The Awkward First Time


I didn’t know what to blog about first, and I am new to WordPress, so I decided to take the easy way out and write an introduction. I’ll talk a little bit about what you’ll find on the menu here over the next few posts, show you some current works in progress, introduce you – and myself! – to my blind hemmer, and learn my way around WordPress

What’s Coming Up

I have a new machine! A Babylock bl101 blind hemmer. My vintage Singer 6233 Miracle Machine does a nice blind hem, because it allows me to drop the tension down to almost 0. But, this machine was inexpensive and is supposed to make a great hem quickly and easily, with a single thread. So we’ll see if it really is faster, easier, or better than my old Singer.

Black silk drop waist dress, unhemmed

Black silk drop waist dress, unhemmed

I also happen to have a black dress that is complete except for the hem. I’m afraid it looks a little like an Amish School Marm in the photos, perhaps because the dress dummy is several inches shorter than I am.

Today I’ll talk about the dress. I don’t have any photos of the dress in construction, but I’ll reveiw the pattern and discuss my changes. I’ll aslo show you a previous version that required repair, and how I repaired it.

Next, we’ll play with my blind hemmer and the black dress.

A new blog deserves new projects. We’ll start simple, with an easy McCalls top, out of rayon challis and poly chiffon. Because I like to have multiple projects going at once, we’ll also do a Vogue blouse with a digital print stretch silk off Ebay.

My Babylock Symphony has a mountain of decorative stitches, most in 2 sizes, that can be flipped every which way. I’m going to play with a couple of these stitches, and add a two-color decorative hem to a Hot Patterns Fast N Fabulous La Strada shirt. I love this pattern, it really is fast and fabulous.

We’ll also be making pants and shorts. I may not wear the shorts until next summer. But when you’re making a pair of pants, and there’s enough material leftover for shorts, it’s quick and easy to make the shorts right along with the pants. We’ll be using the Linda pull on pant pattern from Style Arc. The back crotch and front crotch are different shapes, and I think this helps the pants fit better. The only downside is that the leg is wider than I’d like.

The Pattern, The Previous Version, The Repair and The Black Dress

Vogue 8020 envelope cover

Vogue 8020 envelope cover

The Pattern I used for the black dress, and it’s previous version in peppermint pink is Vogue 8020. I think it is OOP now. I liked the fit-n-flare silouette with the dropped waist.

The neckline was too wide for my taste, so I cut it as a jewel neckline on both dresses. When the bodice was complete, I adjusted the shape of the front neckline to my body and whim of the moment. I also added sleeves.

The Previous Version

The Previous Version of this dress is made with a woven peppermint pink silk suiting (from Fabric Mart) for the bodice, and a knit suede for the skrit and sleeves. The sleeves are finished with a band of bias suiting, and the neck is finished with a band of suede knit.

The silk suiting is very ravely and fragile. The fabric at the neckline seam began to fall apart.The band began to pull away from the bodice

Scissor points to fraying fabric, pulling apart from the neckband

Scissor points to fraying fabric, pulling apart from the neckband

The Repair.

I fused some soft interfacing around the neckline, right up against the neckband. I had very, very little of the knit suede left, but I managed to find a scrap just big enough to cut a replacement neckband.

New band pinned in place, serger knives cutting off the old band while applying the new one

New band pinned in place, serger knives cutting off the old band while applying the new one

I sewed the ends of the band together. I folded it lengthwise right side out, wrong side in. I lined the raw edge of the new band up with the folded top edge of the old band.

Then, I ran it through the serger so that the knives cut off the old band while the new band was stitched in place with the intterfacing now supporting the silk at the neckline.

Repaired neckline

Repaired neckline

In retrospect I should have interfaced the neck edge when it was cut out. Or I should have added an interlining to the bodice for more strength. Here is the repaired neckline, and the dress on a dress dummy

Peppermint pink silk and misty grey suede version of Vogue 8020, with long sleeves

Peppermint pink silk and misty grey suede version of Vogue 8020, with long sleev1

The Black Dress

The black version of this dress was inspired by an expensive (as in thousands) Alexander MacQueen dress I saw on the Niemen Marcus website. The designer version did not have darts or princess seams, instead the bodice was fitted with a horizontal seam across the bust and a center seam down the front. What caught my eye was the skirt. It was slightly flared, with large buttoned pleats on each side.

My version is made from black silk suiting (from Fabric Mart). This suiting has a softer hand and is a bit less ravely than the peppermint pink suiting I used for the previous dress.

My version also uses conventional princess seaming to shape the bodice. The seamlines in the bodice of the designer version are different, but the final overall shape is the same as my Vogue pattern.

20150824_154130I decided to line this version of the dress. I used some satiny stuff from the stash in the bodice, and black poly lining from (where else?) Fabric Mart for the skirt. I did not line the pleats. The pleats are sort of like wings sewn into the side seam, and buttoned to the skirt front at the dropped waist.  The photo of the skirt on the table shows one pleat wing buttoned in place, the other opened out so you can see the actual shape.

And now, the dress is ready to hem!


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