Wednesday, 29 August 2012

The Disaster Dress

Hmm, maybe I'm being a bit harsh on this poor dress.  Look at my grumpy face!

It actually looks pretty nice on but it was a whole world of pain to make.

I bought the Burda Handbook after seeing Casey's lovely dress from it.  I had been looking for a simple boat neck summer dress, ideally striped, and I thought this would fit the bill!  The whole aesthetic of the book is about making your own variations of their simple patterns and I was so inspired I dived (dove?) straight in!  I decided to leave out the contrast bands and use the basic shape of the dress, but as I wanted a boat neck, I traced the Colette Peony pattern neckline.

After working on the bodice toile for a few days and doing my usual length adjustments (2.5" on the bodice, 3" on the skirt) and tweaking the princess seams I was ready to cut.  I chose a striped seersucker in shade of blue (I almost bought a similar fabric with a colourway called "Crystal Meth" - interesting naming there, Fabricland!) as I wanted to try playing with cutting the stripes in different directions.  Pattern specified 4.5m of fabric, which seemed like a lot (my as yet unblogged circle dress used less, but I thought I'd be cautious!  I think it actually used about 3m of what I bought, so I have a lot left over)

It was originally going to be called the Opening Ceremony dress as I cut it out in a spirit of optimism during the Olympic Opening Ceremony.  But disaster was looming!

The bodice came together well, despite the usual Burda odd instructions that don't match the item you are making!  Fabric was fraying quite badly and seemed to be stretching slightly more than I had expected since there was no apparent stretch in it.  But it was OK.

Skirt was attached and that was where the main problems started.  Not sure that cutting the skirt with horizontal stripes was the most flattering option, or the gathers at the side of the skirt which make my hips look huge, but I ploughed on!

I have never had a problem with an invisible zip before but this was was a biggie!  I put the zip in  to discover the back neckline was an odd shape and hung out at the back.  Possibly neckline darts would have been an easier solution but hindsight is a wonderful thing!  Unpicked the zip, took out the excess fabric and reattached the zip.  Which wouldn't do up.  So I took it out again and put it back in.  By this time, the fraying fabric was shredded and the zip still wouldn't do up.  I then broke it trying!

Another zip was purchased and finally went in OK.  Managed to cover up most of the shredded bits by taking it in a bit at the centre back and all was well.

But why the belt you may ask?   By the time the hem was finished, the bodice of the dress seemed to have stretched in length and so was a bit too long (and dropped waists are not my best shape).

In addition:

I trimmed the waist seam allowance with pinking shears and cut into the fabric of the dress!  On both sides.  Which the belt covers up.

So it is definitely the Disaster dress.  Or maybe the Perseverance dress!

However I did learn lots - moving away from a patterns and making changes to get the style the way I want it, more fitting experience, paying closer attention to fabric choice, covering up mistakes.  And I got some good practice in with the seam ripper too!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Macaron Work in Progress

At the last minute I decided to throw my hat into the ring with the Sew Colette 2.0 Sewalong for the Macaron, hosted by Lucky Lucille, Miss Crayola Creepy and Rhinestones and Telephones.  It's one of the first patterns I really wanted to make but I was struggling to decide on fabric.  I wanted to do a winter version and had navy needlecord in mind with an orange contrast, but I couldn't find the right fabric to fit what I had in mind.  I thought I would have to give it a miss until a trip to John Lewis turned up some cute fabrics in the sale (so of course they had to be bought!
Although the colour isn't that clear in the photo, it's a dusty purple poplin for the shell and a lightweight cotton floral for the top part.  I love the way they look together and hopefully the dark colour will mean I can wear for winter with a cardigan.
Having decided on this at the last minute, I am a bit behind but have my bodice toile done.  After tissue fitting (as my main adjustment is for length, making a toile before doing this adjustment would be a waste of time) and adding 2" to the bodice length and 1" to the yoke, it looks OK.  I need to shorten the waist darts by about 2" as marked on the toile (I guess I should have left them the original length when I lengthened!), and I think the bust darts will need to be moved down as they definitely fall above the apex even with the extra 1" above - I think I'll have a look at some of the other versions online and see where they fall on other people as they definitely are right at the top of that pattern piece.

In the back view, you can see I have pinned the shoulders - Marjorie has a higher bust point than me - I can lengthen her waist but not above the bust!  It looks kind of baggy at the back but actually fits better on me.  I think I can adjust it fairly easily at the side seams to sort this out.  (And what is going on with my basting?  It went all weird and gathery - not sure if i need to adjust the tension so I'll definitely test of a scrap before starting on the fashion fabric!)

I'm off to work on the sleeves as I need to see the effect of adding that extra inch to the yoke.  I guess I will need to lengthen the sleeve cap.  Back to Fit for Real People!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012


No, the Olympics hasn't turned me into a mad football fan (despite my massive support for Team GB - roll on the Paralympics!)

Rather, I have reached my goal weight (no, I'm not saying what it is!)
after dieting since January 2011. I've lost 60lbs in total (some of them
more than once) and stagnated/ cheated/ fallen off the wagon more times
that I can count! I've also completed a 10k run cross country, which is
something I never thought I'd manage.

I know this doesn't seem to have all that much of a place on a sewing blog,
but to me, it's really relevant.

Before losing about half of that weight, I wouldn't have even considered
setting up a blog where I had to have my photo taken and post it up for all
to see/ criticise/ snigger over. And to be honest, I probably would have
stuck to sewing clothes for N, home accessories and machine applique -
there's not much fun in spending a lot of time sewing for yourself if you
don't like what you see at the end of it! The online sewing community is so
supportive of everyone and I do feel like that vibe has helped me get to
here - as well as pushing me to get better at sewing and learn from all the
amazingly talented women that are out there!

Anyway, I am chuffed to bits to finally be here at this weight. I want to
always remember how much happier I feel and how much better in myself - I
know I am more confident at work and I know I am generally better tempered.
So a lot of this post is to remind me how I feel and give me a reason not
to slip back into old ways and pile the weight back on! But of course my
biggest incentive is N. She deserves a happy healthy mummy who doesn't pass
on bad food habits and neuroses about weight!

Some before and after pics:
Just before N's first birthday (I hate this pic so much!):

After losing 27lbs on Dukan:

(in a special sneak preview of my as yet unblogged Hazel, which will
be the subject of a future post!)

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Say hello to my leetle friend...

I have shamefully neglected this blog recently.  There have been lots of work and personal issues that have seriously cut down on my free time (which is scarce at the best of times, as the blog title says!), meaning I had to pick whether to sew or to write about it.  I have gone for sewing and have a few finished garments to share. 

But first, after lusting after one for ages, I spotted an ad in my local sewing shop for an adjustable dummy.  I like fitting on myself and making a muslin, but this will make it much easier so spot any big fitting issues, and also to take pics of work in progress that I can't show on myself. 

I have named her Marjorie.  It seems appropriate given the picture on the instruction book - she looks like a Marjorie I think!  She's definitely happy to have a dummy to help with her stripy creations!

And just to firmly put a date on it, it came with a conversion chart from imperial to metric measurements "to assist you during this awkward time".  That was in the 1970s, which seems to tie in with her outfit!  Little did they know that nearly 40 years on, we'd still be using inches in our body measurements!