Tuesday, 20 March 2012

A Pastille yes but pastel no.


Yes you're reading it right another blog post within days of the last.  Having taken you on an epic journey over my last two posts that would rival the screenplay to Gone With The Wind normal and regular blogging will resume I promise.

So without further a do let me introduce the luck of the Irish dress.

She's green for go!  

This is only full length photo I have her at the moment because I finished her just before heading out the door to work at a St Patrick's day party.  I think my Cheshire cat grin conveys how pleased I am with how she turned out.

Point in purpose a very sweet Pastille but too pretty for this Miss

When I first saw the Pastille I liked the shape but I thought it was very girly, which is lovely but with my features isn't a look I can pull off.  That said I love a challenge and one of the joys of sewing I find is being able to give the finger to convention.  So I decided to add some glitzy piping detail and then to make it really celebrational I thought it needed a bow.  I do think I look a little like a piece of confectionery but that works for me ;-)

I really went for it on the fit of this dress as I was lucky enough to have the help of the Sew Colette sew along gals for advice.  As I blogged previously making an effort to fit my makes is one of my main aims this year.

It's the first time I've made a muslin for a dress as I'm a sew and be damned kinda of a gal usually but I wanted to go  through the whole process and I'm so glad I did.

Initially I cut a 12 in the bodice widening to a 14 on the waist and and 6 on the hip.  As I've said previously I've the proportions of an exclamation mark ;-)

On first inspection the fit wasn't too shabby but you can see some strain round the girls and what you can't see was that the back was billowing, which gave me a look of the Hunchback of Notredame.  This is a strong look but obviously wasn't the one I was going for so I set about doing my first set of alterations.  After asking for advice from the fellow sew-a-longers the consensus was I probably needed an FBA and definitely needed to remove length from the bodice because the billowing was horizontal on the back.

Quasimodo was as nervous about pattern alterations as I was.

Great piece of advice I took was to use interfacing to trace the pattern for strength and this pattern pieced needed it.  It was chopped and shredded like an iceberg lettuce.

I took a look round the blogosphere for advice on FBAs and happened upon Miss P's blog, which suggested first looking at whether the pattern's bust dart is in the right place for you before launching headlong into FBA territory.  Following, her excellent guidance I discovered the bust dart was indeed 2.5cm higher than my bust point.  Using her very comprehensive tutorial I made the changes and the fit was ace.  

Bodice muslin No 4 - this is my fits like a glove face :)

Following further research on FBAs I had a Eureka moment.  In real terms my bra size is a 32HH but as I have learnt over the last year patterns are made for a B cup, which is why many of us often have to do major alterations.  That said my cup size in terms of the difference between my high bust and full bust in relation to patterns is a B.  Who'd of thunk it!  Sew L.A. has all the details about this and has proved very interesting reading.  I urge you to check it out before you you start slicing up paper and still not getting the fit you so deserve.

Anywho back to the chopping board oh I mean pattern cutting table.  Next order of business was to deal with the hunchback, which I now realise was a feature of another Colette Pattern I made the Ceylon.  I assumed at the time it was my ham fisted sewing and/or pattern cutting but now on closer inspection I can see that where I am so high waisted my top half is quite a bit shorter than the standard bodice.

To deal with it I took my front to waist measurement and my nape of the neck to waist measurement.   This revealed I needed to take 2cm off the front bodice piece and 5cm off the back.  I was sceptical but it worked a treat.  Finally I made the waist darts shorter so they hit the bust at the right point but they appear to be still quite pointy so I think they would need more fiddling next time out.  Any advice gratefully received.

Final back muslin change with 5cm of length removed and also a long shoulder dart added to remove the flapping at the top of the back. 

Phew!  Are you all altered out because I blinking knew I was by the end of it and I still had to make the real thing.  Big high fives to all you regular muslin makers you people are the real grafters.  I will reiterate thought the effort was worth it.  Especially as I think all the alterations I made will be universal to any Colette Patterns I make in the future unless of course I finally make the 6 foot height mark I have always dreamt of.

Finally she was on her way - at this point I was concerned my colour and trim choice would leave me looking like a Chesterfield sofa :s

I ordered the fabric online and because I'd left it last minute I thought wouldn't bother ordering a swatch and so when the fabric turned up it wasn't as emerald as I hoped but by this time I wasn't about to faff any further and just wanted to make the damn thing.  This led to the decision to modify with glitzy piping and a bow.  

It was my first go at piping and I would say there is room for improvement as I didn't sew close enough to the seam to define the sweetheart neckline but hey you can't have it all ways and life is one long learning curve.  It's funny for all my reservations she's turned out to be one of the favourite things I've made.  

The final bonus of this make was that there was enough piping to tie up my weave.  So there you have it haberdashery to hair accessory boom!

Things I learnt:
  • Sewing a long with others is really good and very helpful.
  • Sweet can be turned into sassy.
  • Muslins are worth the effort in the long run.
  • I have a very short body.
  • FBAs aren't always necessary.
  • I don't have a hunchback.
  • Anything can be a hair accessory.
  • Finally, never use a rotary cutter to score roast pork to make crackling - it's messy and it doesn't work - not technically sewing related but an important lesson nonetheless.

Thanks ever so for reading and I'd love to stay and chat but production is on an all time high at Miss D headquarters.  Next up I have the Truffle to trifle with, my Mad Men Joanie dress to muster, a Prince appreciation outfit to perfect for Purple Rain night at the Duke of York and tomorrow the lovely little bride to be in my life and I are off to buy bridesmaid dress fabric woohoo.

Ooh before I go I must holler up for the fantastically amazingly fabulous event that is Brighton Craftaganza, which is taking place this Saturday (24th March) organised by the inordinately talented lady behind So Zo.  It would be lovely to see you and I can guarantee you will bag yourself some gorgeous things.

Right I really am going now.

Until next time - "Remember that accessories are what separate us from the animals." - Gok Wan

Love Miss D,


Friday, 16 March 2012

Tying up loose threads - Miss D's sewing review part 2

Hello dears,

Well I got kind of sidelined on my mission to post the second half of my sewing review basically the bit where I tell you what I hope to create in 2012 partly because I've been off creating and partly because life has been v busy.  Anyway no matter I'm here and I'm typing now.

I left you last time with the astonishing realisation that I made 21 items of of clothing in 2011.  Well astonishing at least to me because I thought I'd been much more idle than that.  I also filled you in on my hard drive nightmares, which are still unresolved but the positive being that I now have to make loads more memories to fill up the new one.

I have also finally got round to writing the about about me section, which has been on my to do list since I started this blog nearly 6 months a go.  So please feel free to have a read and find out a little bit more about this lady you see lounging around in leopard with half a glass of Babycham.

Right I think I have sufficiently preambled enough so down to business.

This year I hope to achieve the following:

Going in search of a great fit

I am diving head long into the fitting process especially the region I refer to as the girls because they're one of the reasons I got into sewing in the first place.  I have the proportions of an exclamation mark all top tapering down to hardly any bottom.  The plus being I have carte blanche to wear clothes that make a statement!  I often joke I was put together just before the team of body construction people were due to go on tea break.

My first muslin (ever) for the Pastille dress and first of three or fourish

Last year I kind of winged it because I was wanted to crank out as many things as possible with my new found skills.  However, I now understand that fitting and the time it takes is just as important if not more than the time spent with Brenda (my sewing machine).

I've joined in with the Colette Handbook sew along to assist with this, which is hosted by the lovely ladies Sarah at rhinestones and telephones and Erin at misscrayolacreepy.  The fitting I've done with their great advice for the Pastille has definitely put me on the right road.  I've nearly finished it and will blog shortly about it whilst trying to catch up on the next project the Truffle dress.

Taking time to smell the flowers or taking projects slower and enjoying them

I've always had a tendency to want things done yesterday especially when I get an idea for something fabulous, which I guess is a good and bad in equal measure.  I realise now that last year I rushed through quite a few items that I made and I wasn't as happy with the finished article as I could be.  So going forward I will slow down and take the time to learn all I can from each make as well as taking time patch up the things from last year that need a little TLC.

Need to sort out the wonky hem and the missing button on the sea of love dress.

Get involved with the community spirit of sewing

Reading people's blogs is so inspiring and now that I'm a little more settled into my sewing I'd like to take part in more challenges, meet ups and do a few give aways of my own.  So far I've signed up for Sew Colette and the gorgeous Julia Bobbin's Mad Men Challenge.  I'm working on a Joanie because she's the best fit for my vital statistics.

This is the Joan look I'm working towards just need to find myself a gold pen necklace.

Being less selfish or making for others

I have to say I have been quite good at making presents since I discovered my creative streak but this year I plan to take it to the next level because one of my dearest friends, Laura has not only asked me to be her bridesmaid but has also given me the challenge of making the bridesmaids' dresses. We met several years ago while on Erasmus exchange in Spain and we have been great friends ever since.

At my cartoon party - Sara (a gorgeous bridemaid to be), me (Betty Boop), Nick (dashing groom) and Laura (beautiful bride to be)

I can't tell you how thrilled and honoured I am to be asked.  The process is already under way.  We  have chosen the vintage pattern we want to go with Simplicity 3592 and have decided on pewter duponi.  It's going to do wonders for my learning curve and I'm just so touched to have direct input into what is going to be such a special day for someone that means so much to me. 

We've chosen version 2 with the full skirt and I will be reaching out to all your seamstresses for advice a plenty.  I think we're going to look like a 60s girl group :)

Life is one long lesson or I'm going to learning to knit and how to overlock amongst other things

The last teaching I had was my pattern cutting class in September, which was great but I feel like I'd really benefit from extra tuition on intermediate techniques like piping and overlocking so I'm heading back to Kat's sewing school for some lessons.  I did manage to get a quick workshop in on overlocking at the Make Lounge in February, which was great but still feel like I could do with a little more instruction.

The napkins that I made on the overlocking course.  A good excuse to throw a dinner party ;-)

Having become such a happy hooker (keen crocheter) I have decided I need to tackle knitting mainly because I spotted this beauty in Claire Montgomerie's book Knitting Vintage.

My life will be complete when I can rock my hand knitted tangerine Aran cardigan

I'm very luck to have a great stitch and bitch group near me at a lovely wool shop called Purl.  I've been going there to crochet, drink wine and laugh a lot for the past 6 months and now they're going to teach me to knit.

Stitching up a storm with the happy addition of wine ;-)

The master plan or the top 5 things  I plan to bring to life this year

1. The Salvador Dali tribute bedding

I am going to applique a huge black felt moustache on a plain duvet cover and then make a border of tiny moustaches using my printing kit gifted to me by the lovely Aymi.  Then on the pillows I will applique two large lobsters.  I think it will be the bed of dreams.

Nutty as a fruitcake but I love him and find him very inspiring plus he has one of the best tashes ever.

2. The Vogue 8280 aka the Roland Mouret Galaxy dress take off

To stay true to form I'm planning to run up V8280 in leopard print and then lean characteristically in a doorway wearing high heels and drinking a large mojito ;-)

I'l be going for middle version on the right hand side

3. Simplicity 9302 or my homage to Barbara from The Good Life dress

I scored this pattern some time last year off of Ebay and it's been in my must make pile ever since.  It's quite a bit smaller than me but since having had a good bash at an FBA using the this excellent tutorial at Sew L.A. I feel ready to conquer it.  I heart the ass off the sleeves in the lefthand version.

I will wear this frock barefoot when I volunteer at my local community garden - hippy chic at it's best

4. V1137 the award ceremony outfit or any reason to get dressed up to the nines dress and coat 

This was a pattern that I purchased a few weeks after I learnt to sew last year with the intention of it being something to aim for.  When I saw some pics of Adele at the 2009 Grammys I just knew I had to make it happen.

Just need to find a milliner to make me a fabulous fascinator.

5. Minnie Mouse was a bad girl bombshell dress

I bought Gertie's bombshell dress course back in July 2011 and started on it straight away but then stalled when I realised I would have to do lots of alterations.  Now though I'm looking at it as a huge learning curve with the added bonus being that I could never buy this ready to wear because of my proportions.  Once I crack the changes the bodice is so versatile I'll be able to put it to a great many uses.  Plus I've seen so many gorgeous finished ones around the blogosphere including Karen's of Did You Make That, that I have to get on it.

Still very much a work in progress but I'm going at it with renewed vigour :)

So that's the plan Jan!  Wish me luck I think I'm going to need it.

Before I scoot off to bed I'll give you a quick whip round of what I've made so far this year.  That way I can start a fresh with a post on the my new frock next time.

I thought I'd give cross stitch ago and purchased subversive kit it gives this gentle craft a twist ;-)  Also Caitlin Moran's book is amazing and I highly recommend reading it.

The polka dot double agent dress made from Oonaballoona's ace tutorial and worn to the excellent ElleKaye play.  Go see them they're ace!

Next came what I'm calling the librarian with attitude dress made from Vogue 8413 and worn to the bloggers' de-stash meet or as I like to refer to it - a sewocracy.

All the gorgeous blogettes braving the cold thanks to the wonderful Zoe and Claire.

 My haul from the meet up!  Just check out those high waisted trousers. I'll be going all Dolly P with big hair and big attitude!

My lovely friends received a little handmade card from me on Valentine's Day and I got chocolate and cake in return. Spread the love I say.

The superman 3/4 circle skirt made using Patty's calculator.  Excuse the mad pics I was trying to show the full swish potential :)

The Mysterious Cities of Gold Sorbetto made with the fabric I bagged from Kathryn of Yes I Like That

 The Pink Wafer on Acid tea cosy made for the my lovely friend Jo of the Royal Wedding high tea fame.  This cosy is as gorgeous on the inside as it is on the outside just like her.

And finally folks my most recent make the crocheted man about town tie for the one and only Jarvis Cocker.  I'm just about to package this baby up and send it to BBC6 music.  I have high hopes he'll wear it next time I see Pulp at the end of the month.  It's part of my cunning plan to knit my way into a job in radio.  After the success of the Hoxton bonnet for Radcliffe and Marconi this cannot fail ;-)

That's all folks!

Until next time keep calm and carry a spare pair of tights,

Miss D