Saturday, 15 March 2014

A dress with a bit of history - V1316 Vogue

I absolutely fell in love with Rebecca Taylor's dress for Vogue. I'd been searching for a special dress to reuse some suiting I had. My brother in law died very suddenly and very unexpectedly last year, and I'd kept quite a few of his suits and shirts, thinking it would be good to keep something of him and make use of it. This dress meant I could use four fabrics from his wardrobe, which I was so pleased to be able to do. I added a little bit of white linen I had and got going. I chose these three suit trousers for the main colours, deciding to use the linen for the bands as I wanted to use the suiting for the main, larger pieces of the dress.

He also had a cream pair which I decided to use for the large back panel. The dress was a challenge but also immensely fun to put together. I think there are 20 pieces and I was aware I had to be careful to match seams so the bands didn't look too out. I've gone wrong a little here and there, but hey, that's fine.

I made some changes. I cut and sewed a muslin, as I didn't want to waste the fabric. Thank goodness I did, as it was too tight. I'm a bit unlucky as I fall between the 8 and 14. The pattern comes in sizes 4-12 and 14-20 and I wasn't going to buy two patterns, so I opted for the small sizing. That meant I had to grade up at the hips, and it wasn't easy as I'm still on a steep learning curve in terms of my dressmaking. So a couple of the back pattern pieces were thrown out. At the back, at the bottom, the bands should fall above the hem, and they meet the hem. I don't think it matters.

I was pleased with how the invisible zip insertion went - I've struggled with zips.

I chose a vibrant red lining, as I loved the cheerful contrast. One thing on which I agree with Carolyn's make of this, is that it definitely screams out for pockets. (I love her version, made out of cord trousers.) I didn't have a clue how to do this though Carolyn gives pointers. I know how to put pockets in a side seam, as I routinely do that, but not adding them to a curved princess seam, so I stumbled through this. I used a pattern piece from another dress, using the same material from a bit of the trousers as I used for the dress, and fudged it.

 One lies beautifully flat, the other is a bit of a bumpy result. But I managed to add them. Yay!

I've popped my scissors in the good pocket (yes, they've been chewed by our over eager young dog, who will chew anything and everything given the chance!).

I also raised the neckline a little - quite a few people who have made this have commented on the low neckline, and I have to agree. It's too low. I didn't want to wear a camisole underneath. I went slightly wrong, but it's kind of okay.

Here's the neckline on:

Sorry, that one's a little blurred!
Altogether, I'm thrilled with it.

I think my brother in law would be impressed as well. He was always very supportive and interested in my sewing, once he realized what I was doing with my sewing that is!

So it's a special dress. In memory of someone much missed.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Butterick 5699 See & Sew dress - Liberty and wool

Another week, another dress. Or two - this dressmaking thing is addictive I'm finding. I'm getting a bit worried about what I do with my already crammed wardrobe! I've had this particular pattern for a while, and was attracted by the wide waist yoke. I made it up first out of a Liberty Tana Lawn map print. The finishing isn't perfect. I was meant to topstitch everywhere, but after attempting the yoke, I gave up any more as my top stitching is a little wonky. Fortunately it doesn't really show on this too badly.

I tried to insert a zip - still not brilliant at this, but I sort of like the visible approach on this one.
But overall, it was a fun one to do.

I then decided to make it up out of a length of wool I've had for a long, long time.

There was just enough. I lined it with a purple, which looks read, but is purple!

And I think I prefer it in the wool:

It makes the fabulous design stand out far more.

I also used binding for the neckline to give a bit of contrast. So that's the latest in my dressmaking adventures.


Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Colette Peony - 2nd attempt! Dancing novelty retro fabric

This was my second attempt at the Colette Peony dress pattern, as I did love it, despite the fitting problems I mentioned. I fell in love with the fabric and bought it as a remnant. I decided this had to be a summer dress, so would leave the sleeves off. I'd fiddled endlessly with the muslin for my first Peony - I even cut a horizontal band, which is probably not the right way to do it, but I'm making it up a little as I get more comfortable with dressmaking. You can see what I mean about a horizontal band in this picture of my muslin for my first Peony.

This second dress came together very quickly, and I'm really pleased.

 I added the ricrac detail to the neckline:

And I'm still wondering whether to add a line above the hem.

I'll probably make another at some point, as the fit on this one, without sleeves, is much more comfortable. It is a lovely pattern, and very easy to follow.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Colette Peony - my attempt! Bodice fitting problems!

I was looking forward to trying this one, as I'd seen so many versions of it, and I'm pleased with the finished dress (shown here not hemmed and on my daughter), but I really struggled with it. I cut a muslin and fiddled with the bodice fit a lot. I hadn't a clue really how to do this, but I removed fabric here and there until it felt better, then I used the muslin to cut the fabric. I'd bought this fabric really cheaply, in the form of a pair of vintage curtains. It looks and feels like a Sanderson fabric to me - a kind of cotton duck, and it's been wonderful to work with. Here's the lining and outer bodice being lined up for the neckline, which I lowered a couple of centimetres - the pattern's version sits very high and I would have felt throttled.

It all went together beautifully. The Colette instructions were clear and easy to follow, and it's not a complicated dress to follow for a beginner dressmaker like me. Here's the sleeves being lined up:

And then in place...

The sleeve roll I made came in so usefully for ironing these awkward bits:

But my problem is the bodice still isn't right. I've added a couple of pretend darts, for want of a better term, either side of the proper darts, and that's removed a lot of the excess fabric. I know this isn't the right way to approach it, but I can't bear to unpick the whole dress. I think Colette dresses are made for far bustier women than me, from reading several reviews.

It's certainly a huge learning curve, this dressmaking! But I'm having a lot of fun with it!

Friday, 7 February 2014

First steps in dressmaking - first dress!

I finally finished my first dress (some time ago, but wanted to keep a record on my blog) - Simplicity 2886. I'm really pleased with it, but it was a bit of an ordeal, and not the right choice for a beginner to dressmaking. But I got there - it took around a year!

I love the fact it has a hidden side zip, and pockets. I also love the neckline.

Monday, 28 October 2013

First steps in knitting - my knitted dress

I've taken quite a break from my blog, which I think is inevitable at times. It's not been the easiest of years, and I've not had much free time at all. But I've started something I wanted to blog about! My knitted dress.

I've been wanting to learn new skills for a while. Twenty years ago I fell in love with a hand knitted dress, which I saw worn at a party. I've always had it in mind, but felt the skills involved would be way beyond me. I have knitted in the past, but not much, and I've achieved the sum total of one and a half jumpers (half was finished off for me by a kindly aunt after I'd sat on it for 10 years). But I went to the knitting and stitching show at Alexandra Palace earlier in October and fell in love with this dress from PurlAlpacaDesigns.

The Icon dress. I'd never cabled before, but I didn't think it could be that hard. I also had some alpaca wool tucked away from a while back - the dress is for 100% alpaca wool, which is incredibly soft and lovely to work with. I thought it would be the perfect project both for teaching myself new skills and relaxing over the winter. So I went ahead and bought the pattern.

I have to admit, this is not an easy pattern for a beginner. I struggled so much to get going and finally had help from a kind fellow blogger and from a friend. I had to unpick several times. The cables turned out to be very easy, and I used youtube to find out techniques for those. But the pattern is written with a lot of prior assumptions, and it's not a pattern someone like me could have interpreted without help. This was one of my test cable sections.

And I do mean beginner. A classic example... I didn't know about stitch markers! I really didn't. After the advice about popping in stitch markers (these aren't mentioned on the pattern, but it's been an enormous help to have them and be directed as to where they go), I first used safety pins. I couldn't understand how anybody had the patience to keep undoing the pins and popping them onto another stitch. I was absolutely clueless about just popping a stitch marker over the end of the needle! That's a true beginner for you. But, now I'm finally on my way, I'm so pleased with how it's going. It's fun. It's challenging. And it's ever so relaxing.

I've set myself a year, as I wanted to be realistic. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Fun in Cornwall Part 1 - River Fal

I love Cornwall. It's a fabulous place to spend some time, and I thought I'd do a few posts about our summer holiday here, as it was a perfect place for a family. We spent a few days on the Fal River, a beautiful place at dawn, when I was lucky enough to see the ship above leaving. And at sunset the light is just as good, this picture looking up towards the Pandora Inn.

We were lucky enough to borrow a friend's kayak - perfect for making the most of the River.