Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Poetry Dress and other Holiday Dresses

I'm currently working on a variation of Simplicity 2444 for a holiday dress. Ideally, I'd like to put together four dresses for the holidays: one for the Annual Poetry Night we have at my house, which is the day before Thanksgiving, one for Thanksgiving, Christmas and the final for New Year's, even though I don't usually end up leaving the house.

I've put together an inspiration board for New Year's on Pinterest. I've got a few ideas about what I'm going for regarding the Thanksgiving or Christmas dresses, and the Poetry dress is already in the works.

The Poetry Dress plan is as follows: Sleeveless version of S2444, with contrasting bodice and skirt fabric. The zipper will only be installed on the skirt portion, with the bodice being an open slit with a button closure at back neck. The plan evolved organically when I was washing these fabrics and saw them together, and I really loved the color combo. My only concern was about zipper colors. Even with an invisible zipper, you can't put a colored zipper in white fabric, and I didn't want a white zipper popping through the rich jewel-toned teal, it would be an eyesore.

While I was mulling over this problem, I remembered that Mika over at Savory Stitches recently created this type of closure, and at that time I really fell in love with the look. It solved my zipper/color conundrum, so I ran with it.

I received both of the planned fabrics last spring/early summer for free as part of the "10 yard mystery bundle" when I ordered all of those other yardages from Fabric Mart. The top is a gauzy cotton in this gorgeous teal color, which I lined with a very lightweight light blue flannel. This adds both warmth and opaqueness. Win-win in my book. The skirt is to be made of an off-white (do they call that winter white?) heavier fabric that has slight nap.

I cheated and didn't make a muslin. I cut out the straight 4, and the fit is nearly perfect. I absolutely love the angled darts and am very excited about the pleats on the skirt, which I have yet to assemble. Or even cut, for that matter.

I am debating on lining the skirt. It doesn't really *need* to be lined, but I am thinking it would create a cleaner finish if the entire dress is lined. Does anyone have a clean finish tip or trick for joining an unlined skirt to a lined bodice? I feel like it's essential here since the back is exposed and you could potentially see the top of the skirt finish where it would be joined.

I know Neeno has been cranking out dresses for events, do any of you have holiday-inspired sewing plans?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Fitting Issues with the Peony

Fellow sewists, do you ever have such a frustrating time with pattern alterations that you just want to throw in the towel all together?
That is kind of where I'm at. The peony. Let's talk about it.

The bodice is super simple, with just four darts in front and four in back. The trouble with super simple, is that it is NEVER REALLY THAT SIMPLE. I knew going in that the darts were the only key to fit, so I actually cut a muslin for the bodice. I've done that....never. First time for everything, right?

Lots of pooling across the bust
Very bad back/neck gape

So much extra fabric...everywhere.

Please ignore the weird look on my face and my super awesome fluffy sheep pajama pants. No, wait. Don't ignore the fluffy sheep, because THEY'RE AWESOME.

Ahem, where were we? I have struggled with these darts to the point of frustration, so I am setting aside the Peony for the second time. I love Colette Patterns for their designs, but they aren't practical for me without a LOT of changes to the bust.

Don't get me wrong. I WILL make this pattern at some point because I truly love the simple lines of the dress, but I have a lot of work to do on the fitting side of things.

1. Eliminate pooling/excess fabric across bust
This can likely be fixed with an SBA and dart repositioning.

2. Fix gaping at neck back.
I don't know how to fix this. Rochelle noted that she had the same issue, and would fix one area, but it would create problems in another.

3.Shorten shoulder width and neck opening.
The outer shoulder seams sit beyond my shoulders because I'm petite. I will have to shorten the opening for the neck, pulling everything closer to center by a tiny amount. I don't know HOW to do this yet, but I believe that's what I need to do. I am wondering if that will alleviate some of the gaping?

In closing, this is a great silhouette and I wasn't surprised that I would have to make heavy alterations to make this fit, but I will need to put it on the back burner for just a little while longer.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Completed: GBD - Full Outfit! (finally)

Zombie Castro (he even had a cigar!) and Wednesday Addams

As I grow older, (wiser, some would say) I find it's okay to recognize what we are either good or bad at. As such, I'll take this time to inform you all that I'm terrible with making sure I've taken pictures of items I've sewn. If I do take photos, they're often times not very well lit, don't highlight the garment and/or "other".

All of this is to portray (hah, get it?!) two points: 1) I don't have very good full body shots of my costume. D'oh. and 2) I am going to work on taking better photographic evidence of my sewing and completed projects. Below is what you get. Enjoy!

Hangin' with Tycho Brahe
No Halloween is complete without a fancy skeleton.

The whole gang

Devon and I made the Ruff for our friend Tycho (that's the technical name for that collar)

The "butt" tree.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

GBD - Fascinator and Clutch

While I've pointed out the difficulties in sewing with plastic, I have failed to share the upsides.

I made a matching clutch and the outer "fabric" was made of the vinyl/plastic material. I opted to use Pattern Runway's Free Fold-Over Clutch Pattern and it was a great choice. Since I printed this pattern at home, I was able to tape it together and then tape it directly to the plastic. No pattern weights to muss with here!

While this could potentially be a problem, I found the fact that the material clings to itself to be a great plus. Like working with leather, this material will show poke holes, so you can't pint it together. Throughout this project, I've employed two different methods of "pinning" or otherwise keeping layers together: binder clips and scotch tape.

As pictured above and below, I once again fashioned a faux teflon foot out of painter's tape. It was also important to keep the left side of the bag lifted up and away from the arm of the machine, it could get stuck there too, and did on a few occasions.

Last but not least, this material doesn't really wrinkle. This can be both good and bad, but I found it to be a pleasant experience. Once it clung to itself, it didn't budge, and movement while sewing or adjusting didn't cause the entire piece to shift, so that was a huge plus.

The interior of the bag was made of the same red cotton sateen, which was brought into this world as a sheet. I picked it up at Ikea from the as-is section and I believe I've given it a better life as a bag, fascinator and dress.

It was a tad challenging making those sharp corners turn out correctly, but that can be attributed to material and not to the pattern. This is a great pattern and I am looking forward to making it again.

I also made a fascinator type hat. I didn't take any mid-construction shots, but here is the finished product.

I started with a half football shape, and I stuck a dart in the end to make it gently curve. Using some very stiff fusible interfacing provided some stability and the serger was a quick way to finish the edges. I got out the glue gun, securing in place the feathers, "gumballs" and some netting. Pro Tip: glue guns are hot. I only sustained one glue gun injury and I was able to go on without first aid, but after that I wised up and used cardboard to push my feathers/felt/netting into place. Lastly, one of those really great side hair combs that I had tucked away in a ziplock bag labeled "Long Hair" was glued into place and the fascinator found its perch on my head.

I will have one final post tomorrow after my friends and I go out tonight. I will leave you with this shot of me, modeling a ruff that we made for our friend who went as Tycho Brahe. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Guest Post on MPB!!!

You guys! I am BEYOND excited! Today I am featured as a guest blogger over at Male Pattern Boldness! If you don't read this blog, you SHOULD. Peter is a true delight, often sewing wonderful garments for himself, and for his knock-out cousin Cathy.
I joined the MPB Halloween sew-along, and I've been "live" blogging my progress so far. I finished the costume and wore it out this weekend, so I have a little catch up to do. While I work on that post and gather up some photos, head over to read my post over at MPB!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

GBD - Boning Tutorial!

This is the third time I've made this dress. Each time I've put it together up to this point, I've closely followed the directions, especially how to install the boning.

My first go round, I installed it on the wrong side of the lining, so it was showing when you saw the inside of the dress.

 The second go round, it was on the correct side, but stitching was showing through, and I really didn't like the way it looked. In addition to the looks portion, measuring the boning wasn't an exact science because of the curves of the upper portion of the bodice and the seam allowances. The first time I ended up sewing through my boning and breaking several needles.

On both versions, I used the cotton casing that came with the boning.

On this incarnation, I've got 5/8 seam allowances, so why not put them to use!? I am sure someone else has already come up with this method, but I am very excited to show you the way I installed the boning.

In the first photo, we are looking at the lining, wrong side out. You can see my 5/8 seam allowance pressed open, and on the right side, a channel I'd already sewn. You can also see in white thread, that I've sewn my lining and main fabric, right sides together. I ripped out some of this stitching because I figured out how to do this AFTER I had sewn them together. You will want to do this BEFORE sewing your main fabric and lining pieces together.

1. Determine which side of the seam allowance you want your boning to sit.
 Since I wanted my boning to sit to the right side of the seam allowance on this side of the bodice, I simply folded the left seam allowance over on top of the right seam allowance. For the left side of the bodice, I would do the opposite. This follows the general sewing idea that you should press seams away from center for a more flattering look. Press these channels to the correct side.

2. Sew the seam allowances together to create the channel.
I ran the first set of seam allowances through my sewing machine, but the remaining three (there are four seams with boning in them) I ran through the serger. Just sew the seam allowances together to create a tube/channel.

3. Press channel flat against the bodice.
The channel should be pressed flat against the bodice to whichever side you want the boning to lay.

4. Sew your lining piece to your main fabric.
The pink dots indicate where you are sewing your lining and main fabric together, just as you normally would. In the photo, my lining piece and my main fabric are right sides together. When sewing them together, make sure your channels are flat and on the correct side and don't shift during sewing. This will close the top of the channel.

5. Slide boning into the channel.
In the photo above, I am sliding the boning into the channel. At this point, you should measure the boning to fit, minus seam allowance for the attaching your skirt piece or midriff to the bottom of the bodice. In this case, I chose to use a smaller seam allowance at 1/4, so I removed 1/4 from the boning length. The boning will not reach to the bottom. This is good, as you don't want to sew over it.

Once you attach your skirt or the midriff piece, the channel will be completely enclosed and should look like this from the inside of your garment:

No pesky lines, a very nice, clean finish!
This was my very first tutorial, I hope you have found it helpful. I did a lot of sewing over the weekend, so I hope to post more about my progress soon!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

GBD - Sewing Plastic

Over the years I have read many blog posts about sewing. Many of them were about topics I had not yet tackled, but this information found a home in my brain and at the right time, I've been able to use it.
Sewing with plastic is essentially the same as sewing with leather, albeit a little less luxurious. I relied heavily  on some awesome blog posts, in particular on these done by Sallie Oh, and Lindsay T Sews.

I do not have a teflon foot, but I have a roll of painters tape and a box of binder clips.

Outside, taped and ready for basting stitches.

Ultimately, I was working with three layers. I had my lining layer, my main fabric and the plastic layer. I ended up placing the felt gumballs, and laying the plastic bodice over top, trapping them between. I then basted these two together to treat as one unit for the remainder of construction.

Inside of the main fabric, taped and ready for basting stitches.
There are some very tricky curves and these two layers absolutely HAD to be pinned or otherwise kept together. I ended up using scotch tape to keep them aligned. I sewed right over the tape and pulled it up after stitching. This worked very well. I use scotch tape for many things such as holding buttons in place while I'm machine stitching them, holding zippers in place and pattern alterations. It's an invaluable tool in the sewing room!

Painter's tape faux teflon foot to the rescue!

The teflon/painter's tape foot comes into play when sewing the plastic and main fabric layers together. I didn't want the feed dogs roughing up the plastic, so I had to sew plastic side up.

Faux teflon foot in use.

At first, I didn't realize it wouldn't run smoothly under the normal foot. As soon as it started sticking, I just grabbed the painters tape and covered the foot. It was a super easy fix that worked like a charm.

After sewing, prior to pulling up the scotch tape.
After sewing, prior to pulling up the scotch tape.

Once I had the main bodice unit put together, I then stitched lining and main fabric right sides together. I installed the boning (I'm working on a tutorial to show you guys how I did it) and used binder clips to "press" the upper seam. I left it clipped over several days and as I was working on installing the midriff.



Saturday, October 20, 2012

GBD - Sewing Plastic & Placing Gumballs

We've got progress!!!

The GBD is now starting to take shape. Sewing with plastic/vinyl is an entirely different beast though, let me tell you!

I used scotch tape to place the felt gumballs. Once they're trapped between the vinyl/plastic and the fabric I am sure they will stay put nicely.

My next set of goals are: attach lining pieces and midriff. This includes boning. Woot!
Next Post Previous Post Home