The Finished Dress

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At last it’s finished!

And what a pleasure and a learning experience this dress has been to make. For those new to this blog, this is a Vogue 8648 pattern and I have been making it alongside the teaching video ‘The Couture Dress’ with Susan Khalje on Craftsy.com.

And I’m sooo pleased with it. I got a bit panicky that it either wouldn’t fit or that it was the wrong shape for me, but its an absolute pleasure to put on. In fact I keep nipping upstairs to try it! The fact that it it made to fit ME means that, although I’m not your off the shelf fit, I feel like a million dollars in it. Even though its a fitted dress I feel as though it is flattering in a way that some other dresses made to hide the lump and bumps aren’t

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What I learnt during this project:

  • Using the stitching line to mark fabric is a more precise method of sizing.
  • How to use carbon paper and a pattern marking wheel.
  • What some of the lines on a paper pattern mean
  • That creating a muslin is not a waste of time, but an integral part of the process if you want the dress to fit
  • That fabric can be very forgiving as you work with it
  • Hand sewing and finishing is better than machine stitches for a quality finish
  • There’s nothing as nice to wear as a lined dress
  • to be patient in order to get the result you want
  • To pattern match in fabrics

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Things to improve next time:

  • Baste, baste, baste
  • Be even more careful when pattern matching (there’s a couple of places where the pattern is not exactly matched. Although I don’t think its particularly noticeable, I know its there)
  • Take more care during the muslin fitting (I had to make some adjustments to the finished dress then transfer those changes onto the muslin in retrospect)

It’s my father-in-law’s 80th birthday next weekend. I think I’ve got just the frock for the occasion!

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Learning Lining

After three evenings of sewing, the lining in my dress is almost complete. I’ve never lined a dress before and thought it was beyond me, but with Susan’s advice in the Craftsy Couture Dress Class, it went like a breeze!

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Having not quite followed the class to the latter with regards to the interlining (I haven’t got one) I made more of an effort here. I made my lining the three separate parts and completed each so that I could enjoy seeing the finished dress come to life as I worked.

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I discovered a new love of and stitching as a pick stitched the edges and basted my skirt and top linings into place. I managed not to do my usual and rush it through, with great results. I particularly love the neck and arm edges now – in fact I think I am a convert from facing.

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I’ve also tried the dress on ready for hemming. I was worried it might not fit as I have gained a few holiday pounds, but it looks lovely (and will look even better when the pounds are shed!)
Next to complete the hemming then I’ll share my finished Couture dress with you.

Construction begins

Over the past few days I have been constructing my Vogue 8648 dress. I was a little bit renegade and rushed ahead of the Craftsy lesson as I was eager to have a go at pattern matching. I sewed the dress together in one evening and was pretty pleased with the results.

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This was my first try at matching a pattern across seams and, although it’s not perfect, I was very impressed by my first attempt. The hints and tips in the Craftsy lesson certainly helped.
I then couldn’t help myself – I sewed in the zip. Again, I’m pretty pleased with the way the fabric lined up but I was disappointed that it wasn’t perfect.

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I then left the dress for a couple of days unsure of where to go. I picked it up again this afternoon determined to improve the fit. It looks great on the dress form, but there was some bagging around the back on me. I had thought of ignoring it, bit the whole purpose of this dress is to learn new skills and practise them, so I took the bull by the horns as they say. I wondered if I needed to reduce the size of the midriff (I am quite short) but this didn’t seem to be the problem. I decided to take some from the back side sections. In true couture learning style, this time I pinned it and tried it on before re pinning, being sure that I was happy with my alteration before committing to the sewing machine.
And it worked. I now have the makings of a beautiful dress.

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I’m away for the next couple of weeks, but will spend time pondering the sleeves ready to tackle them on my return.

Ever Closer

Yesterday I began the process of pinning my muslin pattern to my fashion fabric. This was the first time I’ve pinned fabric as a single layer and attempted to match the pattern. Despite the fact that it took some time, I really enjoyed the process. I had a small panic about the amount of fabric that was required due to the size of the pattern and how often it it repeated on the fabric, so this is something I will need to bear in mind when buying fabric for this project again.

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Then today I have cut out the fashion fabric and marked the pattern pieces. Again, there was a certain pleasure in seeing the pattern pieces separate and pile up ready for making. I am also grateful to Father Christmas for putting a pattern marking wheel and carbon paper in my stocking. I wasn’t really sure what to do with them before now but love being able to mark the pattern onto the fabric quickly and easily.

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Hopelessly devoted to you.

I’ve been very busy, but over the past week have found a moment here or there to continue with my muslin. It’s surprising how much can get done little and often.
So, over the past 10 days I have stitched my muslin together and looked at it many times over from different angles. Happy with it on the body form, today I ventured into the dress myself (with the help of a willing husband.) There were one or two final adjustments before it was all ‘ripped at the seams’ and trimmed neatly, leaving me with a pile of new pattern pieces.
Now I’m going to break from the path of my Craftsy lesson. I am dispensing with the silk organza underlay. This if for two reasons: number one I am impatient and want together on with using my fashion fabric (that sentence will probably come back and haunt me at some point) and, two, I’m using a light weight cotton fabric so want to minimise the bulk.
I’m hoping that tomorrow I get time to start working with the fashion fabric. I have it out on the ironing board waiting and am eager to get started. This fabric was a gift from a friend so I hope I can do her justice.

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Decadent Pinning

I was limited to time today as sorting out driving insurance for my newly passed son was top of my list. However, I did manage to pin my marked pattern pieces to my calico to make my muslin. I took heed from the Craftsy class and measured from the grain line to ensure that the pieces were correctly placed. I have also allowed plenty of allowances around the edge. Despite being a size 20 in this Vogue pattern (!!!!) the pieces still look a bit on the small side now that I’ve marked the seam lines.
I can’t wait to get cutting and transferring the pattern makings onto the fabric. I am really enjoying this process.

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Craftsy Couture

There’s been a bit of a lull on the sewing front of late. This is primarily due to trying to fit an awful lot of work into the last few weeks of term. But do not be fooled! Although the sewing machine has remained quiet I have been developing my skills in other ways.

A few months or weeks ago, I can’t actually remember, I bought my first Craftsy lesson. It wasn’t the first Craftsy lesson I had subscribed to, but it was the first one I had actually parted with money for. I bought it on a whim while it was in a sale and, as it came with an actual real-life pattern, it was similar in cost to nipping to the shop. The lesson I bought was The Couture Dress with Susan Khalje. The link here will take you to the classes page, but if I try to find the actual class, it takes me to my own page and resumes the lessons where I left off.

Sure enough, not too long after a Vogue 8648 pattern found its way through the letter box. I marked as the Craftsy pattern and there it stayed, until today!

About a week ago I started watching the said lesson. What a revelation. I was hooked from the start. Susan Khalje, who teaches the lesson is incredibly engaging and a vast wealth of knowledge when it comes to making bespoke, made to measure garments. Her asides are fascinating in themselves, but the actual content is brilliant to watch.

So last week I found myself behaving like an addict – sneaking upstairs to see the next useful snippet. Over the week I watched closely as Susan cut and marked her pattern, transferred that onto the muslin, stitched the garment together then made adjustments on her model. Feeling inspired I rushed out and bought some calico and, back in the sewing room tonight, took my first steps towards couture sewing.

But don’t expect to hear the buzz of a sewing machine anytime soon. Today I cut out the pattern pieces and marked them ready. The dining room table is now covered in small red marks where my permanent marker made it through the pattern paper, but I don’t care! My next step will be to prepare my muslin fabric, but that can wait. I don’t want to rich and make silly mistakes. Wish me luck!

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