Sunday, 16 November 2014

PR sewing contest win, Road trip to Sydney, etc

I am so psyched about my second place win in PatternReview's Natural Fibres Contest. This is my first time entering a sewing contest and I came in second place. It's a big confidence boost for me. I also feel very graceful for the support within the sewing community. It's an amazing place to be and just makes me love sewing and sharing more.
Snapshot of the contest page on PR
I also would like to use this blog post to say thank you to my beloved husband. He plays a part on this blog too. He patiently waits and carries fabric bolts for me every time I am stuck in a fabric store. He helped take photos of me, and mostly importantly proof reads my English for my blog posts.
Us two

What have I been up to recently? Not much sewing. My brother and sister in law came to visit me from China and we embarked a road trip to Sydney. We also toured around attractions in Victoria, like the Great Ocean Road,  Puffing Billy train ride, and Phillip Island.
Landmark - Sydney Opera House

Ride on Puffing Billy (Melbourne)

My Bro and his wife

Now that they have returned to China, I can't wait to get back into sewing. Christmas is not to far away and I believe lots of sewists or quilters have a tradition of doing a Christmas project. I have been considering that. Maybe I can dig out my unfinished Christmas apron from last year and finish it off or maybe I can do some Christmas bunting. Just something simple.

Enough rambling for now. I need to get something done and have it up by the next two weeks.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Vogue 8944: Colour Block Dress

I almost overlooked this simple yet stylish Vogue pattern if not for fact that Spotlight kept discounting patterns. 

The fabric I used is double Ponte knits. It’s my first time sewing this fabric. It’s easy to cut, comfortable to wear, although it’s a bit too thick or bulky at the seams. I used three warm colour combination – grey, yellow and lilac.

The fitting was not easy. I almost lose my patience and wanted to abandon the project. Based on the model photo, the bodice looks fitted. But the pattern is actually very loose fitted. I had problem with the back bodice – it’s way too wide even I cut a record small size of size 6! I still need to trim away 1 cm width at the centre back.
Armhole without adjustment

 As SunnyGal Studio pointed out, the armhole needs reshaped. I have the final pattern pieces here so you can see my adjustment. I also shorten the yoke by ¼ inch, accordingly same to the back bodice.

During the construction, I combined the two front bodice pieces into one piece with darts. This way, I can save some fabric, extra cutting and stitching.

I also remove the zip because it’s knit and I can just slip through. 

Material list:
Grey Ponte (147cm wide): 0.5m x $11 = $5.5
Yellow Ponte: 0.3m x $11 = $3.3
Lilac Ponte: 0.7m x $11 = $7.7
Tricot for lining: 0.5 m

Overall, I am happy with the pattern. The Once you get your right fitting, you can turn this pattern into distinct dress by choosing different colour combinations and materials.

What’s next?
I just bought the By Hand London Elisalex Dress Pattern. Very excited. Start working on it now. 

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Burda #122 09/14 Godet dress with cap sleeves

I hadn't sewn a BurdaStyle pattern for a while. Although the photos on magazine have always appealed to me, I am often discouraged from starting a new project, due to all the hassles like tracing patterns from the eye-confusing pattern sheet and the unclear instructions. It's not that easy to sew compared to other commercial patterns.
On this occasion however, I couldn't resist this unusual Godet Dress. It has multiple curved seams from the shoulder all over the bust towards the centre. The ripple-like seams tailor the upper body accurately and the skirt lightly flares from the waist, with a single godet inserted in the lower front that drapes evenly.

Sizing and fabric
I was further inspired by the member project on BurdaStyle. Liliv1 had problem with the sizing, so I paid extra attention with the fitting. I bought some dark brown flannel, at least that's what I thought (no label was on the bolt). However, as I sewed up the pieces, I found the fabric was not right, it's actually poly fleece and it also made me skin itchy when I put it on. I thought "OK, it can serve as a testing muslin".

I cut size 36 and graded to 38 from the waist. I found the bodice is a little bit tight, but the skirt around the lower abdomen was a bit loose. It required minimal adjustment thanks to my pre-cutting measurement on the pattern pieces.

I found some lightweight wool flannel in my stash. I worried it may be too light and soft, so I used a crispier lining fabric. I also shortened the back skirt by a couple of centimetres.

Construction tips and pointers
There is lots of curved stitching in this dress. Luckily I have gone through curves in my last Scalloped Dress so this dress was nothing to me. The BurdaStyle patterns often do not have notches. I matched a lot of notches on the curved lines of the pattern myself in order to get neat and smooth curved seams. My effort paid off! The seams are accurate and symmetrical on both sides and it looks fabulous.
Adding lots of notches

I topstitched those curved seams using a double needle with matching threads.

Lots of curved stitching again... I used lots of pins.

Overall, this is a unique design that stands out from the rest of the Burda patterns and it is very flattering to my body shape. You can also be creative with the curved seams with different decorative stitches, threads and colours. I will definitely make it again.

Material list
Wool flannel 150cm wide: 1.40m x $10 = $15
Poly lining 122cm wide: 1.00m x $2 = $2
Invisible zip 22 inch

Spring/Summer is here in Melbourne. I caught up with my friend on a lovely Saturday Morning and enjoyed the yummy Ramen and free entertainment in the city.

I am a big fan of Yorkshire Tea

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 22 inch = $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