Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The 'happy medium' of tracing vs. cutting?

Do you cut into your patterns?

Do you make a meticulous tracing of each pattern piece in your size?

I do neither. I don't like to deny any future creations (for different people of different sizes) and I don't have the time to be reproducing full patterns in my size for preservation.
I'm making a little retro number for my first of five dresses for Abakhan Fabrics, I have a master plan for quick tracing but no cutting sizes out of patterns rendering them one-size only pattern pieces.

I cut around the WHOLE of the pattern piece and tape the size lines to improve their integrity. I used a paper tape here.

Taped piece (from the front)

By doing this, I am not cutting into a specific size, thus rendering any bigger and some smaller, useless.

The type of tape that I am referring to.
 Used at the back of the pattern piece.

Using carbon paper (the super large 100 x 150 cm Prym carbon paper) and tracing wheel, I create a sandwich of pattern, fabric and carbon paper. Tracing over the reinforced pattern piece like this means that it will stay intact and the tracing marks will be on the back of the fabric.

I then take off the pattern pieces, pinning the fabric in the exact same position. Flip. Use my tracing wheel and paper (underneath the fabric) and go over the traced shapes that I made from my first trace.

When you open the traced piece out, you have a perfect copy of the pattern piece and the ENTIRE paper pattern piece is intact with ALL of it's sizes.

This is essentially the Sew Retro Bomshell method, but with tape. If you have taken the course, then you know what I mean... but I thought that it would be good to just show this technique as I love it, you keep the integrity of all the sizes from a pattern, but saves a little time too.

Enjoy! My computer here is refusing to let me upload the whole tutorial pics, so I will upload what I have for now and keep adding to this.



Sunday, 24 June 2012

Slippin' 'Eck!- First project for someone else...

You can get away with imperfections and omissions when you are creating and making a garment for yourself. How about when a friend asks you to make something for them? This is my dilemma right now. I'm sweating!

This dress is a lace long sleeved dress, which looks fabulous on my friend. However, the 'slip' is a nude/beige slip which looks lovely underneath but has been worn to death by my friend (the same dress is appearing on Facebook 'tags' too many times, we all know what that's like!) and now she wants a black slip and also, maybe, a turquoise slip. Would you make one for me Caff? Yeah, why not.

Here is the dress in its entirety:

Here is the slip on the outside:

Here is the dress on the inside:

Interfacing in elastic bound to sit at the bottom of the bust, snuggly. Obviously overlocked using an industrial machinery.
This slip fabric components:

45% Rayon
25% Cotton
15% Nylon
15% Spandex

This pattern appears to be ticking the right boxes:

McCall's M4979 Camisole 

Ditto Fabric's Black Stretch Satin is a Polyester/ Lycra Mix. The Lycra content is only 3% however, compared to the 15% of the original fabric.

Let me know what you think and if you have any further suggestions.



Thursday, 14 June 2012

The Bombshell Sessions... The Final Chapter!

Thank goodness too, just in time for the wedding. I stayed up until 1am the night before I flew out to the UK finishing and hemming. All worth it, my friend looked beautiful and it was a really special day. One of those days that make you happy, tearful and grateful- all at the same time. We all met as 18 year old student nurses and now we are all nurses, adults and getting married.  

I lined the dress and boned the dress. I even added the waist-belt. I added the bows as a little bit of fun and they also hide the somewhat ghastly stitch-lines of the rigilene boning in which just stop and start in the middle of the lining at times.  

I did have some in progress pictures of the boning process but I didn't realise that my SD card was still in the computer, so all I was taking was 'demo' pics which delete themselves. C'est la vie.

The old-school seam-binding tape was a nice addition. Using catch-stitch, there is not even a hint of stitching lines to be seen from the outside.

I am really happy with this dress. I love the fit and the feel and now can see where all the hours of labour have gone into. Realistically, if I procrastinated less and worked more... this dress would have been done by the end of May. I was worried I couldn't do it, so took my time. Hindsight leads me to think that I could have 'upped the ante' a little.

In reflection:

  • I needed to attach a hook and eye to the top of the zip, thankfully my reliable friends had a few safety pins on them and this stopped me worrying all the time about doing my zip up. It kept on working its way down to an inch loose. I have attached the moment I have got home!
  • I needed to account for lining and the rigilene more. It looks great, but its very cosy.

Here are some pics from the day....

Gold tribal jewellery and a bottle green vintage jacket

Zebra Print shoes and bag.. shown off whilst I performed the 'Running Man'..... tee hee.

Time Taken: 60 hours
Fabric: Bought from The Fabric Godmother at £8/metre = £16. Lining from Lincoln Market at £3/metre = £4.50. Thread 20p (from bumper bargain on eBay), Zip £1.50 from Hickeys (Ireland habdab and fabric shop), Boning £4, Other bits and bobs £5

Total Spend £30ish
Make Again? Yes, next month! Yikes

It was great! Next month, the next 'Wedding Guest Dress'



Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The Bombshell Sessions #6 - By Jove.... The Lapped Zipper

By Jove! She only went and put a zipper in!
Yes, the zipper is in place and it is looking and feeling good. I have not taken a pic of me in the dress, so I won't lead you on thinking that there will be a "wearing-it"reveal. Oh no, that is next week- when I am at the wedding, Saturday in fact. But let's be straight, this is one of my bestest friends weddings, if you think that there is a notion that I will be uploading pics on Saturday of me at the wedding- you got another thing coming. I will show y'all on Sunday, when I am appropriately hungover, in my pyjamas, eating big macs (and instantly regretting doing so). 
OK... the weather is like this in Ireland right now....

Nice. Sewing friendly weather. Walk Clive v v v early, so he doesn't jump up like this...

...when I'm sewing zippers in.

I changed my mind about the zipper colour, I have opted for a more co-ordinated green, rather than the purple that I thought would contrast nicely. Lapped zippers do not need to be a wow... CONTRAST. I thought it was better to have a subtle and barely there zipper that matched the leaves of the jungle.

This was the original picture of my materials that you may remember as I was assembling all the required bits and bobs for the dress. I am still going to line the dress with the burgundy but now I won't co-ordinate the zipper with the lining. Ahem, I know... what was I thinking?!

Doing a lapped zipper, is quite frankly a joy to do. I loved the pinning and the planning. Basically, you are forming a over-LAPPED seam and then whacking in the zip. Easy. Follow what Gertie says and you will not go wrong. It is video excerpts like putting in this lapped zipper that I will watch again and again and again... and I can, because its mine forever! Bargain.

So here is my zip. The main frame of the dress is complete! All that needs to be done is a lining, boning and a fancy-up. Simples.

It needs an iron, I know. Tonight I will catch-stitch the whole thing across the top of the bust, all the way across to the zip. I will unpick the blue thread tracing that you can just about see by the zebras eye and I will watch the rest of the videos. Up tomorrow at 7am. Walk the hound and then a full 10 hours at it. Well, it does need to be done by Thursday (hopefully the last bits are hand-sewing bits, so I can take it to the UK and finish it Thursday and Friday)

Until tomorrow....




After reviewing my zip, I realised that it was well below par and not looking anywhere near as good as what it should do...

The green line is my old stitching, I was awe-struck that I was DOING IT and having sat down to unpick the blue thread stitching... I realised how unhappy I was with the finished product. So I went at it again, this time with dark green silk thread and now it is as straight as a die, yipee!

Now, I'll sign off happy :D



Funky Finds... Sunglasses and Silk Scarf

So this Bank Holiday weekend, I have been sewing and *slightly* shopping- I'm trying to be good. So, in Galway (I'm a English lass, living with and marrying a Dutchman and living in West Ireland) there is a Sunday market not too far away, it's in the most ugliest settings- a half built, half abandoned business park (yes, grey) and businesses and average folk sell stuff.

Apart from excitingly adding to my herb windowsill.... with Applemint, a Baby Basil and Chives.... Fresh herbs rock. Fact.

Have a look at these from GANT for SS12:

I think I hit jackpot, without spending a fortune...

Scarf: 50c (yes, half a euro)
Sunglasses: €3

The silk scarf is also a pleasure, going back to my colour default of navy and my new love, hints of red. I don't know ladies and gentlemen... I love buying vintage/cheap/quality and I am persistently becoming averse to spending money on naff quality from VERY iffy sources. Just look at the turmoil that Roobeedoo goes through trying to find the ethical policies of the bigger clothes companies. Basically it's like having a chat with a politician regarding a boo-boo in the cabinet. It is becoming more and more apparent that the clothes that I have bought before from seemingly 'good-will' companies have just been a mass of words with absolutely no meaning.

You can't polish a turd, but you can get glitter to stick to it*

On that note, I am going to complete Lesson 12 of 15 of the Bombshell Dress- 'Adding the Zipper'. I'll keep you posted.



*Phrase of the week. I have also mustered up...

"Not all that shimmers is gold, but dogs eat tinsel"

Hmmmm, I see a very unsettling pattern of my sayings here. No more. Promise.

Monday, 4 June 2012

The Bombshell Sessions #5 - The Sarong Song

More progress made! To recap, here are the 15 lessons on the Craftsy course are:

  1. The course introduction
  2. Using the downloadable pattern
  3. Cutting the muslin
  4. Fitting the muslin
  5. Modifications for larger busts
  6. Making pattern adjustments
  7. Underlining: What, Why and How? 
  8. Starting the outer bodice
  9. Finishing the outer bodice      
  10. Cutting the sarong skirt         This blog!
  11. Making the skirt                    This blog!
  12. Adding the zipper
  13. Adding boning
  14. Finishing details
  15. Finishing with hem and vent

This is my Mondays work of cutting and making the skirt. I only have white and yellow dressmaking carbon paper... the red and the blue carbon paper that I have found is OK for tracing darts, size being 28x30cm squares, but for tracing pattern pieces- nay. Does anyone know where I can find a large piece (or even better, pieces) of large blue or red or anything DARK carbon paper? Let me know. 

So I forcefully traced the pieces out, you can see my problem with only having a white or yellow dressmaking sheet available in this shot, there is a lot of white and yellow going on on the wrong side of the fashion fabric. So brute force and the '3 S's' were implemented... to moderate success, enough to cut out with 70/30 optimism.

There is the yellow, just there... on the right ear of the giraffe and the left of the butterfly. See what I mean?

I only added a 4cm hem allowance to the dress as I am a 'Cat A short-arse' and doubt that I will even use that. As Gertie suggested, I totally omitted the piece #9, which goes underneath the sarongy bit, as I would like the more fitted, accentuated look. I think I will make my other 'Bombshell' with a Full Circle piece and be proper girlie for wedding number 2 in July. Remember the fabric....

Yummy. But let us go back to 'The Rumble in the Jungle' dress....

As predicted, the sewing of the gathered sarong skirt onto the bodice was predictably a test for me, but I got there in the end. A lovely honesty comes with the videos that Gertie has made- she totally hacks up a seam allowance, but that's OK... unpick and go again. I am a generally a bit more feisty than Gertie, I am a firm believer in the '3 S's' (swearing and screaming and smoking) and then breathe... and return to project. Over the gathered piece is a small pivot that got swallowed up in my first attempt at sewing the bodice to the skirt, I wasn't that foul about it actually, I unpuckered and then make exactly the same mistake again. LIVID. Third time lucky... I nailed it! 

I then graded and then sniped and then ironed the waist seam upwards into the bodice... phew!

As I have gone along, I have pinked my seams, this is going fabulously well with this cotton lawn, the finished seams that Gertie uses for the Shantung is lovely (sewing the smallest of seams on the seams, to neaten) but no required for my fabric, a pink here and there is sufficient.

So here is my dress from the inside:

Here is a look at the beauty, from the lovely outside:

A brief guide to what you can see here... 

Bottom left: Clive's temporary rest spot, until I finish this dress and sewing him a nice 'sewing room' suitable one (i.e. funky, colourful and made by me)
Above rest spot: Artwork made by Sick Bookies (one of my bestest friends since schoolio) and Kitty Finegan (she is amazing too, pop art and beautiful. I won a print from her... lucky me!... I am also making a dress inspired by the colours and the style, watch this space...)
Mannequin: My amazing pressie from my in-laws, yayayayayay! 
Tripod: Set up to take time-lapsed pics of my tomatoes and cucumbers growing on my window-sill.  I know, I know... but I am happy... so that's all that matters. Ahem. Toms and Cucs can be seen on the pics above, massive!
Man pointing a gun at you: No silly, that's another bit of art I picked up. 'Tis Samuel Jackson from 'Pulp Fiction' and behind him is old Johnny T. 

Oh yeah....

Dress: Wahoo! Coming along great, isn't it?! I just love it. It has it's glitches, but all the seams are matched up, the bodice looks great and the sarong is singing!

PS. My landlord gave me a dress, here it is (yes, she rocks)... 

She came to have a look how I am getting on with the 'Bombshell' and quickly realised that I am a tad eccentric with my clothing and promptly brought around this to have as she had bought it off the net and not liked it. Any suggestions on how I can add a bit of couture? It's lovely, but a simple sheering around the waist (which is not tight enough) and a lacklustre halter-neck makes this in a need of renovation, but I LOVE the fabric! It's mighty funky!

Do let me know any thoughts and musings, about this or in general- I am open ears (well, eyes... but you know what I mean)


Saturday, 2 June 2012

Bombshell Sessions #4 The Outer Bodice

This was a hell of a days work, actually my job is easier! I have got the outer bodice finished now.

Tunes of these session #4 days: Alabama Shakes, Bombay Bicycle Club, Belle and Sebastian and RATM (when I was v v mad)

Only 5  more videos to watch and I have the whole of the weekend to do a massive chunk of the piece as I am oncall for my job, so no no NO red wine and all this sober Caffy means that I can sew my heart away!

.... nicely!

No puckers now after a massive seam ripping (and swearing and screaming and smoking... let us call them the 3 S's) session. In the tutorial video for placement of accurate bust pieces, Gertie gives a gem of advice... sew the seams together and you will KNOW that they are always in place. Genius. I did thus and was a happy camper.

BTW, I realised that when I was making this final edition of the dress, I had made all my muslins with the left and right bust pieces on the wrong way... Gawd knows how I managed to make them fit and look passable! I think maybe because I had focused on the body of the bodice and as usual, ignored and tried to pretend that my small bust area doesn't exist! So now, I am left with a final dress coming together and everything in the right place... The bust is too big now. ACK! I have according gone through the 3 S's (see above paragraph in the brackets) and then decided to use a thicker cotton batting on each bust piece.

So now, just the two bust pieces to go in and then we are hot to trot with finishing the outer bodice section. Twill tape, smill tape.. I used some ribbon that I had lying around. What a dapper trick, twill tape easing, that's a keeper!

I highly recommend, if you are making this dress or are thinking about making this dress- insert the batting cups with the bodice away from you as this gets a better fit. I thought that I had nicely slotted in the cups on my first attempt, but no... I had cut and basted by this point so I had to make them again. Unpick wicky!

I then used a catch-stitch to secure the cups in from the bottom. Nice visual from Gertie on how to do a catch-stitch, so clear that I realised that I have not quite been doing it right for quite a long time, oh well. Now I know.

Here are two shots of the completed bodice on my NEW DRESSMAKING DUMMY! Yes, I now have one... my lovely in-laws bought me one AND I have a new laptop too from my lovely fiancee... Lucky ginger bird that I am!

I cannot wait to get this dress done, it is growing up into a strapping dress and I am going to be so delighted to sing that 'I made this'.