Sunday, August 31, 2014

smoke and mirrors

for the record, to date this is the best thing i have ever made.

Grainline Kat
are you watching too many crime dramas when you start saying things like 'for the record'??

this, friends, is Grainline Studio's Kat dress, and i am SO GLAD that i bought the pattern before it disappeared from the online shop. because i LOVE this dress. the style lines are super flattering and its a gorgeous and unique style.


and i'll stop fangirling now. actually no i wont. ITS GORGEOUS.
(also: missing a hook & eye at the zipper top here)

okay okay, on to the nuts & bolts. when choosing a size, i ended up cutting all the horizontal lines on the bodice as a size 4 and all the vertical lines as a size 6. usually i cut a small size for my frame (shoulders, armholes, etc.) and then add extra room at the bust, which sometimes makes for an unfriendly curve in the under-bust-part of the princess seam. so! i was curious to see if distributing the extra horizontal room a wee bit would make for a nicer overall fit, and it worked! all i needed to do was add 1/2" extra height to the centre front and side front (tapering to nothing at the side seam), and then contour the seams above and below the bust.


vertical lines size 6, horizontal lines size 4. hours spent redistributing an FBA across all those contrast bands, zero!

the main fabric is a heavy cotton print from Mood, which had these weird reverse-tye-dye splotches along the length. when i bought it, i was actually going to use it for a Sewaholic Saltspring, but the stiffness definitely works better (on me) with the structure of the Kat :). anyways, the fabric pattern is pretty regularly spaced, so some careful cutting was required to get everything on grain with a good splotch distribution. but! in the end it kind of looks like a plume of smoke on the front, which i think is pretty rad :).


that is a bra strap, btw. i have yet to meet a strapless bra i can agree with.

throughout the whole process of making this i was super nervous about the colours working together, but in the end i think the contrast totally works. the lighter fabric is a quilting cotton (2 fat quarters actually, although it meant piecing the bottom front hem part), and the black is a light voile. i used the voile for the bodice lining and hem facing, but the Mood fabric for the skirt lining so the skirt would have extra volume :).


the skirt finishing. its so pretty.

now, the best part was hands-down the construction. this was pure zen to sew. every fiddly little piece lined up, every seam allowance gets finished and tucked away so it looks as clean and lovely on the inside as the outside. the zipper is finished between the lining and shell, the hem facing encloses all the raw edges of the contrast bands so the skirt lining hangs free, and the bodice lining has boning for beautifully sculptured support.


hanger loops definitely made out of halloween ribbon. its how i roll.

the only little issue i had was with the hem balance. the front does hang a bit lower than the back, which im pretty sure is because my posture is different in 5" heels and the finished dress than barefoot in a muslin (oops). a small horizontal tuck right above the light contrast band should fix it though. and then it will be THE PERFECT DRESS :) :)


yikes overly twee expression

so! verdict is i love this pattern, love this dress, love this fabric, and all of the engineering and care and finishing makes it the best thing i've ever made :). and! if you're the type who gets a kick out of making intersecting pieces line up perfectly (and i guess has the pattern already :\ ), i think you will enjoy sewing the Kat dress!

kb

Thursday, July 31, 2014

we can't all be zooey deschanel

hello friends! hope you are having a fantastic summer :) i also hope you are enjoying the fruits of your summer sewing and are not, like me, wondering if august is too late to start making shorts. one day i'll get the hang of sewing a season ahead! ive been doing a lot of experimenting and toile-ing lately without finishing a lot, so today im sharing a dress i made back in the spring:

simplicity 1652
and from the left side of the photo, no less!

this dress is based on simplicity 1652, one of the patterns from their Amazing Fit line. its got front bodice pieces in a range of bra cup sizes, so i figured it was a good place to start to get a nicely fitting princess-seamed bodice. i wanted to try and emulate this dress…


dress by Folter

…so i started by merging the back pattern pieces together, overlapping the top and bottom and retracing them as one piece, and using a dinner plate to make a moon-shaped cutout instead of the triangley one. then i made up a muslin to check the fit and phase of the moon.


you see its not quite a semi-circle, so its a moon. im really trying to make this moon association happen

so! the muslin was pretty good but had a whole bunch of excess fabric across the upper chest, which seems to be a theme with the ole narrow shoulders. i tried taking out the excess in the princess seam, but this just had the effect of turbo shrinking and distorting the armscye. my compromise was to take as much as possible out of the seam without it looking too bad, which resulted in an okay fit…but! i took the finished dress to a fitting class with the delightful Jan Bones where i learned i can take a wedge out of the neckline (pointing to the bust apex) to fix the fit across the shoulders and also get rid of the bit of neckline gaping. next time!


oh what couldn't this basic bodice do? :D

aside from upper chest adjustments, i made a small swayback alteration, raised the waistline to sit at the natural waist, and shortened the skirt to a more saucy length. the dress is made from a dusty brown quilting cotton featuring skulls with crowns and butterflies, with a black cotton waist and hem band. the contrast bands are cut from the pattern pieces so the vertical seam lines continue, and the skull fabric is cut to be symmetrical.


symmetry! well, except the facings, but lets not get carried away.

construction was pretty straightforward, except for the part with my fancy rising moon cutout dealie. i had decided early on that i didnt want a closure at the back neck and did want the edges of the neckline, cutout, and armscye fully enclosed (not broken by a seam). i couldnt figure out how to actually engineer this feat because it defies all laws of being-able-to-turn-things-right-side-out, so i eventually resorted to two linings, bias bound armholes, plus a neckline facing that appears confused about its role in life a little bit. but! in the end, you can't really tell from the outside and i dont have to fuss with a button or clasp at the back neck, so yay! for it working, though boo! for the back finishings being such a hot mess.


just keep throwing finishings at it and it will eventually make sense?

while its a decent enough fit and hella cute on the hanger, i just dont quite love it. ive thought a lot about why i havent been super jazzed to wear this out and narrowed it down to being partly the proportion of the dress, and partly the print. to me, the addition of the waist band visually raises the waist and makes it look a bit like a babydoll dress (definitely not something pour moi). the print also has a bit of an awkward contrast for this dress…maybe if the white skulls were a little bit more blend-y in colour or a bit smaller/bigger it would be more successful. for me. personally.


eee, reactivating art class critique mode

so judging from my quilting cotton experiments over the past bit, im thinking i like prints best on me if their volume is tamed a bit more than in this dress...which is a good thing to know when putting scissors to those printed mood fabrics (not to mention this AMAZING purple cat print fabric i've been saving forever). and you never know, maybe in a few years i'll graduate to full-fledged ms. frizzle dresses :) :)

pr/kb

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

pants: a novel

while in new york this spring, Kim told me that these were fantastic pants to make, and after seeing several versions up on her blog i was inspired to try em out for myself :)

butterick 5895
she was right! also, i may have been bitten by a vintage bug there

butterick 5895, aka gertie's retro-inspired separates pattern, took me exactly 2 hours from opening the envelope to hemming the cuffs of a test pair. which was fantastic for me, as ive been trying to establish some basic patterns i can knock out for work (when there exists the chance your pants will be forever ruined by wayward science, one does not bust out the oscar de la renta fabrics for adventures in bespoke pantsmaking). now. my favourite thing to make is definitely the super structural finely detailed sorta handiwork, but the one RTW garment i've purchased this year (out of some necessity) turned out to be the extremely disappointing, off-grain, poor quality, expensive pair of pants that broke the camels back. because of this, and also with the conversation on fashion revolution day questioning the ethics by which pants such as these go from cotton plants to fall fashions, ive started making more of the basic garments in my wardrobe.


step 1: make better pants to reduce waste and know definitively they were not made under terrible working conditions. step 33071: keep small alpaca farm and make wool pants on solar powered sewing machine? :) :) :)

so ANYWAYS! i needed pants, i made pants. based on the pattern ease i decided to go down a size to get a more legging-y fit, then promptly cut the test pants from non-stretch fabric. the resulting forest green sausage casing alerted me to two new facts: 1. my vertical measurements seem to be a size or two smaller than my horizontal measurements and 2. holy toledo on a short, short-waisted person that is one. HIGH. WAIST.


as in, its more of a neckline

thing the first: while they were cant-bend-my-knees tight, the crotch curve was perfect! the fit through the hips and legs would probably have been bang on with a bit of lycra in there, and honestly i do prefer the stretch recovery and flexibility offered by even 2-3% of that fancy fiber...so not much to change there. the other issue was the waistband--on me that sucker went straight up to my bra, which, since i planned on wearing these with longer-length tops, was a tad unnecessary. so! i scrapped the waistband altogether for the pictured version, although i think it still needs to have another inch or two hacked off as it cuts into my stomach when i sit down. no good!


restrictive waistband = not cupcake compatible :(

i used a 9oz denim found locally, which is nice and sturdy if lacking in my beloved lycra content, and let the side seams out about 1/4". since i omitted the waistband, i finished the top edge first using petersham ribbon, then using twill tape…THEN using the denim fabric as a small facing. i really was in love with the idea of having red polka dot ribbon finishing the inside of these pants but think this is probably an application reserved for garments either less fitted or requiring less mobility. even with some work yet to do on perfecting the waist though, these pants have seen a bunch of wear. i find they pair equally well with fancy shoes, chuck taylors, and boots. :)


they also go with my simplicity 4487 shirt, which is a shameless near-identical replica of a project i saw hanging at the fabric store years ago. it had skulls!

after wearing this pair around they have stretched out a lot, and ive noticed the front rise has developed vertical folds of excess fabric, which is pretty bulky-looking from the three layers of denim across that area (pocket + inside of pocket + pants front). i've already got a couple other versions planned, using a stretch twill or stretch denim and also drafting out the front pockets, and i'm curious to see how this area will be affected by stretchy fabric and having less reinforcement in the area. experiments, whee!


im envisioning a polka dot brushed stretch denim pair, but that fabric does not seem to exist.

maybe its a good thing there will be more of these fantastic pants, as i apparently have a lot of different things to say about them! :p

kb

Thursday, May 29, 2014

adventures in accessorizing

guess what friends? i made a handbag!

bagbagbag2
although technically more of a shoulderbag

im super excited about it because it was really simple and it turned out unexpectedly amazing :). off-and-on for years now i've been wanting to make a purse, but abandoned anything i started because the patterns never quite worked out--the big four's cheery array of cotton totes and canvas satchels just weren't floating my boat. (also im annoyingly picky...if you carry it everywhere, it should go with everything! :p ) i wanted a durable vinyl bag. preferably a hobo shape. with dramatic hardware. and a top zip closure. plus some sort of cool funky detail.


but not so funky that it wouldn't go to a nice restaurant

anyways, my finickiness had to be resolved in a hurry this spring when i broke every single purse in my possession. as in, was carrying phone and lipstick in a green camo dickie's pencil case because there were no other suitable containers in the house. but! brett bara saved the day by writing 'sewing in a straight line', a collection of beginner patterns (pillows, quilts, skirts, dresses, belts, fabric flower bowls. its got decent range). one of the included patterns is for the 'heavy metal bag', which is what i made. in one weekend. one weekend! guys, it is seriously that simple!!


hooray! thanks for the pattern brett! :)

the exterior is black upholstery weight vinyl, which played nicely with my regular presser foot for all but attaching the side tabs, but then that was like ten layers of upholstery vinyl so i forgive it. to help with the hefty fabric i used a heavy duty machine needle, which was weirdly satisfying to watch eat through multiple layers of tough fabric :).


ooooh here comes the big lining reveal!!

for the lining, i used a hilarious halloween-themed quilting cotton featuring spiderwebs and neon orange eyes. its totally perfect for a weird little detail, i totally smile every time i go to grab my keys! :) the O-rings and pyramid studs (which are apparently called 'nailheads') i picked up from pacific trimming when i was in new york (they have oodles of good stuff!).


and the zip is one of those "fashion" separating deals, to make it extra fancy

i added a cell phone pocket and a flush zippered pocket into the lining, and also a zip closure for the main compartment of the bag. the zip closure i find totally necessary for carting things around on a daily basis (keeps the lip gloss from rolling off into the night), but it does pull on the top band of the bag and distorts the shape a bit. there was also not quite enough length in the shoulder strap for a proper finish on the ends, but its a perfectly serviceable bag as is :)


photography sure is a lot easier from behind the camera!

because this went so well, i think the next adventure will be to make a weekender bag. i picked up a copy of 'the better bag maker' by nicole mallalieu recently and there are some lovely large-scale bags in there! :)


super dynamic pleats. yay texture!!

and thats that! hope everyone's finally enjoying a bit of summer in the air!! the weather's finally nice here & ive been whipping up some summer casuals to suit :)

//on kollabora

Saturday, May 17, 2014

the one with the thistle

make it work.

chardon1
sadly im the sort of canadian that can't tell you how to say that en francais

this has been a popular mantra lately as ive started to branch out into sewing new silhouettes and shapes :). one recent challenge to get some variety in my wardrobe started the moment i saw the Chardon skirt up on the lovely Deer & Doe website. you see, im not really a full-skirt kinda gal. neither am i a fan of high waisted skirts. but there was something about that hem band and the colour or something that really appealed to me, so into the virtual cart it went. i would make it work!


belt brought to you by the makers of bias tape :p

i picked out this great dusty purple herringbone fabric, with black herringbone for the trim. it was in with the suitings and has a nice light-yet-stiff hand to it--perfect for those box pleats :). once the fabric was chosen, determining the size was a piece of cake! i just measured the waist facing pattern pieces to get the finished circumference and picked the size that was my waist + 0.5" (for ease!).


math skills at work, yo

construction was also a total breeze, i have to say i really appreciate pattern instructions that keep you moving with clear, to the point steps. by the time i got to the hemming i was on a high from a lovely sew, when i tried it on and was suddenly reminded of the reason my rectangular, short-waisted self has been firmly in the slim-fit, empire-waist camp all this time.


egad. this girl doesn't know where her waist is.

i stood in front of the mirror hiking the skirt up and pushing it down for a solid half hour, thinking where. is. my waist. where is this skirt supposed to sit? do other people have this much trouble figuring out where to put their waistlines?? if i glare at it long enough can i jedi mindpower it into what i had envisioned in my head??? this wasnt the first time i had been in this situation, either…i remember making a dress with a wide elastic waistband and abandoning it due to placement woes.


and this is too cute to abandon, no? make it work!!!

so after some research on creating balance in clothing (starting with 'Determining Where Your Waistline Fits Within Your Figure - For Dummies', because i was definitely getting in on the ground floor), i am thinking the tall waistband of the Chardon should be shrunk down a wee bit so shes on the same shortened scale as my waist. to balance things out! as for this current version, maybe if i styled it with a skinny cinching belt instead of bias tape it might sit up a bit higher and visually create a more obvious waist? i should mention that in these photos, the top of the skirt is sitting quite a bit lower than my natural waistline. its a great little skirt, if i can just work out the styling it will be a fab wardrobe staple this summer :)


& teeny belt loops!!! :D

any thoughts? do you or someone you know have tips for balancing a short waist or rectangular figure? i would love to hear them!! :) :)

up on burdastyle//kollabora xo

Sunday, April 27, 2014

spring has done the opposite of sprung

hello hello friends, what have you been up to? recently i've been chugging through my stack of unfinished things--that stack which grows a meter high if i forget about it for too long--and completed a second victory patterns make: simone!

simone1
spots, stripes, and camera remotes

this is going to make a fantastic summer top, its so floaty and airy! the green leopard print is a soft non-stretch material with really great drape--it came from the local store, land of '100% mixed fiber content' labels, so im not sure what its made of but it feels super luxe. for the placket i used black herringbone suiting, and the racer back + neckband trim are power mesh. for extra breathability and feelings of floateyness.


i hope these pictures convey to you that it feels like wearing a cloud.

the first muslin i made had a pretty extreme flattening effect, so i did an FBA to add 3/4" of width per side. i also added 1cm extra onto the armscye, because while i love how the narrow upper chest looks on the statuesque pattern envelope model i thought it might look bad-trashy on me. i think i thought right.


edge binding two ways

there are a couple of issues with this version. the biggest thing is that it still needs more room in the chest!! since its a bit tight, it has a tendency to ride up and then the placket gapes strangely. maybe i could just hang a little weight from the point to keep it in place? once i had a kenneth cole shirt that had all these little weights sewn into it to keep the facings on the inside.


to date its the only shirt ive ever gotten bruises from

the neckline also needs to be taken in about a half inch to get it to sit flush with my collarbones--i figure like a tiny dart, only where the placket meets the front piece. lastly there is the issue of the Wandering Backpiece, which went just off-grain enough so one half hangs differently from the rest of the garment. and twisting side seams and wiggly hems make me so. twitchy. as in, i briefly considered making an identical but on-grain version out of the remaining fabric.


if you or someone you know has done this…please introduce us. we could form a support group!

all in all though, i totally dig the style. i like the funky quirky fun of the victory patterns line, and am totally eyeing up the blouse version of ava at the moment! i am going to be so ready if it ever decides to stop snowing and be summer outside :)

check it on kollabora & burdastyle xx

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

frosting: the secret to fitting success

this past weekend i attended Gertie's inaugural sewing retreat in Beacon, NY and it was SO! MUCH! FUN!


picture of us all borrowed from the blog for better sewing

so normally im pretty enthusiastic about anything sewing related, but this was seriously the best experience :). we were an incredibly diverse group--from lawyers to weaving instructors, from people just picking sewing back up to girls who write blog tutorials on sewing techniques--yet everyone was so friendly and really very sweet. you should have heard the gushing when anyone walked out of the changing closet in a newly-minted muslin. lots of talent in that one room, and it was great to meet every one of them :)


i seriously spaced on getting action shots though! left pic is stolen from Allison (@alleyfax on instagram) :)

leading us was the fabulous Gertie, with expert help from Fleur, through a weekend of sewing and fitting peppered with demonstrations of assorted techniques (also peppered with: cupcakes!!!). it was refreshing to see technique demos, where i found out the proper way to ease a princess seam (lets not talk about how i was doing it before :s ). it was also supremely awesome to get help from the pros with fitting, instead of doing crazy yoga maneuvers in front of the mirror--and this for me (as im sure for many of the other stitchers) was one of the most valuable parts of the retreat.


i worked on a burdastyle cap sleeved top and the bombshell dress bodice! FBAs on FBAs, people!

ive been asked a lot over the past few months why i was travelling so far to go to this event, so i thought i'd share a bit of why i was signed up within five minutes of registration opening. where i live there is definitely a lack of real life resources to help someone improve their garment making skills--no extension courses on patternmaking or fashion design, no offerings for more advanced skill levels at the local sewing machine store--so everything i've learned so far has been via the internet or textbooks. which is great, i am a big fan of being self-taught and have mad respect for everyone who grinds through all. those. muslins. to become a master, but it makes for a steep learning curve until you've seen enough different patterns and made enough alterations to be able to see that you have small shoulders, a short waist, a large bust, and straight posture (and real talk, how many of us sew because we dont fit "standard measurements"). getting help from Gertie and Fleur this weekend was invaluable, because i got to see two different approaches to fitting a muslin on me, and then how to translate those adjustments to the flat pattern. which was a huge leg up along that curve!! plus i got to scope the insides of a bunch of Gertie's famous dresses she brought along. win!

anyways, after saying goodbye, i headed back into the city with a couple of the ladies who also had visions of the garment district dancing in their heads. after staying in a hotel room the size of a postage stamp (soooo new yawk!), i was drawn to the mecca of the sewing world...


MOOD.

three floors bearing rows of stacks of fabric. IT WAS AMAZING. i was warned that it can be very overwhelming, but honestly i found it easier to navigate than the other fabric shop i went to (B&J Fabrics), maybe because i have a verrrry particular idea of what fabrics, colours, and prints i like to work with. the delightful mood staff who tried to find me a grey ponte know what im talking about.


no worries though, they helped me find tons of other stuff

my haul was: grey tye-dye effect printed cotton, white polka dot sateen, thick black and red striped knit, white/blue/grey blurry rectangle print, oscar de la renta red/grey print sateen, and a yard of this super cheesy silver skull-embossed upholstery weight vinyl that is stinking up my house at the moment. to answer the inevitable question, what wouldn't i make out of that. :D

so ive left new york inspired, with a zillion ideas in my head and some great information on how to get them out into fabric. thanks Gertie (& Mr. Gertie!) for putting the retreat together and hosting, and thanks to all the attendees for a lovely time!! it was really great to meet you all :)

check out the recaps at the Blog for Better Sewing, Cashmerette, Rosie Wednesday, and Dividing Moments for more about all! the! fun!