Sunday, 23 April 2017

The Scuba Wiggle Dress (Has Finally Surfaced...)

Hi everyone!

I am very happy to have finally finished this dress. It's been worn by my mannequin in a state of near-completion since at least the release of Trainspotting: T2 (I know this because I remember having some friends back to the flat after the cinema who admired it).

This is the wiggle dress from Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing, and I've been planning to make it for at least 3 years... I finally got around to it, then had a bit of a mental blockade about finishing it when I tried it on and realised that my pattern placement wasn't quite what I wanted. I'd managed to place lighter colours for the side front panels, which ideally should be darker for the most flattering effect, and they were almost mirror images but not quite symmetrical. There's also a bit of off-centre mirroring on the back. I was a bit underwhelmed after trying it on and discovering it was a bit of a boxy fit.

Sometimes it takes a while to get into the right frame of mind to get around to adjusting fit on something you feel ambivalent about, and even though I knew it would be easy enough, I just couldn't find the enthusiasm for it. Eventually I decided to use the Easter weekend to appeal to my boyfriend and get him to help me pin out the excess on the seams.

I made this up a size smaller than my measurements to account for the stretch in the scuba (the pattern is intended for wovens, but I was inspired by this version from Sabine Sibille Sews) – it's a 6 in Gertie's sizing chart. I thought about doing an FBA and a swayback adjustment on the pattern, but instead just made these tweaks to the seams after it was basted together, as there are two double-ended darts each side of the back pieces, one on each of the side fronts, plus princess seams on the front to play with. I ended up carving in a bit on each seam and dart to nip in the waist a bit more, and taking a fair bit off the side seams over the hips as I think Gertie drafts for a bigger hip to waist ratio than I have.

Once that was done I was a lot more pleased with it and it was a quick dash to the finishing line after all those months languishing! This is one of those fabrics bought with the pattern in mind, and the pairing kept cropping up on my seasonal 'to make' lists but just kept getting pushed to the back of the queue for some reason. I'm actually really pleased with the finished result though, I wore it to Easter lunch at some friends and it was flattering and comfortable all day, and being scuba it wasn't too constricting after a big meal!

t's funny that I lost faith in this one more than once because I actually think it's a winner and have some more scuba to make up another one, bought at the same time as this digital floral print (both from Mermaid Fabrics on Mare Street's Narrow Way in Hackney, a regular lunch hour haunt of mine when I worked in that area a couple of years ago). I have wavered and thought to make something different with the leopard print version (some of which has already been made into a pencil skirt) but with the success of this I think my instincts were right, and it's actually pretty satisfying to have a project that I know will work really well for it. It's a nice shape, works for lots of occasions, and I like the kimono sleeve with gusset details which was a new technique for me (not very easy to spot in the pictures below).

Other than tweaking the fit this was really easy to make, and I followed everything as instructed except for using an invisible zip instead of a lapped one because of the bulk of the scuba. I basted everything together on my sewing machine and when happy with the fit overlocked all the seams. Next time I'd probably have to hand-baste the walking vent though as the needle did leave marks – I'm lucky that I was taking in all the other seams rather than letting them out really – maybe my needle was too thick?

I didn't transfer any of the fit adjustments onto my traced off paper pattern so will have to go through the same process on my next version of getting a volunteer to pin me in a little (although I have a rough idea of how much came off and where, I'm sure there'll still be a bit of trial and error). The only thing I might change is to bring in the neckline a little as it is wide enough to show the straps on some of my bras.

Very glad to have finally made this and am looking forward to more occasions to wear it before the weather gets too warm for a close-fitting scuba sleeve! Has anyone else cleared a long-in-the-works project off their list recently?

NorseOtter xx

Monday, 17 April 2017

Checked Kecks

Hi everyone,

Hope you've all had a lovely bank holiday weekend? I've taken mine quite easy, caught up with family and friends and have managed to finish off a couple of things.

I have always wanted a pair of tartan trousers. I remember going to Camden Market as a teenager and trying on the classic red punk pairs there but them never looking quite right on me. A few weeks ago my manager was doing a clearout of the house she grew up in and very kindly gifted me a whole swathe of fabrics that her late mother had in her stash (more of this lovely stuff to appear as I sew it up!). As soon as I saw this fabulous blue and green tartan I knew that I had to make it into some trousers, especially after the success of my first Sew Over It Cigarette pants. The fabric is a firmer weave and I think a woollen, but I used the pattern with the adjustments I'd made for the crepe pair I made in class and hoped for the best. If you're wondering why there are so many rear-view pictures in this post, it's because that's where I did most of the adjustments on the pattern to get a decent fit- adding room for my bum, and also taking out some width at the back of the thigh underneath. 

I think they came out pretty well. This is the second full day of wear shown in the pictures and I think they have relaxed in fit a little. I think it also shows a bit more in contrast to my skintight polo neck (inherited from my aunt along with some other '80s punk gear).

I did my best at pattern matching and other than the centre back waistband it was a success. Sew Over It patterns instruct you to overlock all your pieces before sewing together, so was very careful about print matching my side-seams and hoping it would work out fit-wise as my notches had been trimmed off! If making these another time I think I would overlock after sewing the seams rather than beforehand, as you don't gain anything by doing this and I'd rather not lose my notches again.

I made everything up the same as my first pair apart from some minor details. I decided to use stay tape to stabilise the slant pockets, but I'm not sure I applied it correctly as they do still stretch out a little. I also did a double-turned hem and made the legs a little more cropped in length by turning them up more. 

My first pair were hemmed as per the instructions – just overlocked, turned once and handstitched into place, but I find when I want to cuff these I'm not keen on the line of overlocking showing, so I made sure it was hidden on this pair (not that I'd be likely to turn these up any more). One thing to try in future is adding belt loops, which I wish I had in hindsight with this pair to cope with the fit relaxing over the course of the day.

Another small thing is that I followed the fly front instructions as given on the pattern, and I don't think the result is very neat. For some reason the zip teeth are very close to the opening, even though the fly facings are pretty deep, but I checked back through and I followed everything as written as far as I can tell. My fly front came out better in class, but I think the teacher might have used her expertise rather than slavishly following the instructions to ensure a better finish. To be honest I might just follow the Ginger Jeans fly front method of construction next time (minus all the extra jeans topstitching) as I've never had a problem with that and it always turns up a neat result. You can see the pocket bags and stay for these are made with scraps from my first Melilot shirt

I'm very happy to finally have a pair of tartan trousers, now I just need to try and make sure I have enough neutral tops to pair them with! So far I've worn them with a white shirt to the office (I don't think I could get away with the skin-tight polo neck there, especially with the 'Sex, Lies, Religion' slogan) and I think they would look great with a plain white t-shirt with short cuffed sleeves, or a plain white boatneck t-shirt with ¾ length sleeves.

Have you ever sewn something to complete a previously unfulfilled fashion vision? 

Happy making!

NorseOtter xx