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!