Category Archives: Contests

Alterations

I found out last night that I didn’t make it to the finals of the PatternReview Natural Fibers contest.  I am a little disappointed, but not surprised; the other entries in the silk category were stunning. 

But in more exciting sewing news…  I finally started my dress for the wedding next week, another iteration of B5147.  It’s probably going to be a fingernail biting race to the finish.  Hey, maybe I should hire a play-by-play announcer.  “Will Elizabeth finish the dress in time for her cousin’s wedding?  Will she be hand sewing the hem on the flight?  Stay tuned next time to find out!”  Hahah!

So, I think part of the reason for my procrastination, I mean hesitation in starting this next dress was that I had to transfer all my alteration changes to the pattern and then cut out 3 fabrics (the underlining, the lining and the fashion fabric).  I have decided that tracing and cutting are my least favorite activities associated with sewing.  Can we get to the sewing part already??? 

If you will recall, the changes I made to the B5147 sheath dress were to deepen the neckline, decrease the shoulder strap width, change the shape of the armscye and increase the fisheye darts for a more fitted look and a bit more dressy/evening-ish look.   Once I transferred the change markings to the original muslin, I found I had a problem.  Can you see it below?

The pattern wasn’t flat.  I had known that I would have to change the side seam somewhat because of the wedge I added, but I didn’t expect that the pattern wouldn’t be flat.  As you can see above, there’s a pouf on the CF fold edge and the CF fold was no longer straight.  That’s not a very practical CF fold then, now is it? 

My first thought was to make a perpendicular cut on the CF fold line and then fold out the pouf until it was flat, but then I would have had to distort the fish eye dart.  Also, by doing that, I would swing the CF line out by almost 4.5 inches.  Then I would have to completely redraw the entire skirt of the dress, both sides.  Needless to say, I was very frustrated, and had no idea how to proceed. 

My next thought was to call Thea.  But as we all know by now, Elizabeth is a visual person.  So Thea’s explanations over the phone were next to incomprehensible to me. 

Next thought?  Wait for it… it’s brilliant.  Consult one of the many fit books in my sewing library.  You know, the ones I haven’t read at all?  The first book to find its way into my hands was Nancy Zieman’s Pattern Fitting with Confidence.  I looked at the section about increasing a dart which is how I got into this whole mess in the first place.  I won’t go into great detail about her methods but the gist of this alteration is you have to increase the length of your pattern by the amount you increased your bust dart.  This makes total sense.  When you increase the bust dart, you are actually shortening the side seam of your pattern once the dart is sewn.  Remember, if you make a change in one place on a pattern, you will most likely have to make a change elsewhere to maintain the integrity and shape of the pattern.  Nancy (we’re on a first name basis now that I’ve actually opened her book) uses the pivot and slide method.  Basically you move around the original pattern making marks on a blank paper to create a new pattern with your own alterations.  So for the increase a bust dart instructions, you determine how much you will increase your dart and use that measurement to increase the length to the pattern piece.  This was a lightbulb moment for me.  Essentially, that’s what Thea and I did with the wedge we added at the side seam to keep the hip curve in the right place after increasing the dart.  But I needed to add the length across the entire piece, not just at the side.  So the wedge became a rectangle added below the dart but above the hip curve.  Ta da!

As you can see in the picture of above, I had to redraw the fisheye dart after adding in my rectangle (that’s the fisheye dart that I widened at the top under the bust so I had a more fitted look in front).  Now I didn’t sew this up again, but I did pin up the bust dart and made sure the front side seam matched the back side seam all the way from the armscye to the hem.  And it did.  Perfectly. 

I made some progress on my dress so far.  I cut out the fashion fabric and the underlining.  I basted the front pattern pieces together with silk thread and staystitched the neck and armscyes.  Next up is basting the back pieces of the underlining and fashion fabric together then stay stitching and cutting out the lining.  Since the fashion fabric I’m using  is very different from the silk twill I used for the last version of this dress, I am only going to baste the side seams to check for fit one last time before I sew this puppy up. 

I have four more evenings and three nap times (Jack’s, not mine) before the wedding.  I think I might just be able to finish this.  It will definitely be a nail biter though!

Tonight though, this momma has a date!  Should I wear the Christian LaCroix skirt or the silk twill dress?

Happy sewing everyone!

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B5147 – The Silk Twill Edition

I finally finished it!  But boy do I understand UFO’s now.  If you don’t finish it right away, it is likely to languish for an indeterminate amount of time.  It’s not that you don’t love it anymore.  It’s just about lost momentum.  If I hadn’t decided to enter this dress into the Pattern Review/ASE Natural Fibers Contest, I might not have finished this dress for a long time. 

Without further ado, some pictures courtesy of my sister, Meredith.  Although there was a lot of pushing and biting during the photo shoot (our kids, not my sister and me), we managed to get a few shots worth posting.  One note about the pictures first, though, if you will indulge me: I could not get the head on picture to look flattering no matter how I stood.  Trust me when I say that it is much more flattering in person.  Not sure why it looks the way it does.  My sister, a kind soul, said it was the lens she was using. 

No, I did not put in the hook and eye yet.  I hate sewing those on.  But I will.  Maybe…  Someday…  Maybe…  Oh wait, I’m submitting this for a contest.  Ok.  I will.  *shrugging resignedly*

With this version of B5147, I made the following changes:

  • increased the bust dart, at the bottom of it only, by about 1 cm, thereby taking out some (but unfortunately not all) of the drag line that points to the bust area.  Partial success.  May increase the dart more on the next version.
  • I staystitched both the neck and armscye area on both the lining and silk to maintain the shape integrity.  Success!
  • hemmed the lining before finishing the slit lining for a cleaner finish.  Me likey!
  • zig zag finished the silk hem allowance. I thought serging it would be too bulky and show through whenever the dress is pressed.  I thought I would hate the zig zag finish and that it would be inadequate for this fabric, but was pleasantly surprised how well it worked and looked.  An oldie but a goodie method!
  • Again, I hand stitched the hem.  I was worried that even hand stitching would show on this silk twill, but, again, I was pleasantly surprised that it did not.  Yeah!

Some interior pictures… 

finished slit with hand edgestitching and slipstitching

hand slipstitched lining

 

Now that I have made 3 iterations of this dress (including the muslin), I have some doubts as to it’s viability in my TNT project.  And in case you are wondering at this point, yes, I am very picky. 

Here are my thoughts:

  • even if I adjust the bust dart, I think the shape of the shoulder straps/armscye is wrong for me.  It needs to be a thinner strap on the outside (meaning closest to the arm rather than the body) and/or the armscye needs to be cut in (closer to the body) a bit more.  The shapelessness in that area makes me look larger than I am.
  • the neckline, while being very comfortable for me, is probably not as flattering as it could be.  A V-neck is much more flattering to C-cups and larger as it does away with the “bag o’ boobs” look.

Can I change these things myself?  Maybe.  But, as I have already found out, sometimes you have no idea how a change in one area might affect another completely different area.  And I really don’t want to experiment for months on end.  I’d rather just try to find a sheath dress with the elements I now know that I want and muslin it for personal fit from there. 

What’s next?  I have some baby stuff to make, a dress for my cousin’s wedding, and fall coat.  That’s a lot to accomplish in August, but I gotta try!

Wish me luck!