Monday, January 30, 2012

Anna Sui Vogue V1217

I made this dress with high hopes, which is why I used a wonderful, soft cotton lawn I've had in my stash for about two years, waiting for the right thing to come along. Heavens above, why is it that the one time (in recent sewing sessions) I don't make a muslin, I really should have? I mean, muslins are so useful for (as far as I am concerned) three reasons:

I can check the fit
I can check any tricky construction details
I can see if the shape of the garment actually suits me.
And I do think that the last reason on the list is probably the most important. Yes, I have been alive (at least this time around!) for a whole forty-six years and I still have learned only a couple of things about what suits me! I should know by now that loose-fitting, billowy dresses just swamp me and make me look, well, small and puffy. Not good.
I sound as though I really really am unhappy with this dress, but I'm just a bit disappointed that it doesn't look as good on me as I wanted it to. The shape is wrong for me, the neckline makes my shoulders look very sloping. It's too short, even though I'm short myself. I will still wear it in the height of summer when everyone else is too hot to care what they or anyone else looks like, because it is very floaty and cool! I think this dress needs more definition in the shape: ie. narrower at the bottom than it is. That would help.P1309119
On the plus side, the dress was so fast to make up. I used piping for the first time, and it was easy (but I suspect I used thicker piping than was called for). It pulls on over the head, rather than needing a zip. I didn't hem it...just finished it with my overcasting foot (how did I live without one?)

I wouldn't make it again, but I did enjoy making it at the time. I just don't look that good in it. It actually feels like a hospital gown. This shape suits me much better. It's another Vogue V2091 (there are more!)P1149100

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Vintage Vogue V2859


I still haven't done any actual sewing as too much has been going on here, and this week is the week of the month I do all our company invoicing, so I have no free sewing time again. I did manage to cut out another McCalls M5661 in a hand-printed silk but haven't even got around to marking it up (mmm, my fave sewing bit...not!) I also ordered some black Linton Tweeds "fancy" fabric for a 1950's jacket/cape, together with the lining, and frog closures. I hope I don't mess it up, as it will be an expensive mistake!
I thought I would post a pic (sorry, it isn't a very good one) of the Vintage Vogue V2859 blouse I made a few weeks ago, over the Christmas hols. I made it up in a sort of shiny jacquard-type-thingy - with a bit of stretch horizontally - from Ditto fabrics. I don't know what the fibre is but it was perfect for the blouse, as it had a nice "wrong" side, it being the "right" side in negative, so it doesn't matter when the wrong side shows on the belt.
I don't usually make up muslins. I mean, I didn't, but now I do. And luckily I had changed my lazy ways before I made this blouse up, otherwise I think it would have been a disaster. Not from a fitting point of view...I mean from a technical point of view. Let's be honest here: the pattern was recommended for more advanced sewers and that isn't me!
There were a few things I came across for the first time, and the muslin really helped with that:
a patch buttonhole, the narrow hem on the neckline which turns a sharp angle, all the teeny tiny narrow hems (see pics).
I didn't really find making this blouse terribly difficult once I understood the instructions, especially the bit where you are supposed to use a bit of scrap fabric to reinforce the corners at the neckline and to carry the narrow hem around that corner. I still don't know if I did exactly the right thing there. Putting the little patch at the corner and turning inwards was no problem, but when it came to hemming/finishing it on the corner, well I just did it the only way I could, and it seems to look okay (in one of the photos above - you can also see where I have slipstiched the underside of the neck twist). Sorry, I expect none of this is making much sense, as I don't have photos of the actual process, but if you ever make this top, you'll know the exact bit I mean when you come to it!!
I was sort of dreading the narrow hems, of which there are many, but in fact came to like doing them. I didn't have a narrow-hem foot, so did them by hand, just turning under by about 13mm and pressing, cutting very close to the crease (about 1 to 2mm away)and then turning and pressing again, then stitching...very carefully! They turned out to be 3mm wide, so not bad.

I lengthened the top by three inches but I wish I had made that four inches as it still tends to ride up a little during wear, which makes it just a little too short for me (and I am only 5ft 2). Because I lengthened the top and kept the belt sewn in the same position vertically speaking, I had to account for this when finishing the lower hem of the belt, the bottom hem of the blouse, and the vertical back edges of the blouse, too. The belt should have been attached so that the lower edge of it was in line with the hem on the blouse, making things a lot simpler. I didn't realise this until just in time, when I realised I would have to finish things off a bit differently. It wasn't difficult, just took a little more time.

I really like this top a lot. So much that I was determined to finish the garment off beautifully, so I would be proud of it, and I am. I like that the sleeves are such an elegant shape, and I really like the neck detail. One thing: if you slouch at all in this top, it will show, as the sleeves and neckline call for bolt upright, vintage posture! I do tend to hold myself much taller and straighter in this top.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

McCalls M5661

Because I have done no sewing at all for a couple of weeks I just wanted to make a quick post on a top I made a little while ago and never got around to posting about at the time.
It's McCalls M5661 and I made version D, which took only a metre or so of fabric, even though the fabric I used - a black silk dupion - was quite narrow.

I really like this pattern; it's so easy and so fast to run up. I did make it much more time-consuming for myself though: I oversewed all of the seam edges and the facings, and did the hem, by hand. I know! It took ages to do all that hand-sewing but it was very relaxing. Don't think I'd go down that route next time though.

Although the top is made from silk (and has Very Special - expensive!! - buttons) it's very wearable and looks great with a pair of jeans and a cardi.

I'm going to make the top again, possibly version D again, as I just bought a metre of some really beautiful printed silk dupion on ebay (I think it was £7.00, so not bad).

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Checks...and Vogue V1127

I bought Vogue V1127 because I really do love the blouse. I first saw it here - isn't it wonderful! Amanda is such a talented lady. Anyway, I didn't have the right fabric for the blouse and, since the jacket had quite taken my fancy, I thought I might use up some orange checked stuff I had mooching around in my stash. Heaven knows what it's made of. I have never made a jacket before, so was looking forward to the challenge.

Ahem. Making a jacket for the first time is one thing, but making it from a check fabric is another. What a to-do! Having pressed the fabric nicely and folded it in half lengthways so all the lines matched up beautifully, I suddenly remembered the checks would need matching up somehow/somewhere (on the pattern pieces). Rushed to find a book to see what to do. Realised the first thing is...match up the centre of the check pattern with the centre-back. My checks were aligned geometrically with the fold in the fabric but not the correct centre-pattern-repeat-thingy check. I hope I'm making myself clear. So, I re-pressed and then re-folded the fabric with the correct check bit along the fold, only to realise that, in order to be accurate from one sleeve to the next, etc. etc. one is supposed to cut pieces singly when dealing with checks, so the whole thing would have to be flattened out and pressed again. I am already fed up with the word "checks".

Suddenly, what with the sewing time-warp and all that, it was my son's story and bed time so the whole thing had to be discarded and put aside until next week, since I will now have to use up all the floor space I have in my whole house, to lay out the fabric flat, and cut out all the bits singly. And that is after I have figured out where the checks should really line up.

I just ask myself this: WHY? I have masses and masses and masses (no kidding) of fabric in my stash and I have to put myself through this. I am such a slacker I suspect I will trash this project, so I have blogged it to shame myself into continuing. We'll see.

I will post about my lovely 1930s blouse soon. At least that is a happy story. And my dress form too. I wanted one for so long. And now I have one. Yippee!

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Butterick B5559


As I said, I couldn't resist making Butterick B5559. I do really like my clothes to be form fitting as I'm quite petite. Though I love flowing, graceful clothes on other people, they can swamp me and make me appear totally shapeless, so a dress like the one above is perfect for me. This photo was taken on Xmas day, the first outing for this dress.

Cutting out the pattern, I did feel a little daunted by the tucks that needed marking out and indeed this proved to be quite a tiresome task. Marking the fabric up is my least favourite bit of the dressmaking process and there is a lot of marking up to do for this one as you may imagine: darts and tucks galore. I basted all the lines in huge stitches and then cut in between the stitches so I could remove the pattern. Ugh. Now I know there are such things as carbon paper I might try that method next time.


Sewing the dress up was really very simple. The tucks/pleats were very easy to sew; quite enjoyable actually, and the dress came together very quickly indeed (once the fabric was marked!) You just sew the darts, sew the tucks, add the facings, sew the back and front together and make a hem. Ta da! The one tricky bit (that I didn't achieve, no matter how I tried) was lining up the tucks, front and back. Mine are slightly out, which irritates me and, as I was so careful to be accurate in my marking and my sewing of the tucks, I don't know why this should be. I know it's something to do with me, rather than the pattern, as I have seen others of this dress with perfectly aligned tucks. Would I make this dress again? Probably not, due to the fact that the prospect of making all those markings again makes me want to weep. I did buy some tomato-red double knit for another version, with sleeves, but I can't face it. That said, if you don't mind transferring so many markings, this is a simple dress to make, and very comfy and enjoyable to wear.

(By the way...although the hem looks wonky in the photo, it isn't!)

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

I'm Back (again)

Oh dear. I seem to have headed more posts in this way than a decent person should have to!

We had a kitchen extension, which took four months - longer than anticipated, due to various problems (although I enjoyed the whole process immensely - even having no kitchen whatsoever for six weeks!) During that time the only thing I could think of was building and fixtures and fittings. No exercise. No sewing. Nothing except choosing things and making tea and tea and tea and more tea. I don't miss that. I did miss my sewing, however, but then the run-up to Christmas came and that also meant no time for sewing. Until the Xmas hols...yippee!


Of course, no sewing didn't mean no following my fave sewing blogs, so I kept coming across wonderfully inspirational posts and was itching to make certain items. I made a black double-knit dress, which I love. I knew my Ashtanga yoga would be put to practical use one day: it helps to be able to partially dislocate my shoulders in order to get into the dress. Hehe, only joking. However, the dress is so tight when getting my arms in, I really do have to do some weird shoulder clicking to make things happen. Oddly the dress is very comfortable when on. I wore it on Xmas day and it expanded as required and stayed comfy too. It's Butterick B5559 and I'll post on it properly in the next few days.

There was also my new absolute darling favourite, Vintage Vogue V2859 Blouse (1930s). Gosh, bits of it were tricky dicky but it was worth it. I have never found making a muslin so useful. Oh wait, I've never bothered before! Thank goodness I did for this one, though. Not so much for fit, but for figuring out what to sew and where! Again, I will post about it separately, with photos.

Happy new year to all...what a fab time of year. I do love it (not Christmas...I can honestly say I completely detest it and I think I'm becoming phobic) But I love the new year and the fresh start it offers (even if that's just psychological trickery). It just feels good. I hope 2012 is great for you all...

PS We got a dog four weeks ago. That's her, above. Her name is Pickle. She is eight-months old.