Sunday, September 21, 2014

Fitting all the Pieces Together

Did I mention that these patterns do not come with directions?

These days, I do not pay a whole lot of attention to the given directions, but it is nice to know they are there, just the same.  Goodbye, security blanket!  

This time around, my muslin was as much a test for the order of construction as it was for fit.  There are hints on the pattern pieces, of course, but I was very grateful for a practice run.  

As I mentioned, the patterns do not come with seam allowances, and I was going to use Susan Khalje’s couture tracing technique.  But I just could not bear yet another project struggling with the tiny sheets of wax-free tracing paper that are easily found at a big box store.  The stuff just does not work, especially with huge pattern pieces. 

So I called up Richard the Thread (excellent customer service, by the way) and ordered some of the waxed variety.  What a difference!  To be honest, I was a bit concerned that it was going to make a mess, but thankfully, it did not.  And now I never have to deal with those pesky little sheets of the crummy stuff.  Whoo-hoo!

I really like working with the thread-traced stitching lines - it makes it so easy to visualize the finished style lines.

The first muslin had a bit of an issue at the side seam (I am sure that is my own problem because of the two bodices being joined together).

The biggest question I had was about the sleeves.  What on earth would they look like in real life?  And how would they fit?

Love them!  They will need a bit of support, but they look fabulous in muslin, which is a good sign.

The upper edge of the back bodice did not look right to me with the added portion of the lower bodice from the second pattern.

Instead, I trimmed it down into a v-back.

And then I needed to take a wedge out of the back bodice for my flat back.

For many projects, I can't bother to make a second muslin.  But for this dress, there were enough changes to warrant the time to re-cut the back bodice pieces.  (And I just love using my new tracing paper!)

Might as well get it right.

And there was also some fun with pleats, and lots of muslin.  I actually ran out, and had to make a trip to JoAnns to get more.  This dress is a fabric hog!

The front skirt piece was also swinging forward, so that piece had to be widened.

Oh, and I also altered the bottom of the front bodice after sketching a few different options.  This is what I came up with.

Time to cut into my underlining!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Miniature Pattern Pieces

I love the dropped waist of the strapless gown, but really love those sleeves, so I combined the two bodices and kept the full skirt from the strapless design.

But first I had to figure out what to do with a  pattern piece that measures approximately one inch!

These things are seriously tiny.  But it certainly is refreshing to only have one or two pages to print out!

I usually trace bond paper patterns directly onto muslin.  But I was unsure how this whole system was going to work for me, so I hedged my bets, and used some leftover easel paper.

The straight lines were easy, but a couple of the curves (those sleeves, for instance!) were challenging to figure out - I wish there were a few more points of reference in those areas.

That being said, these mini pattern pieces from Éclair-Coupe Paris are genius.  Why have I not tried this system before?!  I cannot speak to the accuracy of each and every size ruler, but just about everything matched up for me.

I reinforced the pivot points with some tape, which worked great.

The next step was lengthening the torso of each bodice piece.  Might as well get those standard adjustments out of the way!

Since these patterns do not include seam allowances, I decided to go for it and try out Susan Khalje’s couture method and thread traced the stitching lines, leaving lots of excess seam allowances to play with.

The next step was to combine the two bodices from the two separate designs.

After matching the waistline of both, I traced off and marked the differences.  The darts matched up very well, which was a good sign!

The massive skirt pieces posed a different challenge.  Those tiny little pattern pieces ended up creating a full skirt that ends about knee length.  Extending straight lines is not a problem, but they do not include the pleats.  That is fine, except the only image I have to work with is a stylized drawing, so I am not very clear on that part of the process!

Now to put it all together and see what happens!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Desperately Seeking Inspiration

Here is the fabric for my gala dress!  It is a silk/wool blend from Paron Fabrics with scattered cherries!!  I asked for four yards at the cutting table, not having a clue what it might become.  It turned out there were only five plus yards left on the bolt, and the cutter gave me the extra yardage for no charge.  What?!  That happened again at Metro Textile . . . no wonder everyone likes to buy fabric in the New York garment district!  (I guess it was meant to be, because four yards would not have been enough for this project.)

The next step was finding a suitable pattern.

I already have a poofy cherry print dress, so my first inclination was to go for something à la the forties, with a long, slim-fitting skirt.  Nothing in my pattern collection was right, though.  I was looking online for days, but nothing jumped out at me.

So I went back to the fabric.  The silk/wool blend has quite a bit of body, so my initial inspiration was just not going to work.  And since cherry prints have a definite fifties vibe, I gave up the fight and decided to listen to the fabric that wants to be a full-skirted dress.

Mrs. Depew Vintage has quite a few reproduction patterns available for download, and I narrowed it down to about six gowns, slept on it, and came back with fresh eyes.  In the end, I could not decided between two of them, so I am using my favorite parts of both designs.  Take that, indecision!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

My Color Palette

I have been volunteering for the Marin Symphony Gala for the past six years.  For five of those years, I have made my outfit.  This has become a sort of yearly sewing tradition for me, and an opportunity to pull out all the stops!

This year, my New York trip completely distracted me.

Well, that, and after five years, I have made all of the fantsy-pants patterns I longed to make for a special occasion that I have stashed away.  Usually, I start dreaming up ideas as soon as I finish the last, but that did not happen this year.

So after I got back into the sewing room, I realized there was very little time to waste.

Looking back at my previous makes, it is very clear what my favorite colors are!

So this year I am going to go for something completely different.  A couple of people mentioned “gala dress” when they saw my fabric purchases from Male Pattern Boldness Day – you would think that would have reminded me . . . but thank you for the suggestion!

I am going to go for it and cut right into my New York fabric.  This year I will be attending in black and red, just to shake things up, color-wise (which also happens to match the advertising for the event, so I guess it is meant to be)!

The countdown begins . . .wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Miss Modern

Well, not completely modern. 

The skirt is a vintage dress pattern that I love.  I actually wore the dress today and have decided I need to make a Fall or Winter appropriate version.  

One more project to add to the list, which gets longer every day!

I am not exactly sure what made me pair these two designs together, but I am very pleased with the result.

The Cynthia Rowley design is wonderful . . . and those pants look pretty cute, too.  If only I was six feet tall like the model.

There have been quite a few questions about the bra cups I used for this top.  They are Dritz Soft Molded Bra Cups I found at JoAnn Fabrics – nothing special.  I will say that I have used their Molded Bra Cups before and they are like armor.  I prefer something that can actually bend – both for wearing and during construction of the garment!  The Soft Molded version can be trimmed down, which is also handy.

Because the design has under-bust and princess seams, there are plenty of seam allowances to tack them into place.

It just hit me – both of these patterns are Simplicity.  Perhaps the pairing is not so strange after all, even if they are separated by sixty plus years!

Top:  Made by me, Simplicity 1371
Skirt:  Made by me, Simplicity 3224
Shoes:  Hinge