Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Remember when ...

... I was to busy with exams to have time to think let alone sew?
... when I had to use my mobile phone to take pictures last time because I couldn't find the cable to get the photos to my laptop?

Well that camera broke down on me shortly after that. And I passed the tests with flying colours :) Go me! And as a reward my parents want to give me a gift. Yay! And it might be that the camera broke down, or that I really want to make the evening/dance dress work and show you lot's of beautiful pictures, it might also be that I won the give away at Country Girl Couture  and that while the mail is being terribly slow I already have everything planned out and of course I'll want to take thousands of pictures of that and it's also possible that I want to join didyoumakethat's WIP Pitch and tantalise you with detail shots of unknown work in progress. And any or all of those might have made me blurt out "A camera!"

My parents both know a think or two about cameras so faster than you can say "Boo!" they started debating over which camera to get me. But then they decided that as someone who finished as one of the best of her year in a good part of the exams I should be allowed to pick my own camera.

I'll mostly be using it to take said detail shots and shots of my self made projects. So question to you: 

Which camera do you use? Do you like it? Why? And could I ask for it without -you know- ripping my parents arm of? Because I really don't want to do that.


Sunday, 8 July 2012

I will spare you the photos

Beautifully finished with a double zig zag*

After sewing so many toiles of my dress I finally felt ready to sew my real fabric. I don't know why but I was terrified of that fabric. I have already (successfully) sewn more expensive fabrics, more slippery fabrics, fabrics that where more prone to fraying and any other hardship you might think of. But this fabric truly scared me.
Quiz question: How much fun is turning a corner with this fabric? I actually poked  a n 8 mm knitting needle right through several times. How can this even happen with such a tight weave?

So after psyching myself up with all those toiles I told myself to get a grip and just cut into the cloth already. And so I made lots of notches and hand basted all my seams (even the straight ones), tried out the best tension settings and stitch length on a scrap piece of fabric. Then I decided that sewing the lining first really wouldn't be procrastinating. 
One of my favourite seam finishes: Fold and stitch. In this case a zig zag stitch on the lining seams.

When I finally started sewing I was still afraid. And there was this nagging doubt that things would work out as nicely as in the muslins. But I kept sewing anyway. And then I tried the dress on. And quelle horreur! It has stress lines in places none of my muslins or the lining had them. And a ripply zip fastner! The zip was fine on just the lining and I had a notch every 5 cm to match up my seams. And for some reason you can see the facing peeking out in some parts!

No rippling when  lying flat. Also: This fabric can only be sewn once and I had already started unpicking here. Hence the pulled treads.
As fate would have it I all that procrastinating meant that I had to wear the dress out ripply zip and all. I had a great night and I got a lot of compliments on the dresses colour and cut and even more for being able to sew something like that. But I felt like Everyone was staring at my back and the ripply horrors there!
Couldn't they have noticed my perfect rolled hem instead? Both from the wrong side.
And the right. Isn't the fabric beautiful? Even  though the colours are of ...
The question remains: What am I going to do with the back. I have a feeling that a cool pin tuck design might help. But if it doesn't I'll have completely ruined the fabric.


*Once again sorry for the bad picture quality. I couldn't find the cable for my camera so I took all the pictures again with my phone.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Sewing my muslin(s) and sketches ... lots of them

Some sketches that didn't make the cut for various reasons.
Since I want this dress to fit really really well, I'm actually made a muslin. And then another one after I noticed that it looked amazing in dance posture but had some weird wrinkling and bunching when I'm standing naturally. Since I want the best of both worlds I made some alterations, decided that cut outs in back would be perfect for reducing fitting issues (with dance dresses they're always in the back, that's why most dance dresses don't have a back to speak of). And then I made another muslin and some alterations on that. And then another one.

Long story short: I'm up to muslin number four by now and it's "hopefully" (fingers crossed!) going to be wearable. Since I need a LBD I'm going to sew it in black with a different skirt. I also have enough fabric to swap the back to a "normal" one after I checked the fit.

Have I already posted my sketches? I know I drew a bunch with the intention of uploading them ... Please forgive the bad quality ... I can't draw to save my life and my scanner wasn't co-operating :(
The first couple of ideas I had ... I'd already thrown them overboard when I started these sketches. But I always find it fascinating to watch other people's ideas evolve and so I thought you'd do to ;) I just might have watched a lot of Ginger Rogers an Fred Astaire before drawing the sketch on the right. Here's a better view of the dress.
The dress on the right is basically the inspiration dress I posted a while ago in longer. Even though I made fun of the lower back design right after drawing it I do actually kind of like it now. Unfortunately I don't think it offers enough eh em ... support
The upper back designs look kind of weird and again there's a "support-problem", which is also existent in the bottom right one. The one on the bottom left is of course a classic. But I wanted something a bit different. But since I liked the cross at the back the most I decided to improve on that. Which ultimately led me too ...

The two "winner" designs. They where morphed together. See ho they'd have worked with both the princess cut and the triangles and circle skirt design?
What my dress will ultimately look like remains a surprise ;) What I can tell you is that the muslin will be sewn as a shorter version of the triangles and cirlce skirt dress. I will only post pictures of the muslin after I have checked the fit and converted it too a halter top.

In case anyone's wondering ... here's what the pattern for the "circle skirt" looks like:
Weird, no?
And here's how I got there:
A lot of slashing and pivoting. It looks like an eye! The white pointy thing was a dart. 
I have some fabric marking to do! See you soon!

Butterfly <3

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Look what I found!

I don't even know why or where any more but while I was thinking about what to make for my summer wardrobe I saw a picture of an Indian woman wrapping her saree (or sari). What really spiked my interest was the that you could see what we westerners call her "sari blouse". Indians call them choli blouses as far as I know. They're midriff baring, made out of cool linen or cotton fabrics, they come in bright colours and I think they're worn without bras. Or they can be anyway. All of this makes them perfect for summer. I don't think I'll dare to wear them as a normal top (it has actually cooled down a bit but when it gets warmer ... who knows?) But me thinks they'd make a perfect sports bra or sleep top if they're sewn with a bit more ease.

Wouldn't this make a perfect running ensemble? It's a choli top (I might have forgotten to draw in the three bust darts) and a wrap skort (which is going to be longer than that due to the fact that minis don't suit my body shape very well).
So much for bright colours :P
I wanted the skort to mimic a sari. Looking at the video bellow I could tell that I'd need pleats with lots and lots of fabric gathered into them (they've got to walk somehow right) and a wrapping section after that. I might drape the wrapped over part a little bit to mimic the draping going up to the shoulder.

So as soon as the idea hit I started looking into the making of choli blouses. I found this video series which is great. It would be perfect if I could actually understand what they're saying. I'm quite sure it's English thanks to words like "margin" and "dart" and I've always prided myself in beeing able to understand as good as every person who speaks English. Yep even Chinese Business English. But this? It feels like a completely different language :( This is the earliest video I could find. You'll have to go to their channel and search for the others. I'm not through all of them yet since searching takes up a lot of time. Time I'm stealing from sewing my evening/dance dress muslin.

Look! No back stitching, no smooth curve at the end of the dart. I imagine it would be under quite a lot of stress since these blouses have no ease so that probably solves the nipply-dart-problem but why doesn't the stitching become undone?


Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Can you tell?

... that I have time of college? After weeks of writing one test after another I finally have time to lounge around my parents house, cook, sew and write blog posts :) Today is all about my personal colour palette. And how to find yours if you're hard to fit into the classical four colour seasons or the 12 or even 16 flow colour seasons.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Summer crept up on me!

A sudden heat spell seems to have come over all of Europe. Unfortunately I don't have enough summer clothes. Since I really want to sew something anyway I'll be making new ones for myself :)

What I need

  • something cool to sleep in (I might have slept in my undies and filled a hot water bottle with ice-water last night ...)
  • tops - preferably out of bright and cheerful Egyptian cotton - Those that I do have don't seem to tight in the bust and to loose in the waist. That's a good thing, but slightly annoying since i thought I'd just get out my summer tops from last year. I also don't want to use knits since I find that they cling and as soon as they're thin enough for such temperatures they're really see-through. And don't even get me started on people with knit tops and sweat-stains EVERYWHERE.
  • shorts - Once again I can't wear those from last year since they're to tight in the rear and to loose over my abs. I also feel like I might fall out of them since they're not long enough to give enough coverage in the back
  • skirts - something loose and knee length since I already figured out that mini skirts just aren't cutting it for my body type. Circle skirt anyone?
  • shoes - I'm not going to make these myself :P But dancer's feet are really ugly so I can't confront my fellow earthlings with sandals ...
  • a tunic to cover up in the sun - since it's quite humid this probably isn't going to help me stay cool but I burn really easily
  • DRESSES I always need more dresses 
The problem(s):
  • I could really kick myself for this but I still haven't perfected my new foundation pattern. I know, I know! It took ages to find someone willing (and able!) to take my measurements. In the end I just showed a  measuring tape into my little sisters hand. So I'm still making alterations.
  • My pay check arrives in three days and I'm pretty close to my have-some-money-in-case-something-unexpected-happens-limit. So no fabric shopping until then :(
  • I still haven't completely found my way through all the colour advice
But I finally have time for some serious sewing.


Most of you probably know by now that I love to dance.  And you've probably seen the beautiful standard gowns. If not just Google it (They have very full skirts and lots of rhinestones. And even more rhinestones :P.). So as  you can imagine dancing in a skirt is quite a different feeling from dancing in pants. That's why I always practice in skirts. Mine and those I sew for others are usually sewn on the bias. It's how Ginger Rogers achieved that "swishy" look in her dresses. She also weighted the hem but I'm not doing that for practice wear ;)

So here's the deal: I managed to loose my practice skirt. You can go back and read that again: I lost an almost floor length skirt that flared out into two full circles. How do you do that you ask? Well ... and the rest is lost in mumbling as I bow my head in shame. To punish myself I figured I'd sew my new practice skirt out of knit fabric. I just don't like wearing knits. And you're heel catches in the hem during practice: I actually managed to get mine caught in the hem of the dancer next to me ....

My pattern pieces basically looked like this:
This is the half finished skirt: It has a separate waistband, that goes almost all the way underneath my but. The teal coloured fabric is a polo knit that I - obviously - never used. It's now serving the purpose of an interfacing. I just have another 3 meters to somehow use up ... I don't know if you can see it but I'm actually in the middle of pinning my waist elastic to my "interfacing". I like to do this on the body as it provides neater results. It serves much the same purpose as waist tape for full skirts made out of heavy fabric: Holding the skirt up. Only that it isn't gravity I'm fitting against but my own (and others!) dance shoe's heels. The knit is so light weight that even centrifugal force in quick turns shouldn't be a problem without a waist elastic, but the heels just won't stop hating knit hems ...

Looks like I'll have to repin ... the seam is supposed to be further down
  1. While this knit fabric actually looks quite nice (better than I'd thought knits could look anyhow) it's somewhat see-through in the wrong lights (read: bright light, read: stage light and summer sun-light) so I'll have to sew a short lining skirt. 
  2. I'm going to sew in short shorts like the those Ginger Rogers had underneath her dresses. Can you tell I'm a bit obsessed with her? It's perfectly normal for Ballroom gown (both Standard and Latin-american) and probably American Smooth and Rhythm gowns to have sewn in panties. You're not even allowed to compete without them. Yep there are rules for that. They're written down here. Some countries have "extra" rules though.
  3. I'm still not sure if I'll 
          a) not hem at all (less for the heels to hold on to).

          b) use horsehair braid in the hem (probably to pretty for a self punishment                skirt but a lot closer to the dresses we'll actually dance in) which is                very much in vogue in standard gowns at the moment.

You can see some examples of horsehair braid in hems here:

Isn't Joanne's skirt just beautiful? I think it's has a  very full crinoline underneath and tulle flounces with light fishing wire in the hem. Anyone want to guess the meterage?