Monday, 9 January 2017

Colette Hawthorn Dress

Happy New Year! I hope you achieve whatever you want to achieve in 2017. One of my ambitions this year is to sew at least two projects a month and upload some tutorials on my blog.

I hope you had a good break. I spent lots of time sewing during in the last few weeks. I just came back from China in early December with lots of goodies (mainly haberdashery) and can’t wait to use them all. But for now, here is my review of Colette’s Hawthorn Dress.

It’s a popular pattern in 2013.  I've had it in my stash for long time. This is also my first time to sew Colette. I am not used to reading the 20+ pages of instruction. I just flipped through for the illustrations and thought of the steps as I went. You may have a different view, but for me their instructions are too pedantic.

The style

I really like the collar and the neckline. I happen to have a jumper that fits perfectly to the neckline of the dress. The skirt is very flaring. I wanted to make this dress because it reminds me of what Bernadette often wears on The Big Bang Theory.
Bernadette Style... Cute geeky look
Back and side view

The Size

I cut size 4 and graded to 6 from waist. I always knew Colette’s Pattern is more for busty women, but I underestimated how busty it was intended for. I am a B cup chest, and followed the chart to pick size 4. I thought I would be safe and did not make a muslin. Well… I was wrong. The front bodice ended up having a bit too much fabric for me. When I wore it to work, my friend pointed it out straight away for me (red face). I needed a SBA! Well… Lesson learnt – absolutely make a fitting muslin on all Colette dresses. I shortened the Skirt by 1 inch.

Not happy with the excess fabric on the front bodice
SBA done… only after I have made the dress

The Fabric

I used 2.1m (2.3yard) Japanese Lawn (112cm width) from Spotlight. For a size 4, The amount is much less than the yardage on the envelope. The lawn is good quality and I like a dotted blue floral pattern very much. It’s very light and drapey. In that sense, the skirt doesn’t have a big volume but is very flowy.

Pattern Layout for the bodice and facings

What’s next?

There were lots of sales and specials during Christmas time and I am sure lots of you must've grabbed some bargains. I bought some Colette Patterns at 30% off and McCall’s Patterns for $5 each. I am making a couple of them at the moment and hopefully I can finish soon.

Rue, McCall's M7116 and Aster

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Burda 03/2015 #118: Piped Dress

I have made a few things that I haven't blogged about over the last couple of years. Now my blog is catching up with my sewing. This dress is one of them. I started making this dress in mid 2015 and finished it  at the end of 2015. Yep... that's a more than a year ago.

So I here present the Piped Seamed Dress from Burda 03/2015 #118. I initially wanted to use this project for the Burda's Ultimate Member Model Challenge in April 2015. But the lazy me did not finish it in time. Then came winter, so I put it aside for six months. I decided to finish it in summer late last year.... It could be a long story but finally I am putting it up.

I used only 1.5 meters of light-weight floral drill (120cm wide) for this project.

It felt like a breeze to wear this dress out for a coffee with friends on a sunny warm day.

I also want to mention that I went to some wood working class this year and make a stool. It's perfect for sitting at my cutting table which is higher than a normal table so it doesn't hurt my back. 

We adopted a cat in March this year. Cloud has brought us so much joy. I love to feature him in my photos, although he is not friendly toward photo shooting :)

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

A gathered dress: by Cotton Friend

As you may have noticed, I haven't blogged much the last couple years. I have been sewing though, on and off. Now, in the 10th month of 2016, I finally got my sew-jo and blog-jo back! And it's all thanks to this dress.

My friend just came back from Taiwan and brought me two new Cotton Friend magazines. It's a Chinese sewing magazine that has been translated from the original Japanese version. There are lots of fabulous bags, aprons, and casual clothing patterns. The clothing is of a very Japanese style - simple, loose, baggy.
Cotton Friend sewing magazine

As gratitude, I let her choose a dress to make for her. And she did:
model 1 from the magazine

Model 2 from the magazine

The fabric
The fabric is printed Japanese lawn. My friend chose this pattern. It's $12 (Australian) per metre. I'm sure it'd be much cheaper in Japan (oh yeah, forgot to mentioned I went to Japan twice last two years. Maybe I'll blog about the fabric shopping there). The lawn is soft and smooth, perfect for this dress. It needs 2.6 metres of fabric.

The dress
The dress has a gathered neckline, waistline and puffy sleeves. It only has three pattern pieces. The only not-so-easy part of the dress is making the casing for the elastic band, but it's good practice for me and I think I will be faster with elastic next time.
I made size M. No adjustment is needed. The dress fits her perfectly.
The pattern is very easy. 

I made this dress with her. It took me five hours in total from tracing the pattern to finish. It's a long time for a simple project like this but it's because I hadn't sewn a dress in a long time.

I like the gathered raglan sleeves. 

Both she and I are happy with the result. It looks exactly the same as the one in the magazine. I particularly like the puffy sleeves matching the puffiness in the bodice.
Looks just like the one on the magazine.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

First time quilting - A Baby Boy Quilt (Cars)

Dear sewist friends, have you ever been tempted to make a quilt? I took the plunge! Yes I have started quilting! The motivator was my that my friend was having a baby soon and I wanted to make a baby quilt for the new born and first time mum.

I gathered some ideas online and fixed my eye on this design.

To my surprise, I was able to find the ‘car’ fabric from my local quilting shop. The rest was easy, some shades of blue and aqua.
Preshinking the fabric
It’s an easy patchwork for the quilt top. I drew it on paper to work how many pieces of 3x3” for each colour. [pic of drawing] Then next thing is cutting. Of course I added ¼ seam allowance. We all know that a quilt is make of three layers (we call it sandwiches): the quilt top, the batting and the backing. Now that I had made the quilt top, next thing was to quilt the three layers together. This is showtime for my beloved Bernina 440.

Binding is the last thing. Please note, different to dressmaking, binding in a quilt is not a BIAS strip. They use straight strips! I found the this video from Missouri Star Quilt Company on binding. What an absolute help!

The quilting clips come in very handy when binding

Add the verdict is....

Monday, 16 March 2015

Simple T-Shirt: By A Great British Sewing Bee...

"Simply T-Shirt"
I recently got the Great British Sewing Bee: Sew Your Own Wardrobe Book.  We can't get this show here in Australia, but I watch some episodes on Youtube. Of cause I adore the show as a sewer and find it very inspiring, but does the book live up to the show? In short, it is as inspiring as the show but it is not  informative enough, in terms of sewing skills and techniques, again just as the show. Today I will just briefly review the book, and share one of the projects I made from the book - Simple T-Shirt.

Or call it Loose Blouse...

The Book Review
The book comes with a packet of full size pattern. The book is well packaged and contains beautiful photographs. Most importantly, the designs of the projects are very up-to-date. I really love this loose fit Simple T-Shirt that I made one for myself straight away.

The Good:
1) The full size patterns (projects) are the main reason I got this book. From baby to menswear, from a everyday blouse to a prom dress.
2) I like the master class after every project. I learnt some new information there
3) The overall packaging of the book and the photos are so inspiring that I am itching to sew its projects.

The bad:
1) The book is more for beginners. If you are at a more advanced level, you will probably find there is no new information here
2) The sewing instructions for the projects are not detailed and often omit illustrations for difficult steps.
3) I want more projects!!

The Simple T-Shirt

I had not sewn a loose blouse before so when I saw this photo, I said to myself "I need to make it." It recommends using lightweight jersey. But I used a flowy crepe, with bold print. It requires extra care to handle the fabric, but it's a very good exercise if I plan to make some soft silk dress alike.
I used 70/10 Sharp needle.

Another thing I learnt is making a smooth binding on the neckline and the sleeve hems (see below pictures). This is tricky. For a long time I always sewed ugly neckline bindings (not flat, with puckers). This time, I made huge progress. My trick is using glue stick when placing the bias strip along the neckline. Using glue stick in sewing is the biggest tip I have learned from making Sewaholic's Granville Shirt!
Double-fold binding on the neckline. Can you see how smooth it is!
Single-fold binding on sleeve hem.

I must say this is one of my best made garments so far. Yes it seems simple but it took me lots of time on sewing the bias binding.
Love the uneven hem too
Speaking of the Granville Shirt, I had made the second version as I promised in my last post. I will post it up tomorrow. Meanwhile, I will also further explore this book. So follow me for updates!

What's your favorite sewing book? I love collecting and reading sewing books. I would love to know what you are reading. :)

Thursday, 5 February 2015

First Time Shirtmaking with Granville Shirt

How often do you wear the clothes you make? My answer is - not often. So I decided to make something I can wear on a day-to-day basis. I work in the office 9-5 so formal business shirts are essential in my wardrobe. I have quite a shirt collection. Out of all my shirts, my favourite is the pair of shirts I bought in Japan a few years ago. They fit extremely well. The fabric is smooth and soft but has enough crispness to give a shape. Unfortunately they are a bit worn out. I have more reason to make my own shirts now.

I dug out all my shirt patterns from my collection. Geez, I have accumulated a lot over the years but have not made any of them. I borrowed the book Shirtmaking: Developing Skills For Fine Sewing by David Coffin. It's the best sewing resource book I have read so far. I am very glad I read it as it made my first time shirtmaking much easier.
My collection for tops.. what's next?

I recently came across the new Granville shirt pattern from Sewaholic. Having made two of their patterns (Alma blouse and Cambie dress), I have a lot of faith in the brand. At first glance, the instruction looks very detailed and clear. I decided to start my shirtmaking journey with this pattern.

Granville shirt has all the elements of a classic shirt – Yoke, sleeve, sleeve band, collar stand, front and sleeve plackets, rolled hem. Most importantly, compared to all my other shirt patterns, this pattern is more fitted to the body.

I used a light-weight striped-woven cotton shirting fabric. The stripes are subtle so I did not pay much attention on matching the lines but I did recut the pockets to match the stripes because they are on the front of the shirt.
Matching the strips
For interfacing, I used fusible woven muslin from Spotlight. I hesitated a lot on the interfacing. I have bought a lot more other types and brands of interfacing from other sewing supplies stores. I plan to try out different types to see which one gives the best result.
Interfacing I got from Spotlight. 
I managed to squeeze all the pattern pieces into 1.75 m fabric (112cm width). I notice the yardage chart by Sewaholic often asks for much more fabric. I really want to know what is the least yardage, considering good quality shirting fabric is often expensive. Here is my pattern layout.

I cut size 4 and it fits me easily, although that's the base on their size chart, I should be size 6.

Lots of the reviews are saying the sleeves are unnecessarily long. I have shortened the sleeve by 2 cm and the shirt by 1cm.
I think size 4 is right, although it still needs a bit more adjustment (commented below)

It took me a long time to make this shirt. This is mainly because lots of the processes were new to me and I kept looking for resources and learning new skills and techniques. For instance, if you never make a sleeve placket before, you have to be patient about learning the steps, i.e. which bits to fold and press, where to stitch etc.

Sewing the shoulder seam
It’s definitely worth watching some Youtube and reading some blog posts before sewing (if you are a newbie on shirtmaking). I found the following links extremely useful:

For sleeve placket: ANGELA KANE Sewing TV
For a sharp collar point: grainlinestudio blog
For sewing collar and collar stand: foursquarewalls blog

Things I have learnt
  1. Use iron spray to achieve crisp edges.
  2. Press along as you sew. I found it extremely useful and give a very good result.
  3. Match the stripes for the pocket on the shirt front if you are sewing a stripe.
  4. Use good quality interfacing material
Things to improve
  1. The sleeves are still too long. I will further shorten them by another 2.5cm (1 inch) next time.
  2. I find the pockets are too big on my shirt. Please note there is only one size for the pocket pattern. So that means the pocket is the same for a size 4 shirt and a size 20 shirt! I pulled out my other RTW shirt and they are smaller.
  3. I would also like to change the shape of the cuff a little bit, just to add a small curve at the corners as my other RTW. I think it’s more practical for wearing and easier to sew.
  4. I also want to slim down the flaring at the bottom of the shirt and lengthen the side seams a little bit. This is because I usually wear shirts under cardigans and I don’t like excess fabric underneath. 

For beginners, making a shirt can be an overwhelming process but it’s also extremely rewarding. There are lots of techniques used in there that can benefit me sewing other garments, and the end result is often surprising, mainly thanks to the neatness from the edgestitching and topstitching. I have worn this shirt to work and it's fabulous. I am totally addicted to it and making the second shirt with some Cotton Lawn (up next).

Happy sewing.

Feel free to leave comments about anything :)
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