Sunday, May 26, 2013

DIY: Pre-Shirred Fabric Dress and Chemically Crinkled Dress

The Pre-Shirred Dress was supposed to be the easiest, one seam dress ever.  And it could have been. Except I didn't buy enough fabric, which I guess was my fault, but I blame the Fabricland people for not helping me :)

For this dress, you basically buy enough fabric to wrap around your chest and then sew a straight line down the side - because the top portion of the fabric has elastic in it, it conforms nicely and then flares out from the waist down.

You measure around your chest and buy that amount of fabric.  I needed 84 cm, so I decided to buy 1m to have extra for straps if I decided I wanted them.  Well, you need to cut 84cm where the fabric is all scrunched - not along the bottom - or you will not have enough of it. Guess what I ended up with... It wasn't too tragic, I just couldn't walk in the dress unless I took tiny steps, which, of course looks ridiculous.

Back w/ Slit
Notes to others (and self)
- measure the top part and get them to cut that length
- pre-wash and dry --> this is cotton fabric, so it shrank a bit

A few moments of quick-thinking and I opened the seam from the bottom up to my knees and made a slit, reinforced the top of the slit w/ a tiny piece of ribbon, and then I could walk!

The great things about this fabric - even with mistakes, it is a pretty easy dress (perfect for beginners) and if you are comfortable with the length as it is, you don't even need to hem the bottom! It truly can be a single seam dress!

Chemically Crinkled Dress:  This dress was really easy to make.  It is very similar to Pre-Shirred fabric, but there is no elastic, it has been chemically or heat set to make part of the fabric crinkled which allows that part to stretch nicely around the torso and then the rest drapes nicely for the skirt portion.

The differences b/w this fabric and the pre-shirred fabric:
- the fabric is sheer
- the scrunchy-part is not at the top, but all along the middle, so you have to fold it in half to a) lessen the sheerness (unless you want your underpinnings to show) and b) so that you can create a layered effect

To make the dress:
- fold fabric in half so that the crinkly part is along one side (I staggered the other ends so there was a ruffle effect, but you can do it evenly if you prefer)
- measure your chest and use this measurement + seam allowance (I actually just wrapped the fabric around my body and cut where the fabric overlapped. This isn't science, people!)
- NOTE: this fabric has no real stretch, so don't make the top part too tight or you won't be able to get in/out of it.  Ask me how I know...
- use extra fabric to make straps

Friday, May 24, 2013

Me-Made Vacation

I have been sewing up a storm! This is on account of our family vacation to sunny Cuba. I've been putting off a lot of projects only to plow through all of them as soon as we finalized our trip.

Some pics are included here. The more detailed ones will be in separate posts for the new items.

The new items include:
- pre-shirred sundress (so easy!) Blogged about here.
- fancy bathing suit cover-up (supposed to be easy, but I made it so much more difficult than necessary!) Blogged about here.
- peplum top using fabric from my first Meetup (Toronto Fashion Sewers) and a pattern suggested  and reviewed by MimiG - New Look 6168. Blog post to follow re: my experience with the pattern and review.
Pre-Shirred Fabric Dress

Bathing Suit Coverup

Peplum Top - New Look 6168

Old items that came along on the trip:
- jersey skirt
- cowl dress (everyone's favourite, Vogue 1250)
- sheer sundress using crinkle-top fabric (like pre-shirred, but done in a chemical/heatset way)

Jersey Skirt

Cowl Dress - V1250

Sheer Crinkle-top Dress
I actually didn't realize I had so many trip-worthy me-made outfits, so I was super excited when I realized how many I had packed :)

More sewing to come!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What's in a Name?

In the sewing community there is a trend of naming the dressform, sewing machine and serger. I have been contemplating what I would name my most important tools.

The dressform was an easy one - Lucy.  I love Lucy! :) both the show and my dressform.  The show encompasses my favourite light/slapstick comedy with a strong female role and a whole lot of silliness. Plus the outfits are fantastic!

Singer df150_g adjustable dress form, gray, small

The sewing machine I had to think long and hard about - I finally decided that she was a Daisy.  I love the 50s and it just sounds perfect - she is a fancy, but hardworking lady, that Daisy :) Daisy is a Singer Ingenuity 7436.  I don't think it's made anymore as it is no longer advertised on the Singer website, but you can still get this great machine 

Then there is Stella the Serger:
A Streetcar Named Desire, Stanley Kowalski 

I feel a bit like Stanley yelling "Stella" in anger and ripping my hair out every time the machine does its own thing, which is all the time! Perhaps Stella needs a new name - one that is more positive. Or maybe I need to watch some tutorials on how to adjust the serger...

It occurs to me that there is definite 50s trend here. It just so happens that the 40s and 50s are my favourite fashion eras as well, so it does make sense that Lucy, Daisy and Stella all hail from that time.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Ladybugs Everywhere

The ladybug dress is finished and the pictures are adorable - all thanks to a great new camera and Mr. Iron Press's camera skills :)  Little Z has spent a lot of time in this new outfit.  I made some changes from the first dress - namely, the sash (from a contrasting but coordinating ladybug fabric) is attached just at the centre back so that it ties at the front.  This creates a few tucks and pleats when you tie it, but everything just seems to lie a bit better than having the ribbon sewed down across the entire bodice. I also made the neckline a bit wider and inserted the elastic using a serger and then folding it over - more on this technique when I post the pattern.

Gazing longingly into the distance

Back w/ sash detail
Back sash attachment

Front - full length (pardon my scraggly hair :) I didn't intend to be in the pics!
 The pattern is on its way - I just have to figure out how to take my hand-drawn pattern and make it a nice digital PDF without my scrawly handwriting all over it.  Photoshop? Open-source program? Any ideas?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Little Baby Things!

So, now that I'm back in the sewing saddle after having my precious little girl, all I can think about are baby clothes and baby things.  Selfish sewing still happens :) but for the most part, I am planning all the adorable and fashionable things I can make for Little Z.  The best thing is, it takes so little fabric to make anything! I can actually use some of my remnants to make great outfits for her - I just have to make sure not to wear the matching fabric outfit on the same day.  That's worse than twins that dress alike. We don't want that.

The latest is a little dress with an elastic neckline and a bit of length so that she can wear it for a while to come.  It can always be used as a tunic later on as long as the neck fits over her head.  And since it fits over mine, I can only assume it will last for a while.

Front of dress

Back of Dress

 Back of Dress w/ Bow Tied

The trick was to get the cap sleeve and the underarm finish to look good.  I took a cue from a ready made dress and serged the sleeve to shoulder attachment and the underarm part in one fell swoop and then folded in the underarm hem.  This pushed the entire serged seam to roll to the inside.  The finish is tidy and looks good from the right and wrong sides.

 Underarm hem folded in and stitched
 Underarm hem from the inside with lining showing

Next up: little ladybug dress and a pattern for those of you who are interested.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Zombie At Large

For Halloween this year, Mr. Iron Press requested a zombie costume with full make-up...including creepy eyes.  The creepy eyes exhausted our Halloween budget, so my costume is a little less elaborate this year than in years past.

After watching ~10 videos on zombie makeup techniques, I felt I was ready for the challenge - including latex scars - pretty realistic looking ones, if I do say so myself although the pics aren't of the best quality - I will try to update with better ones.

Creepy Zombie Eyes:

Realistic Latex Scars:

Zombie at Home - full make-up, but costume still lacks the "right" amount of blood:

Zombie at the bar after a long day of work:

Zombie and Cat - can you even see my ears? I didn't even have time to add the whiskers!

Et Voila! A perfect Halloween night - Mr. Iron Press even got a 10 for costume from some impromptu judges at Starbucks!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Back into Sewing

I have been procrastinating lately.  Normally, that means I do art-related or sewing-related things, but recently, I have just been avoiding doing everything.

However, I found some great sweater knit fabrics at the local fabric store.  The teal one has flecks of gold thread through it and is a bit on the sheer side.  The purple one is tighter knit with a fuzzy texture to it.

And I started with the Cowl-Neck Top pattern from by ichigogirl.

I had to make some alternations - I'm pregnant and growing by the day, so the stretchy knit was just what I needed.

I did make some adjustments to the pattern and the instructions, especially for some of the seam finishes.

Neck Binding:  Mostly because I cut the extra strip of fabric too short, but it actually worked out pretty well.

1) attach seam binding to the edge of the strip (right sides together with seam binding opened up)
 sew along first fold line
2 & 3) fold over the edge of the fabric (don't worry about the raw edge of the binding as it will be hidden inside the seam
4) stitch in the ditch to anchor the seam binding
5)  edgestitch as close to the edge of the seam binding as possible to attach make a nice, clean, stretch-free neck edge

The right side of the sweater gets a double line of stitching adding a nice finishing touch to the final product.

Shoulder Seams: The pattern is meant for something more like jersey, so seams don't have to be finished, but the sweater knit ravels and gets a bit bulky at the seams.  For these seams, I used a bit of leftover sheer ribbon in a similar colour to finish everything off.

Basically, the steps are the same as for the bias binding, but the ribbon is a bit more finicky - and - since the seam didn't get finished until after the front was attached to the back with the cowl already tucked under, remember to leave ~1inch of ribbon to fold under to finish off the neckside-edge of the seam (#3 and 4) for a nice clean finish.  This time, the shoulder seam only gets one line of edge stitching to anchor the whole thing - no need to stitch in the ditch; just pin the seam towards the back of the sweater (#8 and 9).

Then, I just finished off the side seams, (small zigzag and serged edge) and attached the sleeves (also zigzagged and serged) which I used from a separate pattern that I drafted myself. The last step was to hem the sleeves and bottom of the sweater (.5" + 1.5" for sleeves and .5" + 2" for the bottom).

Voila - we have a finished sweater!

Changes for Next Time:
- make back slightly narrower to make the neckline tighter around the back of the neck and the cowl a bit ... cowlier?
- lengthen the cowl part that gets folded under so that it doesn't try to get untucked during wear.
- maybe add tucks to the front shoulder to encourage a nice drape to the cowl

Great to be back in the swing of things!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Journeys through Deutchland - The Farmers' Market

For the next little while, I will post some stories from my adventures in Germany this summer.  The Germans are very different than Canadians.  The trip was a success, even with some lost items and crazy driving through winding roads in the Alps.  10 days + 2 for travel.  I will dedicate a few posts to the peculiarities and interesting elements that make Germany such a magical place.

Almost every town in Germany centres around a town square in which a farmers' market can be found almost daily.  The beauty of the fruits, veggies, and mushrooms is second only to their rich taste and tantalizing aroma.
Actually, some of the fruit and veggies look almost unreal.  Too perfect. No blemishes, perfectly shaped, and the perfect ripeness.  I questioned whether they use pesticides and chemicals, but it doesn't seem to be the case.  The produce is just fresh from the fields, straight to the market.

The most exciting items where in the mushroom category.  The freshly picked chantrelle mushrooms are used in most of the restaurants as a side dish or as the main part of the dish.  The perfection of these mushrooms in a simple butter and cream sauce is a gourmand's dream! I wish to have a forest in my backyard filled with wild mushroom!


Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Six-Fold Tie: Pink and Blue Silk Brocade

I have finally tackled the Six-fold tie again.  This is a perfect tie, where the weight of the fabric and many folds actually add to the body of the tie.  This means that you don't have to add strange filling material to give the tie shape.  The tip of the tie is also self-lined (meaning that the fabric for the tie is the same as the fabric for that diamond shaped bit on the other side.  Adding a self-tipped section makes a tie look much fancier.

Unfortunately, the silk I chose, a Chinese silk brocade, was quite heavy and led to a slightly thicker tie than I had wanted to create.  Next time, I will go the normal route and use a lighter silk for the tip when using brocade fabrics.   It's okay, though.  My husband still loves it and he wore it to work today, so it must be presentable enough.

A regular tie just uses two folds and must be filled with a layer of felt to give the tie shape and body.  From the front, no one would ever know the difference between a regular tie and a six-fold, but the final result is much more exquisite.  And knowing that you have all those layers of silk is a glorious little secret.

Here is an example of an opened up six-fold tie, so you can see the folds:

Tuesday, February 23, 2010