Flapper-Gasted

Today on bows&bunnies: this 1920s style dress #sewing #sewcialists

This year my department’s Christmas part had a 1920s theme, so of course I had to make something appropriate for the occasion. In the end I decided to go for a garden-party type look with this as my inspiration:

I used Simplicity 2599 as the base and simply added a gathered dirnl skirt. I used my pleating foot to gather the skirt, so much father than basting and gathering by hand!

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I liked S2599 for this as it’s pretty long so I knew I would be able to make it drop waisted easily. I also liked that it was for multiple cup sizes and included a dart. I made a size 18, however even for this look it was much too big and I ended up taking 10-15cm of the width out. Next time I think I would size down to a 12D for something that is the size I would wear everyday.

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I used bias binding around the neckline and topstitched it with one of my machines (many) decorative stitches. I also added some trip to the bottom to make it a touch longer and add more details.For the finishing touches I added a ribbon and broach around the dropped waist, a long string of pearls, and an old scarf from Alannah Hill in my hair.

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All in all this was a pretty quick project, right until the end I was convinced that I would hate it and it would be terribly unflattering. While it’s not the best look on me, I have to say I think the finished product is pretty cute. Not to mention one of the most comfortable things I own!

Until next time!

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A fancy dress for a fancy occassion

So a few weeks back one of my cousins, J, got married. I probably know her best of my cousins on that side of the family as she lived with my grandmother for a long time. I was super excited to be invited to her wedding and (of course!) made a new dress for the occasion.

#bpsewvember days 27+28 best make + hem: this silk dress I made for my cousins wedding. Underlined in silk organza with an enormous amount of catch stitching, not to mention the full lining. Then I did a hand rolled hem on the enormous skirt.

This is my third version of New Look 6723, this time with the skirt from the By Hand London Flora. I have to say I adore the skirt of flora. So big & twirly!

This dress was made of a lightweight sky blue crepe-back satin I got for $10/m of eBay, the bodice was underlined in blue silk organza and the whole dress had a lining in silver/grey silk/cotton. I used the machine to finish the lining and overcast its seams but French seamed the fashion fabric and hand stitched it’s rolled hem. I think this hem looks really pretty and delicate in fine fabrics.

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I hand stitched in my underlining using silk thread before assembling the bodice. I found it easier to use the organza as pattern pieces and roughly trim the silk before stitching them together and cutting it to the correct size.

Technique: underlining. This one is silk organza to add a little body to a soft and fragile crepe back silk satin. #bpsewvember @bimbleandpimble

I am pretty pleased with how this turned out – underlining with the organza was a great move, as it allowed me to catch stitch all the seams in the bodice down. I think this helped smooth out the princess seams, although I must admit they are still not perfect – I was too afraid to press the silk as much as I wanted to.

Catch stitching queen! #sewing

I adjusted my FBA a tiny bit more, smoothing out the curve and trimming my altered pattern piece so I could sew the seam at 10mm rather than 15mm.

#bpsewvember day 17: fit. The FBA! I only just started doing them, but things fit SO MUCH BETTER now. 100% worth the effort!

I also changed the back to be a “V” shape. I love the way this looks with a higher neckline. My facing did not go entirely to plan (you can see it poking out a little here), but I’m pretty happy with it nonetheless.

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All in all I’m pretty thrilled with it, I got a lot of complements and it was wonderful to dance in.

Until next time!

What do you mean no one needs 20 floral dresses?

Oh look, something new and different: a floral fit and flare dress! This time with a pretty quilting cotton from fabric.com.

Today on the blog: yet another floral dress. #sewing #sewcialists

This is actually the first version of New Look 6723, complete with original skirt and slightly dodgy FBA (I got better, I promise!).

So I sewed I a 12 in the front bodice and 12 in the neckline/shoulders graded to a 16 in the back of the bodice. I then did a 3″ FBA (I should have done 4 I think as it’s still a little tight) and took some of the extra ease that created in the waist back out. I then took a little out directly under the bust where it was a tiny bit loose. I am pretty happy with the way the bodice fits now. It took two muslins, but I used the second as lining, as is my usual practice.

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For the skirt, I cut the biggest size as it looked disappointingly non-full. For me, it still wasn’t full enough for the gathers to look good so I did two pleats on each side at the front and a box pleat in each side at the back instead. I quite like the way this looks and think it would be nice in a work dress. I popped in an invisible zip, which are my new favourite closures now I’ve mastered the invisible zipper foot!

Overall I really like this one. The neckline is super, super pretty and while I found the skirt underwhelming at first I am now pretty pleased with it. Sometimes it’s nice to be unafraid of wind. Next time I think I will put a little cotton tape on the neckline, as sometimes it sticks out a little from my body, particularly when I lean forward. I would also like to add pockets, mostly because I find myself trying to use them even when I don’t have them!

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Thanks to my friend T for taking photos again!

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Hello Halloween!

As a small child, I never “did” Halloween. My mum hated us Aussies importing American holiday traditions. These days, however, I’ll take any excuse to dress up!

Today on the blog, my super cute Halloween dress made using New Look 6723 #sewing link in profile :)

This little number is New Look 6723, with the skirt of McCall’s 6696, skirt front cut on the fold.

This is actually my second go at 6723, I made a version a few weeks back (which is next in line to be blogged!) with the sweetheart neckline. I decided to do my first “real” FBA and was super pleased with the results. For this version, I used the high, boat neckline and amended my FBA a little for a better fit. I used the 12 in the neck and armholes and did a FBA. Because I curve in quite a lot under my bust, I reshaped that area in this version, taking it to match my curves.

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I am completely thrilled with the finished product! It is the best fitting thing I have made so far and it’s amazing what a difference that makes.

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My fabric is a cute “scary cupcake” quilting cotton, I think by Michael Miller. My brother got it for me last Christmas (yes, it did take me almost 10 months to use it!).

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This isn’t the last time I’ll make this dress. I’m in the process of making a fancy silk version for my cousin’s wedding, and I also think it will be great for work. Hooray for learning new fitting techniques!

The power of ponte

You guys I have a new fabric love. I am OBSESSED with ponte!

On the blog tonight: Simplicity 2444 in ponte #sewing #sewcialists

I picked up this Ponte de Roma from Spotlight a month or two back, after wearing a (purchased) ponte dress a few times and falling in love with the fit + comfort combo. I did a bit of searching and realised there are multiple forms of ponte, so I decided to roll with one similar to the fabric of my dress. It’s a Rayon/Polyester/Spandex blend with a higher rayon than polyester content.

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After the silk Anna dress the ponte was a dream to sew with. It all came together very quickly due to the easy care fabric and lack of handstitching (ok there is a tiny bit on the collar back, you can’t hold a hand-stitcher down!). Plus ponte doesn’t ravel so I skipped the seam finishing #superlazy #sorrynotsorry.

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This is Simplicity 2444, in size 14. The last 14 I sewed in this pattern was a little tight, so I figured it would be perfect for the stretchy ponte. In addition, due to the stretch I figured I could get away with not doing a FBA, which I noticed I REALLY need after the last version. I did add about an inch of width to each sleeve as I find this pattern runs tight in that area.

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I made the collar and pockets from the cotton/silk blend I used to underline the silk Anna dress and love the way they turned out. I particularly enjoy sliding my hands into the silky pockets. Is it weird to enjoy stroking nice fabric?

The only thing I would change is lowering the bust darts a little.

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These photos were taken by my awesome friend T, who is a budding seamstress herself. Her super-cute puppy Woflie posed with me in the shot above 🙂

I have worn this at ;east once a week to work since finishing itI am already planning a work wardrobe full of comfy ponte! Looks like real clothes, feels like pyjamas!

A dress for a wedding

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Those that follow me on instagram would have seen some of the pictures of this as a work in progress. It spent a lot of time in progress to be honest. I’m not sure how many hours it took me to make this dress, probably at least 30, maybe more. There is a TON of hand sewing which was time consuming, then add on french seams and some misadventures in measurment and you have one time consuming dress!

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The fabric is a pink silk satin that I got from Tessuti while in sydney a few months back. Origionally it was going to line a coat, but I found fabric I liked better for that one so repurposed it. the bodice is underlined (more hand stitching!) with a silk/cotton blend. The skirt is unlined, however as the fabric is slightly sheer I am wearing a (purchased) white slip under it.

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So lets talk about some of the disasters of this project: because I used the bodice from one size but the pleats from another I knew my skirt panels would not line up. To combat this, I measured the bodice against the skirt panels and cut them to match at the waist, grading out over my hips. Unfortunatly I made a big mistake in trying to cut the centre front skirt panel on the fold. It ended up being 3-4 cm too short to match. Cue FREAK OUT. I knew that unpicking the seams to let them out a little would probably not work as the fabric is so fine it was bound to leave holes and loook awful. Instead I decided to cut from the top of the skirt until it matched the bodice, diameter wise, if not along the seams. This point being 3 inches down. This left me with two new problems, firstly, the seams no where near aligned, and secondly the dress was now an awkward length, too long for a midi, not long enough for a gown.

I decided to add some ribbon to the waistband to (sort of) solve problem #1. For problem #2 I added a 3 inch strip of fabric to the bottom. I was prepared to hide that with ribbon as well, but in the end decided it looked more “design feature” than horrible. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself!

Disasters aside, I adore this dress. It’s probably near to being my best work and I did so many new things for the first time. I am particularly proud of my hand rolled hem and the invisible zipper. I have come to the conclusion that I (and I suspect other seamstresses) are much more inclined to notice flaws in our work than anyone else. Plus a very drunk girl told me I looked like a princess, so I’m calling it a winner!

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I wore it to the wedding of my dear friend A, who looked like a princess herself and positivly glowed with joy. It was a wonderful afternoon/evening and I just know her and her new husband will spend many joyful years together.

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Until next time!

Review of my Husqvana Viking Opal 670

SO: as I have had my sewing machine for a few months now, and made about 4 things using it, I thought I would do a little mini-review. I thought this might be helpful as there weren’t a ton of reviews for it while I was shopping.

I do have to say that this isn’t the cheapest machine on the market, but nor is it the most expensive. I have a reasonably well-paying job so I decided to treat myself to what I really wanted, rather than getting something cheaper/with fewer features and upgrading again later. My old machine was a Brother XL 2230 It only had 11 stitches, and no option to change length/width. It was a great starter for me, because I wasn’t sure how much sewing I would do and to be honest, it was ok. It had issues with nesting however and the tension was a little off.

My machine is a Husqvarna Viking Opal 670. I chose it for a number of reasons: I wanted a machine I could “grow into”; one that would last the distance; a thread cutter; good buttonholes; tons of stitches and needle positions; a overlocking stitch; and ability to wind bobbin from the needle.

I tested out a few machines that fulfilled what I wanted and got the Opal because it was the best combo of price/features. I tried a Bernina, and a Janome neither “felt” right. I knew I didn’t want a Brother, as that’s what my old machine was and I wasn’t super keen on it. Plaffs were too hard to find in my area & I wanted to buy local.

So on to the actual machine.
What I love about it:
It does everything I want, the stitches are smooth and even, and it runs a lot quieter than my old machine.
It is very intuitive to use.
I love the touch screen + sewing advisor.
The thread cutter is THE BOMB.
I also love the “fix” setting, which means no more backstitching, yey.
You can save a ton of stitches to the favourites for later.
So.Many.Needle.Positions!
Makes sewing less stressful as it never eats fabric or destroys stuff like my old machine.
I love all the stitches and options!
Needle up/down stop.
The start/stop button can be handy.
Came with a hard case. So much better than the soft ones!
Comes with an assortment of feet (although I have already gotten more!)

What it could do better:
It is not amazing at going over tons of layers of fabric. It is a picky threader – I had a problem with nesting because when I threaded it didn’t go though the tension disks correctly, so you really need to pay attention and have the presserfoot + needle up when threading.
Sometimes I get the overload warning and it freezes for no reason.
Feet can be REALLY expensive. My ruffle/pleat foot was $90!

Overall, sewing now is so different! I used to get stressed out because my machine would nest without reason and the tension was always off, no matter what I did. Now (as long as I am careful with threading!) I never have to worry. It sews pretty close to perfectly all the time. Plus the store I got it at is a short drive from home and if I have any issues they are always willing to help me over the phone or have my bring my machine in. Although the only issue so far was caused by me not threading carefully!

So that’s my machine. Feel free to ask any questions!

Reverting to form

So after my last post, which was about trying a new thing (even if in the same old, same old floral cotton fabric) today I bring you a “new” make that is pretty much the same as most of my other ones. Why mess with a good thing right?

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This is Vogue 8615 a “very easy” number with cup sizes A-D. I myself like the cup size options because I’m lazy a rock star who likes to take the risk of skipping the old FBA. This pattern also seems to think it’s vintage: french darts, circle skirt, purchased petticoat. Still, vintage-ey floral dresses with giant skirts are kind of my jam. Plus this one has sleeves so I was pretty much always going to go for it. Having made it I am a massive fan. The french darts are very cool and interesting and I think the boat neckline with dipped back is demure but not boring or frumpy. I would 100% make it again and in fact am considering making one for work – perhaps with a less full skirt and minus the dipped back. next time I would also shorten the darts, I think they are too long (and also not exactly even, whoops).

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Modifications: I shortened the sleeves to just above elbow length and took about 2 inches out of the front and back neckline, tapering to just above my bust on the front and about 3.5 inches down on the back. Luckily the centre front seam meant I could avoid adding darts. Sewing has convinced me that I must have a small frame, but a healthy appetite which warps my figure into a mutant petite-yet full look. On the bright side, this being my first Vogue pattern I now know to take out a bunch from the neckline of all Big 4s. I sewed a 14 with the D cup, but it is a little loose – my fabric has a 2-way stretch to it (but not great recovery), so I think that’s probably why.

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Originally I skipped the lining – not having anything with stretch to hand and wore it to a party. My deep love of the dress convinced me it needed, nay deserved, a lining, so I unpicked the hand stitching on the bias binding I had used originally around the neckline and stitched in my lining, before re-hand stitching the bias binding to the lining – I didn’t want to undo my machine stitching as I knew it would leave holes and I also thought that given I was using a light china silk for the lining it could use the structure of some binding. I then stitched the binding to the armholes of the lining and hand stitched that to the seam allowance of the fashion fabric. I didn’t have enough lining to do a full circle skirt so I made a gathered one instead. I also re-did the hem after wearing it – I didn’t like the look of the machine stitching and an order I made at fabric.com including some horsehair braid had arrived so I decided to test that out and hand stitch the hem. The braid doesn’t make a huge difference, probably in part due to its width, I think the wider the braid the more dramatic the effect. That said, I think it does make the skirt stand out a bit more which I think provides a nice middle ground between a petticoat (giant skirt) and nothing (sad flat skirt). I am, however wearing a petticoat in all but this last pic for maximum huge skirt action.

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While this dress is very similar to my Betty-style floral frock I think I easily have room for both. Who says I don’t need dozens of floral dresses with big skirts? Certainly not me!

On trying new shapes

One of the things that struck me about the Wardrobe Architect series of posts on Coletterie was the post on silhouettes. Looking through the number that Sarai listed (10) I was struck by the fact that I have one – fit and flare. Occasionally I mix it up with jeans (on weekends or while traveling) or shorts (music festivals, hot summer weekends) but day in, day out I wear fit n flare. Some dresses are more flared, and I do have two pencil skirts but I thought branching out into a new shape would be interesting.

And so I give you a sheath dress, which I picked because Joan from Mad Men lives in them, and if it’s good enough for Joanie it’s good enough for me! This is Butterick 5952, described as “Lined dress has fitted bodice, waistband, semi-fitted skirt and back zipper”. The pattern also comes with a coat and belt, neither of which I have used, but I do plan on doing a dress and coat combo at some point.

Me made May day 6: cotton sateen sheath #mmmay14 #butterick #sewing #floral
I wore it to work on May 6 as part of MMMay 2014.

I cut a 16 (hello big hips and butt) everywhere except the neck/arms where I cut a 12. I added about an inch to either side from hips down. These were mistakes! For this, I honestly should have made a muslin, as I ended up making a million changes to get it to fit, and while I am happy with the fit now, I don’t think it fits quite how it should. But then neither does the version on the envelope.

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Before my many alterations, 12 in neck and arms, 16 in torso/wait and 16+ 2 inches hips down

So on to the alterations:
The neckline gaped terribly front and back. I added 2 darts to both the front and back to take out the excess.
It was loose through the torso and waist, making me look both like I have no waist and generally wider than I am. I took out about 4 inches in the waist, which tapered out just under my bust and at the hip.
I lengthened the darts in the skirt back and made them much deeper as the fabric bagged badly (maybe I do have a sway back?)
I re-cut the armholes at the back as they stuck out into my arms.
At the armhole front I made a small dart to take out the excess.

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The armholes are still not 100%

I used a floral cotton sateen with 5% spandex for a bit of stretch. unfortunately I cut with the stretch running up/down instead of across. This probably contributed to the fitting issues and does make it sit a little strangely sometimes.

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Despite the problems and the different shape, I really love this dress. On a windy day it’s so nice to not have to worry about your skirt flying up! Plus I think the floral print, which I adore, is less in your face in a more streamlined design. Next I would like to make one in a nice wool for work, lined in silk (I skipped the lining this time round). Next time I plan on doing a muslin, although I think a size 8 in the neckline, 10 in the armholes, 14 in the waist and 16 waist down will probably work well, based on the alterations I made. But I plan on making sure!

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Outtake!

Until next time!

Me Made May 2014

I, Bec of Bows&Bunnies, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’14. I endeavour to wear handmade items every second day for the duration of May 2014. I futher endeavour to complete my “UFO” pile during this time.

Gosh I am the WORST. Not only am I doing my MMMay14 post on the 5th of May but I also failed completely to wear me-made on the first. I blame excitement over my new asos cardigan arriving (unlike many other lovely sewers I Do Not Knit).

One of my problems with wearing clothes I made all the time is my obsession with floral party dresses. Also, novelty prints. These are not really the kind of thing I wear to work, although I do like to do “Fun Dress Friday” where instead of dressing down like everyone else I dress up.

The other issue is that, while I have a fair number of clothes that I’ve made, to go all of May wearing them would lead to a LOT of repeating. I probably have most of my “work” dresses on a two week rotation but to go all of May it would need to be almost weekly. I have already finished my first May project and hopefully will finish something else this week which should help.

**To avoid a million MMMay’14 posts, I shall be updating this post with new pictures as I take them. Follow me on instagram or twitter (both LadyxBec) for up-to-the-minute outfits and rambling.

Until next time
(when I swear I will blog some of the many projects I have waiting)