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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

The Little Mostly-Black Dress

I know the 'Little Black Dress' is meant to be a standard of a woman's wardrobe, but I must confess it's not something I've really owned before. I'm far too much of an all the colours all the time person. So it's actually taken me a good four years from planning to make this LBD to finally getting around to doing it. Partly because I'm not really a wearer of refined or grown-up clothes, and I don't tend to make anything formal-ish unless I have somewhere to wear it. But when I heard about Canberra Frocktails, I decided it was time to get this made. I had meant to take at least a couple of photos at frocktails but guess I was having too much fun because I didn't get around to pulling out my camera.

Frocktails is a brilliant idea dreamt up by some Canberran sewists to have a get together, dress up, have some drinks, stroke each others' outfits, and talk about sewing and stashes without having other people think we're weirdos or tell us that having overstuffed drawers full of fabric is a sign of a hoarding problem. I'm not sure about others, but I find sewing can be a bit of a solitary activity, so it's nice to meet with fellow sewists and be part of a group who share your obsessions. And the frocktails ladies were all lovely and cool - because sewing is an obsession of choice for lovely, cool, creative people!

So, the dress. Unfortunately I don't remember what the fabric is, other than it's not a natural fibre. It's got a satin backed finish, is a two way stretch, is mid-weight and fairly structured, and the brown floral vine is printed onto the fabric, not woven or dyed into it, but beyond that I have no idea. I am trying to be better at remembering exactly what type of fabrics I buy but there are still some in my stash like this one that I have no real idea about. 

As well as having owned the fabric for almost four years, I've had this pattern for about the same amount of time. It's a vintage A-line dress, Simplicity 5920. The pattern dates from 1965 and definitely has a 60s feel, but it's not a costumey vintage pattern, so it's a very wearable dress. This dress is also one of my makes for the 2015 vintage pledge challenge from A Stitching Odyssey, for which I've decided to make six vintage patterns. 

Sadly I couldn't get it to show up well in the photos, but the dress has an interesting front construction. There are three pieces to the front of the dress, a curved triangular central panel which starts just below the centre of the bust, and a seam joining the two front side pieces at the centre of the neck. The bust darts are basically french darts except they end about an inch before the side seam. 

The pattern is a size larger than I normally wear, so I had tried to cut it in a little slimmer to make a better fit. But this fabric, being a little heavier, was hard to cut right in narrow on the pattern so when I had it sewn up it was a bit loose from the waist up. Luckily it's pretty easy to adjust for the slight looseness - I'm pretty straight from underarm to waist so I've dealt with this issue pretty frequently. I extended the bust darts up so they end almost in line with the centre panel and sewed straight up from the waist to the armscye and the fit was much better. 

I ended up having to hand sew in the zipper and hand finish the facings because my machine and the black thread I have are currently not really on speaking terms. After having the fabric snap three times when I tried to put in the zip I admitted defeat and put it in by hand. Although it's slower and sometimes frustrating, I do like finishing facings by hand because it does give a cleaner look. Although it did mean I was up to the wee hours the night before heading down to Canberra so that I could get it finished off before leaving.

Overall, I'm quite happy with this dress. It's fairly simple and classic, and I've finally done my duty as a grown woman of owning a LBD, even if the dress is also covered in brown floral vines (I can't be expected to have a normal LBD, now can I?). But even more I'm so glad to have gone along to frocktails and met all the amazing other sewists.

Monday, 15 June 2015

My Iron Hates The Morris Blazer

Doing Me Made May last month, I saw lots of people posting pictures of the Morris Blazer from Grainline Studio. I liked the look of it, a casual-ish blazer that's more cardigan than jacket, a nice shape that can be dressed up or down, so I decided to jump on the blazer bandwagon. Just a pity that my iron decided it didn't like the bonded lace fabric I used for it.

This is what less than a second of pressing the front of the blazer caused. Apparently the black thread used for the lace can melt. Of course it didn't do this when I pressed the seams while making the thing, or when I attached the interfacing, only when I wanted to make sure it was nice and neat for my photos. So in all of these photos I've studiously made sure that the front right is at least partially obscured so my iron's attack on the blazer can't be seen.

I played around a bit with where to place the sleeves. Deciding which of the shapes should be in the centre of the sleeve piece, and whether to have it at the top and bottom or in the middle, had me pinning and repinning a few times. In the end, I chose the ovally spoked shape over the solid black, because I thought it looked more interesting. It also matches the placement of the centre back.

The fabric was a little tricky to place correctly, because it's a thick ponte-style knit with the bonded lace over the top. Folding it evenly took a lot of time, and even so the back pieces slipped a couple of millimetres out of place when I cut it, which you can see in the middle of the centre back seam where the lines don't quite match up. I unstitched and restitched it, but wasn't able to get it quite right so the unevenness can still be seen if you look closely at the seam.

I decided to do french seams on the blazer, so it took a bit of extra time to make but has a cleaner look. The only exception was at the armscye, where I did normal seams and then used bias binding to cover the edges. I then stitched all the facings down by hand so that the stitching would be invisible and not interfere with the print of the fabric.

This was the first Grainline Studio pattern I've used, and I really enjoyed it. The instructions were clear and easy to follow, and the inclusion of a few extra notes to explain potentially confusing steps was really great. And the copyshop size download meant no need to sticky tape together a million different pieces of paper, which has put me off buying PDF patterns in the past. 

So while my iron has tried to attack this make, I really like it. I'm not sure exactly how I'll fix the iron's injury yet, but think I might try to use black thread and almost redo the lace embroidery. It won't quite match, but hopefully I can at least get it so that it doesn't look obviously damaged.

I was told that this is a pattern that most people want to make again and again. I'm thinking I agree, and probably will make another one myself. But hopefully next time my iron won't attack the fabric I choose!