Monday, 28 March 2016

Tiramisu, part two

I'm not sure why it took me so long to make another version of the Tiramisu, because it's amazing.

Look at that skirt. LOOK AT IT. 

This is an incredibly soft jersey that I bought in Bristol, and my original plan was to make Vogue 6815 in jersey, omitting lining and zip. I'd still like to do that, but I really wanted a dress made from this fabric and I didn't really want to use it up on an experiment. So I went for something that I know works.

(Please excuse my terrifyingly white face. There was this unfamiliar bright thing in the sky at the time.)

Construction was more or less the same as my first Tiramisu. I went down a size in the waist, because I'm a size smaller in the waist now (not anywhere else, though. Sometimes my figure looks like a cartoon), and I used clear elastic rather than stay tape in the shoulder seams because the itchy stay tape is my least favourite thing about my purple Tiramisu.

This dress is a perfect fit and I think it's fabulous. It's got a 40s vibe that I really enjoy, and I can (and do) wear it basically anywhere. One of my favourite things I've made so far.

(Burlesque class update: less than two weeks until the triumphant debut of Amber Moon! Erk.)

I do wonder why I see this dress on sewing blogs all the time, but rarely anything else from Cake Patterns. I love how this dress is constructed, but when I've searched their other patterns, most of the reviews have been middling to poor, or good reviews from people employed by Cake Patterns. Maybe at some point I'll feel inspired to experiment with another one of their patterns, but I don't want another ARGH just yet.

What I do want is another Tiramisu, and once I work out exactly how to deal with this strange black and sort-of yellow sort-of-animal print border fabric I have, there will be another Tiramisu. Nom.

Monday, 21 March 2016

cowl neck dress

You'll have to excuse me, I'm feeling a bit shy about this one.

My commitment to clearing my stash by August seems to be working. It's March and I've already got through more than half of them (mostly the smaller bits, but still). Among the used fabrics is about 1.5 metres of slinky navy jersey which I picked up during the month or so last year when I was attacking remnant bins like a crazy person. I'm fairly sure I didn't even know what to do with jersey at the time, but I bought it anyway, assuring myself that I would learn and one day this fabric would become something.

This fabric told me, in no uncertain terms, that it was a cowl neck dress. Whenever I considered making anything else from it, it rose up and told me, nope, that's not what I am. But since I didn't think I'd wear such a clingy dress, I didn't make one until I brought in my use-it-or-lose-it commitment. If all this fabric will agree to be is a cowl neck dress, and I have to chuck the fabric if I don't use it, I may as well make an experimental cowl neck dress and see if it has any place in my wardrobe.

I do not wear dresses like this, and I'm a bit nervous about putting pictures up. This kind of super-clingy thing has never been anywhere near my wardrobe, and I'm not used to the way I look in it. But I'm putting photos anyway, because my insecurities will not defeat me, dammit.

(My shorts are showing in several of these photos. I didn't realise that until I got them onto my computer, and it didn't seem worth going back out in the cold again to take more.)

This is the dress version of the Sew Over It cowl neck top that was my first ever attempt at using jersey, and it's a stupidly easy dress to make. Sew up shoulder, side and sleeve underarm seams, insert sleeves into dress, hem what needs to be hemmed, and boom. I would say this took me an hour at most. Of course, part of the reason it's so easy is that there's no fitting involved. The pattern is designed to be loose in the waist and tight over the hips, so when I hold my arms out I look like a giant pillow with a head (I did take a photo, but putting it on the internet was a bridge too far for my nervous self). I'd much rather have some waist definition, but I really don't think this dress would look right with a belt. 

Now the question: will I wear it? Probably not right now. It's not a great dress for someone who hates tummy cling, and I'm not a fan of the looser fit round the waist. I am considering taking it in a little bit at the waist to see if that makes it any more wearable, though that will probably make the tummy cling worse. Grrr. I definitely do like the slimmer silhouette of this dress, and even though I'm not quite comfortable in it yet I'm glad I used the fabric for this and not a floofy thing.

Bonus photo because I just really like how my face looks here:

Monday, 14 March 2016

Wren the third

Yeah, I made another one.

This is an amazing thick jersey I picked up in the Sew Over It shop the week before my birthday. I saw it online and kept talking myself out of buying it because finances, so by the time I decided that no, I really did want it, I got the last metre-and-a-bit that they had (they got it in a red colourway shortly afterwards and it's nowhere near as nice).

I didn't have any extra fabric to play with, so I spent ages on the layout. According to the instructions, what I had should have been just about enough for version 1, but I wanted to put sleeves on it as well. I actually did better than I thought I might; I was prepared for this dress to have the short Wren sleeve even though I wanted longer, but I managed to lay it all out with some space underneath the sleeve to extend it. I just tapered down from the pattern piece rather than drafting anything new.

This basically came together as it has before, except the back skirt piece was huge at the waist for some reason. The jersey was too heavy for gathering to work, so I just put in a couple of darts on the back piece.

(The fabric doesn't normally pool like this, it just got hitched up a bit)

It's quite a weighty dress, so it's not especially versatile, but I wore it out to dinner on my birthday. On that first wear I spotted that the neckline gapes when I sit down (this is not a particularly stretchy jersey), so I need to sort that out before I wear it again. I'm also considering making the skirt a bit shorter, but I haven't decided yet.

This dress wasn't as successful as my grey one, partly because the jersey is so thick it almost doesn't behave like jersey at all, and partly because this fabric is amazing but not really me. However, once I sort out the neckline weirdness I think I will still wear it. And even if I don't, I won't regret making the dress. 

(...pretend waitressing? Let's go with pretend waitressing.)

Monday, 7 March 2016

Two-lip skirts


One of the very first fabrics to go into my stash was an incredibly soft grey brushed cotton that I bought in Classic Textiles. I had a vision of the supersoft trousers I would make with it in six months' time when I'd learned to make trousers. When I went to a trouser-making class, I took a different material instead, worried about messing this one up after hoarding it for so long.

Eventually I realised that I didn't actually want trousers made of this fabric, because incredibly soft though it is, it looks a bit... school uniform-y. I rifled through all my patterns that used less than 2m of fabric and came up with nothing that wouldn't emphasise this unfortunate quality. Trousers, nope. Pleated skirt, nope. Cambie dress, noooooo.

Then Sew Over It announced they were releasing a tulip skirt PDF pattern, and I thought that might do the trick. Very few school uniforms come with a tulip skirt.

Presenting Sassy Work Jen.

I love tulip skirts. They're about as close as I can get to having a fitted skirt, given my shape and extremely rudimentary alterations skills. There's meant to be five and a half inches of ease around the hips to give the slightly exaggerated shape, but on me it just... fits. It's not tight and I still have an inch or two of wiggle room, but basically this is the way for me to get a decently-fitting skirt without having to grade between three sizes.

I cut the knee-length version which, as you see, did not come out knee-length. Sew Over It patterns always come up short on me, so I was expecting that, and I actually really like this length. I might consider doing a shorter one, but I think I'd have to make some alterations to do it - I worry that if I made the mini straight from the pattern it might come up a tad indecent.

If I hadn't been cutting this out at a time when I should have been asleep, I would have made the pockets out of a lighter material. I find these a little bit bulky, and contrast pockets are just better anyway. That aside, I really like this skirt, and I'm glad the fabric became something wearable after sitting on it for so long. I say wearable, it's already awaiting broken zip repair after its third time out. I think I now have conclusive proof that I just need to stop buying cheap zips already. This is an awesome work skirt, though, so I will be fixing it ASAP.

A couple of days later, when thinking about stash-busting, I cut out a second one.

This is made from a remnant of the Dairy Milk purple cotton I used for my first ever skirt. This has been sitting in my stash since before I even had a stash, waiting for me to do something with it, and I'm really glad I kept it - I love this colour so much, but the construction on First Ever Skirt is of questionable quality and as such I don't often feel comfortable wearing it outside (yes, I could take it apart and remake it, but anyone who thinks I'm going to unpick and restitch the entire hem of a circle skirt must be new here). It's really nice to be able to compare skirts in the same fabric and see how much I've improved since May.

I'm definitely preferring the slightly more streamlined silhouette to the floofy one right now. Whether I'll be more inclined towards floof again in the summer I don't know, but as I've been taking the time to think about what goes into my pattern hauls and the kind of thing I want to be wearing, I've been drawn more to the hip-skimming and less to the hip-obscuring. When I do want to wear a bigger skirt I tend to go for something like the Tiramisu, which feels like a really substantial skirt but doesn't have as much material bulking out the waist and hips as a full circle skirt.

(Burlesque class update: I have learned that it looks attractive to stand with a bevelled foot, so I am now doing that in every single photograph. I need to work on my range.)

Having learned a lesson from skirt number one, the pockets on this one are made from a lighter fabric; as it happens, remnants of the cherry print cotton I used for my second ever skirt.


I wear this skirt constantly, as you can see from the fact that it clearly hasn't been ironed. I love the way the shape looks on me, to the extent that I sometimes get cross when I have to wear something else. It's great to have something that follows the lines of my actual shape without making me feel self-conscious by being all tight. I think this might become my default silhouette. I have plans for at least another two of these (a red one and a mustard one with navy topstitching, both of which I'm going to attempt to line), and I'm going to make tops to go with them so I can stop wearing black jumpers with everything. Though if anyone can tell me how to clone this particular jumper, I would love to be able to do that. It is my favourite jumper in all of life.

All subsequent tulip skirts will also have ridiculous contrast pockets. It has been decreed. 

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Overly Considered March Project Plan (OCMPP)

So, I've been thinking a LOT about this. I've written three or four completely different versions of this post, and none of them seemed quite right. I had too many ideas in conflict - stashbusting vs finding the right fabric; frivolity vs practicality; learning new skills vs improving on current ones; shiny new toys vs having food and somewhere to live. So while I still fully intend to do my planning this way, I'm going to change up how I do it.

My last two pattern hauls have been made up exclusively of patterns that were new to me, but that's going to get impractical and expensive pretty quickly. It's also not necessarily going to give me the clothes I really want. So I'm going to start calling this Project Planning rather than Pattern Haul (even though it sounds a lot less fun), and I'm going to include at least one new pattern and one remake in each one.

I've covered my bases pretty well this time - one frivolous dress, one practical outfit and one new skill. It's three PDFs and some instructions from a book, so I don't have a photo. Have a gif Ned Flanders squeeing about curtains instead.


By Hand London Anna dress

I got a printer, so this is happening. I'm going to make the midi version in an orange-coral lily print raw cotton, which I'm not sure is really me and it's definitely not March, but I really wanted to make a happy dress. This pattern is ubiquitous and I've not seen a bad version yet, so I'm hoping to be able to make lots, including a first attempt at a silk dress if this one comes out OK.

Jennifer Lauren Vintage Bronte top

I've been dying to make this one. Thank you, printer! I LOVE the shoulder detail on this and I haven't seen much else like it. If I can get it to work, I am possibly putting this shoulder on everything I ever make. Even the skirts. I want to make something that will go with the skirts I'm planning to make, so I've got a navy ponte for the main top and some teal to use as binding.

Sew Over It tulip skirt

This is actually my remake, even though blogland hasn't seen it yet. I've already made two, and that post is going up on Monday. Spoiler alert: I love this pattern and you will be seeing a LOT more of it. I have plans for one in red and one in mustard with navy topstitching, both of which will go with the above top, though the mustard one is contingent on my being able to find the right fabric.

Sew Over It Vintage bodice block

I've been meaning to try this for ages, and if I want to make anything else in the book I need to do this first. I'm just planning this as a toile for me to experiment with and get the fit right, so I'm going to use remnants to make it and not plan for it to go with anything in particular.

These are my priorities. I made loads of things besides the ones in my haul last time, but none of them were the ones I thought I was going to get to, so I'm not doing that again. However, I am going to see Dita von Teese perform at the Crazy Horse in Paris this month (she says, not at all smugly), and if I can I'd really like to make myself something nice to wear to that. We shall see.