Cashmerette Patterns, Sewing

It’s all in the chemistry – Upton Dress

Oh, I know it’s been a while… but I’m still here…

Work got busy (I got a promotion), I had a trip away for work, managed to get the flu while on the work trip, and I have been working away on the Wrap Dress Project. The Wrap Dress Project has reached a milestone, and I’m taking a little break to whip up some tried and true patterns before I dive back into the next phase.

I promise that there are posts about the next steps in the Wrap Dress fittings sitting in my drafts, but for today I just couldn’t wait to share my newest Upton Dress – all the heart-eyes over here for this one!! 😍😍

e2339759-a2f3-4bb1-96a9-670c3cfa388f This fabric easily cost three times what I’m usually happy to pay for fabric. It’s from Spotlight, and was almost $25/m, which makes this gorgeous cotton frock quite expensive when you think that pleated Upton’s use 4+m… 😳😳

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*David Attenborough voice* ‘and, here we see the sewist in her favourite habitat’ – at least that’s what my sister says… πŸ€¦πŸΌβ€β™€οΈ

But once I’d seen it there was no way I was going to be able to leave it in the store! It just had to come home with me, and I do no regret my decision one little bit.

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I finished it off last night (with the fabric line selvage label added to the hem) and hung it on the hanger, thinking ‘I do like that’. Then this morning I put it on to take some photos, and on the way into the spare room (only room in the house with a full length mirror) and I caught sight of myself in the bathroom mirror as I walked past – I’m pretty sure I started skipping. I just love it!

Don’t get me wrong, I love (or at the very least like) pretty much everything I make, but there is something about the Upton dress – I love how I look in it. Everything fits well, it makes me look like I have a waist, the skirt length is perfect without my having to add or subtract anything, and who doesn’t love a box pleated skirt!

And, this fabric print. I’m not a chemist, or a chemical engineer, but work with a lot of them, and I did study chemistry at school. I’ve also spent a good portion of the last year learning an awful lot about one particular chemical compound (can’t write about these things without picking up enough knowledge to be just about dangerous) – so it was fitting. πŸ”¬πŸ”¬

It’s a big call, but I think the Upton Dress is my ‘desert island’ pattern. 🏝🏝 You know, if you could only sew one pattern ever again – the Upton would be it for me. Good thing I have fabric for about… 20 more in my stash…

img_1764 Pattern: Cashmerette Upton. Size: 20G/H with the bodice lengthened by 1in.

Fabric: Spotlight – Studio E Geek Chic Atoms

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Adjustments, OSP, Sewing

The Wrap Dress Project – Fitting the Bodice Part 1

Somewhere there is some saying about starting at the top and working down when making fit adjustments to patterns, so I started where I always start with adjustments when making clothes for myself – with a full bust adjustment (FBA).

As always seems to happen, my high bust adjustment matches to largest size in the pattern, so patterns usually fit my neck and shoulders nicely, but I need do a FBA to have the bodice fit properly. My measurements mean I needed to add 2.5 inches to both sides of the front.

I decided to do a ‘Y cut’ FBA on this pattern for two reasons:

  1. So that the bust dart didn’t end up ridiculously huge – a common issue when doing ‘large’ FBAs; and
  2. I figured that in this style of top I some extra width across the top of the bust wouldn’t hurt – we’re all about avoiding wardrobe malfunctions in my world!

I always carry the full width I add at the bust doing a FBA down to the waistline, as I usually need extra inches at the waist too. Once I’d added the width and taped the pattern up I worked out where my bust point needed to be – that black dot in the middle of the addition – far, far away from the bust point marked on the pattern. From there I measured and marked 2 inches below, and towards the side seam (no Madonna looking cones for me, πŸ™…πŸΌ thank you very much) these formed the point of my new darts.

The original pattern didn’t have a bust dart, only a waist dart. I added the bust dart – marking from the end point of the dart out to the edges of sections that were added during the FBA, folded the dart closed (I taped it up actually) and trued up the side seam.

While the bust dart was taped closed I did a bit of tissue fitting to work out what size the waist dart needed to be – you can see it’s significantly smaller than what it would have been if I’d just closed the original waist dart.

When making muslins I don’t usually make any adjustments to the back of the bodice, most of the time the fit is fine, so I followed my usual practices and left the back bodice pattern alone.

Cutting time!! βœ‚οΈβœ‚οΈβœ‚οΈ

I marked, pressed and stitched all of the darts closed, then pressed them again before sewing up the side and shoulder seams – time to see how well this first round of adjustments worked… 🀞🏻🀞🏻🀞🏻

And, honestly, not bad for the first round of adjustments to a pattern style I haven’t tired before… I did have a minor heart attack when I first put it on – I thought that I’d made the bust darts too low!! But on closer inspection the shoulder seams were sitting too far forward, and when I pulled them up and pinned them where they should sit – magically the bust darts were in the right place!! I’m not too worried right now about the shoulder seams sitting that far forward – this shirt still has a collar and facing to go on, and there are seam allowances involved in attaching them that may well fix that issue, so for my next muslin I’m going to make up and attach the collar and facing as well to check on that.

I did decide that there was just a little more gape in the front that I’d like – it’s not very obvious from the front, but it was from above… I pinned out about 5/8in on both sides.

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I’m pretty happy with how this round of adjustments has gone – it doesn’t matter how long I’ve been doing this or how many times I’ve adjusted patterns I’m always pleasantly surprised when the adjustments turn out the way I wanted them too… 😘😌

For the next muslin the plan is:

  • Fix that neckline gape issues – I found a tutorial on Craftsy which I’m going to give a whirl, it looks like it should do the trick
  • Test out the collar and facing as well as the main bodice pieces – this will tell me whether I need to do something about where the should seam is – also means I have to redraft the front facing as I’ve changed the length and am planning to change the shape a little with the neckline gape fix…
  • Think about whether I want to lengthen the front at all – I’m considering it, but I’m also conscious that adding the skirt (and the layers involved in the wrap and my planned lining) may add enough weight that it pulls the bodice down a bit… something to ponder… πŸ€”πŸ€”

On to round two…

Adjustments, OSP, Sewing

The Wrap Dress Project – an Introduction

A while back I was scrolling Pinterest on my train to or from work. It’s my brain unwind, and I find it surprisingly inspirational for helping solve random work related challenges, something about distracting one side of the brain to let the other one just work… anyway, I digress. I was scrolling, and I came across this picture:

At first I thought it was a photo of someone in a bought dress, but I clicked through anyway to Emily Hallman Designs blog and discovered that she made this marvellous creation – and that was it, I knew I had to try something like this.

I read her blog post about the alterations she made to the style of the dress – adding fullness to the skirt, shortening the sleeve and adding a cuff, and fully lining it, and I thought to myself – ‘I really like how this looks I could probably do all of that, but it’s an open wrap dress πŸ€” not super thrilled about the wardrobe-malfunction risk that goes along with that πŸ€”’ and I think that ‘no press stud in the world is really that good’ also ran through my mind.

I pinned it to my Style Ideas board and promptly parked the idea and went on with making other things. But I couldn’t totally disregard it, and I kept coming back to that pin when scrolling through that board choosing patterns to buy.

I’m not sure where the idea started but as I kept coming back to the pin I began to wonder if I could possibly convert the open wrap to a closed wrap and install a zipper in the side seam to get into the dress… was I up for the multi-step adjustment challenge? I was! πŸ’ͺ🏻

I’m approaching this as a series of steps, and will be working through multiple muslins as I progress until I get to the end result – if I get to the end result… I have a feeling I may be making a few tried and true patterns here and there throughout this process as a sanity break…

The plan as it stands (each of these steps will be muslined at least once)

  • Adjust bodice for fit (FBA on a wrap dress – that’ll be a first for me)
  • Adjust sleeve length & add cuff
  • Adjust skirt to fit
  • Add fullness to skirt and lengthen
  • Draft lining
  • Add side seam zip to construction
  • Convert to closed wrap (construction sequence)

Then if all of that has worked, I’ll finally get to make it up in the good fabric!!

I’m planning to blog about each of these steps as I go – at the moment I’m onto muslin #2 of the adjusting the bodice for fit step… so there will be a post up soon about for first part of that step, complete with lots of photos!!

Wish me luck… πŸ€πŸ€

Finished Projects, Sewing

Carolyn Pajama Production Line

I started my Carolyn Pajama Production Line (that’s a thing now, by the way) a couple of weeks ago and got both pairs of pants finished in a day. Finishing the shirts took a lot longer than I expected… work this week was c-razy – a 2330 finish one night, back at it at 0700 the next day, anyone? 😳😳

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I’ve got a big sewing project in the works and I’ve been doing some planning over the last few weeks – I know that this special project is going to take some time so I looked at what my wardrobe needed to make sure I could get through a few weeks (maybe even longer – I’m scheduled to be travelling for work again shortly too) without adding any new wearable garments to it.

My checking revealed that I really needed at least one more pair of jammies, particularly if I was going to be travelling – the ‘need something suitable in case the fire alarm goes off in the middle of the night at my hotel and I end up standing around outside for hours’ scenario is a real fear… πŸ€·πŸΌβ€β™€οΈ

I had fabric set aside until the stash for two pairs of flannelette pjs and two pairs of cotton pjs, and as cute as the flannelette pjs would have been, but it’s starting to warm up here, so I went with the cotton, not the flannelette. I probably won’t get to making up the flannelette ones until next winter now.

Back in June I made my first test of the Closet Case File, Carolyn Pajamas pattern. I did a Full Bust Adjustment to the top pattern, and it fit great. The pants took quite a bit more fiddling with, and three muslins before I was happy with the fit…

  • I removed pockets,
  • full tummy adjustment,
  • shortened the front rise,
  • lengthened the back rise,
  • did a flat seat adjustment, and
  • did another adjustment to add some more width across the front of the thigh…

Nothing major… πŸ™„πŸ™„πŸ™„

I used bias binding as flat piping in both pairs of pajamas. I had the bias binding left from another project, although I did have to make up some extra to finish the hem finding on the flamingo shirt – I ran just a little short! I did double rows of top stitching when finishing the pants and sleeve cuffs, I just like how it looks ☺️

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The stripey pair are very definitely at-home lounge wear, so I used novelty buttons, and zany binding.

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I liked the option of being able to perhaps wearing the flamingo top out – with either dress pants or jeans – so I finished it with regular buttons instead of novelty ones. I’m still not 100% sure I will wear it out – from a distance the print kinda of blurs into a soft pink haze, and isn’t clearly flamingos so it may just stay as pjs.

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Up next is the big sewing project – which we’re going to code name as OSP for now…

About Me, Not Sewing

An introduction is probably in order…

Apparently I've now had this blog for a month, and I kinda just jumped straight into posting. I figured some kind of introductory post was probably in order.

This is going to be a 20-questions style of thing, but firstly…

'Hi, I'm Rachel, and this is what I look like'

😂 true fact – that's a $4 million smile 😁

📸 courtesy of my colleague – and I promise we had well and truely earned those beverages

Age: Somewhere in my 30s. There's a prize somewhere if you get it right – apparently I look younger than I am 👈🏻 cue supremely unimpressed younger sister…

Home: Beautiful, sunny, Brisbane, Queensland, Land Down Under. A lazy 6km/ 4 miles from the beach 🌊

Day Job: I work for a very large international consulting firm (and we're not joking when we call ourselves 'the largest company no one has ever heard of'). I work in Business Development, with just a few large key clients.

Dream Job: Already got it 🤓👍🏻🤓

Sewing Philosophy: I sew because it means that I can wear clothes that fit well, without needing to wear tanks or singlet tops for modesty. And, because I sew for me I can wear whatever colour and print that takes my fancy.
I wore this to work on Friday – my colleague's only comment was 'Why aren't you wearing your gold shoes?'…

Fabric Stash: 🙈🙈 sitting at enough for 144 outfits at the moment, which is way more than usual – my excuse – I shop much faster than I sew 🤷🏼‍♀️

Shopping philosophy: I buy with projects in mind. I don't just buy fabric without it being for a specific project in mind. I wander the store looking for fabric that inspires, work out what I'm going to make and buy enough fabric for the garment I have planned.

Washed, packed and ready to make…

Currently watching: Mixing it up between Criminal Minds and The Great British Sewing Bee. Apparently here in Australia we're second class citizens and have to watch episodes of Sewing Bee on YouTube

Currently making: I have a Carolyn Pajama production line happening at the moment.

PDF or Printed: PDF all the way. In fact next up in the queue is a dress that I have the printed (on tissue) pattern for, and I'm feeling like I'm a little out of practice at using tissue patterns – the tracing off, then the adjusting of traced-off patterns. I'm so used to taping PDFs together!! Also PDFs are the quickest way to get most patterns here, waiting for shipping from the US for indie patterns too hard!!

Furry Friend: Aliyah is the fur-baby in my house – when she's not curled up on her bed in the sewing room, she likes to sleep on my freshly laundered fabric before it gets ironed and packed into the stash. I've given up trying to keep red hair off my clothes – I just don't have a hope…

Sewing Traits: I don't have an overlocker/ serger so I finish all of my seams with bias binding. It takes a little longer, but I love the fact that the insides of my garments are as neat as the outside. I make all of my own bias tape from the leftovers of the fabric from my garments. I have amassed a pretty amazing collection of bias tape, and sometimes I use totally contrasting binding inside my clothes. Always that hidden bit of fun

One-at-a-time, or WIP: I'm a one at a time kinda girl. I do have a Haptic Labs Paris Map Quilt I'm working on in fits and starts as well, but by and large it's one project at a time for garment sewing.

Irony: I quite like ironing freshly laundered fabric, don't mind ironing as part of the sewing construction process, but, ironing the clothes coming off the line before they go back in the wardrobe, not so much… Unfortunately, as I sew pretty much exclusively with cotton, everything needs to be ironed or it looks terrible…

True Fact: Adjusting sewing patterns requires far more maths than you'd ever think… adding from here, taking from there, circle skirts. I usually save testing new patterns for Friday nights and the weekends so I have time to mess around with the adjustments. There's usually a fair bit of consulting google, sew-alongs, and pattern reviews during my adjustment process. But the time investment is totally worth it for the final fit! ✂️

I don't make: Underwear and tights, they're the only things I wear I don't make, and don't really plan to make. I haven't made dress pants, yet – but I have a pattern, fabric, and have had a go at pajamas as a precursor, but have yet to actually tackle dress pants. I'm somewhat procrastinating because I have a feeling that I'm going to spend quite a while messing around with the fit… 😳

Sewing for others: Really not my thing… although I am about to embark on a 'special project' that will require sewing for a couple of others, generally I find it far more enjoyable to sew for myself. Sewing for myself, even with all the maths and brain power required for the adjustments is relaxing, sewing for others where I'm worried about it fitting someone who I can't just try it on then and there – not so much…

Something I want to master: Sewing knits – it's not something I've really attempted, mainly because I don't have an overlocker, so I wasn't sure about finishing edges. But, I've been doing some research, and I found some knit on the clearance table at Spotlight, so I'm going to give it a go, soon, it's in the queue… 😬

All the earrings: Apparently loving and wearing colour and prints in just my clothes isn't enough for me – I also love wearing outlandish earrings. Late last year I discovered a jewellery brand in Canberra that make earrings that brooches that suit my style – bold colours and shapes, aren't heavy in my ears and I'm not allergic too (boo for a nickel allergy). I can be wearing anything 🦐🐛🥑🦀☂️🌩🐕 in my ears depending on what colour or print I'm wearing in my clothes 😍

 

Earliest sewing memory: Me doing the sewing would have to be making 'quilts' for my Barbies on my Grandma's sewing machine, I was probably about 4 or 5. My quilts involved sandwiching batting of some description between to bits of material and 'machine quilting' it with straight lines all over the place – no binding, no basting, no matching edges – but I thought they were works of art… my Barbies would probably have been better off with washcloths as quilts.

I grew up in a home where my Mum sewed the vast majority of all of our clothes – she designed a lot of them too and embellished them with magnificent smocking or embroidery. Mum and I often had matching outfits, and when my sister came along she became part of a matching trio… until I became a teenager and matching your mum and little sister wasn't cool…

Owning a sewing machine and having the ability to sew is normal for me, but I've come to realise that growing up in a home where this skill was essentially normalised is something of an anomaly for my generation, I hear and read of so many around my age who never touched a sewing machine until well into their 20s when they taught themselves to sew. It's made me appreciate everything I learnt when my Grandma and Mum took the time to teach me sewing. Those skills have given me an incredibly solid foundation which I'm now able to build on with more advanced adjustment and construction techniques.

My Grandma passed away about 5 years ago, and a number of years prior she moved from her house to a nursing home. At that time I inherited her Singer sewing machine that she'd had since at least the 1950s. I pulled it out last week and it appears to still work, although I think I'll be hunting up instructions to remind myself how to thread it…

Look at it!! 😍 Hopefully I'll be able to make something on it soon!!

 

Finished Projects, Sewing

Happiness is…

Finished a new Upton Skirt, and I'm so in love I'm going to wear it tomorrow, even though I haven't gotten around to making a solid pink top yet and will have to wear this teal top.

I've loved this fabric for ages and originally bought some to make a top that ended up being an utter disaster. Even though I bought the fabric that first time to be a wearable muslin I fell it love with it as I was working on the shirt and was devastated when the shirt didn't turn out and I couldn't find more of the fabric the next time I went to the store.

I'm not sure what it is about the fabric, it just makes me happy looking at it 😁😍

I looked out for it every time I visited after that and about a month later I scored, and there it was!

I bought all of what was left on the only bolt of it in stock on the spot, and with some creative piecing of the waistband (which I'm trying not to let annoy me, because it's very noticeable to me) I managed to squeeze this Upton Skirt out of 2.6m… and let me tell you there is not a bit left – I managed to get just enough bias tape out of the off cuts to enclose all the seams and bind the hem 👊🏻😎

Adjustments, Sewing

The miracle of the perfect fit the first time!

Christine Haynes of City Stitching has just released her latest pattern, the Varda top and dress. It's a nice blend between shift and sheath with classic french darts giving it some gentle shaping.

I'm a long time fan of Christine's Emery Dress pattern, I have *goes to count*, uh-hem, 34 of them 🙊😳🙈, ok, so that's a lot…

When I saw the technical drawings for this new pattern I was very interested – I've got a top pattern with french darts in it that I hacked down from a dress that I make and wear all the time, so I knew I liked the shape, and I liked the option of sleeveless if I wanted to go that way. I've made up View B for now, and will probably try out A and C at some point soon.

I'm right at the very top end of the size range in this pattern, as in my high bust measurement is the same as the bust measurement for the largest size of the pattern, so I knew I'd need to do a significant full bust adjustment right off.

Because I also usually need to grade up the hips of most patterns, I do that by just using the added width from the full bust adjustment all the way down to the hem line. Only very rarely do I need to grade up any further (I think I've only had that happen once out of all the patterns I've adjusted), and I never have to grade the waist down at all…

I did some research into dart rotations before I started the full bust adjustment. I'd never tried it before and I wanted to do something about reducing some of that I knew was going to become an enormous french dart once I'd added the 2.5 inch full bust adjustment!! But… I also didn't want to detract from the clean and simple lines of the garment by adding shoulder pleats or a traditional bust dart…

I settled on rotating an inch from the french dart up to the armscye, and while an inch doesn't sound like much when you just added a 2.5 FBA and made the french dart so big you could probably have driven a truck through, it did the trick!

There was some serious stick tape and guesstimating voodoo going on to work out exactly where I was going where to draft that armscye dart! But when I taped the paper together to close the dart and tried it 'on' it seemed to have worked, so I proceeded to cut out my muslin and get on with it!


Look at that fit!! The print of the fabric means you can't really even see the darts, but believe me, they're there.

I made the pattern up exactly according to the instructions until I got to inserting the zipper, and I even got as far as pinning one side of the invisible zip in before I remembered that sometimes apple-shaped people like me can get away without centre back zips in some styles.

I'll be honest, this has never been the case for me before, and I was highly sceptical that it would work this time, but I figured that it was worth a shot – if I could make these tops without needing to use expensive invisible zips, I was all for it. So I pinned the back seam allowance closed, half pinned in zipper and all, and tried the shirt on, miracle of miracles it fit! And it was looking good!! I removed that half pinned invisible zip quick smart and stitched the back seam closed.

The back darts meant no need for any swayback adjustment on this pattern – hurray!

I've since made another one in a solid colour (finally something to wear with the skirts!). You can see the darts on this plainer version, but I think you'll agree that the added armscye dart doesn't detract from the original design style of the shirt, and I think it certainly helps with the fit!!