Monday, July 28, 2014

Me-Made-Monday 4: A brocade dress

This was the quickest, ahem, couture dress I've ever made, for several reasons. First, I invested some time in pattern adjustments to accommodate my wider hips. Then, I made a muslin to check the back, which was, as expected gapping. After removing almost 3cm of a gap, I finally cut it in brocade. This brocade was extremely laborious to match: in some areas it was stretched out of shape, and no pressing and pulling and tagging could help. At the end I just cut with generous seam allowances and slip basted all seams from the right side to match lines and patterns (esp. along the center back line), easing some excess with light steam. That was the only trouble, however. I was so happy I managed to do the dress in one go, without consulting any books, without much thinking about techniques, it was truly intoxicating.

Last week I was wearing this dress to an event that required 'smart casual' dress code. Do you have an idea what smart casual is, readers? Apparently, according to Wikipedia sources 'it is is the dress code most open to interpretation and the one least understood'. I even consulted Wikipedia before going, but after reading two paragraphs gave up. I was obviously overdressed for the event, but, on the other hand, nobody had a slightest idea.

The pattern I used is a Burda Matthew Williamson dress #134 from issue 09/2012. I loved the pattern and am playing with an idea of making a blouse in cotton pique using the same pattern and adding, maybe, some draped bands to wrap and tie in a bow at the waist... please remind me of it

Thanks for stopping by and if you want to join me add your link!

SSDA 11: Drafting a straight skirt sloper

  • Alphanumeric or plotted paper, or a large sheet of plain paper. (Plotted paper makes drafting easier, and the weight makes it more durable)
  • Lead pencil
  • Eraser
  • Long and short rulers. If you are not using alphanumeric or plotted drafting paper, get a wider acrylic ruler, or an L-shaped ruler to help you square a line.
  • Compass that can draw up to 25cm (10) (for a homemade compass read this article)

Before you start drafting:

Take a sheet of drafting paper 10cm larger than your measured skirt length, and 10cm wider than half your hip measurement.

On the top of your paper put the name of the project, your name, and the date. Copy your measurements  and calculations to the drafting paper, or staple your measurements and calculations sheet to it - it will help you to draft faster and reference the pattern sheet in future.

Note: Please check out the edited Measurements & Calculations post, which now also includes Front and Back  waistline calculations.


Hemline and Widths (points A, B, C)

10cm (4") from the bottom edge, starting on the left from the point A draft a horizontal line. Mark as hem line.

From the point A on the hem line measure the FW (Front width) and mark point B.

From the point B measure the BW (Back width) and mark point C.

Side seam, Center front, Center back (points D, E, F)

From the point B draw a perpendicular line equal to GLLS (Garment Length Left Side). Mark point D. Mark the line BD as side seam.

From point A draw a perpendicular line to mark point E, equal to your GLF (Garment Length Front). Mark the line AE as center front.

From point C draw a perpendicular line to mark point F, equal to your GLB (Garment Length Back). Mark the line CF as center back.

Side Dart (points G, H, I)

From the point D (on the side seam), mark down the length of your side dart LL (Left Side Dart Length) and mark point G.

With the compass on G, set it to the side dart length (LL)  and draw an arc on each side of D.

From the point E measure the calculated front waistline (FWL) to meet with the nearest arc from the point D. Mark the intersection point as the point H. Mark the line EH as front waistline

From the point F measure the calculated back waistline (BWL) to meet with the other arc. Mark the intersection point as the point I. Mark the line FI as back waistline

Draw lines from points H and I to the point G to create the side dart.

Back Dart

Mark the center of the back waist line as point J, and measure half the back dart intake (BI) on each side of J. Mark as points K and L.

Note: I am using center back here as an example, you can move the dart later to reflect your body structure. Generally, dart placement here is far less important than the correct dart intake and length.

Perpendicular to the back waist line, measure Back Dart Length (BL) from the point J and mark point M.

Draw lines from points K and L to the point M to create the back dart.

Front Dart

To determine the front dart placement, we can use proportions derived from Golden Ratio (0.62  and 0.38), to make the placement of the dart more pleasing for the eye.

(FWL* : 4) x 0.38
*refer to FWL (Front Waistline) calculation on your calculation sheet

Measure the above value from the point H. Mark point and measure half the front dart intake (FI) on each side of N. Mark as points O and P.

Perpendicular to the front waist line, measure Front Dart Length (FL) from the point N and mark point Q.

Draw lines from points O and P to the point Q to create the front dart.

That's it. Your skirt sloper is drafted. Sew up your muslin and let's test it together. If you'd like to post your images and discuss it, please go to a newly created couture discussion forum and post in this thread.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Me-Made-Monday 3: Silk Faille Skirt

Dear readers, this post was especially difficult for me, as it comes at the time when the entire world is shocked about the brutal and cold-blooded crime over Ukrainian skies that took down a plane with almost 300 innocent people...

... I witnessed wars... and conflicts... and peace... and at some point your memories become like a sea glass, worn-down, with rounded edges and matt... Until something happens again and a sharp pain pierces you... Why am I writing this? I picked up sewing again shortly after Russian invasion in Georgia, in 2008, a short war that took life of a very dear friend of mine, a fellow journalist. Sewing helped me to cope with pain...

We, sewing folks, seem to make this world a little bit nicer, a little more creative; we manage to find a common language despite our often very different backgrounds. We cannot stop conflicts, but we make this place more bearable to live in. I hope.

Today, I would like to keep the details short. The skirt was made couple of years ago in Susan Khalje's class. It is a high-waisted silk faille skirt, with boned waist. The top was made by a friend in Macedonia, where we used to live seven years ago.

As for the backdrop, it is a German navy ship, one of the biggest, if not the biggest. We were invited to an event that took place on its deck, just where the helicopters stand. The ship, which was having a few-days stopover in the port of Limassol in Cyprus, was on its way to the final destination in Africa where it is now providing safety to ships carrying humanitarian cargo.

... That's it. If you want to share your me-made days here, here is the linky button

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Seam grading tip

Sometimes a small trick can make sewing much easier. Take seam trimming and grading. It makes a lot of difference how you hold your shears. If you hold them with blades perpendicular to the surface (as in the picture below), you will have difficulties getting a nice straight edge.

However, when the shears are held at an angle (see below), you will achieve much better results. 

Do you grade your seams?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

New couture classes on Craftsy

Craftsy added two new couture classes, readers! Couture Dressmaking Techniques and Couture Finishing Techniques, both with a British instructor Alison Smith.  Apparently, Ms Alison Smith has received MBE award (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) from the Queen for her sewing and teaching, isn't it amazing? Especially when you think that the Beatles were MBE award recipients as well. Quite a credential!..

I've started working on a cocktail dress for myself and plan to incorporate some of the the techniques from the class into the project.

At first you may wonder how many couture classes can you take. Actually, it is never enough. Everytime I take a new class I learn something new, and it was the case with this class as well.  It's great to gather as much knowledge as possible, and, once working on a project, being able to choose the most appropriate technique from your couture portfolio.

Two lessons  from Couture Dressmaking Techniques is as far as I got for now. Not surprisingly, Lesson 1 is dealing with pattern preparation, muslin and pattern placement.

It is not a step-by-step project-based class, but rather a round up of techniques you may encounter in couture sewing. Alison Smith shares very good tips for checking the fit and pattern placement using semi-transparent tracing paper.

She uses British sewing terms, but you can see american equivalents in text boxes on the screen. I learnt quite a few words during the lesson. I loved when she used the word 'gingerly' when explaining how to press open a seam.  Gingerly is a word I am going to use a lot from now on.

In Lesson 2, the instructor shows samples of her favorite underlining fabrics and explains how to join the underlining and fashion fabric, how to use tailor tucks for markings, thread trace darts and the center line.

As the lesson goes on, she shows how to stabilize cut out garment pieces before they are joined together. She uses silk organza to interface neck edge and secures it with herringbone stitch.  A strip of organza and diagonal basting stitch to stabilize zipper area, and a binding tape for shoulder seams.

And here is the test run of the stabilized zipper area on my future dress,.. and my gingerly pressed waist seam. More to come...

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

SSDA 10: Measurements and Calculations Sheet

Before we finally proceed to drafting, I wanted to post a reference list of all the measurements and calculations, which we are going to use to draft our straight skirt


Waist Circumference __________

Hip Circumference __________

Length to floor
Right Side Length (RSL) __________
Left Side Length (LSL) __________
Back Length (BL) __________
Front Length (FL) __________
Distance from the floor to the desired hem length (LD) __________

Dart Measurements

Front Dart Depth (FD) =                         Front Dart Length (FL) =
Left Side Dart Depth (LD) =                    Left Side Length (LL) =
Back Dart Depth (BD) =                         Back Dart Length (BL) =
Note: please check error as described in the post


Waist Circumference (W)
W= waist measurement + 2cm

Front Waistline
FWL = (Waist circumference : 4) + FI

Back Waistline
BWL = (Waist circumference : 4) + BI

Hip Circumference (H)
H = hip measurement

GLRS  (garment length right side) = RSL - LD (required only for asymmetric figures)
GLLS (garment length left side) = LSL - LD
GLB (garment length back) = BL - LD
GLF (garment length front) = FL - LD

Dart Calculations

DI (Dart Intake) hip circumference - waist circumference)
DD (Dart Depth) = FD + LD + BD

Er (Relative Error) = DI / DD

FI (Front Dart Intake) = FD x Er                     FL (Front Dart Length)= same as measurement
BI (Back Dart Intake) = BD x Er                      BL (Back Dart Length)= same as measurement
LI (Side Dart Intake)  = LD x Er                    LL (Left Side Dart Length)= same as measurement

Front Width
FW = (Hip circumference : 4) - ((BI -FI) : 2)

Back Width
BW = (Hip circumference : 4) + ((BI - FI) : 2)

That's it, readers! To begin drafting you will need the values from the calculation sheet. I'll post the drafting sequence before the weekend. Please ask me if something doesn't make sense, or if you notice a typo. 

Related Posts:

SSDA 9: Side Seam and the Front and Back Widths

Monday, July 14, 2014

Me-Made-Monday: Silk Tweed Dress

Another 'unblogged' and 'unfeatured' piece I made recently and worn last week. This Burdastyle-pattern-based silk-tweed dress (phew) is rather a casual piece and I like it but am not in love with it. Nevertheless, I wear it a lot and (surprisingly for me) get a compliment occasionally. Ok, allow me to start with a shampoo commercial full-body shot. (I use Timotei, in case you were wondering anyway.)

Readers, I am so happy I finally have a beautiful backdrop for my pictures. It is a garden pass that goes around our house in Nicosia, and the plants are green and blooming all year long.

The dress is quite cool (not hot), although being made of tweed may suggest the the opposite. Silk tweed is only somewhat bulky and not hot at all. I used silk charmeuse lining and quilted the entire dress, as in Chanel jackets. It was a necessary step since the tweed was very loosely woven. I won't bore you with more construction details now, which I will share in a separate post.

Posing for images is not my thing, really. I guess I should take lessons from Rachel (Rachel, if you are reading it, you should draft a post on modelling). Here, I almost fell, trying to assume some natural looking body position while trying to stand on one foot. What was I thinking...

Now, a few Me-Made facts, and I decided to use a template here, which you can use and adjust for your Me-Made posts if you want:

When was the garment made?

I made this dress in May this year

What patterns and materials were used?

I used Burdastyle pattern #112 02/2014, but eliminated peplum sleeve after making a muslin. I used a loosely-woven silk tweed from B&J Fabrics in New York and sand color silk charmeuse.

Approximate cost?

Material cost was about $80-$90.

How often is it worn?

When the temperatures are under 100F, I wear it quite often, or at least once a week.

Where do you wear it?

To some casual events, fabric shopping (of course), visits to friends. For me it is not a dress I would wear at home.

How does it work with the rest of the wardrobe?

Since it is just a dress, I only need accessories to compliment the look, and I already had matching shoes and a belt.

Your turn now - add your link!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Me-Made-Monday: A Godet Skirt

Although it has been virtually impossible to blog lately I do have quite a few things to share with you in the coming weeks. Today I wanted to post my new  few-month-old godet skirt, which I have never blogged about. I've been wearing it quite often, and last week I put it on for an semi-formal ceremony which was held outdoors in a scorching 41ºC (106ºF). The skirt, made of wool crepe, was surprisingly comfortable despite the heat. I've read about this quality of wool before, but was still worried it would be too warm.

 It helps that it's lined with silk crepe-de-chine  and underlined with silk organza. And because of the underlining, after all these weeks, I didn't have to iron it once.

The skirt has a slightly asymmetric hem, longer where the flare is. And I added most flare on the right front only. The back as you see below is straight.

Ahem, I noticed the underwear issue here... A simple mirror would never reveal anything like that

Finally, the skirt in movement.

I want to finish this post by saying thanks to Zoe, an inspiration for the new Me-Made-Monday series, as well as to the German Me-Made-Mittwoch (Mittwoch is Wednesday in German) organizers. Posting daily for Me-Made-May never worked for my busy schedule, but doing it once a week is something I can try to keep up with, especially now that the life is getting back to normal again. If you want to join, wear a you-made garment this week, take a picture and post a blog post, which you can link to in my next Me-Made-Monday write-up. It would be great if we could do it as a group!


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