Friday, 6 May 2016

Liberty Fabrics and Fitting McCall's 6696 Shirt dress

Ok, fun stuff first!  I just got my delivery of Liberty of London Fabrics.  The first one is called Wildflowers, and I've had my eye on it for a very long time.  I love the botanical illustrations; it makes me feel like I'm wandering through a meadow.  When I saw there were only 2 yards left I snatched it up because I knew I'd regret it later if I let it disappear.

The second one is called Joy and Sorrow.  I love it because it's a unique print and I love anything with birds. There's 4 yards of that one so, plenty for a dress.

So, I've been working on fitting McCall's 6696 Shirtdress.  I've had this pattern for a while and now that warmer weather is here, I was thinking of making myself a comfy new shirt dress for summer.  If I'm lucky, I'll be able to squeeze a dress out of the wildflowers fabric.  It is a directional print so it may be tricky.  I made a muslin of view C, the sleeveless straight skirt version.  This forces me to do some fitting work on the skirt (something I often avoid by doing gathered full skirts).

I made a size 12C bodice grading to size 14 at the waist and a straight size 14 skirt.  There are several fitting issues with this right off the hop.

  1. Very poor fit in the back skirt - This is the most glaring problem as soon as I put it on. It's also one of my most frustrating problems even in ready-to-wear.  There's a lot of excess fabric in the back above the full hip, and it may be just a little snug at the fullest part.  This causes those annoying draglines from the butt to the waist.  To get some extra shaping and curve hugging, I'm planning on lengthening those back darts and curving them out big time.  I may also need to add some extra room to prevent it from being tight.  It's not supposed to be super fitted, just skimming the curves.
  2. Excess fabric in the back bodice - I really like the gathering in the back bodice as a design element and I don't think the gathering itself is the issue.  If you look at the pattern on a grid, you'll notice that it dips down at the centre back.  That's what I think the problem is for me.  Excess vertical fabric.  Basically, I need to do a swayback adjustment on the back bodice.  I think the easiest way to do that is to straighten out the bottom edge of the back bodice.  Theoretically, that should tighten things up vertically, and the gathers will not bunch out like a balloon.  Crossing my fingers it'll work.
  3. Fine tuning the front bodice - The front bodice fits fine, but it could be even better.  There are some minor draglines.  I was thinking of maybe trying a size D and definitely shaping those underbust darts for a more accurate fit. The upper front bodice could be slightly better fitting.  I have a narrow upper chest and sometimes get gaping in the neckline so I may fine tune that slightly.

Here is the back bodice piece.  I think if I take a slice of that extra fabric below the ruler, it may lay better against the back curve.

So, I'll be tracing my pattern pieces on paper and making those adjustments and then sewing up muslin number two.  I'm hoping I won't have to do a third one.  Either way, whatever it takes to get a great fitting dress will be totally worth it.  My future-self, gallivanting on summer vacation in a unique and awesomely fitted dress, will thank me for all my hard work.

So, yeah.  That's what's happening in my sewing room today.  Updates will be coming shortly!

Happy Sewing!

Friday, 8 April 2016

Knitting Cardigans

It's been a while since my last post.  Yikes!  The truth is I've been doing a bit of knitting, and the sewing machine has been hibernating.  I'm working on my Tinder cardigan, and I also started another beautiful cardigan called Belmont, designed by Gudrun Johnston.

 The Belmont cardigan is a fitted cropped cardigan with lace front panels and 3/4 length sleeves.  I thought it would be perfect with sleeveless dresses like the Bleuet dress.  Speaking of Bleuet,  I'm planning on sewing another one in a lightweight indigo denim.

The lace is pretty easy to follow, and it's quite enjoyable and relaxing to knit.  Because it's such a small gauge, it does take a long time.  It's fingering/sock weight yarn so yeah, very time-consuming but I think it's worth it.

I chose to use Jamieson and Smith Shetland Heritage yarn.  This yarn is gorgeous.  I adore Shetland yarn.  The colour is mussel blue which reminds me of a magical deep ocean or the depths of space.  It's a very dark vibrant blue, and I thought it would go well with denim.

By the way, this is my new yarn bowl.  I ordered it from blueroompottery on Etsy.  It's quite handy because it keeps my ball of yarn from rolling all over the floor.  I tried a small mixing bowl, but the ball of yarn sometimes jumped out.  This yarn bowl has a notch that holds the yarn in place and keeps the ball inside the bowl, and it looks cute of course!

So my Tinder cardigan is almost done.  Here are all the major pieces.  The back piece, two front pieces, one completed sleeve and the second sleeve is in progress.  After the sleeve is done, I'll do some seaming and then I need to knit the button band and collar.  So yeah,  I guess it's still a ways from being done.  Oh well.  I'm not in a rush.  I'm a slow crafter, and I enjoy the journey as well as the destination.

So, yeah!  Those are my two cardigans on needles still. They're slowly coming together!

Happy Knitting!

Friday, 22 January 2016

Vintage Apron À La Liberty of London!

This is an awesome apron!  I want to wear it out to the grocery store! I'm so glad I decided to use my Liberty of London fabric for this project.  It turned out to be a match made in heaven!  This print is called "Ricardo's Blooms".  A little too sweet and bright for everyday garments, but I've discovered that it's perfect for kitchen paraphernalia.  I already have a set of napkins planned with the leftover fabric.  Yes, they are cut out and waiting to be stitched.

 Anyways,  this is Vogue 8643 a vintage reprint from 1952.

I thought this would be a quick sewing project.  But I was wrong.  It turned out to be a lot more involved than I expected.  Part of that was my fault because I decided to underline every single piece, which I admit was totally worth the result.

 This midriff piece is tacked in place to the waistband so that it's scalloped lower edge floats over the gathers.  I love that effect, very well thought out, very couture.  Those old patterns were high quality.

The bib curves over the shoulders and around the neck, closing with a button.

So, here is the inside view.  I underlined every piece of fabric with cotton batiste.  I'm really glad I decided to do that because it added some body to the thin cotton lawn without being stiff like quilting cotton.  This also made the gathers extra lush and made the colour of the print brighter.  Overall, I believe the underlining elevated the quality and feel of this apron.  

 I did a clean finish on all the seam allowances.

Here is a close-up of one of the tacks under the midriff piece.

Construction Details!

There was a bit of hand stitching involved.

To keep the gathers fluffy I first hand basted the skirt to the waistband.  Then when machine stitching I used my left hand to maneuver the gathers, so they don't get too flattened in one direction.

Here's a close up of the scallops and trimming of the seam allowance.

I hand basted the eyelet ruffle before machine stitching.

I did something different than the pattern instructions when it came to attaching the bib to the midriff piece.  The diagram and instructions didn't make sense to me, so I just did my own thing.  I ended up doing a sort of sandwich technique.  It took me a while to align everything just right, and it worked.  I'm just not sure it's the best thing to do.  The lovely shape seems to disappear and flatten out.  If I make this again, I'll try something different to allow the shape of the midriff band to stand out.

Well, that's it for my Vintage Apron!  I'm going to enjoy wearing it around the house if not out at the grocery store. 

Happy Sewing!

Friday, 15 January 2016

Needle-turn Appliqué Interlude

I thought I would share a project I've recently started.  It's the Lotus quilt pattern by Jinny Beyer in the Amazon colourway.  I'm working on the appliqué corner square.  I've been working on this intermittently between other sewing projects and it's a great project for a change from machine sewing.  

This is what the finished quilt will (hopefully) look like.  I love Lonestar designs; I love doing appliqué, and Jinny Beyer is my hero when it comes to quilting.  The appliqué designs are so elegant and intricate.  This is definitely a big challenge for me.  The appliqué pieces are layered in such a way that you really need to pay attention to the order of operations.  In the photo above, I've pre-assembled the 3-piece flower and basted them together before pinning it to the background fabric.

Then I use the pattern to align the pieces together.  

 Then I baste the section down and start stitching using a fell stitch.  There are many ways to do appliqué, but I love the needle turn appliqué method because of its accuracy, precision and invisible stitches.  Well, actually, I think I also love it because it's just slower and more meditative.  It's kind of like knitting.  All you have to think about is the stitch you're making right now.  It's very relaxing, like doing a puzzle or painting really.

This quilt is NOT going to be finished anytime soon.  It's a large 98" square quilt which is a large queen size bordering on King.  I'm even thinking of hand quilting it (gasp).  This is going to be my quilt masterpiece so it will be a long term project that I take my time on to make sure it's the best it can be. 

I have lots of other garment sewing in my queue as well as some machine quilting that I will share when finished.  I would have finished my Vintage Apron by now if I didn't have to order more fabric for its completion. (Hurry up mailman and bring me more Liberty fabric!)  In the meantime, I'm enjoying my needle turn appliqué interlude.

Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Year in Review 2015

Well, it's the end of another year of sewing adventures.  Looking back, I noticed that I've had some difficult challenges and learned a lot.  One of the reasons I even do this blog is a kind of record keeping for myself.  For example, if I decide to sew something up again I can go back and see what adjustments I had made etc. Because after a couple of years, I may not remember exactly what I did.  The second reason is to inspire others to start sewing or continue to enjoy their sewing and perhaps see it as a continual adventure.  I know reading sewing blogs is initially what inspired me to challenge myself sewing-wise and of course, I love seeing what fellow sewists are making!  The third reason, which I recently discovered is that I get to look back over time and see changes and trends in what I've learned.

This year, I learned some new couture sewing techniques.  I kicked off the year by discovering the magic of underlining with silk organza.  I also got to practice some couture hand sewing techniques with my Garden Party Dress, complete with first-time ever hand picked zipper!  This book by Claire Shaeffer has been a fantastic resource.  It's a very high-quality sewing book for anyone interested couture sewing.  I pretty much devoured it as soon as it arrived in the mail! 


Secondly, I feel a lot more confident in the fitting process.  A few years ago, fitting used to be a complete mystery to me.  Other than lengthening patterns, I used to just hope that if I followed the instructions, maybe I'll get something wearable.  Ok, I am a HUGE advocate for learning to fit once you've learned basic sewing skills.  The reason is that it will make your garments look great.  If your garments look and feel great, you'll enjoy your sewing that much more.  So pleeeease, don't be afraid to learn fitting.  It's so worth it.  I promise!  Ok, I'll stop my rant now.  So, anyways,  I've been determined to get a great fit with each garment I made this year, and I made fitting the number one step in pretty much each project.  I made, at least, one muslin for each garment I sewed this year.  It was not entirely free of frustration as evidenced by my Granville fitting woes but in the end, it's worth it.  I know, it feels like a lot of work when you just want to get sewing, but if you slow down, focus on one step at a time, you won't feel rushed.  Also, the more you practice, the easier it becomes.  I'm sure I still have LOTS to learn about fitting because with sewing, the learning never stops.

In the quilting arena:  I couldn't believe it when I actually finished hand quilting my Sanctuary Quilt!  I've definitely learned a lot about quilting by hand this year.  Although I still like to quilt some projects by machine,  I've discovered I also love the look of hand quilting.   I haven't posted much about my quilting projects so I promise I'll post some soon!

This year I also started a bit of knitting which I hope to post more of as things progress. 

Overall a pretty good sewing year, I'd say!

Some Goals for 2016

1. Continue to make fitting a priority for all garments

2.  Learn some tailoring techniques

3.  Learn more couture sewing techniques

4.  Work on more intricate (and beautiful) quilts

5.  Draft my own bodice sloper

6.  Draft my own pants sloper

7.  Do some knitting but not too much!

I'm looking forward to a wonderful 2016.  I wish everyone happiness, health, and love.  And remember to enjoy your hobbies because hobbies are the spice of life, right?

Happy New Year and
Happy Sewing!

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Sneak peek Snapshot!

Here's a candid, unaltered snapshot of what is happening on my sewing table at this moment in time. Nope,  I didn't clean up my pins or my scissors.  Nor did I arrange anything specifically for this shot. This is an action shot!  A little window into the happenings, progress and mess on my sewing table.  Yes,  I'm showing the sewing world my messy table, and I'm proud of it.  So here it is!

Be proud of your messy sewing table and
Happy Sewing !!

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Completed: Wool Dress

I finished my winter wool dress.  Yay!  This is McCall's 7014 view A. 

I finally got some photo's of myself wearing it so now you can tell what it looks like on a real person!

I made it in a stretch wool herringbone fabric and lined it with Bemberg Rayon.  When I ordered the fabric, I was not aware that it was a stretch wool; otherwise, I wouldn't have bought it.  But I decided to use it anyways and see how it goes.

Well, I think it turned out ok, but it was not my favourite fabric to work with.  It was annoying and didn't hold a crease very well.  It was thick and bulky too.  By the end, I couldn't wait for it to be finished.  The rayon lining was getting annoying too.  I think next time I'd like to try lining with silk charmeuse

Anyways,  Here's the full-length view.  So, when I first prepared the fabric, I couldn't decide whether to use the darker side or, the lighter side, so I used both!  This created a side panel look.  Pretty cool hey?

Here's the zipper.  I did a hand picked zipper, which I love because not only does it look good but I feel I have more control doing it by hand.

I also did some hand topstitching on the front and back princess seams.

Constructions Details!

So, I made two muslins before sewing this up.  I ended up using a size 12 C bodice grading to size 14 at waist and hip.  I did a 3/8" forward shoulder adjustment.  I lengthened the bodice by 1" and I bowed in the darts for a better fit.  I'll add some photos of me wearing it as soon as I get them.

I always love the part of attaching the lining!

Getting ready for fell-stitching.  I know they always call it slip stitching in the instructions, but I think mine is more of a fell stitch.

This is where I get to sit down and relax with some hand sewing.

Well, that about wraps up my winter wool dress.  I'm sure I'll have a chance to wear it this winter.  It was fun, but I'm glad it's done because I can't wait to get my hands on this luscious Liberty of London cotton lawn just waiting to be made into a gorgeous '50s apron!

Until next time, 
Happy Sewing and Merry Christmas!