Tag Archives: drawing

Fantasy Sewing—The Pink Dress Edition

The Pink Dress

It’s Pink Week over at the Sew Weekly. Er, that is, the theme is Tickled Pink. Now, I’m not a Sew Weekly participant/contributor. I do occasionally enjoy sewing along when a theme happens to coincide with something in my mental queue, but I’m rarely in touch enough to figure out what theme is when, except as other bloggers happen to mention it. And, obviously, I’m not actually sewing along this time.

Pink Stuff

But this fabric landed in my stash the other week, and while I doubt I’ll sew it up any time soon (barring a sudden onslaught of cocktail parties), it’s just screaming to be made into the ultimate little pink dress. The colour in real life is a pale baby pink, not quite what either image is showing, but maybe closer to the top one. It’s the oddest embroidered poly satin; it’s like it’s backed with a thin knit web that gives the embroidery an almost quilted look from (what I presume is) the right side. The embroidery pattern is paisley. I love paisley. This is yet another example of how I go nuts for texture.

Bodice A

I’m not quite sure what pattern in stash might be suitable for adapting into this. The bodice of view A from Simplicity 5549 might work, but the skirt is too A-line. The skirt from 6750 has more of the right shape, but has more seams than I think I want.

New Look 6750

Or maybe I could adapt the Collette Handbook Pastille Pattern to a sundress-type thing. Hmm.

The rear flounce and little collar-thingy wouldn’t be too difficult to add. I love the look of those rear flouncies, and also it might prevent me from totally destroying the cute pegged skirt when I forget myself and start taking stairs two at a time. Although I’m doubtful I’d have enough fabric to make it from the same fabric. Pink chiffon might be in order.

*shudder*

My drawing kind of implies that the waist slants up a bit in the front, going from true waist at the back to a touch of an empire line in front. It looks cute in the drawing—not sure how that would work in real life.

Thanks for bearing with me on the fantasy sewing. What are you fantasizing about today?

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Lace?!?

Lace!

It’s probably Sherry’s fault, posting that Ruby Slip pattern and then hosting the sewalong with all those yummy tips on sewing with lace. Filling my nightime fantasies with dreams of guipure and silk habotai…

Yeah, let’s go with that.

It might also be that pickings at my local thrift store have been slim lately. (Except for sewing machines. There’s been lots of those. But I binged out over Christmas. It’s going to have to be something REALLY special before I bring home another one. I promise.) Maybe I’m desperate.

Whatever the reason, last time I stopped by, they had bags of lace. Bags and bags of it. I resisted. I only brought home two.

I have kind of a love-hate relationship with lace. Similar to how I feel about 70s fashions, actually. The best is heavenly, ringing bells for elegance, texture, luxury—all kinds of things I love.

But a lot of it, especially of what’s in my price range, is, quite frankly, meh. And some of it’s truly, abhorrently awful.

And I have to say, a fair bit of this haul is in the latter two categories.

Wide lace

There’s one piece that’s quite wide. (Maybe wide enough that I could do a practice Ruby with just some piecing? Or three. There’s like four metres of it.) Unfortunately, it’s nasty-70s/80s-polyester-awful, and doesn’t even have a nice pattern, either. The next widest stuff is stretch lace. Sherry recommends against that for the Ruby (even if it were wide enough), but maybe there’s cheeky panty possibilities? At any rate, it’s quite pretty. (I tried to take a closeup but it didn’t work out and I’m too lazy to re-take.)

There’s another, 3″ wide stretch lace that I could see using as a band at the hem of a T-shirt or something.

My Fave

Strictly for looks, this one’s my favourite. I love the delicacy and the little silvery threads. I have absolutely no idea what I’d do with it.

Bit of pink

This one with the bit of pink is also pretty neat. And there’s quite a lot. What for? What for?

Bits

And then, there’s the bits. Why did anyone even save these? (Oh yeah, they’re a scrap hoarder like me. :P)

And yet…

And yet…

Ok, I might have an idea. It’s twee. Possibly cavity-inducing.

Idea. Also poorly photographed. /sigh

Good thing I have a ready supply of little girls. Although I’m not even going to try this until I have at least one more good pair for me, dammit.

Maybe lace on the pockets, too?

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I want to work for Colette Patterns

If I can draw this…

Colette patterns is looking for a technical illustrator to do contract work. I want this job. If I can illustrate Carboniferous lizard pancakes, I can totally illustrate sewing instructions, right?

Of course, they’re looking for someone experienced. Y’know, someone who’s an expert with Illustrator and InDesign. I’m almost passable with Illustrator. I’ve never even looked at InDesign (although now I’m curious). The extent of my experience readying illustrations for print is making sure my DPI is within the journal’s recommended range.

Who prides themselves on meeting deadlines. Um, well, as long as I don’t put my supervisor as a reference…

Who answers email quickly. Um. See above.

Can easily translate complex sewing tasks into clear visual instructions. Hmm. I’d like to be such a person. I haven’t tried yet. Although having tried to write up instructions for a couple of patterns at this point, I gotta say, that’s the hardest part. And not nearly as fun as drafting up the pattern itself.

And there’s that whole thesis thing I’m supposed to be working on. Y’know, that little detail.

So basically, they’re not actually looking for me, and I couldn’t really jump on it if they were. /Sigh.

But if that description is you, go for it, and know that at least one person out there will be green with envy…

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The Red Polkadot Dress

Lady in a Red Dress

Some people can wear cinched waistbands. Some people can wear big shoulder-puffs. Some people can wear dirndl skirts.

Generally speaking, these people are not me. This is really too bad, as I like many of these looks on other people. And I’ve tried them on myself time and again over the years, only to go “ah, yes, that’s why I don’t wear this.” (with the possible exception of pouffy shoulders, which I like enough that I tend to ignore the linebacker effect.)

I really like the idea of dirndl skirts. They’re both ridiculously simple (gathered rectangle—can’t get any more basic than that) and economical of fabric, unlike my preferred circle skirts. But they generally sit right at the waist (not a good spot for me) and add a lot of visual bulk in that area.

With the shrug. There’s a bit of pooching out of the ruching at the bottom of the front panel, where the outer fabric is looser than the lining. Presumably I goofed my seam allowances slightly or something.

However, as I’ve observed before, something magical happens when I slide the “waist” of my garment up or down a few inches. I can wear empire waists or dropped waists until the cows come home. Now, I believe another term for “empire-waist dirndl” is “maternity wear”, but what about a dropped waist dirndl?

Well, apparently that’s just fine.

I wrote a bit here about the bodice construction and my fitting challenges process. Having largely taken care of that, I came to the next stage in construction. The skirt.

Easy, right?

I had initially planned to do a gathered circle-skirt, like the original Katjusha pattern that was my inspiration. But on examining the amount of fabric I had left after I finished the bodice, it seemed like to get the gathering I wanted at the waist (er, hip) I was going to end up with an extremely SHORT skirt.  Whereas if I went with a dirndl style, there would be plenty of fabric for whatever length I opted for. Some quick and dirty measuring (aka holding the fabric up to my hips), and I was happily ripping away. Four panels of full-width (45″) fabric, a little below knee length plus a bit for hemming.

Red Dress

Confessions of a lazy seamstress: I didn’t even trim off the selvedges. I just tucked them inside the french seams I used to join the four widths. When they pucker up and throw the whole skirt off after the first washing, you can all laugh and point.So, I had settled on my width for the outer skirt, but my voile (or whatever this fabric is) definitely needed a lining. Back to my white cotton (yes, the stuff with the laceworked panel. Don’t worry, I’m moving from the opposite end of the length and there’s a ton of it.For my lining width, I used the width of the shirred back-panel, stretched out. It would’ve been smarter to determine this width before I did all the shirring, but I wasn’t sure it was going to shirr up the right amount at that point. Shirrly* you understand my quandary? Anyway, I decided to use this width for both the front and the back of the lining. I would gather the front to the bodice front, and sew the back flat to the stretched-out bodice back. But, you really want something underneath to give a dirndl (or any full skirt, really, IMO) a little oomph. I decided to make my lining skirt tiered. So I cut it approximately half the length I wanted, and then cut four more pieces of similar length for the bottom tier, and broke out the gathering foot.

Now, this is not my ruffler, with whom I have a passionate love-hate relationship. I wasn’t willing to deal with his idiosyncracies for four measly widths of lining. (If that sounds like a lot of gathering to you, please understand that I got the ruffler foot in the first place to make tiered skirts for tribal bellydance. The first such I made had 32 fabric widths in the bottom tier. And nine tiers, although I think only seven of them ended up being ruffled. So from my rather warped perspective, this is hardly any gathering at all

Red Dress

So I decided to play with my new, inexpensive, and untested gathering foot (Here’s a post contrasting the two). I popped it on, measured some 10″ lengths on scraps of the cotton, played with my stitch-length and tension settings, and after about three tries managed to get a gathering ratio approximating 2:1. Good enough. I began gathering.

I think I’m not going to become a huge fan of the gathering foot. It’s not awful. In fact, compared to some of the shit fits my ruffler has thrown, it was possitively easy to use. But the resulting gathering is not particularly even; it’s highly susceptible to the slightest difference in how I hold the fabric in front of the foot (crowding the needle vs. letting the fabric lie flat). The main thing I like about mechanical gathering with the ruffler over my preferred semi-manual technique (where you zig-zag over a supplementary thread… the zig-zag acts as a casing for the thread drawstring which you can pull up later) is that you don’t have to futz over the gathering being even, even if it may not be the exact ratio you wanted it to be. The gathering foot didn’t seem to have this evenness, and even worse it was pretty tricky to try to re-distribute the gathers after the fact. For the lining, I didn’t care, but I wasn’t enthused about using it for something that will actually be seen. It did turn out about the right length overall, so that’s good anyway, and it was quite fast.

I did give myself one further complication, which is that I had designed the bottom front of the bodice to dip down to a V. I love this feature a ridiculous amount, but it takes a bit of mental gymnastics to figure out how to reflect this on the gathered side of the skirt. At least, without sitting down and making an actual pattern and spreading it the required amount, which sounds suspiciously too much like work. Instead, I roughly measured the depth of the “V” (minus seam allowance) down from the top of skirt centre front, and free-handed an arch going from the skirt CF to side-seam. Good enough for government work, as my mother says.

For the outer skirt, I used my preferred semi-manual gathering method, mentioned above. I use this for “moderate” amounts of gathering, or larger amounts (like this) where I value precision of the resulting dimension over precision of every little gather. I gathered the over-skirt to match the width of the underskirt, and stitched them together. Really, fairly easy peasy.

Twirling

Then, I did something I haven’t done since Tyo was a baby. I hand gathered the entire skirt front (both layers, and hand-basted it to the bodice. WTF? you are asking. I agree. But we were watching Sucker Punch with the kids last night and I could do the gathering and basting by hand without totally ditching the rest of the family. Normally I’d prefer to be hemming in such a situation, but I wasn’t quite sure of the finished length so I didn’t want to get ahead of myself and hand-hem four widths of fabric to the wrong length. I wound up shortening it by several inches, so it’s just as well I didn’t try this.

Possibly I should also have hand-basted the back to the shirring, as that was a beast to do accurately and took a couple of goes. But, water under the bridge. Man, I’m just full of platitudes today. If I can throw “a stitch in time saves nine,” in before the end of the post, I’ll be flying. Well, except that that’s one I rarely follow. It’s still good advice, though.

Red Dress

I am a little concerned that the combination of the front ruching with the full skirt have pushed this past “sundress” territory into the hinterlands of “something to wear to a summer wedding.” Since I don’t expect to be attending any weddings this summer, this would be unfortunate. I may just have to suck it up and be ridiculously overdressed (after all, it wouldn’t be the first time).I wasn’t actively going for a “vintage” look when I made this dress. Although maybe that’s an inevitable reference for any full-skirted, tight-bodiced dress these days. Anyway, pairing it with the shrug just turns the “vintage” look up to eleven. It goes, though, doesn’t it? This shrug is ridiculously versatile. Seriously, I wear it with EVERYTHING. I need about five more.All that gathering in the skirt interacts a bit oddly with the back bodice, despite my best efforts to reinforce the bottom of the shirring with some sturdier elastic, but it’s probably not something most people would notice (dazzled as they will be by the swishy, full skirt, right?)Incidentally, the length is only sightly below my knee. Tyo was standing on the picnic table to take the photos, so they’re from more of a downward angle than usual. I’m wearing the fluffy petticoat as well as the tiered lining.And obviously I need some red heels.

Final project and inspiration. I think I need a fluffier petticoat.

*I normally try very hard to resist the obvious sewing puns. I have never intentionally substitued “sew” for “so”. This one slipped through. I humbly apologize.

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The Perfect Sundress

The perfect sundress

This is all Oona’s fault (yes, it’s an old post, but she linked it to me recently). Or maybe Patty’s. I haven’t decided. The Sew Weekly challenge this week is “The Perfect Sundress,” too, which isn’t helping. I haven’t done any of their challenges thus far, but it seems like a nice little community (though the site layout is still a bit puzzling to me), and since this week’s challenge coincided with something I’ve been wanting to sew anyway, I figure I’ll give it a bash.

So here it is. This fabric was part of my Easter thrift store haul. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it—that strong, woven stripe is a bit limiting—but when maxi-dresses started being dangled provocatively in my face (see above links), I knew.

Maxi dress option 1

Maxi dress option 1

Now, it’s not as if I have a shortage of maxi-dress pattern options.

Maxi-dress option 2

But, I may be stuck on this sketch I doodled out the other night. The neckline is like Oona’s, the sleeves more like Patty’s. It could be as simple as a rectangle cinched by an under-bust sash, but I’m thinking a bit more shaping would probably be flattering.

Maxi-dress option 3

I guess if I’m going to make this up this week, I’d better decide, though.

Maxi-dress option 4

So many maxi dresses, so little time…

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A springy little coat

Spring coat front

So I spent some time last night doodling. There was a lot of erasing, and a lot of other little doodles that fell by the wayside as this design emerged. But I think I’m happy with the details—I knew I wanted the empire waist and the princess seams and a thigh-length, but the rest was up in the air. I googled “empire waist coat” and looked through far too many inspiration options before I settled on the inverted box-pleats , high standing collar, and pleated cuffs.

I think I like the idea of the pleat at the upper CB, giving a bit more freedom of movement in what I want to be a fairly fitted garment. This is a spring coat—it won’t (in theory) need to accomodate the bulky sweaters of my winter coats.

So, all that remains is that piddly little problem of a pattern.

Erm.

Coat back

So I have two or three options, all of which promise to stretch my embryonic pattern-making skills to their limits. I have the Lady Grey pattern, which has the right seaming but the wrong kind of sleeve and the giant lapels; I have my Butterick winter coat pattern, which has the right sleeves (sorta) but shoulder rather than arm princess seams. Or, third option (and maybe the one I will go with), the princess-seam fitted jacket pattern from Built by Wendy coats and jackets. This has the right seams and the right sleeve, but I haven’t tried it before. Still, I have the book, I should use it, right?

Spring-coat, side

I’m assuming drafting an A-line skirt with a few pleats won’t be too terrible. Drafting the collar may be a bit more hit-and-miss, but should be good practice, right? 😉 …

The cuffs are stolen from (or at least inspired by) one of the variations on this pattern that my daughter didn’t choose for her version, though I think I will go with a box-pleat to match the rest of the coat.

I was debating a double-breasted front because, well, I love them, but this will be a spring coat and so often worn open, so I figured a single-breasted front would be better.

I’ve had this fabric probably since sometime last spring; it’s another thrift store mystery, a burlap-weave, quite crisp and rather scratchy. There’s also four or five metres of it, so if I really feel the need I can probably make a full muslin out of the fashion fabric (of course, if I don’t need to, I can make matching separates—it would make a fun skirt, or maybe even a shift-dress or something…

I took advantage of the weekend’s 50% off sale to pick up some Kasha lining for the coat—maybe a bit of overkill for the “spring” weight I’m going for, but I hate the thought of sewing with the regular linings. I still have to decide on underlining or not—I have a feeling it won’t be part of Sherry’s RTW techniques, but my fashion fabric, while heavy, is rather sheer due to its coarse weave. Well, I’m getting ahead of myself—first I need to pattern the dang thing.

I can do that in two weeks, right?

Also, whatever comes, don’t let me forget to add pockets!

Fabric! Right: lining; left: shell

In Me-Made March news,

the weather is gorgeous and I wore my Lady Grey! I was soo close to wearing a circle skirt out, but I just couldn’t commit to it at 6 in the morning (which felt like 5 since the time just changed… I could write a whole blog about how much I hate daylight savings time…)

Me-Made March, day 14

Czarina Coat (AKA Lady Grey)
JJ blouse
Long-sleeve T
Skinny jeans

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Les croquis

I like to flatter myself that I can draw. Technically, I’m reasonably good. Creatively… perhaps less so. In high school, when I doodled all the time, people used to ask me if I wanted to design clothes when I grew up. I laughed. Fun as the idea sounded, I didn’t really doodle anything I thought anybody would really wear. The fashions I was drawing belonged to the worlds inside my head, which was where I chiefly lived at that point in my life.

Almost every time I make a pattern, about a dozen possible variations flash through my head. Normally,  these pass like lightning and I end up doing the pattern pretty much as is. When I’m at my best, I actually try to sketch  them out.

I’ll tell you something I’ve noticed over the years: the biggest difference between the doodles of “artists” and the doodles of “non-artists”?

The “artists” don’t apologize for how crappy their doodles are. 😉

I should probably give in and make myself a proper croquis one of these days. I can draw out a decent human figure if I try (of course, it was better when I was less abysmally out of practice) but it takes effort that would be better spent getting those folds of drapery right. I love drawing fabric. Actually, I love drawing clothes. I really do (see above comments about high-school).

So the top picture is the current variation I’m working on. The bottom (which is going to be straight across, not that nice downward dip… maybe next time) is my adapted/butchered version of the Anna top. The top is the same pieces from the sundress. The back I am planning to do as smocking, so I can cheat bypass some of the fitting issues I had with the Anna. It’s cut out but I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to sew it. I guess if the back’s elastic, I don’t really need the buttons in the front, do I?… oh well, we’ll see. The placket’s already cut out and ironed.

The bottom picture is some other (simpler) variations I’d like to try. See what I mean about crappy doodles?

Anyway, I know you came here to see sewing—sorry, I have none to show just yet, so I gave you (half-ass) drawing instead.

Sewing tomorrow, I promise.

PS: another thing I’ve noticed about “artists” is that most people’s drawings of people tend to look something like the original person themself. Probably because we all spend more time looking in mirrors over the years than we ever do at models. Normally this kinda sucks, but when you’re sketching fashions for yourself, it’s actually an advantage!

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