I do NOT want to make this dress

About one month ago I was asked if I made custom dresses.  I demurred, but the emails persisted, so I gave a quote for the job once I’d seen the dress I was to copy.

But I can tell you that the bodice looked like a very bad attempt to copy an Herve Leger bandage-type bodice, with a very large piece of cotton sewn to the bottom of it in a huge circle skirt.  In the pic that I’m supposed to work from for this project, the skirt fabric looks like it’s been wasting away in the back of a closet for about 18 months, it’s so creased.  And the ‘bandages’ of the bodice are AWOL.

Ms. Rs materials

My quote for labour/design was deemed acceptable, and I was given a bag with the goodies you see above:

  • about 1.7m of waistband elastic for the bandage bodice
  • 3m of 115cm wide very lightweight poly crepe (pictured on the left)
  • 3m of 150cm wide heavy jersey for the lining (pictured on the right)

The dress is supposed to be a pullover dress – no zipper or other openings, thank you!

I have been avoiding this, but today is the first fitting.

*sigh*

I am not working with anything else so I must make magic from these fabrics.  I really don’t know how I’m going to copy that bandage bodice, which is why I’m loathe to tackle this project, so wish me luck.

The skirt will be a piece of cake, I’m sure – a simple A-line jersey lining with a double-width gathered poly crepe skirt stitched directly to the waistband elastic.

The bodice will require samples, trial, error and something called faking it.

I hope it works…

January Slowjo Sewing

January has been a slow rather mojo-less sewing month this year.  I had all these grand plans, and have felt zero compulsion to sew anything.  So I’ve been fixing, mending and twiddling on a few things.

First, I tweaked the bodice of DD2’s Christmas dress (Burda 12/2012 #110).  Originally it looked like this, with ponte and lace all eased into a higher-than-designed neckline.  It didn’t work, and there was an absurd amount of ease to sew into the neckline. And, because it still wasn’t decent enough, I added a triangular lace insert at the CF.  I was not happy with it – it looked so less-than-custom-made, but it had to do for Christmas.

DSC_0096

Now, after lowering the CF on the ponte under layer (the bodice is unlined) as far as it would go – and as designed, I might add – and removing the CF lace insert, it looks like this.

bodice

Not a big difference, but the fit along the neckline is much better.  I’m still getting my head wrapped around fitting DD2 and what looks good on her.  Most of my sewing queue over then next couple of months will be for her, so hopefully I will learn a lot!

Then I agreed (with dread in my heart) to redo window valances.  I always hate being asked to do things out of my comfort zone, because I hate feeling like I don’t know what I’m doing.  I have no pictures of the project, but let me just say that it was an interesting ride.  In early December, I met with the client and the interior designer, and confessed that home dec sewing is not in my field of expertise.  So the designer measured all the windows, wrote them down for me, and off I went with the valances, her measurements and extra fabric from the client’s storage room.  After pulling one of the valances apart, I understood the method of construction, and started in on the project.  Everything was neat and tidy and I was pleased with my amateur work.  Up went the valances, and the client called me after Christmas to tell me that they were too short for two of her windows.  My bad.  I didn’t check the math of my measurements with a calculator.  And, to top it all off, the designer’s depth measurements were off by 2.5cm, so everything had to be taken apart and re-done so the corner box pleats actually hung at the corners.

And I’ve been BUGGED – BUGGED, I tell you – by the little details of the project.  The valances had a centre box pleat, which should have hung in the visual centre of the windows i.e. in the centre of the centre sliding frames.  But visual centre did not equal mathematical centre, so the centre pleats hang about 4cm off visual centre.  Do you follow me here?  And, of course, the designer wanted the centre pleat to hang in the visual centre, not the actual centre. Ugh.

And that bugs me.  BUGS ME!!  Part of me wants to go back and re-do those damn valances a third time, just so they can all be truly custom-made for those damn windows.

BUT…. and this is a big ‘but’…. I stopped to study a valance in my bedroom which was made a couple of years ago by one of the best drapery guys in the city.  He had worked solely off the window measurements the designer had given him, and after carefully looking at all the proportions, I realized that the mathematical centre of that valance was definitely not the visual centre in relation to my bedroom window.

And he is a paid drapery expert.  So I’m not kicking myself anymore.  C’est la vie, and all that.  But I did learn a lesson for the next time someone wants valances made by little ol’ moi.  Experience, experience!  Best teacher ever.

The next project was to give myself a new ironing board cover.

new board cover

I have no pictures of the old one, but I will tell you that the foam padding had melded to the cotton cover through overuse.  I made mine from washed muslin and the leftover cotton batting (from my first attempt to make interlined Roman blinds).  It looks clean and the thick new padding is wonderful.  I should have done this months ago.

Then I put the waistband ties onto a pair of hip-hop trousers for DD1.  I made these last spring, I think, and she grabbed them before I could finish them, and has been wearing them ever since.  Yesterday she was walking around the house in them like she’d had some sort of horrible injury in the pelvic region, and I asked her why she was walking so oddly.  She said she had to walk like a weirdo so the pants wouldn’t fall down.  *headshake* The ties have been hanging on a project board since the trousers were made, so today they finally ended up on my sewing table to be properly finished.

And now I’m working through three projects that were cut late summer:

a safari skirt (Burda 04/2010 #140)140_skirt_large

a silk scarf panel top (Burda 07/2012 #118), albeit with different fabrichttps://i2.wp.com/sewingprincess.com/sewingprincess/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/top.jpgand multiple-gored skirt for DD1 (Burda 06/2013 #132).132_0613_b_largeAnd I had hoped to get myself moving on Jungle January and Chris’s #JeansinJanuary, but I lacked both the conviction and motivation to start in on anything.  So I’ve missed both, but I am determined to finish all my UFOs before I begin something new.

 

Bound Buttonholes and Matelassé

matelasse taffeta bound buttonholes

I’m working on another matelassé jacket, and kinda sorta wanted to do bound buttonholes.  I used a crinkle polyester taffeta, stabilized with fusible interfacing, as the contrast binding and the facing on the centre front pieces of the jacket.

crinkle taffeta facing

The matelassé is a gold/olive green/black weave in I guess what you would call a ‘patchwork’ pattern. The gold crinkle taffeta was the best match from my stash.

Vogue 8600 buttonholes

Can I just tell you that I decided to make bound buttonholes after the facing and collar was attached?  I had planned to go the lazy machine-stitched buttonhole route, but after a series of trials on scraps, decided bound buttonholes would look the best.  Instead of a straight-forward set of buttonholes, this became a fiddling-redo-rip-out-redo game, but I’m happy with the results.

What’s the best make-it-unnecessarily-difficult-extra-work decision you’ve ever made on a project?

Vogue 1282: Stripe redo

First, I just want to say thank you to all of you who left feedback via the poll on my previous post. I was so pleasantly surprised that most of you (94%) liked the mismatched stripes. I also reviewed this on Pattern Review and the response was very positive again.

But…. I…. just…. couldn’t……  Argh!  My inner perfectionist just couldn’t-shouldn’t-wouldn’t rest easy.  And then I saw The Material Lady’s Drape Drape 2 tunic with perfectly matched stripes and that finished my waffling on it.  Begin digression: And speaking of Drape Drape patterns, I traced off the Drape Drape 2 No. 4 Asymmetrical Top pattern, graded up through the waist and hips and am really disappointed because the L/XL sizes with my changes fit my daughters.  Not me.  The XL size has 33″ measurement for 38″ hips.  Uh… the last time I had 38″ hips I was a 16 year-old teenager with an eating disorder.  I can’t imagine the endless hours of exercise I’d need to get down to that size.  So, no Drape Drape clothes for me.  I’ll stick with Donna Karan! End digression.

So I unpicked stretch triple stitches (Pia has the record, btw…) and made some changes.  First, I deliberately off-set the stripes down the CF like a checkerboard.

Vogue 1282 CF stripe offset

And then I fixed the centre back seam and matched those stripes from the high hip to the hem.  It cost me about 3cm in lost width, but I’m happier – so much more satisfied! – with the result.

Vogue 1282 CB stripe re-match

Perhaps a little less interesting, but my inner nerd isn’t writhing in a striped torture chamber.  😉

Purging

So I finally got around to purging my closet the other day.  It’s been gnawing at the back of my mind for a few months, mostly… well, because I’ve expanded slightly, and things that should be wearable, aren’t.  It felt good to sort through everything and make some decisions.  Ruthless decisions, I might add.  Garments were sorted into “doesn’t-fit-and-I don’t-care” for giving away; “doesn’t-fit-but-it-may-before-I-die-so-I’ll-keep-it-because-I-really-like-it”; and “alterations required”.

This is my “keep” pile.keepI confess to never wearing two of the three silk blouses in this pile.  But I like them, and maybe they’ll be wanted someday.  Most of what’s in this pile has been blogged in the previous couple of years.  But it doesn’t fit either my lifestyle or me these days, so it’s going into storage.  I just can’t part with garments that I’m proud of from a construction point of view.  Perhaps they’ll be used again in future….

This is the “alteration” pile.  Only six garments made it into this lot.

alter pileI can’t part with Liberty fabrics, so I’ll be changing up the ‘Bea’ dress on the left.  It’s got about 2 yards of fabric in the skirt, so I’m sure to remake it into something useful.  The ‘Hurren’ dress still fits, surprisingly.  I didn’t wear this at all last year, but, again, it’s Liberty, and I just can’t bear to part with it!  I’ll probably shorten it by 3 inches and change up the sash/belt.  The batik dress… I’m so in love with the fabric that I must find a way to use it again, albeit a small amount (about 1 yard total).  And on the right is the McCardell dress. I intend to remake the skirt, which has about 2 yards of fabric in it, again. The dirndl look isn’t flattering anymore. And two silk blouses that need a remake or slight tweaking.  Again, it’s the fabric that’s calling to me….

I sent one very large bag out of the house with no regrets.  I’m strangely exuberant about all this sorting.  The doesn’t-fit collection has been making me miserable for a long time, knowing the garments don’t suit lifestyle or me right now, and it feels good to get them out of sight (and mind) and open up some space for new garments.  It also gives me ‘permission’ of a sort to add to my wardrobe, something with which I struggle, since I really am trying to be driven by necessity for the most part, not want, in my effort to be economically and (I like to think) globally mindful…. in my own small way.

Don’t get me wrong!  I love to dress up and “feel oh, so pretty”, but seriously…. there’s not a place to go. It brings to mind a series of billboards from about a decade ago here in my local city, for one of the larger malls.  They consisted of a young mom all dolled up perfectly in pretty dresses, makeup and stilettos, cleaning a toilet, crawling on the floor after a toddler and changing the oil in her car.   As much as I’d like to dress like the ladies who lunch all day, it’s completely impractical and unnecessary for my lifestyle.  It’s taken a long time to let go of wanting to dress up all the time.  I have always been the overdressed person at “______________” (pick a function), because I like dressing up.  And I confess to finding some kinds of materialistic excess pretty and attractive (who doesn’t like a shoe collection? the latest makeup look? another bag?) but very irresponsible, and, (finally) quite unnecessary.  I don’t need a new wardrobe every season.  I love to build clothes that will last, not wear out or be dated in 5 years.  But this means collecting if I’m going to keep sewing, and my conscience bugs me about what it calls ‘hoarding’ sometimes.closet

So…. all that to say, I’m happy with the holes in my wardrobe!  Between my rather empty closet and Me-Made-May ’15, I’d say there’s plenty of incentive to shop my stash and get sewing me-mades that fit both me and my life.

*If you’d like to join in, click on the image above.  It’s linked to the sign-up post over at SoZoWhatDoYouKnow.

Blackwatch Plaid Coat: Sleeves

Short post, but these sleeves were a trial for me.  You see, I decided to cut the skirt before cutting the sleeves, and the skirt is h.u.g.e., comprising six quarter circle panels.  So I was left fitting the sleeves on to what was left.  Not a big deal, really, because I did have enough fabric, but matching the plaid was a challenge without yards left to use.Marfy 1005 sleeveAnd it looks like that green stripe is running forward of the centre of the sleeve, but it matches up perfectly with the forward shoulder adjustment, and hangs straight on DD1.  The dress form doesn’t have a forward shoulder, so it looks off.  I don’t handle ‘I-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing’ and out-of-my-depth sink-or-swim learning situations very well, and trying to decide how to match the plaid, with enough ease for the shoulders left me with a shorter sleeve that I really wanted and cost hours of draping, hemming, hawing and one or two mental sewing sessions at 3 a.m. This is the sort of crux I come to and wish I had more theory under my belt, or at least someone to teach me as I do it.  However, trial, error, and a what little experience I have had to make it do.  shoulder match plaidThe plaid is matched all ’round the sleeve through upper and under pieces.  DD1 and I had planned to add a bias cuff, so I wasn’t too worried about the inch or so of sleeve length I was missing by the time the plaid-matching decisions were made at the upper/under sleeves were cut.   I wanted a deeper cuff, but I was literally working with scraps by this point, so they’re only about 6 inches wide.  I lined them with the same lining used for the coat in order to keep bulk at a minimum.  We also added a short peplum, cut on the bias, to break up the plaid and add a little of the McQueen silhouette into the garment.  It just seemed to ‘finish’ the look.  There are side seam pockets underneath the peplum.bias peplum and cuffWell, the next (and last) post on this project will be with a live model.  I’m hoping she’ll give us a twirl so you can see how lovely the skirt on this coat is.

Blackwatch Plaid Coat: Closure

I have been working furiously on making a blackwatch plaid coat in Harris tweed for DD1, as she does not own a dress coat, and needed one for a family wedding earlier in March.  I made a toile of Marfy 1005 and a coat called Talea from Burdastyle’s website which I downloaded a couple of years ago.  Neither one was quite to her taste, so we went back to the original Harris tweed coat I’d made for her a few years ago from Burda 9/2010 #101, and put together a frankenpattern for the blackwatch coat.

I have completed the hidden button opening, complete with hand-worked buttonholes instead of the snap buttonholes I used last timeBurda 09-2010-101 hidden closureI just felt like practicing buttonholes this time ’round.  Need I say that the fourth one is significantly better than the first!hand-worked buttonholesBTW, if you google “blackwatch McQueen coat” (runway version) you can see the inspiration behind this one.  I am not a master cutter by any stretch of the imagination, and this project has both frustrated and challenged me.  It has whet my appetite for more tailoring, and I truly wish I could just sit and learn somewhere on Saville Row, or at a tailor in my own city.  Projects like this make me realize just how little I know and how much more I need to learn.  It’s been a big project, and I loved every minute of working on it.  More details soon!

Sheer Linen Drapes

linen sheers

I’m still struggling with the colours for my silk drapes, but I need something over those windows for now.  So I made up some sheers.  This is a gorgeous Belgian linen with woven stripes, and it was 118″ wide!  It is railroaded, which, in drapery speak, means the design runs sideways down the length of goods.  It also means I needed about half the yardage to make up these sheers as I had originally calculated.

sheers

I chose box pleats for these because it’s clean and simple, and the silk drapes will have box pleats.  Good idea to keep them similar, I’m thinking.

sheers 2

The only hand sewing in these was the tacking down of the pleats and slipstitching the linen into place over the buckram heading.  Everything else is machine stitched, so it was a rather quick project.  I always find calculating the pleats in such a way that is even and pleasing the most complicated part of making drapery.

Silk Drapes II

So, this is my second attempt at mixing colours and stenciling the silk, and I am not happy.  I just cannot get the colours to work.  They are too opaque, and therefore too garish a contrast with the silk.  I tried mixing basic textile paint alone (right panel), with opalescent white (bottom centre), tried several other combinations and am not happy with any of it.silk stencil 2

I do like the newest stencil (Anna Damask), on the right, better than the original (Verde Damask).  I have one more stencil to try, and I’m going to try it with my wall paint, which is Farrow & Ball Brassica.  I want to see if the muddier colour looks better on the silk, and I’ll try it in the last stencil (Anastasia).  I’m also wondering if the chalk-based F&B paint will work on the textile.  If the Brassica colour works best but the F&B compound doesn’t, then I’ll mix acrylic paints, use a fabric medium, and try again.

Silk Drapes I

I am trying to replicate a drapery fabric that is long out of production.  I have lucked out in finding silk duppioni in a lavender-thyme colour way, and am now trying to stencil this damask design from Nobilis, a fabric mill in France.  Here’s my inspiration:LR drapery fabricI found these magnificent stencils on Cutting Edge Stencils, which ship to Canada very reasonably.  No one in Canada, BTW, carries these because they are so reasonably priced directly from the US website.drapery trialThen I sourced fabric paint from Dharma Trading.  My local art supply store carries these, too.fabric paintHere’s my first go. drape sampleI’m not 100% happy with either the stencil or the purples, so I have ordered another set of stencils to see if I like a different design better, and I will be mixing paint colours to come up with one that I really like.trial 1There’s a lot of metallic in the Lumiere paints, and I’m not so sure that I like it.  I’ll be trying this again with flat paints, and perhaps adding a bit more red/magenta to the violet.  I like the idea of the stencils being imperfect, with gradations of gold-violet-purple everywhere.

BTW, you would not believe how much doing this myself is saving my pocket book.  When this project is done, I’ll crunch the numbers.