Saturday, 24 September 2016

Gertie Shirtwaist Dress

Hi folks!

Finally finished and photographed, it's my last dress of the summer, which actually has lasted a nice long time this year. Unfortunately my trusty photographer has been away, otherwise I'd have had this up a little sooner. Luckily I had a trusty back-up photographer that I called on last weekend, my friend Simon (who is also an artist- you can see his paintings here) was willing to snap me, while my other friend Scott stood in as art director. These fine folks also got me a Cloth House voucher for my birthday which I've just got around to spending - I decided to just treat myself to the prettiest thing I saw rather than try to match to any specific plans and ended up with this lovely, rather structured Japanese cotton. I only got a metre, so think it will have to be a boxy little short-sleeved top.

 These were taken as we were out exploring the Open House Weekend, which is a wonderful opportunity to snoop inside the dwellings of people who live in places of architectural significance. We visited some beautiful self-build properties in Lewisham, designed by the architect Walter Segal, and we discovered this wall when milling around between venues. I was spotted posing by a lot of other architecture enthusiasts, hence my slightly sheepish photos in the shots. Isn't it perfect though? I love that the spices in the mural pick up on the print of the dress.

On to the dress itself, which is the Shirtwaist Dress from Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing, and has been a bit more of an involved make for me than usual for two reasons:

- I made a bodice muslin, which resulted in a few fitting tweaks (although as I only made the one muslin then plunged in, perhaps I could have refined a bit further).

- I decided to go all out and learn a new technique at the same time, so made my very first set of bound buttonholes! Very time consuming, not super neat, but I reckon worth it. Will hope to improve on my next garment, and I am quite pleased with these even if they do have “character”.

Here are the things I love about this dress:

I think it's really cute from the front and really sets this fabric off well. I had been considering making it shorter for a more modern look, but after wearing it out for the first time I'm a bit reluctant to make any more changes, and I got lots of compliments.

Things I'm not so pleased about:

The back. I have read a few reviews of this dress and how large and poofy the back turned out, hence the bodice muslin to assess how it would work out for me. It didn't look too bad in mock-up, but I decided to add two more rows of shirring (yes, another shirring project! I'll stop now, I promise)  in the hope that would be an easy swayback adjustment. On the actual garment it ended up looking much more voluminous, so I decided to add an inverted pleat at the top of centre back where it attaches to the yoke, which reduces the gathered fabric by approx 4 inches. It looks better, but as there's nothing to tether the pleat at the waist (it just gets distributed into the rows of shirring) there's still a bit too much volume around centre back. I would prefer a more streamlined look and think if I made this again I'd swap in a different dress back – perhaps from the coat dress or the zip-front house dress from Gertie Sews Vintage Casual.

I also find the back skirt seems to curve in under my bottom. I wonder if it's because the dress front is so structured and full, whereas the back is quite voluminous and only supported at the waist by the shirring. Just a theory but I think having the shirring there is allowing my bum to pull the skirt awry, whereas I think with a sturdier waist seam the skirt would skim over and hang a bit better. I could invest in a petticoat to help the skirt stand away from my rear, but realistically I wanted this to be a work dress that I pack in my pannier bag for my cycle commute, and it's hardly practical to stuff a petticoat in as well!

There's a fair bit of handstitching, which I gritted my teeth and bore, having committed to the bound buttonholes already. I'm not sure if I attached the inner yoke in exactly the right place- I was trying to cover as much of the innards as possible and therefore might have stretched them over a wider area, which is causing a little bit of distortion, it's pulling a bit at the back collar as you can see. Annoyingly with handstitching I'd have to undo the whole lot if I wanted to redo any of the seams, so for now I'm just ignoring it.

Other adjustments for my version:

I did a 1” FBA, but perhaps could have done a bit more. Gertie's FBA instructions tell you to add an inch for each cup size over C, but really shouldn't this be 1/2” seeing as you're working on a half-pattern piece? I don't know, I seem to have done a lot of FBAs in my sewing so far but not enough for the knowledge to have really dropped, apparently!

The shoulders were too boxy for my taste, so I redrew the armhole bringing it in on the front and back bodice and yoke. I did have to tweak this a bit on the fly but I think it looks OK. I kept the sleeves the same and hoped for the best. With wear I have noticed a little bit of pulling at the upper chest, so if I made this again I might add a smidgen back into what I scooped out to hopefully sort this. This might also be partially due to my badly handsewn innner yoke as mentioned above.

I redistributed the spacing of the buttonholes when I had a vague thought about having this button all the way up the neck and with a shorter length. I scrapped this idea, but the skirt buttons are a little closer together and end higher than drafted for.

Would I make it again?

As is, I would not. As mentioned I will be looking for a replacement back bodice. I do like the look of the front however. On my mannequin this looked really nice sleeveless, collarless and buttoned all the way up, so I might try a version like that (with the replacement back pieces – I'll let you know what works!). I might also see about a mishmash with the zipfront dress from Gertie Sews Vintage casual, as I think that would be so much cuter with buttons instead of a zip, which looks frumpy to me.

Despite my niggles with this dress, it is still very nice and gets loads of compliments, and I really love the print. I think this will see me into Autumn too, I reckon I can cram those puff sleeves under a cardigan, and the colours are nice for the transition.

What have you been making? Have you switched over to the new season yet?

NorseOtter xx

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Peek at my Last Dress of the Summer and Autumnal Sewing Plans

Hi everyone,

How have your summers been so far? Mine feels like it's been going along at breakneck speed, with not as much time to sew as I would have liked. Sometimes due to sunny social plans, occasionally down to forcing myself into doing exercise and recovering from that taking up my evening, and very often due to just feeling very languid in the heat!

Sadly my lack of productivity has not been matched with my desire to create, and I've been busily dreaming up garments that remain unmade and may for some while yet. And, as the season's flown by, new plans need to be made for the Autumn.

So, here's a peek at my last dress of the summer. It's just pinned together at the moment but is a Gertie Shirtwaist dress which I hope will see me through Autumn too. I'm going to make it as directed (but with a few fitting modifications which I'll go into when it gets a full debut) but I quite like it sleeveless, high-necked and collarless like this. Definitely a version to try in the future! 

New patterns are also driving my need to make more seasonal garments; I finally caved and bought the Melilot shirt I'd been admirning from afar, the week before it was included in a discount bundle with another pattern I recklessly decided to just go for despite having to swallow my frustration about missing out on a deal, the Safran jeans. And this sodding Brexit palaver means the exchange rate on these patterns is terrible. Aw well, I'll just have to get my money's worth by making them up ASAP!

So, here are my plans for the next few months:

Safran Pattern by Deer and Doe

Septemb...arse”, or more realistically, “Autumn...bum”.
Get cracking on some “pants” making with the Safran pattern (in that stretch cotton I'd earmarked for the Gertie cigarette pants in my 2016 "Resewlutions"). Finally crack into the Cone Mills denim and whip up another pair of high-waisted Gingers. Plus a jeans version of the Safrans in some Ralph Lauren denim I picked up at Mood. I really want to get some more trousers in my wardrobe, so I'm 
going to go for it in a whirlwind of pantsmaking productivity.

Melilot pattern by Deer and Doe

Getting Shirty
I'd planned to make up the Melilot in this lovely banana-leaf lightweight denim (also from Mood, sadly now sold out), but think it's too late for it to get much wear now. Instead I might finally dare to crack into this lovely Paul Smith elephant shirting I've been hoarding since my first ever fabric shopping trip and make up a long-sleeved Melilot.

Wren Dress by Colette

Wrapped up in Wren
I bought the Wren pattern in a bundle deal with the Dahlia last year, quick soon after release – and both have only got as far as abandoned muslins. I intend to remedy this for winter and have bought some lovely charcoal merino jersey (which I have tentatively pre-washed in the wool cycle of the washing machine) from the Fabric Store especially to make a long-sleeved, gathered skirt version.

I've also got some nice autumnal coloured vintage fabric from my mum that if I've brave enough might fashion into the bohemian beauty that is - the maxi wrap dress from Chinelo's Freehand Fashion book.

I've also been intending to make the Gertie Wiggle Dress in scuba which has been languishing in my stash for too long, so I think that will be a fun dress to add to the mix – and depending on how it turns out might even work as partywear. If not, perhaps I'll have to concoct something fancy too...

So that's a couple of stashbusting projects, and even some that more or less stick to my original 2016 plan. However, a few of the projects mentioned are using up newly acquired fabric from my July trip to LA. Oh well, it's nice to give into temptation and buy new things sometimes!

How has your summer sewing been? Any new season sewing plans?

NorseOtter xx