Facing Magic

I needed a simple bodice for the dress I’m designing and used this cowl idea from Pattern Magic 2.  It’s from the Different Facings, Different Looks chapter in which Nakamichi demonstrates how with some simple dart manipulation, you create a garment front which is a different shape from its facing, though, crucially, the two are the same length at the point where they’re stitched together, i.e. the neckline.  The method can be used to achieve different looks – a V-shape or a square, for example.  I went for the simplest round facing.  This is how it looks in the book:

And here’s a tutorial for how to do it: 

1.  Start with a copy of the basic bodice block.  If yours has shoulder darts, move them away from the neck and shoulder lines.

 2. Draw the neckline for the facing.  Approximate measurements are given below; you can vary them slightly.  Carefully measure the length of the new line, e.g. xycm.  Close waist dart.

3. Trace this line and make a pattern for the facing from it.  Remember to add the fold line and seam allowances.  It should look something like this:

4. Draw a line from the bust point to the neckline which meets it at a right angle.

5. Cut at the neckline then cut along the new line.  Close the armhole dart, either part-way, or completely for a more dramatic look.  Now, place on a larger piece of paper and extend the centre front upwards.  Draw towards it from the shoulder side of the neckline.  It’s important that this line is the same length as the facing neckline, i.e xycm from step 2.

Now trace the bodice outline and complete the pattern by adding seam allowances, cutting instructions, a foldline and the grainline.  Unless your fabric is very drapey, cut the bodice front on the bias 

You can alter the back bodice by the same method for a lavishly cowled, open neckline: I kept the original basic bodice back.

I hereby declare this bodice my February contribution to Project Pattern Magic.  Have you checked out this challenge?  Lisa’s project for this month is a beautiful dress featuring the Bamboo Shoot.  If you’d like to join us, remember no 
project is too small (nor big!) and you have months to prepare.  Just blog about it on the last Wednesday of any month or, if you’re blogless, send me an email with your pics and I’ll host a post for you.

Check in next week for the details of the rest of my dress: I’m hoping it’ll fit me better than what’s-her-face Boleyn!

Back to Front Blouse

When daughter expressed a wish for a shirt with a Peter Pan collar, I took her measurements, grabbed some cotton and voile and flew into making the Balloon-Sleeved Blouse with a Back Opening from Jolies Tenues Pour Fillettes Coquettes: to me, one of the most charming designs in Akiko Mano’s book.  Pity there wasn’t a project consultation.  When the quickly finished blouse was presented to my client, her dear face fell and she cried in horror: “It’s back to front!”  

Ah.  Bummer! 

So, we have a cute, well-made and perfectly-sized blouse totally unsuited to the independently-minded female who wishes to dress without a lady-in-waiting doing up her buttons.  Which is ok.  I highly value independence.  And the blouse will, I’m sure, grow on her before she grows out of it!


The Review

It took 4 hours to make this, including tracing the pattern.  I’m thrilled that despite the minimalist instructions, I’m quicker with each new project that I try from this book.

What I particularly liked here is how the casing for the sleeves leaves two perfectly-sized openings for the insertion of the elastic.   

I also liked the neat, easy method of hemming a button opening.  Sorry if you’ve seen this before; it has something of novelty-value to me:

When it came to attaching the Peter Pan collar with a bias strip, I admit I had to take instructional
supplements.  I’m grateful for this excellent tutorial to which I’d like to add a couple of tips: 

a) Press your bias strip the way it comes from the shop (second picture below, left to right) so that you sew into one of the creases… this visible line will be especially helpful if you’re sewing a small-sized collar.

b) Instead of knotching the curved seam, sew two lines of stitching, the second being 2mm (or less!) inside the seam allowance, then trim as close to the second seam as possible (picture 5):

During my attempts with the translation of this book, I discovered that in French, a Peter Pan collar is named after a character from Colette and is un Col ClaudineJamais! (Cor blimey!)

A Tudor Tyrant

I think I’m being exploited.  Perhaps it’s happening to you too.  Are you a sewist?  Do you have a daughter?!  Does the daughter imagine a garment then ask that you produce it in time for her to wear it to an occasion in her busy social calendar?  And so you do, working a right medieval slog till your eyes go googly in the midnight hour and you’re so cold that it’s become futile to even think about going to sleep: you’d only lie there shivering, your toes snapped with cold!

Oh, I exaggerate!  I had weeks to prepare, but strongly resisted the pressure from daughter to make a beautifully detailed, historically accurate costume for her school’s “Dressing up as a Tudor day”.  (A day!).  “Couldn’t you go as a peasant girl and we could just put some rags together?” I suggested to withering looks.  In the end, we compromised by using an old Disney pattern, Simplicity 5832, to quickly make a simplified version of Cinderella’s dress with added Juliet sleeves.  If you’re thinking of using this pattern, beware that it’s cut very low!  I added 3cm to the top of the bodice and the bias strip in the centre front.  It’s sized quite big and the skirt takes a lot of fabric.  I narrowed mine to keep costs down!!

The location of the photoshoot wasn’t, alas, our peasant home but the ancestral home of the Sidney family.  If it looks familiar, maybe you’ve seen it as a location in films such as The Other Boleyn Girl.

I recommend this pattern very much as the satin you’re likely to buy is going to be of better quality and lovelier in colour than that of the over-egged dresses you find in Disney stores and, hence, the result truer to the dresses of the original cartoons.  Beware that the collar for Snowhite – which presses on with studs and may be removed for informal occasions! – needs a lot of stiffening to stand up.  Here’s a picture of daughter some 5 years ago when she wanted to dress up as her favourite princess for World Book Day (and I really did sew through the night to get it finished).  I wondered at the time if the reason why she loved Snowhite above all other princesses was because her dark hair reminded her of mummy’s!  Or is it simply that Showhite has the loveliest dress!?

Viscy V1247

Sew2Pro’s 1st birthday came and went and I didn’t even blog – what a committment-phobe?!  Remember the Giveaway?  Without further ado, let me apologetically and belatedly announce that the winners of the Hollywood Costume Exhibition prizes are: Magical Effects of Thinking (of Colorado, USA), Jane (of near me in South London) and Sophie (in France).  Nice to think that the exhibition is thus getting a bit more travel, but the real thing, costumes and all, are currently making their way to Melbourne for an April opening at the ACMI. Leave me a comment if you’re able to go and see it: I’d love to hear what you thought of it.

The Mystery Costume (i.e. the dude with the big calculator) belongs to Darth Vader, of course.  Regretfully, his Lordship couldn’t visit this blog post personally but if you’d like to familiarize yourself with him more, watch this delightful Lego animation video of a typical lunch hour on the Death Star (as imagined by Eddie Izzard).  But put the kids to bed first as Darth likes his language spicy, like his pasta!



A Non-Hollywood Remake

On another note, here’s a second attempt at the V1247 top, this time in a soft, drapey viscose.

This time, I followed the advice to use fabric with a drape and bought a softly-falling viscose from A-One Fabrics, 50 Goldhawk Road.  At £6.50 a metre, it wasn’t exactly a bargain but I love viscose and had a hard time finding it in acceptable colours, hence the boring black.  Soon as I sewed the pleats, (which, incidentally, remind me of Darth’s gills though I’m not sure that’s how he breathes…) I had a feeling that my perseverance with this pattern was paying off but I’ve taken many pictures of my wearing this top and can’t say one of them make me think “wow, this looks great!”  Maybe more sunshine needed!


Pattern alterations

I narrowed the neckline and raised the front by an inch, grading to the original at centre back.  I could have done with another inch frankly, as I’m constantly fiddling to check if the bra straps are contained!

Overall verdict

No doubt I’ll wear this a lot on the school run, yet I remain wary of the V1247 top.  The French seam construction that creates a tidy inside of garment is a nightmare when it comes to perfectly lining up the 6 separate segments that make up the centre front.  Furthermore, it’s impossible to hem this top neatly with the tiny seam allowance given, as the French seams create bulk and even if your machine is obedient enough to pass over the bumps, the result is a nubbly edge.  I like my garments perfect on the outside before all; next time, I’ll leave out the French seams.

Here are version One and Two on the lovely Anne.  See how the drape creates a more elegant, flattering effect.