Thursday, January 29, 2015

Sunshine in a drop waist dress

Let me start by saying that this is just a wearable muslin. It is such a simple little sun frock that completely belies the amount of pattern cutting, slashing, taping and calico testing that went on behind the seams (ha, see what I did there!).

I'm still not happy with this dress though. It fits well and looks ok, but it doesn't match the vision in my head and I'm not happy with the way some of the pieces fitted together when I was sewing it. I had to do a bit of freestyle pattern shaping when I was sewing and of course by that stage, I'd had enough and failed to adequately record the last changes.

The pattern pieces of the skirt need the most work. I like the hi-lo hem, but I need to shave a bit more off the front and I need to remove a bit more body at the sides. I also need to work on the shape of the bottom bodice/flounce seam.

I like the look of the back though.

And for a behind the scenes look at my photo shoot. Like always, the little one is my Director of Photos, advising me on how to place my hands. She's dressed down today, in her big sister's cast offs that have been getting a second lease of life in the dress up box. There would usually be a few more layers of dresses involved in her outfit. She likes to wear all her favourite clothes at the same time.

But back to my dress. I'm not going to call it a compete fail. It's the kind of easy cotton sun dress that I can see myself wearing a lot over summer. And the colour definitely makes me smile. I'm just completely worn out by puzzling out this pattern. I've walked away. I'm yet to even pack away the crumpled, overly taped pieces of tracing paper, or the completed shorter skirt flounce that I decided not to layer over the longer flounce in the end.

I won't be making this pattern again as it is. Maybe I might have the strength to improve it or modify it in the future though. And having these blog photos to refer back to will certainly make it easier to see the changes that I want to make.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Simplicity 1327: Plaid on request

I've noticed something about my husband's wardrobe and it has a lot to do with who he sees each day and where we live. When he first started working with veterinarians and farmers in Australia, I noticed plaid shirts creep into his wardrobe for the first time ever. Rodd and Gunn took over from Hugo Boss and Ermenegildo Zegna as his brand of choice. 
So it stands to reason that there would also be some wardrobe updates after moving to the Midwest. It began with cowboy boots. Not just ordinary cowboy boots. They had to be the real deal, genuine caiman.
They go surprisingly well with the Drizabone he's been wearing for the past 18mths. So why would I be surprised that he would put in an order in for a "western-style" plaid shirt. He was quite specific on this one. Plaid was not enough. It needed to have the Western yokes and pockets too. *Sigh*. I'm really not into sewing costumes or matching plaid.


I wasn't planning on rushing into this make, but I somehow managed to stumble across the most amazing brushed cotton, Italian shirting  during a recent trip away, when I was lucky enough to visit Britex Fabrics in San Fransisco, in person. The fabric is beautifully smooth on one side and brushed soft on the underside. I wasn't very excited about sewing a "Western" shirt until I found this fabric. Fabric makes all the difference.

The pattern I used was Simplicity 1327. The sizing on this pattern is more general than other shirt patterns, which makes for less precise sizing. I cut this shirt in a size L, which was specified for a 42-44" chest. My husband is a 42" (or possibly a smidgen more after Christmas) which made me wary of ending up with an unattractively oversized shirt. To accomodate my laziness in lack of muslin making, I made the shirt up according to the instructions but only basted the side seams together initially. This enabled me to check the fit around the torso. It was a little roomy to begin with so I graded the seam allowance from 5/8" at the cuff (which was already a good fit) to 1" at the shirt hem. This brought the side and underarm seams in by just the right amount.

All the yokes, placket, cuffs, and pockets were cut on the bias. Apart from the yokes, which were stitched on the shirt as overlays, I fused interfacing to all of the other bias cut pieces to avoid them stretching out of shape while I worked with them. I used very light interfacing for the pockets and prepared them in the same way as this tutorial. I also used a little bit of Liberty of London as contrast in the collar band. And I came so close to matching up those bias stripes on the cuffs.

Despite my extreme lack of excitement in this project, I quite like the outcome. The bias cut plaid made for lovely contrast details in the shirt and I'm pleased with how the sizing worked out in the end. But more importantly, the shirt looks great with those cowboy boots!

Friday, January 23, 2015

A different kind of maxi skirt

So this skirt is the final chapter of my denim on denim story. My denim shirt is blogged about here. The skirt itself, is a very simple, self-drafted number. I used my pencil skirt block (seen here as a neoprene and faux leather mini) and simply shaped the bottom hemline to be high at the front and low at the back. I then gathered a large rectangle of beautiful
Tessuti linen into a skirt. The effect is a drop waist in a skirt. I love the subtle hi-lo hem, and my love of a good drop waist needs no further explanation.