Saturday, 24 November 2012

Back to basics and basic block construction

Remember my misfortune with Jenny? I have almost given her up, mostly because it's been such a long time since my friend helped me with the fitting, so I don't remember the meaning of all the lines and dots and arrows. Shame. It inspired me, however, to go back to basics and construct a basic skirt block.

A gorgeous sewing book was published last year by a Norwegian fashion designer: Mari Melilot. The book, Syboka (translates to The Sewing Book), is visually extremely appealing with gorgeous, vintage-looking photos, and the front page promises "a complete sewing school". Having said that, when I first flicked through the book (before I bought it), I got rather upset. Even though the book covers sewing from pattern construction, fitting the pattern and finishing the garments, it's in my point of view not complete as the author claims. Many of the garments sewn in the book are far from good fitted. Yet, I had hopes for my skirt block (and by the way, the instructions are the exact same as you can find at BurdaStyle for free).

The muslin to the left is the front before any adjustments. The wrinkles to the centre is quite obvius, and after consulting my book The Perfect Fit, and did a 'prominent abdomen' adjustment. The sound of it is horrible, but the outcome is quite good, as the second muslin to the right shows. 

The pictures of the back muslins aren't very good. There seems to be more wrinkles on the second muslin (right), but the excess fabric below my waist on the first muslin has been removed by a swayback adjustment. In addition, I raised the waistline, based on the tutorial from House of Marmalade, and I believe the wrinkles on the second muslin are caused by the raised waist. Most importantly, the overall fit is much better!

For the wearable version, I narrowed the skirt at the hemline around 6 cm, and the side seams needed to be adjusted. Lesson learned from that: never have a side zipper in your skirt if you're not sure about the fit! I unpicked it once, and couldn't be bothered to do it twice. The result is that the skirt is rather loose around the hips, creating strange wrinkles around the zipper (inside circle to the left) and in this picture there's also wrinkles on front of the tummy as if the skirt is too big (it acutally fits fairly well front-tummy-wise):
The arrow shows my main concern with the finalized skirt, and that is a result from the fact that my body folds. I guess that's not very unusual. Also, the body fold is enhanced by elastics from my tights and sitting. You can really see it from this picture (it also shows the visible facing, I guess that is a fabric problem):
Is boning the only soltuion? Or is it a matter of fabric choice? Should I instead have the waist seam and a waistband in 'my fold'?

I know the skirt is yet not perfect (and I mean perfect, not just good enough... I'm a perfectionista after all). The next one I make will for sure have the zipper in the back, as I'm quite sure the side seams need to be adjusted and narrowed a litte. Anyway, to make the long story longer, here's some more pictures of the skirt!

 And lastly, look how good it goes with the gorgeous Jersey with a Soft Bow my sister knitted for me:

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Gertie's Sweetheat Sundress in Gingham

I managed! The dress turned out not too bad indeed, in fact I'm quite happy with the result! As always I sewed a seam only minutes before I rushed out the door, and as for now, the dress is only lined in the top. I'm afraid the seam allowances in the waist will suffer from yet another layer, as the pleats make the seam in the waist rather thick. 

I shortened the waist with 1.5 cm, and due to my swayed back, I shortened the back piece 1 cm in the centre back, and evened out to the side seams. I also took in 1 cm on front/back piece under the arm and evened out to the waist. The bias band was too wide in my opinion, so I shortened the height with maximum 2 cm towards centre back. 

I made a faux button placket from increased seam allowance on the back pieces, and when I attached the skirt I just made a fold and top-stitched. The zipper was therefore moved from centre back to the left side seam, and I inserted it with lapped technique.

The pattern is very easy to work with, however, I'm a bit surprised by the sizing. According to the size chart, I'm closer to a size 10 (39"/32"/41") in bust/waist, but when I compare the adjusted pattern pieces with the original pattern, I'm closer to a size 8. A possibility is, of course, that the pattern have taken boning into account, and therefore extra width to the pattern is added. 

Yay! On the front page of BurdaStyle!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

The birth of Gertie's Sweetheart Sundress

My sewing machine is up and running again after moving into our new flat and unpacking my sewing space. It took some time to decide on which project to start with, but since Gertie's new book is out, I though that I wanted to give it a try. There's so many nice patterns in her book and I'm determined to sew through some of them. My favourite is The Wiggle Dress, but I assume it'll require a lot of fitting, and I didn't want to hop into that as my first Gertie-project.

So The Sweetheart Sundress is my first from Gertie's book. I got so inspired by this dress with  red buttons down at the back, and slashed into my black and white gingham fabric that I've had for ages. I didn't reflect on adding seam allowances or not, as it didn't say anything on the pattern pieces. Also, I had read in the book it says (p. 125) that Unless otherwise noted, all the projects in the book are constructed using a 5/8"- (1.5 cm-) wide seam, and regarded that as an advice. I happily added 1.5 cm in the side seams (except the centre back where I added 3 cm in each side to get the overlapping button placket). I was really eager to try it on to see how the fit was...
Something is wrong, and I bet it is the fact that every seam now has 3 cm seam allowance, adding up to 12 cm too many... I am really happy with the front, though, so I will try to remove the seam allowances from the sides only. The back suffers from having too much fabric in the height grain, creating the classic sway back fabric fold, and I will do my best to remove that too. Here's a teaser of how the back will look like:

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

The summer holiday dress

We spent two weeks in southern France and Barcelona this summer, and before we left I realized that I didn't have any suitable summer dresses. Again working with a deadline, as I started this a week before we left - the same week we started moving to our new flat. Not surprisingly, I mange to finish it, but left the hem overlocked instead of properly hemmed, and parts of the lining isn't (still) properly attached. A 'frk.bustad' label is also missing.

I spent some time fitting the bust piece, as I realized that the self drafted pattern has some excess fabric above the bust area. Also, drawing the curve freehand didn't really work, so I did some alterations after the bust piece was sewn together. I drafted the collar after the bust piece was more or less finished, and sandwiched it between the front fabric and the cotton lining.

The skirt is based on a 1/2 circle skirt, but as the back piece is 5 cm shorter than the front piece (a result of sway back adjustment of the back), I drafted two circles that would fit the waistline. The sway back adjustment should be a chapter on its own. The dress looks rather funny when it lays flat, with an extremely curved back waistline. However, when I wear the dress, the waistline come out all even on both front and back. My conclusion is that my dresses should always have a waist seam opening up for alterations.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Alison abroad!

If someone told me before I did this project, that it was easy to sew a swimsuit, I'd probably just laugh. However, with the Alison pattern from BurdaStyle, swimsuit fabric and my overlocker, it was surprisingly easy! I read most of the reviews on the swimsuit from other seamstresses at BurdaStyle, and did some changes based on that.

I added 2 cm to the torso, since many reported the pattern as a little short. You can also see this in the pictures of the original, where the bottom of the bust piece is (in my opinion) too low. I'm really glad I did that, because it would've turned out to short if I hadn't!

Also, I added some height on the back piece and skipped the centre back strap, based on the review from Lucha Suarez. I love silvermink's sailor style Alison, and did something similar with the back straps as halter-neck is a no-go for me.

The bust piece was a little bit saggy, so I added the button in front to 'fix' the gathers in the front tab.

I lowered the side seams 2.5 cm to get an even more vintage look. I just folded and tacked the hem, and then sewed an elastic strap as I went along without pulling it.
I did say it was easy to make, but the pattern does require some logic thinking, both when it comes to sandwiching the crotch and the bust piece with the tab. If you have never sandwiched before, it doesn't seem very logical. Also, the fastening of the back/neck strap was a little tricky and I had to concentrate. Some close-up picture of the seams and gathers:

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Sofa time = knitting time

I've found myself in the knitting mood rather than the sewing mood lately. I guess it's a result of a quite busy life at the moment, so every sofa moment is sacred, and then the knitting is more suitable than sewing.

This cardigan was intended for a wedding where I was planning to wear my flowers-and-polkadot dress. I was a bit ambitious, buying the yarn one week before the wedding, knowing deep down that I wouldn't have time to knit constantly until the wedding. It was finished two and a half weeks later, but I'm very pleased with it and I'm sure there will be plenty opportunities to wear it. The pattern costs $4.00 on Ravelry, provided by Xandy Peters.

The Beret is inspired by the talented Tasha from By Gum, By Golly and her Sunday Pictorial Beret. I didn't have access to the pattern she used, and made a version of the free pattern Classic French Beret made by Erika. This pattern is so easy, and I'm already planning several berets for the autumn.

Find me here on Ravelry!

Monday, 9 April 2012

When Jenny isn't "just a Jenny"

When the Jenny skirt first was published at BurdaStyle, I was sure this would be the perfect pencil skirt. And there was indeed a lot of nice Jennys out there in the Blogosphere. I think Gertie's Jenny with suspenders was one of the first, and how gorgeous isn't that? Then Zoe's of course, black sateen themed with stripes. Gorgeous! Karen from Did you make that? also had great success with her perfectly fitted Jenny. She did put her fabric on fire, but you really cannot blame that on the pattern. House of spoon also made a beautiful version of Jenny. She sews other lovely clothes as well, like this Afternoon Coffee Dress. I just love the piping and the bow! Then there's Amy's (Quixotic Pixels) brilliantly red Jenny, and Sai's (Chance of Rain) bright yellow version, looking both fab and fitted. Julie from Julie's Blog looks absolutely amazing wearing her Jenny skirt with suspenders, and Kati (Kati Made) is so hot with her black Jenny.

So why is it, that I have had so much struggle with Jenny? All I ever wanted was just a perfectly fitted skirt like all the girls above have. Well obviously, the combination of needing to do a "full abdomen adjustment" according to Perfect Fit (do I really have a full abdomen??) and a sway back adjustment made dramatic changes to the pattern. As pictured above, the black lines are the old pattern edges/seam lines and the red lines are the new. Luckily I had some help from my dear friend Nell (who recently worked as a costume assistant on the film Into the White!), but I still haven't gone from muslin to proper fabric. One of the reason is that I keep thinking I should start from scratch, drafting my own pattern. I mean, I just bought Metric Pattern Cutting for Women's Wear, and I like drafting. I also saved Julia B.'s tutorial for Pencil Perfection ages ago...  So what do you think I should do? I'm tempted to try all three options (adjusted Jenny, Winifried's from the book and Julia B.'s tutorial). Drafting  a skirt block isn't very difficult, but I dread the fitting part. But as Tilly says: I do now have a basic skirt block tailored to my measurements, adjusted to match the exact curve of my hips, with just the right amount of ease for sitting, bending and disco dancing (source: Tilly and the Buttons), and doesn't that just sound perfect?

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Mad Men Dress Challenge

I made it! As mentioned in my previous post, my sewing mojo returned with the Mad Men Dress Challenge, initiated by fabulous Julia Bobbin. Here's my contribution, and I cannot wait to see other peoples creations and Mad Men adaptations. I chose to copy one of my favourite dresses from the TV show, and did some alterations with the neckline and skipped sleeves since I often wear cardigans or boleros with my dresses.

I have used my own pattern as usual, but I have done some alterations with regards to swayback and gaping neckline. I followed the swayback tutorial from Sherry at Pattern Scissors Cloth which in principle is the same as in the book of Winfred Aldrich, Metric pattern cutting for women's wear. However, there's still something wrong with the fit of my pattern. Stephanie from The Naked Seamstress has a nice and easy tutorial on how to cope with gaping necklines, and since some of my dresses sometimes feel loose over the chest, I followed her tutorial. The result of the two alterations I did, was a very tight arm hole. I won't do it over again, though, as it is absolutely wearable.

My next plan is to go back to my first basic block, or even start all over again, and do some fittings and alterations from scratch with the help of Winfred, instead of doing alterations on a already 5-times altered pattern. Better control hopefully gives me better pattern! 


Sunday, 4 March 2012

Sewing mojo revival

I have to credit Julia Bobbin for the revival of my sewing mojo. I was working on a swayback adjustment on my standard pattern, but had a hard time on deciding which fabric I should try out the adjusted pattern with. I spotted her Joan Holloway copy-cat dress, and announced the Mad Men Dress Challenge! I started to mentally design my version immediately, knowing that I had some fabric in my stash that would suit this dress, and indeed there was! A moss green stretchy polyester-something that had been lying around for years. Slashing into that fabric was less scary than the idea of cutting the newly adjusted dress pattern in the gorgeous fabrics I bought in New York, so the dress was cut by Tuesday and almost done by Saturday. I did some last minute work on the details Saturday evening, making the dress wearable for a concert with my favourite band the same evening. Deadlines are the best!

The neckline ribbon is lacking as I didn't buy enough, but that'll be fixed by tomorrow, and the dress will be perfectly finished long before the Mad Men Dress Challenge deadline!

Monday, 16 January 2012

What I do when I don't sew

My sewing machine is again hibernating, and I believe it is a result of extensive problem-solving and optimizing project at work (for those into biochemistry: Non-specific binding of secondary antibody in western blotting) that takes all my energy. It is easier to sit in front of the computer and watch TV-series with mr.Jon and knit. Nevertheless, I do believe that making a pencil skirt (more on that in another post), will release my sewing mojo. I have a loose plan of making one garment a month this year, so I'm crossing my fingers. Having plans is always part of this game.

My sister, Fru Bendiksen deserves all the credit of this Fanakofte-project, as she has helped me "as we go" with this pattern. It is inspired by a vintage pattern that I found here , the one called Vacation, but the pattern itself is a traditional Norwegian cardigan from Fana, a place not too far from where I live now. I just love the feminine shape we've managed to make, and there will be poufs!

I started to knit Selbu-mittens, but came across this pattern with houndstooth. And since I love houndstooth, I quickly knitted a pair of houndstooth mittens inbetween the Selbu-mittens. Inbetween-projects are usually the most fun.

I hope to share with you my experience with the Jenny skirt soon, but it requires some effort from me...