Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Navajo Print Coco Dress

Ladies and Gentlemen, I think we have a winner!

So far my favourite Coco on the interwebs is this one by A Stitching Odyssey. I LOVED the Aztec printed fabric she used and really wanted to make a version of this for myself.  It's hard to find nice, printed ponti in Australia so I started trawling fabric sites and found this Navajo Arrow Desert Tribal Ponte de Roma on Along with postage I paid about $45AUD for 3 yards of this fabric - not cheap, but not bank breaking either considering the price of fabric here.

This ponti felt nothing like the version I used for my previous Coco. It was much thinner for a start and felt quite slinky. It was defiantly more stretchy (55% stretch according to the Girl Charlee website, whereas the sparkly ponti had only 25% stretch). This Navajo ponti also feels less "stiff". Although this version of Coco has the same fitting issues as my other version it seems to drape much better so all is forgiven (or hidden).

I had a total brain fade when cutting this dress out. On the last version I couldn't cut the back out on the fold (due to lack of fabric) so had to add a 1.5cm allowance to the back pattern piece. Stupidly I forgot to take this off when cutting out this new version and didn't realise until I went to sew the dress up. Ergo...I had to remove the extra 3cm by basically cutting the back in half and sewing it up again with a 1.5cm seam allowance. It does ruin the flow of the fabric but I cannot see it so I'm going to pretend like it's not there.

I didn't like the turned down neckline of my last version as it feel messy...and I didn't like the funnel neck on my first version as it didn't suit my bigger bust.  This time I decided to finish the neck with a neckband.

As you can see above (and below) the band is a little big (though I did use the pattern piece provided) so next time I'll just cut it a bit smaller if my fabric is similar to what I've used here. I could probably unpick this and redo it but it's pretty securely attached so I'm just going to live with it.

I'm pretty happy with my stripe matching - I spent a lot of time trying to make sure that the stripes would line up on the side seams. I didn't give much thought to the rest of the pattern placement so I'm just thankfully I don't have too big yellow blobs right on my boobs.

You can see below that I still have quite a bit of a fabric pooling above my butt and below my shoulder blades. I'm not sure how to get rid of this within my current skill set - and I think the drapiness of the fabric - and busyness of the print - pretty much hides it. What do you think?

Next time I think I am going to cut the sleeves a size smaller too - and possibly reduce the size of the sleeve head thingy as I'm having trouble fitting it to the sleeve "hole" thingy.

All in all I'm pretty happy with this dress - especially as I sewed the entire thing whilst immersed in the worst cold I've ever had (complete with sinus, chest and throat infection). I didn't refer to the instructions once and was on total autopilot - so snaps to me that it's actually wearable! I think what makes me really like this dress is the print...I LOVE the fabric.

And...I've already worn the dress. TWICE. IN PUBLIC! Once to work where I got quite a few compliments, and once out to a family dinner (where I had to point out to everyone that I made the dress myself - but that's family for you)!

AND...there was NOT one single problem with my overlocker or my sewing machine whilst sewing this. Both behaved perfectly. Go figure.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Lady Skater fail (and an overlocker betrayal)

OK, I'm not going to whinge too much in this post as I think I'm getting a reputation for being a bit of a...whingy whinger, but honestly if you'd just had the overlocker dramas I had making a toile of the Lady Skater bodice then you'd whinge too!

First things first...from the measurements of the Lady Skater it should've fit me by a country mile. From the high bust measurement I should've made a size 6, but for old time sake I went for the largest size (as I just cannot help myself) and it was TOO SNUG! WHAT???

The stunt-ponti I used didn't have much stretch to it so I think if I went with something more drapey and with more stretch I may have better luck. I'm considering if I should give this another whirl in a different fabric...I'll get back to you on this one!

I actually think my overlocker does not like this thick type of Ponti as it battled me at every turn! Have a look at this...

and this...


After an hour of threading and re-threading the overlocker the red looper kept unthreading...arrrgggh! I finally rang Bernina who said to make sure that I was threading the overlocker in the correct order (loopers then needles)! Rookie mistake (that I'll never make again).

So that is problem number 1 solved but then the overlocker wouldn't stitch missed a lot of stitches meaning the garment wasn't securely sewn. I went over each row of stitching twice just to be "safe".

I actually think a lot of these issues were to do with the fabric as I've since sewn a dress in a different, thinner fabric with NO problems at all (same needle and not rethreading the machine). Talk about temperamental.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Overlocker Class and a new scarf

After the overlocker drama with the Anita Ponti Pants (that I'm sure you're sick of hearing about) I realised that my 3 spool Singer overlocker from the 1980s wasn't going to cut it for the type of garments I want to sew....which is stretch stretch stretch. I didn't realize that the 4th spool (aka the "secure stitch") was essential if I intended to sew garments entirely on my overlocker. Whoops.

A quick skim on Gumtree saw me racing up to the Central Coast to collect a Bernina 800DL...pre-loved, but less than half the price of a new one. SOLD! Full disclosure: I choose this machine in particular as Susan has the same one...if the machine totally poops itself I can go crying to Susan (sorry Susan)!

Before I started using the machine it went in for a service at the Bernina Sewing Centre in Chatswood and on the day I picked it up I took part in an overlocker class run by the store. This class is EXCELLENT (best $60 I've ever spent) and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It's not just for Benina machines so if you have any hesitation in using your overlocker then this is the class for you.

During the class we learnt SO much about how to use our overlockers.  I can thread up it no worries, and I know how to set it up to do a rolled hem LIKE A BOSS! I can oil it, change the needle, disengage the knife...oh, so many things!

I was super keen to use the machine as soon as I got home - particularly the "rolled hem function", so after the class I ran up to Tessuti in Chatswood and went straight for the remnant bin. I found a nice piece of poly something-or-other for $10 that I thought would make a nice scarf.

I retheaded the overlocker in black thread LIKE A BOSS, and then removed one of the needles, and set it up for a rolled hem by following the instructions in my manual.  Within about 15 minutes I had myself a great new scarf . I LOVE the way the rolled hem looks.

And here I am wearing it and totally loving myself sick! This was such a quick, gratifying project and perfect for me as I love scarfs and wear one nearly every day when the weather permits. I thought the Poly might feel a little scratchy against my skin, but it feels quite lovely.

I also love my Bernina 800DL...

I love my new scraf so much that I wore it out to brunch the very next day...and I didn't spill egg on it (not that you'd notice with this crazy pattern)!

Oh Bernina 800DL...I cannot wait until we meet again!

Spoiler alert: the very next weekend I sat at my overlocker to make a toile of the Lady Skater Dress and the machine fought me at EVERY turn. Talk about machine issues!  I now hate my Bernina 800DL...why has it betrayed me?

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Coco...the sparkly

I got stuck straight into my second Coco Dress once I'd set the last stitch of my ugly poo-brown version. I'd actually bought this fabric from with a pair of groovy Anita Ponti Pants in mind - but the pants are on hold until I can work out how to heighten the back rise (which I will do in an upcoming class with Silva at Tessuti).

It's a pretty wild print - a black fabric with a silver glitter cheetah print! The glitter means I couldn't iron on the right side of the fabric without a piece of muslin over the top...but it was a small inconvenience for something so bling-a-licious.

As you can see I've eliminated the funnel neck on this version and I think this is a much better look for me. I had a bit of trouble turning the neck down though as I added in some iron-on stabilising ribbon "stuff" I bought from Tessuti and the neckline lost all its stretch (also making it not 100% comfortable in that area and it sort of pulls on the shoulders). The neck is also not very neat which bugs the bejesus out of me!

Overall I'm fairly happy with my finished dress but I'm not sure that I love it due to some fitting issues.  I'm not sure that I'll wear it all that often, but only time will tell. It feels more like a "going out at night dress" rather than a "wearing to work dress", but that's OK as I actually go out to dinner quite a bit.

You can see on the photo below that there is a bit of excess fabric around the top of my arm/above my bust. It makes the dress feel a bit big but I'm not sure how to get rid of this. I think the top of the shoulder seams are also a tad too big as they drop off my shoulder a bit...I wonder if I should size this area down on the pattern (but would that make the arm hole too tight)? I'm finding the dress really uncomfortable on my right shoulder (which is my "sore" shoulder)...perhaps if I eliminate the neck stabilising "stuff" it'll have a bit more give to it?

My main "issue" with the fit on me is the excess amount of fabric on the back of my dress - above my bum.  You can see the fabric pooling at my shoulders, and then also pooling in the curve of my lower and upper back. I'm sure the issues with pooling at my lower back can be fixed with a swayback I need to work out how to do that. Not sure what to do about the pooling around the shoulders....if I fiddle with this area too much I think I risk making the dress to tight on my arms/chest.

I had to add a back seam in to the dress as I didn't have enough fabric to cut both the front and the back on the fold. I'm really pleased with how this worked out. I even topped stitched the seam down so it's super neat (AND my line of stitching is pretty much straight - winning).

I decided to add cuffs to the sleeves again as I think it's a really tidy finish. I LOVE them...though next time I think I'll taper the sleeve in a bit as both the sleeve and the cuff feel too loose.

I'm not sure why I am having so many fitting issues with this pattern (and let's face it, every pattern I've ever attempted). From all the reviews I've read on line seem like straight forward sews, and I haven't spotted any of the fitting issues on any of the (million) photos I've been stalking on Google.