My Jungle January dress. It's actually draped rather than drafted but who's going to split hairs?
I've had this fabric for approx. 4 years. It's pretty wild fabric, each flower, leaf and piece of fruit is actually an animal. The design is in panels - three across the width of the fabric. The coloured part is just over 150cm wide.
One of the reasons I've pulled it out, draped it, pulled it this way and that, then finally returned it to the stash about 100 times is because I just wasn't quite sure how to make something from it. The length of the print is too short for me to get a knee length dress out of and I don't wear dresses shorter than that unless I'm wearing tights which restricts me to colder weather - we don't have a lot of that here in Brisbane. I thought it would look better if the urn was centred on the front and back but then it would really be cutting it fine on the hips where the prints ended. With this print, I didn't want seams messing things up but what about the sway back - how could I deal with that? I didn't want the print finishing across the middle of my bust - that always reminds me of an empire line gone wrong but I also didn't want that tigerlily making me look like Eve in the Garden of Eden using a tigerlily instead of a leaf either. Add to that, the bottom of the urn isn't even perpendicular with the grain, it's at an angle. Well, lots of things that just added up to "too hard basket". Finally I decided that as I had two lengths of it (ie. 6 panels), I'd just do the best I could and still have some left over if I got a better idea at a later date.
I marked out two panels that were perpendicular to the bottom of the urns, sewed straight up the sides and got to work. Due to the angles of the urns and one panel being on the edge of the fabric, one panel had to be wider than the other - it's a design feature. Too hard to work with without shoulders, so I found some black knit that was used years ago to make a few skirts, chopped off some offcut looking bits and sewed them to the top. Unfortunately, the back piece was a bit narrow.
At this stage, I had the hem pinned and marked and it was perfect. A lot of time was spent pinning, marking, sewing, cutting (repeat ad infinitum) to get the sides right. More time working out the shoulders (which involved stretching the back up to get rid of the sway back puddle). Now, I could have removed that too narrow back piece and put a wider one on - that would have been the smart thing to do, instead, I added a little panel on each side of the back piece (I'm all about the design features).
My intention was to overlock the whole thing but because I was flying by the seat of my pants the whole time, I started with the sewing machine - with white thread (easier to see and unpick and no loss of fabric). As that seemed to be going ok and my new overlocker which isn't thrilling me was threaded in white, I decided to switch the sewing machine to black thread and carry on winging it. The armholes and hem were twin needled but the necklines have a deep (6 cm) seam allowance that is currently just hanging down inside the neckline - I'll probably tack them down.
Of course, by this stage all but two of the hem pins had fallen out and the chalk marks were long gone (although, they're still nice and prominent down the middle of the back and front). I had to redo the hem marking but things were looking a bit weird, in the end, I decided "it'll do" because I wanted to wear it out that night. I'm sure the hem's not perfect but I don't think there is anything too noticably wonky going on.
Now I'm thinking I might just make a shorter one with sleeves to wear with tights for winter
I'm glad I finally made something in this fabric, as soon as I saw it in the store I had to have it. My favourite thing is the smoking lion, it appeals to my sense of the absurd and it's socially not kosher.
Mum loved the PJ's I made her on one of her trips here and wanted more. She gets really hot during summer and needs something minimal. After scouring the web, I managed to find this egyptian print cotton knit - she loves all things egyptian.
I made this pattern by copying a worn out set she'd bought herself but were getting too past it and she couldn't find any in the stores to replace them. Strangely, when I copied the pj bottoms, it seemed that the front and back were the same pattern piece, which isn't normal but when I made them, they fit her perfectly, so I guess that's what matters.
All of the seams were done on the overlocker. Twin needle in the sewing machine around the hem of the shorts and top. I did knit binding for the armholes and neckline.
As I have soooo much of this fabric, I thought I'd make her another top.
I copied this pattern from a top a friend made her years ago. As you can see, my overlocker decided to stretch out the fabric and give this delightful fluted look on the hem and shoulder seams - NOT what I was going for (I always tell myself I'm going to stabilise shoulders seams next time but I still haven't done it once!). The neckline also looks kind of small - what was going on when I copied that pattern? As I didn't have the original shirt or the body it was meant to go on, I thought I'd just make it as is and we'll see. For the hem I decided to try one of the stretch stitches on my sewing machine - never again! After many experiments, I finally settled on one but it took forever and didn't even look that good. What with all the machine and brain malfunctions I was quickly getting over this project so for the neck and arms, I just turned them over and twin needled them.
I snagged this dress from my mother's wardrobe - it wasn't her style but it was mine! Only problem? just a bit too big.
I thought a quick zip up the sides with the overlocker and another quick zip to secure the front neckline would do the job but it turned out to be slightly more challenging.
I did at least realise that the shirring should be secured before I used the overlocker so that when the overlocker cut the elastic thread it didn't all shrink back and not get caught in the seam.
After some confusion, I realised that those squares on the skirt weren't centred at the back of the dress - bummer. There was also something strange going on under the arms that meant lots of finessing rather than just zipping up with the overlocker before it looked decent.You can see that the hem doesn't follow the border of the squares either - I at least partially fixed that in the final version (I had to compromise between uneven print and uneven hem - I went halfway, the border looks better and the hem isn't noticeably crooked).
Anyway, here's the finished product which although is fine enough for day-to-day, seems to have a major static cling problem - you can see it around the hem where it's sticking to my legs. I wore it as a jumper with a black turtleneck one day but I wasn't sure about that look. Oddly, although it seems as though this was an empire line, the shirred waist is now somewhere between that and above my natural waist which feels a bit odd. I also thought it would be shorter the whole time I was making it - must have been an optical illusion when it was wider.
There are a few rows of shirring just under the bodice. It's actually bigger than you can see here but I needed one hand for the camera. As you can see, it was a bit on the big side and a lot on the "why don't you check out my cleavage and bra" side (I've actually got it pinned closed in this pic).
The day before putting my other half on a plane we couldn't find any of our moneybelts so I decided to make a quick and dirty one for him to use from an old shirt, a reclaimed (about a million years ago by my mother) zipper, a small piece of elastic and some pants hooks and bars.
I cut the back out of the shirt to give me a big rectangle
folded the rectangle in half, attached each end to the zipper (the hem of the shirt is actually attached to the top of the zipper)
opened the zip a bit, turned it inside out
inserted the straps inside
sewed up the sides
turned it right side out again
then I sewed up the front of the money belt from the bottom to just under the zip so that it has two compartments - one that holds notes and one that's smaller (credit cards, notes folded in half etc.)
I used a piece of elastic between the two knit strips
for fastening I used those flat hooks you get in pants - I wanted something nice and flat (I also hate that most money belts leave you with a mile of extra strap hanging around)
I put two bars in for the hook because I don't trust the cheap shoddy elastic not to stretch out - this was a quick and dirty prototype remember?
Under the flap is a gusseted mobile phone carrier (closes with velcro, which unexpectedly didn't give me problems to sew on) , pen pocket and of course the straps that are extendable for when he wants to shove a jacket through there. I used jeans hems to keep the straps up - I detest hanging straps. The original jeans pockets and zipper still work, so basically that zipper is the entrance to the secret compartment between the lining and the outer shell (so very Get Smart). I took the black snap attachments off an old backpack of mine that had a disintegrating lining - my packrat tendencies actually paid off.
The back has of course the original pockets but it is also a full depth, full width pocket itself (apparently there is a need for a compartment that can hold A4 documents - when you're backpacking?). I added a gusseted zipper pocket to the strap for mp3 player, loose change etc. I also made the padded bit (no idea what it is called) from that same old back pack's straps. The strap is actually luggage webbing covered in denim and goes right down the sides between the lining and the outer, into the bottom of the bag where it is also secured - the rest of the bag will come apart before that strap gives way.
Snap securing the document pocket - he had a choice of fastenings, this was what he wanted. There's some dodgy stitching there, you would not believe the nightmare I had putting in the 'lid' of the bag. Initially the plan was to only have the lid attached to the lining but I was concerned that it wouldn't be strong enough. I'll have a rant later about some of the obstacles in the making of this bag. The back document pocket also has a zipper compartment in it. I'd never done this type of zipper before and used the instructions (http://www.ikatbag.com/2010/12/pockets-xx-zippered-welt-pocket.html) at ikat bag.
This is the shoulder strap padding from that same old back pack's straps - cut it to the right size and shape, sandwiched it between three pieces of denim (an extra piece so that it slides along the strap and is adjustable) and then bound the edges with more denim.
I added an extra bottom to the bag. The butt on these jeans had had some wear and it didn't seem like a good idea to start off with a worn out bottom. I left one side open to be closed with velcro and donated an old flexible chopping board to be the removable insert for the bottom (it was nearly 10 years old - time for the kitchen to get some new ones and retire the old ones anyway).
Inside the bag: Since this picture was taken I have tacked down the lining in all of the seams, here it was still all loose which is why it's flopping all over the place. On the left edge of the pic you can just barely see a D-ring - it's attached to a tab sewn in to the top between the lining and the outer. I put in some elasticised water bottle carriers on the left of the pic too. More pockets! This is basically a big pocket that's nearly the height of the bag and is the full width, divided into two - the larger one is secured with a snap. On the outside of that is the pocket with the zipper, the other side has a pocket that contains yet another little pocket the D-ring on the tab from above sits in. Below are pics that might explain that mess better.
The only things I had to buy for this project were the macaw lining fabric and the luggage strap - everything else was on hand. All of the other lining fabric for secret pockets and under the flap came from leftovers. There's some of the lining of my girlfriend's dress lining the lid, left overs from making a summer bathrobe for an ex-boyfriend line one of the secret zippered pockets and other random scraps used here and there. I used at least three pairs of jeans for this project, I'm pretty sure it was more but I'm not sure. With all of that denim, webbing and metal, this bag is heavy - I think it was nearly 1kg! And that's before anything is put in it. Another reason for doing away with any batting, aside from weight, is that this is for travelling, so it needs to be as 'compactable' as possible.
I had to make a lot of changes to get this to come close to fitting and it's still a bit loose but it's an easy to wear summer dress.
For this dress Vogue says I'm between a size 14 and 16, actually, nearly exactly smack bang in the middle. In actuality, I ended up with it at a size 12 and it's still a bit loose in some areas - so beware, if you're considering making this pattern, you'll probably need to go down at least one size, maybe more.
I used a very old interfacing that I had, it's stiff like cardboard. I remember that years ago when I used it it ended up bubbling, so I didn't actually fuse it to the fashion fabric, I just sewed it in with the fuse side to the lining. The dress would look better if the midriff was fused to interfacing.
For the lining I used an old piece of plisse. Plisse is like a tiny seersucker. Turns out that although I cut the lining 5mm smaller, plisse is not a great lining fabric, due to the weave it has a bit of stretch.
Estimate the centre front of the skirt and join the two (barely) wrap pieces with a centre front seam.
Remove the extra length.
Take in the side seams (thereby closing the hole for the wrap tie).
Use the extra length removed to make a new bodice - each shoulder seam is a former skirt side seam - the old hem now goes from bottom centre front to bottom centre back - sew up the centre front & back of the new bodice.
As the dress wasn't as long as the palm maxi had been, I was left with gaps at the sides of the bodice - I cut two panels from the remaining piece of extra length to join the front & back bodices and skirt under the arm holes (using the old hem at the top of the panels).
I hemmed the rest of the armholes (the bottom part was done, as I'd used the old hem) with the help of wonder tape (because this fabric is a nightmare for my sewing machine).
So then I was left with the problem of hemming it. I hemmed (no pun intended) and hawed about how to overcome the machine vs nightmare fabric debacle combined with the fact that it was an A-line, so some easing would need to be done. In the end, my impatience got the better of me and I decided to give hemming web a shot. My reasoning was that even though it was an A-line (ie. curved hem), it wasn't very exaggerated, so there would be minimal easing (being such a thin fabric, I figured I'd just stick it down with the web) and that the web is so thin that I didn't necessarily need to have it at the exact bottom of the hem, so I could still have some curve. Well, lo and behold, it actually worked!
Using the cut off extra length to make a new bodice.
So now I've got an easy to wear, impossible to wrinkle throw on dress. It actually looks better in real life than in the pic but you get the idea.
This particular dress I actually bought at a charity shop with the intention of shortening it - even if I'd wanted to, there was no way I could have worn it with a bra, just look at that bust, a strapless bra would show right through that hole in the middle and I don't do braless.
To make it, I basically cut off the extra length all around the bottom, cut that in half and used it to make the top. I very carefully unpicked the top and skirt because I was happy with the way the dress fitted from under the bust and wanted to keep that shape. The new shoulder seams were originally the side seams of the skirt, the original hem is now the neckline (trying to minimise any sewing on this fabric that I can). I sewed the (now) CF together up for afew inches and overlapped where the two top pieces joined the back skirt a smidge. As I'd cut so much length off, I had to cut down the new bodice pieces so that they matched the skirt but I angled the cut out to the (now) sleeves. The sleeves came a long way down my arms and looked a bit stupid but I still wanted more coverage up there, so I sewed in a stretched piece of elastic with zigzag along the new shoulder seams to gather up the shoulders. After all that it was just a matter of hemming the new sleeves and skirt.