June 27, 2012

New Sewing Toys

After one year of thinking about it, I finally did it: I bought a serger! I am not sure if it is called overlocker or serger, my dictionary says that one expression is American and the other one British English...

In the shop where I bought it they told me that it is really called a "cover locker", because it can not only make those overlock seams but also do cover stitches (those which are often used to hem t-shirts) and chain stitches. Anyway, I don't care so much what it is called like, I am happy to have it!
So, my dear sewing machine, and my dear new cover locker, please be nice to each other and work well together!

Now I have two sewing machines on my table, and I am glad that I still have enough space to do the rest of the work like pinning, hand sewing,...  For tracing patterns and cutting out fabrics I put both machines from the table onto the floor, though.
My first project I did with the new machine was two pair of pants, which I finished yesterday, I hope to show the to you later!

The second investment I made is a small book:

It is mainly a bunch of cards with Pantone color combinations, and a more or less pathetic name and description for each combination.

But why is it useful in sewing? Just imagine the following situation: I'm making a garment, like most of the time from a plain colored fabric, and I think it can use a little extra to spice it up, something like some piping, or buttons, or topstitching in a contrasting color. But which color should I choose? I'm not a creative person (I'm just copying what I like from others, more or less), and I don't have such a thing like a "natural feeling for colors". So, as I am unsure about my color choices, I tend to combine everything with rather neutral colors like black or white or taupe, which works well but is still a bit boring. But from now on, I can open my Pantone booklet, look for the color I'm using for my garment, and see what other colors will go with it harmonically! How good is that? I have to admit that this is only theory so far, I didn't get into described situation yet since I own this book. Apart from that, it is also nice to just leafing through the book and looking at all those nice color sheets!

June 14, 2012

Retro Bubblegum Dress

I was bored last sunday, and wanted to sew something, but I didn't have a specific project planned, and still didn't feel like making another big project, too. But I still had the pink poplin I had used to line my bag (I actually had bought it to make some piping, but didn't do it in the end). I wasn't sure at all if the color would be nice for a dress, since it is very... well, pink! But when I was browsing through my vintage patterns, I found this one from 1968, with a very pink dress on the envelope:

I was not sure about the pattern as well. Although I like the illustration on the envelope, I thought it might be too girly for me. So as there was nothing to lose, I decided I would make an experiment and try the pattern with the pink poplin and see what happens. 

And I still can barely believe what I did: as the pattern came in my size, and I assumed that it would not be too "fit sensitive", I used directly the old vintage pattern, without tracing it before (which I normally do). I did use a smooth copying wheel instead of the serrated one, though. 

I fitted the dress while sewing, which means there was quite some basting (and ripping), but this time I managed to make the armholes not too small, phew!

As I didn't have any matching zipper in my stash, I used the next best, a white one, which I put in with a center lapped zipper so that it is not visible when I'm wearing the dress. I also stitched the back darts only at the upper part and left the lower dart parts as a kind of pleat. (Excuse the wrinkles on the dress, please, I stupidly took the photo after I was wearing it.)

The dress was finished very quickly, so I put it in my suitcase to go to Vienna last week, and wore it there, and I have to say that I like it a lot!

I think I'll make a dress again later from this pattern (after tracing it, as it somehow felt wrong and rude to use it directly on the fabric, doesn't that sound stupid?). For the moment I'm glad to have another summer dress. The photos were taken in Vienna when we went to the castle to listen to a concert, by my friend and colleague Gieri (thanks, Gieri, you're the best!)

And of course I took my gala evening dress out! The event took place in Schönbrunn Castle, it was a nice evening, and I felt comfortable and dressed appropriate in my black dress. I even found some long black gloves to go with it over there (try to find them in Zurich, it's hopeless)!

Here I am posing for photos with my friend Evelyn, we had so much fun!

June 6, 2012

Red Dots Summer Dress

After my last big project, I was seeking for a nice, quick and easy made project (the bag project wasn't very successful, so I needed another one). And I had this nice fabric in my stash: An off-white cotton with lots of tiny red dots and a three-dimensional self-fabric embellishment at the selvage. The fabric was calling for a full skirted dress!

This is pattern no. 108 from Burda magazine 3/2011, with a "normal" skirt instead of a balloon skirt. It is in fact a fitted bodice with a gathered rectangle as the skirt part.
Since I was very impatient, I did not make a muslin at all, just made the usual alterations directly on the paper pattern just with measuring. So I did not expect it to be perfect, but I am a bit unhappy with the too small armholes. Which I could have noticed when trying on the dress several times during the construction process. Well, I did try it on several times, but for some reason I never noticed the armhole problem until the dress was finished. So I let out the shoulder seams afterwards for as much as possible, but it still feels a bit too tight around the shoulders. The dress is still comfortable enough to wear it, luckily!

Die Armlöcher sind etwas zu klein - selber schuld, ich war ungeduldig und habe auf ein Probeteil verzichtet: ganz schlechte Idee!
So I think it is still a nice dress to wear in summer. I lined only the bodice with a cotton voile fabric, as I don't like the usual synthetic lining fabrics directly on my skin on hot summer days. So the dress feels really light and airy. Conclusion: not perfect, but still wearable (at least I think so), and after all, you can never have too many summer dresses, right?

Reading other sewing blogs!

June 1, 2012

The Vienna Gala Evening Dress: Finished!

The Vienna Gala Evening Dress is finally finished! Right in time, because next tuesday I'm going to pack it into my suitcase to take it with me to Vienna on wednesday.

Now some construction details:
Instead of an invisible zipper at the side seam, I put in a centered back zipper by hand. I don't like side zippers, and I often heard that invisible zippers tend to break more easily, so I thought this version would be better for me. And I think that it looks nice and not too conspicuous. Putting zippers in by hand is really much easier than putting them in by machine!

Here is a peek inside the dress. I underlined the whole dress with silk organza, but I lined only the bodice part, with self fabric. I also added a waist-stay, being careful to not make it too snug, since, like everybody knows, you can eat wonderful Schnitzel and Buchteln and Sachertorte in Vienna, and unfortunately, the gala evening will take place on the last day... you know what I mean?

To remove the bulge in the upper front skirt part was a problem. I started with distributing the gathers of the skirt only at the sides, but that resulted in stress wrinkles at the front. So I gathered the skirt evenly again, pinned out some of the excess fabric and stitched that as two darts, ending about one centimeter away from the waistline, which finally did the trick and is nearly invisible between the gathering.

But I couldn't solve the problem of the ties in the back which don't want to lie flat when they are knotted together, although I spent some time only adjusting the back ties (which takes even more time if you don't have anybody to help you with pinning them in your back!). But this is a flaw I can live with.

Altogether, I am really happy with how the dress came out! Although it's not perfect, it still fits better than any other store bought dress I could buy around here. And it has a nice slimming effect!
I'm gonna wear it with black evening gloves (unfortunately I could not find any longer gloves in Zurich), and with my vintage, beaded evening purse. Vienna, here I come!

Want to have a martini with me, anybody?

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