Monday, 2 May 2016

Vintage Vogue 1137 in bottle green Liberty

Hi guys! I hope your week/bank holiday weekend is going well! Thanks to the extended weekend here in the UK, I have managed to snap some pictures of my latest project today to share with you :)

Remember my test run for the Vintage Vogue 1137? More than 2 entire years later (!), I'm pleased to say that the "real deal" is done, and just as I envisaged when I picked up this beautiful piece of Liberty wool in an unusual bottle green colour from Goldhawk Road.  

Long term readers of this blog will know that green is not a colour that I reach for very often; I can't help but think that the drawings on the envelope may have something to do with my fabric decision here. 

Thinking about it, I can't actually understand or explain why it took me so long to pick up this pattern again. My test run had gone really well, and the unlined cotton dress ended up getting plenty of wear, for its comfy-to-wear, easy-to-pack, simple-to-style qualities. What's not to like? In fact, it featured so much in my work wardrobe that the colour has even faded slightly in the wash!  

No wonder Vogue 1137 was one of my pattern picks!  

When I did eventually pick up this lovely pattern again, I felt very grateful to my younger self that I did not need to make any alteration to it. The only thing I did change for this version was adding a lining, and I sure didn't hold back! 

Oh how I so wish this dress was fully reversible! The bodice lining is a super soft watercolour viscose (I only had a tiny piece), and the skirt lining was the leftover aubergine polyester lining from my Ultimate Work Skirt

Now I want to make version #3, in something slinky and dressy!

A couple of notes on the construction. First, as explained in my skirt lining tutorial here, instead of sewing full darts, I opted for tucks on the skirt lining to allow some additional ease (see picture above). It worked well, and I can move very freely in it.  

The second one is about inserting the bodice lining. I didn't follow the instruction for this, but instead, I used this super clear tutorial (based on the same pattern!) which let me get away with minimal hand sewing. It worked a treat! The only hand sewing that I ended up doing was stitching the lining to the lapped zipper, and finishing the dress with an invisible hem. 

The lapped zipper:

Remember these subtle but elegant V-necklines? Front and back?

I'm so pleased with how this dress has turned out (and in!), and am proud to have this addition to my work wardrobe. It was worth the wait, after all! 

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Me-Made-May '16 -- my last minute pledge!

Hey guys! I thought I left it late last year, but somehow I managed to be even more "spontaneous" this year! It wasn't about the dithering so much this year; instead, I simply hadn't had the time to make my pledge until now. 

The first 4 months of 2016 have seen me pretty busy spending almost all my spare time on works on our house -- we've had our garden landscaped, upgraded our central heating and boiler system, completely refitted our cloakroom, ripped out our en-suite, and had our front door replaced, with a new back door on its way, too. I've actually enjoyed it all, especially picking up some new skills, but it has meant that my sewing (and this blog) has suffered somewhat. That said, I have got a few projects lined up to share with you very shortly, as soon as I get a chance to photograph them. 

Having enjoyed MMM '15 tremendously, I didn't want to be missing out this year! So here it is: 

I, Alice from Queen of Darts, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '16. I endeavour to wear one me-made garment at least 3 times per week for the duration of May 2016

I shall look forward to seeing all the MMM outfits from everyone!

Sunday, 7 February 2016

My very own Moneta!

Happy Chinese New Year, my dear readers! I hope the year of the Monkey brings you endless joy and happiness! 

I'm back after a few months of hibernation, with a satisfying project to kick off the sewing for 2016. I made my very own Colette Moneta! Why the break? I'm not sure really. A few months ago, I made the decision of only sewing when my sew-jo says so, and the same goes with the blogging. Ultimately, I sew and I blog because I enjoy it, and I didn't want it to become some sort of a chore. There is enough pressure and stress in modern life without becoming enslaved by one's hobby. Know what I mean? 

Anyhow, after seeing hundreds of Moneta popping up left, right and centre, my hands were itchy, and my sew-jo was flowing. I am so pleased to be finally joining the Moneta club. White Tree Fabrics kindly provided me with the pattern and the beautiful Art Gallery cotton jersey, which I felt in love with as soon I spotted it on their website. The fabric is even better in person - it is incredibly soft, and I have not stopped thinking about how I can make every inch of the scrap into underwear/leggings/PJs/tank tops that I can have the fabric hugging my skin all the time! 

It's been over a year since my first encounter with knits; I felt slightly nervous yet excited as I dusted off my overlocker for project number 2.  

For an inexperienced jersey sewer, I found the Moneta Sew-along really helpful. I have to admit that I was a bit worried about the gathering with clear elastics, but it worked out a lot better than I had feared. The pattern was great, and truthfully I've had my eyes on it as soon as it first came out. It's a classic design - versatile, very wearable, with cute variations. I went with Version 3, as I liked the length of the sleeves. I didn't worry too much about the fit here, since sewing with knits is rather forgiving, but I did reduce the length of both the bodice and skirt to allow for my petite frame. 

I had  managed to equip my sewing cupboard with both 1/4 clear elastic (which I struggled to get my sticky fingers on previously, so I stocked up when I was in NYC last year), and some Wonder Tape. The tape sure worked wonders when hemming the skirt and the neckline, as it works by holding the fabric in the right places without stretching it out of shape. I would highly recommend it if you want to avoid a wavy hem or a gaping neckline.  

The whole project was finished in a couple of evenings, which has really made me appreciate how quick sewing with knits is. No facing, zips, buttons, or fitting issues, and the seams are already finished as you serge. Why didn't I enter the world of knit fabrics earlier?  

With this little project under my belt, you can probably tell that I feel a lot better about sewing with knits. What's next? I hear you ask. Honestly, I'm currently fighting against the urge of making another Moneta, with a heavier, warmer fabric. I think it will be back to basics next, either with the Linden sweatshirt, or the Lark tee, to help me build a more wearable homemade wardrobe. 

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Vintage skirt with inverted pleat

Hello all, hasn't it been a while? Hope all is well with you guys! 

Over the last couple of months, I've kept myself really quite busy -- settling into my new job, doing a bit more decorating before the days became really short, and then enjoying a wonderful road trip along the west coast of the US to celebrate the hubby's 30th. It's been a fantastic couple of months in many ways, but the one thing that did suffer during this busy time was my sewing. 

However, with the new job all going very well (yay), and the days much colder and shorter (and foggier, if today is anything to go by!), I'm back where I belong - my sewing room

What better way to resume sewing than a very on-trend inverted pleat skirt from a vintage pattern? 
Please excuse the dim photos - I waited and waited this afternoon for the fog to clear up, and longed for some natural light to come into the house, but had to give in to some artificial lighting in the end, as I just couldn't wait any longer before sharing the project with you ;) If the hounds tooth pattern isn't showing up too well, click on the image to enlarge and it'll look less fuzzy, I promise. 

The pattern is the Simplicity 6091 from my stash, from 1965. To think that it is an entire 50 years later that I'm picking it up and making my own version is pretty incredible.  

The fabric that I used - as you can see from the John Lewis reduced to clear label below, it's quite a mix, with 65% poly, 32% viscose and 3% spandex. The end result of this funky mix is a beautifully soft, slightly stretchy, and comfortable to wear fabric, but one that ravels like there's no tomorrow. In fact, it was ravelling so fast that I felt rushed to finish this project in 3 days; even then I was worried that I would wake up the next day and only find unravelled thread all over my sewing room, with the half-finished skirt nowhere to be seen! 
This is also why I opted to finish the seams with some rayon seam binding, which I picked up from the Garment District in NYC over a year ago. This is the first time I've used this stuff, and all the other sewers are right - it is amazing! This tutorial by Laura Mae was very informative, and set me on the right path straight away.  

In addition to the seam binding finish, I had another few firsts with this project: I made my first inverted pleat (it was pretty straight forward), and more importantly, this was the first vintage pattern that I used that did not require any real pattern alterations! Hooray! All I did was cutting 6 inches off the length, and off I went chopping up the fabric! Thank you, Simplicity! 

One more close-up photo -- topstitching above the inverted pleat

So there you have it, my first vintage make of 2015, based on a pattern from exactly 50 years ago! What this also means of course, is that I'm not doing terribly well with my Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge of sewing 3 vintage patterns this year... But hey, there's still time ;) Stay tuned and I'll be back soon, and hopefully with another vintage make! 

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Lace dress

Hello everyone, I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend! 

I have quite a project to share with you today. It is pretty special on a number of accounts: 

1) I have finally tackled one of my biggest fears when it comes to sewing...working with lace. And boy, did I throw myself into the deep end with this one! 
2) I have not had such a challenge since completing my wedding dress
3) This is my first White Tree Fabrics Blog Team make!

The fabrics
White Tree Fabrics kindly provided me with a beautiful heavy corded lace and a luxurious duchess satin for the underlining. If there ever was a match made in heaven, it was those two! What's more, I already had a piece of cotton lining with a very similar shade. I like it when a plan comes together ;) 

I wanted to give this stunning piece of heavy corded lace the attention it really deserves, and that could only mean one thing - appliqué seams. Yes, it is time consuming, but I adored the all over, seamless look that's often seen on couture lace dresses. 
Can you spot the dart and the side seam?

I also love the scalloped selvage of the lace, and used it everywhere -- I made sure the pattern was cut so that the hem falls onto the selvage to minimise the hand stitching. 

The pattern

The pattern is McCalls 6505, which I have had in my stash for quite some time. I love the design, and the photo on the envelope, but have read mixed reviews on the instructions. 

And they were right of course, as the steps described were pretty confusing! Thankfully, though, since I was using appliqué seams, I needed to change the steps anyway. So I spent hours checking all my sewing reference books, and searching through the internet, to come up with a plan that would work for my dress. 

My steps

Here's the nerdy part. I've summarised the key steps I went through, in case it helps anyone else who has been looking at attempting this pattern, or making a similar dress. 

Firstly, the terminology. I'm going to call the lace layer, er, lace, then the duchess satin as "underlining", and the cotton lining the "lining". 

Underlining and lining

1. After making a toile of the lining, I took in at the waist, chopped off some length, and made the slashed side dart into a full, overlapping dart. I also transferred these changes to the pattern for the lace layer. 

2. Making the underlining, and the lining layers, leaving the centre backs open. 

3. Attaching the underlining to the lining at the top/neckline, across the entire top edge. Understitch. 

4. I also made a waist stay, to take some of the weight off the shoulders... literally! This was attached to the lining layer (i.e. sandwiched between lining and underlining), and brought through the lining via buttonholes. 

Cutting the lace

5. Thread trace the pattern pieces on the lace, including the marking for the darts. If I were to do this again, I would thread trace the actual stitching line, as opposed to the cutting line, i.e. I would exclude the seam allowance. 

6. Take great care cutting around the thread, allowing full motifs outside the thread markings. I would say this was the most crucial step in the whole project.  

7. The appliqué seaming begins! Here's a photo of the side dart with the basting and pins. I took my time with the hand stitching here, ensuring continuity of pattern where possible.   

8. I then tried stitching the side seams with a narrow zigzag on my machine, as a shortcut to doing the appliqué seaming. It wasn't the smoothest experience, because the heavy cords often got a bit stuck in the feed dog, but I went slowly and it worked ok. 

Sleeves and neckline

9. I drafted the cap sleeves, rather than using the ones from the pattern, because I wanted to take advantage of the scalloped selvage. 

10. Time for more hand stitching... to attach the sleeves. 

11. I cut a strip of selvage from the remaining fabric, and hand sewed it to the neckline, going from centre back to centre back (via the front!), and also "finished the arm cycles (the portion not covered by the cap sleeves) the same way. 

Attaching the layers

12. After trying the layers on together, I hand basted the lace to the underlining at the centre front and underarm side seams. 

13. I took all three layers together at the centre back, and handpicked the zipper through all layers. Finish the portion of all layers below the zipper. 

14. I then made some covered snaps with the lining fabric, and sewed two pairs at the top of the centre back to the lace. 

15. Finally (!), I hemmed the underlining so that it hangs above the scalloped lace hem, and then the lining so that it is even shorter and is invisible when worn. 

Needless to say, it was a time consuming project. This wasn't my usual "weekender", but it was much more rewarding. I was finally ready to attempt working with lace, and I am really pleased that doing this the couture way has worked out well. 

I must admit though, this was possibly the messiest project that I have ever done! All that thread tracing, snap covering, pins that slipped through the net (yep!) and of course trimming off the excess lace from appliqué seams... My sewing room is a complete mess, and I keep finding red fluff everywhere in the house, and on our clothes... I'm pretty sure that I'm not the only person who's pleased that this project is finished! 

Now over to you - do you sew with lace? Any tips to share? 
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