Friday, October 25, 2013

Black and white can be fun!

Needed a black and white evening dress for a black and white gala event.
Don't like black and white.....
Found black and white/cream skull print.
Thought that was fun!

Pattern - self drafted, 4 panel skirt, tight fitting top with little sleeves and a U neck in the back. Darts moved so that they end in the centre at the waist, to line up with the seam in the skirt.
Fabric - crinkle chiffon, polyester?, black piping which I had in my stash, sequin ribbon from Carolina's for belt with bow.
Underlined with thin cotton as I can't stand the feel of geena ( fabric sold locally as lining) on my skin. As the chiffon is quite transparent, the color of the lining changes the color of the fabric. I choose a creamy white over a pure white as I found it more flattering. I underlined (basted the lining to the individual outer fabric pieces and then treated them as one) the dress as opposed to lining it for the following reasons:

  1. Underlining hides all the seam allowances - as the fabric is transparent, I didn't want all the seam allowances visible from the outside
  2. Underlining gave more body to the fabric than just lining it would
  3. The fabric was very unstable and I wanted to make sure the rows of skulls stayed straight accross the dress and didn't start wandering off at funny angles. Basting them to the much more stable cotton lining kept the skulls exactly where I wanted them! This also helped make it possible to match up the pattern across the skirt seams, and even though I say so myself, I think I did a pretty good job matching up the little black faces!

And as I bought all the fabric they had in stock, I though my husband needed a black and white Barong (transparent shirt men traditionally wear in the Philippines) ! More on that once I finish it!

Tip: don't forget to pre-wash and iron fabric/lining and trim before you sew or have it sewn up. The last thing you want is to put a lot of hard work into your dress and find that the dress or the lining shrinks after the first wash! 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

V8858: nothing left over!

Update on evening skirt V8858 (first post here)
  1. Fitted muslin - everything was OK.
  2. Adjusted all the flounces for changes in skirt length. This is fiddly as you are sewing the inner edges of the "donuts" to your skirt seams. Measure these curves carefully, you have some allowance to play with, but if this is not enough, you will need to make the diameter of these donuts slightly bigger ( and this is why we should all have paid more attention in school geometry classes!) and adjust the diameter if necessary. The bigger the diameter the longer the seam.
  3. Laid out all pattern pieces on fabric and slept over it one night as I had zero room for any mistakes! 
  4. Cut the next morning and this little pile of fabric cuttings on the left is all I have left over!

V8858 Vogue evening skirt

Monday, October 21, 2013

Not enough fabric? V8858 is a fabric hog!

HAVE: Vogue V8858 for a long evening skirt (only finished versions online seem to be here and here)
HAVE: 5 1/2 yds green embroidered taffeta from Carolinas CM Recto, bought about 4-5 years ago.
NEED: 6 5/8 yds
NEED: to lengthen skirt by 3" in front (skirt has longer back sweep)

PROBLEM: not enough fabric! I was missing over a yard of fabric.

  1. Reduce width of skirt. I took out about 1.5" at all seams except centre front and back. This enabled me to cut the front and back out of one length of fabric each, with enough left over for the long back ruffles at the side.
  2. Make a muslin so you can reduce seam and hem allowances to a bare minimum!
  3. Shorten the back so that it is the same length as the front.
  4. Ditch any though of cutting in one direction. Even though this fabric has a one way / un-symmetrical embroidered design,  it won't matter on this pattern, as the skirt body will be covered by the flounces, and the flounces themselves will hang in all directions anyway. The hip portion is the only part you need to be careful with if you are cutting any patterned fabric.
  5. Cut single layer.  Explanation: normally home sewers cut from a double layer of fabric, so you cut both left and right side from the same pattern piece at one time. Factories have a separate pattern piece for each and every part needed to make up the garment, so there is a separate left/right front, top/bottom collar etc.  These are laid out on a single layer of fabric, and lead to a much more efficient fabric consumption. So, I duplicated all the pattern pieces,( the brown are the originals and the white the duplicates on tissue paper) so I had a piece of paper for every piece I needed for the garment, and laid this out. 
HURRAY! It all fitted !

BUT after a discussion with a designer friend, I decided that I really want the back to be longer as this makes up quite a bit of the appeal of the skirt. She suggested cutting the flounces ( the donut shaped pieces on the photos below - there are 9 of them - not all are visible on the photo below) in half to gain 12" or so of fabric, so that the back skirt could remain longer than the front. So I cut up some flounces (don't forget adding seam allowances if you do this) and laid everything out on the fabric again!

INTERIM RESULT : I have gained about 10" for the back skirt length (the strip of empty fabric between the 2 rows of skirt pieces. I will now go an make up a muslin before I cut the actual fabric out!

Tip: if you ever make up this skirt, baste the skirt body together first so you can check the length. Any adjustments to the length will result in you having to adjust the length of the flounces. shortening is easy, but depending on how much longer you made the skirt, you may have to rethink the diameter of your donut flounces, so that they fit the new length.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Buying sewing machines in Manila

Obviously, if you want to learn to sew, you need a sewing machine.

There isn't a huge choice of brands for home sewing machines here in the Philippines. For home sewing you need one machine which will do pretty much everything for you: stitch seams, make buttonholes and finish everything off with a zig zag. These are the minimum requirements and they should at least come with a regular sewing foot, zipper foot and buttonhole foot. I also like machine which can do a 3 step zig-zag as that is useful for sewing on elastics.

If you buy industrial machines (which are widely available here), you would need one machine for each of those functions and it would cost you a heck of a lot more! That said, if you are sewing professionally, industrial machines do a much better job than household machines.

If you want to buy a new household machine, your only choice here in the Philippines is Brother or Singer. Brother usually carries 3 to 4 basic machines of varying price levels starting at P9,000. The cheaper ones come with standard stitches.  I usually recommend you get the one where you can adjust stitch width and stitch length manually, so you can adjust your zig-zag to whatever you are sewing, which is especially important if you want to start sewing jersey fabrics. They also carry a home serger/overlocker which is great for making anything out of jersey as well as finishing off seams in one go (they overlock and trim the edges at the same time) but at over P20,000 you have to do  a lot of sewing to make it work while. Brother has the advantage that they are available in most Automatic Centers, although if you have a particular model in mind, then call them first! Brother's Service centre is in The Fort which makes it easy if you live anywhere around there.

Singer has a website showing a wider choice of sewing machines, but I have never seen them sold retail except at their own outlets. You can call the importer MONTEVERDE SEWING MACHINE INC  tel 362.0712 or go down to the depths of Manila (somewhere behind Divisoria) to see the machines. Although their website says that they have an outlet in Makati now as well. I have not yet been there, so can't vouch for what is available there.

I don’t have a particular preference for either brand as I own both. It just depends on your budget and what you want the machine to be able to do. I never recommend you buy a machine from abroad, as chances are that they won’t be able to find the spare parts here. If you do, buy a basic machine and not an electronic one with all the bells and whistles as you definitely won't find spare parts or anyone to repair it if something goes wrong.

If you are on a budget, you can buy a machine in the second hand market down in Manila ( the Port Area, 13th Street off Anda Circle, opposite The Philippine Star). These machines sell for around P3000. They are usually from Japan and 100V so you will need a transformer and they rarely come with a manual! Again, I recommend staying away from any of the digital ones, as if something goes wrong, local mechanics won’t be able to fix them. And unless you do a lot of children’s clothes, you’ll never use all those fancy stitches anyway!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

We Love Sewing on Pinterest

We love sewing is now on Pinterest. Follow us to stay updated with pictures of anything sewing related around Metro Manila as well as what is in inspiring us at the moment!

We have a board for sewing stores in Manila so if you have suggestions, send us a picture and your comment to and we will add to our board.