Tag Archives: dressmaking

practice makes perfect

I promised to post more of my sewing and since I can’t really put it off any longer, here are two more tops that got made this summer: a striped blue top from a vintage 40′s pattern (the same as this one) and a Wiksten Tova Top.
I was reluctant to post them because I don’t really like how they came out. The great thing about sewing your own clothes is that you can make precisely the kind of clothing you love. The bad thing about it is that you’re bound to go wrong some time, it’s part of the learning process.

I love the look of the blue top, but it doesn’t really fit me. It’s not very noticable in the picture but the bust area is much too big for me and it looks funny with the tailored waist. I have since learned how to make a small bust adjustment. Also the fabric is too stiff for this pattern, it worked much much better with the light cotton voile I made it from the first time.

The next top is a Tova from a light-weight cotton lawn (maybe, it’s not voile but equally light weight).

I loved the fabric when I saw it and I love it still…just not on me. I don’t do patterned fabric very well, I am finding out more and more that I should stick to solids.

So with each item I make I am still learning and learning. Making clothing can sometimes be frustrating and it will always be very time consuming. But it is also very rewarding and I for one am always thinking that the next thing I sew might just be the perfect item that I have been searching for :)

sorbetto dress

I know, I’ve been talking and talking about all the stuff I’ve been sewing and never showed a single picture. So today I made my boyfriend clear a wall in our apartment so we could finally get all that stuff photographed.
First off, a new dress. I saw this picture a while ago and knew I wanted to make a dress like that. I used the free Colette Sorbetto top pattern as a base to work from, redrafted the armholes, lowered the neckline sightly and used the tova dress pattern as a guide for the length of the dress. The final pattern definitely needs some tweaking but for a first try I am super happy with how it turned out.

The fabric is a grey linen and the bias tape was made from the fabric left over from this top.

I don’t really like how these pics came out colorwise but better than nothing, right? We just don’t have the right light in our apartment for taking pictures.
I love how versatile the simple grey dress is and can’t wait to pair it with some colorful accessories and tights for fall.

Sad but true, it is actually cold enough to wear wool cardigans at the moment. Also I can never decide whether to crop out the head or not, I don’t really like pictures of myself either way ;)
The dress has french seams and in-seam pockets (don’t ask how many times I ended up redoing them until I figured out how to add in-seam pockets to a french seamed dress).
And finally, because I don’t want to wait until the rest of the world is ready for warm things again, do you remember this yarn? The socks from it are long finished and I finally got them photographed today.


So, hope it was worth the wait ;) I have some tops to show but didn’t want to cram it all into one post so there’ll be an extra one for those as soon as there’s time.
Have a lovely sunday!

this is getting way out of hand

My fabric purchases of the last two weeks, national and international, cottons and voiles and linens… does it count as an excuse that at least some of it was on sale??
And in my defence I have to say that I have projects in mind for every one of these…and two three tops made already!

AND we have a couple of long weekends coming up plus a week of holiday soon.

AND they were just so pretty and they were begging to be made into clothing.

Where can I join the Anonymous Fabricaholics?

Never mind, I’m off to prewash!

wiksten tank dress

I am in full dressmaking swing again! After making the tova dress I was totally hooked on Jenny’s patterns so I went ahead and bought her tank top/dress pattern as well.
I ordered some beautiful fabric for it but it was taking a while to ship and when I found this lovely gray woven cotton locally I had to use it to make the dress.

I really really like how this turned out! It’s a simple dress but it will be great to wear in summer on its own and also as a layering piece the rest of the year.
The pattern is (again) so very well written and I didn’t have any trouble with the instructions at all. The pattern uses french seams which is great for me because I don’t have a serger. It looks so nice from the inside as well!

I must say it took longer than I thought it would to make it, mainly because there is a lot of pinning and pressing and topstitching and putting it together requires a lot of concentration (for the inexperienced sewer like me at least!). I had to take breaks in between doing the seam finishes and the fabric was a little shifty, so the finish on the inside is not as neat as I would like. I’ve seen this done impeccably by others and I am really wondering how they did it. Practice makes perfect I guess.

The fit (I made the extra small) is perfect (again) and this will get a lot of wear I am sure!

I actually wanted to wear grey tights with this but both my pairs had holes in them so I opted for a pair of dark jeans. I really want to get some funky leggings to go with it though.

The plaid scarf was an impromptu friday night sewing project and I am working on a tutorial for it, hope to have it up soon. Jenny’s patterns are really addictive, I predict a summer full of tank top and dress sewing for me :)

alpaca cowl

The last cold weather knitting project for this spring is finished (if you don’t count socks, but I wear those all year round anyway): a cowl of the softest alpaca yarn in a deep golden brown.

I mentioned it in this post already, the yarn came from a family farm in Canada where I worked for 2 weeks in 2009. It took me this long to use up the lovely yarn from the alpacas I fed every morning.

I love how versatile cowls are and this colour especially can be worn with just about everything. For those interested in all things clothes: the boots are Lepi (a high quality italian brand my dad has been selling for decades), the shirt is from my dressmaking ventures last year (I never blogged it but it’s similar to this one) and the cardigan and jeans are both H&M (my go-to for basics, though I try to work towards buying less and instead more high quality and natural fibers).

I like to wear it loosely but it’s also wonderfully warm to wear bunched up around the neck…perfect for spring I’d say!

tova dress

I did a bit of patternmaking and dressmaking last year and I was dying to get into it again. When Jenny put a few of her famous tova patterns in her shop, I just had to have it. I looked for the right fabric a good while until I found this beautiful soft plaid flannel and here is my tova dress:

I must say I loved loved loved Jenny’s pattern and it was worth every penny. It shipped very quickly from NYC to Germany and it is beautifully made.

As I made the smallest size available (xs) I traced the pattern onto paper first. I bought some vellum paper but ended up not having enough, so I taped the pattern up against the window and used normal white paper to trace it.

The instructions were very clear. I had been a bit worried because the pattern was marked “for intermediate sewers” and I would definitely count myself as a beginner, but I didn’t have any trouble following the instructions at all.

Even though I made some of my own patterns last year I’m very glad that I did the Tova dress with Jenny’s pattern and instructions, because I ended up learning a couple of new techniques. It was also my first time setting the sleeves in the correct way instead of doing cheater sleeves by gathering at the top. I’m not the most patient sewer nor the most accurate so it is really due to the fantastic pattern and instructions that everything came out looking exactly as it should!

My treadle did a great job again, I only had trouble in areas where stitching through multiple layers of the flannel was required but I was able to get by. I ended up wishing I had done french seams in some places though, because it would have been no trouble and it would look so much nicer (wonder if I’ll find a serger on one of my next thrift store hunts).
I’m thrilled with how the dress came out!

The only thing that bugs me is that the wrong side of the fabric isn’t very nice to look at and it shows as the collar flaps open. I should have lined it (not that I know how to do that). The fit is great, definitely better than my own patterns from last year and it is just such a nice dress.

Thank you Jenny, for making such wonderful patterns! (I just had to go ahead and buy another one, I’m waiting for the fabric to make it right now).

dressmaking – my first dress

Dressmaking is FUN! Even though it took me many many many hours to draft a pattern (see this post here) and a lot of patience and seamripping and improvising to get this finished I am thrilled by the end result and can’t wait to make another item of clothing! I have never really sewn clothing before so on this project I not only learned to make patterns but also to make necklines, armholes, sleeves, buttonholes, darts and what not!

This dress looks pretty close to the vision I was trying to recreate and I love it! It has two darts at the back (not visible in the picture) and the skirt part is just a big rectangle which I ruffled to fit the length of the bodice (I prefer wearing it with that belt to emphasize the waist more).
It is made out of a silky soft blue poplin (which at 8€ a metre was pretty reasonable for german prices). It doesn’t wrinkle and you hardly have to iron it at all. It was lovely to sew with also.
I sewed it on my vintage Phoenix treadle machine which worked like a dream. I think treadling is it for me…at this point I find it hard to imagine ever sewing on an electric machine again!
I had to use my mom’s Pfaff to make the buttonholes and finish the inside seams with zig-zag stitch and found it so hard to adjust back to electric.
By the way Cal Patch suggests french seams in her book ‘Design-it-yourself clothes. Patternmaking simplified’ which I used to make the pattern. I just haven’t done french seams before and was already overwhelmed by all the new techniques I was learning making the dress…I’m saving the french seams for my next dress ;)

To the end I never managed to make the sleeves fit the armholes… no matter how often I altered the pattern they were always too big. I ended up making three pleats on each sleeve but in retrospect I should have ruffled the ca. 5 cm on top…would have looked neater I think.
The part that I really screwed up on is the neckline…I tried making my own bias tape and finishing in neatly but it just didn’t work at all! I came out all wrinkly :( Also it kind of creases between the neckline and the armholes rather annoyingly. I don’t mind too much though…all in all this dress is a raging success for me and I am so happy with it!

spring is coming

but is is slow to arrive. Another beautiful, sunny day today and I have even found the first spring flowers of the year in my mother’s garden.

At the barn on the other hand (which lies a critical few 100 metres higher) everything is again covered in snow.
I have again spent the whole weekend sewing, making a spring dress for myself. I made it on my beloved vintage treadle (that baby rocks!!) except for the button holes and the inside seam finish with zig-zag stitch (I drove out to my mom’s house to use her Pfaff for that). It’s nearly completed, I’ll just have to sew on the buttons by hand tonight and then I’ll do a big dressmaking post :)

The cats have spent the day sleeping in the sunny spots on the floor and while I have no photos of that, here’s a recent one of Murphy in all his sweet, anxious little self.

patterndrafting adventures

Wow, has the weekend flown by! Can’t believe it’s already over again. I had planned to finally tackle Cal Patch’s wonderful book “Design-it-yourself-clothes” and make a top pattern for a dress. For one I am totally in love with the gorgeous dress Anna did based on that book and also I need a paririe dress for a charity event which is planned at the barn in June (1880′s country fair). I haven’t got any fabric for it yet but figured I could already draft the pattern and make a muslin on Saturday morning.

Two days and three handbasted muslins later (thank goodness for all of those old Ikea pillow cases, or I wouldn’t have had enough cheap fabric!) I was getting pretty frustrated because it just wouldn’t fit and the armhole was making me cry. My boyfriend said ‘Well, you didn’t think it was going to be easy, did you? Why did you think nobody does it anymore these days?’ to which I stammered ‘I thought people were just being lazy’.
Fast forward to a fourth draft and muslin and things are looking a whole lot better. Still not super duper perfect but good enough to be a satisfying finish to the weekend.

Totally unrelated but we’ve also been having a terrible storm today and all the way to the barn the streets were littered with branches and leaves. I took the highway on the way back but even there it was pretty scary with the sudden strong gusts of wind…I was glad to be home again and watch the rest of the storm from my cozy living room!

weekending

My copies of ‘Design-It-Yourself Clothes: Patternmaking Simplified’ by Cal Patch and ‘Water for Elephants’ by Sara Gruen arrived in the mail yesterday. I can’t wait to read either of those, so it’s going to be a rather quiet weekend.

Also my pretty vintage treadle has had to take a trip to the sewing machine doctor’s. Apparently there really is something not quite right with the upper tension (so it wasn’t just my mistake) and while fixing it the shop will give her a good clean as well and do all necessary adjustments and such. I know it’s in good hands but I really miss it already and it will be gone for about a week! I think my relationship with my material possessions is a bit unhealthy…it is certainly wrong to be so emotionally attached to a sewing machine, a notebook or a camera, right?

I should follow the cat’s example…the only thing they’re deeply emotionally attached to is food!