threadpaperpaint

Things made by me. Paintings, clothes and everything in between.


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A blue velvet dress for the holidays and a book review

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*Firstly, let me say that I did not get this book for free, I wasn’t asked to review this and I am not using affiliated links. I stumbled upon this book in a local bookshop, took a peak inside and bought it on a whim.*

This blog post comes in two parts. Part one will feature a book review of „Sew many dresses, sew little time“ by Tanya Whelan and in part two I will tell you about the dress I made from said book.

About the book
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When Victory Patterns announced their Boundless Style book I was quite taken with the idea to have a whole book of different bodice, skirt and sleeve variations to mix and match into my dream dress. But – and this is a big buuuut for me – Boundless Style is not at all size inclusive. (size range 2 to 16)

„Sew many dresses, sew little time“ on the other hand goes up to a size 24. This makes it a way better fit for me (pun intended) as I’m well within their size range.

What I really like about SMDSLT ist that it doesn’t give fancy design options. It gives you basic pattern pieces and enough instruction (at least for me) to design all the fancy bits and pieces yourself for a more personalized dress.

You can choose between a simple bodice with darts, a bodice with princess seams, a halter neck option, a wrap bodice and a cowl neck and more (7 total). From there it gives you instructions to pretty much make any variation you could ever want (collars, off-the-shoulder straps and anything you could ever do by moving darts). It comes with basic sleeve and skirt options – the most complex being a multi-panelled, flared skirt. The book also includes a short but well compiled chapter on fit-alterations and features design-based alteration instructions throughout.

Basically it gives you the option to fit a basic pattern to your body (somewhat similar to a sloper, but with SA and ease) and then make hundreds of different dresses from that. At least that is my intented use of the book.

I think „Sew many dresses, sew little time“ is a good fit for anyone who wants to either make basic dresses in different variations without having to go through the fitting stage every single time or wants to do the same for more complicated dresses with design features and doesn’t mind putting in the design-effort themselves. If you fall in category one – simple but effective – I would go so far as to recommend this book to an advanced beginner. I’m only putting in the advanced for one reason – you have to draft your own facings and linings. The book gives you comprehensible instructions on the how-to but this might seem daunting to an absolute beginner.
If you are, like me, a more advanced sewer who likes to look at any dress and go – I could make that! and you don’t mind a little pattern drafting to make your dream dress happen, then this book could be right up your alley.

Now to the good, the bad and the mixed.
I really liked the basic bodice with darts I worked with for my dress. I love that the back bodice comes with shoulder darts. This makes all the difference with my slightly forwards falling shoulders. The instructions on how to alter or implement design features are easy to understand and well written. I loved that I could solely rely on the instructions in the book and didn’t have to look up anything additional online during my drafting process.
The only thing that I find to be problematic in this book is the fact that the lines in the nested patterns are very close in color and easily confused.

I will add that all the patterns are drafted for a B-Cup. That is amazing for me, as B is my cup size but many people might need to do a FBA (or SBA). Although, since all alterations should translate easily throughout the book, this might be less big of a deal.

That’s all I can think of for now but feel free to ask away if you have additional questions. By the way, for anyone who’s interested – there is a german edition called „Kleider nähen“ (they didn’t even try to be creative, let alone come up with a pun).

About the dress

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It was my dads birthday recently and I decided that I needed a new dress for that occasion. Need might have been a strong word, but I wanted one … also christmas is coming up, y’know? 4 weeks are surely not enough time to make an additional dress … *cough*.

So I was set on something festive. And what screams holiday-season like dark blue velvet? Well, red or green velvet, but I’m distinctly not an elf.
But I also knew that I wanted this dress to be reasonably comfortable, so I went for a velvet knit. At 4€/m it was quite inexpensive. Despite buying over 3 meters of the extra wide velvet I ended up having too little fabric for the full circle skirt I wanted, but it was just about enough for a 3/4 circle.

For the bodice I wanted to try a variation with yoke-gathers. The book had good instructions on what I wanted to to. I basically just cut off a yoke-piece at the top of the basic bodice and then moved all the darts to the center top to form a big piece that I then gathered and reattached to the yoke piece after adding seam allowances on both pieces. I then changed the the front and the back bodice to a boat neckline.

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I then drafted a simple 3/4 circle skirt and copied the pattern for long sleeves from the book. I had to add about 2 inches to the sleeves as per usual. For future reference – they just about fit, adding an additional inch or so couldn’t hurt.

All in all the dress was a remarkably easy sew. I had never worked with velvet before and added extra pins to prevent any „walking fabric“ but I had zero problems. Not a single pucker was detected and even the sleeves went in perfectly fine. Glorious.

Due to it being a circle skirt and therefore parts of the skirt being cut on the bias I let the dress hang for a few days before I hemmed it. The fabric moved a lot during cutting an hemming and I am not one hundred percent sure that the hem is even, it might be ever so slightly shorter in the front. But I suspect no one will ever notice that besides me anyway. The dress fits me pretty well but I don’t want to make any final statements about the general fit of the patterns until I’ve made at least one different view in a woven fabric.

I am very happy with the final dress and have been wearing it a lot over that past few weeks. Do you have any holiday-dress plans?

I really want to make a wrap-dress or a faux-wrap and the book has examples on both. I might give that one a try next. But I also need some pants for work. I’m still working up the courage to start with my first pair of gingers, so tempting but so daunting.

Hope you are doing well,

xxx Sarah

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I made a coat!

I made a coat!
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It’s been a few weeks since I finished this coat and I have been wearing it exclusively. All my other jackets and coats look at it with envy and disbelief, I must imagine.

I needed a coat for autumn and early winter and I knew I wanted something slouchy and oversized that I could just throw on, regardless on what I was wearing that day. The coat had to tick the following boxes: big enough to be worn with multiple layers underneath, neutral color for max combination possibilities, formal enough to be worn everywhere. In addition to that I wanted to learn some new techniques but it was also supposed to be a quick make, I didn’t want to bother witch tailoring techniques.

So along came La Maison Victor 9-10 2015 and the Cheri Coat and I was sold. I must admit, the made up coat you see in the picture didn’t really look great to me. I might be wrong but neither the fit on the model nor the chosen fabric and execution look quite right to me. But I quite liked the line drawing so I decided to give it a try anyway.
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The pattern isn’t complicated to trace or assemble and the instructions in the magazine are pretty easy to understand. They even have additional diagrams for people how need visual aid rather than text. (This is true for every one of the 15 patterns and a great thing compared to the crappy instructions Burda provides).

I can’t quite remember how I chose my size but I think I made a slight error. Either that or the pattern runs big. Looking at the line drawing, the shoulder seams are meant to be dropped, so that part I’m fine with. The fit through out the bodice is also fine – oversized is oversized and I don’t feel like I have too much unnecessary fabric there. But the upper sleeves are a bit to big. I might be nitpicking here but I would have loved for them to be smaller, just an inch or so.

I lengthened the sleeves by about 3 inches which might have been a tad too much. I wanted full wrist coverage for those cold and drafty days we get here in Berlin. And I’ve certainly achieved that. But I found that – with wearing the coat on a daily basis – the sleeves tend to get in the way from time to time. If it’s not too cold I cuff them up a bit for practicability – added bonus being the possibility to show off the gorgeous lining.

The pattern doesn’t include a lining so I drafted one. I have a bit of experience in that regard as I did it only last winter for my old RTW coat (see here). I just used the main pieces and subtracted the facings whilst also adding a seam allowance. For a more structured garment this process would need to be more complicated but for this pattern it worked like a treat. I also decided not to fully bag the coat but instead slip-stitch the hem to the lining after sewing all of the other seams first.
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Ah yes, that pretty, pretty lining. The wool I bought quite cheaply online and it is quite nice quality (see details here). But the lining is just a dream. I bought it here and I gladly paid 12,90€/m for it. It’s heavy and soft and super drapey and has a brushed back. Also it looks like liquid gold *swoon*. (I don’t know why it seems to be so hard to buy lining fabric with a good drape in Germany. I looked around for ages before I found this one – it’s a mystery to me.)

The first thing I wanted to do with the coat was attempting a bound buttonhole. The pattern dosen’t include a fastening but I knew I wouldn’t always want to wear the belt. I liked the design of the coat and didn’t want to change it by adding a full row of buttons down the front so I decided to put one on the top right instead. This way I could wear the coat with the belt and have the „collar“ show or button up the collar pieces and wear it loosely.

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I had previously imagined the process of making bound button holes to be scary and super complicated. You can imagine my puzzlement when I found that I not only enjoyed the process but also managed to make a fully functional and – if I may say so myself – not too shabby looking first bound buttonhole. I looked up a bunch of diagrams and pictures which really helped demystifying the process.
I also love that wooden button. It’s smooth surface contrasts nicely with the loose diagonal weave of the wool.
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Everything else was quite straight forward. The wool stretched out a bit at the neckline – despite all attempts at stay stitching – but thankfully I managed to fix it.

All in all this is a fine pattern. But if you want to make it I would advise to check the slightly weird sizing in advance.

I’m very proud of this coat. Not everything worked out perfectly but I am still incredibly happy about the end product. I feel great when wearing it, it’s just so warm and comfy. Most days I wear it loosely with knee length skirts and dresses and when I swirl it swooshes around me. What more could you ever want from a coat?

xxx Sarah


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ALL the panties

Over the past few months I got really into sewing panties. And I can highly recommend it!
Sure, quite possibly only you and very few other people will ever see you in your beautiful handmade undergarments but for me the feeling of wearing something you know is beautiful and fits you well is far more important than other people seeing the thing you made.
The right underwear can make me feel strong and beautiful or even daring. Great underwear is just great fun!

One could buy well produced, well fitting, good quality underwear of course. But I don’t have the bankroll for that. If you want nice lace, pretty prints or god forbid something like silk you would quite possibly have to pay a lot of money. So I took it upon myself to find out if I can do it myself and it turns out that I can. I find that sewing panties is way faster, easier and cheaper than I ever imagined.
For the black pair of panties I used the most awesome lace imaginable – yes it’s pretty but more importantly it’s so soft it feels like not wearing anything at all. And although the lace was about 17€/m, it was very much worth it since I only needed a piece of roughly 20cm x 50cm for the pair you see below.

panties1Making this pair took me an estimated time of 3 to 5 hours and with less flimsy fabric I can make a pair in one and a half to two hours max and I’m no pro by any means. With the added benefit of it needing only very little fabric this is just the kind of project I love doing while catching up on the last two episodes „The Great British Bake Off“ or „Mr Robot“.

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As for the patterns I used: I made the 40s-style flutter panties using this pattern from Ohhh Lulu and the floral panties are made using the Grace pattern. If you don’t already know the beautiful undergarments made and sold by Sarah Elaine you should definitely check out her blog and or etsy shops (one for the finished garments, one for the patterns).
For the black panties I partly drafted my own pattern using the lining and crotch area from the Grace pattern and partly using an old pair of high waisted panties of my own as a guide. I love the high waisted vintage style and already made two more pairs for myself, slightly modifying the pattern in places.
The floral Grace panties are also slightly modified. I made them for a friend and she prefers slightly less coverage in the back for a more brazilian-style fit.
(Oh man, this post is mostly me trying to avoid certain key phrases to not attract the wrong kind of attention from search engines).
Both patterns are well designed and easy to understand as they come with a photo-guide and everything but I have to say that from my experience the Grace pattern runs a bit on the small side. From the pattern envelope my friend should have been fine in a XS but after measuring the finished product I went with a size S and that turned out to be the right decision. I additionally used jersey instead of bias cut woven fabric for the front and back panels in both versions. Had I not done that, the fit would have been even more off.

So if you want to make that pattern I’d suggest doing a muslin first or even going up a size if you are in between sizes. It’s very much worth it though as the pattern is verrrry pretty. And a lot depends on the amount of stretch of your chosen fabric. I think Sarah recommends doing a muslin anyway and although I’m a lazy-ish sewer I would agree, especially if I’m about to cut into expensive lace.

As you probably guessed from my rambleings by now, I LOVE making my own panties and I think I will keep on doing that so that over time I can switch out all my old RTW kind-of-fitting-pairs for shiny new, fun and well fitting handmade goodies.

xxx Sarah


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Sketches, patternmaking, measurements and cakes!

It has been quite a while since I last put something up here. I have been terribly busy with life in general but I have also been sewing things and prepping things for future sewing projects. I have finished some garments but haven’t had the time to take pictures of them yet. So beware – I will be showing you some finished garments in the weeks to come.

But for now, something different. My mind has been busy with all the things I want to sew for my summer wardrobe. I am quite pleased that I’m no longer thinking in terms of buying stuff but go straight to: can I make this myself? Since I usually rock quite a simple wardrobe of skirts and jersey dresses and easy shirts more often than not these days the answer is yes. (sadly, wether or not I have time to do it is a whole other question)

A few months back I took a course in pattern drafting that thought us how to draft our own pattern blocks. I have not yet done that, mostly because it is made for close fitting woven garments and I haven’t made any of those for quite a while. But one thing has been incredibly helpful to me: the measurements. We measured each others in pairs and took a total of over 20 measurements. Those have been so helpful to me both in adjusting patterns (for example checking if the back length is correct in the pattern stage) and in drafting my own patterns. Like I said, I didn’t draft close fitting patterns but even in my loose fitting tunic and some future projects you have yet to see I used a bunch of my measurements before cutting into the fabric. Back width, back length and shoulder width have been especially helpful to me since these are the areas in which most commercial patterns fail me.

Highly encouraged through those successes I sketched out some additions I’d like to make to my summer wardrobe.

Sketches

#1 is a loose fitting batwing top that could also work in knee length as a dress. One or two of those from a thinner jersey are high up on my to-sew list. #2 is a shirred loose pant. I had a pair of those last year but they were badly manufactured and ripped halfway through the summer. Also, pants are expensive. I hope to make a pair of those for a fraction of the cost in a way better quality. If I can only get the fit right. I threw the RTW part away in pure anger and now I wish I had kept them as a pattern. Well, mistakes were made.
#3 is a floor length dress that I can just throw on and feel breezy and comfy in the heat. I always wanted one of those long dresses that has a ribbon attached under the bust that then gathers a very loose kaftan-like dress by tying it in the back. You get what I mean, right? I would love to get some thin and soft cotton in a nice color and pattern for this dress and I think it has potential to be amazing. What do you guys think?
#4 finally is a super easy summer jacket that I can just throw over anything and that’ll keep me warm in the evenings. For this purpose I usually wear cardigans and I just wanted something more structured then that for a change. I think it will be lovely and with it being fully lined I might even be able to make it reversible like the Billie Jean.

I’d like the color palette to stay in the blues and greens and just have a little less black and more white as combination colors. And of course I still like my pinks and mustardy yellows as a contrast. Read my previous ramblings about color schemes here.
Lastly I want to tell you about the amazing birthday cake one of my closest and dearest friends made for me for my birthday last week. It was all sewing themed with a fondant spool of thread and a fondant pincushion you guys! Much happiness!

x Sarah


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The self-drafted two hour tunic top

Technically the title is a bit of a fib. It took me about two and a half hours to make this top but the additional half hour was spent turning the waist-ribbons inside out. I suspect that a more skilled person or one that owns one of these hook-thingies could do this in five minutes. So it doesn’t quite count, right?

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When I thought about the new garments I wanted to create for my wardrobe when I wrote my first post on the the Wardrobe Architect Challenge it was pretty clear that I would need a lot of loose fitting tops that would go with my fitted black jersey skirts. This self-drafted tunic-style top is the first in this category. I have to admit – it doesn’t quite fit in the color scheme I settled on but when I saw this fabric in the Annaka Bazaar sale a few months back I just could not resist. It’s a thin but rather stiff good quality cotton and it basically screams summer. So I’m sure I will wear this top a lot in the warm months to come but the colors also work lovely with the black skirts and cardigans I usually wear in the colder months.
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This top is a very easy make and if you want to make something similar yourself you can easily draft a pattern like I did. Like you can see in my drawings I basically used a rectangle and went from there. I used my bust measurement and added ease and SA to it. then I graded down a bit in the waist area and up a bit in the hip area. For the sleeves I went with a rather simple rectangular shape as well instead of proper set in sleeves. Then I cut out two long strips of fabric for the ribbons and put them in at the natural waist to be able to wear the top in a slightly more fitted way. Lastly I drafted a facing for the neckline from the pattern pieces for the bodice. If you don’t know how to do that there are lovely helpful tutorials out there, for example this one.
I will say: This might not work as well for bustier women. If you have a bigger bust I would suggest making a muslin and adding additional length in the front bodice maybe even thinking about bust shaping darts or stuff like that. Slightly more work I’m afraid.

I’m pretty sure that there are more tunic tops to come in my near future. I think this loose fitting top would also work in light summer jersey and might even look pretty as a dress. It’s such a quick make and now that I already have the pre-made pattern pieces it’ll be a even quicker sew. Ah, the possibilities.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about this top, how to make it or just wanna say hi. Have a lovely weekend.

x Sarah


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The reversible Billie Jean Dress

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Since I’ve been thinking about summer dresses a lot for the past few weeks I remembered that I made a lovely summer dress earlier this year, namely the Billie Jean by Bluegingerdoll. I didn’t however make this for myself but for one of my closest friends as a gift for her birthday. Sadly I didn’t think of taking many detailed pictures since this dressmaking adventure predates the blog. I hope the ones you see plus a more in-depth description will give you an idea of this project.
My friend has a very specific idea about the dresses she loves and I was eager to make a garment for someone else than myself for the first time so we did a lot of research before starting this project. My friend has a very hourglassy figure so we looked for a dress that would show off her curves and wouldn’t need to much adjusting. Basically a pattern already made for her figure typ.
We opted for the Billie Jean because of the flattering 50s cut and the good adjustability for a fuller bust. Also Bluegingerdoll patterns are generally made for a bigger cup size, D cups. Not ideal for me but great for my friend. I still had to do a Full Bust Adjustment but not nearly as severe as I would have had to do with a standard pattern made with a B cup in mind.
Fist off, let me say that the instructions included in the pattern are very easy to follow and the additional sew-along posts that are provided on the Bluegingerdoll blog make this a lovely pattern for beginners. Especially Abby’s post on how to do the FBA on a princess seamed bodice was very helpful to me since I hadn’t done that before. The Bonnie I blogged about a few weeks ago was my second Bluegingerdoll pattern and love their easy instructions. I also think it is great that their newer patterns come in a larger variety of sizes. But I’m rambling, let’s talk about the process of making this dress.

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In total I made two muslins – one before, one after the FBA – to get the fit as close to perfect as possible. After the FBA I added some additional fullness to the upper part of the bodice by very slightly redrawing the princess seams. this is certainly not how you should adjust for a persons bust shape but the change was small enough for me to get away with it. If someone knows a better way to adjust for a fuller upper bust with princess seams please tell me, I’d love to know.
I think I also adjusted the fit of the lower bodice a bit by taking in the side seams about half an inch or so.

At this point I decided that one dress would just be a bit boring why not make two? I know this sounds a little crazy and it surely was but it worked out so let’s call it „inspiration“. We had decided upon a beautifully patterned black, white and pastel cotton fabric that was lovely but not exactly evening wear. So I bought a nice black cotton for the lining and fully lined the dress so it could be worn inside out as well. This way she’d have two dresses in one, a flowery sun dress as well as a little black dress.
This plan of doubling up the skirt might have caused problems with too much fullness if I had used the original skirt pattern. But my friend wanted less fullness in the skirt and a considerably shorter skirt anyway so I drafted my own skirt pattern. Since it is a simple gathered skirt by „drafted“ I of course mean „cut some rectangles“.

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To make the dress reversible I attached the bodice lining to the bodice shell as suggested in the instructions but opted for an invisible zipper to make it easier to zip from the wrong side. (Sadly it is not totally invisible, *sob*) I then sewed the skirt lining to the skirt shell at the bottom and back seam (with an opening for the zipper at the top of the seam) and gathered it as one piece. After that I attached the skirt to the bodice shell and hand-sewed the lining to the bodice at the zipper and the waist seam. I decided not to add the in-seam pockets that are included in the pattern, partly because they would have added some fullness to the sides – a thing my friend explicitly asked me to avoid – and partly because I found the process of making everything reversible confusing enough and didn’t want to risk my sanity over some pockets.
Let me know what you think!

x Sarah


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A shirtdress to come and winter holidays

As it is getting colder, darker and damper in Berlin I’ve been thinking more and more about summer dresses. Weird, right?

Recently I bought some McCall’s and Butterick patterns on sale for little money and am very eager to try out one dress in particular: McCall’s M6885. I have never attempted to make a McCall or Butterick garment so I was interested what kind of instructions would be included. I was glad to find out that they all come with detailed drawings and explanation. At least compared with Burda’s sparse and often confusing texts with mostly no drawings at all.

I will be making version D with long sleeves and the cute shirt-hem. I love these kinds of hems and I wouldn’t be lying if I was to say that this hem is one of the biggest reason for my determination to make a shirtdress.

I already found a nice fabric for the dress as well, a lightweight but rather stiff cotton. I’m slightly worried about the stiffness but I suspect that a prewash will get rid of that. The fabric was rather inexpensive so I will probably make a wearable muslin out of it if it doesn’t work out as planned.

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But for the next week I won’t be thinking about shirt dresses at all as I am headed to the wonderful island of Rügen in North East Germany where I will be spending Christmas with my family by the seaside. There will be no sewing but as far as creativity goes I will surely take a few pictures and look for pretty pieces of amber on the beach, maybe even a drawing here or there.

Happy holidays to you dear reader and I hope you have a very merry time where ever you may be.

x Sarah