Monday, January 26, 2015

Picnic Dress Gabby

We seem to be experiencing another summer heatwave here in Sydney - and these things seem to be coming more regularly - so yesterday, when I noticed myself pulling out my Starry, Starry Gabby to wear yet again, it felt like the right time for whipping up another Gabby dress.

Ah, but what fabric to use? I'm trying to sew from my stash, so I looked around the sewing area of the study and noticed this fabric I'd bought to make my son a short sleeved shirt using a cool vintage pattern (see? not entirely selfish!).

Hmmm... Maybe not really his style? I asked him what he thought, he thought definitely not. Within about 5 seconds of that rejection, the fabric was on the ground and the Gabby pattern pieces were strewn about :).  I wish I could tell you the fabric was a cool 100% cotton or linen, but sadly it's just a cheap poly-cotton from Lincraft - I simply fell for the oversized checks.

Speaking of oversized checks, there seem to be lots of wonderful gingham garments around but THIS Celestial dress of Rosie's is the one that fired up my imagination most recently.  I absolutely love both Rosie's dress and the bucketload of inspiration pictures she's posted alongside it.

Oh and I should mention that when I posted a picture of this dress to Instagram shortly after finishing it, Carolyn commented that she was just finishing off a very similar dress - so look out for Carolyn's gingham dress on her blog VERY soon (I'm already expecting to prefer hers to mine!)

I'm sure the Gabby is not the perfect summer dress for everyone, but it really works for me, and now I've made it a few times (the Starry onethis one in a stretch, and another recent, unblogged dress in a heavy Nani Iron cotton) it comes together ridiculously fast - so this dress was all done in a day, in between chatting with the kids and feeding them. As I've made and blogged it before and it's such a straightforward dress, I won't review the pattern itself and instead I'll just list the changes I made this time around:

  • Lengthened the sleeves about 2cm.
  • Added 16cm length all around, then removed 16cm length after the dress was all done bar the hems, then noticed it was a bit short (I'm about 5'8"), so left an overlocked edge instead of a hem.
  • Added in-seam pockets, the size based on putting my hand down on the fabric, and position based on trying on the partially sewn dresss and pinning the top and bottom of a space where my hand naturally wanted to slide into a pocket. I didn't have enough fabric to be able to pattern match pockets to the dress, but the pocket pieces match each other and are symmetric too. 
  • Added bust darts to assist in matching up the checks on the side seams and because that little bit of excess length in the front edges looked like the right amount for a bust dart.

Spot the bust darts! Oh and btw, the front has moved off centre in this picture. 

Pattern matching and in-seam pockets

That's all, but I'll be back soon with the Nani Iro version and a dress in the fabric of the year (ah, but which year?).

See you soon

- Gabrielle x

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Painterly Dress

Skipping past a couple of unblogged 2014 makes for now, here's my first dress of 2015:

the painterly dress! 

Front view, painterly dress
Isn't this fabric pretty? I think it looks so painterly, if that's the correct word - it reminds me of flowers and reflections in puddles, and impressionism! 

Polyester twill from The Fabric Store
The fabric is a medium weight twill from The Fabric Store in Sydney, and I suspect probably made from 100% polyester - whatever it is, it was tricky to sew! My serger adored the fabric, but I had a lot of trouble getting the tension right with the fabric in my sewing machine, which is why the princess seams are rippling. I'd sorted out the tension by the time I sewed the skirt, so the skirt side seams are fine. The bodice also looks like it's pulling so I guess for a fabric with zero give I should have allowed myself more room. I do realise I could have unpicked and resewn the bodice with a little more room and with the improved tension settings, but when I unpicked a small area to try to do just that I discovered the old needle holes remained very visible on the fabric, and I only had miniscule scraps of fabric left over, so I decided to chill and put up with a bit of rippling and pulling.

And the dress pattern? Well it isn't really one thing or another, it's the Libby A-line skirt from Tessuti patterns, which I've been meaning to try for ages, combined with princess seamed bodice from an old favourite of mine, DKNY pattern V1193.

I've made V1193 a couple of times now with sleeves (here in a red ponte, and here for my "Out of Darkness" dress), and used the bodice without sleeves at least once more (here for example in Pink Panther fabric for the Sew Dolly Clackett challenge), so I pretty much know by heart how to make it fit me properly. On this occasion I used the same minor adjustments as usual (essentially I use several sizes - size 10 for the shoulders, size 12 at the bust, size 14 at the waist).  I initially added length to the whole bodice but then ended up removing a wedge of fabric at the back for what is apparently not so much a sway back as a short back (thank you Lara for reminding me about Beth's post on that adjustment!). In the photo below it looks like the back is still a bit long, but I had my shoulders back for these photos, and usually when my posture is not so good I need that little extra back length.

Shortened back bodice
There are lots of pure Libby skirts on the internet (see Jillian, Rachel, and Elizabeth, for example) and if you want to see this fabric sewn up differently, check out Emma's Simplicity pencil skirt.

I cut this Libby skirt in a size 14, and then found I could trim about an inch from the sides when I attached the skirt front and back to the bodice front and back - the skirt was a lot wider than the bodice - so I guess I had mismeasured myself. Anyway, it was super easy to attach the Libby skirt to the Vogue bodice, and I only wish I'd got the skirt size right in the first place because I suspect if I had, the skirt darts might have lined up with the princess seams! Anyway, the darts are completely lost in the print, so that's just something I'll bear in mind for any future Libby + Vogue makes.

I would have liked a deep hem on this dress but the skirt was shorter than I anticipated, so I finished the hem with some coordinating satin bias binding, machine stitched in place.  It would've looked better with a hand stitched hem, but the bodice is all sorts of imperfect anyway, so it didn't seem worthwhile!

Hem finish - satin bias binding
The bodice is fully lined in a nice satin that I picked up second hand ages ago.  I sewed the lining with a bit of extra width, but it's proved unnecessary given how little the outer fabric moves. The lining is understitched around the neckline, and handstitched in place down the zipper tape and around the waist.

A bit of hand stitching
What else? Well there's an invisible zip in the size seam, and although I've got more of that annoying rippling happening in the seams, at least it's consistent front and back - my seams aligned nicely at the waist and the zip is nearly invisible!

Side view with invisible zip in the side seam
Close up of the invisible zipper in the skirt section
Over on the other side of the world I know plenty of sewists are looking forward to Spring, but with this dress I feel like I'm only just kicking into Summer gear - Summer, you've GOT to stay a bit longer! 

See you soon

- Gabrielle x
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