Thursday, August 13, 2015

Menorca Dress

We sewers-bloggers always explain three processes when we report a new project:

  1.  How did we get the fabric
  2.  How did we make the pattern 
  3. How did we get the inspiration (which often comes along process 1 or/and 2) 
Well, this particular project was ignited by the fabric. I was on holiday in Menorca (wonderful, wonderful island), which is quite close to the place we live: inland Catalonia, we have planes in summer which fly straight there. We spent some days in Ciutadella and some more in Maó, and I explored the fabric shops in both of them. Curiously, all of them had some of the same stuff, you know, being an island... but I found one that was particularly well assorted and its owner very nice and knowing of her product. She understood my need for natural fibers at once and helped me find the perfect fabric: an embroidered white cotton. And it was the end of the bolt, so I got a very good price too!
It was only 1.2 x 1.15 m, and it had an alongside embroidered border that I wanted to save for the dress hem. 
The fabric brought the inspiration, I was not in Ibiza, but very close to it, and I had a small piece of white cotton, so I started to think about the dress I would make.
Back home I had this old summer dress, so old I only wear it around the house, comfy and becoming, so I decided to rub it off.
After rubbing off the bodice and having a fitting session with it, and saw it was small at my boobs (which I had compensated, 20 years before, by elongating the back???!!!) Curiously there was too much fabric in my upper chest, so I remembered Karen's words and decided to make a FBA, which worked wonders:

For the skirt of the dress, I folded the dress by the back zipper (its only seam all around), and after securing it with pins, I placed over the bias-folded fabric, and cut.

I saw the dress was resulting too sheer, so I ripped and old white cotton dress, and used the fabric for an underskirt, The bodice I made it double, using the inside one as facing.

For the bottom hem, I cut the embroidered detail to the thread's rim, ans stitched to the skirt bottom with an embroidered stitch my machine has:

The result is wonderful, I am really happy with it. Comfortable, cool and becoming to my summer tan.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Jersey Sundresses: Not One But Two

Together with the fabric for my Coco dress, I bought two more jerseys in Praha last year. After seeing that 1mx1.5m is not enough for sleeves or anything fancy, I decided to use them to make two sleeveless dresses for my summer travels. I just finished them on time to put them in my Menorca suitcase, but my camera broke in the plane just before landing, and I could not take one single picture with the dresses on in jaw-dropping beaches (<3 Menorca!)

The pattern for the dresses is a variation off my CocoDress pattern, following the instructions in Aldrich's book for the Stretch Dress on pages 166, 167. I did not make the front panels though, neither the waist shaping.

With this project and the previous one, I used the lazy ass method: I cut the fabric two cm from the paper pattern, and sewed it 2cm from the edge. I had modified the skirt to perfection with the Coco, so here it was perfect at first trial.

To sew the seams with a jersey fabric like this, I use a zigzag stitch with very very small width, it seems a straight line to the eye, but it has got elasticity. Next to this stitching line, I zigzag again with wide stitches, and cut the seam allowance just after the zigzag to imitate the overlock. Finally I press the small seam allowance to the side.

For the bottom hem, armsythes, and neck line, I simply rolled the seam allowances inwards twice (1cm each roll), pinned it and machine stitched them with the double needle. The result is perfect.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Coco Dress Knockoff

Tilly is an inspiration to us sewers, and her patterns are a success around the world. Specially the Coco Dress, a design for jersey fabric, an easy project for beginners that results in a very versatile, comfortable and becoming dress. 
Inspired by it, I decided to make my own pattern using Aldrich's book and its Close Fitting Bodice Block for Less Flexible Jersey fabrics, pages 164, 165. I already used this pattern in two previous projects: Liberty Wool Dress and the Black Lace Back Dress. Making your own paper patterns might seem arduous work, but it saves you money and time, specially when you use the same block again and again.
I bought the jersey stripped fabric in a Praha shop last summer, but I only bought 1 metre x 1,5 m wide and I could not make the sleeves out of it. I was lucky to have a purple jersey in my stash, and the contrasting sleeves make the dress more lively and fun (Phew!!)
I observed Tilly's Coco closely and tried to imitate the evasé line of the skirt. Parting from the waist of the pattern, I drew an opening line (10 cm at the bottom) and a curved hem line. I also added a boat neck line, which I redid after fitting the actual dress. 
And that's it. Easy peasey! I own no serger, So I zigzaged all the seam allowances and cut them at 0.5 cm, to try to imitate the serger (this is an imitation game, hahaha!)
The dress bottom and sleeve hems were rolled and machine-stitched with a double needle. And the neck as well. I used different width double needles. 0.6 cm for bottom hem and sleeves, 0.4 cm for the neck.
The result is brilliant. I planned to include pockets in contrasting fabric (=sleeves) to complete the dress and although my stylist said no, I still have doubts. What do you think?