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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The dress in action

Thank you all so much for your comments, I did have a great time and the dress held up well. Maybe tacking the top of the bow down before hitting the dancefloor would have been a good idea but it always returned to where it was supposed to be when the bopping was over.

These are not the worlds greatest photos I'm afraid. People (even those who really should know better) just don't seem to get that I want pictures of dresses not faces! Anyway here you go....

As for my next project, I really want to start work on my DKNY shirtdress next but my washing machine has broken (with a full load stuck inside it) so I can't prewash my cotton fabric (or wear anything that is in the machine!). Now I am wishing I was one of those organised people who wash their fabric as soon as they get it home! I really hope I can get it repaired before Easter or I may be forced to wear the ballgown again by Monday.....




There were masks on all the tables, some conveniently matched my dress, although I only wore it for a few fun pictures.



Me and my photographer with whom I need to have words.....




Saturday, April 16, 2011

Vogue 1108 Finished!

With an entire afternoon to spare, what a luxury!





I do wish I had had more time to spend on the dress, the workmanship on this is not perfect and it would have been nice to explore a few couture techniques, but I figured it was better still to get it finished!

Vogue rates this pattern as average which since it has a boned foundation surprised me, but fortunately for me with my time constraints, for the most part I agree. The dress itself is fairly straightforward to sew and I followed the instructions which are good. Marking all the pleats is time consuming and without a doubt the worst part was sewing the straps to the back of the dress. I did start to wonder part way through this process if I could have treated this like a lined sleeveless sheath and pulled the lining through the shoulder seams - I'm not sure, impossible with the boning? If you make this I suggest leaving the lower ends of the straps open longer than you think otherwise trying to manipulate the seam and it's many layers under the machine is no fun.

Tracing Burda patterns is good practice for following these pleat lines!

Other changes I made to the pattern are as follows;
  • Obviously extended it to full length, just by lengthening the bottom of the skirt. I added a slit on the same side as the zipper so I can freely move in it.
  • One of the shoulder straps is supposed to be left open and fasten with a hook and eye. I get why they wanted to do this, you can then step into the dress rather than putting it on over your head, but the risk of wardrobe malfunctions just seemed too great! I think it would not have looked as neat either. The zip opening is very long so it is still pretty easy to get in and out of (without messing up your hair and getting the dress covered in make up hopefully!).
  • The suggested fabric for the foundation is china silk with a layer of interfacing. I thought this would be too flimsy so I used my lining (a silk satin), a layer of cotton batiste and a layer of interfacing. This might explain why I had so much trouble with the shoulder straps but it feels much more stable. I applied the interfacing to the cotton batiste, then cut the lining much larger, basted round the edges and trimmed off the excess - the same method I use when underlining with a slippy material.
  • I left off the piping on the neckline, there isn't piping anywhere else on the dress so I thought I would keep it simple. In retrospect this was a good move, another couple of layers in those strap seams and I would probably still be sewing.
  • I was paranoid about getting water spots on my fabric so when pressing I used a dry iron. This I think is the main reason why my shoulder straps look narrower - mine are more padded and rounded rather than banged flat.
The foundation really helps keep all the pleats in place and stops any drooping of the back neckline - I could have made it very tight in the back instead, but this stye of dress is quite restrictive on the arms at the best of times so the foundation actually makes the dress more comfortable to wear. It does extend to the hip, but the boning finishes at the waist so I hope I will be able to sit down and eat in it. We will find out in a few hours!



I will take more photos tonight when I am wearing it and post those next time.


I don't know why my dressform is listing over like this, I will probably look the same by the end of the night!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Not Panicking Yet...

I am such an idiot, of course the ball is this coming Saturday not the following which is Easter weekend so I have less time to spend on the dress than I thought. Luckily the husband was out of my hair sailing all day Sunday so I spent the entire day working on the dress. It is amazing what you can accomplish when you don't procrastinate / allow yourself to get distracted / have a deadline.

I will post some more construction information when it's completed, but for now here are some hurriedly taken progress pics of the dress on my dressform, the skirt looks much smoother on me than on my dressform which has no legs, but you can see the general idea. I am loving it so far and really looking forward to Saturday night where I will hopefully be bulldog clip free!





Friday, April 8, 2011

The Fabric

I have 3 go to places for fabric here in Hong Kong;

1) Sham Shui Po textile market - cheap as chips but you never know what is going to be there and you have to be prepared to rummage. Great fun, but not so good for evening fabrics or when you are looking for something in particular.

2) Western Market in Sheung Wan - in particular a stall called Yau Fat, a mouthwatering selection of designer silks and far more stock than it seems possible for a small place to have. Relatively expensive, but fantastic quality.

3) Li Yuen St East in Central - sort of a middle ground between the above two. I decided to start my hunt here and move on to Western Market if I couldn't find anything. Since I last visited they have completely reorganised their shop and now they only have one floor but a huge number of their fabrics are now displayed as 1/2 yard cuts on hangers so browsing is much easier and although there is half the retail space there seems to be twice as much stock. Success!

Anyway after that long winded introduction I hope my fabric choice isn't going to be a big anticlimax, I'm going with sophistication rather than WOW!

Blue/black shot silk taffeta - not easy to photograph!

If all else fails maybe I can just drape it round me and fasten with a bulldog clip!

Of course all this easy browsing meant I picked up a couple of other pieces for summer dress sewing. The orange is for a Burda dress and the red for the Donna Karan shirtdress. Sorry, too lazy to link to photos now, but I will do when I get to these projects next. Besides I have a ball dress to make!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

You Shall Go To The Ball

Well the great news is that yesterday I was invited to a black tie ball which is a good excuse to make a new fancy dress. The less great news is that it is in 2 weeks time which does not give me a lot of time, but is doable in theory.

I had a rummage through my ever growing pile of Vogue-patterns-in-waiting and found this one - V1108 by Bellville Sassoon that I planned to make last year. I'm thinking about making it full length, though that is a decision I can make down the road and I will buy enough fabric so that I can. I may cut it down later to make it more practical for future occasions.

I know the bow is not to everyone's taste but I think I'm going to go with it!



I made a muslin of the main dress pieces (this pattern has a separate foundation and lining too), a 12 at the neck and a 14 everywhere else, and apart from a bit of gaping at the back neck it's a good enough fit for me to dive into the real fabric. That I still need to buy. I hope I can find something tomorrow, I really want a heavy crepe back satin, but beggars can't be choosers so I will report back soon!



Friday, April 1, 2011

Patrones 300 #30 Cowl Top

I knew the blog world would understand my serger mishap (especially Pin Queen who posted about the exact same thing), thank you for all your comments, great therapy! ToBoldlySew - my fabric was 60" wide BTW so do buy extra if you want to lengthen it or be prepared to cut on the cross grain like I did. And Karen, I posted a comment re Shanghai on your blog.

Here is the recovery sewing top - Patrones 300, #30.


The pattern itself is very simple, a front, back and a bias strip for the back neck facing. Of course I made life difficult for myself by using a slippery, uncooperative poly silk fabric which despite lots of pinning and careful cutting took on a life of it's own and grew in random directions!


My technical sewing on this thing is terrible, wonky hems and seams galore, but weirdly I still like it. It's sewn with French seams throughout which is my preferred finish for thin fabrics and also meant I could avoid the misbehaving serger. I made a self tie belt for now so I have the option to wear it without tucking it in and I will purchase a more interesting belt that works too. Tucking it in will hide the lousy hem - I need a skirt for that.


These pants are far too big for me now (good) and have been in a bag waiting to be altered for about a year now (not so good) so they are rather creased and falling down a bit, but hopefully you can see potential in the outfit! I think I will make another version in silk which should be easier to sew.


Finally Spring seems to have arrived in Hong Kong and we should now have a month or two of glorious weather before I start complaining about 99% humidity and monsoon rains. But for now it is bliss, the husband is even leaving work early - well, on time for normal people - so we can head off to Stanley on the south side of the island and chill with a beverage. Just need to find a way to keep my pants up!