Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sewing Room Of My Dreams: IKEA Style

This past weekend my family have been out an about going to Great Wolf Lodge and to Northern Virginia so sadly I do not have any new outfits to display, but we did go to Ikea and I got to see the Sewing Room of my dreams.

Behold: The Experienced Novice's dream sewing room if she had the money.

I love the project table on the right with plenty of room to cut your fabric and put your sewing machine and serger.

And can you imagine storing all your fabric and trims in the drawers and shelves on the left.

How about the drafting table in the back.

Of course there is always room for a little Buni to come and play. I forgot to take a picture of the front corner of the cubby because it had a little table and stool for little kids to use as well. The room looks multi functional and would be perfect for the whole family. Now I am dreaming of converting one of the rooms in my house to something like this. Now all I need to do is convince Mister.

Currently this is the state of my sewing room. I really need to move out and store the rest of my scrapbooking, mixed media supplies for another time. I don't think I can fit everything they had in the IKEA project room into my little room. I have pondered about putting it downstairs, but too much temptation for an almost two year old to touch things. Sharp things. Heavy things. Who knows maybe I can do an IKEA hack with the furniture I have now and just place it somewhere else.

Below is what my sewing room at home looks like.

I am definitely in need of an IKEA sponsored room makeover.

So what is the sewing room of your dreams like?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Simplicity 8723 from 1970: Finished

Alright! Another finished project. This time without even making a muslin for it. Above is my completed Simplicity 8723 from 1970.

Simplicity 8723 circa 1970
The pattern is for a simple A-line shift dress with a square collar, bust and neck darts and a back zipper.

Here is the picture of the back.

And a close up of the zipper.
 Again sorry for the bad pictures. I was too lazy to iron the dress and I was playing with my Canon's ISO settings and all this blah, blah, blah camera stuff that I am still learning.

Pattern Review (The Pros): This is a Simplicity Jiffy pattern that has three main pieces (front, back and sleeves). Also there are pattern pieces for the front and back collar facings and the armhole facing. My intention was to make the shift dress with the sleeves to practice my set in sleeve technique.

The Cons: I wanted to tailor my dress to be a bit more fitted since the traditional shift dresses are notoriously shapeless. So I ended up taking out the seam allowance to take in the dress. This led to a lot of problems since I overestimated how much I needed to take off to make the dress fit. Thankfully I basted the dress sides and tried it on before I actually sewed it. I realized I could sew the dress using a 1/2 inch seam allowance instead of 5/8 to get the dress to fit me correctly. Also I thought the sleeve pattern was too tight on the sleeve hem so I took my mom's advice and added an inch to the sleeve pattern by cutting the sleeve pattern in half and separating it by an inch and redrawing the pattern. Bad move! Should've consulted the Readers Digest Sewing book first before I did the alteration. My sleeve alteration made it impossible to set it in to the armsyche. I ended up having sleeves that looked like they came from the traditional Filipino dresses worn by Imelda Marcos. Just like this only worse:

You see Imelda's face. Imelda is saying "You did what!?" That is what happens when a novice thinks she knows how to alter a pattern.

Did it come out like the pattern picture? Uhmmm..Yes, although it is a bit more fitted and I'm missing the sleeve and ended up just folded the edges over and sewing the armsyche that way instead of making the facing. I was too lazy and disappointed to finish my dress properly. My last con had to do with my fabric choice. Seems like my choice in fabrics can really suck sometimes. My favorite saying is "it was a good idea at the time." The embroidery/stitching on my cotton fabric kept catching on my sewing machine's teeth so the fabric would feed differently and made matching the edges really hard. The fabric was also very tightly woven and I guess I should've chosen a thinner needle or maybe used a walking foot. If anyone has ideas on how to fix this then let me know?

Do you need to make adjustments? Yes. Please see cons.

Pattern Level: Experienced Novice. You'll be sewing darts, facings and inserting a zipper. Inserted my second invisible zipper. Will be a bit harder if you decide to add the sleeve, but don't let my experience scare you away from sleeves. I used to be scared with inserting zippers and now I don't think twice about adding them. You will need to practice and I would suggest practicing with a muslin, which I am going to do.

What could I have done better?  I could've done a better job with altering the dress to make it fit. I also should have consulted my Readers Digest Sewing book before making the alterations on the sleeve pattern. Actually I should've done that even before I thought it was a good idea to remove the seam allowance. I completely forgot about things like design ease, being able to move, to breath or walk when I altered the dress.

Would you sew this pattern again? Of course. I am actually thinking of making this dress out of muslin so that I can practice my alterations and set in sleeve technique. I like the finished product, but would like to make sure I do my alterations correctly without messing up the armsyche and sleeve pattern. I am hoping to make the dress version with a sleeve. So wish me luck.

Pattern: Vintage Simplicity 8723 from 1970 bought on Etsy.
Fabric: Cotton with stitched flowers from Fabric
Techniques: Zipper insertion, darts, facings, underlining, (failed) set-in sleeves and hand sewing.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Simplicity 5511 Dress: Liberty Marylebone Version

You got a sneak peek of this version from my post about Yukari (my new dress form). This is another version of the Simplicity 5511 dress made from floral fabric from the Liberty of London Marylebone collection. This is quilting cotton not super soft cotton lawn print that they are famous for. I was worried my fabric would be very stiff, but it came out a bit softer after I watched it. Don't get me wrong. I should choose a drapier fabric for next time. Something that gathers nicely like challis, voile? Any suggestions??

Back View
This dress was my first attempt to modify the pattern and it almost ended up a disaster. First, I decided after making the blue version that the bodice needed to be taken in a bit since I had about 3 inches of fabric sticking out on both sides. I thought "okay lets take out two inches and it should fit better." WRONG.. Wasn't until later that I realized taking an inch off each side of the bodice pieces would take out four inches overall. Front bodice was cut on the fold so taking one inch from the side would end up with two inches removed from the front pattern piece, but I forgot that if also took an inch from the side of the back bodice piece and ended up with an additional two inches removed. I realized why they say that if you want to take in your pattern by a certain amount that you divide that amount by four and that would be amount you take from each side of your pattern piece. DUHHH!! *Smacks forehead.* The experienced novice strikes again. In other words. If I wanted to take two inches off my bodice than I should have taken my pattern in by 0.5 inches on the sides for each piece (2 inches / 4 = 0.5 inches).

Luckily, the bodice fit perfectly and would have probably made a nice strapless dress (maybe next project), but I had to sew my dress using a 1/4 seam allowance. Not so good! I will need to be careful when wearing this dress since I can accidentally split the side seams.

Another dumb thing I did was alter the gathered skirt since I thought it was a bit too gathered and made me look bigger than I was. So in order to make it less gathered I took my pattern in by two inches, which equaled four inches overall. This resulted in a less gathered skirt, but I wasn't really careful when spreading the gathering evenly. You'll notice if you look closely that a lot of the gathering ended up on the side. Very counter intuitive. I did like the overall shape that resulted from my mistakes. I'm sure this is probably just a happy accident, but at least I ended up with a wearable product.

Lastly, my ultimate fail is adding a ruffle to the hem of my dress. You'll probably wonder whats wrong with that. The problem is that I made the ruffle using the selvage (sealed) edge of my fabric because I didn't want to go through the hassle of finishing my ruffle edge. The ruffle made my hem hang in the most awkward and rather unflattering way. I had wondered why my dress was puffing out on the sides when I was wearing it since it draped nicely when it was on Yukari. I asked my mom and told her what I did and she said it was probably the ruffle. I guess I should have cut my ruffle on the bias or made my dress wider on the bottom. I was so proud of myself when I did the ruffle too. So this ends my list of fails for this dress.

So here are my lessons learned:
  1. If I need to take in the sides I need to remember to divide the total amount I want to take in by four. The calculated amount will be what is removed from the sides of the pattern.
  2. Remember to spread the gathers evenly or you might end up with some awkward draping.
  3. Adding ruffles to the bottom of your dress may alter the way the hem hangs. Of course this all depends on your fabric and the design of the dress. 
Hand Sewn Facings
Other than that sewing this dress was a breeze and I even hand sewed the facings on the inside. I will definitely remake this dress again, but with a little more thought on the tailoring.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Clothing Designer Alert: Nadinoo

I was on the Grosgrain blog when I came across this video that show cases the designs made by  Nadinoo. So very french and spring-like don't you think? I love the designs, the video, the music, everything. I see peter pan collars and colored tights in my future. And in case you're wondering the song is called "1,2,3" by Camille from her album "Le sac de filles". I already found and downloaded the song from iTunes. Nadinoo has a blog and a store if you're interested in finding out more. As for me I'm hoping to finish taking pictures of my completed projects this afternoon and will hopefully post them later. Happy Saturday everyone. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

My New Dressform: Simplicity DF150 (small) aka Yukari

Behold! My new dress form arrived today. She is a Simplicity DF150 in small and I have named her Yukari after the main character from my favorite fashion manga: Paradise Kiss by Ai Yazawa.

Yukari aka Caroline from the Paradise Kiss manga.

Yukari is an early Valentine's gift from Mister. I purchased her from Amazon at a very agreeable price and I absolutely love her. Yukari is modeling my current work in progress, which is an altered version of Simplicity 5511 made from Liberty of London Marylebone quilting fabric in Meadow Red that I purchased from last September. I was almost finished with this on Monday, but won't have time to attach the straps and bodice until this weekend. Having a full time job and taking care of an almost two year old can put a cramp into my sewing schedule. I usually get to sew on weekends, holidays and sometimes Monday after work. I altered the Simplicity 5511 dress by taking it in two inches at the bodice and four inches at the skirt. This resulted in a modern looking fitted dress. I like the fit at the bodice, but will probably loosen up the skirt for a more gathered look next time I make this.

Coincidentally, Burdastyle began showcasing dresses made from the Liberty of London Marylebone collection this past Wednesday. The fabric is surprisingly soft after you wash it, which isn't the case with most quilting weight cotton fabric. I'm still learning my way around fabric, drape and what type of fabric works best for different types of clothing. I love quilting fabric for their print and color variety. Unfortunately they can be very stiff and/or uncomfortable to wear. Still love them though.

The dress form is very basic with neck, chest, waist, hip and height adjustments. The height adjustment is not very stable and should be used with caution. Also the base is not the most stable, but works for me. Just have to lean it against the wall or something. I can't wait to use Yukari for all my styling and fitting needs. I will keep you updated on how much like her as I progress.

To finish here is another picture of Yukari with Buni.

And a picture of what I'm hoping to start and finish this weekend: Simplicity 8723 circa 1970. This is another retro Jiffy Simplicity shift dress pattern with three main pieces that has a back zipper, square neckline and optional short sleeve. I'm skipping out on the blue broadcloth this type and will probably use one of my fabrics from the Liberty of London Marylebone collection. I am hoping to make the version with the short sleeves. Wish me luck and happy sewing!