Wednesday 20 December 2017

Style Arc Halle Stretch Pencil Skirt

Firstly thank you for commenting on the knit waistcoat on my previous post - it turns out that the pattern is designed for "wools or blends, boucle" which says woven to me and may explain why I had so many issues making it in a very stretchy knit!  Onwards, and paying better attention to suggested fabrics....

I picked up this pattern in the recent Thanksgiving sale, to be honest it probably would be quite easy to draft it from a knit pencil skirt pattern, but I do really like Style Arc's designs and I am 100% sure they are better at drafting patterns than I am!

Halle pdf pattern / paper pattern

I made this 3 times in a week so it turned out to be quite good value and clearly a fast and easy pattern.  It's designed for ponte & stable knit fabrics.  The crossover is quite generous so even when you sit down there is still decent leg coverage.

There's not a lot to say about the construction, the front skirt pieces are shaped so that the mitred corners are really easy to do, you just need to pay attention to the seam allowances which are marked on the pattern.  I added a bit extra at the side seams so I could fit on the way and I figured I might need more than the 3/8ths/8mm allowance to play with - I did this on each version as I find all fabrics behave a bit differently.

Here are my 3 skirts :

Version 1 Navy/Black
This is from a heavy black ponte with a navy, slightly sparkly, almost snakeskin print on it.  Really hard to photograph, but I love this fabric.

Version 2 Colourblocked
A contrast blocked version from remnants which is always very satisfying.  The left front and whole back are plain black.

Version 3 Panel Print
I thought the print would look odd with the asymmetric front so I just used the plain back pattern piece for both front and back.  I found it to be a bit clingy from static so I lined it with a stretch mesh lining before attaching the waistband elastic.

This simple skirt is so quick and easy to make that I can see it becoming a bit of a staple in my wardrobe and the plain version will probably be my TNT stretch skirt pattern now.  My versions are all for cool weather and quite formal, I'd definitely like to try it in a more casual look like the illustration too.

Tuesday 12 December 2017

BurdaStyle 09/2016 - 118 Long Waistcoat & 110 Stretch Trousers

Two pieces from the 9/2016 Burda worn together!

I first made this long knit waistcoat as a gift for my sister and planned to make one for myself. (previously blogged here).  It only took me a year to get around to it!

09/2016 - 118 Long Waistcoat

I actually made the trousers at the beginning of the year, but they proved so impossible to photograph that they didn't justify their own blog post.  I do want to highlight the pattern though because it is a good one.  Designed for stretch fabrics and with front and back seams, a back yoke and a centre back seam in the waistband, you can really easily tweak these and get a great fit.

Mine are in a black ponte and I left off the ankle zips.

Back to the waistcoat....the version I originally made for my sister was in a knit boucle, a much better fabric choice than this one in a very soft sweater knit which stretched like crazy!  I had put the pockets in, but they ended up somewhere near my knees and were quite bulky so I removed them.  I also had to trim the collar down considerably and you can see that the hem is wavy also.  I might fold it up again and see if that helps.

This really should have been a quick and easy project, but ended up being incredibly frustrating to make.  It is great for our current in between weather though so I am trying to forget all the annoyances!

Wednesday 22 November 2017

McCall's 7381 Dress

Thank you for the lovely comments on my formal dress and also on my wedding anniversary.   Now back to more regular stuff!  The weather here in Hong Kong is finally starting to cool down enough to think about long sleeve dresses so I tried out a recent pattern purchase.

McCall's 7381 is a pretty versatile dress pattern, having 2 bodice, 3 sleeve and 2 skirt variations.  I actually made a version that isn't shown, view C knotted bodice with the shorter skirt and long sleeves.

I cut a size M and folded a bit out of the circumference of the hem sleeve only so that I could fit it onto my 2 yards of fabric.  I also found that I could fit it on over my head quite easily so I left off the snap fastenings on the front bodice overlap and just edge stitched it closed.

If I made the long sleeve version again I'd be tempted to put the sleeve band on before sewing the sleeve seam.  It's not as neat a finish, but the sleeve opening is quite small and would not fit onto the free arm of my sewing machine so it was a bit fiddly to do in the round.

The bodice is lined and the front facings are interfaced so the pleats on the outside stay in place nicely.

The fabric is a poly print featuring colourful parrots - the nature print obsession continues! - admittedly this one is a bit more twee than I'd usually pick, but I think the black background helps make it look a bit more grown up!

I really like the finished dress on the dress form, but I am less keen on it on me although I am hoping I can fix it as I'd definitely like to make it again.  It looks alright in the photos, but I feel uncomfortable and am constantly fiddling with it.  The problems I have are :
  • I find the skirt to be quite short even though I took the tiniest hem allowance that I could.  I planned to wear this with tights and boots, but even so I feel a bit exposed.
  • It's slightly empire line and I think I'd prefer it with a longer bodice so that the waist of the dress hits closer to mine.
  • The fabric in the skirt, which is unlined unlike the bodice, is quite static-y and floaty.
I can make these changes for next time, but to try and save this one I'm thinking of adding a border at the hem in some heavy black crepe I have to both lengthen and weigh down the skirt a bit.  I'm also thinking about whether I can add a skirt lining to the waist seam without having to unpick anything.   

I figure I have nothing to lose, but please do let me know what you think or if you have any other ideas.

Thursday 9 November 2017

BurdaStyle Ballgown

I don't often go to very formal parties, but when I do I love to make something new.  I had no idea what I wanted so I just went fabric shopping and let that provide the inspiration.

The fabric I chose was a bold floral polyester brocade that I purchased in China.  While I was working on it I was amazed to see that Goodbye Valentino was working on a dress in the exact fabric.  So for once you can actually currently find this fabric at Mood!! - Brocade fabric from Mood.

This is a mix of 2 patterns, both of which are too old to still feature on the BurdaStyle website unfortunately.  I found the images on the Russian site for reference.

Bodice - 03/2008 - 119

Skirt - 07/2004 - 134 .  Previously made here and once again I left off the chiffon side godet pieces. Also, thank you earlier me for labelling that old blog post so I could find the pattern #.

I really procrastinated about whether to do the full skirt from the bodice pattern I had chosen, but in the end decided that it might be a bit too much going on with the floral fabric.  I think in a strapless style though, a full skirt would look amazing.

As usual I didn't leave myself a ton of time to make this so I haven't made many notes or taken many photos of the dress during construction, but let's see what I can remember.....

I interfaced the entire bodice, straightening out the waist seam and moved the darts on the skirt so that they would line up with the princess seams on the bodice.

With this type of dress I like to finish the whole of the outer dress, then make the lining and attach that by hand.  I didn't use the neckline facings, instead just reinforcing the neckline edge with some bias tape and then turning to the inside and hand stitching down.  To get a nice point on the centre of the front neckline, I used a small remnant of lining fabric, stitched the shape of the point, clipped, understitched and then turned and pressed to the inside.  I did the exact same thing on the lining fabric, without the bias tape and remembered to take a few photos which hopefully show better what I am talking about.

Lining remnant stitched right side together at v neckline & clipped at point


View from right side after turning and pressing

View from wrong side

This is how the finished dress looked on the inside before the lining was sewn in.  If you make this I recommend cutting the sleeves with a bit extra seam allowance.  I am sure that they are intended to be self lined, but mine did not quite meet up in the middle leaving some exposed edges.  It didn't matter since I covered this with lining, but still it was a bit annoying!

Finally some more photos taken on the night of the party, these are all phone photos that I had to email to myself (thanks to broken cable connection and probably general tech incompetence) so they are a bit blurry, but hopefully you get the idea!  Overall I was really happy in my dress, maybe next time I go to a ball I will wear this again rather than make another one!

The night of the ball also happened to coincide with our 17th wedding anniversary!  We had a black tie wedding so my husband is wearing the exact outfit he wore back then, actually the bodice of mine was red with a similar neckline now I think about it, wonder if that was subconsciously in my mind all along!

Thursday 5 October 2017

Vogue 1395 Rebecca Taylor Dress

Firstly thank you for the comments on my shirt making post, it's helpful to know it's not just me that finds shirts difficult, but also to get some recommendations for improving my skills.  I will definitely look into the famous David Page Coffin book and Pam Howard's Craftsy class.  Also I really should mention it more often, but since I live in Hong Kong practically all my fabric comes from local stores and markets here or in China which I know is of no help to anyone hoping to source the same fabric, sorry!

Back on more familiar territory now - dresses!  This is Vogue 1395 by Rebecca Taylor in a polka dot linen.

I cut this out and started it in a print fabric ages ago before I realised that you need a fabric that looks at least similar on both sides otherwise the tie looks a mess so I abandoned it.  This is clearly stated on the pattern envelope so I only have myself to blame.  I guess you could self line the tie portion of the overlay if you're really set on a certain fabric?  My penchant for buying crazy print fabric has meant it has taken me a while to get around to attempting this dress again.

I had already cut in a size 10, I would usually start with a 12 now, but fortunately this pattern is pretty forgiving in fit.  I lengthened the skirt by around 5cm as it looked pretty short and also raised the neckline a bit.

It's quite easy to put together, there is a lot of narrow hemming to do around all the overlay edges which is a bit time consuming.  Once the bodice was put together I just breezed on ahead without looking at the instructions and so forgot to catch the centre back portion of the overlay in the waist seam.  When the overlay is tied in place I decided it wouldn't make much difference so I have left it loose.

While I did find a fabric that met the two sides look the same criteria, this linen was a bit stiff for the design, particularly in the sleeve/shoulder area and my sleeves stick out a bit.  I absolutely hate altering anything so I am hoping that the fabric will soften with wear and washing, but if not I will have to make the shoulders narrower.

So to summarise, this is a lovely easy to wear dress pattern, but fabric selection is really important!