Friday, 16 March 2012

A naughty little binge

So I needed notions for my VintageModern Challenge dress, and found myself with a relatively free lunch hour.

And off I went to People's Park, our local fabric haunt.

I have a love-hate relationship with this place.

It's a little old 3-storey building housing a decent array of dinky little natural-ventilation shops selling fabric bolts, that tend to be staffed by friendly (but slick!) old men and ladies. For the likes of me, underprivileged in the fabric-major-deal-warehouse and fabric-in-thrift-shops arenas, this is as close to fabric paradise as you get. I always get that buzzy high and permanent smile in this place. But the size of my fabric stash dictates that I should resist coming here often. Difficult, considering it's only a 10-minute walk from my workplace!

Anyway, like I said, I actually had a good reason for this visit.

And as usual, I emerged within the hour with a little more than what was on my shopping list.

At least each of these has a Planned Destiny.

The one on the left is a cotton blend with a nice silky touch. I'm planning to make it into this, when it become available online -

It's #108 from the 3/2012 Burda issue that I'm too cheap to buy, since this pattern is all I want from it. I'm hoping Burda will upload it for sale, failing which I will have to dig out my Pattern Magic book and draft the pattern for myself. Save me the work, Burda!

The one in the middle is a nice spotty cotton drill that I envision as a pair of straight-cut, flat front trousers or capris. Trousers probably, since I wear those to work occasionally (I might wear them more often if they were polka dotted!). Of course I forgot that sewing trousers scares the heck out of me!

And the one on the right is a very pretty light cotton voile. I bought 4 yards of it with the dreamy image of matching dresses/playsuits for myself and my girls. That might actually become a reality, since I think matchy-matchy mother-daughter things can be cute if done properly! Maybe a playsuit for me, a sundress for the big girl, and a summery top for the little one who hasn't much hair yet?

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

My VintageModern Design Challenge Entry

I toyed around a bit with the idea of entering the Indygo Junction x Burda's VintageModern Design Challenge. On one hand I'd wanted to join a contest of some sort this year just for the fun of it - it was even down on my Sewing Resolution List. Plus this one was actually feasible sounding - no entry barrier to internationals, and the potential to result in something I might see myself actually using. With my super-limited sewing time, I'm fiercely stuck on the admittedly narrow idea that I only sew directly useable things. After all, I got into this sewing thing because I: (1) need clothes, and (2) can't buy useable RTW. Not because I have lots of time to make corsets, costumes and frills to sit pretty in my wardrobe. Although my naive mind at the time failed to consider UFOs.

So anyway, I was a huge cheapskate and downloaded all the free e-patterns from Indygo Junction, and just sat on them for a couple of weeks.

I finally bit the bullet in mid-Feb, and told myself I'd make up that nice looking little Sateen Blouse, so that even if I didn't end up in the contest, I'd still have a template for some nice basics.

Was I so wrong.

Muslin #1 was made directly by following the directions on the printout, and showed me that either my measuring-my-own-body techniques are way off, or that women of the time wore REALLY, REALLY loose clothing. The thing was slipping off my shoulders - bleah! I had to hide that hideous thing at the bottom of my scrap pile to stop myself feeling guilty about wasting fabric. Yes, I's a muslin, right? Made of 'scrap' fabric, right? Well mine was. But I can't make peace with the idea of wasting any sort of fabric, which explains why I'm being slowly overrun by tiny fabric scraps for that crazy quilt I'll never make. And so far, I've been able to use all my muslins for casual wear, or least for lounging about at home!

I made some major modifications to the blouse, took in the width by ~3 inches on each side, reduced the bat-winginess of the sleeves, and put in some darts. There. Muslin #2 wasn't bad at all.

And then I decided to kill myself by adding a little puffy skirt to the bodice, to make a dress.

I will admit that I was originally inspired by the great Mary Katrantzou's lampshade silhouette.

Why would anyone want to add inches to their hips, you ask?

I thought the same way at first, though the prints! the prints! how gorgeous art thou, oh prints! And in a bit the lampshade shape grew on me too. I found myself thinking about how I could bring the skirt up just above the umbilicus (that's bellybutton in normal-speak) to cover my yummy mummy tummy - of course I'd try to turn it into a way to cover up bits of myself I don't like, wouldn't I?

That lampshade thing was HELL. I started drafting one from scratch and of course it didn't work. THREE muslins and I was ready to tear my hair out (and also worship even more abjectly at Ms Katrantzou's pedestal)!

TWO WEEKS into the thing, I finally gave up the fight and decided on a skirt based loosely on Burda's Marie pattern, modified to look like one on a lady I saw on the train.

This is the final product. I used 1.7 metres of a mid-weight green quilting cotton that was on sale for $7/yard at Spotlight (yes, these are the sorts of 'sale prices' people in my parts are used to paying), one package of blue piping, and an 18inch invisible zipper for the centre back closure.

It doesn't look like awfully much of a dress, actually, does it?

I'm a little upset that the bodice creases and doesn't even fit me perfectly - I'm going to make excuses for myself and say that it's just difficult pinning fabric on yourself, as opposed to a dressform. But considering the time+blood+sweat+tears that went into drafting it, I'll still wear my dress out.

This is what it actually looks like all naked and beltless.

And this is the back. The print is a little busy to see, but I divided each back dart into two, and matched up the skirt and bodice darts. That took quite a lot of fiddling with too, since I'd already sewn up the bodice and had to fold and match the darts on my body.

Here's a close-up. The double darts really made the fit very good, though I couldn't line them up perfectly.

And here's a shot of the details on the sleeve and collar. The piping went in surprisingly quickly (or maybe I thought so because I'd already spent so much time on the other stuff!).

This is my favourite shot of the nude dress and I'm a little sad it's blurry. Mr Tropical was out on a run so it was just lil ol' me with the self-timer rushing for the deadline, and I just couldn't replicate the shot. Like my green Westwood x Melissas? :)

Oh, and in case you're wondering, my bangs are assymetrical ON PURPOSE. My nice hairdresser likes having fun with my hair whenever I visit, and this time I told her, 'I want a shave and assymetric bangs', envisioning Rihanna. But this sinusoidal fringe was what she came up with. It looks kinda like a pudding bowl, but I kinda like it. I think.