Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Plaid Winter Rooibos & Learning Techniques

After finishing my last medical school class on Friday a week ago, I sat my last end-of--year exams today. Well, the last ones before medical board exams next spring. I'm feeling kind of nostalgic... I only had three exams, too, instead of the usual seven-to-ten, so I had most of last week to relax, treating myself to a girl's afternoon at the Hamam and Vietnamese food and a indie pop concert afterwards, among other things. I love living in this wonderful city. :)

I also had time to make something that has been on my mind seemingly forever. Possibly since I saw the brown-cream-blue plaid in the FIDM scholarship store when I visited LA two falls ago. (Ali, have I ever thanked you for that incredible tip? :-) I was going to go for a princess seam sheath dress - possibly the same pattern as my teal wool dress - but was intimidated by the pattern matching. Which is obviously why I chose to use the Rooibos pattern in the end. Because of the minimal pattern matching. *sarcasm*

Well, in the end, my pattern matching did turn out mostly fine, although I chickened out and used a bias cut for the midriff band. It does make a nice contrast, I think.

I'm ridiculously pleased with this dress, possibly because of the fabric. It didn't have a tag but I suspect it's a wool-poly blend. It feels slightly scratchy, as if it has a pile, and it refuses to take a crease - even when pressing the seams, they wouldn't lie flat! It also washes well, so I hope this is going to be my never-to-be-ironed dress! ;-)

I added piping to the pockets, like last time, and also piped the neckline - which was a real pain. Something about those tight corners, many layers, and attaching it inside out... Using my facing fabric, which was a tad thick, for the piping also didn't help. It looks less than perfect, and in hindsight, I'd rather have piped the midriff band instead (which I meant to and totally forgot) - but it's ok. It's a lovely dress.

I also fully lined it, basically by making up another dress in lining fabric (except for the pockets, of course), basting the bodice part to the facing and then assembling everything. It worked out better than I thought, even with the slippery rayon lining - and I still love the Rooibos method of attaching the facing! :-)

In an incredibly unusual craving for perfection, I also hand-stitched the hem, with my homemade bias tape. Just for clarity, this is the very first time ever that I hand-stitched a hem. I also hand-stitched the lining to the zipper. This dress has untold (well, told, now) amounts of hand-stitching. (Btw, do you hyphenate hand-stitching? Hyphens confuse me. Compound verbs do, too...)

The Facts:
Fabric: 2.5 yards of plaid poly-wool mix, 1$/yd from the FIDM scholarship store, 0.5m possibly cotton twill 3€, 2m rayon lining 6€
Pattern: Colette Rooibos
Notions: two seafoam colored buttons, 0.20€ each, invisible zipper, fusible interfacing
Time to Complete: a week
First Worn: Sunday choir practice
Thoughts: Having made the pattern already, there was no tracing involved, I was pretty sure about the fit and construction was a breeze. Against the instructions, I left the side seams for last, to be able to adjust the fit better, since my last version, for which I graded from size 8 to 12 from the bust down, seemed a bit big in the waist. I had problems with notching and grading the many layers (lining, interfacing, facing, piping and fashion fabric) around the neckline.  Thoughts for next time: use lighter fabric for the piping or leave it off at the neckline. The hand-stitched hem actually didn't take all that long and I like how it turned out, although it could use another pressing.
I like the slightly old-fashioned, school-teachery look. The shorter length gives it enough playfulness to offset it, I think.

Oh, speaking of hand-stitched hems: Curves, Patterns & Pins has a project called Check the Technique, which I joined.
One of my sewing resolutions for this year is to take more time and care when sewing garments, which includes learning new techniques, of course. So now I've created a page (to be reached at the top of my blog) where I can tick off the techniques I learn. Yay for ticking stuff off lists! ;-)

How's it going in your part of the world? What are you sewing right now? Are there any techniques you've always wanted to learn?

28 comments:

  1. It's lovely! This particular silhouette suits you so beautifully, and I love it layered over a skivvy and tights and with boots like this. And yay! for no ironing!

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  2. Really nice, Looks great on the inside too.

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  3. This is a sweet little dress and I am sure it will get lots of wear too! I shall go and have a look at curves,patterns and pins as this challenge seems as if it might help me to expand my sewing horizons!
    Hope you don't have to wait too long for your exam results!

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  4. Well done on getting through your study and finishing your exams! And finding time to make such a beauty as this!! Alessa it's darling- I do like the piping and lining, a great contrast. Andyou matched all those tiny checks? Amazing. It looks very polished inside and out.

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  5. Oh My Goodness! On several counts! First up Huzzah for your last end of year exams being over, and secondly that dress is GORGEOUS! I love the plaid and the sea foam colours. It's just beautiful. As is the lining. I think the battles with the layers at the neckline were worth it as the piping does add something to the dress. Hurray!

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  6. Plaid, fun! You are brave :) I love the colors and the piping. And I really like the funky teacher look too.

    What a good idea to line it; I'm always cursing myself later when I don't line things (like, always) and then they bunch up when I walk.

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    1. I'm usually too lazy to do linings, too. And I like to extend my summer dresses into fall by wearing them over tights. I bought a pair of slips (at H&M, to my shame ;-) this fall (one in nude and one in black) to wear under the dresses, and it has made a *huge* difference! No bunching up, plus some extra warmth!

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  7. Looks awesome! I really like the teal accent and love the fact that you lined it all. My Roiboos languished... I may have to take it up again soon. Congrats on the end of school, and like I said before, if you get nostalgic you can always go back :)

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    1. Heh, I guess I can. I'd love to study something artsy like fashion or photography at some point, but for now, actually making money and helping patients sounds pretty good. It's more the getting up late, staying up late, hosting too many parties and getting 8 week long breaks twice a year that I'm feeling nostalgic for, I imagine...

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  8. Lovely dress! I think the bias waistband makes it visually a lot more interesting than all matchy-matchy would have been. The layers of the lining and the hem look great! Congrats on finishing up with the exams, too!

    Also, that technique challenge looks kind of interesting-- I just made a list of about a dozen projects last night that I want to make next, but looking at her list, it looks like several things could apply! I may have to consider jumping in on this one!

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  9. That is one stunning dress!!! I absolutely adore everything about it! The colours play so well together and I am very impressed with your piping and hand-stitched hemming skills! Way to go, Alessa! :)

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  10. It looks great! I love the colour combo and all the piping.

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  11. oh it's wonderful, inside and out! Good luck with those exams x x x

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  12. What a sweet roiboos, I like the piping and buttons. It looks great. I am not sewing right now but of course I have some plans in my head! Your afternoon at he hamman and vietnamese food sounds fab. You are lucky to live in such a great city. Will you move anywhere at all when you finish training? Just being nosy. x

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    1. I'd love to stay in Berlin, and I'm pretty sure I will for at least a couple of years. I might move away for a bit, just to get some more experience, but the ultimate goal is to stay somewhere in or around the city...

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  13. It looks great on you!! The scarf, boots, piping and buttons... lovely details!

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  14. Love your Rooibos! It's so nice in wool, IMO (well, that's how I made mine, so I'm partial!) Congrats on all the pattern matching and hand stitching :) Those piped corners are a real pain, but yours look lovely from here.

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  15. Your dress is so lovely, and it looks great with the piping! Bravo on committing and completing all of the hand-stitching - it's such a beautiful piece, inside and out!

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  16. Well done Alessa! I love that piping and the lovely finishes. Congratulations on finishing medical school: must be a big relief!

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    1. :-) I'm not quite done yet, the big exam (medical board exam) is next spring. I'm done with all the classes, though, now it's just one year of practical work.

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  17. Ooh yes! Well done on all counts! I really must try piping sometime soon - but it scares me ;)
    The turquoise edges just add such a lovely pop!

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  18. Ha ha, you're welcome! I'm impressed you carted the fabric around the planet with you. It looks fab, Alessa and I'm so impressed by the details, especially the full lining -- and you've got double use out of the dress by layering a top beneath it. And piping, oh my. I've been dreaming of plaid too but the thought of matching exhausts me a bit.

    I also want to improve my technique this year, namely hems. They're the last bit I do and handsewn or not they're always ugly because I'm impatient by then. Here's to better technique! :)

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  19. Go the plaid!! And the turquoise lining is just yum. My big hurdle is hems too but specifically hand-stitching lining to hems...always buckles, but then it might be a little dull if there wasn't something to work on!

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  20. The plaid looks smashing on you! I avoid it because I can't stand getting the matching wrong - which I invariably do every time. I haven't tried any of the Colette patterns yet. I just got the book. The dress is simple and stylish.

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  21. Look at you go! I'm so impressed with your technique-checking, not to mention that bad-ass piping & hem. Nice! x

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  22. This looks adorable Alessa! The turquoise accent is just perfect. Also - I'm equally confused by hyphens and compound verbs... really grammar and spelling in general.... :)

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  23. This is lovely! The turquoise accents really make it so pretty. It looks great with the top layered underneath too.

    To answer the question you left on my blog - I've only ever found one place in London that sells vintage patterns and that was a random little shop out in the suburbs. I don't go thrift shopping often though so you might have better luck, but I usually get my patterns on eBay :)

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