Completed: Lady Skater dress with drape neckline

140411_front viewThis dress nearly defeated me but I am glad I persevered. I thought it would be fun to change the scoop neckline on the Lady Skater dress to a drape neckline to create a different look . I worry that if I make the same pattern over and over with the only change being the fabric that is used they’ll be too much alike. Changing details like necklines and sleeve lengths seems a good solution to this problem and they’re also fun as it often involves some pattern drafting.

140411_drape neckline2So, creating a drape neckline, “how hard can it be”? I had made drape necklines before on t-shirts for one of my sisters. A smarter person than me would have studied that pattern extensively before she started drafting, and more importantly, cutting the fabric. Let’s just say my first version wasn’t even remotely drapey and looked more like a boat neck trying to strangle me.

Luckily I had enough fabric left to cut a new front bodice. This one worked much better! I think I could have added even more drape but was worried at first that it might be too revealing. I shouldn’t have cut it out of fabric immediately though because I didn’t really consider the effect that my changes to the pattern had on the shape of the waistline. My waistline looked like this after cutting it from fabric (and that was the last piece of fabric large enough to accommodate the front bodice):

This is what happens when you forget to true up your waistline...

This is what happens when you forget to true up your pattern…

Whoops, not sure how that is going to look when the skirt is attached… I wasn’t certain how to fix this, so decided to leave this problem for after I completed sewing the bodice. I needn’t have worried though because this fabric has more lengthwise stretch than the fabric I used previously and as a result the waistline ended up far too low for my taste. I chopped an inch off the front and back bodice and in the process got rid of the sweetheart waistline detail.

Before reattaching the skirt I also took in the side seams. The before pictures below are how the dress was when I posted last time. I didn’t really like the dress then and wasn’t sure how to fix it.

140411_beforeafter

I thought something was missing, but I was wrong, there was still too much of something. Fabric, to be precise. I took the dress in at the back waist and removed even more at both side seams from just below the bust to the skirt hem and am now much happier with how it looks. It was a subtle change but I think it makes enough of a difference, especially from the front.

140411_side viewI can imagine some of you might be interested in how I converted the scoop neck to a drape neck. In the picture below I highlighted the orginal front bodice pattern piece in green. Starting at the centre front waistline you draw a straigth line (1) that flares out towards the neckline and extends beyond the original pattern piece (this will be the new center front).  More flare means more drape. Then you fold the pattern perpendicular to line 1 so that the corner of the shoulderseam ends up on the foldline. Then trace the shoulderseam  and the armhole onto the piece that is folded over, this is how you create the facing for the drape. Unfold the pattern and draw a second line (2) perpendicular to line line 1 so that the traced part of the armhole measures around 7.5 cm (I think it will still work if it is a little less or a little bit more).  I also added a notch in the armhole where the facing ends up when it is folded over. If you don’t want to end up with a strange looking waistline you also true up the pattern there.

front bodice pattern with drape neckline

I am apparently able to draft patterns in the future…

I finished my back bodice with a neckband, there are other options, but the important thing to keep in mind is that the length of the finished back bodice shoulder seam should be the same as the front bodice shoulder seam, so depending on your choice of finish you may have to make some changes to the back bodice as well. I reinforced the shoulder seam on the back bodice with some stay tape (not visible in the pictures). The shoulder seam is sewn by laying down the front and back bodice pieces right sides together with the shoulder seams matching. The facing of the front bodice is then folded over the back bodice so that the shoulder seam on the facing matches up as well (see picture below). I highly recommend basting this seam first to check how it looks from the right side. It can be tricky to get the back and front neckline to match up exactly, in the picture on the right you can see that I didn’t manage to do so completely, but trust me, it can be a lot worse. I basted the facing to the armhole before continuing to prevent shifting during the attachment of the armhole.

140411_shoulderseam

For now I am done playing with the Lady Skater pattern. My next make will be something I have never made before but that will be used on a daily basis. Can you guess what it will be?

Back view

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Completed: Self-drafted A-line skirt with button front placket

A-line skirt close upAfter my first self-drafted A-line skirt was such a success I simply had to make another one. I used the same basic pattern and adapted it so that it features a waistband, button front placket and inset pockets. It results in a very different look. I am really enjoying this pattern drafting business and am already dreaming about yet another version that may or may not include a lined vent.

This skirt was inspired by the Colette Beignet and Megan Nielsen’s Kelly skirt. Instead of spending money on a pattern and a lot of time getting it to fit right it seemed much easier and faster to draft my own and it was.

skirt buttonsI used a denim fabric with some stretch that I can only describe as looking splotched with bleach. The pattern placement looked rather random so I did not attempt any pattern matching and I think it turned out fine (May and Patrick might disagree though). The buttons are from my stash and I think they are a perfect match for this fabric. The waistband closes with a hook. I sometimes struggle to get my buttonhole foot to behave on parts that are a bit more bulky and I didn’t feel like doing that yesterday.

skirt pocketI made the pockets a bit deeper on this skirt than on my previous version and I think this is an improvement. The opening of the pockets is finished with my coverstitch machine as was the hem. I just love those neat rows of double stitching.

For the finish of the waistband facing on the inside I tried something new. In some of my RTW jeans the bottom edge of the waistband facing is  finished with bias tape and I really like that detail. It is a neat finish and because the seam allowance isn’t folded to the inside of the waistband to hide it, it is far less bulky than what I used to do. It made topstitching the waistband a breeze. It also adds a fun touch of colour that only the wearer of the garment will see.

waistband biastape finishI am probably not the only one that loves to have a look inside other people’s garments:

Self-drafted A-line skirtFor those of you that would like to add a button front placket to an existing skirt pattern I’ve made a schematic that shows how I changed my pattern. The important things when drafting are how wide you want the waistband to be and how much overlap you want between the front skirt pieces. For a 4 cm overlap you first measure 2 cm (so half the measurement of the final overlap) from the center front and then add another 4 cm for the facing. I interfaced the facing before folding it to the inside. Don’t forget to add seam allowances to the top of the skirt and the bottom and center front of the waistband after cutting the pattern in two when you are working with a pattern that has the seam allowance already included in each pattern piece.

How to add button front placket to A-line skirt pattern

Giveaway winner

Then finally, we also have a winner for the Sunnyside quiltfabric giveaway! My boyfriend was so kind to draw a winner on Wednesday night and I took some photographic evidence:

Sunnyside_giveawaywinnerI’ve already contacted Selma and I hope she will enjoy making her first quilt!

self-drafted A-line skirt

UFO Busting: Self-drafted A-line skirt

I proudly present what may very well be the best fitting skirt I have ever had. I made the pattern following (most of the) instructions from Craftsy’s “Design and sew an a-line skirt” class. The fit of this skirt is so much better than any RTW skirt I have been able to find. The main reason I hardly ever used to wear a skirt is that I simply didn’t have any good fitting ones. Usually, when I tried on a RTW skirt it was either way too large at the waist or way too tight at the hip. Now I want to make lots more!

Denim A-line skirt

This quite simple skirt turned into an UFO because I probably used inaccurate measurements when I drafted my first pattern months ago. My muslin looked hideous. I decided to toss it and start from scratch. This time, I marked the exact location of my waist, hip and desired hem line on my body so that I would be sure to measure in the right location and also have accurate waist-hip and waist-hemline measurements.

I still had to tweak the side seam between waist and hip quite a bit in my muslin because the difference between those two measurements is quite large due to my pear shape. Perhaps I could get it to fit even better in that region in a next version but for now I’m very pleased with how it looks.

A-line skirt with inset pocketInstead of making a very basic skirt I wanted something a bit more special, so I added a facing, cut up the front and back to do some colour blocking and added inset pockets. How to draft this type of pocket isn’t included in the class but I very much prefer this pocket over the options provided in the class. For example, I detest inseam pockets. Seriously, they always gape and then stand out a little bit from your body and since they’re usually located in the hip region of a skirt or dress they draw extra attention to your hips. I think it is safe to assume that over 90% of Western women does not want to draw extra attention to her hips. So, my advice is to avoid inseam pockets like the plague. It’s not difficult to add inset pockets to an existing pattern, although with hindsight I should probably have made mine a little deeper.

Facing

For the skirt fabric I used pieces of cut up old jeans. I have collected a selection of old worn jeans that I occasionally cut up into pieces and use to make stuff. When I pulled out my stash I discovered I had 14(!) pairs that I hadn’t yet cut into, which, even to me, seems like a somewhat ridiculous amount. Most worn jeans still have areas where the fabric is in very good condition, most often the back of the lower part of the leg. You want to avoid using parts that are clearly worn and the knees. Most denim nowadays contains some spandex and the knees in old jeans have usually become stretched out and baggy. For this skirt I used fabric from 5 different pairs and I really like how they work together. For the facing and pocket lining I used a floral cotton. The facing is interfaced with medium weight woven interfacing.

denim A-line skirtSome of you may have been wondering when I was ever going to post a project for which I used my new overlocker and coverstitch machine. Right now! I finished the seam allowances with a 3-thread overlock stitch and I think the inside now looks very nice and it was so much faster than what I used to do before. The hem was finished with a 2 needle coverstitch and I also really like how that turned out.

Left: details of 3-thread overlock stitch. Right: 2-needle coverstitch on hem.

Left: details of 3-thread overlock stitch. Right: 2-needle coverstitch on hem.

Largest revelations during the skirt drafting stage:

  • I do not need darts in the skirt front (which is actually a very good thing because it reduces the number of darts to sew by a whopping 50%!). Instead I lowered the top of the skirt a little bit at the centre front to ensure that the top of the whole skirt would be parallel to the floor.
  • Pinning a back dart on yourself while simultaneously trying to look in a mirror to see what you are doing puts you at serious risk of a strain injury.
  • My back darts needed to be quite a bit longer than I originally thought they should be.

140201_A-lineskirt4I did find this Craftsy class useful but I thought the teacher was a bit too happy. If you want to learn how to draft a simple skirt it is a good option though and if you start out with the right measurements you’ll most likely end up with a very nice fitting skirt. However, would I buy a skirt drafting class today I would most likely get the “Pattern making basics: The skirt sloper” class as that one seems to be much more versatile. I might still get it, I really want to learn more about pattern drafting, I thoroughly enjoy the process and dress making is even more fun when your finished garments actually fit well.

Completed: Self-drafted sweater

sweaterIn the year I’m supposed to be sewing as many items as possible to create a solid wardrobe for myself, my first finish is a sweater for my boyfriend.

The inspiration for this sweater was one of his favourite sweaters that I wish he would discard because it has holes in both armpits that I have decided are beyond fixing. To (sort of) copy this sweater I thread traced the seams, pinned Swedish tracing paper to the sweater and used a marker to trace the seams onto the paper. Then I turned these slightly wonky traced pieces into pattern pieces that looked normal and made sure that every seam would match perfectly. I also lenghtened the sleeves because I thought the sleeves on the original sweater were too short and added some extra room in the armpit area to ensure that this sweater wouldn’t tear as well.  I wasn’t entirely sure I would get the fit right in one go so I first cut the pattern pieces from fabric with extra-large seam allowances, did some fitting, adjusted the pattern, recut the pieces with normal sized seam allowances and sewed it up. All in all it didn’t take very long to make.

front and back fabricThe front, back and sleeves are made from a viscose & acryl blend that I think is very suitable for a men’s sweater. The wrong side of the fabric is black and the front blue. The neckband, hem band and cuffs are made from a viscose & lycra blend jersey that I had left over from another project.

He requested that the neckline would be high so that any t-shirt worn underneath doesn’t show. No problem, I can do that. The fabric, however, doesn’t have a lot of stretch and it is a bit of a struggle to put it on and take it off. Had I noticed this during the fitting I would have made it a bit wider, but for now I just hope it won’t tear.

Overall I’m very pleased with the result. If he enjoys wearing it I’ll probably make more with a wider neckline.