Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Things I didn't get around to posting yet #4 - made up maxi skirt

I have wanted a maxi skirt for a while now.  I tried to buy a cheapy one in Target but they didn't have the colour I wanted in my size.  Then I kind of remembered I could just make one up!  So here is the made-up maxi skirt:



I took the leftovers of this top and this dress and decided to sew them together for a stripey pop of colour.  I had to work with tiers made of whatever width remained of the fabrics (I didn't have much left) and similarly the design was somewhat dictated by which fabrics I had more or less of.

Despite the restricted choices the process of making it was simple and it felt good to be thriftily using up the remains of other projects (plus I love the teal and the stripe and they worked really well together too).  I  just made up a rough plan as follows:

  1. Measure waist.  Add a couple of inches.  Divide by two and then add 1 inch (for seam allowance - 1/2 each side).  This is the width of all the tier pieces except the top and bottom tiers.  Note this is a bit restrictive to walk fast in, but I don't really care :)  A-line would solve this but I didn't have enough fabric.
  2. Measure length of waist to floor.  Divide by number of tiers wanted (for me this was determined by number of tiers possible from the fabric more than anything else). Add 1 inch for seam allowance.  This is the height of all tiers except top and bottom.
  3. Add an extra 1/2 inch to the bottom tier height.  There is already a 1/2 inch seam allowance top and bottom allowed, so this lets you turn up 1/2 inch and then 1/2 inch again for the hem.
  4. Add an extra 2 inches or so to the height of the top tier.  How much you add here depends on two things:  A) whether you want the height of the top tier to be the same as the rest including the waistband, or whether you want it to be additional which makes the top tier appear larger than the others and B) the height of your elastic.  This allows for a casing where you fold over 1/4 inch, then folded down by a little more than the elastic height to the inside, then stitch around to form the casing (leaving a gap for elastic threading).
Note that these measurements are very fudgeable (technical term!) - this is pretty much a sew-a-tube-out-what-you-have sort of project - it could be wider, shorter, uneven tiers etc and would still be great I think.

And here it is again - because I like it :)





Saturday, January 28, 2012

Things I haven't got around to posting yet #3 - Vogue 8724

It's like I am on a dress making spree!  In fact the spree happened in the last three or four months of last year, but hey - I was busy and never got to posting things.  I also felt like I needed to let the dresses (and a skirt, yet to come) "sit" for a while.  I am not really sure what I mean by that, but it didn't seem like I wanted to photograph and post these as soon as they were finished, like it does with clothes for the kids or quilts I have made...

Anyway - next in line was Very Easy Vogue 8724.


I bought this pattern for a number of reasons:

  1. I had the fabric already but didn't have much, and this one only needs 1.5m (I think I had a bit over, but not much).
  2. I liked the look of it and have a few cross over tops which seem to work
  3. I wanted something to wear to a wedding and later to reuse and wear to work - it seemed like this style could cross over for both
  4. It is specified as very easy - important when trying to get it done quickly!
  5. It has a cup size custom fit (see other posts about my usual sizing method - cut enormous and then massively bring in the waist and hips )
And here is the result:


I am really pleased with this one - and this is at the end of a long day at work.  It looks quite nice I think and it feels really comfortable.  I changed the pattern slightly to flare out the skirt more - the original is more of a soft tulip shape.  I like the alteration (though I think I would like the original too).  I felt like I wanted more a more "flowy" look (technical sewing term that one...) as I was wearing it to a wedding.


Ignore the odd sit of the hem in this one - I was kind of just about to fall over so it doesn't really fall there...I am so pleased with this fabric.  It was $3/metre on the sale shelf at spotlight - so this dress (aside from the pattern) cost about $4.50!  I didn't have much fabric to play with at the bottom as I had added the flare to the skirt piece also, but I managed to make it work and have enough left up at the top (where the pattern is smaller) to kind of fussy cut the front bodice pieces so that they were even size print around the top half.


The most tricky bit of this (aside from trying to fit the crossover so it sits nicely without gaping and revealing too much) was the pleats.  This close up kind of shows where they fall - one of them sort of crosses over the other, which was a mental challenge.  As soon as I realised what the instructions meant it was pretty obvious and I could envisage the result, but there was a short while of mental block where my head wasn't quite getting it (late at night...).

Best dress I have ever made for me (though that's only out of three so far).  This is the first dress that made me feel like I want to bother to continue trying to make dresses - until recently I rarely wore them due to the fitting issues with shop bought clothes and my shape.  This was a personal triumph as I got to wear this to a wedding (!), feel like I looked great and had the ultimate moment where a friend commented on it and I got to say "thanks - I made it" and watch her jaw hit the floor!  I don't have friends who make stuff, so she was easily impressed of course :)

I still have more to show that I haven't yet got around to posting - happy sewing days!



Friday, January 27, 2012

Things I hadn't got around to posting yet #2 - McCall's M6074

So this dress was supposed to be my first attempt at a stretch fabric dress for me (before Vogue 1250 came out and jumped the queue).  It's McCall's "1 hour dress" - M6074.


I have been hankering after a maxi dress and my one from last summer was too big for me (woo-hoo!) so I decided to make the longest version of this dress (sleeveless).  However, I couldn't possibly just be happy to have found a one hour dress and make the thing...I had to decide to make the thing in a much more complicated way (partly to get the look I wanted, partly because I didn't have enough fabric anyway).

So here it is (I am looking very stern):


I cut the shortest view (A) out of the pattern pieces.  Then I cut the difference between shortest (A) and second shortest (B) out of black, with added seam allowances on each long edge.  Then the difference between B and C out of the striped fabric, and finally the difference between C and D (which actually I changed a bit to make the black bits approximately even) out of black, again with added seam allowances. 


I then sewed the strips for front and back together for each of the separate pieces (so I had three tubes), and then sewed them together to make from the black piece down.  Then it was just a matter of following the instructions for A to get the top "dress" together, but instead of hemming it, I sewed on my extra tube of skirt.  Finally, I hemmed the thing at the bottom.  Here I am trying to convey how the dress looks rather than how these pictures look.



Again with the dress I think my approach of picking largest size for my shoulders and then bringing it in dramatically at the waist is OK, but probably not the best result I could have achieved.  I couldn't really bring the sides in any more without making the gather at the front under the bust look odd.  Definitely time to learn the FBA and how it works in various patterns (god knows how it works in a cowl like V1250, but I can see how it would fit in here).

In terms of this pattern, I liked it and it would really take an hour or so (not including cutting, as they note on the envelope) if you didn't decide to complicate it with additional pieced tiers.  It would also be easily modified into a nice top pattern I think.  The one thing I might change if I made the dress again is the sheer volume of the skirt - it's enormous.  I was trying to show that in the last picture above - there is a serious amount of fabric in this one.  To give you an idea of how much, the maxi dress version, view D, takes around 3 metres of fabric for all sizes (a size 6 in the dress needs 2.9m!).  Compare that to 1.9m for the largest V1250 (which of course isn't long but it's all in the sideways volume for this one anyway).  I think it would be more flatting on me if it was slightly less voluminous, but I like it anyway (it's all swishy and girly).  When I came downstairs in it the other day, my son asked if he could have one, so it must look like fun!

So that's two dresses for me already!  Must be summer :)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Things I hadn't got around to posting yet #1 - Vogue 1250

It seems ridiculous that I haven't got around to posting this yet, particularly when I managed to post the version where I altered the pattern to make it a top over four months ago and I made this first!  I guess so many other people had posted this that it almost seemed pointless but it was the first dress I made for me, one of the first knit / stretch patterns I ever took on etc so I really feel I should include it.


I love the casual yet smart look of this - she looks comfortable and stylish.  See below for how I look :)

So here it is:


I have to say, I really like this dress.  What I really don't like, are these pictures.  In my mind this dress is quite flattering, though seeing these didn't make me so sure!  As you can see, I cut the dress longer than the pattern required and I went with the red like the pattern picture.  I didn't really consciously decide to cut it longer - I knew being tall it might be VERY short if I actually cut the pattern length, so I gave myself a largeish chunk of extra length, with the intent of cutting off as required to achieve the same length on me as the pattern is on the model.  In the end the ladies I sew with convinced me that they really liked this length, so I just hemmed it virtually where it was.

The side view...


My feeling in writing this is that I would like to make this again with some alterations.  I think it is still too small around the shoulders and bust.  I am not sure how to address this - I cut something huge like a size 20 or 22 to try and get the American football player shoulders and huge knockers accommodated, then had to seriously grade in the waist (literally inches from both sides - probably to around a 14 or so).  I suspect that this isn't the greatest method of alteration and that there is a limit to how much you can cut big and then shave back without altering the look of the thing completely.  I could also have spent some time fiddling with the cowl to make it sit better and leaned slightly forward like she is in the picture :)

So - no need to review the pattern as approximately 400,000 other people have done this.  I found it easy and quick and I do actually like this dress (though I think I will shorten it).  I think making it again in a different weight of fabric might be interesting, perhaps in a small scale pattern and with some additional though to how to resize.  Maybe a winter version in a thicker wool type fabric to wear over long sleeved tops?  Would need to be careful with the neckline there...There is a post coming on another Vogue pattern (8724) which is the most flattering dress I have ever worn I think - interestingly that pattern comes with cup sizes so perhaps I need to consider getting a bit more sophisticated and brave in my fitting approaches.

I still like it though :)

Friday, January 6, 2012

"Vision" Scarf - new, finished and totally yummy!

Introducing...my Vision Scarf!


This scarf started out as the leftovers of an offcut I bought at last year's craft fair from Duckcloth (how thrifty!).  That bit is the stripey trim.  I bought that linen to make Marcus a pair of shorts (done, not yet blogged) and I had some left, though not much.  I started seeing a scarf out of all the remaining scrappy bits, paired with some plain grey linen I had.  I wanted to add a lacey trim but was wavering as I am not really a lacey sort of person.  Then I stumbled across the grey lace fabric in spotlight for $4 a metre and it was perfect - still lacey, but also still me.



So I got all the pieces I had and worked out how long it could be and how wide I wanted it and how much of each fabric I could have in the mix and then I just got into it and cut and sewed!  I created a kind of binding strip from the stripey linen (cut 2 inches, fold in half, fold edges into the middle - binds 1/2 inch along the edge) and sewed it along one of the long edges.


I then folded the other long edge over by a 1/2 inch and tucked the lace under that.  I sewed that edge down and then folded the lace up (over the raw folded linen edge) and then sewed that down along the top too to enclose all the raw long edges.  If I make this into a step by step I will post some more close ups of the seams and construction.

I left the short edges raw.  They were the selvedges of the grey linen and are already a bit frayed but stay stitched to prevent further fraying.  I wanted to preserve some of the unstructured linen look.


I am still considering whether to sew those short edges together and make this into an infinity scarf.  I love the loopy, floppy look when I am wearing it, but it is just about wide enough to also wear as a bit of a wrap / shrug to cover exposed shoulders - which I would lose if I made it into a big loop.



I love that this scarf turned out exactly how I envisaged it (hence the name!).  I also love that I had a precious offcut and managed to get two great pieces out of it and I still have a little bit left.

The great thing about this sort of project is how quick and free it is to sew.  I didn't worry overmuch about the straightness (or lack thereof) of my sewing along the stripey binding, as the whole effect is meant to be a bit shabby and free form.   The cutting was about half an hour (including decision making which is always the hardest part for me!) and the sewing was probably about the same.

However, the absolute best thing about this project is how good it made me feel - quick reward sewing with gorgeous soft colours and lovely fabrics;  it doesn't get much better than this...