Thursday, 1 June 2017

Silk and faux leather

This month’s challenge/pleasure was sewing this outfit with faux leather and Italian silk from Minerva Crafts.
Yes I made this hat earlier this year because I knew it would pair so well with this outfit.
I've used my pencil skirt block and a basic shirt pattern. As crazy as mixing prints together can be, I felt these two fabrics would be great together. I only have access to what I can see from Minerva Crafts website and I was really pleased when the fabrics and notions arrived at my doorstep.
Here are all the sewing goodies I used to make the skirt and blouse. There are also notions here that I'll be using for a few future Minerva Crafts projects.
The pleather has flower motifs sewn onto a knit mesh backing. It’s really quite a flexible fabric. Minerva Crafts has a few new faux leather fabrics to choose from in an array of colours.
This Italian floral silk has a bold, all over floral paisley print. It’s a great print and you need to pay attention to the right and wrong side of the fabric. The print is more striking in real life.
Using this beautiful silk meant adding silk organza to the facings so there was reinforcement in the fabric where I needed it but the fabric still remained soft. Normal iron in interfacings can change the way silk flows so silk organza was a better option.
Maybe choosing such amazing buttons for this skirt was not the right choice but they really keep this silk looking luxurious. They really do.

I used two layers of silk organza to reinforce the button tabs on this blouse.
For the skirt, I had to choose a lining for the skirt to keep it stable over time. Well…I chose this jacquard lining. There's something so appealing when a skirt has interesting linings. I chose the darker side of the lining to show on the inside of the skirt.
The other amazing detail with this pleather was the selvedge. It’s just as striking as the fabric so I used this at the hem.

The skirt does finish above the knee and the mesh selvedge is on the knee so it’s a bit different but still works. I did harvest a floral motif to balance the front hem.
I rarely wear skirts tucked into skirts but I really love the shaping this gives to these two pieces. Having some waistline definition helps for my height.
For both of these pieces I applied the couture sewing techniques I learnt earlier this year.
On the skirt, I applied the waist reinforcing detail with Petersham tape. I also added the large hook and eye on the inside of the waistline. The zipper is hand picked into the skirt.
On the blouse, I marked the button tab detailing so that it all matched at the front of the blouse.
When I ordered this silk I was tempted to use the Vogue top below but the front tuck would have hidden the print definition.
I rethought this and decided to use this Burda pattern (2561) and added sleeve cuffs for more definition.
I had previously made Burda 2561 for a blouse last year for Minerva Crafts in 2015 so I knew it would fit this Italian silk fabric.
As always my Prym tools make this blouse a sharper and more accurate finish.
You can really see the difference using beautiful silk does to this basic shirt pattern. PS I added cuffs to the sleeves.
I love wearing this outfit because it's really a simple skirt and blouse but the fabrics are amazing to wear.
Thanks again Minerva Crafts.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Gertie vintage

It's always exciting when a sewing inspiration visits Australia and recently Gretchen Hirsch (Gertie) did just that. She's so inspiring and keeps putting out her feminine fabrics and patterns to bring these lovely into our everyday lives.
On Friday night after Gertie's whirlwind tour to Brisbane and Melbourne, we were lucky to have Gertie speak at a function hosted by Laura at Bobbin and Ink.
So the Gertie fabrics that were simmering in my stash for quickly found their way to the top of my sewing queue.
Last year I used the white cherry print fabric to test this vintage style blouse using Simplicity 1460. I wear this to the office a lot.
Well I had two colourways of Gertie's cherry prints and I wanted to make Butterick 6380 for her visit.
The Instagram vote determined using white cherry version for this dress. I did a bit of research online and decided to test this dress pattern as a peplum blouse.
It's actually kinda cute as a blouse style.

I still fully lined this version and enjoyed trialling the construction too.
The online feedback showed Butterick adds quite a bit of ease in this pattern as is their practice so I took out at least 5cm from the front and back bodice pieces before cutting out this test version.
I also used pleats where gathers were placed in this pattern.
As you can see, the neckline is higher than the pattern so I can comfortably wear this to work.
My other challenge was ensuring I had enough bra strap coverage and made sure these tabs worked perfectly.
The final bodice still looks feminine.
I kept the original skirt style. So this dress was finished in plenty of time for Gertie's visit.
I still had time up my sleeve and decided to use the turquoise cherry print for a basic dress with an interesting neckline feature.
I really love the back cape idea.
On Pinterest I found this technical drawing so I used this as my guide.
Above is my very crude pattern for a short back capelet.

I'm sure this capelet is like a 1940's nurse uniform.
 Below is a close up of the capelet.
From the front it's still feminine.
Later on Friday night I met up with some friends and I got a better picture of my dress. By this time of the night I finally had a bite to eat so the stressors of the weak were starting to dissipate.
This dress uses my block pattern. I know they fit and I was cutting too fine to test a new commercial pattern in time to meet Gertie.
I was hoping to duck into Spotlight during the week as well as be a Bobbin and Ink's night with Gertie but I could spare the time.
Thanks Gertie for your awesome compliment. I hope you had a great time in Australia!

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Simply couture

Do you ever wonder…can I really make this on my own? After attending such an intensive workshop, I wondered if I could still use my new couture skills without Susan Khalje’s being there. This month’s Minerva Crafts project has shown me that I can.
When I initially ordered this lovely guipure lace, I ordered extra for another project but I wasn’t sure what the project would be. This strapless cocktail dress was my project of choice.
The bodice uses the foundation bodice from my February cocktail dress (Vogue 1174).
Double checking the lace for this dress.
The skirt is the one I used in my March project (Simplicity1460).
This guipure lace is woven with a lovely curved border and I again used scalloped border on the skirt hem.
Work in progress view from the front
Work in progress lace from the back

For this project, I cut into the lace across the top of the bodice for more wow.
Bodice lace work in progress
Getting the dimensions right is all in the prep work for this little cocktail number.
Overlaying the lace to finish the centre back seam evenly
Once I had placed the lace onto the dress, I was a bit disappointed that the flowers pointed down however the flower base points were balanced well across the bodice so I took advantage of this and cut into the lace for a more striking bodice edge.
Stepping out with the finished dress

Couture tools
These Prym tools really keep my sewing more accurate and looking more refined that I’ve done in the past. Prym’s red dot tools are ergonomically designed and the Prym Love range are just as well designed and very easy to find when you’re in the ‘throes of sewing up a storm’.
Using all the tools for a better finish
Prep work and Netflix
On both the front bodice and front skirt, I thread-basted the centre front seam. This made aligning the lace work more accurate and helped balance the lace features of this dress.
From my experience you need at least two boxes of pins to secure this type of lace onto your base fabric.
The back of this dress has the full lace across the bodice.
There’s a lot of lace hand sewing to reduce the shadowing that happens when you layer lace over satin. Believe me when I say there’s loads of applique stitching that took a good day to complete. It was during this time that Netflix became my BFF.


Foundation bodice
After making my February cocktail dress I decided to add a nicer looking foundation piece. One side of this foundation bodice is calico with 5cm seam allowances for the boning. The side you can see uses the lining fabric so the inside is a lovely as the outside of the dress.
The internal bodice reading for a different dress
It turns out that as awesome as this foundation piece is, the dress was fitted to me without the foundation piece so after diligently hand sewing this to the dress, I couldn’t close the zipper so I had to take out the foundation bodice. No great loss. I can still use this for a future dress, but I’ll build the dress around the foundation bodice.
Getting help
Now this is the part I needed an expert to check how well the dress fit on me. I went to Bobbin & Ink and the lovely Juliet checked the dress fit and we discovered I needed to add a bit of room at the zipper waist.
When I rechecked my toile pattern pieces, I had the adjusted seam line drawn in a lighter colour, hence this adjustment was the same as I had done in February.
hand finishing the zipper

Fit basics
If I was taller then I would wear clothes that have more flow and drape. However, I just don’t have the height or shape to wear lots of drape and feel confident. I always admire others who can wear clothes with lots of drape but at the end of the day, they don’t work for me.
The fit of the bodice is quite firm so while there’s no boning in the seam, the four layers of fabric keep this dress in place. It doesn’t slip and slide and the dress is very heavy.

I will add the boning to the seams later this month because I don’t think I could wear this with confidence without boning.
Conclusion
Couture sewing takes time and I’m really enjoying it. I prefer not to hand stitch but when the results are this good, I’d be kicking myself to not use my couture sewing skills more often.

The final results are so satisfying. Taking the to make special outfits will make it easier to agree to more formal functions in the future because I now have some really lovely outfits that I’ve made with the help of Minerva Crafts fabric and notion range.

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