Thursday, 11 May 2017

McCall's 6744 Dress (out of print)

Knit dresses really are my everyday go to in our hot humid Hong Kong summers so I'm always happy to try a new variation.  I realise that goes against conventional wisdom to only wear natural fibres, but I've found that this is what works for me.   They are also fantastic for travel because they pack up pretty small and don't crease.

I picked up this pattern in a recent clearance sale and it is now out of print.  It seems to have been a popular pattern based on reviews I read, but I guess they've got to make room for the new stuff that is always coming out.

McCall's 6744

I wanted to make view C, another wrap dress, but I swapped out the wrap skirt for the plain one.  I made it twice actually, one knee length and one maxi, both ITY jersey fabrics.  It is basically a knit version of the dress in my previous post so I suppose this is the shape I am going to be wearing all summer!

When I took out the pattern pieces they looked huge so for once I checked reviews before cutting anything and most said that this pattern had a lot of ease and recommended going down one or two sizes.  I checked the actual measurements on the pattern pieces and decided to make the XS which is ridiculous as I am nowhere near that size (I'd usually start with a 12).  I know the big 4 used to get a lot of flack for having too much ease in their patterns, but I haven't found that to be the case in their newer releases (interestingly Beth said the same thing in the comments on my last post).

Once the sizing is sorted out this is a very quick and easy make - there's not a lot to say about it really.  I made the shorter black and white dress first and it feels a tiny bit high waisted for me.  On the second maxi version I ended up pressing and sewing the elastic casing down into the skirt rather than up as per the pattern instructions and that seems to be enough to sort out where the waist sits so I will make the same change in the future.

I need to remember to stitch down my seam allowances in the casing area before forming the casing as it was extremely frustrating when my elastic attached to a safety pin kept getting stuck underneath seam allowances!  I also stitched the bodice closed at the overlap by sewing on top of the existing line of stitching.

I can definitely see this being a staple in my wardrobe - long, short and with all the different neckline variations, both for the approaching hot summer days and with a light jacket over for in-between seasons and fierce air conditioning.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

McCall's 7534 Mock Wrap Dress

The last month has been very busy with lots of house guests which means my sewing room has been out of action for most of that time.  Fun as it has been, I'm so happy to be able to get back in there and I have been working on a few dresses.

First up is McCall's 7534.

I do love the look of a wrap dress, but I dislike the potential wardrobe malfunctions that can occur with them so this surplice bodice dress with lots of variations caught my eye.  It's quite a basic design, but I like all the views which make it pretty versatile, the fact it has no fastenings and that it can be made in wovens, sheers and knits.

McCall's 7534

I made View A, minus the belt in this navy and gold bird print crepe.   I'm going through a bit of a nature print phase at the moment, my stash is sprinkled with birds and butterflies!

I eliminated the neck facings and just replaced with bias strips of fabric and made extensive changes to the fit of the bodice by draping on my dressform.  I really wish I had thought to make a pattern piece at this point mostly so I can easily recreate this dress, but also to see how it compares to the original.  I think I will go back and redo it in muslin fabric and create new front bodice pieces.

You can get an idea of what I did from the photos below.  The neckline length needed to be significantly shorter and I wanted it to hug more closely to the body as it was gaping a lot.  I pinned in some pleats at the waistline,  changed the angle of the wrap so that the front pieces no longer extend to the side seams and then I cut off the excess below the waist.  I did make sure I could still get it on over my head first!

Once that was done it was very simple to attach the skirt and insert elastic at the waist seam.  I took a bit of fullness out of the skirt at the side seams just because I preferred the look of it that way.

I only have dress form photos to show you at the moment, but when I make this again (and I will!) I will take some then.  I am currently sporting an attractive black eye caused by my skittish cat jumping off my lap and catching me in the face with his back legs.  I'm really embarrassed that I look like I have been in a fight, but I feel quite lucky that it's only superficial damage.  So for now.....

Saturday, 4 March 2017

BurdaStyle 12/2015 - 108 Moto Peplum Jacket

Despite whinging about Burda throughout 2015, towards the end of the year things definitely improved and one of my favourite patterns from the whole year was this jacket.

There are 2 versions - a cropped collarless version, shown in boucle in the magazine and the peplum version with a mandarin collar, shown in wool and leather.

I made version B, but all in one fabric, a stretch denim.  I left off the armband pieces, sleeve zippers and lining and added topstitching to the section seams.

Tracing this pattern is a bit of a chore, there are lots of small pieces.  However once that work is done it goes together pretty quickly.  In fact I got a bit carried away and sewed up (and serged and topstitched!) the left middle front seam before remembering I needed to put a zip in it!

Ah, the zip.  This is where I ran into problems.  The pattern requires a 12 inch separating zip  I wanted navy with metal teeth and a nice zipper pull and I could only find longer ones.  No problem I thought, I can easily shorten it.  Ha!  I don't know if I bought the strongest zip known to man or I am a complete weakling, but getting those teeth off even with the recommended wire cutting pliers
was an exercise in frustration and really hard to do without damaging the zip tape or my hands.  All the tutorials I found online went into great detail about measuring the zip and then just basically said "now pull off the teeth".   I managed in the end, but I couldn't get the stoppers off at all to move them so I just sewed thread stoppers which will hopefully be OK.   I do really like this jacket so if I ever spot any 12 inch zips while shopping I am buying them!

As usual with shirts and jackets I put in the collar and facings before sewing up the side seams.  I find it much easier to handle the garment when it is still flat and that means I can do final fit adjustments in the side seams.

The collar is assembled like a regular notched collar, which is a bit fiddly - I'm wondering whether it would work to just sandwich the completed collar between the jacket and facing and sew in one pass. Other than that, I think this jacket is easier to sew than it looks (zipper issues aside) and of course the collarless View A would be simpler still.

I think denim is a neutral that works with just about anything - except more denim although that's just my opinion, I know it was a thing recently.  I also think this fitted style will work styled in lots of ways, say as a casual topper thrown over a dress to a smarter look over a pencil skirt.  I think I prefer it slightly unzipped than how the model is wearing it, but it's always good to have options.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Style Arc Nina Cardigan

A big thank you to Jen and Valerie for the photography tips, I have a decent, if aging a bit, Sony compact digital and I will definitely take the time to explore more of the white balance & snow settings.  I hope neither of you are going to be too disappointed in my efforts in this post, I experimented a bit, but realised I have a lot to learn and it's going to take time!

So, this is another Style Arc pattern I have been interested in for a while and finally got around to trying, the Nina cardigan, a waterfall style cardigan with a draped front, waist seam and a fitted back.  I do find some waterfall styles a bit shapeless on me as they add volume everywhere so I wanted to try this version.

Style Arc Nina

It is incredibly quick to make on a serger.  I got a bit confused by the instructions referring to a hipband, but there aren't many pieces so it was easy to figure out -this is the lower back piece which wraps round to the front and I can't come up with a better name for it so hipband it is!

I love how this turned out, it is exactly like the illustration shows.  There are a couple of things I would (will!) change  next time:

  • lengthen the upper bodice slightly, the waist hits a bit high on me, only a problem if I want to wear a belt with it
  • I didn't like that the front and hem edges are just serge finished, I turned and stitched mine, but I'd like to explore self facing the front neck band entirely 

Difficult to see, but the front band is sewn on last and you need to pivot where the waist seam and hipband meet.  This is what gives it the nice drape at the front while still keeping some waist definition.

You can see here that the waist seam hits above the natural waistline where the belt sits.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

BurdaStyle 3/2016 - 121 Dress

I'm very behind on my blogging and this post is not terribly exciting as it is a dress I've made before here and it's also another purple thing, what can I say, I have a bit of a problem!

03/2016 - 121

I made this version in a ponte knit which is nothing like the stretch crepe per the magazine, but a similar weight to the fabric I used in my previous version so I knew it would work.  My original post has more construction detail that I won't repeat here.  Once again I left off the zip and swapped the facings for bindings.

Changes I made this time were to sew up the slit and I scooped the front neckline a bit lower.  I also swapped out the sleeves.  The original is a one piece cap sleeve, the pattern piece is sort of rugby ball shaped and it does tend to stick out, which is OK, but I wanted something different this time around.  I just searched for cap sleeve on the BurdaStyle website and picked 01/2012 - 113, a 2 piece self lined cap sleeve.

The original sticky-out cap sleeve
My replacement sleeve

These dress form photos show the colour quite accurately, one that keeps popping up here!

As usual I had real problems getting the lighting right when it came to taking photos on me and I couldn't figure out why they came out so differently to the dress form ones.  

I came to the conclusion that as I'm using a self timer and have the camera on an automatic setting,  the settings are determined by my empty frame and then don't apply once I've dashed into position (so far I've looked in vain for a compatible remote which would fix things I think).  I've no idea if this is true, but I tried again with a manual setting and despite a couple of shots like the ones below I did sort of get somewhere in that the lighting is better although the focus is off a bit.

I really blame my photography for slowing up my blogging, but I'm getting a better idea of what to look for when it's time to get a new camera.  If anyone has any recommendations or tips though please do share them.  I know people really like to see the clothes on a real life body and I have to admit that it is really useful for me to to see things a bit more objectively.