Thursday, 6 December 2018

Victory Frances top and dress

I was in love with this pattern when it came out!  I didn't have any inspiring fabric until now and my main focus was on the dress though I do love my knit tops.

In order to prepare, I made two tops - the long one and the cropped version, mainly to check sizing.

My long top was for a friend so I left it long, I did the low back option with the tie. I used a size 2 though my measurements were between 2 and 4.  My friend is a little smaller.

I think it's impossible to turn a closed ended tie right side out so I cut the end off and left it open.
Instructions otherwise just fine - I found the bindings too loose, but once the top was on they laid flat.  Also the top seemed HUGE!  But it's because of the very low back which is kind of floppy when it's just sitting there.  I really liked having 1/4" SA, it's nice not having too long edges to cut off, though now I have my own overlocker everything goes faster.

The second top is upcycled from a dress. It's short all right and that's without hemming, because I cut the back on the original hem of the skirt to avoid hemming it, so it's about an inch longer than the cropped version should be.  I'm happy with the size 2, and I prefer the low back, which does not show bra straps but is still nice and low.

For the dress I stuck with the size 2, the lowest back, and open ended ties. I made a swayback adjustment for the dress, cutting out a wedge to 1" at centre back.  It felt really weird to be doing this!  I kept comparing my pattern pieces to an old Skater Dress I still have to make sure I wasn't doing anything too odd.

I didn't use the pockets.  In a knit skater dress I think the chance that they pull the fabric down is too high.  I just drew a straight line that cut them away.  I also shortened the neckline binding by 4 cm, and I shortened the skirt by 6", 4 at the lines and 2 at the bottom. This left me with a huge stepoff in the middle of the skirt.

I guess the solution is to ignore the end width and stick with the shortened width because otherwise I'd have to widen the entire skirt from the top and that would change the entire skirt, or angle very steeply which would create an oddly triangular skirt.

My flowered fabric is an organic rayon blend and is very drapey and stretchy and cozy.  I got it from Modesa in Bern -  saw this dress in it right away. I put off sewing this once it was cut out because I was so so hopeful and I think I worried my final product wouldn't meet my expectations.  But finally I did it!  And it's great! It is the tiniest bit transparent at the bust but not so you'd notice. The design of this skirt has a little more volume than the Skater Dress pattern and so it hangs in gentle folds.  If I wear this a lot I would definitely add some clear elastic to the waist to keep it from stretching too much.

Shows that making tester versions really makes a difference. (ahem Metamorphic Dress.)  Weirdly, the sides of the skirt were longer than the centre, but the back wasn't shorter despite my swayback adjustment. I just laid it flat and redrew the curve.  I decided not to finish the hem or the sleeves because the rayon is so light and the sewing machine is so crappy, it's just not going to do anything good.  (Again if I haven't said it before: cheap modern Singer sewing machines are NEVER a good idea.  Though I supposed any sewing machine is better than none...)

Friday, 23 November 2018

Anna Allen Persephone Pants in Hermes Velvet

So apparently I don't learn from my errors.  Or possibly I just think that following pattern instructions and fabric weight optional.  Because version 1 of these amazing pants was made from a lightweight linen-silk blend that suffered from just not being heavyweight enough.

Thus for take 2, I naturally pulled this fantastic Hermes cotton velvet out of my stash. It's a one meter long and rather wide piece that I bought in Copenhagen and it is just so beautiful that I want to make everything out of it.  Naturally's not heavyweight.  It um has great drape.

For this version I made size 4 again.  I removed the pockets.  They sit right on my hip bones and I can't get anything into them easily.  When something is in them, it hurts my hipbones.  So - no pockets.

Then by comparing closely to the first version, I removed 1 inch from the upper part of the waist.  I did this because I saw that the entire butt and crotch area fit me well, but I had excess fabric bunching at the waistband - the upper part of the rise was too long.  So I couldn't use the lengthen/shorten lines, since they are in the crotch and I didn't want to change that part of the fit.

I made parallel lines up high and used those.  I would lengthen the dart just a little next time as my modification led to a really short, fat dart.  I had to shorten all elements of the fly as well, and then make my own button placement.

I sewed these in one day.  It was amazing.  Except for the buttonholes.  I had small vintage buttons from etsy and no hammer, so I didn't test the buttons ahead of time.  And it ends up the crappy Singer I'm borrowing WILL make buttonholes but it does not align them correctly.  I had to do about 25 practice buttons before I could correct for the weird alignment.  That was when I realised that these buttons are some kind of vintage that look like they have to be soldered together. Etsy fail.  And since I had made 4 13mm buttonholes I was stuck with an irregular size.  I ordered So Many online buttons and nothing fit.  After a MONTH, I finally gave up and bought normal buttons at JoAnns.

And then once I finished the pants...the buttonholer Would Not make the buttonhole for the main button because of the many layers of fabric now present.  It's really frustrating to finish a pair of pants and feel like you are Just About to wear them but are stymied by a few small steps.  I seriously considered hand sewing the main buttonhole, but then I read a bunch of posts on how to hand sew buttonholes and decided I couldn't learn that before my frustration overflowed. So in preparation for a 3-day Thanksgiving sewing binge, I took these plus some big puppy eyes to someone I knew, who after much begging, grumpily sewed me one buttonhole on a Bernina.  I was never that excited by Berninas before but now I wish I had one.  It used a buttonhole foot rather than the long buttonhole thing, and because of this you have great control over the entire hole.

And my Persephone pants are done! And they are amazing!  And it looks like I need to size down for my next pair!  Which I will make in the correct weight of fabric, I promise! 

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Straight Stitch Designs Laurelhurst cardi review

This pattern company is new to me. I have taken note of their patterns in the past but never been inspired at all.  However I'm cold at work and thought this might fulfill certain dreams of long and warm cardigans.  Here is the pattern.

It took awhile to get my pattern due to some trouble with the post. In the meantime I'd chosen my fabric - it's Oeko-Tex cotton from Switzerland - and I already decided that I'd give my first attempt to a friend - I thought she'd like the bright colours better than I would.  I made the size 2. The side pieces are big and so I had to shorten the pattern by 2 inches to make it fit on 1.5 meters of fabric.

It also had construction a bit more complex than I had anticipated.  Not difficult at all but I followed the directions closely.  I didn't have any issues folding over the neck or attaching it.  However, I did realise right away that I do not like this pattern.  It would be a little better in a fabric where the inside isn't white because the inside will be visible when the cardi is worn. 

Overall I feel like I'm wearing a badly cut random piece of fabric, rather than an actual sewn item of clothing.  I mean, it would be fine if it were an attempt at a waste-free cardi...but it's not.  Also, you cut into the front, creating a kind of open triangle, and then attach it to the back.  Because of the orientation of the cut's apex, you end up with the weakest part of that triangle at the shoulder, right where in general I would prefer a strong and trustworthy seam.

Reading through the Straight Stitch Designs philosophy I got that these patterns are for busy people who want creative looking clothes in a hurry.  I think that's not my style.  I need some finishing touches.

Fit wise - good.  Also because of the interesting cut and the L shape it creates, the front has an waterfall drape.  Again - I would prefer to achieve this effect with pleats at the shoulder, as in the Lisboa top.

This one was not for me, though the fit was fine.  I'm hoping my friend will like it but I won't make this pattern again.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Sew Liberated Metamorphic dress review

I found this pattern recently though it's been out for awhile. I think when it came out I just wasn't interested, but recently I've been All About layering my clothes.  Seems like I accidentally happened upon a trend...

So in my head I made up about 12 different versions.
In reality I got this fantastic flowered poplin from Drygood Design in Seattle. I had eyed it up in person and now was really pleased to have an excuse to buy it.  I got the last 2 meters.  I paired it with black silk noil.

And this time...I didn't make a practice version, or even a quick muslin.  Oh nope I did not.  I cut a size 4, and I shortened the bodice by 1 inch based on my recent success shortening everything.  And despite the pattern pieces lying on my floor for two hours, I had the outer skirt with the wrong edge against the fold of the fabric and I didn't notice my error.  The shape of the skirt makes this tempting to do, for some reason.

And here, I have a complaint.  Yes, every Indie pattern company is unique and special.  But that does NOT mean each company needs to reinvent the wheel.  Standard drafting marks on patterns mean that it's easy to switch from one pattern to another without confusion.  This pattern didn't use standard marks but used about fifty words to tell you to put one edge on the fold - easy to overlook, unlike a nice double arrow.  This is my second pattern by Sew Liberated - seems I am really liking her aesthetic, but I find the patterns and instructions just a bit difficult, though eventually the results are worth it.

I had to do some juggling of the instruction order to accommodate my skirt having no side seams.  

Anyway.  You know it.  The fit at the armscye is perfect - on everyone else maybe it's low but on me it is just right.  And the gathered ruffles hit just about 1 cm below my nipple line.  Oops.  It's totally unwearable.  When I first tried it on I thought I would need to lengthen the bodice but upon closer inspection I guess 1 inch is about right.  I didn't iron my gathers so they are even puffier than necessary, and I think that doing the skirt properly gives you a chance to control the gathers better than I did - I had to apply the outer skirt in the round instead of doing the front and back separately and topstitching the gathers down. 

I discovered while taking these photos that two layers, with the silk noil underneath, makes it feel like I'm wearing a bathrobe and I just fell in love with the feeling a little bit.  Not enough to make me love the dress but I stopped hating on it, and I think my next version will also use a silk noil base.

Not hemmed.  I stopped there.

I will not be thwarted!  In two ways.  First, after considering sending the offending dress straight to the Goodwill basket, I realised all that fabric could be salvaged into a different dress.  AND I'm still going to try this one again.  I'll focus on lighter weight fabrics to ensure that it doesn't feel so puffy, and I'll get the skirt right...and I won't make unnecessary adjustments.

Friday, 2 November 2018

Elbe Textiles Botany top x 2

When I discovered this top on Kylie and the Machine's Instagram I was in love, both with the top and with the new pattern company Elbe Textiles.

BUT it took awhile to get my act together to sew it.  I was moving and travelling for awhile. That made this simple project seem like a huge deal.

I looked over the instructions and didn't follow them at all. I used a scrap of leftover silk noil and size XS. I sewed front and back together - I had to cut the back in two pieces - and then added my bindings.  This reminded me at that point of the Emmeline top by the Little Tailoress. I think she has since rebranded and come out with other patterns but the concept was the same - a very simple top - though in the case of the Emmeline it had terrible instructions and bad drafting on versions a and b.

Seems like I might revisit that top now as the Botany showed me how you could get a good finish on these kimono sleeves - by leaving the side seams open, finishing the sleeve with binding, and then sewing the side seam, you get a clean finish on all edges.  I was totally unable to figure this out myself but despite the messy finish, I loved my version of the Emmeline, view C, which I lengthened with the hem of the Polly top. (here)

Here's my first Botany!  I love it, it goes over a tank top for some style or alone for some air.  It's the perfect fabric.  Do note that I'm 5'4" and can never repeat often enough - I have NO torso.  My ribs practically hit my hips.  So if you don't want this to be very cropped you might want to lengthen it.

I climbed to the top of a mountain for these pictures!  It was very cold and windy...

So I decided to do a second one in stretch silk but I didn't have enough fabric to double the see-through front, giving me the excuse to use this ugly piece of lace I picked up and want to be rid of.  Of course having two layers both front and back meant this took a bit more attention, and this time I did leave the side seams to apply the bias tape flat, though I did the neckline last instead of also doing it flat.  I added on the ruffle to see what I thought of it.  I promised this top to one of my nurses right away as I thought I'd hate the lace.  I do really like the ruffle though, and I think I might make more of these once I see what fabrics my stash can provide.

I have a new tripod! I'm rather more inspired when I'm outdoors, apparently.