Thursday 31 March 2011

My Sabrina Dress #5 - Cutting and Marking

That photo speaks for itself! The width of my fabric wasn't enough so I will end up with a 1950s above the knee length dress. Not ideal, I know! The other thing this meant was that it was quite difficult to match floral prints, like I had originally intended. Not the end of the world.
I cut all my fabric on the floor as I do not have a big enough table. To make up for accurate cuting I usually cut roughly around pattern pieces and end up with a pile like the one below.
 I can then take to my small work desk and accurately cut and mark.
My absolute favourite way of marking fabric is to use carbon paper and a tracing wheel. Here, however, I didn't do that as the fabric right size is on the outside.
 I usually snip all notches. As long as you do it well within your seam allowance there is no problem.
For the darts I used tailor's tacks. Great for marking fabric on both sides without risking permanent pen/ chalk marks. Saying that after I do the tacks and remove the paper pattern, I outline the dart on the wrong side of fabric. That ensures I'm sewing the dart properly.
That was basically all the marking to do on the pattern. I was happy when it was over as I could get on with the fun stuff: sewing it together! 

Sunday 27 March 2011

March Book Analysis -" The Dressmaker's Technique Bible" by Lorna Knight

Welcome to the first of my monthly book analysis, aimed at pushing me to read the books I have. And there are a lot of them, I should say. I should disclaim first and foremost I am no book critic, so all the notations are my own opinions and thoughts.
So without further ado, please welcome the book of the month:
The Dressmaker's Technique Bible by Lorna Knight was one of the first books (if not the first) I got when I started sewing. My quest to find a easy to understand, comprehensive sewing book didn't take long and after reading good, consistent reviews I decided to buy it.
One of the first things you notice about the book is the compact size and easy to browse features. It's a A5 sized packed in a spiral bound, which helps it stay open on the desk for easy reference. For me these two are massive advantages. I struggle to read books who weight almost as much as I and hate damaging normal binders by opening the book too much, so this is perfect.
The book is divided into four main sections:
1) Getting started: Clear and concise, it lays down all the necessary tools for successful dressmaking, including commonly used haberdashery. It has an interesting section on body shapes and common pattern alterations. It also gives links in clothing items to the different techniques that can be used to make it. Very good for when you working without a pattern or with missing instructions.
2) Fabric manipulation: Every type of seams and seams finishes, darts and pleats and zips are in this sections. One of the first things I did was practice all seams in some canvas to see how difficult they were and how they could best be applied.
Welt Seam - great for leathers
3) Techniques: This sections guides you through different types of waistbands, necklines, sleeves, pockets and a few more essential elements of dressmaking. Buttons are also in this chapter and I will be testing some bound buttonholes later using the book as a reference.

4) Embellishment ideas: This is the section I have yet to explore but it covers pretty much every embellishment technique there is, from patchwork and applique, to adding ribbon or beads and smocking, pipping, fringing, felting, etc.

You could be forgiven by thinking that the book is too small and that one A5 page dedicated to inserting an invisible zip or making a bound buttonhole is not enough information. But surprisingly it is, no need to fluff it up. You could basically sew from this book alone and not buy any other basic technique one (but who wants that).
I would recommend this book to both beginners and more experience sewists. Some techniques might be more challenging for beginners but that has to do with the nature of the technique, not the book instruction. For those with more experience, it's a great reference book.

Saturday 26 March 2011

My Sabrina Dress #4 - Fitting alterations

It has been slow over here, for a number of reasons I won't go into right now. I managed to finish the fitting alterations I needed on My Sabrina Dress. The final bodice looks something like the below.
Much better than this, don't you think? So what did I do? I followed the advice given by Alexandra in my previous fitting post and pinch excess down the middle of the bodice. You can see it pinned on the photo above. It made all the difference, so thank you Alexandra. I ended up removing 4cm at top reducing towards the midriff. I also took some excess out of side seams, 2cm at top phasing it down. The midriff fits perfectly well at the waist so none was removed there.
This all sounds very easy and straightforward but do not be fooled, my dear readers. It was a nightmare to transfer alterations to pattern pieces and I did 4 more muslins before I was happy with it. The problem was very simple: maths! Do I need do say more? Me and numbers do not go well together and even simple, logic problems leave me stumped. A bit embarrassing, I have to say.
This weekend I will be cutting the fashion fabric and if I'm successful at matching florals in the way I intend to, I will share it in a post with you.

Tuesday 22 March 2011

A very awesome prize

Do you all know the lovely Denise from The Blue Gardenia? If not, head to her blog right now (or after you finish reading this) and make sure you subscribe to it. She writes exquisitely well about her own projects, gorgeous vintage patterns available to buy at her shop and the feature I love the most, she shares the limelight by frequently featuring other amazing sewing enthusiasts in her posts by interviewing them or asking them to share their sewing spaces. Denise also organises some giveaways, which are always jaw dropping and the last one she had was no exception. And guess who came out on the lucky draw? Yes, me! I was over the moon when finding out I had won such amazing prize. So, so many thanks Denise for this lovely combo of prizes.
It will be my first time working with raw silk. In fact, I had never even touched raw silk before, so completely unaware of any special requirements for sewing, pressing, washing (I bet dry- clean only?). As you would have read in my previous post, my sewing list is vast but this will get done too because it's drop dead gorgeous and my size, and I already decided where I am going to wear it.

Like I mentioned before The Blue Gardenia also sells vintage patterns and jewellery and I strongly suggest you take a look at the options. There are so many gorgeous patterns. I myself have not resisted and ordered a 1940s dress for a party I might be going in June (more on that some other time.)

Sunday 20 March 2011

My Sewing List

I have been procrastinating lately and have done very little sewing. My latest buttonhole nightmare plus failed attempts at transfering pattern alterations on My Sabrina Dress (simple maths but I'm crap at it) have send me into a idle state. I have however, managed to buy a few more patterns and add a few more projects to my to sew list. To hopefully keep me on track and sewing, I'll share what's coming with you, more or less in the order I intend to do them.

My Sabrina Dress: I have figured out the fitting alteration I need doing, helped by Alexandra comment (thank you!) and now in process of transfering to pattern pieces. I'm hoping to get this cracked soon. I love the fabric but still unsure how it will look.
I love sew alongs! They help me keep focused and force me to stop and wait for further instructions or advice, before I go and cock up something. Sherry from Pattern~Scissors~Cloth is leading a Tailoring Sew along and I initially shied away from it, as I had to many projects on the go. But after buying some gabardine fabric for trousers and realising the fabric is too heavy for that, I decided to join in. I had to choose a pattern that asked for less than 2mtrs, and quite liked the red illustration from McCalls below (not keen on the photo version). It doesn't have many elements from a tailored jacket, but I'm sure I'll pick up good tips and advice. Need to whip up muslin and fitting issues soon.
Next on the list another vintage pattern, this time for a wrap shirt. I will be using a lovely lightweight cotton I bought months ago. In an effort to wear more skirts, I will also do a basic skirt in this fabric. I LOVE this fabric!
Summer version of my Vogue 8604 Trousers. Hopefully in this blue linen blend with some pattern alterations.
And again, another original vintage pattern, this time for night wear. I will do a first version in the cute cotton poplin on the left, which is a left over from a baby coat and all going well I will do a second version in this satin(ish) fabric with some lace inserts. Probably not followed as it would be too boring.
I need more work shirts so will have another go at shirts with another Very EasyVogue in a lovely red cotton.

Disclaimer: The information printed here is correct at time of publishing. The writer holds right to change any project fabric or pattern, or add/ remove more projects to the list. ;)

Saturday 12 March 2011

Kimono Sleeved Jacket...Buttonhole Nightmare

What a nightmare it was to do these buttonholes! I'm going to stay clear of pattern requiring lots of buttonholes for a some time, since last night I almost lost the plot doing these.
I started at the bottom and my machine had no problems doing the first three buttonholes. But then it changed the buttonhole size completely. The difference wasn't huge so I continued but the remaining two were disastrous. One of the other things it did was to complete the buttonhole programme stitch without having stitched the hole thing. Have you ever tried to unpick a black machine sewn buttonhole on black corduroy? No, not possible. I tried but ended up ruining a bit of the lining inside. 

I fudged it and managed to have a finish garment that is usable.
I can honestly say I'm a bit traumatised with buttonholes and would rather insert invisible zippers for future projects. But button looks so lovely and I definitely don't want to go off them, just because I had a bit of trouble.

So what is your experience with buttonholes/ buttons? Have you had any problems? Do you have any techniques, tips or hints that help make it easy? I look forward reading them.

Monday 7 March 2011

In Construction:Kimono Sleeved Jacket

I am half way doing the kimono sleeved jacket from Vogue 8604 and this is what is looks so far:
I'm using the left over from the black corduroy fabric I used for my Winter Dress. The jacket has 6 buttons at the front (which I confess I'm not looking forward to sew) and is fully lined. The shell was pretty quick to assemble and I could have finished it last night, but I paced myself so as to distribute the different tasks between my different projects. The last thing I want is again having nothing to sew but 4 patterns to trace. I will probably have it finished by the weekend so will share the finished thing then.

This jacket and the next 4 or 5 projects I have going under the sewing machine are all part of my plan to use my existing pattern, fabric and habby stash. Not to say I won't buy anything new but I do want to get rid of some existing fabric remnants, etc.

Tonight I will trace!

Sunday 6 March 2011

Train Adventures

I just came back from holidays which consisted of travelling by train to Zurich, then Venice and then back to UK. I really enjoyed travelling by train instead of flying. There is still some rush and stress trying to get on the train on time but it's much more enjoyable once you are in (except the toilets, that is).
Obviously I did some research on fabric shops in both Zurich and Venice and made sure I went to some once there. However I did not buy anything and with great embarrassment I have to say I even failed at taking photos.
I visited two shops in Zurich. Modesa has a huge variety of different fabrics and lots of zippers and threads. But the prices were high, the cheapest being polycotton blends at about 18 Swiss Francs (about £12). Nothing I can't get cheaper in UK. The second shop I visited was Nah-Szene Zurich AG and fabric collection was smaller, a bit prettier and much more expensive. They also sell Bernina machines.
Whilst in Zurich I also visited a second hand shop but prices are not the same we find in UK second hand shops and charity shops. No bargains anywhere.
After a train journey via the Alps we got to Venice. In Venice I was looking forward to see the lace and the velvets, the brocades and the damasks and the (allegedly) numerous museums dedicated to textiles and fabrics. I was deeply disappointed. I struggled to find all the shops and the ones I found (like Bevilacqua) is quite small and has more soft furnishings on display than fabric itself. The lace shops I found sell only soft furnishing, with lace obviously.
Palazzo Mocenigo looked promising on the brochure but also disappointed. There were some gorgeous costumes and fashion illustrations from old books, but little information of what it was, from when, etc.

Either way I had much fun, even though it snowed and it was cold. Carnaval was on and some gorgeous masks on display. I didn't take much photos but my darling BF took some and you can see them here.

And look at how my knitting improved! This was a practice swatch I had started a while ago. Terrible!
And this is a new one I started (after frantically searching for a yarn shop in Venice) and hopefully will become a scarf. I know it's basic but hey, I need to practice. I find sewing easier, but I love knitted stuff.

Friday 4 March 2011

My Sabrina Dress #3 - The first muslin

I have finished construction of the muslin/ toile for my sabrina dress and surprise, surprise? It's too big on the bodice. I read many times before that vintage patterns run smaller and because this one has my exact bust measurement I was hoping it would fit. But no. Alterations will be needed, especially as I intend to use to dress snug (unlike Audrey Hepburn in the movie, who uses it with a jumper underneath).
A couple of shots from the front. There is to much space on my bust and also on shoulders.

The dress has two pleats running from midriff to bust and the idea is to increase width to make it snugger. With the shoulders and neckline I'm not sure yet. I might just pinch around (like I did for the Crepe) and see what happens. What I will do for sure, is read my copy of Fit for Real People to see what I find that can be of help.
The back has to much ease as well. Pinch excess and remove?
The midriff sits nicely and the skirt as well. It will be longer that here.

What do you think? Any tips on this fitting?


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