On my Sewing Table – 1920s Evening Dress

Oh my word, how fast is this year spinning by?  I still have a pile of fabrics to use up and patterns to find, not to mention still ploughing through daughter no2’s summer wishlist.  I have done pretty well using up stashed fabric this year, I haven’t calculated any totals yet, not measured anything, but I’m feeling positive that I’m going in the right direction!  The project I’m working on at the moment is also a stash bust, but only half.

Earlier in the year, I was asked by a friend to make a 1920s evening dress for her to attend a charity ball in September.  At the time I said, yes, why not?  Sounds like fun.  I started looking at patterns online and had a few ideas, then when I won a pattern of my choice from Decades of Style I thought I might as well pick something useful.  So together we decided on the Zig Zag dress.  I duly ordered it and promptly forgot all about it.

A couple of months passed and said friend mentioned that we probably ought to make a start on the dress…  OH DEAR!  I admitted total forgetfulness and then thought, where’s that pattern??  Decades of Style assured me that it had been sent out long ago, so someone else is enjoying my pattern – grrrr.  They sent out a new one, but of course, now we’re getting twitchy.  In the meantime we bought what we thought was the perfect fabric, but it was all Croft Mill Fabrics had left, and it was less than the Zig Zag dress required.  We needed to figure out contrast areas.

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Ideas based on the Decades of Style Zig Zag Dress

So I went back online, made a few sketches, had a few ideas.  Eventually we settled on a new design and I started to draft from her close fitting bodice block.  I drew a panel at the hip, divided the skirt into three and added 3cm of flare to the hemline of each panel.  The front and back bodice both got a v-neckline, the back deeper than the front.  Because the fabric has a zig-zag sequin motif I decided against any curves, so the hip panel is straight and angular.  The pattern pieces fitted comfortably on the fabric, I had enough black silk charmeuse in my stash to use for the lining, we were sorted.

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Top left, curved hip panel and fuller, non-paneled skirt with straight hip panel and 6 gored skirt. Right, straight hip panel in plain black with 6 gored skirt. Zig Zag sequin fabric, bottom left.

Except that we couldn’t decide whether the hip panel should be sequins or plain.  A general agreement on Instagram was that it should be sequins, you can never have enough!  I had only one way to make sure we were on the right track.  I had my friend hold the fabric up against herself and I tied a width of black chiffon around her hips.  Folding the fabric up to the finished length, we then looked in the mirror.  We liked what we saw, then I removed the chiffon…  Not so dramatic.  Even though we thought sequins would be better, turns out we both preferred it with a plain black hip panel!  Go figure.

The lining has been made up, all seams French seamed and the neckline stabilised with Vilene bias tape.  As of now the sequin fabric has been cut and I was left with masses of chopped sequins on the cutting table, and everywhere else in the sewing room where they’d ricocheted after being cut.  Thankfully my new vacuum cleaner made short work of the stuff on the carpet, but I’ve a feeling I’l be hoovering up sequins for a while yet.

Now my task is to hand baste the skirt seams, remove the sequins that are in the way and then machine the seams.  The sequins are attached to mesh, so there won’t be any fraying.  I’m tempted to run the seams under the overlocker, but I’m not sure it’ll play nicely with that fabric.

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Sequin casualites everywhere!

The Decades of Style pattern eventually turned up on Friday morning, sadly, too late for this project, but hopefully I’ll have occasion to use it.  I really appreciate the company sending out another pattern, who knows where the first one ended up, but I hope the person who has it eventually gets a conscience.  So, this is my task for the weekend and into next week.  I want to get it all finished by next weekend, partly so I know it’s done and partly because there are lots of piles of things still waiting on my cutting table!!

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Best laid plans & all that

Sooo…  Sewing an Autumn/Winter wardrobe.  Sort of going ok, but a little sidetracked!  A wedding invitation has scuppered my sewing plans a little.  Admittedly, we did receive the invitation some time ago, definitely way before I made my sewing plans, but like all things I dread, I’d pushed it to the back of my mind.

The dreaded invitation...
The dreaded invitation…

Initially I thought of chanelling a bit of a 70’s vibe, maybe some flared trousers, a crossover top with bishop sleeves, that sort of thing.  But then I reconsidered, I didn’t want to be looking like I was supposed to be attending a themed Christmas party and got lost.  The wedding is on the 19th December and we’re invited to the whole shebang, not just the dancing and snacks afterwards, so I wanted something that would look good from 1pm to 1am!

Some outfit ideas - no 70s vibes!
Some outfit ideas – no 70s vibes!

Now I’m a daywear sort of person, sure I like the idea of dressing up, but we just don’t go out much – blame Mr (not) Compulsive, he works too much.  So I have nothing I could just whip out and wear, not that I’d do that anyway, who needs an excuse to make another outfit??

Here's an idea...
Here’s an idea…

After much deliberation, head scratching and hair pulling I had a brainwave.  Plain simple black trousers (there was a nice pattern in a BurdaStyle magazine last year) with a silvery coloured top, drapey (cue the timely launch of Colette Patterns Wren crossover dress) and something to keep me warm, I liked the Longley Cardigan by Wendy Ward.

So I bought said Wren PDF pattern with bonus sleeve pack (why don’t they just sell it with one longsleeve, marked for short, elbow and 3/4 length??), thinking I’d chop it at hip length and make a peplum sort of thing, I already had coming in the post a silvery-grey slubby jersey from Clothspot. I’d been eyeing it for a while and when I discovered it has suddenly moved into the remnants section I realised I could put off buying it no longer!  It seemed perfect, crossover top with peplum in silver-grey slubby jersey, the black trouser fabric was on its way from Croft Mill Fabrics and all I needed to find was the perfect colour boiled wool for the cardi.

Wren toile
Wren toile

But I didn’t like the Wren-as-top.  I’d made some pre-toile alterations, widening the ridiculously narrow sleeve, making it 3/4 length instead of elbow, doing a FBA and lengthening the bodice slightly.  Turns out I needed to lengthen dramatically and choose a different size to FBA.  I decided I couldn’t be bothered right now.  I wanted to make all the other fabric taking up room on the cutting table too!!

Unimpressed face
Unimpressed face

I reverted to a favourite shape, a drape cowl.  Using my tee-shirt block developed earlier in the year I had a little play with cowl depth and drape and made 3 versions, the last was the happy choice.

Making the cowl drape front pattern
Making the cowl drape front pattern
Testing the drape and cowl depth on vintage Betty
Testing the drape and cowl depth on vintage Betty, this is version two.

So quick to make up and the silver-grey jersey is perfect in it!  I didn’t go straight to the silver stuff though.  To make sure I was perfectly happy with it all I used a sort of denim blue-grey jersey from Fancy Silk Store and made the pattern up.  I’ve worn that tee soo much!  (Really needs its own post)

A very wearable, and much worn already, first version of the cowl drape tee.
A very wearable, and much worn already, first version of the cowl drape tee.

The wedding version was cut & made in a couple of hours using the overlocker and twin needle on my sewing machine.  One down, two to go! You’ll see good, proper pictures when the whole outfit is done..

Almost done just needing hems.
Almost done just needing hems.
Trying it out for the first time, I like it!!
Trying it out for the first time, I like it!!

I hae toiled the Burdastyle trousers I thought I wanted.  Turns out they weren’t quite what was in my mind, so I’ve drafted a pair from my own block, toiled and fiddled and am ready to cut the main fabric – today!! Fingers crossed…

ps.  I still haven’t given any thought the the “fancy headgear” referred to in the invitation.  Help…?

Wardrobe Architect Plans Continue

Last Saturday was the Sew Brum event, a meet-up of a number of sewing bloggers in Birmingham.  I decided last minute – as you do – to have something new for the occasion.  And I mean last minute.  I had a new haircut on Tuesday, traced a pair of Burda trousers on Wednesday, had various interruptions & only managed to finish them on Friday morning.  I also started to patterncut a new blouse on Thursday morning.  Something had to give & unfortunately it was the top.

Trousers 143 from Burdastyle 2/2013
Trousers 143 from Burdastyle 2/2013

But first – the item I did manage to finish to wear to the meet-up.  Typically with no spare time, I picked a pattern I’d not used before & haven’t toiled.  I chose a pair of trousers from February 2013 Burdastyle magazine, number 143. The pattern has a slightly dropped, shaped waistband, front fly, hip yoke pockets and cuffs on a slight bootcut shape leg.

This is one the Curvy Collective could add to their list to try out.  It’s a plus size pattern & I traced the 44-48.  I don’t have much waist definition, going straight up from the hip, so I made sure I had enough sizes to grade up.  As it was, I used the 44 on the leg up to the hip line & graded up to the 46 from hip up to the waistband.  It’s a trifle snug because of the lack of stretch, but I’m satisfied with the result.  At least I know they won’t be falling down during the day!

I had to shorten the pattern by 4cm.  The finished length was to be 108cm, which I thought would be ok on me, but when I pinned the cuffs in place they dragged on the floor- not a good look for winter trousers!  I had to chop off the hem turn of the cuffs & reposition them, but now I’ve shortened the paper pattern by the requisite amount so next time will be all good.  I really like the shape of the trousers on me, considering I normally go for wide swooshy ones!  But that style doesn’t work in the winter, I needed a more fitted, shorter style.  I will use this pattern again, but I have my eye on two others to try too.

DSC09948-1The fabric is from Croft Mill, a two tone tiny herringbone cotton chino-type fabric with no stretch.  It has great body and is well suited to the style of trouser I chose – but this is one of those fabrics that creases badly in the washing machine, and then leaves the evidence of that creasing in the loss of colour.  It’s a real shame because now the trousers look like they constantly need an iron.  I’ll leave it for a little while, but I feel I’m going to need to get the dye out, which will lose me those teeny tiny herringbones.

Cuffs & hip yoke pockets lined with grey satin
Cuffs & hip yoke pockets lined with grey satin

I bound the inner waistband edge with the left overs of the lilac bias binding from Daughter No2’s vintage jacket & used a grey satin for the pocket bags.  As I was in a rush I simply zig-zagged the seam allowances.  Not the most perfect finish, but it does the job.

DSC09958-1The top I completed this week, yesterday in fact.  It’s sort of my contribution towards the Sewcialists’ Scraptember challenge, even though it was only dreamt up & made now in early October. I had some left over black & white spot silk de chine form a blouse I’d made a few years ago and loved to bits.  Literally.  I wore it until it fell apart.  The fabric has such a fabulously luxurious feel and the way it flows and drapes while you wear it is just beautiful.  Anyway, I’d kept the bits, because they were big enough for something, just not an entire new something.  Then by chance I found more of the same stuff in Fred Winters in Stratford on Avon!  Perfect!  I bought a metre and immediately hatched a plan.

Self-drafted silk crepe de chine faux placket blouse
Self-drafted silk crepe de chine faux placket blouse

I wanted something similar to the original top, but also wanted to do a twist on a traditional placket.  My go-to length for sleeves is three-quarters and I do love the sleeve I developed for my Jungle January blouse.  I cut the sleeves, cuffs & neckbands from the silk I had left over and cut the front, back & placket from the new piece.

Close-up of the neck-band & faux placket
Close-up of the neck-band & faux placket

The collar is more of a neckband, and the placket more like a facing sewn on the wrong side & turned to the right side & topstitched in place.  The bust dart was moved to the underarm position & I took a little of the waist darts out in the side seam so it wasn’t too tent-like.  Construction was pretty straightforward, French seams throughout, double turned dipped at the back hem.  I used Gill Arnold’s fine sheer fusible interfacing on the outer neckband, placket & cuffs.  The interfacing was definitely needed on the placket to keep it under control for the turning under of the seam allowances!

DSC09968-1I’m in love with the result!  Ok, so maybe a thin light silk top is not really a practical make for October, but I could wear a vest top underneath for added warmth.  The biggest advantage is that it’s done! Another top that fits my requirements and uses the fabric in the boxes.  Even if it does mean I had to buy a little to complete the project.  And yes, its more spots 🙂  What can I say, I feel overwhelmed by most patterns, but checks, stripes & spots I can live with.  So far this year I’ve made 4 blouses with definite spots/circles & two with variations on the theme.  Oh, and one tee, not blogged.  There is still another silk satin in the stash box with my name on it – spotted, of course! We’ll have to see what I decide to make next but I have plans to make another two pairs of trousers.

I bought a stone coloured cotton twill & a gold-sand colour stretch cotton chino from Croft Mill fabrics earlier in the year for winter trousers & I’m thinking of using 118 from Burdastyle 08/2013 for the gold & 134 from Burdastyle 04/2012 for the stone.  Just to get them traced & toiled first…

These are all resulting from my work on the Wardrobe Architect project.  Have any of you been using yours much to further your wardrobes this year?

Introducing Lizzy – A 50s Inspired Wiggle Dress

Lizzy
Lizzy

I have finally made a dress for Daughter No1!  It isn’t the dress I’d sketched for the Miss Bossy Challenge, although that is underway.  This was partly inspired by a vintage pattern I have and Daughter No1’s desire to have a “grown up going out” dress.  The fabric is a stretch cotton John Kaldor print I’ve had for a very long time, just waiting for the right pattern to come along.

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Normally skirt lengths for this young lady are most definitely above the knee, and being petite that’s the way she prefers them.  However, no wiggle dress I know has hems that short, this one finishes just below her kneecap, dead on 60cm from her waist.

DSC08241-1I used the 2-piece dress block, making the finished length 60 cm and removing 1.5cm from the hip, tapering to 3cm at the hem.  She was definite about the hem being narrow!  The front skirt dart was converted into a pleat, and I added a second, but the added width does not extend to the hemline.  The back skirt retains its 2 darts and centre back seam.  I tapered the centre back seam to lose 1.5cm at the hem, then I added a 15cm long vent.  then she decided she didn’t want a proper vent, just a split.

DSC08235-1The front bodice has waist and underarm darts and a simple neckline, it’s in the back that the fireworks are happening!  The back has a deep “V” that crosses over the centre back line about 15cm up and overlaps at the waistline by 5cm.  The back bodice dart was converted into a pleat and moved to the intersection of the centre back seam & the waist seam.  Once I’d determined the line for the back I added a 5cm grown-on facing.  There is a 25cm invisible zip in the skirt in the centre back, and the crossover bodice is fixed with a pair of press studs.

Detail pictures of the hem, closures & slit mitre
Detail pictures of the hem, closures & slit mitre

I am really happy with how this dress has turned out, and I hope I get to make another!  We just need to see how, with wearing, that back holds up.  I have a feeling I may have to put a hook & eye or something where the two back pieces cross, just to ensure there is not too much gapping.  But for now, it’s gorgeous, & Daughter No1 loves it!  So I’m happy!  🙂

lizzy Collage