Sunday, August 24, 2014

Methinks I should make another one...

Another Kay Unger dress, that is.

I picked up Vogue 1353 recently.  I've had it in mind for a while.

Beth of SunnyGal Studio posted a helpful exposé of this pattern a year ago.  Her initial review ended on a sour note, but she recently made it again so I guess she loves it after all.

And I have this.  It's a silk sari.  Luckily, the dress is lined because the sari is pretty sheer.  It's woven with a seersucker grid which livens up the plain part in the middle.  

This pattern is ideal for a border print, because the hem is completely straight.  

I have it in mind to try to cut the front neck using the rounded ochre part, and the rest of the bodice in red. But I reserve the right to change my mind. I might cut the skirt double, if I have enough fabric...

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Another FO

So I also finished the Sandra Betzina shirt (Vogue 1385).  It's not in danger of supplanting my shingle dress for favorite project status.  In time, I may come to love it.

I was apprehensive about sewing this unusual fabric (fuzzy "woollen" embroidered lace on a sheer silk base) for nothing, as it turned out.  It behaved very well, even for buttonholes.

All seams are French seams - sewn first pass with a narrow serged seam and the second pass on the sewing machine.

I ended up cutting about 8" off the bottom to make it a standard shirt length.  I have worn it as a light topper (today over this version of Vogue 1250).  I also made self-fabric tie belt for it, but so far have not actually used it.

Quoi d'autre?

I used grey silk organza for the facings as you can see on this inside-out shot.  This particular organza is quite stiff so I did not need any interfacing and the entire effect is as light/sheer as possible.

The inside-out shot also shows the darting.  If I were to make this shirt again (as I said before) I'd make that top-shoulder dart less deep and try to move some darting to the back.  The back neck could be higher/snugger and darting would help that.  I am also planning to make the sleeve cuff darts deeper - they're a little floppy.

I wonder what my stash will move me to make next?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

It's always the way

I thought:  "It's a nice evening, I'll take pictures of my newest creation outside for a change."

So I did.

.... and ....

All the best ones are headless.

Or blurry.

Or both (almost).

Sigh.  Enjoy these not-on-me detail shots, where you can see the texture of the fabric.  It's really interesting.

This is one comfy dress.  Still my favourite.

Monday, August 4, 2014


Making the shingle dress is kind of addictive.  I could not stop sewing ...

I think getting a good fit on the base is critical.  Whatever fit flaws are in the base will translate to the shingles. I'm glad I figured out how to adjust the side seams and neckline for my figure, and I'm super glad I figured out the horizontal back waist dart before I started stacking this dress.

Yes stacked.  Bottom to top.  A layer at a time.

It was quite the process. Making this had me running from my serger (where I did a narrow rolled edge along my chosen hemline stripe) to the cutting room with my yardage and the base pieces to cut the shingles. Then back to the sewing machine to baste them in place.  It was back and forth about two dozen times.

Preparing for the next shingle 
I lengthened the dress so it's between views A and B. This meant adjusting the length of the shingles.  I added about 2" (5cm) to the bottom of the lowest shingle and 1" (2.5cm) to the middle one to keep the proportions (more or less) equivalent to the original. I did this on the fly.

I started with the lowest layer which I lengthened to match my base (actually 1cm longer, so the base will remain hidden when the dress is worn).  I basted it to the base at the sides and top.  When I was satisfied that it was lying smooth, I sewed the top down using a 3 step zig-zag stitch and trimmed off the excess above the stitching.

Next layer.  I did my narrow rolled hem, put the fabric on the cutting table (as in the photo to the right), laid the base pieces on top, figured out where the top edge of the next shingle should be (using the original shingle pattern pieces).  I cut the side edges using my adjusted base as a guide rather than the pattern piece.

Rinse and repeat.  Two more times.

Back dart - 3cm at its deepest point

The back dart is at left.  I slashed between the seam lines and overlapped the dart, sewing it closed with a 3 step zig-zag stitch.  Then I trimmed it close to the stitching on both sides.  The power mesh isn't going to fray any time soon.

I had to adjust the second shingle from the top for the back waist dart.  I was on my way to inventing the necessary technique, but on reading PR reviews, I found that JudyCook had blazed the trail, with Sarah Veblen's help.  My approach was slightly more approximate.  I pinned at the side seams and then smoothed the fabric up at the top until it was the same length as the power mesh base.  You can see, in the photo with the ruler, that the upper edge is curved where I did this.  I stitched in a straight line and trimmed off the excess.

As others have written, it's essential to do the back and front at the same time, so the shingles match at the side seams.  I still had to fudge once I was putting them together.  I just pulled out the basting stitches at the side seams, and pulled the errant shingle into place, pinned and stitched.  Stretchy fabric is very forgiving, luckily.

The side seams are thick!  At least 4 layers everywhere and 6 where the shingles overlap.   I trimmed the base and the overlapped layers too, before serging the side seams with a four thread "safety stitch".

Neck and arm openings bound.  Finished.

I will wear it tomorrow. I am pretty sure it's my new favorite dress.

Shingle dress - the base

Up next is Vogue 8904, the Marcy Tilton shingle dress.

Before getting my hands on the pattern envelope I had not realized that it is designed as a tank dress with applied layers, so that it is at least two layers of your fashion fabric everywhere.

The fabric I intend to use is striped but has a bit of a puckered texture that would undermine the intended rather sleek look of this dress.

So, I went stash-diving, looking for a smooth and stretchy fabric.  And I came up with power mesh.

Now, don't laugh too hard, people.  It's smooth and stretchy, will not show through, and will be a distinctly firm base for this sleek dress.  Might, in fact, help keep it sleek, if you get my drift.  It will not curl at the hem.  And it's not hot to wear either.  

Wow, ugly!
I studied the pattern envelope carefully and flat measured the pieces (made easy by the fact that they are not half patterns to be cut on the fold). I realized that the intended fit is below zero ease at the bust with front and back having precisely the same horizontal dimension.  At the hip, the fit is zero ease.  At the waist, it's almost baggy.

I cut based on my body measurements i.e. 10 at bust, 12 below, and added very generous seam allowances. Then I sewed it up and tried it on (inside out so I could fix the seams).

This is after I unpicked the side seams at bust level and scootched the front pieces inwards to give myself about 2cm more width.  I think I need a couple more.

I also sewed it in about 2cm at each side through the ribs to high hip.  I might sew myself a bit more room at the hip to keep it a bit looser than skin tight.

The front neck was gapping very noticeably so I sewed a dart that is approximately 1cm at the top.

And the back.  Well what do you know, even Vogue's pencil shaped model has wrinkling at the back waist.  And so, not being pencil shaped, do I.  It is completely inevitable in a single pattern piece per side dress with no darting.

I am, however, sewing a horizontal fisheye dart at the waist.  If you embiggen the photo at left you will be able to pick it out.  My goal is to remove just some of the excess.  My first attempt was a total of 2cm at CB but it wasn't enough.  Now I've taken out at least 3.5.  And there is still wrinkling, but no more than on the pencil shaped lady.

And finally, I shortened it so it is somewhere between the mini of View A and the dowdy of View B.

I will now modify the base and shingles accordingly, hoping that the more forgiving stretch of my fashion fabric won't be a  hopeless mismatch with my chosen base.  See you on the other side.