A New Challenge pt5

OK, it’s been a wee while since I actually managed to finish the dress but I’ve been rather remiss about blogging the final photos. At the end of the last part all I had left to do was the hem and sort out the front gaping that was going on. After a few failed efforts at measuring and pinning the hem on my makeshift dress form, I eventually enlisted the help of a great friend who used to work in the costume department of an opera company we worked for. What better credentials than that? My frock was now finally in the hands of a pro.

I was secretly quite worried about what Lily would make of my efforts but I was assured I had done a good job and that the pattern wasn’t actually that easy. So I’m even more chuffed with my achievements now 🙂

Many thanks to Lily for marking the hem out for me while I wore the frock. I then Made a really narrow hem using a very helpful YouTube video from BlogForBetterSewing which you can find here.

The result of my narrow hemming. 

I then used the line of the wonderfully even hem to mark the lining fabric and then repeated the process with that. The lining sits about 2cm higher than the main fabric so it’s not visible.

The last task was to sort out why the front was gapping so much and my Mother-in-Law-to-be (thanks Liz) suggested the shoulders were too long. Well, how right could she be, that was exactly the problem! Lily pulled them up about 3cm and that solved it. It did mean that I had to unpick my slipstitching and redo the shoulder seams which I didn’t get as neat second time around 😦 But it does mean my dress now fits properly!

Look how even that hem is!

I can’t believe I got there in the end with help from a few folks along the way all I need now is a warm enough day to wear the thing! I have now got some fabric to make a petticoat to match and I want to make a vintage apron too. I also bought a book which outlines all the basics (and not so basic) of dressmaking so I hope that helps me improve in future and I’m also thinking about doing an evening course too.

A bargain to boot!

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A New Challenge pt4

I never thought this would turn into a four parter! I actually hoped it would be all finished by now but not quite. I only have the hem left to do but think I need a capable pair of hands to help pin it i.e. not Alex.

Remember I had to make my waistband bigger? Well that created yet another knock on issue, the skirt section was now too narrow to fit the width of the waist. Thankfully I worked out an easy bodge… since it’s a circle skirt it gets wider as it goes down and I’m really short so it would have been too long anyway, all I did was attach the skirt to the waist at a lower point. I am an utter genius! OK it took about an hour to find the right place to pin it so the skirt met at the back with enough allowance left to do the zip.

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Here’s my attempt at slipstitching the waistband to the skirt lining, I’m hoping it looks better after I press it and, since I don’t own a dressform, I invented a cunning way of holding the frock at the right height for me to sit and hand sew comfortably. Using two coathangers and my extensive design book collection I crafted this little arrangement. I love how this project is causing me to use some creative thinking too.

Next it was time to attempt the part I’ve been dreading since the start… the zip! I didn’t want to just slap it on the back and have the raw zip ribbon showing on the lining side but that’s how the patten was saying to do it. I tried in vain to find a tutorial which would show me how to put it in with the lining but I couldn’t find anything so “Bodge-It Kean” sprang into action again.

I could see in my head how I wanted the zip to be sandwiched in between the two fabrics so I pinned then basted it to the main fabric only and inserted the zip according to the pattern, the sewing machine instructions and several online videos i.e. just however it seemed to work best. I ignored the lining for now but it meant I had to unpick a fair bit around the waistband to allow enough space for the ribbon to slide in.

So here’s how it looks on the right side. Not too bad considering. I even surprised myself by not managing to catch the waist ties or get them the wrong side of the zip. Go me!

Then I pinned, basted and sewed the edge of the lining and then slipstitched it to the back of the zip ribbon. I’m so glad that I actually like hand sewing things. Lastly I put on a hook and eye at the top of the zip.

Here’s the frock now. Not bad eh? As I say, just got the hem to sort out and there is a bit of a gapping issue at the front where the bodice sections cross over. I reckon it’s a lack of boobage issue rather than the dress (or my pro sewing) being at fault. Not sure how to fix that but will have a think and I’m sure my bodge-it gene will kick in.

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A New Challenge pt3

It’s been a few days since I’ve had a chance to do some work on this, I had to pack it all away as my fiancé had the audacity to want a birthday party! At least there was plenty of cake to make up for the loss of sewing.

My intention is to get my frock finished this week depending on work and barring potentially disastrous attempts at putting a zip in (another new experience for me).

So here is the finished bodice section. It looks very pro, though I do say so myself. I decided not to do a contrast colour for the waistband as I’m quite short (5’1″) and felt with a colour band splitting the dress in two it would make me look even shorter if that’s possible! I did have to recut all the waistband pieces (I refuse to call it midriff like the pattern insists) and then I put the interfacing on the wrong ones but I was able to just peel that off and redo it. I also got into a bit of a mess trying to remove all the basting stitches. It didn’t say in the pattern to remove them, so I didn’t. I’m guessing you take them out after you have stitched that particular bit, noted for next time.

It looks like all I need to do is attach the skirt to the bodice, bung in a zip and take up a hem. How long can that take?

I love circle skirts! The pattern didn’t have the skirt section lined but I wanted to carry the lining fabric down for some contrast when I spin around and around (which I fully intend to do when it’s done). I just made a second skirt from the lining fabric and put it inside the main fabric skirt with wrong sides together so there are no visible raw seams.

I’m very excited about the prospect of finishing my frock. So let’s go do it!

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A New Challenge pt2

Well I managed to find a bit of time to continue working on my dress, I was hoping to finish it this week so I could wear it to my fiancé’s party on Friday but I’m not sure I’ll manage it.

Today I finished the bodice! I’m very impressed with myself. I now know what under stitching is and how to do it and I also learned how to slipstitch (probably quite badly).

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So here is my effort at under stitching, not bad for a noob eh? The understitching is done around any openings and is supposed to anchor the lining so it doesn’t roll up and become visible over the main fabric when you wear your frock (Don’t I sound like a pro?). I actually have a dress from an expensive high street store which does this and I hate it. Now I know why it happens.

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Look at my lovely basting! I didn’t know about that either, I can do a turkey but now I can do pleats. Strangely and subconsciously I seemed to know about tailor tacks and I used them when I cut out the pattern. I actually have no idea how I know about them but maybe I saw my mother do it or I remembered my school sewing lessons from 20 odd years ago. Note the seam ripper in the second pic, I’m not saying how many times it’s been used so far…

I tried the bodice on and it was a bit tight so I let out the back seam and that solved the problem but I didn’t realise it would cause more problems down the line.

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It’s now time to tackle the waistband or midriff–as the pattern calls it. Because I widened the bodice I never thought that it would make my waistband, sorry, midriff, pieces too short. I guess my only solution is to recut those bits slightly longer as I assume they will need to meet at the back for putting the zip in. Just hoping I have enough fabric leftovers to cut more.

So that’s as far as I have got, it still seems a long way from being finished and I’m sure there will be more seam ripping and scratching of heads but I’m pleased with what I have done so far and the dress might actually be wearable at the end.

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A New Challenge pt1

I’ve been toying with the idea of making clothes for a while. I’ve made cushion covers, curtains and bags before as well as free-machine embroidery but I have never used a dressmaking pattern. I took advantage of the sale in my local fabric store and bought a pattern, fabric and a zip (although I forgot the zip first time round and had to go back).

I inherited all my mum’s and gran’s sewing stuff and I already have a good sewing machine. How hard can this be?

Note that big word on the front of the pattern “EASY”. Yep, OK.

I just bought cheap 100% viscose fabric and lining so 4.5m of each cost me around £10 and the pattern was £8.95. I have decided that since the main fabric is quite thin, I will line the skirt section as well as the bodice. I like to make things harder for myself 🙂

I spent nearly an entire day cutting, ironing and prepping the pattern and then cutting the fabric pieces out. I made a mistake on the very first bit though as I didn’t have the grain line going the correct way. Thankfully I was able to recut the piece and use the reject piece to cut the smaller bodice pieces from. Not a great start but I’ve never done this before. I kept getting mixed up between right/wrong side pattern/fabric. The lining I can’t tell which is the right and wrong side so I gave up worrying about it.

Today I have started the actual sewing, not without some trepidation I have to add. I’m not sure if it’s nerves or excitement, but I am constantly dropping pins on the floor. Maybe it’s just age…

I think I have everything I need (except, perhaps, knowledge and ability). I even bought a new ironing board cover for the occasion!

I’m being methodical and ticking off each instruction as I do it but it took me about 2 hours just to do the very first one! This could take a wee while.

OK, don’t laugh but I made a clever discovery. The sewing machine plate has seam allowance numbers on it!! I never noticed this before and was trying to measure and mark them with a ruler and chalk. Things may go slightly faster now.

I’m amazed that the pieces are actually pretty much the same shape, I know it shouldn’t surprise me since they are cut from the same pattern piece, but it’s a minor miracle to me. I’m happy with doing the straight seams, that should all be fine but not liking the look of the curvy underarm seam at all.

WOOT! No need to panic, I managed it.

Now I am stuck. UNDERSTITCH? I’m hoping Google has the answer and a helpful YouTube video would be good.

I need to stop for today sadly as it’s time to head off to work. It’s going to be a few days before I get the chance to continue this project so I’ll have totally forgotten what I was doing by then.

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Vintage Finds

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I realised I hadn’t blogged in a while, mainly because I haven’t had much motivation, inspiration or done anything vaguely creative in ages. I’ve been job hunting and that just seems to suck the life out of you. To be … Continue reading

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More Archiving Finds

This is a small watercolour I did as a gift for a friend. It’s the view from their Speyside holiday cabin. Although I don’t know that I fancy it in winter. 

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