Thursday, 1 March 2018

DKNY Blouse - Vogue 1438

When Vogue patterns discontinued DKNY and Donna Karan they suddenly made me want them somehow!  Fortunately they are fairly easy to find on eBay and not too expensive.  I'm not sure what attracted me to V1438, it certainly wasn't the hideous pale yellow and sleeveless jacket, but I've learnt always to look at the technical drawings and not the cover art.
I've had this space themed viscose crepe hanging around for a few months (I don't tend to have many random fabric purchases, I'm definitely more of a pattern collector than fabric stasher) and so I decided to pair them up.

I was a bit wary about sizing and ease but decided to cut a 10 (the way the sizes are nested means that I could cut an 8 in the future if necessary) and due to the loose fit I didn't grade out or do any pattern alterations.  I have started always making a 1/2" narrow shoulder adjustment but I was feeling lazy so skipped this.

The fabric is wonderfully fluid but also presses (and creases) well so wasn't as tricky to work with as I expected.

Unfortunately I came down with a cold half way through this project and I blame this for the collar disaster.  I'm not sure what I did but it is completely lop-sided and the collar band didn't fit into the neck at all.  In hindsight (such a wonderful thing) I don't know why I didn't just stop when I realised something wasn't quite right, I should have waited until I was feeling a bit better and then I probably would have figured it out.  My best guess is that I didn't clip the neck edge enough?

Fortunately I didn't want to wear the blouse buttoned at the neck (I haven't even bothered with a button or buttonhole) and unbuttoned you really can't tell!

The pattern called for sew-in interfacing but I used fusible and it worked fine.  There are some nice details on this blouse like the hidden buttons, the cuffs and the back hem overlaps the front so if you were so inclined you could tuck the front in and easily leave the back loose.
I wore the blouse to work this week and it was a big hit with both staff and students so I'm definitely calling it a success despite its flaws.  I'm keen to make another one in a more sensible, plain, fabric as I am happy withe the fit and really enjoyed wearing it.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Llama pjamas - Simplicity 8518

I had to buy this llama print fabric when I saw it in John Lewis sale after Christmas!  I had the last 2.5 metres on the bolt for around £10 if I remember rightly.

I also bought a new pyjama bottoms pattern, Simplicity 8518.  Full price! I do think they've been a bit mean putting the men's version in a separate envelope though.

I wanted to try a new pattern after the issues I had with Simplicity 1504. I had made a second pair of these for my sister, reducing the rise a lot, but they still weren't quite right.  I was attracted to the description 'classic slim cut' on the envelope and the fact that it has a button fly.  I don't need a button fly but I think it makes the pyjamas a bit fancier.

My measurements were between the small and medium so I decided to cut a medium. Who wants their pyjamas to be too tight? The fit is a million times better than Simplicity 1504, its like they read my review and fixed everything!

The button fly is really smart and the instructions clear however I realised part way through that they were suggesting way too much interfacing so skipped it on some of the pieces.  Next time I make these I'll interface even less as it gives too much stiffness at the front.

I over sewed the crotch seam to add extra strength.  When I make these again I'll try and add a little length to the back crotch seam to give my bottom slightly more room.

I couldn't get any 1 1/2" inch elastic so had to use 1 inch.  I reduced the size of the casing a little too much so it was a struggle to thread the elastic through.  If I ever come across 1 1/2" elastic I'm going to buy several metres.

I'm so pleased with these, I'll definitely be making another pair!

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Party Flounce Dress - NewLook 6123

I'm trying to make use of patterns and fabric that I have in store.  Not from any desire to cut down on either.  Just so I've more of an excuse to buy more!

I've had this fabric a little while, an eBay bargain, but as with a lot of internet purchases the drape wasn't necessarily what I had envisioned and this left me unsure as to what to do with it.  The pattern, NewLook 6123, came free with a magazine and I wasn't convinced it was my style.
After having a bit of a rummage through what I had I decided to give it a go.

I went with the draped bodice and skirt of view B but the sleeves from view A.
Being small busted I took a couple of precautions before cutting out the fabric.  I did a 3/8" narrow shoulder adjustment.  I was aiming for 1/2" but it was distorting the armscye too much.

And I took a wedge out of the bodice pieces, overlapping by 1/2" at the neckline seam and narrowing to nothing at the bust point (I just smooshed the tissue down to make it lie flat).

I also grade from a size 10 at the bust, through a size 12 at the waist, to a 14 at the hip.  This one of the best fitting dresses I've ever made! No gaping at the bust.  No gaping at the back neck.  I'd like to think I've suddenly got fitting cracked but I'm pretty sure it was a fluke.

The light weight fabric meant I needed to line the dress but the pattern comes with facings rather lining pieces.  I ended up doing a kind of underlining/lining combination using pattern pieces from other views.  Its not the prettiest on the inside but no one is going to see that.

Its turned out way better than I had anticipated and has encouraged me to do a little more rummaging.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Vogue 2266 - Yves Saint Laurent Jacket

This is the story of how I came to sew an Yves Saint Laurent jacket...

About two and a half years ago Mr B and I went to the Yves Saint Laurent Style is Eternal exhibition at the Bowes Museum - an extra special treat as we went to a Durham University Alumni event involving an interesting talk about how the exhibition came to the Bowes Museum and free wine (most of the pictures I took are therefore a little blurry).

I decided rather than buy a souvenir I would buy a Yves Saint Laurent Vogue pattern instead and sew that up.  I found the pattern and fabric quite quickly but for some reason actually getting started took another two years.

It turned out that my Mother owned the pattern I chose back in the 1970s but had never made it (she also got rid of all her old patterns and regrets it severely).  She could remember the features in amazing detail and its been great discussing progress with her each week.

I dispensed with making a muslin as I think that would have prolonged the project even further (in hindsight there are a couple of alterations that I should have made but I'm still happy with the outcome) and dived right in.

My fabric, a black boucle with sequins, was quite stretchy and the pattern said to underline so I did so with black polycotton which was cheap, lightweight and stable.  I didn't interface as much as the pattern suggested as my Mother said that 1960s/70s jackets were designed to be much more structured than I might like.  I interfaced the upper back and front edges only with a lightweight sew-in interfacing and it seems to be fine.

I didn't want to put the frogging on the front as I wasn't planning on doing it up and didn't think I'd be able to find any nice frogging easily. Where do you even buy frogging?

My original plan was to use topstitching thread for the topstitching and machine the buttonholes but my machine wasn't having any of this so I used normal thread for the topstitching and didn't bother with buttonholes.  I've never hand sewn a buttonhole and think that having to do ten at a first attempt might not have been the wisest choice.

I decided to spend twenty minutes each day when I got home from work sewing which worked really well for something like this where there are lots of small steps, I was amazed at how much could actually be achieved in such a small amount of time.

The instructions were a joy and have resulted in a really professional looking and feeling garment - the pleat in the lining is particularly pleasing me for some reason.  I'm looking out for another jacket to try now as I really enjoyed my attempt at tailoring.

The body and sleeves could maybe have been a bit longer and the shoulders a little narrower but its fine as it is and really useful for wearing to parties (I rarely go to parties).

This post has been quite long, which is what you get for not writing up as you go along.  If anyone has any questions about any of the details just ask!

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Vogue 1247 - Don't worry I'm wearing a vest

"Its, err, quite low cut" said Mr B *.
"Hmm, yes, definitely a vest required"

I think I'm a bit behind with making Vogue 1247, now out of print, so far in fact that I had to buy it off ebay. I knew I had discounted it when I first saw it but wasn't sure why.  I really like Rachel Comey patterns as they usually have interesting details and the instructions for finishing given with the pattern are great, this one has french seams throughout.

I realised when I came to cut out why I might have passed this one by at first, its one of very few vogue patterns not recommended for pear shaped people.  Now I don't usually hold with the idea that certain shaped people have to wear certain clothes but it does make sense when you start to look at the finished dimensions.

My measurements put me at a size 12 bust (just), 14 waist and 16 hip but I usually go for at least a size, if not two or even three, smaller at the bust (I'm not sure why Vogue insist on putting massive amounts of ease at the top and hardly any at the bottom of their patterns, as a Mathematician I suspect its due to them sticking with absolute rather than relative ease which means garments will be more closely fitting as you move up the size range - is this true?).
I ended up, after measuring a loose fitting top that I already own, cutting a size 6 at the top (43" at the bust - 9 inches of ease for my size 12 bust!) grading out to a 12 at the bottom.  It involved a bit of fudging at the side seams as the front top and lower side front pieces didn't seem to match (I checked the pattern pieces and I'm not convinced the notches and small circles would line up anyway).

Its not noticeable on my version but the lower front pieces are cut on the bias, I'm not sure if there is any particular reason for doing this, and they don't hang very well for me but its not a major issue. The major issue is the deepness of the v-neck, which if I had read some reviews first I would have known about, and the lowness of the bust but this is easily solved by a) wearing it pulled back on the shoulders and b) wearing a vest.  If I made it again I would shorten it by one or two inches above the bust and add some extra length near the bottom.

I do like it though, the fabric is very soft and drapes well and it sewed up really nicely.
Mr B took me to Washington Old Hall this afternoon so he could practice taking pictures of me but I think its my posing that needs practice!

* Mr B isn't necessarily against low cut tops but he knows that I wouldn't like to be flashing my bra entire torso if I needed to bend down lean forward move.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Vogue 1121 - Part Two

Time for an update on Vogue 1121!

I'm going to be honest and say that I hated finishing this off.  It just seemed to take for ever.
Soon after my last post I adjusted the bodice pattern pieces - a half inch narrow shoulder adjustment and adding half an inch at each side seam - and then stalled.  The lining fabric I had ordered took a month to arrive and usually I like to sew the lining first, one last chance to check the fit.  In the end I had to start with the fashion fabric, John Kaldor Coast.  I have sewn with this fabric before, here, and it came flooding back to me how easily this frays, soon the whole house seemed to be covered in pale blue thread!
Actually sewing the dress wasn't too tricky and even the top stitching went smoothly (I used proper topstitching thread for the first time ever) but I wasn't able to tackle the lining before going on holiday.

I would never normally have a two week break from a project and coming back to it when you've had two weeks to dream about what you might make next seemed tortuous.
And I made it even more tortuous by following the instructions!  I like to do this when I come across something I've not done before so that I can evaluate the technique and decide whether to do it in future (I would never have realised how brilliant hand picked zips are otherwise).

The instructions have you sew the lining in by hand at the neck facing, hem (rather that leaving it free at the bottom) and armholes and then hand sew the sleeves in as well.

I've not encountered this method before and I'm not sure of the advantage of doing this as opposed to making the lining version of the dress and then sewing it in at the neck and end of sleeves.  Needless to say I am sick of hand sewing and won't be doing lining like this again.

I'm always sad when I take against a project like this because all I can do is see the faults in it at the end.  I know full well that these perceived imperfections are not obvious to non-sewers and if they are to fellow sewers they are never mentioned.

How on earth do you ease in the fullness of a 3 inch hem on a flared skirt?  Please let me know. Please!

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Rachel Comey Top

On our first visit to Cragside this year Mr B reminded me of a top I made last summer so I thought I'd share it now.
It's Vogue 1503 a Rachel Comey design.  I bought the pattern for the blouse (Vogue must have been feeling generous to put two completely different tops in the same envelope) but on a whim decided to make view A first.

It's really not my style, or so I thought, but I've worn this top loads.  I cut a straight size 8, which is two sizes down on my actual measurements, and reduced the front ruffle's rufflyness by folding the pattern piece.

It was really pleasing to sew, everything went together nicely - the instructions for the seam finishes are particularly detailed.  I love the overlapping shoulder pieces, which I obviously don't have a good picture of, and the sleeve cuff weirdly.

 I do have a lot of back view photos though...

I have made view B also but it wasn't nearly as successful, mainly due to fabric and thread choice, and sadly I've only ended up wearing it once. I have however just cut out a second version of view A.
PS - I can't recommend Cragside highly enough - such an interesting house and amazing grounds!