August 22, 2014

The retro wrap

After the gathered dress fiasco (and I really appreciate your nice comments. However, I'm just going to walk away from this one. Because I don't usually do that, I'm going to call that a learning experience in itself) I needed a bit of a palate cleanser. 
And I thought about some of the nice things I had found on the well-suited blog.  This top in particular:

The retro wrap top was a pattern puzzle last year, inspired by this image of a vintage pattern from Red Point Tailor's Pinterest page. In this post, Studio Faro tells you how to make this pattern. It's kind of a free-form pattern, so no slopers required.
I'm a big fan of both vintage and odd patterns, so it's obvious why this particular project attracted me. 

I drafted it as instructed (the narrowed sleeve version) and used a nice viscose jersey from my stash (with 4-way stretch, which is really important for this design). I had only one meter of this fabric, so I cut 10 cm off the sleeve so I would have enough fabric for the waist tie.
I don't mind three quarter length sleeves and having one's sleeves at less than full length is period accurate for the 1950's anyway.

When seeing the finished top, I think the original sleeve length would have been too much for me. It may have to do with the size, which is given as 'fits up to a size 12'. I don't know what an Australian size 12 is, but I suppose it's close to either a British or an American 12. Which would mean a bit bigger than I am. Because it's a one-pattern-piece garment, the relation between length and width can be complicated. I am wondering how someone with a substantially larger chest would feel with this front length though. For me, the ties pull the front edge taut, making the wrap feel quite secure. On a larger bust, it might be too tight.

By the way, I apologize for the (lack of) quality of the pictures. I'm a bit out of practice with self-timer photography and the light was difficult too. 

As a result, you can't really see the fabric in these pictures but I really like it. It's a very fine stripe in brown and beige. The stripes are way too narrow to bother with matching them, but somehow, they do so on their own here on the sleeve curve. When worn, I think this makes for a really nice detail on the back. But that may be entirely down to my sewing-geekiness. 

And you may have noticed in the vintage pattern illustration that you are also supposed to be able to wear this top the other way round. So, of course I had to try.

I didn't find it as bad as Studio Faro, but it kind of feel like the top is trying to me. That's not the only issue though. 
In the pictures above, I've pulled the top to sit on my shoulder kind of like in the illustration. 

However, if you do something crazy like moving around, it slides down and ends up looking like this. 
I don't think I will wear the top like this. Even though it has an odd kind of Japanese pattern appeal...

All in all, I'm really happy with this top. It's also the first waist length item I've ever tried which stays in place when you sit down and stand up again. That's a really big plus and contributes a lot to its wearability.
I've made another vintage via Studio Faro top but I think this post is long enough already, so that will have to wait till later. 

P.S. You may notice I've got a bit of a 'sweater girl' look going on. Which, by the way, I think is quite right for this design. And it's the result of wearing my new bra 

August 20, 2014


It doesn't happen to me that often anymore, but sometimes something just doesn't work out. And it would be unfair to keep those items from the blog, wouldn't it?
Case in point:

File this one under: Don't try to be too clever.
I was having misgivings about this dress even when drafting. Gathers don't always work for me, which is why I usually confine them to small sections or one side of a pattern piece (as in a twist). However, I silenced them, and blogged about how I made the pattern... Famous last words.

I will insist that the design idea itself isn't wrong. It should be possible to make a dress with lots of gathered sections. It just requires very fine, well controlled gathering and negative ease and/or gravity to pull those gathers taut. 
I kind of knew that but I was too worried about this fabric creating a straightjacket-like fit so I stuck with the basic shape of my new sloper. And I had forgotten the slight stiff-ness of this fabric. Which meant it didn't like being gathered by methods which involve machine stitching. 
I used basting thread instead but that made the gathers too big and too easily moved about.

I started to see the issues last night but decided to soldier on and at least finish the bodice. So, I continued, pinning carefully.
I hadn't made things easy for myself. Remember those sections in which I had eliminated the side seam? Those meant that there was only one possible order of construction and I really had to pay attention to that. All the while dealing with fiddly pieces of thin lycra lining and heavy gathered jersey full of pins...

The creative seam lines also mean that I can't take the bodice in at the sides to try and fix the fit. I'm sure the hip yokes would look a bit better if I attached the skirt, which would weigh them down and make the gathering look better. However, I don't think it's worth it. It wouldn't fix the top of the bodice. 
I have been too clever for my own good here, I've over-complicated things. And although I made this design to try and cope with the qualities of this particular fabric, it definitely didn't do the job. This fabric has simply too much bulk to work with so many gathers.
I've thrown out the bodice. I'm keeping the skirt pieces and the sleeves. The skirt consists of large rectangles (with curved tops) which could be cut up for something like a top and the sleeves have been drafted without gathers so they are probably OK...

Time for something else now.

August 18, 2014

That odd pattern

That dress I told you about in the previous post... Ehm... I haven't had a chance to do anything else about it yet. 
To be honest, that was also because I was still working on something else which hasn't even made it to the blog yet. But still...
Hopefully, I'll get started tomorrow.

In the mean time, I thought I could talk a bit more about the pattern. 

I posted this picture before, showing the bodice pieces laid out on the fabric. Those pieces may need some de-mystifying, so here it is.

Without the gathers (which will be in every piece except the sleeves) drawn in, the design for the dress looks like this. The front is at the left, the back on the right.
To draft it, you obviously have to mirror both the front and back pattern pieces at their center lines and then draw in the design lines. I tried to pay attention to the placement of those: Not right over the bust point and not too low at the hip.

And then, I made sure the lines wouldn't form those awkward points at the side seams. Of course, you can do that either by making sure they are at a right angle to the side seam or by lining up the sides and continuing the line at the angle it was at. I also wanted to eliminate the side seams in some places.

In the end, this is what I went with. The coloured sections all belong to the same piece. The waist/hip pieces are separate and have normal side seams. 

At this is how those pieces were combined. No shoulder seams! 
After making these pieces, I slashed them at a right angle to the neckline and spread them to about double size. 
Gathered designs like this are always fabric-hungry and I knew I only had a limited amount of fabric. To deal with that, I decided to spread the bodice pieces in such a way that the neckline became a straight line and cut that along the straight grain. Which is how you get the odd pieces which I placed along the selvedges. 
Then, it was just an issue of paying A LOT of attention to the placement of each piece because all of them are asymmetrical.
I will make lining pieces without gathers, to avoid issues but for the outside, this should do it.

August 15, 2014

Working on it...

Has this ever happened to you? 
You think up a project which seems like a bit of fun, nothing too complicated. However, when you get started it increases in complexity, growing and growing until it has taken over all of your day and every available surface in your house...

In fact, it happens to me fairly regularly. I suppose it comes with pattern making. I pick my next project based on an idea in my head and/or a quick sketch rather and then start with my slopers and some blank paper. I start drafting once I have thought the thing out but that doesn't mean I've calculated whether or not it's worth all the steps needed.
On the up side, I usually start thinking of construction and pattern at the same time, so I rarely get surprised while sewing.

Today was one of those days. I had been thinking for a while about what to do with a particular piece of fabric from my stash. Cotton jersey, in a sort of warm brown which looks really good on me. Sounds like a great fabric, doesn't it? Well, it is also a bit thin and hardly stretchy. I made a top from this stuff last year. I've worn it a lot but I always think it would have been better if the fabric were just a bit softer or had a bit more give.
So, I knew I had to deal with those issues when making something from the rest of the fabric. And that made it attractive to think up one slightly more involved and fabric-consuming item rather than several tops.

So, I was thinking dresses. These three were the latest considerations. I started with the bottom two: One with a twist at the waist and a fairly common design with gathers. I wasn't particular keen on either one though. I knew gathers were ideal for this fabric but I wanted something a little more original. Which is why I came up with the third design. Which is what I started drafting today. 

It's not that it's particularly difficult design. It's just asymmetrical and has a lot of gathers. Which means a lot of tracing. And I wanted the back to be interesting too. And the seams to match up at the sides and run smoothly where they join and, if possible, to eliminate some now irrelevant usual seams (like side seams and shoulder seams...)

So, this all started on the table in my sewing room but as soon as I came to slashing and spreading pattern pieces for the gathered bits, I ran out of space there. 

Which is when I moved the work to the floor of the living room. Making large, odd looking pattern pieces. When I was done with the bodice pieces, I seriously doubted I would be able to cut this whole thing out of my fabric.

So, I tried it out. Fortunately, all was fine. I guess I'm just so used to seeing my paper pattern pieces as half of what I need to cut in fabric... 
So, I went on to draft the skirt pieces and the sleeves (without gathers!) and I cut the fabric. And then it was high time to start cooking...

Tomorrow, I still have (inter)lining pieces to cut and I want to create a kind of piping between the gathered sections. And not a lot of time.
I guess it's one of those projects... 

August 12, 2014


Believe it or not, but I've never had a Facebook profile. Until today. I decided to make a profile as Lauriana, for my sewing-related stuff. I'm kind of scared about Facebook's tendency to scan through some very old email-contactlist and I wonder if that means it will also start suggesting me as a contact to people I used to know a long time ago and may not necessarily want to be in contact with... 
However, with a Facebook profile, I can join in Studio Faro's pattern puzzle and some other bloggers seem to enjoy interacting through this platform... So, I'm trying it out. The name I use there is Lauriana Petit Main Sauvage, with the same email address as the one here on the right. And with the current settings, anyone can contact me.
I don't really know how it works yet and I get the distinct impression that I'm trying to use Facebook in a slightly unusual way (the site seems to assume you'd want to be friends with anyone you've ever exchanged email with and I don't see any options to contacts people you may know through other means, like blogs). 
Anyway, if you'd like to contact me on Facebook, please do!

August 11, 2014

Black and pink(ish)

A new lingerie set! 
Like many bra-makers, I make sets with two pairs of panties to one bra. And I like to make different ones using the same materials. 
This set is not very original. I made this bra pattern for a strapless bra and last year. And I used it for my cream and black balconet after that. The panties are known favorites too: Melissa's Lacey thong pattern and my tried-and-tested half-thong derived from Pattern School's cheeky shorts (because the Pattern School site isn't active anymore, it can be difficult to get hold of full pages. When I made the link, some images didn't load and I can't do anything about that).

I am quite happy with the look of these though. When I was going through my stash of lingerie supplies, looking for possible combinations, I suddenly noticed something: The tan foam and the old-pink-ish lycra actually matched fairly well. I had bought bought supplies at different times and different places and stored them in different drawers. I had always assumed (and I seem to remember I once checked it) that they couldn't go together. They might not look very good together when used on their own but I always layer something over the foam anyway. In this case, there's black lace over the bra cups. The same lace is used for the sides of the lacey thong and the back of the cheeky shorts/thong. I've used the lycra on its own on the bridge of the bra and the lacey thong and layered black stretch mesh over it on the wings and the cheeky shorts/thong. It's hard to photograph, but that's why you see the odd pink glow at the edges of the black panties. It looks better in real life.

The construction is the same as before: Non-stretch net on the bridge and the small part of the wings up to the bit of boning at the side, stronger elastic along the bottom of the bra, non-stretch tape stabilizing the top edge of the bridge and the cup edges. And my special detail: a piece of boning in the lower cup. It's a fairly common feature in strapless bras for larger sizes (traditional ones, that is. There are, of course, a lot of foam innovations which can apparently replace this). Of course, I don't really need it for support but I like the shape it provides. I keeps the lower cup from curving down, which gives what looks like a very light cone shape. Nicely retro without getting costume-y. Maybe not for every day, but why I have different kinds of bras.

I really like this new set and I'm sure I'll enjoy wearing it but I think I'll try something new for the next bra.

August 9, 2014

Simple jersey dress

Sewing beautiful, complicated things can be very rewarding. In fact, I sometimes wonder if it would be better to slow down and pay more attention to each project (good in theory, but I have so many ideas...). But it's not always the right thing to do. 
There are times when a quick project is just the right thing to do. Going from yardage to wearing it out in just a couple of hours has its own charm. Especially if you pick an eye-catching colour so your simple thing can't go unnoticed. 
And of course, it's even better if the simple thing fills a kind of gap in your wardrobe. 
And, as an added bonus, these quick makes often develop into hardworking wardrobe staples, because they were not made from particularly precious fabric nor took much time and effort to make, you're not afraid to wear them anywhere...

So, I made a very simple new jersey dress. I often tend to overlook jersey dresses a bit as not being 'proper garments' compared to the more labour-intensive woven ones, but they are really comfortable. And they can look quite nice. An the old ones were getting quite old...

I bought this nice, fairly beefy, turquoise cotton double knit earlier this year and decided to turn it into a dress and a top. I had only just enough to cut out the top (I guess I should have tried it out before cutting out the dress but because this was round knit fabric, that was getting a bit difficult). And in this post, I only have pictures of the dress, which E took with his phone when we were walking into the town center today (all the pictures were taken in the enclosed yard behind our apartment)

It's a plain fitted dress with cut-on cap sleeves and a deep V at the back. I bound the neckline with a band, the other edges were just serged and hemmed by hand (which took more time than constructing the dress itself, but I can be weird like that...) 
I cut the skirt a little bit wider than I've done in the past in the hope that it would reduce the dress's tendency to creep up and that seems to work. 

It's by no means an impressive display of sewing skill, but I think I will enjoy this dress for some time to come.