Thursday, June 30, 2011

Muslin for Vogue 9850

(You can read more about the making of this skirt here, and see the final version here.)

Remember, this is the pattern I found in my mom's vintage pattern stash.

You can't really see it here, but I am having the same problem as with the Beignet: The side pockets are adding volume where it is least needed. This means I will have to try my hand at bound pockets.

Exploring Ali Baba's cave

If you know me and my family in real life, you already know that we have a serious tendency towards hoarding. I finally discovered the benefit of that when I came across my mom's pattern stash. I never realised she had kept every pattern along the years, with some dating back to the 1970s. You can imagine how much fun I had digging through her boxes -- it was like Ali Baba's cave. Here are those that have caught my eye.

I would do view A of this Donna Karen pattern, but with shorts rather than pants.
I see good quality linen or sand-washed silk in tan for this Ralph Lauren dress-jumpsuit.

Everything about this 3-piece pattern is fantastic. I have a perfect light-weight wool in the same colour scheme for it.
And finally, this vintage Vogue 9850, which is first on my list. I think I will go with view B in light denim.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Granny-smith Blouse

I'm pleased to introduce... the Granny-Smith blouse. I could not resist the temptation of adding little apples as buttons. (^-^)

In my last post, I forgot to tell you that my Beignet skirt was made from cotton piqué. My green blouse here, on the other hand, is definitely not as breathable as cotton piqué. It's made of American crêpe purchased on Goldhawk Road, London, for £3.5 per yard. In my excitement over the colour and price, I forgot to ask about the actual composition. Turns out it's polyester. Womp, womp, womp... don't light a match near me!

I'd like to point out that the first five photos bellow were taken by Alessandra Mondin. I promised in my last post to tell you the story of the photo-shoot. I've been wanting to collaborate with Alessandra for a while now, ever since I realised what a talented photographer she was. So, I was very happy when she accepted to shoot the Beignet Skirt.

When she inquired about what I was going to wear, I said something like "A new blouse I made! It's bright green!"
Only problem was, this "bright green blouse" did not exist yet. And the shoot was in two days. And postponing was not an option since I was leaving Hull the next day.

Let me tell you, dear Readers, that I've never been so fast in my life. I can now imagine what it is like to work in a sweatshop now -- or be contestant on Project Runway. It took three hours to draft the pattern, and about nine hours for the actual blouse. That's twelve hours from start to finish. When you go this fast, you can't pay attention to details, so I won't include close-ups here! Anyways, five minutes before I was supposed to meet Alessandra, I was still sewing. The hem, the seams and the buttonholes aren't finished in the pictures she took. The opening is held together with pins!
***Warning -- The picture below is unsuitable for young children.***

In spite of that, I'm very pleased with how it turned out. It was a big hit with my aunts, who were visiting this weekend. My sister wants me to make her one. I was surprised to find out that the pattern actually fits her. Actually, I think it looks better on her than on me!

This is me having fun with my new labels. Maybe this is a bit cheesy, but it adds colour! Plus, this is a great way to reuse your fabric scraps.

I drafted the pattern from my bodice block. It wasn't too difficult. I used the same sleeve pattern as for the Lobster Dress and the other modifications were fairly simple. The ruffles are simply rectangles of 3.5" x 11", which I gathered. Lucky for me, my first muslin worked.
What did I learn?
- Putting together this blouse is fairly labour-intensive because of the ruffles, the buttonholes and the collar. Next time, I will definitely pick a higher-quality fabric to get more bang for my time. I'm picturing sand-washed silk, which is very trendy right now.
- Don't start planning your photo-shoot until after the actual garment is completed (!).
- Needles matter. They didn't invent different needle sizes just for the fun of it. It's not a marketing gimmick. The right needle really does make a difference. In my case here, my American crêpe was very thin and delicate, but at the same time pretty resistant (if that makes sense), so my machine had a hard time piercing the fabric, especially at lower speed. So I ended up with the irregular, awful stitch bellow. At first I thought my machine was broken, but then I realised the problem was actually my needle. The moment I installed an extra-fine needle, it made a world of a difference.

And look, I found my match! Farewell, Hull!

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Skirt of Second Chances

A lot has happened since my last post, Readers. I have now moved back to Toronto for the summer and it feels like a new beginning. No more rain, no more wind – just lots of sun, and sewing ahead.

So, remember my Beignet muslin?

Influenced by Tilly’s love of her Beignet, I momentarily forgot the reality of my own figure: “Better to stay away from high waists, Adrie.”

But really? Is this what sewing is about, though? Sticking to what you know?

I decided that sewing was also about experimenting. So I listened to the encouragements of Petite Josette, Karen, Jane -- and none other than Tilly herself -- and decided to give Beignet another shot. So there you go, "The Skirt of Second Chances."

The nice pictures here are by Alessandra Mondin (first two).

The awkward tugging you you see happening bellow is because I was in a big hurry to photograph this skirt and could not press it before rushing to the photoshoot (more on that later!). Also, I cut a size too big, and made a mistake in my adjustments, which means it ended being too tight. It's not so bad now, thankfully, because the fabric has stretched.

But still, I’m not going to lie, this is probably not my most successful piece. That being said, I wore it four days out of seven this week (it’s in the wash now, I promise). Ok, there is the fact that all my summer clothes are stored in Northern Québec and that this is the only skirt I have at the moment. But you know what? Beignet has grown on me. I love the lining. It brings the garment to a whole other level.

Bellow, the label doubles as a hook.

Also, when I went into The Workroom, a sewing store on Queen West, my Beignet garnered a bit of attention (that’s right!). I met the owner – a very cool lady – who sells and sews Colette patterns herself and was interested in finding out how I made out with it.

Here is what I told her:
-       Colette patterns tend to be big. The instructions advised to cut a size 10, but I really needed a size 6.
-       When you make your muslin, don’t forget to write down the size you cut somewhere – on your pattern, in your sewing notebook or on your computer file. I forgot to do that, and I unfortunately ended up cutting the wrong size!
-       If you are curvier at the hips, omit the side pockets and add bound pockets on the front instead. Also consider adding a jeans-style pocket at the back to structure your bootylicious frame.
-       Make sure to mark your pattern pieces carefully (notches and everything), because they all look alike and are easy to confuse.

My favourite part about being in Toronto? Lots of fabric stores! Do I really have to tell you what I'm doing today?

Next post, I'll tell you all about the green blouse I'm wearing.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Introducing... the Lobster Dress!

Readers! I'm back from my hiatus! And I have the Lobster Dress to make up for it!

Let me remind you of my initial inspiration: this amazing skirt from the Horrockses show at London's Fashion and Textile museum. 

I wore my dress to the races, a traditional British pastime. It was the first time I've ever been -- exciting!

At first, I felt like a walking seafood platter!  I don't usually wear such eccentric clothes. I was expecting reactions from people, such as: "Excuse me Miss! You have something on your shoulder! A lobster!"

But nothing of the sort. British people are well-mannered after all. I did get a little joke from an employee at a convenience store: "When you can't go to the sea, you bring the sea to you!"

This was one of my most challenging projects to date. As I said before, I drafted the pattern myself, which was without a doubt the most complicated and time-consuming part of the project (to give you an idea, it took 25 hours for pattern-drafting vs. 10 hours for the actual making).

For the top, I worked from my bodice block pattern, modified to create an opening for the front, as well as lapels which were a nightmare interesting to draft. I used the sleeves of my vintage McCall's 6749 which I also modified. For the skirt, I used NewLook 6872. I added extra-deep pockets to satisfy my latest obsession with big pockets! They are my favourite part of the dress.

And finally, the finishing touch. The labels, first discovered by Handmade Jane. When I first came across Jane's post on the Crafty Christmas Club, I was on the verge of paying $80 for custom-made labels. Then I discovered these for only £3.99!

In my next post, I will show you the new Beignet skirt I just finished. I am currently working on a bright green blouse. More details coming soon!

Have a nice day everyone and thanks for reading!

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