Sew Me Love

Monday, 15 September 2014

Away from Sewing: Melbourne Frocktails!

What a night. 

I walked into BMH wearing my Flora, feeling a little nervous and intimidated - the venue was bigger than I expected and the main hall was full.

How the hell was I going to find my "party"?

I stood at the doorway, looking around like a lost puppy... then a green, sparkly dress caught my attention. 

I walked over to the group and saw a couple of friendly faces - Oanh (Unique Schmuck) who I had met before at Social Sewing; and Liz (Sewn By Elizabeth) who I talk to on Twitter a lot, so naturally I said "Hi, Sewn-by-Elizabeth!!". I had found my people :)

I was soon introduced to the sexy lady in the sparkly green number, Lara (aka Thornberry) and the rest of the group - at this point, I was so overwhelmed by the beautiful handmade dresses that I was only able to absorb pattern names, not actual names of the ladies... I'm so sorry!!!

I had MAJOR dress envy, all night long.

After about half an hour of pre-dinner cocktails, the 17 of us were seated on a long, wooden table. And yes Abby, I did go home with a sore butt from the bench too, haha.

Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to chat to everyone down the other end; but I did get to share edamame beans and conversation with Belle, RosAbbyRenee and Liz down the front end.

I had already met Belle at Social Sewing, but didn't recognise her immediately because she was rocking a hot new hairstyle. We talked about food, food trucks and blogs.

Ros showed me the shirring on her Washi dress and explained how easy it was to shir... might give it a go soon!! We immediately started following each other on Instagram. 

After entrees and mains were served, there was a little bit of seat shuffling, like speed dating! 

I had the pleasure of meeting Claire and Carita, who I kept wanting to call "Anna" cos both were wearing Anna's; which I recognised easily because I have had hour long death-stare matches with the bodice; and Helen who I have met before at Social Sewing. Helen, I want to recreate your short and sexy shift dress... I need that Go Anywhere Dress ASAP!!  

I wish I took photos with the ladies, but nowadays I feel like such a crazy fangirl when I insist on taking photos with people... photo below is from Ros' blog.

The night wrapped up just after 11:30pm. Last ones standing were Oanh, Helen, Claire and I. We left the venue with our tummies full of delicious food and heads full of sewing inspiration.

It was wonderful to put voices to the faces I already know from social media. 
Thank you ladies for a great Saturday night! Look forward to seeing you all soon :)

(photo source: Sew Delicious blog)

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Monday, 8 September 2014

Finished Project & Pattern Review: By Hand London 'Flora' for Frocktails, Melbourne edition.


Similar to my last few "relationships"; this dress was anxiety ridden, hard work, and close to being set on fire.

However, unlike my last few exes (who would set themselves on fire cos they are that dysfunctional and self destructive) Flora was worth saving, worth the effort, worth sticking around for.

I started Flora back in July, planned to finish to wear to Cicilia and Herbert's Wedding, but I bailed on Flora due to some issues. Ended up making something else the night before, post here.

Sloping waist seam. Bane of my existence!
How could such tragedy happen to a dress this beautiful. Sigh.

Was I drunk during the whole sewing process?? I mean, I had some "low calorie, low alcohol" (why even make such a drink... only bought it cos the bottle-shop threw it in for $5 when I cleaned up on wine and vodka) white wine on the night I was cutting the fabric, but I was not even tipsy.

My guesses are:

- Stuffed up the waist line when I graded pattern from size 2/6 bust to size 4/8 waist

- Fabric stretched during construction

Lesson here is always stay-stitch; and avoid low calorie, low alcohol wine - tastes like Moscato, yuk.

I did make a toile of the bodice using calico (muslin) to check the fit of the bust, but even if I attached the skirt I might not have had the sloping waist seam cos calico doesn't stretch like cotton sateen.
I would have picked up on the "dipping" waist seam though, bloody Anna all over again. I'm 100% convinced now that it's a standard adjustment for me, moving forward.

Despite construction spanning over two months, and my issues; the Flora definitely is an easy pattern to put together, suitable for a beginner.

I wasn't entirely sold on the faux-wrap bodice and dipping hem (both design features I avoid on RTW because of bust gaping and "mullet" hem) but after seeing so many stunning dipped hem versions on my Feedly, I pre ordered myself a copy. The pattern also has a tank bodice with high square neckline and regular hem circle skirt. Might give that version a go next time!

This dress is far from perfect. The insides are ugly; edges frayed from hours of unpicking, very dodgy seam allowances; so thank goodness it's fully lined. Out of sight, out of mind.

There was a lot of reactive-quick-fixes; I don't want to go into too much detail, I don't want you being accessories to crimes of bad sewing.

Basically, every time I tried the dress on, there was something fcuked; dress comes off, unpicker come out, furious pinning, swear words, then praying.

Spent a gorgeous Sunday inside with my unpicker.

My issues with the dress:
  • sloping waist seam front
  • the above resulted in a very uneven front hem
  • dipped waist line (like Anna)

The fixing of sloping waist seam was me sitting on my sewing room floor; unpicker in hand, pins in mouth, strategically pinning skirt to bodice, removing the "excess" fabric from bodice by not matching the edges. See pic below. Gawd, such dodgy technique here. Shameful.

The 'right side' of fabric peeking out is the extra SA I took from the bodice front.

After the waist seam was straightened up, the front hem fixed itself. However, the lining stretched so bad; glad I left it hanging for over a month to get all stretched out, bemsilk you are mean.

EDIT: OMG, I just realised why the bemsilk stretched so much. I didn't cut it on the 'straight' because the bemsilk was not wide enough for the skirt pieces. FACEPALM. Okay, that gamble did not pay off. Lesson learnt. Please don't stretch anymore. I'm a fcuking idiot. URGH.

To "fix" the hem, I hung the dress on my mannequin and simply hacked off what was hanging past the hem of the shell. Was not a pretty sight, so much potential for disaster... I then overlocked/serged the lining hem, then handstitched it to the shell.

EDIT: I also fixed the "sloping waist" at the back using the same technique... similar to a sway-back adjustment, I suppose!



Pattern reviewBHL 'Flora'

Size: 2/6 bust, 4/8 waist, 4/8 hips
Fabric: 2.5m cotton sateen, 2.5m lining (sunsilky for the bodice, bemsilk for the skirt)
Notions: 000 Gutermann thread, 22" invisible zipper - could have used a shorter zipper, but had this in the stash

Pattern Modification/Adjustments: 
  • Removed the CB seam from back bodice and back skirt (both pieces CUT ON FOLD)
  • Side zipper
  • Had to trim off some of the circle skirt sides to fit on my fabric
  • Next Flora I need to make adjustments to the bodice. Will check if I need to cut a bigger size then do a SBA, or do a FBA on current size; I feel a little tightness across side-boob/armholes
  • I suppose I did do a swayback adjustment...
What I learnt: 
  • Always stay-stitch
  • Always make a toile
  • Moving forward, will need to make adjustments for my erect posture (or whatever it is that is causing the dipping waist seam) for all patterns
  • Don't try and outsmart fabric, cut on the grain; do the right thing. Fabric stretches, Nee!!
What I love about the pattern: Although I am not a fan of the dipped hem on myself, I do like it on other people. If I was taller or if I used a lighter weight fabric, it might look better on me.

What I didn't love about the pattern:The pattern is great, style of the dress does not suit me as nicely as the Anna and Georgia; I feel dowdy in the dipped hem circle skirt. Next time, might make Flora in cotton voile for a softer, summery feel.

Cost: Cotton sateen $30, lining $20, zip $5
Hours: Lost count. 
Completed on: Sunday 7th September 2014
First worn: I will wear it this Saturday, 13th September 2014; Frocktails, Melbourne edition




The dress looks beautiful on the outside; but behind closed doors there was a lot of crying, swearing, wanting to tear her apart, wanting to give up. Like most dysfunctional relationships I guess, haha ;)

Front view, back view.
Removed CB seam on bodice back and skirt back to keep beautiful floral pattern uninterrupted.

I'm very glad I persisted, worked out all the issues cos now I have something handmade to wear to Frocktails (Melbourne) this Saturday night.

Looking forward to having a drink and a feed with all you fabulous Sewcialites this weekend.
Thank you for organizing, Oanh!

To all the ladies attending the Frocktails in Sydney, I am very jelly that I can't be there!

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Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Finished Project: A dress for Cicilia & Herbert's wedding!

Anna

"#OperationDressForTmrwsWedding" was a success. Thank gawd. The tweets are here, but I'll throw some in this blog post too; such efficiency, I knew I was live-tweeting for a reason!!

I was invited to this wedding months ago, RSVP'd weeks ago... so why was I busting my balls making a dress for it the day before? 

Answer: cos I'm a lazy shit. 

Those that follow me on Twitter and Instagram know that I love to spend my days brunching, napping, drinking black coffee and gin, making zoodles, and watching Offspring over and over. Procrastination much? 

But to be fair on myself, I have been travelling overnight a fair bit more than usual for work the last few months; where the only thing keeping me sane was wifi.. oh and tequila; plus I had that crazy weekend in Sydney (thanks Libby!!)... my Snapchat Stories make me appear like a raging alcoholic, but I swear I'm not.

I started working on Flora about 3 weeks ago (July 20, according to my tweets), and I would have finished her in time for the wedding, but I just wasn't feeling it. I love the fabric, it's so me; but the dipping hem on my petite frame was questionable. I went as far as fully lining the dress and installing the invisible zipper, but I couldn't bring myself to finish it. I fcuked up some where along the way because the waist seam is uneven. Did my head in. 

On Saturday afternoon, after an intense morning of circuit training and brows, I went shopping for a belt to wear with my Flora dress. The plan was to buy a belt (to cover up the sloping seam) then go home and finish the dress. 

While I was shopping for the belt, I saw some skanky RTW dresses and thought about buying one to wear to the wedding.. next minute I'm in the shower about to wash my hair and this happened:


The situation escalated very quickly, I literally jumped out of the shower like a possessed woman, ran into my sewing room, nekked and with shampoo in my hair. Swear to God.

By 3pm I was ready to embark on #OperationDressForTmrwsWedding. 
I found floral cotton sateen leftover from my Georgia minidress, already washed, YUSSS!! 
There was enough for the bodice, plus a skirt of some sort.


Copying what I did to the Flora, I removed the CB seam and moved zipper to LHS of the bodice so I could keep the floral print uninterrupted. Also removed the CB seam from the back facing. Used black cotton sateen, (also leftover from Georgia minidress) to make the facings. 



I managed to fix the overlocker... the right needle wasn't threaded properly, of course. 

There was 90cm (35") of fabric left for the skirt. I wanted to make a full gathered skirt with a 280cm (110") wide hem but that meant the skirt was going to be around 40cm (16") long... a little short for an afternoon wedding.

After much deliberation, I cut two panels of 60cm x 60cm (23" x 23") approx and did some crazy math to work out measurements for 4 x knife pleats for the skirt front to match up with the double darts; and 2 x box pleats to match the darts on the back bodice. 



A little selfie to keep my spirit high. I was running purely on adrenaline, had not eaten since lunchtime. Wearing my spotty rayon Anna with split.


I hand-blind-stitched the kimono sleeves, overlocked all the edges and left both the side seams open so I could attached the skirt, install the side zipper and make adjustments if needed when sewing entire the side seam up.

Anna




By 9:45PM on Saturday night, the dress was done. I pressed the pleats and painted the zipper tab with black nail polish (cos the zipper I had in my stash was white) and hung the dress up, all ready for the big day.  

At this point I was 'meh' about the whole thing, probably cos I was sick to death of looking at it. 
I cooked myself some dinner, had a shower, painted my nails and put myself to bed.


Sunday morning, I was up at 6:45AM, not even my wedding day and I'm up before sunrise, WTH. 
I showered, curled my hair and put the dress on. It looked way better than it did the night before and the hem length was spot on. Did my make-up, threw on black heels and a black blazer and was out the door at by 9AM.

My first compliment of the day came from a random old bloke in the street. He looks like the type who would usually be asking a spare change or a cigarette but instead he said "Good morning, you look very pretty, so lovely and well dressed"- aww thanks buddy!

The venue was stunning! The bride looked gorgeous!!! I had a wonderful time at the wedding, the food and drinks were delicious, great music.... very fun times. 

Herbie and Cici weddin 10.8.14
Congratulations Cici and Herb <3
Herbie and Cici weddin 10.8.14
Looking so beautiful, Cici!
Herbie and Cici weddin 10.8.14
The First Dance.
Anna
Hehehe... champagne, wine, vodka, salmon. I love white things.
Anna
Oh, not enough dessert.

Of course I took photos of the food :P

I don't have any photos with the bride and groom, they're with the photographer, but below are some taken in the #LittlePixelBox photo booth. It's run by my good friend Annie and co, check them out: http://www.littlepixelbox.com.au/, they have integrated it with HASHTAGS and can print your Instagram photos!!! Omg, I die.

Sooo having this at my wedding!! 

1. With Bride & Groom; 2. With Bestie; 3. With Annie & Bestie; 4. With Bestie, again, such photobooth whores.

I've known Herbert for about 7 years, and met Cici about 5 years ago when the two started dating. Very cute couple. My favourite part of the wedding was the photo slideshow of all their adventures together, and the story about how the two met. Too much love.

After the wedding, I kicked on with some friends at a bar. 
Note to future self: do not keep up with boys twice your size. I can handle my drinks pretty well, but the night ended me sitting on my floor, face deep in a KFC Ultimate Box; hence no proper photos for the blog.

Here's what I managed the next day:

Anna
Anna - bodice front.
A little "faux-corsage" happening there! 
Anna pleats
Bodice bust pleats and front skirt knife pleats.
Anna (side zipper)
22" side zipper on LHS of  dress. 
Anna back
View of the back.
Love the uninterrupted print. Goodbye CB seams, forever.
Anna side
Side view - seam matching like a pro.
Anna back bodice no seam
Anna - bodice back.
Anna front skirt
Skirt front and knife pleats.
Anna box pleats skirt
Box pleat on skirt back.
Anna insides
Inside - cotton sateen facings. 
Anna insides
Blind-stitched the facing to shell.
Anna facings
Also blind-stitched the centre of front facing on to shell.
Anna skirt hem
3cm hem and beautifully pressed pleats.

Project details -
Pattern: BHL Anna bodice; self drafted skirt with knife pleats and box pleats, inspired by pleats on Flora skirt
Fabric: 1.5m cotton sateen (shell), 0.5m cotton sateen (facings)
Notions: 22" white invisible zip, 0.5m whisperweft interface
Cost: $30 fabric, $5 zipper, $5 whisperweft; however everything came from my stash
Pattern Modification/Adjustments: 
  • The Anna bodice is a TNT for me, hours and hours were spent on adjustments back in January. 2014. Details on bodice adjustments here
  • Replaced original Anna skirt with a self drafted skirt which was two squarish panels; 4 knife pleats at the front, 2 box pleats at the back; matching the darts on the bodice
  • Removed centre back seam from bodice and moved zipper to LHS of bodice
Hours: 6 hrs, 45 mins (from cutting to final press)
Completed on: Saturday 9th August 2014, at 9:45PM.
First worn: Sunday 10th August 2014, at 7:30AM.

If I had to do it all again, the answer is YES I would sew a dress the night before an event again, as long as it was a TNT. I work well under pressure, all those years of completing assignments on the morning of the due date has been great practice, LOL.

I wish I had photos of me wearing the dress without the blazer on, cos the fit is perfect, but I guess you can refer to my previous Anna posts, here and here to see the Anna bodice in action.

When I was going through my fabric stash, I found a lot of beautiful, floral, cotton voile which is screaming out to be made in Anna maxi dresses... to be continued.



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Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Fabric Giveaway Winner....

*** DRUMROLL ***




** One blogger left 2 comments, 1 comment has been excluded from the count


Congratulations Elizabeth Truscott aka Sewn By Elizabeth!
Please email me your postal address so I can get this fabric out to you.

Very excited to see what you make Liz :)

Thank you everyone who entered, I really enjoyed reading your wonderful entries and comments.


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Friday, 14 March 2014

Fabric Giveaway & Round-up: By Hand London 'Georgia'.

Hands down Georgia is my favourite pattern. I have never had a pattern fit me so well! 

Now, I'm sure that any other pattern could fit me just as well if I put in the time, effort and patience into making adjustments. Unlike other patterns, there is just something about the By Hand London patterns that makes me not want to give up. 

Maybe it's the motivation I get from all the beautiful dresses I see on Instagram, Twitter and blogs, maybe it's the sewalongs, maybe it's interaction with the BHL girls online via Twitter and blog comments. They're not just a pattern company guys, they're real live girls! 

Whatever it is, I'm happy, because over the last few months, my sewing skills have improved, the creative side of my brain is alive and full of ideas, and my collection of wearable handmade dresses is growing. No more one hit wonders.

I made three Georgias this year, the Valentines Day Georgia, the Maxi and the Mini. All three were made using different fabrics, had different adjustments and modifications therefore resulted in three completely different dresses. 


I love them all equally, but if I had to choose my absolute favourite, it would be my Maxi version, made using a beautiful, floral rayon. I love it because of its maxi length, the thigh high split (which is a feature of Anna that I adore), the slinkiness of the rayon, and the gorgeous colours. 

My Maxi Georgia made it to Featured Member Projects on BurdaStyle and was also part of the By Hand London Georgia Round-up post, I am so proud of this dress! 


The #georgiadress has been my favourite to click on over the last couple of months, I've also been religiously stalking the 'Sew Us Yours' Flickr group and the Pinterest board.
I've been wow'd and inspired by every single dress I have seen. One of the awesome ones I have seen this week is Bec Stitches' sexy black Georgia, whoa, woman!! 

I've enjoyed following everyone's progress to get the perfect fit, especially Sew Short Nissa and Sew Rachel's journey of multiple muslins. I can totally relate (ahem, looking at you Anna dress!).

Sewing skills wise I've learnt that the needle position on my machine can move so my invisible zipper insertion is a no-more-tears experience, learnt how to do a small bust adjustment (thank you sewalong!) and experimented with different seam finishes and hand stitches (hi fell stitch!).

I'm really looking forward to opening up my Charlotte and have pre ordered my Flora (from Sew Squirrel). I'm very pleased that I've found a pattern company that designs patterns that suit my style; are interactive on social media; and don't have outdated, awkward, hideous pattern envelope photos. 

Okay, now on to the fabric giveaway... yay!

I have been getting a lot of compliments on Twitter for my floral fabrics, so I thought I would share with one lucky person something from my stash. 

I'm giving away 1.75m (1.9yds) of beautiful floral cotton sateen (45" width). 


To enter: 
Leave a comment below voting for your favourite version out of my three Georgia dresses (Valentines Day/Cherry, Maxi, Mini) and tell me what you would make with this gorgeous floral cotton sateen if you got your hands on it.

Giveaway is open worldwide until Sunday 23rd March 2014 (23:59 AEDT).
I will announce winner later that week. Winner will be selected at random (random.org). 

Good luck!





**** GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED, WINNER WILL BE SELECTED AT RANDOM THIS WEEK, GOOD LUCK XX ****
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