Friday, May 25, 2007

Wedding Gown Muslin (New Look 3618)

Hi everyone!
First, thank you (as always) for your comments. Tanya asked whether I would be selling the bag. It was put for sale in the shop, but sold out within 24 hours! This was my fastest sale and I want to thank the kind buyer, who told me she reads this blog. This is so encouraging. Thank you!
I made two bags with those toile de Jouy fabrics, both of which sold out, but I don't have enough left to make another... I was planning on making smaller purses with fat quarters now, but those larger totes seem to be more popular, so maybe I should make more of those instead.

I haven't got around to posting the pictures of the muslin for New Look 3618 gown yet. Here they are.

For those of you who aren't used to sewing garments, a muslin (toile in French) is a test garment cut in an inexpensive fabric (originally, muslin), so that you don't ruin the expensive fabric in case the pattern doesn't work well at first. You make all the alterations on the muslin. When the muslin fits, you usually cut it apart along the seams and use that as a pattern for the good fabric.

In my case, the cheapest fabric I found was still pretty, so I decided to make a wearable muslin. That means I won't be taking it apart; but I took a lot notes while making the alterations so that I can change the original paper pattern and use that to cut the "real" dress.

I cut the muslin in a shorter length: the parts requiring fitting are the bodice and waist, not lower. This had two advantages: it allowed me to save on fabric (I can make another dress with the rest of this cute fabric); and this way, the muslin can become a cocktail length dress for my little sister.

The first muslin was much too big, which surprised me, as this is a New Look pattern and I'm used to them. I did my usual alterations but the back and waist needed a lot more taking in. This is surprising - I thought patterns made by a given company had a consistent sizing.
(I forgot to take pictures of the first muslin - sorry.)

I originally made a size 10 for the bust and a size 8 for the back and back side panels (I always do that because my back is apparently narrower than is usual). The bust fit, but I had to take out 3 cm from each side in the middle back, and resewed the side panels in a size 6. (Another note to my non-sewing readers: this bears no relation to the present American RTW sizing.)
Now, it fits well. Snug, but not tight, which is good because the dupioni will "give" less than this test fabric: it is stiffer.

I didn't add any straps, because I haven't redrafted them yet. I want them wider and tapered, not simple spaghetti straps. The dress is not supposed to be hanging by the straps anyway, and I realized this allowed me to see the issues better.

After those pictures I added boning to the front seams, and the fitting was good. There are no pictures unfortunately, because I couldn't ask Seb to spend more time on this.

Now that the fitting alterations are done, I am very happy with the look of the dress. This is exactly what I wanted, and apart from the straps, I don't need to redraft anything. I was afraid the back might be a bit too low for my personal preference, but it wasn't. The front bodice in particular is very well drafted, with the centre bottom forming a point rather than being straight. This has a flattering and graceful effect.

The dress has been put on hold since last Friday (May 18), pending the arrival of white taffeta and more batiste. Otherwise, I could have worked on the lining, but have now decided to use batiste for the lining AND underlining. True, silk organza seemed to be the best option to underline dupioni, but was really too pricey for me, and according to Susan Khalje, batiste is another good option. As a result, I need to wait for the extra batiste to reach me.

Wishing you a lovely weekend - to those of you who have a long weekend, enjoy!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A couple of cute tops

Hi friends!
Once again, thank you very much for the beautiful comments to the previous posts. I'm glad you like my choices for the dress - and thank you for your wonderful reassuring words. You friends just rock!

I've put the dress on hold until I receive the white taffeta and some more batiste, as I've now decided to do both the lining and underlining in batiste and I didn't have enough of it.
There will therefore be a short break in the "special gown" saga; but I promise you there are several surprises in stock to keep you waiting. :)
Today, I wanted to show you a new top, and a not-so-new one.

Here's a top I made 3 weeks ago to help me through a distressing time:

Simplicity 3887
It didn't photograph too well, I'm afraid. In real life, it is very cute and I promise it doesn't make one look fat!
The "skirt" beneath the top is in fact the muslin for my gown... Sorry for the tease ;)

Here's a top I made in just a few hours last weekend:

Apologies for the tired face - I've been having a few difficult nights, thinking a lot about my Mamie...
You can also see I've had my hair cut a good deal! I've never had them this short since I was 11, which was (eek!) 15 years ago. I absolutely don't regret doing it.

The top is a twist top, not unlike View F of the infamous Simplicity 4076. This pattern has long been on my wishlist (it has so many great tops), so imagine my surprise (and thrill) when I stumbled upon a twist top pattern in a French magazine (Fait main, the only French magazine offering sewing patterns), from 2005! I was browsing through my sewing magazines in search of a cute wrap top, but once I'd found that, I knew I needed search no further - that was what I wanted to make for the weekend. You see, when I had just asked Seb whether he had a preference for what I could sew last weekend, he said "a sexy top you could wear over jeans. I love it when you're wearing a pretty dress, but I love to see you in a cute top and jeans too!". So, that's what I made and judging from the look in his eyes, it seems to fit the bill :)

The difference here with the Simplicity 4076 pattern is in the sleeves, which are slightly off the shoulder and continuous with the front pieces. The explanations were appalling, but once I'd figured out what to do, it went together in a jiffy. I'll be definitely sewing more of those for me and my sisters, once I get more knit fabric! That one was a 1 1/4 yard piece I got from Etsy, and I love it. It is very comfortable. The good news is, there's enough left to make a tankini! More on that some other day :)

Hoping you're all having a good week!
Thanks again, friends

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Wedding Gown - the pattern

Hi everyone!
Thank you for the interest in the bourse class. If you popped over to Focus on Finishing, you must have realized by now how easy a bourse is! I was even a little ashamed to be writing this tutorial... But that was a request from many of you on the Focus on Finishing blog. The bourse got the most votes in the poll Anne and Karen created when the blog opened. So, I hope it will help some, even though I know many of you don't even need a tutorial for this.

Today, I wanted to post an update on the "special gown". I've been working on the muslin last weekend and at evenings during the week.
I'll share pictures of the muslin later, but first had to tell you about the pattern.
I changed my mind quite a few times about that! Finding the right pattern has been an ongoing process for the past several months.
I had finally decided to make McCall's 5383 (pictured to the left), but...
Once I got the pattern, and could look at it close and personal, while I still liked the simple lines, I thought the bodice was... wanting. It wasn't classy enough. Too flimsy. Never mind, I can still use the pattern to make a cute shorter dress some day!

My mum also told me she thought princess seams would be more becoming on me, and I thought she was right. (My dear mom is not always right when it comes to my style, but this time I think she was spot on!) The last time we were together, I was wearing my red roses outfit (the first I machine-sewed), and the top has princess seams, which is why she thought about that.

My mum sounded honoured that I emailed her pictures of prospective patterns and asked for her advice, but it meant a lot to have her opinion. If I was shopping for that kind of dress, instead of making it, I would be shopping with her, right?
Another reason why I like the idea of princess seams, is that I know her wedding dress, which my grandma made, had princess seams. That is about the only thing I know about that dress: it was lately cut apart to make a suit. Sigh. The only picture I have seen of my parents' wedding is a bust portrait and my mother is holding her big bouquet of marguerites in front of her... So I never saw the dress's style.

I still wanted an empire waist, and after putting my thinking cap on again and browsing some more, I finally decided to use New Look 6318.

I am very happy with my final choice and have not had a flicker of doubt ever since I purchased it...I guess that is the same feeling you get when you shop for your wedding dress and find "the one"!

Of course, I want the dress to be completely and utterly mine - otherwise what would be the point in making it oneself, right? So I am changing a few things to make it fit my own idea exactly.

First, I am going to use the bodice in view A over the skirt design in view C. The bodice, dress and overskirt will be in blue dupioni, while the underskirt (which is actually the dress's front skirt panel) will be in a contrasting white.

I was thinking of making the contrasting underskirt in batiste (like the lining and underlining), but my friend Becky treated me to a very generous birthday gift certificate to yesterday! Thank you Becky!!
So, I am now thinking of spending a little more and using a lightweight white taffeta. The weight and drape should be closer to the dupioni, which should be much better for the general hang of the dress. I didn't want dupioni for the underskirt because I want to play with contrasting textures (I want a smoother look for the underskirt).

That means I'll have to wait for the fabric to arrive before making more progress on the dress, but that's OK. I can make something else in the meantime and read more from the fantastic Bridal Couture book.

The other main alteration concerns the straps. I am going to redraft the straps so that they are wider, and also tapered where they meet the bodice (or maybe I should do the opposite and have them wider on the bottom and tapered on the top of the shoulders? I'll have to try both).

Dupioni update: I cut out another swatch and this time simply soaked it in cold water for an hour or two. After a careful ironing, the swatch was still beautiful. The fabric may be slightly less drapey, but that is not a problem. The texture is almost the same. I shall therefore soak the whole fabric piece before using it. Knowing the dress won't be ruined by a drop of water is a great relief! Which just gets to show, it is always good to experiment. Even the fabric books don't agree on how to treat dupioni, by the way. (I have to thank Tany for her help with sewing books!)
That is the beauty of sewing - the freedom to experiment and achieve the exact result that you have pictured in your mind's eye.

That's it for now. I'll be posting pictures of the latest muslin fitting later.

I'll leave you with pictures of Miss Cutie, who seems to have reinvented the notion of "sitting pretty":

Wishing my kind readers a lovely weekend.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Bourse Class Weekend!

Hi everyone!

The Focus on Finishing blog is hosting its third interactive monthly class this weekend.
This month, we'll be learning how to make a bourse...and I'll have the honour of teaching you!

Even if you haven't had the time to stitch a square design, you can still practice by using a couple of pretty coordinating fabric (instead of using a stitched piece + a fabric square). It will still make a pretty bourse! :)

This bourse features a part of Morning Berries by LHN.
It's to be a giftie for a friend.

The class will open this evening (central Europe time) is now open!
Come over to learn a very easy and gratifying finishing method!

Have a lovely weekend, everyone.