Sunday, 29 June 2014

Gertie's Sultry Sheath Number One

We have an almost success! I say almost because unfortunately the fit is not perfect. The bodice is too big and I remeasured myself and I have shrunk a bit more since my very recent last measurement. The hips are perfect. I will show you when I'm wearing it, but it was really cold today, and my dear photographer was busy. So here it is on Ruby. I am pleased with the sewing, but even on Ruby the fit is not good. I took in some extra through the waist, but had gaping at the back.
 The waist seam sits a bit low, but that was my fault because I thought the bodice muslin sat too high.

My first ever sweetheart neckline and all in one facing (self drafted following Gertie's instructions) went perfectly. This stretch cotton was amazing to work with.
 The waist seam does line up. You can see the gaping at the back.
 I did a hand picked zipper. Looks pretty good for a first go.
 I hand sewed the hem and it looks ok, although not invisible because of the bulk of the fold-over.
 My wee hem stitches are exceptionally neat.
 I am really pleased with the result, and my bright dress will be great with a cardigan this winter. I know it might seem silly to be sewing when I'm losing weight, but I find the process so exciting - like putting a complex puzzle together - so I'm a bit addicted now!

On to the next one! I'm cutting a smaller size in the bodice, and will keep the skirt the same. I have some great tartan cotton. Sadly it isn't the lovely heavy stretch cotton, but I'm going to line the next edition as I have never done a lining before, so that should give it some weight.
 This is my pattern making fabric of choice. It came from the hardware store on a big roll and is normally used as a frost protection cloth. I use it cause I can see through it, write on it, sew it and it is resistant to ripping. Awesome stuff.
 Of course my assistants were close at hand.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Vogue disasters

When I decided to blog about my sewing activities I thought maybe I'd have a few disasters along the way. Well, sorry to say Project One - Vogue 8875 - the dress - was so damn ugly I aborted that mission at the muslin stage. I am curvy, and my waist is most definitely the area that needs to be nipped in to avoid making me look like the side of a house. V8875 has no nipping, and the bodice is quite blousy (read "sack like"). The coat, which does nip in at the waist, would be a better proposition, so all is not lost. 

So back to the pattern shop, and after perusing the latest catalogues, I purchased this pattern for Project Two - Vogue 8998 - described promisingly as "Vogue Easy Options."
 I had only two metres of fabric and decided to make a muslin for View E, as that required the least fabric.
 Look Easy/Facile!
 Well, this bugger of a pattern makes me think that my body and Vogue have completely different ideas about what a normal human looks like. I am exactly the size I cut, as per the pattern instructions. I did the bust size required (this pattern has four bust options and tells you exactly how to work out which one to cut). Again, I'm using an old sheet, with added paint splotches, for my muslin. Use what you have, I say.

Take a look at the freaky fit on this bodice. Ruby, my loyal assistant, is my size. I know cause she got a good once over with the tape measure after this fiasco occurred.
 Shoulders - huge tucks required. Waist about right but gaping at the shoulder blades.
 Huge tuck required down middle front. Princess seams look weird. Bust too big. Side seams require an inch taken out on each side. With shoulder tucks the bodice is too short and the neck too high.
 There are so many fitting issues that I decided to shelve this beastie for a while, and I'll return to it at a later date when I have a bit more experience with altering patterns.

Enter Project Three. Gertie's Sultry Sheath. I do think the photograph of this dress doesn't do it justice, and Gertie acknowledges that the satin is difficult to photograph. I have the pattern so no more financial outlay is required. And I'm desperate to have a success. Gertie will hold my hand all the way with her instructions and diagrams. Wish me luck!
 This bodice can have a gathered skirt added.
 Or a square neckline can be drafted instead of the sweetheart neckline. Gertie makes it look so easy.
I'm making the original, just like the red dress pattern. I'll do a bodice muslin to check the fit, then we shall see.

Monday, 16 June 2014

How can an armpit be so tricky?

In order to chill out after school I like to do a bit of crafting with a favourite DVD playing and a cup of tea. The current project is not quite as easy as it first looked. 
 I'm working on the muslin for the bodice of my dress. I couldn't figure out how on Earth the reinforcing in the front and back of the armpits worked where the bodice side panels fit in. You know what I did? I looked up the pattern on the internet, and found a review, which said it was really tricky. No surprise there! Trust me to choose a deceptively simple looking hard pattern for Project One. Obviously other dressmakers had come across the same problem as me, and one review referred me to none other than the lovely Gertie's blog, where I found she had tackled the same problem with another pattern. So this is what I ended up with once I had followed Gertie's instructions.
 Not sure if her version ended up with the folded back bits on the seams, but I couldn't see how to make it neat any other way. I ironed the reinforcing patch in place, and got my fabric glue stick onto it to make sure it stayed put.
 Here's the third side panel inserted. I am supposed to pivot at the corner, but I had to stop, remove the fabric from under the needle, then re-position. You can see the contrasting fabric of the patch where I haven't gone high enough with my seams into the pivot point. The fourth panel went in better. Practise makes perfect.
Meanwhile, Season Two of Downton Abbey played. I LOVE the costumes. Here are some evening dresses from Season Two. The lavish fabrics are so fascinating and divine, and the dress cuts are so flattering. Of course the three sisters are all slender. No hormonal munchies downstairs in the kitchen for these ladies. 
Lady Cora wears the most beautiful gowns too. I wonder what ladies of the Downton Abbey era with a generous bosom wore? A corset to squash everything down probably.
I should be able to do a bodice fitting before long. 

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Where it all begins...

Project One: Vogue 8875 - Sheath Dress. This looks like a good place to start. 
It does say "Average" - maybe "Easy" would be better! I'm hoping the dress is not too tricky. Imagine if I hide this, the first project, in the back of the craft cupboard in despair.
 Right. I've measured myself thoroughly, and have discovered I am freakily close to one of the Vogue sizes. How cool is that?? I have concluded that this pattern does suit a curvy figure, because I certainly have that. The model on the pattern packet looks rather long and slender, but we all know 1950's dress pattern images often have beautiful ladies with teeny tiny waists, impossibly long, slender arms and legs, and look ready for the catwalk. Take a look at the Audrey Hepburn look-a-like in the sheath dress pictured on the pattern envelope above.

Because I am on the path to a tinier body I traced the pattern onto my pattern making material of choice, frost cloth. It is like a very thin interfacing, and I can see through it and write on it. I am now working on making a "toile" or "muslin" which is a mock up of the dress using crappy fabric. Some people use cheap and cheerful fabric to make a wearable muslin. I am using an old sheet that has been used as a painters dropcloth at some stage. It won't be pretty, but at least I will see if I should bother cutting up some fancier fabric.
 My furry impediment arrived at that point. Fergus really!!!! Do you have to do that!!!!!
 Mmmm pins! I had to have some firm words about safety around the pins and scissors with my youngest child. He is much naughtier than his big brother.
 Once cut, I started working on putting the bodice together.

The pattern requires me to add a wee square of fabric to reinforce the seams at the underarms front and back. Crickey! Even with the reassuring sight and sounds of Downton Abbey in the background, this business is trickier than making quilts.
 I am saying to myself "why on earth am I sewing these wee squares on the outside of the bodice?" The pressing seems weird too.
 Then I tackled joining on the side front panels of the bodice. At that stage I was really starting to think I am a sewing moron. And what's with the silly little squares? They didn't work out too well, and I think I see why. More practise needed as my seam lines are not accurate enough to enclose the reinforcing fabric. Ignore the wrinkly darts as fabric is a bit flimsy. They look better in real life.
It looks like there is plenty of ease at this stage. Ruby, my dressmakers model, is a helpful addition to my sewing arsenal. She tends to look better in some things than I do though. We won't mention the Gertie Pussy Bow Blouse at this stage. I might give you a peek at that some other time. Ruby looks fab in that. I do not.

Right, the next step is to have a go at the back bodice. It has the same little squares. Maybe some basting would be a good idea to manage the insertion of the bodice side panels. I know you'll be anxiously awaiting the next installment of Project One.


It is so lovely that you could join me here in my sewing space. I'll be recording my adventures as I create my own vintage wardrobe, and probably a few other vintage inspired goodies along the way. I'm not an experienced garment sewer, so you can expect some disasters along the way. Your advice is always welcome!

A little about me:

  • I'm a curvy girl, but have shrunk a bit lately, and will hopefully continue to do so. I'm sure no matter what size I am, I'll still have to grapple with fitting issues, including full bust adjustments. 
  • I love fashions from 1900 through to the 1950's. The fit and flare styles of the 1950's suit my body quite well with the small waist and bigger bust and hips. 
  • I have made lots of quilts, so can handle my sewing machine pretty well. 
  • I'm not so good with printed patterns, with a history of failures in my wake. Get ready for a bumpy ride!