23 February 2012

Getting Ready to Sew - Simplicity 2217 (Part 1)

I'm excited to say that I spent my week working on Simplicity 2217: Misses' Amazing Fit Dresses with individual pattern pieces for Slim, Average and Curvy Fit and A, B, C, D cup sizes.
I've actually wanted to try one of these Amazing Fit patterns for a while. I picked up 2217 (and the Amazing Fit skirt pattern 2475, which I'll make one day) at a sale a few months ago. I don't know if the rest of you have taken a good look at these patterns, but I think they're great. After using one, I'm probably going to pick up every other AF pattern I remotely like during the next pattern sale.
Most sewing patterns are made for a b cup and average hips. These patterns allow you to use pieces especially designed for for A, B, C, or D cup sizes and Slim, Average, or Curvy hips without having do to FBA or other adjustments which can be pretty time consuming. Additionally, these line of patterns include a lot of tips within the instructions for proper fitting.  

 Picking a Pattern:
If you're like me, you have a rather large collection of sewing patterns that you purchased on sale. A lot of these patterns were picked up on a whim because they were only $1. This means that before purchasing most of my patterns there were not vetted. So, when I'm getting ready to sew a new garment, I tend to pull out all of the patterns I have which remotely interest me and then I narrow them down. I normally ask myself these questions: What fabric do I want to use? Do I want to wear cardigans with this dress or would I prefer a sleeve? Will I have to wear a cami with this dress? Is this shape going to be flattering? Do I have anything that looks like this dress already?
After you narrow down the field. Run a google search. It's really helpful to know what experiences other people have had with the pattern you're about to try. That's how I knew that I was up for a challenge going into Simplicity 4080, the Kimono. It's good to know what you're up against. Often times, pattern reviews and blog posts will have lots of helpful tips that will get you through the sewing process without as many hurdles.

Getting Started:
So, When I'm preparing for a sewing project, I normally skim over the instructions and measurements info for the pattern first. I will then mark the envelope, remove the contents, and take the envelope with me to the store.  I ended up choosing to use a wool blend that I had in my stash for this dress. So, I pinned a clipping of the fabric to the envelope to take it with me for matching thread.  For this particular project, I needed fabric, thread, a 22" zipper, and a 1" buckle. I actually did not find a buckle that I liked, so I decided to omit the belt for now, I might add one in the future. Additionally, i picked up seam tape, and I will be using lace hem tape from my stash.

This is the thread I picked up.  As you can tell, it's not an exact match.  Sometimes I have to choose the closest thing you can find that will blend in.

When getting ready to cut my pattern out, I will circle all of the pieces I need, so that I am on track while looking for them on the big pattern sheets. I roughly cut around all of my pieces and then fold up all of the remaining pieces and return them to the envelope.

Iron your pattern pieces. Yes, read that again. Iron your pattern pieces. Lowest heat setting. Dry. It will make a world of difference in accurate cutting if your pieces are without crazy creases from the factory folds.

Normally, I do not post pictures of any muslin processes involved in my sewing.  This time I decided it was worth it to include the muslin process in my blog. I used a thrifted blue sheet.  For my muslin, I skipped all facings and the hem. When making a muslin, it's okay to leave out certain pieces but it's important to factor them back in mentally when making alterations. Also, consider the differences between the fabric you're using for your final product and the fabric you are using for your muslin. Excuse the fact that I only have one sleeve and that I did a terrible rush job on the pleats on the bodice. :)

This is my cat helping me get ready to cut out the muslin.  He loovveesss helping. I'm not sure how, but he always knows what fabric I'm using next. When I finished the muslin and pulled out the wool, he immediately decided to sleep on it. Cats, hmph!

My largest concern is that while the bodice fits across the front, the side piece of the princess seam has a bit of extra bagginess to it.

The neckline is without the facing, but I can tell already that it's going to be slightly lower than I would be comfortable with when it's done.

I'm not sure how well you guys will be able to tell this from the picture, but the shoulder is slouchy.

Fit Adjustments (or, What I Learned From My Muslin):
-1- It's not so obvious in the pictures, but it's a tad too fitted at the hips. I prefer plenty of ease in the hip area, so I'm going to add probably 2" for comfort.
-2- I will only be using 1/2" for the hem allowance (with lace hem tape).  If I wanted to use the 1 1/2" allowance according to the pattern, I would need to add an inch (or two) for appropriate length. With no hem at all, this dress is just at my knee, where it is on the model after hem.
-3-  After playing more, I've decided that the neckline with the facings will be fine.
-4- My extra fabric at the side of my bust and my slouchy shoulder will be fixed by taking in the back by about 2". That puts the shoulder caps where the should be and fixes the weird bagginess of the side of the bust. I might be able to take out more, the front of the dress seems to fit more or less properly while the back of the dress just has too much going on. Had DD been available, I would have gone down a number size and up a cup size. Once I pinned out the excess in the muslin, it looked much better.
-5- The sleeves are pretty baggy.  Part of me likes it, the other part of me thinks it's sloppy looking.  I will probably end up taking in the sleeves a little towards the bottom. I will leave this adjustment for after the dress is together incase I decide that the bagginess of the sleeve is not as bad in a darker, heavier fabric.   

  So, now, it's time to get started on the actual dress! :D

16 February 2012

Simplicity 2065, Rapunzel

Pattern Description: Tangled Rapunzel Dress

Pattern Sizing: 3-6, Child  

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, I picked richer colors, but I really love the way it turned out, very beautiful. 

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, if I had followed all of the instructions they would have been super easy to follow, but see following questions for why it didn't really matter to me. If I were the type of sewist who followed all instructions, they would have been good for me. I tend to do what I want, though, when thing are self explanatory.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?  The pattern is really cute. One note however is that I mentioned in my review for the Cinderella dress that I was annoyed that it was picture with crinoline, yet didn't note that on the envelope at all. So, I made a crinoline based on my own petticoat tutu design which you can see here: Tutu Tutorial.  For this dress, it included instructions for how to sew in tulle for a petticoat type thing. I think having that attached the the dress is kind of pointless when you could just have instructions for one thing that can be used with multiple dresses! However, much credit to Simplicty for including the feature in this dress which was left out on the other dress.
Another thing I did not love about this pattern was the whole underlining+facing thing going on at the neckline. A lot of unnecessary bulk.  I ended up putting the interfacing for the facing directly on the bodice pieces. I stitched in the lining by hand and attached all of the lace and gimp trim by hand as well with invisible thread.

Fabric Used: Polyester Charmeuse and Organza

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I skipped the lining and petticoat for the skirt because I have already made a separate crinoline for my niece. So, the lace for that was omitted as well.  I only put one trim on the organza overskirt, a matching mauve gimp. I attached it by hand.
I put in the bodice lining in by hand for all enclosed seams. I think the way simplicity's instructions were for this to be an underlining was aimed at a quicker sewing project for a wear once costume. So, like the Cinderella dress, I put in the lining by hand so that there are no raw edges. My niece wears the Cinderella dress everywhere her dad will let her, so I put more time in for a garment that will stay together longer.
All of the vertical seams on the skirt were french seams. Zipper was handpicked.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I have no plans to sew another Rapunzel dress, but I would definitely recommend it. It came out really cute, and I appreciate that the pattern included eyelets instead of some cheaper method of mocking the lace up in the front. 

Conclusion:  Good pattern, very cute. My niece is going to love it (Valentines day gift!)

07 February 2012

Simplicity 2145

I know I've talked about this a few times, but here are some terrriibbbllee pictures of my beloved new dress.

 Lace Hem. Seams pressed out covered.

Button Closure on Cuff

Pattern Description:  
Misses dress with cowl neck, empire waist, and inverted pleats

Pattern Sizing: 
Pattern sizes 12-20

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? 

Were the instructions easy to follow? 
Yes, they were easy.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? 
 I loved the cowl neckline and the sleeve options. Normally I prefer an actual waistband, but the pleats created a good structure and the extra *design features* were nice, especially since I used a very loud print and it was nice to have a way to through in a solid color.

Fabric Used: 

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: 
 There was not a whole lot of ease in the bust.  I suppose this is because the front of the bodice is bias cut. but, I needed mine to be bigger than the largest size (bust 42). I made a muslin out of some scrap fabric I had laying around. It was too small in the front and too short. So, I added four full inches straight down the center of the bodice and pleats to take the four inches out at the very bottom of the bodice so that the bottom of the bodice and the top of the skirt would match up, since I didn't need to adjust the waist of the dress. I also lengthened the bodice by an inch and half all the way around, I'm tall and busty. I had added an inch to each side of the back bodice pieces, but then my shoulders were slouchy and the sleeves didn't sit where they were supposed to. Ooops! So, I pulled the zipper out and redid it without the extra and it was fine. I didn't bother with a technical FBA because it is a cowl neck. It worked out well the way I did it.
 I left out the little drappy thing on the front which was supposed to go with the pleated band. I liked the band alone, I didn't need to add bulkiness. 
Because I wasn't paying attention, I saw that the envelope said I needed two buttons and assumed it was for the cuffs of the sleeves. Nope, design feature.  However, I had already made fabric covered buttons to go with the dress, so I decided to use them exactly the way I had originally though I would. So, i ignored most of their instructions for the cuffs and didn't sew them as a continuous circle. Instead, I opened the sleeve seam about 2.5" back and left the cuff open and added my buttons and buttonholes. It was not a lot of work, but i think it is a nice detail to make the dress feel more professional.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? 
I'm not sure if I would sew it again, since I don't know that I would want two of a such distinctive dress. However, I'm absolutely thrilled with how this dress came out! So, I wouldn't rule out sewing it again.  I definitely recommend it to others!

I've had this fabric laying around for a while. I bought the end of a bolt (4.5 yards) in may because I loved it. I decided as part of my effort to make more structured garments, I would finally use this fabric. I went through all of my sewing patterns (including the 20 new simplicity ones I bought a few months ago when they were all on sale at Jo-Ann), and I was very disappointed to see that all the dresses that were the style I wanted were for stretch fabrics only. I must have pulled patterns for seven dresses, and this was the only one that was appropriate for woven fabrics. I didn't want to take any BIG chances with this fabric. After decided I had enough fabric to cut the bodice again if I needed to, I decided to use this pattern. I'm so happy I did.

Other notes: So, I have been focusing on sewing slower, and making better things. All of the seams on this dress are covered with either seam tape or bias tape (I got a roll of it for a dime at a thrift store). The hem and the turned part of the bodice both have lace hem tape. A little too much effort for a rayon dress, I know, but it's kind of like homework. Over the summer I basically threw together a bunch of maxi dresses, almost never from patterns. That's great for the summer, but not for every day life. I'm notorious for a bunch of random small projects. I'm just stuck on instant gratification.  However, I've been slowly working on this dress for over a week. Every time I felt myself rushing, I would just stop. I'm trying to develop patience and work harder at making quality garments rather than quantity. 

What's next on my list?
Well, I need to finish my niece's rapunzel dress before Valentine's day (Simplicity 2065). I'm considering doing a lace trim cardigan with a grey knit I have lying around.  My friend's sister is requesting one of those draped front cardigans - I made one for my friend, the sister wants her own! And you know, a few small projects. I recently bought two rayon prints, enough of each to make a dress. (I like rayon, okay!!) So, I'm going to have to put some thought into that. After I finish the rapunzel dress and the cardigan. 

In Other News . . . 
My "Lace Trim Baby Dress" is now available for purchase on Etsy. The dress, pictured in a pale green, is available in a variety of colors and comes with a matching bonnet. The dress and bonnet are made to order. So, if you're interested you can see my posting here.