Update/what I’ve been doing for the last while
Well hello. It’s been quite a while, has it not? There has been plenty of sewing happening, just not a lot of photo-taking and publishing (obviously). I think photos will be the limiting factor in ever being a ‘regular’ blogger – so until I move beyond a self-timer and whatever I can find to balance my camera on, sporadic posting may just be it. (Instagram gets a lot more activity if you want to stalk my creative pursuits).
Aside from sewing whatever takes my fancy, I set a goal in May to 1) sew for at least 20 minutes daily and 2) To bust the UFO status. This was largely motivated by a trip to Melbourne at the end of the month, for which I wanted to ‘earn’ the right to buy fabric. I went around my room and entered 25 items into a spreadsheet of projects that needed attention!! Blimey! What can I say; I’m like a magpie. Oh, shiny! Oh, new idea! I’m passionate and not so great on the follow through when things start to get boring.
The tasks vary: alter something I made (yawn), alter something RTW (double yawn), move beyond whatever obstacle caused me to stop previously (e.g. fitting, sleeves, painful techniques, no supplies, etc), or magic up a muslin. I achieved 7 tasks (some as simple as sew on buttons!) and it is satisfying. I’m not concerned if the project turns out a dud; I want to only keep things that are functional! (I also sewed for 21 out of the 24 days I was in Sydney for).
My take on Vogue 1335
The fabric inspired this dress! One Friday afternoon I spied this digital print of roses in Van Hung, Cabrammatta. Despite my liking for naturals-only, this synthetic was drapey, like liquid and oh-so-pretty! I’ve never turned fabric into a garment so fast! By 6pm the fabric was washed and pressed, by late evening a pattern decided upon and bodice muslin made.
I liked Kay Unger’s V1335 from the start; there are many beautiful versions on the web. But I was wary of the shoulder width – not only were the straps wide, but the bodice also was also wide on people’s bodies. Remember those design principles you learnt in high school? Correct proportion plays key in getting a flattering design. I’m so glad I made a muslin, because as you can see in the dodgy phone photo, all I could see was boobs.
I’m not busty, nor do I wish to create that impression. The muslin didn’t match my frame, so I played. I’ve always wanted a dress like what I drafted (what is that neckline called, anyway?). I kept the bodice pleats, darts and princess seams and (from memory) played with the angle of the neckband until it was both flattering and lay flat against my body.
The back is quite low, but it’s a pretty shape. Perfect for summer (and definitely not bra friendly!)
The reality of altering a pattern so much is that you need to re-think construction order, and how much seam allowance you need. Attaching the neckband to the bodice gave me some errors – do I sandwich the bodice between both layers of neckband? Do I stitch it on top? How do I finish the edges? Where is that zip going to go? I ended up lining the bodice to finish the armholes, and sandwiching the neckband to the bodice top edge (which was raw). I’m not convinced that is the most efficient way – there are moments of trickiness and hoping you were really accurate. If you look closely at the centre back, you can see the line of understitching peeking out under the neckband. The topstitching is also not the greatest, which is part user error, part slippery fabric, and part my machine’s tension going bonkers.
From top, clockwise: the skirt pleats, the belt I wear with the dress, close up of wiggly topstitching.
The skirt from V1335 is a rectangular piece with darts. I was incredibly annoyed by that, and I know it’s not a flattering look for me. So I used my A-line skirt pattern, slashed and spread to add some width for pleats, and morphed it onto my bodice. For the most part, I like it, although sometimes from the wrong angle it does give me a pregnant look. I think that is due to the placement of the pleats – do you think there is a mathematical reasoning for flattering placement? Also, annoyingly, the side zip is heavier than the fabric, and the zip end tends to make that part of the skirt stick out sideways. I’ve already shortened the zip end (and stitched it to the seam allowance), but any other ideas? Other than that, I will happily live with the flaws of the knee-length, swishy skirt.
See that little growth from my left hip? Yep, totally not real.
All I had to do to rescue the dress from the UFO pile was to slip-stitch the lining to the waist seam. I’d even already basted it. How ridiculously simple is that?!?! But I had stalled for good reason: despite my muslin fitting great in single layer, the double layer of fabric + lining made it quite snug, and now turning up this seam allowance would make it even tighter. I could see a visible ridge at the waistband and I didn’t know how to do away with the bulk. It was catch 22 – turn the seam allowance up to slip stitch, and get a ridge above the waist seam. Keep the seam allowance flat against the waist seam, and potentially have a ridge below the waist seam. I ended up keep it as was (turned up) due to the way I’d attached the lining to the zipper, and chalked it up to drafting experience. Now I know to consider the thickness of fabric when designing patterns!
Can you see the ridge above the waist seam? It was hard to photograph, but it definitely caught the light in real life.
All in all, this dress is quite flattering, and I would love to improve it. I can think of a few variations already – adding a 1/2″ waistband in a corresponding colour to the neckband (how much more would the features of this dress stand out if the neckband were in, say, rose pink?); drafting a full length maxi dress in a navy blue shiny silk, with silver accents; or, as I’m working on right now, a fitted top.