Friday, 12 February 2016

Et voilà!

Last week I was very despondent about my dressmaking. I made a kind of very early stage toile for the bodice of my daughter's wedding dress. It wouldn't even fit on Missy - even with a side seam and back seam undone. It was clear that my toile was several inches too small. Although the front looked good, the side seam bent markedly towards the front at the bust area and the back seam was a long way from meeting. I understood why this was. My daughter initially wanted a bodice that would be laid over stretch tulle so I used a stretch leotard block initially which needed fabric with quite a bit of stretch. I made a leotard and it fit beautifully. However, and it's obvious, really, change the fabric to one with much less, or no, stretch, and it can't possibly fit. I was working under guidance of my tutor who hoped this toile would work given that I wanted a tight fit - but it wasn't to be. She didn't have time at the very end of the informal class to point me in a new direction although she did say we ewould need darts after all - it's perhaps indicative of how upset (internally - -n not visibly, at least I don't think so) that I didn't immediately understand what she was saying. I felt I had wasted many hours and lost a lot of hair and was pretty upset and flat, too, when I got home. I decided I had to work from the original, non-stretch block. I followed some instructions in Suzy Furrer's book and, in addition, moved the darts into princess seams. It took ages. In the end, when I looked at the pattern pieces, I was very doubtful about them. As I was going to be seeing my tutor again, I didn't take it further. On Wednesday, I saw Rory and took my wedding dress toile problems and showed her the toile on her model. She said I needed to make a toile from the original block and asked if I had it with me. I did, in a way. Problem is I'm very poor at labelling different pattern iterations, okay labelling in general. I must do better! Rory also pointed out that the instructions Suzy Furrer gives depend on the type of block you were using, how much ease etc - but as I was not using her block, these instructions could not be followed directly. So it wasn't surprising that following her instructions hadn't resulted in a suitable garment. Anyway, I was able to make up a toile. Standard bust dart and waist dart. Rory drew up what she had interpreted from my badly drawn designs and concluded, as I had felt earlier, that princess seams were the way to go. Here's the magic. All those hours I had spent carefully rotating darts! Rory drew the dart position we agreed on the toile. Then all I had to do was cut it out and add seam allowances to where I had cut the fabric apart. The bust dart stayed closed - indeed I realised that it gets closed when rotating it elsewhere. The waist dart gets cut out. Exactly as per dart rotation. But how much faster!! I couldn't believe it! I ended up with the same side panel and front panel that I would have starting with the flat pattern and rotating darts! It's clear that a combination of flat pattern cutting and draping is very useful - and as Rory says, will generally get you to where you want to go. Tonight, in class at college, we were doing moulage. Then Rory showed us how to make a bra pattern from the moulage. I thought the dart, from the moulage, could simply be kept there as had happened in the bodice block - but of course, it had only been pinned in place, not sewn. My homework for next time is a paper bra pattern. I modified a pattern for a lace cardigan. I had to increase the size as the pattern only went up to a 16. I probably graded up to a 20. I needed extra space in my hips and for my biceps. That was a couple of weeks ago but I got around to cutting out the lace this week. I found the lace difficult to work with as it wanted to slip all over the place, distorting the lines. Hopefully I managed it reasonably okay in the end. I decided to pin and then hand baste and found that the lower sleeve from elbow was very wide indeed. I also found that I had somehow stupidly cut out two left sleeves! Lyn advised me how to try to modify my sewing to take account of this error - I didn't have enough fabric to cut a new sleeve, despite it being narrowed by quite a bit. I'm hoping it won't take too long to sew this up. I'm probably going to overlock the seams, by the way, rather than do French seams as the lace is possibly too thick for the latter. Next week is midterm so I don't have classes but I do have some time to get up to date.

I have some photos so I will edit this post later - I don't have time to do that just now, just wanted to get my thoughts sown so I remember the process.


12 comments:

  1. It's an amazing thing you are doing. If it was easy it wouldn't be as satisfying. You sound like you need a break and walk away for a bit K

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    1. Thanks, Karen
      I have a weekend away coming up - playing bridge so no sewing!
      Do you have a source for reasonably priced silk organza? I need to ask the other Karen who mentioned in passing. Or anyone please!

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  2. You have been working really hard on your sewing, Anne, I'm sure it will pay dividends in the long run.

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  3. While I admire your investment in draping and patternmaking, I will stick to my commercial patterns! Enjoy your weekend and if you do sew, perhaps a pillowcase? :-)

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    1. Ha ha! (I'd prefer the commercial patterns as I've said before - but they just aren't there for what I'm seeking!) No pillowcase this weekend! I prefer a bit of draping or pattern making to pillowcase making!

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  4. Sounds like you are on the right track now. Too bad about wasting time making a toile for a woven non-stretch from a stretch block but I think sometimes you learn more from mistakes than successes. Suzy Furrer's instructions are excellent and princess seams seam like the right way to go. Hope it goes smoothly from now on.

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    1. Thank you - I do feel you learn a lot from mistakes - but I would still rather not make so many!!

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  5. Yes, a break is needed. Once you get back to it, check how the lace stretches over the toile to see whether the lace/woven works well (of course, I am assuming a traditional lace bodice look, but it might not be what you are doing at all). Susan Khalje writes a book about sewing wedding gowns which may be helpful. So much work ahead of you, so have a nice peaceful weekend before getting back into it.

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    1. Thanks, Sarah Liz. It's Valentine's Day today so a nice meal with my Valentine is on the cards (but no card or present - just the meal)!
      I have that Susan Khalje book on CD (that's put me off reading it!) and I thought personal help would be better but perhaps it's time to read it or at least browse!
      I don't have the wedding dress fabric yet - I'm going to London next weekend to meet Helen and hope to get it then. I think I'll have a clearer idea after that.

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  6. Keep up the good work Anne, though it does sound stressful it'll be worth it in the end.
    I've been reading the book you read - the forgotten seamstress. I loved it, so much so I'm still in bed!! I can get up now as I've finished! 😀

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    1. Thanks, Ali.
      You might want to try The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham, now a film. I enjoyed it - just finished it last night (on Kindle). I haven't seen the film but will as the outfits will show up better than in words. I don't think my dressmaking imagination is up to full scratch!

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