31 August 2007

Go With the Flow Dress - Done and Done!

I finished up the dress a couple of days ago, but I have been unable to post because I have been running around getting ready to go back to school. I'm back to the grind on Tuesday.

To finish the dress, I hemmed the lining using the double fold technique (I folded up 1" and then folded up again 1.25"). For the fashion fabric, I tried various options:
  • double fold hem - too heavy
  • baby hem - too fiddly
  • pseudo rolled hem (close spaced zigzag around the raw hem edge, trimming any stray threads) - just right!
The back closes with 10 buttons/button loops. To give the buttons extra stability, I sewed them on through a piece of twill tape.

The skirt on this dress is quite heavy (I figure it consists of 8 yards of fabric), so I installed a waist stay. A waist stay is useful as it allows the heavy skirt to hang from the waist, instead of the neck (which in the case of a halter like this would make for a very uncomfortable garment).

Lastly, to give the garment a bit of subtle zing, I beaded the front centre panel with bugle and seed beads. It is very understated, but when the light hits the beads, it adds a nice sparkle. ETA, a close-up picture of the beading. Sorry folks, I don't know how I forgot to post this picture in the first place!

So, without further ado, here is the finished product.
I am pleased with the finished product. There were times during the construction process that I though I would lose my mind. But, I persevered (I figure close to 25 hours went into this dress from design to layout, cutting, sewing, finishing and embellishing) and I'm glad I did. This dress can be dressed up, with fabulous jewellery and shoes for formal events. It can also be dressed down with a cute cardigan and fabulous shoes (hey, you always have to have fabulous shoes).
This dress is my entry in the Timmel Summer 2007 contest. I look forward to seeing what others have entered - I am always so inspired by seeing what other sewers create. If you're interested, head on over to Timmel Fabrics next week. If you are a newsletter subscriber, you can vote for your favourite.

As usual, my husband (my own little Peter Parker), gets me laughing. It's actually pretty easy for me to dissolve into a fit of giggles during these "photo shoots" because I always feel like such a twit while he's taking pictures. I can only imagine what the neighbours must be thinking!

25 August 2007

Simplicity 3622

Pattern: Simplicity 3622 (view B)

: S3622 comes in sizes 4 to 20 - I made a size 6. I probably could have used the size 4 as there is a lot of ease in this pattern.

Fabric: Black knit terry from Wazoodle.

Project Photo

: I wanted a comfortable, yet stylish dress for hanging out at home or running errands in and when I saw this pattern, I knew I had found the perfect one.

This dress went together quite easily. The most interesting part of this dress is the modesty panel. Instead of a triangle of fabric simply sewn to the neckline, which can be heavy and droop unattractively. The panel is actually sewn into the side and empire waist seams and is suspended by ribbons from the shoulder seams. This eliminates any bulkiness at the neckline. I also like that it doubles the fabric in the bodice region, so I can go braless if I choose.

The only other thing to note is that I did not sew the sleeves exactly as shown for view B. Instead of the three lines of elastic, I chose to only place elastic at the bottom. I think this is a better line on me, as the extra puffiness at the shoulder helps to balance my hips.

Conclusion: I will certainly make this dress again. However, next time, I will use a fabric more suited to wearing to work. This is definitely the way to get dress quickly in the morning and know that you'll look great all day, while remaining comfortable. I picture it both of the fabrics shown below. The first is a rayon/Lycra knit from Fabric Mart and the second is a poly matte jersey from Lucy's Fabrics.

24 August 2007

Go With the Flow Dress - Bodice & Skirt

The bodice is now complete. It was not a simple, toss-it-together affair though. Since I have a small bust, the halter top of this dress was huge on me. Had I worn it as is, I could have smuggled two cantaloupes out of the local grocery store and had room to spare. So, obviously something had to be done. I have posted about SBA on darted bodices before, but this bodice uses a different method to provide room in the bosom.

The front bodice piece for this pattern is shown. The curved bottom edge is gathered to create the fullness required to fit a large bust. The pointed top wraps around the wearer's neck to form the halter top. At the peak of this point is a button/button loop, which acts as a closure. I did not require all the space provided in this bodice.

Using a flexible tape, I measured the distance from the centre back of my neck (where the button/button loop will be) down my chest and across to the point where the bodice piece overlaps in front. I did the same thing again, except this time the tape measure ended at the place beneath the arm pit where the bodice piece connects to the midriff band. These two measurements were transferred to the pattern piece and a curved line connected them (shown by the blue line). Now, I still needed to fudge a bit during the actual construction, but, all in all, I think I got a decent fit.

Two triangular halter pieces are gathered and joined to the midriff band (shown to the right). The results of this step can be seen below.

The inside of the bodice was hand finished with wide bias tape. The bias tape covers all untrimmed seams to create a clean inside finish. The tape also provided a little extra sturdiness to the side seams and the under bust seam. Since I wanted this dress to be fairly flowy and soft, I didn't want to resort to using boning for this, as it is just too rigid. The bias tape proved to be a good alternative.

The skirt has also been constructed. Both the fashion fabric and the lining was put together using french seams (see photo tot he right). I felt french seams were necessary because the fashion fabric is semi-sheer and I wanted everything to look neat and clean. Putting the skirt together was a major PITA. It slipped and slid so much, I felt like I was at a water park. Nothing seemed to make this job easier - believe me, I tried every hint and tip ever published on using floaty fabrics and I still had a hard time. I have never had issues like this before. I think the major problem was the sheer volume of fabric involved. Between the overskirt and the lining, I estimate I was wrestling with 8 yards of fabric. Just keeping the fabric from slithering off the table was a colossal feat! Even after completing all the french seams, I had to go back and trim all the "whiskers" that didn't get properly contained in the seams.

Now, I just need to attach the bodice to the skirt, sew the 10 buttons at the bodice back and then hem the skirt. Hemming should be horrific as well, since the bottom circumference of the skirt is massive. I may just bite the bullet and do a rolled hem (which will still be painful since I don't have a serger). Lastly, I will be beading the bodice to give it a certian je ne sais quoi. This dress better look as amazing in real life as I picture it in my head. Wish me luck...

22 August 2007

It Gives me Paws

Sometimes I wonder at how invested I am in this animal. I could not possibly love him more if he was my own flesh and blood. Simon had a very sore, very infected paw on Tuesday. It broke my heart to see the pain in his eyes. At times like that, he seems so small, so fragile. I just want to gather him up and love the sickness right out of him.

We went to the vet and one anti-inflammatory shot, some antibiotic pills and two days later, he seems to be on the mend. I, however, have had two very sleepless nights. Of course, he wants to self-medicate by licking his paw. Unfortunately, he would lick it until it was raw if I didn't stop him. So, I slept right by him on the couch to keep him honest. (I know, I could have used one of those wacky looking cones, but he is the Houdini of beagles and would be out of it in a flash).

If you really want to know how devoted I am to this hound, get a load of this. Instead of going to the big 40% off sale at a local fabric store, I have stayed home with Simon to nurse him back to health. My goodness, I love this sweet, little beast...

20 August 2007

Uh oh!

Well, I had a post all set to go about the bodice of my Go With the Flow Dress, but I can't upload any photos because my husband's computer crashed. We have two computers (his & hers!) and they are networked together - when his crashes, I'm out of luck trying to grab photos stored on his computer.

Instead, I thought I'd post a couple of garments that have caught my eye lately - one reasonably priced, the other way out of my price range. I really want to knock these babies off, so I have included the patterns I would use for just that purpose. All garment photos/descriptions are from Nordstrom.com:

Maestro Ruffle Swing Jacket
" Long ribbon secures an adorable silhouette, styled with a ruffle-trimmed neckline, three-quarter sleeves and a cropped cut." (polyester/wool) - $88

I plan to recreate this look using Vogue 8123 or Simplicity 3631. Both of these jacket patterns have the raglan sleeves, the straight boxy lines and the round neckline required to pull off this look. The ruffle at the neckline of the inspiration piece can be created using strips of fabric simply gathered and sewn to the neckline with a large zigzag or overcast stitch. The raw edges of the ruffles can be finished with the zigzag/overcast as well (I would prefer a serged edge, but I don't own a serger, so I will make due with what my sewing machine has to offer). Notice that the sleeves have a small band attached at the cuff - this too can easily be recreated.

There is no back view of the jacket available, however, in the description, it says there is an inverted back pleat. If I wish to keep this detail, I may use a narrowed down version of Vogue 8146 instead.

As far as fabric goes, there is a really nice brown tweed at my local fabric store just crying out to be this jacket. I already have the brown velvet ribbon for the neckline closure, although the actual closure is a hidden hook and eye.

Burberry London Single Breasted Wool & Cashmere Coat

"Button front. Mandarin collar. Three-quarter sleeves with belt and button detail. Tie belt with buckle. Two front pockets." (wool/cashmere) - $1695

The first pattern I thought of is Simplicity 3631 (see above) because of the last amazing issue of Sew Stylish magazine. The coat created from this pattern on p. 74 has a very similar vibe. Although the Simplicity coat has the bell shaped belted sleeve, it is lacking in many other areas. To get the fitted, collared, belted, set in sleeve, single breasted look of the inspiration piece, I would instead start with Vogue 7978. View D, with a pared down collar work quite nicely. The belted bell sleeve and a belt/carriers could also be easily added. The only problem with V7978 is the lack of fullness in the lower portion of the coat. This could be remedied by slashing and spreading the pattern pieces to get more fullness.

If I'm going to all this trouble to make this coat, I don't want to cheap out on fabric. I would try to find a wool/cashmere blend like the original. However, I don't want a light grey coat, I want something with more impact, so I would probably look for red.

18 August 2007

Woo Hoo!

Hey, check it out - I won a gift certificate for shoes from The Well Heeled Society blog. The only thing that I love as much as fabric is shoes. I just hope T. Georgiano's ships to Canada. Now, which ones to choose, which ones to choose...

16 August 2007

Butterick 4812

Pattern: Butterick 4812

: B4812 comes in sizes 6 to 20 - I used size 8 for the bodice, size 6 for the waist and size 10 for the hip.

Fabric: Medium weight white linen from Fabricland.

Project Photo
Comments: I have been wanting to make this dress for the longest time now. I bought the pattern when it was first released and then it just languished in my stash. However, recently I saw Sharon's version. Her dress was so cute and flattering on her that it inspired me to get up off my lazy butt and make one of my own. Thanks for the inspiration, Sharon!

I wanted something decidedly summery, so I went with the white linen. I really like it because now I can dress it up or down with accessories in any colour under the sun. Also, since the linen is fairly heavy weight, I will be able to wear this dress into the fall, just by adding a jacket or sweater.

Conclusion: I already have a few other versions of this dress percolating in my head, so it will definitely get made again. This was certainly a quick project that produces major results. Sharon said it best, "It is a hidden gem."

15 August 2007

Vogue 8258

Pattern: Vogue 8258 (view A)

Size: V8258 comes in sizes S (8-10), M (12-14) & L (16-18) - I made size S.

Fabric: Butterfly print cotton crinkle & white cotton blend eyelet; both fabrics are from Fabricland. Sorry, no picture of the eyelet, but it's pretty much just standard white eyelet - nothing fancy.

Project Photo:

Comments: I had a couple of pieces of fabric left over from two dresses I made last summer and they kept begging for my attention. Since I didn't have a lot of either fabric, I needed a pattern that used a small amount. I have always liked this pattern, but when I bought it, I had no idea which fabric I would use for it. Well, it must be kismet, because the pattern and the leftover fabrics were meant to be.

The two tops went together quite quickly - I actually made both tops and a dress (which I'll post about later) in a day and a half. I love instant gratification! I really like how the two tops look and they will look cute worn over white tank tops on hot days.

Conclusion: I really like this pattern and I have plans to make it again in some burnout velvet. I can see view C done in the fabric below that is in my stash:

Update on Go With the Flow Dress: Obviously, I have not done much more on this dress since I have been sewing other things. I will be getting back to it this afternoon, though. Sometimes I just need to step away from an involved project to clear my mind. And what better way to clear one's mind than to sew? I find if I am having a brain block on a major project sewing something fun and easy can often help unclog the neurons. So, stay tuned - I hope to have the bodice completely constructed by this evening.

12 August 2007

Go With the Flow Dress - Button Loops

I have started putting together the Go With the Flow dress. The first goal I set for myself was to complete the bodice, which has a row of 10 buttons and button loops at centre back to act as closures for the dress. You can see them in the line drawing of the back view of the pattern:

I want to show you how I install individual button loops. I'm not sure how others do it, but I have found this to be the easiest way.
  • Cut a long rectangular piece of fabric on the bias.
  • Stitch the long sides, right sides together (do not stitch ends closed) to form a long, skinny tube. Turn right side out.
  • Pull the resulting tube taut and iron out any stretch.
  • Cut the long tube into several pieces of the required length.

  • Mark the loop positions on the right side of the fabric. In the picture below, the loop positions are marked with black dots. The loops will fit in between each pair of dots.

  • Butting the end of a tube piece up to the edge of the fabric, pin one end of the tube at each of the upper dot positions. Repeat until all pieces are pinned to fabric.

  • Stitch just in from the seam line (at 1/2" for a 5/8" seam) to secure all the pieces.

  • Bend the tubes around and secure the other end at the lower dot position. Repeat until all tubes are bent and secured properly. Stitch along the same line to secure all the pieces.

  • Stitch the lining and the fashion fabric right sides together. Turn right side out and press. Viola! Perfect loops just waiting for buttons.

I am almost finished the entire halter top bodice. I just need to tweak the fit for my small bust. The small bust adjustment needed for this pattern is different than the one I have posted before, so I will elaborate in my next post.

9 August 2007

All Aboard!

I'm about to embark on a sewing adventure and I'd like to invite you all along for the ride. I have two major projects on the go and I will be documenting the progress on these projects here.

Project One - Go With the Flow Dress
I will be using a rayon chiffon purchased from Timmel Fabrics to create view A of Vogue 2962, a re-release of a vintage pattern. Below you can see a long shot and a close up of the fabric, as well as the pattern. The rayon fabric is sheer so it will be lined with a deep raisin fabric. I have already cut out the fashion fabric and the lining and let me tell you, the rayon chiffon is a bear to work with. Can you say slippy, squiggly, flowy...ugh! But it's all cut out and assembly has begun. I'll update as I go along.

Project Two: CONTROL Suit

I am using a brown/green tweed for the jacket and a luscious dark sage green wool for the skirt. Both fabrics are from Timmel Fabrics. The pattern for this suit is 100% authentic vintage, Butterick 4557. Below are the two fabrics, as well as the pattern cover picture. The jacket will be the real challenge here, as I am going to tailor it as much as possible. There will be bound buttonholes, functional flapped pockets, pad-stitching, sew-in interfacings, lining, etc...the whole nine yards. I love this pattern - it reminds of something Agent 99 would have worn on Get Smart (hence the name of this project). I have cut out the fashion fabric and the lining. I have also put in tailor tacks for the important matching points on the jacket. As I construct the suit, I will post about it.

8 August 2007

New Look 6637 & Loes Hinse 5209 (Princess Tank)

Pattern: New Look 6637 & Loes Hinse 5209 (Princess Tank)

Size: NL6637 comes in sizes 8 to 18 - I used size 8. LH5209 comes in sizes XXS to XXL - I used XXS.

Fabric: Rust linen/cotton blend from Fabricland & White Needle Out Interlock from Wazoodle.

Project Photo:

Comments: I have had this New Look pattern for a very long time (probably since the late 80s/early 90s). While browsing around the New Look website, I noticed that it had been reissued and it inspired me to get my copy out and finally use it! I cannot say enough wonderful things about this wrap skirt. It fits me perfectly right out of the package. The only variance from the instructions was that I used flat felled seams throughout to keep the inside of the skirt neater.

I have made the LH Princess tank before and I really like its lines. The first time I made it, however, I had to do a fair bit of alteration. I normally use the XXS in Loes' patterns, so of course my first attempt at this pattern was with the XXS. It was HUGE. To remedy this, I folded out an inch on both the front and back pattern pieces and overlapped an inch on both the side pieces. Now, it fits beautifully.

Conclusion: I really like how this outfit turned out - I feels like I'm ready for a quick game of tennis whenever I put it on! I will definitely be making both of these garments again.


Q&A: I was asked a couple of questions in the comments recently and I wanted to take a bit of time to answer them.

  • Becky asked, "I'm also curious as to how you did the elastic in the neckline, since I'm constantly having issues with necklines being too low. Especially on knits."
I don't really have any magic formula as to how I add the elastic. In most cases, if the neckline finish is simply turned and stitched down, I just thread elastic through the small "casing" that is created by the neckline hem. I tend to knot the elastic at one end of the casing and also at the other end, leaving a 3 inch piece hanging from either end, on the inside of the garment. This way I can tightened or loosen the elastic thread in the future if needed. I use the elastic thread that is normally used for shirring.

  • Carolyn asked, "So when do you start back to school sewing!?"
Well, I don't really have a set date on which I start my fall/winter sewing. I have actually completed a few pieces already, interspersed with my summer sewing. I have, however, been madly working on a couple of fall/winter SWAP storyboards. Both SWAPs contain a full phase one (11 garments), phase two (9 garments) & phase three (7 garments). One of the SWAPs has a green/brown/orange/cream theme and the other is a teal/brown/caramel/cream colourway. I'm not sure yet which one will take precedence in the sewing line-up. When I decide, I'll share the storyboard.