Monday, March 26, 2012

Fitting commercial patterns

As part of my effort to continually improve my sewing skills, I attended a Modification of Commercial Patterns course here with the delightful Megan.
The course involved us (a small group) making and bringing a toile (or muslin) made from the pattern of our choice.  The the selection was varied and ranged from tops, blouse, princess seamed dress and my vintage pattern dress without the overskirt (I was ambitious to say the least). I selected this pattern for these reasons:-
  • Basically I liked it and thought it would make a great basic shift dress. It also has a very cute V neckline at the back
  • My shape suits this style but I've never been brave enough to make it because of fit concerns
  • Vintage pattern sizing is very different to commercial sizing so custom fitting is very useful
  • I liked the boat neck but wasn't sure it would suit me
  • I wanted to tackle something challenging (typical)
1950s Simplicity pattern dress 
We then each had a fitting and Megan talked us through the adjustments for each toile. Once the adjustments are made to the toile, they are transferred back to the pattern for future reference. I really enjoyed the process and here's what I learned:-
  • custom fitting and adjustments can make the difference between frumpy (thinking of myself here) and fabulous, seriously. Small adjustments make a huge difference in the look of the garment, even in the toile.
  • Every commercial pattern will need some adjustment - no two bodies are the same and some patterns aren't well designed either.
  • You can't do this yourself. You do need help.
  • If you make the effort on a "basic" pattern eg. pants, dress, jacket etc., you should be able to use this pattern again and again, knowing it fits well. 
  • Making the toile gives you a sense of freedom because you can experiment on cheap fabric and then have confidence cutting into your expensive fabric. 
Some of the adjustments made to my toile were:-
  • The dart was lowered. I did a FBA prior to making the toile and made a hash of the dart...
  • Some of the fullness from the FBA was taken in the bodice
  • The neckline was lowered a little (it was too high)
  • The armhole was enlarged (too tight)
  • The allowance was eased across the hips
So, my toile is now in pieces. The next step is to transfer the adjustments back to the pattern, make the changes on the toile, refit to double check, then cut my fashion fabric. I'll keep you updated on the progress.

If you want to read more on making toile and fitting, go here. In the meantime, what are you thoughts on fitting and making a toile? Do you always make one? Only for expensive fabric? How do you check fit and make adjustments? Who helps you?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Colette Negroni pattern giveaway winner

I pleased to announce that the winner (randomly selected) of this giveaway is Lou. Congratulations. I'll pop your pattern in the post very soon.

Thank you so much for everyone for entering. I hope to run these more regularly over time.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Help! Why do you buy or not buy vintage patterns?

Dear readers

I need your help.

I would like some feedback on what affects your choices on buying patterns (vintage ones in particular)? I have a project in mind and would like your advice on vintage patterns? Could I ask for 2 minutes of your time to complete this survey. All responses are anonymous and confidential.

If you would prefer just to leave a comment, please feel free or drop me an email. Any feedback and advice is very welcome. I'll leave this survey active until the end of next week.

Click here to take survey

Thanks in advance for your help.

PS Don't forget to enter the Colette pattern giveaway here.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Inspiration Board: 1950s cocktail dress with train

Today I have two looks from the same gorgeous vintage McCalls cocktail dress pattern from the 1950s:-

This first look is sleek and modern with a classic silhouette of the dress focussing on the waist and feature train completed with a pair of killer red heels.

While this second look has a much more "lady-like' feel with the lace bodice, gloves the dainty turquoise kitten heels.
1950s lace bodice cocktails dress

1950s lace bodice cocktails dress by sewindigo featuring mid heels

Do you have any preferences for the look? What are your thoughts on the lace bodice and feature train? Do you prefer the pencil or flared skirt.

PS Don't forget to enter the Colette pattern giveaway here. If you already follow, just leave a comment letting me know you'd like to be in the running. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Colette pattern mid week giveaway

This week I'm giving away a brand new Colette Patterns Negroni Mens Shirt pattern. 

About the pattern:
Source: Colette Patterns

For men that like a classic, slightly retro shirt with a more modern cut, this shirt pattern is just the thing. The instructions will guide you gently through every step of creating a well-crafted casual shirt: felled seams, a lined back yoke, and sleeve plackets on the long sleeve version. Subtle details include a convertible collar (also known as a "camp collar") and midcentury style collar loop detail.
This shirt can be made in a variety of fabrics, such as crisp shirting, warm flannel for winter, or cool rayon for summer. Check out the pattern info for more details and suggested fabrics.
Version 1 has long sleeves finished with a placket and cuff. Version 2 has short sleeves.

To enter: Simply, do one of the following...
- Like Sew Indigo in Facebook  
- Like Sew Indigo at Etsy
- Follow this blog

Then leave a comment on this post letting me know you've entered. For extra chances to win, action two or more of the above items and again leave a comment letting me know. This is open to your friends and followers, so please feel free to tell them about the giveaway. The winner will be drawn at random next Thursday 22 March.

Good luck and thanks for entering!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Japanese Stylish Dress Book - Patten C

I saw this pattern made up sometime ago and it had been on my "To Do" list for summer and I recently bought this Liberty lawn especially for this pattern. Time to get sewing.

Liberty - Becci Navy/Red Tana Lawn

Being a fairly simple pattern, I decided to practise my new found dressmaking techniques. So.....

1. I traced the pattern. I always find this part a little tedious.

2. I made some pattern adjustments. Firstly I assumed the pattern did not include seam allowances - I'm never really sure but as the sizes are generally on the small side, I included seam allowances anyway. I also did a full bust adjustment (FBA).

3. I made a muslin to check fit and sizing.
No calico at the time so I improvised
4. I hand basted everything - yep's the proof...


So what did I learn:-
  • The FBA was probably a good idea. This was my first attempt at the adjustment, and I'm not sure I have this entirely right yet. Something a bit strange happens with the armscye. It seems so get shorter. The final top gaped under the arm a little. 
  • My bias technique is improving but still needs work. All the basting helped a lot. I read something recently about stretching the bias, I'll try this next time. 
  • Liberty lawn is a delight to work with.
  • I would definitely make this pattern again. 
Does anyone have any tips on the full bust adjustment? What method do you use? How do you keep the armscye under control? If you have a fuller bust do you do a FBA for every pattern?

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Making of Chanel Couture

This video has been around for a while but the couture process is fascinating. Enjoy.

Couture dressing making on L Plates

Let's face it - I'm not a particularly good sewer. I'm keen. I can follow instructions. I can put pieces together but somehow the clothes don't turn out as I imagined. The fit's not quite right and the fabric doesn't always work with the pattern design. The finished garment then gets relegated to the back of the closet. Sound familiar or is it just me?

You see, I'm mostly self taught. I kind of learned as I went along by reading and following pattern instructions (apart from a few short lessons - thank you Gay).

Recently I had a enforced rest and decided to use the time to improve my technical sewing knowledge and skills. So I enrolled in Susan Khajle's online course in the The Couture Dress and absolutely loved it. I learnt a heap of stuff. You can ask questions, take notes and revisit sections whenever you like - it's a great resource.

The Couture Course at
The approach is so entirely different from what I have learned in the past but it also make a whole lot more sense. Here's what I've learned:-
  • Respect the grain. 
    • If you don't understand the fabric and the fabric grain and take particular care when lining the pattern pieces up on the grain, the garment will never sit right, ever.
  • Focus on the stitching/seam line, not the cutting line. 
    • The seam line is what determines the fit of the dress, not the cutting line. Leaving extra seam allowance will allow for fit adjustments.
  • Make a muslin. 
    • This will allow you to test the garment fit and make any changes before cutting into your expensive fashion fabric. It can then be used as your pattern again later.
  • Hand baste, hand baste, hand baste.
    • Yes, time consuming but you regain control of what you're sewing the the machine. At least I do anyway.
  • Interlining and lining
    • Gives more body and luxury to the garment. You can also hide construction elements like hand stitching or reinforcing pieces. 
  • Hand stitching the zip
    • Looked a whole lot easier than trying to get a machine stitched zipper right. But that may be in Susan's capable hands, I'll report back when I've tried it. 
  • Lastly...take the time, be patient and enjoy the process.  Oh and now I know why these dresses cost so much!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Liebster Blog Award

I was so surprised and flattered to receive a Liebster Blog Award from the lovely Evelyn of Hand Sewn Home Grown from her blog about sewing and gardening.

What is the Liebster blog award you ask? Good question. The origins are unclear but it's a method to showcase blogs with fewer than 200 followers. "Liebster" is a German word for favourite. I was a little uncertain about these Awards as it has a "chain-mail" feel to it - remember those from school?

However, there is a difference...The difference is that someone has taken the time to read and appreciate your blog and let other people know. When there are so many blogs out there, it's nice to get the recognition. So here are the "rules" (no pressure. the choice to participate is yours)....

1 - thank your Liebster blog award presenter on your blog. 
2 - link back to the blogger who presented the award to you. 
3 - copy/paste the blog award on your blog. 
4 - present the liebster blog award to 5 blogs (with 200 followers or less). 
5 - let them know they have been chosen by leaving a comment.

Here are my 5 Liebster Blog Award recipients:-

1. Gay from Handmade - And sew it seams... a wonderful and generous sewing teacher
2. Jane from Lempo Bee - a lovely blog about sewing, family and now photography
3. Nick from Collecting Feathers - a very clever and creative vintage lover
4. EvaDress - glamorous reproduction vintage patterns and pattern making
5. Megan from Style Meganzine - a cool style blog

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