Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Vogue 1542: My Daughter's Engagement Dress

How times flies! Eleven years ago, my first blog post was inspired by the first formal gown I sewed for my daughter’s prom. And now I am busy helping with preparations for her forthcoming nuptials. While in the midst of planning her wedding gown, my daughter broached the topic of a dress she could wear for her engagement photoshoot. It didn’t take a lot of planning as I immediately knew the perfect pattern.

With its neckline exquisitely adorned with three dimensional leaves, its princess seams on front and back and its graceful bottom flounce this dress is photo shoot ready. 


Recommended fabrics are medium weight linen, crepe back satin and shantung. My daughter and her fiancĂ© have a keen affinity for the purple color so I sent them swatches before ordering the fabric online. 
Fabric no. 41035 in color 159. It had a satiny sheen on one side and a matte finish on the other. 

For the main fabric, I used crepe back satin which I purchased online from Emma One Sock. I cannot rave enough about Linda, the owner of the store. I won't go into the details of the circumstances that resulted in me needing more of the fabric and needing it ASAP. But Linda was able to procure it for me and ship it right away so I was able to mail the finished garment to my daughter in the nick of time. 

For the lining, I used charmeuse in the same shade and from the same online store.

I toyed with the idea of underlining the main fabric but it was quite substantial already so I skipped it.



Because my daughter is based in the East Coast and I’m in the Midwest, we had to rely on long distance fitting which was facilitated by Skype and her body double dress form which I blogged about here.

*Muslin 1—I sewed a straight size 6 and then made some fitting changes using the dress form. I had to reduce ease at both front and back princess seams, side seams at the waist and hips and flounce. I also added two darts at the back neckline to remove gaping. Then I mailed this muslin to my daughter. 

*Muslin 2—just some fine tuning around the side seams and the length of the bottom flounce. The adjustments in the princess seams necessitated corresponding adjustment to the shoulder strap. The bodice was also shortened by 1” along the lengthen/shorten line above the waistline. (There was another L/S line below the waistline.)

Sewing Process:
1. Using the final fitted muslin as pattern pieces, I traced the seamlines onto the fashion fabric using black waxed paper and tracing wheel.

This Kai scissors have sharp serrated edges making it a breeze to cut through fine slippery fabrics. 

2. I hand basted the seams together before machine sewing to be more accurate.
Using silk thread to baste made it easier to remove the temporary stitches. Needle sharps did not leave big holes in the fabric.

3. Before machine stitching, I tested a swatch of the fabric to determine the best stitch length and tension. Best settings for me were tension at Auto, stitch length at 2 and foot pressure at 5.

For machine stitching, I used silk-covered cotton thread and microtex needles. 

4. The construction of the dress itself was simple and straightforward. The instructions were clear and easy to follow. No guessing game here!

Invisible zipper attached. 

Narrow hem

5. The dress was fully lined and the lining had front and back yoke facing. However, the lining hem had an odd length. It extended beyond the seamline of the upper part of the dress and flounce but ended mid level of the flounce. I extended the lining by 8".

Lining pattern extended by 8".

View of the faced lining. 

6. The most fun part was adding the finishing touches.
There were three separate pattern pieces for the leaves. 

It's probably not too obvious from the picture but I used the matte side as the right side for two leaves and the shiny side for one of the leaves to provide subtle contrast with the dress itself which was sewn using the shiny side as the right side. 

For a touch of sparkle, I added a few seed beads to the center of the assembled leaves. 

More photos of the finished dress...

Close-up of the shoulder strap. 

And some modeling shots.

I'll update photos with outtakes from the photoshoot once they are available.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

2018 A Year in Review

2018 has been quite a productive year for me in terms of sewing. I sewed a lot of tops, a couple of coats, a few bottoms and dress. I managed to squeeze in some “selfless sewing” too. One important project I finished were two body double dress forms (one for me and one for my daughter) which tremendously helped with my fitting. Instead of just lumping all my projects in one collage, I though it would be fun to group them. There were a few custom sewn projects for others that didn’t get photographed. So here goes....

It was a productive start that year.

I was hoping to sew more embellished shirts but I only managed two this year.

Quite happy that this year, I was able to sew for whatever current season and wear them.

My only regret was not sewing these sooner!

These are truly "palette cleansers" when it comes to sewing. Easy to fit, easy to sew.

Every year, I promise myself I would sew through my "precious fabric" collection and I managed to make a tiny dent!

Found myself some TNT bottom patterns and I'm seeing more of these in 2019.

Not sure how to categorize these so I just lumped them together. 

Look, I managed to squeeze in some "selfless sewing!"

Sewed this toward the end of the year and these are my favorites. 

I was not able to include my last project this year which was my daughter's engagement dress. I'd love to say it deserves its own post but truthfully, I don't have the pictures yet. I feel like I have improved a lot in 2018, learned a lot of new skills, both in sewing and fitting. Looking forward to 2019! I am hoping to be more up to date with my blog posts and pattern reviews. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Paco Peralta Draped Top Pattern

This weekend I was browsing through my old digital photos and chanced upon a picture of my daughter wearing a draped top that I have sewn six years ago. It was based off a Paco Peralta pattern and originally meant for me. However I thought it suited her better so I gave it to her and up to now, I still see her wear that top every now and then. So I decided to revisit the pattern and sew myself a wearable muslin using a matte jersey fabric from my stash.

About the pattern:
Six years ago when I purchased this pattern, it did not have the sleeve option. I bought it from the designer’s Etsy shop at bcnuniquepatterns. Unlike commercial printed patterns, this one was hand drawn by the designer on a medium weight onion skin paper. 

It is multisized but available only in four sizes—S (bust of 31.5”), M (34.5”), L (37.5”), XL (40.5”). There are no instructions included. However there are only four pattern pieces and the construction is simple enough to figure out. And 5/8” seam allowances are already included.

Construction Notes:

As mentioned above, there are only four pattern pieces:

*upper front that has a self facing which forms part of the draped neckline

*lower front which has a v-shaped upper edge
Shown here, the lower front piece is laid out on the fabric fold. 

*back which is cut in two pieces, although one may also cut this on the fold

*back facing which I interfaced with a lightweight tricot interfacing since my fabric was a jersey

Order of construction:

1.       Stabilize the neckline edges by staystitching.

2.       Reinforce around the perimeter of the V-shaped edges in both upper and lower front pieces.

3.       Sew the two front pieces together along the V seam. To reinforce the area near the center of the V, sew small stitches about one inch on both sides of the center. Clip the center of the V in the lower front making sure not to clip the stitching.

4.       Sew the two back pieces along center back.

5.       Sew the back facing to the back neckline. 
        Note: If your fabric is woven, you may need to put invisible zipper at the center back seam. You can choose to sew the center back seam along the length of the back facing then leave the rest open for the zipper. 

6.       Sew front to back along shoulder seams continuing to the corresponding shoulder seams of the back facing and the front self facing. Understitch the back facing to help stop rolling to the outside. Tack the facing to the shoulder seams. 

7.       Sew the side seams.

8.       Finish the armhole edges and the bottom hem. In my case, I used a bias cut strip of self fabric to bind the armhole edges. Then I just used blindstitch to hem the bottom of the top.

9.       Since I used matte jersey, I just finished the edges with my serger. If I had used silk I would have probably underlined it then added a lining.

View of the V-shaped seam between upper and lower front. 

View of the right side of the front after V seam has been pressed.

The interfaced back facing sewn to the back neckline. 

View of the shoulder seam (the closer to the bottom) and the seam joining the back facing and front self-facing. 

Understitch the back facing. 
And now here are some photos of the finished top:

This dressform is more well endowed than me.

I played around with the different settings of the Iphone's portrait mode. This stage lighting can be really dramatic!

Finally here's a picture of my daughter when she visited us. She's wearing the first version of the draped top I made in ITY fabric. 

My review of the pattern can also be found at Pattern Review.