Monday 27 December 2010

The Christmas Vogue 1191

Here it is, pre turkey, pre eyelash application but post Christmas cocktail - which with hindsight was possibly the wrong order of doing things.

We had to get the bus to my friend's apartment for lunch and I felt so silly in the drag queen eyelashes I wore sunglasses, which looked almost as crazy. Ok maybe not....

Hope you all had a lovely time, we are winding down now but enjoying seeing England thrashing the Aussies at cricket!

Friday 24 December 2010

It's a Cosmopolitan Christmas!

I have made not one, but two knit dresses since my last post. This is one of them, the Hot Patterns Cosmopolitan dress. I'm not sure why it has taken so long for me to make this, I love it and will definitely be adding another version or two to my wardrobe soon.

I made the mock wrap shorter version with scarf sleeves (although I stitched them up) and since I was using a knit, omitted the back zipper and cut the back pieces on the fold. Based on the measurements on the pattern I traced a size 12 which turned out to be far too big in the bodice, but I was able to alter it by wrapping the fronts tighter and taking out about 4 inches in the side seams and removing a lot of ease from the sleeve cap. Next time I will trace an 8 and see how that compares to my finished dress.

The fabric is a purple and white knit print I got at Elliott Berman when I was in New York. I always had a wrap style dress in mind for the fabric - or I may have stolen that idea from Elizabeth who also bought some of the same fabric.

My other dress is the red Vogue 1191 I've been planning which I will wear to a christmas day lunch with friends so I will get some photos before I stuff myself with turkey. I'm wearing it with these tasteful accessories.....

Happy holidays everyone!

Saturday 11 December 2010

Festive bits and pieces

I thought by now I would have a holiday version of the V1191 dress by now, but this is how far I have got with that....

Thanks all for the comments on the black and white version. I wore it (for the second time) last week and found a stray, bright purple tailor tack still in it so if you do go old school with your marking do remember to take them all out afterwards! To follow up on a couple of comments;

From JoanneM
Is the fabric poly/lycra or rayon lycra?
I would like to make it, but I only have rayon lycra and that stuff can cling and is thin, whereas poly lycra seems to have more substance.

Erm, I don't know to be honest but it is a fairly substantial knit, it can definitely be made in a thinner knit, it depends how comfortable you are wearing a clingy knit - the bodice is completely self lined and it would be easy to attach a skirt lining to the waistband piece too which may help (Inkstain, that should answer your question too!). Recommended fabrics per the pattern envelope are rayon, wool or cotton spandex which all sound pretty thin to me!

And from Lin3arossa
It looks great with the busy fabric! Which do you like the fit of most? This of Vogue 1951's?

Good question - I assume you mean the Donna Karan dress 1159? Although they are similar I think there is room for both in my wardrobe. I'd say that 1159 was dressier, more formal whereas this one can be either an everyday dress or a formal dress depending on the fabric and styling choices. 1159 is a bit more close fitting too I'd say.

In semi related dress news, by weird coincidence, Jacquie who made this dress a while ago and helpfully blogged about it extensively was in Hong Kong on a short holiday so we got to meet up. I love meeting fellow sewing bloggers, you feel like you are already friends, and that was the case with Jacquie, we didn't have much time and it whizzed by way too fast but hopefully we will meet up again in the not too distant future. You can read about her trip here.

I have been doing some holiday sewing though, just not for me. For my two nieces who are into dressing up and all things girly I made them each a little evening bag from stash remnants and stuffed them with hairslides, chocolate coins, stickers and other bits of nonsense. The pattern is Vogue 7221, long out of print I imagine. The great thing about these bags is that they don't require any fancy notions.

The inside has a sort of drawstring lid to stop anything falling out.

I've also made a pair of silk pyjamas for my mother in law and I have to get these posted very soon or I will be tempted to keep them for myself! The floral fabric is actually a stretch silk and was a total bear to sew (no offence to bears). I was a bit short on fabric so had a rummage through my stash and finding nothing that matched, decided to get a bit creative, hence the blue contrast and gold piping, but I like how it is a bit unexpected. The patterns are from Burda 11/2009 - 130 and 131.

Both of these gifts are silly things to make in Hong Kong really as they can be bought cheaply just about anywhere, but never mind, I enjoyed making them. Now to get to that red dress before the holidays are over....

Tuesday 23 November 2010

Vogue 1191 completed

Here is the finished dress. It does work in this print I think, I did shorten the hem by about 4 inches and I had to cut the sleeves slightly shorter (I am wearing them pushed up a bit in the photo below) so I am now wondering if I will be able to squeeze another version or 2 out of some plain jerseys I have in the stash. Even if I can't, I am definitely going to make this dress again and if that means a fabric shopping trip so be it!

To answer a couple of queries from earlier posts;

Marking jersey - I am very old school when it comes to marking fabric and for all internal markings I use tailor tacks. I like knowing that I can use this on any type of fabric and that I will be able to see the markings from both sides. The downside of course is that it is slower than other methods. For markings on a seamline or for ends of darts I just clip into the edge of the fabric in the seam allowance.

The waist facing - I found that this was necessary after all - as well as covering up all the pleats and giving a smooth neat finish on the inside, it gives something for the pleated skirt front to anchor to, leaving the twist part free. At least I think that is what's happening! In any case I recommend adding it in even though it seems like there are is too much fabric in the front twist already.

Back waist facing

Front waist facing

Thursday 18 November 2010

Vogue 1191 - looking like a dress

I've made good progress on the Michael Kors draped dress. The most time consuming (and boring) part was marking up all the dots, squares and pleats, once I actually got started on the sewing things happened fast. Admittedly for the first few steps I had no idea how the pattern piece for the front worked and it was only after step 9 that I discovered the front bodice was self lined! This seems obvious now given that the back bodice is self lined but it goes some way to explaining why the front bodice looked so odd.

I'm finding this very similar to the Donna Karan dress in that you just have to mark everything carefully and have blind faith in the instructions. The only changes I have made so far are;

Neckline adjustment a la Jacqui
The pink lines below show the adjustment you need to make, basically move the large dot on the centre front line up towards the neckline.

Omitted the centre back zip
Unless you have an extremely stable knit or a very elaborate hairstyle, I can't see any reason to add a centre back zip, especially as the front is a low v neck so save yourself the trouble.

Still to do are the waist facing which I still haven't figured the point of yet, sleeves, hem and to tidy up the drape and close any remaining gaps there. But it is really looking like a dress now and I feel like I am on the home strait!

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Autumn sewing begins - Vogue 1191

Dresses served me so well over the summer that I want to get a few together for autumn and winter too. Since I enjoyed making my Donna Karan draped dress so much, I'm starting with this very similar long sleeved Michael Kors number - Vogue 1191.

I'm making it in a black and white print jersey and to be honest I don't know if it will be totally successful in a print but that's what I had enough of on hand and I wanted to start right away so I will cross my fingers!

If anyone else is thinking of making this I thoroughly recommend checking out Jacqui's Home Made Couture blog which has lots of fantastic tips and photographs - thank you Jacqui, especially for the hint on how to raise the neckline.

More coming soon when I have something that actually looks like a dress and not just a random pile of jersey....

Saturday 13 November 2010

I am back!

Still somewhat jetlagged and generally exhausted from lots of partying at my wedding anniversary weekend - it was all much easier on the old head and body 10 years ago - but we had a brilliant time.

Amazingly the weather was unseasonably gorgeous, just as it was on our wedding day. Thank you all for the comments on my dress, I loved wearing it. Some pictures from the weekend until I get back to sewing...

Me & my Auntie

View of the venue, Polhawn Fort on the coast of Cornwall, from the road above

I won't lie it was a bit chilly!

Views from the grounds

The fort from the grounds

Wednesday 27 October 2010

The Cocktail Dress - Finally...

I finally finished hemming the lining on my dress yesterday, never my favourite part of making anything hence the tardiness.

I hope I'm not going to disappoint you, but after all that build up I decided, much like Peter over at MPB, to leave this garment bling free. I feel it already has enough blinginess about it especially with my accessories.

Besides, I want everyone to notice my shoes which I will probably only be able to wear for approximately two hours before my feet drop off!

Construction wise I did a lot of hand sewing on this dress. I finished the armholes with strips of bias fabric which were understitched, turned and slipstitched to the interlining, and I did the same thing with the neckline except with straight grain fabric strips to act as a stay and keep the neckline from stretching out (thanks to Nancy for reminding me about that). The lining was then assembled by machine and handstitched to the facing strips so there is no chance of it showing on the outside. I also added a deep facing to the dress hem.

I'm now in a bit of a flap about what else I am going to wear while I am in the UK and need to dig out my winter clothes and see what gaps need to be filled. I know the Brits won't agree with me that it is officially winter over there yet, but it's all relative!

Wednesday 13 October 2010

Cocktail dress update

As usual I am sewing at a snails pace so here is a little progress report on my anniversary party dress. It is a combination of the Hot Patterns Bollywood Dress (bodice) and a Patrones Lacroix pattern (skirt), you can see the patterns in my earlier post here. (Wow, that was a month ago and now the party is only 3 weeks away, better get my skates on.)

I'm fine tuning the fit at the moment which is a bit of a pain with a side zipper - lots of basting, trying on and rebasting going on here. Boring, but unavoidable.

Inside skirt pleat detail, the whole dress is interlined with silk organza.

You can't see the colour very well here, it is more turquoise than royal blue.

I'm still thinking about whether to add any hem detail or other embellishment, at the moment it feels like a lot of dress and I am trying to avoid the bridesmaid / prom look so I may leave it as it is.

I did find this crystal trim and individual stones which match perfectly (in real life if not in photos) and I thought instead of stitching it permanently to the dress I would make some detatchable motifs to get a look similar to the Lacroix dress if I feel like it. I have a black tie function shortly after I get back from the UK so I can wear this dress again for that and add the bling!

Finally, Amanda asked about washing silks - apart from this type of special occasion formal dress, I bung all my silks other than dupion in my washing machine! If I can't wash the finished dress in the machine I'd rather know upfront otherwise it just isn't going to get worn. I know this may seem a bit reckless but so far I haven't had any problems. Silk is much tougher than we give it credit for. BUT I don't want lots of irate readers blaming me for ruining their favourite pieces of fabric so please do test a sample first. I admit I have ruined numerous wool sweaters this way, but my silk dresses and tops have all been fine.

Saturday 9 October 2010

Ruffles at Raffles

Actually this dress did not turn out ruffly but I could not resist the title - I made it for a weekend visit to Singapore which included a dinner at Raffles Hotel, a lovely old colonial relic and the backdrop for these photos.

Simple silk dresses have served me well this summer so I decided to make one last one before switching to fall sewing. This dress began life as McCalls 5977, a top pattern which I extended to dress length. I didn't have enough fabric for the sleeve ruffles on view D (the green one below) so I drafted my own and made a tie belt.

I know the shoes don't go at all, but I was travelling light!

The fabric is a piece of silk with some stretch that I picked up at Metro Textiles in New York. When I prewashed it the black in the print ran a bit so this gave me the courage to experiment patternwise, however I washed it again when it was finished and it came out perfect.

Dinner was fantastic, both the food and the service - they even gave me this miniature chair to put my handbag on!

Tuesday 28 September 2010

Overdue thank yous

I have nothing very exciting to show on my cocktail dress yet, I have managed to cut it out and apply silk organza underlining to each piece. This takes an age but I always do this with silk dupion, it really helps with wrinkling. I have a whole month to work on this so knowing me nothing will happen for 3 weeks and then there will be a mad dash to the deadline.

But I wanted to publicly thank everyone who responded to my moaning about not being able to get the August Burda - Reethi, Claire and Carolyn. I accepted Carolyn's offer first and was super excited when it turned up from New York last week on the same day that I picked up my October issue. I know lots of people didn't like the August issue at all but I liked the camel Michael Kors-y section even though I don't need umpteen camel coats and the Jackie O LBD.

I would also like to thank Gail for passing on the Beautiful Blogger award to me - do check out her fantastic blog - My Fabrication - and I am also going to recommend the lovely Burda offerers that I have linked above.

After reading Karin's story about giving birth on her bathroom floor I really cannot come up with anything to even begin to match that and I've been thinking about it all day so I hope you will forgive me if facts about me come out in dribs and drabs in future posts as inspiration strikes. For now I can tell you that I cannot see what the fuss about oysters is. I have tried a raw one and a cooked one and both were absolutely disgusting, never again!

Friday 24 September 2010

Vogue 1120 DKNY Dress

This is a DKNY pattern, rated easy - and it actually is very easy although admittedly it does look a bit like a nightgown before you tie the belt!

I made my version in the grey / pink border print satin from my last post. The fabric is actually very wide and has the border along both selvedges but I managed to squeeze the pattern pieces on so that the main body of the dress is grey with the border in the skirt (it is true I have a small obsession with border prints!).

I made a few minor changes to the pattern;

  • I omitted the back button opening, you really don't need it to get the dress on and off
  • I also had to stitch down the neck facing in places (on the lined sleeves and under the pleats so no stitching shows on the outside) to stop it moving. Of course you could also just bind the neck edges or line the dress instead.
  • Left off the side seam pockets
  • Added a Hong Kong finish to the exposed sleeve seams and neck facing edges (the rest is french seamed)

The ties are very long and wrap round the waist a couple of times, I really like how (completely by luck) my belt is plain grey in the back and patterned in the front.

I'll definitely be making this one again, I think it will work for fall / winter with tights as shown on the pattern envelope or boots.

In cocktail dress news I ordered my fabric on Tuesday and it was delivered by hand on Thursday evening so I can get started on that now. Hopefully this will get me excited about the forthcoming party instead of feeling rather stressed about planning it from 6000 miles away.

Saturday 18 September 2010

More dress research

Well that's my story and I am sticking to it! Last week I went to the garment district in Sham Shui Po to check out trims - there are a couple of streets of stores that sell trims, buttons and other notions, it's a real treasure trove. However I thought I would just pop into the fabric market first to see what was there and managed to get so weighed down with fabric that I never made it to the trim stores! Here's most of what I bought (there is some other plain stuff), all HK$ 15-18 a yard (around US$2 - 2.50).

These are poly satins but the prints were irresistable, I'm already working on a dress in the pink/grey border print.

Another border print, this one in a sheer fabric of some sort.

Jerseys! The black & white ones were made for White House/Black Market according to the printing on the selvedge. I admit I hadn't heard of them but they have an ad in my September issue of US Vogue.

I did make a return visit to the trim shops on another day, so much inspiration, feathers, crystals, chiffon roses and much much more. I think I have decided on my fabric, a kingfisher blue silk dupion, so I will make a 3rd visit soon and try and decide between purchased trims or my self fabric experiments. You can't really see the colour here but it is aptly named and looks just like the iridescent blue feathers on a kingfisher. I ordered some swatches from Angus International one afternoon and received them the next day, pretty amazing service from both them and the HK post office.

Thanks Kristin for posting a link to the Lacroix dress in your comment, it's easier to see the details in the plain green version. I do actually have the Patrones pattern but it is just too low cut for me and rather than fuss around altering it I decided to start with the Hot Patterns dress (I know, lazy!). As I say, the finished dress will probably look nothing like either!

Up next, my border print dress.....