Sunday, 28 February 2016

Style Arc Lu Lu Tunic in Hot Pink Linen

Style Arc Lu Lu Tunic
The Style Arc Lu Lu Tunic has been languishing in my pattern stash for quite a while. I don't know why it has taken so long to get around to sewing this up. Now that I have made it I can say that I am quite pleased with how it turned out. I used this light weight linen purchased from Tessuti at Surry Hills about a year ago, during my first and only visit to this lovely fabric shop.

Style Arc Lu Lu Tunic
I cut my usual size 12 in Style Arc which worked out fine. I did lengthen the bodice by 5cm, which I later removed as it turned out way too long (This turned out to be much harder than it should have been). The pattern was perfect as it was. I did make a couple of other changes to simplify the construction process: The back bodice was cut on the fold and the back slit and button and loop closure were eliminated. The neckline opening is quite big enough to get the top on and off without any trouble.

The other change I made was to construct the neckband and sleeve bands as instructed, however I attached them simply by overlocking both the raw edges to the openings which worked beautifully. As the bands are 2cm wide there is plenty of width to hide the overlocking. Much less fiddly than attaching each layer separately and stitching in the ditch, as instructed.

To be honest, I could not make head nor tail of the instructions for the band at the bottom of the bodice. I found the written instructions and the instructions on the pattern pieces to be contradictory and I really had to scratch my head for a while. I ended up deciding to cut a pair of both the front and back bands and then treated them the same way as the sleeve and neckline bands. I sandwiched them between the bodice and lower skirt sections and overlocked all the layers in one go. Sounds simple if you do it correctly. Unfortunately I attached the band inside out so the the side with the under stitching (flat stitching) showed. Out came the seam ripper. All turned out well the second time.

Pocket and band details
The mitred corners on the skirt pieces were very well drafted and came together very well. I wore my new tunic to work the day after I completed it with my purple ponte Colette Mabel skirt, but it kept getting caught up on my hips and just felt too long. So...out came the seam ripper again, and I removed the skirt and the waist band and trimmed off 4cm of length from the bottom of the bodice. I then reattached the waistband and the skirt pieces back to front. The skirt was longer at the front...not a good look. So out came the seam ripper again.

I think I made the construction of this tunic much harder than it needed to be...anyway I'm sure the next one will go together without any silly mistakes.

Happy Sewing

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Introducing new sewing assistant and my knock off of Vogue 1179

Vera, my body double

I have recently splurged and bought a new dress form or dressmaker's dummy. There has been lots of research undertaken over several months for a replacement of my fully adjustable Project Runway dress form that broke a while ago. Although it had been a much appreciated gift from my husband, I could never get it to mimic my shape. By the time the waist had been expanded to match my waist measurement, the hips were all distorted and weirdly shaped. It was too light weight and unstable and broke during a simple outfit change.

After reading several favourable reviews, I settled on the The Shop Company Dress Form with collapsible shoulders located in the USA. I chose a size 12 which was smaller than my measurements, as it is not adjustable, it has to be padded out to resemble my shape. You can add, but you cannot take away. I also ordered The Fabulous Fit System which was also available from The Shop Company at a heavily discounted rate when purchased with a dress form.

The Shop Company Dress Form
The Shop Company does not ship to Australia, however they give instructions on how to organise shipping to Australia here.

This has been a very extravagant and expensive purchase...(it can be dangerous to be left home alone for hours on end over the Christmas break, with internet access and a credit card at your disposal), but one I have not regretted, thankfully.

There were a few anxious weeks while I waited for delivery. There was a hold up with The Fabulous Fit System, which held up the whole order. Once shipped by My US it arrived on my doorstep within 4 days...can't complain about that. The shock was when I checked my credit card account and realised that I forgot to factor in the current terrible exchange rate. Although the actual cost of the dress form was very reasonable, the addition of the freight to My US and then the freight on to Australia, the cost was blown right out with the adjustment for the exchange rate. I'm a little embarrassed to say that this new dress form cost me just over $1000 Australian dollars delivered to my door. 

Once it arrived I couldn't wait to get started on padding it out to resemble myself. However, this was quite a confronting process and you have to be brutally honest with yourself. I did get a good laugh from Anne of Pretty Grievances reading her post on The Fabulous Fit System. I did end up using a bra to hold the bust in the right position, in conjunction with the Fabulous Fit System padding as well as some wadding around the waistline. I am still working on the hip/thigh area as it's not quite right yet. I didn't use all the pieces from the padding system, but the ones I did use worked out great.

Vera...front view
Vera...side view
Vera...back view
Vera...other side view
The quality of this dress form is amazing. The base is cast iron and very heavy and stable. It has wheels and can be moved around easily. The shoulders collapse inwards which allows closer fitting garments to be easily put on and taken off. The canvas cover is very sturdy and is very pinnable. The pins must be slid in at an angle of course, but this works very well. I can see this dress form will be around for a long time and I can adjust the shape as needed, by adjusting the padding.

I have been wanting to make Vogue 1179 for a while now, but have been unable to find the pattern which is now OOP. 

Line Art
Vogue 1179 line drawing.

I was particularly impressed with Sue's recent version. After studying the line drawings, and Googling every version of Vogue 1179 ever made, I decided to wing it and draft my own pattern. I didn't really know what I was doing and I probably did it all wrong ...but this is what I did.

Rough pattern cut and spread to create pleats
I based my pattern very loosely on the Named Kielo Wrap Dress, as I still had the pattern out from my recent version. The neckline was lowered, the bust darts removed and the extended side seams taken off. I then slashed and spread the front piece to create the pleats. The back was left with very straight side seams and it was cut on the fold, eliminating the centre back seam. The fish eye darts were also left off. The cowl was a simple rectangle cut to match the circumference of the neckline.

Vera at work
Vera was a huge help with pinning the pleats and adjusting the pattern to fit my shape. I added clear elastic to the shoulder seams and the neckline for stability. This beautiful knit purchased from Style Arc, a while ago is quite heavy and I was worried the neckline would stretch under the weight of the fabric. The armholes were finished off with self fabric bands.

My knock off of Vogue 1179
It has taken a while to get photos of the finished is just too busy sometimes. I have worn this dress several times already and I love the loose style.

My knock off of Vogue 1179
Closer view of the cowl and front pleats
After seeing these photos I think my version is a little looser than Vogue 1179. I would have loved to have seen the shape of the vogue pattern pieces. I think my version needs a bit more tweaking before I make another one. 

I have not regretted buying my new dress form. It has been a very useful addition to my sewing room, and I am really impressed with it's quality. I decided to name her Vera after my maternal grandmother, who was a talented sewer and made all her own clothes back in the day. I only remember her wearing dresses, always with stockings and when I hugged her she felt as hard as a rock (due to the corset she wore underneath). I'm sure she only ever had one dress pattern as all her dresses were very similar shapes with only small variations in neckline shapes, sleeve lengths and fabric types. Vera will now always remind me of happy memories of my Grandma.

Happy sewing