Monday, 26 November 2012

Finished Project: A bodice NOT cut on 'centre fold'.

#selfie :P
I have always cut my 'front bodice' pieces on the 'centre fold' as instructed by the pattern, and so far have not had any issues with prints landing on awkward places. Example...

Carrie Bickmore got flack for wearing this dress on the  last night. 
Do you see something rude? 
.... I'm thinking the designer intended it that way cos I doubt they would miss *that*! I also see a crab and an alien.

Gorgeous dress.

When I started cutting out the bodice for my 'Christmas Party' dress, I had my front bodice on the centre fold but could not find a flower arrangement I was happy with. The flowers on this fabric vary from small to large and are scattered about. 

I didn't want to end up with a front bodice with mostly 'white' and little flowers, or flowers smack bang on my lady lumps so I did something different - I didn't cut on the centre fold!

The collage below shows:

  • Pic 1 - My fabric
  • Pic 2 - Option 1 if cut on centre fold - not enough big roses, bit meh
  • Pic 3 - Option 2 if cut on centre fold - three big roses... but something still not right
  • Pic 4 - Bodice if cut away from centre fold. Me likey.

To do this, I had to trace out another pattern piece as if it were the actual front bodice, use the 'centre' of the bodice as the grainline, un-fold the fabric and measure-measure-measure my grainline.

It is trickier than cutting on the fold, but I am far happier with how the flowers are arranged on the front bodice now. I deliberately placed the large rose up on the chest/shoulder so it looks like a corsage.

I didn't have enough fabric to play around with the pattern placement for the back bodice because the remainder was for my gathered skirt so I had to make do with the fabric left over from the front bodice.

Doesn't look too bad though.

The pattern I used for this dress is old faithful M5845 (oop). I've made this bodice many times with a circle skirt, wiggle skirt and it's original skirt for myself, but never a full gathered skirt.

I did make a version with a full gathered skirt once, but that dress was for my sister and I always envied her version, so I decided to make myself one too!

Isn't my sister gorgeous! Dress blogged here. 

I used the same size pattern pieces, except I made an adjustment to the shoulder line. I took off 1cm.

I followed this tutorial by Anna (::Paunnet::).

The M5845 bodice is dart central. A total of 16 darts on shell and lining. I used this tutorial  by Rochelle (Lucky Lucille) to trace my darts the easy way.

It was a bit hard to do this technique on the lining because the chalk didn't stay on the polyester, but on cotton, it's perfect. My darts have never been so straight!

The fabric I used for the shell of the dress is a cotton sateen I bought from Spotlight. You know by now how much I love florals, so I just had to have this.

The lining is red sunsilky polyester.

I decided to line the bodice only. I think I'm going to skip the skirt lining from now on unless it's a fitted skirt.

Inside the bodice lining...
I handpicked the zipper, french seamed the side skirt seams...
...lined the bodice, added a white grosgrain ribbon waist-stay,
 hand sewed the hem (yes!! I hand sewed 2 meters of hem, took 1 hour).

Summary: Floral 'corsage' dress.

Pattern: M5845 bodice, self drafted full gathered skirt
Size: Size 6 bust, 8 waist
Fabric: 1.5m cotton sateen (Spotlight), 70cm sunsilky lining (red)
Notions: Dress zipper 16" (hot red), Gutermann thread (800, 156), 1m grosgrain ribbon (white), bikini hook (1)
Time: 8-10 hours over 3 days, didn't really keep track, only remember that the bodice was finished in record time of 3.5 hours
Cost: Fabric $25; Lining $10, Zipper $2; Grosgrain ribbon $2; Bikini Hook 50c
Techniques used: 
    • French seam
    • Darts
    • Lined bodice
    • Gathering
    • Handpicked zip
    • Blind catch stitch on the hem 
Pattern Modification/Adjustments:
    • Shoulder line adjustment
    • Side seam allowance 2cm
    • Raised back by 5cm
    • Lowered front neckline by 2cm

I'm so happy with how the bodice turned out, my favorite feature of the dress is the huge 'corsage'.

I read somewhere that the only reason the pattern companies design the pattern piece to be cut on the centre fold is so they can save paper (and money). 

If I ever work with fabric that has scattered prints everywhere, I will use this technique to cut out the pattern pieces so I can control where the prints end up. 

What about you guys, do you ever not cut on the fold? 

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Monday, 19 November 2012

Finished Project & Pattern Review: Burda 7254. Un-picking black knits is a bitch!

I started this dress in September and two months later here it is, all finished!

This was my project for my weekly sewing class, my first Burda project and first time with jersey.

Jersey was a big challenge. Encouraging words from classmates and bloggers got me through... "jersey is great to sew with"... "jersey doesn't fray"... "jersey is forgiving" ...

And you are all right, it definitely is forgiving, and doesn't fray and is great to sew with once you get used to it. I forgot to stretch the fabric a few times, whoops.

The hardest part was tracing the Burda 7254 pattern on to "paper". I never cut into the original pattern, always trace it on to sew-on interfacing and use that as a pattern piece. The Burda pattern confuses me, the "lines" for each size are busy looking, not like BM&V.

Marking the hundreds of pleats on the bodice was tedious but I made it through, pleated the side bodice pieces and sewed it to the interfaced centre piece, then the fun began ;)

The rest of the dress was easy peazie. Four darts on the back, some pleats on the sleeves, facings.

This dress is not lined, instead it has facings which are stabilized using McCall's textureweft (iron on) and raw edges serged. The centre piece and centre back is interfaced.

The dress is closed with a 22" black invisible zipper.

I hemmed the dress by hand, using a 'flat catch stitch' - I think that's what the stitch is called, my tutor showed me this new stitch and I missed the name of it so I Googled and found this handy document on hand sewing. Have a look at my pic below and let me know if I'm right.

I was suppose to finish the sleeve by hand as well, but I got lazy, went and bought myself a twin stretch needle and finished it by machine. I think the sewing-gods were watching and decided to punish me for being lazy, cos I stuffed up one sleeve and spent a good half hour unpicking, grr, hence the title of this post.

TOP: Inside view of bodice & facings
MIDDLE: Zipper & darts, Outside bodice
BOTTOM: Pleats, 'Flat catch stitch' on hem

Pattern Review: Burda 7254

Size: Size 10
Fabric: 1.75m jersey from Rathdowne Fabrics
Notions: Invisible zipper 22" (black), Gutermann thread (000), Textureweft interfacing,
Time: 2 months worth of sewing class aka 16 hours
Cost: Fabric $30; Zipper $5; Textureweft $10, Pattern $10, 
Techniques used: 
    • Flat catch stitch
    • Darts
    • Pleats
    • Sewing with stretch fabric
Pattern Modification/Adjustments: 
No modifications or adjustments! Fits perfect everywhere. 
I am extremely pleased because I don't have those terrible drag lines in my butt area that I usually get with a fitted skirt (handmade and RTW). I'm putting this down to either me being a 10 in the butt and should start cutting a size 10 or it's the jersey's beautiful drape, bless you jersey. 
If I make this again, I'd like to make a small adjustment to the back, gapes just a tiny bit near the top of zipper.

Not a very photo heavy post, but you can see that this dress is awesome! I feel like such a lady in this dress. I don't own any dresses that are below the knee.
Hello skirt vent! 

This dress is definitely "figure enhancing" and "surprising stylish" - quote

Another reason why I'm watching my photo upload on Blogger is because I found out the other week that Blogger has an upload limit and once you reach that limit you won't be able to upload more. Wah. Check out Miss Directions post for tips on uploading pics on to Blogger (here).

So now I make sure that I don't upload duplicates and resize my images using Pic Monkey so I don't exceed my storage limit.

My next project at class with be Burda pants. I can't wait. I'm also working on a dress for my work Xmas party (30th Nov) which I am on track to finish. Have already finished the bodice, took only a few hours. If you follow my Instagram (Neeno_24), you can see some progress pics :) 

Speaking of Xmas, is anyone sewing a 'Christmas' dress? I'm tempted to sew a dress in Christmas fabric, with reindeers or elves on it... 

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Sunday, 11 November 2012

Finished Project: Handmade Floral Skinny Belt & Full Circle Skirt Dress!

I think handmaking belts is my new "thing". This is belt #3.

Belt #1 was the floral cummerbund which was part of the vintage Simplicity 3222 dress. Conveniently, that cummerbund can also be worn with my V8511 floral dress cos they are the same fabric :)

Belt #2 was the blue and red bow belt I made for my blue satin party dress using the free Lisette pattern. It's free, get on it!

Belt #3 is this (ok I'm gonna use this word for the first time) amazeballs skinny floral belt for my floral and full skirted dress.

It's almost camouflaged amongst the flowers on the dress :)

I spent about 3 hours reversing the long tube of fabric to the right side. When I was done, my fingers were swollen. The reversing of the belt took almost as long as the time it took me to finish the bodice. Crazy.

I can't explain coherently how I made the 'bow' feature on the belt so forgive me for not giving a mini "how-to" but it was very easy. The whole belt is made using the same length of fabric folded on top and around itself to secure, then hand sewed.

Check out my sew-on snaps, looks much neater than last time.

The making of the dress took about 8 hours all up (over two days). The belt took another 5 hours. I finished it in time for my work party. Phew! Now that my work colleagues know that I sew, I can't turn up in RTW.

My colleague's wife is also into sewing and quilting so when we see each other, we chat about sewing which is awesome. I love meeting other ladies that have sewing and craft knowledge..

For this dress, I used the V8511 bodice and modified the back to a scooped back. I replaced the skirt with a full circle skirt.

I added a pink grosgrain ribbon waist stay and lined the bodice using the clean machine finish technique. The lining is purple sunsilky polyester.

I was short on time (and lining) so I skipped the skirt lining. I felt pretty safe cos the cotton sateen is quite heavy so you can't see my underwear through it... but you could see my underwear when I twirled, I did that a few times on Friday night at my party. But that's a different story, for a different post.

I handpicked the zip and finished the hem on the circle skirt by serging the raw edge, pressing the serged edge over then stitched a narrow hem. 

This full circle skirt has a giant hem which took 5 minutes to sew on the machine. So get this, I finished the hem, decided I didn't like the dark green thread - then spent 2 hours unpicking the 3.6m hem. I'm a sucker for pain. The hem looks great now with a lighter green thread, it has that "top stitched" look.

Even though this is a TNT pattern, the dress ended up being too big and gaped at the back. I discovered this after I had handpicked the zip. Annoying. I had too unpick the zip. 

Because of the way I took in the back seam, I think the CB seam ended up "off-grain" (is that the correct term?) and as a result, I had drag lines starting from the lower side seams pointing towards the zipper tab. I was once told that the drag lines point towards the "problem" area so in this case, it was definitely caused by the inches that I took in at the CB.

Can you spot my belt?

The drag lines are the only thing that bother me about this dress, it's barely noticeable to others, but I'm really OCD about things. I'm annoyed that my trusted TNT ended up being not-so-TNT. And I know I have not lost weight... so what the!

Here are some pics I quickly took before leaving the house on Friday. I was going to get an up-do, but my regular hairdresser was sick so I ended up getting GHD curls instead. It was a windy day so the curls got bit messy before I even left home.

Can you see those drag lines on the back bodice?
Yardage for dress and belt: 1.5m of cotton sateen.

Summary: Frankenpattern dress & skinny belt.

Pattern:  Vogue 8511 bodice with modification to back, self drafted full circle skirt
Size: Size 6
Fabric: floral cotton sateen
Notions: Dress zipper 14" (hunter green), 1m grosgrain ribbon (pink), 1 bikini hook, Gutermann thread, Birch snap fasteners (1)

Time: approx 17 hours over 3 days.

  • Day 1 - bodice, 3.5 hours
  • Day 2 - full circle skirt, handpicked zip, hem, 5 hours
  • Day 3 - belt, unpicking hem and re-doing zip, 8 hours

Cost: Fabric $15; Lining $10; Zipper $2; Grosgrain Ribbon $2, Bikini Hook, Snap Fastener & Pattern from stash.

Techniques used: 
  • Handpicked zip
  • Waist stay
  • Narrow hem on the sewing machine
  • Princess seams
  • Bagging technique to line bodice

Pattern Modification/Adjustments: 

  • Graded out to 1cm seam allowance at the waist on the side seams
  • 2.5cm SA on back bodice, graded to regular SA at waist when inserting zipper
  • Replaced skirt with self drafted full circle skirt 
  • Modified the back bodice to create a scoop

I'll let you in on a secret: this dress is the exact same dress I wore to the last work function, but in a different fabric.

I had an awesome time on Friday night, the food was delicious and so was the wine. Both the red and white, haha. Needless to say, I woke up on Saturday evening (yep, evening) with the biggest hangover, ever.

I'll put together a Me-Made-Weekend post once I get photos from my friend. TBH, I'm a little afraid to see the photos, I hope I didn't disgrace myself :/

What did you get up to over the weekend? Sewing or mischief or both?
Hope you had as much fun as I did :D

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Thursday, 8 November 2012

Goodbye invisible zippers & hello handpicking!

For the first time in a long time, my internet was capped for a few days! Soooo 2001...
I was devastated, I couldn't watch new Homeland, Revenge or Gossip Girl; download Justin Bieber's song (don't laugh but I really like the song 'Beauty and a Beat' after hearing it on X Factor Au) or reply to your comments on my last post about zippers, accidentally cutting my hair and not oiling my machine.

My sewing teacher oiled my machine for me last week, and when reading my manual to see where to oil, it said "make sure to oil the machine once a week if you use it more than an hour a day"... hrm. Thoughts?

Re my paranoia about cutting of my hair and measuring tape, I'm glad you guys can relate to my fear of chopping things off accidentally. I always make sure I am at my most alert when I am cutting my seam allowances and clipping my curves. And when using my rotary cutter :) 

A lot of you guys commented and said that invisible zippers are not as strong as dress zippers but most tend to use invisible zippers. I'm the same, I like invisible zippers because they are "easier" (read: no hand sewing) to install, give a cleaner finish and hand sewing can be a ball breaker sometimes. But there's no denying they are not as strong as the old dress zipper.

I still remember last year when I wore my handmade 'cobalt' skirt to a NYE party and halfway through the festivities, my invisible zipper broke! Luckily it was still holding together at the waistband so my skirt didn't fall down. In public. OMG :(

A week later when I wore my 'burnt orange' dress out on the weekend, I packed spare clothes in my handbag incase I had a wardrobe malfunction. Mind you, the zipper on the dress was an exposed metal zipper, but I was so traumatised by what had happened on NYE, it made me question how durable my handmade garments were. It took months for me to trust my sewing again. 

Then the zipper tab broke off my 'Squiggle' dress. FFS.

I then realised it wasn't my sewing, it was those stupid Birch invisible zippers! I even had one break on me during installation. 

People have told me to use YKK zippers as they are most durable and used on most RTW clothing. So far I have had no luck finding these YKK zippers :(

Sewaholic and Cation Designs were the first blogs I followed religiously when I started reading sewing blogs. 

I am obsessed with Tasia's Simplicity 3965 dresses and love the handpicked zip on her picnic dress. 

When stalking Cindy's blog archive and drooling over her M5845 and NL6723 dresses, I always stop to admire the handpicked zip on the Hippo dress.

Now for some handpicked zipper p o r n...

Tasia's 'Picnic' dress.
Cindy's 'Hooray for Hippos' dress.
Gertie's 'Lemon Tree' dress.

So beautiful <3

I tried my first handpicked zipper when making my Mad Men dress using Tasia's very awesome tutorial.
It turned out OK for my first try. I tried it a few more times on my M6331 strapless dresses (here & here) and on one of my skirts and my 'meh' lace dress the other week.

Most recently, I handpicked a zipper on this beautiful floral dress...

Practice makes perfect, I've finally got it right. My stitches are more even and straight. Woo hoo prickstitch!

I'm so confident with my skills that I've offered to repair the zipper on my cousin's handmade dress from Paris! Only concern is my 'stitches' aren't as visible (therefore aren't as strong?) as Tasia, Cindy and Gertie's... something I'll work on next time.

I am so in love with the little 'dots' of thread peeking through the fabric. Ahh smitten.

It is much easier to control the zipper when handpicking, and easier to unpick too. I had to re-do the zipper on this dress and take it in an inch on each side - unpicking the prickstitch (on the zipper tape side) was sooo much easier than unpicking tiny stitches next to the teeth of an invisible zipper.

From now on I will handpick (most of) my zippers because it makes the dress extra special to me, hand sewing can be therapeutic, and dress zippers seem to be stronger than invisible ones.

Oh, and dress zippers are much cheaper too, and since I'll only be buying one zipper from now on, I'll be saving so much $$. More money to spend on fabric!

So ladies, have you handpicked a zipper?

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Monday, 5 November 2012

New Fabric, WIPs & some very personal questions...

Part 1: New Fabrics.

Today I welcome 9 new members into my fabric stash. All approx 150cm x 2m and I believe all are cotton.

Dad came back from a trip to Vietnam on Saturday and even though I said not to buy me anything, he came back with one suitcase full of stationary (for my sister) and fabric (for meeeeee!) Yayayya!

Dad's sister did the actual buying, so thanks aunty! There are some cuties in this bunch - third from top is my fav so far, mmm fruit. The ones that aren't my style or whatever can be used to make wearable muslins - nothing goes to waste :)

For a closer look, I've posted pics at the bottom of this post.

Part 2: WIPs

I've been banging on about these awards nights for months now so you probably vaguely remember that I have one coming up this Friday. Well, the last dress I made (here) turned out to be a thumbs down for me, so that meant that I had less than a week to get an outfit together.

I went shopping at Darn Cheap again during the week and bought "silk viscose" - now, how much should I trust those labels on the bolt of fabric? Is there such thing as "silk viscose"?

Viscose is not my friend from way back. I used to shop on ASOS and bought a few items that were viscose... they annoyed me cos they would get so fricken wrinkly after the wash and I'd accidentally destroy them with the hot iron (pre-sewing days).

With that history, not sure why I bought viscose. It looked good at the time, plus I drove an hour to Darn Cheap, I wasn't going home empty handed.

After some hours on Saturday night and a couple of hours on Sunday morning, I ended up with this mess...

Not what I had in mind. It's too casual for my function, too flimsy... and that viscose did my head in!!! It stretched and warped every time I touched it... nightmare.

This hem line has no chance of being even!

I managed to finish the bodice (fully lined) and attached a full skirt to it before casting it aside and going to a family BBQ.

After the BBQ, I started on another dress using beautiful floral fabric from my stash - cotton sateen is such a joy to work with. Even the sunsilky lining is a godsend after my weekend with viscose.

After 3.5 hours, here's what I have... TBC!

Part 3: Very personal questions
Okay, they're not that personal. Just some questions that I have been meaning to ask other sewists... 
  1. I always buy an invisible zipper and a dress zipper for each project, incase I decide to hand pick. Does anyone else do this or is it just me? I'm so indecisive!
  2. When cutting your fabric, do you get paranoid that you will cut off your hair!?! Or your tape measure? I started wearing my hair in a bun when I'm cutting cos I'm sure one day I'm gonna slice off my pony tail.
  3. How often do you oil your machine? I oiled mine for the first time in one year! Bad girl.

It's almost 3AM in Melbourne so I should get to bed soon. 

Lucky for me I have no work today and Tuesday is Melbourne Cup (public holiday for a horse race) so I have 2 more days to work on my dress for Friday.

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend.

Enjoy my fabric babies x

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