Thursday, January 20, 2011

What I'm Working On: The Caped Crusader Project

Thank you everyone for your lovely comments on my 'evil' dress. I'm much more at peace with it now.

I have, however, gotten to the point where I just don't want to sew anymore maternity clothes. I figure I have enough, and I'm kind of looking forward to getting back to my regular size. I love having my bump, but I'm not used to carrying this much extra weight (I've put on about 8.5kg so far - I start the third trimester next week!!)-- exercise is much harder now, and I'm going through a really tired stage again (my mum and sister swear I will get energy again soon). Plus I'm really really really really looking forward to meeting the little bub!

With that in mind, I looked through my stash, and tried to think of something that I could sew for 'after' that didn't really require any fitting. My body is sure to be 'different' for a while after I give birth, so no sewing fitted dresses, skirts, or blouses for the time being! I came up with this Burda Style Magazine 01/2010 cape:

You can buy it from their website. You're meant to make it out of a stretch jersey, making a cape that pulls on over your head - no fastenings. But I had 2m of a brown houndstooth that I got from Tessuti's $10 bin a while ago (fabric content unknown, but no stretch), and I thought it would be perfect for a cape a Sherlock Holmes type.

I've been keen to try out some new sewing techniques. I also have been keen to use the book I got for Christmas, 'Couture Sewing Techniques' by Claire B Shaeffer. Using this book, I amended the pattern in the following ways to allow me to use a non-stretch fabric and try some new techniques:
  • I have wanted to do bound buttonholes for some time, and thought they would look good on this cape. I used Shaeffer's technique for these -- the process was extremely well explained. I practiced the bound buttonholes first, then did my cape - what do you think?


  • I also wanted to change the pattern to have arm holes (I'll need to be able to get my arms out there to push prams, nurse bub etc). So I'm using Shaeffer's technique for bound pockets, but with no pocket pouch. I'm doing these tonight or tomorrow night. 
  • I've completely lined the cape (the Burda Pattern doesn't line it).
  • I've done french-flat-felled seams on the fashion fabric, and regular french seams on the lining fabric. I used a tutorial on BurdaStyle for the french-flat-felled seams. I think I'll use this technique for Michael's shirt too - they look so pretty. 

  • I'm going to do the hem with lace. 
  • I put a pleat at the CB - this pattern is sized oddly (72, 76, 80, 84, 88), and I misjudged my size. It actually looks really good with the pleat (if I do say so myself :-). 
    I still have a fair bit to do. I need to do the pockets, finish the back of the bound buttonholes on the lining fabric (I'm using Gertie's tutorial for that bit), sew the buttons on, do the lining hem, and the regular hem. 

    Usually I work really hard on projects, being very single-minded and devoting all my spare time to sewing. I'm working at a much slower pace with this one, and I love it!! It feels so much more rewarding, especially when a technique I haven't used previously actually works. I'll be back soon with more progress!

    Sunday, January 16, 2011

    Vogue DKNY 1103: The Fit Nightmare


    Doesn't look too bad does it? Simple empire waist, nothing really to fit... I thought it would be perfect for my 2nd last maternity sewing project (I'm still going to be sewing, just no more maternity stuff). It was straightforward to sew, just not straightforward to fit.

    I made a muslin, using a straight size 12. It was huge. Huge I tell you. I could have fit another pregnant me inside. Incredible. So I cut a 10 for my fashion fabric, thinking that would solve most issues, and I would only have to make a few tweaks here and there. Wrong. Here are the alterations I made on the 10:

    1. Decreased the CB seam by 4cm in total.
    2. Increased the shoulder seam by 2.5cm on each neckline side, tapering out to 1.5cm at the sleeve edge. 
    3. Decreased the side seams by 4cm on each side.
    4. Decreased the length of the elastic on the back and the front by 2cm each (and it is still too loose now, but I will be growing more). 
    5. Increased the length of the bodice upper front by 5cm. 
    Here is what I ended up with:


    I also inadvertently cut off twice the hem I meant to, which means the dress is a bit shorter than I intended, but I think it is okay. It is the narrowest hem in history though.  

    There are elements I do really like. I like the sleeves:


    And I like the gathers on the front and back:



    What do you think? I think it is cute, and it is cool to wear (I used Japanese cotton again from Tessuti Fabrics - I'm addicted), but after so many issues fitting it, I can't help but look at it in disgust. It should not have been that difficult to fit, given its relatively simple design. 

    I should probably feel like I triumphed over the evil pattern, but instead I just feel tired looking at it (another reason I think it is time to stop sewing maternity clothing). 

    So I have the last project for maternity (a vintage sundress - very easy, and almost finished), and then I'm making myself a 50's housedress that is for when the baby is born. It isn't fitted at all, so I don't need to worry about fit, which is a massive relief. 

    I'm also making a cape for when bub is born (it will be winter here), and Michael's b'day shirt. I'm also making a simple quilt, and some baby bunting to decorate above the cot. I'm feeling a little bit overwhelmed and as though I've committed to waaay too much. Time will only tell if I actually get it done. 

    What is everyone else sewing at the moment? 

    Friday, January 7, 2011

    Delving Into Men's Tailored Shirts

    After taking a few deep breaths, last night I committed myself to making Michael a tailored shirt for his b'day in April (before bub is due) this year. I set this idea in stone by blabbing to several friends at dinner that I would be doing so. Michael was there and heard, so there is really no backing out now.

    I had decided Colette Patterns' Negroni shirt would be perfect:


    I think this is a wise choice for my first men's shirt as I've used Colette Patterns before and the instructions are nothing short of amazing. I also got Michael's approval, which is clearly the most important factor in pattern choice.

    To further make this project easier, I have joined Peter's Sew A Long (his blog is Male Pattern Boldness - it is hilarious and he is an awesome seamster). It is perfect timing - his sew-a-long begins on February 1, and he is using the Negroni pattern. My plan is to make a 'wearable muslin' version with the sew-a-long and then make the 'good' version after that for the b'day present.

    Is anyone else sewing along? I'm quite excited!!

    I've got a Burdastyle Anda waiting to be photographed to show you, and I'm unpicking and making smaller a Vogue DKNY frock that should be ready soon - I'm quite frustrated with the DKNY frock as I made a muslin first, amended the pattern, and it was still massive. Very annoying. And then my sewing will slow right down, as I'm back at work on Monday - very sad about that. Hope you're having good weekends!

    Tuesday, January 4, 2011

    New Favourite Sewing Technique: Shirring

    Recently I've realised that having an expanding bust and belly calls for some expandable clothing. Especially on hot days, or days when I have lunches or dinners to go to where I may eat a lot (there just isn't as much room in my belly for food as I'm used to). So shirring has become my new favourite sewing technique.

    To arm myself with some appropriate shirring fabric, I went to Spotlight (chain fabric store for non-Australians) a couple of days after Christmas when I was still in Queensland, and was lucky enough to get there on a day where there was 30% off all fabric, including already discounted fabric. I got 11.5m of fabric for $51. Woo Hoo!! I got 2.5m of some green floral cotton voile for $3.50/m that I'm making into a Burdastyle Anda frock; 3m of some white cotton sateen with little black polka dots for $3.50/m that I will make into a shirtdress when I've lost my baby weight; and 3m of some navy and cream striped cotton sateen for $3.50/m that I'm not sure what I'll do with yet, but is for later on too.

    I spent the most ($7/m) on 3m of this lovely cotton voile with pinky tones that I turned into a shirred dress:



    (side view to show you how my bump is growing at great speed!)

    What do you think? I used Jorth's tutorial again, but did the sleeves differently, as well as many more rows of shirring so that I have a bit of waist definition in this dress - not that I really have a waist anymore. The sleeves were taken from one of my birthday dresses. I used the front and back 'flounce' pattern pieces and joined them to a regular straight strap to create the sleeves:


    I really like how they turned out. Again, shirred dresses are an easy project - the only time consuming thing is doing lots of rows of straight stitching. It really is just two rectangles joined together. I'm also glad I've learnt to do shirring, as I think it will be a good technique for little baby clothes!!

    I also realised that I missed my blog-iversary, which was on New Years Eve. I can't believe it has been a year. I've had so much fun looking through my projects to see how my sewing has progressed, and had a good laugh at my sewing attempts when I had a broken arm. Thank you for reading along with me, and making my sewing all the more fun!!