Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Liberty Dress

This project was inspired by its fabric (2m x 1.35m), of course. Karen in her blog explained about Liberty Tara Lawn cottons and I decided that I absolutely needed a dress made of it for my holiday this summer. I ordered from Liberty's and it cost me 80 Euros with shipping costs, but it is a wonderful fabric. The only drawback is that some patterns, like this one, are in fact repetitions of a small illustration, and the overall effect  is a little bit weird, so be careful to see the whole picture before you decide among the mountain of possible patterns they offer. Everything Karen said is true: it is a very thin fabric but it does not show though. It is a sweet cotton, wonderful to work with, and it barely wrinkles. I think it is completely worth it.
I was in love with this pattern at first sight, and I thought it would render beautifully with my Liberty cotton. It is from Patrones magazine, which we can buy in Catalunya. I am lucky enough to have it in the library bus that visits us every month.
I copied the pattern to the muslin, which was necessary in this case: expensive fabric+ new pattern. In the first fitting I saw that I need to lengthen the waist and modify the pattern for large bust. I followed the instructions in Armstrong's book:

The modification was successful. In the past, I would have used a bigger size, or added some fabric at the side seams or even in the back zipper (OMG!!!), wherever I could get some extra space for my big boobs, haha... but of course that means you loose the equilibrium and right proportions in the rest of the bodice.

Another process I learned along this project (man, I am on fire!!) was the invisible zipper application. I only had to buy a special leg for the sewing machine and watch a video in the net. That simple. Problem is, my zipper is not invisible at all. I think it is even beautiful in this design, but I really have to know how to make it disappear.


The sleeves a seamed in the middle and were perfect at first fitting. Good! I love perfect sleeve caps. I had some doubts with the flounces at the sleeves, design wise, but my image advisor said they were nice, and in fact I think they add some movement and life to the design.

I also took special care with the neck. I applied some fusible interlining to the facing, and machine stitched it to the right side of the dress, following the interlining as a guide. I trimmed carefully the hem to 0,5 cm and cut slashing lines to the stitches. Then I pressed it upwards and stitched the facing to the hem allowance. When I turned it down, the curve of the neck was just perfect. I secured it to the dress with a picking stitch.

I have some doubts about the inferior flounce. Although I like it being almost invisible, as an extension of the skirt, it is more visible in the magazine design. This might be due first to the different hemming method. I simply zig-zagged the bottom of the dress and left it raw, instead of making a small double folded hem which would have added flare to the flounce. 

I decided to encase all the seam allowances in themselves and topstitch them, since the thread is invisible in this pattern. That makes the dress perfect outside and inside, and easier to iron after washes.

I premiered it for a special occasion and received several compliments, both for the dress and for the fabric. I felt like a princes with that light and beautiful fabric flying around me, and after a long day of working with kids, sitting with them on my lap, the dress had barely a wrinkle.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


Lately I've been sewing t-shirts for me and my boy.
I had purchased several jerseys, organic some of them, and decided to start making them and try to figure out what is the best neck procedure.
For me, I have been using my Universal T-shirt pattern, which I took form a Patrones magazine some years ago, and used a zillion times. For Carlos I used the rub off method to copy his favourite long-sleeved t-shirt.

Striped viscose jersey bought in Here I used my classic neck procedure: put a bias band around the neck, right to right side, machine stitch it, turn it towards the inside folding it in itself and sanwiching the little seam allowance. Then, I handsewed it with an invisible backstitch. Pretty good method for dressy t-shirts.

Black organich cotton from Ecological Textiles. Same procedure, but here I applied the bias strip on the worng side, turned it towards the front and machine stitch it with the double needle. Pretty good, but not perfect, it gaps a little.

This is some cheap knit I had in my statsh since last year. I don't like growing a big stash, so let's clean it up! For the neck, I applied a bias strip right to right, turned it to the inside, hold in in place with pins and finish with the double needle. It also gaps, so I start hating the double needle for necks, as I suspected it pulls the fabric.

Organic cotton from Only organic: soft and nice to the touch. This was a mistake in my order, so I decided to make the best off it. I bought some ellasticated lace and applied it in the sleeves, simply sewing it together, cutting it around its flowers and machine sewing it on the cotton. I used a double needle machine straight stitch forthe sleeves and body bottoms. 

 As for the neck, I decided to make a V-shaped neck with organic black cotton. First you machine sew  a V shape in the middle of  a 5 cm wide bias strip. Press it flat and apply it to the t-shirt's neck as if sandwiching it. Baste it and the machine sew it with the double needle. Pretty good if not for the double needle with black contrasting thread. If looked closely, it is not too straight. But still pretty good look!
Here I made some more research in the net, and I found an evidence that made me feel like and idiot: the neck strip has to be shorter than the t-shirt neck to avoid gaping!!! Of course!! How could I not see it for myself?! A blogger said 90% is a good rate, I think it could be even less, but one can pull the strip as you apply in over the t-shirt, and feel the right stretch. I started to apply this trick on this v-neck and it was wonderfully flat around my neck. EUREKA!  

I like the laced sleeves so well that I decided to make another version, and leave the lace alone to make it sheer. I used organic black cotton for the body. 

Here I applied my newfound trick to my classical neck method. Bias strip, right on right, turned towards the inside and hand sew it with an invisible back-stitch. The final result is almost perfect, but this time I cut the neck's shpae over the manequin, and the shape is too narrow in the front. I make a note of testing the shape over me before sewing it, because the manequin pull the fabric a little and the result is not the same.

Finally a couple of long-sleeved t-shirts for my man. Both are organic cotton (from sources mentioned above). In the black one I used my neck method but I did not stretch the bias strip and it is not tight enough. In the second I used the method most comercial t-shirts use: cut a strip 90 % shorter that the neck, apply it right to right, doubled in itserf,  turn it upwards, press, and machine stitch it with the double needle (which does not stretch the fabric after all). The result is quite good for sporty t-shirts.

Sunday, June 7, 2015


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Maternity Dresses

My friend Meri is expecting!

 And while she happily expects, she has to actually wear clothes. The baby is due two months from now, so we decided she was gonna need some summer dresses. 

For the purple one, we bought this wonderful interlock in Only Organic. It's sweet, soft and a beautiful shade of purple. I used my Universal T-shirt pattern, and modified it by adding "the tent" structure as explained in Armstrong's book. Simply you slash the pattern open from breast point down and open it, add also some flare to the sides, and voilà!

We bought this knit jersey at Telas. Meri loves the pattern and colours. I copied another friend's top with the rub-off method I've learned recently form Lincecum's book. It was a sleeveless pattern with some pleats over the breasts that made room for the large belly. The braces come together in the back for more stability.
Now she can show off her happiness in style!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Jotera Outfit

This is the traditional dress for Aragon girls who dance its traditional dance: la jota. My two nieces are now five year old and they are training themselves to dance the jota, so we decided to make them the complete outfit. Since we have their birthday as the deadline and it is next week, we have to hurry hurry and their mom has distributed the work: granny is making the skirts and underskrits, I am making the overalls, the knee-breeches they wear under their underskirts and the bodice.
I copied a borrowed model, which with the overall was simple enough. With the knee-breeches, I followed the rub-off method I've learnt from this book.

Notice the pintucks all over the aprons and breeches. They are meant to be undone progresively as the kids grow up.
The completley reversible waistcoasts. I also used a model to rub-off, and enlarged it 10 cm after its fitting.

Here are my beautiful nieces wearing the complete outfit: white cotton blouse, knee breeches, underskirt, skirt, apron, wastcoat and shawl. They are ready to dance. Not a very practical outfit to exercise in june, but hey, it's tradition!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Widow's Set

Well, I must reckon this project is a letdown somewhow. Although, I don't know yet...
Let me explain. I had this wonderful sheer fabric with little white stars on a black backgorund. It was perfect for a blouse with a bow at the neck and had been sitting in my little stash for a couple of years, wainting for inspiration.
One day, in the library on wheels that visits our small village once a month (which brings pattern magazines, it's wonderful!!!) I saw this wonderful design:
It was perfect for my fabric! Two pieces for a set, perfect for spring! I had some cotton with ellastane to make the sleveless dress, and I bought some black sheer fabric to make the underskirt. 

I did not have any problem during contruction. For the skirt hem, I used a stright machine stitch in a very small double loop that I was doing as I was sewing.
For the elasticated band at the bottom of the blouse, I used the shirring method: you put some elastic thread in the bobin (withour pulling it) and machine sew it in straight lines, four or five, every 1 cm. I did the same with the sleves.
The result is quite nice theoretically, but I am not crazy about how it looks on me :-( Probably because I am not tanned and my legs are not that nice without stockings now. And this has to be worn with sandals. I will give it a try soon enough, and if it wears nice I might upload a picture with the set on actual me, hehe... Meanwhile, enjoy it in my manequin:

Friday, April 3, 2015

Linton Wool, Chanel Style


I wanted to have another Chanel style jacket, after the success of my first one, and I bought this black wool at Linton. But then I changed my mind and decided to use it for my mother in law, Teresa. She deserves it!
I followed a mix of advice from Shaeffer and Kalhje: silk organza as interfacing, silk lining, some fusible interlining for buttonholes. 
First of all, I decided to use Claire Shaeffer's pattern for Vogue. I have her book on jacket construction, and I did not feel like drawing the pattern myself. Ignorant me thought a commercial pattern would be better. WRONG. In the first place, the sizes are too big, so I directly made a size down than Teresa's measures indicated (Ralph Rucci's coat experience).
 After the muslin fitting and adjustments done, I still don't like the sleeve heads, the side panel is ridiculously small, sleeves are very short and I hate the buttons placement in the front and the sleeves. It was 25 euros for nothing. 

Well, after the first mistake (acknowledged), I went on to cut the organza pieces using the slightly modified muslin pieces. And then I used the organza pieces to cut the fabric pieces themselves. I learnt this method in Susan Kahlje's course in Crafsy. It consists of machine sewing the interlining organza to the fabric, aiming to mark it and to prevent it from shape shifting. I used a pale colour organza to make it easy on my eyes.
When I had all the pieces attached to their interlining, I started to baste the pieces together for the first (real fabric) fitting, which proved the sleeves where too short and poorly shaped at the back. I tried to repair that by moving them inwards in their back part. I also made a modification for a curved back that consisted on a dart in the center of the neck (interlining), eased with the iron in the fabric.

After assembling the sleeves, with opening and buttonholes, I applied the silk lining and finished it completely, sewing it by hand all around the bottom of the sleeve and the last remaining seam.

In this last picture we can also see how I quilted the sleeves to the lining, as characteristical in Chanel jackets. Then I basted the sleeves to the jacket and made all the modifications fitting the jacket to the model. I finally sew the sleeves permanently by hand back stitching them. 
The next step was basting all the hem, which goes around the neck, front and bottom of the jacket. 

Once basted, I proceeded to hand sew it with a feltstitch. I also secured the seam allowances open here and there, to prevent them from messing up.
All this with a good pressing every now and then.

In this pic we can see the use of shoulder pads, and sleeve heads (as explained in this Thread's video). I do not see any dramatic improvement with the last.

I decided to make the buttonholes by machine. In the lining, I made coat buttonholes calculating precisely where they went.
Finally I machine sewed all the lining pieces, and pinned them to the jacket as it stood in the mannequin wrong side up. I made a major change here regarding Shaeffer's method (and classic Chanel): I did not quilt the lining to the fabric. I thought the stitching wouldn't look nice in the black wool fabric, and I also dreaded the days and days of delicate hand sewing that this method requires. So, I made a feltsitch to secure it to the jacket, removed all the bastings and...  voliá!