Clarissa dress

Hello lovelies! I’ve missed you! I have miraculously managed to sew something in the last month, and I’m so keen to share it with you.

This is Vogue 8811, in the rayon I bought in Bali.

Description: Pullover dress has shoulder pads, semi-fitted bodice, French darts, bias, flared skirt, back keyhole closure with button/thread loop, side snap/extension or zipper closing, cap sleeves, and belt. A: Purchased trim. B: Bust pocket. Circa 1940

Recommended fabrics: Linen, Crepe de Chine, Lightweight Broadcloth

 

This one was a bit of a journey. I thought up this pattern and fabric combo while lying in bed desperately trying to stop thinking about work long enough that I could go to sleep (it’s been a BUSY month. I don’t usually think about work outside of work hours – one of the perks of my job is it stays at work). It was prompted by how much I love my Dorothy Lara dresses. I needed another dress that was weather appropriate for the late summer, and given how busy and stressful things have been I needed it to be easy to wear. I love those 50s and 60s silhouettes but it’s hard to beat the comfortable, functional ease of a ’40s dress. When I know I’ve got a rough day ahead and I want to feel and look good without having to put any thought into what I’m wearing throughout the day, I reach for my two DLs every time. I wanted more of that in my wardrobe!

I also wanted to use this fabric soon. It’s very on-trend, and I love it, but I was worried that if I left it in the stash too long it would look and feel dated and I wouldn’t want to sew it any more. So I wanted to figure out what to do with it soon.

I’ve had this pattern in my stash for some time, but I’d bought the wrong size. I had the size 4-12 size nest not the 12-18. Going by my measurements I would normally sew the size 14 , grading to a size 12 at the shoulders, with a 2″ FBA. I didn’t realise my size snafu until I was partway through cutting out the tissue pattern pieces. I figured it was a pretty simple shape, given that I would normally cut size 12 shoulders anyway perhaps I could just add on some width to the sides and do that FBA and call it good.

Pardon my mystery bruise. Looking pretty impressive though!

This sort of worked. The trouble is it has this cool waist dart – it’s angled and one side is curved and you ease it together to create extra shape. It’s REALLY interesting, and makes the bodice sit really nicely, and it’s also quite hard to do an FBA on! I’m not at all sure I did it right and I probably should have sewn it up without the FBA first so I knew what it was meant to be like. However, after the FBA and cheaters grading up, I had a muslined bodice that looked pretty good and sat right, so I cut out the fashion fabric.

The ‘grading’ involved adding 1″ to the front and 3/4″ to the back of both bodice and skirt. I also lowered the front neckline by 1″ at the neck tapering to nothing at the shoulder seam.

By the way, my lovely blue wall now has a bed in front of it so I’m auditioning new photo locations. The best options were this boring grey-blue wall in my craft room with one million powerpoints on it, or outside. Outside worked well but I think it would have been better if I’d waited an hour because I had trouble finding a good spot in regards to the sun and so I only got a few good photos. I’ll work on it.

Anyhow. The dress. So I sewed it all up and tried it on and it was HORRID.

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Noooooo I was not trying to sew a caftan! Or a mumu

The FBA had added length in a weird way, and the rayon was quite droopy and the waist was totally uneven and also way lower than it should be and dipped drastically at the front. Ack! I unpicked it and laid out the bodice and just hacked it off even at the bottom. I’d say there was about 4″ extra at the centre front! Then there was some back and forth of basting and unpicking of seams in a totally unscientific way that will come back to bite me if I ever make it again because I didn’t really write down what I was doing because I did it in bits and pieces over a couple of weeks in a period where I was very stressed and frazzled.

What I ended up with was a dress where (after said hacking off evenly) I took about 1″ off the waist seam – I just sewed that seam at a larger width so it ended up taking the skirt up too. I also took almost all of the width I’d added in at the side seams back out again although I did keep most of it in the seam allowances so that I can let it out if the rayon shrinks up. I think in a firmer fabric I might still need the width, but in the rayon and with such a busy print, it just looked frumpy and saggy. The pattern had instructions for either a hand picked zipper or an extension with snaps, but I found that I could just pull it over my head quite comfortably so I just sewed up the sides. Again, probably wouldn’t be possible in a firmer fabric but works really well for this.

I was going to add pockets in but with all the adjusting I ended up serging one of the skirt side seams shut and I couldn’t be bothered unpicking it. I really would like pockets because the neck is so high I can’t access my alterna-pocket (aka my bra). But then pockets in rayon are a bit less functional anyway, so dunno.

The waist seam is still a bit wonky, and I’m not sure if it’s my terrible hacking of the pattern, or just the way the rayon is hanging. The bra I’m wearing also really changes how this hangs – I guess because it’s such full coverage, the position of my bust point totally changes the drape of the bodice. Yet another lesson in wearing my good bras to sew in.

Those issues are lost in the busy print though so I’m not too fussed. Also I’ll probably always wear this with a belt anyway which covers some sins, although it would benefit from some belt carries to keep it in place. The pattern has pattern pieces for a belt and I was going to make a black one but I don’t have an appropriate buckle so for now it’s this white one or nothing. I like the way the white lightens it up though.

The sleeves have facings and I HATE them. Hate. They’re flippy and chunky and terrible. I also think I need to take 1cm off the top of the sleeves and that would reduce the amount they stick up. If/when I make this again I’ll either line it like Tanya did, or bias bind them. The pattern includes pieces for shoulderpads, so perhaps that would change the angle of the sleeves? I chose not to make them although I would like to have a go some time just to see how it’s done.

Hateful

This pattern has a bunch of nice vintage touches that I really appreciated – it’s one of the reasons that I rarely buy newly drafted patterns. I have or can hack most things from my existing pattern stash, but I always learn a lot about technique or elegant drafting from vintage (repro) patterns. That said, the instructions did have you press down the seam allowance on the waist and then top stitch it to the bodice from the right side, which I tried but found totally bizarre and almost impossible to keep straight. Is there a reason for doing it this way? When I was making my adjustments I unpicked it and did it the regular way.

The neck facing I like though. It’s really neat and well drafted, even if I did also have to hand tack it down.

If I make this again I’ll take an extra 1/2″ off the neck all the way round (but not at the back neck). I like how it sits at the back of my neck but it’s sitting too high up otherwise, and in a stiffer fabric would be uncomfortable. It’s ok in this but it does bunch a little and in wearing it sits away from my collarbone a little bit.

I also sewed the side seam/armholes up higher, because they were pretty gapey under my arms. I probably should adjust the pattern to take them up even higher next time, I think. I liked that the pattern had quite an angular curve for the sleeve – a mod I usually have to make myself for cut on sleeves. The sides do pull a little but that’s the tradeoff you make for a cut on sleeve.

The sides pulling make the back hem look like it’s hanging too low in a lot of these photos. It’s even on the hanger – I hung it for a week and the hem didn’t seem to grow but then once I hemmed it it was way lower front and back. I liked the length though so I went back and hemmed the sides shorter so it is now even. However when i move around it pulls up an inch or so on the sides, making the back in particular look low.

I think I’ll give it some time to see if it grows any more and then take it up again at the back. Even if it is technically even when I’m standing totally still, the reality is that it will always hike up, so I may as well account for that from the get go.

The back neckline has a button and loop. I did a thread loop using this method, although it’s a little thin and hard to loop behind my head, next time I would use a double thickness. The button is from my stash and you can sort of almost kind of see it below. I do forget to unhook the button before trying to take it off 100% of the time. Because I am a fast learner…

I am so totally thrilled with this dress. I debuted it at work on Monday and it was so comfortable all day, and I felt so elegant and put together. I had several compliments and one person asked if I had ‘had it made’ and was blown away when I said I’d made it myself! (Side note, I am starting to feel more comfortable telling people I make all my own clothes. It feels nice, and I’ve never had anything but a positive reaction, and very little of the sort of bewildered or condescending praise I have been used to. Just people genuinely interested and impressed. It’s so lovely.)

I will definitely be making this pattern again. I’d love to find a good plaid to play with the grainlines – and the skirt is cut on the cross grain which means that even though it’s quite full you can cut it out of a narrow piece of fabric.

TL;DR What I made:

  • Vogue 8811 in size 12
  • 2″ FBA
  • went back and chopped the bodice to be even (ish)
  • Added 1″ to side seams of front bodice and skirt, 3/4″ to side seams of back bodice and skirt (most of which was taken out again but which I would keep for a firmer fabric)
  • Took up waist about 1″, losing a total of 2″ length from both the bodice and skirt
  • Lowered neckline 1″ at front neck tapering to nothing at front shoulders

What I would do next time:

  • Line the bodice to eliminate sleeve facings
  • drop neckline a further 1/2″ all round tapering to nothing at the back neck
  • POCKETS!
  • Would probably be worthwhile muslining the bodice with no mods so I could see how the waist seam is supposed to look and what the curve should be so I can adjust my pattern and not have to keep fiddling with it to get it right.
I especially like these photos with the soft light that looks like a film photo on a cheap family camera. It reminds me of so many family photos taken in the garden.

I also thought a lot about the ‘dress like your grandma‘ challenge while sewing this. I won’t claim this for the challenge because this dress wasn’t inspired by the challenge so that would feel like cheating. But I couldn’t help thinking that probably the reason I like the fabric so much is that it’s very similar to the curtains in the ‘back room’ at my grandma’s house – the room which was a playroom and where we all slept when we slept over there. Lots of fond memories of that room, although I can’t seem to find a photo of the curtains.

In fact I don’t have a lot of photos of my grandma. There’s a family album somewhere but it never seems to be brought out even when I ask. In the last decade my grandma has lost her husband, two children and all her siblings so I get the impression she’s not keen to reminisce, so I haven’t pushed it. But all the photos I have of her she is wearing a dress in a similar cut to this – cut on sleeves, high neck, circle skirt, some kind of botanical print, and which she would have made herself.

Here she is with all her kids (if you include the youngest who she was pregnant with at the time so does that count?). She would have made her own dress and almost certainly all the clothes in this photo. My dad is the one in the front in the overalls with the excellent pout. He and his sister next to him on Grandma’s lap are both dead now. Judging by the ages this would be late ’60s.

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And here is my grandma with my cousin (the daughter of my aunt to the left of my Gma in the above pic) and I in about 1984.

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I’m the one awkwardly sliding off my cousin’s lap… I just realised that less time passed between those two photos than between the latest one and now. Wild!

As she and I get older I’m starting to have a deeper but also more complicated relationship with my grandma – I’m realising the ways in which she and I are very different, have different values and priorities. Not in a bad way, but in a way that complicates what has always been a relatively simple relationship for me. I get the impression she never really ‘got’ either my father or myself. But she didn’t have to to love us, and love us she did. I dunno, I’ve typed out and erased various comments several times, I don’t know that I can articulate what my grandma means to me as a person and as a relation. I do know it’s important.

I think a lot of (although not all) that draws me to vintage shapes and patterns is my association of them with her, with her elegance and class and sewing skills and love. Sometimes it feels very retrograde to like these clothes, and I worry about it and what it says about me, and what the world sees when they see me in these outfits which happen to be what I feel emotionally comfortable in. Especially in the recent political climate. And why IS it that I happen to be comfortable in them? I fluctuate between feeling tired of my own navel gazing and feeling it’s important to interrogate these things even if there’s never a final conclusion because it’s complex.

“All this could be perceived as nostalgia for an age of innocent exuberance. Indeed, this may be part of the story, but there is also the natural process of reappraising past etas, searching for inspiration, tracing social patterns and making sense of our origins” – Peter Cuffley ‘Australian Houses of the Forties & Fifties’

Still here

Hi guys! I’m still here, but crafting isn’t – my craft room is currently housing half the bedroom furniture, since we just painted that room. Plus it’s busy time at work and this week is the transition from ‘come home from a regular full day totally exhausted’ to ‘working extra hours and weekends’. We get paid for extra duties, plus good overtime, and I like my team and my job and it’ll be over in two weeks, so I don’t mind. But it doesn’t leave much time for crafting, let alone taking photographs and blogging… even if i had anything to photograph!

Mostly I just wanted to say I started another blog for my garden stuff – I have enough readers now that I was feeling a bit odd mixing sewing and everything else. It’s all garden for now, but I anticipate other house stuff ending up there. Who knows! It’s called ‘Under my own vine’ and I just did a short post about my tamarillo tree if that’s the kind of thing you’re interested in. I’d love to see you over there too!

Acton shirt

This shirt has been many months in the making! Fair warning, this is a very long, very picture heavy post because I’m just so pleased with this shirt that I took a squillion photos and had trouble paring them down as much as I usually do.

The pattern is the Sewaholic Granville shirt http://www.sewaholicpatterns.com/granville-shirt/ A lot of things came together to make this a slow project. It had its frustrating moments but in the end I am really pleased I took my time on this one.

Never work with kids or animals

I started muslining this in August, and although I took good notes that’s long enough ago that the details have started to fade so I hope I can get everything I did down. I have to say, by the way, how grateful I am that I have gotten into habits of taking notes as I go along. So useful.

Anyways, I muslined this at the very start of August. I muslined a size 16 which is for a 41″ bust, and did an initial FBA of 1.5″. This is what it looked like:

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Thank goodness for Instagram too, because it is helping keep track of what muslin is which. I ‘grammed this noting that I had done the 1” FBA but needed another 0.5”. I had been reasonably sure I would but wanted to do it by increments since I wanted a close fit. Also the sleeve is SO long and SO SO tight, to the point where it was actually cutting off the blood to my hand in this photo. I had read everywhere over the internet that the sleeves on this shirt are tight and long but just forgot to do anything about it.

An Opinion

Here’s my second muslin – the green side is the same as muslin #1 and the white side is the adjusted side:

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I added an inch to the sleeve and it’s still way too tight. I noted on this muslin that I should try a narrow shoulder adjustment (as suggested by Andie on my insta post of the first muslin), and perhaps add room at the hips.

My sewing machine then went in for a service which slowed me down. When it was back I made a THIRD muslin. This one is a size 16 graded to an 18 from the waist down, with a 1.5″ FBA. It also has had the yoke slashed and spread to add an extra couple of cm in it, and the back princess seams bumped out at the top too, to give me more room in the upper back. I didn’t note it exactly but I think there’s a total of 1cm added across the back.Here it is, in brown bedsheet this time:

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This one has a darted sleeve, which I drafted using this tutorial from iconic patterns. I muslined the darted sleeve in my 2015 Christmas dressand really liked the way it sat, and have been wanting to try it in an actual garment ever since, since I went with no sleeves for that dress. Drafting it was really fun! I forget how much of a thrill I get from drafting, I really need to get my moulage finished and do more of it from scratch. I also did a bit of fiddling around and experimenting with sleeve cap height and width and shape. I didn’t take super great notes about this, unfortunately, but it was really interesting how drastic the difference was even with quite small changes.

For ages I’ve been widening and flattening my sleevecaps, as per LiEr’s advice in this post  – and also I know I’ve seen other people mention that it gives more movement room. However when doing this I found that there was definitely a sweet spot. If it was too low and wide I got the same sort of pulling at the armpit that I get with a too-tall sleeve cap.

I have always found it hard to fit the area around my armhole and bust – I end up with fabric pulling one way or the other, no matter what I do. Even with an armhole dart, like in my teal M6696, I end up with pulling – that make now is coming apart at that seam in fact, so there’s clearly stress at that point. That sleeve was quite tall and thin, I guess the point where it’s straining is exactly where a wider cap would have more fabric. Maybe I am making slow progress on understanding sleeves. Maybe.

You can see that there is still a small amount of pulling, as well as some pooling of fabric when my arm is down. I think I would benefit from taking a dart at the armpit and rotating it out into the bust dart but then again, that curve is already quite sharp from my large FBA so I’m not sure how practical that is.

Trying vainly to show off elbow darts
Elbow daaaaarts (they’re on the inside of the elbow so… yeah you can’t see them here at all)

The final sleeve is a size 16, darted + a full bicep adjustment of 1″ made + an extra 1cm added to the seam allowances at the end as it was still a little too tight. I also shortened it further because the darts mean that it doesn’t pull up as I move, so it can actually be exactly wrist length without looking like it doesn’t fit me when I move. I neglected to note how much I shortened it by, whoops.

Anyway, that third muslin was still a little bit tight but I thought that since the sheet I made it from had zero give, and all my intended fashion fabrics had give, that I could probably go ahead and make it up.

Fully bent wrist and cuff is still exactly in the same spot. <3_<3 elbow darts!

I have a bunch of shirting fabrics that I bought from the Fabric Store probably about a year ago, intending to make a few plain white shirts. I was only going to buy one shirt’s worth but ended up buying four because when they sent out the samples I kind of fell for all of them. I’m a sucker and I can’t resist a good shirting. The one I used for this is a bit heftier, and I didn’t keep the swatch so I don’t know the exact composition but from memory it was a small percent of lycra in it, so it’s a bit stretchy.

When it came it was a bit more ivory than white, which I hadn’t noticed in the swatch – you can’t really tell in artificial light but in daylight I can definitely see it’s more yellow than the white thread. This meant I was feeling a bit less enamoured of it, so if I arsed it up I wouldn’t be too sad. I also figured the stretch would cover some fitting sins so I could launch in to it without more (frickin’) muslins and anyway at a certain point the only way to fit something further is to make it up and wear it in real life.

Anyway, I totally burnt myself out on all those muslins, and wanted to sew quick and fun things for my Bali trip instead, so I shoved all the muslin pieces into a box and folded up the adjusted pattern pieces and put it all away, until right at the end of last year (literally December 31) when I wanted to sew something and I didn’t know what. I figured this was all muslined and ready to go, and I was feeling guilty about having put in all that work and then left it right at the end. So off I went.

I went slooooow because, honestly, I just wasn’t feeling it. I wanted to sew but every time I got this (or any other) project out I just felt ‘ehn’ about it. Also I was coming off the Connie blouse and trying to learn my lesson from that about not rushing things. I wanted to be happy with the job I did of this shirt, whether or not the fit ended up turning out. And I was hopeful that since what I wanted was the process of sewing, I could enjoy that part if nothing else, and practice some skills (including patience!) in the meantime.

Channeling the Rock.

It’s not perfect, but I’m proud of the work I did on this. I flat felled the back seams – they’re a bit wonky, next time I won’t clip the notches because that meant I had to tuck those areas a bit deeper in than the rest.

The sides are French seamed and everything else is finished in another seam. I initially put the collar together per the instruction order before getting confused and reverting to Andrea’s order. much better. I slip stitched the collar closed, so everything is lovely and near on the inside.

The fabric stretched a little as I sewed it, I probably should have used a walking foot. Most places it came good with a wash and a steam but it has meant that the sleeves are a little but puckery where they are set in. Just enough to annoy me but not enough to be bothered redoing.

Innards

I could probably have taken a slice out at the back for my swayback, as you can see it bunching – it’s worse when tucked in to something because it sort of bunches on top of the waistband.  Something to think about for next time.

I don’t have any nice iron in interfacing and I had read about interfacing with silk organza, so I did that. I basted the organza to both pieces – i.e. both the under and upper collar, rather than just the under – for extra oomph. I was worried it would be less crisp than regular interfacing but actually it’s perfect. Crisp without being heavy. I’m not sure how it would go on a lighter fabric, though.

I’m in love with the darted sleeve. I feel so proud of it! It does make the sleeve very irritating to iron though, because it’s an odd shape – although I realised afterwards that I have a sleeve board now and that probably would have made it easier! Initially I was thinking that I could stand to lose another ½” off the sleeve length, but now I’ve worn it a few times I’ve decided it’s perfect.

It’s only the second or third time I’ve done a tower placket and for some reason I just could NOT make my brain understand it. The first one I did came out really well but the second one is a bit wonky. I was sewing and ironing this thinking ‘I just have to keep practicing, and one day I’ll be able to do a tower placket without even looking at the instructions!’ One day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I thought about putting the pockets on this but I can’t find my paper pattern, only the pieces I traced, and I didn’t trace that piece. So no go, which I think was the right decision anyway. I’m honestly not sure where the pattern could be – I remember putting it with the envelope of traced pieces and now I just can’t find it. Luckily I put the instructions in with the traced pieces! I hope it turns up because I would like to compare it with the Oakridge blouse which I also have, because I’d like to make that up but don’t want to do a bunch of muslins if I don’t have to, so if they’re similar I can mash up the Oakridge with my adjusted pattern.

I also neglected to mark the cuff and collar stand buttonholes on the pattern pieces I traced, so I had to guess where to put them. I don’t think I did a good job with the collar stand one! It’s right at the edge. The buttons are from my stash – I have a huge tub of white buttons I got at an op shop, all sorted out. Thank you to whoever’s stash this came from. I had seven of the ones I liked so I used those for the front and some similar-ish ones for the cuffs. They look close enough that I won’t notice.

I did cut the wrong side for the button placket though! I didn’t have quite enough fabric to cut it out again, so I just went with it. I thought I would find it confusing to button because it’s the opposite to what I’m used to but actually I don’t notice, so therefore I don’t care!. I can’t tell if I cut the placket slightly off grain or just sewed it wonky, but I had to do a bit of manipulating to get it to sit right. I will be extra extra careful with it next time, because that IS annoying. I place dthe buttons by finding my bust point and putting a button there, and then using the set spacing on the pattern piece to mark the others.

I also wish I hadn’t added to the sides, because now they stick out a bit oddly. I don’t think I’ll go back and take it in but I really wish I could find that dang pattern so I could revert it back to a straight size 16 at the sides.

 

I really like how it looks buttoned all the way up, however I don’t wear it that way because it feels a bit chokey. I also notice myself tugging at the front and pulling it forwards. Having watched how it sits, I think this is because of where the collar is. I have a forward neck, and so the collar sits back off my neck – see the extreme version above – and therefore sits back further on the front of my neck than is comfortable. When I tug it so the collar is comfortable, the shoulder seam sits a 1/2″ too far forward.

I can see various other ways that the collar is pulling the rest of the shirt off, too. When the top button is undone you can see drag lines from the second button. When I tug it forward it sits nicely, and if I arrange the collar so it’s not being pulled by my neck it sits nicely. So I think it’s coming from that issue.

I can’t find much information about adjusting for this, though. I did just buy ‘Fit for Real People’, finally, and am waiting for it to be delivered, so perhaps that will enlighten me? I have thought about how I would adjust this and cut out another shirt with my made-up adjustment so I guess we’ll see!

I don’t feel it pulling across the back but it is stretchy fabric – for the next version I’ve given myself a little extra room at the top there. Just an extra 1/2cm or so.

So yes, it’s just short of perfect. But the fabric feels so lush and I’m so pleased with how well put together it is, and the fit is pretty dang close. I learnt a lot making this and am proud of how I did keeping myself patient and doing little bits at a time until it was done. I feel pretty great when I’m wearing this one – and the first day I wore it five people told me I was looking very fancy, so I’m taking that as a good sign!

Connie blouse and Tilil skirt

Hello all and happy new year! I hope 2017 is treating you all well so far. Mine is ok, although the last few days have been stinking hot – yesterday it got to 40C, which means we’re stuck in the living room as it’s the only room in the house with air con. I took it as a prompt to edit photos for a couple of FOs. We did make it to the beach yesterday, and the water was delightful to swim in. We saw two dolphins right up near us (after a moment’s panic after seeing the fin that it might be a shark) and a large jellyfish, the latter of which prompted us to get out of the water right quick, but was still beautiful. We don’t get deadly ones down here but they still hurt very much if you get stung by them!

Anyhow, on to the actual sewing content! First up is the skirt, which I finished last year. It’s another Simplicity 1166

I made this one back in October so I don’t remember all of the details but it was made pretty much exactly as the last one, which means that it’s the largest size with an extra 2″ added to the waistband at the back, and the length shortened 3″. I didn’t change the pleats at all – I was even more careful marking them this time because I wanted to see if my problems with the last one was user error, however they fit into my enlarged waistband perfectly!  I feel like there is a pleat missing or a drafting error for the larger sizes, maybe. Anyway it worked in my favour I guess.

The fabric is some Ikat that I bought at Spotlight a while ago. It was on their clearance table for months and I kept coming back to it so in the end I bought it, despite it being just a little bright for my usual comfort zone. I made this in the leadup to our October Bali holiday because I thought I might wear it there and I figured the colours would fit in there better than here! In the end it was too warm to wear this skirt there, it’s too much fabric, although the denim version was the perfect plane outfit.

I really like how the stripes in the Ikat show off the different angles in the skirt. The fabric is a bit heavier than the last make, and hangs really nicely. It took me ages to take photos because when I bought the buttons I ended up with one too few and couldn’t sew the last one on until I went back and bought another, which I was very lazy about doing. I did wear the skirt in the meantime though! Initially it felt really bright and garish which seems so strange to me now – it’s become a real favourite and I get a lot of compliments on it.

I elasticised the back again and I was thinking I might need to go back and make it tighter, or take back out some of the extra I added, because the skirt is a bit loose. However last time I wore it I noticed that it pulls at the front where the waistband meets the skirt. You’re supposed to add a large snap there and I never bothered, but because the placket sits on one of the stripes of the Ikat I can see the skirt is pulling right where the snap should be. That pulls the buttonholes on the waist right to the edge and distorts the waistband, which makes the skirt sit loose. So I’ll add the snap and I think that will fix the issue, or at least minimise it.

I really love this pattern. It’s so comfortable and easy to wear, and it feels elegantly casual. I probably don’t need another at this stage but I can definitely see myself making it again as the others wear out. The Turnstone version needs to be re-hemmed, because the back stretched out on the bias and is now quite ridiculous. I’m being very slack about my mending and fixing pile, so it’s been there a while and I really notice its absence in my wardrobe. Must get on it and get it back in rotation!

Now for the blouse! This is the bodice of Butterick 6055, which I have made three times now, lengthened into a blouse. I was pretty ad hoc about it, and I’m not sure I’m happy with how it turned out.

To make the bodice into a blouse, I added 4″ and followed the curve of the sideseams out. I experimented with the darts and ended up sewing the top part of the dart as marked on the pattern, and then tapering very quickly to nothing below.  I also ended up sewing the centre front seam below the facing with a smaller seam allowance, because my stomach needed extra room there.

The back is a bit too tight and I noticed on wearing it that the fabric has pulled around the back darts, so I think I might take them out altogether. You can see in the above photo that it’s bunching up.

I sewed this is an attempt to get out of my sewing slump, and because I really could use some shirts in my wardrobe. However, I just wasn’t feeling it I was not very careful with it. the hems are terrible (I should go back and fix them), and I think I need to reshape the curve of the top armseam to be smoother because they are sitting funny. I think this is an issue with my traced-off pattern, so I’ll go back and fix that too.

I did add a gusset to this one as well, as per my Christmas dress, but I had a lot of trouble with it this time!

The fabric for this blouse is cotton linen from Spotlight and, frankly, it’s awful. The weave is incredibly loose, and you can see the threads pulling away from each other even when it’s not being worn and the seams aren’t under pressure at all. It also pulls off grain if you so much as look at it, which made doing the gussets really hard. They are not neat at ALL but at least I eventually managed to get them in with minimal puckering at the points.

I made my first to B6055’s in the same linen, but the white is the worst of the bunch. The other dresses haven’t worn very well either – they’re ok, but I will probably need to retire the navy one at the end of this summer, as it’s looking a bit sad. I wouldn’t buy this linen again. You get what you pay for, I guess!

It also, of course, wrinkles like nobody’s business! The above photo is after ironing it and then wearing it only for photos. That’s linen for you! I put an invisible zipper in the side, upside down so that the opening is at the bottom, but I forgot to take a photo of it. You can sort of see it in the above photo where I’m lifting my arm up to show the gussets. To be honest, it’s annoying to zip and unzip and mostly I just struggle into this shirt without using the zip, which I can just do.

As wonky as the gussets are, they worked in that I can comfortably do this:

And even this!

Not bad for cut on sleeves. However, there’s some weirdness going on with how the sleeves are sitting, and some odd pulling and folding above the bust, which you can see below and in the first picture. I think in the photos it looks about the same as any cut-on sleeve issue but it does move a bit strangely and look odd in real life.  I’m not sure if this is due to the too-tight back, or the gussets being incorrectly placed, or maybe I pulled things off grain while putting in the gussets, or maybe it’s just that the fabric is light enough that the heavier gussets are pulling it strangely. It’s not a massive problem but I do notice it while wearing it and it makes me feel a bit less put together.

I used mid-weight sew in interfacing for the collar facing. I like how it sits – it’s been washed once more since these photos and those points have calmed down a little, but I do like a collar with a bit of weight to it. However another problem of the linen is it’s a bit sheer, and the facing at the front shows through. You can only just see it in these photos because they’re a bit overexposed (honestly I feel like I have totally forgotten how to take blog photos! I hope I’ll get back into the swing of it soon!) but it’s quite obvious in real life, and I’m not sure I’m ok with it. It looks… odd.

I tried it with my Malmaison skirt which is the other skirt I can see it going with and I’m nor sure I like it. The issues with it makes me feel like it’s more casual, because it’s not as neat, so I like it better with a skirt I feel is more casual. Also, without the skirt of a dress to hold it down it rides up. I think I might like this shirt better in a heavier fabric, with the side seams tapered out further at my hips, and maybe and extra inch added. As it is, I see it getting some wear because it does fill a gap in my wardrobe, but honestly I’m hoping to replace it with something better before long. At least the linen is out of my stash?

Christmas Dress 2016

Hello all! I took a bit of an unintended break there for a couple months, huh? More on that at the end of the post, I want to get to that juicy sewing content first!

Here is my Christmas dress for 2016! I made one last year and at that point said ‘well how many Christmas outfits does one need?’ Naturally that meant that I decided three weeks before Christmas this year that I needed a new one. I couldn’t stop thinking about this vintage christmas card that Heather posted last year.

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I had an idle look for fabric that would work and found some in Lincraft – it’s part of their basic cottons line. The fabric is VERY crisp, for better or worse, so it doesn’t drape very well and it creases lots and also it was very hard to hand stitch the facing down without it being very visible. But you know, once a year I can live with that. I don’t think I’d make another dress out of this fabric but it would make an ok shirt, or kids dress. The collar is just white homespun or broadcloth or something from my stash.

Anyway initially I was planning to make a half-shirt dress – like this one that Lily has since posted over at Mode de Lis. But then I figured I’d really left it too late, I didn’t want to muslin anything so I’d go with a pattern I’d already made, which meant B6055, my now most worn make. I love this dang dress. Except that the sleeves don’t have great movement, and I’ve been meaning to figure out how to put gussets in it and I figured a christmas dress was a low-stakes way to do that.

Gusset innards with reinforcing organza

Figuring out the gussets was intimidating but fun! For the actual sewing part I used Gertie’s tutorial but since the pattern didn’t come with gussets I had to figure out how big to make them and where to place them. This was surprisingly hard to track down – lots of places say things like ‘just add a slit at the armpit’ but like… there’s a lot of variables there! After some googling I found a google book scan of a pattern drafting book which instructed on sizing and said to take the slice from the turn of the armpit in the direction of the shoulder point. So that’s what I did! It worked really well and was very fun. I didn’t finish the edges because the tute didn’t say so but I think I probably should have.

I also didn’t orient the stripes very well because I was spending my brain power working out which bit went where and didn’t think about it until afterwards. Oh well. The tute didn’t specify topstitching either but I thought it was a good idea. The gussets definitely make it much more comfortable and give much better range of movement – I still wouldn’t want to play tennis in it or anything but I’d say I have about as much movement as in a regular tailored shirt. I’ll definitely be using gussets more in the future.

Anyway the bodice went together smoothly, which it ought to because I’ve made it a tonne before. Except that I forgot it was meant to be cut on the fold so I cut it in two pieces and then had to sew a teeny seam allowance there – but it doesn’t seem to have made it too tight or anything. But then I ran into trouble with the skirt. I had decided to put in a waistband which I did by simply cutting the bodice 2″ shorter – and smoothing out the curve of it because as drafted it fits into a curved circle skirt – and then adding a 2″ plus seam allowance strip for the waistband. But I broke a bunch of my rules about sewing and made decisions before everything was together so I ended up moving the waistband up and then down again because the proportions were off. Note to self: ALWAYS put the skirt on the dress before making that decision, it will weight it down way more than you think. Because of this mucking around the skirt ended up an inch or so shorter than I’d prefer – I think the waist is actually maybe half an inch too high. Close enough!

I initially attached a gathered skirt because I wanted the stripes maximised. but I HATED it. I just do not like gathers on me, at all. I was also limited by the amount of fabric I had because I bought all that was left on the bolt so I found the gathers made the middle very bulky but the skirt was actually quite narrow and not floofy enough.

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NO THX

I think the best thing would have been to do big box pleats but I was coming down to the wire, time-wise and I also was kind of just done thinking about this dress. So I defaulted back to the pattern as-drafted. I tried to stripe match and to get the line down the middle to sit somewhere nice, with moderate success.

The cottons a bit sticky and also I was taking these hurredly on Christmas Day which was stinking hot so I didn’t get a good one of the side but the stripes line up pretty nicely. Please excuse the wrinkles – these are all after a full day of eating and sitting in a hot car for two hours. I think it held up pretty well! The collar is a bit off but I’ve since washed it again and now it’s lying properly – it takes a couple of washes for the interfacing to chill out.

I initially chucked in an invisible zipper because it was quicker but it wasn’t sturdy enough and it popped – also not helped by me deciding it was too baggy and cutting down the seam allowances before I put the zipper in! Dumb, breaking more of my own rules not to make anything drastically smaller before the fastenings are in. I then had to let it out again and use teeny seam allowances and it’s ok but probably could do with an extra cm or two, because it does ride up a bit when I sit.

Anyway I ended up going back and hand picking the zipper so I could get as close to the seam allowances as possible. This meant the zipper teeth show where the waistband is because it was too thick to turn under nicely, but that’s where I really needed the room so I went with it. I actually quite enjoyed hand picking and will definitely be doing that again in the future. It took a bit but it wasn’t as time consuming as trying to set in a zipper five times.

A not very good photo of the zip

I was also contemplating putting cuffs on the sleeves to mirror the collar but then decided I couldn’t be bothered. In the end I think I like it better without.  My cousin reckons it’s low-key enough that I could wear it on non-Christmas occasions, but I’m not so sure! Maybe with a black jumper over the top I could get away with it? Either way, it was a hit at Christmas, I felt very festive in it and my sewing-master grandma approved of the gussets. A win!

So about the break. I think I burnt myself out in October with a bunch of deadline sewing, and just haven’t been feeling it, so there’s been very little sewing and therefore no blogging. Initially I felt weirdly guilty about it but then I decided, you know, sewing is a hobby. It’s meant to bring joy. If I’m not feeling it, I’m not feeling it – although I’ve started to dip back in of necessity because I need some more warm weather clothes and sewing is the only way I get new clothes now. But I’m not putting any pressure on myself to either sew or blog, so I anticipate that things will still be a bit quiet around here for a bit, aside from a couple of FOs that I’ve finally gotten photos of so they will pop up shortly.

In the meantime I’ve still been doing crafty stuff – I’ve been catalouging my stash on the Cora app, refolding everything and getting rid of stuff I don’t love in an attempt to get all of my stash into the designated space in my craft room (there are a couple of secret boxes in the spare room wardrobe). I’ve started drafting a moulage using Suzy Furrer’s crafsty course and it’s going ok although she uses a lot of industry standard measurements with super don’t work for me, and I’m now at the part where I have to do all the adjustments to compensate for that and I’ve gotten a bit frustrated with it. I’ve also picked up a couple of stalled knitting projects and moved them to the next bit, which is satisfying.

I’ve also been extremely busy doing a new job at work – I go back to my regular position when I start back next year. I’ve been doing a similar job but the next level up (as well as training my fill in person at the same time) and it’s been really fun and interesting but definitely tiring, especially at the end of year panic where everyone realises they have to get everything done before January, and my manager was off sick and someone else was on leave and someone else left so I was the only one in my team there! Hectic.

I also started taking zoloft because I realised as we came out of winter that this one was really rough for me (and also tbh the US election news did not help my mental health at all. Yikes). I coped really well but doing that basically took everything I had. I’ve only been on it a week but already I am much less exhausted – I hadn’t realised how tired I was! I mean I knew I was tired but it had become normal to have absolutely no energy for anything. I am hopeful that zoloft will be the right drug for me and will help me get back to a better normal. I’m very lucky to have a great GP who is on the same team as me and determined to find the right thing for me, and helped me get over my weird reluctance to try meds – that internalised ableism will get you! But something has definitely been not right in my brain chemistry, and thank goodness for modern medicine, with all its downsides it sure has many upsides.

So that’s the story! As I said I suspect it’ll still be slow here but I’m getting back into sewing slowly so expect to see me around a bit in the New Year. Until then, happy holidays, whatever you celebrate, and here’s to a wonderful, safe, loving 2017 for all of us and everyone else.

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Carolyn pyjama shorts

Here is another in my discouraging backlog of ‘fine but not quite right’ – a pj/lounging set made up of Carolyn pj shorts and a springfield hack. I’ll cover the springfield at the end, since I’ve made a similar hack  before. But first, the shorts!

As I keep yammering about, I’m trying to up my loungewear game. I thought a pair of nice pj pants might help matters, so I decided to give the Carolyn pjs from Closet Case Files a go.

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I made the largest size in these, which is what my measurements indicate. I’ve misplaced my notes on these so I’m guessing a little bit about the specific adjustments I made. Hopefully I cover everything. I muslined these up first because my experience with the ginger jeans led me to believe this crotch curve might not work for me. I was definitely correct in that suspicion.

I had way WAY too much fabric at the waist and, like the gingers, this was all focussed at the centre seams. When I pinched it out the side seams sat perfectly. I ended up taking almost the same adjustments as the gingers – 2″ total out of the front crotch and I think not quite 4″ out of the back. I was originally going to just elide the faux fly but in the end I chopped it off and reattached it to my adjusted pattern, so it is there. I didn’t bother unpicking the basting on these though.

I also found the back of the legs way waaaaaaaay too wide. Like just sticking way out and I knew that would also result in chub rub, from too much fabric at the inseam. I slashed and folded out some amount of width – I think maybe 1″? The fronts were fine. I couldn’t find any other larger ladies who have made the shorts – I suspect in full pants I would appreciate that extra room in the back, but in the shorts it was just ridiculous. I also lengthened them 1.5″ to get them below where my thighs touch, to reduce chub rub. I had to adjust the cuff as well – the bottom of the shorts is the same size as the cuff so I just measured and chopped.

I was a bit worried they’d be too tight across the bum – there’s just a slight bit of pulling there – but actually they’re ok. They are snug though, and I would consider doing a full butt adjustment next time – one like this or this, not like the colette blog one which adds to the inseam. I don’t need more width at the inseam I need it across the widest part of my butt, basically in the middle of the pattern piece. You can see the pulling more clearly in some of the photos below. It’s ok for this pair – I have movement room and I’m not worried about busting them or anything but I think it’s worth fixing in the next go round.

I was feeling a bit (unreasonably) cranky about the amount of changes I had to make to these, but in the end, I absolutely love them! They feel elegant and comfy at the same time, even though they’re just a simple pair of shorts. The only thing letting them down is that the elastic I chose is a bit firm and I should have made it a bit longer. They are fine, but they are firm enough that I will wake up in the middle of the night needing to go to the bathroom, because they are pressing on my bladder. Not ideal. I don’t think I’ll bother going back and making these looser (the elastic will get a bit less rigid over time anyway), but when I make this pattern again I’ll make sure I don’t go too nuts on that negative ease. I’m also not sure I’d make the pockets again – they’re a bit too tight to use – too much thigh! They add a nice touch though, I guess.

I am definitely keen to make a longer pair, and I want to make the matching top – I’d like to make it out of this same fabric but I need to see if I can get more. I’ll also be planning a warm pair when it gets colder again. I am also seriously seriously considering just making them up in a linen or something and wearing them as actual pants. Do you think I can justify them as fashion pyjamas? I’m on trend! I also think the shirt would make a nice casual camp-shirt style top if you made the collar pointy. Tell me, dear readers – am I losing my grip or is a shirt a shirt?

As for the top I made to go with this, I did the same Springfield/lakeside hack I’ve done before:

I couldn’t find the same pieces I used before, though, so I had to re-draft them. I don’t know if I did something different or if it’s just the vagaries of fabric differences, but there are… issues with this one. The back flaps definitely don’t overlap as much as my last one did, and it drags the yoke down. I think it needs to have a wedge taken out of that yoke – you can see the extra room in it – and the flaps need to overlap much further. I considered unpicking this to do that but honestly I don’t think I’ll bother. Although this is lovely to lounge in (and gets a big thumbs up from S), I do always feel a bit exposed in it. I think if I can find more of this fabric I might just replace the back overlaps with the regular Springfield back. That way I will also be able to sleep in  it without getting myself all tangled!

I actually thought through the finishing on this one and bound the bottom edge all in one. But unfortunately by the time I got to the neck and arms, I had run out of fabric for binding – I cut one of the backs wrong and had to recut so I was short. Instead of doing something sensible like using a different fabric for the binding, I cut what I had in half so it was 1″ instead of 2″ and did THE dodgiest binding job that has ever been in the whole world. It’s truly awful, flips out, is fuzzy… So essentially, this top is pretty much unwearable until I fix that. I mean, it’s fine. It won’t fall apart or anything. But I can’t look at it without wincing.  This is why I don’t like to sew on a deadline – I tend towards rushing enough anyway, I don’t need the help. I was trying to finish this to take with me to Bali and I shouldn’t have.

The back of the pants – you can see faint straining over my butt. I never thought I’d be posting my butt on the internet and telling people to look closer… what a time to be alive…

I did wear this a bit in Bali but I think the top is going to be put away until I can source more fabric to fix that back. I’m glad I tried this style but in the end, I just don’t think it’s for me. The original Springfield back will make it perfect pjs though. At least it goes with my robe?

100% unfaked yawning

Morgan dress

Hello folks! I’m working away at some of that blog backlog, so I’m starting with the last thing I had intended to blog. To be honest, I think this one might be responsible for my general feelings of malaise re: blogging. Quite unfairly, I now think.

Here’s another version of the Dorothy Lara dress by Decades of Style.

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Construction-wise, there’s not much to say about this one. I made it almost exactly the same as my last version. It’s a size 44″ bust with a 3″ wedge taken out of the top neckline to reduce the blousing. I switched the zipper to the right hand side and left off the pockets. Simple. I did think about changing where the skirt gathers and making it across the whole dress or maybe even only at the sides. but because of how the dress is assembled, that would be a bit fiddly, or I’d had to have changed the construction order. So I left it as is. I did gather both the front and back bodice evenly across the middle, rather than at two points as directed by the pattern. I also left those un top-stitched. I did top-stitch the skirt and the neckline in black thread.

However. because of the fabrics, this one feels and acts really different to my last.

This one is in a rayon from Spotlight – it’s printed with little zebras:

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It was originally just a black and white print but I dyed it at the same time as I did the material for the sav-anna dress. I was always intending this to be a dress in this general silhouette but after sewing the green fabric up and realising that I just don’t really like wearing prints that much, I didn’t feel very motivated to sew it up. It’s also a little bit splotchy – I really should have gotten a bigger pot to dye in, so it’s slightly uneven. I avoided the worst bits when cutting but I ended up with a darker patch at the top of the skirt, and a lighter patch in the middle of the torso. I don’t think  it’s super noticeable – I see it because I’m looking – but I do worry they might look like weird shadows. If i decide it bothers me I can always overdye it another shade darker, to even it out.

He cried until I picked him up and then he wouldn’t let me put him down for the rest of the shoot.

After my first DL dress, I decided that I might like this print in this dress. I can’t figure out exactly my beef with prints but it’s specifically on my torso, and somehow the folds and gathers on the DL mitigated whatever it is that I’m not so keen on about prints. Honestly, I just can’t work out what my problem is with them, just that I feel not like myself if I wear prints near my face – the same way I do if I’m wearing autumn colours or super short skirts. Just not me.

Look at this ridiculous animal and his ridiculous feets.

I also knew I wanted to sew a rayon version of the DL dress to wear in Bali – last time I went I wore my Japanese flowers dress all the time and it was perfect – light and breezy, shoulders covered, easy to wear. I knew the DL would be even better and a rayon DL would just be perfect. So I cut this out and sewed it up and was very pleased with it. And then I tried it on and took photos and when I looked at the photos I just felt bleh about it.

I’m glad I waited to blog this – I did start before I left for Bali and the tone of that post was ‘I feel frumpy in this dress, I kind of hate it’. Now I’m back and looking at the photos again I don’t even know what my problem was! It’s fine! It looks good! I think it was a combo of being very very tired and also it didn’t look quite how I was expecting. Compared to the cotton version, the waistband is considerably looser even with interfacing, and also the rayon is heavy and drapey, so the torso area is much more droopy. For comparison, here’s me wearing both dresses in Bali, on the balcony of our villa.

 

S took these photos and insisted I posed

 

You can see the rayon version is much more sack-like and has less shape in the body. This was absolutely a plus side in humid Bali, but it left me feeling a bit glum. Like Leah said, I still do wince a tiny bit when I see myself in this dress, especially that photo where it’s loosened up a bit with wear. It’s not the silhouette I was expecting, quite, and my personal style is really sensitive about that sort of shape. It’s so interesting to me how such a tiny difference takes me from thrilled to disappointed in a make. I think this is why I tend towards overfitting for things that need ease in the mid torso, like shirtdresses. I have a fine line there between what I feel good in vs what feels ill fitting. I think I need to work on this because it’s objectively not accurate and, frankly, it’s not practical because a gals’ gotta have sitting room in her dresses!

Feets

I did in fact wear it almost constantly in Bali. Honestly, I should have sewn one more DL dress and then taken only these dresses and maybe one pair of shorts. That was all I wore. It was as perfect for the climate as I had predicted.

In-action shot making peanut sauce at the cooking class we took

The waistbands are noticeably different – I notice in the cotton one that it sits right on my body whereas the rayon one sort of hangs out from it. So I suppose I could always take it in a bit. But I don’t think I will bother. Body image issues aside. I do wish that I had remembered that I was intending to take some length out of the centre back to account for my swayback. It droops quite a bit there and I can feel it dragging a bit as I walk. I also need to increase those neck darts to reduce how it sits up at the back of my neck.

I also can see that I could have taken some length out of the front in this version – the waistband sits a little bit below my actual waist and there’s folds and gaps there in certain photos. So if I were to make this again in rayon, I think I would take maybe an inch or even just half an inch out, to find a bit more of a compromise between fitted and loose and comfy. I am also hanging this draped over the hanger rather than with the hanger in the shoulders (does that even make sense??) to reduce the amount of dragging that the bodice is subjected to. Rayon is heavy!

That said, it’s possible that the rayon will firm up more in multiple washes, in which case it will be perfectly fit in about six months. Even if it doesn’t, I am still (now) very happy with this dress. It’s not how I was picturing it but it’s definitely fine, and it will be a perfect summer dress. It will probably be a weekend dress rather than weekday because I don’t feel quite neat enough in it to wear it to work but honestly I need those in my wardrobe just as much – and my office is too cold to ever wear rayon dresses in, anyway.

So there we have it. I’m very glad I waited to blog this and I think I might finally be getting the lesson to not judge my makes by how I feel the second I put them on, because that moment is often overshadowed by too high expectations and weird body image feelings.

I reckon I could manage at least one more Dorothy Lara in my wardrobe, too… what a great little pattern this is!