Tuesday, October 28, 2014

studio faro pocket dress

New dress, with interesting pockets.
While browsing Pinterest, as you do, I came across a line drawing of a very elegant dress on and I immediately knew I wanted to have a go at drafting it for myself.  It is the pocket drape dress designed by Anita, of studio faro.  Subsequently I discovered her absolutely fantastic blog well-suited, where she very generously shares her considerable expertise in understanding how designs actually work.    If you're interested in exploring and understanding pattern making then Anita's blog is totally brilliant; sure to inspire and motivate.
I'd previously measured and made a custom-fit darted sheath dress sloper for myself during my early explorations of Pattern Magic and I used this to draft my pattern, following Anita's guidelines pretty closely.  I made a first test version using an old sheet.  It worked, but well, ahem.  I have to admit I looked less than chic in that thing.  I think my drape was a bit of an epic fail.
However I decided I really did love the pocket, so I went with having the pocket on both sides.  Also I fiddled about with the crossover neckline, put in a few random folds and made it asymmetrical.
The deep side pockets have flap openings that are an extension of the bodice side panels.  They are fully functional pockets, but their positioning with the opening sitting up high at the waist makes them not really conducive to shoving your hands in.  So, not as practical as they are decorative.  Well, I could put a few small things in there that I don't need to get out in a hurry.  The pockets are perfectly useable pockets, but just for things, and not hands.  But still...  a very cool design, and I reckon they look really interesting  :)
The pockets are kinda hard to explain... they are inset into the side of the dress and have an extra piece which is part of but also sitting over the pocket, that extends into a flap hanging loose and free past the bottom of the pocket.  
Working out how to construct the pockets was quite an enjoyable puzzle, and I really enjoyed the process of nutting out a way to put it together neatly!  I don't know if my way is the way Anita intended for it to be made, but it worked out OK for me.  I think  :)
I've written my instructions at the end of this post, mostly for myself, if I ever want to make these pockets up again.  Please be warned that they will probably not make sense to anyone not making up the pockets...
the pocket detail; underneath is a fully functional, 2-layer inset pocket
In the muslining stage I found that the pocket sagged down on the inside, pulling down on the pocket flap; and so decided it would be better to add a lining to the front and back side panels above the pocket, and to "tether" the top edge of the pocket to the side panel lining, by sewing the panel lining lower SA to the upper SA of the pocket bags.  Having a lining added some much needed hidden support and keeps it all holding up and together, nice and stable.
Subsequently I decided to go the whole hog and properly line the whole dress in the same creamy polyacetate.  I used the same pattern for the lining pieces.
inside view; lining of side panel and inset pocket
The fabric is a rich cream, silk dupion, slightly slubby yet still with a subtly glossy sheen, and a decadently crinkly texture.  I bought it at Fabulous Fabrics forever ago and it's been living quietly in my stash, patiently awaiting its turn.  It had gone slightly yellow but I gave it a good wash and it came up lovely and fresh, seemingly as good as new.
So I like my dress.  Well, it's OK.  It was not easy, ahem! and I've decided my self-drafting skills are kinda rubbish.  And even though I thought my muslin looked dreadful I have a sinking suspicion that maybe it was more interesting that way.  I think maybe I could've stuck with the drape, hmmm.   *sigh*
But I do love how the pockets look and I very much love that I have a nice fresh off-white dress to pop on for summer.  So I will wear it very happily.
And now all I want to do is just leap onto some commercial pattern, already drafted up for me, ready to go, easy peasy, no thought required, neat and tidy like.  Yeah.
The Pocket: feel free to skip this bit if you want.
So, you have the pocket detail, the pocket bag, the pocket bag lining and the pocket flap facing.  Also the back side panel, front side panel and their lining pieces, which have the pocket flap facing allowance  removed ...
Sew pocket detail and pocket bag R sides tog at top edge, turn, understitch.
Sew pocket bag lining  to pocket bag, R sides tog at bottom edge.
Sew pocket flap facing to pocket bag lining R sides tog, press pocket flap facing up.
Sew back side panel and front side panel R sides tog at side seam, press open, repeat for panel lining pieces.
Sew lower edge of joined panels to pocket flap facing R sides tog, trim, clip side panel pieces into corners, turn pocket flap out, press.
Align and layer 3 pocket pieces together and baste tog at sides, clip into the SA of pocket detail at junction with pocket bag lower edge.

For the side panel lining; and this is where it gets a little more complicated...
the dress pieces need to be assembled except for the shoulder seams and keeping the lower part of the pocket detail free, and the dress lining assembled likewise, leaving out the pocket lining which is attached to the dress already, meaning there is a "hole" in the dress lining where the pocket lining should be.
 Sew the dress to its lining pieces together at the underarm and neckline seams, understitch the lining as far as possible, turn; then the side panel lining pieces can be sewn to the upper pocket bag seam allowances on the inside, W side to R side.  Clip into the corners, then the SA around the three remaining sides of the dress lining "hole" can then be stitched to the pocket lining seam allowances inside, R side to W side, between the dress and its lining.
The lower pocket detail edges are turned under and invisibly hemmed by hand.

All that might seem a bit convoluted, but trust me, if you are putting together the pocket it does work!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Ginger jeans

Hello!  I've made some new jeans  :)
These are the Ginger jeans designed by Heather of Closet Case Patterns, and named after Sonya of Ginger makes, and I was so happy that Heather asked me to test the pattern.  Thanks so much for asking me, Heather!  I LOVE trying out new patterns!  
The pattern has two views, I have made view A, a mid-rise bootleg design.  View B is a high-rise skinny leg.
I used a stretchy cotton denim from KnitWit in a very deep blue-black wash, and the topstitching is in ivory/cream-coloured Gutermann's upholstery thread.  The jeans zip, the copper coloured snaps for closure, and the copper coloured rivets are all from KnitWit too.
The pattern is a classic five pocket jeans pattern; and I know Heather has worked very hard to perfect a really good starting-point fit.  Although obviously; everyone, everywhere has completely different bodies, meaning fit is a very personal and individual thing that cannot be easily standardised; so it's terrific that Heather has included in the pattern instructions some very helpful suggestions for trouble-shooting the fitting process.  I learnt several new things!  I did make some adjustments to custom-fit mine to myself, taking in the crotch, the side seams at the waist, a pinch-in adjustment of the CB seam for a slight swayback.
Just as a comparison, these are pretty much the same adjustments that I generally make for my old tried-and-true jeans pattern, Burda 7863.   
Also, at the cutting out stage I added 7.5cm (3") to the leg length, just in case.  Lengthening the legs is another always adjustment for me; partly a shrinkage insurance policy, and partly in case I fancy wearing a high heel with my jeans and partly because when I'm crouching down or sitting with my knees crossed I prefer for my ankles to stay covered and warm and out of the wind.    I'm of the school of thought that you can always cut off but you can not add on afterwards!  And I was glad I did add that little bit of length since I think the legs would have been just a smudge short otherwise.  
During my early fitting trials I realised the rise of view A is quite low, so I decided to sew the upper and lower seams of the waistband with skinny 2/8" seam allowance, instead of the standard 5/8".  Meaning my waistband ended up 6/8" or 2cm wider and thus my jeans have a that-much higher rise than intended.  This higher rise feels a tonne more comfortable for me.
I also like my waistbands to be firm and stable and secure, holding everything in ie. not stretchy!  so instead of on grain I cut the waistband on the cross, where the fabric had zero stretch.  My waistband is interfaced, and the waistband lining and pocket bags are cut from a charcoal/white pinstriped fine-grade linen, the leftovers from Tim's business shirt that I made for him last year
Speaking of learning things... I've put in loads of fly fronts in my time, so sometimes I'm tempted to ignore pattern instructions and just potter along blithely in my own merry way.  But when I'm testing a pattern I follow the instructions given.  Because you're testing and later reviewing the pattern and its instructions, duh.  And hey, you might learn new stuff.  I sure did... the Ginger jeans fly front method is, dare I say it? ...foolproof.  Detailed to a fault, meticulously outlined, and it works like an absolute charm!!  I think my new jeans have the best damn fly front I've ever done, ever.  And it went together so easily.
I'm so impressed with those fly front instructions I've printed that bit out and stuck them to the wall behind my sewing machine.  Have I ever done that with a technique before...? Precisely never.  
These instructions are that good.
Thank you so much for another excellent pattern, Heather!

Jeans; Ginger jeans by Closet Case patterns, navy/black stretch cotton denim
Top; Burda magazine 04/2014, 111, creamy bobbly stretch stuff, details here
Sandals; c/o Misano

Thursday, October 16, 2014

a blocky sundress

I screen-printed this random murky-coloured block fabric last year, and have finally got around to making it into something.  At last!  The 5-colour print is my own  design; and in fact the dress is my own design too  :)   
Originally I had cut the ivory cotton into vaguely sheath-dress-shaped pieces to help me size and place the print.  
Inevitable then, that I would go off the idea of a sheath dress ... and eventually I dreamed up, well; this!  It's a blocky sort of a print, and a blocky sort of a dress in design too, with all straight lines and edges throughout and not a single curve to be found!  The style lines have been marinating in my head for a few months now and so I'm happy it now has corporeal form.
Maybe I should make a pattern for this.  Be a designer.
Bwahaha, kidding! 
The side panels are two piece, with the lower one overlapping the upper one so as to create a simple pocket that extends into the side seams.  The design is fairly unstructured and unfitted, boxy enough that I can just pull it over my head without the need for closure.  Then to give it some shape I made two little arrowhead tabs that can button at the sides to pull in the boxiness and create a bit of shape at the waist.   The domed textured buttons were inherited from my grandmother's stash.
I think it will make quite a good casual knockabout dress.  The fabric is not soft, but quite stiff and thick and crisp and densely woven, so I think it suits this loose but structured boxy style quite well.  In retrospect I think I was quite ambitious with my print.  But y'know? I'm glad I did have a good go at something a bit tricky, and I like it despite the problems and imperfections.  Now I'm thinking I really should get out my screen printing stuff again.  Give it another go!
o hai there, watcha doing?
Dress; my own design, screen-printed by me as described here, on ivory cotton, stiff, thick, crisp

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Mum. A blog hop. And a thank you.

First things first; I thought I'd open on a note both lovely and interesting, my mother wearing a creation made by her.  Mum knitted her top, the Jo Sharp sideways ribbed top using Jo Sharp Soho Summer DK Cotton in col. Pennant.  The whole top is knitted, or actually I should say ribbed? in one piece.  You cast on one sleeve end, rib the whole thing sideways all the way along to the end of the opposite sleeve.  An interesting and effective design idea!  Thank you so much Mum, for letting me share your gorgeous creation here.

Next; I have been invited by Yoshimi and Sara to join in the blog-writing blog hop.  Thank you very much to Yoshimi and Sara!

1. Why do you write?
I have no idea! since I'm not very good at it.  I got middling marks for writing at school.  In spite of that I still enjoy writing, just quietly and for myself.  I even wrote a novel once.  Don't worry, the world will never ever be subjected to that particular load of nonsense!  It was a detective/murder mystery.  A pretty bad one.
I started keeping a blog to document all my handmade things, when I realised at one point that I had sewn/knitted/whatever, tonnes of things that had been made, loved, worn with pride until they wore out and then got tossed, things that lived in my memory alone, never photographed.  I felt a bit sad about that.  I must have talked about it with my sister-in-law because she mentioned that she planned to give me a photo album for a birthday present, in which I could keep a visual record of my handmade things with a short description.  She was searching for a suitable one, and in the meantime I commenced taking photos of the handmade things I still had.  I can't remember what happened next, I think she couldn't find a good album, then I discovered a few daily outfit fashion blogs which I really enjoyed and decided to start something similar about my sewing and how it related to my personal style.  It was just a quiet and playful thing for me, like a diary, and for ages I barely knew any other sewing blogs existed!  I wrote about many silly trivial things that amused me at the time.  Discovering and joining Wardrobe Refashion was a huge turning point.  I signed up for three months, then six months, then For Life.  That big BIG pledge to never buy ready to wear clothes, ever again.  Hehe, I made that pledge so carefree-ly and lightly and it's taken me a few years to realise how huge it was!  Obviously I then became a lot more serious and intentional in my sewing.
Lately my writing mojo has dropped off a bit.  My sewing mojo and knitting mojo is going as strong as ever but I am struggling to write posts.  It's silly, because I can write quite freely and easily if I know no one is going to read it.  Sometimes I ask my husband and he says to just not write anything if I don't want, and just have the pictures.  I've got to admit, it's tempting.
2. How is your blog different to others of the same genre
I think my blog is quite plain and ordinary, and I am perfectly comfortable with its plainness.  It has nothing that makes it stand out at all.  However maybe it is also unique, in the same sense that everyone's blog is a unique expression of their own particular self?  Stating the obvious, there. 
I don't know.  I do my own thing and don't really follow the pack.  
Ok, I thought of something!  Parentheses are almost non-existent in my blog.  Because excessive and unnecessary use of parentheses is a secret pet hate.
O I know.  Lame.
3. What are you working on right now
Usually I am pretty disciplined about only working on one thing at a time, in an organised manner, finishing and dutifully cleaning up before allowing myself to start on the next thing.  Currently I happen to be working on two things, but one is knitting, one is sewing so that's kind of OK in my mind.  I pick up the knitting and churn out a couple rows in spare moments, whereas the sewing project is a bit more intensive and requires Proper Undivided Attention, ahem.
OK, so.  The knitting project, that is very different and interesting, in my opinion, a patchwork design that I happened upon while knitting the boys' Icelandic jumpers, fell in love, and I just had to get some wool and start on it.  Even though summer is just around the corner.  Hehe.  Totally illogical!
In sewing, well I have recently finished a sundress to be photographed and blogged about very very soon, and am now partway through drafting and muslining a rather challenging and very interesting dress.   When/if I finish it, then I Shall Reveal.  *said with maximum drama*  Of course it may well be so disastrous that I decide to not waste real fabric on it... in which case I will move onto any one of the next few things on my mental list, a pretty summer blouse, this year's bathers, a big pfouffy skirt, or an Issey Miyake ensemble.
4. What is your writing process
Oh dear.   Writing process?  I just sit down and start, usually very awkwardly in some clumsy clunky opening sentence that later gets deleted in self-disgust.  I write a bit more, then a bit more, then loosen up and manage to be slightly less clunky, freely associate, get on a bit of a writing roll.  Writing a tonne of silly nonsense that all gets deleted later.  Actually, upon reflection, I will usually delete and/or re-write maybe 80% of what I have written before hitting "publish".
I proofread for spelling and grammar like a maniac and often will obsessively go back to correct things like a typo, an errant comma or an extra space; after publishing.  
Primarily, I really try to be factual, informative and fair, and for my blog to be something that I would like to read.

Now I am passing the blog hop baton onto Sue, of fadanista, and to Megan of create with wild abandon, two other sewing bloggers also from Perth.  I'm looking forward to reading their answers to the same questions!

Oh, one more thing!  I just want to say, a big Thank You So Much to whoever nominated me for Burda's 50 best blogs list, and also to everyone who voted for me.  
Thank you thank you so very much!  I was totally thrilled to be notified that my blog is on the list.  I'm so happy that people like it, and am so very honoured to have received your votes of confidence!  :)

Friday, October 10, 2014

the children's choice

So recently I had a birthday, and my children gave me a perfectly lovely surprise!  fabric of their choice, for a particular pattern also of their choice.  
It's like Sew Bossy all over again!! haha, I jest, of course in all seriousness I'm absolutely thrilled that they thoughtfully gave me something that they know that I really love ie. a sewing project, and also for me, this is a very interesting insight into their vision of me, the kind of thing that they "see" me wearing.
Well, specifically, I suspect Cassie did all the choosing and so this is therefore her vision of, and for, me.  She snuck quietly into the laundry and chose this pattern from my stash, Vogue 1281, and then zipped off and secretly bought the fabric from Fabulous Fabrics.  
An interesting concept  no?   *adopts deep thinking stance*  If others choose your clothing for you without your input,  then does the result say more about you and your style, or about the chooser and their taste?  or maybe it says something about the relationship you have with them?  Food for thought, hmmm... 
The previous, first time I made up this pattern I used old Tshirts and banged it together a bit,  then pretty much tucked the pattern back into the stash; a mental "been there, done that!" ticked off in my head.  For this new version the fabric was a obviously just a wee bit more precious to me, and I took my time, carefully and lovingly getting everything just as right as I could  :)
Some thoughts and technical bizzo:
My original flippant assessment was that this is a very unusual pattern.  Revisiting the pattern has only reinforced this assessment.  This really is a unique design in amongst my very extensive collection of unique patterns.
Firstly; I sized down.  This pattern is LOOSE!
The structure of the dress is all reliant upon the "lining", which is essentially a thing that we call here a "boob tube".  Or if you prefer, a bandeau bikini top.  Basically the whole dress hangs upon that!  The first time I made it, I made it quite differently, NOT going with the separate boob tube but instead joining the dress and lining together totally at the top.   I don't think one way is superior to the other.  Just observing that this dress is constructed as intended, with the boob tube lining kept quite separate.
In my opinion, if you are making it as intended then it is essential that the boob tube lining fits as perfectly as possible, and it is easier to do this if it is made separately.  
My fabrics are all stretchy, so I didn't put a zip in the back but just stitched up that centre back seam.  IF doing this, my recommendation is that the strap be attached to the dress and not to the boob tube lining at all.  I then secured the top of the dress to the boob tube by discreet hand stitching at a few key points; centre back seam, the general underarm area, and underneath the straps at the front.
A fitting tip, with my bodice fabric being quite stretchy, I still had to take in quite a lot of excess width from the bodice.  I did this fitting adjustment all through the centre back seam and modified the placement of the right strap accordingly.

Dress; Vogue 1281, rayon/poly and bamboo/poly stretch jersey knit.  Thin, liquidy, flowy  cool.  The beige is very fine, soft and matte, the print is a bit thicker and springy.
Sandals; Zomp, from Zomp boutique

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

raspberry Alabama Chanin tank dress

I've finished a handmade dress.  It's dyed, printed and stitched together entirely by me.  
This is a fitted tank dress, the pattern is from the book Alabama Studio Sewing + Design, by Natalie Chanin.  I dyed shocking pink linen jersey knit to fortuitously achieve this rather nice, motley, deep raspberry pink, which I loveand the print is the Abbie's Flower design from the same book, enlarged by hand and screen-printed in deep burgundy textile paint, all described here.
So.  I should be pleased with it, but actually I'm teetering on not I'm pleased it's finished, let's put it that way!  
Actually I'm borderline depressed with it.  See, I did have grand plans for further handwork and embroidery.  Those plans came to nought.  
I trialled several different embroidery and even beading ideas but everything I tried just looked awfully heavy-handed   The size of my print is quite petite, and it's also detailed and well defined and more than a bit busy, and so doesn't really lend itself well to the embellished Alabama Chanin look, I think.  Eventually, frustrated, I ceased diddling about, picked everything off, and just sewed it together.  
So I was pretty over it even before the poor thing got sewn together.  Probably why I shoved it into the cupboard and all but forgot about it until my recent wardrobe spring clean.  Hey, new dress! Guess I should wear this thing, hmmm.
The seams are all stitched and felled by hand, and the simple armhole and neckline binding applied with herringbone stitch by hand.

Also, I'm undecided that the tank dress silhouette is very flattering to me.  It's a funny thing really because I totally adore my long AC skirt and matching tank top worn together, a combination which one might argue could pass at a short distance for a tank dress just exactly like this.  Somehow having the break between top and skirt is a huge improvement to my eye.  As a dress, with a continuous unbroken fall of fabric from shoulder to hem; I dunno, I just don't like it as much.  It's irrational and I can't explain it.
This is why I'm probably always going to wear it with a little cardigan, as above.
It's not out of the question that I'll refashion this into a separate skirt and top one day.  In the meantime I don't mind it worn over my Metalicus petticoat like this.  I'll see how it goes for a while.
Maybe it'll grow on me.

Dress; fitted tank dress from the book Alabama Studio Sewing + Design by Natalie Chanin, in linen jersey, hand- dyed, printed and stitched by me
Petticoat; Metalicus
Cardigan; Country Road
Thongs; Havaianas

Monday, September 29, 2014

a "Norwegian" jacket

I've made up my Norwegian souvenir fabric.
Pining for the fjords? me? well, maybe just a little  ;)
I bought this divinely thick, strong, and sturdy cotton drill in Oslo during our Scandinavian holiday, with dreams of  making a boxy, nautically flavoured little hoodie.
And done, and dusted.   :)
I used pattern 108 from Burdastyle magazine 10/2009.  In the magazine it's made in felted wool, is lined, and has a fur-edged hood.  I fancied it made up as a lighter, warm weather thing, and knew it would work out perfectly ok in that role too.  Mine is unlined and I finished all the raw edges off using my overlocker so it all looks nice and neat inside.  The fabric is beautiful quality, actually quite thick and wind-resistant; so even sans lining it's turned out to be a rather cosy little jacket.  Brisk spring breezes? ha!  I laugh in your general direction!
The pocket, pocket flap edges and the interesting shape of the yoke pieces are all highlighted with navy blue piping, for which I used readymade bias binding.  I've had this in my stash for decades, no kidding, and thought, yay! I'm finally going to use this up!  Obviously, I then did not have quite enough, which meant I had to buy a bit more.  Which meant now I still have some in my stash.  Doh!  It's a conspiracy!!!
I ummed and aahed about the front and pocket closure... first thinking I would put in big white chunky zip, rejected that; then thinking metal dog-bite clips, but the ones I found weighed quite a lot and would've dragged the jacket down.  I wanted something a bit different, but it still had to be lightweight.  The magazine version called for toggles, since it was supposed to be a wintery thing, and finally I thought a summery version of a toggle would be a fun thing to have.  
I made mine using cotton twill tape and cotton rope.   My Dad made the lovely wooden buttons, aren't they beautiful?  Many years ago I asked if he could make me one for my little brown cardigan, and he generously made several so I would have a selection from which to choose.  And I'm thrilled I had enough to finish this little jacket.  Thanks Dad!
I had bought enough of the cotton rope to put in the hood as a drawstring, so I sewed miniature teeny buttonholes in the hood front and inserted the rope in the self-facing casing.  The hood seams are flat-felled.

Doesn’t scream Norway?  Well, I can hear it quietly whispering Norway, in my shell-like ear at least  :) 
I put a lot of time into getting that piping and those toggles positioned just exactly right and I'm very pleased with how it turned out.  I particularly love having Dad's wooden buttons on it!

Jacket; Burda style magazine 10/2009, 108, cotton drill from Norway
Dress; Burda 8071, made from an old polo Tshirt, details here
also white/navy blue Tshirt underneath, details here