Sunday, 30 March 2014

Grey pencil skirt

Last week-end’s trip to Montmartre, where the highest concentration of fabric shops is, did not end up well :o) The original aim was to find a dark blue silk or whatever fine fabric for the next dress, but that somehow evaporated when I saw the sales at Le Bonheur des dames. I came home with six pieces, ranging from 0.8m to 3m, mostly wool and cotton. Oh well, next time, hopefully ..., for the moment I only have to work on my muslin for that special dress.

But getting back to the topic… I wanted a quick project. A wool pencil skirt, suitable for the strange winter/spring weather going on right now, just like the model 113 from 04/2014.

I omitted the pockets, as I think they were on a very odd place on the original model and honestly, do not like people putting hands in their skirts/dresses. I also shortened the upper part of the skirt, as the pattern suggested 10cm above the waist for all sizes. Just to say, that 10cm above the waist are my breasts. The wool fabric I bought in coupon (for 4.50 euros) was little bit stretchy, but very pleasant to work with. A nice surprise was also the length of the pattern; for once, I did not have to shorten it.

The skirt is fully lined, as usual, with an invisible zip.

It has a very high waist, which I managed to adapt to my size (note to myself: take 34 directly, even for the waist, Burda seems to count with too much ease), some further alterations were needed in the middle of the process. 

Here is the final result, now I only need glasses to complete my secretary look!

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Black&White circle skirt

I have never owned a skirt which covers the knees and is not completely long as I always thought it shortens the silhouette and does not suit me. And even though I am a skirt/dress kind of person, the last time I wore a circle skirt was when I was 10. Under the retro vague I have seen several blogs where even petite sizes get to wear knee long circle skirts and I actually liked it. So why not trying?

I was long hesitating whether to line the skirt or not.
To line:
The skirt might be electrostatic and get glued to my legs

Not to line:
The circle skirt would get too much volume
I would need 2m (!) of the black lining
I did not come up with a logical way how to attach the lining so that it remains invisible: either being it slightly shorter than the skirt, but then again, the electrostatics would not get completely solved or would get even worse, either sewn directly with the main fabric but with the quantity of material to be used I could not imagine making sure the lining would not be creasing or making problems.
I guess my final decision is quite clear :o)

This time, I have created my own pattern – only little geometrics needed - and as usually, had to cut about 10cm of the hem eventually to make sure the skirt finishes at the knee border. I guess I should start measuring more in the future before cutting anything.
The fabric is a very light polyester and I wanted it to be pretty also on the inside. For the two sides I used a French seam, which is probably larger than needed but quite nice in the end.

The zip is invisible, even though the pattern does not match perfectly. I tried to adjust it, but in vain, the pattern is moving in a very randomly way. It can be seen around the waist little bit, but as the skirt gets large very quickly, the fault disappears.

Another question mark was the hem. I have seen many large skirts with a 5-7cm hemming but that means adjusting and folding the hem, and in the end adding too much volume or stiffness. After some googling and consulting, I decided to make the baby hem. At least I tried another technique, and it turned out to be a fine and appropriate finishing of the circle skirt.  

I also realized it must be more difficult to sew for a larger and taller person, handling more material and longer hems. Being petite, my fabric consumption is always lower than the one mentioned in patterns, and I rarely manipulate pieces of fabric longer than 0,5 meter, meaning that my working area consists of a part of a dining table (never used for dining, but full of other mess) and the floor.

The skirt was ready in two evenings, not counting the pattern preparation and explaining my cat that rolling in the fabric (with or without needles) is a very bad idea, as is running close to my scissors. But the only interest of my cat in heat was the fabric. To pee on the fabric, to be precise, as she managed to do in the 2 seconds I did not look. So in case I had forgotten to pre-wash the fabric, I was kindly reminded to do that at this point.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Bordeaux dress

I originally wanted to continue with a skirt, but had bought a bordeaux wool fabric back in January. As the weather gets better and better (yeah!), the chances that I will wear anything from this fabric is going down :o(. So I changed my priorities and got into the wool dress project. I was afraid the fabric would be too thick and stiff, but it got ironed very easily and was a real pleasure to sew. It also creases a lot…

I have chosen the Burda 128 – 08/2009 model which I have seen on a few blogs, either as finished or as a planned project. As it is supposed to be a winter dress, I lined the bodice, but not the sleeves this time, as indicated by Burda.

I cut the back of the dress to separate the bodice from the skirt, which added one more seam to take care of and to make sure the darts are perfectly aligned. Ok, the left one is liiiiitle bit shifted, but I will have to live with it.

However, I am pretty satisfied with the rest of the alignments, as well as the invisible zipper which I managed on the first try. I must admit I watched the Burda video on inserting invisible zippers at least three times, used a zipper food for the first time (what a great thing!), and the fabric, as well as the lining are properly folded and the zipper is …well, invisible :o)

As for the grey dress, I have made a few adjustments to the pattern: took away 4cm on the shoulders and almost 15cm on the skirt length (10 before even cutting in the fabric, 5 afterwards).

The hem was a real puzzle. The skirt is actually getting narrower with the length, so when I folded the hem with a black ribbon, it never matched. I ended up hand stitching almost the whole hem twice, but it was worth it. 

A small surprise I discovered when sewing the dress, it is matching!

Grey 60’s dress

The objective of my grey 60’s dress was to get to know my new sewing machine. The Burda 02/2014 model seemed perfect: no zip, no buttons, just a few ruffles.

I added complexity by lining the whole dress, including the sleeves (the basic fabric frayed like hell and it looks much cleaner lined) and, fortunately, decided to baste the dress first. Even though I got to cut the 34 size directly from Burda, several alterations were necessary:

I have taken out 4cm on the shoulder area on both sides, as well as on the whole dress width, lengthened the sleeves by 7cm and shortened the dress body by 5cm.

I believe the Burda guys were afraid people would not squeeze in if the dress was too narrow and contrary to what I have always thought, I obviously have small shoulders and a short back.

The dress is quite short in the end and the sleeve area is difficult to iron. Also, I think I will avoid the raglan sleeves in the future, as it is quite difficult to adjust the form and tend to be quite square (Ok, I am aware of the fact that I have square shoulders).

I was really surprised how certain automatisms get back to you. Obviously, sewing is like riding a bike and you do not forget it. So I am always trying to pick up the sewing foot with my left hand on the back of the machine whereas it is on the right side; or to elevate the low thread with the needle which I no longer need to do.

On the other hand, much of the technique and system in sewing machines did not change in 30 years lying between the old Veritas I used years ago and the new Pfaff.

I also appreciate the small tricks the old Veritas could not do: I can see the spool and the amount of low thread directly, no sticking of the thread in the small holes of the needle or other parts of the sewing mechanism, so preparing of the machine is now much quicker.