Monday 15 August 2022

a deeply unseasonal sweater knit dress (and bonus top)

 In surprising New Silhouette news, I'm considering becoming a shoulders person. 

I've been in and out of Gertie's Patreon a few times now. I don't love all the patterns she puts out there - I'm not particularly into vintage cosplay these days and I was never into the cutesy stuff - but they usually have interesting details, and a good chunk of it is stuff that I can make up in a not-so-vintage style. This one is the Joan wiggle dress, and this version is a trial I made to see if I a) liked the style in general and b) wanted to use my raspberry leopard print velvet on this pattern. (answers: a) yes and b) jury's still out.) I always loved the idea of this kind of dress but shied away because of potential stomach clinginess. And, as you may be getting bored of hearing me say, my concern about that sort of shit has been rapidly on the decrease. It was time. 

The fabric is a purple and black marl sweater knit from Fabric Land, which I bought three metres of initially and then found myself with more than half of it left after deciding to make another version of my Named Ruska hoodie hack with it. I never bothered posting it, I don't think, but I made it in January and it gets a decent amount of wear when it's colder. I'd assumed that the leftover fabric would have to be a top or jumper of some kind and was originally only going to make the top version of the Joan rather than the dress, but this is not a fabric-hungry pattern and I thought, fuck it, sexy sweater dress in the middle of summer, why not. 

Construction-wise this is pretty straightforward; the biggest problem I had was that the fabric kept breaking my overlocker (inexplicably, it instantly unthreaded one of the loopers every time I tried to put this fabric under it) so I had to sew it all on the regular machine. I used a scrap of black viscose jersey to line the bodice and sleeves and get a nice finish. It's meant to be longer than this, but I didn't quite have enough fabric for the full thing. And, if we're honest, I would have ended up cutting it above the knee anyway. 

Visually, I'm super into this. I think it looks great. Both the silhouette and the neckline are pretty new to me, so it's cool to see myself in something so different. Obviously it's extremely off-the-shoulder and there's no way to cheat wearing a regular bra with it (I mean, in these photos I am wearing a regular bra with the straps pulled down, but I wouldn't want to spend an entire evening like that). So the amount of wear this gets depends on whether I can find a longline strapless bra that comes in a G cup, which I honestly didn't think would be that difficult. I was wrong. I am actively on the hunt as we speak. I think it says a lot about how much I like this exposed-shoulders thing that I'm willing to entirely throw out my longstanding rule about clothes you have to wear special bras for.

I also don't really have shoes that go with this. I picked these because I'm six foot one in them and I feel like this is a dress that one takes up more space in, but for real life I probably need something else. 

(I took all these photos while listening to burlesque music. This may or may not be apparent.)

I also had about 50% of the tiger print fabric left over from my Nettie (which is done and photographed and I will post at some point, but I have zero things to say about it so I'm waiting until I have a post I can tack it on the end of), so I decided to use it to make a top:

Which I'm also kind of into. Is it a bit much for everyday? Sure. Do I often enjoy being a bit much? I mean... you've all seen the stuff I make. It's going to have to be a really comfortable strapless bra, though. For the dress version I lined the bodice, but I decided that was an extra layer I didn't need in a top, so I just cut an extra strip of jersey to use as a facing and topstitched it down. It could probably do with some elastic in the neckline, so I will probably go back and put that in before it stretches out much more. 

(The trousers are Victory Patterns Esther. I made them in 2020, they didn't fit me at all until a few months ago. I'm glad I was pleased enough with the construction to stubbornly hold onto them because they're currently my best-fitting pair of trousers.)

I would absolutely make this again, after I have acquired this mythical strapless bra. I've rarely done exposed shoulders at any point in my life and I'm extremely here for the way it looks on me. I'm still undecided about the raspberry velvet, though. I really wanted to make something that I might be able to wear semi-regularly, which this absolutely wouldn't be, but maybe there's something to be said for making a very occasional dress to just straight up murder people with. Technically this pattern would only use about half the amount of velvet I have, so I would have the option to also make something a little less... specific, shall we say, with the rest of it. But I don't know what that something would be, and the temptation to just make this dress but floor length might be too great to resist. I'm really not sure. 

Up next: either a pair of trousers, or several things I can't stretch out to their own individual posts, depending on which one I finish writing first! 

Charm Patterns Joan wiggle dress (Patreon)

Fabric: sweater knit from Fabric Land
Cost: approx. £7.50
Pattern details: Close-fitting knit dress (and top) with either a high slash neck or off-the-shoulder sweetheart neckline
Size: 10 H cup
Alterations: Skirt shortened by several inches
Would make again/would recommend: Yes/Yes

Monday 8 August 2022

summer sewing: vogue 8814

Alright, we're a fair way into August, better post the first one of my summer sewing projects! I'm actually not progressing too badly with them, but the finishing and photographing has been a real pain. I got four things off my WIP pile on Saturday and photographed a bunch of stuff yesterday, when it was way too hot and sunny for such things. First up, one of my experiments. The one I was 95% sure was going to fail miserably.

I will freely admit that I had to put this on in front of the mirror a fair few times before I adjusted to what I was seeing, but now that I have? I'm actually quite pleased. I think this sort of works. It certainly isn't the number one most flattering thing I've ever put on my body in my life, but it's substantially better than I expected. 

I've had this fabric for well over a year now. You may recall it from this post, which is now finally almost done with except that static-conducting microfibre crepe. I bought it without a plan assuming it would have a million uses, but I got completely stuck trying to pair it with a pattern. There's something very bridesmaid about the sheen, and I couldn't shake the idea that if I made one of my go-to dresses from it, I would just look like I got lost on the way to my best friend's wedding. I really wanted it to be something good because the colour is incredible, but nothing seemed right. Eventually I got fed up with it, decided it was going to be used for toiles instead, and cut this out fully expecting it to be hideous.

It's true that if I was suddenly urgently required for bridesmaid duties this weekend, this would not look out of place. But I do think it's different enough to allow me to wear it as just a dress, too. I haven't yet fully decided if I will (mostly because I'm not sure what level of formality and versatility it's at), but I am pleasantly surprised by how this looks on me. 

This pattern - Vogue 8814 - has been in my stash for years and years. I've picked it up and put it down again many times. I love 20s and 30s style but have never really felt comfortable in the silhouettes because I don't have that body type, so my insistence on keeping a quasi-flapper haircut is the only way you'd really know. As I've said several times this year, I've been getting more confident generally recently, which has led to a desire for variety greater than my desire to style myself in conventionally flattering ways at all times, and it seemed wise to jump on that to finally try this pattern.

I did make a couple of changes. This fabric has enough stretch to let me just pull it on, so I dispensed with the zip and made the bodice lining in a stretch fabric as well. The pattern comes with cup sizes but I found that I still had a fair bit of excess fabric at the armhole, so I put a dart in to get rid of it. It's also intended for much lighter fabrics than this one. For me personally, starting off with a heavier and thus slightly more visually forgiving fabric was the correct thing to do. It certainly does lose something in the way of movement and delicacy and general slinkiness, and maybe that will come another time, but for my very first fabric arrow pointing directly at my stomach, something with a bit of a smoothing effect did not go amiss. I also shortened it a couple of inches from the knee-length version, as I usually do. I keep trying below the knee styles, and the consensus is always "that looks odd". 

Construction was pretty easy, though I had moved myself down a few difficulty levels by not picking something super shifty that would have been deeply annoying to sew in bias-cut pieces. I will say this fabric didn't exactly cover itself in glory - it was functionally impossible to press and thus incredibly difficult to sew a decent circular hem. For any future versions of this dress, I would want to do a swayback adjustment and add in a bit more space at the bust. The pattern comes with cup sizes up to D, and I could have done with one or two more. 

This dress and I have a deal that I will, at least once, wear it out of the house. I'm not yet sure where. I'm also not yet sure about the styling - I went full Art Deco for the photos but it's possible I'd find it more wearable if I modernised the shoes. I do think, though, that I actually kind of like this, and I'm quite looking forward to an opportunity to go out in it. 

So, overall, an excellent start to my silhouette experiments. I'm genuinely surprised by how this turned out and I think it'll spur me on to try more new stuff. I don't know if I'll make this exact thing again - I don't think my wardrobe needs two of these - but I'm open to the idea somewhere down the line. 

And now, a few pictures of me trying to remember how to do the Charleston:

Up next will either be something else from my plans or something deeply unseasonal, depending on which post I finish writing first. But the photos are taken, so there will be one! 

Vogue 8814

Fabric: medium weight stretch crepe from Walthamstow
Cost: £10 (I paid £20 for 4m and have about half of it left)
Pattern details: Bias cut 1930s dress with dropped waist, full skirt, and back zip. Alternate view with a lower cut front, cross-back straps, and longer skirt
Size: 16 D cup
Alterations: Zip omitted due to stretch fabric, skirt shortened, extra dart added at the bust
Would make again/would recommend: Maybe/Yes