Thursday, 18 September 2014

Vogue 1398 Badgley Mischka's Three Tiered Scalloped Dress

I love sewing Vogue Patterns. The design and construction never let me down. Vogue 2014 summer pattern was quite a delightful release (back in March). Lots of pretty and practical patterns there and this pattern caught my eye straight away. Lots of design elements here:
• pleated neckline,
• princess seam bodice,
• tiered skirt, and
• most specially scalloped hem!

However, there are not many reviews or makes on this pattern so far. Is it because it's more for special occasions or is it too difficult?

As it turned out, the pattern really let me down in some aspects. The poor drafting of the armhole and bodice almost killed my hard work.

The fabric
From my last experience of vogue 1353, I learned pleats are more visible with solid colour fabric. I want it whit or ivory at the start. I bought some ivory georgette and yellow lining. However, I found the ivory georgette is a bit too see-through and may be too soft for the scalloped hem. I decided to go back to the heavy poly georgette from my last project Vogue 9004. It's not as drapey as I want it but that's fine. Scalloped hem needs firmly woven fabric.

The problem with poly fabric is that it's very hard to press. It's very springy. It's one of the reasons this project took me a long time to finish.

Pattern error and poor drafting
I heard about vogue patterns often have errors, but I had never found one. This time, I found one error on the pattern. It's the notch in pattern piece 1, as shown below in red circle.

Another problem is the placement of the apex. The pattern places the apex on the side front bodice piece, far away from the centre front. In my muslin, my apex is on the centre front piece. Quite a bit of distance between the "designed" apex and my real apex.
Not only the above, the major let down is the size of the armhole. It's ridiculously huge. I failed to detect it in my muslin. After I finished everything and tried it on, I found the armholes almost exposed up my bra! *sigh* It needs to be raised by one inch.

 It took me long time...
If you want to make this dress, this is no quick project. Plan heaps of time and patience. It is by far the most tedious project I've done other than my wedding dress. Let me do the numbers:
• 13 pattern pieces
• 8 princess seams (shell and lining, front and back)
• skirt panels (shell and lining, front and back)
• Three tiers of scalloped hem, 12x3=36 scalloped curves

So many CURVED stitching and pressing! I almost called it quits, but I stared at the envelope photos to keep myself going. At the end, I gained lots of experience on stitching curved edges and now I can sew a perfect princess seam and if I need to sew it again, I have nothing to fear. No pain no gain!

Sewing scalloped hem
Here is a list of websites that have very useful tips on sewing scalloped hem.
Thread Magazine
Megan Neilson

I strongly suggest basting in a seam allowance for the scallops first, probably about 1 cm from the edge. Match the turning point on the lining and main fabric.

I pressed the seam allowance open on the curve of the Tailor's Board, then pressed it flat. It's the fastest and best way.

Overall, the dress is pretty and the instruction is very well written, but the armhole is way too big.
This dress took me three whole days, from fitting to finish. It almost wore me out. It's the second most painful work after my wedding dress, but at the end, like my wedding address, I am proud and happy with the result.

I really don't know if I'll sew it again. It's so hard. I need to adjust the armhole and the princess seam to fit my upper body better.

Material list:
Heavy Georgette (112 cm width): 1.5m x $4 = $6
Lining (122 cm width): 1.8 m x $1.5 = $2.7
Dress zip 22cm = $1.4
Time used: approx. 25 hours

What's next?
Still working on the Godet Dress from Burda Style magazine atm.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Vogue 9004: Asymmetric top v1.0

I was attracted by the photo of the model wearing this top when Vogue 9004 first came out. I had a number of reasons to love it at first sight:
  • Its asymmetric design is distinctive
  • I thought that it would be an easy project. Only a few panels and a few seams.
  • Its loose fitting means I don't need to make a muslin to get a fit.

The size
I cut size 10 and grade to 12 from waist. It's my normal cut because of my pear shape body type. But I find it's a too small. The top is supposed to be loosely fitted. It seems a bit too tight. I think I will make size 12 next time.

Like what's said in PR, the front hem is bit too high.. My belly is exposed when my jeans are not high waisted. I am think View A may be better on this. Or I can lengthen the front next time?
The corner at the front is too high.

Thanks to Sewtawdry's review, I removed the zip to make it easier and neater.
Back piece of the pattern is well drafted.

The fabric
The fabric label was missing on the bolt but I think the fabric is heavy georgette. I never sewed it before because I thought it would be difficult to handle. However, after making my wedding gown, I learnt a lot from my dressmaker neighbour Verona and got more confidence. "Maybe I can give it a go!" 
The two colour are white and light blue. the difference is very subtle on the photo.
I took extra care on handling the fabric. Instead of cutting the fabric with the pattern on top, I traced the patter on the fabric with tracing wheel and carbon paper, then cut the single-layer fabric along the tracing. Of course, notches and darts are transferred too.
Tracing the pattern on single layer
One of the elements that make this special is the asymmetric neckline. If you take a closer look the left front side has a corner that sticks up which makes this top harder to sew.

I failed to sew the corner properly the first time. It's a bit complicated for me and the instructions don't help much. The instructions only tell you where the stitching line is, but don't say how to clip the seam allowance or turn it inside out to make a nice mitre corner. It took me a while to figure it out. The result was less than perfect.
Intersection at the front neckline. a bit messy.

Hemming a concave curve
I only realised the front hem line has a bit of a concave curve when I was pressing the fold. Grrr...It gave me a big headache as I had already serged the edge and could not manipulate it any more, plus I never hemmed a concave curve. No surprise I had a lot of puckers in the front hem line.

I would like to hear from you if you have better suggestion.

In conclusion, I blame myself for not planning and studying the pattern enough before sewing. Everything went well until the construction of the neckline and hemming. I hope to sew it again with lighter (normal)  georgette and hopefully I will do better next time.

What's next

I am using the same fabric for Vogue 1398 theTtiered scalloped dress. It's half done so far. Should be up soon!!

We are back on TRACK! Yes... I started running again. After a couple of kilometres, I was so exhausted that I only wanted to hug the pillar of my house. My motivation behind it is to fit the pattern size. Adjusting the pattern to my out-of-shape body is equally as challenging as fitting my body shape to the pattern.. :P

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Butterick 5917: The Ruffle Dress

The overall silhouette is a typical fitted dress with an empire waist line, but what makes the pattern stand out is the ruffle detail around the neck. I must say it’s a very balanced design with the ruffle. If you use a vintage colour and fabric, the dress can turn out to be a good vintage piece.

 The fabric
The fabric is yarn dyed cotton poly blend in plaid.  Extra patience was required in cutting the plaid for a good match at the seams. But it also saved me time in finding the grain line. The colour is light yellow with darker shade running vertically. I was surprised it turned out to have a vintage feel after I finished it.

The size
Some reviews on PR already pointed out the sizing is bigger than normal. Based on the envelope measurement, I should cut size 12 then grade to size 14 at the hip, but that size seems very big on the pattern pieces. The reviews are right. After studying (tape measuring) the pattern pieces, I decided to cut size 10 above the waist and 12 below. My suggestion is – choose the size wisely based on the finished garment measurement and likely on this pattern you need a smaller size than the one suggested on the envelope.

I didn't preshrink the fabric. When I tried the dress as I was sewing, I was thinking it's too big. This is after the wash. It must shrink a lot as I can feel the dress is slightly tighter. Surprisingly it fits better. 
I admit the skirt slit had not been well sewn... 

The construction
I made view A, with short sleeves. I always wanted it fully lined. The instruction only lines the bodice. I had been wondering how to attach the lining to hide all the seam allowance inside. Unfortunately, I don’t have a good solution. I decided to just follow the instructions and attach the skirt lining with slip stitch at the waist joint. It is not ideal but it’s fast and easy. The seams are not that bulking and I can overlock them.

Slip stitch waist seam...

For the sleeve, instead of self fabric as per the instruction, I used the lining fabric for the sleeve lining to reduce the bulk.

I took some photos on constructing the bodice. I find the instruction (Steps 15~22) may be a bit confusing so I hope it helps here.
Sewing the bodice
In conclusion, the style lines and the ruffle detail are well designed. However, the inner structure is horrible – based on the instructions, the skirt is not lined and the fashion fabric is used for the sleeve lining (facing). My problem is:
  •  If I use a medium (to heavy) weight fabric, the neckline and the sleeve seams will be super bulky.
  •  If I use light weight fabric, the skirt won’t hold its shape.

With a bit of modification, the pattern can produce a sophisticated dress. I’m happy to sew it again, with a solid colour fabric like some shade of pink-red. I think that would have a vintage feel too.   

What's next!
I am in the middle of multiple projects of Vogue Patterns and Burda Style Patterns at the moment. Can't wait the get them done and post them here. Follow me on updates! Feel free to leave any comments. 

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Making of my wedding gown - Part 2

I apologise for the belated update on my wedding dress. It's been a long time since my last post in late February when I was doing a muslin fitting. The end result is I made the wedding dress for myself and we had a wonderful wedding. In fact I haven't been sewing much since I finished the wedding dress in March.
My father was walking me down the aisle.

I took lots of photos during the process. I let will them speak for themselves. For those who are thinking about making your own wedding gown, don't underestimate it. There's lots of work and time involved. Luckily I have professional dressmaker neighbour who helped me a lot on some crucial steps.

Research and planning

This is the most important stage and actually not as straightforward as you think it might be. I changed my mind many times on which gown I wanted it to be like! With straps or strapless? With sleeves or sleeveless? Ball gown or bias cut? Lace or no lace? what does the neckline look like? What fabric?

I looked at some bridal magazines and on the Internet for months. I also visited a couple of bridal shops. Unfortunately when you make your own gown, it's never going to be what you want most because there's a limitation on your ability to make. I knew there were certain things I would totally avoid:
  1. Fabric like Chiffon and Georgette. It's definitely beyond my ability to handle those difficult fabrics. I knew if I couldn't cut or sew it well, the dress was never going to be wearable.
  2. Sleeves. I think it's extra work and difficulty to do sleeves on a wedding gown. A bit of skin makes the gown more elegant. 
I drew inspiration from a photo in a bridal magazine. I decided to do a strapless, a-line, skinny gown. There will be beaded lace on the upper body just like the photo and bias skirt with a short train. I put it in the drawing.
Inspired by this photo.

The corselette

Strapless gowns needs a sturdy corselette. It basically pulls the whole gown up, and boy I tell you, it's heavy when finished.

I did multiple fittings with calico. I used kwik Sew pattern 3060 as a starter. I extended the pattern to the hipline. You can see my first version in my last post .

Verona helped me with the fitting. Certain areas needs a little negative ease like the bust and the waist. She gave the tummy a bit of ease because I would need it when sitting down. Here is the first fitting by her:

I used good quality shape-well and interfacing. Those are the two layers in-between. A lining is added inside and fashion fabric outside.
Inside the corset (without the lining)

I added double bra cups for bigger looking bust :P

Close up on the boning

The top

Placing the beaded lace needed some expertise. I asked Verona for help. She had to take a photo of the lace and asked her friend who is very experienced with lace for advice. She pinned the lace for me. What followed was the most daunting task of this project - hand sewing the lace to the main fabric. It took me days and maybe because I got bored, I took lots of photos during this process. The heavily beaded lace is from Clegs.

Hand-stitch the lace to the fashion fabric
Bias Skirt

I asked Verona to help me with the bias cut because I am not good with it at all. She has a very big table. I think you need a big surface for bias cut. It's easy to stitch up the skirt and attach it to the corselette.


I opted to use lap zips for closure. Don't assume that it's simple. There were a few layers to be attached. I remember I had to hand sew the zip because of the beaded lace.

The wedding

The wedding was beautiful. It was a bit wet so we could not take too many photos outside.

At the end of the day, it was a big relief. I took on too many handmade stuff like baking Macarons, decorating the ceremony etc. I just learnt one important lesson, that is, I can't do everything myself. I need  to delegate tasks to friends and family.
Verona with us.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Making of my wedding gown - Part 1

I don't have much to show yet, as the gown is still a work in progress. But I would like to share a sneak peak of this huge task.

First of all, it's not my sole effort. I am lucky enough to have a professional dressmaker neighbour helping me out with the fitting.. So far, the calico fitting is done.

I will keep the progress updated here. Stay tuned.

still a little bit more fitting on the back
the belly part looks ok.
final fitting done!

lining and interfacing to cut

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Welcome the hot days with By Hand London's Georgia Dress

I got hooked on By Hand London patterns recently. Here is my first attempt on their Georgia Dress. It's truly a super sexy knockout dress. As of the time I finished the dress, it's the hottest time in Melbourne - above 40 Celsius Degrees for five consecutive days.  So the dress exposed the perfect amount of skin to wear during the day.
front view

Back view
Side view

Size and the fitting

I was a bit confused about the sizing chart. Based on the measurements and the chart, I cut size 8 above the waist and scaled to size 12 in the skirt. (Yes, all because of my big hips). As I cut the pattern, I sensed the skirt would be very wide so I firstly basted the seams to try on the garment.
first fitting

Final fitting - just on side seams

The skirt panels flare a little as reana louisse pointed out. Plus scaling to size 12, the dress almost looks like an A-line dress! I shouldn't have graded to size 12! But as I had the garment, I pinched the seams to get a close fit. I marked the adjustment, and then unpicked the seams to redo them. I highly recommend using a French Curve Ruler to reflect the changes on the pattern.

A bit of a pointer on working with the Georgia Dress is to get a good fit. You can either do a full muslin or sew as you try it on. I only did a muslin on the bodice section. The time will be worth while as the dress looks completely different when it fits well.

Photos below show how much adjustment was needed on the pattern pieces. Even though I cut size 12 below the waist, I found size 8 seems to be more suitable.
Lots of tapering on the skirt

The fabric

I found this stretch denim from my stash. Check my invoice. I only need 1 metre fabric which costs me only $3.
The fabric only costs $3!

I think the dress looks much better if it's close fitted. So I recommend the fabric that has good stretchiness to be comfortable.

The hem

If you machine stitch the hem, make sure to use narrow zigzag stitch to maintain the stretchiness.

The straps

I followed the instructions to use a 1 cm seam allowance on the straps, but somehow it turns out to be too narrow. the model photo seems to have a wider straps. I think I should have used 6cm (1/4 inch) seam allowance, and it would have saved me some time trimming the allowance off.
Straps are too narrow if using 1cm allowance.

It's difficult the turn the strap right side out, especially when it's as narrow as the pattern and the instruction allow it to be. It would be easier to turn if it was wider.

The zip

I recommend using a lap zip instead of invisible zip because you have to sew a few thick layers at the joint of the bodice and the skirt. It would be not be suitable for invisible zip.

I put together a few photos on how to sew a lap zip.

What's next

I am making a shirt dress at the moment. Hopefully I can finish it this weekend. Thanks for reading.