Thursday, June 21, 2018

I'm a shameless copycat

At Pattern Review weekend, Deepika (founder of PR) wore this gorgeously simple dress on our shopping day. She paraded up and down the aisle of our bus doing her thing, and every time she passed me I coveted the dress more and more. The colour! The EMBROIDERY! The shape! So casual, so comfortable looking, but so stylish. Everything about it was perfect and it made Deepika look like a million bucks (well, she could look like a million bucks in a paper bag, but you get my drift).

Wonderfully thick border
embroidery, hi-lo hem
Deepika told me she had found the fabric at a Fabricville store (Canadian chain found in Quebec and maritime provinces, of unknown connection with Fabricland which is found in Ontario and other Canadian provinces) and that she had some leftovers which (with very little pressure on my part) she offered to me. It arrived in the mail a few days later.

So with the shameless objective of slavishly copying Deepika's perfect solution for this fabric, I bought the Named Clothing pattern for the Inari Tee dress. Named Clothing is an indie pattern company based in Finland that's new to me. I had seen very positive reviews of the Inari dress on blogs and PR. But until I saw Deepika's version it hadn't clicked that I needed it. 

What can I tell you about Inari? It's always helpful to have access to the experience of others which allows you to make needed or potentially needed adjustments before cutting into your precious fabric. 

From my reading, I had learned that the pattern combined a low/deep armscye with a fitted (narrow) sleeve and high sleeve cap. Such a sleeve creates a tube that is pretty much fixed at a fairly steep angle (graphically explained at Lorenzo's Workshop). The garment looks trim, tailored and fantastic until you try to raise your arms beyond the point at which the angle of your arms can be accommodated within the angle of the sleeve tube. Beyond that point you get bunching at the shoulder and the body of the garment is pulled up, as your body movement forces the garment to move in ways it's not engineered to accommodate. 

The quick and very easy fix for this is to flatten the sleeve cap. Carolyn explains it very well in this post and I just did what she did. The only point I will add is that (unlike the pattern piece in the photo on Carolyn's blog) the original sleeve in my size on the pattern has very strange, non-square corners at the underarm seam. This is contrary to all the normal rules of pattern drafting since, once the seam was sewn, it would generate an unsightly and awkward point at the lower edge of the sleeve. While it would create more room in the sleeve (at the hem) it would put that room in a place (under the arm) where it is completely unhelpful! It would also make it hard to attach the separate cuff piece, which is exactly rectangular. 
Quick & dirty sleeve fix

All of which to say that when I added the wedge to flatten the sleeve cap, I also fixed this problem by squaring the underarm seam (see photo). The result was to move the extra hem width from underarm to under the sleeve cap, keeping the sleeve hem dimension matching the original cuff piece but in a flatter capped sleeve. This is a totally invisible but very functional alteration. 

I also dithered about length. The picture on the Named Clothing website is of a dress that is very much above the knee. Carolyn's dress is also very short on her. Deepika's dress is knee length (but I am taller than her). The pattern says it is designed for a person who is pretty tall at 172cm (5'-8") - I'm 2 inches shorter. I liked the knee length look. I non-scientifically decided to add 3cm to the pattern, and the fact that the border would not be hemmed means that my dress is probably a total of about 6cm longer than the original pattern. It turned out the perfect length so ... phew!

To continue the saga, I failed to read the instructions through (bad bad Sewing Lawyer!) and so did not notice that the pattern pieces incorporate a 1cm seam allowance until after I had cut it all out. I had assumed, fresh from my experience of sewing the also-European Audrey dress, that I'd have to add allowances. Luckily I realized this before I sewed it all up, and it is always feasible to cut off the unnecessary allowance! However I kept the extra at the side seams both for fitting insurance and to make these seams more substantial, which helped at the hem slit, since it's finished by just turning back the seam allowances which at 1cm would be a pretty skimpy finish.

The finished dress is just lovely - the weight of the embroidery gives it a bit of presence and it's super easy to throw on but looks great (in my opinion anyway). I think I'll wear it to my cousin's wedding this weekend.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Stash/sewing speed record!

Some of the thousands of  theatrical costumes
at the warehouse - waiting their turn...
I had a lovely time at Pattern Review Weekend in Stratford Ontario - me and 100 of my best sewing friends! The special activity for Friday morning was a visit to the Stratford Festival costume warehouse, which was fantastic! But there was also early morning running, much chatter and convivial gatherings at dinner or brunch time, and in the hotel bar. We admired each others' clothes (most were wearing me-made throughout), learned tricks for better pictures courtesy of Gillian (Crafting a Rainbow), watched Jeanne and Mel of Jalie Patterns sew up some of their newly released styles, and had a presentation by the folks from Bra Makers' Supply. And then we went fabric shopping...

Some of the pretties
at Ann's Fabric
I had been on a fabric diet but fell off the wagon fairly hard. This was inevitable when I realized we were going to Ann's Fabric in Hamilton. I had heard about this store but for some reason (even though my parents live in the same city) I had not visited it before. I was feeling like I wanted new choices for sewing active wear and I knew that Ann's specialized in such choices. Most of my current workout wardrobe is from fabric picked up at the last PR Weekend I attended, in 2010!
Fabric haul - coordinating
lycra on the left. 

So I may have acquired 6 coordinating fabrics for my active wear needs for the next 8 years ... And I will definitely be visiting Ann's Fabric again.

Another new-to-me store was Len's Mill Store. This is a chain of 11 stores but they are very localized; mostly in southwestern Ontario. I see there is one in Hamilton (which I may have to check out), but we went to Woodstock. That store is massive! I had fun shopping in the bargain bins, where I found a length of scuba knit printed in an appealing free-hand "plaid" of bright colours. I figured I had enough to make a dress of some kind. But it had to be super simple to avoid breaking up that print.

Then this morning I got an email from MariaDenmark telling me of a 50% sale on her patterns. I realized her pattern for the Audrey dress was just about perfect for my scuba. No darts or seams in the front and only two vertical darts in back. The reviews on PR were very positive. I had a day to sew. I figured I could get the PDF taped together, cut the dress out and have it finished before dinner, and I was right. I even had time for a little outdoor photo shoot.

The sewing was quite straightforward; the only tricky part being attaching the shaped neck band. I really like the shape of that band, which is deeper at CF. I cut the neckband and sleeve cuffs on the "bias" for interest and because due to fabric shortage there was no way to match the pattern.

The dress looks OK by itself but I decided I like it with a belt.

Then I took some selfies.

With construction site
next door
With peony
Indoor selfie