Saturday, September 13, 2014

Vogue DKNY Dress

I made yet another new dress.  This one has been patiently waiting for a year since I bought the fabric and pattern.  You may recognise the fabric!  After my failed dress which incidentally never got worn, and has since been shortened to a tee, I bought another length of the same fabric and with this dress in mind.  I am glad I finally got there because I really like this dress in this fabric.

The fabric is a stable rayon spandex with the feel of cotton.  The pattern I chose is yet another Vogue, Vogue 1194, a DKNY pattern.  I am quite partial to DKNY patterns.  This one is out of print now unfortunately.

I cut the dress to size 10 as per usual but feel I could have gone down to an 8.  It is a little more relaxed than the photo on the cover but still comfortable to wear.  The only change I made to the dress was to raise the V neck by 2.5cm as in it's original form it was not at all work friendly.

I hemmed both the sleeves and the skirt with my coverstitch machine because I am determined to come to grips with using it.  Now that I have a brand new sewing space, I have no such excuse as 'no place to use it'!

I would definitely make this again and may even do so in merino for next winter.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Play It Again Sam

Once again, using one of my recent aquisitions from Cotura Fashions, I made a new top.  My foundation for this top is NewLook 6648, which I have made previously four times.  This time though, I wanted a little less of a batwing effect.  Whether I  achieved it though, I am not sure.  To reduce the under arm bulk, I added 1.5cm to the shoulder seam at the cuff end tapering out to nothing at the neck.  I then removed the same amount at the cuff, tightening the curve under the arm and straightening the side seam.  I then shortened the sleeve and added a cuff.

I opted not to gather the hip band, instead cutting a piece of elastic to the gathered length and stretching while zig zagging to secure in place.  I did this to avoid the gathering stitching from breaking.

There is not a lot left to say abut this top that I haven't said before.  It will definitely be a useful addition to my spring wardrobe.

So why is there a 1.7 tonne  bronze bull sitting on top of that piano, I hear you ask?  Well this is one of a number of artworks that dot the city in the name of making our barren landscape a little more interesting.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Four Years On

I am not going to dwell too much on earthquakes in this post because for the large part I have moved on.  When a truck goes round the corner and rattles my office, I am still often reminded of this dreadful day and then again when I visit the CBD and see very little but shingle and weeds.  There are signs of recovery though.  The bright orange road cones are still abundant and the city's corporate uniform is in the form of hi-vis vests and hard hats but usually this scene now signals construction rather than destruction.

There has been a bit of construction going on at home as well.  After four years, our insurance claim has finally been settled and we can now move into renovation mode.  As part of the renovation, I have been lucky enough to get a dedicated sewing space for the first time ever.  Up until now, my sewing space has consisted of a Horn sewing cabinet in the corner of the bedroom.  The idea was good but my prolific and daily sewing meant the cabinet was never closed and looked quite untidy.  My new space takes up a wall in my laundry.  The cupboard above the table contains all of my notions and my cover stitch machine and iron are contained in the tall cupboard to the right.  Behind me is a long bench under which is the washing machine and dryer.  This will make a great cutting/work bench.  This room is still in its final stages of completion.  It has only been completed a week so is still a little sterile.  It has however been christened and I am pleased to report, it functions well.  My overlocker is commercial so actually lives in the garage with my fabric cupboard alongside.  My new space is now only a few steps away from my overlocker rather than the other end of the house.  I can now sew into the evening without disturbing anyone trying to sleep and best of all the lighting is fantastic.

As far as sewing goes this month, it doesn't actually appear that I have been very prolific but this was largely due to the huge effort that went into Courteney's year 13 formal dress and her partners waistcoat.  After such a large commitment I was a little sewing jaded and turned my attention to a little knitting.  Typically since it is spring my knitting project is still on the needles and unlikely to get worn before next autumn.

End Of August Round Up

Pink Jalie Hi Low Merino
Pattern $14.53
Fabric $5.00
Total $19.53

Grey Jalie Hi Low Merino
Fabric (leftover) $0.00
Pattern (used before) $0.00
Total $0.00

Tessuti Alexa Merino
Pattern (used before) $0.00
Fabric (leftover) $0.00
Total $0.00

Black Ponti Skirt
Pattern (used before) $0.00
Fabric $2.00
Elastic Wide $1.50
Total $3.50

Pink Cotton Sateen Shift
Pattern $10.95
Fabric $33.00
Zip $2.90
Muslin $2.00
Total $48.85

Total Me Made $71.88

Total RTW $59.95

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


While I am definitely ready for spring and the daffodils popping up everywhere are testament to the fact it is imminent, I haven't made the mental switch to spring sewing just yet.  My winter sewing plans have not yet been completed and I am somewhat reluctant to move on without completing them.  My latest project does however transition the two seasons quite nicely.  It has been completed for a several weeks but during this time I have lost a bit of weight so actually now, like just about everything else in my wardrobe, is actually a little big!  Oh well, at least it is a shift dress and was never designed to be fitting anyway.

The fabric I chose was bought to make a dress last summer but the colours actually work quite well as a winter spring transitional dress.  The fabric is stretch cotton sateen which I bought on Trademe.  After reading countless reviews, I settled on New Look 6145.  I didn't have the luxury of an online pattern sale this time so New Look was also economical to buy locally.  

I cut the dress to size 10 and size 12 in the hips as per my usual sizing. Even before I lost weight, I found this style a little voluminous so ended up adding extra darts to the front of the dress.  To do this I mimicked the back darts but on the front.  It certainly helped to contain the volume but I think now it could probably benefit from running in a little more.  I think though, I will wait until my weight stabilizes.  I actually like the fit of my frankenpattern work dress better but prefer the sleeves on this one so another frankenpattern of my previous frankenpattern may be in order.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

I Said It Last Year But AWWWWW!

As promised, Courteney's ball dress!  

Last year's version featured a full skirt and a strapless top.  It was the first time Courteney had worn a strapless dress and I suspect that given she is a girl more comfortable in football boots it may well be the last.  While the dress looked gorgeous, she found it less than practical and spent a good deal of time hitching it up.  We certainly weren't prepared to go there with a full length, and heavier dress!  Traditionally at the year 12 ball, the girls wear shorter length dresses and the year 13 ball they wear full length dresses.

Once we settled on a colour, a lot of Internet research was conducted before trying to source a pattern.  I must say the pattern was really the most difficult  part.  There really isn't a lot of choice.  I was drawn to Vogue 8360 because of the shoulder straps which were part of the brief.  This combined with a narrower silhouette and a princess line would suit her shape and petite stature.  I was also drawn to the keyhole type of opening in the back as it added interest to an otherwise quite plain dress.

This year's dress was not to be beaded or sequined like last years but still required an element of bling.  I found the glitter chiffon which became our starting point.  Courteney wanted the skirt to also be in chiffon for its 'swishy' tendencies but the chiffon we sourced in the fabric stores seemed to crush badly.  We then settled on Georgette backed with light weight satin.  However, after reading reviews of the pattern, it became apparent there were issues.  The back was too low cut and the bodice was drafted a little skimpily. 

Based on Courteney's measurements, I drafted a bodice pattern.  The fitting of this was quite extensive and I think the pattern would have benefited from ABC cut type fitting options.  Eventually though, I settled on a fit I was happy with and set to work in my real fabric.  My stresses were only just beginning as it turned out.  I hadn't bought enough fabric so had to return to the shop a month or so later and fortunately they still had it in stock.  I bought a skirt length in satin and Georgette.

After partially completing the bodice, I discovered that the drapey satin and glitter chiffon was not the deal choice for the bodice as it lacked structure.  I also decided I wanted to raise the back bodice to enable Courteney to wear a bra underneath.  I whipped down to Lincraft and purchased some party satin which was much more stable than my drapey satin.  This mean't the pleating in the bodice sat nicely instead of collapsing as in the original.

Based on reveiws of this pattern, I raised the cup height 1.5cm and also the back cut out by 2cm.  I am pleased I did.  The back opening now sits at the small of Courteney's back.  Any lower and it would be quite underwear revealing.  A word to the wise about the back opening though, it is probably best suited to girls without a sway back.  I had to add a length of elastic in belt like fashion under the dress to secure the opening to her back.  It is an unorthodox solution but it works!  If I was to give advice to anyone making this dress, I think I would close the opening up.  That being said, it remains one of my favourite features.

Increasing the cup height on the bodice was also a good idea.  It mean't that a bra can be worn under the dress without being noticed.  I simply added 4 bra stays made out of ribbon and snaps ad hey presto, instant comfortable, non revealing dress!

So what did I learn through this whole process?  Well, simpler design does not equate to easier!  Every seam on this dress has been pulled out and restitched at least once despite making a muslin!  The hem was no exception.  Just when I thought it was straight it would move again one me!  Oh the perils of a fluid dress!  My solution to the hem was to baste it, then press it before basting close to the press line.  I then trimmed the hem back to my second basting line after removing the first row of stitching.  I then folded my hem up one more time before sewing my final row of stitching.  I am pleased to report, with this method it sits perfectly straight with no puckering...she says breathing a sigh of relief.

Now trials aside, I have really enjoyed the challenge of making this dress and the results certainly justify the effort.  Courteney loves it. It is exactly what she ordered.  I have a happy daughter and I think she looks beautiful....mission accomplished!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Sewing For Men

You may remember I mentioned a while back, that it is school ball season again.  Well this year's came with two requests.  Not only was I to make Courteney's dress but also a vest for her partner.  Now the dress this year was to be a little less princess and more elegant than last years which on the surface had me breathing a sigh of relief.  The reality of this dress has been a lot of work but I am pleased to report, that it was finished with a month to spare.  More on that later.

The vest was actually light relief comparatively.  The colour and fabric needed to compliment Courteney's dress which was easier said than done.  Do you know how hard it is to find suitable red brocade without too much of an Asian influence and for a young man who is flower averse?  Impossible!  Courteney and I had all but given up all hope of finding anything when under a table at Lincraft I spotted striped table cloth fabic in the perfect shade of red!  So, the fabric sat around for about a month while we schemed and created Courteney's dress.  

Since it was school holiday time a few weeks back and said recipient was available for fittings, I started work.  My pattern, Vogue 8048, starts at size 34, but this young man required a size 32.  I traced off the pattern and sized it down to a 32 before cutting up the muslin for Courteney's dress to make a dress muslin.  I tried it on Callum who had similar measurements while M was away on holiday and was quietly confident of success.  I was correct!

The waistcoat went together pretty quickly.  I used the striped fabric for the font and black satin for both the back and back lining.  For the front facing I used the striped fabric and a small amount of red satin for the front lining.  The only adjustment I made was to run it in slightly under the arms.

The only stumbling block I came across was the covered buttons.  I may be making them the wrong way but my impression is they are useless!  After investing an incredible amount of wasted time on them I eventually gave up.  My mother came to the rescue though with some out of my grandmothers stash.  These buttons have the shank attached to the top and you just gather your fabric and force the back on with a cotton reel.  Hallelujah.....success!

Tonight was ball night and I  got to see the final product worn. The fit is perfect.  I won't embarrass him too much in case he reads this! I will just say he looks really handsome smart in his waistcoat and leave it at that!   

Now you might be wondering where the promised photograph of M wearing his waistcoat is!  Well the photo I have also includes Courteney.  I will post it tomorrow when I write about the all important dress!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Vogue Meets Tessuti

Part of my winter clothing wish list this year, was a little black fitted skirt to wear with tights and loose fitting tops.  I had a piece of thick synthetic ponti with great stretch recovery, in my stash that had originally come from the op shop that would be the perfect choice.  It was Lara of "Thornberry" that actually gave me the push I needed to turn this into reality.  That and my need of a quick and easy project after the marathon school ball sewing.  Instead of buying a pattern, although I was tempted by Colette's latest offering, I opted to make my own, or more accurately adapt something I already have.  It is no surprise then that my pencil adaptation of Vogue 1247 was my go to pattern.  I used the front, cut twice on the fold and the waistband shortened to comfortable length, both for pulling over my hips and to fit my waist.  I then simply ran my skirt pieces in until I got the desired fit.  I wasn't aiming for negative ease because I am not a fan of bodycon, but zero ease.  I then stitched on the waistband and threaded a piece of elastic through a gap left when sewing the two ends together.  I twin needled the waist seam and hemmed it to a length I am comfortable with.

I love this skirt!  It is comfortable, sits beautifully and requires no ironing.  What more could I want in an article of clothing!

The keen eyed of you will notice my new top.  I used the leftover merino from this dress, to make another Tessuti Alexa top.  There is not a lot to say about the Alexa top.  This type of top is the real workhorse in my wardrobe.  I wear them with jeans for the weekend and skirts for work during the week. There will be more of these.