Sunday, 22 March 2015

Frankendress 'Annence'

Hello from me and my rather Autumnal dress for Spring, a frankenpattern of an Anna dress bodice with a Clemence skirt. This has been a long time in the works! Here's the evidence. Not one but three bodice muslins in my attempt to nail the fit on this dress (from someone who never usually bothers with muslins). I'm still not 100% sure I've got it spot-on, but kind of got to the point where any more tinkering felt like 'overworking' it. 


I actually got a little bit of help from By Hand London's Elisalex who gave me some modification suggestions- she was very helpful with what she could judge from some awful selfies I emailed over of my first and second Anna dress. She suggested a swayback alteration and to lengthen the bodice slightly, so I got to work! I already an an FBA modification on the pattern which she seemed to think looked good, so I left that as it was, apart from moving the bust darts down slightly on the side. I also decided to bring in the neckline at the shoulders by an inch and shorten the underbust pleats by about an inch. As you can see my muslin fabric was very different to my fashion fabric- the muslin is an old unused bedsheet with pretty high artificial fibre content- it's quite crisp. The fashion fabric is some printed rough silk from Simply fabrics I bought on one of my first fabric shopping trips over a year ago!  

So here's the final dress! It's not quite the vision of elegance I was imagining. For one, matching the pattern or at least getting some sort of a balance was a bit of a nightmare- turns out the floral sections are not totally symmetrical, so it looks a bit skew-wiff here and there. 

For another, I ended up cutting the skirt off-grain by accident, then doing some last-minute trimming to try and get it even, and making it a lot shorter than intended! This is cut from my Clemence Skirt pattern (which as you can see from my polka-dot version was intended to be below the knee!). 

The skirt just about looks OK, but I ended up using a special hemmer foot from my machine that I hadn't used before to give it a really narrow hem so I wouldn't lose any more length. The finished dress is a bit more top-heavy than I was really going for, and somehow the bodice is still a bit loose despite my many muslins! Perhaps because the rough silk is a lighter, looser weave? Or the weight of the gathered skirt pulls out the bodice a little more? 

Talking of gathering, I urge you not to look too closely at the waist seam. I ended up having to unpick the front section, regather and re-attach when, after inserting the zip and trying on, seeing that the front skirt patterns were totally unbalanced. I kind of thought all of the pattern would get lost in the gathers but this wasn't the case, and it looked like a total dog's breakfast! This fabric frayed like crazy too so I think I might have lost a bit more length at the top when I had to unpick my already trimmed and finished waist seam and reattach again, again, and again until I got the gathers to lie as smooth as I could (they just kept getting folded over on themselves!). There is still a little unevenness in how the checks are lying at the waist seam, but I couldn't bear to do it over by that point. 

The back skirt is slightly longer than the front because of all this, and the waistline isn't totally level, but this isn't that noticeable and my rotund rump lifts up the excess fabric at the back so the hem looks even-ish. 

So, what else? It's got the 3/4 sleeves added from the sewalong tutorial, but cut on the fold and attached at the original cap-sleeve line as my fabric wasn't wide enough to cut them as part of the bodice. And I wanted in-seam pockets just like I'd done in my original Clemence skirt, just because it's such a handy addition without making any impact on the style of the dress. 

I don't know whether this is a hit or a miss! I worked really hard on the fit but it still doesn't seem to be quite there. Which is a shame as I was hoping for it to be a tried and true pattern- ready to just cut straight out again but in the cap-sleeve slash neck version in my 'Sleeping Beauty' Liberty lawn.

 If I did make again I'd definitely go back to the original panelled skirt- I just didn't think it would work for the pattern on this fabric. But I'm not sure the print on this fabric was ever really right for the Anna pattern- as there are a few pleats and tucks which are totally lost here, and kind of break up the design. Oh well! It's got a bit of bohemian chic going on, if not quite the fitted vintage-inspired delight I was going for. 

Have you ever had a vision of a garment in your head that hasn't quite turned out the way you wanted it to when made up for real?

Until next time (when I'll be back to working on gifts!),

NorseOtter xxx 

Monday, 2 March 2015

Spring Clemence

Hello everyone!

This sunshine must've got to me because the skirt I've just made is far too light for the temperatures we're having! It does however look great when riding a bicycle in the wind (road-tested in this morning's commute) billowing up beautifully but without compromising my modesty (at least in these gusts). This is my Clemence Skirt. I'm steadily making my way through Love at First Stitch- I've only got the Mimi shirt and Lilou dress to go and I'll have 'graduated'! This was one of those little projects you do in-between the more challenging ones (like fitting trousers, which I will get back to soon, just waiting on a book I was recommended to guide me through). The Clemence skirt is quick, satisfying, with an easily wearable result- a nice little wardrobe-builder.

That's not to say I didn't manage to muff it up a bit! Which is ridiculous considering how easy it should be. I forgot to notch the top of the skirt pieces and the waistband at strategic points (just totally skipped that instruction, d'oh!) and so had a bit of a headache getting my gathers even. Not a nightmare- I think I managed to work it out, but it could have been a lot easier! I also managed to cut the interfacing pieces about 3cm narrower than my waistband, and then being too lazy to recut. This was just plain silly as again it created a lot more work when it came to attaching the waistband and inserting the invisible zip, which is far lower down than it should be due to my dodgy guesswork in trying to get around the problems I created for myself! I've got a hook and eye holding it together at the top but there is a bit of a gape still (you can't really see in the photo above as it's a white shirt poking through, but would be more noticeable if I had something more colourful on my top half).

As my fabric's quite delicate I don't think it will hold up to taking the zip out and reinserting it (which is a shame as again, thanks to my new favourite toy the invisible zip foot, the zip is actually pretty much invisible for once!). If it bothers me I may have to make a design feature of a few small loops and buttons to cover up my error.

Other than that I'm pretty pleased with this skirt! Because of my goofs it's not the most neatly finished garment in the world, but it's a cute everyday skirt and I'll definitely be making it again as part of my next Anna dress. It was really easy to draft and make (as long as you don't get lazy and skip steps like I did) and as usual Tilly's instructions are great confidence-boosters.

Glad this fabric isn't too sheer or this shot could have been indecent!
I decided to add pockets to this version to make it even more useful as a work skirt- there's a tutorial for this included in the book. This has unintentionally given it an added design feature which I think I quite like actually- it stands out a little over the hips because I interfaced the pocket openings with quite stiff interfacing, and then when sewing the skirt to the waistband pulled the side seams towards the back as I would normally, forgetting that the seams were supposed to be pressed forward because of the pockets. So the twist in the seam and the stiffness of the interfacing has given it a little extra hip structure where it kicks out. Not super-noticeable, but a little extra dash of vintage shaping to the silhouette.

Does anyone know where my photos today were taken? Massive thanks to my colleague for snapping these on my whim! A bit of a clue- it's very just down the road from one of my favourite fabric shops, Mermaid Fabrics in Mare Street's Narrow Way (and the bit of kit I'm posing with is another hint!) which is where the polka dot skirt fabric is from. I'm not sure what it is but it was only about £4 a metre- it was quite silky to begin with but crinkled up a little when I put it through the wash. I've still got loads left- I might see if I have enough for a Licorice dress.

I think I might make a couple more fast and fun things while I wait for my 'Pants for Real People' book to arrive (thanks Lynne for the recommendation), and maybe if I'm feeling extra productive even reinsert a few invisible zips with my new foot!

Hope you're all feeling the onset of Spring like I am!

NorseOtter xx