Monday, October 17, 2016

Sadie Slip Dress Tutorial - Cutting out silk on the bias in between paper

Want to learn a new cutting method? Here's a technique commonly used within the fashion industry for cutting out delicate fabrics like silk satin, crepe de chine, georgette, chiffon, organza and drapey silk/rayon velvets etc. This method is particularly useful when cutting such delicate fabrics on the bias grain.

I've put together this tutorial as an add-on to our latest pattern release, the Sadie Slip Dress. But really, it can be applied to any pattern that uses a slippery or delicate fabric. Firstly, we recommend that you lay out and cut out your fabric on the single (meaning fabric is open and not on the fold) and in between paper.  Cutting it in between paper prevents the fabric from slipping and moving and ensures that your fabric is cut on the correct bias grain.  The paper we use is our spot and cross pattern drafting paper, sold in all Tessuti stores (10m for $15). It's 120cm wide and has your vertical, horizintal and bias lines all marked out in spot and cross on the paper which makes it perfect for marking/laying out your pattern pieces correctly.

Above shows the layout of the Sadie Slip pattern pieces traced out onto 2.20mtrs (for size 10/SMALL) of spot and cross paper (120cm wide). 

Due to having to layout the front and back pieces going in the same direction, this is the same layout for fabrics 120cm-150cm wide . The silk satin used to make up the Sadie Slip Dress has a nap, so to avoid colour difference at the side seams the pattern pieces need to be cut going in the same direction (also advisable for one way print designs, velvets etc). Note that there will be some wastage, but this is often the case with bias cut garments.
After marking out all of the pattern pieces on the spot and cross paper, mark a vertical line at the end of your pattern layout marker and cut off the paper on this line.
Measure off another length of spot and cross paper the same length as your pattern layout marker sheet.
Double check by laying out your pattern layout marker sheet on top of the blank sheet ...
...and cut off end of blank paper as done previously on pattern layout marker sheet. 
Roll off the pattern layout marker sheet, to prepare laying out your fabric.
Lay out your fabric on top of the blank sheet of paper. It's important to make sure to line up the cut edge (making sure it's cut straight) of the fabric with the vertical edge of the paper and the selvedge edge of the fabric with the horizontal edge of the paper closest to you. Note: if your fabric is wider than 120cm wide, your fabric will end past the opposite horizontal edge of the paper. This is part of the wastage. Keeping weights on top of the vertical edge of your fabric helps to keep it in place as you layout your fabric along the selvedge edge. If your vertical/cut edge and horizontal/selvedge edge is laid out correctly and squared off in this way, your fabric will automatically be laid out on the true grain. This will ensure that for the next step, you'll be able to cut your pattern pieces out on the true bias grain.

Now that your fabric is laid out correctly, the end of your fabric length should sit somewhere very close to the cut edge of your paper sheet (see below)
It's time to carefully lay out the paper layout marker sheet on top of your laid out fabric. Make sure again to line up the vertical and horizontal edges of the pattern layout marker, with the same edges of the fabric. 
Again use weights to keep your paper in place.
Did you know you can cut out two Sadie Slip dresses at once? Before laying the pattern layout marker sheet on top of your fabric, simply layout another length of fabric on top of the first layer.
Provided the second fabric is the same width as the first fabric (or falls within the width of the pattern layout paper) and taking care not to move the first fabric around as you lay out your second fabric on top, make sure to adjust carefully and use your weights for support. The blank sheet beneath will help to anchor the first fabric in place, but you will still need to ensure that the vertical and horizontal edges don't move out of position.
Then lay your pattern marker layout sheet on top of your fabric/s. Pin around your marked pattern pieces (through all layers) ...
...and cut out your pattern pieces on the marked lines...
...making sure to nick into notch markings with the tips of your scissors. 
Yes, by using this method you are breaking the cardinal sewing sin that is 'don't cut paper with fabric scissors'! But rest assured, this will NOT ruin your fabric scissors. If you use this method a lot, you may need to sharpen your scissors after a while, but if you're using a good quality scissors (and fabric!) it's absolutely worth it. I use this paper sandwiching method ALL THE TIME with my Soft Canary scissors and I'm not even going to tell you how long it's been since I had my scissors sharpened (clue: it rhymes with 'ever'). They're fine and still cutting like a dream.

Hope you found this tutorial helpful. And if your cutting area isn't wide enough you can use this method to cut out on the floor...if your back can take it! 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

NEW :: Our Sadie Slip Dress Pattern

Meet our latest pattern - the Sadie Slip Dress. Since we saw this trend popping up (and because we lived and loved it through the 90s), we've had this design on our patternmaking radar. 

Though it can most definitely be worn as outerwear, the bias cut slip dress is also designed as a timeless and classic undergarment that can be worn beneath sheer garments or as a slinky, sexy nightgown. Features include a shaped neckline with facings, spaghetti straps and optional back darts. 
For a more casual look, Sadie looks fabulous when paired with a t-shirt, singlet or sleeveless shirt. Layer it up with a jacket or cardigan for a style that is both cool and comfortable.
My black version is made up in our Black Silk Satin with the shiny side inside, matte side outside.

Gabby's version below (shortened length by 5") is made up in our satin-backed crepe de chine Rocky Road Squares.

This fresh blue floral is made up in our (sold out) silk satin Ocean Flora

Colette shortened her Sadie and made it up as a nightgown. The fabric she used is a Liberty of London tana lawn - Juniper - and for some extra special detailing she added a black lace trim.
Recommended fabrics for this pattern include silk satin, crepe de chine, viscose, rayon. Lightweight cottons and linens are also perfect but because they don't drape like a silk, we've also included the option to add back darts. Other suitable fabrics from our current collection include:

Martinez, Alba and Carice Spot Satins
Indigo and Fern Tie Dye Surprise
Liberty tana lawns

In the coming days we'll be posting a tutorial that will guide you through the best cutting techniques for your Sadie Slip Dress. We hope you love our new pattern and can see her in your sewing future. And if you're sharing a photo on social media, don't forget to use the #sadieslipdress hashtag. Happy sewing!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

A (second) Sundress in September

You'll have to take my word for it that I finished this one in September, being intended as it was for this little sewing incentive that I got going at the start of the month. I may have gone very hard on Friday 30th September (which serendipitously coincided with a public holiday) but finish it I did....just.
A few months back, I went on a pattern hunt after I saw this frock and decided that yeah, a red sundress was something I could well love in my largely monochromatic life. Style-wise, that design is pretty similar to this dress I made earlier in the year so it was ALL about the buttons really. And then I found vintage Simplicity 6453 and I was immediately sold on that little white number that is version 3.
The fabric I used is our gorgeous Italian heavyweight linen, Ruby Solino (also available in these colours).  I went with the heavier (360gsm) linen because I was initially going to do the fitted skirt. But then one day I went Pinterest-ing, spied this and this (blue) dress and got quickly swayed from a pencil to an a-line skirt. I decided to use self covered buttons and these were done to perfection at Buttonmania.
Regrets? I have a few. I left off the pockets and my hands have already made several subconscious visits to the exact place where they should be. The idea's there to maybe add patch pockets but the reality of whether or not that happens is another thing. I could also do with a pattern adjustment  where the front underarm sits pretty high which is (I think) a by-product of shortening the straps so that they don't slip off.
A big shout out to those of you who joined me in making A Sundress in September and hope we get to do it again next year.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition. And the winners are...

Congratulations to our three prize winners in the Tessuti Cut Out Lace Competition.
First Place goes to Megan with a simple sheath dress that's been cleverly paired with those dramatic bell sleeves. We loved the classic feminine silhouette and her careful design placement of all the lace elements.
When Megan submitted her entry, she told us the following about her sewing background and the inspiration behind the dress:

I have only started sewing consistently in the last year after I had my daughter, making lots of cute rompers for her. This is only the third item I have made for myself (the other two being a Mandy Boat Tee and the Sydney Jacket) so it was a big step up in technique for me. 

I have made a dress using the Ivory lace and was inspired by this dress by Alice McCall. I fell in love with the tassels but due to the rules of the competition felt using the circle section of the lace would make a great substitute.

For the pattern I started with Burda 6833 for the bodice and drafted my own sleeves and skirt using tutorials off the internet.

The front of the bodice and the skirt are lined in an ivory satin, and I inserted my first ever invisible zip to close the centre back! 

Overall I am so impressed with what I achieved and I am planning to wear the dress to a local Melbourne Cup function.

Thank you for running the competition, I have really enjoyed the challenge of doing some selfish sewing and producing a dress that I love and feel amazing wearing.

Well done and well-deserved Megan!

Second Place winner is Clare with this gorgeous D&G/Zimmermann/Tory Burch-inspired dress. There's SO much we love about this design, in particular the clever addition of the flounce and the way she used the dot element of the lace in the raglan and waist seams. You can read all the details over on her blog.

Third Place went to Kari with this simple, classic and summery silhouette. She achieved such a beautiful fit in the bodice and the shoulder straps extend and finish in a back tie. Such a clever detail.


You can see all the entered garments over on our Cut Out Lace Competition Pinterest board. HUGE thanks to everyone who entered. We're always thoroughly blown away by the sewing magic and creativity that happens when we run these of competitions and we hope you get lots of joy from your makes.

PS If you've been inspired to make something now that you've seen all these gorgeous entries, we still have some of this lace left in both black and ivory.

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Sophie Swimsuit from Closet Case Files

When I started 2016 with the idea of not buying any clothing (more in this post here), I knew a swimsuit would feature somewhere in my immediate sewing future. In the lead up to a mid-winter holiday back in June, I figured that the time had finally come to finally make a pair of bathers. I purchased a bikini pattern that is very true to the style I usually wear, chose and cut my fabric, opened the instructions and promptly freaked out. Detail was scant and with all the finicky materials and pieces, it just felt too hard. By this stage, I'd given myself two days to sew my first ever bikini before I left on a family holiday and let's just say NOBODY needs that kind of last minute stress in their life. So I hit pause.
At around the same time, Heather released her Sophie Swimsuit pattern. After reading her pattern introduction blog post it was immediately obvious that an INSANE amount of her blood, love, sweat and possibly tears had gone into creating this pattern. The Sophie design itself is not my usual swimwear style but I figured if I wanted to make a swimsuit I should learn to make it right, y'know? I'd also been thinking about lingerie sewing and this pattern lends itself perfectly to learning bra-making skills. You've also got the option to purchase a video workshop series (this also includes a free copy of the PDF pattern) which walks you through all - and I mean ALL - the pre-sewing (fabrics, materials, adjustments, cutting, taking measurements etc) and sewing steps. This was my first sewing experience of being accompanied by a video tutorial and let me tell you, it is highly recommended and oh so comforting. SO comforting in fact, that not once did I refer to the written instructions.
The key with this project is to be both prepared and organised. I watched the first workshop video (Swimsuit Materials and Supplies) and learnt exactly what I needed. Then, over the course of a week, I chose my fabrics and purchased all the necessary supplies, ticking everything off the list as it came in. I brought my cup foam, elastic, underwire casing and G-hooks (see, I've got the swimwear lingo down now) from Booby Traps and my underwires came from an ol' faithful bra that should've been thrown out three...ok, five years ago. You know you've got one too. The fabrics I chose are two recent additions to our swimwear range - Flower Festival Stretch and Rainy Stretch - and it was hands-up 100% inspired by Emilie's glorious version.
In Lesson Two, Heather guides you through the measuring process which helps you get the right cup and swimsuit size. Like everything about this project, it's not nearly as intimidating or tricky as you think it's going to be. She recommends you make a test cup and guess what!? I do too! Here's a little tip...make your test cup BEFORE you cut any of your outer or lining fabrics. If you're making the swimsuit and get the cup size wrong, you've got to re-cut all the body pieces. After I'd made my cups, I wondered if they would be too small (or maybe just needed a minor pattern adjustment?) but by that stage I'd cut all the swimsuit fabric and lining so I couldn't go back. I wasn't prepared to go down that re-cutting road so I just plugged ahead with blind faith and, thanks to the uber supportive-ness and coverage of the Sophie style, it totally works.
In the video lesson on 'Personalising and Modifying' your Sophie, Heather explains that the design is based on an average torso length of someone who's 5'7" in height. Being 5'3" (160cm), I took a blind punt and removed an inch out of the length. Good call methinks.
Construction is super straightforward and Heather even guides you through the necessary stitch width and lengths. All these details leave little room for sewing error. Things can get a little fiddly (that's fiddly...not hard!) at the point where the cups are inserted and the underwire casing is topstitched in but, man, that finish is incredibly satisfying on both inside and out.
While the bust coverage and support of Sophie is a thing of beauty, equal credit must go to the butt coverage. Here's my butt as proof. See? No cheeky business going on here.
It's a beautifully drafted pattern and the design is incredibly feminine. As Heather rightly says, "it's both va-va-voom flattering and reassuringly supportive" and that's an impressive enough combination in a store-bought swimsuit, let alone ONE YOU CAN SEW YOURSELF!
With this pattern, there are skill satisfaction levels that are on a whole other level. My family are always incredibly supportive and (mostly) complimentary of my makes but with this swimsuit,  general reactions were along the line of "What?! You made that?!" Mum even put in an order. Go on, check out the #sophieswimsuit hashtag and be completely inspired by all these bathing beauties.
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