Thursday, 30 January 2014

Tie-dyed denim Peplum Party Dress #2

After what I considered a pretty successful effort with my first #partyPeplumDress I was as keen as mustard to get going with my second version of this dress.

During our recent trip to Melbourne I found this great Tie Dyed "denim" with floral from Lincraft of all places. I could immediately picture this as a #partyPeplumDress so I snapped it up. I had a $10 voucher so that eased the pain of the $20/meter price tag (WHY is Lincraft so expensive I ask you when most of their stores are a total schmozzle)?

The first thing I did to the pattern, with the help (again) of The Boy, was to make sure the skirt was the same length the whole way around (23 inches) rather than dipping "up" at the sides into the peplum (19 inches). Dave measured and I marked it out on the pattern (I find I need three hands with most sewing tasks so he comes in helpful).

I also then traced a second skirt pattern so I could cut the front and back at the same time (and I'm making the front and back skirt are the same length the whole way around as I'm not into the "high-low look"). And, for the record cutting on our tiled floor = NOT fun!

Things started off pretty smoothly with my sewing. I'm getting fairly good at French Seams, but I always really have to think about what goes together first...wrong sides or right sides? At this stage of the game I was feeling pretty darn confident in my ability to punch at this dress toot sweet! Pride becomes before a fall as they say...

And then I tried the dress on. Oh dear!

Despite finding the arms a bit tight in my Daisy #partyPeplumDress I did nothing to fix the problem for my second go around with this pattern. I think I kinda forgot about it to be honest. I wouldn't say the arm openings are "restrictive" but they seem to be wider than they need to be so they cut into the front of my arms.

So I did what any clueless beginner would do....I hacked into the dress with scissors until I thought it felt...OK. I also hacked into the dress until the arms were no longer even on both sides. Whoops! I actually think my shoulders are whilst things looked OK whilst I was cutting it became clear when I put them on that the bodice was now wonky.

But look how nice my pink bias binding looks on the arm pretty!

Another problem I noticed with the Daisy Dress was that the bodice was a tad too long at the back for me. I have quite a large caboose and my big butt stopped the bodice from hanging nicely into the skirt. Ergo the fabric all bunched up and was quite "puffy" at the back.  This "big butt bunching" seemed to be more of a problem on this version of the dress...I've got NO idea what going on here (has my bum grown)?

Anyway...I knew I had to shorten the back piece of the bodice so it no longer hit me on the derrière.  Because I'm lazy I tried to do this whilst the skirt was still attached to the you'll see by my THREE rows of stitching. In theory I know what needs to happen to fix this but I just cannot be bothered to unpick the whole dress to fix its bunchy back.

And that my friends is the end of this story about what was to be a lovely floral tie-dyed denim dress - the answer to all my summer dress woes.  Now it's just hanging on my bedroom door...accusing me of being a terrible seamstress and it's right. But I'm just a beginner so it's all a learning experience.

I'm not sure what to do with this dress now? Throw it out?

In case you're wondering I AM going to make this dress again. I raced up to Lincraft right after this fiasco to see if they had more of this fabric and they did. I bought 2.5 meters and once I make up a 'muslin' of this dress I'll be ready (I hope) to chop into this fabric. I LOVE this fabric and I was SO sad when I knew I botched the dress and now I feel like there's hope again.

On my next attempt I will be:

  • Reducing the length of the front + back bodice from an XXL to a S - which may seem drastic but it's only 2cms and I think that's a good start. I'm not sure what to do with the vertical darts though - do I use the Size S now?
  • Reducing the arm hole from an XXL to an XL - which makes it 1cm smaller on the side.
  • Praying to the sewing Gods that everything goes according to plan.
Wish me luck!

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Out + about with my Daisy Print "Party Peplum Dress"

So even though I am pretty happy with my Daisy Print "Party Peplum Dress I was a bit apprehensive about wearing it out of the house. I am so proud of this make (I finished something and it kinda fits!) but wearing it scares the bejesus out of me!

  • Would it be comfortable? 
  • Would it simply fall apart when I was out in public because of my novice sewing skills?  
  • Should I pack a spare dress in my handbag in case of a wardrobe malfunction (yes, I really thought this)?
  • Would people think I was wearing something tacked together by a 5 year old? 

I'm pleased to report I wore this on my second last day of Christmas holidays for a day of shopping and eating. Nothing bad happened and I even got a compliment from the lovely ladies at The Fabric Cave who loved my dress and thought it looked pretty well made! Win.

I've also worn it for a second time out to brunch...nothing bad happened!

Wearing it all day though did highlight some issues - namely I find it a bit tight around the arm holes/bust. I also think as the bodice is too long and as my butt is quite big it makes the back bodice "bunch up" a bit. My butt is stopping the bodice hanging to its full length. And the skirt is not an even length the whole way around - going "up" at the sides (which makes sense given that's the way the peplum-ness of it should happen).

So maybe this is a semi-win after all?

Friday, 17 January 2014

Daisy Print "Party Peplum Dress"

As soon as I saw the newly released Party Peplum Dress by April Rhodes I KNEW this was a pattern for me. I love the style of this dress! LOVE it! I wear a lot of sleeveless dresses and I like the "skater" type silhouette though this is a style I find difficult to buy in-store as the fit is never quite right for me.  Lucky for me the sizing on this pattern went up to my size *happy dance*!

I'm super proud of this make and I LOVE it! It's hanging on a hook in my room and I go in all the time to look at it and feel the fabric. Is that weird? After having so many sewing misses it really feels great to make something entirely on my own, that a) fits OK b) was fairly easy to sew and c) that I'd wear out of the house! I cannot recommend this pattern more highly for new sewists.

And, possibly the best thing about this dress is that it gives good twirl as it has a half circle skirt. See...

It wasn't all sunshine and lollipops though. Once I'd stitched the dress together enough to try on I popped it on and the underarms were WAY too big. It's becoming obvious that my bust is a size smaller than my waist/hips.  I'm really chuffed that my husband was able to pin the dress whilst it was on me and we took in the underarms by 2.5cm on each side. I tapered it down so that the dress was still the original size at the waist.

The dress fits much better under the arms now, but it's not perfect. I always seem to find armholes really tight (especially under my right arm as I have shoulder 'issues') even when the armhole isn't tight at all.

If I knew how I'd also put a couple of darts in the back of the bodice as it's a bit...bunchy, but sadly that is beyond my skill level.  The bodice is also quite "roomy" at the side, but if I took it in anymore I'd probably not be able to wriggle into it (it has no zipper or other opening, so you just slip it in over your head).  I've also made this dress out of quilting cotton and I can see what people people when the say this type of fabric is quite stiff. The skirt does stick out quite a lot, but I can live with it as I think it looks cute.

The neck and arm holes are finished with bias binding. I love this - it's so easy and looks so tidy. I have bought myself a bias binding maker and at some stage I'll make my own bias binding...though it does look really REALLY labour intensive!

As well as the bias binding the pattern called for a french seam for the shoulders. I'm pleased to say that I accomplished this will no drama at all *fist pump*!  I'm pretty pleased with how the inside of this dress looks. Everything is very neat and tidy, and although I don't yet have an overlocker I think the zigzag on the seams looks pretty tidy and it certainly does the job to stop the edges fraying.

Now onto the about STRESSFUL! The pattern called for a hem that was folded over twice and then stitched. I tried this, but could not get the hem the same width the whole way round so I had to think of something else (I had the same trouble with my Laurel). My machine has a rolled-hem foot so I decided to give that a whirl. I thought it would be super quick and easy. FAIL! I don't even want to talk about how messy and awkward this was for me (and how much unpicking I had to do).

In the end I decided just to use bias binding to finish the hem and I have to say that, although it took 4 meters of binding, it was super easy and so tidy. I LOVE bias binding. I'm not sure why I'd ever not use this method for a hem?

Something I do need to fix next time around is the hem length. Because I didn't want the skirt to be "high-low" and reveal my pudgy knees too much I just sewed together two of the back pattern pieces. This is fine BUT the dress still scoops up at the sides made it look a bit wonky. The dress is 23" in the middle and then only 19" at the sides....something I didn't even think about as being an issue until I put it on. Derp.

Friday, 10 January 2014

The Fabric Cave, Meadowbank

If you love rummaging for old fabrics, patterns, notions and pre-loved bits + bobs then have I got the shop for you! That said, if you have a a problem of continually adding to your stash (who doesn't) then you might want to click away as The Fabric Cave in Meadowbank is the home of all sewing temptation.

The Fabric Cave is run by Achieve Australia - an organization that supports disadvantaged and disabled people in our community. So if you feel like adding to your sewing stash a place like The Fabric Cave is a great option as proceeds go towards Achieve Australia helping others in our community.

Nearly everything you see here has been donated, either by individuals, sewing shops closing down or other organisations. When we were wandering around a man came in to drop off TEN garbage bags of fabric that belonged to a friend of his wife's. One of the shop volunteers told me that they once received a donation of FOUR HUNDRED GARBAGE BAGS OF FABRIC from a lady who had been a life long sewist but who had to destash as she was moving into a nursing home. FOUR HUNDRED BAGS! WOW!

This place is pretty aptly's a CAVE filled with all manner of crafty and sewing goodies. There must be over 1000 old sewing patterns in here and I found some real gems when I was flicking through them.  Hello 1980s, we've missed you! I was tempted to buy a dress pattern but I do have quite a lot of patterns amassed at this stage so should probably get to sewing some of them before I start buying more...even if they are mostly $1.00 or less!

At first I thought there wasn't a lot of fabric and I felt disappointed. And then I looked down to the back of the store and there were shelves and shelves of neatly stacked fabrics. Oh. My. Goodness! It was going to be REALLY hard to exercise restraint...

I managed to (somehow) be really thoughtful about what I bought and came away with just three fabrics:
  • The fabric on the left is 3m of some sort of cotton (or possibly rayon) that I think will either be another #partyPeplumDress or the other April Rhodes Pattern I have for #theStapleDress. It's super soft and seems to have a nice drape to it.
  • The fabric is the middle is 2m of some sort of rayon/polyester type stuff.  I'm thinking either a Sorbeto Top or the Grainline Tiny Pocket Tank. I definitely see this fabric in a singlet/tank top though it's a bit slippery so this will be a challenge for me as I've not sewn with this type of fabric before.
  • And on the right is 3m of a thick, slightly stretchy idea what the fabric is but I can see a winter weight #partyPeplumDress in this. Again, this will be a challenge as knits and I are NOT friends, but I'm willing to give it another chance.
All this fabric cost me just $23. So cheap!

The store location is 112 Bowden Street, Meadowbank, on the corner of Nancarrow Ave, not far from Constitution Road.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Spotty dotty Laurel dress

I recently took a(nother) sewing class, this time at Bobbin + Ink in Newtown. This is a great little store run by two sisters. Juliet runs the sewing studio + teaches sewing and Laura runs a screen printing workshop where you can take lessons or come in to use the equipment.  I love that Sydney has a few of these more independent crafting stores popping up.

During the class at Bobbin + Ink we were making (or tying to make) the ever-popular Laurel dress by Collette Patterns. I'd been eyeing of this pattern for a while and I liked what Collette had to offer in terms of patterns to fit me. This class was just the motivation I needed to get going with my first non-stretch dress project.

And the result? I have a finished dress - hooray! I made this up in a size 18 and was SO worried that it was going to be too small. Ironically it's actually too big, quite a bit too big actually. When I went back to the pattern packet and read the "finished measurements" I see now that this dress has quite a lot of "ease" in it so I could have made a smaller size...but I guess in the back of my mind I'm scared not to make the biggest option available in case it's too small.

There's a few things wrong with this dress in terms of fit and fitting in with my own personal style.
  • the dress is too big. I'm not too sad about this as it means that Collette Patterns will fit me. Yay!
  • I'm finding the fabric (from Lincraft) to be kinda hot and heavy, not cooling at all like a cotton should be. 
  • The fabric is also quite "stiff". I feel like I'm wearing cardboard...a cardboard sack. I'm thinking perhaps that my issues with the fabric are exacerbated by the fact that the dress is too big.
  • Although it doesn't look it, the neckline feels too high for me...I feel a bit like I'm being strangled. 
  • I also have issues with "high necks" as they are not flattering on bustier people, like moi.
  • The sleeves, for me, are an awkward length and quite restrictive. If I made this dress again I'd shorten them to above the elbow.

It's not all doom and gloom though. Although the dress is too big I'm pretty happy with the outcome. I learnt A LOT in this class and I'm chuffed to have finished an entire garment ON MY OWN!

This class has taught me:
  • How to transfer dart markings from a pattern to the fabric (I had NO idea how to do this and it was a major roadblock to me starting to sew on my own).
  • How to sew darts (they always seemed so scary to me).
  • How to make a little pocket and reinforce the sides to make it stronger.
  • How to insert an invisible zipper (I found this HARD, so hopefully I won't struggle with it too much in the future).
  • How to finish neck/armholes with bias binding.
  • How to (badly) hem a dress - I found this REALLY hard and couldn't get the hem an even width the whole way around. How do people do this?
  • When you start stabbing yourself with a pin whilst sewing take your foot OFF the foot peddle thingy, otherwise blood.

I'm thinking I may remake this dress at some stage in a size 16, or possibly a 14. I've been looking around for the "perfect" fabric but so far I've not found anything that leaps at out me. We're off to Japan in February and I'm hoping I'll pick up something wonderful there. Wish me luck!