Friday, July 18, 2014

Make it: Open Back Dress

Hello my little chickadees!

Wow! I've said it in my last post and I will say it again: Instagram is AMAZING. Seeing your sewing and knitting in real time has been making me feel so connected to you all -- Your creativity, your openness, your energy... you are really inspiring me to step up my sewing and push myself outside of my comfort zone even more.

It's funny, for a long time, throughout high school and university, I yearned to be part of a creative community. I always thought of myself as creative, and I felt finding a community would be the key to actualizing this creative spirit that lived in me. In my young mind, the only way I knew to find a creative community was to hang around Kensington Market and the Annexe in Toronto -- The two "cool" places near me that matched a little bit my romantic image of NYC Greenwich Village or Paris Montparnasse... So I began getting involved in Toronto's cultural scene, organizing Ladyfest Toronto, playing guitar and attending open mics (so cliché, I know... I had dreadlocks in those days!). I never really succeeded in finding the community I was looking for then.

Back then, I would have never guessed that I would end up finding my community eventually, but that it would look completely different than the picture I had in my mind. (I guess you could say that about a lot of things in life.) I would never have guessed that my community would end up being online and centered on sewing. Now, looking back, it feels totally like "Of course!". Of course, my medium is sewing. Of course, finding this community needed to happen naturally and organically. Of course, it ended up being an online. Today, at 29 years of age, I can say that I am so grateful to have found a place where my creativity can flourish -- Readers, bloggers and fellow dressmakers, thank you for understanding and sharing my deep love of sewing. ♥ ♥ ♥

If the thought of soon being separated from my sewing machine for a week makes me a little sad as we get ready to hike the highest mountain in Sweden (the sun will still be shining at 11:45PM, I'm told. Can you imagine?), I tell myself that there will be Instagram to stay connected. And outside of cellular reception, there will be plenty of time to dream of sewing projects, my mostest favourite thing to do next to sewing. :-)

Getting back to our topic... drafting the Open Back Dress! This Club Monaco knock-off is really quite simple: no darts, considerable ease, and only a back zipper which could very well be omitted if your backside is on the flat side, or if the difference between your waist and your hip measurements is small (errr, not my case... ).

The diagram bellow is not to scale (obvs...) but it gives an idea of the way the pieces are supposed to look. Take note of the boxy, trapeze shape of the bodice pieces, for example. It's really that simple.

Here's how to do it: Starting with your bodice and skirt slopers* (or blocs),
- Drop the shoulder line on the bodice by about 3 inches to create the dropped sleeves.
- Pivot the bust dart to the bottom of the sloper (if your sloper has side bust darts) adding a few more inches for a loser or a more voluminous bust if desired. (The idea is that the bust darts are contained in the gathers of the waist.)
- Width of the waistband: 1 inch
- Length of the waistband: your waist measurement. For added comfort, you can add two or three inches and insert an elastic at the back of the dress like I did.
- Waistband facing is the same as the waistband piece.
- Skirt: add four inches ease or more, with the darts contained in the waist gathers.
- Neckline and armholes finished with fold-over elastic or bias tape (keep it simple!) -- no neckline or armhole facing pieces.
- Make sure to cut the neckline big enough to fit over your head... or add an opening of some sort at the shoulder seam, perhaps button or snap closures.
- Don't forgot to add seam allowance to your pieces before cutting!

After you've made your muslin, you will see clearly what works and what needs to be tweaked in your pattern. If there is a lot of changes to be made, a second muslin is never be a bad idea. :-) Patience, patience, patience is the mother of beautiful clothes! :-)

Good luck, and happy drafting! Let me know if you have questions in the comments.

Next up, I'll go over the details of assembly, going over the waist area in more details, as requested by Dana from Wardrobe Dysfunction. It's going to be next week, though, because I have to hike Mount Kebnekaise first!


* If you don't have slopers yet, there are plenty of resources online for making your own. Craftsy, eSewingWorkshop are solid resources, albeit not free, and Madalynne has awesome blog posts on making your blocs as well as other pattern drafting info. You can also order a "basic pattern" from one of the Big Four pattern companies and then adjust it to your figure by trial-and-error until it's perfect.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Complete: Open Back Silk Dress

We're finally having some bare-legs weather over here. YESS! I'm trying to soak in and retain every minute of every hour because this is so rare. In Sweden, even in the summer, I basically need a sweater on most days, by contrast to my prior muggy summers of Toronto and Spain. I really do love it when the only thing tolerable is iced coffee, shorts, and sandals... But thank goodness our days lately have been sweet and long, with plenty of possibility to wear my new dress!
It's an exact replica of a dress I saw on Club Monaco's website. Those who follow me on Pinterest will recognize it. This is the first time I'm knocking off a garment from a picture only, and I don't think I've done too bad. (You can see the muslin here.)  Although 85% of the success of this dress is probably due to the gorgeousness of the fabric, I must admit.

FABRIC: black sandwashed silk

Seeing and measuring the garment in real life is maybe not that important after all -- what matters is more how the garment looks on the actual wearer. For all I know, the "real" dress in the store would not even fit me -- as it has been the case with 90% of Club Monaco dresses I have tried in the past. But this is the beauty of sewing, folks! We get to make anything we want.
In other news, I finally acquired a new phone last week, which means I can finally exist in the world be on Instagram, About time, I tell you. My 2009 iPhone 3G had become an absolute relic of the past, to the point where most social media apps would not work. Discovering Instagram (yes, I "discovered" Instagram just now...) was full of surprises, like realizing how my sister-in-law has the most amazing eye for photography (and quite the Instagram following). It's as if I'm getting to know my friends all over again, through Instagram. I'm feeling soooo inspired. I invite you to add me on Instagram if you want.
These photos are from Gothenburg this weekend, but we're actually in Småland at the moment, in the Swedish countryside. I've been trying to limit my screen time this week, so I can better connect with my family-in-law and my surroundings. I have had the good fortune of having been welcomed into a big family when I met my partner, who has no less than five siblings (16 to 38), and three nephews and nieces, with a fourth one on the way. It also makes me miss my own family in Canada, these days. (Hello family!)

SEWING DETAIL: I wasn't going to insert an elastic in the back, but I ended up having to in the end because the waistband was too big. A lot of ready-to-wear garments have elasticated, or partly elasticated waists to accommodates a maximum variety of figures. I understand the logic but was never such a fan of this feature personally, because it's not necessarily flattering for me. In this case, though, I was a bit surprised to find that the elastic is kind of tasteful, and it really increases the comfort level of my dress. I will definitely use this device again.

Happy sewing everyone!
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