Monday, 27 February 2012

Finished Project: 'Sister High Tea Dresses'.

As promised, here is my post to detail the construction of the skirts for the dresses and photos of the inside.

Both dresses were made using the bodice of the McCalls 5845 pattern, with minor adjustments to the front and back. I made the skirts by following tutorials from Gertie's New Better Blog for Better Sewing and Curves, Patterns, and Pins. Thank you ladies for posting such detailed tutorials :D

Dress 1: Big Sister's Dress w/ Full Circle Skirt.

M5845 bodice BACK, 2 front box pleats on skirt, bias binding to finish hem.
INSIDE: zig zig stitch on hem, lace trim. Bias binding on the hem of dress fabric.
2cm back seam allowance.
Big sister's dress, review.

Pattern: McCall's 5845 bodice, full circle skirt cut using Curves, Patterns, and Pins tutorial
Size: Size 6 bodice, graded to size 8 waist.
Skirt info: 
    • Skirt lining cut 3cm shorter
    • Length 45cm (46.5cm with SA, no hem)
    • I followed the formula, but kept ending up with extra fabric, I got rid of it by adding box pleats. Reana from Curves, Patterns, and Pins gave me a link for a circle skirt calculator which I will use next time to check my calculations. Reana didn't have any issues with her skirt, so it is probably my math that is the issue!! :)
Fabric: 1.7m cotton sateen, 1.7m acetate lining (used the "cheap" lining because I didn't want to spend $20 on sunsilky), 5m lace.
Notions: Invisible zipper (black) 16", Gutermann thread (000)
    • Lowered neck by 5cm
    • Raised back by 5cm
    • Skirt cut using Curves, Patterns, and Pins tutorial
    • 2cm back seam allowance
    • Invisible zipper instead of dress zipper
    • Used bias binding on the hem - it is so hard to hem a circle skirt! Thank you heaps to the girl at Clegs who suggested that to me.
    • Darts on the inside not outside
Time: a few hours over 3 days to finish the dress... But then I unpicked the hem on the lining and the dress and started over. Took another 2 hours. Total hours: 9 or so.
Total cost: $25 (fabric, lining, lace and zip), pattern and thread from my stash.

Big sister's dress: I love the effect of bias binding on the hem - that solid black finish looks great to me.
Modifications to the back allows me to wear a bra.
Modification to the front - it's sits just below my collar bone which is very comfortable. .

Dress 2: Little Sister's Dress w/ Full Gathered Skirt.

M5845 bodice. Gathered skirt, skirt hem circumference 2.4m.
INSIDE: "Pistachio" acetate lining. Excuse my dodgy ironing skills, I'm still learning!
Zig zig stitch finish on hem, lace trim.
Little sister's dress, review.

Pattern: McCall's 5845 bodice, full gathered skirt cut using Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing tutorial
Size: Size 8
Skirt info: 
    • Length 50cm (54.5cm with 3cm hem and 1.5cm SA)
    • Skirt width 2.4m
    • I cut the 2 pieces on the centre fold (60cm wide, from centre to selvege, length 54.5cm). I cut 1 of the pieces in half to make the back of the skirt (needs a back seam)
    • Skirt lining cut 3cm shorter
Fabric: 1.7m cotton sateen, 1.7m acetate lining (used the "cheap" lining because I didn't want to spend $20 on sunsilky).
Notions: Invisible zipper (peacock) 16", 3m lace, Gutermann thread (189, 282) 
    • Lowered neck by 5cm
    • Raised back by 6cm (my sister's dress needed 1 more cm).
    • Full gathered skirt cut using Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing tutorial
    • Invisible zipper instead of dress zipper
    • Darts on the inside not outside
    • No mod to back SA
Time: a few hours over a 4 days to finish the dress.
Total cost: $15 (lining, zip, thread), pattern from my stash. The fabric was given to me from my sewing friend Katherine- thanks Kat! We are planning to go to the ballet later in the year. Look out for the dresses we will be making for that outing!

Little sister's dress: I love the colour of this fabric and the lining looks yummy.
The full gathered skirt and modest length is very flattering on my sister. She looks very lady-like.
My sister loves the everything about the dress. 
Today was my first day at my new office. The building is gorgeous! Now that I am no longer next Clegs and Lincraft, I'm not sure if I will be sewing at home as often as I was. I guess I can use this time to move on to a new pattern. I have sewn the McCall's 5845 bodice six times now. I think it's time to get out of my comfort zone.

The kitchen is gorgeous!
I don't know any other words to use to describe this kitchen, it's not often that I compliment kitchens.
The photo in the bottom right corner is our "live wall"... the plants on the wall are alive!
Looking at my pattern collection, I am interested in making the V2960, the bodice is nice, and the V8511 has a nice silhouette. Whether or not it will look good on me is a different story! I don't have a stick body like the drawing, lol. I'd love to make dresses using the vintage patterns from Etsy, but my sewing teacher says I got the wrong size, and it might be hard to make adjustments. Zz. Well, in the meantime, I'll leave you with more photos from Saturday... now that I no longer have Facebook, all my favorite photos will get shared here :P Just kidding, I'm only sharing these pics because it features the handmade dresses in action! I like to see my dresses being worn, it makes me happy and motivated. Don't worry, I won't bore you with boring Instagrams of random letterboxes and tree branches - not that I take photos of those objects.

Jumping around at Parliament House, pouring a glorious blooming tea,
deciding which finger sandwich to get into first, showing off our full skirts.
Silly poses, selfies in the powder room,
Drying off by the Yarra after a 40 minute City Circle tram ride, more silly poses.
Check out the matching belts, nail polish, doctors bags and Infinity Tiffany & Co ring and bracelet!
Happy 18th Birthday little one. 

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Sunday, 26 February 2012

'A sister is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost' ~ Marion C. Garretty

Happy Birthday to my beautiful little sister J!

Technically it's not her b'day till Monday, but we celebrated it today.
Everything went according to plan, I surprised J with her handmade dress and new handbag a gorgeous back mini doctors bag. We were in semi-matching dresses, matching handbags (mine was the same bag, but tan), matching nail polish & matching belt. Everything was perfect... except for the weather. It was so darn hot!!!!! It was a scorching 38°C (100°F)! Melbourne weather is bipolar.

I'm the short one.

We arrived at Hotel Windsor at 2:30pm for our high tea. We were served a glass of moscato on arrival, then a three-tiered silver stand arrived at our table... so good. The food was yum, and the tea was even yummier! The experience was awesome. We felt like princesses in our dresses, sipping our tea with our pinkies in the air.

Scones, Pastries, Ribbon Sandwiches.

Ladies who lunch.

Glorious blooming tea. 

J's surprise birthday cake :D

Check it out, they have a ladies powder room!!

After high tea, we had some spare time before The Vow so we ran around Parliament House taking photos, Gossip Girl style. There were also heaps of bridal parties around, taking wedding photos. I don't know how they could survive in their dresses and tuxedos! J & I couldn't even wear our petticoats today cos it was so hot.

Blair & Serena, S01E04, Bad News Blair.
Neeno & Judy, 250212, Judy's B'day.

Too much sugar. 

M5845 bodice, own gathered skirt pattern.

M5845 bodice, own full circle skirt pattern.

You know what you gotta do when life gets you down?
Just keep spinning, just keep spinning...

The Vow was a good movie. Channing Tatum is quite an adorable man, and if follow my Pinterest, you would know that Rachel McAdams is my girl crush, so naturally I love all her movies. Before headed home, we stopped by my friend's bar Little Red Pocket for a cocktail... then we had laksa, then we went home. All in all, it was a wonderful Saturday, spent with my one and only sister.

I will post a proper pattern review post with pattern info and sources for my skirt drafting technique once I get photos of the inside of the dresses, till then take care and have a great weekend everyone :)

PS. How beautiful does this tea look?!

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Thursday, 23 February 2012

A full week.


Ever since coming back from Phillip Island, I have been so busy! With what? I have no idea!! I haven't been going gym or even doing body balance at home, haven't gone to any events, so I'm not sure where my time has gone.

I've been planning my sister's 18th birthday celebration. Nothing big, I'm just planning a day for the two of us to go into the city, have high tea at Hotel Windsor, maybe see a movie (we want to see The Vow together since no one else will watch it with us), and maybe have some cocktails. YAY.

What I am most excited about is what I plan for us to wear. I made us semi matching dresses. I have used the M5845 bodice yet again. I love that bodice and I have perfected the fit for both my sister and I. I lowered the neck and raised the back so we don't have to go bra-less anymore. Hurrah! I made full skirts for both, mine is a full circle skirt, my sister's is a big skirt, made with two rectangular pieces measuring 1.2m x 55cm, gathered at the waist. I also ordered petticoats for us to wear under our dresses. I don't know much about petticoats, but I now these aren't the "traditional" ones from the 50s. These ones are more like "costumes", but they do the job and are the right length. I also have another surprise for my sister, but I won't blog about it because she reads my blog :) I have posted a couple of photos already on Twitter, but I have used Instagram filters to change the color so she won't know what color it is or how it looks on her until Saturday. We had a fitting today, and I blind folded her, haha. I love my sister, she's the only other person I will sew for.


My sister's dress.
Un-ironed and un-hemmed.

My dress.

Upskirt shot of the lace I added on the lining.
These dresses didn't take too long to make,  a couple of hours over 2-3 days. I can make the bodice with my eyes half shut... they sometimes are when I am up sewing at 3am. My sister's dress still needs to be hemmed. My dress is completely finished, but I think I will make the skirt longer. I tried it on with my faux-petticoat, and the skirt shorter than what I wanted it to be. I might use bias binding on the hem. It is so tricky to hem a full circle, mine is lumpy in some places and the girl at Clegs suggested bias binding. Now I need 5 meters of it.

Apart from these two dresses, I am still working on the B5455 at sewing class. Had some issues with the fit, damn BMV corrupt sizing, grr! Hopefully my sewing teacher will be satifsied with the fit and I can finish it off during next week's class.

B5455, still in progress.
I also un-picked my back seam and zipper on my "Squiggle" dress today. I want to be able to wear it comfortably, and lately I have been eating too much sweets and carbs, been lazy with exercise... I love that dress too much, I don't want the seams to burst when I'm out at dinner.

In other news, I am moving offices tomorrow. The most devastating thing about this move is (apart from leaving the yummy cafes in Degraves St behind, and the bagels at Glicks, and Sushi Monger...), I will no longer be next to Clegs or Lincraft. What will do on on my lunch-breaks now? Cries.

Other major news: (some people thought it was major, I thought it wasn't that much of a big deal) I deactivated my Facebook! When I sent out a text message to close friends and family, I got almost the same response from everyone... "But, whyyyyyyy???? What happened????"  Um, since when was not having Facebook such big deal!! It's been two days. I feel liberated! I was getting fed up with people feigning interest in other peoples' mundane status updates... attention seeking check ins... self photos taken in public rest rooms... if I do choose to reactivate it, I will be deleting a lot of people, and only keeping the ones that matter. Rant over.

I'll post again after my sister and I celebrate her birthday, we will be sure to take plenty of photos of us wearing our semi-matching dresses and faux-petticoats. I hope you all have a great weekend. x

Ta ta for now!

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Saturday, 4 February 2012

Squiggle, squiggle, squiggle, squiggle, squiggle yeah! And a quick zipper tutorial!

I sing that in the tune of LMFAO's song Sexy and I Know It when I look at this fabric... cos the fabric is 'magenta squiggle'. Naming this dress the "3am Squiggle" dress.

A skill that I learnt recently and have used on this dress is inserting an invisible zipper between the dress fabric and the lining, like how the zippers look on RTW. I have been taught that lining can be hand sewed to the dress fabric... but I do it by machine! Clean machine finish :D

My attempt at a tutorial... 

How to insert zipper in a fully lined dress!

Time to insert the invisible zipper
between the fabric and the lining.
Pin the zipper at seam allowance.
2.5cm seam allowance at the back for me.
I have a small back.
Separate the lining and the dress.
Baste zipper on the dress fabric only
(like you would on unlined dress).
Sew zipper with invisible zipper foot.
Repeat on the reverse side.
Flip the lining over so the right sides
of fabric/lining are facing eachother, pin.
Tuck the top bit of the zipper inside so you can sew it in.
Sew lining and dress fabric together close to the zip.
This is how it looks inside out.
Reverse it and voila!
Zipper is between the lining and the fabric.

Now... the finished dress and pattern review!

Do the squiggle, yeah.

I used the fabric I got from Spotlight yesterday and sunsilky lining** that I got for 1/2 price today from Lincraft.

Took 2 hours to cut, 5 hours to sew up the dress, lining, zipper and hem.

**Sunsilky lining: 100% Polyester. Permanently anti-static, treated to breath like a natural fibre.

"Techniques" (which might be normal practice for most seamstresses) that I used on this dress, which I must remember to use all the time cos I love the result so much:

  • PFF (press flat first)
  • Stay stitch - I always forget to do this!! I will make a mental note to remember
  • Zipper inserted between the lining and dress fabric
  • Twin needle hem

I'm proud to say that I did not unpick any of my seams! I made zero mistakes with this dress. This is a first! Usually when I sew late at night, I end up having to unpick at some stage, but not tonight. I started sewing at 9pm tonight and finished at 2am. I'm very nocturnal.

I'm also very happy that my front darts, side seams, and zipper all matched perfectly! The back darts were a little off, but that's ok .

Perfectly lined up darts.
M5845 front bodice.
Darts unaligned but the waist matches at the zipper.
M5845 back bodice.

The only modification I made to the pattern was lower the neck by 2" (5cm) and raise the back by 2" (5cm).

Oooh, and I added in-seam pockets!

Drafted my own in-seam pocket pattern.

Pattern Review... 

Pattern: McCall's 5845
Size: Size 6 bodice, graded to size 8 waist, size 6 skirt.
Fabric: 1.2m cotton sateen, 1m sunsilky lining
Notions: Invisible zipper (black) 16", Gutermann thread (000) 
    • Lowered neck by 2"
    • Raised back by 2"
    • Skirt pieces shortened to 18.5" (3cm hem)
    • Added pockets
    • Regular (1.5cm) back seam allowance
    • Invisible zipper instead of dress zipper
    • No vent
    • Darts on the inside not outside (damn! I said I would put them outside next time I make this dress, oops).
Time: about 7 hours
Total cost: $14 (fabric, lining and zip), pattern and thread from my stash.

Here are some photos of the inside of the dress.

McCall's 5845
Finished the hems on the machine using the twin needles.
McCall's 5845

I wasn't very keen on the fabric when I saw it, but it was $5/m, so what the heck, I bought it, but I really like it now. At first glance, I thought it looked like a leopard print, but at closer inspection, it looks like blobs of spilt paint, lol. I really like it. Even if it does look like skanky leopard print, the high neck balances it out, haha.

I know I say this about every single dress after I finish making it, but I really love this one. I sewed with a lot of patience and applied techniques that I have learnt at sewing class and by reading online blogs. I guess it shows that I am improving if every new dress tops the last one.

I really like this dress cos it is fitted. It is very rare for me to fit "fitted" RTW dresses... if they fit at the bust and hips then it doesn't zip up at the waist. If it fits the waist, then its loose and yucky at the hips and bust. So glad I can customised my dress to fit my body.

McCall's 5845 (back)
McCall's 5845 (back)
McCall's 5845 with pockets.

Alrighty, off to bed for me :)

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