22 mei 2016

For my next birthday I want party hats.

I try to make a dress for my birthday every year. And then I forget to post about it or don't get around to it. WOOPS! Maybe it's for the best, since I wore this for my birthday party and spent the entire day eating. Crumbs and a food baby, not a great look!

I bought this fabric on a whim some time ago and thought a simple silhouette would be best, so I gave my bodice sloper a slightly higher and wider neckline with a v-neck in the back and added a slightly flared gathered skirt. There are some small things that still bother me but overall it's LOVE.

The fabric was a bit of a beast to work with. (And I only had a small piece to begin with) It's a viscose with a bit of wool (!!) thrown in, and it's loosely woven and super shifty. It also grows if you so much as look at it, so I decided almost immediately after cutting that a normal lining would never work (by the time I'd get to attaching shell and lining the shell would be two sizes bigger than the much more stable lining), so I decided to underline the bodice only and left the skirt and sleeves unlined.

Look at my glaring pattern repeat, my glaring pattern repeat is amazing!

Doing this also made sure the dress would remain fitted through the waist and bust. After washing the shell fabric has stretched and warped a bit, but I actually like the wrinkles it created. It sort of suits the fabric!

Hemming was a bit of a beast. The fabric is very lightweight so finishing the hem with bias binding would be too heavy, but just doing a rolled hem would have been way too unstable. In the end I stitched lightweight seam binding to the hem edge at the right side, turned it up once and hand-stitched it in place. I used the same method for the sleeves, and managed to keep everything under control.

The back seemed to have stretched out while I was sewing (or even before since I did stabilize those edges) so it was gaping a bit at first. The neckline was finished last with a bias facing and I was debating unpicking that so I could take something out of the back shoulder and try to fix the gaping, but washing the dress fixed the problem for me. Yay!

Remember how I mentioned falling down in a trampoline park in my previous post? This was two days later, and the bruise was really coming in by then. I got a lot of 'what the hell did you do' type questions during the following week.

I wore this dress again to see Andrew Bird in concert, which was amazing, as expected. The boyfriend and me made it to the fleamarket at the Vossenplein before the show, and the boyfriend found us a new pet:

'Go stand in front of that pixellated meat, it'll be hilarious!'
If I manage to take care of this super fine and fragile fabric I expect to wear this dress loads of times. Love love love.

19 mei 2016

What to wear when you visit the King.

... Not really though.

Every year the royal conservatories are opened to the public for a few days, and this year we didn't forget about it, so me and a few friends spent a morning strolling around looking at plants and architecture. Very rock 'n' roll.

(But seriously, it's very cool)

Anyway, I was wearing a new dress and we took some pictures in the park!

(Disclaimer: these pictures aren't the best. I fell down trying to do tightrope walking in a trampoline park the night before- really- and my right arm and leg were developing bruises at this moment. All better now though!)

This is a Butterick pattern, B6168 to be exact. I hadn't sewn a Big 4 pattern in AGES, not necessarily because I don't like them, it's just that there's so many of them. I rarely ever buy patterns these days, except when something really catches my eye. I have a well-fitting bodice block and a decent stash of patterns and Burda magazines I can change things about!

This picture was taken right after the first one. Born to model.
 I liked the details of this dress (the neckline, midriff pieces and sash ties) and cut a straight size 12 in a cotton from the stash. I won't make it again anytime soon though, and that's because it's a fabric-eating monster! I used my full three yards of cotton, cut the ties from a plain black viscose peachskin and still had to chop 20 centimeters off the skirt pieces to make them fit. I'm trying to sew from the stash as much as possible and I just don't have that many 4-metre cuts of suitable fabric around...

This might be one of the most awkward pictures I've ever posted, but it shows the details quite well. The fronts close in a faux wrap, with tucks for shapins and a little tab to keep everything together. There's a midriff with two gathered ties that can be tied in the back. They can also be left off since the dress is fitted on its own, without any need for cinching!

People often complain about the ridiculous sizing on Big 4 patterns, but I personally never had an issue with this. I'll always check my own measurements and compare them with the finished garment measurements, which has always worked out. If there are no finished garment measurements I'll just measure the pattern pieces and make a muslin (or in this case, cut a straight size and cross my fingers). I do seem to have a very average body shape, so huge alterations are rarely needed. Sorry (not sorry).

I had this print lying around for a while, and really like it. It's all globes and pieces of different types of maps, but some of them almost look like slides under a microscope, so it makes me think all these super deep thoughts about seeing both details and the bigger picture. Or maybe I should get more sleep.

I like this dress, but I have to be in the right mood to wear it. Maybe it's because it's more fitted and has more cleavage than what I've been making lately, but it's not a dress I'll grab for just any day. It will get a lot of wear though, and maybe I'll make a second version of this pattern if another long piece of fabric comes my way again! It was a lot of fun sewing the thing.

I will now leave you with pictures of plants and architecture:

Now these guys are born to model <3

(Oh and a PS: today at work I got recognized by a reader! I'm so sorry if I was a little weird or grumpy, I had returned home the night before from an awesome but exhausting trip to Berlin, and with a fresh tattoo (heads up: may be a bit nsfw) covering the left side of my ribcage. I'll be nicer and less awkward the next time!)

09 mei 2016

Brick walls actually have quite a few stories to tell

Some of you might know that I have a parttime job at a Belgian chain store that sells sewing supplies, accessories and hosiery. I'm responsible for the creative corner and quite enjoy it, since I can spend about 20 hours every week talking about sewing or knitting. My main annoyance is that salespeople are required encouraged to wear hosiery, jewelry or other accessories from the shop. I don't mind the hosiery part since I live in black tights for about 8 months of the year (free tights!) but I'm not crazy about the jewelry selection (too many rhinestones, not enough skulls or eyes) and my part of the store gets super hot, so scarves are out of the question.

This small issue kept coming back, but I think we found a solution! The store carried a small selection of cotton prints before, but has recently started to focus more on dress fabrics as well. The latest offerings aren't even all poly! So I managed to arrange a little trade: if something catches my eye I can take it home and make something out of it, for free, as long as I wear it while I work. This is one of those makes:

Eagle-eyed people among you might notice that I have made this pattern before, in red lace. It's essentially a lengthened top with two bust darts and wide sleeves, and I like it as much as the first one!

The drape of this dress is a bit different since both fabrics used here are a lot lighter than the red ones. The lace is nylon instead of cotton (and a bit stretchier) and the underlining is a plain viscose. I did exactly the same thing as before: sewing the shell and underlining separately and basting them together before inserting the sleeves and finishing the neckline.

The neckline is finished with a narrow bias facing, which was handstitched in place. I actually prickstitched through all layers since I was worried the viscose wouldn't be sturdy enough to stay flat. It worked out well and the texture of the lace makes for an invisible finish.

This lace had a very clear repeat and doesn't fray, so it was perfect for a scalloped hem. It's been washed a few times now and still holds up fine! I just made sore the lace motifs matched up at the seams and carefully cut away the fabric to create the scallops.

I really like the drapiness of the wide sleeves! It makes a plain shift dress a bit more interesting. It will go into the closet for a while now though, since it's definitely too short to wear without tights! Funny how a thin layer of skintight nylon makes such a difference.

I like this dress a lot and get quite a few compliments on it, but I don't think I would have made it if I hadn't gotten the materials for free, honestly. Both me and my coworkers feel that the fabrics we sell tend to be quite overpriced... Fine maybe if you live far away from any real fabric stores, but if you're used to a way larger selection and lower prices it's a bit silly! Anyway, I'm just happy it's not all polyester anymore. Now please rerelease that amazing digital mountain landscape fabric on a cotton sateen instead of that stuff that looked like bathing suit fabric but wasn't. I'd even pay full price for that one.