Thursday, January 31, 2013

Its Coming Along!!

As per my last post, I spent a few hours last weekend re-drafting the pattern I came up with for the Tropical Wrap Dress to fix the bits I wasn't happy with.  It was actually way easier than I anticipated!

Old idea on the left, new idea on the right!

I kept the dart at the top (to accommodate my larger-than-a-B-cup boobs) and moved the pleats to the side.  It was so simple that I'm surprised I got it wrong the first time - anyway, you live and learn!  Thank goodness I made a muslin!!

I also added about 6 inches of width the the front skirt piece, but I didn't re-muslin it.  I'm confident it will be fine.

I then cut out all my pieces.  This took a while as I had to cut out the dress twice - once for the tropical print rayon and once in a vanilla colour rayon for lining.  The lining will enable me to hide seams and boning etc, and make the dress less see-through.  It will also stop my 'pop-of-colour' fabric from showing through.  More on this next week!

Here are the fabrics I'm using - vanilla rayon on the left, gorgeous tropical print rayon in the middle, and the 'pop-of-colour' lime green on the right.

Now!  To integrate the pop of colour into the rest of the dress, I decided to add a bobble trim to the top edge of the bodice pieces.  I'll be adding it to the front wrap of the skirt too.  In the past I've just hand sewn the trim on later, but I didn't want to do that this time - I wanted to sew the trim in the seam.  I fiddled around a bit and worked out how.

This is what I did:

1. Sew the sew-in interfacing to the lining fabric...

Rayon is a soft drapey fabric and this part of the dress really needs a bit of support, so I added a couple of inches of sew-in interfacing.  I sewed it at a foot-width from the edge so the line of stitching would not be visible on the finished piece.

2. Sew the trim to the right side of the dress fabric...

This took some thinking to make sure the trim would be the right way up on the finished piece... I'm not sure what this says about my thought process, but anyway!

I stitched the trim on at 5/8ths of an inch, which is the seam allowance.  And I used the zipper foot so I could get right up close to the edge of the trim.  If I was using ric-rac or something like that I could have just used a regular foot.

3. Sew both pieces together...
I didn't get a photo of this bit... sorry... but its pretty straight forward.  I left the zipper foot on and made sure that I was right up close the the bobbles once again.  It was a bit painful, and I did it   V  E  R  Y   S  L  O  W  L  Y.

4. Turn through and iron...
Ta da!!!

Even if I do say so myself...

I also had to remember to sew in the tie on the skinny side of the front bodice piece so I can tie the finished dress closed.  Its hard to remember these things when you are a) not working with a pattern and instructions; and b) you are distracted by how awesome what you are doing is looking!!!

I also had a fairly big debate with myself last week that could be titled 'To Shir or not the Shir'. 

I just cannot stand it when you are wearing a top thats either strapless or a halter, and the back piece falls down!!!  Drives me MAD!!!  I could put boning in the back to keep it up, but I really didn't want the bones to show, and I'm pretty sure that with this fabric they would.  That leaves shirring, which is time consuming, and creates other issues with the straight skirt.

I decided to go with the shirring option, so I spent about an hour doing this:

My shirring is far from awesome looking.  Its just so hard to get the lines straight when you have to pull at the fabric all the time!  But I'm happy with the end result.

Unfortunately it was right about now that I had to stop sewing, so this was all I got done.  I would have loved to get this finished, but its the kind of project that I want to really sink my teeth into, take my time, and not take short cuts.  That said though, I'm really hoping to get the skirt on it this weekend!  Then another weekend for the finishing touches (like hemming - blech!) and the bolero.

And I've already started sourcing amazing accessories too - more to come on that later!

How do you think I'm going - do you love it as much as I do?  And what do you think of the lime green?


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

New Year : New Challenges

January may almost be over (nearly) but last weekend I started my first sewing project for the new year - and its a doozie!

I decided to push myself and my skills to a new level (hopefully) by trying something new.  I've decided to try and create a dress using just the pattern envelope, and not the pattern.  The beauty of doing this is that the back of the pattern envelopes have, in the very least, line drawings of the garment, or, if you're lucky, outlines of the pattern pieces.  So you have a pretty good idea of the shapes that make up the garment.  I'm hoping to use this as a stepping stone between using patterns, and being able to make reproductions from photographs and illustrations.

This is the pattern I picked:

The other reason I didn't just buy the pattern is:
a) its incredibly rare; and 
b) therefore very expensive.

The dress is an actual wrap dress, not a faux one, so it ties on - which means no zipper!  I'm also going to make the bolero, but not the shorts and bra - no-one needs to see that!

I have little to no experience pattern making, but what better way to learn something than to just having a go at it!

Beccie Makes A Pattern - Step One
First up, I took out a pattern that I've done a full bust adjustment on so I know it fits me really well and really closely to my body.  I made it up in some cheap-ass lilac cotton that I bought specifically for making muslins out of and proceeded to cut it and pin it and draw lines on it:

Beccie Makes A Pattern - Step Two
Then I layed the piece on my work table, and before removing the pins, I marked the pleat lines, and darts, and any adjustments I had made, and then I cut the centres out of the darts:

Beccie Makes A Pattern - Step Three
Then I recreated these fabric pieces on paper:

I had some issues drawing in the pleat lines but didn't have any liquid paper... just ignore that bit!

While I was playing around with paper, I also made the skirt pieces.  I used the skirt pattern from a wiggle dress pattern that fits well.  Then for the front wrap piece with the drape bit on one side, I traced one side of the skirt pattern, then traced one of the pattern pieces from my four-gored circle skirt pattern so I would get the curve and the drape.

So that was it, my pattern was done!

Then I cut it all out of more lilac coloured fabric and sewed it up so I could see how it went.  This is the end result:

Now there is no point undertaking a project like this if you aren't going to be critical of what you've done.

As I see it there are three things that need to be fixed:
  1. The folded drapey bit under the bust.  This has been created because the pleats I put in the bodice are in the wrong spot - they should go to the side rather than to the waist...
  2. The pleats in the front skirt.  I thought with the pleats from the bust coming to the waist that they should meet at the waist seam, but that doesn't give the right effect.  The front wrap piece needs to be bigger to accommodate a larger pleat AND they need to be much closer to the swag on the side.
  3. I think the swag should be bigger, but that might be taken care of when I make the above adjustments.  If not, the contrasting fabric I'm going to line the front wrap piece with will make it stand out more.
This all means that this coming weekend I'm going to redraft the front bodice piece and the front wrap skirt piece.  It shouldn't take too long, and I'll reassess how the muslin looks when I'm done!

Oh, I didn't show you the fabric!!!!

A gorgeous rayon covered in parrots, and flowers - LOVE!

Isn't it beautiful!  One of the people that follow me on my Facebook Page asked me if I could send her some, which of course I did!  And guess what - she's making a wrap dress too, but one from the 1940s!!!  Won't it be fun to compare the decades???  You can follow her blog here.

So, any comments, hints or tips on my progress so far?  I'm looking forward to getting right into it this coming weekend!


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Oh So Cherrylicious!

My first outfit post of the year makes me think of this song.

But only because Bootylicious and Cherrylicious sound the same.... we could make up some lyrics that would work though!  How about:

I don't think you ready for this much Cherry
I don't think you ready for this much Cherry
I don't think you're ready for this
My outfits so Cherrylicious and so fab!

Thats enough singing for one day - time for some photos!

You see what I mean about Cherrylicious now right!  There are cherries on my outfit, in my hair (not that you can see them in this shot), on my shoes...

These are shoes by Vivienne Westwood for Melissa Shoes.
And before you all go looking for a pair to buy, they don't make them anymore.  They have become a bit of a collectors item and now sell for more second hand than they ever did new.  I got lucky thought and found a pair in my size that had only been worn once.  It was meant to be!!

... and on my bag...

How darling is this little vintage bag with plastic cherries on top!  Also one of those meant to be purchases.  I wasn't looking for it but it found me!

And here is the back of the outfit

Now, despite what it might look like, this isn't a dress.  Its actually a fully boned strapless top made from this pattern:

And a circle skirt made from a circle skirt pattern!  I thought this would make the outfit better and more wearable wardrobe wise.  I can wear the top with jeans or capris or a different skirt, and I can wear the skirt with other tops!  But today I chose to go to work (and to the uniform shop to buy new school uniform for my stepson) looking like this!  The only difference is I'm not carrying the bag... its adorable and all but WAY too small to carry everything around in.

And for those of you that are dog people, here is a pic of me and the ever adorable Stella!

And before you get grossed out, no I'm not actually kissing her.  I make kissy face and noises at her and she reaches out with her nose towards me.  Somehow I trained her not to lick me or touch me....  I think its more the noise she is fascinated by....

Anyway!  I have been making this outfit for a few weeks now in amongst cleaning and holidaying etc.  Its not the kind of outfit that everyone will want to wear but I love it!  Very over the top and very me.  The only thing its missing is some matchy-matchy Lucy Luxxe jewellery...I'll have to work on that!

What do you all think?  I'm crazy aren't I!


Monday, January 7, 2013

A Sewists Biggest Dilema

As sewists (ie. people who sew - I can't quite come at sewers, especially when I see it written down!), we have a few shared problems that just won't seem to go away.  Things like:
  • A growing fabric stash that we don't seem to use;
  • Organisation of said fabric stash so we remember what we have, how much of it we bought, and if we've already washed it;
  • Keeping our sewing rooms or areas neat;
  • UFOs (otherswise known as Unfinished Objects);
And the one I had a go at sorting out during the break:
  • Organising our patterns!
I was storing my patterns randomly in a lovely two drawer bedside table, which worked sort of okay until I tried to find something I vaguely remembered I owned.  Then this would happen:

I would pull everything out until I found what I wanted, and if I wasn't in a hurry I would put them back in the same haphazard manner.  If I was in a hurry they would stay in a pile on the floor.

And if you've been reading my blog for a little while you will know that I have been in a bit of a hurry recently, so pretty much all my patterns were in a pile on the floor.  Obviously this is not ideal for me or the patterns...  So I put my thinking cap on and came up with an idea.

I went and purchased 40 of these:

I think I was kidding myself when I thought 40 would be enough...

Your new word for today, readers, is Doculope.  A doculope is a sturdy plastic envelope that closes with a press stud, in which you can store documents.  Document + Envelope = Doculope!

The good thing about these babies is:
  • I can store the adjusted pattern pieces I make in with the original pieces
  • I don't have to fold things up tiny again to attempt to get them back into the pattern envelope
  • If I buy buttons or zips or something that I particularly want to use with a pattern I can put it in the doculope too
  • They are a uniform size so sit together neatly.
So I got busy on the floor putting all my patterns in doculopes.  I wrote the make and number on the left, and the style on the right - like this:

So organised!

Oh, and while I was at it I photographed (with my fancy new ipad!) the back and the front of the pattern envelope so I can make an record of what I own so I don't buy it twice!  This also gives me the added benefit of giving me easy access to the amount of fabric and what notions etc I need when I'm out and about.

Then I put them into two plastic document filing tubs that I purchased.  So my new pattern storage system looks like this:


My next little job is to sort them into styles - so all the wiggle dresses together, all the skirts together etc.

Then I just need to find somewhere in my sewing room to store the tubs.  Hmmmmm...

So - what do you think of my storage solution?  Is it similar to yours?  How do you store your patterns?