Monday, March 30, 2009

Jumper Dress Pt. 2

I spent most of the day working on the plaid jumper. I ended up sewing in some elastic along the hemline because my daughter fancies the bubble skirt. That ended up really ugly. No pictures of that crapola. So I cut the bottom of the skirt off and hemmed it. It's still not finished, I have a collar ruffle to add. Here is the dress so far.

I decided to go with asymmetrical pleats and gathers. Constructing those was, um, interesting. I'm sure what I did was all ass-backwards, but my daughter thinks it's cute and is willing to wear it. The bodice still isn't 100% right, even though I adjusted the muslin and pattern.

Attaching the bodice to the skirt was a trip and a half! I kept getting one or the other on the wrong side. I haven't finished the seams so ignore the funky line between the bodice and skirt. As for matching the plaid, I did okay with the front and back, but the side seams are off. They were fine while pinning, so not quite sure what happened there. As usual, I have a jacked up hemline, but it's slightly better than the others I have done so far. I was going for an updated modish sixties feel. I think it worked in that respect.

My daughter thinks that I should make the neckline a little lower on the front and almost to the skirt in the back. I'm thinking about it.

Well, done sewing for the day. I'll probably start and finish the collar ruffle tomorrow.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Jumper Dress Pt. 1

My sister-in-law gave me 3 yards of Burberry-inspired plaid lightweight stretch wool--thanks, sweetie! I decided to try my hand at working with my bodice sloper and started on a jumper. I made the bodice but had to adjust a little for fit. So far, so good. Next, the skirt. I decided to use draping techniques for ideas. Here are the ones I have come up with so far. Please excuse the way it looks on the mannequin, because it is not a dress form but probably could be for someone who is a size 2-4.

Idea #1: Two sets of pleats in the front, then pulled back slightly for fullness.

Idea #2: Side pleats gathered and draped across with a sash belt.

Idea #3: Crazy origami-inspired folds for an unusual twist on a rather conservative-looking fabric.

These probably look a little rough, but I think they convey the overall ideas. I'm still cranking out rough ideas and might just end up with a simple A-line skirt. We'll see. I'm totally new to the concept of draping, so advice and criticism is much appreciated!

I hope the books in the background aren't too distracting. Since it got so cold down in the Craft Dungeon where my sewing area was initially set up, I moved my machine upstairs to the library where it is nice and warm. I don't work well with frozen fingers. Once the chill is gone I'll move back down there. Hurry up, warm weather--and I mean everyday, not just once a week like it has been lately.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

FO: Burda Style Vivienne Jumper

I finished the baby jumper. I ended up using buttons instead of snaps. Overall, It could be better, but my next ones will be. Sewing this piece gave me the opportunity to work with a fine fabric, 100% Chinese silk, a new experience for this novice. Not that I'm ready to run out, purchase silk and start whipping up anything with it any time soon. But at least I got my feet wet with it, and have a few scrap pieces to practice on.

I'm going to go ahead and send the jumper, along with a few store-bought garments and other gifts. In the meantime, I really need to get more practice with my sewing machine. Lots more.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

March Sewing Contest and Thrift Shop Remixes

The theme for this month's LHCF sewing contest is the color green. Another idea that came up for a future contest was to sew an item made from things found in a second-hand shop. I decided to do a little bit of both for this project. My granddaughter's first birthday is coming up soon, so that inspired me to sew something with her in mind. Whether or not I'll give it to her and/or enter it in the contest depends on the outcome, of course.

My jaunt over to the 'goody shop' resulted in these finds, a 100% Indian cotton madras wrap, and a 3x sized 100% Chinese silk top. I paid $6 total.

I am using both these fabrics to make a jumper from Burda Style's free pattern downloads. This one is called the Vivienne Jumper, and I think it's an excellent pattern for the beginner. Why silk for a baby's dress? It was the only thing I found that matched the madras colors that could work as a lining. If I do end up sending this dress, I'll advise that they handwash and line dry.

Vivienne Jumper from Burda Style

I have downloaded several free patterns from Burda Style, but this is the first one I have printed out. After printing, I had to tile the pieces together, trim away the overlapping edges, tape them together, then cut the pieces out.

That was easy. The challenge was resizing the pattern, which is a size 2T that fits toddlers 18-24 months. My granddaughter is just turning 12 months, and if she does get this jumper, I'd like for her to be able to wear it this year.

The pattern instructions call for sewing the shell and lining separately, then putting them together. I decided to forgo buttons--potential choking hazard--and use snaps for the closures.

I thought I was done with the shell, but the hemming is a mess. Gotta break out my trusty seam reaper, dangit. I catch all kinds of hell with hems and it drives me nuts. I have a sewing class a little later on today, so I hope to get some tips for better hemming then. In the meantime, rip, rip, rip!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

O Tilda!

If I had to pick a favorite androgynous, alien-like, fashion-forward actress, it would be the Oscar-winning Tilda Swinton.

I absolutely loved her costuming in the movies Constantine, Chronicles of Narnia and Orlando. I wonder if when she reads scripts for projects, does costuming play a role in whether or not she'll accept the part? (I wonder the same about my other fave fashionable actress Diane Keaton). I am never unimpressed with Swinton's acting, but I'll admit I enjoy watching her costumes just as much--or more! And what she wears off camera is absolutely amazing (she wears lots of drapey Lanvin gowns)--and that has been interpreted in both positive and negative sentiment by the fashion press. Bah! Who cares if she lands in the "What Was She Thinking?" Tilda wears clothes that obviously please her and feel good to her, while other actresses are obsessed with being on best-dressed lists. Petty, but I understand.

And who better than the gamine, strikingly other-worldly Swinton to be the muse for AnOther Magazine's Futuristic Fashion spread?

Click on the link above for more futuristic silhouettes worn by Swinton, shot by fashion photographer du jour Craig McDean.

Image from

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Sewing Classes!


I mentioned in a previous post that I was searching for sewing classes not too far from home and voila! I found the EWS Fashion Design Academy about 15 minutes away. Each class is 3 1/2 hours long, and I started my first of 9 weekly classes today. There was only one other new student with me, but there were 8 others present today working at various stages. Some were working on full scale patterns, others were sewing various projects. The classroom was awesome, equipped with many types of machines, including a few heavy-duty looking industrial types, an overlocker and serger and several newer computerized Singers.

Pic from EWS site.

The instructor, master tailor Eric Stiles, was awesome! Just so full of energy and without the help of an assistant, managed to keep track of everyone's work, teach us newbies, and offer criticism and advice to everyone without missing a beat. He is the epitome of multitasking, and he does it so smoothly.

The first lesson included learning a little bit of lingo, how to take proper measurements and how to draft a skirt pattern based upon the Tailor's Quarter Size. From there we will draft the full size pattern, test the pattern with a muslin, then based upon the final sloper make regular, flair, semi-circular and gore skirts.

I had to unlearn much of what I learned from the How to Make Sewing Patterns book, which was what I used to make a bodice and pants sloper, because it teaches you how to make patterns full-scale from the get go. Eventually I hope to incorporate what I got from the book with what I am learning in the classes.

For homework, we were given three sets of measurements and have to draft three patterns for each using the quarter size square. Learning how to draft patterns is really cool, but I can't wait to get to the designing and sewing!