Sunday, 28 September 2014

A Summery Coco

Ta da! Yes, folks...what we have here is ANOTHER Coco! And I think I really love it...thought it's still growing on a slow burn kinda thing. I actually thought I'd finish this dress and then chuck it in the charity bag...but it's a keeper for sure.

I bought this crazy fabric from the Alannah Hill Clear It Outlet in Fitzroy during my trip to Melbourne in August (it was the ONLY fabric I bought during my entire four day trip...impressive, huh)?

The fabric is some sort of Polyester/Elastaine mix that has a little bit of weight to it, and a good drape. For me, the Coco works much better in this sort of fabric rather than a stiffer Ponti-type fabric that the pattern recommends. It just sits better...

After have some..."issues" with the necklines on my other Coco's I really didn't want to try attaching a neckband to this dress. I also didn't want to use the funnel neck option as I think it would look weird with this fabric and would be too hot for summer anyway.

Soooooooooooo....I decided to try and make a facing and I have to say it worked pretty well for a first attempt (it's a bit puffy, but meh, I can't see it when the dress is on so I can pretend it's perfect). I topped stitched the facing down near the neckline, and then again at the bottom of the facing as it was curling up quite a bit (should I have used some stretch interfacing perhaps)? I think the neckline looks really good, and coincidentaly the exact same technique is used on a Leona Edmiston dress that I bought which I noticed after I brainstormed this technqiue all by myself *fist pump*.

I also decided to make this version with shorter sleeves and I added a cuff as I think it's a neat way to finish a sleeve. Twin needling is just way to risky and I didn't want to use a zig-zag stitch! The cuffs could possibly be a fraction tighter so I'll keep that in mind for next time.

I think the dress looks OK from the back too, but it still pools above my butt...I think I have a sway back in addition too much junk in the old trunk. Whatever.

I feel really pleased that I managed to come up with some ways to adapt this pattern for summer and to address some issues I've been having with the neckline. I'm not sure the facing would work with a ponti version (would it?) but it worked well this time. This is basically the dress I've been wanting to sew since I first sat down at a sewing machine just over a year ago.

So now that I've made the dress I always wanted I guess it's time to move on to a new hobby, right? As if!

Monday, 22 September 2014

A Mabel Skirt (+ some tricky pattern placement)

When Colette first released her pattern range for knits I jumped in feet first, wallet WIDE open and bought both patterns PLUS the sewing with knits book.

When her second knit dress pattern came out I bought that too. And then I didn't sew any of the patterns. Hmmm...curious. I'm not sure why this is the case given that I LIVE in knits and the style of both dresses appeals to me.  I think there's some tricky (for me) construction elements in the dresses (elastic waist - argh) so I've balked at the thought on embarking down that road. One day...maybe?

And then one day I was browsing in (you guessed it) Tessuti and saw this digitally printed FABULOUS ponti and I KNEW it'd make a great Mabel Skirt. The pattern calls for less than 1m of fabric so I felt it was OK to splurge on something that a bit fancy. At $49/m this is definitely the MOST expensive fabric I've ever bought...but then I have similar RTW skirts in my wardrobe that I've paid more for so justified it is. I love when a good self-enable when it comes to shopping.

I have tried to make a similar skirt to this without a pattern (twice) and let's just say epic fail doesn't even cover how wrong I went.  Overall I think this is a pretty good pattern for me - the fit is pretty good and it's super simple to sew. I will definitely be making a few more of these babies that's for sure. I already have two more versions swimming around in my head.

The Mabel pattern comes with three variations - version A being the most simple.  That said it's UBER mini so I had to lengthen it by a whopping by 15cms (I'm just under 5ft 8"). I used one of my existing RTW ponti skirts to make sure I got the length spot on. 

Before hacking into my fancy fabric I actually made a toile *gasp*. The waistband on the toile was a bit "too comfy" (aka loose) and the pattern doesn't include any elastic and relies on negative ease (and big guts I'm guessing) to hold this baby up. I made a straight XL and the waistband wasn't going to last the day with me, let alone 5 minutes. I tried make the waistband a size smaller but it was still not snug enough for my liking. Noone needs a pants-dropping incident in the office let me tell you.

I thought I could try adding some clear elastic into the waistband as a means of offering some support and I'm so happy to report that this actually worked. I recut the waistband to a size XL and overlocked the elastic to the inside of the waistband and then topstitched it down to ensure it didn't move around. Hurrah! It took me a few goes to get this right but I'm totally owning overlocking clear elastic now.

My only issue with this pattern...or probably the fabric was that no matter how I laid out the skirt I was going to have either bright arrows and glowing squares pointing to my "lady parts" and on my caboose. I probably should've thought about pattern placement before I laid down my big wad of cash, hey?  Ooops.  We've jokingly called this dress the "flaming V-jay-jay dress" at home and I think you can see why.

I'm super happy with this skirt. It's perhaps a little tight over my hips and bum, but I have big hips and a big bum and I'm totally fine with that. It fits no differently than my RTW skirts and I would always wear a longer top over a skirt like I'm happy.

So, confession time. What's the most you've ever spent on a meter or yard of fabric?

Monday, 15 September 2014

The 6 month Tokyo Jacket

I started this Tokyo Jacket back in April and finally finished it in the last weekend of you do!

The fabric is from Tessuti (where else) and is a lovely, buttery soft, Japanese Crepe. Though, let's translate that statement shall we: the fabric looks and feels LOVELY = a nightmare to sew and cut! The fabric frayed like a...crazy fraying thing and at one stage I thought the whole thing was going to fray itself to death.

I started this jacket in one of Tessuti's "open classes" where you go along and sew a Tessuti pattern under the guidance of a teacher. In my class we had Silva teaching...she's the Yoda of the sewing world let me tell you!

The fabric took a while to cut out and when I came to attaching the neckband I realised I'd somehow cut it out WAY too short so I couldn't finish the jacket (not that I was anywhere close to that stage anyway). Sadly for me I didn't actually have enough fabric to recut the neckband but Tessuti VERY kindly set aside a piece of the fabric for me so I could recut the neckband another time.

I was going to finish the jacket at home, but after talking to Colette (who owns the store) I went back to Tessuti in August to finish the jacket. Silva was right when she said the neckband was the trickiest part to of the jacket and it would be better to do it the first time in a class environment. It was a bit fiddly to turn the fabric under and topstitch it down so the edge was encased and halfway through attaching the collar the collar started to "shift" and "grow" and "bubble".  It was pretty clear I was going end up in a mess! This is the benefit of the class - you look at the teacher with teary, puppy-dog eyes and she'll get you out of mess.

In my rush to finish the jacket in my second class I somehow sewed the cuffs on the wrong way so they couldn't be turned up as the pattern calls for. In the end I decided just to cut them off and hem the sleeves for a nice, clean (and easy) finish. If you know this pattern you'll also notice I've left off the pocket band...just to ensure I actaully finished the jacket this decade.

This jacket is far from perfect..and took me nearly five months to complete but I'm really proud of it. The fit isn't spot on around my shoulders/arms, but if I push the sleeves up it's comfy and wearable. Perhaps next time I'd make the sleeves shorter so I wouldn't have this issue.  I'm pleased that I stuck with the project despite the fabric being a bit difficult for me to work with. I have some fabric in my stash earmarked for a casual, summery version so watch this space...but don't hold your breath.