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 vest 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.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Jalie in Pink Merino and.......

I have bought another Jalie pattern, Jalie 3352.  I was a little hesitant about this one because of the price and the simplicity of design, figuring I really should be using a pattern I already have.  Desperation for long sleeved tops made me click the buy now button.  This time though, I chose to buy the PDF version because this is now available for some of their designs.  It works out a lot cheaper than paying postage from Canada to New Zealand as well.  Despite having an aversion to actually taping patterns together, it did mean I didn't have to trace my correct size so time wise it worked out the same.

The fabric in question is a lovely weight merino that I got at the Lane Walker Rudkin receivership sale last year.  I measured my size which corresponded to T in the bust and U in the hips, so this is how I cut it.  I ended up running the entire top in by the width of my overlocking stitch so actually could have cut it to a size s.  Not to worry, fabrics behave differently so the next one I make up may fit perfectly.

Using the neck binding piece as my guide for length, I created a neckband and finished it with the twin needle.  I will probably do this on future versions as well.  This would be a great top to use my cover stitch machine on, but I will have to wait until my new sewing space is complete.

I love the cut of this top!  It is roomy without being over sized and makes the perfect wok top to wear with pants.  That being said, I am off to my stash to see what other fabric I can rustle up!

A remnant piece of grey merino and just like that.....version 2!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

End Of July Wrap Up

End Of July Wrap Up

Belcarra Bling Dress
Fabric $20.00
Satin $7.50
Pattern $0.00
Total $27.50

Wool $6.00
Pattern $5.47
Total $11.47

Silk Scout
Fabric $42.00
Pattern $0.00
Total $42.00

Wool Bomber
Fabric $54.00
Pattern $0.00
Lining $9.00
Zip $0.00
Ribbing $3.00
Total $66.00

Scrap Belcarra
Fabric $0.00
Pattern $0.00
Total $0.00

Total  $146.97

Total RTW $0.00