Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Elisalex Dress took my holiday away

My Christmas was stolen by this dress. I am drained from making this Elisalex Dress by BHL. Let me go back to my post in October where I was saying I just started working on this dress. And guess what? it dragged on for two months. I thought it should be a quick job but it ended up I almost abandoned the half done dress. Anyhow, I forced myself to finish it today and here it is:

Love the look from the back, specially the neckline <3

I used cotton satteem with lovely floral prints and poly lining. The prints turns out very pretty on the dress, I was surprised.

Fitting and pattern changes
If you know about this pattern, you would notice my tulip skirt is much slimmer than those on their models. This is the biggest problem! I spend countless hours to fit the skirt. I made a muslin (I actually made it on real fabric but the first time of sewing didn't go well so I made it muslin.) and I really don't like the big tulip skirt. It is humongous! No way I would wear it out onto the street!
Not a fan of the giant tulip... I feel like I'm wearing a costume.

Initially I also wanted to make the sleeves but the sleeve cap/crown is very flat on the pattern and it just doesn't fit my arm (as shown on the above photo). Grr.. I had to do a sleeveless version.

I also reduced the folds on the pleats and slimmed down the skirt a lot. This is NOT an easy process. I stitched up many seams on the skirt to test how much to take away and it took up a lot of time.

Finally... A smile on my face because it's DONE.

I found another fitting issue after I completed the dress. Look at the side view below. The side seams swaying towards the front, instead of being vertical to the ground. It's very unpleasant. I am just not sure what went wrong.
The side seams are pointing to the front.

The dress is very straightforward to make. I find the instructions are not the best as they omit some steps and the order of the steps is a little bit confusing where steps for different versions are inserted in between. However, By Hand London has the most comprehensive sew-alongs on their website and I highly recommend checking out their blogs as part of the pattern instructions.

I admit I got more practice on sewing princess seams, sewing pleats and adding linings on invisible zips as these are the major techniques used in this pattern. For princess seams, I always like to press them open and clip on the curves. It gives very smooth seams.
Love the princess seams and the pleats

A vintage look
 Material list:
Cotton Sateen (140cm wide): 1.4 m

 This is the second BHL pattern I made after my Georgia Dress. I encountered fitting issues with both patterns and I am not sure if I will buy another patterns from them.

How is everyone's Christmas/New Year Break so far? Busy sewing? I made some bunting as my Xmas project this year. The fabric I bought has got the print and the pattern and the cutting line. It’s very straight forward to make. I also bought the ribbons with the Christmas print. Doesn't it feel Christmassy?

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Simple Day Dress: Remake of Vogue 8944

I revisited Vogue 8944 this week. I made a colour block dress from it last time. Despite all the fitting issues, I like a the horizontal seam on the bodice so much that I decided to give this pattern another go. I used a different knit fabric this time. I was very surprised with the fabric. It gives the dress a flaring silhouette.

Here's how it turned out, with a red belt and my favourite red shoes.

The fabric
I am not sure what the fabric is called. It seems to have two layers of knits. The right side has a stripe-like pattern and the wrong side is just black. It also stretches a little bit.

Since this is the second time I made the pattern, I am more familiar with the fitting. I cut it as size 6 and graded to size 8 at waist.

I made a few changes to the pattern. I removed the back darts and the centre back zip. Both back bodice and back skirt were cut on the fold. Initially I wanted to replace the centre back zip with side seam zip. After I made all the effort to sew in the side seam zip, I realised I could pull over the dress without the zip open. Since the zip was really uncomfortable, I decided to unpick the zip and sew up the side seam!! Grrr! I hate unpicking..
All the effort gone to waste.. I had to unpick the zip

I removed the back darts and the centre back seam and cut the back pieces on the fold.
Removing the back darts...
Seamless back

I shortened the sleeves to almost a cap sleeve length. Initially I planned to make the sleeveless version, so I took away 1cm at the centre back to achieve a better fitting. This actually caused a big problem when I later decided to add short sleeves. My sleeves are now being pulled towards the back as you can see in the below photos. It really does not look good!

The wrinkles at the back of my arms 

The stripes are slanted towards the back, suggest unbalanced fitting.
Sleeve fitting is definitely one area I need to study. I find it extremely difficult and there are not many resources talking about sleeves. Can anyone help me out here?

The hem and neckline edges
I have some exciting news. I recently had a new addition to my sewing family - Janome CoverPro 1000CP.
Yay.. new member to my sewing family
I would like to do a full review on the machine when I have more of a chance to play with it. So far I have only used it on this dress to do the neckline edges and the hem. There are some problems with the machine, e.g. it skips stitches when going through a few layers as shown below in the photo.
Skipped stitches :(
Such professional result!
For the hem, because it's on a curve and the fold will have some gather, I used a fusible tape to "glue" the hem before running it under the cover stitch machine.
Applying fusible hemming tape

Another thing I found after I finished the dress is, I should have matched the black and white stripes at the front bodice seams. Now two white stripes are sewn together and it looks unpleasant.
not quite happy with the front bodice seam... 
Material list:
Knits: 1.5 m x $4 = $6

Overall, I like how the dress turned out and the fitting issue on the sleeves may not be noticed by people when I wear it. The dress is very comfortable to wear and looks quite stylish with a thin belt and a pair of pumps. Plus, it's very easy to make, especially if you have a serger (overlocker) or cover stitch machine. 

It's been almost a month since my last post. I said I was working on the By Hand London Elisalex dress on my post more than a month ago, but now I still have not posted anything about it... Well I DID work on it but encountered some issues with the fitting and I was so frustrated that I just put it aside.

Anyway, we seamstress also need to take some time off and enjoy life! As I am doing this blog post, I am actually in the beautiful Tasmania!! For those who ever think about coming down under, you must come to Tasmania! I am a big bush walk fan and Tas has some of the best walking tracks in Australia. 

Yesterday we went to Wineglass Bay, and today we made the walk in the famous Cradle Mountain. After the walk in the Wineglass Bay, we encountered some friendly Wallabies at the car park. 

Sunday, 16 November 2014

PR sewing contest win, Road trip to Sydney, etc

I am so psyched about my second place win in PatternReview's Natural Fibres Contest. This is my first time entering a sewing contest and I came in second place. It's a big confidence boost for me. I also feel very graceful for the support within the sewing community. It's an amazing place to be and just makes me love sewing and sharing more.
Snapshot of the contest page on PR
I also would like to use this blog post to say thank you to my beloved husband. He plays a part on this blog too. He patiently waits and carries fabric bolts for me every time I am stuck in a fabric store. He helped take photos of me, and mostly importantly proof reads my English for my blog posts.
Us two

What have I been up to recently? Not much sewing. My brother and sister in law came to visit me from China and we embarked a road trip to Sydney. We also toured around attractions in Victoria, like the Great Ocean Road,  Puffing Billy train ride, and Phillip Island.
Landmark - Sydney Opera House

Ride on Puffing Billy (Melbourne)

My Bro and his wife

Now that they have returned to China, I can't wait to get back into sewing. Christmas is not to far away and I believe lots of sewists or quilters have a tradition of doing a Christmas project. I have been considering that. Maybe I can dig out my unfinished Christmas apron from last year and finish it off or maybe I can do some Christmas bunting. Just something simple.

Enough rambling for now. I need to get something done and have it up by the next two weeks.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Vogue 8944: Colour Block Dress

I almost overlooked this simple yet stylish Vogue pattern if not for fact that Spotlight kept discounting patterns. 

The fabric I used is double Ponte knits. It’s my first time sewing this fabric. It’s easy to cut, comfortable to wear, although it’s a bit too thick or bulky at the seams. I used three warm colour combination – grey, yellow and lilac.

The fitting was not easy. I almost lose my patience and wanted to abandon the project. Based on the model photo, the bodice looks fitted. But the pattern is actually very loose fitted. I had problem with the back bodice – it’s way too wide even I cut a record small size of size 6! I still need to trim away 1 cm width at the centre back.
Armhole without adjustment

 As SunnyGal Studio pointed out, the armhole needs reshaped. I have the final pattern pieces here so you can see my adjustment. I also shorten the yoke by ¼ inch, accordingly same to the back bodice.

During the construction, I combined the two front bodice pieces into one piece with darts. This way, I can save some fabric, extra cutting and stitching.

I also remove the zip because it’s knit and I can just slip through. 

Material list:
Grey Ponte (147cm wide): 0.5m x $11 = $5.5
Yellow Ponte: 0.3m x $11 = $3.3
Lilac Ponte: 0.7m x $11 = $7.7
Tricot for lining: 0.5 m

Overall, I am happy with the pattern. The Once you get your right fitting, you can turn this pattern into distinct dress by choosing different colour combinations and materials.

What’s next?
I just bought the By Hand London Elisalex Dress Pattern. Very excited. Start working on it now. 

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Burda #122 09/14 Godet dress with cap sleeves

I hadn't sewn a BurdaStyle pattern for a while. Although the photos on magazine have always appealed to me, I am often discouraged from starting a new project, due to all the hassles like tracing patterns from the eye-confusing pattern sheet and the unclear instructions. It's not that easy to sew compared to other commercial patterns.
On this occasion however, I couldn't resist this unusual Godet Dress. It has multiple curved seams from the shoulder all over the bust towards the centre. The ripple-like seams tailor the upper body accurately and the skirt lightly flares from the waist, with a single godet inserted in the lower front that drapes evenly.

Sizing and fabric
I was further inspired by the member project on BurdaStyle. Liliv1 had problem with the sizing, so I paid extra attention with the fitting. I bought some dark brown flannel, at least that's what I thought (no label was on the bolt). However, as I sewed up the pieces, I found the fabric was not right, it's actually poly fleece and it also made me skin itchy when I put it on. I thought "OK, it can serve as a testing muslin".

I cut size 36 and graded to 38 from the waist. I found the bodice is a little bit tight, but the skirt around the lower abdomen was a bit loose. It required minimal adjustment thanks to my pre-cutting measurement on the pattern pieces.

I found some lightweight wool flannel in my stash. I worried it may be too light and soft, so I used a crispier lining fabric. I also shortened the back skirt by a couple of centimetres.

Construction tips and pointers
There is lots of curved stitching in this dress. Luckily I have gone through curves in my last Scalloped Dress so this dress was nothing to me. The BurdaStyle patterns often do not have notches. I matched a lot of notches on the curved lines of the pattern myself in order to get neat and smooth curved seams. My effort paid off! The seams are accurate and symmetrical on both sides and it looks fabulous.
Adding lots of notches

I topstitched those curved seams using a double needle with matching threads.

Lots of curved stitching again... I used lots of pins.

Overall, this is a unique design that stands out from the rest of the Burda patterns and it is very flattering to my body shape. You can also be creative with the curved seams with different decorative stitches, threads and colours. I will definitely make it again.

Material list
Wool flannel 150cm wide: 1.40m x $10 = $15
Poly lining 122cm wide: 1.00m x $2 = $2
Invisible zip 22 inch

Spring/Summer is here in Melbourne. I caught up with my friend on a lovely Saturday Morning and enjoyed the yummy Ramen and free entertainment in the city.

I am a big fan of Yorkshire Tea

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