Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Finished - a festive dress from Vogue 8667!

In my last post I mentioned that I was making a dress, from Vogue 8667, and that I had some lovely fabric for it. What I didn’t mention, however, is that I didn’t have enough fabric to make the whole dress. You see I was walking through the fabric department of John Lewis (on the way to the electrical department – really, honestly, I wasn’t there to buy fabric at all!) when I spotted some lovely silk twill. Mesmerised I stroked it ……. until I saw the price tag - £40 (about US $60) per metre. Yikes!

But I really wanted it, the print and the colours were exactly what I wanted for a Christmas dress that would look festive without being costume. So I came up with an idea – I would make half a dress with this and the other half with something a little more reasonably priced. I think it worked out fine

I needed less than a metre of the silk twill for the bodice and I made the skirt part of the dress from some 100% English wool, purchased in the Goldhawk Road for £10 (about US $15) per metre. Actually, this is not the first time that I have made a two-fabric dress (I blogged about my Burda magazine dress in this post). With the right pattern, it’s a fun way of getting creative with fabric and being able to use some expensive fabric without breaking the bank!

So, here’s the back of the dress

The neckline is a little lower than the base of the neck and the back of the skirt is an A-line shape.

Here’s a reminder of the pattern envelope

I really love this pattern. It all goes together very well and, unlike quite a lot of dress patterns, it does give you instructions for the lining. Although I am now up to lining a dress without instructions, it was very helpful for the pleated skirt because Vogue provides a separate pattern piece for the skirt front lining so that, although the outer skirt is pleated, the lining isn’t, which cuts down on the bulk and allows the skirt to hang nicely.

I can definitely see me making this pattern again – next time I want to make one with the straight skirt and with that lovely collar. I do like patterns like this one that give you a lot of style options – it means that once you have got the fit sorted out you can turn out several quite different looking dresses very easily!

So, what about you - do you have plans for a holiday season dress?

Monday, 22 November 2010

Japanese fashions and sewing people ....

On Saturday I met up with a couple of other London bloggers to take a look at the Future Beauty exhibition of Japanese fashion at the Barbican Centre. Karin from Making the Seam and The Fabulous Dr. E were my wonderful companions and I had such fun time. (I am sure that you are familiar with their blogs but, if not, do head over and take a look at the beautiful things they’ve been making).

The clothes in the exhibition were quite awe-inspiring and the technical skill and inventiveness of the designers was extraordinary.

Although many of the garments were a little impractical

If you get a chance to see the exhibition, do go, I highly recommend it.

It was so nice to meet some fellow Sewists and spend an entertaining and enjoyable afternoon talking about sewing. It got me thinking about how much I love people who sew. I have never met a Sewist that I didn’t like. I am wondering …. is it that sewing attracts nice people or is it that sewing turns everyone into a nice person? What do you think?

So, what am I sewing now? Well, much as I admired and felt inspired by the Japanese fashions, I am going for something a little less outré and more vintage than futuristic - a, hopefully, pretty looking dress for Christmas. This is the pattern, Vogue 8667

I am making the bodice without the collar and the pleated skirt and I’ve got some lovely fabric to work with. It’s progressing well – I’m loving this pattern. So, more soon ……

Friday, 19 November 2010

Vogue classic pencil skirt finished!

Regular readers will know that my recent sewing activities have been aimed at building some winter wardrobe basics. So I had to make that classic essential - a black pencil skirt.

The pattern I picked out was Vogue 8603 (in case you are wondering, I am wearing it with the silk jersey top I made from Jalie 2806 blogged about in my last post). Here’s what the skirt pattern looks like

What this picture doesn’t show you, however, is the back view. The pattern gives the option of a gathered inset in the lower back. So, although my version looks pretty plain from the front, the back looks like this.

I do like a skirt that has a bit of back interest!

The lining is cut so that it is hand-stitched around the edge of the gathered insert, like this

The skirt is fairly simple to make and, as it has princess seams, it is not difficult to get a good fit. Next time I make this pattern I think I'm going to try the view with the gathers at the hips - I avoided this because I thought that extra fabric around this area might be unflattering but now I've made this skirt, I think that the side gathers would work.

One thing did puzzle me about this pattern, however, is the way Vogue tells you to do the waistband facing. Once you have constructed the skirt and the lining separately they tell you to pin the lining to the skirt wrong sides together and baste along the upper edges. Then they tell you to sew the facing right sides together with the skirt, then turn the facing to the inside and slipstitch to the zipper tape and tack at the seams. This means that the facing is only attached at the seams and is kind of loose inside. I’m not very experienced so perhaps their way is a good way? But I didn’t fancy it much.

Instead I decided to do away with the facings (as you can see in the photo above of inside the skirt). To be sure that the waist seam didn’t stretch out I sewed 1/4” seam tape to the inside of the skirt (along the seam line) before attaching the lining. I think that if you aren’t going to add facings this is an essential step to give the waist some stability. Then I just sewed the lining and skirt together along the top, right sides together, understitched the seam and flipped the lining to the inside.

I quite like having the skirt without facings – I think it gives a smooth line. I should mention that even if I had decided on keeping the facings, I still wouldn’t have done it the way that Vogue suggests. I would have sewn the facings to the lining to make one lining/facing unit and then sewn this to the skirt with the right sides together, along the waist seam. But that’s just me – you might like the way that Vogue advise doing it? Do you have particular feelings about facings?

Moving on, I’m feeling that I need a change from sewing separates so I’m planning on making a dress next - more on that soon …….

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

A trio of tops - my love affair with Jalie continues ...

The arrival of my new cover stitch machine coincided with the discovery that my wardrobe is seriously lacking some basic long-sleeve t-shirts – an essential for the British winter. Because I was so pleased with my Jalie scarf collar top (blogged about here), I thought I would turn to Jalie for a simple t-shirt pattern. I picked out Jalie 2806 and thought it was so quick and easy that I whipped up three!

Here’s the first one – ‘the flower print one’ made in a rayon/lycra knit.

The pattern gives you a choice of necklines and sleeves that you can mix and match. Here’s the pattern envelope.

I made the gathered neck with three-quarter length sleeves. It’s very straight forward to make – the most difficult part is attaching the neckline band. You need to take a little care to make sure the gathers are distributed evenly and that you sew the band on so that the width is exactly right all the way round.

So, here’s the second one – ‘the Liberty print one’. (I’m not modelling this one – I mean, how many pictures of me in a t-shirt do you need to look at?!)

Because Liberty of London is so famous for its cotton lawn, you might not be aware that they also make knit fabrics, but they do. As it is a cotton knit, it isn’t drapey like the rayon knit and doesn’t have the same kind of stretch or recovery. But it makes a nice, beefy t-shirt that is good to wear with jeans and the prints and colours they use are interesting. I extended the sleeves to make them full length for this version.

Lastly, as I had got my confidence up by now, is ‘the luxury one’ made from a 100% silk jersey purchased from Gorgeous Fabrics.

This picture doesn’t really do it justice. The fabric has a wonderful lustrous sheen and drapes perfectly. The top works worn casually but also looks very nice and dressy with a skirt.

I am quite enchanted with my cover stitch machine. Of course it is perfectly possible to make hems on knits without one but I do like how the machine can so easily make a knit garment look professional. Here’s a close-up of the hem (both the outside and inside) on the flower print top

The triple row of stitching is on the outside and inside the looper thread ‘covers’ the raw edge. It looks super-neat and you can stretch it as far as the fabric will go without the stitches breaking. You can also do a double row of stitching, rather than a triple row if you want to (which is what I did for the other two tops).

So, now that I have some tops, my winter wardrobe building is going to continue with a classic black pencil skirt but more on that soon ….

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