Friday, 27 January 2012

A Seamstresses Guide to the Galaxy - Vogue 8280

The other day I had one of those fantasy scenes in my head that they have in the movies.
You know in a scene where a character meets someone, has a bad experience and it's then followed by an imaginary, impulsive sequence of how they wish they could react, usually something along the lines of punching that other person in the face or screaming at them some crass profanity. Then it cuts back to reality where they have not acted out but instead they just smile and be pleasant and act like the person hasnt just infuriated them.

Well I had one of those scenes not so long back – in a big-chain fabric store in Melbourne. Now when I say fabric store, this place is now less of a fabric store and more of a $2 junk shop. You are more likely to find a back scratcher or a nose-hair trimmer in this place then you would a metre of silk.  Thank God for fabulous stores like Tessuti or my sewing projects would be severely jeopardised.

My altercation occurred in the middle of the day with a good-looking young girl, around age 18 who worked at this store. She had cut the wonderful fabric that I used to make this dress. She held it up against her to fold it (I had purchased quite a bit) and I noticed how well the colour looked against her face. You know how when you hold up a colour to your face that really suits you and your face just warms up and looks healthier? That's what happened with her; she looked lovely!

So I told her.

Me - "Oh my goodness, that colour really suits you, you should get some!"

Her reaction? Wait for it ... she pulled a vomit face. Yeah, that's right, she screwed her face up and pretended to vomit.

*insert violent fantasy scene here*

Um ... what the H? She then proceeded to tell me that she didn't like 'girly' colours.
This is where I employed some serious calming techniques to stop my self turning into the hulk in the middle of a busy store. Wow. A girl who works in a fabric store and doesn't like 'girly' colours? That's like a painter hating paint or a kindergarten teacher hating children. 

Any waaay. I smiled and nodded and walked out of the store and held my new purchase to my chest for support.

The good news is I like the fabric and I made a lovely new dress with it.

The dress is the Vogue version of the galaxy dress, pattern number 8280. It's been around for a while now but it's only recently that I really started paying it some attention. I've seen some lovely other versions out at the moment and nothing motivates me more than envy.

I like the feminine shape of the pattern and combined with the rich colour of the fabric it gives a nice vintage feel. I fell in love a while back with a Joan dress from Mad Men (let's be honest, who hasn't) because of it's shape but mainly the colour. I'd been on the look out for a similar colour ever since and was very excited to make this find.

Let's just take a moment to appreciate the awesomeness that is Joanie.


The fabric is a combination of 45% silk and 55% polyester. It's the same as the black fabric I used to make the skirt part of my The Survivor dress. The silk gives the fabric a richness and vibrancy, while the polyester gives support and strength. If the store stocked more colours I would buy up on all of them.

I fully lined the dress and I added a pink bow as a subtle detail and to break the solid colour.

I made up version B of the dress.

I love the sweet-heart neckline and the puffy sleeves.

I made this dress up in a size 12 bodice, size 10 sleeves and size 14 on the skirt from the hip down. I was smart enough to make a muslin first and I highly recommend any one considering making this pattern that you do the same. It's a lovely pattern but I made quite a few adjustments.

At the end of the day if I was to make this pattern again I would probably make the whole bodice in a smaller size. A lot of other reviewers (why do I only read them now?) commented on how the size runs a little big.

I am short in the torso so one of the first things I did was remove 2cm from the height of the bodice.

I have a full bust, but it starts higher up on my frame so bodices always seem to swim on me at the top. I removed about 3cm from the back starting at the arm hole as it was gaping.

You can see in the above picture the dart I made at the arm hole and also the adjustment at the bottom to remove 2 cm from the height of the bodice.

I 'pinched out' the excess fabric on the front bodice and ended up removing (by making another dart) about an extra 1cm not too far down from the waist dart apex.

I must say it is quite difficult pinning adjustments on your self, I don't know why I didn't use my dress form this time around, but once I had started I couldn't stop!

The fabric was gaping at the side seam under my bust so I also increased the bust dart on the side by an extra 2 cm. You can see in the above picture on the side how I've penciled in two new lines.

I removed a fair bit of excess fabric from the flange pieces as well by creating a dart. On a side note, what sort of word is 'flange'? 

And finally I reduced the width of the sleeve at the hem by a whopping 5cm. You can see in the picture below that I sliced off 2.5cm on both the front sleeve and back sleeve. I have quite skinny arms and when I first tried on my muslin sleeve I almost had to turn side ways to walk through a doorway (slight exaggeration).

I also didn't add any netting in the sleeves as the fabric had enough stiffness to it that it didn't need it.

The result was a nice snug fit. I'm sure there are more professional ways to make these adjustments but I think it worked regardless.

I do feel like such a lady when I put this dress on. It certainly encourages hip swaying and hair flicking and I just love the colour of this dress!

Maybe I should walk into that fabric store with this dress on and get all Julia Roberts on the staff member and reenact the scene from Pretty Woman where Vivian walks back into a fancy store, arms laden with recent purchases and exclaims to the horror of the shop ladies 

"Big mistake. Big. Huge!" [turns away] 

On an exciting note, look at these fancy patterns I just purchased from the Vogue Patterns website. I'm always impatiently waiting for more pattern designs and I'm excited about a few of the new ones.

There's something crazy going on with the neck band and shoulder straps and I think I like it!

This one definitely looks like a cocktail dress and will be great for those nights when I want to get a little vampy. I could imagine this in a bold red or electric blue.

Oh yes please. I love the drape and the pleats (which you can't really see with this print - check the line drawing below) This dress would look awesome in a mustard drapey silk fabric. I'm probably most excited about this little number.

I love all the fancy pleating on this one and the elastic waist band. Hello easy eating!
And just when I think I'm almost up to date on my 'must-sew' list, I've just gone and added another six.
It's a hard-knock life.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Sunshine and Spots + Give Away Winner!

Thank you to all the lovely people who commented on my recent blog post lace giveaway . And for all your colour suggestions for the vintage dress that I recently purchased the pattern for. Looks like Ill be making about ten different colour versions of this dress, which could not possibly be a bad thing!

The winner of the delicious guipure lace was selected by random. I assigned a number to each person who left a comment and then got my husband to pull one name out of a hat. To highlight the importance of the task, I made him thoroughly wash his hands first, and then wrap them in 100% silk before selecting the random number from the hat. These things must be done properly!

So, without further ado I am very excited to announce the winner of the Guipure lace is the lovely ..
Abby from the blog Sew Get Dressed 

Yay! Congratulations Abby!

Thank you everyone for your super kind comments that filled me with all sorts of warm and fuzzies.

Meanwhile, heres a lil something Id been working on. I call it Sunshine with spots because  well, its yellow, and it has spots.

This dress is another creation made with Tessuti Fabrics. The yellow shell is a Stretch Cotton called Canary which was an absolute delight to sew with and had the added benefit of cheering me up every time I looked at it. You just cant help but feel a little more chipper when you look at such a friendly colour.

I drafted my own Peter Pan collar for the neckline and made it using a Japanese cotton also from Tessuti called Sand Yuki Small 

I made little stick-out sleeves (pretty sure thats not the technical term) which I lined with the same polka dot cotton. Isnt it pretty?!

I made my first attempt at a scalloped hem on the skirt of the dress. It gives it a playful look and was surprisingly straight forward.

I'm seeing scalloped hems everywhere at the moment and so I thought I'd see what the fuss was all about. I quite like the idea of the scalloped hem, though it does make me feel a little bit Wilma Flinstone.

I adjusted the width of the skirt back on account of my fuller behind (thank you Christmas!) without changing the side seams and hem, using my recent technique. You can see the How to blog post here. 

I made a round scoop neck on the front and back.

Thanks again lovely people for following my blog and helping me celebrate my first milestone!

Saturday, 14 January 2012

How to add extra room for your backside - skirt

There's no escaping it no matter how hard I fight it. Each year I swear this christmas will be different.

I will not eat enough for four people.
I will not consume my body weight in Christmas pudding.
I will not succumb to the delicious, delicious turkey.

Fight as I may, when I put my two feet on the scales in January (with a drum-stick in one hand) I know who won the battle in the 'Julia Vs Christmas' fight.


Logic would have you think that if you're already well endowed in the backside area, that a few extra pounds would lodge them selves somewhere where I'm lower in fat; the elbows for example or my arms. But oh no. That extra stuffing goes right where I don't need it ... like my backside is handing out pamphlets around town saying that it's the best place for fat to visit. Thanks so much.

So, instead of wearing my sweat pants everyday for the next month and resigning myself to a dinner of carrot sticks, cardboard and dust particles I decided to embrace the extra 'junk in my trunk' and make my skirts with just an itty bitty extra space.  This adjustment will add extra room without changing the side seams or hem. That way no one is the wiser. Yes Shakira, sometimes hips CAN lie.

I just made this adjustment on a dress that I'll be posting this week.

So let's get busy:

1. Trace your back skirt piece onto tracing paper and get your scissors and markers ready. The pattern piece I'm using is for a short skirt just to give you a bit of context.

2. Draw a straight line right through the hip line from the side seam to the centre back (CB). I've done this in a blue marker below.

3. Draw a straight line right from the waist down to the hem. I've done mine right next to the waist dart.

3. Now you'll see a blue cross on my pattern piece above. With your scissors, cut down that blue line that you made starting at the waist and all the way down to the hem stopping about 5mm above the hem creating a 'hinge'.

4. Now cut across your hip line starting at the CB all the way to the side seam, but being careful to leave a hinge at the side seam.
The whole point of this adjustment is to add extra room without affecting your side seam or hem.

5. Your pattern piece is now effectively divided into four pieces. If you've done it correctly you should have two hinges; one at the hem and one at the side seam.

Spread your pattern pieces out by the extra amount that you need.

6. You'll see that the side seam and hem have not changed, but the CB has lengthened and so has the waist. We'll be altering the waist dart in the next few steps to retain the original waist.

Tape paper underneath your opened pattern piece. I always did love cutting and pasting as a kid.

7. Now we want to get that waist back to it's normal length.
Measure the amount that you added at the waist. You'll see in the picture below that 15mm was added.

8. Split the measurement in half and add it to either side of your original dart. The amount I had added to the waist was 15mm, so I added 7.5mm to each side of my original dart (7.5mm + 7.5mm = 15mm).

Draw a new line from your markings to the dart point. I've done mine below in red. This is now your new dart.

And now you have a new skirt back with extra room at your seat without affecting the side seams, hem or increasing the waist.

 Maybe I can hold of on getting back into my exercise regime for a few more days now.

Happy eating sewing!