Wednesday, 22 October 2014

"Heart on my sleeve" Casual Lady Dress

Geez, coming up with post titles is HARD work. My fabric has hearts on it, the dress has a little sleeve...and the sleeves on this dress are literally causing me pain (why so tight little sleeves)...hence "heart on my sleeves". It's a leap but let's go there shall we?

After the success (sort of) of my first Casual Lady Dress I was keen to whip up another one ASAP. I rushed out to Spotlight that very day and found a GORGEOUS heart print Polyester Elastane.  Better still it was on sale and I bought almost all of what was left on the roll.

When I was cutting out my first Casual Lady Dress (aka the Giant Sperm Dress) the fabric moved somewhat so I ended up with one WAY too big sleeve and one kinda normal sleeve. Of course in hindsight this means that I didn't actually know what the sleeves were meant to be like on this dress. On top of that for some CRAZY reason this time around I sewed the seam allowance joining the front and back to together at 5/8" rather than the recommended 3/8'...ergo, the sleeves they are TOO small. I think I was trying to make sure that the clear elastic on the shoulders fell well within the seam allowance...because clearly my skin would melt if the elastic touched it...or something.

Apart from the Sleeves of Torture I REALLY like this dress. I think the fabric is tres cute and the style really suits me. The dress is "curve skimming" without being too tight; and is loose without being sack-like. It's really simple to sew.

I think the dress looks quite good from the back possibly helped by how drapey the fabric is. There is a bit of pooling in the small of my back where the fabric hits my derrière but I'm OK with that. I like a looser fit around my hides a multiple of "squishy bits".

On this make I decided to leave off the facing altogether and use a light pink fold-over elastic (FOE) to finish the neck and "arm hems"...cos I'm lazing and I also wasn't super keen on the facings last time.  Attaching the FOE was, for some annoying reason, much more difficult than my last go at this dress. On top of that when I released the sleeves were too tight (especially on my right arm) I tried to unpick the FOE in order to reapply it. That was NOT fun as I'd been sewing it on with quite a small stitch length. Gah. I'm also not loving the way the neckline is sitting - it looks mega homemade to me...and not in a good "I'm a sewing genius kinda way".

The fabric is quite thin and I agonized for DAYS over whether or not to line the dress (not that I know how to but I would've muddled through by making another dress from lining and just treating the lining/dress as one piece). Over the October long weekend I went to Canberra and met up with some of the Canberra Spoolettes...fabric sample in tow. I was told in no uncertain terms that the dress DOES NOT NEED LINING. Ok then...but I might pack a slip in my handbag as I feel the dress may be *just* a bit too see-through when the light hits it in the wrong way.

The hem is done using a zig-zag stich as my machine eats twin-needles for breakfast. I used a bit of that iron-on stay tape stuff to get the hem nice and even, although I cheated and over locked it on to the fabric first before turning it under to iron on which is less faffing all round really.

Update:  sooo, since drafting this post I wore the dress for an ENTIRE day! Gasp! First I lay around on the couch watching Project Runway and Grey's Anatomy whilst eating toast and oranges. Later in the day I drove the car over to Spotlight in Castle Hill where I found MORE of this fabric for a do-over. Note to self: when shopping for a particular fabric probably best NOT to wear a dress made of said fabric as you will attract much too much attention in the fabric store (though this did garner me a few nice comments on my first even unsolicited comments on a me-made garment).

Whilst the arms were tight, they weren't TOO bad...bearable if I had my mind on other things. The arms didn't prevent me from stuffing food into my face or driving the car. And as it was a really really hot day I couldn't have cared less if the fabric was see-through or not! So semi-win.

Pattern: Casual Lady Dress by Go To Patterns
Size: XXL (I'm think that's equivalent to an Aussie Size 16 - 18).
Modificaitons: left off facing and finished neck/arms with fold-over elastic. Hem has been lengthened but about 5cm.
Fabric: Polyester Elastane from Spotlight - purchased 2.1m and used most of it.
Notions: Fold-over elastic from Tessuti in Surry Hills - purchased 2m and used most of it.
Changes for next time: revert back to a neck-facing; increase size of arm-hole to less torturous proportions. 

Monday, 13 October 2014

Blog hopping across the Universe

I’m pretty sure EVERYONE has seen the Blog Hop that is doing the rounds of the blog-o-sphere. If you sick to death of them then move along folks…but if you want to learn a smidgen more about me then read on!

And thank you to Michelle for Buttontree Lane for nominating me for the blog hop. I was beginning to think noone was going to nominate me *sad face*! I was lucky enough to head to Canberra over the October long weekend where I met up with the effervescent and super fun Michelle and a bunch of the other Canberra Spoolettes. I just LOVE how friendly and welcoming other sewists really is a great, welcoming community.

Why do you write? The answer to this is pretty simple, because I want to. I like the idea of interacting with others in the sewing community and I hope through my blog I will make some new connections and new (IRL) friendships (which I already have - see above). I also want to start recording some of the pattern details/changes for my make as I think the blog will serve as a good “reference” for when I want to go back and remake a pattern. I don’t do that at the moment and it’s something I’ve noticed on some other blogs that I think would be really useful.

What are you working on? I have a rather large list of things I want to make that is only thwarted by lack of time (working 9 to 5 puts a serious cramp in my sewing plans) and lack of energy (aforementioned 9 to 5 makes me tired, so often when I have the time to sew I just have no energy or sewjo). All of that aside, this is what’s on my list for the next few weeks/months:

  • A Mabel skirt made out of stretch denim;
  • Another Casual Lady Dress with armholes that hopefully fit my arms this time;
  • A Clover dress made from some lovely fabric I bought in Malaysia this year. Woven garments are normally not my style (I like the comfort of a knit) but I’m going to give this one a whirl;
  • I have fabric for both a Moneta and a Myrtle and I hope to toile them both and then make them from their “proper fabric”…if I don’t botch the elastic at the waistband of either of these dresses that is;
  • Another Tokyo Jacket in a more sheer type of fabric;
  • A pillow case from some great cat fabric I bought in Tokyo earlier this year. I love the fabric too much to waste it on a singlet top I probably won’t ever wear;
  • A Pia dress with the shoulder modified to be more “tank” style. I’d like to make this in Chambray; 
  • A perfectly fitting Peplum Party Dress. I have SO many darn version of this dress that don’t fit quite right and I think I have narrowed down the final changes to make myself a wearable version. I’m just not sure if I have the energy “to go there”;
  • A Mabel skirt using some fabric left over from my “yum/yuck dress”; and I’ll include the button placket this time too.

So, as you can see this is L-O-N-G list. The items at the top of the list are the things I am super gung-ho keen to make ASAP. The stuff further down the list may or may not ever happen. I call this “meh territory”. I also already plans in the back of my mind for some cooler weather clothes (yes, I know we’ve not even hit summer yet and I’m already thinking about Winter 2015). This would include a few Mandy Boat Tees, Our Favorite Top, a cardian of some sort and perhaps even a cape. I also have a class coming up soon with Tessuti on how to modify a pants pattern so I WILL soon have a pattern for the Anita Ponti Pants that fits me.

How does your blog differ from others of its genre? I honestly don’t think it does. I sew a garment, take photos and then write about it.

I suppose unlike some people I post nearly all my makes…whether they are a hit or a flop. I learn a lot from blogs were people write about a failed garment – knowing what went wrong from them and why is SUPER useful information for beginners. Some people think it’s whinging to talk about “issues” and “what went wrong”, but I just think it’s being honest. Sewing is not easy, and it’s specifically not easy when you are bigger than many of the Indie patterns on offer – I’ve had a lot of fails and I’m not going to pretend otherwise. So there.

How does your writing process work? I sew something, take photos of the garment and then write my post. I’m a fairly quick writer so I don’t take long to knock out a post. It’s basically just a brain dump that I then “try” to proof read and spell check but I’m basically unable to check my own work, so sorry to all the grammar (etc) nazi’s out there.


The blog hop is now moving on from The Colonies and back to the Motherland as I'm nominating Rach from Rach Against the Sewing Machine (what a GREAT blog name).  I enjoy reading her blog as I think Rach is fairly new to sewing like me (and she sews Coco Dresses) newbies gotta stick together! Yo!

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

The giant sperm Casual Lady Dress

As much as I am (mostly) enjoying  ewing up my multitude of Coco dresses I don't want to become a one trick pony. I think sewing the same pattern over and over and over again would be tres dull.  So, I'm always on the hunt for something else to sink my sewing needle in to that is my style, easy to sew and will fit. Not any easy task let me tell you.

Somehow during a massive Google-searching-session I stumbled across the pattern for The Casual Lady Dress. I am a "casual lady" am I not (though I am a lady on a full-time basis, I'm just casual about know)? And I love me a shift dress. The hunt for a new pattern is (temporarily) over!

The pattern is fairly simple to put together.  It's just a front and + back pattern piece, plus a front + back neck facing. Simples. I did my usual trick of just making the largest size available and it fit...yay!

The pattern calls for a medium weight knit so I decided to hack into this fabric that I bought from...Tessuti! This is actually the very first piece of fabric that I EVER bought, which is kinda weird as it's a pretty slinky knit so not exactly beginner material. I obviously had delusions of sewing grandeur when I first started sewing.  This fabric is also quite sheer and I always questioned what I would make with I'm kinda OK with cutting into it for a practice dress (until I fluffed up the dress that is and now I have a WORLD of regret)!  Also, what IS the print on this pattern? The more I look at it the more it looks like weird, giant sperm. My husband thinks it looks like some sort of curled up dragon. Hmmm...

Like I said the dress is VERY simple to sew, but I COULD not turn the "arm hems" under as instructed without the "arm hem" (is there a proper term for "arm hem") being all bubbly and wonky. Does anybody even know what I'm talking about when I say "arm hem"?

I thought I'd use my rolled hem foot to create a lazy, but easy finish but it was just too loose and messy. And then in the middle of the night I woke up and thought I could use fold-over elastic to finish the arms nice and neatly. It worked SO well however my sleeves were uneven due to the fabric shifting during cutting. Because I cannot leave well enough alone I kept trying to even up the armholes and I now I have a a dress that I can BARELY fit my arms in to. Stoopid stoopid Melanie.

I loved the use of the facings to finish the neckline, but I wonder why the facing stops half way down the armholes and doesn't continue down to the bottom of the arm hole? I'm wondering if I would've had more success turning the "arm hems" under if the facing ran the whole length of the arm? Should I extend the facings people, or get rid of them altogether and use fold over elastic on the neckline too?

So here is my giant sperm dress with the two tight arm holes - ta da!

The dress fits REALLY well (apart from the arm holes that are cutting off the circulation to my upper limbs). I will definitely be making it again and I think I will use the fold-over elastic technique to finish the arms.

Is it lazy that I'm always looking for the easiest way to get the neatest finish? What's the most questionable print on a fabric you've ever bought?