Sunday, 25 March 2018

The Biggest Sewing Improvisation Ever

The title says it all and I almost lost my sewing mojo on that.

I do not improvise much when sewing: I choose properly my pattern, I do my muslin, tweak the fit and only then cut into the fashion fabric. I learned from my past mistakes and I like the final result to be perfect, or close to perfect, outside, as well as inside. I sometimes hesitate on certain steps because I want to be sure which technique is the best. I prefer taking time and do the things properly.

So now on this dress: my inspiration was this dress from Burda 05/2017 (great issue, used many times already), however, in plus sizes (is it me or plus size models are the best in Burda?) and of course with a shorter skirt.

I am very very far away from any plus size, my closest size is Burda's 18 - equivalent of 36 in petites, so I knew I could not use their pattern. I already tried this once, early on in my sewing career and even after 3 muslins, the result was just bad :o)

But having the Burda issue enabled me to check on the pattern and use one I already have to get to the wished result:
The skirt is easy peasy, basically only a rectangle, and the top can be drawn from some basic block. Contrary to Burda, I only used the darts and not further volume adding. I muslined the top and at that point of time it looked ok.
The reason I was so much drawn to this dress, is that I immediately knew which fabric I would use for it. I had a remnant from a fabric bundle bought in Malaysia which consisted of 2 different fabrics and a 3rd piece from chiffon which was basically a combination of them and even though it is a very fine poly chiffon, I really like the colours so I wanted to make something from it and this model was what fitted just right for my fabric.
And yes, I was extremely carefully with the pattern and basically, this was the only possiblity how to cut the pattern out.

And this is where my issues started. The fabric was totally transparent so I needed some interfacing/lining. For the bodice part, I used a little brown remnant of a fine cotton-silk, my secret weapon. I have used the same technique on my pyjama set and actually it transformed the chiffon to a "normal fabric", much easier to sew. On the other side, it stiffens it, so while it was perfect for the bodice, it would not work on the skirt. Under hesitation, I started working on the bodice, thinking I would figure out the solution later on :o))

At the same time, the outside temperature fell to real winter ones and sewing a summer dress felt just as a very bad idea. All this meant I almost did not touch it for a few days, while I had a lot of time for sewing, so quite a new situation for me. I tried to motivate myself with another project, thinking I would just let it marinate and took it up again when the weather was better, but I completely lost any motivation. Good news: I went fabric shopping in the meantime and it seemed to help, I now have too many new projects in my head.

During the week-end, I just decided, I needed to finish it and then move on. I managed to finish the bodice - in the end, I had to take in almost 3 cm everywhere on the sides (probably an error on the cutting, the fabric was just moving too much when manipulated).
Also, when cutting it up, I forgot to cut the back bodice in two to allow for the zip, so I decided to go for the side zipper, ha ha. Since the bodice was originally too large, I almost though it could work without the zip, but it would have been too large, so I did the necessary adjustments and went for a side closing.

Once the bodice was okay for me, came the problem of my skirt. I attached the fashion fabric skirt and confirmed that when you can see your bellybutton, it cannot work without a lining. At that point of time, I was going through my stash and accidentally found a little piece of khaki silk which would just fit the bill. I only had 50 cm of it, barely enough for a top, but just what I needed for this dress-skirt. I did not want to add too much bulk on the place where the skirt is attached to the bodice and as said, at this point of time, the bodice was already almost ready, so no way I would redo it again. I attached the lining on the machine, and did the final covering touches by hand, so that there are no raw seams visible.

Installing the zip was actually the last step so the zip area could not be finished as nicely as I would have liked, but I can live with that.
In the end, I am quite happy, I pushed through and I finished it. It is a cute little summer dress, and the inside is satisfactory in the end. ALso, I did not create another UFO, so I can continue with other projects without being haunted by my UFO bin.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Wrap Dress - a Winner

As suggested in ly last post, there is a happy end to my wrap dress story.

The Eve dress being a normal-size pattern, I decided to keep it aside and get back to my Burda 113-09/2017 pattern.

I rechecked my muslin from then and decided that if I cut the sleeves correctly, if I follow the cutting insctruction (which piece should be on the bias and which should not), that could work in the end. I also bought this very cute wool very stable jersey: "something on the black" ticks off the visual aspect. When I bought it I did not realize it was actually a jersey, even though a very thick and stable one. But I figured that I was giving myself all the chances to have some success with this dress.
I did one change on the pattern though - I eliminated the waistband and added the corresponding length to the bodice.

At some point of time I was worried I did not have enough fabric. I bought1.7m coupon, but there were some 20 cm of pure black hem - impossible to use it as a design feature. However, little puzzle playing and it got cut out.

Then came the obsession with stabilizing: I reinforced heavily the bias cross hem, the laces (cut in black only) and the shoulder seams, as well as the vertical hems and sleeve heads (lighter interfacing used, though).

The construction of the dress was rather straightforward, as I have already sewn a few muslins of a wrap dress before. I finished the hems with self fabric in order to stabilize it little more (you never know), let the dress hang for a few days to even out the hem.
I took some time to finish properly the hole for laces which was not so easy to figure out, since it is basically a hole in the side seam. The whole dress is sewn with French seams, because i just want a nice finish, mainly on a piece which might get open.

The final verdict: I really like this dress! And finally, I sewed a wrap dress! There might still be a little details I would change little bit, but the fabric makes up for this and I really love the final result. In addition, the fabric being wool, it keeps me warm enough to start wearing it right now.

I will probably start another one in a silk crepe, with short sleeves (or no sleeves to avoid ANY issues with sleeves) and might even retry the Eve dress again :o)

Saturday, 17 March 2018

My Quest for a Wrap Dress

I like wrap dresses a lot, I really do, they are a girl's best friend, they look good on any silhouette, they cover a little pizza-belly if needed and they just make everybody look slimmer. All I want is to be able to sew some. However, anytime I attempted sewing them, the result was far from satisfactory.

There are several reasons for that: I do not sew with jerseys (yet!) and most commercial wrap-dress patterns are designed for stretch - probably to mask any fitting issues. Also, I fall into petite sizes, so often need to adapt shoulder/ sleeve area and the wrap adds complexity. And even the best indie patterns do not have shortening lines on their wrap dresses.

On my fails, there is this example - faux wrap dress which I wore several times but it is far from being my favourite, and I must admit, the black is hiding some of its imperfections. I have also sewed one in orange which ended in a bin rightaway.

Then there was this one - Burda 107-09/2015 - where I should have read the fabric recommendation and sew from a stretch fabric. And I did not. Disaster assured. Ended in a bin.

So when last year September Burda published a PETITE wrap-dress pattern from wovens (Burda 113-09/2017), I decided to give it another try.

The thing is, the skirt and sleeves are supposed to be cut on biais, which might add to the fluidity of the dress. I had this poly-something fabric which was flowy and at the same time heavy enough. I only had 1.5m of the fabric and the pattern recommended muuuuuch more, mainly because of the bias cut. I played puzzle for half of my evening and somehow managed to cut it out. I had to piece the ties, though, and I must have cut the shoulder-sleeve area slightly too tight (can you guess the result now?)

Contrary to what the pattern proposed, I wanted a very clean finish on the inside, because c'mon, it is a wrap dress and it is not lined. So I added a facing to the waist from a very fine black silk to cover all the seams and I was very happy about that. Apart from that, all the seams were French and the hems invisible. I do not think there was another option on that.
Because of the biais I let the skirt and sleeves hang for two day to make sure I get the length right.

In the end, I still did not like the dress. It does not crease and moves really nicely, it fits rather well on the neckline (for your reference I added 3 cm on each of the biais part!!! the Burda model is wearing a cami underneath). However, the sleeves and armscyes were just too tight to allow me free movement of my arms.
And then there is the fabric. I chose it because "black with something on it" is my go-to colour combination, on the detail view it has a very nice structure and even a little bit of sheen in it. However, when seen from a distance I find the fabric little bit blah and it seems to make me even more pale than usual.
All-in-all, I looked at it from many different angles, wondered what to do with it and in the threw it in the bin :o))

Then, I was offered the Eve Sew Over It dress for X-mas (not that my BF just knows what to offer me, the pattern was on my wishlist). It is a wrap dress for wovens and sewn by many bloggers. I sewed a muslin (normal, no petite sizes here) and was heavily disappointed! A lot of excess fabric in the shoulder area (ok, I am used to this, that's my usual adjustement we are talking about), but also strange tension on the right side of the wrap and sleeve, while this is not happening at all on the left side. I am a strongly right-handed person and my body is probably little more developped on the right side, but not sooo much.
I went back to the blogosphere to see the if anybody else had the same issue only to realize that a vast majority of the Eve dresses were sewn with the flouncy short sleeves, so not special fitting issue on the sleeves required, there you go! Even on me, the pattern fitted rather nicely without sleeves.

For the Eve dress I am still in the muslin stage, but be assured, there is a happy end to my "sew a wrap dress" story...

Saturday, 10 March 2018

New Batch of Tops

From time to time I try to check my stash on the little pieces of fabric which are either remnants from previous projects or small coupons I bought for a bargain and I try to think what I could do with them.

This was the case of this black viscose top. The main fabric is a black viscose crepe with little cute flowers which I tried to used on my first attempt to sew a coat. I have never finished it because of poor fabric choices AND wrong fitting. However, I saved a few pieces of this viscose thinking it would deserve a project in the end. The problem is that nothing really fitted, till I thought about this top I had already sewn before and used some black crepe for the sleeves and binding.
I even kind of like the result, it will be definitely worn in summer.

The other project is not really scrap-busting because this top eats a lot of fabric. It is a dolman sleeves top from Burda, model 133 from 06/2012. I was not sure of the silhouette at all, but you do not know till you try it, so I pushed forward.

And fortunately I sewed a muslin, because it was just way too big. I saw a few of these tops on Burda's community page and they definitely seemed less baggy. In the end, I must have taken in at least 6cm on the front, as well as on the back, then adjusted the neckline and the diagonal. Also, I think I shortened the top by some 8cm. Once this was done, the top was very quick to assemble - all is French-seamed , the hems are biais-bound and the neckline is finished with a little hook and eye.

I think the result is rather cute, well the fabric might be for something, it is a polyester, but very smooth against the skin. It is very different from my other tops, and in a positive way.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Black Pencil Skirt

This is another make from the magical number of Burda 04/2016. I have a few issues of Burda which were definitely more than worth buying and this one is quite particular, I believe it is my 6th pattern from it.

This time I opted for this little pencil skirt which plays a bit of pattern puzzle in the front. In the pictures in the magazine, the opening seems to be rather high, but since it is a normal (not petite) size, it is perfectly ok on me. I found this pattern really interesting, especially in the striped fabric.

My version is an all-year-round one, and surprisingly black :o) The fabric was a coupon which is deep, deep, very deep stash. I think this comes from one of my first trips to Coupons St Pierre sales ever where I was just totally overwhelmed by the fact that there were small coupons, sold at 50% and I was buying without thinking. The fabric was marked wool-blend and I would say there is probably quite some poly in it, however, for the price of 2.50 euros for 60cm, I will not complain.

There is a slight striping on the fabric and that’s how I had the idea to use it on this skirt. I had just enough to cut out the length of the skirt knowing that some of the pieces had to be cut on bias in order to recreate the magazine version. I am not sure if from a distance, the stripes can be really seen, but I believe it changes the way the fabric reflects light, so I think it was important to respect it.

However, due to the fabric content, I felt obliged to line it, especially since I might wear the skirt in spring/summer to the office and that’s where the complications started. The way the opening is created is very clever as it has a lot of support and avoids too much of showing off. The border panel is double-sided which helps to keep the form and makes a nice finish on the inside. But the lining is not part of the pattern and I totally understand why Burda wanted to avoid it :o) As for myself, I did not have much choice so I had to figure out a way to line the skirt and avoid any lining showing off. I used a little remnant of black silk which was not even counted in my stash.

In the end, I attached the lining on both of the borders by hand and let it hang on the skirt hem as I was afraid that direct attaching might deform the skirt. Also, I interfaced all the front pieces even though Burda did not talk about it and I was rather happy I did that, it really helps the skirt to hold the form and limit creasing. The skirt is probably little longer that what I am used to, but with the right heels, I kind of like it and I think this could work well also in a real summery fabric.