnston Street in Annandale (in the inner west of Sydney). 

Happy sewing (be bold!) and see you soon

- Gabrielle xx

Saturday, 9 April 2016

StyleArc Rosie and a Vintage Vogue Skirt

I'm back! It has not been a great month between posts... 

A couple of days after my last post my mother-in-law became suddenly very ill, to the point where she needed to miss one of her beloved early morning rowing sessions.  She still felt able to pick my son up after school, and to dash off to meet friends and see an opera concert, but in between those activities she lay on my couch (a shocking  first) and declined a cup of tea (unheard of!). Within the next couple of days she was in so much pain that she took a taxi to hospital where she was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian / peritoneal cancer, and promptly had several rounds of chemotherapy scheduled to try to halt the cancer's progress.  Mr UpSewLate and his brothers alternated in staying with her day and night, at home and at hospital, but she was so weak from the "stomach bug" (her GP's diagnosis) she'd been enduring all through February that she didn't survive the first round. She was very brave and stoic, but it was a terrible shock - she was so active and bright, sociable and community-minded that we'd thought she'd live to be a hundred! She died peacefully with her three sons by her side, listening to some of her favourite music. We held the funeral and wake on her birthday last week, and the night before last we attended a beautiful farewell ceremony at her rowing club, with shared stories and message boats on the water. It's been an incredibly emotional month - there's a big gap in our lives now.  

So now you know... 

BUT I'm sure you're not here to read about my life, so let's move on to the much easier subject alluded to in this post's heading:  sewing, and two completed garments.

This post has been sitting in my "draft" folder all month, ready to publish. Here it is, as drafted back at the very start of March - and apologies in advance for the abrupt change in tone, but it was written before the month turned awful:

StyleArc Rosie and a Vintage Vogue Skirt

I have two Autumn garments for today's show and tell (blogging can feel like that, can't it!): a sleeveless StyleArc Rosie top and a vintage Vogue flared skirt in stretch cotton sateen. 


Yes, that's right, it's Autumn in Sydney, and yet on the day I took these photos the temperature was probably still hotter than peak of summer weather in many places. HOT and MUGGY! The hot weather (about 35 days in a row!) seems to have finally broken, but we'll have to wait and see...

Maybe the European-style 4 seasons don't really fit with our weather patterns though? The D'harawal country calendar looks a better fit to Sydney's weather, and it classes January to March as the hot and dry season.

I've had my eye on the StyleArc Rosie top for a long time - the pattern came out years ago - but Kristin's fitting woes with this pattern put me off.  Then I finally twigged that since we're very different shapes, the patterns that challenged us in fit would be very different too.  And it turns out that for me at least, the pattern is a winner.

In all these photos you'll see that the fit isn't perfect, but please bear in mind that I used very unforgiving fabrics for this version, which is really only a test garment.

The centre front panel is a cotton twill left over from my Blinder peplum top of a few years ago, and the rest of the fabric is a cheap cotton that I must have bought a long time ago, as it's not really suitable for clothes being stiff, rough to the touch and very crease-prone. 

I think at least some of the creases will disappear in a better fabric, and I'm hopeful that by adjusting the shoulder line and adding a little bust width in the princess seam I'll get rid of the creasing and pooling at the front underarms.

Here are the line drawings and tech drawings for the pattern - it's hard to see the design lines in my white fabric: 

The Rosie top goes together very, very quickly; it's just a matter of a couple of seams and a folded pleat in the back. with no darts or edge binding.  The pattern does suggest an opening in the centre back seam but I found I didn't need one - the top *just* fits on with a little contortion, and pulls over my larger than normal head easily.  I particularly like the shape of the neckline facing, which is quite deep in the back, the shaped front "skirt", and the panelling that would make this pattern great for mixing fabrics. I'm not so keen on the finish on the armhole - just turn and stitch - so I'll probably cut myself a deeper hem allowance here next time I make the top. 

I sewed the Rosie top in a straight size 10, as the size 10 looked to be a very good match to my current measurements (36", 30", 39") in StyleArc's size chart, and the overall fit seems good. StyleArc doesn't add much ease though, so if you wanted a looser top I'd recommend going up a size or two.

I'm looking forward to making this top again in better fabric - I've got some lovely pieces of silk organza that I think would look great mixed up with other fabrics, but I need to work out exactly which other fabrics :).  

And now for the skirt. The skirt comes from an 80s Vogue pattern, Vogue 1387, that I thought I'd used before - so many similar skirt patterns in my stash! - but which is actually a new one for me.  

The skirt is described as being a "bias, flared skirt, below mid-calf... waistband and side zipper" - in other words, your basic bias cut skirt.  It comes with a very loose, big shoulder jacket (zero appeal to me) and a loose short sleeved top that looks a bit like the Maria Denmark kimono tee in shape - though presumeably lots looser. 

I sewed this in a straight size 14, and left off my usual skirt lengthening as I had only just enough fabric to fit the original skirt length. Because I didn't add any width at the waist I have to wear this skirt at my natural waist rather than half way to my hips :(, and of course that also takes away some potential length. Those two facts mean my skirt isn't below calf length, but that's OK - I do prefer a longer skirt but some variety in the wardrobe is probably a good thing.   

Actually there wasn't quite enough fabric even for the original length - I had to cut the back skirt piece with a narrow triangle of fabric missing at the base of one of the side seams and then insert a similar triangle (matched on colours and grainline) to fill the gap.  Unfortunately I don't have a photo of the patch - I didn't get the chance to take many photos before a neighbour came out to see what I was doing, which of course meant the end of photo taking :(.   

Fitting this sort of skirt shouldn't be tricky, but I think I need to adjust the hip curve if I make this again - I've got some pooling at hip level on the side seams, as you can see in the next photo.  You can also see my cute blue buttons and a super-invisible zip, made more invisible by my camera's inability to cope with the whiteness of the white areas of fabric.

And here's the back view - not very exciting, and no, you can't see the patch:

I'm very happy to have another skirt in my wardrobe, even if it is currently on the tight side of fitting.

Happy sewing, and I wish you and your loved ones good health 

- Gabrielle x

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