Monday, September 3, 2012

Vogue 1174 - Not for the faint of heart!

I had a formal wedding to attend, and no dress to wear, so decided upon Vogue 1174. Thankfully I was smart enough to start the project almost 2 months early, as there were many new techniques for me to learn. For other sewers that are new to interlining, boning, waist-stays, etc I'd highly recommend Gertie's bombshell dress video course. While some of the information was specific to the bombshell dress, much of it was relevant to this pattern as well. Go here for 50% off the Craftsy course. Well worth the $30!

I used a Carolina Herrera silk-lurex-blend brocade from Mood Fabrics. I had never ordered from them before, but was pleasantly surprised by the accuracy of the photos/descriptions of my two picks. The only other obscure item to find was the spiral steel boning - which lead me to Lacis in Berkeley which caters to your lace and corset making needs and has things like spiral steel and horse hair braids, and other such things I've read about but never seen. The remainder I picked up at Stone Mountain and Daughter - I think I made 3 separate trips! For interlining I used silk organza for the foundation and cotton muslin for the dress (I found the organza a little shifty after I pre-washed it, my mistake). I lined with china silk. For the piping I used silk charmeuse.

I ended up with a size 6 for the entire dress. I've never sewn anything in a size 6, so make sure to check the measurements (unfortunately no waist measurements were to be found on the pattern). I muslined both the foundation and the dress, since I needed an SBA in both. I had to add 1/2 inch in bodice length. I ended up taking it in 1/4 inch at the top so it would be snug. I also had to take a 1/4 inch out of the middle lower bodice piece from the top point tapering to nothing at the waist as it was a little poufy under the bust. I lowered the back skirt darts about an inch.

The construction was relatively straightforward after the muslining - just a few mishaps on my part like putting in the 2 of the back bodice pieces upside-down (not recommended after you've done the piping and seam finishing!). I also hand picked the zipper the first time around (again, a first), but found that it gaped. I still don't know how people get hand picked zippers to look good - maybe it's easier on something with a bit more ease than strapless? I gave up, took it out, and put in an invisible zipper instead - worked fine, just a bit sticky at the piping seams. It also allowed me to let the back out 1/4" so I could have a little more breathing room - make sure you account for the thickness of the boning, interlining, etc in your muslins! For the waist stay I followed Gertie's instructions rather than the pattern ones. I measured my waist, then tacked the stay down at the middle, sides, and at the zipper. No need to make the whole dress as slim as the stay - room for dinner is important! In the end it wore beautifully - able to breathe, eat, and dance the night away without having to tug it up once.

Here is the inside of the dress with the foundation - nothing like orange octopi to cheer you up!

Vogue Donna Karan 1159

There are many other reviews of this dress, but here is mine:

Fabric is from Stone Mountain and Daughter in Berkeley. It's labeled as rayon and lycra, but I wouldn't be surprised if there was a little bit of wool in it. After all of the fuss on pattern review, it really wasn't all that hard to make. You just have to be slow and methodical. I used thread tracing to mark the circles/squares for the first time, which was so much easier than trying to make out where my chalk markings escaped to. I also read the instructions about 3 times before proceeding, so I could visualize the construction. I made a size 12, because that it what I had bought to fit my hips. I was worried because I often fit a size 8 bodice in Vogue, and there was no way to make any size alterations on this one! Luckily, it turned out just fine. I did make a couple alterations:

1) Arm hole gapage - I used the pattern alterations from pattern review here. Sadly, the arm holes were still quite gape-y even after bringing them up an inch! I then unstitched and sewed them up at least another inch (it's not a straight seam, so I just matched them up as flush as I could). This ended up taking the bodice in almost an inch on both sides, which compensated well for it being too big in the first place!
2) Length - I initially tried it on and cut off 3 inches (I'm 5'5"). I tried it on again, and realized the front hung much lower than the back, so had to unpin the back and take a very small hem there. If you are like me and don't have a mannequin for fitting, make sure you measure from the floor, not just take off an even amount.
3) Lining - my fabric was relatively thin and drapy, and has more 4 way stretch that it should. I was worried about it stretching out too far, and given the negative ease of the lining, I thought that might lend some support. I used a silky rayon jersey I had left over, which was actually a bit thicker than my fashion fabric. I enlarged the darts to make it snug in the back. It works quite well, and the fabric drapes beautifully over it.
4) Neck gapage - I put in a couple stitches to keep everything in place. This might not be an issue if you are full busted, but would recommend it otherwise. I also put in a stitch where the front crosses.

Overall, I highly recommend this pattern. The finished dress has great draping and is very comfortable to wear.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Anthropologie Knock-off Frankenpants

What do you get when you combine the following two pairs of Anthro pants?

I took a copying RTW class at Stone Mountain and Daughter in Berkeley, to copy my pair of the Obi trousers (pictured above left). I drafted a waist-band similar to the Falling Folds pants (above right), and came up with this:

 I used a sale piece of black wool. It has a side zip and a fake fly front. Reasonably successful for my first pair of pants!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

McCall's 3830

I bought this delightful blue wool Oscar de la Renta fabric from EOS - my first order from them, and probably the only on-line retailer I will consider in the future (too many times burned elsewhere, and their wonderfully accurate descriptions are well worth the price). Sadly I was the last one to get any, so I was left with a scant 2/3 yard of 50" fabric. There went my waist-band. I looked low and high for a simple pencil skirt with a vent back and a lining and no waistband - no such thing exists. I ended up with this one since I was at Joanne's during a McCall's sale. It is an adequate pencil skirt with a vent back, no lining. I cut a size 10. I graded in 1/2 inch on each side to the hem, since the skirt is more straight than pencil-like, despite the pattern drawings. I took an extra 1/4" in each dart on the back. I added a lining and used the quick lining method from Threads Magazine here. I attempted to use the vent lining tutorial here with some success.

I used the pattern a second time to make a skirt from some fabric I got in China - it was reported to be 100% wool, but according to my iron this is not true. Oh-well. It's still a fun fabric, and was pretty cheap regardless.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Vogue 8667

Fabric used: 100% wool with tiny houndstooth print, from the remnant bin at Stone Mountain and Daughter, Bremberg rayon lining

This was a great pattern. It required a little fitting to get the bodice right - fits great in front, still obviously needs some work on my back fitting. Luckily I wear a white coat at work, so no one can see it. I cut an 8 in the bodice grading to a 10 at the waist. Changes included an SBA and adding 1/2 inch in length to the bodice. The back neckline had too much fabric, so that was pinched out. Any suggestions for what I need to do differently to prevent the folds in the back would be much appreciated. I added a single welt pocket to make it a little more interesting - used this tutorial. I thought about doing matching ones, but since it was my first welt pocket I was afraid it would not end up symmetric!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Butterick 5559

This is a delightfully easy - if somewhat detail oriented - pattern. I used a wonderful thick wool double knit from Stone Mountain and Daughter in Berkeley. It was my first time using a double knit because I don't like poly, and it is hard to find wool double knit, especially at a reasonable price. I had 1.5 yards, and it shrunk like the dickens. I barely had enough to cut it out. The pattern was easy to follow. I cut a 10 on top and 12 on bottom, but still ended up using 6/8" seams on the top and 3/8" seams at the hips. The other change was adding 1" to the hem as others said it was too short (all I could eke out from my fabric). I ended up doing a 2" hem, so only added 1/2" to the pattern length - it hits an inch or two above the knees. I finally broke down and used an orange thread to make tailors tacks to mark the fold lines - easy but time consuming. For the tucks I used my 1/4" quilting hem foot and a stretch stitch so the fabric has a little give. On the plus side, the seams met up pretty well on the side, without having to pick anything out. Despite my hatred of facings, I followed the pattern instructions on this one. I just had to tack it down in the front and back - it works fine, and I like not having any top stitching at the neck. For the hem I did a hand catch stitch. Fit is pretty good with the above changes. I didn't do an SBA due to the complicated and assymetric folds - luckily none needed after all. A little swayback adjustment would have been useful - again, not sure how to do that. All in all, a great pattern - highly recommended!

Here are the pics: