Thursday, February 20, 2014

a little more georgia...

First of all, some exciting blog news: I REACHED 10,000 PAGE VIEWS TODAY! I still think it is so incredibly cool that people all over the world are interested in my sewing adventure. The sewing blogger community is just amazing, and I feel honored to be a part of it!

But moving on...

In response to a comment on my last post, I thought today I'd go a little bit more into how I went about troubleshooting my Georgia Dress bodice fitting troubles.

Here is my first attempt in a size 10:

I have a 36" bust, so I fall right in between the the US size 8 and 10. While the cups fit ok in shape and volume, the princess seams do not fall over the bust apex as they should, the side seam on the left is way too far back, and as you can see there is at least 4 extra inches of fabric on the right side seam. The size 8 really didn't look too much different, this time with more like 3 extra inches, even though according to the envelope the finished garment measurement is 35.5", that's 1/2" less than my actual bust measurement. Knowing that I needed to loose 2-3 inches, I decided to go right to the size 4 with a bust measurement of 33.5", 2" less than the size 8. I should mention that with these test garments, I have not taken in 5/8" seam allowance on the top and bottom, so the bodice when finished will actually be 1 1/4" smaller vertically. The size 4 pattern pieces looked very narrow, so to try to add a little more height to the neckline, and because my difference between high bust and full bust measurements is 2-3" (c-cup range), I did a 1/2" Full Bust Adjustment as recommended on the By Hand London Georgia Dress Sewalong.
On a side note: I was really surprised by how much I like this blue floral fabric as a bodice! Maybe a blue floral bra-top or bikini in my future?

As you can see the fit is much better, and the neckline while still low is not too low after considering the 5/8" seam allowance.  BUT I was seeing some sagging around the bust apex that I could not press out, a little easier to see in the second picture:

Of course I did my fitting without a t-shirt and cami underneath, and the sagging was even more prevalent without that tiny bid of added width from the extra shirts. Looking back to the By Hand London blog post on bodice fitting, it looked like the image demonstrating the need for a Small Bust Adjustment:

georgia dress sewalong - fba & sba - by hand london
Image from

There was too much volume in that area of the bodice. So that's why I decided to try the size 4 without the FBA, obtaining a higher neckline by only using a 1/4" seam allowance on the top instead of the 5/8". It seemed to work! 

My black sateen from sewed up beautifully, and pressed nicely to lay smooth over the shape of my bust.

I used my final muslin as the lining, and after all that leg work it came together perfectly!

The instructions call for sewing the straps on both the front and back of the bodice by sandwiching them between the lining and main fabric. I opted to only attach the front at this point, knowing from experience that I will have to shorten the straps quite a bit once I'm able to try on the near-finished dress. At that point, I'll sew in the back of the strap by hand. 

I hope to sew up a test garment for the skirt this afternoon, so expect an update soon!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

georgia woes

I've got my pattern, got my fabric....  but no Georgia dress yet.  Per the sewalong instructions, I made a muslin of the dress bodice, and while I'm glad I did... it's been quite the ordeal! I've made FOUR versions thus far!

Three of my four bodice test-garments.

I measure in between the US size 8 and 10, so for my first test I cut a 10. I used what I assume is a quilt cotton that I got from my mom's stash, that has a small amount of 2-way stretch, similar to my sateen. Once I got it on... it was like 4 inches too big! So I cut an 8 and still too big by 2-3 inches. This seemed odd, as the finished bust measurement given for size 8 on the envelope was smaller than my actual bust measurement!

Knowing that I needed to shave off a number on inches, I cut a size 4 next. The 4 would in no way be wide enough to cover my C-cup bust (WAY too much cleavage!), so I did a a 1/2" FBA as shown in the sewalong to try to add a little more height. The sizing worked both around and in bust height... except the shape of the cup was way off! So frustrated! How could I get the bodice to be snug enough around, yet high enough to cover my bust, and still have the shape of the cup lay smoothly?!?! So I went to bed.

Today, with fresh eyes, I tried again. I made a straight size four.  (That's a finished bust measurement supposedly 2.5" less than my actual bust measurement..... makes no sense!) The cups laid nicely and the bodice was just right around. To add a little more height to the neckline, I've decided to sew the neckline with a 1/4" seam allowance instead of 5/8". I hope this will give me the coverage I'm looking for without sacrificing the fit. Now I'll have to be careful when grading out my size 4 bodice to the 8/10 waist and hips, and will probably do a test for that as well.

I signed up for this project to try to learn how to better fit for my body. To be honest, I don't feel like I've actually learned anything useful for fitting other garments in the future, except to keep trying different things until you get it right, even if what ends up right doesn't make any sense!

On a side note, don't you love that test fabric? Folded up on my fabric shelves, I would never have picked it for a garment! But once cut and sewn into a delicate fitted bodice like this, the floral really kinda shines! So I've decided to use my final test-garment for the lining of the dress, and have plenty more for something blue and floral on the outside in the future.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

i made pants!

Hear that?

That's the sound of me crossing off another 2014 sewing goal! I made pants! Real pants! Wear-outside-the-house pants! And they fit!

And I got a self-timer app for my new iPhone!
Per the suggestion of Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow, I used StyleARC's Elle Pants pattern. I even splurged to get a yard and a half of the suggested stretch bengaline fabric shipped over from Australia, to ensure the best possible conditions for pants-making success.

stretch bengaline fabric in black  
Gillian was right! The pants are super easy to sew up with just three pattern pieces, no fly, buttons, or pockets. Good thing too, because I found the accompanying instructions be be more than a little confusing. BUT, I will say that Chloe of StyleARC is quick and fabulous at responding to construction questions via e-mail!
She writes about Elle Pants: "This is the pant of the moment, slim line from ankle to waistline. Elastic waist 35mm or 1 ¼ inch wide. These pants sit so beautifully without any bulk, wear them with your high heels out for the night or with your sneakers for brunch.....a must have piece in your wardrobe!"

It's hard to evaluate and adjust the fit during construction, as you really can't get a feel for the fit until the waistband it on. Still, before adding the waistband I did adjust(scoop out) the crotch by about 1/4 inch, and lowered the front about 1.5 inches so that the waistband would lay perpendicular on my body, accommodating for my fuller bum. But once I had the waistband attached and I could really judge the fit, I'm not sure those adjustments were actually necessary.

After attaching the waistband I was able to narrow the legs on the outside seam by about an inch from the top of the hip all the way down. I'm very pleased with how well the legs fit, and how easy the adjustment was! I also ended up only having to shorten the pants 2.5 inches!

Something very cool and thoughtful was how StyleARC includes little care tags with their fabric to add to your finished garment, just like RTW.  No need to ruin your handmade garment because you forgot the fabric care!

Overall, I now have a great pants pattern the fits! While the instructions leave something to be desired... I enjoyed using the StyleARC pattern and will use them again (in fact, have another in the works currently!). The patterns are printed on nice, thick paper that will hold up to a lot of use, and I know if I ever have questions Chloe will respond promptly. The stretch bengaline was worth every penny. It sewed up very nicely with the right amount of weight, structure and stretch, making a great pair of stylish black pants for work! My one complaint is that they have that ever-so-slight snowpants sound when I walk. You know the sound I'm talking about...  Now that I've made a successful pair maybe I can explore some other fabric choices that would preform the same, without the little annoying "swishy" sound.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

my georgia dress fabric from mood

Between my sewing machines in for tune-ups, a new job, and a bout with influenza (yuck!), it's been a long time! I have been able to get a little bit of sewing stuff done in between all that, including deciding on my Georgia Dress fabric... and it's here!

And it's my first time buying from Mood! And they even mail you your fabric in their famous Mood bag! Some day I will go to NYC visit them in person... but I digress. Here is my Georgia Dress fabric:

Thanks for all your input! I decided to go with some mid-weight cotton/lycra sateen in black. As awesome as an amazing print dress would be, I realized that I don't actually own a LBD and thought this would be a great oppurtunity to fill that gap in my closet. But I did also order a swatch of that yellow Oscar de la Renta tribal print.

Ordering swatches?! From Mood?! I feel like such a big, grown-up, sewing blogger now! And while I am spending a little more now on higher quality fabrics, I was surprised to find some of the options really reasonable, like my sateen at $8/yard.

Also, my StyleARC patterns arrived and are in progress, so stayed tuned for a update on those projects!