Details, details

A couple of weeks ago I posted about project pictures and people left some really interesting comments – thanks so much for sharing! I meant to follow this up much sooner. One thing a few people mentioned was that they like to see detail shots. It made me realise that I really like those too but for some reason I never take any. I don’t really know why. They’re quite timeconsuming to get looking even half-decent, but I enjoy the process of fiddling around trying to catch the light.

Anyway it’s lovely and sunny this morning so I tried to get a few of the Death Star shirt dress.

Here’s the collar stand and buttonholes from the right side. I am showing you the best buttonhole. The rest are horrible. I followed Burda’s instructions and didn’t interface the dress placket which is why they’re such a mess. I can see why Burda didn’t interface; their dress is made out of chiffon so it would probably have looked odd. Although how you make buttonholes in chiffon without any stabliser is beyond me.

Shirtdress collar stand and buttonholes

The instructions have you make a fairly narrow hem. This is the inside; it’s a little hard to tell on this fabric because the print bleeds right through to the wrong side. Again I suspect the width is on account of the original fabric being chiffon, but I like the shirt-like effect.

Shirt dress inside hem and placket

I overlocked the seams to finish the edges. No flat fell seams for me. They’d have been lost against the print anyway.

Shirtdress inside cenre back seam and yoke

The cuffs are very simple. No button; just a strip that you sew onto the end of the very narrow sleeve. It does mean you can’t push the sleeves up which is about the only thing I don’t like about this style. And I seem to not have pressed this cuff very well because the short edge seam has rolled to the outside. Not that you can tell from a normal distance.

I’ve worn the dress to work a couple of times now and it’s standing up OK to wearing and washing despite the lack of interfacing. If I was making it again I’d definitely interface, and also make the sleeves a little less narrow. I have another shirt dress pattern cut out and waiting to be sewed up which will be an interesting comparison because it’s a vintage pattern – older than I am!

Does the camera lie? Realism in project pictures

Ever had the experience of not being able to get a decent picture of a garment you’re really pleased with? Or then there’s the project that you’re not very happy with that nevertheless seems to photograph well. How much effort do you go to for project pictures?

I started thinking about this because recently I was looking for feedback on a failed project. I made an effort to photograph it in the way I would for something that had worked: put some makeup and pretty shoes on, took quite a few shots and picked the better ones. It doesn’t look as bad in the pictures as it feels. But I really would not wear this dress out of the house. And going in the other direction, here’s a dress that I do wear but that didn’t photograph at all well.

So while photos are very interesting to look at, and I certainly enjoy looking at pictures on sewing blogs, can we really trust what we see? The acid test has got to be how something actually feels to wear.

I rarely wear things in real life in exactly the way I photograph them. If I’m getting dressed for work there are lower heels, rather more layers, and usually I forget to put lipstick on. So the pictures aren’t realistic in that sense. But for me a part of the fun of blogging is styling things in a way that I’d like to be able to wear them; if only I didn’t walk to work and have a job that involves climbing ladders and heavy lifting. I should say, I like the job and I like the walking. I just wish they were more compatible with my favourite shoes.

Here’s a rare picture of one of my projects styled as it is usually worn, although you’ll have to imagine the pockets stuffed full of the junk I drag around with me at work.

Burda 116-08-2011

And here’s the grey version of the same dress styled in the way I usually do for blog photos.

Burda 116-08-2011

I tried wearing the shoes I’ve paired with the grey dress to work one time. I ended up walking around in my socks and getting the bus home. So I can’t say the above picture is realistic in the sense that this how I normally wear the dress, but I don’t have a problem with putting it out there. It’s how I’d like to wear the dress, and I think getting close to the look you aspire to have is a big part of the fun of sewing for yourself. I really like blogs which project the owner’s personal style. Check out Ooobop!, Kazz, and Alice‘s blogs for the sort of thing I mean.

Finally there’s the question of how much editing to do. My normal procedure is to get a lot of shots, pick the better ones, crop them, and maybe adjust the contrast. If the colour’s really off I’ll adjust that too. For me, doing any more editing than this crosses a line between an image that’s real, even if not representative of daily life, and one that’s artifical. I don’t have any objection to photo editing to produce a good image, but I’m avoiding it on my own blog because here I’m trying to achieve looks that exist in real life. Full discolosure: I did once edit some flyaway hair and a lamp post out of a set of photos. But I try not to make a habit of it.

So I’m pretty sure my own photos are not truly ‘realistic’ in some senses of the word, although I try to keep them ‘real’. But I’ll keep on producing them this way for the blog because it’s enjoyable.

Do you prefer realism or fantasy on sewing blogs? Which do you aim for?