Friday, 25 June 2010

Simplicity 2584 - attempt number two!

I wasn’t entirely happy with my first version of this Cynthia Rowley tunic top (featured in this post). My foolish choice of fabric meant that all my efforts making the shaped yoke were largely wasted. But, we live and learn, so here is my second version

I like to think of it as a big splash of summer colour, rather than something by someone who has used random pieces of fabric found in her stash – who me? I used some floral print cotton (from Gorgeous Fabrics) as the main fabric and some coral silk (picked up in a store in the Goldhawk Road) for the yoke – I think that this time you can’t miss it!

I do love this pattern. I think it’s nicely shaped and the style is fun. Here is a picture of the back – you can see how the yoke forms a kind of collar shape at the neck.

If you are thinking of making this pattern, there is one thing about the instructions that I find puzzling. Simplicity have you sew the shoulder seams, baste the yoke piece to the front neckline, sew the side seams, then apply the facing that finishes the yoke and neckline. This order seems odd to me – what I did is sewed the side seams AFTER applying the facing to the neckline. It’s important to get the yoke and facing attached straight and it’s much easier to do this by having the fabric completely flat. Also, as for my last version, I didn’t use a zipper – the neckline is large enough to get it on over the head very easily without.

Here’s a reminder of the pattern envelope

Meanwhile, summer is in full swing here in London. It’s steamy hot and I’ve been floating around in my maxi dress. Tomorrow my DH and I have been invited to sit in good seats at Wimbledon so I’m really looking forward to eating strawberries and cream and, hopefully, seeing some excellent tennis. Hurrah!

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Some sewing Q&A ....

The lovely Sherry from pattern scissors cloth (do take a look at her fabulous pink jacket in this post) has honoured me with the task of answering some questions. Now, I’m supposed to answer eight questions but, for now, as I’m fairly hopeless at this kind of thing, I am going to answer three.

Which pattern/vintage style have you been thinking about lately?
This gorgeous vintage pattern, McCalls 7521, has recently entered my pattern collection (see how I’m calling it a ‘collection’ rather than a stash?)

Dated 1964 it was designed by the renowned Pauline Trigere. Born in Paris, she moved to New York in 1937 where she established herself as one of the foremost designers of her time. One of the things she was known for was her “evening dresses that were dramatic without being fussy” (quoted from New York Fashion: The Evolution of American Style by Caroline Rennolds Milbank). I think this pattern offers a perfect example of that style. I have a fancy that I might look a little like Audrey Hepburn in this gown. However, as I am considerably curvier, the reality probably won’t match up with that little fantasy. I like the idea of making it in black – maybe a wool crepe or a soft satin or even a double knit would be nice – what do you think?

What is one sewing skill you want to learn/try out?
Making welt pockets or bound buttonholes. I keep meaning to do it, I have read about it extensively (both in books and looking at some excellent blog tutorials) but somehow I haven’t taken the plunge. I have been sewing regularly for about a year and a half now and during this time have learnt an enormous amount but I must remember to push myself to keeping on learning and expanding my skills.

What garment/accessory do you wear the most?
I would like to be able to answer that it is this maxi dress that I made last year from Simplicity 3503 (written about in this post).

I am pictured here wearing it on vacation in Miami earlier this year. I’d love to wear this dress a lot because it gives me that whole ‘tropical carefree summery vibe’ that makes me feel young and glamorous! Actually the reality is that I live in London so the weather is not often good enough to wear this. What I do wear the most is something far more practical for daily city life – jeans. And I have to confess that all my jeans are shop bought. (My favourite brand, in case you’re interested, is good old Levi’s and I always buy their straight cut). The reason that I’ve never been tempted to make a pair of jeans is because they look quite difficult to make and, by some miracle, I don’t have too much trouble buying a pair of jeans that fit me. From the waist up nothing (I mean NOTHING) fits me properly but from the waist down I seem to be, more or less, a RTW approved shape!

However, I am always interested and impressed by the fabulous jeans that other people have made. This jeans pattern, Jalie 2908, seems to be very popular

It has 58 reviews on Pattern Review (and 848 people have it in their stash!!). If I were to venture into jeans making, I think this is the one that I would choose. So, what I’d love to know from you is have you made your own jeans? Is it easy to do and does your sewing machine cope with the layers of denim ok? Do you think the result is better than RTW and why? Or, are you like me and fear that jeans making is too much hard work?

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Vogue 8555 sleek sheath dress

I can’t believe how long it has taken me to get this dress finished but now I have and here it is

And here’s a view of the back

which is lower than usual – in fact, so the pattern tells me, it’s 5 ¾” below the base of the neck. I like the look but it does mean that you have to be careful to get the fit of the back just right – any gaping will show up.

The pattern I used, Vogue 8555, looks like this

It’s one of those ones with lots of different options. I made the sleeveless version with the narrow skirt and in the shorter length. I really love sheath dresses and I was especially attracted to this particular one because I liked the bodice, which has a sweetheart neckline with pleats at the neck and gathers under the bust.

The fabric is a 100% viscose and I lined it with a lightweight Bemberg rayon. Originally I was going to make this dress with another fabric (a cotton and silk mix). However, once I had made a muslin I decided that it really needed to be made in a fabric that was very soft, so that all the pleats and gathers draped around my bust rather than sticking out (I really don’t need to emphasise my top-heavy figure!). This very drapey viscose turned out to be just right and I really love the colourful, large flower print.

I followed Vogue’s instructions slavishly but if I were to make this dress again, I think I might construct it a bit differently. Vogue have you attach the zipper to both the fabric and the lining together so that the zipper is outside of the lining, which looks like this inside the dress -

I don’t hate it, but it would probably look neater if the zipper was attached to the outer fabric first then enclosed by the lining (which means you have to leave a few inches of the lining unattached to the bodice, the midriff and the skirt at either side of the centre back until after you have inserted the zipper – a bit fiddly but, once you get your head around it, it’s easy enough to do).

Yesterday I wore this dress to a garden party in Cambridge (an English country town), which involved two bus rides and three trains there and back and a lot of walking about and sitting down and plenty of eating and drinking. The dress stood up to the ordeal and received a couple of compliments and a big vote of confidence from my husband – so I definitely recommend this pattern!

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