Tuesday, 9 February 2016

SEWN: CONCHETTA

Meet Conchetta.


Ah now, that's not quite true. That isn't Conchetta... this is!


Isn't she lovely?? No, just me? Come on, who doesn't adore a full metal beast from the 80's that purrs like a kitten and sews like a dream?

And this 80's lady is super special to me. You might recall we lost my father-in-law last October and he was quite the renaissance man. He learnt to sew as a young boy and went on to sew his own curtains, reupholster couches, you name it, as an adult. This was his machine and it has come home to me to be lovingly safe-guarded and most importantly, used. She was in awesome condition and with a little bit of lubing and cleaning she has proved herself to be quite the little machine.

This dress is the first project I've sewn with her.


Had you fooled for a second didn't I? You thought this wasn't yet another sack dress. But she is a sneaky sack, giving the illusion of some shape at the front, but being all sack business at the back.


I've been intrigued but this pattern since I got my hands on Aoi Koda's Pattern Lessons for Autumn and Winter Wear. Even though it is quiet clearly summer here in the southern hemisphere.


This dress is Lesson 3A.


You can see more detail in the picture from the book sewn up in a plain. But those who know me, know I haven't yet come to the party with a love of plains and so I chose to sew it up in this surprisingly delightful find at Lincraft. A vibrantly printed, mid to heavy weight rayon linen blend I scored in their 40% off sale at Xmas and purchased with a gift card. Win!


It attracted a lot of love from other sewists when I posted it on IG and I ended up going back for more for the lovely Sophie of Ada Spragg when she sweetly asked if I could do so. I mean how could I resist enabling a fellow sewist? In the end, a bit of detective work by Sophie and then myself, led us to see this very fabric made up in these fabulous trousers on Pinterest.

Photo source
No amount of additional sleuthing has helped me to find out the designer or label, so I apologise for that, but hell we don't need to know right? My creation is way better. Bwahahaha!

Don't you just love the design of the front?


You actually cut out a half circle on the front bodice, gather the lower curved edge and then align it with the straight upper edge of the half circle and sew them together. This is followed by creating a pleat to hide that seam and sewing it down. Clear as mud? Hmmm trust me on this. What results is that hi-lo hem and waterfall type front.

The design is drop shouldered as can be seen, and can also be made up with long sleeves. As a result the armhole is hugely gapey. Hugely. If you lift your arm at all unfortunate passersby can see right inside to the chest delights below. I knew this might be an issue and am wearing it with a white tank to preserve my modesty and spare the eyes of others.


According to the pattern, this is the dress length. The sleeveless version is actually designed as a tunic length. I sewed a straight size 7 including the prescribed dress length and whilst that resulted in a much longer hem at back than I would normally wear, the front, which gets hoiked up, could not be shorter or risk indecency.


The fit is just lovely. Since it's so oversized I chose to sew a size with a bust measurement slightly smaller than mine and I'm happy I did. You can see that it drapes nicely and looks "right".


I used a hook-and-eye closure rather than my usual button and loop and I really like the clean finish at the back neck.

The book is not translated from Japanese so some experience working with English translated Japanese pattern books would be useful, to help get a feel for the usual techniques. As I've noted before the diagrams and/or photographs of the construction steps in these books is very clear, especially to a visual learner like me. But just to be sure I used a photo translator app (Scanner&Translator for iPhone) which proved surprisingly accurate.


In the end I really like the dress. I've styled it very casually with flat me-made sandals, but it looks fantastic dressed up with heels and I can see it made up in a silk for a slinky night-time cocktail dress. I was off to a BBQ following this shoot and I was breezily comfy all day whilst still feeling rather stylish. It's a woohoo people, yet another woohoo!

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

SEWN: THE HOMAGE

The homage. A dress worthy of Melbourne Frocktails.


I actually decided soon after Frocktails tickets were released and I snaffled mine up that I wouldn't be making a new dress for the occasion. I adore my Anniversary Dress and really wanted to wear it again, plus the timing of the event (the second week of Jan) was awkwardly wedged amongst the Xmas/New Year period and a family holiday. I really didn't think it'd be a great time to undertake something complicated.


Then I must have forgotten that... possibly because I started obsessing all things trapeze and stumbled across this dress from Alexander McQueen. Oh yes, that is quite the perfect trapeze.

I was a goner!

I also figured I wouldn't need to purchase a new pattern as I had made a few trapeze tunics from Feminine Wardrobe by Jinko Matsumoto. It just so happens that this pattern can be made into dress length as well. Oh and I'd been given a gift voucher for Lincraft and whilst I held little hope of finding the right fabric there, lo and behold, there it was! A luminous bronze-y, silvery and purple brocade. We all know my love of brocade...


It may not be clear from the shots above and my busy fabric but the pattern (for the bodice at least) is a six panel trapeze. At first I really wanted to try to do away with the "princess" seams, but that meant dart manipulation and all sorts of try and toile and try again. I just didn't have time!

So I kept the original Mcqueen design of a dress with attached bodice and skirt, kept the panels in the bodice and did away with them in the skirt.


I really wanted to encourage a bit of a kooky exaggerated trapeze shape and after a little discussion with my girl Susan we agreed that interfacing the skirt panel with a moderately stiff, sew-in interfacing would be the way to go. And it totally worked!

It does however drape a bit more than I intended because of those princess seams in the bodice. They really do encourage collapsing into the seams.


That means it also has a less-than-seamless trapeze look. But I really do love it.

And I blame that cheeky short hemline on Anna who encouraged me to shorten another inch. Oh and also it looks uber short because all my blog shots are taken with the camera slightly below me as there is an incline up into the trees. I'm really not a terrible floozy! Or terribly tall as many at Frocktails asked me when we first met... "why aren't you taller?" Ummmmm, sorry?

And then came the heartbreak. This fabric was a disaster. These shots are actually taken after the event (weeks in fact) partly because I had no time before. And immediately after... well I was in mourning.


The dress is destroyed. I know you can't see it here, but the vertical seams of the bodice are tearing apart. It's the weirdest thing I've ever seen. The seam allowances, which were all serged, are fine. The fraying and tearing is coming from the seam line itself and literally spreading. It's at its worst across the broadest part of my back and clearly the dress isn't too small in that area. Before you offer advice and love, no, it can't be saved. It really, really can't.

It's just a shimmery temptress of darkness and I want to cut it into a thousand little pieces and stomp on it. Yep, I really do. Damn you, you seemingly beautiful brocade, it will be a while before I attempt you again.

But before I do, here's a little sass.


Sunday, 20 December 2015

SEWN: STOCKHOLM ANNIE

I swear this doesn't really look like a nightgown IRL. Not selling it? It's true!


I haven't worn a maxi skirt or dress in years and never really felt they were me. I find many maxi dresses swamp me in the most unflattering way. And maxi skirts are a trip hazard. Truly they are.


But then Tessuti released their Annie Dress pattern and rather than meh (my normal response to maxi anything) I thought hells yeah, bring that to the top of the queue. I knew straight away what fabric I would use. This fabulous linen (blend?) Funkis Stockholm Cityscape fabric I picked up recently from Pitt Trading. Funkis as in the clog people. The fabric was designed by Josefine Brodd and used in their SS2014 for a short-sleeved shift dress.

I think this fabric may be a blend as it has some sheeny fibres I don't normally associate with a straight linen, but it can take ironing on a high heat and creases like crazy (hello linen) so maybe not.


I really love the cutaway armholes, in fact it may have been what swayed me to the design. But let's be clear. I tried this on with every bra in my arsenal and there is no way that a bra with straps can be worn. Not even those ones that have a clip at the back to create a "racer back". From the front you could always see the straps where the dress bodice meets the dress straps and at the back the racer/cross over straps were certainly not compatible. In fact with any bra I tried it also made the front dress bodice sit weirdly and unattractively.


So what am I wearing? Chicken fillets, my friends, chicken fillets. These types of stick on bra cup thingies are actually available fairly widely and inexpensively. I have had mine for an age and they are still going strong. I'm sure you could try a traditional strapless bra, but I for one can't keep them up and I hate readjusting all day.

I also really like the maxi midi length. It's not floor grazing and therefore more practical in my mind, but you can still get away without shaving your legs. Win!


My bust measurement put me between the XXS and XS. I decided to toile a size XXS, but it just seemed a little snug across the bust and back. I let out the seams a little but it still didn't look right. So this is an XS. I did toile the bodice again, but it's super hard to work out how the bodice will sit without adding the weight of the skirt and quite frankly that's no longer a toile - it's a wearable muslin and huge fabric suck.

So after completely lining the bodice and attaching the skirt I realised that this size is a little gapey around the armscye. I ended up sewing a dart starting at 1cm in from the side seam line and finished the point at the attachment point of skirt. It's a dirty fix, but it works and no one sees the insides right? That means I actually removed 4cm from the bust. Maybe the XXS was the right size. Sigh...


It's another woohoo make for me! And thank goodness I made sandals as they are the only shoes in my wordrobe that work with this very different silhouette for me.

Right, I'm going to rip off these bra cups, stick on my ridiculously awesome me-made bikini and hit the pool. And I'll be completely me-made. Eep!!