Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Finished Project: Another Floral Maxi Dress for Summer.

B6582 + M6349 + 50 centimetres = ....


When I asked "What is an appropriate dress to wear to Thanksgiving?" in an old blog post, Oona said "I'd make THIS for turkey day" - referring to the floral M5845 with outside darts

Well, I kinda did. Recognise the fabric?? 

A wise person once told me "don't throw out leftover fabric until you finish the project" so I held on to this half a meter of cotton sateen until I completed the M5845 and like a secret squirrel I stashed it away. 

A few weekends ago I went shopping and found some awesome black fabric. It was labelled as "cotton" but it wasn't cotton texture I was used to. I took it to the counter and asked the girls what it was... they whipped out a light and set a piece of it on fire! I stood there pretending that I knew what they were doing. The girls came to the conclusion that it was probably rayon, rayon fuji or something... they reassurred me it was definitely breathable... definitely a natural fiber. 

I just wanted to know if it was still $5.40 a meter :P 

I took 2 meters.

Sunday arvo when I was suppose to be finishing my fishy M6349, I started playing around with the rayon. I didn't have enough for a maxi dress, but I had enough for a maxi skirt. Went diggin around my sewing room for fabric for the bodice and found my floral cotton sateen scrap, yay. And it was already pre-washed, double yay. 

I always use coloured thread to sew gathering stitches so it's easy to spot and remove later.
Skirt gathered and ready to stitch to the bodice.

I used the B6582 bodice. I've only used this pattern once and have never worn the dress because of the dodgy machine stitched hem. 

The skirt is from the M6349, I added half a meter to the length. This skirt pattern is like gold. I'm holding onto to it forever! 

Pattern: Butterick 6582, View 3, M6349 skirt
Size: 6 all the way. 

Fabric: 0.5m cotton sateen, leftover from an old project), 0.5m cotton lawn (bodice lining), 2m rayon (skirt)

Notions: Dress zipper 18", Gutermann thread

Time:  approx 10 hours (3 hours to cut all fabric and construct shell, 5 hours to construct lining, skirt, bag bodice, gather skirt.. 1 hour-ish to handpick zip and machine hem)

Cost: Fabric $10 (skirt), Lining $3, Zipper $2. Cheapest dress ever. 

Pattern Modification/Adjustments:
  • Fully lined the bodice instead of facings for the bodice
  • Replaced skirt with a maxi skirt (using lengthened skirt pattern of M6349)
Techniques Used:
  • Darts
  • Gathering
Handpicked zip.

Japanese cotton lawn bodice lining.

Faux wrap bodice.

I interfaced the zip SA, it stabilized the rayon so there was no warping or wiggling when I was installing the zip. Gosh I love handpicking! 

I will go up a size next time to an 8 (possibly 10 at the waist). Despite the finished measurements being bigger than my measurements, it's a little restrictive across the bust and back.

This was my first Thanksgiving, and I loved it! Food, and wine... hehe. 
Even though we don't celebrate Thanksgiving in Australia, I watch an unhealthy amount of Gossip Girl a lot of American TV shows so I knew what to expect - giant turkey, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie... it was a lovely lunch. 

Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving this Thursday. I can't wait to stalk '#Thanksgiving' on Instagram to see all your delicious food and sexy table settings!

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Tuesday, 12 November 2013

WIP: McCall's 6349, View C Bodice with Ruched Bust.


I think I have a new favourite pattern! Or at least favourite pattern in the "strapless bodice" category.

This pattern tested my patience as there was so much cutting and prepping! There was the shell fabric, the underlining, the lining, the INTERFACING!

Then hours ironing on the interfacing to all the pieces. The end result is worth it though, being able to handle each bodice piece without fear of it stretching makes the sewing process much more enjoyable.

If you are planning to use this pattern, and I highly recommend you do, it helps to be super organised because it can get confusing when you are cutting out heaps of the SAME pieces.

I'm hoping the below will help others, I'll definitely be referring to it in the future if I make this dress again.

M6349, View C bodice (no straps). 
Which pieces to cut:

#13 - Bodice Front
CUT 2 (shell fabric)
Used for front bodice, this is the piece that has the bust gathering.
Do not interface (on my muslin I interfaced it and the gathers did not sit against the underlining).
#7 and #8 - Bodice Front Lining and Bodice Side Front Lining
Used for underlining and lining, all pieces to be interfaced
CUT 4 (interfacing)
CUT 4 (lining fabric) 
- One set is the underlining for piece #13, for the gathers to be stitched to
- One set is the lining, that will join with lining pieces #16 and #17
#16 and #17 - Bodice Back and Bodice Side Back
CUT 2 (shell fabric) joins with #13
CUT 2 (lining) joins with #7 and #8
CUT 4 (interfacing) all pieces to be interfaced
Insert boning on the lining side seams

When all the cutting and interfacing is out of the way, the real fun begins! There's sewing, unpicking (grr), gathering, clipping seams, boning, understitching... you name it! 

Also, I figured out pattern piece #13!! I think the issue last time was due to the interfacing, it made the fabric too stiff so the shell wouldn't lay against the underlining, kept poofing up like a puffer fish.

This time I didn't interface piece #13 and it worked out! I made a slight adjustment to the gathers though, instead of the gathering being all the way down the front centre seam, I kepts it all around the bust...

Bodice underlining (cotton lawn)
Pattern pieces #7 and #8
View C bodice with bust gathering. 
Pattern pieces: #13 (bodice front shell), 
#7 & #8 (bodice front underlining), 
#7, #8, #16, #17 (lining).
About to understitch the bodice after joining shell and lining together.
Isn't it beautiful? To be continued...

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Sunday, 10 November 2013

Finished Project: A psychedelic dress.


I don't know if I can/should even tag this post with the label "McCalls 5845" any more since the only original part is the front bodice, and even that has a slight alteration... so I apologise to the people who stumbled on to my blog when googling "M5845". 

You've heard it before, the 5845 is my favourite sewing pattern of all time.
The 5845, a simple darted bodice with a high front neck, low cut back and fitted skirt. 
The version I have made has a low scoop back and full gathered skirt.

I found this cotton sateen in my stash, washed it, dried it, then stared at it for days. Days. Not even exaggerating. I couldn't decide between making another strapless M6349 (with short full skirt) or a M5845 with short full skirt. In the end, I stuck with my TNT pattern - M5845.

The bodice is the same as my floral version with outside darts except I did a swayback adjustment, a proper one. The skirt is from M6349 so it's slimmer than my "self drafted" full gathered skirts. I prefer this skirt, it's less poofy and less hem to handsew.

I lined the bodice with red sunsilky polyester, installed a waist stay, and handpicked the zip.

Here is the low down...

Pattern: McCall's 5845 bodice with alterations, McCalls's 6349 skirt
Size: 4 bust, 10 waist, 6 skirt.
Fabric: 1.5m cotton sateen (Darn Cheap, I think! I don't even remember buying this fabric), 0.5m sunsilky lining
Notions: Gutermann thread, dress zipper 14" (black), 80cm grosgrain ribbon, bikini hook,
Cost: Fabric $20, Lining $5, Zipper $2, Grosgrain Ribbon $2, Bikini hook $1
Hours: about 8hrs
Pattern Modification/Adjustments:
  • Lowered front neck
  • Scoop back
  • 1cm sway back adjustment
  • Replaced fitted skirt with full gathered skirt
Techniques Used:
  • Waist Stay (great tutorial by Sewaholic here)
  • Hand picked zip
  • Gathering (skirt)
  • French seam (skirt side seams)

I did my best to match up the squiggles at the seams. Looks pretty rad!
I added a grosgrain ribbon waist stay to take some pressure off the zip and to cover up the waist seam. Love waist stays, they look so pretty.
The best part of this dress is the hem. I deliberately hemmed the skirt so that the solid black would sit on the edge of the hem.The hem is quite thick - 8.5cm to be exact!! I wanted to leave the hem thick, kinda like a faux-hem-facing. Can't get enough of the psychedelic print.
I french seamed the skirt side seams for a neat finish.

The print is so crazy, my sister nicknamed it 'psychedelic' so I stuck with the name. It is kind of mesmerizing to look at. Maybe that's why I was staring at it for days. Maybe I was in a trance?

Cos it's such a crazy, colorful print I found it super hard to style cos I suck at ANYTHING to do with accessorizing. I will never be on of those girls that can pair up a printed dress with bold accessories and crazy shoes. I tend to stick to plain jewellery (sometimes no jewellery) and plain shoes. Boring, plain Jane. Boo.

I tried the dress on with a pink envelope clutch to bring out the pink in the dress, and plain black patent leather heels and tweeted for help! The #sewcialist ladies gave me the thumbs up on my outfit so I wore it to my builders awards night on Friday.

It was a cool evening so I ended up wearing a black ASOS blazer over the top of the dress. Borrowed the hot pink clutch my my sister. The event was wonderful as usual, great food, awesome drinks and it was great to see builders win awards for houses that they put their heart and soul into building.

Initially I was hesitant to wear this dress out. I even had a back-up outfit planned!
I'm so used to wearing plain colors or florals so this crazy print was a challenge.

I am more critical of myself when I wear a handmade/me-made dress, everything has to be perfect, because I can't really blame "the dress" if I look like a fail... cos I made it myself!

Does anyone else feel this way?

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Sunday, 3 November 2013

Finished Project & Pattern Review: McCall's 6349 View C with Maxi Skirt.

M6349 with maxi skirt.

I did it. I made my deadline to have the dress ready to wear on Thanksgiving, with a whole week to spare. I missed out on sewing for Halloween, but no big deal, didn't RSVP yes to any Halloween events on Facebook anyway!! Last year I had a ball on Halloween weekend. My bestie dressed up as a naughty school girl and I dressed up as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. I made the dress AND the shoes! Well, I applied red glitter to the shoes.
We went to a house party then ended up at a club event where I hung out with a guy who looked like Pitbull. Woke up with a massive hangover, had lunch with bestie who ordered the "blue-eye, medium-rare" cos she thought it was a steak!! It's fish, btw :)

That was last year. This year on Halloween night I ate a massive dinner (it was a 3-4 person serve and I ate half), then sat on my ass for an hour handpicking the zip on my M6349. Hopefully the handpicking burnt some calories :P

Lets start from the beginning...

I started on the muslin for this dress two weekends ago. The plan was to make a wearable muslin. I had dreams of pairing the muslin bodice with a beautiful lime chiffon maxi skirt. The dream is still alive, just on the back burner for the moment. Need to find a lime chiffon that does not make me look like a walking hi-lighter. Was also thinking burnt orange to bring out the orange flowers.

Would love your thoughts! Also, if I make the skirt out of chiffon, what should I line it with?

The wearable-muslin.
This is the same fabric I used for my Burda 7371 pants.

I chose View C of the dress because I like the sweetheart neckline, but the "front bodice" piece (piece #13) had me stumped. I could not get the gathering right, I could not get the bodice piece to match up with the underlining piece. I gave up. Then I realised that the underlining/lining piece also had a sweetheart neckline, duh, but without all the gathering business, instead it had princess seams. Even better.

I dug through my fabric stash and found this beautiful floral printed cotton voile I purchased from Darn Cheap (Heidelberg) ages ago. It feels amazing on my skin - soft, slinky and cool. I had over 2m of this baby so there was enough to make a 1m long maxi skirt and a self lined bodice.

The bodice pieces are stabilised using whisperweft interfacing (82% Rayon/18% Poly).

Iron-on whisperweft interfacing.

To add more structure and shape, I made padding and handmade bra cups for the bodice. 
I used Sewaholic's tutorial (here and here) which is where I learnt about abutted seams.

I attached the padding to the shell, like an underlining.

My WIP/bodice construction post with more photos and info is here.

Bust padding to give it some oomph!
Abutted seam..
.. or is it butted seam? Who knows!

The bodice is boned using plastic polyboning. 
Polyboning is easy to use, no pliers required!!

Simply cut off the length you need, remove the plastic boning, sew the casing on to the bodice lining, trim 3-4cm off the plastic boning before inserting it back in the casing. 
You trim 3-4cm off to allow for stitching later on when you sew on the lining and attach the skirt - you don't want to break your needles sewing over the plastic!

On my bodice, I used 4 pieces of boning - 2 for side seams, 2 for the back (where the 'side back' and 'back' pieces join).

Polyboning, plastic boning.

I took a risk and didn't line the skirt. I'll just make sure to wear appropriate underwear with this dress, no grandma panties or g-bangers (aka g-string, thong). Because I didn't line the skirt, I french seamed the side skirt seams for a clean and non-fraying finish.

Apologies to Cozy Cotton, I forgot to take photos when I joined the bodice to the skirt!! 

I sewed 3 rows of gathering stitches (long stitches) using red thread so its easier to see and remove later on. Gathered the skirt waist, matched the notches on the skirt and bodice then sewed it all together.

To help the dress stay up, I added a grosgrain ribbon waist stay. This keeps the dress in place and stops the waist from stretching over time. Also takes pressure off the zip and comes in handy when you're home alone with no one to help you zip up.

The zip is hand picked. This 14" zip took just over 1 hour to handpick. 
I love handpicking zips for numerous reasons:
  • dress zippers are cheaper in comparison to invisible ($1.49 vs $3.49)
  • dress zippers are stronger - I've had too many invisible zip break my heart
  • easier to match up the seam because you have more control
  • the little pricks on the back look pretty
Hem - I overlocked/serged the hem then turned it up and machine stitched.

Grosgrain ribbon waist stay.
Handpicked zip, machine stitched hem.

Pattern Review: McCall's 6349, View C, with no shoulder straps, lengthened skirt to maxi 

Size: 6

Pattern Pieces used: 7 (bodice front lining), 8 (bodice side front lining ), 16 (bodice back), 17 (bodice side back), 19 (skirt back), 21 (skirt front)

Fabric2.3m cotton voile (Darn Cheap) - enough for self-lined bodice, skirt is 1 meter in length.

Notions: Gutermann thread (000), dress zipper 14" (black), 1.6m polyboning, 0.5m whisperweft interfacing, 0.5m cotton/bamboo padding, 80cm grosgrain ribbon, bikini hook,

Cost: Fabric $20, Cotton/Bamboo Padding $5, Zipper $2, Whisperweft Interfacing $5, Polyboning $5, Grosgrain Ribbon $2, Bikini hook $1

Pattern Modification/Adjustments:
  • No shoulder straps
  • Lengthened skirt to 1 meter (floor length maxi)
  • Took the centre back seam at the top by 4cm on each side! Big no-no, but it was too late for a proper adjustment
Techniques Used:
  • Padded Bust
  • Abutted seams
  • Self made bra cups
  • Self lined bodice
  • Boning (great tutorial by Sewaholic here)
  • Waist Stay (great tutorial by Sewaholic here)
  • Hand picked zip
  • Gathering (skirt)
  • French seam (skirt side seams)
Things I will do differently next time:
  • I'll figure out if I need a SBA or if I just need to adjust the back bodice
  • I'll turn the waist seam upwards like I usually do, but on this dress the seam was too thick and boning got in the way so it keep flipping back down
  • Trim the boning more - maybe 5cms, so I can turn the waist seam upwards

Pretty princess seams, Waist stay and Handpicked zip from the inside.
All zipped up. Zip is practically invisible!

I love maxi dresses but it's hard for me to find ones that are the perfect length.
I know, I know, I can take up the hem myself, but I HATE doing alterations. Hate it! Love sewing from scratch, hate alterations. 

I only own three RTW maxi dresses - a green one (too bright to wear frequently), a floral print wrap one (my fav but it's very booby), a simple black one (with a modest bodice) - so I'm desperate for for maxis! 
I used to love above-the-knee dresses, but now I feel so naked in them. They feel so short. I must be coming of age!

I love the Anna dress, so that pattern's going on my wishlist for Christmas. Thigh high slit, yes please!

Next up on my sewing table is a dress I need ready by this Friday 8th November! I have Monday and Tuesday off work (Melbourne Cup long weekend) so I should be able to pull it off!

UPDATE: This morning I was told that the Thanksgiving feast isn't till the 23rd Nov! Don't know why I thought it was this coming Saturday, LOL!! (11.3.13)

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