Thursday, 22 June 2017

Floral Stretch Tops

Another busy week is almost over. After finally finding the right venue for the wedding (easier said than done!) and running around after irresistable sales (you can never have enough shoes or fabric!) I found the time for this post. Apologies as it is slightly shorter than usual!

After finishing my Floral Wrap Dress I still had mountain of John Kaldor's fabric left (duh!). Considering how quick and easy the stretchy tops are, I thoguht that sewing two extra garments would be a perfect way of ending my weekend.

Having checked my pile of patterns I realised how little of them I have that are designed for this kind of fabric. Luckily, I've managed to dig out Burda 6838 pattern and remembered about tops from Gertie Sews Vintage Casual.

I must admit I haven't followed the Burda pattern guidelines too closely - they were not too critical though considering how easy and straight forward the top was. I've also decided to skip the sleeves as I had few skirts and cardigands in mind I wanted to use this top with.  Getting the front pieces alligned correctly was a bit time consuming as everything had to be pinned in place, but generally everything went on pretty smoothly.

I love the neckline form by this top and the way it hugs the waistline paired with a skirt!

The second top was designed for an instant "ready-to-go" look. Paired with just a simple pair of trousers or a skirt makes a nice, casual outfit.

As all of Gertie's patterns, this one was very easy to follow. The top consists only of four pieces and setting the sleeves could not be easier! This pattern is perfect for a quick project as it might take only an hour or so to finish. Certainly recommend for everyone who would like to create a new garment without spending too much time or energy on it.

Fabric - John Kaldor Floral Print Stretch Jersey Dress - Purple & Mustard
Pattern - Burda6838 (top), Gertie Sews Vintage Casual (bottom)

Friday, 9 June 2017

Rosa Shirt (Tilly and the Buttons)

Tilly and the Buttons - Rosa Shirt
Hello again! As you can see I'm still alive even though I had to take a break from sewing. April and May were pretty hectic months - family visit, my "big" birthday, job interview, trip to Germany and an engagement (awesome, right?!). Although wedding planning is a big and rather distracting part of my life nowdays, I still managed to find some time for my next project - Tilly's "Rose Shirt".

I must admit I've never made a structured shirt before - I always tend to stick to simple shirts, dresses and loose tops. This time however I decided to get a bit adventurous and fulfill one of my New Year's sewing resolutions. It took me 3 attempts to get the things right but I'm pretty happy with the final result! :)

Why 3 attempts you might ask? Well, many times in the past - excited about the new pattern and fabric - I went head first and started sewing without any test-run. As I've mentioned before, it was never a good idea.  Therefore, I decided to try out Tilly's pattern first with the cheapest and plainest fabric I could find in my stash.

Sewing the shirt was pretty straight forward as every step of the process was well explained and illustrated with pictures. Unfortunately, as I didn't pay too much attention and thoguht I've got it before checking the instructions twice, I messed up stitching in the back. It looked really bad.

Lessons learnt (and instructions checked), my second and third attempt were way better. I'm verry happy with the outcome and I can't believe I could mess it up so badly. Don't get me wrong, you do need to pay attention but it's nothing that an adventurous beginner can't handle.

Tilly and the Buttons - Rosa Shirt

One of my biggest fears was the collar. For some reason I imagioned it to be rather complicated and very easy to mess up. Surprisingly, it turned out to be relatively simple. I still struggle a bit with the collar buttonhole (my buttonhole foot is huge and getting it in right place takes ages).  Fortunately, any less-than-perfect outcomes resulting in a bit off-centered buttons don't really bother me that much at this point of my sewing adventure.

Tilly and the Buttons - Rosa ShirtTilly and the Buttons - Rosa Shirt
Tilly and the Buttons - Rosa Shirt


Directions - as mentioned above straight forward and well illustrated. Perfect for a person who decided to make her first buttoned shirt with a collar.

Fitting - Unfortunately, I had to change few bits. First of all the sizes between my bust, waist and hips were not the same so I had to scale down around the waist. Moreover, I also had to shorten the whole garment around wasit by ca. 1" (otherwise fabric was gathering on my back in a really awful way).

General Impression - I can't underestimate how happy and proud of myself I am for making this shirt. I'm sure for a more experienced sewist it's not a big deal but for me seeing that collar standing straight and all the stitches looking presentable was very rewarding. Looking forward to my next "perfect for British summer" shirt! :)

Tilly and the Buttons - Rosa ShirtTilly and the Buttons - Rosa Shirt

Fabric - Cotton Lawn
Pattern - Rosa Shirt and Dress, Tilly and the Buttons

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

How I Messed Up Simplicity 1779

Do you ever look at the finished garment and think to yourself "Damn, what was I thinking doing that? I know I look bad with this type of dress/top/sleeve/etc"? In order to avoid such disapointing moments I usually do a test-run with the cheapest fabric I can find. Unfortunately, in case of Simplicity 1779 I've only done 60% of the garment and decided I'm good enough to go with the "real" fabric. I wasn't. I should have checked the neckline. And the bands. And the sleeves.

I know the picture on the left doesn't look too bad but just wait for the details! ;)

Long time ago I thought that cutting fabric for few projects at once was an amazing idea (spoiler alert - it wasn't). I thought I could deal with boring and unexciting cutting asap and then focus on what I want to do the most - sewing. It was therefore no surprise for me that when I was checking my fabric stash last week I uncovered cut pieces for Simplicity 1779 top (version B).

As I have cut this fabric few months (!!!) ago, all the markings for darts have disappeared so I had to re-trace them again. I've also noticed that the quality of cut pieces was less than perfect since back then I was not as used to working with slippery and thin fabric as I am now. Measure once, cut twice (but clearly not that time!). The bands and tie were a bit, well... uneven, which I could see pretty clearly after applying the interfacing.

I still love the fabric but if I had a chance to cut it again I would certainly do few things differently. Maybe I will find it in the store soon? Fingers crossed!

Sewing darts and putting back and front pieces together was pretty easy and straight-forward. Making sure the tie gets the right shape was a bit more time consuming and required a lot of ironing but it wasn't too challenging. The blouse looked pretty neat at that point.

And then the nightmare I haven't test-run before had begun - the bands. Don't get me wrong, the instructions were pretty clear on how to proceed step-by-step and I think I did pretty well with them. Unfortunately, that changed when I had to add the buttonholes. As I used pretty bright thread I think they stood out too much from the fabric pattern which was very annoying considering the fact that I would rather have them hidden and less visible. Last but not least the blouse turned out to be a bit too tight in the bust creating that awkward gap between the top buttons.

Another thing I was not too happy about were the sleeves. I'm so annoyed with them that I'm actually considering cutting them off and turning them into binding to create a sleeveless blouse. I will update you on that once done (if ever) though!

The version of the sleeves on the left is just overlocked. When I tried the blouse on they were the right lenght and with a good fall. The version on the right is the "finished" one I'm less happy with. I must admit I wasn't paying too much attention to finishing the hem neatly and I think because I've made it too thick it is no longer as floaty as before. As you can see on the picture it actually sticks out a bit (ygh!).


Directions - As a person who was making her own buttoned shirt for the first time, I must admit that the guidance was very good and made the work much less challenging.

Fitting - The blouse fit perfectly in waist and hips - it wasn't either too tight or too lose and it had a very fine fit. The only problem I've got was with the bust, I can't honestly say though if it wasn't caused by me simply chosing the wrong size (which back in the day happened pretty often).

General Impression - It is always hard to get out of your comfort zone and try to sew a new type of garment. This pattern - despite few issues I had along the way - is very good and I still like it quite a lot because of nice shape and the tie. I must admit I'm rather upset with myself for messing such a nice fabric up but all we can do in situations like is to learn from our mistakes (and maybe do a proper test-run first). I'm certain I will have another blouse from this pattern soon enough!

Fabric - Digital Print Chiffon
Pattern - Simplicity 1779

Friday, 24 March 2017

The Sloping Shoulder

Most of the patterns I tend to use have a seam line which – without any alteratinos whatsoever – does not sit nice and flat on my shoulders. The further away the seam goes from the neckline, the more it stands out from them. Of course a problem like that can be hidden with a cardigan or a jacket, but what's the point of sewing your own garment if it doesn't fit you?

On the picture below you can see a perfect example of a sloping shoulder. The neckline is pretty neat and well fitted. However, the moment we reach the armholes we can see a big space between the shoulder and the top part of the garment.

The process of fixing the sloping shoulder problem is quite easy and once sorted, you can apply the changes to any patterns in the future. Vogue Sewing revised and updated1 offers two ways of dealing with the issue. You can either insert shoulder pads to fill the extra space or get rid off the excess fabric.

Personally, I was never the biggest fan of the shoulder pads as they've always made me feel like 1980's pop star (not exactly the look I tend to go for these days) so I always choose the second option.

After sewing the test run garment put it on and pin any excess fabric that stands out from your shoulders. The pins should create a new seam line that would be a correct fit for your shoulders. Make sure that the armholes are not too tight and regardless of the changes you've done it is still comfortable to move your arms around. If required, lower the armhole a bit. Once you're happy with the final product, transfer the changes into the paper pattern so you don't have to go through the fitting process each time you would like to sew the garment. 

I tend to take 1,5cm/0,6" from the top by the shoulder point and (depending on the pattern) leave the armholes as they are or lower them by another 1,5cm/0,6". Of course your measurements may vary from mine so just make sure that the seam line sits well on your shoulders. 
1McDougald, Ch. (Ed.). (2006). Vogue Sewing revised and updated. n.p.: Sixth&Spring Books. p. 308.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Pencil Dress

I have been thinking of using my tricoloured fabric for quite a while now. I bought it ages ago in one of the local fabric stores, knowing straight away that the unusual pattern and little stretch would make it perfect for a pencil dress. The fabric was lying at the bottom of my stash for quite a few months and I pretty much forgot about it until the "it's almost spring" cleaning brought it back from the depths.

As I grew tired of dark and little less than depressing clothes for work, I thought this fabric was a perfect way of introducing some colour and fun to my 9 to 5 wardrobe. Since I wasn't in the mood for experimenting or fighting with a new pattern, I decided to go with one of Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book patterns.

Considering the fact that I had only limited amount of fabric available and no stretchy lining at hand (always prepared, right?), I decided to go for a bodice with darts and all-in-one facing rather than a princess seam. Personally, I find that all-in-one facings are perfect for sleeveless dresses as they allow for a lovely and clean finish (even if they do look a bit complicated when used for the first time).

As I mentioned before this pencil dress was pretty straight forward to sew. Both the bodice and the skirt had two pieces each - front (cut once on fold) and back (cut twice). The front part of the garment had six darts - two for the bust and four by the waist.

As for the back - another six darts - two on the back and four on the bum. As you can see the main darts are aligned into one long line going through the waist. Thanks to the mad vertical pattern, you can hardly see them on the right side of the garment though :)


Directions - All dress patterns in the book are very well explained. At the beginning author provides us with information regarding skills,  supplies and pieces of the pattern needed for the chosen garment. In case we are not too familliar with one of the key skills mentioned Gertie refers us to the relevant part of the book for more information. Later on she provides us with detailed, step-by-step guidance supported by clear and easy to follow ilustrations.

Fitting - I've never had big issues with any of the patterns from Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book other than sloping shoulders. The size chart provided in the book is pretty accurate and any minor fitting issues can be amended with the darts.

General Impression  - Love, love, love. As I've mentioned at the beginning all I wanted was an easy and well fitted garment and this pattern delivered.

Fabric - I wish I knew! ;(
Pattern - Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book