A-line shift

An A-line shift has been on my drafting list forever, but I am trying to work through my classes in order, so it has taken me until now to get to it.  Sixties mod is my favourite of the retro fashions. 

I made one muslin of my draft and then thought I would be able to get my second draft wearable, so I cut into real fabric (sewing and chucking muslins still feels wasteful to me).  I still need to tweak the draft a bit for my next version, but I already wore this dress out, so I am happy with that decision.

I am happy with the front, except that it is just a smidge tight in the bust.  I have used French darts.  The class example put the dress on the bias for a closer fit, but I knew that I wanted a pattern on the straight grain. I didn't use as much flare as the class example either.

Stripe matching this fabric was easy.  I am not so happy with the side and back views.  I kept the darts in back, even though they aren't normally included in an A-line shift, because there was a lot of pooling in my muslin.  The dart shaping doesn't seem quite right tough and there is not enough room for my butt.  There are less shaping options with a shift, so I am not sure how to address this.  I'll have to dig out the fitting books.

The fabric is really groovy.  It is a Japanese fine wale corduroy (still available here), but I have the nap running around my body rather than up and down because I preferred the darker stripes to be horizontal.  The description does say corduroy, but I didn't read it closely and was surprised when the fabric turned up.  A happy accident though, because I would not have ordered corduroy if I had known, but it is a lovely weight for this style of dress. 


Burdastyle 2/2015 #127

This top was part of my Sewing Bee final entry.  I like the boxy, airy shape in combination with the trousers.

The fabric is a Japanese cotton seersucker from Tessuti.  The gingham print is printed on rather than sewn into the fabric.

The pattern is Burdastyle 2/2015 #127.  This was a petite pattern, so after reading other reviews, I decided to lengthen the pattern pieces by 3 inches. I inserted this length in 3 places; above the armscye, between armscye and bust and at the hem. After making a muslin, I made a square shoulder adjustment and moved the position of the darts a little. 

I think that the high-low hem looks best from the side.

I like the open back but I am wondering if I can wear it without the camisole in summer.  I'm not one for going bra-less  so I'm not sure how this could work.  Maybe a crop top / bralette underneath?

The sleeve inset has an interesting angular seam.

I used a rouleaux  loop instead of a thread llop for closing, as a wardrobe malfunction on the loop could be a bit of a problem.  I think I need to move the button down a smidge though.

The neck, armhole, sleeve and hem edges are finished with hand made rayon bias binding.


Sewing Bee Trousers + Cami

The last round of the PR Sewing Bee was to sew a day to night outfit for fashion week.  I decided to sew trousers and a cami, with an over top for day.  I'll save the over top for another post.

The trousers were made in a cotton damask from EmmaOneSock, using Vogue 1035 (alice + olivia).

I did have one lucky break when cutting these trousers out. I did not muslin these trousers, as I have made other alice + olivia trouser patterns successfully. I had only enough fabric for the outer pieces to be cut in my main fabric. The waistband facing needed to be cut from something else. I cut the waistband facing first to check the size I needed. It was way too short. I went back through past pattern reviews and found an early review where another sewer had the same problem. Later reviews didn't mention it, so I wonder if Vogue corrected this error. Anyway, it meant that I found the problem before cutting into my main fabric, saving me from potential disaster.

I went to a bit of effort with the construction of the trousers.  Some of the trouser details are

- the fronts are partially lined to below the knee, to minimise bagging at the knee. To attach the partial lining, I cut out the lining as for the fronts, only shorter, and sewed the lining to the fronts all around the piece edges. From that point, I could consider the lining and outer as a single unit. The bottom of the lining is finished with a strip of lace, which is a pretty detail (and not really planned.  I repurposed the silk from an old slip that already had the lace attached).

- the pocket lining is made from the same luxurious silk as the camisole

- the waistband facing is made from linen (which makes them comfortable to wear, but was really because I did not have enough of the fashion fabric to cut the facing).  

- the hems are finished with grosgrain ribbon. The ribbon is positioned so that it sits just below the hem, to prevent wear on the bottom hem edge of the trousers. A second benefit of the grosgrain ribbon is that it holds the hem shape nicely. To sew the grosgrain hem band, I placed the grosgrain on the outside of the pants, with the top edge of the grosgrain ribbon positioned at my hem length. I sewed the ribbon on, about 1/8 inch from the top edge of the ribbon. I then flipped the ribbon to the inside of the pants. The 1/8 inch hangs below the trouser hem, providing protection from wear whilst being nearly invisible.
- the waist edge and pockets are stayed with rayon seam tape, to maintain shape and fit throughout the day.

The camisole was self-drafted, and made up in a silk crepe de chine from Tessuti.

I drafted this pattern last year, but had only got around to making it up in a cotton lawn, where it fit perfectly. It was a whole different story in the silk, and I had to make some changes to the dart and side seams.

First time around, I sewed it in a single layer and used self made bias binding to finish the edges. It turned out to be too sheer, so I had to unpick all that binding (3 passes of sewing) I ended up taking it on a camping trip with me to unpick in the bright sunshine). When I got home, I cut a second camisole out and made the top double layer.  One layer was meant to be longer than the other layer, but somehow that didn't quite work out, so one layer is longer in the front and the other longer in the back. Lucky I was tucking it in for the photos.

French seams throughout and I sewed the hems in 3 passes rather than use the narrow hem foot.  I am finding the 3 pass method more reliable in shifty silks.

I love the resulting outfit, but it certainly is a lot brighter than the other entries.  Also, some of the other contestants sewed jackets, which I always think is the hardest thing, so I don't know how I'll go.  No matter, I love the clothes I made, so I guess I am a winner, whatever the outcome of the competition.


Sewing Bee Rue Dress

The third round of the PR Sewing Bee was to sew a dress using the Colette Rue pattern.  I love the idea of everybody using the same pattern and interpreting it differently, but I must confess that my heart sank when I heard that it was a Colette pattern.  I am hardly the target body shape for their patterns and I don't wear the vintage vibe that they are going for.

After some thought, I realised that the dress was essentially a sheath dress with interesting seaming on the bodice.  I racked my brain for sheath dress inspiration.  What came to mind was the green and white dress that was worn by Alicia Vikander in the movie "The Man from U.N.C.L.E" (costume designer Joanna Johnston). Her dress was actually a 60's shift, not a sheath dress, but it was the back cut-outs that I loved most of all and used for inspiration.

I am so far off the Colette body shape that I decided to transfer the design lines to my sloper rather than wrestle with the multiple muslins required to get her pattern to fit me.

Here is my bodice, with the Rue design lines.

The back view of my competed dress.

The hem band was a last minute addition.  I was having lots of trouble with the zip, and was getting bothered by the excess length of the skirt as I kept trying it on to sort out the zip.  So I decided to cut the excess off, ready for hemming later.  Only I cut too much off.  The dress was too short.  It was the sort of too short when you see somebody wear a dress from the back of their wardrobe.  You know, it was the perfect length 15 years ago, but the dress has to hang past a leeetle bit more girth now, and is the sort of too short that leads to inadvertent flashing of knickers on the dance floor.  Not a good look.  At this stage in the construction, I went to bed disgusted.  Overnight, I had the news flash to add on a hem band.

I didn't have the perfect button for the back of the dress, so I layered two buttons.  This is a bit bulky though, so I will keep an eye out for a green button in the right size.  You can see my bra band peeking through.  All of my bras have 2 hook closures.  I think if I get a bra with a 1 hook closure, it will sit perfectly hidden.

I have never hand-picked a zipper.  Never wanted to.  Wondered why anybody would when they could machine sew in a zipper in just a few minutes.  Well, I tell you, I could have handpicked a zipper for each of the Jolie-Pitt children in the time it took me to put in this zipper.  I started it about 3 pm and finished up somewhere after midnight.

Originally, I was going to have a short zip in the side bodice and another in the CB skirt, so that I would not have to zip through the cut-outs or the bulky bits in the side seam.
It took me about 2 hours to work out that my bodice side seams weren't the same length, and that was why my zipper wasn't working.  I had made some last minute changes to the waist cutout after my muslin the night before, and did not true the side seams after.  Once I fudged my way through that I found that I could not get the dress on.  The side zip was fine in my muslin, but the firm bodice fabric and lining had much less give than my muslin. Major rework to put a single zip in the side.  I hadn't drafted the pattern with that in mind, so it took quite a bit of in and out and fiddling with lining seam allowances so that the zip would not show through the cut-out.  This could easily have been accommodated at the drafting stage.  In the end, I cut through the zipper tape at the bodice skirt junction so that the zipper is almost in two parts. This allowed me to keep everything tidy and also prevent the zipper tape from showing through the cut-out. It looks tenuous, but it appears to be holding up pretty well through all my putting on and taking off of the dress already.

My process for sewing the cut-outs was as follows.

- mark circles on wrong side of bodice fabric, with iron away marker
- baste organdy to bodice fabric, right sides together. Baste in a large square around the circles. This helps the organdy stay in position as the fabric is pulled in a circular motion when the circles are stitched.

- stitch circles, using a reduced stitch length of 1.5
- cut out circles, leaving a 6 mm seam allowance. Clip seam allowance all the way around the circle
- remove basting stitches
- cut organdy between each of the circles, to cut it into 4 pieces
- pull organdy through to wrong side and press.

Continue making the back bodice and attach the back lining at the hem.

- Mark through the bodice circles to mark circles on the lining.
- Make the circles in a similar fashion to the bodice, only stitch the circles larger than the marked circles. The rayon lining is not as stable as the interfaced bodice, so making the lining circles larger than the bodice circles will prevent any peek through.

Finish construction of the dress.

- hand stitch the lining cut-outs to the bodice cut-outs.  You can also see that I have catch-stitched the belt in position.

I was in Brisbane for the first 5 days of the competition, which gave me very little time to sew the dress, but it did give the chance to get to the Fabric Store and buy the fabrics I needed.

- bodice - textured cotton. This was not quite as heavy as I would have liked, so I interfaced it fully. The resulting bodice has very little give, so it is not very forgiving fit-wise.
- bodice lining - rayon woven, which feels lovely to wear.
- skirt - rayon polyester crepe. I would have loved to have this fabric for both the bodice and the skirt, but could not find it in the colour I wanted.
- skirt lining - woven silk
- cut-out support - cotton organdy

The skirt lining was the most expensive part of the dress, but it does a great job of stopping the crepe from sticking to me. The crepe seems to have a lot of static.

It was stressful sewing to the deadline.  I would have preferred a shift to a sheath dress for this design, but if it were not for the competition, I may never have made it at all.  I am thinking of making a shift version in a different fabric for summer, now that I have worked out how to make the back.  Only I still need to undertake my craftsy class on drafting a shift from my sloper.  


Cold Shoulder Top

Cold shoulder tops are definitely in the fashion fad category, so I thought that if I was going to make one, I had better get on with it.  In my Spring pattern picks, I  chose Marfy 3086.  I love Marfy patterns, but they are just too expensive to get sent to Australia.  Instead, I drafted myself a copy of the pattern.

I used the following parameters to make my draft from my sloper
- eliminated waist darts
- rotated bust, armhole, and shoulder darts to front neckline
- lowered neckline by 1 cm at front
- lowered neckline quite a bit at back.
- 10 cm ease through bust and hips and a little more in the waist
- shoulder 4.5 cm
- I haven't got my sleeve sloper quite right yet, but I used what I had and added the 10 cm ease to match the bodice and then an additional 6 cm ease.  I was surprised that I needed this much ease, but I had less in my muslin and the sleeves kept getting caught up whenever I tried to lift my arms.
- sleeves elbow length
- bodice length to hit high hip, which is longer than the Marfy top but more suited to me
- eliminated darts in the back.  The photo looks like there is more shaping than there is, which I think is just from the breeze blowing.

My fabric is a lovely seersucker from Tessuti.  (It is still available in other colourways)  Seersucker is perfect for hot weather, because it doesn't stick to your skin, and is great for boxy shapes like this top because it has little drape. The blue tabs are cut out of linen.  The buttons are from stash.

Anyway, it was a nice quick sew on my public holiday, which was much appreciated after my sewing bee effort last week.  I will post my sewing bee photos soon, but am having internet issues, and can only upload small photos at present, which is not great for showing detail.