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.
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.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

A Summer Liberty top

From my last trip to the States, I have a Liberty print stash that's standing the test of time.

Pammy from LA took me downtown and this print was a piece we both bought and I've finally made it up.
'Pretty' is how I'd describe this top - Butterick 5608. A very pretty top that's as billowing as my height can handle.

With the humidity we experienced in Summer, this top is a keeper. This top does need fabric that has good drape.
The nice part of this blouse style is you don't need to sew buttons, or snaps or zippers.

It's a 'cut and sew' pattern and it's forgiving if your waist keeps changing.

I've also paired this with my purple work staples because this print has a similar purple in it.
But with the cooler mornings we've started experiencing, this pattern will have to wait for another Summer to come blazing back again.
I hope everyone had a lovely Easter.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Couture sewing part 2

Here's the finished guipure lace skirt I made at Susan Khalje’s 3 day guipure lace skirt workshop in Brisbane using fabric from Minerva Crafts. I’m now hooked on making anything ‘guipure’.
While this project is a bit formal I couldn't pass up the opportunity to learn more skills. Now I'm thinking of more 'urban' ways to use guipure lace.
Any straight skirt pattern can be used for a guipure skirt so I used Simplicity 1460. Tapered skirts are my fav but I had to learn about shaping lace first at the waist before attempting shaping lace at the hem as well ie learn to walk before you learn to run.

Can I just say that it doesn’t matter what your skill level is, everyone at this workshop created a guipure lace skirt and used a straight skirt pattern that worked for them. Please don’t think you have to be super skilled to do this type of sewing. You only need to be open-minded and patient with yourself. Everyone in the class was really focused but also amazed they could learn these skills and build on their existing skills. That’s enough encouragement to try new skills from me for now.

What I learnt
I enjoyed seeing how Susan worked on everyone else’s skirts to get a better fit, including getting a better fit for my skirt.
Jigsaw puzzles have always been a favourite past time of mine so watching Susan piece guipure lace to get your body shaping was mesmerising.
Sewing a hand -picked zipper takes very little time so I'm sold on this technique. Applying an inner grosgrain waist facing is really only limited by the Petersham tape you use.

I picked these fabrics from the website. I didn’t get samples beforehand and I was really pleased with these choices.
The descriptions on Minerva Crafts website and their photography are spot on. I'm happy with my website choices when the fabric arrives at my door step.

Vicki now processes the Network Blogger orders through their normal order system and the beauty of this is you get to see the name of who packed each part of your order. It's amazing to see how many people are involved in their packaging/mail service. I’ve always loved the personal side of Minerva Crafts and it just keeps getting better. Thanks guys.

Guipure lace
The course specified guipure and when I put guipure in the search criteria on their website, it brought up 11 types of guipure fabric options. The range of colours are extensive and the quality is exactly what I needed for this workshop.

I chose this awesome purple because it’s a strong colour, scalloped on both sides and special. It looks special and flattering. You only need to purchase your length plus 10cm of this guipure lace for a skirt.
Guipure lace is tightly sewn together. This means you can safely cut out lace motifs by snipping through the lace connectors and place the motifs where you want. These lace motifs they don’t fray. That’s the lace quality you need.
Lace underlayer 
The skirt required a contrasting colour as the under layer fabric. You can use a matching colour but the lacework won't show up (pop) as well as a when you use contrasting base fabric.

I used this pearl white colour against the guipure lace. I could have used a warmer pale colour to add more impact to the purple guipure lace. There are so many options you can decide upon, it's all based on your preferences.
This skirt also uses calico or a reasonably-bodied cotton batiste as an underlining. The underlining is worthwhile doing as it helps the skirt hold its shape with guipure lace. Guipure lace is heavy and it needs a few strong layers so it doesn't bag or sag.

A silk crepe de chine or similar measured the same length as the lace. I used an everyday lining so I could get used to the couture steps. This lining matched the petersham tape I bought.
You can see the Petersham tape and lining match.
The detailing involved in creating this skirt requires a select few notions.
2.5cm wide grosgrain ribbon enough for the waist facing plus 10cm. The grosgrain ribbon should have the curved edges so you can shape it for your waistband.
A medium hook and eye is needed for the waistband. The grosgrain is used to cover up as much of the metal on the hook and eye as possible.

I used three thread colours for this skirt. White for the underlining. Purple for the lace and a coffee colour thread for the lining and waistband finishes.
The other tools I needed were long hand sewing needles, a ham, small very sharp scissors and large shears which I was able to use my Prym products for.
I used my Prym pins, shears and measuring tools for better accuracy.
Day one
We fitted our skirt toiles. As with the previous workshop, the stitching lines were marked with carbon paper and machine stitched in a contrasting thread on calico. I machine basted the seams using another contrasting thread and long stitches.

Susan checked the fit of our toiles and I made the initial adjustments to the toile. The new stitching lines were hand basted to the toile.
We used this adjusted toile to cut out the fashion fabric and I marked the stitching lines on this with carbon tracing paper and then hand basted these lines.

Day two
A nail-biting day as we had to cut out our guipure lace.
An important part of this process was to mark (hand baste) the hip line on the fashion fabric. This line was critical to align our lace and help keep the skirt flat as initially thread basted the lace in one piece, across the width of the skirt.

A lot of time was spent hand basting the lace to the skirt so the lace didn't create shadows.

Day three
We were all in a tizz doing our best to finish our skirts. There was an air of excitement among us all day even though we felt shattered in a happy way, to have achieved so much.
This shows the lace shaping I did for my waistline
Post workshop
Three days after the workshop I finally sat down and got my act into gear to finish this skirt. I still had to piece the lace up the centre back seam so it looked seamless. I also needed to:
- Fuse part of the skirt front to stop it from bagging
- hand stitch more parts of the lace to avoid shadowing
- stitch press studs (snap) on the lace overlay covering the zipper
- resew the waistband grosgrain at the darts and seams in the same colour thread
- remove basting threads
- hand sew the lining to the skirt with a jump pleat
- sew on the hook and eye.
This took 5 hours to complete with breaks in between. Walking away from an intense project like this is a good way to pull away from the detail and assess if you're getting the overall effect you want. 
Doing this work at home, means I still needed to do my share of the housework but I could duck into the Craftsy course to relook at Susan's part of the workshop I had to finish.

Oh. Did I mention I made this blouse too?
I couldn't not use the underlayer silk and not have a Summer blouse to wear with this skirt.
I used Cynthia Rowley view D Simplicity 2215, from a previous Minerva Crafts project.
The collar has a lace overlay. It's really light-weight lace and was in my stash. I decided this would negate the need to wear earrings.
This skirt and blouse is now part of a cocktail capsule that I've made. The jacket is one of my first Minerva Craft makes from 2012.
I wore this outfit to a wedding dinner with friends on a hot humid night and I felt great.

Don't forget to use the discount code 'maria' when you purchase any Prym products from Minerva Crafts website.
Now to research some more guipure projects!


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