Sakura Clemence Skirt

clemence skirt

All this work on bodice slopers and muslins left me in need of a quick sewing project!¬†Plus I thought you all deserved some colourful pictures after all the beige muslin ūüėČ I recently invested in a copy of Tilly’s Love at First Stitch, so I decided to give the Clemence skirt a go. I’ve made self drafted gathered skirts before, but this time I decided I would follow some instructions and make sure I was doing it right!

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This gorgeous cherry blossom fabric was a birthday present from Becca a couple of years ago, which I’ve only just had the guts to cut into (Sakura is Japanese for cherry blossom, hence the name of my Clemence). I love me a Japanese inspired print and the red and black on the turquoise background is a very pretty colour way – I’ve realised recently that I don’t have enough light, summery colours in my wardrobe, so this skirt should help me bring in the summer in style.

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I used red fabric for the pockets for a pop of colour and put in strips of shell fabric to stabilise the opening of the pocket. Worked out very well because I had a metre of fabric, which exactly cut into a waistband, front and back pieces and a little rectangle which I could cut into these strips. Feels so good when you have zero fabric waste! I always feel so guilty about wasting anything, so I have a big box of useless fabric scraps I can’t bear to part with. Might be quite cool to make a patchwork headscarf or something out of them? What do you do with fabric scraps?

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Anyway, I digress! The construction of the skirt is very simple and Tilly’s instructions were very clear as usual. The one problem I had was some twisting of the fabric in the waistband. This was almost certainly because I very naughtily neglected to press the fabric before sewing down the inside of the waistband. This is what happens when I rush to complete a project before bed time! It actually looks fine when I’m wearing it, but I think I’ll unpick it and redo it when I have a spare hour because it’s annoying to have it nearly perfect.

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SakuraClemence7All in all, I know I’m going to get a lot of use out of this skirt. I love the colours and gathered skirts with tops tucked in are a silhouette that I really like (more on that when I finally get back onto my Wardrobe Architect challenges!). I’m looking forward to trying the other Love at First Stitch patterns, especially Mimi and Lilou, but I’m still a bit afraid of the upper body fitting challenges, so I may wait until my sloper’s finished to get stuck into those.

The Bodice Sloper Saga: Craftsy and Muslins

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So in my last post¬†I went through drafting a bodice sloper and now I want to show you how I’ve been altering it to get the fit right.¬†Are you ready for unflattering¬†muslin pictures? You know you are!

First thing first,¬†I bought a¬†Craftsy course called¬†Sew the Perfect Fit. This is an excellent video course for those of you that haven’t tried it. Lynda Maynard uses three models with various different fitting issues and she shows how to manipulate a muslin to get the right shape before taking you through applying these changes to the paper pattern. ¬†The class comes with dress pattern¬†Vogue #8766, which Lynda uses for all her fitting. I was told¬†it could take 5 weeks to arrive in the post to the UK, but it actually arrived in about a week; they even sent me both size ranges because I ordered the wrong one and they didn’t charge me any extra!

Edit: Since posting this I have become an affiliate of Craftsy and have included affiliate links on this page. The views in this post remain my own, but clicking on these links will help support my blog.

I haven’t tried out the vogue dress yet, but Lynda’s happy to help you out with any other patterns you’ve got on the go so this is where¬†my bodice sloper muslins come in! She has been extremely helpful, usually replies within a day and her advice has been bang on so far. I don’t think I would have had the confidence to have another go at a sloper without having someone on hand who could help me fix the fitting issues.

So, I took my bodice sloper and added grain lines (both horizontal and vertical) and a 2cm seam allowance so that I had a bit of fabric I could take out of the seams if necessary. I then cut out my muslin pieces and transferred grain lines and stitch lines and stay stitched the neckline. Next, I set my machine to a basting stitch and sewed up the bodice, leaving the back open so I could get into it. As you can see, it covered up all the important parts and did up at the back, which is always nice :)

This is the first time I’ve¬†invested time in making a proper muslin rather than a quick mock-up in the lining material to check the fit and I’m really enjoying it. It’s like a little laboratory that I can chop into and draw on and pin and tuck as much as I like without ruining any of my precious fashion fabric. Although letting my boyfriend help out did result in¬†rather more graffiti on my back than I’d bargained for. Fitting a bodice on your own is definitely do-able, but I would say it’s a lot easier if you can sweet-talk¬†a friend into helping you out.

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Unfortunately, as with all sewing projects, there are some fitting issues here! Lucky that¬†I’d anticipated¬†this with the Craftsy course, eh? One problem I ALWAYS seem to have is gaping at the front of the armhole, does anyone else get that? It never seems to be mentioned as a common fitting complaint. You can also see that the shoulders seams are way too long and the drag lines from the bust suggested an FBA was called for. For muslin number two I’ve made the following alterations to the paper pattern:

  • Take the fabric from the front of the armhole and transfer it to the front darts using the tip of the dart as the hinge point
  • Full bust adjustment of 1cm
  • Shortened the shoulder seam (already drawn on in the picture above)
  • Shortened the darts by 3 cm because they’re right on my apex in muslin 1.

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If you’re wondering about the ribbon, it’s to mark my waist. I managed to go out half the day still wearing that ribbon under my dress the other day… Oops!

Muslin 2 fitted a lot better at the top, the armholes (I just had this spell-checked to ‘assholes’ :-/) had less gaping and sat on my shoulder point. There was some bagginess between the bust and waist, so I tried cutting the fabric above the breasts and pulling it down, but this made it even worse, so I sent off some more photos to Lynda. She suggested that I put the length back into the darts and then pull down the fabric again and see if it worked better. So for muslin 2.2 I changed these:

  • Added the 3cm back onto the darts
  • Inserted about 3cm of¬†fabric above the gap

As always, Lynda was completely right, this looks miles better! I’m going to make these changes on the paper pattern and sew up a third muslin, which I’ll show you in a post very soon!

Have you made a bodice sloper? What issues did you have? Have you tried this method of cutting and manipulating the muslin before? It’s not something I knew about before, but it makes so much sense!

The Bodice Sloper Saga: Pattern Drafting

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The past couple of weeks I have been¬†learning about fit and slopers. I’ve tried to draft a bodice sloper from a book before, but it was a complete disaster and didn’t remotely fit. This time, I was armed with a much more comprehensive set of measurements and instructions from¬†Madalynne’s front and¬†back bodice sloper tutorials.

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First thing first, I abandoned all my old measurements. I drew dots on important parts like my shoulder tip¬†with washable felt tip pen, which made the measurements a lot more accurate. Madalynne’s tutorial also has a much longer set of measurements than I’ve ever seen a book tell you to take, which made me feel like this sloper really would be more suited to my body shape. Plus she has some really helpful photos with the measurements superimposed on them so I could see exactly where to measure from (I suspect I used some guesswork last time I attempted this).

I like to use brown paper for pattern drafting – it’s durable, cheap, comes on a roll and I just like the aesthetic. Armed with my paper, pencils, a ruler,¬†a compass, and Madalynne’s clear instructions and diagrams, I got to work carefully putting down every line. I also had my measuring tape on hand because Madalynne’s instructions are all in inches, whereas my ruler is in centimetres, so Brits should make sure they have an inch ruler or a conversion calculator to hand! Or be better at mental arithmetic than me…

Beware that in the back bodice instructions, the text mentions line CB erroneously a couple of times, but it didn’t cause me a big problem and I could see what to do – the only times I did go wrong were¬†entirely my own fault for not paying attention! Probably best not to do this when you’re tired because there are a lot of numbers and letters flying around.

Back Sloper 1Here’s a sneak peak of the finished back bodice pattern. The front one has now been altered quite a lot, so I’ll save that for my post about the muslins and alterations – I’m on muslin number three at the moment.

As an impatient seamstress¬†I thought I wouldn’t enjoy making¬†a sloper and to be honest it’s something I’ve been putting off (who wants to wait when they could have a pretty dress NOW?!), but actually I’m really loving it! I can’t wait to get sewing some tops and dresses from the pattern, knowing that they will finally fit perfectly as well.¬†If you’re a bit maths inclined like me you will LOVE pattern drafting. I’ve finally found a way to be creative and nerdy all at the same time! Have you made a bodice sloper? Any tips?