26 September 2013

Anna dress - the bodice, take one...

By now everyone in the online sewing community has probably come across the fabulous By Hand London pattern company, but if you haven't, what are you waiting for - head on over to their site and check out their stylish patterns. I'm taking part in the Anna Dress Sewalong and can't wait to make up the others; I already have plans in my head for the Elisalex dress, Charlotte skirt and the Victoria blazer.

I have to confess, when I first saw Anna's popping up everywhere I thought "that dress looks great on all those people, but it's not really me". I was pretty certain I didn't want to make one myself. That all changed when I spotted (no pun intended, well, maybe a little bit...) an awesome yellow and pink polka dot fabric at Ike's: it couldn't help coming home with me. I picked up 3m (and Ike's is always veeeery generous with their cuts) thinking I would make some sort of summery shift dress. Then I remembered how much I dislike the shift dress shape on me. It's possibly all in my head, but my body shape definitely falls into the peary-hourglass type shape and I just don't feel comfortable without having any waist definition in my dresses. So I started thinking about a simple dress that is suitable for my beginner sewing skillz (that polka dotty fabric is quite sheer and chiffony in texture) and the Anna seemed to fit the bill. The more I tried looking for other dresses that were simple but had definition in the waist without too much else going on the more I couldn't get Anna out of my head. Then the sewalong was announced and boom I jumped on the Anna bandwagon.

Not known for my patience, I traced and cut out all the pattern pieces without paying too much attention to the finished measurements. I should know by now, having made 3 dresses, and having to alter ALL of them in the bodice, that I can't sew straight out of the box. I'm tall for standard pattern heights used and my boobage falls in the D/DD cup region so even though my bust/waist measurements seem to fit close enough to pattern sizes, I probably always need a FBA and to start from the next size down from what the pattern is telling me to get the right fit across the back, if that makes sense.

So the bodice for the Anna ended up looking like this...
...which at first glance doesn't look so bad, but I had to pull it down for those pleats to sit under my bust, which puts a lot of strain between the pleats and pulled the side seams way forward

Bodice - pleats

and looks like this at the back, yikes! That bad boy is sitting really tight across my chest so that's the closest it was getting to closing at the back :(

Anna back bodice 1

I didn't stuff up my measurements (and carefully sewed with the correct seam allowance) - my bust measures 90cm (approx 35.5 inches - checked about 5 times measuring myself and getting my husband to measure) and I cut the UK size 12, which should accommodate a 36 bust. My waist is 67.5cm (approx 26.5 inches) and I graded down to the UK 10 which is a 27 waist, but aside from the cup size the issue here is the length - the waist on the bodice is sitting around 4 inches above my actual waist!

Anna bodice waist

Just goes to show that the circumference measurements alone aren't always reliable! The post from the BHL gang on FBAs and lengthening the bodice went up over the weekend (right AFTER my failed first bodice attempt) so I really should've waited and stuck to the sewalong schedule, d'oh! Thankfully this fabric was only $4/m, and there was lots of it at Ike's, so I picked up some more and have started on bodice number 2. I followed the suggested FBA technique but didn't want a side dart so just measured the extra width that would've been there if I kept a dart and added that to the pleats. I'm not sure if I did it "correctly" or not but I think there should be enough room in there for the girls now. Then after the FBA, I added 1 inch ABOVE the pleats and 2 inches through a line cutting across the pleats - this was because those pleats were finishing too close to my boobs to sit nicely.

FBA - AnnaFBA and lenghtenend bodice

This is the first time I've done a 'proper' FBA - the other dresses I've sewn I've just made a size larger than my measurements and severely pinched in any waist darts and taken in the side seams until it fit me in the waist. Hopefully that is the last major alteration I have to do on my Anna. From now on I think a FBA might have to be a standard alteration for me!

20 September 2013

Metallic Laurie Striped Tee

Laurie Striped Tee
Laurie Tee back
Here's my first completed Named pattern - the Laurie Striped Tee. So that makes 1/1 for the year in indie patterns challenge, I wonder what pattern company Stephanie will choose for October?

Whoop, first T-shirt I've ever made and only the second time I've sewn with a knit. I don't want to jinx myself here but I don't get what all the sewing with knits fear is about? I read up on it, used a ballpoint needle and the "stretch stitch" on my machine, took my time and had no issues. Any fault in the finished top is my own lack of paying attention so I'm not going to blame anything on the fabric. Actually, I take that back - this was a bitch to press, the fabric wouldn't hold the pleats very well - but a bad tradesmen blames his tools so I'm still not going to blame my slightly wonky pleats on the fabric :p

I don't own an overlocker so this was completely sewn with my normal machine. I'm really happy with how it turned out - the bottom hem is wonky but I think (hopefully) I'm the only person who will notice.... This is a bit baggier than I'd normally wear my T-shirts, and the shoulders are a teeny tiny smidge too wide, but it's definitely something I will wear (and have already!). Looking again at the model for this pattern I think it's supposed to be this relaxed a fit?

Laurie - necklineClose-up of stripesLaurie - sleeve
The pattern was really easy to tape together and trace, the only issue I really had was the lack of illustrations with the instructions. That being said, this is a very basic pattern so it wasn't difficult without, I just like looking at diagrams of how things should go together :) I would be a bit apprehensive about sewing some of the more difficult Named patterns without diagrams....

I used a metallic grey knit from Centrepoint Fabrics in Newmarket. Sorry for the out of focus photos - it is a lot sparklier IRL but my shitty point-and-click camera (and the lack of daylight) made photographing it difficult. On top of the sparkle there is a shiny dot kinda pattern on the fabric as well. You can sorta see it here
Metallic knit fabric
I trawled through Ike's and Spotlight for an appropriately drapey knit with no success so had to check the more expensive fabric stores to find the right sorta knit. Luckily this stuff was $5/m but I had trouble deciding on fabrics; once I found a store that actually had a SELECTION to choose from, I  went a bit crazy and got 2 other pricier knits as well. Meh, i'll find good uses for the other knits, this Laurie is more of a wearable muslin anyway, I'm keen to make a more fitted version of it.

I persuaded Sean to take a few photos (the ones taken outside- at the top of this post) but he wasn't that into it so I figured out the self timer on my camera - here are a few shots of me trying to get the distance/angle right
Laurie Tee - back
Laurie - back
The camera autofocus with the timer was a bit funny so I've still got to play around with places/times of day that are best for taking outfit photos.

And here's an obligatory kitty photo.
Windowsill cat
Maya is generally my little "helper" when I'm sewing but she wasn't around on Sunday when I was making my Laurie t-shirt. I'm participating in the Anna Dress Sewalong from the ladies at By Hand London, and Maya has been dutifully keeping my sewing chair warm for me since I started on my Anna...

A year-long sewing challenge...

Over at Starcross, Stephanie is planning to sew 1 indie pattern each month for a year and review it. This seems like something I could realistically follow so am jumping on the bandwagon. For September, the indie pattern company is Named. I recently discovered this company via House of Pinhiero and have fallen head over heels in love with all of the gorgeous patterns. They very closely match the kind of style that I would buy RTW, but this is even better - I can make clothes that I will realistically wear and that ACTUALLY fit me. Wins all round :)

I had so much trouble deciding on which pattern(s) to choose. My top faves are:

Julian Knit Dress

Charlie Tux Pants

Laurie Striped Tee
Since I'm still very much a beginner I figured the Tee was the most realistic for me so stay tuned for my take on it :)

Anyone else made the Laurie Tee yet?