Thursday, 16 April 2009

Weekend Sewing - My Way!

Ok, ok, when I say my way, I mean all my mistakes, not some wonderful interpretations of the patterns!

My first piece of advice, is check out the errata, flickr, and blogs of people who have cut their fabric first to make these clothes! I did do this, but to a degree, you will still find your own issues!

I will start with the weekend blouse:

Firstly I am 5'6", a UK size 12, 34D bust. So I went with the small size. (if you are a UK size 10 or under, you will have to make this smaller, than the pattern, as this will swamp you)

I added 4" to the bottom of the front and back pattern pieces, as many people had said it came up too small. I also added 2" to the arms, although this may have been overkill, 1" probably would have been sufficient. Better to make it longer, and cut it shorter if it's too long (I think). The above photo is before I have hemmed the sleeves and the bottom, to give you a feel of how much longer it is. The arms are very long! I think the body is just about right though.

I used 2m of fabric, and I did not cut the pattern out as Heather suggests. I folded the fabric, not down the middle, but just enough to cover the pattern on the fold. I was trying to save fabric. I cut the front and back pieces on the fold first. Then I jiggled the fabric around to cut out the arms. This gave me all my extra length that I added and some fabric over.

To make the bias binding, I used the method described by Amy Karol in Bend the Rules Sewing, which worked a treat. It is also described here. I also got to use my new quilting ruler, which I bought on ebay, for half the price my local shop was selling them for.

Sewing the blouse up was fine. That is until I got to adding the bias binding around the neck. After looking on the interweb, I resorted to my ever ready Readers Digest Guide to Sewing, which always gives me a rock solid solution of how to do things. If you do not have a decent sewing guide, this is the one I recommend.

So I attached the binding by lining up the raw edges of the binding to the blouse fabric. (you have right side to right side on the outside (right) of the blouse. Pin in place, and sew on the first fold of the bias binding. Now flip the binding over, so it pulls the blouse over to the back of the fabric (wrong side). Make sure binding is refolded. You can now sew this down with a top stitch (or a blind hem). Other people have attached the binding differently, by encompasing the neckline with the binding and stitching it down. Either way works. My way will pull your neck line lower.

The neckline is very high. I was aware of this, but a bit concerned how best to alter it. So next time I would either lower it by an inch or do a total reworking like Ashley. However, I did not bother with the button or loop, as I would always wear it open.

The placket is very long. It was straightforward to put in, and cut down the middle. If I made it again I may well shorten it. I have zigzaged the two sides of the blouse together, but I think I will undo that and sew it up by hand, and then zigzag it for strength. My machine didn't do a great job of joining the two sides together.

So to summise:
- large pattern piece, but not long enough (add 4 inches to body length and 1-2" to arm length) - rejig the way you cut it out to waste less fabric
- adding binding to neckline - look up ways to do this, I haven't found a decent online tutorial for this, see Readers Digest Sewing Guide for a great description
- Consider lowering the neckline
- Placket, maybe it should not be cut so low. You will be sewing it back up! Make the placket shorter.
- Hand sew placket together, then machine zigzag it!

I'm sure everyone will find their own niggles, not necessarily the ones I have described!

Kimono Dress

Not many people have made this, so I didn't have much to go on, before I made it.
These are my main findings, and how I wish I had done things!:

The bodice: It cut out and sewed up easily. At this point, before adding the skirt, try it on and pull the two sides of the wrap around your body, until it is sitting in a place across your chest that you are happy with. Clearly bust size, and body size will alter this, but it's a forgiving fit, so should fit many sizes. Pin the two sides firmly in place.

The skirt: Sew skirt up, and follow Heather's instructions of attaching bodice to skirt. It is very important that your bodice top is at the right place, otherwise you will be ripping out the stitches and resewing.

The elastic thread, kind of worked for me. I did do a test run, that bunched up better, but with up to 3 layers of fabric it didn't bunch up as well. Hand wind your bobbin with the elastic thread, putting it on with a degree of tautness onto the bobbin. Do do a test run, to see if you have put it on correctly. After sewing, iron this seam, lots of heat and steam, as per Heather's instructions. If anyone thinks I did this wrong, please let me know!

Now you can hem! The dress unhemmed fell a few inches below my knee. I was happy with that length so just did a double fold of the fabric and hemmed it.

The obi sash, is a key part of the dress, to pull in the waist and give you a great shape! I have yet to make it, but this is the fabric I'll be using. The dress cost me £16 to make, so not bad really!

This is a lovely summer dress.

(When I finish off the hemming and sash I'll pop on some more piccies, that might be a while as my sewing machine, again, has let me down! I was in a sewing machine shop today, I was advised on getting a Janome!!! Just need the money! Why did I torture myself like that?)


KL said...

Hello Claire. Just to say, that is a truly lovely dress you have sewn. Really nice colour choice too. It looks great in that fabric.

Liz said...

your dress looks great. I want to try this but am weary of it. Thanks for your instructions and hints. I think I will give it a go!

Dynomite Momma said...

Ah, lovely. I agree about the summer blouse needing a little added to the bottom hem! I made it, as is - though I'm a US 12, so I made the large (I wanted it to be roomy...) - and it was I took in the side seams a good inch... there's a pic on my blog, too...I'm up for the kimono dress next!!!! What kind of fabric did you use? I have a light weight cotton (slightly lighter weight than quilting cotton?) and I'm still afraid it won't drape enough... Glad I happened upon your blog!

craftyclaire said...

Dynomite Momma, I used a lightweight cotton, whether it is as drapey as it should be I don't know, but I don't think its too bad!

Thank you everyone for your nice comments!

Hen said...

Ah, interesting to read about your "trials" with the Weekend Sewing book. I hated making the blouse, well the bias binding on the neckline that is, though I think I made the binding too wide to be fair. The sleeves were so long on me it was ridiculous, I had to cut loads off! I really don't like the neckline on it at all, far too high. I also can't understand why you have to cut the front so low and then sew it up by hand? Why not just not cut it so low? Hmm, am not thrilled with this book! I agree that the Reader's Digest book is a fab sewing bible.
Hen x

MrsCatHead said...

Ugh. I had such problems with the elastic on this dress. It just wouldn't gather as expected. I'm thinking of just taking it apart to salvage the fabric...:(

Anonymous said...

I loved reading your blog about Weekend Sewing. I had so many troubles with the Trapeze dress and I am about to vent about it on my blog. I'm in the middle of the Summer Blouse and your insights are very helpful. Thanks for sharing your work!

Jenn said...

Great tips. I was planning on making both of those items and now will proceed a little differently.

kaitlyn said...

thanks! I'm about to attach my bodice and have heard that the elasticizing can cause major bodice gaping. I am hoping I can avoid this with some stiff pinning! Yours looks great :)

Mandaleighta said...

I'm glad I found your blog with the tips for making this dress! Thank you for posting them! I love the fabric you chose, too.