The Conneticut Beach Party Dress

Its been a while since I posted about any sewing, so I thought I should tell you a story about the dress I made recently. Is everyone sitting comfortably?  Good, then I’ll begin…

Image result for nani iro double gauze forest

Once upon a time, a few years ago, everyone in the sewing world seemed to be blogging about making double gauze dresses, like this one and Prolific Project Starter got swept along in the tide and bought some of that same Nana Iro Double Gauze and when it arrived all the way from Japan it was beautiful and she loved it and petted it and put it safely in the cupboard. Every now and again she would take it out and pet it again and consider what the Perfect Pattern was to make with it, but one pattern would have too many seam lines that would cut into the large pebbles and the next would be too tent like, so she would put the fabric back in the cupboard whilst she thought some more and she never actually got around to actually doing anything with it.

 

Then one day she saw that Kelly Hogaboom was running a sew a long for the Bootstrap fit and flare dress in double gauze including this lovely version in a similar sort of colour for someone with a similar sort of body shape and she thought “maybe this is the dress for me” and so she bought some test fabric (normal cotton fabric, not double gauze) and in a fit of enthusiasm she bought lots of turquoise bias binding for seam finishes and she bought the pattern and she started printing it out and some of it came out the wrong scale and the printer played up and she got distracted and the next thing you new it had been sitting in a pile in the sewing room for nearly two years a little while.

IMG_0031.JPG

Then in April there was a UFO sew a long on the Sew Along group and as part of that she was sorting through her fabric and UFO’s and found the “dress” (aka a pile of fabric) and the seeds of inspiration started to grow.

 

And in May she finally started it, starting out with reprinting the pattern, cutting the fabric, discovering some irritating white lines after she cut the fabric (which she had enough fabric to avoid if she’d seen them earlier) , sewing it up (which came together pretty easily as it’s actually fairly simple and the sew a long is great), binding the seams as she went, inserting her 3rd(?) ever invisible zipper (which went pretty well) and working out how to Hong Kong finish that too, frustrating herself by not quite lining things up and by the fabric puckering when she pressed it and then making herself get over it because it was a freaking test garment for pity’s sake.

IMG_0010.JPG

Soon she was excitingly trying it on and dreaming about how good the double gauze version was going to be (even if she wasn’t sure quite what she was going to do with two such similar dresses in her wardrobe).

 

 

Then she sewed up the side seams and tried it on again only to find out that it DID NOT FIT. See, that horizontal panel is suppose to fit close to your body around your midrift and the gathers on the bodice are suppose to fit under your boobs, rather than framing your nipples and then the panel hanging down below empire line stylee.

Suffice to say that much pulling of hair and gnashing of teeth followed. This was not an easy fix, the entire front bodice needed to be longer, which meant it needed recutting, and even if she could work out what adjustments to make that would mean upicking all those beautifully finished seams and starting again. She really wasn’t sure that she could face it.

img_0013.jpg

But then again she really didn’t want to throw away all her hard work either. So after a bit of sulking and pouting she asked her friend, of a fairly similar but slightly smaller build, if she wanted a dress and lo and behold she did, and with a bit of adjusting (a pair of darts got added to the bodice/waist panel seam to take it in some more, and the side seams got taken in) it was finished and it fit.

And her friend declared it to be the perfect dress to pack when visiting her in laws in Connecticut and hanging out on posh beaches with them. Hurrah!

And so the dress wasn’t wasted. But then she thought on in and realised that it wasn’t wasted anyway because not only had she learnt new skills (Hong Kong seam finish), and practiced other skills (invisible zips) also the toile had done its job description of stopping her ruining her precious fabric, so rather than a failure it was a resounding success. Furthermore, seeing the dress  on her friend, she realised it was more her sort of thing than her own, whereupon she realised that the reason she couldn’t find the perfect dress pattern is that she didn’t actually wear dresses, so what she actually needed to do was make something else with her precious fabric that she might actually wear.

But that, dear reader, is a tale for another day (or quite possibly, at the speed she works, year, it’s currently draped over the banister waiting to be put away).

Also she did manage to make the leftovers into some City Gym Shorts part 4 for The Girl.

So, win win win win then.

All that remains is the mystery of how a dress that was drafted to fit her measurements (as all Bootstrap patterns are) came out so wrong.

 

 

Jasper

Finally, a jumper, for me, nearly made in the last weekend of Jan (hey I was ill) thereby meeting a key sewing goal.

DSCF0231

I know, I know, it’s a bit wierd to start with a back shot and it’s not because there’s an exciting reveal at the front, just I could only get LSH to take 4 photo’s in total and it took some effort getting that many out of him. The back shot is the only one where I don’t look like a complete [insert mild insult of your choice here].

This Paprika Patterns Jasper sweater took sooo long to make. Not actually make you know, that was surprisingly quick, especially one the welt pockets were out of the way. No, it took so long to get  around to making it, as I’d built it up into some impossibly complicated thing in my head, partly due to the fact that there’s a flow chart to help you choose your size. (And also because the test garments on the Paprika website are so swoonworthy I was worried I wouldn’t do the pattern justice.) In the end, I was in such a strop with the Collar Of Despair on the Jumper That Shall Not be Named that I bit the bullet and, with a lot of repeatly muttering “this is a Muslin, a test garment, it doesn’t matter” to myself, I manged to get on with it.

DSCF0230

[Seriously , this is the best shot by far. I may have to find a new photographer.]

As a fit test muslin goes, my thoughts are more space could be used at the bust, which might stop the front hem rising up a little too, the pocket is adding extra layers where there is too much of me to start with (and I forget it’s there when I’m wearing it so don’t use it), I’d like it longer (this is the sweater length, not the dress, but I like my jumpers on the long side), the arms are ok now but were tight (I redid them with a smaller seam allowance), oh and the arms seem shorter now I’ve added the cuffs, which is weird (yes, I did lazilly wear it before adding cuffs).

I decided while I was making it that I hated this fleece that I can’t remember buying (but I know it was always earmarked to test this pattern) and couldn’t understand why I chose this colour. I like it better now it’s finished, the colour is not one I normally wear but looks ok on, but the fabric quality isn’t great – I’m not sure how well it’ll wash and wear. I’m also worried that it’s not a good test for my final fabric, being both thicker and less stretchy.

The mental block on this project was definitely getting the size right and working out what adjustments to make. I’ll give you the details of my agonising, in case it helps anyone else.  In the end I took a deep breath, did some careful measuring and reread the instructions on choosing sizes and whether you need and FBA or not:

First up my measurements:

  • Full bust 106cm – size 7
  • Waist 96cm – between sizes 8 and a 9
  • Hips 120cm – between sizes 8 and a 9

So according to the flowchart I needed to print pattern file 6 -10 (based on my hip measurements). Which is good, as that was what I had printed out. Phew. (From a copy shop, this pattern has both metric and imperial copy shop options so I could get it printed easily, hooray! So no taping, double hooray)

Next up, the Full Bust Adjustment (FBA) decision. My Upper Bust measures 100cm which is 6cm difference from full bust and therefore falls in the 4.5-8cm difference C cup range that the size  6 – 10 is drafted for, so officially I was good to go without any adjustments. I find this weird as I wear an F/G cup bra, but I decided to trust the pattern and reminded myself this was a muslin, so it’s ok to go wrong. In the end I traced pattern size 7 for my shoulders and bust grading to 9 at waist and hips and marking my notches as best I could and trying to make sure that the blend started/finished in the same place on the front/side and back pieces. I think the shoulders fit ok, but a FBA would actually have been a good idea. Then again, the arms were tight so maybe I should do a size 8 top half grading to a 9 for the waist and hips? Or do I need a size 8 with and FBA grading to a 9? And there’s quite a lot of fabric around my centre back so do I need a different size at the back to the front, which is surely madness, or a sway back adjustment? Arrgh, fitting is hard!

As the markings for the welt pockets are different for each size, I lined my welts up with my lower dot on my pattern front (where my pattern was definitely size 9) and then just made sure they were parallel with the edge of the pattern piece (as I hadn’t been sure where to put the top dot as at that point my line was in the middle of blending from the size 9 to the 7).  I cut the pocket pieces a straight size 9, centred them on the front piece and trimmed the excess off to make them match.

After the welt pockets it was pretty easy actually. Just kind of sew it together. And there’s a great tutorial for the welt pockets. The only I did get a bit confused was whether I was supposed to sew the bottom band through the pocket as well as the front or not, in the end I decided not. The only thing I would change  construction wise is when trimming the seam allowance at the neckline, I would grade it so the longest piece is on top and then when I topstitch it would hold everything down together.

So, in conclusion, I need to be less scared of getting started and less precious about my muslins. This jumper is fine, I would find it perfectly acceptable size wise if I bought it in a shop. The pattern is great, seems well drafted and had lovely clear instructions. I definitely do want to make it again in my earmarked precious fabric, with a hood next time and in the dress length (if I have enough fabric). I will almost certainly leave the welt pockets off, seeing as I find them unflattering and not useful, however this is my personal preference, because on the test garments they look great. I’m still dithering about what size to use especially as the next fabric will be both thinner and stretchier.

 

 

Wearable Waistcoat

Hubby sewed the buttons on his waistcoat toile that I started back in December and now has a wearable new waistcoat. The thread and the buttons were bought especially but the fabric is a stashbuster. I would love to add a bold tribal/celtic design using batik wax method and overdye it a darker colour (midnight blue maybe) but he is not convinced (plus I don’t have the equipment).

waistcoat, styled by model

waistcoat, styled by model

I drafted a back collar piece by tracing the top of the lapel piece and the back collar facing and bodged together a full collar, as he didn’t like the way the pattern had a lapel that was sewn into the shoulder seam. I think the result is passable but could look better.

I did add the welt pockets (my first), the first went in better than the second.

And the hemline got straightened at hubby’s request.

apparently it's irresistible from the back

apparently it’s irresistible from the back

The actual waistcoat he wants lined, but with the front facing in the main fabric, keep the straightened hemline but lengthened 2 inches. Which is why it has been taking me so long. I have altered the pieces and cut my lining fabric out and sewed my back seam and it’s now languishing on the pile. So watch this space. Very patiently.

Adventures in Mens Tailoring…

Ok, so it’s not really tailoring, but hubby wants a waistcoat (vest). Well, I did offer and it’s nearly 15 years since the only other time I made him one (which he nearly cut up for rags for the rag coat but decided against it in the end). His request is for one that’s not too farmer-ey (I think that means no checks, which is fine by me, no evil pattern matching) and has the main fabric on the back so he can wear it like a body warmer over a shirt without looking like he’s misplaced his jacket. I took him with me to the fabric shop down the road and he chose Burda 7799 view A, with lapels, welt pockets and shaping front and back. The pattern is for a single layer of fabric, but he wants it lined (just all the lining fabric on the inside, not on the back panel like a traditional waistcoat).

I decided to be good and make a toile to check the fit and get my head around how I was going to add a lining with the lapels and all. My instant reaction was what yucky instructions and would it really hurt to have all the english on one sheet. I read through them and drew a japanese style overview to get my head around what was going on. (And to stop me just scan reading).

My attempt at an overview diagram and summary of instructions


Then there were the patterns pieces, 9 sizes all together on top of each other in assorted styles of dashed line and no help distinguishing which of the 9 little circles (hmm, bet there’s a technical term for them, tailors marks?) relates to your pattern size. Which is fairly ok for the ones in a line, just count in to your one, but the one where 4 of them are in a line at right angles to the line of the other 5? No idea.

Anyway, to start with I just cut the fronts, backs and belt pieces for fitting purposes. I skipped the pockets (I figured I could add them later if I wanted) and went straight to doing to shoulder and side seams and darts. Hmm, darts, a new technique for me. But fear not, Tilly rounded up several methods of sewing them in a handy blog post recently. I tried a combination of a curved end plus small stitches to stop it unravelling. But my main problem was pinning them. They were quite narrow at the bottom, then widened slightly before tapering to a point. I had great trouble matching the two sides of the fabric up, probably not helped by my rather fient carbon paper markings. I decided not to worry too much as it was a toile. I’m not convinved by the end points of the darts, which creates a slight bagging out of the fabric. More practice needed methinks. I was glad that this is toile. I also abandoned the belt loops as I accidently sewed up a back dart (which they should be inserted into) and couldn’t be bothered to unpick it.

It worked well enough to try on and he liked the fit but wanted it straightened at the bottom and 2″ longer. I’m going to straighten the bottom on this one but leave the lengthening for the real thing otherwise I’d have to recut my pieces and start again. There are lines to lengthen on the pattern so it should be fairly straightforward anyway.

Next I tried the lapels, ironing on the interfacing before marking and cutting. It sounded fairly straight forward, sew the edge, turn right way and topstitch, but I got a bit confused. You see the piece is cut without the triangular divot, which is marked on as a triangle to be sewn and then cut. I wasn’t sure whether to sew my 1.5cm seam allowance outside the triangle, or on the triangle itself, like a dart goes on the marking. The instructions and diagram didn’t help.

.

I decided to sew on the triangle and see what it looked like. It was too small a divot, so I tried again going around the triangle, which was surprisingly hard because I couldn’t see the guides marked on the machine as the fabric was in the way.

.

Looking at them side by side it’s not hard to see that the second way must be right.

That sorted I basted them to the fronts. Which meant unpicking some of the shoulder seams as they’re designed to go into the shoulder seam, there is no collar at the back. Once you know this it’s clear on the pattern packet, but it was a bit of a surprise. It’s kind of a fake lapel really. Needless to say hubby would much rather have a proper collar, so I’ll have to think on this one. Looking at his coat collar, there the divot is at the point of the join between the lapels and collar piece.

made them both like the one on the left in the end.

spot the difference

I am really happy that I’m making a toile now with all these alterations (lining, shape of hem, lengthening, collar) to consider. And the upside of having so many projects on the go is that I can put this on one side to cogitate on whilst I work on another.

I am a bad disorganised sewer.

I have not finished my to do pile.

I keep starting more things.

And then putting them on one side and starting yet more. (I feel like an out of control mathematical expression, all open parenthesis and not an end in sight.)

My fabric is in random heaps in the spare room.

I have not sorted out my hardware issues and have written draft blog posts which I can’t upload the pictures for and started yet more blog posts using rubbish pictures but haven’t finished them.

I was going to get organised (sewing wise at least) and make myself some trousers back in October.

It’s now nearly the end of November and I’m thinking about blouses.

I blame Erin from Seamstresserin as she keeps writing about bow neck blouses of every kind imaginable for her sewalong. Not that I’m tempted to try a bow neck blouse at all as they’re really not my thing.

However I have been tempted by all the lovely Wiksten Tova blouses out there in blog land, there are too many to know where to start linking to. So tempted that despite my reservations about whether I’m the right shape to fit in suit one I went ahead and bought the pattern to celebrate finishing my curtains (by far the bulk of the remaining pile) although I had to use my mum’s printer to print it out. In the end I was swayed by the fact that I think the pattern is a bit like my favourite blouse, so has potential. Wanna see?

My fave blouse (bought from Seasalt)

My fave blouse (bought from Seasalt)

It’s all floaty in a gauzey soft cotton fabric witha subtle little print on it and it’s floaty without being tent like and Holy Moly that keyhole neckline thing has a bow. A shoestring bow maybe but it’s a bow. Where did that come from?! How did I never notice that?

Anyway, I like the collar on the Tova and I have a large piece of plain blue knit fabric from the scrapstore that I’ve used a corner from to make a toile/muslin in which has the added bonus that I won’t need to bother about finishing the seams.

So I just need to match these pattern pieces up from my printout and …. hold on, I can match the little number triangle OR the edge of the pattern pieces OR the edges of the rectangles, but not 2 of them, let alone all 3. Oh well, I’ll bodge it together and soldier on.

Right now to cut out in my blue fabric. Hang on, this fabric, err, there’s not very much of it and I seem to have used over half of what there was. There is nowhere near enough to make a blouse.

Ok, I’ll rummage upstairs. Except I don’t make clothes for me so there is nothing suitable in my fabric pile. Except maybe this that I picked up from the scrapstore for £1, which horror of horrors is pink. Ok, I can do pink, it’s just a toile after all.

Next, cutting out, ok. Put on plackets, fine. Attatch to front piece. Hmm, I’ve attached it inside out, which is even more obvious as I couldn’t be bothered to wind a pink bobbin so there’s the white reverse of my topstitching showing. And a hole on one corner where I failed to attatch the inset correctly. This needs needs redoing. 3 times . Hmm, this fabric is loose weave, it frays easily and pins leave holes.

Ok, so the front is bodged together just about assembled. Maybe I’ll just sew it to the back to try it on. Pink is not my colour, this is definitely a toile. I’ll try and take in the back, which appears to be a couple of sizes bigger than the front and add the sleeves. Hmm, I’ve added one sleeve inside out. Never mind, I can still guage the fit this way. Hmm, I wonder if I could, yes I might….

This is the only time I will wear this

This is the only time I will wear this

Behold (but not too closely) the prototype bow neck Tova. I bet this has been done before, to solve the gaping placket issue, but I can’t find an example of it. I have found a collarless Tova (done properly with bias binding not just turned over and hemmed like this one). Actually I kind of like it and I think the unfinished wider sleeves balance it nicely. Shame it’s so badly made, not great fitting and pink.

Seriously, I’m not convinced about the way the inset sits on my bust. Although hubby thinks it’s fine. Also, the upper back and the top of the sleeves feel a bit tight so I definitely don’t want to try the full bust adjustment if that results in a tighter sleeve cap. Which is a shame as I saw some great fabric for making a Tova dress (with a collar) that I had imagined I could rustle up for my weekend away on Friday. I think I need to let my subconcious mull over next steps for a while, but I hope there will be a well made properly fitted version sometime and maybe a bow necked version one day too. And if I do try again then I need to start before 9pm, takemy time, concentrate and do itproperly! If not, my mum might have the pattern as she was eyeing it up!