Saturday, April 2, 2011

High waist pencil skirt

My latest creation is Vogue 8697. I am not usually drawn to high waisted garments, but I keep reading they are a good look for petites and I liked the detail on this one so I gave it a go.

The fabric is a black Italian stretch wool (I think by Ralph Lauren) purchased from Gorgeous Fabrics. A slight stretch works really well for this skirt as it is quite fitted by design.

For once I actually lined something! I used a beautiful silk cotton from Sckafs in Brisbane. It is very soft and light like voile and beautiful to wear. I think it's my new favourite fabric! I've already bought more to line the wool dress I am currently making.

Design changes I made include using an invisble zipper and adding a vent instead of a slit. I used the Cupcake Goddess' tutorial for creating a vent. This went well until I forgot to cut the vent in the lining. Whoops. So the inside isn't as fancy as it could be, but it's fine.

I cut a size 8 and took the skirt up 7cm at the petite line, but for some reason the vent only ended up being 7cm long. This is fine since the fabric stretches, but it's not as long as they usually are. I should have measured this better before cutting. Oh well... This obviously would not be an issue if you used a slit.

I really liked all the top stitching on this skirt. To get all the seams to line up I recommend tacking the skirt, otherwise they may not line up perfectly. This is a pet peeve of mine and I just end up redoing them. For me, tacking saves time in the end.

This is a nice skirt to sew and wear. In fact, it's probably my favourite one so far.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Another day, another Cynthia Steffe dress!

Ok, I’ve realised that I seem to be really drawn to the Cynthia Steffe dresses. They are gorgeous though so why not? Here is the latest one I’ve made: Vogue 1207.

I was drawn to the sleeves and the V back on this design. The only thing I don’t really like is the middle section. Without a belt, it looks kinda frumpy. This could be a result of my fabric though, which is very stretchy so it pulls the dress down. It is a poly/lycra 4 way stretch thing from Gardams Fabrics in Brisbane. It is not the easiest fabric to work with (slippery) but it feels really slinky and nice.

I love the fabric pattern and the red is a pinky red which is a better colour for me. I also think it’s quite similar to this Giles Resort 2011 design, which I also love!

This dress wasn't difficult to make, but I spent quite a bit of time tacking pieces together and the pleats etc. as a result of the fabric. As usual I omitted the lining and I used Amanda S’ tutorial for finishing the neckline with bias tape. I also used this Fashion Incubator tutorial as a guide for finishing the V at the point.

Originally I used bias tape to finish the sleeves but they looked odd, so I unpicked them and finished them normally with my sewing machine/overlocker.

The pattern instructions do not specify the number of tacks or how far apart they should be. I have 5 in each sleeve, 1 inch apart.

Given the stretchiness of the fabric I left out the back zip and cut the back bodice and skirt pieces on the fold, omitting the 1.5cm seam allowance. As a result, my V is not as deep as the original design. However, this has worked in my favour because I can easily wear a strapless bra underneath now without it showing. Note: a strapless bra is better as the shoulders do slip as you wear it. This doesn’t bother me, but is worth noting if it would annoy you.

Overall, I'm pleased with how this dress turned out even though I started it last year and it was at risk of becoming a UFO!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Cynthia Steffe Vogue 1174

I made this dress for a work Christmas party last year. I really wanted to wear something pretty and summery and Vogue's 1174 by Cynthia Steffe fit the bill perfectly. Plus you can’t over eat in this dress with all the boning – in fact breathing is difficult – so I looked skinny the whole time. Hooray.

I found this 100% cotton fabric at Fabric Frenzy on the Gold Coast and fell in love with it and knew it would be perfect for this dress. I love the floral pattern on the original but this is in pink. Yay! The piping is made from a pink cotton bought from Spotlight.

I really like the short version of this dress (although I suspect it just looks short because the model is a giant) and made mine shorter. Plus I think short dresses look better on me anyway.

I changed the design a bit by piping around the top of the dress. I think this makes the bodice look more complete. I also used piping cord which is not part of the original design as it gives the piping more structure. The piping along the top meant I changed the inside. I didn’t do the foundation and just did a lining for the bodice. I didn't bother lining the skirt.

I made the casings for the boning in the seam allowance of the lining which differs from the original. I don't think you can even buy covered boning in Brisbane so I had to change this bit of the pattern anyway. I also removed the boning from the sides as it made the dress sit funny when I moved.

Other design changes I made include taking a good 10cm off the length. I took about 3cm off the bodice around the boobs as the original was too big for mine. I also removed about 2cm from the bodice at the waist. I am a fan of fitting as I go and this is what it needed for me.

I am so pleased with this dress. It's gorgeous and I love it even though it is very tight.

Work skirts

Right, so it’s been ages since I was last here. Sorry about that. It was not due to a lack of sewing, more a lack of blogging. Plus Christmas and New Year was a busy time – I was away a lot. Then I went backpacking around Asia (which was amazing). Anyway, I'm back now.

To demonstrate how rubbish I’ve been at blogging, I made 4 skirts a good 6 months ago when I needed some new work skirts.

These first 2 are both McCalls 5523 views A and C. I love the ruffle on C. I did not make any design changes to these skirts but I did make petite adjustments, removing 8cm at the petite line, and then a few cms at the hem to get it to a length I like.

View A

View C

The grey fabric in view A is a cotton with lycra suiting fabric from Gardams Fabrics in Brisbane. The stripey fabric is a polyester/rayon/spandex suiting fabric from Vogue Fabrics in the US.

The fabric in view C is black with white and pink stripes. It's really pretty for the office. I used the rolled hem feature on my overlocker to finish the edges of the ruffle.

The third skirt is from Vogue 1021. I changed the design quite a bit. My inspiration was Chanel RTW Spring 2010 collection (which I love!) Obviously, the Chanel version is a bit short for work.


To make it Chanel-like, I removed the back seam and added a side zip. I removed a good 15cm from the length. I also added slits to the sides and used the selvage as the hem. I started making a jacket but then it got warm again and I lost interest in it. I will come back to sometime this year.

The fabric a gorgeous Chanel inspired rayon/poly/cotton blend by Rebecca Taylor. I got it from Manhattan Fabrics in the US. I created a lining using a pink cotton voile and attached it to the facing. It comes to the top of the slits so you can't see it.

The forth skirt I made was on whim, also using Vogue 1021. I found an 80cm navy cotton sateen remnant in Gardams Fabrics and decided it would be enough to make a skirt. I really wanted a ruffle on the bottom so I used the back ruffle piece (folded in half) from view C of Butterick 5249. It turns out, 80cm was just enough but I did have to get creative with the pattern placement.

Here is a close up of the skirt details. I used the rolled hem feature on my overlocker to finish the edge of the ruffle.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

McCalls 6028. The not so perfect sheath.

This dress took me a good 6 months to make. Basically it's been one problem after another and then I left it for ages in an unfinished state. However, back in January, when I saw the black and white dress I loved it and thought it would be a simple enough to make given my long sewing hiatus.

I made a combination of views A and B. I used 2 sateens from Gardams fabrics. However, I found the wording confusing and ended up buying the wrong amount of fabric for the middle panel. In my mind, this was the 'contrast' fabric, and the outside was the main dress. But it's the other way around. Handy! Luckily I wanted the back panel to be black so it ended up being ok, otherwise I would not have had enough fabric if I'd followed the pattern completely.

Next up, I cut the size 12, which was the closest to my measurements on the back of the envelope. It was massive when I sewed it together and I ended up making major adjustments. I did do some tissue fitting to my dress form to begin with and it seemed ok, but I have now learnt to fit the pattern to me in first instance.

One of the things I liked about this dress was the detailing on the princess seams. I decided to try piping for the first time using the contrast fabric. To make the piping I used this tutorial by Tea Rose and then the sewing technique described by Claire Shaeffer.

In fact, the piping is probably the one thing that turned out well on this dress!

After constructing the dress and finding it much too big, one place I altered it was the shoulder seams. I took the dress up about 2cm. This made princess seams on the top front sit higher, which was better. However, this adjustment led to major gaping in the front. There was no easy way to recify this, and I eventually had to unpick the front top section with the piping and shift the seams in.

Something weird also happened to the back. I had far too much fabric across my shoulder blades. I ended up having to take it in about 5cm on either side of the zip at the top, and then taper it in.

Originally I sewed the facing as per the instructions, but it combined with the high neck made the dress far too hot for Queensland. The facings had to go. I also sewed the cap sleeves in to begin with with, but again, it made the dress too hot and they looked odd, so they also had to go.

I lowered the neckline by about 5cm at the back and 2 cm at the front. I think this looks better on me, and it certainly feels much better. I then finished the armscyes and neckline with  piping and made my own kind of mini facing/binding which I stitched into place on seams to stop it showing.

After all the problems I had with this dress I don't know if I even like it anymore. I'm still not convinced that it looks 'right', especially at the back. Maybe a belt would help?

It's not quite warm enough to wear just yet without a jacket or cardi, but I may debut it in the next couple of weeks. There is a lot of black and white coming into the shops for spring, so I feel like I should take advantage and wear the dress at least once given the effort I've gone to. And I still love the floral pattern in the centre panel.

Maybe I'll turn it into a top next!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Simplicity 2508 Project Runway trench

Ok, so this is one I finished in time for our winter but I only just got around to taking some photos. My inspiration was the Burberry Prorsum spring 2010 collection. I just loved all the ruffles and pastel colours. My favourite was this gorgeous pink trench:

Unfortunately it cost approx $2600 US, just a bit out of my price range! So I thought about making it and set out to find a trench pattern that closely resembles the Burberry.

To me it looks like a basic trench but with fancy sleeves. So it was a toss up between Simplicity 2508 and McCalls 5525 and after looking at the details and the reviews on I went with the Simplicity pattern.

The next step was to work out how to do those sleeves. This is where I became stuck and my dream of owning the fake Burberry (i.e. the Furberry) was about to be dashed. But, I kept digging and stumbled across this excellent and creative blog. Thanks to Chic Cheat, the Furberry was back in business!

Next up was the fabric (and buttons) which I found at Sckafs, Indooroopilly. It is a 97% cotton and 3% lycra blend in light pink. I chose a cotton voile for the lining which matched perfectly in colour. Like many people first experiencing Project Runway patterns, working out the correct amount of fabric needed was not easy and I ended up having to go back and buy more.

I cut the size 8 short coat pattern and made a basic muslin to begin with. This turned out to be a good idea as I had to move the front princess seams towards the centre by 1cm and tailor the back seams in by about 2cm near the waist to make it more fitted. I also took 5cm off the length at the bottom and 2.5cm from the petite adjustment line in the bodice. I took the sleeves in by 2.5cm and up by the same amount. This was fine until I changed the look of the sleeves (see below).

I followed Chic Cheat's methods for the sleeves at the muslin stage and made some minor changes. Mine only needed to be about 20cm wide. I also cut back on the length. Following her methods I made 3 separate pieces per sleeve but tailored to fit the Simplicity pattern.

I then stumbled across this Furberry on and I really liked the bottom of the sleeves, so I gathered mine. This means they are a tad short now, but I like the overall look.

I also changed the collar to be more like the Burberry. The ones provided with the pattern were not right for the Furberry, so I altered one of them until it looked how I wanted. Additionally I added 2 belt loops at the sides and a collar loop for hanging up.

This was the first coat I'd lined. I cut the pieces according to Claire Shaeffer's High Fashion Sewing Techniques and read various blogs for bagging a lining. I am happy enough with it, although it's not perfect.

Overall I'm really happy with how this trench turned out, I love the colour and love the ruffles. Now if only we get a few more cold days before summer's back so I can wear it!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cynthia Steffe Vogue 1150

I've made a couple of things lately but this is only one I actually have some photos of, so I'll start with it. I loved this Vogue pattern when I first saw it and after seeing Amanda S' here and here, I had to make it.

I find double knits (which I consider a Queensland winter fabric) quite hard to come by in Brisbane. To prove my point about winter, these photos were taken on my way to the Sex and the City 2 premiere a couple of weeks back in June! I love Queensland...

Anyway, I bought this rayon blend double knit in bright blue from Gorgeous Fabrics. I love this colour as it part way between blue and purple depending on what hold it up against. This was also my first purchase of fabric online from the US. The Aussie dollar to US dollar has been so good lately, a girl has to take advantage! The colour made choosing buttons difficult and I didn't want to go with black. I found these cute sparkly buttons for 79c each at Lincraft and they matched perfectly, although I am unsure of whether they are slightly too small? I think I also need to move them down a bit, which I can still do (read on...)

The fabric was ok to sew on my old Singer machine, which can be quite temperamental when it comes to stretch. The topstitching worked fine except just above the hem band, which I ended up unpicking and leaving. I have not been able to sew the buttonholes either as every trial one failed miserably. The buttons are therefore decoration only until I find a workaround or buy a new machine!

I found the pattern pretty straight forward. I did not have any issues with the instructions and I liked how the pockets came together. I cut an 8 at the top and graded to a 10 on the hips. The alterations I made include taking the bodice up 2.5cm on the petite adjustment line and I followed Amanda's adjustments and used an 18cm invisible zipper and included a CB seam. I would like to make a garment with a metallic zipper at some point but I didn't think this was the dress. Usually I have to knock a good 10cm off the hem but this length worked out perfect for me being only 152cm tall. Yay!

Please excuse the un-ironed look. I was driving before these photos were taken.