Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Evolution to my ultimate Athleisure dress; Variations of V1336

One of my absolute favorite parts about the entire process of sewing is being able to customize the garments that I sew for me. I can not only make fitting changes to a pattern that I may like or that inspires me but I can change fabric type, design details and in this post you can see that I have really changed the pattern from where it started from to what I have made it into! Its a fun process to take something and re-make it into different versions. I can wear 2 different versions of this dress on back to back days and no one would even be able to tell that they were from the same base pattern.
My latest 3 versions of Vogue 1336
Left: Ponte color blocking with 2 prints
Middle: Sweater knit muslin with hood
Right: Final product! 

You can find the pattern here and the link to my previous blog post on this dress here from December 2015
I have probably shortened this dress by at least 5 inches. The model on the pattern front must by 6 feet tall! The pattern front shows this dress coming to the knee. When I made this pattern the first time it came to lower calf length and I am 5'5". So beware of the length if you decide to make this.

My first iteration on this go around was strictly to get fit correct and to get a dress that I could wear for work meetings/dinner obligations etc. I based the fit of this dress off of one of the old dresses that I had taken in.It is not perfect but for a ponte dress it certainly works well! The fabric I used is from my collection and is from an online source. I have had it for several years so most likely it is going to be a mostly polyester ponte which means that eventually there will be pilling and wear on the fabric. I'm ok with that since in my mind this is a wearable muslin.
 I made several changes from my original dresses. I changed the neckline back into a V, still different then the original dress. I just felt that I had to for 2 reasons. The first was that this fabric is all angles and a V neck suited it better and the second was that I knew I wanted a V-neck to play with attaching a hood for my final version. I also took quite a bit in at the side seams and 1/2 inch off of the middle lower color blocked seams to keep the basic perspective of the color blocking intact.
Such serious looks on my face! LOL!

Once I got the fit pretty close with the ponte version I moved to a mock up of the athleisure version that I had sketched. I choose a sweater knit from my collection that was purchased from one of JoAnn's super sales. It was in the clearance section and it was 50% off that price. It was pretty much the closest thing that I could find to my real fabric that I wouldn't care about if it was a total fail! The fabric is cute but not a high quality at all. FOr this version I opted to overlay the top portions and the bottom portions so that I essentially only have a waist seam, side seams and the lower band. No need to use the color blocking layout on this one.

To draft the hood I pulled a hoodie pattern from my collection and used that basic shape. On this version I have the hood attaching half way down the V with the lower V finished off with a small band. It is not bad... not good either! The hood was way too big all over and the placement on the V made it so that it just didn't feel right. The hood kept feeling like it was pulling the entire dress back and that as the day wore on I feel like it creeps up my neck towards my throat. 
Wearable mock-up of the dress with hood down.

Wearable mockup with the hood up... Hood is way too big and wide!

In the final version, at least for now, I redrafted the hood to have less volume overall and so that it attached at the center of the V neck. Oh! I like this version so much better!!! To highlight the seaming I made a flat piping of the green knit and inserted it in all the blocking seams. 

Knowing that my final knit fabric was likely to stretch slightly in length just due to it's properties I folded out an additional one inch in length. Ideally I would have liked it about another inch shorter. The best thing about this adventure is that in the end this is exactly what I had in mind!
Hood down. The dark grey multi color flecked sweater knit is from Emma One Sock and the green is a bamboo knit end cut from Smugglers Daughter.

Hood up :) Of course I should have looked in the mirror first to make sure my hood was on perfect but... oh well!
Hood in progress sitting on my hat form. I cut the grey knit to the size I wanted and the green bamboo knit to be 1.25 inches larger at the face edge so that I could sew it right sides together and then wrap the lightweight green bamboo knit around and make this nice 5/8 inch edging. I then stitched in the ditch along this edges to make it a permanent feature.

In this comparison photo you can really see the difference in the hoods. The top left shows how the V neck is being pulled back by the hood since it only attaches partway down the V.  Top right shows how I attached the hood directly into the lowest part of the V. Much more stable application and does not pull the neckline back.
The bottom photos show how much I reduced the overall hood size as well as reshaped the front. The hood on the left is very baggy with too much fabric and when it is all the way on the front portion comes down quite a bit resembling more of a Jedi hood than my cool athleisure look!you can see on the right the hood is on all the way and the look is much more streamlined!
So, the question remains as to whether I will make this dress again... probably, maybe at some time. It can always be made without the sleeves for a summer version. The only additional changes I may make to this pattern is to move the shoulder line forward a bit. But let's be realistic, that is being nitpicky! I could always chop off about a foot or so and turn it into a tunic top as well.

Happy Sewing!

Friday, January 27, 2017

In The Sketchbook- January 2017

Welcome to In the Sketchbook, a monthly look at fashion design sketches that we are working on for ourselves. Sketching garments on a personal croquis is a great way for the individual couture enthusiast to move beyond the use of commercial patterns and into a world of personalized design! It can be intimidating at first, but with a little bit of practice it becomes something you look forward to. Join us for a look of what we have going on In the Sketchbook! Brought to you by Wendy Grossman of Couture Counsellor and Steph King from Siouxzeegirl Designs.

Happy New Year!

I hope that everyone had a wonderful and safe New Years. I love the idea of a new year. It evokes feelings of freshness and creativeness that usually gets quite stuffed down and put to the side during the end of the year flurry of holidays, get togethers and family time.

I have 2 things to share with you this month.

The first is the process of taking a sketched garment and turning it into a reality. Often times this creative process can take quite a while. Sometimes the sketches that I do are speculations and what-ifs, playing with ideas in my head and getting them onto paper to see if they have possibility. Other Times I have fabric or in the case I am going to show you I have a fabric combo that I really want to use together.

In this case, I first showed this drawing back in September of 2016. Fall was coming and all of the fashion magazines seemed to be showcasing this fun, relaxed but chic looking athleisure wear. I loved the idea of adding a soft comfy hood to a knit dress and that is how I dreamed up this idea.
As the the holidays wrapped up I was chomping at the bit to get this made. It was an idea that I really wanted to try and I just kept thinking what a perfect cozy casual dress to slip into on a cold winter day! I have a full blog post coming up on how I actually got to this final product. It was a several step process. I really enjoyed the process and I took some satisfaction in making a sketch come to life. 

There are some subtle differences between the sketch and the final product. We could play the game of 'spot the 5 differences'! any takers?

Ok For the top 'front' photo you can see that there are 3 differences.
  1. I changed the neckline to a shallow V.
  2. I attached the hood right down to the V. 
  3. The length is a couple inches longer. SOme of this having to do with the give of the fabric weave.
For the 'back' view I changed 2 things.
  1. I added the blocking and inserted flat piping to give it some more interest.
  2. I changed the hood to be made of the grey weave and lined with green instead of all green. I'm glad I did! A green head would have looked funny.

The second thing that I want to share is some of my explorations of using markers and markers/pencils in my sketches. I am loving the bold use of the markers and how fun they are to draw with. Admittedly, it will take some time to master the marker. I have some that are chisel tips, brush tips and fine tips. Figuring which ones work best for different applications is fun. I wish I had more time in the day to play!!

The 2 garments below are finalized ideas for possible entries into the Spring Haute Couture Club of Chicago fashion show. Now that I have ideas finalized I need to work on patterning and muslins to get things going.

Variation of my corners dress. Using a small print of silk with a dimensional silver texture.for the detailed parts and the larger print of a cotton /lycra for the larger areas. I covered her face in this because I didn't want to show how awful it is!
Then decided that an awful face is all about the process... so you can see it below and get a good laugh! I know I did!!

This second garment is one that has been brewing for quite a while. At least since last spring when I attended Sarah Veblen's Design 1 workshop. I originally had an entirely different idea for the use of these fabrics. They were all being used together but in a very different type of garment. Although I really like the garment I originally sketched it just seemed very forced to me. This new idea has just made me fall in love with the idea!
I am very happy that I was able to sketch out my idea and in a way that really captures the garment I see in my mind.
The majority of the dress is done in a very fine pinstripe menswear wool. The deep V will have an inset of red silk georgette and the godets are going to be the neoprene laser cut lace layered over red silk chiffon.
And as for the face! This time I did not try to add any details and I like this much better!

This is a bolero type jacket that will go over the dress. the sleeves and the flared back portion (which I drew flared out, even though it will drape into lovely folds when worn) are both to echo the godets as the neoprene laser cut lace layered over the chiffon and the front panels and upper back yoke are a red/black large dot jaquard with the neoprene lace layered over it for cohesion. This will have a simple closure and no collar with the thought that the bottom of the V of the dress will be seen below the front bolero.

Here is a close up of the main fabrics.

I am really enjoying taking my sketching to the next level and using markers. I won't do all my sketches this way. I think of this as a second step or as a way to further develop sketches that I want to more fully explore. I also find that adding in some of the body detail is nice for my eye. 

Make sure to stop by Wendy Grossman of Couture Counsellor to see what lovely sketches and ideas she is working on. I happen to know that she has been exploring ways to do digital sketching, it is very cool!  Please feel free to share your sketches and ideas, leave either of us a comment or just link back to one of our posts.

Happy Sketching!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Appleton wrap dress hacks!

Just before the Christmas holidays I made 3 more Cashmerette Appleton wrap dresses. Two for myself and one for my daughter.

Since this was the first one I've made for my daughter I used the pattern as is. I let her pick a fabric from my knit collection and she choose this soft cotton/lycra animal print. Not much else to say about this! She looks great and feels comfortable so that's what counts.
Melissa showing off her animal print Appleton.

For the two dresses that I made for myself I did change up the pattern to introduce some variety to my closet.

Dress one: I changed the skirt on this one to be a full skirt. In order to achieve this I traced off my pattern and then from the waist line and below I made vertical cuts from the hem line to the waist and spread these out. I employed a basic slash and spread techniques keeping CF and CB on grain. I kept in mind the width of my fabric because I wanted to be able to cut the CB on the fold and keep CF from having to be cut single layer. This also kept me from going with a skirt that was too full. The only consideration that you need to keep in mind is the overlap portion on the front skirt. If you take that out in too far of an angle your fabric may want to fold back on itself. I know this from experience! I ended up having to change the skirt portion of the overlap just slightly. I took 2 inches off the width at the hem and angled it to nothing up at the waist area. It was just enough to keep the overlap hanging straight. I really love this slightly fuller skirt. It makes the dress a little more frilly and feminine.
Yay  for a twirly dress! Photobombed by Blue. Poor baby is so lonely after losing her 2 best friends in the space of 10 months. Now she is VERY interested in everything I am doing!

Dress two: I wanted this dress to be a party dress. Something for the holidays that was a bit more dressier than my normal Appletons. I thought about lengthening it into a maxi dress but when I held the fabric up in front of me on the mirror it just seemed to swallow me up! So I left the length alone and ended up lengthening the sleeves. I added enough so that they would be long sleeves and then an additional 8 inches so that I could ruch the bottom portion. I loved it. It gave it just enough something different and special in this party fabric. Which by the way is a burnout stretch velvet so it is sort of see through depending on the lighting. I decided against lining and wore it with a black camisole and tights. This is a winter dress so the likelihood of it ever seeing daylight is next to nil. So, I think i'm okay with it!
This stretch burnout velvet is very shiny!
Detail of the ruching on the sleeves. I think this fabric just lends itself to this detail.
Here I am in my new dress at a Christmas get together! Man, you just have to love that suit!

Since I have lost so much weight since I made the first trio of Appletons I think I may still need to add one or two more to my current wardrobe. I did end up altering one of my existing dresses. My favorite of the 3, the gray lightning dress, it lent itself to being easily altered due to the type of knit and the random pattern if the knit. The other 2 have made their way to the goodwill bin. To take in some of the fullness I decided to take it in at the center back. I literally laid the dress out, found CB, folded it on CB and then pinned it about 3 inches away and hit the serger running! I took off about 31/2 to 4 inches from CB. I serged right through the hem and right through the neck band leaving long enough tails at each end so I could bury them in the seam.

Happy Sewing!!

LOL!!!! I had to add these photos! I looked entirely pissed off... I was home alone. I wonder what I was thinking about? That Face!!