Monday, 24 February 2014

Finished Project: The 'Georgia' Maxi Dress.

Georgia (maxi) - By Hand London

My boyfriend and I were invited to be guests and witnesses at my friend's wedding ceremony. I felt so grown up, I've never been a witness before!! It was a garden wedding, so of course that called for a beautiful floral dress... who am I kidding, I would have made a floral dress even if the wedding was in the snow! 

The bride looked stunning, the ceremony was a beautiful, and the weather was just perfect. Thank you Melbourne! It was an afternoon ceremony, then photos all around the city, followed by an intimate dinner.

Georgia (maxi) - By Hand London

The dress I made for the occasion is the By Hand London Georgia, but with a maxi skirt and a thigh high split. Originally I planned on making the Anna, but after seeing how gorgeous the sweetheart neckline is on the Georgia, I changed my mind.

I added 53cm length to each skirt piece to make the dress maxi length, 50cm would have suffice, but ya never know!! Ended up taking up hem about 4cm I think.

Georgia (maxi) - By Hand London

It was pretty risky to make Georgia using rayon when the BHL recommend "medium weight fabrics with a little bit of stretch - cotton sateen, twill, drill, poplin, upholstery cottons, denim, courduroy, silk noil, brocade and jacqard" but I went ahead and cut out my rayon any way. YOLO!

I was especially scared because I made one change to the skirt - instead of using the pattern piece from my Vday Georgia, I retraced the skirt centre back piece and didn't do the sway back adjustment!! You may remember that my muslin/toile fit pretty well around the back, but it had a few wrinkles which I thought would be gone if I did a swayback adjustment. So I did the swayback adjustment on the Valentines Day Georgia, but that ended up making the back of the dress poof out. I thought if the muslin/toile fit well without the swayback adjustment then I may as well not do the adjustment. 

It was very nerve-racking cutting into my rayon. I only had 3m of the rayon and no backup plan. If the skirt didn't work out then I would be a dress-less wedding guest. 

I started cutting into the rayon on Sunday afternoon. I was not in the best of moods - I was grouchy and hangry and wasn't paying attention. I turned up the iron too high and melted my 'trace and toile' onto my iron board cover and iron, so I had to trace my pattern again.  I angrily pinned my maxi skirt pieces on to the rayon then went out to get lunch, watched some TV, then after I calmed down I started cutting.

Georgia (maxi) - By Hand London

The skirt came together without drama, didn't have issues with joining the curved seams like last time - who would have thought working with rayon would be easier than cotton. Go figure! 
The skirt skims over my lower back and bum perfectly. The weight and drape on the rayon is dreamy! So happy. 

The bodice only needed a couple of minor tweaks.
On this version, I took out 3cm wedges on the front centre bodice, total of 6cm removed from the neckline and front bodice (info on adjustment here). 
This fixed the neck line gaping and also took away the extra ease under the arm. 
When I did the final fitting I realised that the straps had stretched! Bugger!!!! It was soooo annoying, the straps had stretched a whole inch (2.5cm). I didn't have time/didn't want to unpick the lining and bodice so I folded/shortened the straps and hand stitched them down on the back bodice. 

There was a lot of hand stitching involved with this dress - lining, split, hem. Worth the effort though.

The dress was perfect length, didn't trip once during out 3 hour photography journey around the city and the thigh high split was just high enough to show some leg but not flash any naughty bits ;)
The sandals I wore with the dress look like they were made from the same fabric as my dress, so cool!

I feel so honoured to be part of my girlfriend's special day. I wish her and hubby all the happiness in the world. I wish I could share with you more photos from the wedding, my friend looked incredible, gorgeous, beautiful, hottest bride I have seen; but the photographer has all the professional pics. I got BF to take these on his phone when we weren't required for photos with the bride and groom. Thanks for AirDropping these to me baby!

Georgia (maxi) - By Hand London

Project details -
Pattern: By Hand London 'Georgia'
Size: Bust 2/6, Waist 6/10, Hips 2/6
Fabric: 3m rayon (140cm width) but I have about 1m leftover (originally bought fabric for Anna)
Notions: 16" invisible zipper
Cost: fabric $30, zipper $5
Pattern Modification/Adjustments: 
  • lengthened skirt pattern pieces by 53cm
  • thigh high split
  • small bust adjustment
  • took out 2 x 3cm wedge in front centre bodice piece
Hours: approx 15 hours
Completed on: Saturday 22nd February 2014
First worn: Sunday 23rd February 2014 to my friend's wedding ceremony

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Thursday, 20 February 2014

FITTING: Reducing neckline gaping - hollow/shallow chest adjustment.

Diagnosing a hollow/shallow chest: On my bodice I noticed there was excess fabric on my front bodice between my 'apex' (nipple?!??!!) and the neckline. It looked like the top half of my bodice was "collapsing" on to my chest, because my chest was too shallow to hold up the bodice. Make sense? 

This year I have become obsessed with achieving the perfect fit. I've spent way too many hours and dollars on making up dresses that don't fit well. 

I'm no expert when it comes to pattern adjustments or fitting but these are techniques that have worked for me. 

I basically make up the bodice muslin/toile, try it on, pinch and pin out the excess fabric.

The example above is my 'Anna' dress. I didn't do an SBA for my Anna (I did every other adjustment under the sun for it though, haha). The bodice fit well, but the neck line was wrinkly and gaping. 

This is how it looked before I pinched out a 4cm wedge on each side of the bodice. 

I transferred the 4cm wedge on to the pattern piece, like below (drawings not to scale). Once the 'wedge' is taken out, the neck line will need to be smoothed out. 

The next example is my 'Georgia' dress. The small bust adjustment (SBA) solved the fitting issue in the 'cup' area of my bust, but the top half of my bust (nipple and above) didn't fit well into my bodice. 

The (centre front) neck line was not sitting against my chest. I pinched out a 3cm wedge on each side of the (front centre) bodice. I transferred the 3cm wedge on to the pattern piece, like below (drawings are not to scale). Once the 'wedge' is taken out, the neck line will need to be smoothed out. 

NOTE: Ignore the "SA 15"" on the drawing - I meant 15mm - not inches for the seam allowance!! 

Call it neck darts, call it wedges, call it a shallow/hollow/caramello chest adjustment, whatever!! 

At the end of the day, if there is excess fabric on the bodice, pinch it, pin it, then take that wedge out of the pattern piece. 

I used to be caught up in 'defining' every adjustment that needed to be made, thinking that if it didn't have a 'name' or appear on Google search then the adjustment wasn't legit or correct, but ultimately, if there's excess fabric and if it's bugging you, get rid of it. 

On both the Anna and Georgia, I have made a dart all the way to the seam allowance (SA) but every body will be different, so just transfer the adjustments to your pattern piece as per amount of fabric pinched out from your muslin/toile.

I hope this helps you if you are experiencing bodice fitting issues. 
My advice is always make a muslin/toile and keep persisting, the end result will be worth it :)

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Sunday, 16 February 2014

Finished Project & Pattern Review: By Hand London 'Georgia', Valentines Day Sewalong.

I participated in my first ever sewalong, YAY! 

The Georgia sewalong couldn't have come at a better time. I was planning on making a Georgia for my friend's wedding.

I was worried that I wouldn't be able to keep up when BHL announced that the dress would be finished in time for Valentines Day. 
I didn't think I could get the fitting on a dress like Georgia right and have the dress finished in 18 days, no way!! But yesssss way I did. 

Surprisingly the only adjustments I needed to make was a sway back adjustment and small bust adjustment (SBA) because the difference between my 'high bust' and 'full bust' was "up to 1 inch smaller" - read this tutorial from BHL to work out if you need a SBA or FBA or no BA! 

Turns out I'm an A-cup in the pattern world. 

The muslin only took two x's two hours sessions to put together. A SBA was done on the pattern, and sway back adjustment done after I tried on the muslin. 

The dress took about five x's 2-3 hours sessions. I broke it down to:
  • cutting out fabric and interfacing
  • putting together bodice, putting together skirt, straps
  • joining bodice and skirt (I then had about 3 days break to figure out how to join the skirt and bodice at the centre back where that "Y" looking seam was)
  • invisible zipper and hem
  • finishing touches - the bust padding (last minute decision) and handsewing the lining

It's amazing how much sewing I can get done when I plan my week and block out days for sewing rather than just sewing "when I have time".

The pattern is rated "intermediate".
The difficulties I faced with this pattern was definitely with joining the curved seams. It reminded me of when I first started sewing and I had to join capped sleeves to the V8469 dress and it took me 6 hours. 

My muslin was a shocker! The front of the skirt was puckers galore. I found that snipping into the SA on the less curvy skirt piece (no more than 10mm/1cm) helped spread the fabric out or something. It worked a treat and when I unpicked and restitched my muslin, there was no puckering.

Experienced sewers wouldn't need to do this.
I haven't in the past, but this time around I struggled with the curved seams!
LEFT SEAM: clipped into the SA
RIGHT SEAM: puckering when I stitched without clipping into the SA
 My other struggle was joining the centre back bodice with the centre back skirt. I could not for the life of me figure it out. I was so frustrated, thoughts of screaming and tearing up my Georgia went through my mind. I decided to put the dress down, take the measuring tape off from around my neck and sleep on it for the weekend.

What the hellllllll!! Why can't I figure it out?!?!
On Monday night, refreshed from a weekend of birthday feasting and gallivanting around at St Kilda Festival covered in SPF50, I sat down with Georgia, calmly drew the seam lines on both the bodice and the skirt and somehow I managed to join the two together. It wasn't perfect, but it was good enough. Sewalong #7 was posted on BHL blog after I finished the dress, I'll definitely refer to it next time I make Georgia.

I then put in my invisible zipper and hemmed the skirt. The hem is very skinny - just overlocked and turned it up once and stitched, the skirt was already the perfect length for me.

The invisible zipper on Georgia is the best I've ever inserted! It went in the first time with no issues. Guess what, the needle position on the sewing machine can move, who would have thought! Discovered this when I was reading the manual for my new computerised Janome (didn't know how to change the stitch length, lol, such a newb!)

I finished my Georgia three days before Valentines Day, but I wasn't happy with how the bodice sat against my chest, it was kind of warped and gapey - either I had stretched it out while trying to join the skirt and bodice, or the interfacing worked against me and stiffened the fabric too much, or I needed a chest adjustment of some sort.

Take a dart out next time?

It was time for a quick fix since I was not prepared to do any more unpicking. 

I cut out the front bodice pieces in cotton batting (no SA) joined them using butted seams and made padding for the bust. I made bust padding for my strapless maxi dress last year, post here with links to tutorials. This time I made two layers of padding for extra shaping :)

After the bust padding was stitched on to the lining by hand, I overlocked the raw edge of the lining and blind stitched it down. 

Pattern reviewBy Hand London, Georgia

Size: 2/6 bust, 6/10 waist, 2/6 hips

Fabric: 2m printed cotton from my stash, probably not the best choice as there was no stretch and it's quite soft. But I love the cherry print! 

Notions: Gutermann thread (000), 16" invisible zipper, 0.5m cotton batting, 0.5m whisperweft interfacing for the bodice pieces - I knew that I would be playing around with the bust pieces a lot and didn't want any stretching to happen.

Pattern Modification/Adjustments: small bust adjustment, sway back adjustment, padded out the bust.

I have to investigate why there was a weird gape/stretch on the bodice, the centre didn't sit against my chest. Not sure if I need to adjust the bust (hollow chest adjustment perhaps) to get rid of the gape at the neckline? I'd rather not have to pad the bust out again.

There is some excess fabric at the centre back which poofs out. I don't know if it's because the cotton I used has no weight to sit against my body, or if the sway back adjustment inadvertently added more fabric to the area? The muslin fit perfect over my centre back, hips and but, so I might eliminate the sway back adjustment from the next Georgia and see how that goes.

What I learnt: 
  • I learnt how to do a small bust adjustment, thank you BHL for the easy to understand tutorial.
  • I learnt that the needle on my machine can move!! Installing the invisible zipper was a dream, went in right the first time. 

What I love about the pattern:
  • This pattern is so darn sexy! For something that has a fitted and sleek silhouette, it's actually simple to put together and easy to get the fit perfect.
  • Love the zipper being on the side, different from all my other dresses.
  • Love the skinny straps - sexy and supportive.

What I didn't love about the pattern: I love everything about this pattern. The first fitted dress that has fit me nicely!

Cost: cotton $15, zipper $5, whisperweft interfacing $5, padding $5

Hours: Lucky I documented my life my Georgia journey on Twitter. Muslin was cut out on 3rd Feb. Dress fabric cut out on 7th Feb. Can't remember the exact hrs, my guess would be about 12 hrs, give or take. 

Completed on: Wednesday 12th February 2014.

What did you girls get up to on VDay? Did you celebrate with your man? Did you get flowers from a secret admirer? But most importantly...

Did you make a Valentines Day dress? :) 

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Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Selling on Etsy.

Hi guys, need your thoughts/ advice/opinions on something.

I've been sewing for almost 3 years now, and have held on to every single handmade item I've made. 

About 70% of all my handmades are either not my style, don't fit properly (made straight out of the envelope), or I've only worn once. 

I was thinking about cleaning out my handmade wardrobe and selling some of the dresses that I don't wear, but I don't know what the rules are around selling handmade dresses on Etsy. 

All my dresses are made using a pattern (mostly Big 4 patterns) and I add my own little touches to them: replace the skirts, add collars etc... am I allowed to sell these dresses since technically I have made them using the bodice pattern from the Big 4 pattern company? I don't want to get in trouble.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this.

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Sunday, 9 February 2014

Finished Project: BHL 'Anna' in spotty rayon with split.

I want to share with you my second Anna dress. I can't get enough of this pattern. I wish I could live in this dress, it is so comfortable to wear.

I wore it on Saturday for mum's birthday. My sister Judy  and I took mum to see King Kong Live on Stage. After the show, we met up with the boys (my BF and Judy's BF) and took mum out for a feast at a yummy Thai restaurant.

Mum's bday weekend

Didn't have any fitting or mechanical issues and seams were finished on the overlocker so Anna took about 8 hours to make.

Because all the fitting issues were identified and fixed on my five muslins (blogged in detail on my 'Anna' pattern review post) making this up was a pleasant experience.

The only adjustments I did to this version was moving the back darts across so they line up with the skirt seams, lowered the points on the bust pleats, and a 'narrow shoulder adjustment' using Ginger Makes tutorial. 

The fabric is rayon I got from Spotlight (2.5m) I thought I would have enough for Anna but I didn't so the facings are cotton lawn. 

It was 40C degrees on Saturday, but the rayon was cool to wear, so breathable, gotta love natural fibres! EDIT: I've since been told that rayon is not a natural fibre... I recall a lady at a fabric store telling me rayon was breathable and that it was a natural fibre *shrugs* off to Google!

The above-the-knee split on the skirt is very sexy and subtle, not very noticeable unless there is a breeze. I'm comfortable enough with the split to go thigh high for my next Anna. 

Mum loved the split too, she asked if I could give her a copy of the pattern cos she loved the split in the skirt so much! When I'm done with my sewing marathon this month, I'm going to take her measurements and give her some Anna to whip up too! If you've read my profile, you'll know that mum was the reason I took up sewing (read more about mumma here).

Here's a couple of pics of Anna my sister Judy took for me after our afternoon at King Kong - dress is a little wrinkly!! 

Anna dress in spotty rayon

Project details - 
Pattern: By Hand London 'Anna'
Size: 2/6 bust, 6/10 waist, 6/10 hips
Fabric2.5m rayon (114cm wide), 0.5m cotton lawn for the facing
Notions: Gutermann thread (000), 22" invisible zipper, 0.5m whisperweft interfacing, 
Cost: Fabric $30,  Zip $5, Interfacing $5
Pattern Modification/Adjustments: full blog post here.
Hours: 1 hr cutting, 7 hours sewing, all in one weekend.
Completed on: 2nd February 2014.
First worn: 8th February 2014, mum's birthday.

The spotty fabric is so cool but they make me dizzy when I look in the mirror lol. Overall I love how the dress came together except that in some areas (like the neck line, where the bodice and skirt joins, centre back) the spots are not full spots, but I guess with spots that size you can't help cutting into the spots at the seams. 

So this is one out of the four dresses I need to complete in February. 
Currently on my sewing table is the Valentines Day Georgia, almost complete, just need to figure out how to join the 'centre back bodice' with the 'centre back skirt' - that Y looking piece on the centre of the skirt piece has got me stuck. HELP!

Hope you all had a good weekend, and if all goes well I'll be back next week with a pattern review for By Hand London 'Georgia'.

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Friday, 7 February 2014

FITTING: By Hand London 'Georgia'.

I never thought I would ever say this, but I love making muslins. 

I was sold on muslins after seeing my finished Anna. All the time spent making adjustments to the muslin was definitely worth it.

The Georgia Sewalong kicked off on the 27th January and I've been eagerly following the posts.

The By Hand London girls are amazing. Not only are their sewing instructions in the pattern incredibly entertaining to read, their sewalong tutorials are so easy to understand!! Oh, and they also respond to tweets and emails!! I love you guys.

I've been staying up to midnight most nights working on my muslin. I get home from gym about 8:30pm each night and by the time I cook dinner, eat and shower it's about 10pm. 

My biggest worry about the Georgia dress was how it would fit on my hips and butt. I've always had issues with handmade fitted skirts around that area - I get strange puckering and drag lines. 

For Georgia I had to grade between 2/6 bust to 6/10 waist then back to 2/6 hips. It was tricky at the beginning and I wanted to pull my hair out but I got the hang of it, and with the help of a french curve I managed to connect the different sizes together nicely. 

Last night I did a small bust adjustment, unpicked and restitched my skirt pieces (the first time round there was a lot of puckering along the curved seams), added the straps and joined the bodice and skirt together. I pinned a zipper on to the dress so I could zip up my muslin.

My muslin looks pretty good, even though I didn't take the SA out of the skinny straps, and put them in the wrong spot haha.

By Hand London Georgia muslin

I didn't try making the bodice without SBA so not sure how it would have fit as a "B cup", but the "A cup" looks great and fits like a glove. Thank you for the painfree tutorial BHL!

I can't believe how well the skirt fits over my bum. Am in love. If the Charlotte skirt fits like this then I want the pattern!!

I've since done a 2cm swayback adjustment and cut out the fabric for my Valentines Day dress, can't wait for the weekend so I can sew it up. I reckon my boyfriend will be very impressed with this dress when he sees it next Friday! 

Are you taking part in the sewalong? How are you going?

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