Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Knit I don't: The circle scarf

Remember this knitting attempt?

Yeah... that's about as much as it's going to be. Knitting requires supreme ability to sit still, which I lack. I managed to knit and purl my way out of about 20 inches, and now it's been collecting dust on my nightstand for the last two months.

So I made this instead:

It's a circle scarf, the idea of which was inspired by Karin (also see mywakingmemories' tutorial and styling suggestions). It can be worn as a double scarf as shown above, or a bolero:

Or a halter:

Or draped unceremoniously as a shawl:

The fabric made the project, in this case. It's the softest rayon jersey that was definitely a splurge. Not so proud of the construction; the flat fell seam is most pathetic looking and I wasn't even drunk at the time!

Oh well... what do you do when life gives you lemon? You give out the lemon as a gift!

Ha ha... just kidding, oh gift recipient. Or, am I?

Actually I did intend to give out the circle scarves as gifts, before realizing that sewing knit fabric is a bitch and the resulting solitary seam looks like it was sewn by my dog, who is practically blind in one eye.

Practice makes perfect, I guess.
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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Spring colorblock dress in the middle of winter

For once, I'm ahead of the game! Well, really I'm very late, since this dress started in - wow-has-it-been-that-long - three months ago.

Without further ado:

A close-up of the mock buckle, inspired by a J. Crew dress, and also to cover up the seam because I didn't cut the band on fold:

Here's me modeling it:

The end of the zipper is usually a struggle. As you can see here, it's all wonky. (Anybody have any tips on how to solve this? I use the regular zipper foot to connect the back seam and the zipper-end, and it usually ends up bunchy.)
Also, the sloper calls for a back shoulder dart, which I did not transfer to the pattern, thinking it wouldn't make a difference. Apparently it does: the back neck band is too big and now it gaps away from the body. Lesson learned.

The dress itself is fully lined in self fabric. I pretty much winged the construction part of it, with the help of my new best friend, the seam ripper. It's not completely finished yet, actually. Hemming needs to be done (still can't figure out how to use blind-stitch foot and am dreading hand-sewing), and hook-and-eye fastener needs to be attached.

Generally it fits a little loose on me now, because I've shrunken a bit because of a little diet and exercise. It's good news, actually. I feel physically better, am sleeping better (didn't really need help on that department), and theoretically should be looking better in clothes because the boobs are now correctly positioned "above" and not "at" the waist. Although, it also means I have to draft a new sloper.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I'm back!

Sort of. Well, at least I'm very close to being back.

Thesis is approved, one more final exam (going to rely on pity points to pass this one), and come Tuesday night, I am free! Or, actually, I'm already free now since I've checked out mentally. Biggest lesson learned from graduate school: when bored at work, get a hobby, don't go back to school! It's taken me 3 years and countless dollars to realize that. Talk about learning the hard way. This article makes it even more hilarious.

Anyway, during the involuntary sewing hiatus, one of my favorite bloggers, CyberGirly, gave me this nice "Kreative Blogger" award. Big thanks, CG, and right back at ya!

Friday, October 30, 2009

What d'ya know...

... apparently I knit too!

This knitting thing is mainly to provide distraction from sewing (no idea how to actually construct the colorblock dress with lining) and schoolwork (no idea what the professor is saying) with the guidance of Debbie Stoller's book Stitch 'N Bitch (I do have an idea of what she's saying!).

My intention is to knit a scarf, but we'll see what we end up with.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

No new fabric for the colorblock dress...

... even though I'm drooling for Robert Kaufman Radiance silk/cotton blend. Still nervous about dropping double-digit-dollar per yard of fabric.

So I dug around my cheap-o stash and found just enough miscellaneous cotton to make this dress:
  • White Ikea bedsheet that I was using for amateurish photo backdrop, and later for muslin, and now it will be the skirt of the dress. It may be enough for a bias layout plus lining.
  • mjb likes the chocolate-chartreuse combo (so do I!), but there's no existing chocolate cotton, and the closest I have to chartreuse is olive, which looks awfully drab. I do have a piece of red, which is enough for the bands.
  • No gray cotton laying around either, so the bodice will be black Kona cotton that was meant for another project, and now it will be the bodice plus lining.
White skirt + black bodice + red band = looks like:

... which I think is the same dress as this:

... and this:

... which is a Spring 2008 Gucci.

Hm... I probably need to start making winter dresses after this one.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Drafting a new pattern from a sloper...

... is a LOT faster than taking a commercial pattern and then doing all the adjustments in the world to make it fit your own non-standard measurements. For me, those adjustments are usually: full bust, square shoulder, forward shoulder, erect back, sway back, let out waist, take in hip, omgmybrainisabouttoexplode! Such is the reason for my investing time in making a basic dress sloper a while back. Once you have a sloper that fits, redrawing the pattern lines to make a new design is a breeze!

On this post, I'll show how I drafted the colorblock dress pattern from the sloper (by way of illustration, because I forgot to take pictures). This is a very basic, amateur pattern-drafting tutorial though, so take it for what it's worth. :D

  • Trace a new sloper, so the original sloper remains intact.

  • Decide the width of the band. I think a 2-inch band is good - substantial yet not obnoxiously so.
  • The bodice sloper usually have a jewel neckline, and I want to open it up a bit lot. To lower it, I measure 3-inches down from the top of center-front (point a). You can go lower if cleavage is your thing. Width-wise, I go as far out as possible at the shoulder (point b). Then, I mark the 2-inch width band at points c and d.

  • Now, connect point a to d, and point c to b, while at the same time creating the shape of your neckline. In this case, I choose a scoop.
  • I open up the armhole so I can show off more armpit fat. So, I make a point e and connect the armhole to it.

  • Cut along the new lines (the dashed line), then use the same principle for the back bodice, and we shall have the pattern pieces like these:

Okay... so I don't know how to fix the picture layout, but you get the idea what I'm trying to show here.

An important note on the bodice back: be sure to be consistent in the measurement of the shoulder width. I picked the farthest point on front-bodice-shoulder, and do the same for back-bodice-shoulder. If you choose, say, 1-inch inside the shoulder point, make sure you do both for the front AND the back, so band doesn't get all wonky when attached.

  • Again, the first step is to make a duplicate sloper, so the original doesn't get ruined.

  • The design calls for an A-line skirt, but you have a straight-skirt sloper. Out of the many ways to make an A-line skirt, I choose what I think is the easiest. Basically, I want to "move" the dart from the waist to the hem.
  • So, draw a straight line down the dart, all the way to the hem.

  • Cut the line, and shift the paper so the original dart is closed. So now the dart is transferred to the hem, and fill it in with paper. If necessary, re-draw the hemline to smooth out the joined lines. We have an A-line skirt! Well, the front, that is.
  • To make the waist band, mark the center-front and side from the waist (I also use 2 inches for the waist band).
  • Cut out the waistband pattern (the dashed line), repeat the same principle for the back skirt, and we'll have something like this:

And now, my esteemed reader(s), we have just drafted your own pattern!

P.S. Don't forget to add seam allowances!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Two designs in one

All work and no play makes me extra fidgety. So, I took a break from studying, browsed some fashion mags, and saw this Rachel Roy dress worn by Lucy Liu:

Gorgeous! I've been wanting to make a color-block dress and this one just knocked my socks off. The colors are nice fabulous, and obviously the fabric some kind of fancy expensive designer silk. On Lucy Liu it looks elegant, on me unfortunately it would look matronly. I thought changing the skirt to bias a-line would make it less "proper".

So, that's the first design that inspires my next project.

The second one is AnaJan's Bordeaux dress that is also on my long to-do list:

Just the neckline, really, is what I like. So I'm adapting that neckline into my dress:

I choose red for the bodice, because orange is too "spring" and I want to be able to wear it in colder weather.

These are some neckline and color variations:

Next post will be about drafting the pattern for this dress from the sloper.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Burda-inspired dress is done...

... and it looks like a sofa:

With me wearing it, it IS a sofa.

Hee... hee... Just kidding, I don't have body-image issues. I like the dress. I've worn worse things.

Anyway, a couple of technical highlights following.

Instead of sewing the v-neck in one continuous stitch, I did it shoulder-to-front on one side, then repeat on the other. No puckers or bunches like I used to get! Although, still have that pointy dart issue.

The fabric probably wasn't the best choice. It leaves needle holes, as you can see here (the white dots are the holes from the stitches):

I hemmed it with straight stitch because the fabric is not blind-stitch friendly. (Well, okay, fine... I didn't feel like blind stitching by hand and haven't figured out how to use the machine's blind stitch correctly.)

Okay... probably need to study now.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

For the next project...

... I'm thinking another little cotton dress. How creative!

I've been eyeing this Burda dress (02-2008-124). The basic, simple design is right up my alley:

During a trip to LA weeks ago, I bought this fabric from Michael Levine that I think is destined for this dress. It's a heavier-weight cotton which makes it suitable for all season with the appropriate accessories.

A few adjustments to make:
  • eliminate the under-the-bust seam, as it is not a flattering look on me.
  • make it a v-neck both front and back (Burda has a scoop front and a v back)
  • maybe make it sleeveless... or keep the capsleeves?
  • might go with a slight a-line if there's enough fabric (only have 2+ yards)
And here's the sketch:

The time I spent making the basic sloper was definitely a worthy investment! Drafting and cutting the pattern pieces for this dress took only half an hour and I can be sure that it will fit. Burda's way of patterning would take at least twice as long for me, what with the multiple rounds of fitting and altering and all that fun stuff. I bowed to my sloper a few times after realizing how much time I'm saving. (Don't worry, JoanneM; I heed your advice and will still make a muslin.)

I recommend everybody to make their own sloper!

Oh, a side note... This fall is my last semester in graduate school (yay!) so I will be prioritizing school and finishing up the master's thesis (boo!). So, sewing will be intermittent in the next four months (boo again!). Come December, I will have my MsBA in Finance and get back to sewing (double yay - epic win! - even though this degree probably won't mean much nowadays).

Sunday, August 23, 2009

May I present...

... the completed purple dress with pleats:

Details at the sleeve:

... and at the hem:

I decided to use scrap cotton for the lining, which turns out rather nice (it actually looks better than the outside):

Here's me wearing it:

The fit could be improved around the bust, but it fits pretty well otherwise. The cotton makes it look home made, although I can get away with wearing it to work during a casual day.

Overall I'm pretty happy with the result. Yay!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

This dress has better be worth it...

... because it is taking longer than I expected. It should have been done this weekend. Evidently not.

Here's the good, the bad, and the ugly of this week's progress:

The Good: Connie Long / Threads quick-lining tutorial worked. (Of course it would... otherwise they wouldn't put it on a book.)

The Bad: This is related to the sleeve/armhole pleats. In the construction, the pleats are to be sandwiched between the right-sides when the armholes are sewn. Naturally, I forgot to do it. So I re-did it. Except now the pleats were backward! Crap! After the second re-do, they came out exactly as intended:

The Ugly: I think this is worse than the pleats incident because I should have known better from previous experience, and fixing it means completely ripping one side and re-doing it because the shoulder/neck/armhole seams have been sewn:

Twisted zipper!

I decided this was a good time to take a break.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

SewStylish Fall 2009...

... is on newsstands now.
While I have not actually made anything out of SewStylish (I have all of the back issues), there are a couple of pieces that caught my immediate attention on this issue.

First, this skirt:

A girly, feminine number that is more elegant than cutesy. Such beautiful color too, nicely contrasted by the purple blouse.

Then, this top:

A simple V-neck with ties going to the back. Well, not too sure about the neck wraparound there. Can't breath just by looking at it.

The basic designs are so simple and straightforward - just add one easy detail and there you have a pretty piece of clothing.