Saturday, 22 October 2016

Susan Khalje Couture Sewing School in Sydney

If you follow the Australian Sewing Guild or Tessuti Fabrics on Facebook you've probably already discovered that Susan Khalje is coming to Australia early next year to run sewing courses in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. And now that I'm safely booked in, I'm sharing it here in case you didn't already know!

Susan Khalje is a very well known sewing expert, particularly for her Classic French Jacket class which I've read lots about from various people who have attended her classes. I think it's a bit of a once in a lifetime experience to attend one of her classes, especially for us not located in the US.

On offer during her 2017 Australian Teaching School are the 7 day Classic French jacket sewing class, a 6 day Couture Sewing school, a 3 day Guipure Lace skirt class and a 2 day Couture Techniques class. The courses are pretty expensive, but I think hands on learning directly with the expert will be a priceless experience that you just can't replicate via on-line videos and books. Plus it's certainly cheaper than flying to the US!

I've enrolled into the French jacket sewing class and the 2 day couture techniques class which means that now I just have to purchase some suitable fabrics! There are so many inspiration photos out there, and I can't just decide whether I want to go with something classic like black and white, or something more colourful.

Since I'm making a classic French jacket I thought I'd buy something from the suppliers to Chanel: Linton Tweeds. I found some beautiful fabrics, but at 26 - 34 pounds per metre plus shipping (and the conversion rate) that is eye wateringly expensive for one garment so sadly I've ruled them out. But they are so pretty!
image via Linton Tweeds
image via Linton Tweeds
image via Linton Tweeds
And so the second part of my public service announcement post: Bewitch Fabrics in Leichhardt (Parramatta Road) is closing down and having a 50% off sale. I've never actually been inside their shop because I always assumed they only sold bridal fabrics based on what I could see in the window  as I chug past in the bus, but I have been told that they have a wide range of high end fabrics. And now I have a solid reason to go hunting - for a change I actually do need to buy some fabric and there's a sale, so it's a win-win situation. I shall report back when I'm successful!

Sunday, 16 October 2016

August Burda of the Month: 8/2016 #113 lace dress

Being very late in making this month's Burda project has ironically worked out for the best - the Burda August is always full of summer clothes but that's in the middle of our winter which makes it hard to get enthused about making anything. But since the weather is warming up around here and I have a few Christmas parties coming up late next month it was very easy to pick out a project from this issue.
Burda Style 8/2016 #113 couture dress www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

Burda describes this as a Couture Dress - pattern number 08/2016 #113 - but I think they're using the phrase 'couture' a bit liberally since there's little couture about the construction methods. Regardless, it's a great looking dress:
Burda Style 8/2016 #113 couture dress www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com
Image via Burda Style
This is a tall pattern and comes in size ranges 72 - 88. Burda tall sizes are designed for ladies that are 176cm or taller, which I am definitely not! But I am long waisted, which meantt the waist line of this pattern hit me in the right spot but I did reduce the skirt length by 18cm.

I did forget to alter the depth of the armscye though, and you can see that my dress sits quite low under my arms in comparison to the model's picture above. But it's not scandalously low, and I can still wear a strapless bra with this dress without it showing.

Burda 8/2016 #113 couture dress in lace www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

I decided not to make the belt that came with the pattern because it involves several layers of fabrics folded origami style and my fabric is quite spongy and would have been too thick to look any good. The fabric is a lace I bought from The Fabric Store a few years ago, which if I recall correctly is a Marc Jacobs fabric:

Burda 8/2016 #113 couture dress in lace www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

It has a small amount of stretch which was lucky for me since my dress turned out a bit on the snug side (might be time to retake my measurements after a slothful winter!). The fabric is a bit transparent though, which you can see when I hold the fabric up to the light - that's the seam line running down the middle:

Burda 8/2016 #113 couture dress in lace www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

So I decided to fully line this dress instead of just the bodice as required by the pattern. I used a very stretchy polyester knit for the lining which meant I could just sew the skirt as a tube rather than with the split. The wrap of this dress is very deep so it's unlikely to have a wardrobe malfunction, but with this lining there is no chance of accidentally flashing anything at all:

Burda 8/2016 #113 couture dress in lace www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

As usual, a fitted dress with a waist seam and darts suits my figure and I managed to get a very close fitting dress without any pooling at the small of my back (the stretch of the fabric helps with that as well).

Burda 8/2016 #113 couture dress in lace www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

I made a slight change to the construction at the back. I chose not to run the invisible zip right to the top of the neckband because I thought that trying to get the zipper head past the bulky neckband would be difficult. Instead I stopped it below the neckband and instead sewed on a button and elastic loop to hold the neckband together. It doesn't work so well, as you can see in the photo below the neckband doesn't sit very nicely together, but it will be covered by my hair so it's good enough for me:

Burda 8/2016 #113 couture dress in lace www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

Overall, I love this dress. It's a very simple silhouette, a bit sexy without showing too much skin at all and very easy to sew. If I make this again I would use a solid fabric because I love the look of the darts meeting in an inverted 'v' at the side seam, but that detail is lost in this busy fabric. And I'm also very pleased at finally using this fabric - it's another piece in my stash that I've been wanting to use for a very long time but the right pattern just didn't come along until now.

Burda 8/2016 #113 couture dress in lace www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

Thursday, 6 October 2016

July Burda of the Month: 7/2016 #105 the cut out dress

After a cracking first half of the year with my Burda challenge, I've fallen a bit behind lately - I've only just finished the July project and nearly finished the August project. I am determined to get it back on track though, so it's all Burda around here at the moment.

The July issue landed in my letter box later than usual in July, and it was right in the middle of when I was making all those gold sequin jackets which took all my time and my enthusiasm for sewing. Before I knew it, the August issue then arrived, I was still making other things, the September issue arrived and I was officially behind. Better late than never though - here is my July project:

Burda 7/2016 #105 cut out dress www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

I picked 7/2016 #105, 'the cut out dress', which looked simple enough but trust me it caused many headaches. This is Burda's version:

Burda 7/2016 #105 cut out dress www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com
images via Burda Style
In typical Burda style, the instructions are very sparse and not very helpful. Usually this isn't a problem for me because I know the order of construction and how to make most garments from experience, but the neckline treatment of the extra shoulder piece on the right shoulder really stumped me. On first reading, the instructions appear to tell you to cut the seam allowance off the right hand side. This is wrong - it turns out there is a little line on the right shoulder and it's the seam allowance for this that needs to be cut off.

Whilst I spent several days trying to figure this out and just getting annoyed, Shannon over at Frogs in a Bucket not only made a great version of this dress but also posted some very helpful instructions on how to make the neckline. If you're thinking of making this dress definitely check out her post because it will save you some tears of frustration! So I had to recut the back bodice piece because cutting off the seam allowance means there nothing to sew the neckline to, and using Shannon's instructions and photos I got through it.

Unfortunately I then tried to race through the rest of the dress, which coupled with sewing late at night meant a few more mistrakes before I was finished. The neckline strap needs to be sewn and turned out like a tube before you sew the rest of the neckline to the front and back bodices - if you don't you'll have to get out your trusty unpicker like I had to!

And then annoyingly my invisible zipper split in half after I had sewn it in perfectly matching the waist seams, which meant another journey to the fabric shop for a zipper (not that I'm complaining about that!) and more unpicking. After putting in the second zipper I realised the neckline was mismatched, so more unpicking and re-sewing:

Burda 7/2016 #105 cut out dress www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

But after all that, the rest of the dress came together quite easily because essentially it's just an a-line dress with that funny shoulder flap. Thanks to the waist seam with darts I managed to get a great fit in my swayback, and the side and back silhouette turned out well:

Burda 7/2016 #105 cut out dress www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

Burda 7/2016 #105 cut out dress www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

I do prefer how it looks with a belt though, it seems to break up the fabric better:

Burda 7/2016 #105 cut out dress www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

Speaking of the fabric, it's just a cotton sateen bought from Spotlight many years ago that I really liked. Being a sateen it wrinkles quite badly, but the print covers that up well and it was thick enough not worry about a lining. Hopefully the colours don't fade as much on this fabric as I've experienced on other cotton sateens from Spotlight - it's a bit hit and miss with their fabrics sometimes.

So after all the efforts to get this dress done I can't say it's one of my favourites. I like the idea of the neckline, but the neckline band sits very high and feels like it is choking me when I am sitting down. The shoulder piece also gapes open a bit even though the bottom part is stitched down to the bodice but it does remind me to stand with my shoulders back and not slump forward like I usually do.

Burda 7/2016 #105 cut out dress www.loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.com

If you're thinking about making this dress, then I highly recommend Shannon's post for more helpful instructions than you'll find in the Burda magazine and hopefully you'll avoid all the headaches this dress caused me.