13 June 2012

End of Exams (a.k.a more sewing projects than you can shake a stick at)

Hello readers! Long time no see. A week and a half ago I finished the dreaded Cambridge finals and now I am blissfully contemplating the fact that I might never sit another exam ever again. Ever again?! Wooohoooo!

Since then I've been feeling a little bereft and lacking in purpose so I returned to my faithful friend Silver and his new buddy, a Janome 744D - a shiny and wonderful overlocker (or serger, as those of you on the other side of the pond call them). I've been getting on with duffle bags and ball dresses and have been turning my hand to some pattern drafting. In July I'm going on a five day pattern drafting course at the London College of Fashion and I am so excited! 

So after Vogue 2929--

-- let me down... {in a big way: The bust line just gapes open, as though they had designed this dress with a G-cup wearer in mind (not necessarily a bad thing seeing as so many women have to do full bust adjustments, but generally uncharacteristic of Vogue patterns). It has a corset and bra cups in the foundation layer but even wearing a strapless bra and chicken fillets with it is still not enough to make the damn thing fit. I intend to try a waist-stay to see if it helps the dress at least sit where it ought to but I don't have high hopes}... I've decided to draft my own dress inspired by Audrey Hepburn and the oh-so-sophisticated-lovely-drapiness of the cowl back. I am working with a rose pink sand washed silk, so I had to do something to show off its wonderful drape. The silk is so crisp: it makes the most amazing sound, almost like paper, when you waft it out of its folds. Here is my inspiration for the shape:

The front will be a high, close fitting slash neck with thin straps, like Ms Hepburn's dresses above and the back, a deep cowl, so I'm mixing austere and daring, classic and modern, grainline and bias. There are quite a number of sites out there with info on how to draft cowl necks, here's a list:

I worked from the basic bodice block I made using gedwoods tutorial at Burdastyle. I used PoldaPop's tutorial for the dart rotation in order to eliminate the two darts in the back (unnecessary for a bias garment and also ruinous to the cowl) and rotate them to the neckline. Then I used the method listed over at Pattern Making and Dressmaking NZ to make a deep cowl by fanning out my basic bodice block - six slashes opened about an inch. I still had trouble making a really deep cowl back. I have so far done three muslins and I am finally reaching a cowl depth that satisfies me. 

I am also wondering what to do about the skirt. I am working with a little over 2m of a not very wide fabric so it has to be a straight skirt really. But how to ensure it doesn't look shapeless and boring? And that it does not make me look like a rectangle (my body shape, aka 'apple shape'/ waist not so trim)? I have thought about doing it on the bias but I'm not confident enough to fit a bias-cut skirt. And it's all been complicated by the fact that the cowl back is going to bias-cut but the front will be cut with the grainline (perhaps it is a sign from someone up there not to mix my grainlines...?). I have also thought about simply making the skirt a tube just wider than the widest point of my hips and making inverted pleats or gathers at the waist. Darts on the skirt would look weird with a waist seam; why not make the top and bottom one continuous piece? but of course, we know the answer... the bias bodice back. The mind boggles! Either way, I know it will have a side closure (can't have a zip going through the middle of the cowl now, can we?!) so it will have a side, or maybe two, side slits, which is erring a little to close to the nineties for me, but hey-ho.

I have also started a new knitting project featured in Kim Hargreaves' new collection, Whisper. I'm making my first jumper, Smoulder, in a pale grey wool. I also have my eye on Sophia, Christina and Ebony (that sounds wrong - why give knitting patterns ladies' names?!).

Alix x

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