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Swirl dress!

1 Dec

Here’s the swirl dress I’ve sewn as part of a sewalong I’ve referred to a couple of times, held by the talented and awesome Sew Retro Rose.

Here I tried the classic pin-up girl pose so commonly seen on sewing and fashion blogs; I think mine needs some work. But it probably won’t get worked on as in taking this photo, the whole ‘pin-up’ women as sexual images for men’s consumption thing did upsetting things to my head. (Hence the rather unsure smirk on my face.)

Moving on to happier thoughts, the front trim for the original pattern stopped at the shoulders. Since I’m not really into coffin dresses, I continued it round the back and down to the waist. A word on the fit of the back, shown below, I think it’s about as good as I can get it until I learn how to fit it more effectively. Due to the wrap-over part it was much harder to work out how or where to take the extra length up, so I just took it off at the waist. It’s good enough.

I love the effect of the bias-cut back skirt that is subtly observable in gingham. The front is on the straight grain, and the back is a semi-circle so curves from straight at the sides to the bias as the edge of the wrap. I love it!

You know, I’m not sure if I was just standing oddly, or not, but in this photo I look like I really do have a sway back. I never thought I did, just that I had a very short back. I should keep an eye out for it to see if that is my natural posture or not.

The side view, for what I can learn about fitting:

  • Perhaps my FBA wasn’t big enough? There’s more differentiation between front length and back length in my body than there is in the dress. Or perhaps it’s being distorted by catching under the arms?
  • The back’s too long but we knew that already 😛
  • It’s also too wide across the shoulders, so it’s catching under the arms when I have my arms forwards, rather than falling away from my arms smoothly like it would if properly fitted across there. I’ll take it in. The skirt’s fine though.

In this photo I don’t look at all like I have a sway back.

See the wavy hem? In the hopes it might flair the skirt in a suitably vintage manner, I put some horsehair braid from my stash in the hem. First time I’ve ever used it, and I’ll definitely use it again, it helped sew the hem really easily and with no warping of fabric as I went round the bias parts of the hem. Awesome!

However, the poor braid had been stored in a nice neat oval-shaped roll for so long, when unrolled and put into the hem, it still held the curves of the roll. I am very sure all I need to do is press it on a suitably low temperature to straighten it out, but I didn’t have time before these photos.

I’ve since washed the dress, (the braid handled being through a normal wash cycle perfectly), but it still causes the waves shown above! So I definitely need to get in there and press it properly flat.

The hair kerchief is one I made years and years ago, blue roses on a yellow background, with toning blue ric rac trim round the edge, all in one of my favourite colour schemes, baby blue and soft yellow. Like the dress! A happy accident that the two matched 🙂

Vintage pattern pledge – where I’m at so far

25 Oct

The Bolivian milkmaid’s jacket – done! hehe I’m VERY pleased with myself with that one. I made a jacket! Having said that, I’m planning to refit it before it gets its next outing. But yeah, it’s been sewn and been worn and I love it. Yeah!

Nothing else is finished yet, but there have certainly been developments, like oh you know, a whole lot more patterns I’m planning to make up *sheepish* But I just couldn’t resist …

I signed up to a Swirl Dress sew-along. I’d never even heard of Swirl Dresses, they sound like they might be a purely American phenomena? But the moment I saw the pattern I realised I needed one – you know how it goes 😉 I’ve bought some baby blue gingham for it. I’m looking forward to the sew-along. I’ve never done a sew-along, not my thing, but it’s turning out to be fun, so I may end up actually doing this one. If not I’ll just sew it up on my own.

The next addition came about as a result of a terrible terrible wardrobe tragedy. Sadly one of my most favourite dresses EVAR fell apart on me. Noooooooo!!! Worse still, it’s just the time of year where a loose style of dress is mandatory, weatherwise. I really need to replace it asap, so I desperately searched stashes of fabric and patterns, and came up with this 1974 dress pattern. (My sister’s vintage, aw cute!) The loosish fit through the torso looked good, weatherwise, especially if fitted on the looser side.

Here’s the almost-made dress, donchya love the pretty cotton/lycra satteen fabric?! And see the three pleats at the shoulder? The original pattern has two but I added another pleat as part of my customary FBA adjustment. The seaming details made it so easy to fine-tune the fit, and I can happily report it looks beautifully while still being suitably loose. It’s even a bit swishy, mmm! (It surprised me as sateen doesn’t usually swish.) Now I just have to finish it off. Not my forte, starting projects is so much more fun :-P, but the awful weather is driving me …

I thought the pattern might work on mum, too. I’ve realised recently things that look good on one of us will often work on the other. Only took me 38 yrs to notice mum and I have the same figure, just in different sizes, DUH!!! Her style’s vastly different though, for eg she wouldn’t be seen dead wearing something like this 😀 But the 1974 dress? Right up her alley, I suspected. She agreed, so I drafted her size, then cut it out in this fabric. A selfless sewing make could be part of the vintage sewing pattern pledge?

Another addition came about by a much happier incident! Ever since I bought this lovely pattern I’ve been trying to find just the right fabric for it.

1940s Inspired Misses Princess Seam Peplum Blouse Sewing Pattern, Simplicity 1590 or 0229 Sizes 16, 18, 20, 22, 24 uncut

I found it the other day! The fabric colour is actually shades of navy blue through to white,no idea why it came out so grey. *facepalm* It’s much more beautiful irl! So of course this pattern has been added to 2014 sewing list.

The last addition I found in the op-shop the other week. Is it beautiful or beautiful?

V9230

Not needing a swimsuit (I SO hate swimming, I know, so un-Aussie of me *hangs head in shame*) I’ve graded up the knickers part of the ensemble, and cut them out in soft (woven) cotton for undies. Fun! One day, not necessarily as part of the vintage pattern pledge, I wouldn’t mind trying to convert the top/overdress into a proper dress while keeping the overall feel of the style. As for the hat omgsoperfect for a woman with stupidly fair skin living in the tropics! Must make! I haz Big Plans for this pattern!

 

Mori Girl fashion goes tropical or: Burda 7109

14 Jul

Catching up on things I sewed while studying. October hit, the hottest and most humid time of year, and I needed Floofy Clothesasap. I really like the whole Mori Girl concept. Before I got a pinterest account I’d never even heard of Mori Girl style. How lost I must have been …

However, all those layers are way too hot for the climate I live in, so I tropicified it by paring it back to one layer. A nice loose swishy layer. In fact a nice nightie pattern, adapted for streetwear, coz there’s nothing nicer than wearing your nightie all day!

Burda 7109 front

I just knew that deep neckline both front and back, would mean the dress sliding off my shoulders so I put some cross-straps on the back. Works well, and it’s nice and cool too, more so than if I’d just raised the back neckline.

 

Here’s the pattern I used. I placed the front and back pieces a few cm away from the foldline to add in enough fabric to create the pleats.

A note on the actual pattern: that neckline is very low at the front. It’s also really a bit too wide from shoulder to shoulder. I recommend measuring to make sure it matches your shoulder width both front and back!

Burda 7109

 

In keeping with the soft floofy Mori Girl idea, I created some floral and leaf embellishments.

Well they’re meant to be floral, but to be honest, if you didn’t know they were, would you think they were? I’m a bit dubious. But it doesn’t seem to stop people from complimenting me on their existence on the skirt.

Lovely big gathered pockets, one with a butterfly on it. I overlocked the top edge of the pocket.

Ruffles everywhere! All hems and neckline roll-hemmed on my overlocker. Gosh I love that function on it! This photo also shows very nicely the soft colours of the fabric, which I think is very much in keeping with the Mori Girl look.

 

  • Fabric/trims/notions used
I just realised I could have written this post from an entirely different point of view, that of being in the same league as Scarlette O’Hara, as this fabric started off it’s life as curtains 🙂
The trim was all hand-made from the same fabric, apart from a bit of pretty matching ribbons.
  • Construction notes

I love the rolled-hem function on my overlocker!

I added in an extra pleat both front and back which pulled the shoulders in to fit me better.

The embellishments were made from strips of gathered bias, then sewn together as a flower. These were machine-sewn on as it turned out the fabric was to closely woven I couldn’t really get the needle through! So my poor machine had to plow through a whole lot of layers of very thick fabric. It survived, my nerves didn’t though! I sewed a bit of ribbon in the centre of each rose.

I thought if I added in some leaves as well, they would help the beholder to realise the frayed lumpy-bits along the left hem were actually flowers! I left the edges of both leaves and flowers to fray nicely.

  • Cost
I ‘ve forgotten the cost of the original curtains. They were in use about 7 yrs ago.
Ribbon – $2
Pattern – $5
  • Last word

I am quite surprised how much I wear this. I usually go for neat, fitted styles. But the swingy, floofy, very cool and breezy nature of this makes it really lovely to wear. It also helps that in my own mind (No idea about external observers!) I’m wearing a Tropical Mori Girl dress – it’s a specific Style. Having said that though, it also helps that it’s essentially a glorified nightie. Nighties for daywear yeah!

I get sooo many compliments on this dress 🙂

 

Tanit-Isis’s Grecian dress goes tangoing

4 Oct

A few months ago I was looking for something different to wear to tango practicas. I had 3m of blue-and-white 1″ gingham, and an afternoon. I’ve been admiring Tanitisis’s Grecian Sundress which I’d pinned on my pinterest sewing boards. There was another, similar dress I’d pinned that was basically a long rectangle with a slit for the head/neckline. I decided to go for Tanitisis‘s dress because I’ve got quite marked sloping shoulders, and I thought her dress was less likely to fall off me. And I loved the gathers across the shoulders too. I downloaded it, stuck the pattern together (I’m getting really quick at that these days!) cut the dress out and sewed it up, all in time for the Tango Practica early that evening. Pretty darned good eh?

  • Fabric/trims/notions used
cotton/polyester gingham in blue and white
  • Inspiration

I wanted something different for practising dance in, not the usual shorts and t-shirt style.

  • Construction notes

Sooooo easy. I didn’t do the shirring, I’ve never done shirring before and I didn’t want to fiddle about learning it, I just wanted the dress done. I think I’ll go back and do the shirring as I think the gathers would sit better than the lace sash I used in the photo.

The fitting for the bust was pretty genius, actually – simply make longer or shorter in the front along the shoulder edge to suit. I made mine a little bit bigger and it hung well on me, ie wasn’t pulling up at the front hem to compensate for my bust.

I love the shoulder gathering but I think I gathered mine a bit too tight. I think looser so it falls a bit further over the shoulder would look a bit better.

  • Last word

Thankyou so much for the pattern (And free too!) Tanitisis! I really appreciate the generosity of the online sewing community!

I had my camera set to take a series of photos, so here are some action shots of me trying out some Argentinian Tango ‘ochos’ in the dress. Tying the sash (first picture) isn’t part of a tango ocho, but costume adjustment form such a part of dancing I put it here anyway 😀

 

Learning to fit a plus-sized friend (Help?)

20 Sep

Recently I’ve come face to face with body-dislike, and the fears and humiliation that so often comes from having a body at all, let alone  a body nowhere close to what our western society tells us it should be. Not my body-dislike, but a friend’s. She’s plus-sized, and describes her body with a genuinely humourous grin as a ‘beach ball’. And she generally seems pretty ok about her body size and image overall.

So I was a dismayed when we started upsizing patterns for her, (there are very few patterns, even plus-sized, that don’t need adjusting upwards for her figure) that she – well she very determinedly didn’t disintegrate into tears. Eeek!

There’ve been a number of posts and conversations over the years in the sewing blogosphere that talk about the effect of sewing on body image. I’ve even chimed in on a few. Recently Karen of Did You Make That posting in The Guardian “Can sewing change your body image?” created a lot of discussion, The Colleterie has visited this issue. Gertie‘s visited it. From comments and posts generally, it seems some people have found sewing to have a negative effect on their body image. Most seem to have found it positive.

I particularly liked Julie’s Doodle Blog’s take on it, that fitting the things she sews is about resolving the differences between patterns and her body, as opposed to when she shops for rtw it becomes a list of ‘problems’ her body has. This is probably closest to how I personally feel about size, fit, and sewing. However I can’t tell you how I feel about rtw shopping because quite honestly I hardly ever do it. I sew, or op-shop, and the sizing in op-shops are all over the place, as are the styles, colours, fabrics, and quite often the clothes themselves! (Oh I ❤ op-shopping!)

And I can’t tell you how sewing has or has not affected my own body image because I’ve been making clothes for myself since I was 10, a year or two before my body started developing. I kinda have no ‘before’ and ‘after’ to compare! But I do know the freedom to create exactly what I wanted to wear – within the constraints of a typically small budget, and the fabric available in the local fabric shops or op-shops (no Spotlight in Darwin back then, for good or ill, and no Lincraft ever) has meant that my feelings about my body and clothing is simply another part of the creativeness that infuses the rest of my life.

Sewing aside, I also danced all through my teen years (Ok, ok I still do! I’ll dance on my deathbed!) and my dance teacher’s focus on the quality of movement rather than the shape or size of the body doing the movement probably had an overall far more positive effect on my feelings about my body than any other one thing in my entire life. (Thanks Mrs H! You’re a legend!)

Believe me, my generally healthy body image isn’t bullet-proof. I avoid reading woman’s magazines like the plague – they inevitably make me feel huge, ugly as hell, covered in acne and wrinkles and that my relationships with my partner, mother, daughter and all my friends are in tatters.

But… all in all, for me, the numbers on the tape measure are mostly just a (pretty useful!) fitting tool.

So here I am, not sure how to teach my friend to sew clothes that actually fit her without accidentally shredding her self esteem about her body, in my enthusiasm to teach her to sew clothes that fit and look good on her. I’m hoping the ‘looking good on her’ will win over the “OMG that pattern is HUGE, look at the vast expanse of fabric it takes to cover me” reactions. But getting to the hopefully positive end product may not help if she doesn’t survive the negative feelings fitting her properly is bringing up.

Any suggestions would be very much appreciated!

She’s visiting from Melbourne for a month, the day she left home it was raining and 5C *shivers* and she arrived to a balmy 30C here. Oddly enough she didn’t have many clothes suitable for the late dry-season weather we’re having, so we ran up a “pillow-case dress” in a gorgeous bright pink-and-orange hibiscus print. Looks great!. I’d LOVE to post a picture of the first dress we made but she’s not sure if she’s ok with it.

eta: she’s decided she is ok with me adding in her picture here! She’s one brave woman in a lot of ways, and facing her body-image fears is just one of them 🙂

Pink Camo Shift Dress

27 Jul

The friend in America that ended up with the white silk chemise had sent me this delicious pink camo cotton drill fabric as a birthday present back in March. I made it up into a shift dress using a Vogue pattern I’d found in an op-shop. The pattern required so much adjusting to my curvy shape it was no longer too appealing and I returned it to the op-shop. I like to think of it as renting from them! 50c for a few years of renting is very reasonable, don’t you think? 😀

However, sadly, it means I have no idea of the pattern number. It was shown on the pattern cover made up in a fabric with bright big yellow flowers on black. Don’t suppose that helps identify it though!

  • Fabric/trims/notions used
Pink camo cotton drill. No zip needed (I rarely need zips, I’ve found. I have very flexible shoulders and I wonder if that is why I can get into most dresses without one?)
  • Inspiration

I just wanted to try that pattern out! It had been sitting in my stash with its smooth, sophisticated (very Vogue!) pattern cover, for a couple of years. I think it works really well in this camo. Not quite so sophisticated. But then, I live in Darwin and Sophisticated has a very narrow span of use here 🙂

  • Construction notes

Fitting it to my figure was kinda crazy. It was a size too small in the bust to start with, and maybe 10 sizes (or that’s what it felt like) too small in the hips. And yes, the model the dress was shown on, on the pattern cover, had more in the line of gentle planes rather than widely-swinging curves. Shoulda taken that as a warning…

Somehow I managed to get it to work out by up-sizing the paper pattern to fit my measurements. Then, perhaps because of the relatively complicated bodice seaming – that you can barely see in camo (It is empire-lined, with waist darts and an upward-pointing V in the centre coming in between the bust,) I had to adjust the fit quite a lot when sewing it up.

Both the dress and I survived this distressing experience, and the main thing I had been worrying about – that it fit my hips and my short waist – proved to be no problem whatever. Yay! My upgrading and flat pattern fitting skillz are improving no end!

To be honest though, if I wanted a similar kind of silhouette and design line again I’d probably use the straight version of Simplicity 3673 without the belt.

It  looks like it’s already designed for a curvier, hourglassy figure. The flared version blogged about here worked so well on me, I’m pretty confident the straight one would work beautifully too.

  • Last word

As far as camo goes, this was thankfully a much more successful garment for me than the green camo skirt. I love this dress! Cute, fits my ‘petite hourglass’ figure well (yay!) and is nice and cool. This last is especially good considering Darwin is not having much in the way of actual cold weather this dry season. *scowls at the weather*

And many thanks to my friend for such a lovely birthday present 🙂

 

Enough with the sewing already!

1 Apr

I need a break from it @_@ <— crazy-looking eyes emoticon. I’ll write about sewing instead. (Kinda like when my mum was writing a physics textbook, and she’s play computer games to have a break from, er, writing at the computer. Amused her offspring no end!)

I’ve been sewing hard all the lovely long Easter weekend. Mmmm! And I’ve well and truly gone over my (attempted) 3 projects only, at a time, rule. Oops!

Here’s the mischief I’ve been getting up to:

1) All the main seams done on the sunburst-pleated version of this New Look dress, in a “wedgewood” colour sateen. (God I love that cotton/lycra sateen as used in my red dress) All the fitting done, just need to finish off.

Interesting note: The sunbeam pleats looked pretty awful across my tummy. Woulda been fine if I had a nice rounded potbelly, or was 5 months pregnant O_O. So I turned the pleats into darts at my mum’s suggestion, the middle one stretching almost all the way across the waist, the others in proportion to it. Looks fantastic!

I’m gonna try making the collar/neckline wider so it will be cooler. Not sure how it will work. Wish me luck!

2) Sewn the main seams and partly fitted a dress in a mid-grey sateen, in this pattern. (Told you I loved that sateen!)

Interesting note: I’ve always wondered how a trapeze-y dress would look on my hourglass figure. Now I know:  sadly, depressingly loose around the middle, unflatteringly tight round the hip. Luckily I’d somehow managed to cut it out so that it was HUGE on me. It was when I took it in to the right size that I discovered the style looked  awful. Thank goodness I cut it out so huge. I’ve got fabric to play with, which gives me high hopes I can fiddle-faddle round with it and get the line and ease to work nicely rather than end up being an ugly paper-bag-over-the-head kinda affair.

It was, however, when I had to pull out yet another version of fitting-basting stitches that my brain went *click* “Can’t do this anymore! I need a break argh!”

Maybe tomorrow…

3) I’ve almost finished a long-sleeved blouse for my mother for our trip to the NSW Southern Highlands to visit family. (The significance of this is that we’ll need much warmer clothes than we ever wear in Darwin). The blouse is a lovely Monet-ish print (sorry, no photo yet) I received from … argh!!! I think it was Modern Vintage Cupcakes? in the recent Swap Your Stash project, (Such fun!)  The fabric  print was a smaller in reality than I’d envisioned from the photo. For some reason that made it a fabric that suited my mother far more than it suited me. Odd eh? But true!

Her go-to blouse pattern is Butterick 6085. I just extended the sleeves to full-length. I highly recommend this pattern btw. Easy, sews together nicely, seams all match well. It’s flattering due to the darts, including on plus-sized figures like mum’s. A rock-solid pattern. (Should do a review on patternreview.com, shouldn’t I!)

Photo

4) And now to my latest favourite pattern. I’m so in love with it!

Photo

I need a pair of trousers for the trip to the Southern Highlands *shivers*. Hopefully I’ll be meeting up with Amanda of Bimble and Pimble to sing 80’s hair band songs enjoy cake, coffee and fabric together! I’m so looking forward to it.

Anyway, trousers, yeah. I’ve done the main seams and fitting on a pair of trousers in black “mechanical stretch” polyester suiting. (Mechanical stretch apparently just means the stretch is in the weave, no lycra added.) I did all the flat-pattern fitting recommended – crotch depth, crotch length, hip width, leg width (not exactly an issue with this pattern :-D) before cutting, and when sewn, I discovered that yippeeee! It needed only minimal adjusting in the back crotch depth and it fit perfectly. I am a Trouser-Fitting Legend, guys! A Trouser-Fitting Legend!

I’m thinking of putting a waist stay or similar in it, coz I know from past experience any stretch round the waist will mean the trousers slide down an inch over the course of the day, lowering the crotch uncomfortably. Usually I just hide a bit of elastic in the waistband but the shaping on these might make a proper waist stay work better.

And just to indulge in more pattern-love (And add a much-needed skirt to my wardrobe) I’m making the skirt out of a raspberry 100% cotton ribstop (ie it’s got pretty little squares woven into it, all in the one colour.). All I did was shorten the pattern in the hip a bit, and voila! it fits perfectly. YAY!

I’m seriously thinking of using this pattern to make something like this skirt in some dark grey cotton ribstop (I ❤ ribstop as much as I ❤ sateen) Channel my inner steampunk. And as I mentioned before, I need more skirts, especially after losing this one 😦  *ponders the picture and the pattern* Might need to be a bit fuller, which wouldn’t be hard to do. I may or may not have the hardware stashed away.

Last but not least, (actually it may not even be last, I’ve probably forgotten something) I’ve been experimenting with undies patterns (aka panties or knickers. In my neck of Australia we call them ‘undies’), but that would take up an entire nother post.

***

Oh, wait! I knew there was something else! I’ve been sitting on a half-finished blue linen, calf-length version of this pattern for a while, not sure how to finish it off. I’ve decided on a ruffle round the hem, complete with pintucks, and ties in the seams to allow me to pull it up. Channelling my inner steampunk again, and here I was, totally unaware I had one till today!

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