Friday, April 24, 2015

Complete: A Spur of the Moment Simone

Hello all :) Back again with the next project of my backlog of unblogged summer sewing projects. (It feels especially incongruous tonight, with a wintry storm raging outside the window...) This one, unusually for me, was a complete impulse make. Although it wasn't a particularly hot summer - not a single local fire warning! - we had some scattered sweltering days. It was the day before one of these that I realised that while I have a good number of summer dresses all of them are a bit too fitted or constricting for really hot weather.

I had some paisley print rayon I'd bought a couple of months prior (the last 1.8m on the roll), that I was desperately hoping would be enough for a Cascade skirt. Then when I reluctantly conceded I was being delusional, went through the same process with the Gabriola skirt. Ditto. Then it was earmarked for more Simplicity pants. Then I thought I'd get way more wear out of another kimono jacket. Then, I remembered the Simone dress, by Victory Patterns.

(To be honest, this was a pattern I'd admired and dismissed in the past. I think Victory have some amazing designs, but they seemed a bit too, I don't know, trendy or edgy for me. And I am about as unedgy as they come...)

To quote the website:
Simone is a semi-fitted style featuring a contrasting placket and tab detail in which pleats extend, creating fullness. A fitted neckline opens at the front and is secured with a hook and eye. The back features a contrasting racer cut yoke. 

I'm not usually one for A-line or tent style dresses; I feel a bit lost in them. But I liked the way this one had a bit of shape to it, without being cinched in at the waist at all. I think the fact that the back is fitted to the waist helps with that. I showed the photos and line drawings to the family and got a general thumbs up. And so the sewing began.

Googling revealed some mixed reviews about this pattern. But I'm happy to report I had none of the alleged drafting issues. My biggest concern was whether it would pull across the chest; the photo example on the website seems to be doing that. But it doesn't seem to. :)

In order to get all the pieces cut from my meagre 1.8m, I did have to lose 10cm from the back lower edge. Although I smoothed out the new curve when I cut it, it does make a difference to the way it falls - when worn, the back curves down beautifully to the middle...and then abruptly stops.  (You can possibly see it best in the first hanger photo) If I sew it up again some day I'll definitely cut the back skirt as drafted.

After sewing up a muslin, it was evident that the shoulder seam would have to be taken up significantly. (My notes say it was 6cm, which seems an enormous amount...) But that was really the only fitting modification needed.

 I decided against a contrast placket at front and back, and went with piping to highlight the seaming instead. I used the leftovers from my silk Annie cami, which matched the cream of the print exactly. I thought I might behave better as piping. Not so. The only reason it was less irritating this time around was because there was less of it used.

This is the first pattern I've come across that instructs you to fuse bias binding; here, at the neck. That seemed really counter-intuitive - surely interfacing would stop the binding from being pliable enough to sew around curves? But, and I still don't quite understand why, it didn't. Maybe it helps hold the weight of the dress?

I was really worried after I'd sewn the binding on to the armholes that the back section wasn't going to sit flat; it was very ripply even after determined pressing. But, and again I don't understand quite why, it's all fine when worn. Go figure!

Overall, I think I like it. But I'm not entirely sure.

In its favour, it is a perfect dress to wear on a truly hot day; the rayon flows and breathes and feels beautiful. It's not restrictive in any way. I love the colour and the print.

On the other hand, it just feels a bit busy on me. There's a fair bit going on design-wise, what with the seamlines, pleats, racer back, plackets and tab. Done up in a print it feels like overkill. And I have to confess, I can't help being a bit wistful over the kimono jacket that will never be....

I might be being overcritical. After all, I don't think it'll languish unworn in the wardrobe once summer rolls around again, so it's not a fail. In fact, on reflection, this dress has actually helped me discover something. I hadn't realised before this that I much prefer prints with simple design lines, and solids with more complex ones. That's a revelation that'll be very useful in deciding on future projects!

Will I make it up again sometime? Perhaps - in a solid ;) It also has the option of being a top, which might be nice also. Either way I would definitely raise the height of the keyhole at front. It's not too low, but it feels it. As a dress I'd probably try making the front skirt more voluminous too. It feels a little bit skimpy compared to the volume of the back, and I've noticed the weight of the back skirt can pull the front skirt back towards it occasionally.

But my head's not really in summer sewing territory anymore - it's all cool weather projects here now. Just two more things to try and finish before Me Made May...

Have you had an ambivalent project recently? Did you learn anything useful from it?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Complete: Bandwagon Pants and Tammy Top...and MMM '15

Well, I'm not quite sure where March went, but here we are well into April and well overdue on the posting front. For some reason - and I can't pinpoint anything specific - I've been finding it really hard to sit down and write a post lately. Happily this hasn't been the case with actual sewing time - I'm pretty happy with what I've achieved over the summer. So to get started on the backlog of the unblogged, here are my Bandwagon Pants and Tammy Top.

On the whole, I think I'm pretty good at not getting sucked into trends. I'm not sure whether it stems from a preference for clothes that aren't dateable to a specific year's season, a general lack of ready cash to waste, or a deep-seated aversion to being told what to wear (does anyone else detest that phrase "this season's must-have??); probably all three equally. But every so often some style will happen along, and suddenly it won't matter that every second person on the street is sporting it - I want in too.

In Australia this past summer it's been voluminous printed pants. (Sorry, can't call them trousers. Trousers are tailored.) At first I thought they looked like clown pants - especially the elasticated cuff versions. To be honest, I still do a bit...

But, oh! I know now why everyone wears them - they're as sublimely comfy as pj's, but with the benefit of being acceptable in public. So onto the bandwagon I cheerfully hopped.

My local fabric store outdid itself in terms of printed rayons this spring/summer, and I couldn't resist this one. (I forgot to take a proper close up of the fabric, so this zoomed in enlargement will have to do, I'm afraid.) The pattern is Simplicity 1887, shown below:

Just a quick query - does anyone else find that Simplicity patterns seem to have an awfully generous amount of ease?? I know ease preference is a personal thing, but I made up a couple of S. patterns this summer, and each time there was a massive amount of excess fabric to take out. I like to be a bit more scientific and considered when it comes to fitting, but am starting to think "just make the smallest size regardless" might be the S rule of thumb...

I didn't bother making a muslin, because these a) are meant to be voluminous and b) have elastic at the back waist, so I figured any problems would be easily remedied. If I had made a muslin, I would have gone down two sizes, because the sides of the front waistband sit nearly 2" past where they should. Ah, the blessings of a busy print!

I'll come back to the pants in a moment; here's the top I made to go with them:

This is Style Arc's Tammy Top, from their very versatile (eight in one!) dress/top pattern, made up in a black modal jersey. (Hadn't worked with this fabric before: a delight to sew, drapey without being flimsy or diva-ish, and to my lasting regret completely sold out.)

The pattern itself was a bit of a surprise. My experience of SA patterns has been that the size 8s, tops and bottoms, fit without too many adjustments needed at all. But this one didn't turn out at all as I expected. This is the tank/singlet sans overlay, but on me the shoulder width became almost a cap sleeve. The neckline is less of a tank style and more aspiring to be bateau. Also, the line drawing suggested it was much more fitted than it turned out to be. If I ever sew up the dress, there'll be some serious fitting work to do; even the back seam which should add shaping patently fails to do so on me.

Lack of shape evident in the side view. I do like the scooped back neck though.

If I'd had my heart set on a simple tank I would have been disappointed. As it is, I'm not sure I'll wear this out over skirts/pants/etc - it's not fitted enough for sleek and too fitted for slouchy. But as a "tuckable in" (tuck-inable?) top, I actually like it a lot! And unintended though it was, I do like me a cap sleeve :). Here are the two together:

I admit, I do still think "clown pants" when I look at these photos. But I truly don't care! This has been one of the comfiest, most effortless, go-anywhere summer outfits I've ever owned, me-made or RTW.

And when they do become seriously passe in public, they shall still have pride of place as summer pj's ;)

In other news, Me Made May '15 is fast approaching, and I'm in! I'm not panic sewing - honestly! - but I am hoping to get a couple of things finished before it starts. I seem to be having some trouble signing up officially - I'll blame it on the internet connection - so will record my pledge here first.

I want to use MMM this year like I did last year; as a way of gauging how cohesive the wardrobe I'm sewing actually is. But in order to up the challenge a bit more:

"I, Danielle of One Small Stitch, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '15. I endeavour to wear a me-made outfit (sewn, knitted, refashioned) for ten of the days, at least two me-made garments for ten more, and at least one for the remaining days,"

I'll define outfit as "everything you see", barring shoes/tights/jewellery. (Depending on how desperate I get, a dress may fall into this category at some point...) I'll try not to repeat outfits, but will see how I go...

How about you? Are you signing up this year?