Saturday, July 23, 2016

Liberty Sundress in Lovely Lisboa

Just before leaving for our lovely week in Lisboa, I realized I TOTALLY needed a sundress made of liberty fabric. You know the benefits of the pricy cotton lawn: it dries fast, it's lightweight, cool to wear in hot weather, does not wrinkle (relatively speaking) and it is not sheer. 

Plus, the flowery patterns are just lovely. I kept day dreaming about sewing this jewel since I bought it in my last trip to London.

So I decided to replicate a very simple sundress I have in my wardrobe (twice already). I took it from a pattern magazine years ago, and I still wear it. It has passed the test of time. Of my two previous versions, one is cut in the bias and the other has some elastic thread. 

This cotton is not elastic at all, so I decided to cut it on bias, thinking it is stable enough to stand to it, and I have been proved right. I only bought 1.5m, but again thanks to the generosity of the sales lady (18cm extra), it was enough for the bias version. I found my pattern in my collection and cut it folding the fabric through one corner and then the oposite one, upside down.

I marked the pattern pieces with tailor tucks.I was in a hurry (as I always am, to my own dismal!), so I took the pinned pieces to the machine without previously basting them (OMG!). Of course the pattern allows it. Bust darts, skirt darts, side seams and imperium seam, under the bust, are all quite simple and straight seams to sew. 

I applied some fusible interfacing along the invisible zip at the back. 

 I self encaged the skirt side seams for a neat finish, and instead of facings for neck and arms openings, I used a whole second bodice as facing. I left the shoulder seams open, and I sewed the neck and armscyes, turned it over, machine-stitched the shoulders closed of both bodice and facing and then finished that border by tinny handstitches. I enclosed the seam allowances under bust inside the facing, securing it by hand sewing there. Have a look at the inside:

This fabric fame and price is worth it, if we carefully choose the project. I still question my last one, but this one is a 10. It does not take space in my tinny hand suitcasse, it does not wrinkle (I amb wearing it here after unpacking), and it is supercool for hot weather. Plus, it is a bliss to work with. A win-win-win!

I love Lisboa! More about my fabric hunt in Lisboa in my next post.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Black Silk Jersey Sleveless Coco Dress

 WOW! What a luxury dress!
The inspiration was brought by Kate Middleton, the English princess, who in terms of clothing is candy to any sewist eyes when she wears those magnificent custom-fitted dresses and tailored coats.
 I saw in a magazine she was wearing a blue jersey dress with the most exquisite drape and shade I had ever seen, and I read there was something called silk jersey. I was in love.

 So when I travelled to London last easter, this was in my treasure hunt. I bought only one metre in Broadwick Silks (Soho), since the price is very expensive.
Because I only had 1 m x 1.05m, it had to be a short sleeveless dress, so I decided to go with my Coco pattern, which it has proved infallible over the last months, winter and summer alike. I had to cut the back upside down, to align the skirt wide bottom next to the narrower bodice part.
I raised the underarm part of the sleeves a couple of cm and deeped the front neck cutting.
I zig-zagged all the raw ends with my machine and handsewed them with an invisible stitch to the dress by rolling them once. Easy does it.
It is a jewel of a dress! I hope it will not be my last silk jersey piece.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Purple Liberty Jumpsuit

I have mixed ideas and doubts about this project since the beginning. I got inspired by a pattern in Burda magazine. It was a jumpsuit made in a woven patterned fabric, and I immediately saw it as an excuse for Liberty. 
I bought it the in the shop during my last visit to London (I hope the commercial relations with Britain go on  with no extra taxes after the Brexit, shipping costs are expensive enough!). I needed 2.5 m according to the magazine, and I was lucky the sales girl was so generous with the fabric as to cut 15 extra cm, which became totally necessary.
I decided to make a toile first, to check the fit of the thing, but specially to decide if it was a sensible idea, a cotton short-sleeved, troussered jumpsuit. In the toile I saw fitting was perfect (Burda is amazing that way, and it does NOT include seam allowances, it is great) and it was a becoming outfit to my figure, although somewhat weird... I did not know if it was good-weird or bad-weird. I still do not know, sincerely.
Well, I ripped the muslin pieces off, and I used them as pattern pieces without a single modification on them.
I constructed the trousers first: pleats, zipper, pockets, inner seams (self encaged), outer seams (self encaged).
Then I constructed the bodice, also self-encaging all the seam allowances, the objective being a neat finish of the garment outside and inside. One curious thing about this blouse is that breast dart is transferred to the waist by way of gatherings. It has a band stand collar.
Finally I united the top and bottom pieces sandwiching them between the waist piece. I had a really nasty surprise then, and since I was in a tight schedule (one of my mad sewist crazy deadlines, I had to wear it for the final course celebration) I could only repair it with a sloppy remedy. I could not anticipate it because, although I tried I could not visualize the frontal closing where zipper and button strip would meet. I tried, but my visual-spacial intelligence failed to see ahead, as usual. So I only realized it when it was too late: we put right over left in tops, and the other way round in trouser zippers!! The solution was to completely undo the zipper and do it right over left to match the button and buttonhole strips, but it was late at night the previous day to my big day. No time. Sloppy solution. Happily, I did a very nice inconspicuous work and nobody notices it when I am wearing it: I cut the bottom of the buttonhole strip to pass it over the button strip and secure it with a very small zigzag and a tiny metal clip.
I was very comfortable wearing it, but after wearing it a whole very hot tiring morning with kids in my lap, bus ride in pure heat included, the thing was pretty wrinkled, I must say. Also, I have serious doubts about the waist (me not having any of that), so I decided to add a belt to it. But then the fact that it is one whole piece is not appreciated any more. So, does it have any sense at all?

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Striped Coco With Gathered Sleeves Modification

I am loosing count of Coco illegal copies in my wardrobe, hehehe... Since I knocked off the first one with my own pattern, this is a non stop race to the infinite number of replicas and modifications a pattern can have. Truth is, I love my jersey short dresses in summer and this is the best pattern one can have for those. 

My inverted waist is discretly hidden, my old age rejuvenated and I can show more or less leg depending on the ocasion. Variations on necks are numberless (we saw one in my last entry), as they are in sleeves or sleevelessness!

This is one of the many possible variations on sleeves.

  I took my short sleeve pattern and modified it following Aldrich's instructions.

For the round neck, I drafted it ovr the dressform with a basting thread, staystitched it in my machine, and applied a tightened folded strip, cut with curvature, right side on right side. Then I turned it towards the inside, and topstitched with the double needle. The result is PRO! This is the best way to finish a jersey t-shirt neck by far.


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Cotton Bag for My Knits

This is a simple project, but practical and cool. It is a bag to take my knitting projects -you can take a look at it inside the bag- anywhere and make it portably beautiful. I did not like to move my knitting around in a vulgar plastic bag!
I have been doing mends this week, and also a bunch of similar bags in white cotton to store food in the freezer, but I won't show them, they are too boring, and simply a copy of this one in several sizes, to accommodate the different meats, vegetables, fish, etc, I have to freeze.
To make this we only need two rectangles, zigzagged all around. Make a channel in the upward part doubling the fabric twice and stitching it. Then we sew it all around except for the superior channel. Finally, we pass a ribbon through the whole round twice. 
We can use both ends of the ribbon to pull the bag closed.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Turquoise Striped Jersey Coco

Another Coco dress! And there is another one coming, I can tell you that!
I  got this wonderful jersey from Stone Fabrics. Bess was so kind to find a matching fabric for sleeves, I thought stripes all over would have been a little too much.
Again I used my knockoff Coco dress pattern, and this time I decided to play a little with the neck band over my dressform.
 I am really happy with the result. It is a comfortable, lively and stylish little dress.
 I love this pattern for jersey dresses, and next time I am thinking about yet another variation.

Here I am wearing it with my favourite shoes at the moment. Pretty Ballerinas Rosario in silver and gold. I cannot stop myself form looking at their dynamic reflections when I walk!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Liza Dress

This is an excellent excuse to comment on this beautiful book:

Famous Frocks: The Little Black Dress 

The edition is gorgeous, as it is the concept, the pictures and, as I have been able to test, the patterns. At least this one is accurate and becoming. The belt piece seems to be missing though. Nothing is perfect. And I do not like the instructions. As in most commercial patterns from the UK and the US, they are based in mass production, but they are not, in my opinion, suitable for home sewing. For me, home sewing is about doing slowly, carefully and as accurately as possible, fitting and becoming to our unique body. So, the approach I prefer goes preferably toward haute couture than mass production. Of course, that is a personal option, but let us see an example.

The instructions of this dress, which pattern includes seam allowances to be sewn in the machine with only pins holding it together, direct us to sew the open sleeve heads or the neck band to the bodice, with shoulder seams sewn only. If I had done that, the sleeve heads would have started 2cm down my shoulder points. The neck band was in place, but I had also to correct the tightness of it.
Anyways, as I explained in many other projects, I follow the system my mum taught me. She learned it from the 60s seamstress, as did most of the girls in Catalonia at that time, as part of their preparation from becoming good homemakers. My aunts and neighbours, now in their 60s and 70s, share the same approach to sewing. As I have been studying in recent years, their method is close to haute couture in the construction of the piece, although most of them took their flat paper patterns from magazines, mostly Burda. In couture they mostly drape to construct the exclusive patterns.

So the first step is to take the 1.5cm seam allowance off the pattern, after tracing it in tissue paper. There was some modifications to do to the pattern, since this was one of the variations on a Liza Minelly dress.

So you must trace the pattern, give more flare to the skirt and add some sleeves from another famous frock. The different dresses and their variations have interchangeable pieces and sizes, so that gives you lots of different dresses. I love this about this book because it teaches you to work with paper patterns.

To make sure the pattern was near accurate, I put it over the dressform. The only seemingly problem was that the bodice's waist was short. When I tried the dress on, the waist was in place because the fabric weight puts it into place. The author won my respect on that one.

As always, I marked the pattern pieces with tailor tucks, and basted all the dress (only one sleeve) together for the first fitting. There I realized the sleeves hanged low. The rest, including the waist placement, the neck cut, width, length, and sizing was just perfect. Amazing. All the patterns in the book are for a C cup, so I did not even have to do the FBA as usual. HURRAY!!!
After checking it fitted me, I finished the neck band first. Here I had to tighten it more to prevent it from gaping. Baste, sew and topstitch with the double needle. Best wrap dress neck opening I've ever sewn, thank to the book instructions this time. The lengthwise band is such a good idea to keep the neck in shape... but of course we have to thank Diane von Furstenberg here for this design.

I chose this viscose-wool from Stone fabrics, which is natural, warm, perfect thickness, hang and drape. Next season I will have a red one, probably.
After closing the bodice I put in the closed sleeves, mounting them 2 cm higher. They are fine now.
I sewed the skirt pieces together and attach it to the finished bodice, with its belt and all.
Jersey does not fray, so I left all the hem allowances cut at 1 cm and raw. I hand sewed the skirt bottom and side hems, as well as the sleeve hems.
Once finished, I realized another small fault of the pattern that I had not realized before. The back neck was too high and wide. The wide issue might be due to the band sewing, but I have to take some neck off from the paper pattern for next time. A couple of cm at least. Lacking a better solution, I solved the excessive width with a dart.
For the rest, a wonderful dress and a wonderful wool. I will definitely sew more patterns from it in the near future.