Sunday, 14 June 2015

A Rose is a Rose is a Rose - Flora(l) Saltspring Dress

I will start my back-log of blogging with my most recent make, as I was so extremely lucky as to get some photos of it outside last weekend. I find it really difficult to find interesting and public-but-sheltered places for taking photos, and very awkward to go out and shoot the photos, but was lucky with both this time around.

Back to the dress. This is my wearable muslin of the Sewaholic Saltspring dress, and it ended up exactly as I had hoped it would, if not better! I will confess to not initially liking this pattern when it was released, but my great success with the Cambie, Hollyburn and Tofino made me curious to Tasia's other designs, and I kept seeing really cute dresses Modcloth similar to the Saltspring, so I figured it was worth a try.

I am still not sure if this silhouette is flattering on me or anyone else with bigger hips, but I like it for being a bit different from my other fancier dresses. It is very comfortable, and I feel graceful and feminine in it, despite the lack of more waist definition. I am wearing a obi-style belt in these pictures to define the waist.

The shell fabric is some cheap poly chiffon I bought on our trip to Stoffenspektakel on my birthday last year and the lining is an optic white crepe georgette with a bit of stretch that I was lucky to find as a remnant at Stof&Stil. The shell fabric has really grown on me since last year, and I am happy to finally having made it into something pretty.

I made my usual size 10 and skipped the muslin, but made some small adjustments to the pattern before cutting. I lengthened the bodice lining with 2 cm to comfortably fit my longer torso and shortened the outer bodice with 1 cm to remove 3 cm of the blousing in all. I also eliminated the zipper, as other bloggers reported it unnecessary and made adjustable straps instead of the tie-straps (I slaughtered an old bra for the sliders). I am happy to report that the dress fits really well, and that I can get it on quite easily over my head without the zipper.

The original skirt was also a little slim for my taste, so I used the By Hand London Flora skirt instead. I just made a pleat on the Flora skirt pattern piece until the waist seam fit the Saltspring bodice lower edge, and the skirt width fit my fabric, and cut the hi-low version with an extra 10 cm length. I used the original short skirt pattern pieces for the skirt lining.

I finished the outer skirt with french seams and a tiny baby hem. Everything else is finished with my overlocker and as described in the pattern.

Eliminating the zipper makes this a fast and easy project, even for a beginner. Swapping the skirt and making adjustable straps was the most difficult parts of this dress, and those were my own add-ons.
This has definitely been an experiment in silhouette for me, and I might not make another one of these for a while. Until then, I'm off to sew ALL THE COTTON DRESSES! Bye!

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Fabric Shopping in London

So - I have a massive pile of finished makes to photograph and blog about, but those will have to wait juuust a tad longer, as I am itching to show you a fabric haul from our recent London holiday.

We have had a rather blah spring around here due to some un-inspiring and stressful weeks with school, job and some unexpected family issues. Everyone is well, but we needed a break from it all. So, when we suddenly got some money back from our rent, we treated ourselves to a little holiday. The choice fell on a extra long weekend in London around Ascension Day.

Walthamstow market

I had spent some time researching where to shop for fabrics in London, and was happy to have enough time in London between all the castles, museums and general entertainment to visit Liberty, Goldhawk Road and Walthamstow Market, although I only had about 1-2 hours for each of those places.

Goldhawk Road.

I LOVE buying fabrics when traveling, as I think they are the perfect souvenirs. In general, I tried to focus on quality over quantity, as I have a bad habit of buying too much too cheap fabric when presented with endless bolts to choose from. I think I succeeded, as I only came home with 7 truly gorgeous pieces of fabric and some trim. Take a look:

3 m red and pink watercolor flowers on a cotton lawn from Goldhawk Road
for the perfect summer dress
2,5 m blue peacock Liberty-like cotton lawn and 1 m matching blue silky polyester for lining, both from Goldhawk Road for a fancy summer dress.

1,5 m navy and pink floral viscose from Goldhawk Road.
Will become a dress or skirt. 

1,5 m white drapy mystery fabric with black stars from Goldhawk Road. 

1,5 m very wide (220 cm) cotton bedding fabric with purple rose border print from a fabric store off Walthamstow Market, destined to become my first Emery dress.  

2,5 m navy knit lace fabric from The Man Outside Sainsbury on Walthamstow Market.
Little Navy Dress, anyone?

1 m each of bordeaux and sand polyester lace trim from Walthamstow Market.
Trim for a victorian corset. 

I have a few other projects to finish before I can dive into these new, shiny fabrics, so I better get going with those. Happy sewing!

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Sneak Peak

As the end of February draws closer, the probability of me NOT finishing the corresponding HSM challenge grows higher. It is truly my own fault. I got pulled down the creative rabbit hole of patchwork/quilting, and thus only started my rather complicated make this last Saturday. 

In the meantime, here is a sneaky peak at my project. Can you guess what it is?

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Regency Beginnings: HSM "Foundations"

This is my first ever entry for the Historical Sew Monthly/Fortnightly. I had my eyes on some other participants historical makes all of last year, so when the format changed from fortnightly to monthly, I jumped in with both feet.

This was not my first choice of project for this months "foundations" challenge, but 3 other projects, all corsets, had to be postponed due to lack of time and materials. 

The 18th century stays might get done for next months "blue" challenge, the busk for my victorian corset has not yet arrived in the mail and I simply didn't have time to make regency stays as I had already wasted most of January making muslins for the other 2 corsets. 

Luckily, I also needed a new chemise to kick-start my regency wardrobe :D

A chemise is the inner-most layer of clothes. It keeps sweat, body oils and dirt away from the non-washable stays/corset and more precious outer dresses and gowns. When making costumes from the skin out, it is the first garment to make and fit other clothes over, making it the "foundation" on which every other garment is made ;)

This chemise is made to go under regency stays and dresses, but it is an almost timeless shape that can be used for anything between Elizabethan and mid-19th century without problems. 

The fabric is an old cotton Ikea bedsheet that I found in my fabric stash. It is the perfect fabric for chemises: soft, lightweight, tightly woven, breathable and slightly sheer. It has already been washed and tumble dried many times before, so it is easy to wash after events.

Seam at the back due to the period cutting. 

For the pattern, I used this lovely tutorial, in size C but used the shoulder measurements between the B and C sizes, as my chest is 36 inches. I used the "period cutting layout" on my wider-than-normal bedsheet fabric, and lowered the front neckline 2 cm after the first "fitting".
I made my own self-fabric bias tape for the neckline. I put a narrow, off-white grosgrain ribbon in the neckline drawstring, but I might replace it when I find something more suitable.

Sleeve gusset. Flat-felled seams all around :D

The fit is a little big on me, but otherwise fine. Next time I might just make the smaller size (B) and make the sleeves a bit narrower and perhaps without the gathering. 

I sewed most of the chemise on my sewing machine and did the eyelets and finishing of the bias tape by hand. I used the recommended 1,2 cm seam allowance throughout and flat-felled all seams. 

It was oddly meditative sewing the (very long) flat-felled seams, and I am happy to have replaced my old chemise with a newer and more lightweight model. Next project: corsets!

The Challenge: Foundations (January 2015)
Item: Regency chemise
Fabric: An old Ikea cotton bedsheet
Pattern:  Online tutorial
Year: ca. 1800-1810 but suitable for 1600-1850
Notions: 1 m off-white grosgrain ribbon for drawstring. White polyester thread. Bias tape maker.
How historically accurate is it? 50 %? The fabric, cut and sewing techniques are all fairly accurate, but the "modern" sewing machine wasn't invented until the 1840's.
Hours to complete: about 6 hours of active sewing work spread over a weekend.
First worn: For fittings only. To be worn this summer.
Total cost: All stash and re-cycling materials, so I'm counting it as FREE!

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Colette Hawthorn and the Autumn/Winter of a 1000 Shirtdresses

I am just barely making the deadline on this, despite having started it back when the challenge was announced. This is my official entry to the Autumn/Winter of a 1000 Shirtdresses.

I had such great plans. I would dig out my Colette Hawthorn pattern and do all the dreaded adjustments that I knew would be necessary to make the Colette C-cup bodice pattern fit my barely-B frame. Then I would use some beautiful textured fabric given to me by my grandmother, and it would be the cutest of spring dresses.

Well, that didn't happen.

First of, this fabric was a pain to work with. The texture made it hard to sew vertical seams and the vertical buttonholes was a nightmare of skipped stitches and unpicking. The printed white flower motifs stuck to the iron, making ironing from the right side impossible. Ironing from the wrong side made the fabric "grow" as the texture was flattened.

Second, I might have over-fitted the bodice armholes, and they have become too tight. It is still wearable, but would be more comfortable if I would bother to take 1,5 cm off the edge all around the armholes.

Thirdly, I am not sure this style is for me. It looks SO cute on the dressform, but not quite as cute on me. I have a low bustpoint/long collarbone (ballerina neckline?) combined with a hollow chest, and this high, nocthed neckline and collar just seems to accentuate that. Low, scooped necklines just suit me better, I think.

All that aside, it is a beautifully finished dress. The hem and armholes are finished with self-fabric bias tape and sewn down by hand. The front and neck facings and collar edge are understitched by hand instead of top stitching. The shoulder seams on the collar and facing are pinked to minimize bulk and all other seams are overlocked.

The buttons are from a local fabric store and are the perfect shade of pearlescent blue. They are quite large, so I only used 10 instead of the recommended 13.

Hope is not completely lost, though, and search for the perfect shirtdress continuous. I might try Vintage Vogue 2960 or a button-front version of Sewaholic Cambie next... wish me luck!

Lastly, a big thanks to Mary of Idle Fancy for hosting this sewing challenge. I am not sure if I would ever have had finished this dress otherwise ;)