Friday, 27 December 2013

My black Cambie Dress

It's been a while since my last post. I have been studying/making the popular Sewaholic Cambie Dress.  I bought it from from Indie Stitches who is doing 20% of all patterns until New Year Eve.

I made both views, but the first dress based on View B was such a disaster that I couldn't wear it to show you (only because I didn't pay attention to the instructions and did a few things wrong). But the experience led me to a successful second dress based on View A. As I made the pattern twice, I have a few thoughts to share.
Front view

I was attracted to four square walls (Andrea)'s modification with a straight neckline bodice. It looks more formal. I also followed her idea of using the sleeve lining pattern pieces on the main fabric so I eliminated the gathering on the sleeves. However after I made it and tried it on, there is a gap on the upper bust. To solve the problem, I added two small darts on the neckline near the point where the sleeves join. The result is amazing. Not only do they eliminate the gap, but also accentuate the bust.
close up on the darts
 I cut size 6 and didn't make any sizing adjustments.

side seams
I was surprised that Tasia did not call for understitching the lining in the instructions. It is a bit of extra work but I think the understitch is always necessary for lining. If you want to add it, do it before the zip. I made this mistake on my first dress when I was following the instructions to sew the zip but then wanted to understitch on my first dress. I used Tasia's tutorial on sewing the lining to the zip and found it very handy.

Sewing the lining

The Fabric
I used some sort of medium-to-heavy weight wool fabric. I don't know what exactly it is. It looks like Twill damask? It's thick and has a bit of stiffness so it's very easy to handle. I bought this fabric from a shop in Dandenong for $4 per meter, but the shop closed down 6 months ago. Shame! I used the leftover pink stripe poplin from my retro top project for the contrasting waist band. The cost of fabric is less than $10:
Wool damask: 1.1 meter x $4 = $4.4
Poly lining: 1.1 x $3 = $3.3

Though it's cheap, it feels and looks like a million bucks.  It fits nicely and looks well made (I hesitate to admit that). I made some silly mistakes in the process but patiently unpicked and resewed. I made sure the waist joined perfectly at the Zip.  It took me two days to finish but could've been quicker had I not made those silly mistakes. 
close-up of the zip
I have seen lots of reviews of this pattern. Now I understand why everyone is doing it. It's very well designed. It's easy to make for a lined dress.  Some steps are very smart. The silhouette is classic and it's also versatile and easy to add on your own creations.  Definitely my favourite pattern. I am already thinking of making a third version.

By they way, Merry belated Christmas. I made a 8kg turkey this year. Lots of work involved. I was basically running between my sewing table and oven this Christmas.

What's next?
I am hooked on Sewaholic Patterns after the Cambie Dress. I am making the Alma Blouse now.

I am also thinking of Vogue 1350 and the retro Butterick. Stay tuned.
ideas for next projects!

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Vogue 1351: DKNY dress w/t cowl neck

It's my first time to sew a DKNY pattern! Vogue 1351 is now one of my favourites. I've named it Donna. Yes, I've started naming my dresses since my last project.

The dress
This cowl neck dress is absolutely gorgeous and simple. I would not say it’s easy to sew as many reviews say. Yes there are only four pattern pieces and a few seams, but crepe fabric is flimsy and slippery to handle and it’s hard to cut it on bias accurately. Nevertheless, it gives an elegant drape and easy fit.  It feels to so different to wear a bias cut dress, it just clings to your skin.

The Fabric
The fashion fabric I used is “Italian Crepe” from Spotlight. I guess it’s something similar to Crepe-de-chine. I wanted some fabric that drapes well enough to make a nice cowl neck. It’s not an easy fabric to handle.

The lining fabric is “delux” (not deluxe) satin from Spotlight. It has a dull back which sticks well to the crepe, and a smooth and glossy surface, which makes it so comfortable to wear close to my skin. The satin also drapes as well as crepe.

Sewing the lining
There are many ways to sew lining to a sleeveless dress. I first learnt this bagging method from NeenoHowever, I can’t apply it on this dress as there is no centre back opening. After a bit of research, I used the rolling method. It’s basically to stitch and understitch the whole neckline, then roll the dress in and sew the armhole seam (as picttured below) and turn the dress out. Don’t forget to understitch. (1) Understitching may not reach the seams close to the shoulder, use edgstitching. (2)

I love the understitch. It makes such a difference. I also use it along the joint of the cowl and the lining.(3) & (4)

The zip

My attempt to sew the invisible zip along the under arm side seam was a nightmare. As the fabric is cut on bias, the fabric is easily stretched and  it ended up looking like this:

I found the bad and good news - the zip was unacceptable but I could actually put on the dress without opening the zip. So I unpicked the zip and stitched it up. Now the side seams are much better.

To sum up
I would not recommend this pattern to beginners as the crepe fabric is difficult to handle and the bias cutting is tricky. I would like to try this pattern on knit fabric although I have never sewn knits/interlocks.

What’s next?
So many patterns but so little time. I am excited to receive two Sewaholic patterns this week. Thanks to Indie Stitches, I don’t have to buy it from the US.
I am also making a Lekala pattern at the moment, hopeful I can finish it this weekend.
I also want to sew a slipcover for my couch. The measurement is done and the fabric is ready.

Feel free to leave comments. I'd love to hear from your experience of bias cutting and sewing crepe!

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Sunflower dress w/t puff sleeves: simplicity 1873

I start to give names to the dresses I sew. I named this Simplicity  1873 Dress, "Sunflower" because it's yellow and reminds me of sunny days.

This is the first Cynthia Rowley pattern I made. I love her style and have bought most of her patterns. I made View A of the pattern with puff sleeves.
I read the reviews and people are saying the neckline is a bit too high for View A. I think it's perfect to add a Peter Pan collar but I did lower the centre of the front neckline by half inch. I love the Peter Pan collar, it’s so cute. I must thank mixtlii on Burda Style for the tutorial on drafting a peter pan collar. I am very happy I found this red/pink/white check fabric from the quilting section as a contrast to the yellow dress.

The puff sleeves are another feature, they are as cute as the collar. Sewing the pleats took a bit of time but it's well worth it. It's also my first time to sew sleeves. It turned out to be much easier than I thought. I highly recommend this video from Threads on YouTube, it's the best tutorial on sewing sleeves.

The pleats on the skirt are also worth mentioning. There are two separate side front panels which are cut at an angle off the grain line which make it flare out nicely at the sides.
The fabric I used is Cotton Gingham. I cut size 8 above bust and grade to size 12 around the waist. I also made a SBA. I feel the dress is a bit too tight. I think when I make it again next time, I will cut size 10 with SBA.

Feel free to leave any comments. Also I am making Vogue 1351. Stay tuned.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Halter neck dress based on Simplicity 1876 by Leanne Marshall

It’s a lovely sun-kissed day and we took the chance to discover Dromana Beach and Arthurs Seat .

I spent time on Friday night to finish off this Halter Neck Dress so that I could show it off today. And here is it: my little dress and the beach.

I am a fan of Project Runway and Leanne Marshall. I have been planning on this Simplicity 1876 pattern for a while. The fabric I used is polyester satin and bemsilk lining.

I have always been intimidated by wearing strapless dresses, thinking it would fall off anytime. Now I learn if the dress is a good fit and properly made, it can be as comfortable as a normal dress. So fitting is paramount for this pattern. I did a test muslin for the fitted bodice, lots of fitting and re-drafting the pattern. 

I also have a quick tip on baste stitching the bodice pieces – stitch them in a continuous stitch. It saves your time cutting the thread and pulling threads to feed the new piece.

It’s my first time to sew boning. After a bit of research, I found it’s quite straight forward. Instead of inserting the boning into the casing, I sewed it in between the layers because it was too wide for the casing. I used sew-in interfacing instead of fusible.
Thanks to divabuddha’sreview, I used four side pleats on each side instead of gathering. I also lined the skirt and the vent. Lining the vent is a challenge and since it was the last step I had already lost patience. I admit the hem and the vent are not perfect. 

The jellyfish is a surprise discover for us today and we seemed to have fun with it.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Floral satin retro blouse: Simplicity 1590

This is an overdue review on Simplicity pattern 1590 view A. I finished it a week ago. This is my second attempt on this pattern after the view B. The result is amazing.

View A has a scoop neckline. I used floral satin this time and it gives a very different look compared to my last version (view B). It is shiny on the right side and a cotton flannel on the wrong side. 

Here are some construction tips and pointers:

1.       I cut size 8 above the waistline and size 10 below. My fabric is 150cm width. It turns out I only need 1 metre fabric instead of 1.20 m as per the pattern envelope. Here is my pattern layout:

2.       Also shown is the above photo, I shortened the back of the peplum just like my last version.

3.       Use a French seam on the two front side seams which join the peplum and the front. Firstly, with WRONG side together, stitch a ¼ " seam allowance at where the peplum joins the blouse. Trim seam allowance and press seam open. To sew the darts, with RIGHT sides together, stitch another ¼” seam from the edge to the dot, then stitch on the dart lines. It encloses the raw edges inside the darts and makes it so much neater.  

4.       Choose the right buttons. I am lucky enough to find a bag of buttons in a op shop for $4. A few of them match well with my fabric.

Feel free to leave a comment :)

Coming up is my review on Leanne Marshall’s Halter Neck Dress! Thanks for stopping by. 

The Sun is finally out!

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Simplicity 1590: 40s Retro top w/t peplum with pink stripes

This pattern is a love at first sight for me. After reading some reviews on the PatternReview website, I decided to put my Simplicity 1876 project on hold and work to this top. (Oh Yes, Leanne Marshall’s halter neck dress is my next ambition! I will definitely share it when done.) I specifically bought the pink stripe poplin from a store instead of using my stashed fabric. And the result is amazing. I have also made the view A with floral black satin and it’s different but it still looks just as good. It will be my next post. I have so many tips to share after doing this pattern twice.

I usually sew test muslin for sizing. But this time, I tried to just measure and proof the pattern with my body measurement.

I found a better way for the pattern layout that only 1.35 m fabric (115cm width) is needed instead of 1.70m. Here is my pattern layout. Please note it’s without nap and for size 10 or below.

I shortened the back of the peplum by around half an inch, because I don’t have long legs.

It’s my first time to sew buttons and buttonholes. After learning the functions on my Bernina 440, the process was effortless and quick! It’s all automatic. It even memorises the buttonhole length so all the holes are the same length.

It’s also my first time to sew a collar. I made good use of the tailor’s board I made to press the seam open.

Looking forward to the summer time when I can wear it more! 

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Pleated dress based on Vogue Pattern 1353 (V1353)

I can’t believe it! It’s been three months since my last post. Yes. I have been very busy… work… winter…

It’s getting warmer in Melbourne, which gives me one more reason to finish this dress.  I have been taking this project to my sewing classes for two months!  If it took me any longer, I would lose my motivation to ever finish it. So in a sunny day today, I finally did the zip and the hem. And here it is:

The fitting experience is the worst with this pattern. I tried to make the shoulder straps closer together for narrower shoulders but I just don’t know how with this pattern. Too many elements need to be considered: the pleated neckline, princess seams, armholes and a matching lining (it’s separate pattern piece)… Eventually I just gave up.

As a result, the shoulder straps are too wide for me. When I push my shoulders forward, there is a big gap on my neckline. I guess I should just try not to push my shoulders forward then.

I did the hem facing as per the instruction. It’s a bit more work but it turns out to be great. This is one technique I learnt from this pattern which I can use on other garments in the future. It makes the dress feel more professional inside. It feels more comfortable because it’s lined even below the end of the skirt lining.

Overall it’s a good pattern. I love the pleats and the shape of the dress. I love how professional all the Vogue patterns try to make the garments look. If I am lucky enough to find the fabric with the right print and pattern, I will make another one. 

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Floral Pencil Skirt

I finally finished this skirt. It's been a few weeks since I started this project but I have not been sewing too much.

This is a fitted pencil skirt. You can find this pattern at BurdaStyle. It's very basic and simple with one front panel and two back panels. I added a waistband and used a invisible zip extended to the waistband.

I am very happy with the fabric. It's a heavy weight knit (96% polyester and 4% spandex) with a floral print on one side. I used only 80cm long fabric (150cm width) from Spotlight.

The fitting took me some time. I made a toile first to adjust the side seams and darts to make a perfect fitted skirt pattern. I decided to drop the length above my knees because my legs are not thin or long.

As for the process, I used the Flat Felled Seams for the side seams, and it give a clean inside finish and sturdy seam.

Aside from how well it fits, the skirt is very comfortable to wear because of the stretchy material.
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