Friday, 29 March 2019

A work dress from small bits of fabric

 I made this dress using my left over pieces of fabric from this dress
its the Hoody Cowl Dress from Burda

The leather offcuts are from my lovely leather leggings

 Its a different version of the McCalls M7538,
I made the circle skirt version last time and that was a good make too despite the perfectionist problems I found I had with this.

Again the new version is not perfect. I am sure I will get there eventually though the sides do line up better than before.  I was very careful when sewing and only had to sew this up once to get the bits to match. And Its OK for a dress made from small pieces. Its a shame I could not pattern match the top to the skirt but it was difficult to find a way to squeeze this out of what I had anyway so no way could I do that. I am happy enough with this and it makes a surprisingly stylish work dress. My boss actually complimented it today. I never said I made this but I did feel good.
Unfortunatly, the leather waist does crease when you sit all day at a desk but other than that I like this dress very much. The fact its made from scraps really does bring home how much fabric normally goes to waste.

So again I am smashing my stash and this one is a success.

I am really happy I bought McCalls M7538 and have to see what else I can make from this pattern which is very wearable as well as very useful for small pieces of fabric.

Thanks for reading

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Drafting the sleeve for the TVW dress version 2

I have spent the last few weeks trying to make a version of The Vampire Wife dresses.
You can find the previous blog posts here: 

Why? Not sure really. Its a challenge and everyone who is anyone seems to be wearing them so why not? Will I wear these? Not so sure but its fun as a project anyway and I reckon I probably will. I surprised myself by really liking my toile version  which is made from cotton curtain fabric. This though I did with a very basic sleeve to ensure my sleeve block worked and fitted the bodice because I have not made blocks before so this is all very new and interesting though a bit more long winded than I somehow thought it would be. Having said that I could have done what many people do and bought a premade block and altered it but there is something about drafting it yourself from scratch that just appeals to me.

Well drafting the sleeve seemed a bit daunting and to be honest I have probably spent far longer reading about this and thinking about how to do this than is really justified because once I started to actually draw and cut this it was very quick to do.
 First you obviously need to trace round your basic sleeve block - or sleeve pattern if using a commercial pattern as your starting point.

I was running out of paper when I did this so had to use a scrapy bit but it was just about the size I needed so not so bad after all.

I am not sure you can see well on the below picture but you section the top of the sleeve by drawing a line accross the sleeve just below the top shaping then more lines from the balance points down to this line.

Cut the top bit off and cut along all lines - I did this wrong. According to the book you should have a central piece with two bits either side so you end up with 5 segments but I only cut 4 segments. Hopefully this will still work.

 Then after spreading you add some height to the top of the sleeve (about 1cm ) to give a raised sleeve head and I drew round all the bits and added more paper to fill in and taped everything down before making a new final tracing for my TVW sleeve block. In effect then I have two new blocks. One that is taped together and then one is traced - that one I will use to make the actual sleeve.

 Mark between balance points - this is where the gathers will go tho looking at TVW I reckon the dresses may have pleated tops not gathered. I need to have a better look before I try sewing a new version of this dress but then there are loads of pictures online.

 So here is my sleeve with pleated/gathered head for the proper version of The Vampires Wife style dress. I am hoping to get this cut out later today and then next weekend or this week in the evenings if I am not too tired after work to get this sewn together.

The fabric for this version is a lovely but very bright turquioise chintz but I only have 2m and it is not well cut so not actually a rectangle so I am debating which length dress I will manage to get out of this because I now also need to remember sleeve frills.  
This fabric is 100% cotton but has a shiny chintz side and a plain side. The problem is do I cut the frills going the opposite way cos there is a slight difference in the weave giving a directional effect? I may have to do this to get the dress out of this piece of fabric but I have yet to try experimenting with pattern layouts. But then willit notice terribly if I change the fabric directions for some or all of the frills? I suppose if all of the frills it will matter less than if say just done for the sleeves.

I could of course add a different colour or some lace to bulk my fabric out similar to the version below:

I have yet to actually position my pattern on my fabric so will need to decide this as I do it.
I am finding this whole project sooooo exciting!

Thanks for visiting 

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Adding the skirt and frills to TVW dress -3

So its not quite a copy of The Vampires Wife (TVW) due to having normal fitted sleeves but I had to use these sleeves to check my sleeve block works because to be perfectly honest I did not expect them to work first time. Well they do work and fit very well so my next version will have the puffed sleeeves its meant to have. My next task for this project will be to convert this sleeve into a TVW type of puffed sleeve.

I am so amazed it seems that its going to be wearable!

I am in fact going to have to go and attempt to overlock the waist seam and the side seams and sleeve seams because despite me thinking I would never want to wear such a floral dress I do want to wear this and it will make a lovely if slightly OTT summer dress.

I suppose that proves I do not hate florals as well!

There are quite a few adjustments  need to make for version two though despite this being a serious success.

I have a slight "V" neck when it needs more of a curve but I will fix that on version 2.

Another thing I think I may change on version 2 is a slight lowering of the darts at the bust points.

I also left the frill gather threads in on the frills in this version - well it is meant to just be a muslin - due to laziness but actually I quite like the extra gathering effect tho suspect over time these may come out. My rolled edges on my hems are far from perfect as well and I will need to play around with the overlocker tension for version 2.

So last time I blogged about this I had just put the bodice together and added the sleeves. Previous to that I had to make the blocks.

I then of course added the skirt.

When I first made the skirt block I did it as a fitted dress but decided before cutting out to redo the skirt completely and just gofor an Aline. I was taking a risk because I did nto know if my basic skirt block would fit but decidedto go ahead anyway. I ahve loads of this fabric so it does nto mater so if you were doing this and hadless fabric then try a basic block first elses you coudl just waste more I think. Anyway it did work for me.  So below are my basic skirt blocks:

 I then traced these:

 Using Winifred Aldrich's Metric patter cutting as a guide I made the A line block and sectioned it approximately to be used for 4 differnt skirt lengths. 

 These as you will read below may well be incorrect because I had to shorten the longest skirt to fit me. However to make from a block - cut up side seam, I added 3cm to the flare at hem and angledit out from hip points to give a flare. Removed darts etc as directed by Ms Aldrich to give a block as shown below.
 Then a roughly sectioned this for the different lengths of these dresses. According to the Vampires Wife website/shop the dresses are available as follows - measurement from waist to hem of skirt:
Ankle length Festival dress = 100 cm to hem
Velvet Veneration dress midi = 86cm to hem
Gypsy Cinderella = 105cm to hem
Birthday Party waist to hem = 44cm

Then you also need to add hem allowance ( not included on the blocks) for hem and/ or rolled edge.

The hardest part of making this - apart from actually making the blocks - was adding the skirt to the bodice because I wanted that French dart to line up to the side seam. This is a feature if you look at The Vampires Wife dresses because they all have the same bodice and dart construction with an A-line skirt with frills and puffed sleeves.

The skirt took quite a few pinnings and undoing and re-adjusting before I got it right. Its almost perfect. You have to look really close to see one side is about a mm off but its good enough for me to leave it alone

So shocking but really exciting that as I tried on first the sleeveless bodice and it fitted then added the sleeve and it still fitted and then the skirt and still it fits……………..well what can I say. Just so exciting to do this despite the number of tracings and manipulating of the blocks. Several times I have felt like just giving in and using a different pattern but I do want to complete this challenge I have set for myself.

At this point I had to stop because silly me I did not have a suitable zip!

Yes, frustration of frustrating things to have no zip. So at this point which is just over a week ago I had to stop my construction and wait forsome zips to arrive.

Well actually I have lots of zips but none are the right colour. When I began this I thought I could use a normal black zip with metal teeth or a bright yellow one because it was not going to be a dress I would ever wear but just a toile. The yellow zip is invisible ( well would be if the dress was yellow!) but is too short and the black zip is just wrong for this and it could at the point I go to adding a zip that I realised that that although this will not have the inner edges overlocked that I might actually wear this after all.

I never expected that so the original zip idea did not matter but as this dress went together I decided that actually yes it does matter cos I do want to wear this even if it is floral. So I will actually go back and overlock what I can later but it will not be as well made as I would normally make cos its difficult once its all together – as you will know.

So now to finish this I have to wait for my zips to arrive. That only too a couple of days but then I had no time after work so it had to wait.  I went for 22inch invisible zips in several colours so I can make a few more of these after this one is finished. I found an Ebay seller doing buy 5 and get 5 free so I am getting 10 new 22inch zips in several colours for my several versions of TVW dresses.

Last weekend I put in my zip but had no time to make the frills. Or to blog about it so far but probably this will be a better blog post rather than splitting it into more bits.

I have also at this point traced the bodice parts again to make a one piece facing for the neck and some bias binding for the wrists. And I have cut my frills. I had to just put all this on hold though until my zips arrived.

This is how I did the facing:

I may in future make all my neck facings as one piece because I hate trying to line up those shoulder seams and half the time the facings just do nto fit. Well this worked first time!

I never bothered to interface though since did nto think I would want to actually wear it so in Version 2 I will be addng interfacing.

So now my dress was all but made except for the frills on the hem. Version 2 will of course also need sleeve frills but since I did a basic sleeve I just bias bound the sleeve edges in self made bias binding.  It works.

Ah and despite my careful calculations of the skirt length I had to chop off a further 20cm from the bottom when I had tried it on. Sorry never got a phot at this point which is a shame.

This was meant to be the ankle length dress so without removing this it would be dragging on the floor.

I think if the long street sweeper version fits me the shorter ones will be easier but it was just too long on the original pattern so means now its 20cm shorter when I add my frills it should still reach my ankles and not as it would have done trail on the floor. Well I do need to be able to walk!

Initially I thought I could do a rara type construction by using the bit I chopped off the bottom of the skirt but further study and analysis of The Vampires Wife dresses including people walking in them made me decide that in fact the skirt is constructed from two frills sewn at around the same point.

This means if you want the ruffle edged frill you need to first do and inserted frill onto the end of the skirt then top stitch the rolled edged smaller frill onto the right side just above the inserted frill. So first right sides together so frill seam is inside the dress then top stitch extra smaller frill to outside. Hopefully this is making sense.

My fabric is 135cm wide - or the useable part not including seledges is 135cm wide. I cut 3 strips 20 cm wide and joined together for the top frill.

3 strips  24cm wide for the bottom frill and again joined.

Roll edged both edges of the top frill so I can top stitch and have a frilly ruffle and just the bottom hem edge of the bigger frill.

If of course you wanted to just have the two frills long and short and both inserted then you could gather them as one piece and sew straight onto the bottom of the skirt with right sides together.

I have to say though I do think my experiment into drafting patterns for The Vampires Wife dress is working and this whole adventure into pattern cutting so far has been not only successful but very enjoyable.

It does take a long time though and lots of manipulating of the blocks to get what I am aiming for, and it makes my poor head hurt trying to understand what Winifred Aldrich is going on about, but I suppose you get faster at that kind of thing and better at understanding. Most interesting is the blocks do really seem to fit me better than any commercial pattern or as far as I can tell with no zip to fasten!

I expect I can now use them to help me to figure out how to alter the patterns I already own to get them to fit me.

 So here you go this is the bit you are waiting for:

You can read the first post on this here
and the second post here

I did it!
I made a The Vampires Wife Dress and while not quite right yet I am very encouraged to continue not only pattern cutting from my own blocks I am going to make a whole wardrobe of these dresses!

Thanks for visiting leave a comment should you wish to