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?

Wear are they now 2016 – part 2

Continuing on from the first part, a review of the makes of the last 18 months or so, in roughly chronological order.

This bluegingerdoll hack:

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Nope. Too short, felt weird in it, it went to the op shop almost immediately after I blogged it.

Tennessee dress:

Felt pretty iffy about it at time of construction, but ended up wearing it a TONNE over summer. It’s definitely a ‘home and to the shops’ dress – I wouldn’t wear it to a picnic or anything – but it’s a nice version of what it is. The hem has grown though, so I have to hack it off and even it out before this summer.

 

Japanese flowers dress:

This is actually the dress that prompted this series. I took this dress to Bali last year and it was exactly the perfect dress for there – not too much fabric in the skirt, breezy blousy top, shoulders covered, the rayon means it feels like I’m barely wearing anything. But when I got back home, I barely wore it. I just don’t feel good in straight skirts anymore – plus a straight skirt in rayon means it wrinkles like woah when I sit. I did wear it a few times and one of those times was to a colleague’s retirement party. The man standing in front of me during the speeches kept edging backwards, so in order not to have his butt pressed against me I also had to edge backwards. Somewhere towards the end of the speeches I ended up pressed up against the catering table, and eventually sat on a cupcake. It was very undignified, and the icing left a large (brown) grease stain on the back of the skirt which nothing I have tried can get out. I have enough fabric left to recut that panel, but by that point I had decided I didn’t like the skirt and I don’t have enough to cut a fuller skirt. I am keeping an eye out at spotlight for more of this rayon but despite this  colour continuing to appear in their catalouges, none of the stores I’ve visited have had it in stock. If I do see it I’ll grab it and change out the skirt because I do like the bodice of this dress. I am considering making another version, new, with a 1/4 circle skirt.

(Those sandals also died at the end of summer and I miss them. They were the best)

Christmas skirt and dress:

I mean obviously these haven’t gotten much wear since I made them… Still very pleased with them though. I did make and almost finish another version of that dress but I’m dissatisfied with it. A large part of that is that the collar looks very odd with a jumper or cardigan, making it not wearable in my freezing office. I’ve put it away to think about and might come back to it when it’s closer to the actual kind of weather I would wear it in.

Gingham skirt

Wore this a bunch last summer but I really need to do some fixes to it. It sags at my swayback so I need to figure out a way to retrofit some elastic or something to suck it in. the lining also creeps up over the waistband, and it’s not a simple fix because it’s the teeniest bit smaller than the outer fabric so I can’t just topstitch it. I might have to hand tack it down. I’d like to do that soon because it’s a very versatile skirt and I’d like to have it in my wardrobe rather than the mending pile, as the weather warms up.

By Hand London Anna dresses:

Number one

Loved this dress in summer. Made me feel like a queen. However, I think either i need more ease or the rayon has tightened up just a bit or both. By the end of summer it felt a bit tight. Need to pull it out again and see how it’s fitting now. I also think that, in general, I need to  be careful of overfitting things.

Number two

I absolutely adore this fabric, but this one is definitely too tight. I feel self conscious in it. Again I need to try it on and see how it is now. I am loathe to part with it because the fabric is so perfect but it might have to go.

Number three

I’ve worn this maybe twice. I just feel self conscious in it. This is the dress that made me realise I just don’t like prints very much, especially near my face. Objectively I think it looks good but I always feel a bit awkard in it. I’m waiting for warmer weather to reassess whether I should keep it because it’s comfy and cool, or if I should remake the skirt, or if it needs to go. Either way, I wouldn’t call this one a success.

Rayon moneta:

Also wore this a tonne in summer. Hem has also stretched, needs fixing. love this dress, the firmer fit and more organise print makes it feel a bit neater than the Tennessee rayon dress. Would happily make another of these if I find more knits I like in summer. The moneta is such a good pattern for me.

Kimono tees

These two rayon ones are also having the hem stretch business. They got worn a whole lot in summer, they’re lovely and floaty. The various black and white ones I made in firmer knits were worn in high rotation until it was too cold for anything but long sleeves. I love this pattern although I might have enough of these for now. I do need to trace it off in a smaller size to make one for my cousin.

Denim skirt

Still one of my easiest, most worn skirts. Total win. This pattern is now also my standard pattern I use to cut lining for skirts.

School witch skirt and Jungle skirt

 

I’m lumping these in together since they’re the same pattern. I haven’t worn these for a while – I keep wanting a bigger bottom silhouette and in winter I wear enough layers on top that that + the thick pleats make my waist feel bulky. I’m putting these on hold till warmer weather and if I haven’t worn them by summer they might go. Even if that happen though I still consider these successes, as I loved them and wore them every week for a full season.

That brings me up to about six months ago so I think I’ll leave it there. I plan to keep doing these regularly, it’s really interesting to  see common threads in the fails (bad pattern to fabric match, poor style choice, poor workmanship, overfitting, not picking styles I will actually wear) and also to see how my style has changed. Some of these photos I just want to hike the waist up to sit higher, whereas I used to always prefer skirts to sit at my natural waist I like them at my high waist these days. Wanting bigger skirts, and leaning into cut on sleeves are all recent things for me. Some of it is finding my style and some is just my style shifting.

Also it’s nice to see that my photos are  consistently much better! Very pleasing.

Sweet and Honourable skirt

Here we continue in the ‘more skirts, bigger skirts’ theme with some sateen from Spotlight. I bought this intending to make another gertie skirt but then I wondered if perhaps two was enough. After my Lennox skirt I kept thinking of Jo’s wool circle skirts – I love the way hers fall and of course mine don’t hang like that, as my torso has a larger circumference.

Wheeee!

I figured to get that I’d have to have more degrees in my ‘circle’ so one night I traced off the pav skirt and slashed and spread it as wide as would fit on my the last piece of tracing interfacing I had left – a very arbitrary measurement.

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I probably could have made it a full 90° but then I would have had to make it shorter, or use a lot more fabric. I could have, as I have a metre or so left over. I am toying with maybe making another pair of gingers or perhaps a bomber jacket out of it. What do you think, matching pants or matching jacket?

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Anyhow. Apart from a wider bottom circumference, it is the same as the Lennox skirt, using the gertie skirt waistband etc. However, UNLIKE the Lennox skirt, it didn’t all go smoothly – when I sewed it up I felt like it was perhaps of an unruly size, so instead of sewing the waistband on as usual I basted it on to check. Good instincts, it was significantly too big! When I held it closed at the back in such a way that it fit, the side seams were way to the back, telling me that the pattern piece was too wide.

This is my ‘you’re a kitty!’ face

I suspect partially that I made an error when tracing it and made the waistline too low – I thought it looked too big but I measured it a couple of times and the measurements matched the original pav pattern. I should have listened to instinct and made it higher regardless, as it’s much easier to lower that waist and give yourself more room in the skirt than it is to bring that in. Especially when you’ve already top stitched the pockets.

Strike a pose

Long story short, I unpicked everything and took it in two full inches on either side (!). The fitting is still a bit iffy – today and two weeks ago it’s about an inch too big, a week ago it fit perfectly. I think I am just going to have to resign myself to a fluctuating waistline and either add in a second hook, or add elastic. Or both. I definitely need to go back and take some room out of the centre back of the Lennox skirt, as even at the peak of my waistline flux it’s big enough that I have to pin it. Bodies! So tricky. It sits maybe a little high on my waist but if I have it sitting lower, the back droops because of my swayback.

Strike a different pose
Strike… of the cat hair all over me.

 

For the insides, I lined it again with taffeta, leaving the lining open at zipper part of the back seam. I find with my skirts where I’ve tacked the lining to the zipper, they eventually tear since that area gets a lot of tension as I slide in and out of car seats, etc, so I’m better off leaving it floating. It’s overlocked to finish.

I hand stitched the hem, and on what is almost a double circle skirt, that’s quite a lot. It only took me about three hours, which is comparatively quite fast! I think practice is speeding me up. I hung it for a week or so before hemming in case it dropped. It didn’t do so in that time but I noticed today it is a little bit lower at the sides. If it drops much more I’ll have to rehem it. (noooo!)

As I stitched, I thought a lot about war, and colonialism, as one does. When I first tried the skirt on I was struck by how much the poppies look like splashes of blood, or gorey wounds. In a good way, I guess? I was intending to make a valar morghulis joke but then the association with poppies lead me down a more serious path.

I work in the centre of the city and am lucky enough to be close to quite a few green spaces. I try and go for a bit of a walk every day, and one of my favourite walks takes me past the war memorial, down the newly installed Anzac memorial walk down the side of the governer’s house, which lists all the major fields of war where Australians have served. There’s a stone in the corner of the governer’s grounds memorialising the first gaol in my state, which is also where the first people hanged are purported to be buried (the link goes to the very first but next were some un-named (of course) aboriginal people and then someone who stole clothes worth two years’ wages from an inkeeper). On the other side of the road is the Migration Museum, which used to be a lying-in home and destitute asylum. Then I take a left, past the original army barracks and parade ground where my maternal grandfather used to work, down a leafy walk lined with memorials to specific squadrons and battles, and back up the other side of the governer’s house. Sometimes I walk back past the statues of Matthew Flinders, who ‘discovered’ much of South Australia. There’s a lovely patch of grass there but most office workers avoid it because often there are aboriginal people sitting there, sometimes drinking. There’s also the statue of Dame Roma Mitchell, who was a real tough,  smart lady and went to the same high school as me (not at the same time, obvs).

Adelaide’s war memorial – this side is called ‘Spirit of Duty’

So there’s a lot there, to make a person dwell on war and patriarchy and imperialism and colonialism, and the violence and misery all of those things bring.

I also think of my family history, of my paternal grandparents particularly, who trod this same ground as me when it looked quite different, and who both served in WWII – my grandmother staged a one-woman sit in in her seamstress job which she wasn’t allowed to quit as it was essential services. Finally they gave in and fired her and she became a drill sergeant. My grandfather was a rear gunner in a weather scouting plane, a precarious position. He saw some combat and later suffered a long breakdown which I don’t know the details of because nobody in my family really talks about it. I think about how I never really got to know my grandfather very well (he’s been dead a decade or so), and how I regret that because while I adore my grandmother I suspect I more strongly take after my grandfather’s side of the family and the older I get the more I understand him, as well as my own father, and wouldn’t it be nice to have them both still there to have that be a conversation, not just me thinking in my head about people who are gone?

I think about why I am drawn to retro styles, and whether that is a good or a bad thing, because I certainly am not comfortable with a lot of the associations and with the history of the period – but the same goes for this modern period, anyway. I think about how it makes me feel connected, and I think about gender performance and what being a woman means to me. I think about how 100 years ago, WWI had been going for two years and would go for two more, and about how technology had changed was and produced new horrors – and continues to do so.

A heavy burden for a sewing project to carry. Most days it’s just a skirt. But sometimes it’s a good reminder, too.

I’m not sure how to recover from all of that, so I suppose that’s the end of this blog post. What’s your personal relationship to your history like? Does it intersect with your sewing ever? Do you have any makes that carry more weight than is fair to put on an innocent garment?

Bon Voyage dress

I’m trying out that thing where you name your makes, because referring to them as numbers makes me feel like a weird robot. And not in a cool way. I’m very bad at naming things, though, so we’ll see how long I last!

After posting about my last B6055 (beep boop zeep zorp. That’s me being a robot. Not a cool one) I actually ended up really really loving it.The hem still bugged me but I felt fancy in it anyway and honestly, I just wanted to wear it all of the time.So when I was packing for the most recent Craft Camp, the pattern was the first thing to be packed, along with this black cotton linen. It’s the same cotlin blend as the last one, from spotters. It’s really lovely, I have to say, although it does have quite a loose weave and is mildly seethrough.

I meant to just make it the same as my last one,  but I didn’t read my pattern notes. Last time I traced up an adjusted bodice, so that was the same. But I wrote ‘size 20, adjusted’ on the bodice and so I cut out a size 20 skirt, forgetting that I’d graded out at the waist to a 22. I ended up going back and doing teeny seams to give myself the ease back in the waist – it fit at a 20 but wasn’t nearly as comfy, especially when sitting.

The actual sewing details of this one are, same adjustments as the last time, i.e., dropping the kimono sleeve down and scooping out the under arm. Size 20 bodice, size 22 from the underarm down (after re-adjusting it). I left the bodice unlined and lined the skirt with bemsilk because it was quite seethrough. The navy one is actually quite warm because of the lawn underlining in the bodice, whereas I can see myself wearing this one on a heatwave day. I left it to hang for a day and then the lovely Sue pinned the hem for me. The linen dropped quite a lot on the bias – I also ended up lifting the bodice up a bit at the centre front, which also dropped. You can see here how much it dropped because I just sewed the hem at the height it was, without cutting it:

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I hand sewed the hem and the sleeve hems because even though it took hours it was still quicker than doing a terrible machine hem and then having to re-do it anyways. I took quite a big hem at the sleeves after experimenting with the navy version – giving it a 2″ hem means it hits high enough on my arm to give me a lot more movement than a shallower hem does. I also unpicked and evened out the hem of the navy one, and hand sewed that, while I was at it. Circle skirts are lovely but their hems are the devil.

I french seamed where I could and overlocked the rest. Zipper is machine-sewed laped, and all the facings are overlocked to finish and then tacked down by hand. Used quite a heavy interfacing for the collar because go big or go home, that’s how I feel about collars.

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Sorry this photo is so terrible – the light was fading by then  but I wanted to show this bit because I think it’s interesting, drafting-wise. Innards of the facing of the collar.

I adjusted the collar this time – I graded from size 20 down to size 18 at the front edge of the collar, and it sits much better on my shoulder, actually meeting the shoulder seam properly and not pulling at the back.

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Collar sitting at the seam, and just barely meeting at the back.

I had quite a lot of trouble sewing the collar, again. Part of the problem is that I hadn’t been careful to finish my neck-darts all the way to the end and they were pulling apart and making that seam longer than it should be (I often don’t bother to backstitch seams if they’re going to be caught in another seam, and this lazy step finally got me in trouble!). Once I fixed that it was easier. But part of it is I think it’s just drafted weird. Next time I would either adjust it so that the bit of the collar that attaches to the neck is longer, or just not expect it to overlap. In this version it meets at the back neck but doesn’t overlap as the pattern says it should. I do think it looks ok this way but not as nice as the navy version which I did manage to get to overlap – at the expense of it pulling. There is just straight up not enough of the collar for it to do what the pattern says it should.

It’s fitting a bit firmly here at the waist because there were taken directly after dinner, so my stomach is at high tide, so to speak. I managed to quickly sneak in a photoshoot, trying out this new location – I haven’t tried it before because to my left here is the door to the room where the Teen used to be. Since he’s moved out, I figure it’s a safe. He was very nice and probably would have waited until he was out of sight to roll his eyes, but you know. I did get busted taking these photos but instead of an eyeroll I got a hug, so that’s ok:

N’aaaaaw.

It also means the camera is a bit lower than I realised, since I’m standing on the deck, so I think my torso is a bit foreshortened. I’ll adjust the tripod more next time, but overall I am pleased with the location – ok, it’s boring, and dusty, but it’s the best evening location I’ve found yet – everywhere else I can take photos around my house is in full sun or dappled shade in the evening, and since evening is when I have the most time for photos, you’ll probably be seeing this spot again. I did take advantage of the bench to try some sitting poses.

Felt a bit odd. Might have to revisit the sitting section of the Better Pictures Project for posing advice. I did follow Gillian’s advice about dynamic focus mode and it worked WAY better. My face is in focus in almost every photo, and there is less general weirdness. Thanks, Gillian!

Here it is with a jumper, as I wore it to work the other day. I love how it emphasises the collar. I did think about piping the collar but I am so so bad at piping, so I left it.

As you can see, I did the pockets this time. I thought I would feel ambivalent about them but I love them. I left the bow off, intending to sew on some nice buttons from my stash when I got home, but I think that would catch on things – like the belt, since the top of the pockets are just barely under the belt – so I think I’ll just leave it without anything there.

And without the belt, so you can see more of it:

The positive ease in the waist is more visible like this. I did a lapped zipper because I was using a borrowed older machine with no invisible zipper foot, and I think I did an ok job! Even when I had to unpick and re-set it twice while I was fiddling with the waist.

I will probably always wear it with a belt, and I notice the belt sits a bit lower than the waist, so I might put in belt loops. I should also note that this has been washed but not ironed. Being linen, that means it’s crumpled. But let’s be real – I’m not going to iron this after every wear, and after an hour of wear it’s wrinkly anyway, so [shrugs]. I did iron the collar of this after it was washed, and I think I might start ironing the hem because looking at this it looks wrinkled in a way I don’t love. I think I say this every post. I might just stop pointing out the wrinkles. Like natural fabrics, live with wrinkles, that’s my deal!

The front and the back of the skirt are different pieces in this pattern – the front having more circle in it. I’d say the back is maybe 1/4 circle and the front is maybe 1/2. I did think about using the back piece for the front this time round, because I don’t really like having that much bias at the front. It folds in and looks a bit weird (and… yonnic. Like the pockets aren’t enough!). The reason it’s like that, I think, is that it’s designed to be worn with a petticoat, like so:

You can still see the fold lines where it has been hanging, but the skirt sits out properly. Before taking these photos I had been thinking I might nip in that centre seam to get rid of the folding bit but you know, after looking at these I think I might just start wearing it with a petticoat! I really love how it looks but do feel a bit self-conscious in one, but looking at these it doesn’t look that dramatically different anyway. And maybe that way I’ll get my apportioned seat to myself on the train, without some dude trying to sit half on my leg.

Here’s some more photos of it with the petticoat:

Speaking of petticoats: bras!

Here is a nice one where you can see my bra is kind of pointy. It’s this one and I am in love with it, especially with my shirtdresses. I do find it makes my bustpoint much higher and so on my first M6696’s, which have a knee-length hem, it actually makes them a bit short for my own personal taste. If I am intending to wear this bra (I have four, in different colours) with a dress I’m making, as opposed to my other bras, I make sure to try it on wearing this bra. It does change the fit quite a bit. I do always make sure I’m wearing a good version of my bras when fitting, not the older, stretched out ones. My regular bras are these ones, in case anyone wondered – I have trouble with underwires cutting into the sides of my breasts so wirefree is the way to go for me. I find the ‘smoother’ ones a bit more comfortable but the pointy ones do lift my breasts entirely off of my ribcage, and I think it’s probably the first full breath I have drawn since I was, like, 13, so that’s a huge plus. I find myself standing straighter and breathing deeper when wearing them, which was a bit strange to realise!

Both of these have wide enough bands, and come in a good enough range of sizes, that I can get the band tight enough to give me support – that’s where most of the support in bras comes from anyway. The downside of these is that I find the slider on the straps basically does nothing, it will always slide back down to the bottom, but since there is enough support it doesn’t really matter, all the straps are doing is holding the cups in the right position. Now I have found ones I like, I keep an eye out for sales and buy a bunch at a time, since postage is a killer and I haven’t found anywhere in Aus that has them. I did originally find it at Harris Scarfe’s, but they only have beige. So yes, I have about four of each kind now, because that means I can wear a different one every day and wash them on the weekend, and also I am kind of terrified they’ll stop making them. When i went looking for the link I couldn’t find one of the makes and I actually broke out into a cold sweat, for real. I’ve tried a couple of the other styles of the 18 hour comfort bras but only these two really work for me. They are all shaped a bit differently, and have support in different areas, so if you are interested it’s probably worth trying a couple of styles. I am absolutely not paid by playtex (I WISH, send me free bras yo) I just really really am in love with having a bra that fits and supports me and is cheap enough that I can buy several (cheap is relative… they are cheap for bras, which is not exactly what I would call ‘cheap’).

Anyway, that’s the story with my bras! 😛 Little bonus content for ya.

Back to the dress! Here is the obligatory kimono-sleeve lifting-arms test:

That’s as high as I can go before it starts to strain. Not bad for a kimono sleeve. These have the same adjustment as my last version – I really do not recommend sewing them as-is, it’s such a weird shape and I just don’t think it would look good or work for anyone.

And the back-room test:

I also had a go at trying the pose from the cover:

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Didn’t get it quite right because I was going from memory, but I had fun trying!

So that’s it! Another lovely dress and I’m sorry I said mean things about my last one, I love it now. I’m thinking about making just the bodice into a shirt, but then I think I’m done for a while because it’s a pretty distinctive dress and I’m not sure I need more than two in my wardrobe… or DO I?

 

 

 

Anna, thy charms my bosom flatten

How’s that for a more interesting title? Thanks, Robbie Burns.

Here is my second version of the By Hand London Anna dress.

My photoshoot yielded some blown out results and then I got lazy and used a preset to adjust them. They look overprocessed now, so I apologise. The colours are pretty accurate, though.

The fabric is rayon from DK fabrics – it was labelled ‘lycocell’ but that’s rayon, pretty much. I bought it at the same time as I got the black rayon I used for my first Anna. This one feels thicker and denser – once I washed it on warm (to avoid distressing shrinkage later) it thickened up even more and now it hefts almost like a heavy silk. As you can see it’s pretty wrinkly too but as I’ve said time and again, that’s natural fabrics for you! It’s less obvious irl and I don’t mind it. This is straight off the line, no ironing, mind you. I took it out of the washer as soon as it was done and the wrinkles just fell out, so that’s a plus! But a few hours of wearing it means it wrinkled again. That’s life.

I cut the same size as last time – size 18 bodice, no adjustments. I was going on auto though and cut the skirt out at a 20 without thinking. That proved providential, in the end ~~foreshadowing~~. When I first sewed it up I did NOT get a good fit – I had a boob squish situation:

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It’s hard to take a photo of it, but trust me it was VERY obvious in 3D. You can kind of see in the above photo that my boob is kind of square. It was like someone had wrapped a rubber band around my bust. This is how I felt about it:

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Not good. Not good. The back was also too tight. Like, sausage casing tight. I spent a while mucking around and unpicking seams and resewing them. I tried sewing the side seams at 5cm instead of 1.5. That reduced but didn’t fix the issue. So I took out the zip and sewed that with a smaller seam. But then I sewed it in so one side was back to front, and had a mini hissy fit when I realised. I put it to one side, making a mini WIP pile with my B6055 and refused to sew anything for a week or so, because sewing is stupid.

After photographing and blogging B6055, I started to feel better about it – and thank you everyone for you nice comments about it! It helped a lot. I think high expectations were the cause of a lot of my disappointment, although I still shake my head at the hem and zip. But I no longer felt like sewing was stupid and awful, so I picked up Anna again. I re-set the zip and tried it on and my boobs were still squished. So going off of what I’d seen in the difference between the bodice shaped in B6055 and Anna, I decided to insert a 2″ panel in the side seam. With seam allowances this meant I added approximately 1.5″. This solved the problem entirely, although I did end up taking a dart out of the top because it was making the sleeves gape at the underarm.

Can you see the panel? It’s just visible.

I then took the front pleats in a bit because it was a bit roomy there. I had originally sewn them a bit smaller so I probably just put them back to as-drafted. I could maybe have taken the back darts a bit smaller, too, I am getting a bit of gaping there, but I do also use that room when moving in other ways, so that’s fine. My black version sometimes feels a bit tight across the mid-back when I’m sitting at my desk, and I didn’t want to replicate that.

I sewed one of the pleats a bit too high up but I’m not going back to fix it.

I also took a wedge out of the back neck, as that gapes on my black version and I find it really annoying.

My black version does have the boob squish issue but not as drastically – I suspect this fabric has less give and so there was no wriggle room at all.

I cut the skirt at the ‘midi’ line. But it looked like it was going to be really short, to me, so I cut it with 2″ extra length, figuring I could always cut it off later. Turns out it was basically the perfect length, I just turned up a 1cm hem. If I made this length again I think I would cut it 3″ longer and do a 1″ hem.

I had originally sewn the skirt together with 1.5cm french seams. Then when I realised the skirt was a size bigger than the bodice I just sewed them so the seam allowance was 2cm, but I only went a little way down, figuring I’d finish them off once the bodice was fitted. This was convenient, as I simply unpicked that, left the seams at 1.5cm, and it fit the bodice nicely! I compared the sizes and I still think the 18, adjusted, is better for me than the 20, because of the shape of where I need the extra room.

I am not sure the waist is sitting in totally the right place – I feel like it emphasises my stomach a bit. But then perhaps that’s just because I have a stomach! Whatever, I’m not going to make a big deal out of it. There is a bit of folding happening there, though, perhaps I could shorten it a half centimetre or so next time. I almost certainly can’t be bothered, however!

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Zip is from Lincraft because Spotlight didn’t have anything approaching the right colour and anyway, I think Lincraft’s haberdashery range is better in variety and quality. Don’t ask them for help though, I have asked about tailor’s hams and tracing wheels and no one there knew what I was talking about. I had to explain what carbon paper was before I could explain a tracing wheel, and I’m pretty sure the young woman serving me still didn’t know what I was talking about. Madness – but I shouldn’t trash talk them because I then sent them a mildly cranky email about it (my NY resolution a few years ago was that if I cared enough to complain about something to other people, I should let the business know as well) and got a very quick, very polite email thanking me and saying they’d do some more stock-knowledge training.

ANYWAY. The inside started out being mostly French seams but ended up with a fair bit of serging as I lost patience, and had to sew smaller seams. The waist is sewn and then serged to finish (plus a few zigzags where I ripped it whiel unpicking too aggressively. Ooops! Well within the seam allowance though so I’m not worried). The neck, arms and hem are all serged and turned over. The facing is SO annoying in my last version, and I just couldn’t be bothered. So far I think the neck finish looks just as good as the facing does, but we’ll see how I lasts – I suspect it will pucker over time.

I am really really pleased with how the zip went in the final time. The waist seam matched beautifully.

I am very glad to have this in my wardrobe! I pretty much only wear me-mades now, and since I’m not a fast sewer that means my wardrobe rotation is pretty limited. I am finding I need another dress I can wear when there’s a heatwave – the last few weeks have had temps up to 40C. This fits the bill perfectly! And I also needed one for when the weather is maybe 30C or so – and my blue linen works perfectly for that – the underlining makes it a bit too warm for heatwave wear. I showed this to S and he said ‘you’re so clever! You just whipped up two whole dresses this [long] weekend!’ I very politely did NOT laugh in his face, I just bathed in the praise instead! 😛

I have another dress cut out to sew and I am hesitating starting it because I feel like the sewing Gods have kind of turned their faces from me… tell me, how do you all get over the hump when you feel like everything you touch turns to ashes? Quick cleanser project? Just persevere? Turn to knitting? Let me know!

Christmas dress 2015

How does one go about becoming one of those people who think of interesting blog titles?

Well, anyhow. Titles aside, here is my Christmas dress for 2015!

The pattern is Simplicity 1459, one of their vintage reprint offerings. I bought this pattern with the intention of making it into last year’s Christmas dress, which obviously didn’t happen, and I bought this fabric at the same time. The skirt is one of Spotlight’s Christmas line, and the bodice is just broadcloth from Spotters.

I sewed a straight size 18, with a 1.5″ FBA. I chose this because I looked at the pattern and saw that there is a whopping amount of ease, something like 3 or 4 inches, so I went with 18 which most closely matches my upper bust measurement. However, I suspect a bunch of my adjustments basically retro-fitted it to be mostly a size 20 or so. When I make this again (which I fully intend to, because I’m a bit in love with it) I’ll be comparing my adjusted pattern with the size 20 and maybe doing a mashup of the two.

I did make up a quick muslin of the bodice and sleeve – the pattern has a very nice 3/4 sleeve with darts at the elbow, which makes it fit very nicely, although I found I did have to add a considerable amount to the sleeve to get it to fit. Otherwise the bodice with the FBA fit pretty well as-is. My current practice is to make a bodice muslin and then safety pin an existing skirt onto it, because I find the weight of the skirt really changes the fit.

I found, again, that the broadcloth had much less give than the muslin. I ended up sewing the side seams quite narrow to account for this, which is another thing that makes me say I could do with going a size up. In particular, I needed an extra centimetre or so for the back. I also ended up tapering the bodice overlap a bit, so that it had more ease at the stomach. This IS a Christmas dress, after all! You can see the tapering in this internal shot.

This does make the bodice sit a bit odd, and isn’t ideal, but it’s fine. It does mean I probably added back in the intended ease. And I must, say, I like the way it fits. I might be with Gina on starting to prefer a slightly looser dress. It feels comfy and as long as it is fitted to shape, I think it’s more of the look I’m going for – less prone to riding up and shifting around during the day. I also don’t know if you can see but I sewed the vertical dart in a teardrop shape rather than a straight angle, to get the bodice to fit how I wanted. This was all on the fly adjustments. I really should have thought about it more and split the darts into two darts each, for a total of eight darts on the bodice. They are all quite large and it’s ok but inevitably leads to some wrinkles and bumps, and did make them harder to sew and to avoid the bubble at the end.

Crinoline peeking out

I top stitched the overlap down because it’s a faux opening anyways. I was planning the side zipper as the pattern instructs but I ended up skipping it. It is fine to pull on although I must say it’s a slight struggle to pull off and I think when I make a non-novelty version I will add the zipper. But given that it’s a dress I’ll only be wearing occasionally, I really didn’t think it was worth fighting with the reduced seam allowances to insert something. It probably would have been a mess.

I had intended putting in sleeves but ended up being so in love with the collar that I left them off, to emphasise the collar’s hugeness. I feel most comfortable in sleeves but actually what that turns out to mean is ‘with covered shoulders’. Since the collar is SO huge that it covers my shoulders… well then that’s fine! It does make it mildly impractical, I don’t know if you can see that one side of the collar is creased from carrying my handbag on top of it, from when I wore it to the work Christmas party.

I used quite a stiff interfacing for the collar, which made it more dramatic. I am very into that but it would be easy to tone down slightly with a less extreme interfacing. The only heavy one I could find was sew in, so I sewed it in, which was fiddly but fine. It does ride up as I move but that’s fine with me, although looking at it perhaps it would benefit from a slight slash and spread along the back? I suppose because of my poor posture in that area making a strange shape for it to drape over.

Another time I would line it rather than do the facings. I have just now noticed you can slightly see my bra, and you can see the front facings which bugs the heck out of me. I also found the facings incredibly fiddly, and I had to hand sew them down all around the arms or they’d pop out when I put the dress on. A full lining would have been about one million times easier, especially on a sleeveless version.

I sewed the shoulder seams 1cm smaller, because my muslin was pulling there but I hadn’t really noticed until after I cut the bodice out. To compensate I just traced the largest collar size, which was fudging things a but but worked out fine. I should have planned better, however, and raised the neck accordingly. It’s not scandalous but it’s a bit lower than I would be comfortable with for a regular day dress. My notes say I thought I should also have raised the waist by 1cm but I’m not sure I think that now.

Here are some photos of it without the petticoat under it.

I LOVE how it looks with the petticoat, and am wondering how weird it would be to wear a petticoat to work. I did also include the tulle underskirt and the lining.

I just overlocked the waist seam and it was pretty scratchy on the first wearing but appears to be fine now. Here’s an overview of the whole innards.

I also could have thought it through and cut the skirt straight, instead of as an A-line, but actually I don’t mind how it looks even though it makes the kookaburra’s slightly wonky. I love the shape of the skirt.

The buttons are, of course, from The Button Bar. I was going to make a belt to go with it but the vintage belt buckle I had is more maroon, and then I remembered I do own a red belt that I almost never wear. I do think it benefits from a belt, and when I make a regular one I might consider putting in belt loops.

I am definitely planning a non-novelty one, I just have to decide, sleeves or no sleeves? Tanya Maille has made a couple of lovely versions of this pattern. I should note that this one is a fabric hog. Often I find I can get away with considerably less than the pattern calls for, by cutting carefully. But the collar takes up a whole width of fabric, and you have to cut two, and they’re an odd shape. So that alone takes up almost a metre! Plus there are four wide skirt panels. If you’re making this, with the skirt as is, definitely buy as much fabric as the pattern tells you.

I am happy that I got to make this as a novelty dress – I find that I never find all the fit issues until I’ve worn an item for a whole day. I wore this to my last day of work for the year, for our work Christmas party. I got a bunch of compliments, and a lot of ‘didn’t you wear that last year?’ so I guess now I’m the person who wears novelty Christmas dresses. I’m cool with that. It was too hot to wear it with the petticoat but, being sleeveless, I found it ok to wear even on that day, which was 42! Obviously I was in air conditioned buildings most of the day, however.

I’ll be wearing it tomorrow to our family do, which is on Boxing Day, with the petticoat.

Here’s me attempting a twirl

And feeling dizzy

Merry Christmas, to those of you who celebrate it. And happy holidays and general good wished for peace and joy in your lives for those who don’t, or who can’t bear to. Here’s hoping that 2016 is a wonderful year!

Christmas skirt

No, this is not me being early – this is last year’s skirt! I was going through a period of not blogging when I made this, and this skirt isn’t very exciting so it never made it up here. But I just made a similar skirt and I wanted to reference this, so here it is!

I found this rad Christmas cockatoo fabric at spotlight last year, and decided I had to have it. I have now bought several more Australian-animal Christmas fabrics, that may or may not make it into garments. I feel fine about having these in the stash – any time I see an Aussie-centric Christmas thing I buy it, pretty much on principle. I was initially going to make a shirtdress out of this other fabric I bought, featuring kookaburras. I was planning to use Simplicity 1459.

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Kookaburras and contrast fabric. I haven’t decided which bits of the dress should be which.

However, it will definitely need an FBA and maybe other adjustments and I didn’t leave myself enough time to muslin it, and then I realised I wanted to wear it to my work Christmas party which was in early December, leaving me even less time. So I decided to fall back on my backup, and just make a simple skirt.

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Close up cockies. The text says ‘Merry Christmas’

I used the waistband of an Ottobre skirt which I have made a million times, although it looks like only three have made it to the blog. It was the first Ottobre pattern I made, I think I traced it from Sue M’s magazine although I think I’ve since bought the edition – it’s  5/2007. I know it fits me, although I have historically had to make various adjustments depending on the fabric, because the waistband will sit differently. Also I think my waistband has been getting bigger over time, because when I traced it I added seam allowances, but I usually just sew it on the overlocker which means I don’t need as much. Anyway, long story short, it’s a curved yoke which I find much easier to tweak to fit my actual body, rather than a straight one.

An attempt at a twirl. These photos turned out darker than I realised, sorry.

I wanted a gathered skirt, with a decent amount of flounce and from memory I had limited fabric – I can’t remember exactly how much, maybe 2 metres? I ended up just cutting the fabric in half, lengthways. Then I sewed it together, and gathered it to fit the waistband, and sewed it on. Tada! I put in a side zip rather than a back one because I didn’t want to have to think about where to split the fabric, and I had uneven panels because I’d cut the waistband out of one of them so it was shorter. I didn’t think about it and ended up with the zip on the left side (the front and back yokes are different), which is annoying and means I have to zip the skirt up with the zip facing the front, and then scooch it around to sit right. I also didn’t bother to think about adding pockets.

What is this pose? Who knows.

To mazimise length and cut down on sewing time (I was now down to the day before the party) I just serged the hem and turned it up and sewed it. I did line the yoke with a facing, just using some random lining fabric from my stash, adn then top stitching that down along the yoke/skirt seam.

Innards

I can’t remember if there were any fitting issues with this one, it’s too long ago now. I do know the back dips – it’s a bit exaggerated here because of my posture but also does happen in real life. I think this is because the yoke sits out from my swayback, so the weight of the skirt can pull it down. I should have shaped the waistband there more, I guess. I think it needs for the bottom curve of the yoke to be smoothed out and less curvy – you can see that bit kind of sits out of line with the rest of the curve.

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Fuzzy work bathroom selfie with the skirt as worn to my work do, with one of my ‘painted roses’ rayon tops.

I wore it to my work do, and also on Christmas day, and it was a hit. I know there were things I was unhappy with when I first sewed it – it’s certainly not the most elegantly constructed skirt. But given I can’t remember what most of the issues are, I’d say it’s a good lesson in focusing on the things that matter and not getting caught up in little imperfections, since my goal is generally ‘wearable’ rather than ‘couture’.

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And as worn to my Christmas lunch with the family.

I’d still like to make the kookaburra dress for this year (I probably should get moving, then) but if I don’t – or even if I do – I’ll happily pull this skirt out over the holiday season. I’d wear it all year if I could.