Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Oscar de la Renta Silk Chiffon Dress

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Mood Fabrics Oscar de la Renta Silk Chiffon Dress

When I first joined the Mood Sewing Network one of the things that excited me most was having a wide variety of beautiful fabrics I'd never used before at my fingertips. I've really tried to challenge myself to sew with new and slightly trickier fabrics this year; so this month I decided to take the plunge and try one of the most infamously tricky fabrics to handle and gave in to my urge to snap up some of this stunning printed silk chiffon from Oscar de la Renta.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Mood Fabrics Oscar de la Renta Silk Chiffon Dress

I probably should have picked a slightly more straightforward garment for my first chiffon project but I have a tendency with my sewing to jump right in feet first and all I could envision this fabric as was a dress with a full, floaty skirt. So that's exactly what I did! I chose the skirt from By Hand London's Flora Dress as this was the fullest skirt I could think of. It is a  I had an image in my head of the movement of contemporary ballet skirts and knew that many of these are formed of layers of chiffon and lightweight silk so I chose this antique white silk crepe de chine for my lining/underlining. I used just the one layer of the crepe in my skirt, if I'd been sure the whole project was going to work out or if it had been for an extra special occasion I probably would have put a second one in to add a bit more plushness to swirl of the skirt. As it is I am so delighted with the movement and the weight of the chiffon and crepe de chine together. It doesn't show up fully in photos but hopefully these two give you some kind of idea!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Mood Fabrics Oscar de la Renta Silk Chiffon Dress

For the bodice I chose view A of Simplicty 1876. It reminds me of the Sewaholic Lonsdale (which I've previously made three of!) but I prefer this halter tie to the Lonsdale straps. I found this pattern in the bargain trays at the front of Dalston Mill for £1 a while back and can't believe it hadn't caught my attention before. I can't wait for next summer already so I can make a breezy cotton version with the more fitted skirt that comes with the pattern.

Fitting the bodice was pretty straightforward because of those princess seams. It also helped that most of my fitting problems stem from excess length between the shoulder and bust which obviously isn't an issue with this design! The boned, strapless style meant I was going to need fabric with a bit more structure for the bodice pieces. I therefore chose to use the crepe de chine as underlining in this area and added a cotton batiste lining with silk organza interfacing. I didn't want to the halter strap to be too rigid or too weak so I used the chiffon, crepe and batiste for strength but no organza here. I cut a size 10 of both the bodice and skirt and used 2 yards of the chiffon, 2.5 yards of the narrower crepe de chine and just 0.5 yards of both the batiste and organza.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Mood Fabrics Oscar de la Renta Silk Chiffon Dress

Silk organza was used a lot throughout this dress. Stabilising is key when using fabrics this delicate for a fitted dress. I stitched selvedge strips of organza to the seam allowances where I was going to insert the zip (in place of the fusible interfacing I usually use) and stitched bias strips of it into the seam allowance along the neckline instead of stay tape as I thought even a narrow twill tape would be too bulky.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Mood Fabrics Oscar de la Renta Silk Chiffon Dress

I used this fabric covered boning from Mood Fabrics which I will admit I was a little apprehensive about ordering as it was such a bargain for a whole roll! However, it turned out to be absolutely perfect for this particular project as both narrow and lightweight meaning that it would not put too much stress on the delicate silk nor show a ridge through to the outer side. The plastic bone can be removed from the casing which is different to similar products I've bought here in the UK before. It makes it much easier to work with as when sewing the seams across each end you can push the boning away slightly and not risk breaking your needle by catching the end. I really like the boning that comes pre-covered as I could just sew it straight onto the wrong side of the batiste lining once it was assembled, aligning it over each seam line.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Mood Fabrics Oscar de la Renta Silk Chiffon Dress

I've been reading Claire Shaeffer's Couture Sewing Techniques recently and it got me fired up to try out some more involved techniques to make the most of the delicate chiffon. Don't get me wrong, I still started each step pretty terrified about what I was about to encounter but I was up for the challenge! One of the main things I took from her book was how to add a petersham waist stay. Even with these super fine fabrics that full skirt is surprisingly weighty and I didn't want it to distort the shape of the bodice or add stress to the delicate fabrics.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Mood Fabrics Oscar de la Renta Silk Chiffon Dress

I used french seams on both layers of the skirt. I expected these to be quite frustrating in the chiffon but both fabrics responded well to pressing so I managed to achieve a neat and smooth result. I wish I'd been a bit more aggressive in trimming down the allowance of the first seam so that the completed seam was narrower and more delicate in appearance but it's not a major issue, just something to remember next time! The bodice seams are all enclosed within the lining so I chose just to pink these to reduce some of the bulk and risk of fraying.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Mood Fabrics Oscar de la Renta Silk Chiffon Dress

I hand basted each of the bodice layers together (chiffon to crepe and organza to batiste) and used very little steam throughout as I know the loose weave of chiffon means it has a tendency to shrink and stretch. I used a brand new size 60 sharps needle in my machine, made sure not to back tack when sewing with the chiffon on it's own and kept hold of the thread tails when starting off a line to stitching to prevent. All this really worked to help prevent snags, knots or fabric getting 'eaten' by the machine. I did a lot of research into sewing with lightweight silks and noticed many people recommended not to use pins at all. With these shifty fabrics I knew I wanted to use A LOT of pins to keep everything in place so I simply made sure to use silk pins and keep them within the seam allowances. I used a combination of pins and weights when cutting and (although a rotary cutter seems to be the preferred cutting implement for silk I had some huge pattern pieces for that skirt) I used shears, cutting everything out in a single layer on carpet which helped prevent pieces shifting off grain.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Mood Fabrics Oscar de la Renta Silk Chiffon Dress

I feel like I could ramble on for hours about the construction and different techniques I used but I'll stop this from becoming the longest post in history and be back later in the week with some more detailed insights! All in all I'm really proud of this dress and certainly won't shy away from working with chiffon or lightweight silks again. It's very time consuming and requires some patience but I really enjoy a challenging project like this. The process was a mixture of ups and downs (the downs namely being slipstitching the lining down at the waist and that hem...argh!) but most aspects actually came together better than expected and with surprisingly infrequent use of the unpicker!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Mood Fabrics Oscar de la Renta Silk Chiffon Dress

Monday, 6 October 2014

September Indie Pattern Update!


Whoops. This month's Indie Pattern Update is coming to you a little late this month! I can't believe it's the end of September and the start of Autumn already! It's been pretty crazy for me with work recently and time is flying by. I've had hardly any time to sew (with the exception of my Selfish Sewing Week dress!) but have very much enjoyed still making time to read blogs and check out the news from the indie pattern world on social media. Here's the round up on what happened this month:

New Pattern Companies/First Releases!

  • Amanda from Apples and Green has recently launched her new pattern company, Tenterhook Patterns. She is specialising in plus size sewing patterns which I think is a fantastic gap to fill in the market and her first pattern is the Snapdragon Skirt.
  • I was very excited to see that the lovely lady behind one of the very first sewing blogs I discovered and creator of Me Made May, Zoe from So Zo...What Do You Know? has released her first PDF pattern. It's called Dolores, is for knits, has batwing sleeves and three length variations so you can make yourself a top, tunic or dress from the one pattern!
  • Orange Lingerie is an established company offering custom made bras. They have recently expanded into offering bra patterns for sale for those ladies who would like to sew their own! Currently the Marlborough Bra PDF pattern is available through Etsy.
  • Lindsay Woodward has released her Senna Dress. I've got to admit to not being that drawn to this pattern when the preview pictures were released but now that I've seen the tester versions I'm seriously tempted to make a purchase! It looks so chic (especially when sewn up in black I think) and also super comfortable.

New Patterns

  • The much anticipated Holly Jumpsuit from By Hand London has been released into the wild! I tested the shorts version and (now changed) bodice design a while back and it's one of my favourite makes to date. I love how much scope the three variations give you for creating a variety of completely different outfits.
  • The By Hand London ladies have also treated us to a second release this month! The Sabrina Dress is their very first pattern to be solely released in PDF form and I'm loving the simple lines of variation 1 and the relaxed style of variation 2.
  • Jennifer Lauren's third pattern is the Dalloway Dress and Skirt. It features a gorgeous tiered skirt which keeps a slim fitted shape and like all of Jennifer's patterns combines a sleek combo of both vintage and contemporary style.
  • Gather Kits filled a gap in my sewing pattern collection with their new Buchanan Robe. It's a relaxed yet glamorous dressing gown which I'd love to make up in an oriental silk for a real sophisticated 1940s feel!
  • Abby from Blue Ginger Doll has yet again nailed a vintage inspired dress design with gorgeous details with her new Odette Dress. It's got a gored skirt and v neckline with triangular insert.
  • Salme Patterns have released three new patterns this month! I was really excited to see this as their range is just my style. There's a Dip Hem T-Shirt, an Elastic Waist Skirt and my favourite of the three, the Sofia Dress.
  • Sew Over It have really been treating us with a steady stream of pattern releases all year and their most recent one, the Pussy Bow Blouse, is a real stunner.
  • Hot Patterns released two new patterns in September, including the perfectly timed Metropolitan Domino Sweatshirt. I love the slightly cropped proportions and the envelope illustration!
  • Melissa from Fehr Trade released her newest sportswear pattern the Threshold Shorts. I am no athlete but even I can appreciate the genius of the optional 'Runderwear' pieces you can add in. They also includes pockets and a bias bound curved hemline.
  • Pattern Anthology released a collection of 4 patterns named '8 Days a Week' including a tee, knit pants, the Marigold Dress and McCartney Jacket (which I love).The idea behind the collection is wearable garments for busy women who need more time in the day!

Upcoming!

  • Abby from Blue Ginger Doll gave us a sneak peek on her Instagram of her next release, the Bonnie Vintage Sweater. I'm really looking forward to finding out more about that one as it's just turned chilly here!
  • One of the loveliest sewing bloggers I've had the pleasure of meeting, Jennifer from Workroom Social is introducing her new sewing pattern line with a free PDF download! The Tate Top has a racerback style neckline and will be available at the beginning of November.

Sew-Alongs

  • The very first Capital Chic sew-along for the Bellini Blouse has just finished! But if you are disappointed to have missed the start, not to worry, the beauty of a sew-along is that all the posts stay live so you can work through the steps in your own time.
  • The sew-along for the new Bruyere Shirt from Deer and Doe Patterns has begun and has so far included some really great posts on adjustments to the pattern.
  • As with her Bronte Top, Jennifer Lauren will be posting a series of tutorials on the trickier construction aspects of her new Dalloway Dress and Skirt. I think this is a great alternative to a sew-along as it allows you to focus intently on one particular technique.
  • The sew-along for the new Holly Jumpsuit has begun over on the By Hand London blog. It's covering all variations and is also giving ideas for pattern hacks! The sew-along for the Sabrina Dress will follow on from that one.
  • Anto from Jolie Marie Louise is also running her very first sew-along for her very first pattern, the Lea Dress. It's a great design and I know from testing how thorough her instructions are so I can't wait to see what else might be included in the sew-along.
  • The Odette Dress sew-along started over on the Blue Ginger Doll blog just last week so there's still time to get your hands on the pattern and catch up if you're interested!

Other Exciting News

  • Gertie's second book, 'Gertie Sews Vintage Casual' has been released and is in the hands of many sewing bloggers already judging by my Instagram and Twitter! The patterns included have been getting some favourable reviews already.
  • Sewaholic's next couple of patterns to be released in PDF form are the Lonsdale Dress and Gabriola Skirt. I've made both and can vouch for how gorgeous they are sewn up! The instructions for the Lonsdale in particular taught me a lot when I first started sewing.
  • Hot on the heels of her first printed pattern the Alder Shirtdress, Jen from Grainline Studio has released two of her most popular PDF patterns in paper form; the Archer Shirt and Scout Tee.

I'm pretty sure my chaotic month has meant I've missed a fair bit of news so if you know of anything else please let me know in the comments so I can add it in! As usual I'm going to finish up with a bit of indie sewing inspiration for you. I have absolutely loved finding some new makers through Instagram and Twitter this month using the hashtag indiesewing so please keep using it as a great way to find new ideas and pattern reviews!





Saturday, 27 September 2014

Selfish Sewing Week - Monochrome Clover Dress

I've been doing some selfish sewing for Selfish Sewing Week! I'm delighted to be a featured stitcher this time around and it has been great to have an excuse to make something for me despite being inundated with work at the minute and there being a half finished top for my Mum and shirt for my Stepdad looking at me from a pile in the corner! Rachael from Imagine Gnats runs this event bi-annually and it is all about taking some time to sew something you really want to sew just for you. All week a wide selection of sewing bloggers are going to be sharing their finished projects on their blogs, using patterns from a huge range of indie designers.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Papercut Patterns Clover Dress in a Monochrome Printed Viscose

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of the new Clover Dress from Papercut Patterns to treat myself with. I did actually have my eye on the Midsummer Night's Dream wrap dress (and actually have had my eye on that since it's first release which must be nearly two years ago! Ha!) but after requesting that Katie offered up the yet to be released at that point Clover and I could not resist! It's a design from local Kiwi fashion designer Brooke Tyson's collection, who has collaborated with Papercut to make her design available to us in pattern form. The pattern even includes instructions for making your own tasselled belt from embroidery floss, I haven't got round to that part yet but can't wait! To be clear from the outset I'm not just saying that I like it because I received it for free; I genuinely love the relaxed style and fit of this dress, it really fits with what I like to wear and I've received a fair few compliments on it at work which I'm really chuffed about!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Papercut Patterns Clover Dress in a Monochrome Printed Viscose

I sewed it up with a beautiful viscose print which I picked up in Fabric Land on Goldhawk Road a few weeks ago (when I was shopping for work...oops!). I'd intended it for an Alder Shirtdress but something about the lovely drape and silky lightweight nature of it said it would be better suited to this project. I know a few other bloggers have bought some of this before, Kathyrn in particular made some great trousers out of it! The print is really interesting and kind of reminds me of those crackle effect nail polishes or rag rolled walls! I think it was only about £3/m and I got this out of exactly the recommended 1.8m.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Papercut Patterns Clover Dress in a Monochrome Printed Viscose

Viscose is the perfect fabric for this dress. I'm a huge fan of both working with and wearing viscose in general because it has such a gorgeous drape and is so easy to wear. I've got a bit of a rule that if I ever spot a beautiful viscose print at a bargain price I absolutely must buy it as too many times before I've passed it by thinking 'I'll be able to find something like that in future' and when the time comes to make a floaty dress or top I never can!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Papercut Patterns Clover Dress in a Monochrome Printed Viscose

I was slightly concerned about how much ease there was involved in this pattern as it's kind of hard to tell how much fabric is being pulled in by the belt in the promo pictures. I like to avoid having too much going on around the waist and didn't want it to be too much of a sack worn without a belt. I was between sizes on the Papercut guide so because of my ease concerns decided to cut the smaller which was the XS. I'm really pleased with how the fit turned out; it's nice and comfortable around the shoulders and bust and I actually like the shaping at the waist, I don't feel swamped in fabric at all. I kept the length as it is in the pattern, although I did trim a fair bit off while trying to level it up as it dropped all kinds of wonky when I left it to hang overnight. In the promotional pictures it looks as it it has a slight dipped hem on the model but I just levelled mine straight off. I really like this length for wearing day to day as it's not so short that I need to worry about flashing people as I get on and off the tube but is short enough to be fun and youthful.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Papercut Patterns Clover Dress in a Monochrome Printed Viscose

Construction wise this is a fairly straightforward shape to sew up. I really like how the short raglan sleeves look and how easy they are to sew up compared to setting in a sleeve! I also don't often sew dresses that don't have a waist seam so it came together quicker than most dresses I've made. I overlocked all my seam allowances, some of them I pressed open and then back together to finish them as one as the viscose is quite fine and my overlocker was producing much better results with a double thickness.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Papercut Patterns Clover Dress in a Monochrome Printed Viscose

I was slightly dreading adding the binding to the neckline as this technique has very rarely turned out as neat as I would have liked in the past and in this shifty viscose I had a feeling things were going to get fiddly. It did take a bit of patience but I'm really pleased with the result, it's a nice and even width all the way around. I was helped by the fact that the viscose really responded well to the iron. Next time I will make sure to stay stitch these areas after cutting as my neckline isn't sitting quite flat at the top of my shoulders and I think this is to do with a bit of stretching at the top of the raglan sleeve pieces rather than the application of the binding. 

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Papercut Patterns Clover Dress in a Monochrome Printed Viscose

My favourite thing about the design of this dress is the V shaped feature above the bust which is actual diagonal inserts in the front pattern pieces. However, I totally messed up piecing these bits together accurately despite being really careful when pinning and sewing that centre front seam. They match up perfectly at the top of the V but are a good few millimetres out at the bottom. This means the left diagonal strip has ended up wider than the right diagonal strip at the centre front. I was super duper careful about sewing these pieces together with accurate seam allowances so I'm inclined to think it might have something to do with the fabric stretching out as those long diagonal edges are all on the bias. I spent ages deliberating what fabric to use for it and ended up using some left over scraps of rayon/viscose crepe from my La Sylphide Dress, which texturally and weight wise were a perfect match for the look of the main fabric. You do have to be a bit careful with handling rayon and I think this might have added to mysterious size difference issue. At one point I was thinking of using black silk organza for the inserts which would have been much less likely to stretch out. I definitely want to make another one of these so has anyone got any tips to help combat this and help me achieve a nice neat intersection? I've thought about maybe stay stitching or interfacing the insert pattern pieces?

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Papercut Patterns Clover Dress in a Monochrome Printed Viscose

With the exception of that little mishap I'm delighted with my new dress and am pleased I took some time out from this busy month to sew something just for me! If you fancy taking part this week and sewing yourself up something entirely selfish then make sure to link up your projects on Kollabora and don't forget to enter the amazing giveaway here. There are going to be 40 winners of different indie sewing patterns and one lucky winner of a $25 gift voucher for IndieSew.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Floral Miette Skirt (and Bonus Playsuit Combo!)

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Tilly and the Buttons Miette Skirt in John Kaldor Crepe

Today I've got a fairly simple make to share with you that makes a whole lot of difference to the wearability of my Holly Playsuit which I shared a couple of weeks ago. This project came about for a couple of reasons. After making my first cotton twill Miette Skirt and realising what a speedy and wearable make it was, I knew I wanted to make another in a less crisp fabric to achieve a softer and less obviously a-line look.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Tilly and the Buttons Miette Skirt in John Kaldor Crepe

Secondly the silhouette of the bodice and shorts combo from the initial design of By Hand London's Holly Jumpsuit  (which just to reiterate is not the bodice variation included in the final pattern now available) gave off a bit of a 1950s pin up vibe to me. My boyfriend said to me while we were taking the pictures that I was pretty much as exposed in Holly as I am in both of my Bombshell Swimsuits so I might as well model them for the blog. It was at that point that an image popped into my head of those stunning 1950s sewing patterns for bathing suits or beachwear that come with an additional wrap skirt to wear over the top. I've always loved the idea of these and thought why not whip up my own, slightly more contemporary version? I realised that the perfect solution for making my playsuit a little more modest already existed in my plan for a second Miette, and the ideal fabric for my second Miette already existed in the generous leftovers of crepe from my playsuit.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Miette Skirt with Holly Playsuit

The John Kaldor French Crepe I used for Holly is the absolute perfect fabric for the silhouette I wanted to achieve with this skirt, it has a good weight to it but still a beautiful drape which suits the simple silhouette and wrap of this perfectly. The skirt has been worn separately, paired with a simple t-shirt or cami, quite a lot over the summer. It's an easy thing to reach for in the morning on a hot day and suits my fairly active working lifestyle perfectly as it does not crease or wrinkle at all and falls back into place neatly.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Miette Skirt with Holly Playsuit

The crepe also worked out great for the skirt and playsuit combo. I was worried about things getting a bit too bulky around the waist area with the wrap of the skirt on top of the waistline of the playsuit but it's just light weight enough for this not to be an issue. It feels great as a dress and I think from a distance you can't even tell that it's not! It's got me excited about using this and the two released variations of the Holly bodice as part of a dress.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Miette Skirt with Holly Playsuit

I don't have much to report on the Miette Skirt pattern from Tilly and the Buttons as I sewed this up exactly as before; cutting between a size 2 and 3 at the waist, grading out to a 3 at the hips and taking a good 4" off the length. I again omitted the waist ties in favour of two buttons fastening each end of the wrap at the back of the waist. I used exactly the same buttons as I did for my first Miette. They are a good size for the waistband and the colour looked great with the gorgeous vivid colours of the print.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Tilly and the Buttons Miette Skirt in John Kaldor Crepe

With the exception of the ties I followed the throughly detailed and pictured instructions pretty much to the letter and was again incredibly pleased with the tidy finish. The crepe presses beautifully and holds a lovely crisp edge to the wrap. After much deliberation I used white thread throughout with the exception of the buttonholes for which I used purple. The white showed up nicely against the colours as a topstitched line but I felt when used for the dense stitching of a buttonhole and combined with those purple buttons it might have been too bright and jarring. I overlocked all the raw edges with white thread.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Tilly and the Buttons Miette Skirt in John Kaldor Crepe

We've had a little bit of a muggy wave of heat passing through London over the last week which has meant I've had a surprise extra bit of wear out of these two garments. I've got a feeling we're saying goodbye to summer for now though so I'm already looking forward to the next and any possible trips to the beach so I can wear the outfit complete!