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.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

See anything funny here?

Yup. Didn't do @#$%& hem allowance!!

After a few minutes of "serenity now" chant, I realized that the hem will have pleats on it, which will extend it down by another inch.

So far, here's what I've completed.
  • Cut fabric and lining
  • Sew all darts
  • Attach lining to facing
  • Attach skirt pieces to bodice pieces
  • Made sleeve pleats
And I ended up with pointy darts:

@#$%& again!

The point is more apparent on the horizontal dart than the vertical one. It's not terribly obvious, but the fact that it's there just bugs me. I might fix it by shortening the dart and sewing it on a curve like this tutorial on BurdaStyle. Or not. Would the lining help fill out the dart?

The pleats turned out slightly shorter than the intended 10 inches, which is fine, except that one is shorter than the other:

Serenity now!

Okay, moving on. The next step is to attach the lining to the dress, following
this tutorial from Threads magazine (adapted from Connie Long's book Easy Guide to Sewing Linings, which I have). Using this method, supposedly you won't need to hand-sew to complete the attachment. Can't really wrap my mind around the turning-inside-out part though. I guess I'll just try and see how it goes.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Here's the technical drawing...

... of the purple dress:
It was supposed to be without a waist seam (like this), but I figured this would be a chance to test the sloper fit. (Translation: I really didn't want to draft another pattern). So I just adjusted the sloper bodice.

At the front: take in shoulder strap 1" at each end, lower neckline by 3".

At the back:
take in shoulder strap 1" at each end, lower neckline by 1", and shift shoulder dart to roughly the middle of the strap.

The pleats at the sleeves will be 10" long each with 10 one-square-inch pleats . Based on this "diagram", I will need 20" long strips including the folds and seam allowances:
The fabric will be good ol' Kona in eggplant (not ready to use more expensive fabrics), and lined with white lightweight cotton batiste. An all-in-one facing so the contrast lining won't show up at the neckline and armhole:

Next, press and cut the fabric, and sew! Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

To tackle the fitting issues...

... I decided to get this book that is so often mentioned on Fit for Real People by Pati Palmer and Maria Alto (aka FFRP). I wonder why I didn't get it sooner! Like all other fitting books, it goes over common issues and how to fix them. This book goes a step further by taking you through a tissue-fitting process. I'd never gone through a fitting, so this was enlightening. It has lots of photographs and figures - very useful for visual-learners like me.

So I bought Butterick 5726 fitting shell from Joann's for $2 to make a sloper, traced and cut the pieces, went through the FFRP fitting exercise, fixed the obvious problems, got lazy about the muslin, made one anyway, discovered different problems, lost patience, found it while taking a break, fixed some of those problems, refined the lines, and four weekends later - et voila - I have my sloper!

Here's the bodice:

And the skirt:

I skipped the sleeves because I'm not planning to use them any time soon. Well, maybe some capsleeves... but, how hard can those be, right?

Hopefully all this exercise wasn't a waste of time.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

I discovered fashion sketching...

... on my way back to square one of sewing well.

My brains get all jumbled when I think of all the projects I want to do. So I usually end up overwhelmed and not doing anything. Sketching helps me focus and gives me something to do during weeknights when TV sucks. It's actually pretty easy for right-brained folks like me, if you don't try to do it from scratch. I found this Design & Draw Fashion Sketches tutorial series by Lauren Bradley of expertvillage on YouTube.

The tutorial, combined with lessons and templates from the book Fashion Artist by Sandra Burke that I borrowed from the library, gave me the basic know-how to produce my first sketch:

Look! I drew fashion!

Well, this is the first dress that I plan to make for wearing in public. The design components:
  • I usually start with a fitted shift dress, because it's a style that fits me well. I think.
  • Add some details for interest, otherwise it's too plain, because I will be making it with cotton. Ruffles are hot right now, but I'm not ready for them. Gathers I always have a hard time to make. So, pleats it is.
  • Let's attach the pleats to the hem, because it will probably / hopefully be the easiest.
  • I like the sleeves on this Burda 06-2009-122 top. Obviously have to pleat them to match the hem.
Look! I sort of designed something!

Now that it's out there, I have to actually make it and finish it, no matter how it turns out - if it does at all!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Make like Stephen Colbert...

... and save the planet by jumping on the bandwagon.

Yup, I just jumped on the sewing-blog bandwagon. I have succumbed to peer pressure. Dammit - I thought only teenagers do that! Anyway, I will be posting about my efforts and accomplishments in sewing. Ideas, sketches, to-do's, patterns, fabrics, books, sewing progress or lack thereof and the corresponding frustration, and hopefully some finished projects that are not too embarrassing to share.

The name of the blog came up because I'm loving dresses and want to make many of them. Sure is easier to make than a top and
a skirt! Just add 20+ more inches to a top pattern, sew it up, and it's a whole outfit! Dresses also make one look more put together to compensate for one's face's lack of aesthetics!
Cotton is for the fabric that I currently dare to make something out of. It may be a while before I progress to more expensive fabrics (unless I found a good deal on eBay)!
Little is just because it goes with "dress" and "cotton". My dresses are not so little, but "Big Cotton Dresses" doesn't sound as appealing, so I stick with little.

In any case, I haven't actually made any dresses that I would wear in public. Made a lot of muslins though. For a long time I didn't know that you're supposed to use the muslin to fix all
fitting issues. So I would make a muslin, maybe adjust the obvious flaws at the front because that's all I could see, make the dress, wonder why it looks all funky at the back, and abandon the project. Aaargh!! What a waste of @#$%^& time!

Lesson learned. Read more about fitting and pattern drafting. Resort back to cotton after the stupid wool dress I tried to make had to be rescued by a professional tailor. Go back to square one, and here we are.