Of soft silk, bias, and failure

I really wanted to make a soft, feminine blouse to wear with linen trousers on a date with my husband this week.  I usually default to tailored tops, or tees, so something more romantic was in order.  Of course, romantic also can also be an appeal to the idealized, heroic, or adventurous.  And, I had some idealized or imaginary ideas about my skill level – sewing soft silks was/is an adventure.

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Oscar + Milly: Vogue 2712

My first attempt was the Oscar de la Renta off the shoulder ruffled blouse (Vogue 2712, published 2002), in Milly silk chiffon.  The chiffon is very light-weight.  I had no trouble stitching the french seams on the body of the blouse or the lining.  I practiced the baby hem – which I’ve done many, many times on silk CDC, cotton and linen – several times on scraps of the chiffon.  No success – too heavy, stiff, wonky.  I did gets loads of advice from the Goodbye Valentino RTW FB group, but I decided to set it aside to work on a simpler project and get more practice.  (The best advice, I think, was the fusible thread in the bobbin, but I haven’t tried it yet).

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Alice+Olivia, Vogue 1245

So I jumped straight in to Vogue 1245, view B, from Alice and Olivia (published 2011). Should be easy right?  Four pieces… I calculated two nights.  And I decided on a lightweight teal silk georgette.  The first thing?   The shoulder/top of the sleeve is cut on the bias, with french seams.  I jumped in got those French seams done, and moved to the second, the baby hem on the sleeves.

Slow down.  First mistake – not stabilizing that shoulder seam first.  It grew by 2 inches while making the french seams. I didn’t notice until I went to do the baby hem – which I probably should have let hang first.  And then, I decided to use the instructions for the baby hem – which are different from how I learned… and wow, that didn’t work.  Should have used Schaeffer’s method.  A mess.

So, while the pattern is theoretically easy, it can’t be rushed.  And I really did only have two nights to make it.  I have enough fabric to recut the sleeves, so I will do it later.  In fact, neither is a complete failure, since no fabric was completely ruined.  I can finish them, when I’m not rushing.  But I need more practice before I attempt either of these again.

 

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The Azalea Skirt (Anne Klein II, V2778, OOP)

Spring is here.  How do I know?  The itchy scratchy throat and eyes.  Yes, the pollen. Enough of that…

The azaleas are BLOOMING!

Friday afternoon, I decided that I wanted something bright and cheerful to wear on Monday (today).  I hunted down the hot pink floral fabric that I purchased from Emma One Sock in 2015, that was always destined to be this vintage pencil skirt.  I just finally got around to making it and wore it to work today.  When I started working with the fabric, I realized the color matched the azaleas in my yard, and the flowers were very similar.

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The pattern… I remember buying this pattern in 1991!  I even bought the fabric for the skirt, body suit, and jacket.   Talk about UFOs… I never made the jacket or the bodysuit, and I’m not sure what became of the fabric.  I did make the skirt in a rust wool with a royal blue rayon lining.

Here’s the funny part.  In my relative newness to sewing in 1991, I started the skirt.  The directions are for an underlining… not a lined skirt.  I didn’t know the difference then, but was really disappointed that, after constructing the seams, I had raw edges to deal with – not RTW at all!  I remember thinking – “the instructions are wrong”.  I was disappointed and set it aside.  Life flew by and I found it and the pattern after a move a couple of years ago. I could no longer fit in that version, but I have made the skirt twice since, well three times now.  I also know the difference between underlining and lining, and generally prefer the underlining now.

I still have the other two skirts – one is a straight size 12 in a black wool broadcloth, underlined in black silk CDC.  It’s a little short, and is too small now, but I really love it!  The other is a vintage floral bouquet, size 14, lined in cream silk CDC, blogged here.

This one was quick and easy.  I knew I didn’t want it lower than the knee in this fabric, but the designed version was too short.  Because this skirt is tapered to the knee (or thigh), I lengthened the skirt at the lengthen/shorten lines by two inches.  It’s just above the knee.  I also graded it out at a size 14.

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The fabric is a slotted weave in cotton from Emma One Sock. It has a fair amount of body, and a quilted feel to it.  BUT, you can see through the slots.  So, I underlined the entire skirt (as per the instructions) with white cotton batiste.  I considered a matching pink.  I had some leftover from a previous project, but not quite enough and didn’t want to be bothered with dye.

In terms of construction – I serged my raw edges instead of using Hong Kong finishes (which I had done in my previous versions.)  I added a bar tack above the back slit, inside, to help prevent mishaps.  And, I inserted the invisible zipper.   On this skirt, and the 8 gore skirt though, my zippers aren’t invisible.  I don’t know what I’m doing different, but the top hardware is not hidden.  Suggestions anyone?  I don’t think I’m doing anything different, but I must be.

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My son took the picture this morning.  He’s six!  And it was grey and raining, so none in front of the azaleas.  The blouse is Kate Spade, purchased last fall.  It would be an easy make – and is trimmed with rick-rack.

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Last Make of the Year: Paco Peralta top (Vogue 1567)

Let’s finish the year with something easy and festive.  I cut this top out before Christmas, but I’ve been so busy (like everyone) that I spent only 5-10 minutes a day on it.  I’m not fond of the skirt (I have wide hips), but the top looked simple (and I thought it would be done to wear Christmas day).

Vogue 1567 is a close-fitting top with dolman sleeves (wow – haven’t seen them in a while).  With only two pattern pieces, the emphasis is on the fabric and construction.  I chose a poly stretch velvet in green (Sage Shimmer Velvet) from Marcy Tilton. It’s sold out of course.  It’s knit, with no rolling and easy to sew.

Vogue 1567 Paco Peralta, from Vogue webpage.

The pattern itself is fairly simple and the instructions are fine.   I made several construction choices to make it my own.

  1. Instead of double stitched hems, I stitched the seams on my straight stitch machine (pulling lightly as I stitched).  I finished all seams on the serger.  I’m not confident in sewing a straight line with a 5/8ths seam on the serger – though I am with the 3/8ths – has to do with the cutting knife position on the one I bought.
  2. In the directions, the back facing, sleeves and hem are all turned under 1/4 inch and then top-stitched with two rows of stitching.  I didn’t turn under any of these edges; rather, I finished the edges with the serger for a less bulky finish with the velvet.  I only top stitched the back v to give it more stability and reduce stretching.  I wanted a softer hem on the sleeves and waist, sew I hand-sewed these hems.
  3. I will likely take in the neckline a bit (1/2 inch each side), the neck is very wide, and I don’t think I did it quite right (see below).  I will also add lingerie straps.
  4. I added my customary 1.5 inches in the torso for being long waisted.

So, I have never quite gotten the technique right for the fold-over facing on these type tops. Something is always out of whack for me.  I followed the instructions carefully, and lined up my notches, but the shoulder seams seem slightly off (see the picture).  Hard to describe, but the front facing is turned tot he outside, along the fold line, over back, basted, then stitched.  Then you turn the front facing to inside along the fold line, and press lightly.  Anyway, they are always a bit wonky.

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See, a bit wonky.

This was my inspiration top:  a Vince Camuto velvet boxy top in green I found on Nordstrom.  I like mine better!

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The inspiration top.  But the construction looked terrible!

I’m pleased with the top. I’ll post a picture of me in it with the skirt I’m making to go with it.  I might make another one, but the sewing agenda for the new year is quite ambitious.  Right off the top: a coat for DH, two dresses for my niece, two skirts, another top, and two dresses….

And my version, complete:

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At long last, the Rucci dress is finished (Vogue 1239)

What a journey with this dress!  I bought the pattern in 2011 when it came out.  I found the fabric in 2012.  The envelop back said edge-to-edge lining, china silk, 60″.  I searched forever for a matching blue silk habotai in a wide width.  Finally, I took the pattern out and studied it:  not edge-to-edge, but facings, and 45″ would do fine.  Started enthusiastically.  Started sewing the lining and remembered:  I absolutely hate working with and wearing silk habotai. Ordered silk CDC, cut it out, and… stopped.  I needed to make Halloween costumes.  It stared me in the face for months into three years, and finally, I got back to it last week (enthusiastically, too).

From Vogue’s website.

I was ambivalent last night when I tried it on, but wore it to work anyway.  It’s the first thing I’ve made (that could be worn to work) that ever received open compliments, from the cleaning woman to colleagues to students.  They loved it.  By the time I had gotten to work, I felt good in it, and decided that my ambivalence had to do with two things:  I know there are many small errors  and that I’m not used to being so covered up  (warm climate).  So, as the day wore on, I felt more at ease with the look, though it really is pretty fancy for work, and maybe is best for an evening of culture.

As for the look: some have described it as sci-fi, or lab coat.  That’s what I was expecting, an ultra-modern look.  But it felt more like the 1950s.  My husband said it looked nice, and had a 1950s vibe (before I even asked).  He also said it reminded him of June Cleaver.  I was not annoyed – it’s exactly what I thought too!  So, I donned my grandmother’s pearls and headed off to work.

I’ve blogged this before here, here, here, and here.  But now the details, plus pictures (including me):

The pattern:  Vogue 1239, Vogue American Designer CHADO ralph rucci. Close-fitting, lined to edge dress has shoulder darts, side front pockets, inside ties, hook and eye closure.

The fabric:  The pattern calls for a crisp fabric (poplin, taffeta, shantung), which is necessary to get the look pictured. I chose a silk poplin (Isaac Mizrahi) in deep blue from Mood Fabrics.  I lined it with a very dark navy silk crepe de chine from Gorgeous Fabrics.

The directions:  were mostly good.  I didn’t have any issues except with steps 49 and 59.  In 49, you are directed to cut one upper front band lining section along line indicated in pattern tissue.  I apparently cut both when I cut the lining.  I  basted to see what would happen, and it was perfect.  So, I’m pretty sure you are supposed to cut both (and the pattern tissue seems to indicate this too).

Step 59 was a real problem. This was finishing those beautiful sleeves.  Well, I got mine done, but they aren’t as lovely as the photograph.  For the life of me I couldn’t figure out what the directions wanted me to do there. So, I pressed under my edges, basted them wrong sides together, very carefully fell-stitched (or slip) them together by hand, then did my edge stitching.

Other things I did: I made a size 12, adding one inch to lengthen the torso.  I made a muslin, so this is what I concluded I needed.  I think now another half inch in length would have been optimal. I made no other adjustments on sizing.  After wearing it all day, I think I would decrease the circumference of the sleeve openings a bit.  They are on the long size, and make my skinny wrist even skinnier looking.

My initial tests with thread suggested a longer stitch for the edge stitching.  After several tests, I decided I got the cleanest look with edge, but no top stitching, silk thread and a length of 2.5.

The dress has no interfacing, and since I was not top stitching (which helps give the dress its structure), I interfaced all the facings with silk organza. In addition, to help keep the neckline from stretching, I basted organza selvedges along the neckline.

I reinforced my corners using the couture method from Claire Schaeffer’s book.

Finally, the dress may channel June Cleaver, but it’s a risky dress. With only ties, the belt and one hook and eye to hold it in place… well. Before I left for work, I added a snap at the bust line.  I also moved the eye over toward the side by nearly an inch.  The hook and eye is a little high and wanted to come undone, so I found myself tying the belt a little above my natural waistline.  I will move it down slightly, and add a second hook and eye.

Though it took me over night to warm to the dress, I like it. I would consider making it again, if I found a more casual fabric that suited the lines of the dress.  Oh, and I LOVE the pockets on this dress!

I’m not so great with photographs. I use an iPhone to get selfies. On top of that, my vision is such that I can’t see what’s on the screen without the reading glasses.  My contacts only correct for long vision.  Sigh, I need bifocals. Pictures of the odyssey:

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Yes, I pressed the fabric before continuing.

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Blurry, but look, it’s fall in Florida. Or winter. Okay, its 80 out.
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Focused, and you can see the oranges.  But I added the snap after this picture.  Did I say this fabric is impossible to press?  And puckers? The puckering was why I eliminated the top stitching and kept only the edge.

Double Knit Comfort in Vintage Style (Vogue 9187)

I have some things I want to finish, and a few new, more complex projects on the way.  But first, a quick comfortable, yet stylish top.  Vogue 9187 is a re-release of a 1960 close-fitting top.  I think I have a version of the original pattern from my grandmother (it has buttons up the back).

img_3195I first did the muslin on this sometime last year, with handkerchief linen in mind.  This top is too close-fitting for linen.  I had some of the rayon/spandex double knit left over from making my niece a dress, so I thought I would adapt the pattern for a stable knit.

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I made view D, in a size 12.  There is very little ease here (great for a knit).  I eliminated the back zipper (placing the seam line on the fold).  I lengthened the torso 2 inches; this one barely came to my belly button, so that was necessary.  It’s still a bit short, but since it’s designed to be worn untucked, it’s okay.  For a bit more wearing ease, I sewed 3/8 inch side seams.  This led to some gaping under the arms.  To fix this, I tapered to 5/8th seams under the arm, starting about two inches down.

 

If I had given it any thought, I would have changed how to do the facings for the neck and arm holes.   With no back zipper, you can’t simply pull through, as instructed.  So, I stitched the neckline, under-stitched, and pressed.  Then I use the techniques from inserting a lining from Susan Khalje’s Couture Dress class to hand sew the facings in for the arm holes.  Took longer, worked just fine.

I love this top.  I will probably try the true vintage one I have first though before doing this pattern soon (I have a duppioni in mind and the buttons down the back would be pretty).

And, yes, I know, I have to get some pictures of these things with me in them.  Just haven’t wanted to photograph myself lately.

A basic skirt: Very Easy Vogue 9209

After the Donna Karan jacket, I wanted something easy.  I chose this skirt. Yes, very easy, but it still took a couple of weeks to finish.  By that I mean, I did everything but the buttons/buttonholes in an evening, got distracted by life for a couple weeks, then finished it.

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Vogue 9209 (from 2016) is a true wrap skirt for crepe, gabardine, ponte or lightweight denim.  I chose a khaki cotton twill with loads of stretch that I  purchased from Emma One Sock in 2014. I was saving it to make a pair of cropped khakis, but finally realized I would never do that. The fabric has a nice weight to it with some good stretch, so I thought this would make a versatile skirt. I used pro-weft supreme medium interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply.  The beautiful, high-quality brass-toned buttons come from Pacific Trimming (I’m not sure where the flat clear buttons I used on the inside came from).

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Close-up of the buttons.

I followed the pattern instructions pretty faithfully, making the midi version (B). Since my weight gain has been in the tummy/hips, and I’ve always borderlined 12/14, I chose size 14 (but it still feels big in some ways).  The only thing I did different on this pattern was to underline all the facings (something by hand).  There is one error in the pattern – the placement for the interior buttons is off by two inches.

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The interior placement of the buttons is off.  I later trimmed the loose threads from those buttonholes.  Note that I machine under-stitched in most places, but around the corners of the buttons I under-stitched by hand.

The pictures were mostly taken after wearing all day (and thus show wrinkles). As for wearability?  This is an okay skirt. It’s sits 2 inches above the waist – and after two decades of low-waisted skirts/pants I’m just not accustomed to that.  The overlapping fabric means a lot of fabric in the front, and it sometimes bunches.  It only calls for two inside buttons, and I’m thinking more are necessary.  The one thing I don’t like?   How my knee kept grabbing the front hem/facing.  It stays modest (mostly closed) unlike many wrap skirts.

In the end, an easy skirt, but I’m beginning to think the pencil wrap skirt isn’t really my favorite style.

 

 

A big project, not hard, but big: Vogue 1440, Donna Karan fringe jacket OOP

No really, this jacket isn’t hard, but all the detail requires a great deal of attention and patience.  Much of the work is tedious, such as making all that piping.  Still, I am pretty happy with the result, and the style is more relaxed and fun than my usual work wear (which is highly tailored, traditional).   I encountered various problems throughout the project, these problems are addressed throughout the overview.

To start, from the pattern (Vogue 1440, OOP, though a 2015 release): “Unlined jacket has fringe, shoulder pads, draped front extending into back collar, wrong side shows, seam detail, no side or shoulder seams, two piece sleeves, mock band on upper sleeve, and continuous bias for piping and finishing seams.”  Note, nothing in the description discusses fit. It’s got a fair amount of ease, but most of that is due to the drape; the fit across the shoulders and upper back is semi-fitted to fitted.  And note – there is no provision for adjustments above the waist (such as for a long waist).  This is definitely a more casual jacket – or really – draped open cardigan.

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Vogue 1440, fashion photo from the pattern.

By the way, for this pattern, I had to study the instructions, the line drawings, AND the photograph to figure out some of the details.

About the fabric:  The pattern calls for lightweight tweeds, cotton blends.  I concur.  This jacket could easily overwhelm many frames, so keep the fabric on the lighter side. It’s also going to show on the reverse side, so keep that in mind.  I used a no longer available lightweight cotton blend tweed from Emma One Sock.  I scooped it up right when the pattern was released, not realizing that the reverse was going to show, primarily on those big collar “lapels”.  My reverse is more vanilla and black and far less red than the face side.  No worries, I cut it so the “face” was the reverse.  The collar covers all of the front of the jacket and also functions as the bottom few inches of the jacket.  If you look carefully you can see that the bottom front is a different shade than the rest of the jacket.  My fabric was also loosely woven, which meant that it shed to look at it. To help manage this, I cut the pattern pieces out, but left a wider seam, which I trim down with a rotary cutter right before sewing the pieces.  You don’t want to use fray block, because you do want some of those edges to fringe later. But I couldn’t wait to clean my sewing room.  It also stretched a bit on some of the pieces, leaving the shoulders slightly out of shape, so consider stay stitching some of the edges.

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If you look at the bottom of the jacket, you’ll note the reverse shows, and is a different color. I preferred the big collar part to be more red than vanilla/black, so I attached it in a way that favored it.

You’ll also need a lightweight fabric for all the piping and binding.  All of the piping pretty much is visible – but so is some of the binding.  I was glad in the end that I chose a lightweight silk charmeuse from Gorgeous Fabrics in one color for consistency across the jacket.

Notes on the The Piping and the Binding: it’s tedious.  The end.  No really, you will make 10 yards of piping.  You could purchase ready made, but most of that is low quality and fairly stiff.  For the piping, I found that using a piping foot (instead of the recommended zipper foot) to make the piping resulted in a tighter pipe. I also found that a piping foot worked better to construct the seams – except in those several occasions where you’ll have crossed seams.  With the crossed seams, use the zipper foot.  In addition, you definitely want to baste the piping as instructed, but you’ll also find that basting the seams together help keep the fabric from shifting.   By the way, in a size 12, I used slightly more than 9 yards of the 10 yards I made.

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Ten yards of piping.

I don’t recommend using the pattern piece to make the one long piece of continuous binding.  It’s only one inch wide, and if your fabric is at all thick you won’t have enough width for turn-of-the cloth (and in places you’ll have multiple layers to bind).  Cut your own strips, and slightly larger, which is what I did.

Fitting:  I read all the reviews on PatternReview, and almost everyone spent a great deal of time on their muslin.  In some cases, the changes really worked, but the jacket lost the original soul (though they looked amazing!).  I originally trimmed the pattern pieces to a size 10 (two years ago), but decided the better of it.  I had kept the trimmed edges and taped them back on.  When I made my muslin, I learned two things. One, that construction was pretty easy (excepting attaching the collar), and two, my regular size (12) fit best between the shoulders and across the back.  Wearing it today at work, I’m glad I did the 12, because I didn’t have much wiggle room when lecturing/gesticulating.  I also didn’t feel the need to add my usual length in the torso for my longer waist.  Remember, the muslin fabric is different than the fashion fabric.  I find the shoulders a bit more extended than I’m used too (about 1/4 inch); they fit the model this way as well. The sleeves are very long and narrow/fitted, which I really like.

Making the toile helps you practice matching up all those seams.  If you look at the fashion photo, you’ll note that the front piping all lines up on one side, but not the other.  They should match up according to the line drawing.  I basted seams to make sure mine met.

More on seam binding:  The inside of the jacket is quite beautifully finished.  It really is, except there are times when the seams don’t extend far enough to be caught up in the next set of seams, and you have a raggedy edge (as in the photo).  I used some silk embroidery thread and hand satin stitched over this.

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note how the seams aren’t caught in the binding and are hanging loose

Okay, let’s talk about the fringe, seam binding and grosgrain:  I bought this pattern immediately when it came out, so Vogue may have fixed this later in later editions.  I don’t know because they don’t have an errata on their website. But you will NOT cut enough fringe if you cut using the pattern piece they provide.  It’s simply not long enough, by quite a bit (about 12-15 inches if I remember).  The first three are fine for the top of the collar and the two sides, but the fourth piece for the bottom band is simply too short.  I had to piece the bottom band using leftover fringe from the sides of the collar.  It worked, but I was annoyed.  I also meant that I didn’t have any fringe left for the sleeves.  Since I wasn’t crazy about that, I didn’t care too much.

I studied the instructions and photo for quite some time to understand how the fringe would work and look after construction and fringing.  You apply the quarter inch grosgrain (I used petersham) to the placement line.  It doesn’t say how in the instructions – centered, top of the grosgrain to the bottom of the line or on top of the placement line.  I chose top of the grosgrain to the bottom of the placement line.  This results in a shorter fringe, which I preferred.

Second, you place the grosgrain on the right/face side of the fabric.  This means that all along the front, on that beautiful draping collar, is not grosgrain, but binding.  For me, that was far less attractive (see photo). The bound edge is not stitched down, and due the grosgrain placement, left an opening of about 3/8″ inch.  So, I used my leftover grosgrain and applied it over the binding.  Better, but now I  no longer had any grosgrain for the sleeves.  I was okay with no fringe on the sleeve, but I had planned to keep the grosgrain detail on the sleeves.   If you don’t do what I did (cover the binding), you’ll use far less grosgrain than the 5 yards listed in the notions.

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This is the front of that big lapel.  The seam binding is not tacked down here and can flip up. You could either top-stitch the loose edge (not in instructions) or apply the grosgrain for consistency (also not in the instructions).  I chose grosgrain. (This looked worse IRL than in the photo).

Take a real close look at the photo of the collar in the fashion shot.  The fringe is not fringed all the way to the black trim – that’s because the grosgrain (on the reverse of the collar) is lower than the binding.

And finally, the finishing details.  These were almost completely missing from the instructions.  Oh, sure, fringe the fringe, hem the sleeves and go.  Nope. All the tails of the binding are mingled in with the fringe and they are ugly.  You can’t fringe near the seams (including the mitered corners and CB seam).  The photo on the left below is before, with both the binding and piping hanging down. I painstakingly undid the stitching up to the grosgrain and careful trimmed excess binding and piping out of sight.  No need to finish them any more because they are caught in the two rows of stitching for the grosgrain. The photo on the right is the trimmed and completely fringed edge. Finally, you may find that you’ll have to lightly tack down some of the seams on the inside, if they still don’t behave after pressing and a clapper.

Overall: I like it, I’ll wear it, but it’s not likely I’ll make it again.  Still, it looks great, and made me really think about my own sewing skills and how to improve them. I left for work before it was light enough for pictures, but here it is on the dress form before I finished hemming the sleeves (they are basted in place) or doing a final pressing:

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Front view.
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Back view, before final pressing.

 

Summer Dress #2: Vogue 1089 (OOP)

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This dress took a while – not in terms of actual time sewing, but due to interruptions and distractions.  Even though I used mostly only couture techniques, this dress goes together quickly and well.  That having been said, I’ve incorporated a number of changes.

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The Pattern:  Vogue 1089, which was released 2009 and is now out of print.  It’s a basic fit and flare, with shaped midriff, and princess seams.

The Fabric: The pattern calls for cotton canvas, linen and lightweight denim… but I used a cotton sateen that I purchased from Gorgeous Fabrics in 2014 (for a different project).  I underlined it with silk organza and lined it with blue silk crepe de  chine.  I only interfaced the midriff, using carefully trimmed muslin.  The organza, CDC, and muslin are all from Gorgeous Fabrics as well.

The Instructions:  Well, since I didn’t use them, I can’t really tell you about it.  I used this pattern for Susan Khalje’s Couture Dress class on Craftsy (it’s very similar to the one she uses for the class).  In this case I followed her instructions to the letter.  It was very freeing to think about constructing a garment this way, from muslin to organza underlining to hand inserting the lining.  She’s a wonderful teacher and very easy to follow.  I learned quite a bit (some things are obvious, now that I’ve seen them).  However, if you don’t like hand-stitching, it’s not the class for you.  I like to hand-stitch, and find it very soothing.  I found every step of making this dress very enjoyable.

Changes I made:  I can’t recall every change I made as a result of the Craftsy class, but I’ll highlight the major ones.  I cut a size 12 in the bodice, tapering to a 14 through the midriff and waist.  If I lose weight, this dress will be too big, but oh well.  I also took up the shoulders 1/2 inch.   Finally, I needed to accommodate my longer torso: I added half an inch to the bottom of the bodice and half an inch to the bottom of the midriff.

In construction, I took a cue from Ann of Gorgeous Fabrics, who noted that the midriff doesn’t need to cut in half horizontally (unless you are going to add the jewels).  I also moved the zipper to the left side and hand inserted a lapped zipper (I’m losing flexibility and finding back zips a challenge). The lining is hand inserted, using the technique from the class.  That means I cut the lining from the pattern pieces, not the separate lining pieces.  It also means I eliminated the facings, and included a jump pleat for the hem.

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Showing off the jump pleated hem (and the gorgeous CDC)!
Thoughts:  I really like this dress and plan to make another one in a solid color for fall. It’s flattering, easy and fun.  Most of all, the class taught me to slow down and enjoy the process and the art of constructing a garment. For once, I paid attention to all details, including the finishing.

As always – apologies for the photos.  On top of my usual selfie with an iPhone photos, I sustained a serious knee injury last week (still can’t drive or walk properly).  Though I’m much improved, I really didn’t feel like make-up, hair, and heels to go outside and take pictures with the mosquitoes.

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Bathroom selfie with swollen knee and shaky shot.

Summer Dress #1: Vogue 8993 in linen

Or, I finally finished something.  Sewing has been taking a backseat to everything else.  On top of that, I’ve decided to incorporate couture techniques from Susan Khalje’s Craftsy courses. It’s taking a while to finish anything.

I LOVE this dress.  Not happy with the fit…. because I gained weight between the time of the muslin and finishing.  You see, it’s not just sewing that’s taken a backseat, so has my diet and exercise program…  I went for a long walk today, and am going to make it a priority again.

pattern description:   Very Easy Vogue 8993 c2014.  I bought this for something else, but never got around to it.  Then I bought the linen, and it was a good match.  From pattern: dress has neck band, cut in armholes, close-fitting lined bodice with side front and back seams, front pleated skirt, side pockets, back zipper and stitched hem.  I made View B, the midi version, which is really closer to just above the ankle (and I’m 5’9″).  I paired it with a slender silver-tone belt.

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Vogue 8993, View B
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sizing:  8 through 16. I made a 12 in shoulders and bust and graded out approximately to a 14 at the waist and hips.  I also made my standard torso length adjustment of about 1.5 inches added.

fabric:  I LOVE the linens from Marcy Tilton.  I don’t buy much else there, but I love it when she has linen.  This one was a digital print, Copeland, which is now sold out.  It’s light to mid-weight, drapey (when washed), soft.  The weave is a little looser than I like – the grain shifted a bit on the collar, I’m afraid.  I underlined the skirt with cotton batiste (from Susan Khalje).  I underlined the top with silk organza (Gorgeous Fabrics) and lined the bodice with the batiste.

tips used during construction:  I was watching Susan Khalje’s couture classes on Craftsy and used the couture techniques for the bodice.  I did the skirt the “traditional” or pattern way (but really didn’t pay that much attention to those instructions).  I used the instructions for the neck band/collar.  I added a waist stay after an exchange with Ann at Gorgeous Fabrics.

instructions?:  I didn’t really use them, except for the neck band.  There has got to be a better way to attach the neckband for a better quality result.  Here you sew the band, right sides together, trim, press and turn right sides out, stitch to bodice, slip stitch to the lining.  Easy enough, but getting things perfect at the front – not easy.  I want a nice clean line from the bodice to the band at the join, and that is a challenge to do well.

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construction notes:  I used a hybrid approach – home sewer techniques for the skirt and neck band, couture for the bodice and attaching the bodice to the skirt.  I did machine stitch the invisible zipper.   I feel like I got better quality results on the bodice all around.  I was more accurate using stitching lines (instead of cutting lines) and I put in the best lining I have ever done putting it in by hand the way Susan shows in her videos.  I always have difficulties with the arm holes – here perfect.

Even though this pattern is suitable for a lightweight denim, think about it before you do that.  This is a light/mid linen, underlined with very light batiste.  All the weight of the skirt is in the front – deep box pleats and pockets.  When I attached the skirt to the bodice, the weight of the skirt pulled the front of the bodice down, causing unattractive drag lines and gapping at the arms.  Ann at Gorgeous Fabrics suggested a petersham waist stay, which did the trick. I later found her blog post on the subject.  The petersham, attached at seams and darts of the waist, takes on the weight of the skirt, relieving the pressure on the bodice and shoulders.

Speaking of stays, I used organza selvedges at the v-neck and shoulders to stabilize and prevent stretching in these areas. I also used a double layer of organza, sewn in, for the neckband interfacing.  I did not top stitch the hem.

comments:  I love this dress.  I feel pretty in it, even if it’s a bit snug at the moment.  Give me a couple of weeks on that.  I will likely make this again, in the shorter version, with some design changes.  One thing I’m going to add – lingerie/bra carriers.   I didn’t realize they were showing in the photos.

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When to set aside a project?

In this case, when I can’t muster the enthusiasm to work on it and keep thinking of the next project.  I’m afraid that I will be sloppy as a result.

I’ve been working on the top to Vogue 1213, in a beautiful, easy to work with 3 ply silk crepe.  I love the blouse and I will finish it – in fact I don’t have far to go and I’m not putting it completely away.

You see, when I started this project, work was calm.  Then it became a storm – a hurricane.  I think I may have found one hour in an entire month to sew.  And now that things have calmed a bit, I’m not interested in working on it.  Part of the problem is that my brain has moved on to the next project.  And part is that the formal part of my job has ended for a few months (I’ll be working from home) and I don’t need a silk blouse right now.  I need summer dresses.

So here it is, and I do plan to finish it:

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Why do you put something aside?