Ta da!

The lace tunic is finished.

The lace is quite substantial and the tunic has some weight to it. The silk charmeuse lining is wondrously comfortable, and makes this such a pleasure to wear.

The centre back pleat was a bit of a pain to manipulate so that it lays flat but adding a small flower appliqué helped tack it all down into place. There is a facing which I interfaced with silk organza, under stitched, and then ‘topstitched’ invisibly 5mm away from the neckline in order to keep it in place. I also discreetly secured the edges of the facing through all layers so that it wold behave as one layer.

My solution for the side seams was to use a true Hong Kong finish, using the silk underlining, and then stitching an appliqué on the interior of the hem to hide the bottom 4 cm of seam allowance.

Another close up of the hem and side seam finishing.

I’m pleased with how this turned out.

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A happy compromise

I have come to terms with my desire for couture construction, having a garment to wear within a reasonable amount of time (since I cannot commit full days to totally do a garment with hand sewing) and finishing that I will be happy to on and wear.

Exhibit A: the sleeve seams. I undid the bias binding on the sleeve seams, trimmed the bias silk down to 2.5 cm in width, and bound each allowance edge separately.

And because I disliked the way the seam allowances are visible at the hem of the bell sleeves, I chose to appliqué one of the larger flower motifs on the inside of the sleeve to cover the bottom part of the seam.

In the photo, the bottom sleeve is inside out; the top left sleeve is right side out, but you can see the wrong side peaking out with no seam allowance showing – just another flower. Yay!

I am much happier with this, and am contentedly constructing the rest of the garment along the same idea. Hopefully I’ll have a finished garment to show you by the end of the week.

What to do…

Lack of knowledge, expertise and planning are my nemeses, and cause endless delays, doubt and paralysis in my sewing room.

Case in point: this lace tunic.

I made the sleeves first, and bound the seam allowances in bias silk (the same fabric of the tunic lining, which will hang separately from the lace itself, attached only at the neckline and armscyes). But after doing my invisible bust darts yesterday, I’m at a crossroads of decision. Here’s the left bust dart: Did you find it?

And the right bust dart:

…slightly more obvious.

They’re only ‘mezzo couture’, but the ‘invisibleness’ of them is making me rethink the rest of the seams on this garment. I have enough scraps left of the lace that it would be feasible to make every seam invisible: shoulders seams, side seams and the sleeve under seams. If I really wanted to go crazy, I suppose I could attempt to make the armscye seams invisible, too.

So instead of the shoulder seams above, I’d have invisible seams. In retrospect, why didn’t I cut it out without shoulder seams? The seams are bugging me now, but do I want to give myself the extra work? Would it make me like the finished garment more? Would I be happy to wear it if I don’t make the seams invisible, knowing that I could have should have maybe wished I had?

Or is this trying to make ‘mezzo couture’ into ‘alta moda’ and should I even bother with the attempt?

Lace

I’m working on a tunic top with bell sleeves made from this beautiful three-dimensional cotton guipure lace. This is a bust dart, which I’m trying to make ‘invisible’.

Mending

I have been sewing.

Honest.

Three pairs of Jalie 2908 jeans and two pairs of slim BurdaStyle trousers, just in the last 10 days. Of course there’s no photos, mostly because it’s winter and I have no decent place indoors for photography.

I confess to also making a few garments recently that didn’t work out as planned, and they took the wind out of my sails for a bit. The first was a waterfall cardigan for DD3 which just did not work. I was not happy with it, and neither was she. Fortunately, there is a lot of fabric in a waterfall style, so no waste! It will be remade into something else sooner or later.

The second was a deep red silk velvet dress for DD2 which I was hoping would be a success. DD2 is a difficult client, sometimes, and although she loved the dress, she has yet to wear it, and didn’t want to wear it for the function it was made for.

And the last ‘failed’ project was an olive silk velvet dress that I wanted for myself – actually wanted for Christmas, but it wasn’t finished in time – for a wedding in February. The design was inspired by a green velvet D&G dress I saw in September 2018 Vogue, and I have not seen a photo of it anywhere else. But I am not a tall pencil, and I seem to have become more ‘mature’ in figure recently, so it wasn’t the most flattering of dresses. I did wear it, however, but it’s not a finished project, as I want to change a few things.

And now I’m facing a pile of mending, the largest of which is this inner thigh section of a favourite pair of Roots sweatpants for DD3.

Hundreds of tiny running stitches

And this is just one leg. What you see above is about 30 minutes of work. The patch was put in about a year ago, when I had no idea what I was doing. But I have a better idea now, after taking a visible mending class in February.  In order to do this patch ‘properly’ I should cut away the worn fabric and patch from the outside. But this would not look good on these sweatpants, and I don’t think it would be aesthetically pleasing given the location if the patch. DD3 wants it to be as discreet as possible, and I agree. So I will leave it as is, reinforce all around it to about 5 cm beyond the current patch, and see if it holds up for another year or so.  Here’s the rest of the required mend.

Big mend
Monster mend

overthinking

I often see patterned fabrics and fall in love with them enough to bring them home with me.  It doesn’t always follow that there is an instant happy marriage between the fabric itself and a specific garment pattern or design, but eventually, with thought, I come up with an idea that I think I would like to wear.

Then I lay out the fabric, and stare at it for a while.yardage

And drape it this way.

crosswise
crosswise – perhaps a bell sleeve?

And that way.

lengthwise
lengthwise

And end up, at the end of a few hours, having not cut even one piece, and a long way back from where I initially started because so many possibilities for the use of the fabric placement come to mind as I play with it, I have accomplished nothing.  I cannot commit, usually out of fear of ruining/wasting such pretty fabric on an imperfect design.

And another block of sewing time is gone.

But I DID make the dress

Well, the bandage dress is finished, and I thought I’d share what I came up with for the bandage bodice, just in case any of you anywhere out there in sewing land would like to have something that looks kinda-sorta-almost like a Leger bandage dress, but without the $4,000 price tag. After doing some research on the Leger bandage dresses, it became very clear that they are a closely guarded copyrighted design, and it would be impossible to even find the fabric (rayon-lycra) in strips in order to stitch them together.Sherri Hill 50014

I had initially thought I would do a Sherri Hill take on the bodice, since I’d become quite familiar with her designs while trying on prom dresses with DD1 earlier this year.  Her elastic dresses are strips of elastic stitched in overlapping layers to a woven bodice. Something like this dress (which DD1 tried on and thought was a too h-u-g-e, albeit fun, dress).

I proceeded along the Sherri Hill lines, did a fitting for an underlining of power net mesh (which was easily pulled over the client’s head), and stitched the elastic, in the round, to make the bodice.

bodice fail

But at the fitting, it was impossible for her to pull it on, all elasticated, over her head.  The elastic also didn’t fit as tight and flat under the bust as hoped once she’d got it on. So, as I had initially suggested a zipper was required, which was not what she wanted, we had a discussion about adding a zipper.  I wasn’t sure what I would do for the zip, as there would be a tremendous amount of strain on any closure.  A lot of unpicking of triple stretch stitches ensued.  In the process, I discovered that the fuzzy nylon that covered the elastic snagged, pulled and warped like crazy if I wasn’t super careful.

Once it was all unpicked, I had an incredible brainwave.

I ditched the power mesh underlining and stitched the elastic together along the length, slightly overlapping each strip, and shaping each layer on my dress form.  The ends of the short pieces are all bound with bemberg lining to keep them tidy.  The bodice is snug and shaped.

It worked a treat.

But how to make that tight elasticated bodice close up?  Stitch the bottom row of elastic closed for a secure base.

zip closure

Add hook and eye closures, and an invisible zip to close over it all as neatly as possible.  Hopefully the hooks/eyes will keep the nylon invisible zip from splitting apart.

Here’s the inside back.

final bodice

Here’s the inside front, where you can see the rows of elastic stitched together and the ends bound with bemberg remnants.

front interior

The skirt was gathered and attached to a length of elastic, which was then attached to the bodice. This picture is from before I re-thought the bodice construction.

skirt

And, to date, I have no pictures of the finished dress on the client.  Hopefully she’ll remember to send me one and I’ll add it to this post.  I was surprised that the dress looked as nice as it did when it was all done, considering the poor quality of the materials.  The bodice was as snug as desired and the skirt hung gracefully to the floor.