Monday, 9 July 2012

Finished Project & Pattern Review: McCall's Generation Next 6331.

Melissa Watson for Palmer Pletsch McCall’s 6331 Misses' Romper and Dresses pattern. Phew, that's a loooooog name for a pattern!

At the risk of sounding like the biggest bimbo in the world, I don’t know where my waist is. To be honest, I only started worrying about where my waist was in the last couple of months when I embarked on this mission to sew a dress that fits perfectly.

So ladies, help me out here, where is my waist??? Is my waist below my ribcage?
If so, my RTW dresses and handmade dresses sit about 1.5cm-2cm above the bottom of my ribs – I can feel the waist seam line on my ribs. Is this normal? This emphasized when the dress is belted. I always thought my waist is where my belt naturally sits but lately I am not so sure.

For that reason, I decided that I have a long torso.

On hindsight, I think I may have a normal torso, but a long midriff section. I really don’t know anymore!! When did life get so complicated haha. Then there are days that I think I have a short torso because I get “folds” under the bust when I sit down. Again, is this normal?

RTW world was not this complex at all! If a garment looked awesome but didn’t fit right or feel comfortable (reasons unknown as I never dwelled on it), I’d simply return it to the rack, so I guess the reason we all sew is to be able to get the perfect fit for the styles that we like.

Which brings me to my latest fascination with strapless dresses.

Last week I made the Mc Call’s 5850 and I decided that I didn’t like that particular style as I felt naked up top. The dress didn’t hold up well because I have boobs that are, as Shakira puts it, small and humble (so you don’t confuse them with mountains). Because of that, I had to take the waist in HEAPS. This is not ideal cos I need to breathe and occasionally eat.

I’d like to thank everyone for their comments on me in the dress. I would like to disclose that the photos I posted were the best photos out of about 30 shots! The dress did not look flattering on me at all so it was hard to photograph well. I really appreciate the encouraging and complimentary comments though, it really makes me feel good. Love you guys!

Also a BIG thank you for the pattern recommendations. I really liked the V1174 suggested to me by AlmondRock. In the end, I bought the McCall’s 6331 recommended by Jennifer (Ms JennyHomemaker) because it had the different cup sizes.

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you would've seen my progress this weekend on the M6331.

I spent about an hour on Friday night tracing the pattern and lengthening the bodice by 3cms.

Saturday afternoon I made a muslin. I wore it all day at home, I even took a nap in it!! I woke to find it had stretched! Silly me made a muslin with cotton sateen. I know I read somewhere that a muslin should be made with fabric that has no stretch, but I forgot that on Saturday. Duh.

NOTE TO SELF: Don't make a muslin with stretchy fabric!

Saturday night I made my bodice. I interfaced all the front pieces and the cups. There was a lot of concave/convexes to join. This was absolute hell but once I got the pieces together I felt so good!

I decided to give top stitching a go. I bought top stitching thread and everything! Something was wrong with my machine (actually, most likely there was something wrong with the operator!).

The thread kept snagging and when it did stitch, the top would look normal but the bobbin thread would look gnarly, loose and knotted at the same time. Hell part two. 

I managed to top stitch the front bodice cups. I inserted boning on the side and front panels. Bodice looked great! 

I was so happy with it! And then I wasn’t. 

I removed all the top stitching. I didn’t think it suited the fabric, and knowing that under the lining was a hot mess of knotted and gnarly threads put me off. Also, the cups looked like eyes of a Futurama character.

Boning - Top Stitching - Finished Bodice.

Sunday morning I did some measuring and fitted the bodice. Guess what I found? The waist was too small. Hell part three. 

If I had made the muslin with non-stretch fabric I would’ve picked up on this. The fabric I used for the dress was also cotton sateen, however I had interfaced it. All I can say is thank goodness I did not trim my side seam allowances. I unpicked the boning, unpicked the side seams and restitched. Bodice saved. 

I also changed my mind about the boning and removed it all. The bodice was stiff enough because it was self lined and interfaced. The boning added too much bulk and felt uncomfortable.

I spent more time unpicking this dress than I did sewing it. I am so thankful that I was able to save the bodice because I absolutely LOVE this fabric. Love it so much that I was almost going to not sew it at all.

At this point it seems that all I did over the weekend was sew and unpick, but that’s not true. I managed to start and finish a long overdue presentation for a work conference coming up this Thursday, subject: ME. I felt it was a little self indulgent; I am not used to talking about myself. I learnt how to use Movie Maker and the finished video is pretty great! I used ‘Unwritten’ by Natasha Bedingfield as the song to accompany photos of me and my life. I also watched a heap of Mad Men and TED!!!

After I caught up with a girlfriend and watched TED on Sunday afternoon, I moved on to the skirt. The skirt is a simple panel of fabric, 50cm long and about 120cm wide. For something different, I pleated it. I put a pleat in the centre and worked my way outwards, adding a pleat below every seam and dart on the bodice. They lined up quite well. 

On the M5850 I put random soft pleats but on this skirt, the pleats were measured precisely so that they were evenly placed.

Pleats, pleats and understitching.

After all my zipper horror, I was reluctant to use an invisible zipper. Oh and the other day the zipper tab broke off one of my zippers! WTF Birch?? I’ve had three of their zippers break on me. Are there better zippers available?

I inserted the invisible zipper, stitched the lining to the bodice and finished the back seams.
Today I finished the hem by hand.

I love this dress because of the fabric and how close to perfect the fit it but there are adjustments I need to make for next time. 

I love the cups!!!! They were challenging but look so good!
I love the self lined bodice, looks so pretty against the green lining.
M5850 vs M6331.
Massive difference in bodice length.
I prefer the M5850 bodice length, but I love the M6331 cups.
The neckline on the M6331 is more flattering on me.
Pattern Review: Melissa Watson for Palmer Pletsch McCall's 6331no halter strap

Size: 6 with A/B cups. Next time I will cut a 4 bust and grade to 8 waist.
Fabric: 1.5m cotton sateen, 50cm sunsilky lining 
Notions: Invisible zipper 14" (hunter green), Gutermann thread (472), interfacing
Time: 4 days
Cost: Pattern $13, Fabric $9, Lining $4, Zipper $4, Interfacing $2, Thread $8, total: $40.
I also bought boning ($4), top stitch thread ($3) that I didn't end up using :( 
Techniques used: 
    • Boning (ended up removing)
    • Top stitching (ended up removing)
    • Self drafted pleated skirt
    • Side seam allowance tapered to 0.5cm at the waist
    • Back seam allowance 3.5cm at the top, tapered to regular SA at the waist
    • Added 3cm to the bodice, but then cut about 1.5cm off. I don't think I actually needed the extra length though. 
In conclusion, I love the fabric, I love the pattern. I will be making this dress again, I might actually shorten the bodice to achieve more of a high-waisted look. I am much more comfortable with the waist seams sitting where they usually sit on RTW and unmodified patterns.

Things I need you ladies from the online sewing community to help me with:
  • Where is my waist? (I know how dumb this sounds...)
  • How do I fix the nasty, gnarly bobbin thread when I top stitch?
  • Where can I find better zippers? Three Birch zippers have broken on me, I can't go through that heartache anymore.
  • Any other suggestions you can give me to improve the fit of this dress.
I appreciate all comments and feedback. Thank you for helping me grow as a sewist!

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Tuesday, 3 July 2012

FUFO: Finished Un-Finished Object & a Precious New Born!

It's done, it's done, the M5850. I love the fabric, it reminds me of the sky at about 7pm in winter, after the sun has set and the sky is dark, but there are light clouds.

Continuing on from my last post, my violent attack on the broken zipper left me with this to deal with:

Tears in my fabric. Note to self: Unpick, do not forcefully tear zipper off fabric!
Big thank you to everyone's sympathy and suggestions on how to fix it.
It's comforting to know I am not the only one that has these issues.

I used interfacing to "mend" it. Kinda worked, it held the fabric together to prevent further tearing, but on the right side it was still frayed.

Luckily, the ridiculous amount of ease built into the pattern saved they day - I had to take the back seams in a whopping 4cm so the tears ended up being cut off. Good news story!

I interfaced the heck out of the bodice, which probably contributed to the bulky seams, but it helped the bodice hold it's shape very well, which I like. I boned the side and the back seams. I love boning. I think I am going to bone all my dresses from now on.


For the skirt, instead of gathering it, I folded soft pleats into it. This ended up being a nightmare when I was trying to get the exposed zipper in place... the folds got in the way (because of the 4cm SA) and made everything awkward.

The zipper was the biggest issue I had with this dress. From the invisible zipper that broke, to the metal zipper that kept getting caught in the fabric, but after the fourth attempt, I finally found peace.

The dress looks gorgeous, on a coat hanger. I am not built for a strapless dress.

I really hate armpits and my weird side boob fat. For the version I am making at class, I want to add straps to it. I feel so naked in the dress, especially because all my dresses that I make now have high necks and I am getting used to that style.

So why did I pick a pattern for a strapless dress? One of my best friends suggested that I try making something strapless She loves strapless dresses and she looks gorgeous in them.

Photo of us at Christmas 2011, not best pic but it shows her in a strapless dress.
Don't mind me and my derp face, not sure what I'm doing there...
...but I am wearing a handmade dress! My LBD!
The skirt is a great length. No mods needed for short me however I did shorten the pattern pieces by an inch or so, only so all my pattern pieces could fit on my 1.5m of fabric. I used the same fabric for the bodice lining and didn't line the skirt because the cotton sateen was quite thick.

I cut a 6 bust and 8 waist. Took the back seams in 4cm and it still seems to fall a little. The midriff piece sits around my ribs, but the measurement for the piece is based on my waist- which is obviously wider... anyway.

Getting the perfect fit is so hard. Sewing is easy. Fitting is hard.

Exposed zipper.
I love how the dress looks from the back, mainly cos there's no armpits! The exposed zipper looks great to me, but I was getting tired of it... I have 6 handmades with exposed zippers. Some deliberate, some because the garments couldn't handle an invisible zipper and a metal trouser zipper was the strongest solution I could come up with.

The skirt is nice, but nothing new, my handmade wardrobe is full of gathered skirts. I love them. Can't fault them.

Here's my pattern review, I'll do a better review on the floral M5850 once I finish it at class.

Pattern: M5850
Size: Bust: 6, Waist: 8, Hips: 8
Fabric: 1.5m cotton sateen
Notions: Trouser Zipper 8", Gutermann thread (000), 70cm polyboning, interfacing
Time: 3 days
Cost: $10? (fabric, interfacing, polyboning, zip), pattern and thread from my stash. 
Fabric was on sale for $3.50/m, zipper $2, polyboning $4/m, interfacing $2/m.
Techniques used: 
    • Boning
    • Rolled Hem
On a non-sewing related topic, I have a new baby cousin!!!!!! 

Have been waiting for this precious bub since the 23rd of June! And here she finally is. I am not usually the type to gush all over a newborn, but just look at her! 

Her cheeks are EDIBLE!!! The most gorgeous chubby cheeks. She's a healthy 3.680kg. 

She is one day old. Just adorable. I am not used to holding babies, I was so scared I'd drop her. My mum was like "Calm down, she's not going to fly away!"

Aw, I just love her.

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Sunday, 1 July 2012

My first UFO.

Sew frustrated!!!!!! I hate unplanned unfinished business!

I started cutting this dress last night and planned to finish sewing it today... but I effed it. I also pricked my finger on a pin :(

Everything went well, the interfacing, the boning, the soft pleats on the skirt...

I stopped and ate some dinner before tackling the zipper. I spent ages pinning and basting the invisible zipper making sure all the seams matched only to have the frickin' zipper break on me when I was trying to zip it up. Mighty pissed off!!

In my moments of anger and frustration, I violently ripped the zipper out... and tore some holes in my dress. I think the only way I can salvage the dress is with an exposed zipper... but I'm tired of exposed zippers, so for now it will hang on my wire mannequin as a UFO. My first ever UFO.

Sigh. Apart from this dilemma, the rest of my Sewing-Sunday was good. I finally found the fabric I have been coveting for months.

A girl who goes to my sewing class (different day) made a vintage dress using this cotton sateen and I have been searching for this fabric for months... today I found it, finally! I don't know what I will make with it, but I have 1.5m, enough for a dress. Going into my stash, more floral. I am still yet to sew up this floral fabric that I got couple months ago, I love floral :)

I also bought two patterns. I finally own the New Look 6723, have seen so many versions of this dress, and I love the Vintage Burda, but it's a size 10-18, I hope it will fit. I want to make that with jersey.

 I scoured the pattern books looking for a strapless dress pattern with 'cups' like the Bombshell dress, but I couldn't find any pattern like that ... everything is darts and princess seams. If anyone can suggest a dress pattern with cups, I'm all ears!

I tried to find other patterns to buy but I can't seem to break away from dresses.

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend, and thank goodness Instagram is back up!


PS!!! I saw this dress in the pattern book, check out the fabric!!

Look familiar??

Blogged here.
Well how about that!

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