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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

Making a puff sleeve from a regular sleeve pattern

I recently decided to make puff sleeves for a modified version of Butterick’s B5209.

Since this involved a bit of mathematics, I thought I’d share it here.

  • First, take any old sleeve pattern. I used a shortened version of the sleeve from a Bolero pattern.

basic sleeve pattern with markings

  • Mark the middle of the sleeve pattern and draw a line from top to bottom. Then mark 2 equidistant lines either side of this line. I used a distance of 8.5 cm either side of the middle, as that was perfect for the size of my sleeve.

sleeve pattern cut in 4

  • Cut the sleeve pattern along those drawn lines.

sleeve pattern pieces with 3cm distance

  • Lay the pattern pieces out and leave equal gaps in between them. I used a gap of 3cm, but it can be more or less, depending on how puffy you want your sleeve to be.

changing the height of the outer pieces

  • Now align the outer pattern pieces by moving them downwards, so the curve at the top of the sleeves lines up with them. Draw a joining line between the pattern pieces along those curves.

moving outer pieces out by another 3cm

  • Now move those outer pattern pieces outwards at the bottom by the same distance as the gaps between the pattern pieces. (In my case, I moved them out by another 3cm each.) Join them at the bottom by drawing a curved line.

puff sleeve pattern

  • Draw around all the pattern pieces, take them off, and you’ve got a puff sleeve pattern.

Stupidly, I forgot to tak a picture of this, but I used two lines of gathering stitches at the top and achieved this:

puff sleeves gathered at the top

You can also put gathering stitches in the bottom of the sleeves, if you are putting them into a band. I originally planned on doing this, but in the end, finished the bottoms with elastic, so did not need this.

Once you have this, join the front and the back of the sleeves as you normally would, then attach them to your garment.

  • To finish them in a super easy way, simply sew elastic in the bottom of the sleeves.

puff sleeve with elastic band

 

puff sleeve bottom pinned with elastic

  • Make sure to pin evenly when putting elastic in, line up the middle of the sleeve with the middle of the elastic band, then find the middle of both remaining sections again, line up, pin and so on.

And here we have a finished puff sleeve from the front

puff sleeve front

and from the back

puff sleeve back

 

A 70s-inspired Summer Dress

A modified Butterick B5209

vintage B5209 me front view

Right, first of all, I apologise for not being very active (especially after my promise to post more…) I have this tendency to be a little bit overwhelmed when I have lots of time to be creative, but I think I’ve sorted it out now and actually accomplished something I am quite proud of. Which brings me to this project. I think Butterick’s B5209 is one of the easiest and quickest patterns to sew. It’s very straightforward and lends itself to making summer dresses like nothing else.

When I think of the summer, it always brings up images of flowy gowns and, for some reason, the Seventies. I absolutely love the dresses of that time, or as I should specify, of the early Seventies. I would have very much liked to live in that time period, although there are certainly things I would have missed. Above all, with HTID in the Sun coming up, I am glad to be alive in a time with raves. I don’t think I could live without electronic music, although as my husband pointed out, you can’t miss what you don’t know and it would have also been cool to dance around to Jefferson Airplane.

Now, this is not a flowy gown by any definition. If I could have, I probably would have made it into a maxi dress, but I sadly had to think of the practicalities of a long cotton dress in the heat. Not only am I going to wear it in Spain, Switzerland also gets really hot in the summer, so a short dress is preferable. Plus, I don’t think I would have had enough fabric. I bought this Rose & Hubble print cotton over a year ago and then could never decide what to do with it.

B5209 is a vintage 40s dress, which lends itself incredibly well to being remodified into a 70s dress. To achieve this, I made the following alterations:

  • I shortened the midsection of the dress. I kind of need to do this anyway, as I have a very high, very short waist (I am only 5’5”). The inverted V-shape of the lower bodice is certainly something this dress has in common with the dresses of the 70s, and their waist usually sat a bit higher than in the 40s.
  • I changed the skirt. I don’t think I have ever used the gathered skirt pattern that comes with this dress. I usually make my own skirt. It’s so easy to make a skirt that I know fits my proportions, rather than trying to adapt one that comes with the pattern.
  • The other major alteration I did was to add puff sleeves. Personally, I love these. In fact, I was thinking the other day that with my love of puff sleeves, maxi dresses and princess seams, maybe there is some suppressed wish somewhere in my head to be a princess. Well, let’s say I just like a certain elegance. 😉

I made a little tutorial on how I modified a normal sleeve pattern to a puff sleeve pattern here.

The sleeves and midsections are made of black Duchesse Satin. To be honest, I just wanted them to be a contrasting colour and this scrap of satin seemed fine for it. Ideally, I might have used a black cotton, but it works quite well as it is, I think.

Now, without further shenanigans, here is the dress in all its glory.

vintage b5209 front view

 

vintage b5209 side view

 

vintage B5209 back view

 

vintage B5209 me front view2

 

 

 

Rediscovering my love of Inkscape

This is probably as off-topic as it gets, but since I’ve not been blogging for a month again, I thought I owe you a little bit of an explanation.

I have always found great joy in designing geometric patterns. I sometimes bring this over into sewing and make complicated dresses, which give me a very good chance of practicing my seam matching. 😉 Lately though, I have been incredibly busy rediscovering what a fantastic piece of software Inkscape is.

Plenty of people use it, of course, and years ago, I also installed it to work on some intricate geometric patterns. I don’t know if it was lack of time or motivation, but it just didn’t do what I wanted it to do at the time. Last week, I downloaded it again and set to work on it.

I have to say, the results please me very much. Once I learned all the different functions with the help of some online tutorials (there are plenty on youtube and Inkscape themselves offer a detailed manual, which can be accessed from the software), there was no stopping me.

Here are a couple of the geometric things I made in the last week

 

geometry 1

 

geometric pattern 1

 

I even made some items with these patterns on cafepress.co.uk, where you can find them under my profile theravingseamstress.