Friday, November 30, 2007

Major pattern surgery Part 3

My major sleeve concern was this - when I'd laid out my sleeves, I thought the upper portion looked kind of small, and I was really hoping they would fit in my upper arm.

So, sewing up - that's what I was worried about. Turns out, it fit ok, but in a completely puffy, horrific, 80's way that almost made me abandon this project right off the bat.

But... my goal was to learn something out of this project, so I kept going.

The skirt is huge on this thing!!!!! Its all the gathering. I wanted to change this around - yards of fabric gathered around my hip is not a flattering look for me.

I thought I'd try inverted pleats - I'd seen a few in stores, and thought it might be a good look.

(Right here is the scary part - I'm making design changes to the dress. But I'm not a designer. Good sense would indicate I should stop. But no...)

Some sewing later (attaching sleeves and skirt) I had this monstrosity.

So many things were wrong with this dress at this point. (The fit's fine, I just haven't attached the zipper yet.)

1. I'd calculated my inverted pleats wrong, so nothing matched at any seam. Serious seam ripping lay ahead.

2. Those sleeves!!!!! How I hate, loathe and want to burn those sleeves. I look like a reject from the 80s clown factory.

I gnashed my teeth in frustration, balled this up and threw it in a corner. Then I went and made myself a patchwork scarf.

There's a slightly happier conclusion to this. I unballed the dress, and at present stage, have fixed sleeves, fixed pleats and attached zip. I'll provide an update when I'm all done with this.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Major pattern surgery Part 2

Right after I wrote that last post, I felt the urge to get pattern altering... So, I pulled out and traced the paper pattern, started cutting this black striped synthetic fabric that hasn't been calling to me at all (this is a trial garment, after all) and got sewing.

As you may recall, I had wanted to do 3 things:

1. Remove crotch pointing front

Relatively straight-forward. I merely overlaid the front center and front side sections with the corresponding back sections, and traced out the back lines instead. (Since this is a princess seam - there's a center front, and a side front pieces to alter.)

2. Widen and lower neckline

Also straightforward.

3. Raise the armhole thingy to be tighter

This one was not at all straightforward, and I have to say, I was mostly guessing as I was doing this.

First, I read this informative post from Dawn on raising armholes

It all made sense. And then I looked at mine.

Unfortunately, with the way this bodice is constructed, the armhole thingy is formed when you join the center and side sections of the bodice, rather than in one section only.

Also, for some reason that still eludes me, the sleeves were not the standard one-piece sleeve, but had front and back pieces.

I started with the sleeves. My goal was to remove bagginess, and decrease the armhole diameter.

Original lines are in blue and black - my alterations are in red. On all pattern pieces, I removed the seam allowance, did the altering, and redrew the seam allowance, to ensure I was accounting for the seam allowance correctly.

Back sleeve:

Altered back sleeve - compared with original back sleeve:

Bodice alterations - center front:

Side back (I'd show side front, but I forgot to take a picture. Its pretty much the same thing though.)

Having done all that, I decided it would make sense to sew the thing up, to see if I was even close on the alteration. (I also decided to play with grain a little, after remembering examples of it by Cidell and Threads)

Here's the bodice, sewn up:

Trying it on, the armhole thingy was still too large, though it fit reasonably well at bust and below. I took another inch and a half off, leading to the final bodice.

In the next post, I'll show you the disaster that happened when I attached the horrendous sleeves and the skirt.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Can anybody say ugly?

Seriously, what were people (me included, probably) thinking in the 80s?

This pattern was part of a mystery pattern 2-pack I bought at the thrift store today. I could only see the back of the pattern, and it looked quite harmless from the back. Little did I know...

I could pitch it, of course, (or honestly, if you read this blog, and want this pattern, just email me - I'll be glad to mail it to you...) but ever since that Sew Stylish issue, I've been wanting to try serious pattern surgery. This pattern is perfect for that.

First off, I'm planning on raising the front skirt right up to the waist - so its flat across, not (umm) pointing towards the crotch. (Seriously, what were they thinking?!!!!)

Next up, I'll widen and lower the neckline. Severe is not a look that works for me.

After that, I think I'll raise the arm hole thingy to be tighter.(I know it has a real sewing name, but I don't know what it is. I'm an idiot.) No baggy sleeves for me.

It goes without saying that any shoulder pads will be eliminated. And finally, I'll definitely get the length to slightly shorter than my knee.

I think, if I manage to do all that I'm imagining I'll do, I'll end up with a low rent version of this
(Ok, this dress has princess seams, the Burda dress doesn't, but this dress is close to the sort of look I'm going for.)

Or, since I own the Burda magazine, I could just trace the dress I want... hmm. Still, this will be a fun project.

I'll take photos as I go along...

And in case you were wondering what the nice pattern was in the mystery pack, it was this one below... I was drawn to the shawl collar, and the shirtdress, and the retro feel this one had. Its completely not my size, but hey. I can fudge.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Weekend sewing.

Despite the 10 odd hours of football I watched today, I still managed to get a fair bit of sewing done over the weekend. Pattern reviews follow.

Burda World of Fashion Magazine: 09-2007-112 (Babydoll Top)

Pattern Description:
A simple babydoll top, with the gathered bust section made of jersey, and the lower section in silk satin. (I didn't use silk satin.)

Pattern Sizing:
34-42. I made a 36.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Oddly enough, yes. I'm not a fan of BWOF instructions, or lack thereof, but this top was easy to construct. (I'm a beginner.)

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
This kind of shirt sells at Banana Republic or other stores for big bucks. And its very simple to sew, and one of those patterns that look nice and dressy over jeans.

Also, I liked the gathering detail at the bust.

Fabric Used:
I used a thin black jersey, and a printed synthetic - bought bought at Fabric Land.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:
I didn't have enough of the printed black, it was a remnant. I therefore eliminated one pleat off each side.

Also, the directions called for an invisible zipper. I tried the top on without, and it fits, so I (happily) omitted it.

Finally, the directions called for bias strips on the back neckline and armhole edges. I tried bias strips, but my sewing machine was having none of it, and was being cranky. So, I omitted this, and just narrow hemmed both.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Yes. And yes. I can see this in a summery pale pink or some other pastel.

This kind of separate is perfect for my wardrobe, and I'm very happy. Its also really simple to sew, and I'm surprised more people haven't made it.

Burda World of Fashion Magazine: 10-2007-115 (Tee with folded-over gathers)

Pattern Description:
Tee with folded over gathers.

Pattern Sizing:
38-46. I made a 38, but left the seam allowances out, to make it closer to a 36 (without actually doing work.)

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Like the line drawing, yes.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Thanks to Christina's review, yes.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
Lots of people have reviewed this one, here's what I found were noteworthy about it.

I made this pattern 3 times, and got one working t-shirt out of it. (We'll call that 2 muslins. Things I found:

1. The neckline is really, really low. My final version has the neckline raised 1.5 inches.
2. The first two times I made this t-shirt, I folded the pleats so that the pleats radiated outward from the center. This both made the foldover part look a bit like a bib, but also made the neckline gape a bit. My last version, I folded the pleats all one direction, and this worked perfectly.
3. This works best with a lightweight knit. I tried it with a heavier knit, and the weight of the foldover part really made the neckline gape.

Fabric Used:
A thin jersey knit.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:
As mentioned above, making a 38 without seam allowances to get a little fit. And raising the neckline 1.5 inches.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I would definitely recommend this. Dunno if I would sew it again, but only because its quite distinctive, and I can't see my wardrobe having multiple of this t-shirt. (However, the pattern is easy to adapt to eliminate the foldover, and this would make a fantastic, basic, long-sleeved t-shirt pattern.)

I'm honestly thrilled with this t-shirt. Thrilled to bits.

Close up of the neckline...

Random musings.

Well, Michigan didn't win. Bleah. Nonetheless, useful time, since I got BWOF 09/2007 115 traced. (I think its this pattern, I don't have the magazine in front of me, and for some reason, annoyingly, I can't see the old patterns on the website.)

Also, I finished my t-shirt after the game. My photographer (kid brother) is napping, so a pic in a bit... It really came out well, and I love it.

In the evening, I went out to a Sewing meetup. This was fun! I've never sewn with people, and it was fun to see what other people were doing, etc. There were 8 of us, and fairly evenly divided age-wise, which was nice. Interestingly, everyone there cuts with scissors! Of course, to each their own, and all that, but honestly, when I switched to cutting with a rotary cutter, it changed my life. Cutting with scissors, my second layer would always slip and slide around, and I could never cut very accurately. With the rotary cutter, more accurate, and infinitely faster.

At the sewing meetup, I cut and started sewing the BWOF. Its coming along well, almost done...

I'm watching football now, of course. Perhaps I'll trace something else?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Interrupting the crafting to say...


Michigan plays Ohio State today. I know what I'm doing from noon to 3.30pm today. Perhaps I can pattern trace while watching the game?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

BWOF 9-2007-111 - Take 2.

You were all very nice to not mention it, but I look like a sack of potatoes in that purple dress. And while I do have a few pounds to lose, I am not totally shapeless.

A second try at this dress was warranted.

The Fabric:
To counter the Talbots feel, I chose a bright fire-engine red fabric - bought at Goodwill for $1? $2? Not more than two bucks. My lining was a remnant bought at Bouclair for $1.

Pattern alterations: A ton of them. First, I took two inches off the front piece and the back top piece. I essentially drew two parallel lines on the pattern, parallel to the bottom line, the first one just below the dart point and the second, two inches down. I cut the two lines out, and attached the pattern back together. Easy-peasy.
I have no idea if this is the proper way to do this, but I dislike reading instructions, and prefer to learn by doing and failing.

Also, I deepened both the front and back darts - the front by a quarter of an inch in each dart (taking an inch off overall) and the back by a tiny bit - maybe 1/8 of an inch?

Finally, I took off another quarter inch on each seam in the side, from under the armpit down to two inches below the waist.

This pretty much removed all excess fabric on the dress, leading to...

The dress:
Ta-dah. Ignore my closed eyes in the picture. Also, the dress needs to be washed and ironed. It fits well, any wrinkles in the picture are wrinkles, not puckers.

Up next: I'm so torn - there's a million things I want to make. I made a muslin of the October 2007 BWOF, style 115. See Christina's version here.

My version was a bit of a disaster - for a few reasons.

1. The neckline is really, really low! I like my cleavage and all that, but this was a bit much. (Think, below the bra center.) A pattern alteration to raise it has been made.

2. I used a very heavy jersey? knit? for the fabric. Which means the gathers gape open big time. I think a lighter fabric will prevent this.

I'll take a picture of the disaster version - but up next will be this t-shirt, in my actual fabric, a black jersey knit.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Remember the entry where I was wondering if a jumper dress would work on me? Well, sparked by Cidell's dress, and the BWOF September issue, where this was the illustrated pattern, I dove in.

On the plus side, this was an easy pattern to sew. It was also my first fully lined dress, and I was grateful for the (mostly) helpful illustrations.

On the minus, I took it to show my friend, and she remarked - Wow, you are so shapeless. (Grin. It was funny, really.) Also, this dress illustrates why people make muslins. Since I'm petite, I should have taken two inches off the bodice to get the waist in the right place. Right now, the waist hits me 2 inches too low.

Full pattern review here:

Pattern Description:
Fully lined jumper type dress. Zipper in back.

Pattern Sizing:
38-? I made a 38 on top, and graded to a 40 at waist and hip.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
So hard to tell from the fashion photo, but it looked like the technical drawing.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes. This was BWOF's illustrated pattern of the month, so there were actually pictures to help. Not really necessary, this pattern was fairly self-explanatory. The only thing that was a little tricky was attaching the lining at the shoulders. I had a bit of trouble, but it was my fault, I didn't follow the directions.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
This is a nice, classic style. Depending on the fabric used, this could be corporate or casual. I can't see myself wear this with a shirt underneath, but can see myself teaming it with some kind of cardigan at work.

Fabric Used:
Cheap synthetic crap from Walmart. But it was $1.97 a meter, so I suppose you get what you pay for. (I didn't want to use nicer fabric, since I wasn't sure if it would work or not.) However, it is washable, so that's good.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:
None. But when making it again, I will shorten the bodice by 2 inches or so, to get the waist where I want it. I might also make it a tad snugger.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Yes, and yes. Its easy, it looks like you'd expect, it has 4? pattern pieces, what's not to love?

I like this dress, even though its a bit Ann Taylor (or worse, Talbots.) I'd love it if the waist was in the right spot, but that was my own fault. I'm pretty proud of it though, it was my first fully lined dress!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Halloween costume update...

Its done! The costume won't win any neatness awards, but done is better than perfect.

Without further ado, here are pics...

And the back...

A shot of me being Renaissance (or silly...)

I'm very pleased with this. It was easy to sew - the inner shirt has 3 pattern pieces, the corset, 2 pieces. I didn't make the skirt since the salwaar already approximated a skirt - I just cut it off at the waist, added a drawstring cord, and called it done.