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.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Alma Top v1.0

I fell in love with Sewaholic Patterns after my first Black Cambie Dress. This Sewaholic Alma Top is much easier than I expected. I read rave reviews on this pattern. I am a big fan of the Peter Pan collar, and I do need some tops/blouses to "brighten up" my wardrobe. So here it is:

great top to go with shorts

The sizing and fitting
You don't have to fiddle with the fitting. It's a semi-fitted top. Allow some ease. Use the bust measure to determine the size to cut because you want the armholes and sleeves to fit well. 

I think I should have shortened the sleeves by around 1 cm after I finished the garment. 

i think the sleeves are a little bit too long

The fabric
The fabric is the pretty printed cotton poplin from Spotlight. The print turns out to be much better than when it's on the bolt. I only used 1 meter of fabric (120cm width), and 35 cm solid colour poplin for the collar. It cost me around $10. 
cute, pretty print on the fabric from Spotlight

The zip
The only challenging step (compared to the rest of the construction) is installing the invisible zip on the side seam. Follow the instructions and you will be pretty safe. 
zip on the side seam

The hem
I decided to make good use of my Bernina Narrow Hem Foot #64. The narrow hem is great on light weight fabric and for tops or blouses. As it uses less seam allowance, I shortened the pattern by 1 cm.
Thanks to Bernina foot #64

Narrow hem is great for light weight fabric

What's Next
I just finished By Hand London's Georgia Dress. Hope the review will be up next week. Thanks for reading. Feel free to comment below. 
what's next...

Friday, 27 December 2013

My black Cambie Dress

It's been a while since my last post. I have been studying/making the popular Sewaholic Cambie Dress.  I bought it from from Indie Stitches who is doing 20% of all patterns until New Year Eve.

I made both views, but the first dress based on View B was such a disaster that I couldn't wear it to show you (only because I didn't pay attention to the instructions and did a few things wrong). But the experience led me to a successful second dress based on View A. As I made the pattern twice, I have a few thoughts to share.
Front view

I was attracted to four square walls (Andrea)'s modification with a straight neckline bodice. It looks more formal. I also followed her idea of using the sleeve lining pattern pieces on the main fabric so I eliminated the gathering on the sleeves. However after I made it and tried it on, there is a gap on the upper bust. To solve the problem, I added two small darts on the neckline near the point where the sleeves join. The result is amazing. Not only do they eliminate the gap, but also accentuate the bust.
close up on the darts
 I cut size 6 and didn't make any sizing adjustments.

side seams
I was surprised that Tasia did not call for understitching the lining in the instructions. It is a bit of extra work but I think the understitch is always necessary for lining. If you want to add it, do it before the zip. I made this mistake on my first dress when I was following the instructions to sew the zip but then wanted to understitch on my first dress. I used Tasia's tutorial on sewing the lining to the zip and found it very handy.

Sewing the lining

The Fabric
I used some sort of medium-to-heavy weight wool fabric. I don't know what exactly it is. It looks like Twill damask? It's thick and has a bit of stiffness so it's very easy to handle. I bought this fabric from a shop in Dandenong for $4 per meter, but the shop closed down 6 months ago. Shame! I used the leftover pink stripe poplin from my retro top project for the contrasting waist band. The cost of fabric is less than $10:
Wool damask: 1.1 meter x $4 = $4.4
Poly lining: 1.1 x $3 = $3.3

Though it's cheap, it feels and looks like a million bucks.  It fits nicely and looks well made (I hesitate to admit that). I made some silly mistakes in the process but patiently unpicked and resewed. I made sure the waist joined perfectly at the Zip.  It took me two days to finish but could've been quicker had I not made those silly mistakes. 
close-up of the zip
I have seen lots of reviews of this pattern. Now I understand why everyone is doing it. It's very well designed. It's easy to make for a lined dress.  Some steps are very smart. The silhouette is classic and it's also versatile and easy to add on your own creations.  Definitely my favourite pattern. I am already thinking of making a third version.

By they way, Merry belated Christmas. I made a 8kg turkey this year. Lots of work involved. I was basically running between my sewing table and oven this Christmas.

What's next?
I am hooked on Sewaholic Patterns after the Cambie Dress. I am making the Alma Blouse now.

I am also thinking of Vogue 1350 and the retro Butterick. Stay tuned.
ideas for next projects!

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Vogue 1351: DKNY dress w/t cowl neck

It's my first time to sew a DKNY pattern! Vogue 1351 is now one of my favourites. I've named it Donna. Yes, I've started naming my dresses since my last project.

The dress
This cowl neck dress is absolutely gorgeous and simple. I would not say it’s easy to sew as many reviews say. Yes there are only four pattern pieces and a few seams, but crepe fabric is flimsy and slippery to handle and it’s hard to cut it on bias accurately. Nevertheless, it gives an elegant drape and easy fit.  It feels to so different to wear a bias cut dress, it just clings to your skin.

The Fabric
The fashion fabric I used is “Italian Crepe” from Spotlight. I guess it’s something similar to Crepe-de-chine. I wanted some fabric that drapes well enough to make a nice cowl neck. It’s not an easy fabric to handle.

The lining fabric is “delux” (not deluxe) satin from Spotlight. It has a dull back which sticks well to the crepe, and a smooth and glossy surface, which makes it so comfortable to wear close to my skin. The satin also drapes as well as crepe.

Sewing the lining
There are many ways to sew lining to a sleeveless dress. I first learnt this bagging method from NeenoHowever, I can’t apply it on this dress as there is no centre back opening. After a bit of research, I used the rolling method. It’s basically to stitch and understitch the whole neckline, then roll the dress in and sew the armhole seam (as picttured below) and turn the dress out. Don’t forget to understitch. (1) Understitching may not reach the seams close to the shoulder, use edgstitching. (2)

I love the understitch. It makes such a difference. I also use it along the joint of the cowl and the lining.(3) & (4)

The zip

My attempt is sew the invisible zip along the under arm side seam was a nightmare. As the fabric is cut on bias, the fabric is easily stretched and  it ended up looking like this:

I found the bad and good news - the zip was unacceptable but I could actually put on the dress without opening the zip. So I unpicked the zip and stitched it up. Now the side seams are much better.

To sum up
I would not recommend this pattern to beginners as the crepe fabric is difficult to handle and the bias cutting is tricky. I would like to try this pattern on knit fabric although I have never sewn knits/interlocks.

What’s next?
So many patterns but so little time. I am excited to receive two Sewaholic patterns this week. Thanks to Indie Stitches, I don’t have to buy it from the US.
I am also making a Lekala pattern at the moment, hopeful I can finish it this weekend.
I also want to sew a slipcover for my couch. The measurement is done and the fabric is ready.

Feel free to leave comments. I'd love to hear from your experience of bias cutting and sewing crepe!