Wednesday, 29 March 2017

How I Messed Up Simplicity 1779

Do you ever look at the finished garment and think to yourself "Damn, what was I thinking doing that? I know I look bad with this type of dress/top/sleeve/etc"? In order to avoid such disapointing moments I usually do a test-run with the cheapest fabric I can find. Unfortunately, in case of Simplicity 1779 I've only done 60% of the garment and decided I'm good enough to go with the "real" fabric. I wasn't. I should have checked the neckline. And the bands. And the sleeves.

I know the picture on the left doesn't look too bad but just wait for the details! ;)

Long time ago I thought that cutting fabric for few projects at once was an amazing idea (spoiler alert - it wasn't). I thought I could deal with boring and unexciting cutting asap and then focus on what I want to do the most - sewing. It was therefore no surprise for me that when I was checking my fabric stash last week I uncovered cut pieces for Simplicity 1779 top (version B).

As I have cut this fabric few months (!!!) ago, all the markings for darts have disappeared so I had to re-trace them again. I've also noticed that the quality of cut pieces was less than perfect since back then I was not as used to working with slippery and thin fabric as I am now. Measure once, cut twice (but clearly not that time!). The bands and tie were a bit, well... uneven, which I could see pretty clearly after applying the interfacing.

I still love the fabric but if I had a chance to cut it again I would certainly do few things differently. Maybe I will find it in the store soon? Fingers crossed!

Sewing darts and putting back and front pieces together was pretty easy and straight-forward. Making sure the tie gets the right shape was a bit more time consuming and required a lot of ironing but it wasn't too challenging. The blouse looked pretty neat at that point.

And then the nightmare I haven't test-run before had begun - the bands. Don't get me wrong, the instructions were pretty clear on how to proceed step-by-step and I think I did pretty well with them. Unfortunately, that changed when I had to add the buttonholes. As I used pretty bright thread I think they stood out too much from the fabric pattern which was very annoying considering the fact that I would rather have them hidden and less visible. Last but not least the blouse turned out to be a bit too tight in the bust creating that awkward gap between the top buttons.

Another thing I was not too happy about were the sleeves. I'm so annoyed with them that I'm actually considering cutting them off and turning them into binding to create a sleeveless blouse. I will update you on that once done (if ever) though!

The version of the sleeves on the left is just overlocked. When I tried the blouse on they were the right lenght and with a good fall. The version on the right is the "finished" one I'm less happy with. I must admit I wasn't paying too much attention to finishing the hem neatly and I think because I've made it too thick it is no longer as floaty as before. As you can see on the picture it actually sticks out a bit (ygh!).


Directions - As a person who was making her own buttoned shirt for the first time, I must admit that the guidance was very good and made the work much less challenging.

Fitting - The blouse fit perfectly in waist and hips - it wasn't either too tight or too lose and it had a very fine fit. The only problem I've got was with the bust, I can't honestly say though if it wasn't caused by me simply chosing the wrong size (which back in the day happened pretty often).

General Impression - It is always hard to get out of your comfort zone and try to sew a new type of garment. This pattern - despite few issues I had along the way - is very good and I still like it quite a lot because of nice shape and the tie. I must admit I'm rather upset with myself for messing such a nice fabric up but all we can do in situations like is to learn from our mistakes (and maybe do a proper test-run first). I'm certain I will have another blouse from this pattern soon enough!

Fabric - Digital Print Chiffon
Pattern - Simplicity 1779

Friday, 24 March 2017

The Sloping Shoulder

Most of the patterns I tend to use have a seam line which – without any alteratinos whatsoever – does not sit nice and flat on my shoulders. The further away the seam goes from the neckline, the more it stands out from them. Of course a problem like that can be hidden with a cardigan or a jacket, but what's the point of sewing your own garment if it doesn't fit you?

On the picture below you can see a perfect example of a sloping shoulder. The neckline is pretty neat and well fitted. However, the moment we reach the armholes we can see a big space between the shoulder and the top part of the garment.

The process of fixing the sloping shoulder problem is quite easy and once sorted, you can apply the changes to any patterns in the future. Vogue Sewing revised and updated1 offers two ways of dealing with the issue. You can either insert shoulder pads to fill the extra space or get rid off the excess fabric.

Personally, I was never the biggest fan of the shoulder pads as they've always made me feel like 1980's pop star (not exactly the look I tend to go for these days) so I always choose the second option.

After sewing the test run garment put it on and pin any excess fabric that stands out from your shoulders. The pins should create a new seam line that would be a correct fit for your shoulders. Make sure that the armholes are not too tight and regardless of the changes you've done it is still comfortable to move your arms around. If required, lower the armhole a bit. Once you're happy with the final product, transfer the changes into the paper pattern so you don't have to go through the fitting process each time you would like to sew the garment. 

I tend to take 1,5cm/0,6" from the top by the shoulder point and (depending on the pattern) leave the armholes as they are or lower them by another 1,5cm/0,6". Of course your measurements may vary from mine so just make sure that the seam line sits well on your shoulders. 
1McDougald, Ch. (Ed.). (2006). Vogue Sewing revised and updated. n.p.: Sixth&Spring Books. p. 308.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Pencil Dress

I have been thinking of using my tricoloured fabric for quite a while now. I bought it ages ago in one of the local fabric stores, knowing straight away that the unusual pattern and little stretch would make it perfect for a pencil dress. The fabric was lying at the bottom of my stash for quite a few months and I pretty much forgot about it until the "it's almost spring" cleaning brought it back from the depths.

As I grew tired of dark and little less than depressing clothes for work, I thought this fabric was a perfect way of introducing some colour and fun to my 9 to 5 wardrobe. Since I wasn't in the mood for experimenting or fighting with a new pattern, I decided to go with one of Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book patterns.

Considering the fact that I had only limited amount of fabric available and no stretchy lining at hand (always prepared, right?), I decided to go for a bodice with darts and all-in-one facing rather than a princess seam. Personally, I find that all-in-one facings are perfect for sleeveless dresses as they allow for a lovely and clean finish (even if they do look a bit complicated when used for the first time).

As I mentioned before this pencil dress was pretty straight forward to sew. Both the bodice and the skirt had two pieces each - front (cut once on fold) and back (cut twice). The front part of the garment had six darts - two for the bust and four by the waist.

As for the back - another six darts - two on the back and four on the bum. As you can see the main darts are aligned into one long line going through the waist. Thanks to the mad vertical pattern, you can hardly see them on the right side of the garment though :)


Directions - All dress patterns in the book are very well explained. At the beginning author provides us with information regarding skills,  supplies and pieces of the pattern needed for the chosen garment. In case we are not too familliar with one of the key skills mentioned Gertie refers us to the relevant part of the book for more information. Later on she provides us with detailed, step-by-step guidance supported by clear and easy to follow ilustrations.

Fitting - I've never had big issues with any of the patterns from Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book other than sloping shoulders. The size chart provided in the book is pretty accurate and any minor fitting issues can be amended with the darts.

General Impression  - Love, love, love. As I've mentioned at the beginning all I wanted was an easy and well fitted garment and this pattern delivered.

Fabric - I wish I knew! ;(
Pattern - Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book

Friday, 10 March 2017

Floral Wrap Dress - Simple Sew #40

At the beginning of the year I decided that in 2017 I will be more responsible with my fabric purchases. I started my adventure with sewing almost two years ago, frequently visiting pattern and fabric stores.  "Oh, that's pretty! I must have it!" - was my usual reaction. An hour or so later I'd leave the store with a big bag of fabric in my hand and way less pounds in my wallet that I have ever planned to spend.

This year I decided to buy fabric only for the current project - one shopping spree per dress. And then the sales started... Hoping my boyfriend would talk me out of buying too much I showed him discounted John Kaldor Floral Print fabric... and I ended up with 10 meters (!!!) of it!

As the fabric print reminded me of sunny and blisfull spring weekends I thought I will put my newest purchase to good use straight away and get myself a new dress for the upcoming season. The pattern which arrived with the #35 issue of Love Sewing aligned perfectly with my newest fabric purchase. I was always a big fan of dresses that showed-off waist and are generally well fitted at the upper body. Since for the past few months I've been sewing rather fancy dresses having either Xmas, New Year's Eve or carnival parties in mind, I was also hoping this piece would be more casual for everyday use.

It was my second dress made out of stretch and the first one from the Simple Sew patterns. I must admit I was rather uncertain about the final effect since I wasn't 100% sure if I chose the right size (which I find much easier with non-stretch fabrics and pattern brands I've used in the past). Unfortunately, the envelope itself included only the finished garment measurements so I had to look for the size online. Another concern were the sleeves - I can't even begin to explain how many times I've had to do last minute armhole facings just because I was too annoyed with the way sleeves looked like. Raglan sleeves forever!

I started out with overlocking all the pieces which - even though pretty time consuming - gave the finished garment nice, neat look. It was also the first time I used the overlock I got for Xmas from my boyfriend. I must admit, now I can't imagion my life without it!

Although asembling the skirt was one of the last steps in the pattern I decided to deal with it first as it was pretty straight forward and didn't require too much focus. As I used the same fabric for the whole dress I could technically skip the band at the bottom of the skirt but hey, it was my first time with this pattern so I wanted to use all the pieces.

Sewing bodice and lining was slightly more complex but not very challenging. Even the sleeves which I was soo aprehensive about, turned out to be simple and easy to set.


Directions - Even though I have managed to sew the wrong side of the skirt to the right side of the bodice (my mistake ;)) the pattern was generally very easy to follow. Every step included clear instructions and pictures. The only issue I can think of is lack of body measurements on the envelope, which ad to be checked online.

Fitting - I simply went with the size from the chart without any alterations. I must admit the bust and hips are perfectly comfortable and sit well. Unfortunately, after putting all pieces together I was not too extatic about the waist so I took away 4" (!) of it. Once I made this change the dress looked much better and the excess fabric did not hang of my back anymore.

General impression - I love the way the dress looks and will definitely get at least one or two more (this time thoguh I will be more adventarous with colours!). I must admit I feel quite proud with the way this dress turned out and it is definitely one of my favourite garments at the moment.  

Fabric - John Kaldor Floral Print Stretch Jersey Dress - Purple & Mustard
Pattern - Simple Sew #040 The Lena Wrap Dress