Friday, July 27, 2018

An Interview Dress

So I was offered a job interview this week - of course my first thoughts when they contacted me were - argggg what am I going to wear - I have nothing work appropriate in my wardrobe.  I thought that my maxi shirt dress might work, but decided that it was a good opportunity to make something new.

My basic design idea was to make a dress similar to my avian dress with the pleated skirt but make the top more work appropriate, I decided on a fitted button up shirt top with the flat neckline from my latest jumpsuit.

I pulled out both the pattern for my avian dress and the pattern for my maxi dress.  I took the back pattern piece from my avian dress  but superimposed the neckline and arm hole from my maxi dress.  I ended up putting two small darts into the back waist to get a great fit across the back.

I then started from scratch on the front.  I initially liked the fit of my maxi dress but something doesn't seem quite right so thought I'd try again.  I drew lines 2" apart vertically and horizontally across a piece of scrap fabric and then started draping on my dress form.  As I already had the back piece cut out it was easy to match it at the shoulders and sides keeping the grain straight and then just pinched out  princess seams down the front to get the fit right through the bust. I then added a 5" wide waistband which in the end was cut down to about 3" wide.

After one wear I am happy with the fit I've achieved with this.

I then basted on a basic collar band and button band and got my daughter to pinch out all excess around the back of my neck and basted it in place around the front so that I had a smooth collar and button band.

The last step was to  figure out sleeves.  I used the sleeve pattern from my maxi dress but added just a smidge of extra width around.  It looked right on the muslin, but once I cut it out of the final fabric the sleeves looked way too big so I ended up taking 4 small pleats along the lower edge of the sleeve before finishing the sleeve which gives it a slightly puffed look which I think works beautifully with this style.

Once I had my muslin all fitting perfectly  I trimmed everything off at the seam lines and lay all the pieces out on a piece of paper and traced around them to give me a perfect pattern for my new dress.  I added seam allowances back on where required and then I was ready to get started with my final material.

The material that I used for this dress is an upholstery fabric that I was given at my local town hall.  They were planning on throwing out about 6 bolts of material, but they knew I was giving sewing lessons there so offered the fabric to me first.  Of course I took it.  I figured if nothing else it would be great to use for muslins.  However once I saw this bolt of material I knew I needed to make a dress out of it.  Once again it's curtain material, but I have a thing for dresses made out of curtains - too many viewings of The Sound of Music obviously.

The top of the dress came together pretty quickly.  I finished all the seams with the overlocker and then top stitched each seam.  The sleeves I finished simply but turning under twice at 1/4" each time.   The skirt is two big rectangles the full width of the material about 46" x 23".  I traced the shape of the pocket off the Avian dress since I don't have a pattern for the pockets for that dress and sewed them into the side seams of the skirt about 2" below the top edge.

I then put a 2" pleat at each side of the side seam making a big inverted box pleat and then placed two other inverted box pleats in both the back and front of the skirt to use up any excess fabric.  I sewed the skirt onto the bodice and hemmed the skirt with a double turned 1" hem and my new dress was done and ready for the interview - now to wait and see whether I got the job.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Paisley Denim Rayon Jumpsuit

I was wandering through Walmart the other day and as I passed the fabric section I noticed a rack of discounted fabric.....and on this rack was a beautiful denim coloured lightweight rayon fabric.  Scattered over the fabric were small paisley designs and then down each side of the bolt was a border pattern of bigger paisley designs.  It was beautiful -  I knew I needed some and decided to get a full 4 ft.

I had a design in mind for the fabric and I think I did pretty well executing the design, unfortunately I didn't get the fit quite right - otherwise this would be close to perfect.

The design I was looking for was a button up raglan shirt with a collar  that sits flush around the neck - I call it a baseball shirt - connected on the bottom to wide legged shorts with a wide waistband in between.

I started with the top using the pattern I used for this purple and teal linen shirt.  Reading back over that blog post I really should have re-read it before I started as the issues I had with that shirt are all still apparent in this one. The neckband doesn't sit perfectly flush around my neck and the princess seam doesn't sit perfectly under my bust, plus there's a bit of pulling across the bust line, but it's nothing I can't live with.

I cut 3 inches off the bottom of the pattern so that it could be joined to shorts to make a jumpsuit, but otherwise made it as is.  I placed the larger paisley design along the top of the shirt, across the sleeves and chest.

The button band and collar band are all interfaced using light weight iron on interfacing and the shirt is closed with 5 grey plastic snaps.

The sleeves are finished by simply turning the edge under twice for a very narrow hem.

Then I moved onto the shorts.  I started with the Closet Case Sallie Jumpsuit pattern.  Took about 3/4" length out of the rise at both front and back and then added 4 inches of width down the center of each panel, which I turned into inverted box pleats when I fitted the pants to the waistband. I cut out the shorts so that the border print was around the bottom of the legs.

Hmm looks like I could do with some work on the back crotch curve!  not the most flattering.
I added a 3" wide straight waistband to join the shirt and shorts together.   I cut two waistband pieces and  sewed them together with the shorts sandwiched in between, then cut some 3" wide elastic to length and sewed it between the two layers of waistband with two rows of zig zag stitches at the lower edge and in the center.

I then attached the shirt to the top of both waistband pieces.  I ended up taking about 1" off the length of the shirt to get everything to sit nicely in place.  The final seam was then turned down and top stitched in place over the elastic using another row of zig zag stitches.  This is the only exposed seam in the whole jumpsuit - I tried many times to enclose this seam but it just wouldn't work neatly so in the end I just gave up and serged it and top stitched it.

I hemmed the jumpsuit to just above the knee -  I would like to make it a bit shorter but then I'd lose the border print.  I already re-cut the shorts pattern once as it was way too long the first time and I didn't want to lose the print  - its a good thing the pattern is pretty much square!

I love this outfit and have worn it multiple times since finishing it.  The few minor fitting issues  are a bit annoying and I've thought about taking it apart and fixing them - but I did a good job making it in the first place - french seamed every seam (except the last) and top stitched to within an inch of its life so there will be no unpicking for me.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Messenger Bag

For Christmas last year I made my best friend a messenger style bag sort of like this one.  One of her friends liked it so much she asked me to make one for her. I was a bit worried about how it would go making something for someone so far away, but facebook came to the rescue and we were able to get it made.

She didn't want the cathedral quilting (probably couldn't afford how much it would cost), but wanted something with a black background with a basic pattern.  I took a trip to all my local fabric stores and took photos off all the possible fabric choices, sent the pictures through messenger and she chose this fabric.  It an upholstery fabric - based on the smell when ironing a polyester of some sort.  The circle design is actually woven into the bag in a light blue grey colour.

I then used a light blue cotton to line the bag.

I added a zipper pocket into the bag which divides the bag into three sections.  A thin section behind the zipper pouch, the zipper pouch and then a main section of the bag.

To close the bag I added a bronze/gold metallic snap

Because I didn't know how long she wanted to the shoulder strap I wanted to make the strap adjustable.  However I also wanted to keep the strap nice and wide - a 3" strap makes a bag so much more comfortable to carry.  Unfortunately It's not possible to find hardware to fit a 3" strap - not without going to hardware designed for industrial use which is really huge and thick and clunky.  So instead I made the strap in two sections and put a belt loop on the end of each strap, the straps are then woven through the opposites straps loop before being attached to the bag creating a basic slider.  I'm not sure how well it will stay in place - hopefully I can get some feedback once it arrived.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

New Swimwear

There hasn't been a lot of sewing going on around here lately.  Too busy taking advantage of the beautiful weather outside to spend much time in front of the sewing machine.  However before we could go out and enjoy the water, I had to make everyone a new pair of swimmers for the year.

J found some fabric at the local fabric store that he absolutely loved and had to have so I made his swim suit out of that - just a basic poly lycra with a green blue black and white pixelated print.  I used the same basic pattern as last year - euro swim trunks and a short sleeve rash vest.  I made one modification to the swim trunks this year and added a 2" wide gusset down the inseam.  I like the way this works a lot more than the basic pattern I used last year.

We also went with the full length zip his year to make the rash vest easier to get on and off.  The only issue I have with this suit is that I made the elastic in the pants too loose so the pants tend to slip down - I tried going back and running in the side seams including the elastic as I was too lazy to unpick all that elastic, it helped a little but not enough - oh well he can use these till the die and then I'll make a new pair - I have plenty of left over material.

L's swim suit pattern is the same as last years, just upsized with again that one modification to the pants to include the inner seam gusset - it seems to have eliminated the camel toe problem she had last year so I'm happy with that. 

Otherwise same basic crop top and shorts with zip up rash vest.  The fabric I used for her suit is one that I bought out of the remnant bin at the end of last season - A blue and green stripe.  The fabric felt like a really good swim suit fabric but it hasn't held up well to the chlorine - one week of use and its already all faded.  And after all the trouble I went to matching those stripes.

I then started on a new swim suit for myself. This did not go quite so smoothly. 

I'm happy enough with the rash vest and the pants of my swim suit.  Though the top ended up a bit tight due to the fact that I wanted to wear it the next day, but I didn't have a long enough zipper in my stash so I actually sewed up the front seam of this rash vest. 

The cuffs on the sleeves are also a touch too tight, and the cuffs on the pants not quite tight enough!

The bikini top is where the majority of the issues are.  The pattern I used last time, the cups are a bit too small these days so I wanted to try and redraft that - I also wanted to try and design a swim top that didn't need underwires but was still supportive.

After a number of different iterations I was sort of happy with the design - it's pretty basic, but in my practice fabric it seemed to fit fairly well - what I didn't take into account was that my final fabric had less stretch than the cheap stuff I was using to practice - so the cups ended up being slightly too small again.

The second issue I had was material - I didn't have enough of it.  I was using a beautiful fabric that I had again found on the remnant table at the end of last year - it's a blue ombre with just the occasional big paisley pattern.

 I cut out the rash vest and pants first figuring the top was all small pieces and I'd be able to use the left overs - unfortunately the only left overs big enough had a bit of the paisley pattern on it and it looks a bit strange - to put it mildly.  Luckily the top doesn't get worn by itself very often, I usually have the rash vest over the top.

Overall it's not as fantastic as I had envisioned when I found this material, but it's functional and I've already worn it a couple of times.  I would however like to try again at some stage this summer.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Birthday Present for Grandma.

With my Mum living on the other side of the world, it's really hard to do presents for all those special occasions, but I love making things for people I love so since Mum's birthday is coming up I decided it was time to start working on a present for her.

As it's coming into winter in the southern hemisphere I wanted to make something warm, but a bit decadent so I decided on a nice silk jersey shirt, something that you can wear every day, but that's a little bit special.  I found a beautiful piece of silk jersey with an ombre from dark blue to white with splashes of other colours and a leafy print that I thought would work well for Mum so I bought that and prewashed it and then promptly forgot all about it.  A couple of weeks later I realised that time was getting away from me and that I had to make this shirt up soon.

Of course because I was in a rush I couldn't find a pattern I liked.  Kristy from Lower you Presser foot had just done a cowl necked top that I loved but that was a McCalls pattern and I didn't have time to get to a store and buy a pattern - I wanted something I could use now!  of course I couldn't find anything similar in pdf patterns.  Then I started thinking about the patterns that I do have on hand and thought about the Paprika Patterns Jasper sweater.  That had a very similar cowl to what I was looking for.  I looked up all the reviews on pattern review and the thinner materials were looking a bit like what I wanted.  I decided that I would try to modify that pattern to get what I wanted.

I started with a piece of cotton jersey from stash as a muslin before cutting into my good silk.  I cut out the size 7 that I had originally used, left off the bands at the sleeves and bottom (but added 1" extra length to the bottom) and the pocket, and added 2" to the height of the cowl portion.  I then took and extra 1/2" off each of the 4 seams around the body and the sleeve seams to get a better fit.  It ended up exactly like I had hoped.

Now to start with the real material.  Once again however I stuffed up and forgot that the silk jersey had less stretch than my muslin.  I was planning on french seaming everything and got to the point where all the seams were finished their first pass and I tried it on.  Two issues were obvious.  First - it was fitting just nicely, but I still had to take in 4 more seams - and second, my placement of the front piece on the material was unfortunate.  The material I was using has random splotches of colour all over it - unfortunately I'd cut the front piece so there was just one splotch right in the middle and it was brown.  It looked like I'd spilled something down the front of the shirt.  At that point I gave up and went to bed.

The next morning I decided that the splotch was something that I couldn't live with, thankfully I'd bought extra fabric so there was just enough to re cut the front piece so I did that.  I then went back and for each seam I did the first pass at 1/8", turned and did a second pass at 1/4" to give myself just a bit more room.  This worked beautifully.  Unfortunately the sleeves were already finished at the full seam allowance so I couldn't go back and change them, so the sleeves are just a touch too tight around the biceps for me.  The good news is my Mum is smaller than I am so hopefully it'll fit her nicely.

Since this is going to be a present I wanted to finish it really nicely, so the inside of the collar was turned under and stitched in place by hand and the sleeves and bottom band were also finished by hand.

I love the way this turned out and will definitely be making another one for me next winter.  It's warm and snuggly and just all together yummy!

I think the only thing I might change is to add just a touch more length, 1 more inch should do it, it's just looking a touch short here!

And finally here is a picture of Mum actually wearing it. It seems to fit OK from what I can see.  Anyway Happy Birthday Mum!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Blue maxi shirt dress

Just after I finished making my last shirt dress, I looked on the Pattern Review web site and found that there was a shirt dress contest going on at the moment.  It started two days after I made my first shirt dress so that dress was ineligible.  However that just gave me an excuse to make another new dress.

I wasn't 100% happy with my first shirt dress, whilst it's pretty, and comfortable and will therefore be worn tonnes, it is still a touch shapeless which is not my favourite silhouette, so I decided I would start again from scratch to make a more fitted pattern.

I found a piece of plain cotton in my stash and drew horizontal and vertical lines all over it and then used that to start draping a pattern.  I started with the neckline and armholes from previous patterns that I'm happy with and then started shaping.  I made one princess seam right down the front of my dress from the neckline and over the bust point to give good shaping over and under the bust.

A second princess seam was added about 2/3 of the way down the front arm hole to give further shaping through the bust. 

I balanced this with a side seam that was shifted slightly to the back of my body and provides just a touch of shaping.

I decided to forgo any further shaping down the back so as to make the dress more comfortable and just added ties into the back princess seams to fit the back of the dress and allow for some expansion/contraction as required.

Now I could think about materials.  I knew exactly which of my materials I wanted to use.  I found this beautiful blue rayon a couple of months ago and loved it so much I bought 6 yards of it.  It's the weight and feel of a linen but was marked as 100% rayon.  It's  patterned in shades of blue with darker blue bamboo and birds and flowers with pops of yellow in the flower blooms.

When it came to making the dress out of my final material, I extended all my seams full length. I added no flare to the front seams and only a very slight flare to the two side princess seams to create a more sleek silhouette. Each seam was sewn as a french seam so the insides of the dress are as pretty as the outside.

I added a button band down the front of the dress hand stitching the inner layer for a clean finish. I left the two side front seams open about halfway up my thigh.

The free edges I turned under twice and stitched. 

The hem is also tuned under 1/2" twice and top stitched.

I drafted small cap sleeves to fit my arm holes. The edges are finished by turning under twice.

The neckline came about from a picture of a mandarin collar that was higher in the front than in the back. I made a basic mandarin collar that was wider at the front than the back and basted it to my muslin, but with the shape that I had cut my neckline it really didn't work. However if I shaped the collar a bit more I found that it made a really cute keyhole type detail at the front neckline, so I modified my collar piece and neckline to create this feature. Again the collar is finished by hand for a clean finish.

Once I got to the dress to this point I then had a dilemma.  I would usually either just sew the button band closed and sew on a few buttons for effect, or use snaps since I hate buttons and I find button holes always look scrappy to me.   But that would make my dress ineligible for the Pattern Review contest.  I thought about just skipping the contest, but in the end I decided to use it as a learning experience and teach myself how to do bound button holes.

I did a number of trials first before cutting into my final dress, the finished button holes may not be perfect, but I'm more than happy with them.

Button hole from outside

Button hole from inside

I had no idea what buttons I wanted to use and when I was going through my very meager button stash I found a couple of glittery bugs and butterflies. I laid them against my dress as a joke, but really liked the way they looked, and every button I tried after that made the dress seem quite stodgy so in the end I went with the pink and purple bugs and butterflies. They are definitely a personal touch!

so I love the way this dress turned out and know that it will get quite a bit of wear during the summer.