From Inspiration to Garment – Part 3 – With a commercial pattern

Dear readers,

It’s the third part of my little serie and I want to talk about those times when you feel too lazy to draft or drape the pattern! For several years now (yes, several), I have been thinking about slip dresses. I was a teenager in the 90’s so I will always be convinced that calvin klein epurated slip dresses are the coolest. Kate Moss and Rachel from Friends shaped my idea of style (for the best and the worst!!)! Twice a year, when the idea of making a bias slip would sudden become urgent, I’d frantically research patterns meant to be cut on the bias, take note of linings in some Vogue patterns and forget about it. Until next time. But not this time! Let’s look at the inspiration first, all collected on Pinterest, with of course, queen Moss:

As stated before, some Vogue patterns include a slip which is meant to be cut on the bias. Carolyn of Handmade by Carolyn made a beautiful version. I myself own New Look 6244 but it’s at my parents’ house… in France… I actually made this dress 10 years ago but purposefully ignore the bias for the lining (so stubborn) because I did not see the point. Ahem Ahem… I have to admit that in my early sewing years, I was (still am) very stubborn and I did not see the point of many things . Those things included seam finishes, easing sleeves, aligning the grain, wearing ease and many more… Slowly but surely I integrated them in my sewing for the better!Bias silk dress by SewingTidbitsOne detail, I dislike in current Vogue slips such as 1287 is the bust dart. I was convinced I could get away without one since the bias could do the minimal shaping I require. I finally decided to go with the lining of Lekala 2021. It doesn’t not specify that it’s meant to be cut on the bias, (at least Google Translate does not say so) but since I got to start with a pattern customized to my measurement, so I figured it was worth it.Bias silk dress by SewingTidbitsMy first step was to do a toile. I used regular muslin even though my silk was going to be behave differently. I figured a “skin” tight fit on my form (slightly bigger than me) in muslin would result in appropriate amount in and the 2 layers of silk would have appropriate wearing ease on me. It was a bit risky but it worked! I also used the toile to check the neckline and position and measure the straps. I had to take in 1/2″ from each side at the bust and waist, tapering to nothing at the hips and I made no changes to the neckline.

The most challenging part for me in working with with silk is cutting, especially on the bias. It takes forever and I’m always tempted to cut corners. However, this time I did not. I lied my 23mm silk crepe from Calamo New York on a first layer of paper, aligning the selvage with the straight edge of the paper to prevent distortion. I created a “marker”, which is another layer of paper with all the pieces to be cut drawn in their cutting position. I added my “marker” on top and pinned between the pieces to avoid marking the silk. I then cut through the 3 layers.
Bias silk dress by SewingTidbitsBias silk dress by SewingTidbitsI have an important piece of information that some of you may resist. It’s OK to cut through paper with your fabric scissors! Yes… I know what the home sewing police says but really, you’ll be fine! And it will actually dull your blades a lot less than cutting wool or tweed!!Bias silk dress by SewingTidbits
I stabilized both layers of the neckline with fusible strips and attached the sides with french seams. For a reason I cannot explain, sewing went well for the first pass of the french seam but my industrial Juki refused, yes refused (!!), to go through the second one with a repeated mess of skipped stitches. I was confused and about to cry but I decided to add a layer of paper on top of the seam and tear it off after stitching and it did the trick!
Bias silk dress by SewingTidbitsFor the straps I used the method described by my friend E. on her blog. The only thing I would add would be to not be afraid to use a rather large strip of bias, such as 2.5 or 3″ as the allowance will “fill” the tube. For the hem, on top of providing the tutorial, E. gifted my ban-roll. I don’t know why I never tried before. Actually I do know why (see stubborness mentionned above) but I regret it deeply. This thing is absolutely AMAZING: perfect baby hem on silk. Every. Time.  No need to say more. I actually want to try it to hem shirts with it too!Bias silk dress by SewingTidbits
That’s it for my notes. I love love love the final dress and I wore it for my birthday (30… yikes). We went dining and dancing and I felt very comfortable in this simple yet dressed-up silhouette. I am now thinking of making a single layer one out of thicker black silk crepe. And tank tops, a lot of tank tops, I may have opened the pandora box of bias project! Do you have favorite patterns for bias cuts ? I would love to see what you recommend!

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Moooaaar Shirts – Sewaholic Granville, a review

Dear readers,

I am showing you 3 shirts in a row. For the sake of diversity, I probably should have broken it up with something else  but it’s not like I’m posting every day (haha, posting everyday !!) so bear with me!

Granville Shirt-2

So yes, third shirt. I thought I was done with them, especially after sewing what I considered my TNT and then Sewaholic released the Granville shirt. Nice pockets + fitted lines + indie pattern company I meant to try = download the very day of the release. Let’s jump right in the review.

First, the PDF. Everything lined up well and I had the impression that efforts were made to spread each piece on a limited number of pages. Nice. I needed size 0 and since this pattern goes up to size 20 (which is awesome), I felt I was using a lot more paper that I would need for my size. I guess you can’t really have it all but maybe it could be an option to spread the size range from 0 to 12 and from 8 to 20 (so that people can still blend between sizes).

My second concern is regarding the V notches, they look too thick/messy on the PDF. The issue is actually more general. Sewaholic patterns are very close to the standards of the Big 4. It makes them an easy entry in the Indie pattern world if you come from a Big 4 sewing background but I haven’t sewn Big 4 in a while. 5/8″ seam allowances and V notches annoy me. A. LOT.

Granville Shirt-5I wanted to try the fit of the pattern out of the printer so I made only one substantial change. I measured my last shirt and shortened the sleeve pattern accordingly… BY 3 1/2 INCHES !! Now, I mentioned several times being aware of my short arms situation. But all the reviews of the Granville pattern I read so far mentioned shortening the sleeves as an alteration. Sewaholic: patterns for pear-shaped ladies with Gibbon arms? (Gibbons are cute though).

I did not use the instructions for the construction. I read them, they were standard and I think that the series of post written by Tasia provides great information if you are into the Coffin’s method. I’m not. If sewing was like being part of a sect, my shirtmaking guru would be Shimazaki. Therefore, I HAD to change ALL the seam allowances : a mixture of 1/4, 3/8 and occasionally 1/2. I could get into details but I don’t know how interesting it is for you, is it? I will say thought that IMO, sewing a collar + stand with 5/8″ makes no sense. Call me clumsy, but I don’t see how you can be precise (without a template, which is a good idea). 1/4″ forever!!

Lastly, the hem allowance is way too big: 3/4″ is hard to fold twice and a final hem of 3/8″looks too wide IMO. I went with the Grainline approach: 1/2 folded twice.

Granville Shirt-4

The construction was smooth and without major challenges. I read other reviews finding the instructions unclear for the sleeve placket but I followed them and I was fine. The amount of ease in the sleeve cap is limited and I managed to set them in flat and sew the side seam afterwards.

Now let’s talk about the final product: I like the shirt, I really do. The small collar is adorable and very modern. The pockets are perfect (size and placement). The shoulders are where they should. However, I probably won’t wear it much, which is a shame considering all the flat-felling and topstitching that went into it. Why? Because the arms are OMG so tight!!! See below for an illustration:

Granville Shirt-1

Yes, that tight. I feel like I’m about to incredible-hulk my shirt every time I brush my hair, put eyeliner or drive… I don’t believe that I have particularly muscular arms for my frame. I do work out but I wear (mostly RTW) shirts probably 6 day/week and this has never been an issue. As much as I would like to tell you that this is my new favorite shirt I can’t, it’s too restrictive. I’m not against some tight clothing but not for woven shirts… Rolling up the sleeves does help a little. Which is good because The Old Man LOVES the shirt.

You may recognize the fabric from my Lekala/Michael Kors dress, it’s the same lightweight denim that looks like linen. Interfacing and buttons are from stash.

Granville Shirt-3

Final verdict: I still like my shirt and I think with some tweaking I could have 2 TNT patterns. One unfitted from the Archer and this one if I want a closer fit. Next version would include : using the sleeves and armholes from size 2, shortening the body above the waist and reducing the flare at the hips. What do you think, would you recommend additional alterations?

Vogue 1247 skirt by SewingTidbits

#PRSewingBee – A-line Skirt – Vogue 1247

Dear readers,

You may have realized that I am awful at sewing on a deadline. I announced my participation in the Pattern Review Surprise Sewing Bee contest and then COMPLETELY forgot to check PR on 1st of November. On the 3rd I had almost a panic attack reading that submissions were due on Friday. It meant that I had no weekend to sew, when 99% of my sewing time usually happens… But I managed!
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I stole 15 minutes here and there to make a lined version of the infamous skirt from Vogue 1247. Two years ago, I made the top and I cannot say that I liked it. It was huge and uncomfortable, even after alterations. I probably wore it twice. However, I heard only great things about the skirt. So I figured it could be a quick project not requiring a muslin.

wpid948-Vogue1247stripes-5.jpg wpid954-Vogue1247stripes-19.jpg wpid956-Vogue1247stripes-21.jpgSo many people reviewed this pattern since 2011 that I believe that everything has been said, but here are my remarks:

  • The construction of the pockets is a bit fiddly. I’m sure there is an easier way, but I had no time to figure it out.
  • I did little bartacks to reinforce the pocket openings.
  • The design/fit/finishing are great. If all the Vogue patterns were like that, we the overall standards of sewing patterns (indie and non indie) would be higher.
  • Creating a lining pattern is very easy: just overlap the yoke and skirt parts for the front and the back. For the back lining, I recommend removing the SA were the lining is attached to the zipper for a clean finish. Attaching the lining to the tape is similar to sewing the pocket bag on a welt (do I make any sense? Is further explanation required?).
  • I used french seams for the lining.
  • Although it is lined I still used seam binding (snug hug tape) because it’s my favorite finishing method and it looks a lot cleaner than over locked edged to me.

The fabric comes from my 2013 Paris fabric shopping. It’s a striped cotton silk blend that I found at De Gilles. Friends attending Chardon-Savard fashion school recommended the shop many years ago but only last year I managed to pay a visit. It also appears to not be on the radar of fabric tourists but trust me, it’s a gem! The prices are not cheap but what you will find there, you will not encounter anywhere else in the city.

wpid958-Vogue1247stripes-22.jpg wpid962-Vogue1247stripes-25.jpg wpid964-Vogue1247stripes-26.jpgThe main fabric being a bit thin, I decided to line the skirt with something more substantial and I used cotton baptiste from my stash. I  got it in New York but where, when and why? I have no idea… I appear to be the victim of stash amnesia syndrome!

I’m very pleased with my skirt, and with myself since i managed to make it happen in 2 (work/week) days. The Old Man likes it too, according to him “it looks like an apron… in a good way”. Whatever that means. But he suggested a linen version, so I guess he does like it.

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Last point, pictures are from my new camera! I have been practicing every weekend to learn the manual mode and I feel like it’s starting to make sense. But of course taking pictures in 5 minutes between the door and the car before going to work is not the easiest way to practice new skills…

In addition, the fabric has a subtle sheen to it (think very very thin taffeta) which makes it a pain to look ironed. I did my best but I realize that it may not be the best fabric choice for a sewing contest. Especially on PR, where people are picky (with reason). So I leave you with my far-from-perfect focus and slightly wrinkled look…

Did you enter the contest? Which is your favorite submission so far? I love Dawn’s crazy zebra lining!

Sew-along, for real this time

As you may have noticed, I’m not very good when it comes to following a sew-along (hum hum, bra-making… *shame*). But this time I really want to do it!! Let’s pretend I don’t have a bad record in this matter…

When I saw the super nice 2 pairs of shorts made by Four Square Walls, I could hear the voice of The Old Man (who is actually my boyfriend, not my dad 😉 ) complaining about the fact that this sewing hobby of mine was not bringing anything good his way… So here we go !

 

I already downloaded the pattern and I plan on getting one of his favorite pair of shorts to compared final measurements to pick the closest size. I hope that the fabric store will be open on thursday so I can make him choose the fabric (he’s picky). Also, I had a look at the instructions and they look great!!

Perfect T-shirt: FREE PATTERN ALERT !!

I try to force myself to work with knits to improve my serger skills. It’s hard because the results are not yet to my standard but it’s a humbling experience after 14 years of sewing… Now for the pattern, don’t go, RUN to get Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick Tonic T-shirt pattern!! Why ? It’s FREEEEEEEE and it’s PERFECT!

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Now, the only thing you have to be careful about is measurements: it’s very close fitting so make sure your knit has the proper amount of recovery (printed on the instructions so yay!!) and adjust the length if needed. I’m 5’3″ and because I wear my bottoms either high waisted or pretty low on the hips, next time (oh yes there wil be many next times!!) I’ll add 2″ to make sure that I don’t expose my tummy in the office… Also, I have one less positive comment about the pattern, it’s a tiled PDF and there are no marks for where to join the pages. Since it’s just a t-shirt and you can just make sure lines are straight, it’s ok but I hope that for their more complex pattern SBCC is including this marks!

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I love everything about this pattern, the instructions are great (closer result to RTW), the scoop neck is nice and wide, the drafting is perfect, the fit is great and did I say that it’s free ?? This blue knit is from my last hangout with Lakaribane in Pétionville (did I say that she’s evil?? She shows you around Port-au-Prince, take you to eat delicious lobster and gets you to buy fabric to justify her own addiction… I’m telling you, she’s dangerous 😉 )

CIMG2232

 

For the construction, I serged all seams as per instruction, starting with one shoulder, finishing the neckline (hum hum, a lot of room for improvement here), serging the second shoulder, adding the sleeves, serging side seams and underarms seams at once and then serging and double stitching the hems.

The usual dressform shots: IMG_0830IMG_0831IMG_0832

And to my shame the close-ups where you can see my less than perfect work on the neckline. Do you have a tip to cut a constitent 1/8″ with the knif of the serger or do I have to get use to it?

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As you can see, the final result is quite close fitting. I used size XXS but I want to try to go up 2 sizes to make a loose version out of this amazingly soft and beautiful vintage silk jersey I just got in Paris. WHAT? Did I say vintage french silk jersey ? Yes… A fabric p*rn post from my trip back home is on the way…

Any tips for my serger learning curve?