Mod Style Shift

This next iteration of my shift dress is self drafted, but is heavily inspired by OOP Vogue 7899.  I pretty much took the pocket from this pattern.  I bought this pattern when it was released in 2004 and have been meaning to make up a version with this pocket pretty much ever since.  The slight differences between the rest of the pattern and my draft is that my dress has a French bust dart and narrower shoulders, and no hem band.

The main fabric is a Nani Iro canvas that I bought from Tessuti.  I thought it would be a good weight for a shift dress, but it is possibly a little stiff, which shows up some very minor fitting issues that would not be seen in a different fabric.  The contrast bands are a quilting cotton.  I liked the colour combo on my sewing table, but am not so sure about it now that I am wearing it.

There was madness in our house this morning, and when I told the kids that I still had to get dressed before we could leave, they groaned....and then they were pleasantly surprised when I skipped down the stairs just 30 seconds later in this dress.  It certainly is easy to wear and quick to put on!.


Too hot for running capris

The weather has really turned here...I am just dripping with sweat after a 5 am run...so I know I won't be wearing these capris again until next winter.  Better post about them before I totally forget.

My inspiration for these were the Fade Out Dobby Be Free Knicker from athleta

I don't like my exercise clothes to be too tight at the waist, so pockets around the waist are no good to me.  If I put anything in them, it tends to just drag the pants down whilst I am running.  Side pockets seem to work well and need to be big enough for my phone  (I need the runkeeper app as motivation to keep on running).  Capri length means that it is no hassle to put my knee brace on and off.  The mesh panels are mostly just for looks.  I put a blue waistband on these, but this doesn't show up in any of the photos.

I started with the Stylearc Monica pant pattern.  It is probably my preferred leggings pattern because I like the wide waistband, where the waistband sits, the behind the knee mesh and the seaming details.

I traced off the pattern pieces next to each other, eliminating the seam allowances, and drew on the style lines that I wanted for my capris.  I have relatively short legs, so I shortened the legs above the knee, so that the mesh panels would sit in the correct position. I redistributed the curves at the waist side seams among my pieces and I eliminated the separate gusset.  I find gussets fiddly to sew, and in this stretchy fabric, I don't find that they add much benefit.  The red lines in the photo below are the changes I want to make for next time, mostly reducing the width of the panel with the side pocket.

The stitching on the last few leggings I have made with multiple seaming has tended to come undone at intersecting seams,  so for these ones, I coverstitched each seam before sewing the next one.

 The main fabric is a titan lycra print from funkifabrics.

These capris have been perfect for winter, but now I need to make more shorts with pockets.


Pattern Magic

For part of my ensemble for the final sewing bee task, I made a silk top.  There has been a bit of a delay in blogging this top, because I was struggling to get all the words in right order for this project  to make sense.

I wanted something special and went in search of inspiration.  This took me to my bookshelf, where I rediscovered the Pattern Magic books.  I spent a soccer match flicking through the pages and deciding which idea I could get to work in the given (very short) timeframe.  The resulting top has a unique curved inset and drape that allowed for interesting use of the plaid fabric. 

Drafting the pattern

The "kakurenbo", or hide and seek, concept appealed to me, where some flare is subtly concealed on the underside of the fabric. In the example in the book, the curves are quite tight. My reading of other people attempts at this design indicated that other sewers have had difficulty sewing up this design. I didn't want to make my sewing any more difficult than necessary for this tight week, so I opted for a single, large, symmetric curve instead of several smaller curves. I ended up combining this with the book's fundamental concept of inserting a circular design line, thereby eliminating the need for darts in the bodice. 

I started with a tank top pattern that I had previously drafted and was happy with (not that I can remember which tank top I started with now, but I know that it meant I didn't have to worry about gaping armholes or necklines etc).

I would have liked to continue the kakurenbo design on the back, but I only had 1 m of fabric to work with. Instead I just added a bit of flare to the back draft.

Here is my pattern.  I made a quick muslin, but it really just a nod in the direction of pattern making procedure, as I knew that I did not have a lot of time to mess about with the design, or a lot of fabric to work with.  If I make this up again, I would like to add a bit more depth to the draping under section of the flare.

Cutting Out

There is some seriously good pattern matching going on in this top. I have pattern matched the shoulder seams, the upper side seams, the centre back seams and (my big triumph!) across the curved inset The pattern matching across the curved inset created a strong rectangular frame for the neckline.
Cutting out the pattern pieces to achieve the required pattern matching of the plaid in this slippery silk was quite a task. First, I laid out a linen table cloth on my cutting table. I placed the silk on top of the tablecloth, straightening out the plaid stripes as best I could. I then pinned the top and bottom of each and every stripe to the table cloth, so that the stripes would stay straight and not slip around during cutting. I pinned and cut the upper bodice, making sure to centre the stripes on the CF of the bodice. I then marked the major stripes on my pattern piece. I matched this pattern piece to the lower bodice pattern piece, transferring the marks where the stripes would intersect, and used this marked pattern piece to position the cutting of the lower bodice. I used the cutout front bodice to position the back bodice pieces to allow for pattern matching at the shoulders and side seams.

Constructing the top

I used 6 mm seam allowances for the curved sections, which allowed them to be sewn together relatively easily. Apart from that, construction was straightforward. I didn't have enough fabric for self facings, so I used a lightweight cotton instead.

I have had trouble making neat curved hems in silk tops before, so this time I tried out using a bias binding finish on the hem. It went much better than my previous narrow hemming (though I will unpick and resew a few sections in the leisurely week that follows this contest), so I will use this method again.

The back neck if finished with a hook and loop closure. 

Some more photos...

I like the play of plaid in the side view.  I do need to take in the underarms a little, which should be an easy fix (I just have not gotten around to it yet).  ALl the tank tops I made last year are a smidge tight (I found I made a tracing error when copying my sloper to oak tag...bummer!!), so I added extra ease to the side seams, but need to take a little bit of it back out.

The silk fabric is from deep in my stash, but I think it was originally from EmmaOneSock.   At the time of purchase, I thought it looked a bit Marni-esque.  It brings me much joy to have finally sewn it up.


Wrap Dress

This is the result of my drafting class for a surplice dress.  The class is part of Craftsy's "Patternmaking + Design: Creative Necklines". 

 I meant to follow the draft as instructed in the class, but really, some of the design decisions seemed a little bit crazy.  The instructions were for a gathered skirt.  There is already a whole lotta fabric going on in a wrap dress, without adding a gathered skirt.  If you google wrap dresses, you'll be hard put to find one with a gathered skirt.  Having gathers on the overlap and the underlap was way too bulky for me, so I changed the underlap to have darts instead.  In the class example, the gathers were applied to the regular portion of the skirt, with no gathers on the extension.  I guess this was so that the gathers on the overlap and underlap did not sit on top of each other, but I thought it just looked weird, so I distributed the gathers across the whole front section, stopping short about 2 inches from the side seams.  The class made a skirt facing to the whole skirt extension, but I was feeling weighed down by all the fabric, so I only faced about an inch of the skirt extension.

This next photo shows some of the bodice detail.  I used shoulder yokes, and then rotated all the darts into shoulder gathers.  The class had you draft facings for the bodice, but I think there is already enough fabric flapping around on a wrap dress without facings, so I drafted a band to finish the neckline.  I finished the armholes with bias binding.  

The back of the skirt is gathered as well.  It is a bit hard to see, but I rotated the back waist darts up into back neckline gathers, to tie in with the rest of the gathers on the dress.  I quite like the bodice design I ended up with, and I think it has enough interesting detail to work well in a plain fabric as well.

This dress has pockets.  Usually I can't see the fuss about pockets in dresses, as they add bulk, and I always carry a bag anyways.  These pockets were drafted by placing your hand on the skirt pattern and drawing a shape around it to make the pocket, which I must say makes for a very comfortable pocket shape with a good pocket depth.

I made this dress midi length, but I still may cut it off to knee length.  It looks more fun at knee length, but most of my dresses are knee length, so I thought I would mix it up a bit.

This fabric is a cotton lycra blend.  I'm not too fussed on cotton lycra blends, as they are so much hotter to wear than straight cotton, which means that this very tropical print will actually be too hot to wear in tropical weather.  I must have bought this print after seeing something similar looking great on somebody else...just another trap for fabric buyers!  I still have red velvet stashed from about 20 years ago when I momentarily lusted after somebody else's red velvet pants.  This fabric is not as disastrous a choice as the (actually fake) red velvet, and it is good to have less precious fabric to test out the class drafts.


A-line shift

An A-line shift has been on my drafting list forever, but I am trying to work through my classes in order, so it has taken me until now to get to it.  Sixties mod is my favourite of the retro fashions. 

I made one muslin of my draft and then thought I would be able to get my second draft wearable, so I cut into real fabric (sewing and chucking muslins still feels wasteful to me).  I still need to tweak the draft a bit for my next version, but I already wore this dress out, so I am happy with that decision.

I am happy with the front, except that it is just a smidge tight in the bust.  I have used French darts.  The class example put the dress on the bias for a closer fit, but I knew that I wanted a pattern on the straight grain. I didn't use as much flare as the class example either.

Stripe matching this fabric was easy.  I am not so happy with the side and back views.  I kept the darts in back, even though they aren't normally included in an A-line shift, because there was a lot of pooling in my muslin.  The dart shaping doesn't seem quite right tough and there is not enough room for my butt.  There are less shaping options with a shift, so I am not sure how to address this.  I'll have to dig out the fitting books.

The fabric is really groovy.  It is a Japanese fine wale corduroy (still available here), but I have the nap running around my body rather than up and down because I preferred the darker stripes to be horizontal.  The description does say corduroy, but I didn't read it closely and was surprised when the fabric turned up.  A happy accident though, because I would not have ordered corduroy if I had known, but it is a lovely weight for this style of dress.