Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Voila: The Manado Dress by Couture Nomad

Since I’ve started my Sewing School with the Couture Nomad group in Shanghai, I’ve been sewing almost everyday and making at least 1 creation a week… a dress, a t shirt, a bow tie (yes really) and getting back into the swing of blogging & reading blogs big time. AMAZING as always. 

It’s so fun and I’m feeling really body positive most of the time, and loving slowly growing my wardrobe with handmade things! But one of the BEST things about going to Sewing School and hanging with a small group of sewing enthusiasts is the GOSS and if you know me IRL, I LOVE talking because I just love stories! I’ve learnt so many things about Shanghai and where to buy fabrics… and because of my new French & Spanish speaking sewing friends, I’m getting a different perpspective on sewing and fashion, and culture and language. Just love it.

AND, who in a million years would think I’d sew something that wasn’t a fitted bodice dress and/or leggings and actually think it wasn’t half bad. At first glance the Manado Dress looked ok, certainly lovely for the tall, shapely shouldered woman, but not for me… but I had some cheapie fabric to use and it was about time I try some techniques on me… AND it was actually the next step in my Sewing School... they call them ateliars!

The pattern is either front piece and two back pieces but I opted for the front & back piece all as one piece, which meant I had to do the facing differently. It’s high-ish necked, with thin shoulders, and it’s very nicely shaped… however my problem lay completely with the fabric & interfacing choice… which I’ll get to.

It was a very simple pattern to follow, I adjusted down a half size from the Medium, but after fitting, I think I’ll cut a M next time and just adjust the waist/hips in the future… for this dress turned out ok, but a little snug on the bewbs. I traced the whole thing, onto the loveliest paper that Teacher Catherine had (I’ll have to buy my own roll soon!) and felt very swish using the rulers and being NEAT. I made the facings to include the neck hole and armholes and they scooped nicely around … or so I thought.

Cutting the cotton was just ok, it moved a little as I was using the dining table, to try and be profesh (instead of the floor) but it shifted as I adjusted the fabric & pieces and the facings were out a little then… and my DAGGY choice of interfacing wasn’t stable enough… it ironed ok initially and stuck to the fabric, but my iron also loved it toooooooo much and it got a little burnt… eep. 

This will forever be my lesson here in China, I reckon… not having a clue about the materials (either online or in the store) until I test it all out… the interfacing glued better than previous thicker stuff I bought but it’s not for clothing I reckon… Teacher Muriel thinks maybe embroidery or something. It’s just so hard to know … face to face at the market, I can’t ask because my Chinese isn’t up to it… and then online my translator through Chrome just doesn’t give enough detail. And you know when you buy online from eBay or whatever, we use Taobao here in Shanghai (everyone does in China) and the embedded pictures have all the details of the product? Like jpgs of explanations? Well Chrome can’t translate the text in the pictures, right? So I might just slow down my local online purchasing until I get a little more acquainted… and find the good stuff! Teacher Muriel suggested I try the big Haberdashery on Renmin Lu, and told me a stall to find better interfacing material then. 

The fabric feels shiny cotton, and may be polyester blend… it was 18 RMB a metre, which is $3.75 Australian // $US 2.9 // And almost 2 pounds UK. So cheap, and while it’s pretty… it also looks pretty cheap! Oh well, sewing school is all about learning stuff...

Have a  look at the insides, not so gorgeous at all....

SO after I attached the facings to the neckline, you sew the side seams, and then you turn the facings through the armholes, and sew right sides together all the way up on the front and back piece… until you can’t sew without bunching… then you flip inside and topstitch the lot… and because of my shitty interfacing and my shitty cut of the facings, it was bunchy and didn’t match… at that point I gave up sewing, and waited until I could talk it through with Teacher Muriel… that’s what’s also so great with the Sewing School… I can show and point and winged and cringe face to face… rather than bin the whole thing. So, I changed the shoulder seams, making them shorter and they kinda fitted… but still, not super polished or flat but #learningshit is like that, right? I’ll cut better shaped facings next time and be better-er with the choosing of interfacing and ironing it and sewing it. YEP?!

AND, lastly the Manado Dress comes with a belt... I once had an addiction to making belts when I first started sewing all the time! Because the dress isn't fitted, I thought I'd deffo wear the belt so went ahead to make it... The red fabric is a refashioned pillowcase I bought from a shop front near my Chinese Class (for less than 20 cents … 5RMB), because I couldn’t be bothered riding over to the fabric shop … lucky the red matched! 

But can you see... I'm thinking, why did I make this freaking belt. I don't think it's my style right now. 

Still, it’s a nice frock, and because it's so light it will probably be good for the hot days that are coming here in Shanghai. I was really excited at the thought of summer, but now people are telling me it's so hot you can't do anything... so I'm really worried I'm not prepared. EEP

Couture Nomad have their own drafted patterns for the sewing school, and if you’re an indie pattern junkie looking for different shapes & different styles that aren’t in the blog world so much, they’re available on the pdf to buy as well… but yes a few are in French! 

Talk soon!

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