Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Wedding sewing update just after Easter weekend

Wedding update

This was a good - and a bad - Easter weekend.
No photos - unless you want to see my grandsons - but I'll stick to sewing

Good things:
  • Seeing family.
  • Good food and good company.
  • I finished the waistcoat for A except for the buttons and buttonholes prior to the weekend. A was visiting and tried it on. It fits and looks great. He's very pleased. Later,  he bought buttons and I'll finish when I have a free house and am able to concentrate. Shouldn't take long.
  • Helen was visiting and we had a session with Rory to fit the latest toile. I altered the pattern and trued it and Rory made up a new bodice which fits far better.
We've now pinned  the design down. We're nearly ready to buy the actual fabric.
We've finalised the fabric we want. I had sent away for samples galore.
Helen is now content with some features she previously rejected - underlining,  lining,  waist stay, seam  support.
  • Joanne was unexpectedly home and tried on her toile - indeed she was able to join in the end of my class last Wednesday and Dan fitted her. So that was great. I didn't have a chance to make the changes needed to get her to try them before she went away.
  • Alison too was able to try on her toile but wasn't able to come with Helen and me to see Rory, to be fitted by someone with a better idea than me. However,  I fitted it, altered pattern, made another bodice which she tried - and it fitted well.
  • My wedding shoes and bag arrived.

Bad things
  • I was shocked at how far away the fit was on all three of the toiles! What on earth am I doing?
This wasn't the first toile for any of them.
The front bodice was much too wide for both of the bridesmaid dresses and a lot needed to be cut away. The neckline was too high and tight. The princess seam position needed adjusted dramatically as a result of the armhole changes.
  • I was reminded again of how bad my organisation is.
I keep losing bits. I am unable to say what is the latest version. Then,  not surprisingly, bits don't fit together.
I'm not sufficiently systematic - hence missing or part of the necessary alterations
  • The wedding shoes don't fit.

Time consuming things
  • My mother has been offered and accepted a place in sheltered accommodation. This is a good move for her but the timing is awful for me. I can't spend as much time with her helping her downsize and move etc as I'd like and she needs but it's still more than I can afford so close to the wedding. She lives 150 miles away so it takes time even just to travel there.
  • I've had to look at my available time and realise that I actually can't do everything and I've put a number of things on hold until after the wedding. It's only another two months away!  I have several hospital appointments and missed one and lost another - a symptom of taking too much on and not being sufficiently organised.
  • Pattern modifications!!
  • I will actually have to make another toile for Joanne because of the major changes needed. I'll have to post it and get her sister to fit it. Fortunately,  I quickly ran up another bodice for Alison when she was here and it fit well so I won't be doing another for her - next step the real thing.
  • Learning new techniques. This would be fun if it wasn't so important that I get things right first time.

So where am I now? (Wednesday after Easter.)

Wedding dress
  • I'm planning to concentrate on the wedding dress more or less exclusively until the second week in May by which time it really has to be finished!
  • Helen has changed shape so I need to make some modifications to the pattern for size in addition to some design changes. At class today, where Rory is helping me, I ran into some problems with trueing the pattern and matching the bodice to the skirt (there is a waist seam). Rather belatedly I realised I had taken the skirt in but not the front bodice. I had earlier adjusted the back bodice. I think it's sorted now. She hasn't promised not to change shadow further in the 3 weeks before I see her again. But then - no more!
  • I plan to make the final toile for mid April when she comes up. It would be so much faster and easier if we had easier access to each other.
  • I plan to lay out the pattern to accurately estimate fabric requirements and Helen will buy it and bring it with her - we've seen and touched the fabric we want. I will order some other fabrics and notions online.
  • I will also transfer the pattern to card

  • Forget it! Last class I ended up spending on the wedding dress.  Just as well it's still the Easter holidays! I do need to spend some time getting caught up.
  • I don't think it will take me too long to complete the MOB dress now - I've started.  The biggest issue is a dearth of sketchbook entries and portfolio notes and photos.

Bridesmaids' dresses
  • The patterns are complete and trued. I reckon Alison's fits but need to toile Joanne’s.
  • I am trying to get someone other than me to make up the final dresses. Obviously, I'm prepared to pay for that - I reckon my health and sanity are worth it. Helen’s too  - she's panicking that I won't get her dress done in time. 

I hope you had a good Easter weekend. The weather is looking rather more springlike here. Hopefully that willl help with mood and health. 
Anne x

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

I forgot to post this at the time; brief reviews of the fabric stores we visited (London and Bradford)

A couple of  weekends ago, (comment -- a lot longer than that now!! 19/20 February) I visited Bombay Stores in Bradford on the way to Cambridge, a bit of a detour, longer because of an accident and significant problems on the A1. I'd  heard good things about this Asian superstore and had been recommended to visit to look at their silks.

So many colourful Asian wedding outfits! Gorgeous but not what I was looking for.

You've heard of ‘unplugged’ music - well they had an unsewn section - designer (Asian) outfits for which the fabric was packaged. Various prices. I picked up a bargain of 3 coordinating iris coloured fabrics.

Their fabric section was good but again didn't have what I was looking for. Their silk organza was available in a variety of colours but not white or ivory. I did buy some interlining fabric for the bridesmaid dresses.

They have a lot of bargain bins of fabric at £1.10 per metre.

While I was browsing, David visited the nearby National Media Centre for the first time in a few years

Their cafĂ©, Asian of course,  was excellent and very inexpensive.

We drove to Cambridge and had dinner with oldest daughter, sil and grandsons in the pub our middle daughter manages. We spent the night and drove to London the next morning to meet our youngest daughter. She and I were fabric shopping while David was fixing their oven door.

First,  though, I had to fit a wedding dress toile on Helen. I discovered I had made a bit of an error and took notes to rectify that.

Helen and her fiancé had visited Joel & Sons fabrics and bought the fabric for the bridesmaid dresses and his waistcoat. They were very impressed - Helen of course didn't get a chance to look at bridal fabrics. I had heard good things from others, too. So this was our first stop. I won't say too much but in summary it was very disappointing because of extremely poor customer service. Perhaps a Saturday isn't the best day but it was the only day we had and Helen had good service on her previous Saturday visit. An Aladdin's cave of gorgeous fabrics, phenomenally expensive.

So we moved back to Soho.

First stop was MacCulloch and Wallis. Very helpful staff. We found a fabric that we rather liked but not the trims we were after.

We then planned to go to Soho itself but were running short of time.

First stop was the Silk Society. David, (that may not have been his name, sorry) who served us was supremely helpful, even to the extent of looking at our inspiration entries online and suggesting how they would be made. Unfortunately, we ended up a bit more confused because I hadn't been keen on the toile I made and the plans for it and as far as I was concerned,  David's opinion concurred. So we didn't buy the fabric we admired as we had more talking to do.

We missed Borovic somehow, though we'd been before. However, it was too late to backtrack.

We returned to Broadwick Silks and again found the staff very helpful. I hadn't realised it was a sister shop of the Silk Society. I highly recommend them both.

We then retired to a wine bar for a  glass of wine and discussion about the way forward. We had 3 basic options and I wasn't keen on the route we had previously pursued. We came to an agreement on the way forward and I agreed to try to make a toile for the following weekend when H would be visiting.

I ran out of suitable toile fabric but Rory offered to get some more for me to pick up in class that evening. I had less time than usual as my annual big fund raising bridge event for our Vets’ county golf was the next day  and I had stacks to do for that. So I only had the  Friday evening. Helen and I had a session with Rory on the Saturday afternoon.

Hopefully after that our path will be clearer - I'm afraid it's not at the moment and I'm getting a bit panicky as time is marching on so quickly.

I wrote this some time ago. Recent posts clarify where I’ve got to. The above session with Rory turned my previous ideas on their head but the current design is better.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Wedding update - waistcoat mainly and news about MOB outfit

I've had lots of support and kind comments about my wedding outfits journey. Thank you.

Today is a waistcoat update.

After looking at the laid out fabric (wool and silk) for future sil's waistcoat for a LONG time, too scared to cut it as this was by far the most expensive fabric I had ever used, my tutor and classmates convinced me I had to go ahead and make the first cut. That was a key moment in this whole process.

I'm using a Burda pattern - 3403 with a few modifications for fit. Slightly lengthened and made with less ease for A's preferred fit.

Instructions aren't brilliant but adequate,  particularly as I have Lyn to ask for advice.  She's shown me a few techniques not mentioned in the instructions which improve the finish.

Of course I've had a few problems. None insurmountable, though.
  • I was ironing the creases out of the custom printed silk and got water stains! I couldn't believe how dirty they were, even though my iron is new.   I was horrified but we washed it, after pressing on the right side on the hottest setting it could take as per FAQs, and it was fine. 
  • I had to redo one of the facings
  • I accidentally cut through one of the welts when snipping a thread with my so sharp scissors. I had no choice but to replace - I replaced both and slightly modified and improved how I did it. Fortunately I had enough of the fabric to replace the bits that needed replaced.
  • I have imprints of the darts on the front of the waistcoat so I need to work out how to get rid of them. Of course,  I shouldn't have had them there in the first place. I trust I can sort it! Any recommendations? 
I'm well on with the waistcoat now and hope to get it finished on Thursday.  A & H are coming for the weekend and it would be great to get that out of the way. The fabric has sewn nicely. Photos don't do justice to the colour. The wool/silk was bought from Joel and sons by A&H and they highly recommended the shop but I didn't have a good experience there when I went with Helen to buy her wedding dress fabric due to poor customer service - so somewhat variable. The fabric is beautiful - wool and silk.

I haven't cut out the silk yet.  I'm hoping to do that tomorrow (Sunday) when I have both time and daylight. It's going to be awkward as it's so slithery and the pattern will need to be kept symmetrical.

When I was making the toiles I got confused with the turning through at the end so I need to get far enough on to get help in my last class before Easter for that part. I'm happy to do the buttonholes after that.

What else have I been doing?

I've been continuing with the design and toiles for the wedding dress. I'm hoping to have a fairly complete toile for next weekend as I will be able to fit it on Helen. I don't have much opportunity to do that. We don't have the fabric yet but need to get that very soon now. We have a better idea of quantities now. I have samples from a selection of retailers.

I've finished making the pattern for Alison's bridesmaid's dress and plan to have a toile for next weekend when she's coming too. I won't see Joanne until after that.

I was getting on with my MOB outfit - I decided to submit that as my course final project, rather than the wedding dress which had been my original intention. I had two dresses - one to wear, princess seams,  contrast central panel overlaid with lace, and one to submit,  the pattern hack dress. I have a toile of the former and am making up the latter. 

However, I'm not wearing either to the wedding as I have bought an outfit! I've decided that the toile of the first, in a lovely turquoise crepe, will be ideal for the day after the wedding (I'll post when completed). It fits beautifully and I just need to ass a lining and finish off. I will complete the second in college and submit as my final project. I got the stretch lining in the post today - I couldn't buy it locally. 

My bought outfit isn't in the colour I originally intended (royal/cobalt blue) but David and I both liked it. It has taken a lot of pressure away from me. I need to get shoes and bag  - I'm looking for dark navy, I'll tell you that. Of course I would still have had accessories to buy for a dress I made for myself too.

  • Lesson learned, I hope - sometimes even after following 'measure twice, cut once' you can still get it wrong!
  • Oh, and I don't need to do everything!
Thank you for all your supportive comments - please keep them coming!

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Three months to go - arghh!

Yes,  it's now three months to Helen's wedding. The time has passed very quickly and I'm a bit worried (I can't say I'm panicking etc as Helen reads my blog!)

Obviously, I'm not going to be saying anything specific in my blog at this stage but I'm writing notes for myself and thought I'd share some here and update on my progress. This is again a rather photo poor post.

Wedding dress design
I think we've more or less decided on a design.
Last week I was really upset as Helen proposed an alternative design - or two. I felt I had insufficient time to be still dithering around. In addition, I had a toile that she hadn't yet seen far less tried on.
  • I really didn't have the skills to create our previous design
  • I didn't like the toiles
  • I modified the toiles, made new versions, and still didn't like them.
  • I prefer Helen's latest proposal (and it really has to be her last proposal, too!). It's altogether more Helen. I hope I can produce it.
As David said, if we had come to the stage of rejecting it designs in another 2 or 3 weeks we would have been very much worse off so best now.
My last toile had issues with the way it hung and I'm trying to modify that, helped by both Rory and Dan. Rory has been the main help but Dan was able to help with the specific skirt issue.
I think I can say the dress is long and as Helen is so tall that's very long indeed. I've had problems controlling the pattern and the fabric. I've decided that once the pattern is finalised and properly trued etc I will have to put it onto board as that's more stable.
Helen really wanted a full working model, still a toile, by Easter. I'm not sure I can manage that because of the issues I've been having.
However, tonight I finished the 4th toile, after some alterations for hang had been made to the toile last time and transferred onto the pattern.
I haven't got everything right but it has potential. I have a number of sewing skills to learn!
I sent Helen a quick photo on my camera and she loves it, other than the colour of the toile! Pink this time.

Cheap satin back crepe/duchess satin used as toile fabric
The bridesmaid dresses are in satin back crepe or rather crepe backed satin and I bought a lot of a much cheaper variety to use as toiles for these and the wedding dress.
Bad news.
The fabric was a gorgeous colour. A beautiful blue, which I loved. That was the only positive.
Firstly,  sewing seams:
As I sewed each seam, I improved. The puckering that I had at the start got less. I found taut sewing helpful. I used my dual feed but not my walking foot. I didn’t need the walking foot too - is an actual walking foot better than dual feed?
Oh dear! This fabric just wouldn't take a crease. After I had pressed it all, I felt I might as well not have bothered. Dan showed me that using a block of wood can help.
I hope my final fabrics are less troublesome!

Bridesmaids dresses
The design is decided.
  • The fabric is bought.
  • I have underlining fabric and thread.
  • The pattern for my oldest daughter is redrawn after she tried a toile on a couple of weeks ago. She's coming up at Easter and I hope to use that nasty blue fabric to make a full working toile.
  • My middle daughter hasn't got back to me about hers as yet. I believe she’s trying it on tomorrow and her sister will try to fit her into it. I’m happy to get it at Easter but would like to know if it’s close or a long way away!
  • Also, no more weight loss - or gain!
Dan has been very helpful and continues to be there for help and advice.

Groom's waistcoat
  • The design is decided
  • The toiles fitted and modified
  • Pattern drawn, including separate lining pieces
  • Fabric and lining bought
  • Thread and interfacing bought
I'm starting the actual waistcoat on Thursday coming. I hope to have it ready for Easter when H&A come up.
I'm pretty calm about it.
We still need to decide on buttons
Lyn is my advisor here.

MOB outfit
No, I still haven't completely decided.
I have two dresses in progress - I need to create a dress for my final course work but may not actually wear either if I can buy an outfit. So far I've been totally unsuccessful though. I went shopping with my mother this weekend and she saw what might be the perfect outfit for her. The size wasn’t quite right so we are going again tomorrow to see if we can get a different size.
I've decided against using the Indian dupion silk as that's a bridge too far at this stage

First dress:
A variant of a dress I've made before so no surprises.
I decided to make up a toile in case I've changed sizes a lot. I've drawn up a new pattern and have cut it out. I'm using the fashion fabric as I'm aware that different fabrics behave differently.
There are a few variations,  to ring the changes.

Second dress:
This will be my actual course work dress. I've hacked a pattern from a dress (following a pattern hack class run by Dan and Rory) that fits me and which I like. I've drawn it up and need to try it out in similar fabric. I probably won't wear this for the wedding though as I think the fabric I've chosen is a bit dull for a wedding, though I do like it. I couldn’t find one that I thought was ideal.

Lace jacket
I thought I would make a lace jacket. I thought this could be nice with the dress, though wasn’t sure. I've never sewn with lace so decided to use some lace I picked up in a fabric and pattern swap at the recent Dewsbury Yorkshire Spoolettes meet up.
It hasn't turned it as I expected.
I used xxxx. Tissue fitted. Modified to size, with help from Lyn. I can never fit myself! Can anyone?
The sleeves were huge! I ended up narrowing them by a LOT. I took in by at least six inches at the wrist, gradually narrowing to zero just above the elbow.
The jacket,  or is it a cardigan, is rather too short and too boxy; I need more waist shaping.
I did find the lace a little difficult to work with.
The biggest issue was that despite being careful, I still managed to cut out two left sleeves!  I didn't have enough fabric to recut (though if I'd realised how long and big they'd turn out,  maybe I would've). Lyn helped modify the sleeve to allow it to be used. There was rather a lot of sleeve cap ease. I struggled to insert the sleeves and was pleased when Lyn inserted them for me.
The pattern used scalloped lace and mine wasn't so this wasn't so successful. I had to do narrow hems all around.
I still have to finish the front band and overlock the sleeve/shoulder joins. I’ll post a photo after that.
Okay, I've finished edges. Sleeves are still too long . I need to add a fastening at top. I thought I'd post today, though, since we agreed at the Yorkshire Spoolettes meet up that today we would show an item we had made from fabric from that day. I hope mine counts as this wasn't purchased fabric. 

I don't like the end result and won't be trying to make one for the wedding.

So I don't have a jacket
Do I need one in June?

My organisation of pattern pieces, order of piece number etc is very poor. I don't seem to learn - it's caused a few problems.

Mats and tables
My large cutting mats and new rotary cutter have been invaluable. I need to make sure I have enough new blades for the actual projects.
I learned at class that the tables there are padded for pattern cutting and rotating darts etc. I'll take the hard surface of the mat any day.
Blades and shears
I'm much better at the rotary cutter than scissors. I need to buy more of the larger blades. When I get around to cutting the wedding dress I don't want this to be a problem

Missy is just not cutting the mustard!
I was very pleased when we modified the dressmaking model to fit Helen. It seemed pretty close. This was important as Helen isn't here to try things on. I have posted toiles back and forward in the past but don’t think that will work in this case.
I think the problems are as follows:
  • The shoulders don’t collapse and are pretty wide
  • The shape of the neck and shoulders isn’t quite right and cannot be modified
  • The model body just isn’t flexible enough - I actually tore a seam trying to get a garment on
  • Missy just isn’t tall enough despite all our changes. Okay for a shorter length dress but not for a full length dress.

I'm rather behind, I'm afraid. Largely with the written work rather than the practical,  though.
Next weekend I plan to catch up. I’m away for the weekend but will have some time to play with. I will visit the spa, of course but instead of reading another crime book, I’ll do some written course work. i’ll take my laptop.

Golf Committee Work
We had our annual bridge drive last week and it went well. I was working very hard on this so now that it’s over, my time should hopefully be less pressurised.
We are also collecting the membership fees. I organise that (but just pass the cheques onto the treasurer) and also have to print out the membership cards. The bulk of them have now been dealt with. There are still a few straggler clubs and I’ll have to post out their cards (not yet printed as I only did enough to take to the bridge drive)

I've missed a lot of golf because of trips and visits . I just have to accept that until after the wedding.

I’ve finally managed to restart the medication that disagreed with me previously. I’m on a lower, half, dose and not on the other medication which could have been partially implicated and don’t have any significant side effects - so I’m planning to increase to the full dose next week.
The medication takes 3 months to work - so with any luck, I should hopefully see a difference by the time of Helen’s wedding.
I find a lot of consecutive sewing hurts my back and shoulders although I do move around. That’s why I’m writing this post - I don’t want to do any more sewing tonight.

I feel I’m on target.
I have good help available when I get stuck - and am more than happy to read, research, experiment etc though as time left gets less I’ll be less able to do that.

Update and Continuing with Machine Embroidery Course

I haven’t been sewing anything recently. I’ve managed a few alterations and repairs and a little bit of machine embroidery - though I’ve f...