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M5972: Anniversaire Amour Dress

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And here she is – my inspired rendition of Eva Franco’s Lemon Amour Dress! 

Her maiden voyage was my birthday dinner with Mr poppykettle to celebrate my last birthday in my 20s. It was a lovely evening!

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Just as lovely was the enjoyment I got from sewing this dress – so simplistic and satisfying to sew, so enjoyable to wear! Having focused on more challenging and time-consuming projects over winter, ‘refreshing’ would be the perfect word for describing the making of this garment. Taking some time out to do some non-sewing things has been really great.

It wasn’t all roses though… but we’ll get to that a bit later on.

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The dress itself is a bit of a franken-pattern – I used the bodice from McCall’s 5972 and drafted my own full circle skirt which I had pleated with a sunray pleat at Specialty Pleaters. The bodice is lined in self-fabric and I was planning to incorporated a shortish a-line skirt hiding underneath the pleated skirt so that when walking, certain body parts don’t gobble up the skirt (we all know what I’m talking about!!!). But I didn’t end up needing it – the pleats give a lot of structure to a rather flimsy fabric.

The main fabrics are a nude (blush?) and deep violet-blue delustred polyester (as it’s perfect for pleating) from Franke StuartThe lace? That’s from Stitches to Style. It’s hand-made – which made things a wee bit difficult because it’s not symmetrical, but that doesn’t bother me nearly as much as I thought it might. Did I feel horridly guilty whilst sewing this incredible creation on to my polyester fabric? You bet I did. No matter though because I absolutely, absolutely adore this lace. I used silk thread to attach it to the bodice, and because the backing is a mesh with a bit of stretch, I was able to manipulate it so I didn’t need to worry about darts distorting the embroidery or the backing. I’ve done it in such a way that the lace can be salvaged and applied to another creation if it should so take my fancy in the future. 

 

Ah… yes – the twirling capabilities of a full circle skirt!

So…. the bad news I hinted at, and a few words on my learnings from the pleating process. With sunray pleats, apparently you hem after it’s been baked, and not before, due to hem bulk not allowing the pleat to bake in. I completely freaked out when they called me to say this (I’d already posted in my half circles hemmed) but the lady said my hem was so tiny that it should be ok. Yay for tiny hems!

What they didn’t tell me was that there was no promises that my half circles would be pleated on grain. If you know otherwise – please inform me, but I would have thought aligning a perfectly cut half circle (and I spent several hours checking and rechecking and checking again to make sure those two circles were perfectly cut) so that the pleating is done uniformly would have been a non-issue. I’m totally impressed I’m not screaming down the house about this – but this hiccup meant I didn’t finish the dress in time to wear it to a best friends wedding on the 8th, because I had to re-hem the ba$tard. Having (presumably…?) lousy workmanship like that shove my pre-planned sewing schedule out of alignment seriously shat me off. Oh yeah, and I also initially sewed the bodice lining on backwards, and only realised after I’d clipped and understitched – oops! Then of course my invisible zip broke… gah!

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Exhibit A: Lousy off-grain pleating.
Would you wear a dress with a hem this uneven?? Didn’t think so.

Ummm, Specialty Pleaters – could you have possibly tried any LESS to get this on grain? Also, turns out my waist measurement was smaller than their mold (I’m totally taking this as a compliment) so there was anywhere between 1 and 4cm of fabric down from the waistline before the pleat actually kicked in, because again – the fabric had not been properly aligned in the mould prior to heat treatment (forgot to get a picture of this before cutting it down, but the image will be forever ingrained in my memory). This to my mind is why the pleats do not hang properly and kind of go skewiff at the sides, but I see this in the original Eva Franco dress too (see this in the 4th picture), so maybe I’m just making a big fuss about it all? If you happen to be better informed on this issue – I’d love to hear your opinion.

I’m probably going to try the pleating process once more – there’s another pleater in Melbourne (I called him and wrote him off because he wouldn’t discuss pricing unless I came into the shop front - talk about old school!! He’s italian though, so maybe he takes more pride in his work….) and I have my heart set on another pleated skirt-dress for summer, so we’ll just see what happens with that.

The most important thing is I felt like absolute royalty wearing this to my birthday dinner :)

 

And I have some super exciting news – I’ve registered for ‘Camp Couture’ with Susan Khalje in September next year!!! I’ll be doing the French Jacket Class and the Couture Sewing Class, and I don’t think I’ve ever wanted an entire year to pass so fast! Anyone want to join me? Or if you’re a local, even come fabric shopping with me whilst I’m there? Baltimore and New York – HERE I COME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

101: Perfect miniature hems in a jiffy

I loath hemming. Hate it. And I’ll tell this to anyone who’s willing to listen. 

So when it dawned on me that in going ahead with my birthday dress (a copy-cat of this Eva Franco lovely) I’d just committed to sewing a full circle skirt, in a super slippery and lightweight fabric – well people, to use a well-loved euphemism – I practically choked on my weet-bix. 

Practise runs with scrap fabric left me with a wavy edge that pressing just couldn’t fix, time and time again. That curved skirt with its hem on some form of bias 99.9% of the time needed stabilising, pronto!! 

A quick internet search and I found this tip by a fellow Burdastyler. I don’t know if they ‘invented’ it per se, but hey, this is the internet – not a dissertation. I bought a strip of Belt Backing (not the fusible kind) from Clegs that is made of some kind of polymer, is quite stiff and if you look closely below – has a woven mesh/matrix configuration.

Fellow Melburnians – you can pick some of this up at Clegs, and it’s $2.85 for a meter. Frustratingly, I couldn’t get this in a longer length, so I was forced to sew in sections. I will be keeping a keen eye out for something similar that I can buy by the meter in future though!

The best thing is – its pretty easy to use and it makes hemming 6 meters of curved fabric a really quick thing to do. I’m using a scrap of fabric cut on the curve so you can see just how well this works.

1. Firstly I needed to chop off the edge where all the fibres are fused together so we can get to the good stuff:

2. Then I grabbed my quick-unpick and pulled off the bottom few fibres from the Belt Backing. How many you pull off (ie, the length of the exposed fronds) will determine the depth of your hem, from the stitch line to the fabric fold line you’ll see on the right side of the fabric. 


Once you’ve dislodged the ends of a few of those fibres, I found I could just pull them out. I ended up taking off about 5 of them, giving me just under 0.5cm to play with.

3. Line your Belt Backing up with the fabric’s edge, right side up. I’ve allowed the standard 1.5cm seam allowance here, and I want the first fibre parallel to the edge to be about 1cm away. Sew along as close to the mesh as you can – ensuring your machine’s needle doesn’t stray across into the unpicked area of the belt interfacing. It won’t be fun if you let that happen.

The little teeth you exposed by unpicking a few of the fibres are quite strong (they’re plastic) and even though I was using a micro needle (the kind for tightly woven fabrics) it never got stuck. 

3. Carefully, making sure you don’t dislodge the teeth from your fabric, trim the fabric up really close to the teeth. The benefit of having a curved edge here comes into play – I don’t really need to worry about it fraying!


4. Sewing back the way you just came, turn the belt backing over so all your fabric is on the left side (and the wrong side is facing up). The belt backing is providing support for your fabric so it doesn’t get sucked down into the fiery depths of feed-dog hell, and holding your hem fold in place, all at the same time. Sew down the middle of your exposed belt backing teeth.

5. This part is important – pulling willy nilly could potentially stretch out your bias and make it ruin all the work you’ve just done. I found that out the hard way. So gently, holding the fabric and belt backing with your hands parallel to one another, pull the belt interfacing out of your hem.

6. It may still look a slightly rippled in some places, but once you’ve pressed the hem flat, this disappears.

And now you have a perfectly smooth, unstretched, impossibly small hem. Woot.

Vote! Plus Patterns and Postcards!


Patterns and Postcards – a tremendously fabulous idea by the hilarious TJ over at The Perfect Nose

I’m joining in on the fun – so check out my Patterns and Postcards Page sitting just under the banner up top :)


Also – if you’ve been a member of Pattern Review for 3 or more months, then you’re eligible to vote in the Lined Jacket Competition! Preferably for me of course… but only if you think I’m worth it. There are some seriously fabulous entries by some seriously talented peoples!

You can read my review of Vogue 8333 (my entry) here, or check out some more pictures here. Thanks guys!

I also received this on wednesday – yay!