Monthly Archives: September 2012

My adventures in couture sewing continue!  I’m following along the lessons of the Craftsy class and have made a lot more changes to my dress muslin, and also made up a muslin for a skirt too.  For the dress, I’ve added a circle skirt instead of a straight skirt, and I changed the midriff panel to go along the straight of grain instead of the bias.  I also eliminated the front center seam in the midriff to reduce bulk.  I’m really happy with how it looks now, so it’s time to get going on the fashion fabrics!

Robin and I ordered a dozen or so swatches from Mood.  I have decided on a blue silk poplin with a silk charmeuse floral print lining.  It’s so lovely!  There will also be a plain white silk organza underlining because that’s just how couture rolls.

Since I only got those ordered today, in the meantime I’m working on a little skirt pattern.  Thanks to the Amazing Fit line at Simplicity, I found a simple skirt pattern that fit perfectly with no alterations needed.  I made up the muslin this weekend and got started on cutting out the fashion fabrics.  It’s an unlined pattern, so I added an underlining of floral cotton to accent chocolate brown corduroy.  I’m not done laying out the corduroy yet, but I’ll probably get to the basting this week.

The couture  process is making so much sense to me.  There’s nothing that’s done without a reason.  So even though there are a lot of steps and a lot of hand sewing, you understand why you’re doing things and it makes perfect sense.  I really love the process of making a muslin for fitting first.  I’ve never bothered with that, and clearly it is the right thing to do.

I also have never shopped for fashion fabric at a true fashion fabric store.  Joanns and Hancocks are great for cottons, but when you want something nicer, they have a bunch of polyester.  It’s actually not that expensive to get real silk!  You just have to order online.  I know I’ve spent over $100 on fabric for a sewing project before, but this time my $120 is getting me 3 layers of silk for a truly luxurious dress that I know is going to fit because I bothered to spend the $8 on muslin for a fitting shell.

If you can’t tell, this process has me all aflutter.  I love it when I’m learning new things.

The obsession of the moment is sewing.  A few months ago, I saw a class called “The Couture Dress” on Craftsy.  It was only $20 and I recognized the name of the teacher, Susan Khalje, from some articles I’ve read in Threads.  I know that I’d like to do some sewing with my handwoven fabrics, but I am very hesitant because nothing would be worse than spending hours upon hours weaving something, only to end up with a garment that doesn’t fit or that looks bad.

It took me a while to get around to watching more than the introduction video, and Robin decided to take the class too, and committed to coming over to work on things together.  She’s been over here a couple times now, and we’ve both made tremendous progress on our muslins.  This is where my muslin started.  Lots of baggy parts and puckers.

The bust was a bit too small, so I adjusted that, and then just had to take in the midriff section and fix whatever was going on with the shoulders.

With Robin’s assistance, I ended up adding two dead darts at the shoulder, just above the bust to remove excess fabric there.  I also got the back of the dress pinned up where it will help keep the dress on better, and the midriff taken in where it no longer bulged and gaped.

However, at that point, no matter how nice the dress looked when I was standing, it was terribly tight when sitting, and I don’t think very flattering.  It just doesn’t have a lot of shape for a body type like mine.  Last night I got some more muslin out and made up the circle skirt version of the pattern.

I think I’m getting closer to something that’s wearable and flattering for me.  I still am not in love with the midriff section.  I don’t want to eliminate it entirely because it just gives the dress a maternity look.  I do think I will cut it on the straight of grain and try again.  It’s currently a bias midriff, as the pattern called for.  It looks great in stripes and plaids where it adds some visual details there, but I am 99% sure I’m going to be making this in a solid color, so I don’t think it’s necessary.

I’m learning SO much about dressmaking techniques and about patterns.  One of the things I love is that as you learn the techniques, you don’t have to follow the pattern instructions–you just know what needs to be done!  I can’t wait to make more projects, and I also can’t wait for our swatches to come from Mood so we can pick our fashion fabrics and linings!

Oh, on these posts, feel free to tell me anything you think about the fit or the pattern.  I’m fully open to honest thoughts on what’s working and what’s not.