Monday, February 25, 2019

Sewing Bee Round 4 - SuperHeros

For the first time ever I actually made it through to the final round of the Sewing Bee - Very exciting stuff.  We found out who was going through on Thursday Feb 14th and then the new round started on the Friday.  Of course I already had plans for the Friday so when I learned what the final challenge was on Friday morning I had the whole day to figure out what I was going to do.  That certainly wasn't an easy task.    The challenge as specified was:

We believe that we all have a superhero inside of us. Each day we conquer something great, no matter how small or big it may be. Show us your super strength, whatever it may be, by sewing a complete outfit inspired by a superhero (fictional or real).

Yikes that really leaves it quite open - with a challenge like that you could literally make anything you want - as long as you can spin the story right.  So the question was do I try for the story first - or just come up with an outfit and then work backwards for the story.

The more I thought about it the more the idea of a big winter coat got stuck in my head. My good big winter coat seems to have shrunk (it couldn't be that I've put on weight - no I'm sure it's the coat that has shrunk) and I've been thinking for a while about making a new one.  Maybe I should bite the bullet and use this as an excuse to make a new one......and I've always wanted to try a Doctor Strange big pointy collar.

So I decided to go for it and spent Friday afternoon and evening designing the coat I wanted then muslining the coat pattern to make sure it would fit and figuring out how to make the new collar that I wanted.  

Then I had to sit down and think about what I was going to make to go with it.  I knew I didn't want anything too hard - it was going to be hard enough finishing the big coat in the time frame.  So I sat down and sketched out an outfit.

It took a couple of iterations but finally I came up with something that was 1.  something I would actually wear (no costumes allowed per the rules) 2. Comfortable 3. relatively easy.

The pants were pretty easy.  I've been wanting to make a pair of joggers for a while so I decided to go with that.  I then added pin tucks diagonally across the front of the thighs from Start Lords costume.

I found a picture of The Ancient One from Doctor Strange with this really cool pleated effect on the front of her shirt and I decided I wanted to try that on my top.

I spent the next couple of days sewing without break before I finally managed to come up with a back story for my outfit. 

From my entry:

As per usual the challenge for the sewing bee really made me stop and think...Superheros. What is it about superheros that appeals to me? After much consideration I realised that the superheros that I am most drawn to are not the ones who are all good, but rather the guys who started off bad but in the end have made the choice to do the right thing rather than just taking the easy way out.

Doctor Strange...When we first meet him he is an egotistical, arrogant man. Yes hes a great surgeon, but he's not really a great guy. It's only through his journey to find magic that he learns to think about others before himself. In the end he chooses to fight against the dark dimension allowing himself to be killed time and time again until finally Dormammu agrees to bargain. 

Star Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy was raised by the ravagers - an interstellar crime syndicate comprising of thieves, smugglers, criminals, bandits, mercenaries, bounty hunters and pirates. But despite his "upbringing" he chooses to fight against Thanos in order to save others.

Black widow, was raised as an assassin, but chooses instead to fight with the avengers.

And that is when it hit me. Superheros are not always born good, they are often just regular guys who,when it counts, choose to do the right thing even when its not easy, even against all odds. And in the end that is what makes them superheros...the choices they make.

Designing the outfit
So how do I translate my idea of superheroes into an outfit for myself. If I work from the premise that superheros are born from the choices they make then that means that for me to be a superhero in my life, I have to make the right choices rather than the easy choices. A superhero will often choose to put others before themselves, think about the greater good. Have I ever done that? In general I've lead a pretty easy life, I've never really been tested, but one of the biggest choices I've had to make in my life was the choice to move my family from Australia to the north east of the US. Now I'm an Aussie girl through and through. I love the warmth, the sun, the beaches, the outback and I hate the cold. ...with a passion. So for me the idea of living in a place where it is cold at least 9 months of the year was hard.....but it was the right thing to do for my family! And so I made my choice. And now, for me, my superhero fight is against the thing that I hate the own personal villian.....The Cold...

Everyday in winter I have to make the choice to get up and get the kids to school. I have to shovel out the driveway and battle the ice to get to the grocery store. In order to do that I need a superhero outfit and what is better in a fight against the cold than a full length winter coat.

Now a coat is not an outfit by itself so I also needed to make something to wear under my coat. Obviously it needed to be warm, but it also needed to be comfortable. I wanted my superhero outfit to be something that I was able to throw on in the morning without too much thought, something that I could wear no matter what was on the agenda - cleaning house - sure, teaching STEM - great, getting in some exercise - totally, delivering meals on wheels - no problem. So I decided to make a pair of pants and a long sleeve shirt - my standard winter wardrobe. Relatively simple, but made unique through the addition of some superhero design elements.

Pattern Descriptions: 
My superhero coat is based on the standard super hero cape. However I'm not making a costume here, I wanted wearable so I decided to make a full length coat instead. (That will also be warmer giving me better defence against "the cold"). To retain the swish factor of a cape I went with a full skirt, fit and flare style coat and chose the McCalls pattern 7478 as my starting point. I then wanted to include a big stand up collar like Doctor Strange's Cloak of Levitation. I also added shoulder epaulets inspired by the coat worn by Star Lord and used the same fabric to add a few more armour type details at the cuffs, hem, pockets and back.

When it came to designing the shirt knew I wanted a really strong detail at the front neckline to peak out of the coat and found a photo of The Ancient One in Doctor Strange wearing a shirt with a pleated V shape at the front. My shirt is self drafted from my sloper and then modified to include a center V panel of pleats . To balance out the strong design at the front I decided to add strapping to the sleeves as found on Doctor Strange's costume.

For the pants I wanted a relaxed fit and went with a basic jogger style pant to which I added pin tucks diagonally across the thigh similar to Star Lords pants in Guardians of the Galaxy. My pattern was again modified from my basic pants pattern which was originally based on the Old McCalls pattern 9517. For my superhero pants I removed the center back seam and tapered the legs in before finishing them off with a cuff. To make the pants and top cohesive I used the pleating detail from the top on the back of the pants pockets and added a stripe of the contrasting fabric down the outside of the pants. 

The pants and top are made from coordinating fabrics so when worn together they give the impression of a jumpsuit like Black widow, or Gamora would wear when fighting bad guys.

Fabric Used:
The coat.
The outer fabric of the coat is an upholstery fabric of unknown origin. I'm assuming its a poly of some sort, although it did press very well during construction so maybe there is some wool in there! The fabric is a brick red colour and has a basket weave pattern woven into the front side.

The coat is then interlined with fleece and then lined in a satin jacquard fabric in a rich blue colour with gold medallions woven into it. 

The red fabric for the coat was chosen based on Doctor Strange's Coat of levitation and the blue lining was chosen as a nod to the typical superhero colour combination found in costumes of superheros such as Superman and Spiderman.

I then used a vinyl fabric with a basket weave texture in bronze and brown colours as an embellishment. I chose this as it have a very armor vibe to it.

The Shirt
The shirt is made from two different fabrics. The first is an active wear fabric in black with a faint grey diamond pattern on it, and the second a royal blue knit fabric, this has a crushed texture that has been created by lightly smocking the entire material (The material came that way I did not do any smocking this time). The sleeves are underlined in a blue cotton jersey for additional warmth.

The Pants
The pants are made from the same royal blue fabric but with a black sweater fleece for the main parts.

Pattern design, fitting and sewing:
To make the coat I started with McCalls 7478, view A.

I cut a size 14 around the shoulders, neckline and armhole grading out to a 22 in width for all pieces. During fitting I found that I had to take the coat in about 1/4" along the princess seams front and back from just below the shoulder to just after the waist. The center back seam was then taken in about an extra 1/4" at the waist. the overlap at the front of the coat was removed to add in the front zipper.

To get the collar that I wanted I added extra height to the collar flaring it out as much as I could at the free end and creating the sharp point at the front and then started playing around with the dart that shapes how the collar is attached to the body to make the collar stand up like I wanted. In the end I ended up eliminating this dart and instead added a seam that comes right around to the center front of the coat. The collar then starts right down at the center of the body, curves gently up to the ears and then creates a sharp point and wraps around the back of the head. I love this collar and it's dramatic effect, but should I not feel up to it I can wear the collar folded down against the shoulders.

The collar is lined with the same red fabric and a heavy weight interfacing was used on the outside layer of the collar. Horsehair braid was also added along the top edge and down the points to make sure the collar can stand up on it's own.

The sleeves - I eliminated the cuff that was specified and cut the sleeve off at the wrist. I then added some of the accent fabric to create a new cuff and lined the cuff with my red fabric.

I eliminated the pockets specified by the pattern and instead once the outside of the coat was finished I added welt pockets using the accent vinyl as the welt. The pocket bags are made from a cotton off cut.

The inside shoulders of the coat are finished with a sleeve head and a slight shoulder pad.

The epaulets are simple rectangles with rounded corners sewn to a backing of red fabric and then hand stitched in place over the shoulders.

A strip of the accent fabric has been used to decorate the back of the coat. This is hand sewn in place with two buttons.

The front of the coat is closed using a 24" separating zipper with a red tape and gold metal teeth. The zipper starts about halfway up the collar and extends down to about mid thigh.

The interlining of the coat is exactly the same pattern as the main coat but without the collar pieces.

The lining of the coat is exactly the same pattern as the main coat minus the collar, but with a 1" pleat added to the center back seam The lining and interlining attach to the collar and down the inside of the zipper and is understitched in place.

To finish the bottom of the coat a 4" wide strip of the red fabric (cut to fit the curve of the bottom of the coat) is sewn to the bottom of the lining fabric and finished with a simple machine sewn hem. The bottom of the main fabric is also turned under and stitched and then a 4" wide strip of the accent material (also cut to fit the curve of the bottom of the coat) is top stitched in place over the bottom edge of the coat.

To begin the creation of this shirt I used my basic moulage. 

The pattern for the back is taken directly from my moulage but with a V neckline (to allow room for my head as the front neckline is quite high)

For the front I rotated all darts into side darts and then cut a V into the top of the front piece starting at the shoulder and ending just below my bust. This would be the pleated inset. The pleated inset was made by creating doubled over strips of my blue material and stitching them onto a backing piece overlapping at the center front. Once this was made I sewed it into the front piece, added my darts and sewed back to front. The sleeves are underlined with another blue jersey material and I used the same active wear material as for the front and back to create 3 straps that wrap around each arm. These were top stitched in place on the flat sleeve and the sleeve was sewn up and set into the shirt. The shirt is finished with a blue band around the bottom.

The neckline is finished with a small 3/8" facing of the black material that runs around the back neckline and around the backing fabric underneath all the pleats at the front.

Unfortunately something went wrong with my drafting somewhere and the front piece ended up with really strange wrinkles under my breasts. In order to eliminate these I had to take a dart up the center front of the shirt from the lower hem to the bottom of the V. This means the shirt has ended up tighter than I originally intended. 

I started with the last iteration of my pants pattern. It began life as McCalls pattern 9517 but has been modified so many times now that I don't think anyone would recognise it. For this version I eliminated the back seam - which unfortunately eliminates the lovely shaping around the butt and now I have wrinkle butt again!

I also tapered the leg in significantly to create a slimline look to the pants. I then added a 2" stripe of the blue down the outside seam taking 1" off both the front and the back pattern pieces to accommodate the stripe.

To create the pocket I cut pocket bags out of the same plain blue jersey I used to underline the sleeve and then used the same technique as for the top to create pleats with one side running up and down the leg and the other parallel with the pocket opening. However here I stitched each of the pleats together as I didn't want my fingers getting caught in any pleats when I put my hands in my pockets. The pleating was sewn into the top corner of the pocket bag and a final pleat was added to the edge of the pocket to tie it all together.

To get the pin stripes on the thighs I drew parallel lines on the front pants pieces then folded carefully along those lines and stitched a 1/8" seam along each line.  This shortened the length of the front pants piece by about 1" which I just took off the back leg length to match.

I added a blue waistband with 1.5" wide elastic at the waist and 3" wide blue cuffs to the bottom of each leg.

Overall I'm quite happy with the outfit - It does tend to come off a bit costumey, but certainly each piece separately is something that I will wear.  The pants and the coat especially have already been worn numerous times - and I've only had them made for a week.

With the Collar turned down

Sewing Bee - Round 3 - Lillian Top/Dress

And yes I made it into Round 3.  After waiting an extra day to find out if I made it through, and then another day after that to find out what the next round was going to be - I finally had an answer - and it really didn't surprise me.

Round 3 has quite often in the Bee been a specific pattern and since Pattern Review have released two patterns recently I must admist I wondered whether one of them would be the pattern for round 3...I was right, but I picked the wrong pattern.  I was hoping it'd be the Claire Dress, but instead it was the Lillian Top/Dress.

That's unfortunate.  I don't really like this pattern.  It has a front inset that I can't help but call a bib as that's all I see when I look at the top.  But that's OK - I'm up for the challenge.

That being said I had no immediate ideas on what I could do with this pattern.  So in order to do something and let my brain work on the problem I decided to start with the fitting of the pattern.

The first thing was to figure out what size to use.  I did all my measurements and according to the size chart I fall pretty much evenly into a size XL.  That sounds fair from a width paint of view but I knew that I'd have to do some modifying for length.

I printed out the pattern at size XL and taped all the pages together.  Then I set about figuring out what changes I would need to make.  First was the waist.  I know from doing my moulage that I prefer my clothes to fit at a waist point 4" above my belly button so measuring down from the under arm to that point I found that I needed to raise the waistline on the pattern by 1.5".  This was simple on the back piece, but on the front this cut into the inset piece so I had to figure out just how much to remove from the front inset piece as well..

Now that I have my waist line defined it was time to work on the shoulders.  I measured my back length and then working up from the new waistline I found that the back shoulder was at about size small.  That sounds reasonable considering I'm only 5'1" tall with a short torso.

Again the front was a little more tricky.  Based on my front length the front shoulder fell at about the Large size line.  If I were to make this again I would probably just cut a medium for both front and back neck and shoulder region grading out to the XL at the sides.

With these initial pattern changes made I cut out a muslin in upholstery material and found that the fit was pretty good really.

I actually liked the way it looked in the heavy weight fabric and decided that I would like to do something more structured for my final piece rather than using the knit fabric that the pattern calls for.  My first thought was to make it into a maxi dress, so I whipped up a quick add on for my muslin to see what it would look like.

I really liked this so I went to my fabric stash to see what I could find.......Unfortunately there wasn't much.  There were a number of knit fabrics that I could used but they wouldn't have the right drape, the only heavy weight fabric I could find had a big print which was not the look I was going for.

What I really wanted was a heavy weight velvet - preferably in a rich red or green, but that was well outside of my budget.  I just couldn't justify spending over $100 on fabric for a dress that I would probably never wear.  I just don't have the need for a long velvet dress in my life - I wish I did!

Still the idea is there for next time.

So onto plan B - make it in Denim with a bright panel in the front?  Nahhh don't like the denim idea
Plan C - a paisley polyester material with a lace inset??....nahhh the poly was too lightweight
Plan D - plaid double gauze with the inset on the bias ???? nahhh again too lightweight
Plan E -  grey upholstery fabric with paisley designs?? too upholstery looking
Plan F - red jersey knit with multi gold inset?  Love the fabric idea but again it's the wrong weight.

Ok so it looks like the maxi dress idea is out of the question unless I go shopping.  what else could I do with these fabrics.. what if I made it into a jumpsuit - add the Closet Case Patterns Sallie Jumpsuit legs to the Lillian top?  I like this idea.

Plan G - Red knit jumpsuit with inset and waistband from a gold foil printed fabric.

I decided to go ahead and cut this out to see what it'd be like.......

yeah that didn't work.

It's not terrible, I don't hate it, but it's not what I'm looking for.  Ok so what if I made the jumpsuit  out of a heavier woven fabric.  I had found when going through my stash a cool fabric in light grey green with llama and cacti all over it - Its a seriously cut fabric and I thought that if paired with a bright teal linen might make a sort of cute short jumpsuit. (Plan H)

I don't hate it, but it still isn't what I was hoping for.  I think I have to shelve the jumpsuit idea.  I just don't have the figure to pull it off.

OK back to the drawing board.  When I was thinking of the red jumpsuit I came up with the idea of using the gold foil embossed material and cutting out scales and overlapping them like scales to make a real feature out of the inset.  Lets go back to this idea.  What if I made a jumper out of the blue sweater fleece and used the gold foil embossed fabric to make scales to line the inset.

Nope not loving that either....But the idea of making a feature out of fabric manipulation is not a bad idea?  What can I do with that.

So I sat down to do some research into fabric manipulation techniques.  Unfortunately most of them are for light weight materials rather than a heavy fleece.  But I did find a couple that look interesting.

One was reverse applique - Made popular by the Alabama Chanin garments.  I've played around with this once before and liked the way it worked and I thought that this would be a great way to add some interest to a plain fabric.  Plus it would allow me to play with the inset so it's not quite so ...Bib like..  plus I could use the blue and black colour contrast to good effect.

OK what else?  I also read about couching...Now I have a coat that is made out of a fabric that is covered in couching and I've always been interested in trying it out (even before I knew what it was called).  I figured I could play around with some of that.

But the one I was really interested in was smocking.  Now to my smocking is something that you do using elastic thread  to gather in the top of  dress or something, but the smocking I found online was much more defined.  A real diamond pattern created using hand stitching.  Now this sounds like something I'd really like to try.

Ok  so I now have an idea.  make a sweater using lillian as the base pattern.  Add a kangaroo pocket with welts on either side (all good sweaters need pockets and Kangaroo pockets are the best).  Add reverse applique on the inset plus also a small bit on one lower front  panel wrapping around to the lower back and a final small applique on one shoulder.  I decided I wanted my applique design to be quite geometric.  I've been obsessed with Greek geometric designs since I visited Greece back in 1989  and am always looking for an excuse to use them.  I would then use couching to add a more abstract border along the bottom hem of the sweater and use smocking to gather a full sleeve into a tight cuff.

Now to execute the idea.  It was truely amazing just how long it took me to make a relatively simple sweater.

I started with the inset, cut out of black with a layer of the blue fabric underneath.  I traced out my pattern onto parchment paper, pinned it on and then sewed around the design on the sewing machine.

 The paper ripped off nicely along it's perforated edges and I was then able to cut out the top layer to expose the blue underneath.  I did the same for the two pieces of applique on my back piece.

When I was ready to do the front piece I decided to do the welt pocket first just in case I stuffed them up.  I could redo the front without having to do my applique all over again.

The welt pockets were actually quite tricky as I had no pattern to follow.  To place the welts a drew a line directly between the corner of the inset and the corner of the applique.  The pocket was centered between the two points  along this line.  I then mirrored that for the pocket on the other side.

The actual sewing of the welts went surprisingly easily and I'm really proud of how they turned out....

But then I had to actually add the pocket in behind.  I used a piece of left over Rayon in navy blue and white. It took a couple of goes to get the right angle on the sides to match the welts, then I just free handed a curve between the two welts.  I bound the top and bottom edges of the pocket bag in self fabric to cover any fraying edges and add extra strength.

Once the pocket was in I was able to add the applique to the front too.

Now to start putting the top together.  The inset went in quite easily - I'd had a lot of practice thanks to the number of muslin's I'd already made.

I needed to decide at this point what sort of seam finish I wanted.  I normally prefer to do French seams but sweater fleece is too thick for this.  Bound seams was a possibility but would create cold spots inside my warm snuggly sweater.  I decided in the end that the most sensible seam finish would be a faux flat fell seam.  Sew the seam together, then trim one side down and fold the other over it.  Stitch again 1/4" away from seam and then trim off the rest of the seam allowance.  This would then blend in with the finish on the reverse applique whilst eliminating as much bulk as possible at the seams.

When it came to the neck band I cut it out to a size medium - half way between the small back and the large front.  I also doubled the width of the  neckband and instead of making it a round neckband then sewing a V into the front I sewed the neckband together in a V shape first before flipping the neckband inside right.  I again finished off the neck band with a raw edge trimmed close like the rest of the seams to eliminate as much bulk as possible.

I tried on the top at this point and found that I had quite a bit of gaping around the armhole - It' hadn't been an issue on the upholstery fabric but this fleece has a bit of extra stretch and it's much more noticeable now.  To eliminate this I added a dart originating in the corner of the  front arm hole.  It's something that I find necessary in quite a few garments due to my large bust.

Now to do the sleeves!  First I took the cap sleeve pattern and extended it down to the length and width of my rainbow zipper dress sleeve.  I then cut and spread the pattern to create the extra fabric that was to be gathered in by the smocking.

Following a tutorial I found online I drew out my gathering lines.

 and created my gathers on the outer edge of the sleeve.

I then spent approximately 5 hours trying to get the smocking right. It's not perfect but it's as good as I can get at this point in time....and next time I think about smocking something by hand can someone crack me over the head with a bat....I reckon it'd be a lot less painful than this was!

I got one sleeve smocked  and tried on my sleeve and hated the way the end of the sleeve flared back out once the smocking stopped so I had to come up with some way of taming this.  In the end I decided to stitch all the pleats down neatly and then use a strip of the blue to bind the edge to the diameter I wanted.  I'm quite happy with this.  I thought the second sleeve would be easier...but it wasn't.  I still had to rip that one out and redo it a couple of times too.  Over all I spent almost an entire day just trying to get this smocking right.  Its a good thing I like the final outcome.

Once the smocking was done I sewed up the sleeve and inserted it into the sweater.  I had to do some tweaking to get the fit right.  It was good at the back but the front had to be taken in by at least 1/2" on each side - somehow the whole front of this top seems to be wider than I would generally want.

The final step was to add the Couching.  Couching is a techniques in which yarn or other materials are laid across the surface of the ground fabric and fastened in place with small stitches of the same or a different yarn.  In this case I used the edges of the black fabric that want to roll up on themselves as the couching fabric and machine stitched them to the hem of the shirt.  After struggling with turning the fabric each time I wanted to go in a different direction I decided it was time to learn how to use my free motion quilting foot with my machine.  This turned out to be so much fun and allows you to sew in what ever direction you want.  I definitely want to play around with this some more.

But finally my sweater was done.  It'd not the most fantastic thing I've ever made.  It really doesn't have that wow factor that I was hoping for for the sewing bee.  But at this point in time it is what it is.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Sewing Bee Round 2 - Zippers

Yes I did get through to round two of the sewing bee.

Then I had to wait another day to find out what the next challenge would be.  9am Thursday 24th January Round 2 was announced and the theme was zippers. This is one challenge where I didn't automatically groan I don't mind a good zipper, but how to make my garment stand out.

There had been a lot of discussion in the round one chat thread about colour blocked jumpsuits and this had really gotten into my head and I started sketching a possibility for making a sweater knit jumpsuit using zippers at the wrist and ankle to form a cuff.  Maybe even making it zip off at the waist....

But then I also started thinking about a dress that uses zippers to open from a straight skirt to show up big inverted box pleats.

Whilst I was really drawn to the jumpsuit I wasn't sure how it would end up looking.....too much like pajamas?

I decided to put off my final decision till after a trip to the fabric store to see what I could find.  I had the sweater fleece in stash to make my jumpsuit but it would need zippers, but I had no idea what I could use for the dress idea.

After searching the fabric store I found this cool batik material in shades of blues purples and reds with gold oval motifs stamped all over it that I thought would look stunning in a dress so I bought enough of that and then a whole bunch of rainbow zippers to go with it to use to expand the skirt.

On the drive home I started thinking that the zippers might actually get a bit lost if I did my entire skirt in the bright fabric and came up with the idea to make the base of the dress out of a black material instead and use the batik in the pleats behind.  I really liked this idea as it would really make the zippers stand out in the zipped up version which was the whole point of this challenge.  When I got home I went looking for a black fabric I could use.  I was originally thinking of one of my pieces of wool suiting but none of them were the right black.  Then I saw the black sweater fleece and realised that yes this is what I want as it would make the dress super comfy and therefore more wearable.

So copied from my Pattern Review Entry:

My dress is self drafted using my basic moulage. The bodice is fitted through the bust with princess seams and a waistband. 

overexposed shot trying to show princess seams

The black skirt was created by taking my hip dimensions and dividing it by the number of panels I wanted. I had originally planned on 10 but then due to the stretchy nature of the fabric I found that I ended up with a bit too much fabric so removed the back zip and seamed the two back panels together to get the fit I wanted - this also allowed me to add a dart into the center back seam to provide some waist shaping.  

There are 9 zippers - in a rainbow of colours - in the skirt. Each zipper was inserted upside down to allow the zipper to open from the bottom to reveal an inverted pleat in the batik material underneath.

Each zipper is sandwiched between the black fleece and the batik pleat material. I was originally planning on binding the zipper edges but decided to incorporate the binding into the pleat to try and reduce bulk a bit. First I sewed the zipper to the sweater fleece making sure I didn't stretch out the fleece. I then ironed a 1/4" turn along the long edge of the pleat fabric and then a second 1/4" turn and sandwiched the outside of the zipper inside this second turn before stitching the pleat material in place along the zipper. This was tedious but produced a great finish. 

The sleeves were self drafted using the front and back armhole curves and the dimensions of my bicep, tapering down to a narrow fit at the wrist. 

These also expand into colour through a zippered godet along the oustide of the sleeve.  As there was no seam here in which to put the zippers I've used the same method as you would for a welt zipper. Rather than a pleat however this zipper conceals a triangular godet as a pleat was too bulky in the sleeve. I used the same technique specified above to bind the godet on the sleeves.

Sleeve zipped closed

Sleeves opened up

A hood was drafted based on the Paprika Patterns Jasper hood pattern and modified to fit my neckline. It is finished with a zipper that overlaps at the apex of the hood and splits and runs around each side of the hood reconnecting at the center front and extending down the center front line into the waistband .  This zipper is salvaged from an old suitcase before it was thrown out. 

The hood is lined in the batik material and the zipper is sandwiched between the black fleece of the hood and the batick lining. The lining was then finished around the neckline using the burrito method and the last little section of shoulder seam hand stitched in place.

Down the center front of the bodice the edges of the zipper have been bound using double fold binding made from my batick fabric.

Two small jeans zippers are used to make pockets about 1/4 of the way down two of the front skirt panels. These zippers are inserted into the panel using a zipper welt method (Photo 4) and open into small pockets made out of the batick material.

 I again used the same method previously mentioned to finish all the edges of the zippers and also the sides of the pocket bag (Photo 5)

To finish the bottom of the skirt I used sections of zipper tape to stabilise the bottom edges of the fleece skirt panels then bound the entire circumference of the skirt in the batik material.

I treated the bottom of the sleeve in the same fashion and also bound the final seam joining the bodice to the skirt.

The Inside looks almost as pretty as the outside.


I knew from the beginning of this contest that I wanted to try my hand at making some sort of embellishment using the zipper tape and so I decided to make myself a zipper elephant (Photo 4). I started by cutting a piece of bright pink felt out in the shape of an elephant. 

To prepare my zippers I removed all hardware and then cut the zipper tape right back to the teeth and sealed the remainder of the zipper with a candle. All of the tutorials I looked at used hot glue guns to hold the zippers in place but my glue gun wasn't delicate enough so I resorted to hand stitching over the zipper teeth whilst shaping the zip around the outside of my felt elephant. I had planned to just do one row of zipper teeth around the outside of the felt with a spiral for the ear and tail, but when it was done it looked a bit....incomplete..... so I kept going spiraling inward using different colour zipper teeth whenever I ran out. I added a sequin for an eye and melted all my ends in and in the end I really like the way he turned out. He's a bit amateurish - you can see all my stitches as I didn't have matching threads but he's a cute first attempt. I'd like to try this technique again some day.

So I have to say I absolutely love this dress.  I assumed that I'd only ever wear it all zippers open but I actually like the zipped up look almost as much as I like it flared.  The dress is super comfy thanks to the fleece material and I haven't wanted to take it off since I finished it which is saying something.  Now for the weather to warm up just enough for me to wear it without freezing to death.

I'll leave you with a few gratuitous twirling shots - you try wearing this dress and not giving it a twirl!

Now....lets go back to that jumpsuit idea.......