Archive

An update – or: what have I been doing for the last three months?

In August, I made a post saying I went for a job interview, but didn’t get the job.

Well, it turned out I did get it after all. It’s quite typical really. I even decided that I might stop looking for a while and concentrate on sewing and furthering my language/translation skills, as the job hunt was so stressful and I didn’t seem to be the right candidate anywhere. Then I got a call. I had been told that someone else was more suitable, but now it seemed they had taken another job.

So if you were wondering where I have been for the last three months, I have been doing some bookkeeping and general administration for a Swiss company.

As that only takes up some of my time, I have also been doing a lot of self-drafting, perfecting patterns to fit me better,  and completely ruining making a coat by thinking I was being creative, but really being impractical. 😉

So I’ve been quite busy, just not blogging about it. That will change though, I promise.

Currently, I am self-drafting a dress for the office Christmas party, which is going well so far. I will make a post about it once it is done.

And then I also bought a new sewing machine. Well, a used sewing machine. It is a Bernina 1070 and I will also post about it, reviewing it thoroughly and explaining why I got it instead of a brand-new machine.

Butterick B5209 – an elegant version with added sleeves and front bodice detail

B5209 added sleeve and detail front view2

 

Once you find a pattern that suits you, you can never have too many dresses made from it. Butterick B5209 is the kind of pattern for which that statement holds true for me. I spend lots of my time trying to find new patterns, but I often tend to find that rather than trying them out, I end up just adapting one I already own. I love B5209 for its almost-70s silhouette and keep making changes to it with every new dress.

This version not only has added sleeves, but I also found a way to incorporate that gathered front detail which I first encountered in this dress. I made it for a job interview, and although I did not get the job, I got a compliment from my mum, saying how smart I look in it. Seeing that she is quite hard to please, that is quite an achievement in itself.

I am sure though that the “smartness” of this dress is mostly due to the great fabric I bought. I used sateen for the first time, and while it is a bugger to iron (it just loves to crease, as you can see in the pictures), it has a rather lovely sheen and weight to it. It looks expensive, so to speak. Which is not to say that it isn’t. 😉 Two metres of this set me back 48 CHF, which is probably at the lower end of what I would have spent on a smart-looking dress, if I had bought one. Obviously, I still had to put the work in, but I would rather spend three days making this than going to all the shops around town for a day and probably coming back empty-handed anyway.

 

B5209 added sleeve and detail close up

 

The front section is made up of a normal pattern piece and the same piece elongated (to about twice the length of the original piece). The longer piece is gathered and then stitched along the edges of the smaller piece.

 

B5209 added front detail
The sleeves are self-drafted puff sleeves. I made them quite short, but wide. My normal puff sleeve pattern had too much height and while starting out with it, I found that combined with the bulkiness of the sateen, it added too much volume at the top of the sleeve, giving the dress a sort of exaggerated 80s look. I actually finished them for the first time by sewing a tunnel and pulling elastic through. I really wanted to shir them and then hem them, but again, the fabric was too bulky to facilitate much of a gather that way.

 

Butterick B5209 added puff sleeve

 

The skirt is another self-drafted one. I wanted something a bit less full than I usually do, so I made sure to include darts at the back to make enough room.

 

B5209 added sleeve semi side view

Butterick B5209 added sleeve back view

B5209 added sleeve and detail front view

 

Making this version of Butterick B5209 made me really want to sew up another maxi dress. I guess this is down to the fact that I already added to the length of the skirt for this one, which makes it really easy to imagine a floor-length skirt. I have no idea where I would wear such a dress though, to be honest, but I just love long ball gowns. I’m sure it would be a good bridesmaid’s dress too, in the long or the short version.

 

 

A Summer Dress with an Interesting Geometric Back Detail

Self-drafted from a Burda pattern

I am sure we all have patterns we use all the time. Ones that just work for our body type, don’t need too much alteration and are simple to use. One of mine is a pattern printed in Burda Magazine Nr. 07/2014. It is a gathered skirt and simple bodice made up of 4 pattern pieces. I have used the bodice pattern countless times before, making many different types of dresses, and was always happy with the results.

So when I was looking for a pattern to make an alteration to, this came to mind quite quickly. I had this idea in mind that I would change the back of the dress to be a bit more open and airy. I wanted something that combines comfort with style in the summer heat, while also satisfying my love of geometry.

So here is the result, a slightly different dress with a geometric back detail.

 

folklore summer dress geometric back detail back3

 

And yes, I am starting with a picture from the back this time. 🙂 It is definitely nice from the front too, but the wow-factor is certainly going on in the back. The geometric pattern is made of 2 sets of 2 fully-lined triangles overlapping each other. The lower triangles are a bit smaller than the top ones. Here is the back in a bit more detail.

 

geometric back detail

 

I did not have quite enough of the patterned fabric to make the whole dress, so I used just a strip of it for the skirt, while making the rest in a plain black polycotton. I think the whole dress has got a sort of folklore feeling about it because of that.

 

folklore summer dress with back detail front1

 

 

DSCI1160

 

 

 

 

A new summer dress made from an existing one

Including a lot of gathers… and some shirring

self-drafted gathered summer dress front3

 

It’s the summer! So last week, while sweating profusely and sipping a cold drink, I remembered that I have a summer dress that is perfect for this kind of weather. It is light and airy, made of super fine cotton and is simply gathered in the middle.

So I went to look for said dress and had to discover that all of the elastic had gone in the shirred lower back, so that I now had a dress that was absolutely massive on me. My first thought was to simply replace said elastic, but then I realised that I would have to take the back section out in order to shirr it.

So what is the next logical step in this case? Take the whole dress apart, draft a pattern from it and make a completely new dress? Yes, very much so.

I did consider drafting a pattern without taking it apart, but:

  • I would have to unpick some of it anyway to fix the elastic
  • The dress had so much gatherin going on, there was no way I could draft a pattern without seeing the full width of the pieces.
  • I had had some fit issues with this dress, which would be easier to fix if I could see the actual pattern pieces
  • I had probably had this summer dress for about 6 or 7 years, so it was time for an update

Construction

There is a lot of gathering involved in this dress. Both back pieces (upper bodice and skirt) are simply sewn onto the shirring, so they are gathered automatically by that.

 

self-drafted gathered summer dress gathers close-up2

 

The upper front bodice is gathered both at the shoulder and the bust. (I took the opportunity to make this pattern piece a little bit longer to accommodate my bust better.) The front skirt panel is also gathered at the waist. The front lower bodice is made of two panels, one is longer and must be gathered at the sides, then sewn on top of the smaller piece. This is certainly a technique I had not used before, but will absolutely be using again. I love the look of the waist on this dress.

 

self-drafted gathered summer dress zip and underbust

 

Oh, did I mention it has pockets? I often forego pockets, as I usually carry around a small bag anyway and am far too afraid to lose anything out of pockets, but they are useful for sticking your hands in when you don’t know what to do with them…

 

self-drafted gathered summer dress pockets

 

Isn’t this fabric the cutest? It looks a bit like I made a dress out of candy. 🙂

 

self-drafted gathered summer dress back1

 

So is this dress as good as the original?

I would say it’s better! It is more colourful (the original was made in a military green) and the fit is improved. I am definitely considering making this again in other colours.

 

self-drafted gathered summer dress side1

A self-drafted corset dress with layered skirt

Courtesy of Butterick B5797

corset dress with layered skirt front view1

 

So, first of all, I have been away for a week, and even though I came back with a massive cold, it was absolutely lovely. I went to Magaluf for HTID in the Sun. Not only was this my first time going to a holiday resort, it was also one of the best experiences regarding hardcore events. There is definitely something to be said for spending some time with your other half, lazing about in the sunshine all day and stomping about to your favourite music at night. As we don’t live in the UK, we don’t get to go to hardcore events very often, so this was a huge treat for us.

Also, I think this might have been the first time I brought exclusively self-made clothes anywhere on holiday! Yey! I can’t believe I managed that. Granted, one of them was only a refashion of a kaftan. But since that involved making an actual dress out of what can only be described as a fabric square, it’s basically self-made. 😉

In the last week before this holiday, I went a bit barmy and made three dresses to take with me. This is one of them. It was a complete spur-of-the-moment idea and I made it out of scraps I had had for years, and in a timeframe of three days. Unfortunately, the time in my “suitcase”, which is actually just a rucksack (I love to travel with hand luggage – no waiting around for baggage at airports), didn’t do it terribly well. The boning is now a bit wonky, as I am sure can be seen in the images, and hasn’t retained the same shape as before.

I’m a huge fan of rigilene as boning, as it’s quite flexible and while I like corset-shaped bodices, I don’t necessarily want to dance around in something with steel bones. And when I say dancing, I mean hardcore raver stomping, so it’s more like exercise really (but very very fun exercise). And I can’t do exercise in a steel-boned corset, although I am sure some people can…

 

corset dress with layered skirt close up front

 

Idea & Construction

As stated above, this was mostly an idea I had about 4 days before going on holiday. It’s always just before a holiday that I have a tonne of ideas for new dresses… I wanted something a bit fairy-like, elegant, form-fitting and cute at the same time. This patterned fabric had been catching my eye every time I came across it in my fabric stash. I knew I didn’t have quite enough for a whole dress, although there was more than I thought in the end, but was willing to make a bodice out of it.

I started making the bodice with the only corset-pattern I own: B5797. I know this is not a popular pattern, but I’ve had good results using it before and find it very useful for projects involving “fashion” corsets. I shortened the pattern considerably to make sure it only went to my waist and also lowered the back to make it look more like a bodice and less like a corset.

For the boning I went for a very simple solution: I overlocked the raw edges and then sewed the seam allowances either to one side, or in the case of the side seams and back seam, to both sides. This gave me boning channels that are not even visible on the inside of the garment.

 

corset dress inside with hidden boning

 

I think I might have already mentioned this in my last post, but I have never actually used a skirt pattern. Originally, I was going to finish the skirt simply with the black lining fabric and some tulle on top, but as it turned out that I only had enough black tulle for one layer and I still had some of the patterned fabric, I made another cute, scalloped layer out of that.

Since this is made of scraps, it is made up of four panels, each containing only two scallops. The black underskirt is made of 4 panels also, whereas the tulle layer is a lightly scalloped circle skirt cut in one go.

 

corset dress with layered skirt top view1

 

The finishing touches were made by adding an exposed zip at the front, bindable straps at the top and bias binding around the top edge of the corset. I used a rolled hem on all other exposed edges. Even though I think I could have done better, given a bit more time and a sturdier boning, I still really love this dress and am incredibly proud of it.

I have had the feeling lately that my sewing has massively improved since last year and that I can actually realise my ideas in a way that is pretty close to the original thought. This came out almost exactly the way I imagined it, which makes me so happy.

 

corset dress with layered skirt back view1