Friday, December 19, 2014

Vintage Weigel's Dress #1

Q: What do you get when you cross a sweet vintage pattern with a pretty quilting cotton?

I've had this Weigel's pattern for a few years, and I've been so looking forward to being able to make it for my daughter. A few weeks ago I got it into my head that the time was right, and then that thought morphed into ambitious thoughts of Christmas dresses.

The last time I made my daughter a vintage dress I was pleasantly surprised by the fit (I don't think I ever blogged it though, sorry, but it was a 1950s Simplicity dress in striped cotton), so this time around I didn't expect many issues.  I wanted to make the view on the right, the blue dress with the detachable bib (or whatever it's called) with that cool step shape, but then I got it into my head to use a pretty coral and cream quilting cotton in my stash. I only had a metre of the fabric, not at all enough, so I made do with approximation of the dress - with the bib omitted and the skirt volume reduced - which I thought might still be pretty. And all going well I thought I'd then be able to whip up the complete dress with bib in plenty of time for Christmas :).

A: THIS is what you get!

"Aha!", you say, "but you did NOT use that pattern!"

Yes, I did use that pattern, but I only had a metre of fabric to play with. Even without measuring anything I knew I'd need to lengthen the skirt substantially for my very tall 7 year old, and to do that I had to leave off the sweet geometric bib, massively reduce the fullness of the skirt, and leave out the sash. I had enough small fabric scraps left over to piece together some simple facings (not included in the pattern), but there's now only really enough material left for a little something for Barbie.

Now I don't know if Weigel's were known back in the day for drafting their patterns wide, but this dress - geez!!! there was so much ease in it! In these photos you can see the dress looks loose with wideset shoulders; bear in mind that I took these pictures after I'd removed 2 centimetres from each side seam, from underarm to waist - which is as much as I could take the dress in without making the bodice narrower than the shoulder straps. I'm pretty surprised that excess ease in children's patterns has been around for so long - I thought patterns were all smaller in the old days!

Next time around to improve the fit and get those shoulder straps in the right place I want to remove about an inch from CF and a couple of inches from CB. [Yes, there will be a next time though probably not in time for Christmas. I've got my fabric lined up: the Atelier Brunette "Blue Moon" fabric I bought a couple of months ago when Busy Lizzie introduced me to Lil' Weasel in Paris. And I've got 1.5 metres of it, so I think there's enough to make the bib and pouffy skirt too. YAY!]

At least the length looks good, doesn't it? Well that's not the pattern either; I added a substantial amount of length to the dress as drafted, with hopes for a lovely deep hem, and what I've ended up with is a stingy little turned-over-once-and-serged affair.  Very disappointing given the cover art - I just wish someone had posted a review on patternreview (don't worry, I'm kidding!)

The loose fit isn't really a big problem though, as my daughter loves loose dresses - they're comfortable for handstands, soocer, eating, whatever!  More embarrassing though is the distinct Becky Home Ecky feel to the dress when my delightful model turns around... Behold THE most rubbish zip I have ever inserted!

I'd like to blame the tension on my sewing machine, but since the machine was only just serviced the responsibility looks to be all mine. At least the seams are matching up nicely (phew!).

Moving swiftly along, what I do like about this pattern are the bodice pleats and the square neckline, and I'm sure I'll like the bib too. And I think the fabric colour is super pretty on my daughter :).

Let's skip the moral of the story - most importantly of all, the owner of this new dress LOVES it!

Hope you're well, and see you soon!

- Gabrielle x

Sunday, December 14, 2014

StyleArc Philippa: Camera, I Beg to Differ

If the camera never lies then it's certainly true that mirrors lie. But maybe both do?

I've got a top to share with you today that proves that mirrors and cameras disagree - though in my opinion, cameras have happy days (everything is beautiful - that includes YOU!) and grouchy days (everything sucks, I hate you!). This particular top looked terrifyingly bad in the mirror, but looks a lot better through the camera lens.

UpSewLate: this top looks better through the lens than in the mirror! 

After a couple of StyleArc successes (mind you, just the one pattern - two Danni dresses blogged here and here) my confidence was strong. The style of the Philippa peplum top really appealed to me - slim line, attractive seam lines, understated peplum, and a sleek V-neck. Yes please!

StyleArc's Philippa Peplum Top

I had a beautiful soft pink ponte lined up, and I was on the verge of cutting it out when a nervous little voice in my head pleaded with me to make a muslin. [OK, OK, I'm sure it isn't necessary, but I'll humour you this time.]  Hence this cheap red ponte version of the top...

I sewed Philippa in the same size I'd used for those Danni dresses, and it looked small... a quick try on at the "nearly constructed" stage confirmed it - it FELT too small! I was going to scrap the top then and there, but in the interests of my own sewing education and the general documentation of sewing fails on the internet I thought I should finish the top and share it here.

So here you go.  At first glance I thought the top *looked* OK in these photos, so let me explicitly point out the fitting and sewing problems.

First of all, the whole top is too tight - I must need the next size up! The pattern is designed for ponte fabrics, but this top is so fitted on me that even a jellybean in my belly would be visible (these photos were taken many, many hours after lunch). It's fitted both above and within the peplum; clinging to rather than skimming over my hips. I envisaged this as a work top, but it's too fitted for the office - all my lumps and bumps would be on display; hello, mutton dressed as lamb! On the plus side, the shoulders feel like a good fit, so I guess they're a size smaller than the rest of me in StyleArc patterns (just like they are in Big 4 patterns).

UpSewLate: I need to go up a size or more for my waist! 
The bust darts are too high. The darts look to end a few centimetres too high on me, so either my sewing was very inaccurate or my bust is lower set than StyleArc's standard - or a combination of the two.

UpSewLate: A classic case of bust darts that are too high
The V-neck gapes. The V-neck is too deep for me. The gaping means I risk flashing my bra cups with the slightest movement, but if I pull the neckline taut the low apex of the V overlaps my bra strap - and I mean the strap that goes UNDER my bust! Given the height of the bust darts, it looks like the pattern is imtended to be very low cut - probably that looks fine if you've got some bust cleavage? but I hate the way it looks on me.

UpSewLate: Yup, that's what a gaping neckline looks like!
UpSewLate: so long as I leave a hand on my hip whenever I bend forward I'll be fine... but is that practical?
The back is too long on me - it desperately needs a big wedge removed. I guess this might be less noticeable if the top weren't so tight...

UpSewLate: A back bodice that needs a swayback adjustment
The sewing is sub-standard. My invisible zip is rubbish, with the fabric not lining up properly on either side of CB, and with the zip not really invisible. And my sewing is probably responsible for the facings popping out of the neckline - I don't think I was accurate enough in following the CF stitch line at the bottom of the facings. I have to say though that it's hard to do your best on something you already know you're getting rid of. 

UpSewLate: The blinding red hue hides the flaws! 

There are obvious solutions though, aren't there? Yes...
  • I could go up a size or more through the body - either by having a crack at grading, or by using smaller seam allowances - and that would make the top a lot less fitted.
  • I could lower the bist darts.
  • I could raise the V, pinching out a dart from each side, though I'm not confident I'd get the upper bust CF line right...
  • I could make a massive swayback adjustment.
  • I could take a bit more care with my sewing :-P.
UpSewLate: it's too late for this Philippa! 

Yes, I could do all that, but this particular top has already been donated to charity, and for now I don't think I'll have another go.  Philippa is a winter top, and it's now summer, but more importantly, my mind has already wandered off to other patterns.

I hope your sewing is going well!

See you soon
- Gabrielle x

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