Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The dress dilemma

Dresses have always frightened me. When I was younger, dresses seemed to be for the older, more together kind of woman, the Mad Men type, with a proper job and responsibilities and you know, a lifestyle.

Now that I am older, I am afraid that the kind of dresses that appeal to me now are too young for me.

Last summer was the first time that I have really given some thought to making dresses for myself.

Out of the two dresses that I made, my ikat dress was worn just about every week and I always got compliments when I wore it. And it was supremely cool and comfy to wear.

The maxi was worn once to a special event. While I like the style, it is a bit more streamlined and grown up than the ikat, it is just to impractical for everyday.

This is currently my Favourite Dress of All Time, and is  similar to the high waist style of the ikat. But is this style really too young for me?
Chop Chop dress by Gorman

And the reason that I have dresses on my mind, is that I purchased some of Tessuti’s Jaywalk fabric from their current sewing competition.

I originally bought it thinking that I would put it into the stash and sew up a few simple tees for next summer. But when the fabric arrived, I realised that it was such a lovely quality that it probably deserved to be a bit more special than a T shirt.

Which brings me back to the dress dilemma. I only have 1 metre of each colourway so anything I make will have to combine both colourways, and the fabric is surprisingly heavy so anything too bulky ie with lots of draping or gathering might be tricky.

And there is only 2 weeks left before the deadline, so I really should stick with something that I know will fit and not be too tricky sewing wise. Or maybe I should just go back to sewing elastic waist leggings for the kids!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Big kids winter wardrobe ......done!

While I have been spending my evenings working on the Lucy La La pattern, I have been able to accomplish quite a bit of sewing during the day. And I am happy to report that all of the pieces (bar the raincoat, that is on the shelf for next year) that I wanted to make for her for winter are now done. And what's even better is that every piece is being worn on a weekly basis!

The last pieces that I have finished are 2 versions of this Burdastyle pattern.

Burdastyle 10/2013
I made the dress in a size 122 which means she will still get some wear out of it next year.
I left out the pockets as my fleecy fabric was quite thick and I also left out the colour blocking detail on the sleeves, but other than that there are no other changes.

 For the 2nd version, I made it shorter and used a printed fleecy for the front, omitting the colour blocking detail.

I did try different hem treatments for the sleeve frills. For the dress I left the edge raw, and for the sweater top I turned the hem under and topstitched. I think I prefer the raw edge, it does tend to need a trim every time I wash it, but it is not as bulky as the hemmed edge.

My only real issue with this pattern is that the ribbing for the hem needs to be just a fraction tighter, but other than that I can see that this is going to be a very useful pattern. It is an easy sew, no fitting issues except for perhaps length, and there are lots of different colour and fabric combos that would be fun to play around with.

And now that I have Miss C kitted out for the cold months ahead, I am going to indulge in a little selfish sewing for me!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Lucy La La skirt tutorial

As promised, here is a more detailed (with pics!) sewing tutorial for the Lucy La La skirt pattern.

If you haven't already downloaded the pattern, you can do so here.

I mentioned in the intro post that the sewing instructions in the pdf were pretty brief. This was mainly to save on printing, but also because the skirt itself is a pretty straightforward sew.

But being a visual learner myself ( I need to see someone do something to be able to do it myself), I know pics can be useful when learning to sew, so the following is a pictorial rundown of how to cut out and sew the skirt.

1. Cutting layout.

In all my testing of the pattern, I used fabric that was 150cm wide, and was easily able to cut the skirt out of 40cm of fabric. I have suggested to use 50cm however, which means you can cut from 115cm or 150cm wide fabric and have a bit left over. I like having leftovers because they are great to have on hand for making bias binding, quilts and especially last minute gifts!

If you are using a fabric with a nap, such as a corduroy or a one way print then you will need extra fabric.

                                       Cutting layout for 150cm wide fabric with no nap

You will notice that the Front/Back and Side Yoke pattern pieces are butted up against each other. I like to do this whenever I have pieces with straight edges as it makes the cutting go faster and saves on fabric which is always a good thing!

2. Sewing the Skirt

    Sew side front yoke panels to centre front yoke panel.
    Sew side back yoke panels to centre back yoke panel.

    The front and back of the skirt are the same, and you will notice that there are no side seams. 
    The wider piece is the centre panel for the front and back and the narrower piece is the side. 
    While it is simple for an adult to see this, I sewed a label into the 'back' of my skirts so that my
    daughter wouldn't have any trouble getting dressed by herself.

    Sew side skirt panels to centre front skirt panel.
    Sew side skirt panels to centre back skirt panels.
    Finish yoke and skirt seam edges, press seams towards side of skirt and topstitch.

Yoke seams pressed and topstitched

Skirt seams pressed and topstitched

     Sew skirt to yoke, matching seams.

Skirt pinned to yoke

    Finish skirt seam edge, press seam toward yoke and topstitch.
    Finish waist edge and press along casing line.

    Elastic casing
Note: I have used Kathleen Fasanella’s method of inserting the waist elastic without the use of a safety pin. This is a great method and one I have not come across in a home sewing context. I have briefly outlined the method here, but for a more detailed tutorial please go and have a look at the Fashion Incubator site where she has posted an excellent and more detailed tutorial

Cut elastic to fit waist, allowing an extra 2cm seam allowance. Sew elastic to form a loop.

Waist casing pressed and elastic loop

     Place elastic loop inside casing and sew down casing.

    Finish hem edge, turn up 1cm and topstitch.

    I have suggested topstitching the hem, but there are other methods you could try here.
    Blogless Anna has made a lovely pink version using bias binding for the hem, which has lots of potential for
    mixing colours and prints, or you could use other trims such as lace or ric rac to finish the hem. Because it is a
    curved hem, a fairly narrow hem is the way to go, or some fabrics such as a stable knit like ponte could even
    be left as a raw, cut edge.

   And now your skirt is done! I hope this tutorial is helpful, if you have any questions please feel free to leave a
   comment or contact me by email, I am more than happy to help with any questions you may have!

   And happy sewing!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Introducing the Lucy La La skirt pattern!

Free for you to download! Click here!

Finally, after a couple of weeks of computer wrangling, I have managed to get this pattern on the blog. I have to admit to being very behind the times when it comes to technology, I am still running XP on my computer for Pete’s sake! And I haven’t really had any need to do any fancy document work since I was last working, which is almost a decade ago (eep, where did that time go!) and I don’t have any graphics software on my current system so everything has been done by hand.

Still, the skirt is a cute style, Miss C loves her 2 versions to death and has been wearing them whether they are laundered or ironed or not, so I am more than happy to share this with anyone who fancies making one up for a loved one.

A few points before you download:

The skirt is only one size. I drafted this to fit Miss C who is a petite 7 year old, and the skirt is roughly equivalent to an Australian size 6.

You are more than welcome to grade the pattern up or down to fit. I haven’t done any proper grading since design school so it isn’t something I am confident to do at this time.

I have only ever made patterns that I have sewn myself. In other words, I have never been a production patternmaker, so I do tend to get a bit lazy with notches and other details. If there is anything missing that you think is essential to sewing this pattern successfully please let me know!

And the sewing instructions in the pdf are pretty brief. This is a fairly basic style and there isn’t really any tricky sewing techniques needed, but I will post a more detailed step by step sewing process with photos here on the blog in the next few days.

Oh, and if you are curious about the name, when Miss C was a preschooler we used to make up stories together when we were in the car or waiting around. One of the main characters was a girl called Lucy La La who had some great adventures, and who also had a sidekick, a spinning blue dinosaur who had the handy knack of being able to travel in time. I even wrote down a few of the stories and Miss C still remembers quite a few of the adventures that we made up, so I thought it was fitting to call this pattern after Lucy!