Monday, 9 February 2015

Colourful duo

I like to celebrate winter in style: with bursts of colour! In general, I avoid black in favour of colours, and being called “the bright girl” suits me fine. For this reason I sewed this combo: a purple silk blouse and a red knit skirt.

When working with Burda patterns, as a rule, I use a size 36 for tops. In the case of this blouse, I did not want it to be very fitted so I traced the pattern in a size 38 to creating some sort of breezy effect. I hope I achieved that! Then, I went for my favourite French seam to finish all the raw edges and bound slit, following this tutorial by Marina.

Do you see the seam at the centre of the front piece? Well, that happened because I cut the pattern pieces in the wrong order (the back and the sleeves first, then the front) and the last piece of fabric was not wide enough to fit the entire front piece. Therefore I had no other choice than to cut two pieces instead of one. Damn it! Nonetheless, it looks like a blouse with a “designer” modification.

The fabric for the skirt was purchased during one of my trips to Paris where Julie took me fabric shopping to some fabric re-seller, called Will. He sells fabric remnants from different factories as well as designers. Then, he sells them on local markets in different cities around Paris. So to buy some great fabrics from Willl, Julie and I went all the way from Paris to a local market in Nogent-sur-Marne, where Will was selling fabric pieces (called “coupon” in French) which are three metres each. According to Will, this fabric was a leftover from an Isabel Marant collection; I took his word for it. It was love at first sight! First of all, I absolutely loved the colour, but also, because I’ve never seen anything similar before: this knit came in a tubular shape! Well, most knit fabric is made as a tube anyway, but I’ve never seen shops sell it this way.

In order to make the skirt, I cut one length of fabric and overlocked seams, but left the hem’s edge raw. For the waistband, I attached the widest elastic band I could find and covered it with self fabric.

After all, I was quite happy about it! Working with silk becomes easier and easier with each project as well as tackling new sewing techniques. I am not 100% satisfied with my bound slit but I hope to improve with the next garment. At the end, I think that both garments are a very successful addition to my wardrobe.

The only inconvenience for me is to cycle in this skirt. Other than that, I receive a lot of compliments for both pieces. And so I say, let’s sew more colourful garments!

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Burda Style pattern knock-off

It all started two weeks ago, when I went to Paris and met up with a bunch of creative and giggly ladies: Jo, Kirsty, Lisa and Ninie. It would not be surprising if I told you that we spent an entire day fabric shopping and taking about sewing. We visited a number of fabric shops, and in one of them I saw a roll of the softest denim with the most amazing drape and a bit sheen, which, I thought, would be great for a skirt #109 from the February Burda Style issue. This issue features a mini collection called White/Blue, showcasing denim and white shirts. Since the denim trend continues to grow, a denim skirt may be both fashionable and practical garment in a girl’s wardrobe.

Since I could not get this skirt out of my mind during the entire week in Paris, the first thing I did when I got back home was to make a muslin of this pattern... and  found many flaws in it!

According to the description, “The classic denim skirt gets an update in this stylish knee-length style, with its centered box pleat, large patch pockets and versatile wraparound waistband.”

It turned out that the pattern has not one, but two box pleats: one on the front and one on the back. If you have large hips like I do, you will know that the back pleat plus the side patch pockets makes the bottom appear  triple the size. So, I decided to get rid of the back pleat, creating a slightly flared silhouette. Another detail which I dislike in this pattern is the wraparound waistband. For a moment, I tried to imagine how I would look in a coat wearing a protruding waistband knot.

The final thing which went wrong with the muslin was the back pattern part which did not entirely correspond to my body shape, especially with the flared shaped back. In order for it to fit me, I would need to drop the waistline, to add some fullness to the hip area and add a few centimetres of length. Without thinking too much, I decided to re-draft the pattern from scratch, using my basic sloper and, therefore, pursuing my skirt collection challenge!

In fact, modifying my basic skirt sloper took me way less time than all the modifications I would have added to it based on the muslin (I think). If you have your basic sloper handy, draft along with me! Here are the changes which I added to my basic sloper.

The front piece

  • Add 20 centimetre pleat to the front centre.

The back piece

Don’t forget that I decided to create a flared silhouette to my basic straight skirt sloper.

  • Draw a vertical line starting at the centre of the back dart to the hem.
  • Slash the pattern piece along the line, close the dart and spread the pattern open at the bottom.
  • Tape the waist and re-draft the pattern.

Once both pieces are ready you need to re-check the length because it may change as a result of the pattern manipulation. For this, place the front pattern piece on top of the bottom pattern piece, making sure the side seams coincide with each other, and re-draw the hemline.

How easy is that?

To summarize, making this skirt confirmed how lazy I am about drafingt anything and that I buy too many patterns! I may think that drafting takes a lot of time, but sometimes making a modification to a patterns turns out to be more troublesome. I don’t want to take any official pledges but I mentally made a pact with myself to give drafting a chance.

As for the skirt, it has quickly became my favourite: so comfortable to wear and easy to match with any top, really. The only annoyance is that the fabric wrinkles very easily. But then, I like ironing.

Do you also think that drafting may be a faster and easier solution than modifying an existing pattern? Do you have recent examples?

Monday, 2 February 2015

Help: looking for a perfect party dress ideas!

There is nothing more annoying than opening my wardrobe and discovering that I own zero fancy dresses that I made myself! The situation is rather critical because I am attending a wedding in June! Taking into account how slowly I sew, I’d call this an orange sewing alert!

The idea of sewing a party dress by myself is latent and dated. When I attended my first couture sewing class with Susan Khalje in Baltimore, I started sewing a fancy dress, however I never finished working on it. Being one of my few UFOs (“unfinished objects” for those who are wondering), I can’t force myself to finish it. Another reason why I want to make a party dress is that I’d love to be able to apply all the intricate stitches and techniques that I’ve learnt so far. Of course, I do use some of the couture techniques when sewing casual garments, but working on a formal dress would require more meticulous planning and use of elaborate skills. So I could put into practice good old sewing techniques as well as learn something new.

As for the ideal party dress, I’d like it to be a statement piece, but, at the same time, wearable in the sense of feeling comfortable. I’d love to be able to move freely in a dress. Instead of just bluntly selecting a pattern and then sharing with you the end result, I’d like to ask your opinion to help me choose the pattern. Pretty, pretty please!
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If you are not new to sewing and have been reading sewing blogs for a while, you have probably seen this beautiful strapless Burda Style dress. Made by many talented seamstresses from all possible fabrics, this dress is at top of my list. It drew my attention for two reasons. I like that the dress is fitted, strapless and glorifies women’s body. Secondly, the pattern is begging to apply fancy sewing techniques: boning, waist-stay (and other stays), hand picked zipper not to mention fancy fabric that I can use for this project (lace, silks, brocade, you name it!).

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This panelled dress, designed by my favourite Ralph Pink, offers all the comfort in the world! In this dress I could move without feeling restricted. While the strapless dress is fitted and sexy, I’d probably feel uncomfortable at moments. As for this pattern, it covers my shoulders (so there is no risk that the dress would slip down!),an d it features an interesting plunging neckline, suitable for fancy occasions. Every girl wants to show some skin when she’s out, doesn’t she? :)

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A classic silhouette is always a trend. I’d always find an occasion to wear the Paris dress by Style Arc after the wedding! I exceptionally like the front darts!

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I set eyes on yet another panelled dress from Burda Style. This dress has something futuristic and architectural about it. Made from a plain or contrasting fabric, from woven or stretch, it offers endless possibilities, don’t you think?

Now, I’d like to ask what do you think about these dresses? Which one deserves five months of my attention? Would you trade some comfort for pretty design? Or would you rather ensure you are safe in a garment you make?