Wednesday, 13 March 2019

i am patterns Magdala dress aka The Layer Cake Dress

This pattern came out in October, when I was thinking about the sew frosting challenge.  In theory, I would have whipped up this fantastic ruffly dress in time for the challenge!  In reality, nope.

First of all, it's actually a top (here.) The dress is an add-on extra.  And I was committed to making this dress from literally the first minute I saw the pattern.  It had nothing to do with sensible, or with what I needed, etc.  I mean, clearly what I needed was...the layer cake dress.

Thus started an odyssey.  In Flagstaff, there is no fabric, and I didn't need just one perfect fabric but two perfect matching fabrics in different materials. I started out with the silk-cotton voile that later became a Metamorphic dress (here) and some dun-coloured cotton twills which were too thick and didn't match well. I considered silk noil to go under the voile, but it was not quite the same shade of blue and I wasn't convinced.  In December, my cousin asked me to make him pants and so I bought some random fabrics at Mood, including a perfect forest green cotton poplin.  Now for the voile...I hunted far and wide and knew my goal was in sight when I discovered cotton-silk voile at The Fabric Store. The Colourway is Abbey Pool Y.

I went by my measurements on the pattern envelope and planned to cut out a 38, forgetting that I have made i am patterns before (here's the Cassiopee) and they are boxy and oversized.  I did spend a lot of time looking at the model pictures before I decided to lop off a good 6" I think of the length.  I took half from the bottom and half from the middle of the bottom layer, meaning I also shortened the bottom ruffle.  I didn't make any other changes to the pattern.

I wasn't in any rush to sew this up.  I hemmed all the ruffles manually with a micro hem, that took a day or two, then I put the dress together -it's quite fun to see the pieces come together, and see how far I've moved from my ruffle-and gathering-hating stance?

The collarstand and collarfell (what a perfect name for it!) were fine though I suspect instructions elsewhere are better (the Deer and Doe Bruyere comes to mind as having very nice instructions).  Mine is fine.  Not quite perfect.  I topstitched the collar to make it look neater, as I also did on the button bands.

As for the buttons...the shitty sewing machine sort of made most of them ok.  Enough that I could get the buttons into them once.  They are definitely the worst buttonholes I've ever made.  The best news is that this dress is so huge, I can pull it on over my head and will never open the buttons.  Success!

The worst quality bit is the armhole binding.  I was using store bought binding and despite that it gathered all over the place.  There's a funny angle at the depth of the armhole that I struggled to get around, and if you look at it with any attention you can see that it's not well done.  I tried to iron everything flat, with limited success.

I was a bit fragile feeling after some of these weak efforts - bad buttonholes, only ok collar, terrible armholes...

Then I realised once I put on this massive dress that no one will ever notice any of that because I have created a masterpiece of ridiculousness.  To prove it is streetworthy, I applied my cardigan and smooshed the ruffles into compliance.  The wind also arrived, to help keep things interesting and show you the way the ruffles shift about.

Apologies for so many photos, I had a lot of fun and figured I'd share them all.

Everyone at work deemed this dress adorable.
But I will make the next one in a size 34. When it's time for the next one. 

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Papercut Patterns Fjord cardi x 2

As per my new usual, I made two of these.

The first fabric is a ponte.  It's my first time working with ponte.  I loved the idea of it and was really excited when I ordered it. (From Drygoods Design, who have so many amazing fabrics!) A problem with buying all my fabric online - I don't get to touch it, and I have to acquire a lot of fabric in order to even start matching fabric to patterns. I am trying not to hoard and it is frustrating to see the pile of fabric grow! (As always, I'll be moving soon enough.) 

So it ends up I do not like ponte.  It feels like cheap old polyester.
I made the XS and the long version of this cardi, best to make all my friends happy.  I didn't make any changes.  Up to the final step - attaching the front yoke, I did the entire thing on my overlocker without even ironing. 

This is partly because I hate the Singer Fashion Mate with a passion.  My entire review of this particular sewing machine is: don't get one.  If you have one and like it, you have founts of patience beyond mine.  Sewing with it is a trial.  The feed dogs are lazy.  Birds nests form from perfectly wound bobbins.  Don't even consider buttonholes - the alignment is off and it will make your buttonhole in the wrong place, and that's if it's willing to make it.

Back to the pattern: you are told to sew the bottom edge of the front yoke, but then to fold over the yoke SA to the inside to get a clean finish. That means the inevitable terrible corner at the bottom front is present - multiple layers that won't sew together neatly.  I recommend only sewing the front corner and leaving a very large SA at that bottom edge, in order to mitre or tuck in when you sew the front down.

Otherwise everything done smoothly.  I topstitched the yoke down which doesn't look very good.  Next time I'd probably baste the SA, iron it prior to attaching that front yoke, and then stitch in the ditch.

I found this a bit too long for my taste, and of course I continued to hate the fabric.  I think in the right fabric the length would drape nicely but I was excited to move onto the short version.
As usual for Papercut, the arms are quite loose.  Otherwise I was happy with the fit. I gave it to my climbing partner and she loves it.

Version 2 is the short version, in a heavy wool fabric with a kind of irregular "plaid" to it.  It does stretch a bit but feels more like mechanical stretch.  I didn't size down because I knew this bulky fabric would make everything fit more snugly.  I considered changing the hem to a ribbing, but the sleeves are bulky enough not to need different cuffs, and overall I wasn't sure I cared enough to go hunting for such specific findings.  I discovered on the short version that the pockets are basically in line with the armpits.  That's just a fact based on the pattern pieces.  Also, the fronts lie far open on me.  I expected to love this short version, but even careful attention didn't help me to get the trifecta of the hem band, front band and body to match up - the front band was way too short to have a seam allowance below the level of the hem band.  It took me ages to finish it as I just lost enthusiasm when it came to fixing these small final matters and applying the front collar, and it sat in a pile underneath my ironing board for over a month. I had been really excited about this, but completely forgot about that.

I finally finished it shortly before leaving (deja vu! Leaving again!) and honestly it's fine.  I like it. But I'm moving, so I'm sending it to a friend. This was quite a lesson to me.  Sometimes an item really does need time out to be a UFO, and you need that time to dissociate your hopes from the start of the project and the end result.  But the end result is often still lovable!  I was a bit sad to give this away in the end though my friend will hopefully get loads of wear out of it.

Channelling my inner grumpy old man today...

In order to fix it, I overlocked the hem band to the body at the level to allow the front facing to still be longer and overlap it a bit, so I could finish it. In this fabric it's hard to see any messes I made and overlocking is good for keeping things neat even when they seemed hopeless.  My "topstitching" of the front facing band is laughable.  Again, I think the whole jacket itself makes that an invisible issue.

This pattern hangs open a LOT in the front. There is enough fabric to close the front, but the drape and the hang are further out.  I would add a button of some kind if I were to make this again.  In the heavier fabric I think the short version is good and the size is great too - it's loose enough not to need different bands.

Friday, 25 January 2019

Metamorphic dress by Sew Liberated, take 2 x 2

I was pretty sad to have messed up my first Metamorphic but I definitely wanted more. So I undid the bodice shortening and ordered some pretty linen.

While waiting for my linen to arrive from Lithuania, I realised I had the perfect combination for #2.  Two layers of cotton voile, one in "sage green" (bad advertising) from Mood and the other a Nanette Lepore silk/cotton voile from Harts Fabrics.  I haven't worked with voile in a long time and had forgotten about how fine lightweight fabrics can be shifty, but overall I didn't have any major problems with it.  Because both layers are transparent, if I flip this dress to have the taupe side out, the flowers will show through.  Maybe I'll do that one day so I didn't put a label in it but I think the real show here is the seafoam green and flowers!

By using such light fabrics I could see how this pattern would do with a minimum of gathering fluffiness.  The bodice ends where it should end.  In fact, I'd say that if you have a large bust it would be wise to lengthen the bodice so it hangs below the bustline - by shortening one inch I made the dress totally unwearable (see here if you really want to) and although some of my pictures make it still seem high, when worn it's obviously below the curve of my bust.

I still used a size 4.  The armholes are apparently supposed to be quite low and I could wear a layer under it, but because of my massive back and shoulder muscles, though the armhole is relatively low, it does not show my bra.  After wearing the dress for a day the front armhole got a bit stretched out but not too badly.

I've worn this dress a few times already.  I love it, I love layering it, the pockets are oddly relevant despite being quite small.

Once my linen arrived from Lithuania I was ready!  But then I worried I should have gotten grey instead of the dark olive green...too Christmasy?  I canvassed Instagram and everyone thought it was fine. Also honestly I couldn't be bothered to wait for more linen, and even looking for a different fabric just slid me down the slippery slope of buying too I went with it.

My etsy seller is Linengraphy. The linen is lightweight - gsm and it is luscious. I would definitely buy from them again. I also bought a piece in bottle green of heavier weight   gsm, which I don't really like as much.  That's a color I always like more on the screen than in reality.

This being the third time around, you'd think it would go perfectly but I got hung up on small problems - my overlocker tension went haywire so I rethreaded the entire machine and then jumped in twisting dials with zero success...ends up one thread wasn't caught tightly enough in the overlocker tension knob.  Live and learn.  Then in a bad mood one day, trying to hurry, I um burritoed the front to itself AND overlocked the SA before I realised, so I had to undo and then approximate the correct seam allowance.  That means the armhole on this dress is even a bit bigger than it's supposed to be.

Also, I found the instructions annoying regarding in-seam pockets. I don't do them very often.  I didn't know - Do I only sew to the notches?  Do I need to finish the little piece of fabric under the pocket that gets ignored?  And why are the pocket instructions sitting next to the pictures for a totally different step of the pattern?  As seems to be the case with Sew Liberated patterns - the results are great but the instructions leave me a bit annoyed.

(Answers: I overlocked that orphan seam, no it doesn't matter if you sew the entire pocket to the side of the dress, and the appropriate drawing is further down the page.)  

I was reassured that my dress doesn't look too festive.  I'm very grinchy at baseline but I also want to be able to wear my dress all the time without people having holiday flashbacks. The greyer shade of green might indeed have solved this concern, too bad shipping takes so long.

After wearing this dress a few times I think I'll size down to a 2 next time I make it.  I am unlikely to layer under it, and I'd prefer a bit less ease.  I will also stabilise the armhole staystitching?  Gasp!