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Toiles

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With so many things on my endless sewing queue I had to ask myself- what do I want to make the most? what will I get the most wear/enjoyment out of. Wouldn’t have guessed that would be a crop top, but for some reason making a woven crop top has been on my wishlist for a long time!   Note: I didn’t make the skirt in the above pictures, I only made the top. I know the skirt is fabulous! (I do want to make my own similar version because it is very easy to wear)

I have been seeing lots of these fabulous two piece sets and I’m still not sick of the crop top trend (not that I’m one to follow trends, but when it’s right for me I just go with it).

Anyway I had a muslin/toile lying around from a past project (my Marimekko shift dress), so I thought, (to make things easier) why not adapt this pattern by marking and cutting up this toile that I already have?! Then it was quick and easy to check the length and create a new neckline (by cutting directly into the toile). I marked the muslin/toile with the design changes I wanted, retraced the paper pattern that (that the toile was made from) and then made my design changes to my traced pattern: transforming the shift dress pattern into a cropped top (of my own design).

Was all the pattern making tedium going to be worth it? I wasn’t sure if it was going to work because I don’t really know what I’m doing when it comes to pattern-making (I am NOT a maths person- maths is what I’m worst at, so I’m kind of scared of drafting) but there was no horrid maths and It was all pretty intuitive.

I gotta say I was surprised- the system worked! 😉 It was just the kind of top I saw in my head. YAY!!

The finished product feels a bit more sophisticated than cropped knit top and because I made it reversible the extra layer adds structure to the piece. I also love it because I have and I have a lot of high-waisted skirts so it fits surprisingly well into my wardrobe (I am wearing the top as I type this). If I travel again, I just may take it with me because you get two different tops that take up the space of only one.

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By the way I have used this black and white spot (cotton/poly poplin) fabric before. I made a dress from it in 2012!

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The black fabric on the reverse side is a black cotton voile (light and lovely to work with) I bought in bulk when on sale of course 😉

I almost forgot to mention that I designed the neckline so that it would be low enough for the top to slip over my head (no fastenings or zippers needed)

I thought of drafting a facing for this top. Facings do make for quicker sewing but I figured since the top was so small I would go all out and just line it (more time consuming but a better finish). Did I want to make my life easier and add a center back seam? Heck no! Was kind of a blessing in disguise because I had to put my problem solving hat on when lining it and now I remember the trick I was taught, which is impossible to put into words. If i was to explain I think id need to do a video…not because it’s smart or hard, but simply because its so dam tricky to explain.

I got some good pictures of my (sewing) process so i’ll show instead of tell…

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I was on such a high after making this! Don’t be surprised if I make, like, a billion iterations in different prints and colours. I have already cut out the 3 (linings included) 😉

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Here’s something I discovered today I wanted to share (in case it could help someone else)… I have a new theory on why tops and dresses tend to gape on me at the neckline.  Allow me to demonstrate with a picture…

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Yes it makes sense now! Most peoples shoulders slope more than mine, I have quite square shoulders so by taking excess out from the shoulder seam it fits better.

Note: The diagram is exaggerated and inaccurate but you get the idea! Perhaps it counter-intuitive to remove fabric near the neck if you have boxy shoulders, but for some reason it worked for this pattern. I did remove a lot less, and it what I did take out was less slanted than what I drew in mu crude drawing.

Simplicity 1693 was the pattern used. I am not exactly over the moon with the results…

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Anyway this is the top before the alteration…

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And after…

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So it is an improvement, but I don’t know if I like the loose fit on me but I do love the fabric!

I had a dress in the same colour and print when I was a little girl and it was my favorite dress. I have plenty more of this fabric left, so I am sure I will make something much cuter with it.

I am happy I tested out this pattern in a fabric I had plenty of, because I dont know if it is worth making again. If I do make it again, I want to do the bias binding before I sew up the site seams, and it will probably make it 100 times easier!

I did cut out and sew a peter pan collar, for this top, but I left it off, because I felt like the girly fabic and combined with a collar in the same colour would be too sickly sweet. Don’t get me wrong, I love to look a bit twee, but I am supposed to be a bit more grown up at this point in my life…

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Perhaps I can use it on something else. I just discovered a quick way to get the collar to look good:

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Tip: Its worth investing in some good quality pinking sheers. I used my new ones to grade the seams on my peter pan collar and it worked a treat! Just grade the seams with the pinking sheers and go over the seam line with a point turner and press. Super quick!

I left of the interfacing, to see how that would change the look of it.

Anyway thats the end of my story.

I have something much more exciting for the next post, it just may be my favorite dress ever.

Heres a teaser (from when it was a W.I.P)…

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I have enjoyed reading everyones 2013 recaps. All of the sewing blogs I read are full of sewing inspiration but its reassuring to read that everyone has sewing fails from time to time.

Sometimes it’s impossible to predict which projects will be the highlights and which ones will go unworn, but no matter how the projects turn out its good to know we are always learning more and advancing our sewing skills!

Hope everyone is having a good 2014!

-Kath

Now we’re getting somewhere…..I do have a soft spot of the crowded house song for the same name haha. Wow I just discovered that was released a year after I was born hehe… yey 80s!

ANYWAY…Check out my 4th Muslin or Toile for  Simplicity 3823 (Its just the bodice/top part the skirt i’m wearing is just to stop you getting and eyeful/seeing my belly)

LOL I do kind of love my goofy expression!

I almost gave up on this dress but now I figured out the obvious fitting issue that would make the top of the bodice sit better (I am still working on the back and the band).

It was so obvious but for some silly reason I originally resisted my urge to lower the streamline connecting the gathered front halter piece to the midsection/band. It was not sitting under my bust, resulting in a bad fit.

If I just asked myself “How do I differ from a size 10 fitting model?” I would have made the right adjustment a long time ago.

So how do I differ? I am not a small bra cup/size and I am not ahem as erm….lets just say my breasts don’t naturally sit high up near my armpits and I am NOT a teenager.

Moral of the story is WHERE things are sitting can be just as important as HOW things are sitting.

As for the midriff band I made so many dodgey winging-it alterations on things I can sort of see why it would be pulling. But I am addressing that next!

Rather than following the dreaded suggestion from the pattern of putting boning in the back I am planning on just adding shirring to the back . I know Betty drapers dress would be a lot more dressy but this is my spin on the dress so I decided its still accepatable.

I have never worked with shirring/shirring elastic before but I found a good tutorial here.

Gertie also has one called “Making a Shirred-Back Dress”. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

That would solve the fitting issues in the back and ensure it stays up rather than the dreaded suggestion from the pattern of putting boning in the back.

Rule of thumb: The uglier the pattern pieces become-the better the fit. Haha Amateur pattern adjustments TO THE MAX.

I SHALL FINISH THIS DRESS.

I am going on a big trip to Europe soon so I better keep working on it.

Hmmm  Perhaps I should name every post after songs I like. Would that be wrong?

So far, so….um…. this is the best I can do at the moment!

I have wasted what feels like the whole day on trying to fit this dress.

I  had better remind myself that the things that are the most frustrating are often what you learn the most from.

I don’t even think I should wear/suit a halter neck style dress for reasons I’m not sure I should share (lets just say it is to do with my bust and leave it there).

After my third muslin I decided that I am just going to sew up/in lots of/most of/hopefully all of my corrections  directly onto muslin version 3. I changed the thread I used for different corrections.

I am semi worried about how I am going to transfer all these alterations at least semi-accuratley to my pattern, because I usually do some small corrections then new muslin, small corrections then new muslin etc. But this has a ton of alterations and it is very confusing. Use Muslin as pattern?

Other concerns:

The back is wack as you can see! According to the Colette Patterns Sewing Handbook  “Tight diagonal wrinkles mean that there is not enough fabric to go round the curve. you will need to add fullness to the curve making the area both longer and wider”. Apparently where the wrinkles are pointing too indicates where you need more fullness. Shorten back bodice increase mid to lower waist? or perhaps decrease volume where back goes in and add fabric to side seam. God only knows!

After reading more of the Colette Handbook I realize I need to be using techniques such as spreading or and pivoting to alter my patterns and stop doing things the dodgy way.

Also after all these dodgy changes I made the side seams are not where they are supposed to be.

Another thing to consider: I am not putting boning in so perhaps I should have a elastic in casing on the back. Or I could kill this whole back problem by shirring (which I have never tried before)

Also must add:

Gape darts. Doesn’t look gapey but what about when the lining is added and the excess SA is folded in…

Must make underarm bigger and ensure it covers my bra. Have to wear a one strap bra with this style when you are busty.

Phew I am sure I am missing some more issues but trying to get the fit right on this dress has totally exhausted me.

Simplicity 3823 just may haunt my dreams and continue to trouble me in ways never imagined possible.

“Hello! Me a weirdo? Nah. Just me looking awesome, totally ready for a night on the town”

You can tell I have had a lot of time to sew recently.

I am working tomorrow but I had today off and I did manage to start the muslin or toile process of Vogue 1206.

I also updated my pattern design blog with new wallpaper designs to download. Yay! Lots of blogging and sewing going on! Perhaps that’s why I am feeling so happy and sane at the moment.

Unlike Burda 7494 I am aiming to avoid making less than 6 muslins of this pattern:P. That way I actually feel like I am progressing or getting a bit better at fitting.

Looks like this one wont need as much as Burda 7494.

Anyway here comes the sexy fitting pictures haha.

Overall fit is good but I like a more tailored look so I pinned the bits I am taking in.

I was super excited about the fact that the pattern didn’t gape around the back neckline. I have had this happen quite often but not with this brilliant pattern. Could it be that I don’t have a dowagers hump after all?

As you can see the back bodice is a little loose particularly just before the pleated sleeve thing.

I am very hesitant when it comes to making the back more fitted. I need to be able to move my arms…

Making this dress fit well has proved to be a major undertaking. It’s enough to make me take out the well-fitting sun dress pattern I have used 20+ times and make something just so I can sew a quicker project.

But I am learning…I think.

I can definitely see an improvement and after 4 muslins I have gotten rid of all the droopy excess fabric from above the bust/near the neckline.

Btw those are badly sewn darts on the left.

I am not even going to worry about the position of the darts…thats for another life when I am perfect.

What else needs to be done on this **^&#$^ thing?

  • The neckline needs to be lowered. Will be more flattering and I will be able to breath properly.
  • I need to re-draft a collar for the lowered neckline. I have already done this once, when I removed  the excess fabric. See how different the collars on the left and right pictures look? I like the original collar (left picture) better so I want the shape to be more like that.
  • Lengthen the around the armhole. The shape of pattern has changed due to removing excess fabric bellow neckline like the original arm-holey length better (there is no sleeve so I don’t know what to say in order to describe the area).
  • Shorten skirt to desired length. I probably wont bother with a pleat. hmmm more decisions.
  • There is excess near the waist…perhaps that is not a bad thing. Anyone who has eaten a big meal in a fitted dress knows what I am talking about! Plus if I take out some ease in the waist I will have the fun task of altering the entire skirt portion of the dress oh so slightly. ummm.. NO. that wont happen! So I will take in a slither just under the lower bust.
  • Even after altering the back I have a LOT of excess fabric near the back neckline. How to fix? Still unsure.

Oh god this is pretty frikken tedious! I think I am going to go do something non-sewing related like vacuum, dust or cleaning the house. Yes that actually sounds like more fun.

No seriously. I am learning. I do like learning about these things but the process is soooo slow! Either I have a messed up body or Burda patterns are not as well-fitting patterns as I thought. It’s probably a bit of both.

Like I said I really HATE the fitting and altering process. Actually It’s the only part of the whole sewing process that I don’t like. OK that and marking darts.

So I make a muslin of a pattern I have never made before, look at the many flaws in the fit, pin  where it needs to be altered, make corrections on the pattern (after copying a  new version of the pattern), test the fit THEN rise and repeat at least 20 times till I don’t hate the fit. Even then after I have sewn the amended pattern with the good fabric the inner perfectionist in you will see all the things I missed.

However my Dad did give me some advice on altering the pattern. Yes you heard right, my Dad! He totally understands pattern making, and geometry in a way I don’t.

He suggested I only alter the center front piece I thought you HAD to alter both the front and side front BUT that would make the armholes smaller. I’m glad I took his advice..

Anyway here is what the first muslin looked like (before any alterations)

See all that sexy excess fabric below the collar/above the bust? Thats what I devoted my day to correcting. 4 muslins later and I thinking I have gotten rid of most of it.

The back is also a bit loose but I don’t know if I will go as far as to correct it. I have a pretty flat butt or something…I don’t want to get into the habit or over-fitting because the corrections can go on forever and I want to be able to move in the garment.

The calico I have been using is faulty and the grain line is really of. When I tear it rather than tearing in a straight line like a plain weave should, it tears in a massive curve. I have tried to pull it back on grain but to no avail. Can see how messed up the seam/grainline is on the centre back of my skirt!

Perhaps I will take it a bit in at the waist bellow the bust. The fun never ends :(.

I stacked all the altered versions of the center from bodice piece.  The original is on the bottom. On version 5 I gave up and tried to reduce the gaping via dart transfer. I have yet to make a muslin of this final alteration but yeah the tedium just overwhelms me sometimes…

I know that I should just accept that this is part of sewing and be more patient.  But it’s the constant fussing and repeating the same things over and over. I am grateful for any knowledge I can gain in this area. Perhaps I had a better understanding of fitting I would enjoy it more.

After the 4th version of the altered bodice the neckline shorted so I also had to re-do the collar  (because I got rid of excess fabric by transferring it into the dart).