Thursday, 1 October 2015

Book Review (of a book I can't read): "Super Tailoring" Super Krojenje by Ana Malalan

One night, while searching for some fiction in the library catalog, I had the idea to search for non-English  drafting books, hoping to find a copy some Japanese books such as Drape Drape or Pattern Magic.  While I found several of those, I also found listings for two Chinese books, a Russian book, and this book.  The Chinese books were pretty ...bad... and appear to be knock offs of the simple, loose and cute style patterns in Japanese fashion sewing books.  The Russian book was primarily text for "recipes" of how to draft the sketches shown and while quite interesting, was not the most useful.

And then there was Super Krojenje.  I love this book.  I can't read a single word, but I love it.  According to Google translate it's in Croatian (their email is Slovenian, so I'm not sure), but I really, really hope at some point it gets released in English.

Why do I love it so much?

The illustrations are excellent and the concepts come across very well without any text.  The author does a particularly great job of showing through diagrams how the principles of a 3D geometric shape are transferred into a 2D pattern piece.  The layouts are clear, clean and easy to read (if you read Croatian).

I will be writing to the author to present my interest in an English republication, and I suggest anyone who can find a copy at their library take a look.

Here's a sampler of the book on issu:

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Sunburst Bolero - Vogue 8027

Wikipedia- Vogue 8027
Vogue 8027 is a lovely pattern for a bolero and sundress from 1953.  While the dress is nice enough, with lovely angled dart details and unique circular straps, it was the bolero that really caught my attention.  It features three sunbrust-like darts shaping the shoulder/bust area, a shoulder dart, and a band which is also a folded almost shawl collar.

When I recently purchased some remnant fabric and was contemplating how many patterns I had which could fit in a meter of less, I remembered this bolero and decided to test it out.  I was skeptical as to how well it would fit and look given that the cover illustrations always glamorize the end product, but I was intrigued by the pattern pieces and wanted to see how this little beauty of a puzzle would fit together.

The pattern is unprinted and while the pieces themselves were in fine condition, the envelope and instructions of my copy were literally crumbling in my hands.  I traced out the pieces and immediately took a photo of the instructions to work from so I could put the original safely away.  Happily, there are only two pieces.

The fabric I used is a nice sage linen which wrinkles if you look at it.  After I pre-washed it I realized why it had been so cheap, even for a remnant- there were sun faded sections on one side which I would have to cut around or strategically place.  I'm not sure exactly how much I had to start, but after cutting all I had was a handful of little scraps left.

It came together very well and quickly.  I tried it on partway through and was rather horrified by the arm gape and flap of loose fabric floating around the back of the arm which I think this is due to the pattern being a size 18 and probably intended for those with larger upper arms.  I was pretty stuck as to how to fix the gape.  Take a look at that pattern piece and try to wrap your head around what to do to fix that!  I took a deep breath and it turned out to be a super simple solution- simply stitch the armhole on further than the pattern indicates and it fits much better.  Another think I added was to add some rows of top stitching to the band in addition to the instructed interfacing to help firm it up even more and to make it look a bit more RTW.

before fix                                                                 after fix


Here's the result.  Not too bad.  I think it may make my shoulders look almost comically large, but I think it is a dramatic enough garment to make it look purposeful.  It reminds me of a turtle shell to be honest.

Now, if I were to make it again, I think I would accentuate the drama even more.  Use a long haired fur for the collar band, make it a much, much wider collar around the neck (to look a bit like this) and maybe add some piping or triangular sun ray shaped top stitching around the darts.  It would be useless for everyday wear, but by gad it would be starlet worthy.

What it looks like after a full day at work.  The nice thing is that since it wrinkles immediately, it looks just as good at the end of the day as it did at the start.  :P

Sunday, 22 June 2014

The Denim Dress : Vogue 1273

This dress turned out to be surprisingly straightforward to make and just a flattering as my sketch promised.  The sweetheart neckline stays nice and close, and does wonders for the bust.  The skirt is super easy to put together, the pleats don't puff out at all, and the pockets!  POCKETS!!!!!!!  These photos were taken part way though a full day of public transiting and fabric shopping on Queen St. W. Toronto hence the wrinkles.  I was shoving my phone, tokens, transfers, change.... everything in those babies.  Handiest things ever, pockets.  *snigger*  ...pun intended...

Anywhooo....  As previously mentioned, I ended up using a stretch denim and I'm very happy I did because I don't think I could possibly insert a zipper into the bodice side where there are 4 layers folded over itself at points.  I zigzagged and fake serged the skirt to the bodice and the whole shebang is pull over-able.  In the process I did manage to misalign one of the skirt pleats but at this point I'm happy to leave it be.

Can I complain about Vogue sizing too?  I know it's been overdone, but bear with me.  This pattern has zero ease according to the finished measurements.  Though I was skeptical, after reading the sole somewhat detailed pattern review I could find which had no mention of size difficulties, I cut out a mock up of the bodice in a non-stretch in my measured size of 16.

4" of ease folks.  Four.  Inches.

Admittedly it had none of the foundations layers, but that doesn't account for four inches.  I even scoured the pattern for mention to use a different seam allowance to no avail.  In any case, after re-cutting to a 12 the bodice did fit very well without any other alterations which was a happy surprise, though the princess seams would have made alterations very easy.  In the sewing and final fitting process I think it probably was cut down to a 10 due to the stretch.

left: pocket!  center: pocket!!!  right: inside of bodice showing "french felled seam" and overlay fold over

I used what I'm calling "french felled seams" on the bodice.  I made a french seam to the right side of the fabric, then top stitched.  It made a very, very clean inside, and the stiffness in seams adds a lot of structure which is nice.  I didn't even try to do french seams on the sides where the overlay is sewn into the seam, but just fake serged the layers together, sewed a regular seam, steamed it open, then top stitched to each side.

The only real issue I had that wasn't user error was that the center front tends to curl down as the knot is pulled on by the overlay.  If you boned the bodice I don't think this would be an issue, but I ended up adding a sort of stay across the front to keep things pulled up.

I think this is a lovely pattern and quite versatile if you like to get creative with fabric and finishes.  It could just as easily be made without the overlay for a more plain look, or the skirt could be made on its own if you added a waistband.  I really want to make a second in a large print cotton sateen in a lighter more summery colour.

My attempt at a fashion pose.  That, or I'm checking out my sexy, sexy hiking sandals.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Badgley Mischka Vogue 1275 Planning

This is Vogue 1273, a Badgley Mischka desigern pattern (now oop, but still available on the Vogue website) and the project I'm currently working on.  I had previously started to sew up a super cute 70's skort/culotte thingie, however things got tricky and I got frustrated.  Instead of doing the logical thing and start on something fast, easy and rewarding, I went the complicated and involved route of course.

So, so floofy.  :(
I loved this pattern the first time I saw it.  It has some very striking details, yet isn't over the top and also has the added benefit of adding some... omph... to the bust area.  And the best thing- IT HAS POCKETS!!!!!  When is the last time you saw a cocktail type dress with pockets?  And not just the standard one hidden in the side seam, but angled and designed ones.  Anyway, I bought it not having an exact plan on how to make it up as I (sadly) have very little reason to wear shiny, fancy dresses, but I have since decided to use a trick I've used before- make it out of denim!  Cross my heart, there isn't a garment out there that, if even somewhat suitable for a heavy fabric, cannot be made into everyday wear by doing this.

The plan is to fake flat felled (french) seam everything, do lots of top stitching, ditch the foundation layer and lining, and add some straps to break up the barren expanse of my shoulders and upper chest.  Hopefully all of these changes will also have the added benefit of casual-ifying the dress even more.  I toyed with swapping out the funky pleated skirt for a more standard, rectangular, pleated one but it just started to look floofy which is a look I neither like, nor can pull off.  I drew the skirt as being quite a bit longer than the envelope shows, but I think I'm going to have to wait and see how much volume the awesome double pleats have, and which length will look better.

As a last note, while shopping for the fabric, I accidentally managed to pick a denim with lots of crosswise stretch though I think this will end up working in my favour.  I'm crossing my fingers that if things stay stretchy enough  I a) won't have to deal with inserting a zipper into the gazillion of layers around the pleated overlay and b) will have extra room for food induced expansion.

Saturday, 31 May 2014

The Sacrificial Shorts

A while ago I picked up these high waisted shorts while browsing at the thrift shop purely for the colour.  Happily, the turned out to fit very, very well, though a bit too snugly at the waist to do anything active or, say, eat in.  I have a 10-11" difference between hip and waist, with the hip being located 12" below, so not having waist gape-age, lower stomach pooch, and the waist hitting high enough is rare.  It only struck me to measure how far apart the two were after tracing this out while this vaguely remembered phrase from Vogue's pattern envelopes/website echoed in my head:

"HIP- around body at fullest part—usually 7-9" (18-23cm) below waist (4)"

Let me tell you, this explains a few things.  My "hip" circumference is about 3" less in that area.  I knew I was long through the hip, but I never thought it would be an additional 5-3"- I just assumed I would be more in the 9" from waist category rather than the 7".   Needless to say, I foresee length being added to patterns there in the future.  Finding out the actual dimensions of my body is so fascinating I find!  It's like 18th century mapping: recognizable but so, so off sometimes.

from Wikipedia

Anyway, before sacrificing poor pinkie to the drafting and sewing gods, I tried rubbing them off by putting a cloth down, then tracing paper, then tracing the outline out with a tracing wheel.  This was a technique I saw on a YouTube video which I thought I would try first.  I had to press pretty hard, but the dots made by the wheel were pretty readable and the results, as you can see below, were quite close.

Some changes I will make when using this as a pattern is to lower the rise 1/2", and add 1/2" circumference (the waist band is currently centered on my waist, which means the band folds over itself and wrinkles when I move as you can see, especially with them being a bit tight).  I think this will become my dart fitted, loose leg shorts/pants block and crotch curve pattern which will be very useful.  I will also be able to turn this into a nice skirt block.