Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Finished, and moving on

First of all here is the finished tulip skirt. As I said previously I like it but don't love it. Sadly it's a little 'snug', but I'm blaming that on rather too much Thai take-away lately! I'll probably wear it when the weather gets cooler with opaque tights and maybe long boots - I really don't think this length works for me. Never mind, moving on...

I've finally been working on the Threads shift dress. The outside layer is done aside from hand sewing so I just need to put together the lining, sew in the zip, join the two layers at the neck and set in the (unlined) sleeves. Oh, and the hems. It's actually not too much and since my fella is going away for work tomorrow night I'll have plenty of time to work on it. Here are a couple of pictures of my progress on it. You can see that it will really benefit from having a lining put in as it looks very flimsy as it is.

The close up show the top stitched front facing and button band. I just laid it on top and stitched around the outside edge rather than making it as a traditional facing but turned outside as per the instructions. This is because I'll be joining the lining and shell together at the neckline. I'm going to make some covered buttons for the front placket and pocket flaps, but if they don't look right I'll have some more made by the button and belt service that comes through my work.

Finally, I have cut out a toille for the wedding outfit. The dress pattern will be McCalls 5466 view B, probably with modifications, and there'll be a jacket too but I haven't finalised the idea for that yet.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

I'm a Cello - who knew?

A while back I bought the new Trinny and Susannah book 'The Body Shape Bible'. I have most of their books and while I usually take the advice with a grain of salt I think they're generally pretty good. Anyhow, I was having problems deciding whether I was a pear except without the flat chest or a skittle with a big bum. I swung between the two and decided that they are not that different essentially so I'd look at and follow the advice for both. The other night I was surfing the web and came across a link to this body shape calculator. After doing the quiz it turns out I'm actually a cello (except without broad shoulders)! So what does this mean? Accentuate the top half, minimise lower half blah blah blah. It's just more of the same general advice. Not that I'm complaining, I like to see nice outfits photographed on real women - it's a much better source of inspiration than pencil thin models and celebrities.

I am really trying to branch out into new shapes and styles at the moment, I'm so bored of jeans, a-line skirts and fitted t-shirts. I accept that I will have a lot of failures along the way but I'm between sizes so trying on stuff in the shops can only give me the vaguest idea of what a style will look like. If I can find just one new shape or style to wear it will have been worth the effort for me. Plus it'll give me the chance to reduce my embarrassingly huge stash of fabric and I'll be able to donate some really nice garments to friends and the local charity shop.
On sewing news, I've finished the tulip skirt. It looks okay, not great (the style not the sewing's fault!) but it really doesn't work on my dummy so I'll post a picture when I can convince my ever-patient fella to take a photo of me wearing it. On to the Threads shift (finally), and making a toille for the wedding outfit. I'll close with a photo of the fabric I'll be using for it (two types of silk dupion).

Saturday, 16 February 2008

McCall's Tulip Skirt Part One

I've started putting together the skirt I cut out this week. The pattern I'm using is McCall's M5473 view A. Here are some notes on my progress so far...
I didn't make any major alterations to the pattern, I cut a straight size 14. The only change I did make was to cut the centre back slightly off grain to make sure the split hangs straight and closed. I also added a kick pleat because I don't think the back of my knees are up to the scrutiny!

This photo shows my altered back piece. I added 2cm to the centre back line at the hem edge only tapering to nothing at the waist. I have since pinned the pieces together and I think this will be plenty.
I also added an extra vent piece to the split so I can create an underlap.
The only other change I made was to cut a lining using the altered back piece and the front piece (with the side front layed under to create a whole front instead of a front with pocket). I cut off the hem allowances on the lining. I hope this makes sense - it should become clearer as I go through.

I fused interfacing to the yoke pieces. To stabilise the pocket edges and zip opening edges I used fusible seam tape. I've never done this before, I've always stitched in tape to the pocket seam line and not bothered about the zip opening, but am really happy with the results. Since the skirt will be fully lined I decided not to overlock but to trim the edges with pinking shears.

So far I have put the pockets in and sewed the side seams. Next I'll put the yoke on, insert the invisible zip and construct and set in the lining. I'll post again when it's a bit further along.

PS. I've decided on my wedding outfit and bought material so stay tuned for reports on this project.

PPS Please forgive the formatting. I cannot for the life of me work out how to make the spaces between paragraphs even. Grrr!

Friday, 15 February 2008

Mostly planning, and some cutting

Finally the heat wave has broken! Apparently Perth has experienced the hottest summer in something like 40 years and, boy have we all felt it. But today is much cooler and I know my brain at least is functioning much better.

It has still been far too hot to even go into my sewing room (no airconditioning in there) but I have cut out a couple of things. First a tulip skirt that I will post on soon and finally I got around to cutting out the Threads shift. I feel all enthusiastic again so I hope this one will finally materialise (no pun intended).

The other project to consume my mind this week is a wedding invitation. I love weddings, I think it's great that in these days of a 50% divorce rate couples still have enough faith in their relationship to make a serious, formal commitment to each other. So now I have to come up with the outfit. The wedding is in May, Autumn for us here in Oz, so it will probably be cool but not cold - therefore either a skirt, top and jacket or dress and jacket will be the go. I personally don't wear trousers to weddings but that's mainly because I wear trousers a lot of the time and I like to wear something different when the occasion calls for it. By the same logic I don't wear black. I like the challenge of coming up with something new and not falling back on the same old combinations. I shouldn't even have to mention it but jeans are OUT, as is denim of any kind - but I have seen people wearing jeans to formal weddings and even funerals lately. Perhaps I'm just old fashioned but I do feel it's an honour to be invited to someone's wedding and out of respect I won't wear casual clothes. Elderly relatives also need to be considered, not to mention the service is in a church so the outfit should be elegant and modest but without being dowdy.
I have some options in mind and I'd like to make at least part of the outfit from my enormous stash. Stay tuned for updates on this one...
But for now I'm off to do some sewing in my lovely cool sewing room!

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Goddess knit dress

I can't believe how long it is since I posted or, more to the point did anything sewing related. I have several good excuses though. Even though the east coast of Australia has had terrible storms and flooding the west coast has been having a heatwave. Everyone is exhausted and cranky and it is impossible to concentrate on anything! Also I have sciatica and it's been playing up pretty badly lately. I think things will improve now as I've left my sewing job at the bridal shop. I'm sad about it but my body can't handle such long hours in one position. I'll still be doing their pattern cutting on a freelance basis and that's the bit I like best anyway. Finally, I've been really busy with Australia Day, friends birthdays, the Big Day Out and assorted other social events...
Anyway, I haven't done anything sewing related for ages so I'll post about a recent project which turned out pretty well. This dress is made from the Threads pattern Simplicity 3678. I've never done much stretch sewing before but since I bought an overlocker with coverstitch I thought I should start. Well, after 3 hours on a Saturday night wrestling with my new toy, I gave up and sewed the seams on my ancient 3-thread overlocker and the hems with a twin needle. I'll work out the coverstitch eventually (I hope).

I didn't do much to the pattern although it did come out huge! I cut a size 10 graduating to a 12 at the hip but I definately didn't need to do that, I'll cut a straight 10 next time. I had to take a chunk out of the centre back, but I often have to as I have a very narrow back. I took it out as a dart down to the bottom of the middriff band and just gahered the skirt back a bit more on this dress but in future I'll take it out of the pattern. Like most people I omitted the facings and turned the neck edges in and twin stitched. I sandwiched in some clear elastic which rippled a bit so I need to experiment a bit more with this technique. I also put clear elastic into the shoulder seams. I'll probably take it in a bit at the skirt sides and shorten it a bit when I get around to it!

I'm really happy with this dress, it's cool and comfy for the summer and washes well. I love the print, it's called 'goddess' but I'm not sure who the supplier is.

Today I'm going shopping for proper pressing tools. I can't believe I've been sewing for 30 years without proper tools! I have a sleeve board but am in desperate need of a ham and a seam roll. I've been doing a bit of fabric shopping for autumn and winter fabrics this week so I should have some interesting things to post about soon, and I have a wedding to go to in May which will require a kick-ass outfit. No progress on the shift dress as yet but I hope this heatwave will end soon and everyone can go back to being normal functioning human beings.