Monthly Archives: June 2010

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Wow, the Danielle Dress has occupied my brain so long, I feel all floaty now that it’s done. What will I do? What will I sew?

Now, I’ve spent lots of time rambling in the past about things I want to make in the future. It is a very long, ever-evolving list. It includes:

This is without even bringing up crazier things like making my own sailor-shorts.

Most of the heavier stuff I don’t really want to tackle until August (though I would like to knock out one pair of jeans in July), but right now I think I’m leaning towards starting the burda jackets and (because I want to be working on something for me, as well) experimenting with a knit top or two. Which raises the question: which knit top?

The options are as follows:

  • batwing top
  • sleeveless cowl-neck top (the Selfish Seamstress’s or Ichigo Girl’s; despite my fondness for the Selfish Seamstress, I think I might go with the second one just so that I don’t have to grade the pattern up)
  • long-sleeve T (I would probably trace a pattern off one I have)
  • tank-top (again, tracing a pattern off one I have)… I’d like to do this with fold-over elastic at the top, which my Fabricland didn’t appear to have. Their notions selection is really crappy—I’ll have to check the other location this weekend.

In other news, I had a bit of a me-made holiday over the weekend, since I got to wear my Danielle Dress to the wedding and my Jalie capris almost every other day.  Now I’m home, wearing all RTW feels sorta… boring.

Okay, I think I’ve convinced myself. It will be Ichigogirl’s cowl-neck top/dress (top version), out of my flimsy white knit. I will double-line the top, so it doesn’t need a facing. I may narrow the shoulder-seams a bit, too, as I think that would look cute. Down with knitophobia!

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The (not so) Big Reveal

Danielle Dress!

Ah, the Danielle Dress in all its glory! Oh happy day! Of course you’ve already seen photos of the dress with everything but the final hem, so it won’t be that huge of a deal. Ah well.

It has taken a LONG time to get this post up, due to lack of awesome pictures worthy of this awesome dress. Lots of fuzzy ones, ones that don’t show the hem, ones where I’m making a wonky face… you get the idea. These still aren’t them, but they’ll have to do for now. My usual photographer (AKA daughter) is spending the month with her cousins!

It occurs to me that this is my first fully-lined dress. Also my first “everyday” (as opposed to costume) dress.

A quick recap on the construction… the fashion fabric is some kind of crinkly chiffon (possibly crepe?),

Danielle---rear view

very thin, in a bold black and white print (I don’t usually go for prints) that has been in my stash for at least five years, since I made a tiered dance skirt for my older daughter out of it.  I underlined it with a plain black cotton (from my old duvet cover, the same stuff I used to underline my girls’ coats) to give it a bit more body, and lined it with a very plain, very cheap black lining fabric. While I cutting I committed the major sin of not cutting the centre front on the fold, so I had to improvise and add a third pleat and centre front with a black inset of the same fabric as the “waist” band. Since I now had a seam allowance at the centre front, this meant I had to fiddle with the other pleats a bit to maintain the skirt width, but I think it worked out all right.

To keep the chiffon (which was a b*tch to cut out, by the way) from sliding around on the underlining, I

More Danielle!

hand-basted all the pieces of the shell together. This was probably the single most time-consuming part of constructing the entire dress. On the other hand, it was handwork, so I could do it in the livingroom with the family instead of ditching them to sew, so I get less (though not no) hassle for it, and not once during the actual construction did I want to shoot myself in the head due to my slippery, misshapen chiffon fabric pieces, as I usually do when working with this kind of fabric.)

My cutting wasn’t as precise as I would like (as usual), partly due to the chiffon, partly due to sloppiness. Precise cutting is definitely one of my Areas to Improve, although I’d like to say this dress was quite a bit worse in that department than most of my recent efforts. Cotton and denim (which is of course cotton too) are really dreams to cut out. My biggest goal was to get the front pleats to line up with the front darts (and to not totally ruin the darts). I was not 100% successful, but managed adequately. The darts are at least more symmetrical than most of my previous attempts, though I’m still not 100% happy with them, either.

The lining was fairly rushed and fudgetastic. I didn’t do a separate waistband for it (I meant to make the skirt longer to compensate, but didn’t, but due to sloppy/generous cutting of length this didn’t actually matter. My goal was to make the lining slightly smaller, which I achieved a little too well, but at least my zipper doesn’t get caught in its fabric (!) and the outer shell doesn’t look strained.

I didn’t want to finish the arm-holes by hand, so I wound up releasing my shoulder seams so I could machine-stitch the lining to

Hand-finished hem---the large stitches you see are actually the hand-basting I neglected to remove since it was on the inside. You don't see ANY of the actual hem stitches.

the arms and neck and then reverse it, then hand-finished the shoulder seams. This is easy, but somehow when I do this the shoulder seams never match up as nicely as they ought to… the front is always a little too narrow for some reason. There’s probably a better method out there, but I’m too lazy to research is right now.

The zipper was a bit of an experiment. I’ve read the standard method for inserting them (and this was a standard, not an invisible zipper), but I’ve never had great success in this department. Usually they end up catching on the fabric around them, at least a bit. I was attracted by the idea of installing it by hand, but also short of time. In the end I sewed it to the lining by machine (carefully well back of the zipper teeth) and then picked it to the outside by hand. It looks great, at least on the outside. My hand stitches show on the inside (perhaps with a little more thought or paying more attention to some tutorials, I could have avoided this, but I was in a rush at this point). I also finished the hem by hand, which is lovely when you have an underlining to catch the stitches on, and I’m quite happy with that,

Hand-picked zipper

though there is one spot where I accidentally caught the fashion fabric and it shows. I could fix it, but I probably won’t bother. I just hemmed the lining by machine. I really should pick up some finer machine needles… the ones I have are a bit too thick and the lining fabric puckers.

On the whole, the dress was a smashing success. It fitted well with minor alterations (though the bust is still a bit generous for me… I suspect I need to narrow the front and then make the darts smaller). I did end up taking it in almost an inch on each side at the back seam, so perhaps I could have cut the size 34 instead of the size 36. The only disappointment? I it’s a bit too fancy for everyday, and who knows when I’ll get to wear it again?

Shoulder seam---not a great match up.

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Is it wrong…

to feel smug that your self-sewn dress fits you better than the bride`s? (Not that hers wasn’t adorable, and also knee-length and empire-waisted, but it was just a tad big on her)

No photos yet (they are stuck on my camera until I get home) but the reception was smashing and so was the Danielle dress. I felt very on-trend (not a feeling I actually pursue) as almost all the dresses on display last night (and there were lots of lovely ones) were just shy of knee length, and over half were empire waists. I also got lots of complements on my “design feature”… the third front pleat (AKA where I failed to cut the fabric on the fold.) However, the bodice that felt a little snug in trying on was VERY snug for a whole evening… not a lot of deep breathing going on. Still, awesome, fun, and looked really good (and not at all home-made, I think 😉 ). It is,  however, not my  favourite thing ever for dancing in (not that that stopped me)… for dancing I like something that accentuates the hips and has some swish; the lovely Danielle  dress has neither. Still delightful. I can’t think of a much better bunch of people I’d like to have at a wedding. Almost makes me want to get married…

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So close!

Danielle dress---almost finished!

I guess it would be a better strategy to show less progress, save the full dress for the big reveal, right?

Sorry, I don’t have that kind of self-discipline. So here’s the Danielle dress—ALMOST done. So close. It just needs a hem and one shoulder sewn up. I took it to work with me

Danielle dress---back

today, finished the zipper by hand on the train (I sewed the zipper to the lining by machine, but hand-picked the outer layer. At least, I think it was hand-picking. I haven’t actually read any of the numerous wonderful tutorials out there on hand-finishing zippers. It’s not perfect on the inside, but the stitches are damn near invisible on the outside, so I’m not going to complain.

Boy, the dress is SNUG. Not the outer shell, by the way—just the lining. I tried to cut the lining a bit smaller… apparently I succeeded too well. Ah well. I don’t think I’ll be popping seams, but unfortunately it means the outer fabric can’t stretch quite as much, so the bust is looking a bit rugose again. Though if anyone is looking that closely at my chest, they’re looking WAY too close, right?

Side view---a little pouffy in the front.

It’s a tiny bit pouffy at the front, due to my 3rd pleat/insert, I think. I’ll do what I can with ironing, but… ah well. I don’t mind looking 5 months pregnant… I do most of the time, anyway ;).

The hem will come up about 3 inches, I’m thinking, in the hemming.

Did I mention I’m insanely proud of that zipper? It’s the first one I’ve ever done (aside from jeans flies) that doesn’t catch on its surrounding fabric. It’s not invisible (it’s not an invisible zipper), but it’s nice and even and I’m okay with it. 🙂 And it made my 40-minute-each-way train commute much more enjoyable.

Oh, and if it’s a little rumpled… that’s because it spent the day in my backpack! So really, it looks pretty good. 🙂

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Oopsie

Oopsie... two new fabrics. But they were cheap!

Well, that didn’t last, did it? I bought two pieces of fabric at Value Village yesterday—about 1.5 m of some fairly heavy ivory knit (that comes in a tube! I’d heard of this but never seen it before), and like 5m (by like 60″ wide… there I go mixing my units) of some red, fairly heavy *something* with a bit of a ribbed weave. Interestingly, the mass of red was not much more expensive than the little bit of knit. The knit will of course go towards my “conquer the fear of knits” sewing (whatever form that will take). The red can be the surcote for my mediaeval dress for that fair later this summer. Man, that will be hot. As in, sweating and sticky… but oh well.

A mediaeval sideless surcoat

Here’s a picture of what kind of garment I’m talking about; it’ll go over a long-sleeved long dress I made last fall.

Incidentally… this fair I’m goingto styles itself a “Medieval Faire”… now, I’m not a huge fan of cutesy mis-spellings, but I can just about handle randomly sticking an E on the end of Fair to seem more “period”… but if you’re going to do that, spell it MEDIAEVAL! WAY cooler.  My $.02 🙂

Considerable progress was made last night on the Danielle—I just need to finish putting in the zipper and hem it. Unfortunately, I was working in the “I should go and clean house/feed children/tend family… in one more minute” mindset, which means I kinda barged ahead without really taking the time and care I would like to see myself take. I think it’ll be okay, but I’m a little disappointed with myself. I also took my lined-sleeveless-article shortcut and opened the shoulder seams so I could turn it, and somehow when I do this the shoulders never go back together quite right. I should probably have spent more time reading up on how to do linings, and less time convincing myself that I can figure anything out on my own. On the other hand, I may actually have it ready to go by Saturday. I’ll take more pictures once I get the zipper finished :).

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Good news and catastrophe averted

Actually, catastrophe identified as due to user error. I had a huge panic (and didn’t get much sewing done) last night when my sewing machine started skipping stitches like crazy.  I thought perhaps it was the slinky lining fabric, so I tried on some cotton. Same deal. Oh, crap, I am thinking, I can’t have my machine die on me! It’s not even three years old, and it’s not like I’ve been sewing on it heavy duty all that time. What could have happened? I twiddled with my tension (no luck), rethreaded, re-loaded my bobbin, wondered sinkingly if my bobbin tension was off… and went to bed with visions of hand sewing my entire lining dancing in my head. I mean, I’m planning on hand-hemming, and I might even hand-pick my zipper… but constructing the ENTIRE lining?

It wasn’t until I woke up this morning that it occurred to me that the needle—which I had pulled out to check the gauge of last night before tackling the lining, just to make sure it wasn’t a denim needle—might not have been put back in right. Alternatively, I should definitely try a new needle since that one was probably getting dull.

Yes, folks, I had managed to not put the needle back in all the way; it was sitting far too low down. New needle, inserted all the way—and I had to catch myself; I almost only put it in partway again—and it’s sewing like a charm. BIG relief.  So my lining is now at least halfway constructed, and this afternoon/evening, barring any new hiccoughs, I will have it installed. I guess I should get to work on the sleeves, too.

The other good news is that  orange-stained white knit. It spent all yesterday afternoon soaking in Oxy-Clean in the tub; after that and two cycles (with more Oxy) in the washing machine, it is now almost completely stain free. And gorgeous, albeit really thin… any shirt will have to be double-layered in the front. Makes me wish my serger were functioning… maybe when I get back after this weekend I will have to take another look at it. Who knows—maybe it’s just the needle.

I should be so lucky.

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Danielle dress update

Danielle bodice---re-sewn, no longer caving in! Darts remain a little wonky.

Ok, quick post and then back to work!

I ripped and re-sewed the bodice-to-“waist” band seam; in my effort to match the darts in the top with the pleats in the skirt some ease had crept in, which was allowing the centre of the bodice to collapse over my not-so-generous bust. Re-sewing the seam helped, even though it required the sacrifice of my perfectly-aligned darts and pleats. The side seams are now slightly off as well. And y’know what—I don’t care as long as the bust looks great! Which I don’t know if I’ve quite achieved, but it’s a lot better (especially with the bullet-proof bra underneath. If I can get the whole thing snugged in properly with the zip, I think it’ll look fine.

Incidentally, it looks like I’m going to need inch-wide seam allowances on the

Danielle fitting---note the "design element" contrast pleat at centre front. 🙂

centre back to get it to fit snugly across the zipper. Considering I’ve already taken in the dress 1/2″ to 1″ at various places (bodice 1/2″ at each side, skirt 1″ at centre front (due to my cutting booboo, though I adjusted the pleats to gain some of that back), I almost wonder if I could’ve gotten away with a size 34. My measurements suggest a 36, but this is a dress that looks best FITTED (except at the waist, hence my love of the pattern!)

You can just see a peek of my “design feature” at the centre front of the skirt. Like? Also note my complete lack of pattern matching! I can just about wrap my head around trying to match stripes—I’ll give it a go when I use my wool or denim pinstripes—but a pattern like this? Not happening. I wouldn’t’ve had enough fabric anyway, right?

I am tempted to lower the neckline a bit, but if I’m going to wear it over a bra I’d better not.

If I make a dress like this again, I’d be really tempted to use my princess-seamed vest pattern for the bodice. The lines are the same, but the fit is tweaked to be perfect on me, and have I mentioned that I like princess seams? All I’d have to do is switch the opening from front to back and maybe mess with the seam allowances a touch.

What do you think—sleeves or no sleeves?

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