Monday, 27 January 2014

The Guerilla Gardening Sigma

I finished this dress after the much needed cool change came through Sunday last week, but I haven't got around to blogging about it until now. No excuse really, I just haven't got around to taking the pictures. Anyway, thank goodness for the cool change as it meant I could finally get back to sewing. The heat was making me stir crazy. I think it had something to do with leaving the curtains closed during the day, shutting myself off from the world and only peering out of the windows once the sun went down at night. On the odd occasions that I left the house over the weekend, the place was a ghost town – it was as if I stepped into a zombie apocalypse and I was going to have to slay a pack of zombies as I entered the supermarket. People walked with their heads drooped and grunted nonsense. Anyway, I have sidetracked. As I was saying, I am glad that the cool change finally hit as I really needed to finish my Guerilla Gardening Sigma dress.
The fabric I used for the final run of my Sigma is the tana lawn, ‘Guerilla Gardening’ by Liberty of London. I am a little bit obsessed with Liberty fabric as I love that there is a story behind each fabric design. This one is based on the global movement of 'guerilla gardening' - gardening without boundaries and bringing life to neglected public spaces. The design is inspired by Richard Reynolds who transforms roundabouts into garden spaces in places throughout London, such as Elephant and Castle. I love that the fabric design is intricate and has animals scattered amongst trees and garden beds.
I decided to take my time with the dress and sew it with a new level of accuracy (mainly because I knew that the fabric was expensive and I feared ruining it). The perfectionist in me could not be tamed! I measured and drew all my seam allowances with chalk instead of simply using the scaled indicator next to the needle when sewing. I know this sounds like a total waste of time, but I actually found having the sewing line all chalked up helped with my accuracy (hmm, am I trying to convince myself that this new habit is actually worthwhile?? Here's the truth: I bought a new mechanical chalk pencil with multiple colour ‘leads’ and believe this may have fuelled my excess use of chalk. I’ll let you know if I maintain this new seam allowance chalking practice as now that I have admitted to this in writing, it really seems like a complete waste of time).

Anyway, the dress came together well and I had no dramas with executing it. I sewed a straight XXS as in the last one (blogged here), I graded the hips to a larger size and then had to shave off the excess as it was too large across my hips. I do, however, find this one slightly tight across the hips. Grrrr. Maybe I need a happy medium?
To be honest, although I love the fabric and I love the dress pattern, I’m not entirely sold on the end product. I’m not sure if it is entirely ‘me’. I will wear it as there was sweat and a few tears shed while making it (no blood though), and I don’t want my time or money going to waste. But it’s definitely not my favourite ‘Myra made garment’ and it definitely didn’t meet my expectations (or even come close). Maybe it’s the colour or the fact that I don’t wear a lot of patterned fabrics, but hopefully it grows (hehe) on me. I do love my garden and I love the guerilla gardening movement, so maybe I just embrace a change in my style and know that this is really me on fabric.
Has anyone else made something that they dreamed would be perfection, only to be disappointed in the end? Oh, and has anyone got the Deer and Doe Belladone dress pattern that they are willing to sell (or lend) me? I really want to make a Belladone dress but I'm not sure if I want to order it all the way from Paris. Has anyone else out there made the Belladone? Should I bite the bullet and order the pattern?

Here's my breakdown:
Material etc:
1.3m Liberty of London tana lawn @ $52/m = $70
30cm interfacing @ $15/m = $5
1 x invisible zip = $4
Total = approx $80
Time taken = approx 12 hours (over 1 1/2 weeks)

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Hot box

My sewing room is a hot box. For any international peeps reading: Australia is experiencing an extreme heat wave. I feel for those Adelaidians and Melbourne folk who are sweltering in the mid 40’s. We here in the ‘Berra have only just tipped 40, but let me tell you, it is HOT. Damn friggin’ hot. And my sewing room is a hot box. It gets the afternoon sun, and I drip with sweat just walking in there (yep, no air-con for me!!). Seriously, I think I’d drop a few kilos from excessive sweating if I attempted to sew for a couple of hours. This weather is just not conducive to sewing - my palms are sweaty, my forehead beads with sweat, and I just can't concentrate. So until it cools down, there won’t be any sewing done in my home.
What I can show you though is my partially sewn Sigma in Guerilla Gardening Liberty lawn. I am so excited to finish this as I want to wear it and my first Sigma was really just a trial run for this baby…. but I must be patient. Be gone heat wave, be gone!!

Anyway, so far I have sewn all the darts and put together the bodice and attached the sleeves. It’s just the skirt, pockets, zipper, facing and the hems to go. A cool front is forecast for Sunday, so fingers crossed I can finish this then. If not, I must learn that patience is a virtue.
On other exciting news, I got my son’s competition schedule last night, and it looks like I will be up in Sydney mid-February for a weekend. I haven’t told him yet that after the comps on Saturday, we will be perusing a few fabric and button shops before driving home. He's not going to be happy. Maybe I'll spring it on him after the comp. mwa ha ha (evil laugh).
I hope everyone else out there is coping with this heat. I see there is a definitely lack of blogging going on - maybe a sign that we are all 'working late' (eg. benefitting from the air con at work).

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Papercut Sigma Dress

I finished my Papercut Sigma dress on the weekend and am giving it its first public appearance today. I bought this pattern (along with another three papercut patterns) before Christmas and the patterns have not disappointed. I am in love with the designs and have found constructing the garments pretty straight-forward. What I particularly like is sewing the sleeves in flat rather than in the round, as it is so much easier to pin and distribute the ease of the fabric across the sleeve head.
I made up this dress in a fabric that I bought about a year ago from Spotlight. It’s actually a thickish cotton twill with a navy blue outlined country theme. I know that there is a particular name for this type of fabric, but I just can’t quite remember what it is. I originally wanted to sew this dress in a blue silk fabric that I bought from Tessuti, but as the fabric was rather expensive, I thought that I had better give the pattern its first run with a cheaper fabric in case it didn’t work out. I know that I should actually sew a muslin first, but I just can’t quite justify the time it takes. I think that goes against my goal to be a savvier, smarter sewer?? But here’s my logic: I want to actually be able to wear the finished product (why spend hours… days…. making a muslin that will just sit in the cupboard? Do I really need a cupboard full of muslins?); so I sew a first run in a cheaper fabric, and then the final run with the intended fabric. Makes sense in my head. Do other people out there make muslins?
Anyway, after looking at the pattern and the size chart, I decided just to go ahead and cut the pattern. I am usually a trace girl, and treat my patterns as something sacred that should not be cut (almost like vintage patterns), mainly because I might want to sew a different size sometime in the future…. or I might need to alter the pattern pieces in some way, whether it be moving the darts or grading the hip out to the larger size.
But on this occasion, I decided to calculate the measurements, grade the hip to the larger size to start with and then cut, cut, cut. I ended up cutting a XXS for the bodice, and graded the skirt from a XXS in the waist to a XS in the hip. This also meant that I had to modify the shape of the pocket bag to mimic the new shape of the side seam of the skirt. However all my initial alterations were pointless as when I tried on the dress, the skirt was too wide, and I ended up shaving off the excess I added. Damnit!! I should have measured the actual pattern pieces and worked out how much ease there would be around my hips, and stuck with the original XXS! Hindsight is wonderful isn’t it??
Oh, I also added about 2 inches to the length of the skirt. I noticed on the size chart that the XXS was only 79cm in length. The dress would have been WAY too short to be classified appropriate work wear. I’m sure the length of the dress would be fine if it was a little black dress and I wanted wolf whistles (& death stares from women)… but I wanted something a little more respectable. To be honest, I think I could have even added an extra inch.
I’m happy with the finished product. The actual construction went smoothly (except for a moment of dumbness when I attached the zipper on backwards – I’m still trying to work out how exactly that happened!). All in all, I am happy with the result and think it will definitely be a work staple through summer. Now for the actual intended final run: although I have had a change of heart with the fabric and will sew the next in a liberty print.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

The repeat button

Do you remember my post when I talked about my kimono sleeved dress that I loved so much that I kept on recreating it? Again and again with slight modifications – a lace yoke panel top, a straight red jersey dress, a grey tee…. all based on the same pattern?  Well, just before I left for my Christmas holiday, I hit the repeat button just one more time. The result: my nautical themed jersey dress.
Sorry about the angle of this pic - I couldn't find the tripod so
balanced the camera precariously on my bike seat
I created this one as an everyday summer dress that I could wear to the beach, out to lunch or just hanging around the house. It’s made of jersey so it is super comfy. I modified it slightly to include featured buttons on the shoulder seam – I created a 1 inch facing for the yoke panels so that the edges were finished and the shoulder seams had a 1 inch double layer of fabric for the buttons and button-holes. After attaching the facing, I edged the sleeves, finished off the shoulders with the buttons, and hemmed the bottom of the dress. Voila. All in all I think this took me a few hours, but maybe that was because I wasted a heap of time searching through my buttons trying to find the perfect ones (I ended up finding nothing in my stash and buying these at Lincraft on a last minute shopping run).
Here’s my breakdown:
Material etc:
·         1m navy cotton-lycra jersey from Addicted to Fabric - $15
·         30cm red/white striped jersey from Tessuti  - approx. $4
·         6 x Italian buttons from Lincraft @ $1.20 each = $8 (rounded up)
·         3 hours
Total: $20 + 3 hours labour.
Not bad considering I wore it at least 3 times on holidays and decided to whip it out for work today (not exactly a work outfit, but it’s casual Friday and hardly anyone is back at work!). I promise to file this pattern away now. I’m done with jersey for a while and have a Papercut Sigma dress on my sewing table ready to finish.