Showing posts with label dressmaking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dressmaking. Show all posts

Friday, 5 September 2014

Draped Top from Sew Your Own Wardrobe

Hello all, well the children are back at school, even my youngest is now in reception so I am home on my own. Do you want to know what the first thing I did was? I started faffing about with my phone to see if I could take photos of myself for the blog. It turned out that I can but whether I should is debatable; you see it turns out I really don't photograph well and that in this case the make I was really quite proud of looks truly awful on me.

I really don't photograph well at all

As usual I made many mistakes making this item. The biggest one was probably believing that one size fits all because clearly it doesn't fit me. Well that's not strictly true I suppose,  the back actually looks quite nice 

I like it from the back

 This is the Draped Top from Sew Your Own Wardrobe, the book that accompanied the second series of The Great British Sewing Bee. It is the first thing I have made from the book and their are certainly a few more items I will make from it. The instructions in the book aren't as detailed as some of the other books available at the moment but they are certainly all you need for this simple make.

It was lovely and quick to make, I used a viscose I got from the rag market (I live near Birmingham,  I very rarely by fabric anywhere else). I thought it was very pretty, the man had it in blue on his stall and I was looking at it when he said he also had this orange/red colour.  It only uses a metre and has no zips or buttons so is a very cheap make as well.  The cutting out definitely took me longer than the sewing and I whipped this up in an hour or so, I found it a lot easier than I thought to gather the neck, gathers have been something I have never tried but as long as you make your gathering stitches long and loose, take your time making the gathers even and use plenty of pins to keep them in place it really isn't anything to worry about. There isn't really all that much to say about sewing this top, you just have two side seams, gather the top into the neck tie and finish the raw edges. 

As you can see my bust disappears in this top and not in a good way.

As you can see from the side view it is not a top you can wear a bra with, which isn't good when you've breastfed two children. It seems to push me down and flatten me out not very flattering and it looked much better on my dressform although did pull across the bust on her, it clearly need more fabric there but no more in the neck,

I do have a plan though, not to rescue this one but to make the pattern work next time. I am going to first of all work out a way to add some more fabric to the bust whilst still keeping the drapey unstructured shape, so I am not flattened out. Secondly, and rather more dramatically I am going to make it longer; much longer.

Next time i make it, I see this top, with a few adjustments, as a beach dress. It will be in a similar fabric but mid-thigh length with short splits at the side so I can walk. Best of all it doesn't matter if your bikini straps show so everything will be hoisted into the right place. That will be waiting until next summer though, my sewing plans are certainly becoming more autumnal and I shall be starting to think about a winter coat very soon, although whether a winter coat becomes a reality is anyone's guess.

On another note entirely, I am all ready for One Week One Pattern.  Although it does mean more photos of myself.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

My V-Neck Megan

This was a project with a few firsts and it was a challenge, to be perfectly honest when I first looked at the pattern I wasn't sure whether to give it a go or not. Mainly because I don't have the figure to wear the dress as it is designed, high necks always look awful on me and straight dresses and skirts always seem to cling round my middle and make me look  like I am still pregnant despite the fact my youngest child is four. Secondly sleeves terrified me - I just couldn't see how on earth that funny shaped piece of fabric fits into the armhole. Having heard good things about the detailed instructions in the book the pattern is from (Love At First Stitch by Tilly Walnes) and having a few metres of cheap printed poly-cotton I decided this might as well be my first go at sleeves and if I adjusted the neckline my first go at pattern hacking.

The bodice on this dress caused me no end of trouble, whilst I am sure for people who can just cut out the pattern and get sewing it is a quick make for me it took forever. I started with doing a FBA which was an utter pain, it created bust darts that were nearly five inches across leg to leg on the pattern they were also in the wrong place so had to be moved. this was wear my first first happened; I made a toile. Thankfully, even though the darts were massive,  the toile did seem to fit. I was right though, the high neckline looked awful I didn't have a clue how to go about changing it. 

Knowing it needed to be a V-neck but being vaguely aware that I couldn't change it too much because the back neckline would 'go a bit funny' I put the toile on my dressform and took my chalk and scissors to it. When I had something that looked ok. I transferred the changes to the pattern and drafted myself a not quite right but the best I could do facing piece  The end result of the neckline is better than I expected and not the worst part of the bodice, that accolade goes to <Drumroll> the dart tucks. I still don't know what a dart tuck is or what one is supposed to look like, after four attempts at carefully following the instructions and leaving it overnight and coming back to it fresh for a fifth try I was ready to throw it out the window. I imagine this problem was nothing to do with the instructions and everything to do with the fact my front bodice piece was enormous following the FBA.

My Adjusted Neckline

I still don't know what a Dart Tuck is but I am sure it's not that.
After all the stomach knot inducing stress of the neckline and mostly those dart tucks the sleeves were actually nowhere near as intimidating as I thought they would be. The page of instructions explaining it really helped. You can see from the picture that my sleeves aren't set in perfectly they look a little bit puffy if you ask me; I think know why that is though I am pretty sure I put my stitching line in the wrong place meaning that the gathers were visible on the outside rather than hidden inside. Do you know what though? I like puffy sleeves so they stayed that way.

Slightly Puffy- But it was my first try.

I have worn this dress out a couple of times but I won't be making another one, as lovely as the dress looks on its designer and on many of the other sewing bloggers, it is one of those styles that just isn't me. I knew when I started the project that it wouldn't look good as it was but even with the adjustments I made on me the Megan looks matronly and that is a shame.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Simplicity 2460 - A girl's dress

I bought the fabric I used for this dress with no idea what I was going to use it for; It was £2 a metre on the market, from a stall full of £2 a metre poly cottons and £2. 50 metre viscose. Being a fan of purple, pink and creeepy crawlies  I knew my daughter would love the ladybird print so I bought two yards and a nine inch invisible zip and into my stash it went.

My daughter really loved the black and white dress

Simplicity 2460 came free with Sew Magazine last month and predictably my daughter loved the picture on the envelope and asked if I would make it for her. I was a bit apprehensive as it is an inspired by Project Runway pattern and reading the envelope it seemed very complicated with choosing 'design elements' and adding up the yardage nevertheless I decided to give it a go.

It is a very pretty dress, it has options for a pleated or gathered skirt and two bodice options. I went for the tie shoulder strap bodice and despite having never sewn pleats, the pleated skirt. I knew this was probably the more difficult option but it was the one my daughter preferred and after all she will be the one wearing it.

My daughter is four almost five and usually wears a size five to six in ready to wear clothes so I decided to cut a size five knowing it would be slightly big but I hope this means it will last two summers. This is important to me as living in the Midlands and only holidaying in the UK we don't tend to get must wear from a sundress in one year. Being a bigger busted lady it is lovely to be able to cut a pattern out and not have to make any adjustments, it is probably one of my favourite things about sewing for the children.

Having decided which options to go for and cutting out the fabric I got to sewing, to be honest I found it more difficult than I expected. At one point having stitched all the straps, midriff section and waist tie I couldn't make sense of what I had at all; holding it up it looked more like a jellyfish than a dress bodice. Setting it aside and beginning on the skirt didn't make things much better as I said I had never made a pleated skirt and the instructions just said 'form pleats' so I had a guess. I folded the pleat along the fold line and then sort of opened it out more like a box pleat than I think it should have been that said the dress looks lovely on so maybe I did do it right. I did change the zip from a standard one to an invisible as I think they look much nicer, at least they do when I insert them.

Showing my slightly different pleats to the envelope - and vintage (can I call the nineties vintage ?) trim.

A little big as you can see but that means it will last, right?

My daughter was very keen on the trim pictured on the envelope, as it turned out she also like a pink lace that had been in my sewing box for nearly twenty years since I had been bought a stocked sewing box as a Christmas present. The lace matched the fabric almost perfectly and I think finishes the dress really nicely. I love to see my daughter wearing the sort of thing I think of as a proper little girls dress.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Jumping in.

Although this is my first post I thought I would jump straight in by discussing a make, but first a quick word about me, I am Vicki I have a tiny sewing room in the cupboard under my stairs - hence my blog's name. I mostly sew clothes for myself but also a few bits for my children and the occasional thing for the house.

So now onto my make!

New Look 6020 on my dress form (dialed up to my old size)

I have always liked simplicity/new look patterns and my dressmaking skills until recently only went as far as sleeveless sundresses (that usually didn't fit- something to do with the previous 6 inch difference, now down to a more sensible 4, between my high and full bust and my total ignorance of patterns being cut for a B cup). So anyway last year I discovered the existance of the FBA (full bust adjustment) and a whole new world of sewing opened itself up to me.

I decided to stick with what I knew for my return to dressmaking and after much deliberation I chose New Look 6020. In hindsight that was probably where I went wrong as it has a princess seamed bodice.  I traced the pattern onto paper and got cutting,  I went for view D in a size 16 as at the time it matched my high bust and the neckline the most flattering for my previously vast bust.

Having read every FBA tutorial I could find I got out my pencils and ruler... big mistake I decided I wasn't going to let the fact that the pattern piece I had looked nothing like the ones in the tutorials. Looking back I should have realized it was never going to work but carried on regardless. I wish I had kept the result to show you but suffice to say the armhole had changed from a gentle curve to a very acute angle and when I pinned the pieces together it was 6 inches bigger round the waist than I needed.

Feeling disheartened I abandoned not only the dress but dressmaking entirely; I spent the next few weekends looking for a dress like the one I had imagined when I bought the pattern.  Predictably the dress didn't exist.

I got out my pattern and pencils and tried again completely  ignoring anything I had read and using my limited knowledge of patterns to measure out 3 inches at the bust point, freehand a curve from the size 16 line through the point and back to the line on the bodice side. I then added 3 inches to the bottom of the bodice front, I know that isn't the recommended way of doing it but it actually worked really well and added nothing to the waist.

All the sewing pretty much went according to plan, despite my machine not being the best in the first place and in desperate need of a service. I have to admit I struggled with the zip although it went in it is far from perfect and if it wasn't for the fact it is at the side hidden by arm the dress probably wouldn't be wearable.

At the time the fit ended up ok, it was good around the back and bust, the neckline was flattering and was roomy enough around the hips.  It was too tight on the waist I certainly couldn't have eaten in it and the length isn't right.

A year on it fits nicely around the waist but is far to gappy around the bust, I won't be able to wear it as it is which is a shame because I like the fabric (cheapy ebay stuff) and the fact the shoulders are wide enough to cover my bra straps; it might make a reappearance if I can figure out where to adjust it. I am considering chopping the bodice of entirely and adding a black waistband, as I can see it as a nice skirt worn with a sleeveless shirt.

I shall always be fond of this dress though whatever happens to it, it was the first thing I made without advice from my Mum or Nan, the first thing I adjusted to fit me and it was enough inspiration to buy a new sewing machine and dedicate the cupboard under the stairs to sewing.  So when the urge strikes I don't have to dig out the machine and clear the table.