Fix It July: from Grecian to My Cup of Fugly

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the Original dress

Throwing all caution to the wind I took on another less than stellar Make which did feature in MMM’15: My Fortuny Delphos Wannabe dress.

She’s such a Romantic, perfectly in her element on holiday in the Sun & Sea. But seriously, how will I ever afford to take her to such exotic places again with Uncle Sam & HRH dipping into my wallet whenever they want? 😉 Besides, I was never comfortable with her flashing my ribby chest.

So yeah another commitment-phobe city ensemble coming up! And one that MR considers F-U-G-L-Y. But I’m OK with that. What does he know about fashion right? 😉

The Design & Construction Odyssey

odyssey First off this fabric is a royal PITA to work with. Unlike Mario Fortuny’s Grecian Delphos which were made of silk, this is 70s Mary McFadden style polyester mushroom pleats. I don’t know if the Fortuny silk version drapes better, but my polyester version definitely balloons out in the most unflattering places, yet at the same time is highly shifty & unstable. An Utter Diva.

I was at a loss design-wise. Apart from Fortuny, McFadden & Issey Myake are the only designers I know who use this type of fabric as a signature. But neither are my cup of tea.

sari top + Gigli wannabe + Fortuney wannabeodyssey I did like the dress as a skirt in this style shot though. So comes what may out  the Reckless Scissor came!

TOP:

odyssey Designing by flat patterndrafting would be a nightmare. So again I turned to draping with Q. (The dress was originally draped on her mother Big Bertha.) I started out addressing what I didn’t like about the dress bodice: too much skin at the chest & side boobs…

  • Front neckline was pulled from the V into a square for more coverage.
  • The side seam was pulled closer to remove the underarm portion that had been cut down to the waist level.

odyssey The result however looked a bit twee. Too safe. Which draws attention to the extra volume added by this fabric. I threw on some elastic to see where/how I can control this extra volume, but ended up liking the combination enough to use it in the final design. It’s just my cup of tea – the edgy contrast between utilitarian black elastic vs the fluid femininity of the mushroom pleat. Exposed elastic as a decorative detail is certainly not new to my aesthetic. My former favorite designer Comme des Garçons did it in Spring/Summer ’94. And I have a Jean-Paul Gaultier men’s robe with elastic waist ties from the 90’s that I wear a lot too.

So that’s the Design settled. On Q anyway. It’s a totally different story on me. Because I don’t want pins stuck into me to keep the fabric in place. The temptation to rely on pins is such a pit-fall when one design by draping rather than patterndafting.

odyssey Thank goodness there’s Pattern Magic 2‘s Different Facing Different Looks technique. Too bad I chose a whimpy cotton batiste for the facing/lining. Gravity won. All the more reason to incorporate the elastic into the design. Now it serves both a decorative & a structural purpose.

odyssey The top ended up with the most ridiculously complicated underpinning. See the annotated photos below for all the glorious gory details. That’s what you get with a Band-Aid approach to design! Definitely not a repeatable make. And as if that wasn’t enough, this thing has ZERO hanger appeal. This is definitely an Once Is Enough top.

SKIRT/DRESS:

I could not for the life of me decide on a hem length. After the chop there was definitely no floor length option left, which is just as well since it’s so impractical for modern day life.

2-sew-Skirt-inside1

It’s Super Skress!!!???

odyssey As the matching top has already given way to exposed elastics, I spared myself the agony of committing to one length. So an exposed elastic waistband done the iCandy Handmade way it is then. One that’s post-feast waist circumference in length so it hangs lower exposing the waist, and can be pull down even lower for a saucier low-rise look, or worn above the bust as a dress.

odyssey Matching detachable elastic shoulder straps & famine waist elastic belt complete the dress look. At a pinch the belt also yield a normal rise skirt. And if I sail to the edge I can also eke out a knee length skirt by doubling over the belt and leaving the built in waistband to hug my behind – not the most comfortable way to wear it, but hey we all have to make sacrifices for fashion right? 😉

odysseyodysseyodyssey

And FINALLY…The Mug & Style Shots

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😉

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Jungle Cocktail Dress…aka Burdastyle 2012-04-128A

Jungle January 2014And just before time is called on Jungle January 2014, this tortoisey snake finally slither its way into the party with its ratty tail barely clearing the closing door.

So let’s get straight down to businesses and boogie down to that last five minutes of the Jungle wailings…

Style Shots & Mug Shots

BS 2012-04-128aBS 2012-04-128aBS 2012-04-128aBS 2012-04-128a

BS 2012-04-128aBS 2012-04-128a

BS 2012-04-128a BS 2012-04-128a BS 2012-04-128a BS 2012-04-128a

BS 2012-04-128a BS 2012-04-128a BS 2012-04-128aNext up must be the fabric of course. Says so on the party invite dress code.

Fabric & Notions Used

I got this snake print fabric 2-1/2 years ago, and by the time I realized that I’m in love, I couldn’t get any more of it 🙁 Thankfully I got 3 meters originally. So there should be enough for another garment.

It has a lovely drape and isn’t too difficult to sew. But it does feel slightly plasticky (hence the delay in attempt to get more). And – my pet hate – like all jerseys it curls at the edges. Normally I’d starch the hell out of these curly edges. But this time starch has no effect. Maybe it’s 100% water-hating petro fiber. Who knows.

As a non-snake person – I’m terrified of them, even earthworms & eels that remind me of them – this first foray into snake print is suitably timid & subtle. Maybe next year I’ll be bolder. In fact I already have a couple of loud prints with splashes of snakes from my last NYC trip. And it might be a good idea for me to start preparing them early. Who knows, I might even come to Jungle January 2015 on time!

OK, on to the hangover drone that is the pattern review…

(Or if you prefer more jungle action, check out the Jungle January 2014 Flickr photo stream!)

 The Pattern

I actually didn’t get the magazine when it came out – much to my regret now – so had to download the PDF version from Burdastyle website. And while I do appreciate the second chance, downloadable patterns are a royal pain. It’s better than not being able to get the pattern at all. But given the choice, I’d take pre-printed patterns any day. Yes, even Burda’s unwieldy jungle of  overlapping pattern lines.

So the pattern itself…I was rather surprised to find virtually no makes out there on the interweb. Nada on Burdastyle.com. And a paltry one make on Pattern Review which unfortunately featured only action shots, so hard to see the dress clearly. Burda Russia of course have a few more – including the longer view B, but still not as many as this pretty dress deserves I thought.

Size Used

This time I went with 36, which happens to be the recommended size for me according to the sizing chart. But this is only because 36 matched my new Basic Top Block most closely in the key measurements.

Changes Made

Fitting changes

For a change I didn’t use my Block to gauge alterations needed. Instead I pressed Q into tissue-fitting service. I started with the lining pieces because it has less drapes / is more fitted, so is easier to fit. Once I figure out the main changes needed, I apply the same changes to the shell pieces.

The alterations this time are fairly minimum.

  • Short, aging body shape adjustments: Shortened between bust & waist, waist & hip, and hip & knee. This kept the widths at all the key levels unchanged.
  • Small hip adjustment: Graded down at the side seam from waist down.
  • Front-back body shape adjustment: Shifted a little bit of the waist shaping from the side seams to the darts. In other words, made the darts wider at the waist and added the amount this removed back at the side seam waist. So side seam is straighter. (In Frabjous Couture‘s recent discussion about shape & pattern drafting, I’d be a less dramatic Liz.)
  • Shortened bust dart for my low hanging girls, and lengthened the back darts above waist for my narrow lower back.
  • Sloping uneven shoulder adjustment: I narrowed the upper back a little bit so the straps won’t hang too close to the edge of my shoulders. The strap then had to be adjusted in length to accommodate this. I also shortened the left strap to accommodate my lower left shoulder. Hopefully there won’t be any jumping off the shoulder cliff drama with these precautions.

There’s one more change I’d make if I were making this in bias woven. And that is to take account of bias stretching when assessing the pattern length. Kenneth King mentioned a rule of thumb of 1/4″ stretch per 6″ length in his Moulage book. If I were to cut on the bias as instructed, then I might want to shorten everything accordingly – including the darts and torso shaping. In a shapeless dress you might be able to just shorten at the hem as needed. But this dress actually is a body skimming sheath. So I’d want to make sure the torso shaping hasn’t elongated after gravity has worked it’s lousy magic.

This time I didn’t make this adjustment because my fabrics were all knits, so I cut on the standard straight grain.

Design changes
  • I had to lengthen the lining and add another layer of underlining to preserve my modesty. My snake print was way too see-through. The lining was lengthened from hip length to just below my bum. The underlining is knee length & just slightly shorter than the snake print. The underlining pattern is the dress pattern minus the front neckline pleats and the skirt side extension. I left a vent where the side extension would have been.

Verdict on the Instruction

The instruction is OK, though mention of length extension was confusing. Maybe it was referring to the magazine pattern. The PDF version looks like the full pattern, so I didn’t lengthen anywhere. Other than that, I did the usual thing of giving the instruction an once over, then doing my own thingy.

Theoretically this should be quick to make. But I ended up sewing each layer with slightly different seaming technique because, well as you know, knits are temperamental divas. And I have 3 of them to deal with:

  • The lining is stitched & top-stitched on the sewing machine with stretch stitches.
  • The underlining has stretch-stitched & hand top-stitched darts, and 3-thread narrow overlocked side and back seams.
  • And saving the best for the outside, the snake print has hand-stitched darts to minimize stretching & wavy seams. But the side & back seams were again done in 3-thread narrow overlock to keep the dress floaty. Unlike the under layers, I didn’t cut off the dart seam allowances on this layer because I like how the shading adds slimming vertical style lines to the dress.
  • All three have 2-thread rolled hem done on the overlocker. I like the lightness of the result. But there were lots of oops with the rolled stitch not catching the fabric edge. Urgh. Hand blanket stitch to the rescue.
  • And the straps I had to stabilize with stay tapes to prevent it stretching & showing off more of me than intended. Lots of hand sewing here too.

Would I sew it again / Would I recommend it to others

With all the fussy fabrics it’s no wonder I’m so late to the party! One thing for sure: There’ll be no swinging like Tarzan in this delicate dress with all its Oops. But I like the result well enough to want to wear it to a relative’s summer wedding coming up soon.

I think the pattern would also be really pretty in the recommended bias georgette (or even chiffon). But I’d only make it in those fabrics if I can figure out a way to avoid the wavy seam like on the pattern view B photo:

1-fit-lining-fAnd those double french darts – I just love how they looked on Q in the stiffish tissue paper. It gave Q sideway curves where she and I have none. This detail is a bit lost on droopy fabrics like georgette or mesh jersey. So I just might adapt the pattern to work with a crisper fabric like silk shantung. I’d have to do away with the neckline drapes and pleats, and the skirt side extension of course. It’d make a nice little cocktail party dress for ladies who lunch! 🙂

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McCall 6501 Girls Dress A+E

Last but not least in the why-the-hell-am-I-Sewing for Kids Trilogy is the pile on the left.

The Pattern

My niece picked the black mesh fabric and had wanted a jacket out of it. But I was worried that a see-through jacket might be a bit too sexy / grown-up so I tried to J-Crewfy it. I thought the fabric would work well with a drapy design like this – the flounce especially. As added insurance against parental objection I also added the sleeves. The Franken-drawing looked alright to me. But of the 3 makes, I’m most meh about the result of this one…

Catalogue Shots

M6501_2

Is it just me or does this dress look dowdy? I’m wondering now if I shouldn’t have just made another gathered tier skirt with black lining.

Fabric & Notions Used

I was needlessly apprehensive about sewing the mesh knit and unduly confident about sewing the Lycra underlining. The mesh in fact sewed easily on the overlocker. The Lycra lettuced like crazy on both the overlocker (with differential feed turned right up) and sewing machine…until I spray starch the hell out of it. I even resorted to homemade starch when I ran out of the commercial one. Once it’s stiff like paper it behaved itself.

Size Used

Like with the Burda jacket I made a 12 – supposedly a size larger than my niece’s current measurements. But unlike the Burda jacket this one is L-A-R-G-E. Even I could fit into it. Not sure if it’s the typical over-generous ease problem that many have reported on the Big 4 patterns, or if the fault is with me for choosing stretchy fabrics.

I would have said “that’s OK as she can grow into it”. But of the 3 garments I think this is the most kiddy design. The other two could easily be teenage or even grown up fashion. This one looks too sickly sweet to be worn by anyone other than little girls & tweenies.

Changes Made

Frankenpatterned view A sleeves onto view E dress. And underlined the whole thing.

Verdict on the Instruction

I read the instruction but did my own thing because of the changes I made. Otherwise the instruction is pretty straight-forward (and easier to follow than Burda in my opinion).

Like with the cut-lace tier skirt, I treated the underlining as a separate layer for the main bodice. Only in the armscyes, sleeve hems, and back neck opening did I treat the layers as one.

M6501_2-d-1

As much as possible I kept the seams and hem stitching as light-weight as possible. So the mesh shell had narrow overlocked seam and roll hems – first time I did this and it came out without a hitch thanks to the easy-to-handle mesh fabric. The underlining had slightly wider seams with a machine-stitched single-fold narrow hem.

M6501_2-d-2

I was debating whether to finish the sleeve hems the same way, but decided to make it look more like the other upper edges – neck hem, back opening. This is to avoid distracting from the design line of the fluid flounce which flows into the fluid bottom hem. (There’s a bit of design thoughts going into this after all, even if the result isn’t quite as fashionable as I had hoped! }:-)

Would I sew it again / Would I recommend it to others

It is a sweet looking dress. And if you get the sizing right and picked the right fabric I think it would look good on young girls & younger Tweenies.

Somehow I don’t think I’ll be sewing this again though.  Unless this Tweeny Trilogy turn out to be unexpected mega-blockbusters I’m done sewing for kiddies. Back to regularly scheduled adult sewing next.

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Me Made Holiday Report Card

In the suitcase…

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Tops

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  1. McCall 6078 Cowl Neck Sleeveless T-shirt
  2. Franken McCall 6078c Cowl Neck Leopard Print Sleeveless T-shirt
  3. Burda 2012-09-123 Painted (Byzantine) T-shirt

Bottoms

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  1. Burdastyle 2012-05-113 Draped Leopard Print Skirt
  2. Refashioned RTW Leopard Print Skirt
  3. This is the only non-Me-Made item in my suitcase. Or is it? I did shorten then turn up the hem to wear it as a capri. So can I be cheeky and count this as Me-Made as well? 😉
  4. Refashioned RTW Heidi Skirt. Not blogged. But it’s pretty much the same make as my Improv Embroidered Taffeta Pleated Skirt

Dresses

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  1. OK, another borderline cased. RTW Victoria Secret Dress altered to fit me better. Does it still count?
  2. Improv Tent Dress. Not blogged yet. This has got to be the Happiest Oops & my favorite make. Ever. It has gone on almost every holiday with me since I made it – I think that was back in 2003.
  3. V1159 Donna Karan Twist Front Dress

Keeping Warm…

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  1. Wrap Cardigan based on Burda 2011-06-139 Bluemarine Wrap Dress, planned a while back, but only finished during this trip. So not blogged yet. I was actually finishing the hemming just before checking my luggage in for the flight to Ohio! But boy was I glad I finished it. I wore it so many times during this trip.
  2. Franken Burda 013-02-121 Sweater
  3. Improv Faux Shearling Stole

Accessories

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Actually worn….

I got to hand it to you Me-Made-May girls. I don’t know how you manage a whopping 31 days. Even with just 14 days I couldn’t keep up with the photo-documentation.

No, worse, Mother Nature intervened (too hot AND too cold). So despite packing enough for 15 outfits ((3 tops x 4 bottoms) + 3 dresses) I keep sorting to the same few comfortable outfits. Here are the few photos I did manage to take…

What I’ve learnt…

I need to stop making tight fitting summer clothing! Skin. Wants. To. Breathe…And. Feel. The. Breeze.

And watch out for grainline, stretch, & gravity! The two sleeveless cowl neck tops were based on the same pattern. But the yellow one was cut on the crossgrain while the turquoise leopard one was cut on the regular lengthwise grain.  As stretch is greatest in the crossgrain on most knits, the yellow one’s armholes have obviously stretched thanks to gravity and feels comfortably loose. The turquoise one didn’t. So was a bit too binding for hot NY summers.

The Final Score

I think that will have to be a B at best.

I did force myself to wear everything at least once. But some days I just had to change midway through the day. There is only so much I’m willing to suffer for fashion!

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Honey, really, I don’t have enough…

The Spring Coat(s) have fallen by the way side of course. My next project(s) of fantasy desire will be fashioned from this gorgeous turquoise leopard print jersey from B&J Fabrics. Drool.

turq leopard print jerseyturq leopard print jerseyturq leopard print jersey

My initial thoughts were a cowl neck top and a wrap dress.

Actually, this fabric looks a lot like the one Assorted Notions used for her Burda Blumarine wrap dress (Burdastyle Magazine 2011-06-139).

bsmag-2011-06-139_tech

I don’t think it’s exactly the same, at least from what I can see of her close-ups. Mine has short strokes in the turquoise area presumably to simulate the furriness of leopard skin. Anyway, I love her wrap dress. But I’m not sure it would work so well on my rectangular figure – you need a bit of VaVaVroom to bring this preternatural creature to live. But at least it’s an option.

Then there’s Vogue 8379, a classic DvF style wrap dress that everyone seem to rave about.

V8379B_line

Or the slightly straighter Vogue 8784, though that’s designed for woven rather than knit so might have too much ease.

V8784B_line

And for the cowl neck, I think McCall 6078 view B can be pressed into service again, maybe with an extended collar to up the drape quotient.

M6078B_line

Then I thought this cowl neck might be a good accent to build a wardrobe sewing plan around. Looking through my other swatches there are a few that would be a lovely combination with this. Hmmm…maybe I should make that wrap dress a separate 3/4 sleeve top and skirt to up the mix-and-match possibilities.

Maybe Vogue 8790 for the top and Burdastyle Magazine 2012-05-113 for the skirt. I’d probably line the skirt with a power mesh for a bit more heft – this knit is a bit on the thin side. And I’ll have to insert a zipper because the fabric doesn’t really have enough stretch.

V8790C_lineBSmag_2012-05-113B_tech

I was getting quite giddy from the thoughts of all these possibilities. So imagine my dismay when I discovered that my 2-1/4 yards are not even enough for one of those wrap dresses.

With all my expensive fabric habit, I failed where it counts. Am so regretting not getting more. Now I can’t find anything as nice. 🙁

It’s always the case. I’d find some heavenly but expensive fabric. I’d think to myself if I only get a yard or two it’ll still be somewhat affordable. And then I’d find myself afraid to make anything because I have so little of it that I can’t decide what to make. Where as the uglier cheaper stuff I’d get yards and yards, but then not be inspired to make anything.

I’ll have to wait until my brother’s gone home to spread out the fabric and see what I can possibly squeeze out of it. Wish me luck on that!

But what do you think? If you have 2-1/4 yards of this fabric, what would you make? And if you find a gorgeous fabric what’s the minimum you’d usually buy?

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