October is for sew-alongs!

Anise Jacket Sewalong Coat Sew-Along  Kids Clothes Week Challenge Fall 2012 Thurlow Sew-Along

Oooh so many sew-alongs are happening right now and in the near future! Decisions, decisions (although I will probaby end up not following any of these….).

I am torn between making the Anise jacket from Colette or Butterick 5828 coat by Gertie. A jacket will have more time to be worn than a coat, but I will definitely need a coat for this winter. Both these sew-alongs have started since the end of September with fabric preparations.

Next month there will be Kids’ Clothes Week Challenge by Elsie Marley on October 8-14, and Sidra can use some new clothes for cooler weather. He has outgrown all his clothes from last year. And starting on October 29, there will be Thurlow trousers sew-along, arranged by one of my favorite blooger, lladybird. I didn’t sew a lot of pants for myself in the past, and this sew-along will be a great way for learning.

Do you join any of these sew-alongs? Or do you know any other cool sew-along that is happening at the moment? Feel free to post in the comments! ^^

Green Pastille dress (The Colette Sewing Handbook)

Green Pastille dress
Green Pastille dressA pretty dress was hanging on the wall of my clean room, as if it was magically appeared out of thin air. There were no traces at all that not a few hours before, the dress was a nightmare and the room was a complete mess. Surely I have to thank the magical power of a vacuum cleaner.

The pattern is Pastille dress from The Colette Sewing Handbook, the one on the cover. I’ve loved the pattern since the first time I saw it, but kept postponing to make it because apparently I’m too small for Colette patterns. Doing a small bust adjustment like what I did for my Taffy top wouldn’t be sufficient for a sheath dress like this. A few days ago, I finally found enough bravery to grade the pattern down.

Grading down Pastille dress pattern

Grading down Pastille dress pattern

I started with grading size 0 one size down. Does that mean it is now size -2? Anyway the grading process went smoothly, despite needing some time and patience to do it. Then I did my usual adjustment, shortening the bodice by 2.5 cm and a slight swayback adjustment on bodice back and skirt back.

The fabric is this wonderful cotton/linen mix with slight wavy rows of white circles pattern, I got it from Okadaya, a fabric store in Shinjuku. It is very easy to cut and sew and also comfortable to wear.

The instructions in the book suggested finishing the upper bodice before attaching the skirt. I preferred to attach the skirt before the side seams, in case I might need to adjust it later.

I put on this dress for the first fitting and looked into the mirror. The waist sat too low despite the short bodice adjustment that I’d made. The waistline also curved downward on the sides. And what was that on my back? It looked like I had a hunchback from the puffed up fabric there. The shoulders sat strangely and almost all the darts had extra volumes on the tips. Usually with Butterick or Vogue patterns, I didn’t need more adjustments other than what I have mentioned above so I was quite disheartened by the sight.

Uh, maybe that’s why people are making muslin first before going for the real thing?? But my problem with muslin is that I always feel guilty looking at those unused and rejected fabrics. They looked so sad crumpled in the corner of scraps bin.

However, I refused to be defeated by this dress! Besides, the fabric is too pretty to have its destiny doomed to the black hole aka the unfinished projects box. I pinned all the problems until my body was surrounded by tiny needles and taking off the dress had to be done very sloooowly. Then I went to sleep filled with nightmares of fitting alterations.

Green Pastille dress Green Pastille dress
The next day I woke up fresh and began to work on the problems. In case you’re interested, here’s the list of all the alterations that I made after the fitting:

  • bodice front: shortened 1 cm on center front, tapered to 3 cm on both sides. Front darts lengthened 2.5 cm.
  • bodice back : shortened 3 cm. Back darts lengthened 6 cm. The initial back length was way too long for my body and I noticed that some people also have problems with the bodice back of this dress.
  • skirt back: darts lengthened 3 cm
  • shoulders: lowered 1 cm from hemline tapered to nothing on neckline
  • slimmed down sides 0.5 cm from armhole to hip

Luckily the fabric is strong enough to handle all those ripping and re-stitching! After all these efforts, the dress was finally looked decent enough on my body. From then on, I applied all the alterations to the lining and continued finishing the dress. All these alterations made me think that maybe I should have graded down 2 sizes. I would try it on my next Colette dress.

Green Pastille dress Green Pastille dress Green Pastille dress
The dress in the book doesn’t have lining but I added one as I love wearing dress with lining. It makes putting on the dress much easier, preventing unsightly bumps, and also protecting the fabric itself. Basically I cut the lining from the same pattern pieces as the outer fabric, and baste them together around the neckline and armholes. The facings were then sewed as usual to this unit. That way I can catch-stitch the facing edges to the lining only. The hem was finished with white seam bindings and catch-stitched.

Not the most perfect dress but I finally love it!

Green Pastille dress Green Pastille dress
Pattern is Pastille dress from Colette Sewing Handbook, graded down from size 0 and altered to fit.

In another news, I got a new glasses courtesy of Firmoo. They contacted me sometime ago to do a review of their service. The ordering process is quite simple, choose the style (I chose this one) and enter the prescription, you can also select various lenses with additional fee. It was my first time getting glasses from an online shop, so initially I was a bit wary.

The shipping was reasonably fast, I received the glasses in less than 2 weeks. They came with case and pouch, lens cloth, screwdriver and extra screws. The quality is surprisingly good despite the prices. I have been wearing them for a week now and there have been no problem with the prescription (PD:64, right eye: -2.25/-0.5 cyl, left eye: -2.5).

If you also want to try out, they have a program offering free eyewear for first-time buyers, you just pay for the shipping fee. It’s definitely a good alternative to expand your glasses collection within reasonable budget!
Green Pastille dress Firmoo glasses

Hearts all over my dress (Vogue 1288)

Heart Silk Dress (Vogue 1288)

Vogue 1288 - heart prints

Vogue 1288

Vogue 1288

Remember this planned project? I finally managed to finish one of them, right when summer is definitely over. Apparently I’m not very good at planning projects.

Anyway! The dress is finished and I love it! The fabric is Juicy Couture silk with pinkish background and black heart prints all over and the pattern is Vogue 1288 from Badgley Mischka Platinum – Vogue American Designer line. From the pattern envelope: “MISSES’ DRESS: Close-fitting, lined dress (fitted through hips) has overlay, contrast bias trim and invisible back zipper. Bias binding (lining) finishes seams.”

I cut size 6 on bust and waist, tapered to size 8 on hip. As usual, I shortened the bodice and hem and made a swayback adjustment before cutting the pattern. This pattern is quite simple, it is a basically a sheath dress with waist-length overlay.

Hearts silk dress (Vogue 1288) Hearts silk dress (Vogue 1288)

I didn’t follow the pattern instructions when sewing the dress.The dress on the pattern envelope is made of sequined chiffon with contrast trim along the neckline, armholes, and hem of both the overlay and the skirt, which required specific techniques of sewing. I didn’t use contrast trim, so my way of sewing the dress was quite simpler.

Hearts silk dress (Vogue 1288) Hearts silk dress (Vogue 1288)

Hearts silk dress (Vogue 1288) First, I attached the side seams of both the outer fabric and lining. Then the outer fabric and lining were attached at the neckline and armholes, leaving about 5 cm gap on top of the straps. The seam allowances were clipped and the dress was turned right side out. Then I sewed the shoulders and slipstitched the lining to the dress. Actually it is similar to the way I sew a reversible bag.

The hem of the overlay was overlocked, then folded inside and topstitched. All seam allowances -except for french seams for the overlay- were finished with overlocker instead of bias binding as the pattern instructions suggested.

This is my first time sewing with silk, and I happily realized that it was not that difficult! Here’s a helpful post on Mood blog that I read beforehand. In addition, I also used fabric stabilizer spray to help me dealing with the slippery fabric. Mine is made in Japan, but I think it is similar to Sullivans Spray Fabric Stabilizer.

My fabric snagged a bit, indicating that the needle was not small enough. Also, silk is so delicate that sometimes I didn’t realize there was an additional layer underneath the ones being sewn. I spent sometime freeing the hem of my dress that got caught on the neckline. But other than that, there were no major hair-pulling moments.

I just love how I’m feeling wearing this dress. The overlay is flowing gracefully with every movement, as you can see in the picture of me pretending to walk against the wind from the fan. And silk is so soft to the touch. This won’t be the last time I’m sewing with silk!

Hearts silk dress (Vogue 1288) Hearts silk dress (Vogue 1288)

Pattern is Vogue 1288, size 6 on bust and waist, size 8 on hip.

Chevron jersey dress (Vogue 8728)

Chevron jersey dress (Vogue 8728) Chevron jersey dress (Vogue 8728)

Vogue 8728

Vogue 8728

On to my next dress! The fabric came from the same store as the orange dress, but it is a much more casual jersey with chevron pattern. There was two choices, I had a hard time choosing between the grey lines and this lilac and light blue chevron, but finally settled with this one. I think I’ve made the right choice!

The pattern is Vogue 8728 from Vogue Vintage Model line, a reissue of “The Greta Eberhardt Collection” pattern circa 1946. What is great about this pattern is that it can be made in both knit or woven fabric. From the pattern envelope: “Misses’ dress and belt: Dress has shoulder pads and side snap or zipper closing.” Of course this is not an adequate description of the pattern. The dress has front gathered yoke with all in one sleeve, a couple of back darts, and gathered skirt.

I wanted to make the dress in size 6 but unfortunately the smallest size stops at 8 so I had to do some improvisation. These were not  proper pattern grading technique, but I suppose it would work since the dress is made of knit fabric and not very fitted.

  • Removed 2.5 cm from each pattern pieces at the center front of skirt, center back of skirt, and center front of yoke.
  • Removed 1 cm from each pattern pieces at the center front  of lower bodice and the center back of bodice.
  • Shortened the lower bodice by 3 cm.
  • Shortened the hem considerably.
  • Lowered the shoulders about 1 cm on each side since I have no intention of using shoulder pads.

The pattern instruction is great if you want to learn some vintage sewing technique. Some of them seemed quite unusual, like turning in the seam allowance of the lower bodice and topstitching them on the yoke gathers or attaching extension to the side of bodice for sewing snaps. I disregarded them all and went to the quick road: overlocker! Most of the seams were sewed using overlocker, except for the topstitching around the upper edge of lower bodice and neckline.

Instead of bias binding as the instruction suggested, I used regular T-shirt neckline finishing technique. A strip of folded fabric is attached to the neckline using overlocker, then topstitched down. Also, the stretchy fabric allowed me to skip using zipper. Just like my previous dress, I sewed a pair of store-bought bra strap holders to the inside of the dress’ shoulders. No more bra straps peeking out of the wide neckline!

As you can see in the finished dress, my clumsy alterations changed the shape of the yoke which is now shaped like a V instead of a shallow U. Next time I should correct the top of lower bodice shape. But I suppose other parts of the dress looked quite okay. I love how the chevron lines creating shapes on different parts of the dress. The dress is now one of the most comfortable dress that I own!

Chevron jersey dress (Vogue 8728) Chevron jersey dress (Vogue 8728)

Chevron jersey dress (Vogue 8728) Chevron jersey dress (Vogue 8728)

Pattern is Vogue 8728 size 8, altered to fit.

Orange dress (Vogue 8313)

Orange dress (Vogue 8313) Orange dress (Vogue 8313)

Looking at the number of sewing that I’d done in the past couple of month, apparently sewing and summer is not a nice combination for me. Fortunately the weather is getting cooler now and my sewing mojo slowly crawled back. I found this pretty eyelet orange fabric in my favorite local fabric shop who sells out of print fabric, and it was turned rightaway into a dress that night.

Vogue 8313

Vogue 8313

The pattern is out of print Vogue 8313, marked as ‘very easy’. I bought it for $1.99 on a sale in Vogue Patterns site. From the pattern envelope: “Misses’ Petite Dress: Dress has V-neck front and back, front and back darts, all in one sleeve and upper section, self bow over upper edge of zipper and back slit at lower section.”

According to the bust size, I should have made size 8. But after checking the finished measurements, I decided to cut size 6 all over. I think checking the finished measurements is a much more reliable way to find the right size. There is not much pattern alterations other than shortening the bodice and hem considerably.

The upper bodice is not lined, the seams are finished with French seams. The lower section is underlined with skin-colored lining and the raw edges finished with overlocker. I didn’t have orange invisible zipper on hand so I just used a yellow one as the zipper pull would be covered with the bow anyway. The bow is handstitched to the right side of the dress, the left side is attached using a pair of snaps.

The back of the dress is quite low, a low-back bra is essential here. I suppose you can also go no-bra with this dress, but the neckline is quite wide that the dress might fall off the shoulders. Of course, it wouldn’t be nice when it happened.

I sewed a pair of store-bought bra strap holders to the inside of the dress’ shoulders so the dress would hang on the bra and no unintentional exposure would happen. In fact, I really love these little bra strap holders and would put it on every dress from now on. These are one of those little things that can make your life much more comfortable.

As mentioned by the pattern, it was quite an easy sewing. It would even be a lot faster if I didn’t use eyelet fabric. The lines are quite flattering I guess, I love seeing it on my body. With such a low back, I know this dress won’t be one of my daily dress. Anyhow, it is nice to have a perfect dress to wear when an occasion passes by!

Orange dress (Vogue 8313) Orange dress (Vogue 8313)
Orange dress (Vogue 8313) Orange dress (Vogue 8313)
Orange dress (Vogue 8313) Orange dress (Vogue 8313)

 Pattern is Vogue 8313 (out of print) size 6.