Swirly thing alert

I had a day out in London with a friend yesterday. Now technically we were supposed to be looking for furnishing fabric, not dress fabric. But we found ourselves having a quick look in the shops down Berwick Street, and she pointed out this amazing viscose knit, and it was reasonably priced.

Viscose knit print

Viscose knit print

So it had to come home with me. And now I need to find a pattern for it. I really want a maxi dress; I’ve seen some fantastic Pucci silk jersey maxis out there on the Internet and I should have enough of the fabric for that sort of style: floor length, long sleeves, and a very deep v-neck. However my fabric’s four-way stretch and very slinky so I need to pick the pattern carefully.

Having spent the day going through my entire collection of Burdas, the big four websites, and all the vintage maxi patterns on Etsy, I think my best option is
Vogue 8489 (line art below) because the interfaced bands around the collar and V-neck will provide some support. I’ll probably double up the fabric in the bodice too. The pattern’s not a maxi but I ought to be able to lengthen the skirt quite easily.

Vogue 8489 view F line art

I suspect I’m going to have to do something to stablize the shoulder and armsyce seams. I’ve heard about sewing clear elastic into them but that sounds like it might turn out bulky. Or is clear elastic much thinner than regular elastic? Anyone out there got any recommendations?

Alien flower power

Here’s the final incarnation of the alien flowers fabric.

This is a vintage Simplicity pattern, number 5349. I’ve made it before in a black and white print and was surprised by how much wear it gets. Despite looking a bit dressy it’s really comfortable, so I find myself reaching for it on any reasonably warm day. Although not with these shoes! A pair of Converse are more likely in real life. The dress is backless so you do need a hoodie or a cardigan over the top most of the time too.

I tweaked the fit a bit on this version, but the main change from the original was that I faced the hem so that it’s nice and heavy and hangs really well. I underlined the fabric too. It all needs to be quite close fitting and structured to hold everything in place without a bra! The fashion fabric has a bit of elastane which helps there.

Cutting out this floral was a pain in the neck. It is impossible to match the print on any of the seams in this pattern without screwing up the grainlines, but I’m pleased that I avoided any obvious horrors in the placement, and it isn’t twinned anywhere other than a little bit at the back:

But my next project is definitely going to be a solid!

New old patterns

I’ve still not done any sewing. But I have acquired some new patterns, despite already having about four projects lined up. It seems I can’t resist 1970s Simplicity patterns. It’s something about the envelope art.

First up is a maxi dress. I never used to like these, but since I made one last year I am in love with them. I think the reason I never used to like them is that I am pretty tall, so hems on RTW maxis would hit me well above the ankle. If I make my own they can be as long as I like, although I found out the hard way that floor-sweeping hems are not the best thing for going up and down stairs in!

I really like the big collar option on this one, and unlike my first one it’s not backless so I could wear it for work. I’m not sure what colours to make it in though. The white collar on the envelope looks good, but I wonder if it would work if I made the whole dress, including the collar, in a bright solid.

The next one also has a contrast collar. I bought this for the dress rather than the tunic and trousers. I’m not keen on the print on the envelope picture but I know there’s a really great dress hiding in there somewhere. Again I am not sure about what colours to use. Both this one and the one above are from ZipZapKap.

Finally, I found this jumpsuit pattern that I’ve wanted for a while, and in my size too! I might also make the dress, although I have to say I don’t go a bundle on the poncho (although yes, I am the same woman who made the space curtains top). I’m seeing this one in bright orange rather than the coral shade on the envelope.

This pattern was from LovelyLove Patterns.

So many patterns, so little time!

Patterns or drafting? Or somewhere in between?

I love dressmaking patterns. I have only been sewing for a couple of years but my stash of pattern envelopes and magazines is getting to the point where I can’t easily lift the box it lives in. Despite all this, when I have something very definite in mind that I want to sew I often can’t find a pattern in the box that’s exactly what I want.

The current case in point is my skull-print dress, which is inspired by the lady with the pink hair in the centre of the back row in this cartoon by John Allison. (If you like the art, check out his webcomics Bad Machinery and Scary-go-round.)

It’s an empire-line maxi-dress with a surplice-style bodice. There isn’t any bust shaping visible but clearly any real-life version of this dress that’s going to fit is going to need darts or gathers at the bottom of the bodice.

I briefly considered trying to draft something but I’m fundamentally lazy and drafting is complicated. I decided to go for the very unscientific method of taking two patterns I have that already fit and munging them together. Simplicity 3775 is a modern knit dress with a surplice bodice (sadly now out of print). I’m showing you my version rather than the envelope art, because the envelope manages to make the dress look utterly frumpy, and it’s really not.

Simplicity 5349 is a vintage halter-neck maxi dress that I made last year for a bit of a giggle, and have worn and worn and worn.

But these two have their problems. The maxi-dress has off-grain centre front and back seams in the skirt, which will look very odd with the regular print on my fabric, and the knit dress is, well, designed for knits. My skull-print fabric is a woven.

Skull print fabric

After much dithering I decided to cut the skirt pieces on the fold, even though it’s going to mess up the grainlines, because the alternative is just going to look strange.

I changed the gathers on the bodice to a couple of darts, then laid the midriff pieces from the first pattern over the top of the skirt pieces for the second and traced round them. I also added some tiny darts to the bodice back to give it a bit of shaping as the knit version has none.

And amazingly, my muslin of it seems to have come out looking like a dress. This is the muslin on my dressform. The back has a wrinkle on the left side, but that’s mainly to do with the sloppy way I sewed the zip into the side seam.

The funny thing is that I feel much happier tweaking something like this than a Real Pattern. If the pattern is a horrible mashup to start with then the sewing police are not going to come and get me for what I do with it. This may explain why it’s worked somewhat better than some of my attempts at fitting Real Patterns.

And it’s too late now anyway because I’ve cut out my real fabric, all four metres of it. I really hope this works out!