Thursday, 17 April 2014

Modifying Maisie - Part 1

Hallo folks,

Not much sewing going on here, but the plans are pretty spectacular!  For a while now, I've been planning on using McCalls 2718 to make an outer shell for my dressform (Maisie) that is my size.  I can make Maisie expand to my measurements, but she is International Triathlete hard, whereas, you know, I can be squishy in areas.  Maisie is great (and was part of my engagement present - superb) but I have been keen to create a squishy version of her for a while.

So what's been putting me off?  Fluctuations in my own size, basically.  But then I got a grip and realised that going through the exercise alone would be really useful and interesting.  And newsflash self: I can always do it again if I change significantly.  It's going to be OK, lol.

So that's where I found myself last weekend - in a zen like place contemplating new education about my shape.  I cut the pattern pieces out and went to work.  First thing to be done is to pin together the darts, the shoulder and the side seams, and fold up the 'excess' areas. 

Here's the back:

Like vintage patterns, there is a dart at the shoulder seam as well as the waist.  I'm not sure why (or when) pattern drafters stopped doing this - I really like this touch in vintage patterns (even those that aren't super-dooper fitted) as my body (maybe not others) isn't a perpendicular angle from shoulder blade to collarbone.
Funny how lying down, without the support of a body, it looks like there is room for a little hunchback. Maybe I won't like what I learn... ;-)

Here's the front:

Pretty standard looking shape.  Next step is to tissue fit the pattern to your body, noting whether it aligns with centre front and centre back and whether the side seam fits.  Also noted are the placement of the bust darts vis a vis your own bust and the overall length of the bodice.  Little snips are taken along the neck and arm edges in order to get it close to the body.  There is also a sleeve for checking width, length and the angle of the swoop (yes, technical term there!).

Here's a photo on a (pulled in) Maisie; pre-snip. You can see how it won't get in close to the body because the paper is resisting it due to the angles in the armhole and neck edges.

I asked Mr CT to help tissue fit it on me, and bless his soul he did, despite being so nervous about pinning me and being out of his 'comfort zone' that he was shaking.  For the record, he did a great job and I didn't feel any pins.  For me, I need to take out the side seam a little and provide 1 cm of additional ease at my bicep (there should be 2.5 cm ease total).  I've made the change to the sleeve pattern already but cutting and spreading the piece along the bicep.  So far so good. I'm interested to see whether I should release the excess in the back piece or just let the side seams out.  Time will tell.

Next step is to undo all the pins, iron the pattern pieces and then cut them out of gingham (which should be a set width for ease).  Then basically go through the process again, but this time basting seams but sewing darts with a short stitch length.

I'm really looking forward to finding out if my body is symmetrical and whether there are any little quirks that are essentially me.  How fun!

Anyone like to guess what I'll be doing over Easter?

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Decoding Dakota

Hallo folks,

True to promise, here is something other than a tunic dress.  Yay!  This week, we have the Dakota dress by Named.  Straight from the packet bar a few things:
  • my scaling was off when I printed it, so it's about a size too small.
  • Sleeve plackets have been changed.
  • Neckline - let's just say it's higher!
  • No pockets.  
This dress is made from a fairly heavy white crepe material, purchased one lunch hour from John Lewis' remnants box.  I got 2 metres for £10. Steal.

The material went on a little trip back to NZ with me as a length of material and came back a dress.  What a metamorphosis - ha! if only I could say I fared so well after a 50 hour trip!

So, about the changes made.  

Firstly, the printing.  
There is a box to use to check that things have been printed off correctly, but of course I was printing it surreptitiously at work and therefore didn't want to check/redo it.  It's still wearable, just not as loose as designed!  I'd best up the running.... or get over it.

Second, the sleeves.  
Well, I wanted to get this done and didn't understand the instructions as drafted.  I was sewing this on one of the last days at my Mother's house and because:
a) Mum has an over-locker and that is just like winning a golden ticket for me
b) I thought I could wear this in Dubai during our stop-over on the way back to Home (as opposed to Home Home).  Yes, that is how the two places are referred to in my family.

So, even though Mum no doubt had a book I could refer to (she is a Textile and Design teacher after all), I just did what I knew how to do and replaced the sleeve packets as drafted with a simpler variety - a la the kind used in shirts.  I slashed the sleeve, sewed a rectangle of fabric along the slashed length, folded it over hand stitched it, and then attached the cuff.  Simples.

Rachel has a great tutorial for another style of placket, which I also could have followed, but you know, did I mention that I was chomping at the bit to get this finished?

Third, the neckline.  
So, I sewed it all up, tried it on and immediately realised three things:
  1. I have gargantuan legs.
  2. I will not be wearing this in Dubai.
  3. I will not be wearing anything underneath this (other than a slip).

OK, so maybe #1 is a slight exaggeration.  I am 169 cm tall (I think that's 5'6.5" I believe), and check out how short this puppy is.  I made the smallest hem possible (2 cm) and I still worry it is too short.  Happily, the sleeves are a great length - I often find these are just a tiny smidgen too short - enough to feel rather than notice.

The photo above was chosen because even though it chops my head off, it makes the dress look OK on my legs.  The one below tells a slightly altered version... but my head is complete. Result.  I tried photo-shopping the two together and it was hilariously bad, but not quite funny enough to share.  It just looked like I was lame at cutting and pasting... 

So Dubai.  I know we *can* wear clothes to Western standards in Dubai, but I personally like to be a little respectful and give a nod to local customs (within reason - but let's leave it at that).  But that's cool - I don't live in Dubai.  

I wasn't quite at the point that I'd sewn something I wasn't going to wear.  But.  I wasn't going to be able to wear anything underneath this as previously planned - other than a slip, I have some standards!  So, I had to fix up the neckline to make it modest.  or better said, modest-er.  As in, it is more modest than drafted.  The BWOF pattern drafters would be going crazy - "what?  The neckline has been raised?! Warum?!"  They love themselves the deep v.

But I'm babbling.  I just threaded a needle with some heavy thread, knotted it and sewed the two edges of the collar to each other in a ladder stitch.  Modest in less than 5 minutes.

With some trepidation, I got dressed up and then showed this outfit to Mr CraftyTraveller esq. and asked for comment.  He.Loved.It.  When goofing about taking photos for this, I tried it with a few items in my wardrobe, including this Levi's jacket that is 14 years old (and has never been washed!!!).  As I was going through photos, Mr CT said this was his favourite because it is cool.  So there you have it.

I ended up wearing this out for my birthday and got called an Angel by a group of Irishmen on a Stag do the DAY BEFORE THE WEDDING.  Who does this in 2014?!!!! 
Oirish folk are crazy!

Fourth, the pockets.
Mine is not the type of body that needs patch pockets on the hipline.  Know your battles folks.

And with that epiphany, I'll bid you adieu.  'Til next time.

Rachel J

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Modern Day Knight

Hi folks,

As I go through my makes, I'm starting to think that this whole blog is in danger of being only about one pattern.... I swear there is more to my repertoire than this!  But still, I think (hope) it's interesting to see how one simple pattern can look so different depending upon the fabric used.  If nothing else, it's good for my own inventory/diarising, so I hope you'll humour me.

So, without further ado.  I found this material whilst on my lunch hour back in November.  It is some random stuff that is some sort of polyester I'd say - it's kind of stiff but also has a flow to it.  It's woven and largely grey/black in colour, but has a gold fleck through it, kind of like someone took a can of spray-paint to it.  Well, if I were describing a meal choice on a menu I am sure that the chef wouldn't be troubled to make many versions!

So here it is on Maisie.  Doesn't help with that old description really does it?!  The neckline treatment is a mixture of necessity + design.  Necessity - so that I know which is the front and which is the back (there are no bust darts, but the back is slightly higher) and also so that the neck edge is finished nicely.  Design - to give it a bit of pizazz, via a button and some ribbon.  With the addition of a belt - I think it's quite fun.

As a little prize for perseverance; here is my take on what I'm guessing you might be thinking: "no more of these for a while please!" 
Next time, I'll have something completely different to share - either a pair of trousers (yes, you read correctly!) or a jacket.... how exciting!

Rachel :-)