Liberty nights

I’m publicising my nightwear again. Completely decently I promise. Fine lawn is cool to wear and folds up small and light for travel. Add a busy print and it’s more decent in the opacity sense. Liberty Tana is of course perfect. I made a kimono style robe for summer traveling some years ago from a beautiful orange tulip Tana. I’ve been wanting a gown to go with it. I decided to use some of the left overs from the lattice patchwork, including the tulip print.

While working on the lattice, I found this second hand purple dress. It didn’t fit, but I rather thought the fabric might be Liberty Tana. It was home made, so no label to identify it. I now think it probably isn’t, but it’s very close in quality.

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I used a little of it in the lattice. I deliberately kept the skirt whole, figuring it would be good for something needing acreage. Then I realised I could build a patchwork bodice, and use the skirt for this gown. I got a few squares out of the purple, enough to tie the bodice in visually. Measure the pattern. Work out a good size for the squares and how many are needed. Start laying them out:

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Assemble the rough shape. This is for the front.

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Then cut the pattern out of it, cursing when you realise you need to put darts in it.

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Assemble the bodice, all with flat felled seams to keep it single layer and minimum weight, maximum cool. Adjust the skirt so it can be attached flat to the bodice. To maximise fullness neatly, I put an inverted pleat at centre back. The hem is the original with a bit of tweaking where I redid the seams.

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A quick pic of it on. It’s baggy deliberately but the colours, though strange, work for me. No smile, I had a grump on.

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The neck and armholes are finished with teeny straight grain facings, a trick I’ve adopted from my medieval costume work. It uses little fabric, is fairly quick to do and strengthens the edge.

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Here it is with the robe over. I’m pretty happy with it.

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and a gratuitous label shot. In this case the label is recycled from a now too small shirt.

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Peacock Dress

I think I’m supposed to be making some new lightweight jeans type trousers, but this fabric snuck out of the cupboard and demanded to be made up. 2.5m of peacock feather border print rayon. Not a lot of thinking. It just wanted to be a simple sleeveless bodice frock with a gathered long skirt. Having just proven that the bodice pattern I made last year still fits, this was quick to cut.

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I don’t enjoy marking or sewing darts. Sometimes one just needs the shaping though. A lined bodice like this requires a dozen darts. Sigh. The skirt had to be cut on the cross grain to put the border on the hem. I cut the bodice on the straight grain from the less feathered side of the cloth. This was to better take the weight of the skirt and leave more length for the skirt. It also put seams front and back and caused some awkward feather placement at centre front. Hence the addition of the brown lace, which I happened to have (in the large and overflowing lace box, ahem). The lining is fine slippery and cool bemberg rayon left over from lining some wool trousers years ago.

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The advantage of invisible zippers is that they are mostly invisible. Der. One can use a coordinating but non matching zipper from stash without problems.

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A better shot of the glorious hem print. I was lazy and just left the selvage as the hem.

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and a couple of shots of it on in the fading light:

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A Remodeled Wisp

I was wanting another evening dress. I hadn’t been able to settle on a plan for any of the new lengths of fabric from stash. I was however suddenly struck with an idea for remodeling a frock that has been languishing in the wardrobe for a few years. In one day I had the inspiration, cut it up and remade the outer dress.

This is the bodice, firstly after I hacked the skirt off. Silly me forgot to take a proper before photo. Then with the vintage lace separated out for reclamation. That waist section was a little too tight when I first made it and is now even more so. Drat the effects of advancing years.

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The fabric is so lovely, it’s worth reworking it so I can wear it.

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I found enough left over fabric to cut a new bodice. Short waisted, cross over. Based on the T bodice pattern I’ve used for several dresses. Not sure if I’ve posted any of them here? I’ll look later and maybe update. Anyway. I sewed that up the same morning. Then I regathered and attached the skirt, with a facing behind to form a drawstring channel.

It’s crinkle silk chiffon again. Working with this stuff is sort of like sewing air. The sewing itself tends to go fairly smoothly I find. It’s the handling and fabric placement that takes extra time. I do recommend using silk sewing thread. It blends with the fabric, doesn’t fight it.

Here is the resulting wisp of a frock

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Obviously I can’t wear it like that alone. The original frock was fully lined. So I reclaimed the lace trimmed skirt from that and made a new slip on bodice from a coordinating rayon lining fabric with the reclaimed lace strips for the neckline.

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Silly me sewed the back of the slip bodice on inside out. I decided it wasn’t important enough to be worth unpicking. So if I haven’t got my hair down, the label will be visible through the floaty frock. Oh well.

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And here they are together. Floaty, comfortable, sleeved and less formal than the original, if a bit less flattering perhaps. One wearable dress from an unusable one.

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Serious Warm, Serious Remodel

Wanting to capture this project on the blog, I’m converting a bunch of small FB posts to one simplified blog entry.

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I love the garment on the right*, pictured above. In the cold evenings at a recent event, I decided that a version of it in seriously warm cloth would have enhanced my life. The garment on the left is seriously warm cloth (heavy wool coating with a strong nap) but I hated it. It was ill conceived and I didn’t wear it. So I chopped up the garment on the left  into rough pattern pieces and split it into two halves, meaning to dyeing each pile a different colour.  Two colours because:
1. The gear I have won’t allow me to dye the whole thing in one go, and if I don’t, the two halves won’t match.
2. Particoloured is a perfectly authentic option
3. If I can’t have stripes or some other interesting cloth, bright particolour is about as fun as it gets.

If the whole transformation were not to work, at least the huge pale coat will still be out of the wardrobe. If it does work, I’ll have the toasty warm particoloured gown that I want without having to buy the fabric.

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I really love dyeing stuff. It’s so transformative. The seriously warm fabric took up dye really easily too, so even though I did two dye baths for each half, I still got it all done in a little over 3 hours. The simple red and green I started with came out too bright and candy like. So I softened them with additions of yellow and black.

The first try was using 2 bottles red, 1.5 bottles green, both Queen brand food dye (all I had). I wasn’t surprised that these came out too stark for what I wanted.

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To soften these I added half a bottle of yellow and a small slosh of black to the red. The last of my McCormick blue and two sloshes of black to the green. Much better.

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I’m fairly pleased with these colours. The green is less even than the red, due to rapid uptake of the red parts of the black dye. My choice of colours was influenced by what I thought I could achieve with these dyes in large volumes, plus what I want to wear and what might be plausibly medieval.

Then I had to cut out the proper pattern pieces. Sadly I didn’t manage to be as clever as I would have liked. Cutting a particoloured garment from fabric with a very definite right side has pitfalls. I anticipated some correctly, so the fronts and backs make a proper set. However, I switcheroonied the side panels front to back and the sleeves left to right. Wrong side out was completely unacceptable. Random colour placement was not welcome either.

I managed to fix my idiocy by swapping the back and front pieces. This was made possible because I had enough offcuts to recut new upper back pieces to give the needed width and higher neckline. Just a few extra seams needed.

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Here is the new gown all assembled. Not finished. Lots of hand sewing still needed. Ideally, I’ll get rid of the overlocking and whip all the seams down. Eventually. I dared not forgo overlocking against all the handling needed for the dyeing. I thought I’d be able to lose it in the cutting out, but fitting the pieces into available fabric was tighter than I’d thought it would be.

Bit of a transformation eh? Once I decided it had to go, that pale coat was just raw material. I have a silly fancy that the finished shape of the serious warm is rather Dr Seuss.

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and here it is on so you can see the fit. My take on these gowns is that they need to fit well in the upper body and arms to capture both the proper look and maximum elegance. Not full 14thC presentation, the stretch skivvy is fully anachronistic.

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*an early 14th C overgown based on several from the Taymouth Hours.

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Out of Season

This is a summer garment even though where I am it’s now very much winter. Sometimes a length of cloth states so firmly what it wants to be, that one may as well just make it up. The last three times I opened the stash cupboard, this linen said “Ahem, I will be a summer shift dress please. See, I’m a lovely cool open weave in calm, cool colours. Really. You can even use that bodice pattern you are so keen on right now” *. So, I did as it said. I pressed the cloth and cut it out. Laid it aside while I had a lovely house guest. Then made it up over the last couple of days.

Yes, that’s the same bodice as the last few dresses, only this time with no darts and with the side seam angled out to dress cloth width (~112cm). Shirt tail hem. The front has a shaped facing and front slit for visual interest. The back has a deep, lined yoke with a centre seam. This way, the whole thing could be sewn by machine, using the turn-through-the-shoulder method. The neckline and shoulder seam have straight grain tape stabilising them. I’ve used no interfacing otherwise. That back pleat was not intended. I stuffed up when cutting the back yoke and forgot to angle out those short sides so I lost a little width. Oh well, the pleat looks good anyway.

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I did put some care into placement of the huge checks. There wasn’t quite enough fabric to allow full matching of the checks front to back. However it did work if I inverted the back skirt piece and matched the white stripe. Neater than no matching at all anyway.

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I won’t normally make pretend things on garments. Closures that don’t open, buttons that don’t fasten, pocket type trim without actual pockets. I broke my rule. These buttons are simply sewn on to close the slit and look pretty. It just seemed the thing that would lift what would have otherwise been a more boring garment.

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So now this fabric is happy and has stopped yelling at me, I can move on to the next thing.

*no, fabric doesn’t really talk to me. Not out loud anyway. It does seem to be opinionated at times though :-).

“Nothing” to wear

I had an appointment coming up in corporate land. Having gone to this office a few times now, I’m finally aware that it’s heated so much that I will overheat in anything more than shirt sleeves. I quite seriously had nothing in the wardrobe in which I was willing to be seen, in shirt sleeves, in corporate land. This was made to fill that gap.

It’s the same pullover pattern as the last few dresses, but with a deeper neckline and made out of very fine wool suiting. So a corporate friendly pinafore dress. I think I’ve cut it just high enough to wear as a dress alone, but it’s on the roomy side so I can wear a variety of shirts and/or jumpers under it.

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I’ve put a tab and buttons on each side to make it follow the figure a little more.  This basically replaces an underbust dart. If the fabric were any heavier, this closure would be too bulky I think.

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This picture shows the fabric better. It’s a pleasing teeny tiny woven check in chocolate brown and black. I’ve stab stitched the neckline to preserve the nice soft edge. Machine top stitching would have squashed the character out of the fabric.  The lining is top quality Bemberg rayon cut from a too small petticoat I made years ago. It’s wonderful stuff to wear but the slitheriest fabric I’ve ever sewn.

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Here it is, with my serious face on. Only sometimes do I remember to smile for these pics.  It’s lovely to wear. Really comfortable and nicely swishy with it’s full circle skirt. After the meeting, still in town, I collected a welcome compliment on the ensemble, from a lady who turned out to be a fellow dressmaker. Sweet.

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Paisley Printed Pinwhale Popover

I’ve enjoyed wearing this dress so much that I wanted one for winter. I had 2.1 metres of this great paisley printed pinwhale cord, so I decided to squeeze as much dress out of it as I could.

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I cut the bodice then an eight gore skirt from the rest. Yes cord has a nap. I’ve gone with the trick of using one nap direction for the front and the other for the back of the dress. The little scraps from the neckline etc were used to make pockets. There are only tiny slivers of fabric left!

The bodice is lined with a gorgeous spotted rayon:

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All was going well, until I realised I had miscut the skirt and the waist diameter was too small. Oh no! I could either take in the bodice, or cut the skirt shorter. Being winter, I wanted knee coverage so I boldly put some casually placed under bust darts in the bodice. It’s now barely big enough to pull on, but still works.

From a distance, the fabric reads darker than I would like

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Still. It works, and I can accessorise it with brighter things. I’m pleased too that it makes another outfit base to go with these cute and comfy boots.

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Here it is on. Loose and comfy and fun.

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Dress from a coat pattern

Two years ago, I made a coat for a friend who lives in another state. I was delighted and proud that the pattern I draped from scratch, worked so well even without any further fittings at all.

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I had thought at the time that I could possibly make some minor modifications to the pattern and make it up as a dress. Then the lady had a birthday approaching, so I decided to gird my whatsits and give the dress plan a go. Again, no physical access to the lady, and I wanted it to be a surprise, so I had to work completely from the 2yr old pattern.

So I dropped the shoulder seam and cut in the top of the armholes a bit so it would work without shoulder pads. I added a waist seam to both make it more alterable just in case. This has the bonus of making the cutting a lot more efficient. I cut the skirts a tiny bit fuller, just following the line from the waist, there was no issue trying to minimise weight from that heavy wool. I made it up in shirting weight indigo blue linen. Very simple and severe, which suits the lady’s taste. 3/4 sleeves ditto.

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Last night she told me that not only did it arrive safely, she loves it and it basically fits. The side seams need taking in a bit, but if that is the only change needed, that is fairly easily done. I’m delighted. Of course now I notice that the left sleeve is more creased than I would like in these pics. Oh well, I can’t take any more now!

FFF 2017 #2

Folk (music) Festival Fashion, second garment for this year.

I’m a fan of Indian block printed cotton, but it’s pretty hard to come by. Especially as yardage. Even in finished garments I don’t see it often locally these days. I’m also fond of circle skirts, as you might have noticed. So when I found some Indian printed cotton bedspreads with circular patterns on sale cheaply, I jumped in and bought one.

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It’s lighter weight fabric than I was hoping for, but the colours are lovely. I decided to make a loose dress that would also function as a pinafore/over dress. I started by cutting as large a circle as possible from the cloth. Then cut a bodice from the corners. Because of the limited fabric, it had to have seams front and back. Then I proceeded to make a series of changes and errors, all involving those centre seams! Silly me. I ended up with a bodice that fit, but which had only a tiny seam allowance centre front, which needed something applied to support it. I was struggling for a solution, until I remembered that I had yet to cut out the centre from the skirt circle. Aha! I could use that circle to both decorate and strengthen the bodice front. I had wanted a lower neckline, but given I’d had to cut the bodice short due to limited fabric, and couldn’t make the functionally decorative circle any smaller, the neckline depth was set.

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The bodice is the pattern from the tricksy striped teal dress, only with the vertical darts left out so no fastenings are needed. That way I didn’t have to cut into the circle of the skirt. It’s lined with dark blue linen.

Here it is with the skirt on, all finished.

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It’s not the world’s most flattering dress, but it’s comfy and fun and I like it. See the fullness of the skirt.

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I’ve put a drawstring in at the base of the bodice, but I may not use it much. I think it looks better loose. Makes me want to twirl and dance.

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Horizontal and Vertical

I’ve been wanting a new sleeveless, fitted bodice pattern for ages. Loose garments are easy to make and wear but tend to make us well endowed ladies look even bigger than we are. Patterning fitted things on oneself is annoying, but possible. This is entirely draped from rectangles of cloth. I didn’t want this really closely fitted and certainly not figure altering like some historical styles. So I tried a new technique of patterning only one side, the other held only at the shoulder and under the arm. This allowed me to slip the pattern on and off quickly to make alterations to the pinning. Mark the centres when done and voila. It definitely helps that I’m pretty much symmetrical.

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Then I needed to test the pattern. So I cut a white lining to test the fit of the pattern with both sides present. It needed a bit of tweaking, but thankfully only in ways that enabled the lining to be used. Then transfer the changes to the pattern and proceed to choose a fabric for the test garment.

This fabric has been out of the stash cupboard for weeks, begging to be made up, so despite it being one of the pricier pieces in my stash, I decided to be brave and use it. It’s pure cotton in a lovely teal with a white woven lace like stripe and texture in the background. From “The Fabric Store”, who have such lovely things that I’m sometimes tempted into paying more than usual for my fabric, even at sale time. I shell out for the occasional carefully selected piece.

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In my enthusiasm to get a test garment made, I forgot all about clever ways to construct a bodice to avoid hand sewing. I had already sewn shoulder and side seams before I remembered that isn’t the most efficient order of operation. So I ended up doing the neckline by machine, turning that out and facing the armholes with self bias tape. Oh well, it got done. The zipper is a recycled vintage one I had in stash. Cotton tape and metal teeth with a lovely clean action.

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I decided to cut the skirt as a half circle, which inspired me to change the direction of the stripe on the bodice so the front is horizontal and the back vertical to match the skirt stripes. Amuses me at least. I’m very happy with the fit, a good shape on my current shape without being tight. There will be a few more versions of this made up soon methinks. I haven’t yet tried to see if it still works with different underwear. Fingers crossed.

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