Travel post about a lovely little medieval town outside of Chantilly. Short day-trip outside of Paris.
I've never made a travel bag before (or many bags at all, actually), but I had this brilliant concept in my head and started work on one to take to France with me. The clever part of the concept didn't actually work out, I had wanted it to be lighter and smaller, zip up on the sides to be able to use as a weekender, carry-on, and purse. It was just too bulky in the end for the purse part. Mostly, I wanted a carry-on size bag that was able to fit my camera and my computer. So....success, for that, I guess! I was seriously running out of time towards the end of making this bag, so some of the last minute things weren't thought through as carefully as they could have been and I didn't have time to change some things I had wanted to...
Details :: There is a zipper pocket on the outside, easy access for me to get to my passport, another pocket on the outside for...whatever. The zipper pocket on the inside happened to fit my Kindle perfectly, and there is a tiny normal pocket on the other side of the inside to put my phone in. There are also two straps on the inside to secure my computer so it doesn't slide around. The zipper on the top is a seperating zipper, to make it easier to get in and out of the bag (another element that wasn't though through enough!). And the straps are detachable and adjustable, to use two on the outsides of the bag, or one that attaches on the ends, on the shoulder or across the body. Versatility :)
This bag seems like it cost a small fortune to make. I had to order everything, the fabric, the vinyl, the straps, the zippers (some of which weren't used), and the HARDWARE. The clips, strap adjusters, d-rings, all that jazz cost well over $50. They are pretty awesome quality, but damn. So, I may redo parts of this bag because there is no way I'm letting all that go to waste!
I like the way it looks. So, look-wise, I think it turned out great. I underlined the outside fabric with a thin muslin because it was a loose weave and I was worried it would stretch. That, with the regular lining, made it a bit bulky. You can't really tell by looking, but I know it. But I love the outside design, the fabric, the vinyl, the straps.
One of the straps started fraying on my trip, so I was only able to use one of them, that was my fault though, and I can sew it back together pretty easily.
The bag is too big. I took it to Barcelona for a few days though, and with my camera (and without my computer) and my clothes and toilettries, I can't imagine everything would have fit if it had been smaller. But it was HUGE and a pain to carry. Literally. It hurt to carry it.
Fix: It was awkward to carry, but I don't want to make it too much smaller. Fix? Buy a smaller computer, lol. Then the bag can be smaller! I also came up with the thought of making it less square and have it get narrower towards the top. I think that might help it lay on the body better when I am walking around with it. This was part of the original design, using the side zippers that I didn't end up using to change the shape, but I might just cut down the sides and make it a permenant part of the bag.
It is too heavy. Like I said, it literally hurt to carry it. It was packed full at the time, and one of the straps was unusable, so you couldn't really distribute the weight as well, but even empty you can tell it is a bit heavy. I don't know what I can do about it.
Fix: Well, the decorative brown straps on the outside are made of a very heavy quality/weight strapping, so getting thinner and lighter ones might help a bit. I'll have to take the entire bag apart to change that, but they are mostly decorative, so they won't diminsh the structure of the bag or anything, so it might be a good idea. I don't know how much that would really cut down on the weight though....
Conclusion:: I might make a backpack next, lol. That would solve some of the carrying issues....And invest in a smaller computer.....that would help as well. But I love the way this one looks, and with a few tweaks (and more judicious packing), I think it can be better! So, a little bit of ripping and sewing and I'll be ready to head off again!
The ugly bow (fabric tie) is from China. I never travel without it :)
Twirl. Because it is a circle skirt and circle skirts are epic fun to twirl in.
One of the many dresses I've made since I've been back! Not the first one though. I've been sewing for sanity in the past few weeks. It keeps me busy ;) I must be having a self-esteem crisis because no matter how many pictures I take, there aren't any that I would put up online of the other dresses so far! I'm still unhappy with these, but I have some work coming up and figured I wouldn't have time to take a thousand more pictures to come up with 5 decent ones. Excuse me, I'm having a moment. But I dyed my hair today and that always makes me feel like a new person. So I have hope :)
No pattern here, just threw it together on my own. Might not be creatively challenging, but something I'll wear at least! I love this jersey fabric and it was on sale at Joann's, so I bought some. I have a black circle skirt made out of the same type and just LOVE it, so I figured I would make a dress with a circle skirt as well. Nice fall dress: super soft, comfortable...correct colour scheme....
I unfortunately used the pattern I made for a circle skirt that sits on the hips instead of the waist, so it came out too big! I must have been distracted or something. The skirt is so heavy that I was planning on putting in elastic in the waist anyway, so it worked out and I don't mind the gathering. And I was going to make it with a short skirt, but I liked this length for a fall-y type dress. I don't really have any construction notes, it is a pretty simple dress. A pretty basic bodice, neck binding out of the fabric, a lot of hem to hem.....yea... I made a pattern for the bodice and sleeves, so I can use it again. Always nice to make some basics like that when you know they fit!
Comfy, comfy, comfy. All that matters!
Belt is bought and scarf was knitted last year. The one and only knitting project in my life so far. How sad.
...I say 'busy', but really....it feels like I haven't actually done anything in the past 2 weeks....I never really become accustomed to it getting dark at 4pm. I just have to hold on till Spring.
Waist stays: possibly one of the most useful sewing trick/tip/construction pieces I've ever come across. Also, judging by the instructions on many patterns that would benefit from a waist stay, extremely underutilised. Not just for patterns either! Some store bought dresses could seriously benefit from a waist-stay as well.
What is a waist stay?
It is a ribbon, cut exactly to your measurements (zero ease), sewn onto the waist of your dress to...well...help it stay put! Basically, they help hold the weight of heavier skirts to keep them from pulling down the bodice of the dress. Using Butterick 5814 as an example, the waist stay keeps the bodice from being pulled down by the drape on the skirt. That, with the boning, keeps the bodice from moving, the shoulders from slipping, and the low neckline from flashing people.
It's usefulness is most obvious in strapless dresses. Just picture yourself in a strapless dress and then picture yourself constantly pulling it up throughout the night. A waist stay would prevent the dress from sliding around. They were seen in the construction of a lot of vintage (and couture) dresses, mostly because later we moved away from silhouettes with fitted waists. With vintage dresses with fuller skirts, it is hard work on the seams to try and hold up the weight of all that fabric!
Sewing and fitting ::
Before discovering waist stays, I had trouble fitting some of the vintage garments that I've made. To keep the dress in place, I had to cut out nearly all of the ease in the waist area, which, among it looking tight and stretched, makes it really hard to breathe. There is a reason for wearing ease! Freedom! Movement! Breathing!
I have another dress that I finished years ago that I recently added a waist stay to. It is a shirtdress halter. The heavy fabric and weight of the skirt always pulled down the bodice. The dress pulled on my neck and the back, with nothing to hold it up, just dragged down. Couldn't make it too tight because it would have just pulled at the buttons on the front. I tried everything I could think of at the time to fix it! Problem now solved!
From what I could gather in my research, there are two different types of waist stay, so don't get confused. One is with stay tape, sewn (or fused) directly to the seam, to keep the fabric from stretching. The kind that I'm talking about it the waist stay made with ribbon. It is NOT sewn to the waist seam of the dress but tacked onto the vertical seams of the inside. And think about it, sewing it to the seam would completely negate the wearing ease in the dress.
Petersham v. Grosgrain Ribbon
Before I get into sewing it into your clothing, a note about the ribbon. Grosgrain is a woven ribbon with a bound edge, the kind of ribbon most of you are probably familiar with. It is often used as a waist stay because it is cheap and readily available in every craft store. Don't get me wrong, it is perfectly acceptable to use this as a waist stay! If you are going all out, however, I want to introduce you to petersham ribbon. I was unable to find it in any store in my area, so I went searching online (links at the bottom of the post). Petersham is very similar to grosgrain, except it doesn't have the bound edge. If you use grosgrain as a stay and it is cut exactly to your measurements, you'll probably notice the edges digging into your skin a bit. A little itchy and uncomfortable. Petersham has more flexiblity and contours to your waist much nicer. I highly recommend it over grosgrain for waist stays!
Adding it to clothing. So easy! ::
I've seen quite a few tutorials on this second kind of stay which have you sew it directly to the seam. I'm here to tell you: this isn't the way! The waist stay should hover over the fabric, tacked to the side and other vertical seams around the waist.
Cut the ribbon 2 inches longer than your waist measurements. Fold over an inch on the two ends (double over for a nicer finish) and sew it down. Hand sew hooks to one side and eyes to the other (or whatever hook method/contraption you prefer!).
Then, we tack it to the dress. Distribute the difference between the waist and stay evenly (hardest part!) and tack it at the side seams, the front, if there are vertical darts or a center seam, and at the opening (side, back, front, zipper, buttons, whatever). Don't sew it directly to the opening though, leave an inch or so free on each side so it goes under the opening, 1)you don't want the ribbon pulling at the opening and 2) leaving it free makes it easier to clasp when you are putting the dress on.
That's it! Good job! Wear with freedom and joy ;) I have a dress I finished a while ago that needs a waist stay put in, I'll put up in-progress pictures soon to help illustrate the steps! If you need some clarification, let me know! I've never done a tutorial before, so I could use some tips ;) I know I'm a little wordy.
Where to buy ::
Obviously look around at the stores near you. If you can't find any, or need a more specific colour or width, here are some of the places I've found online. I ordered 1 inch widths, anywhere from 1/2" to 1" should work :
I ordered from A Fashionable Stitch. It felt great to support a small sewing business and the ribbon was fantastic quality! I haven't tried any of these other stores.
Hart's Fabrics :: Many colours and sizes
The Sewing Place :: Many colours and sizes
Riddle me this, where will I ever be able to wear this dress? (Get it? Wiggle-riddle. It's a wiggle dress!)
Doesn't matter. I love it. Someone invite me to a luau, quick!
I finished this dress during the summer, before I got swamped by work, making my travel bag, and leaving on my trip to Europe...and it served as a lovely reminder of how it was summer when I left and it is now winter and I won't be able to wear this dress for another year. Can't say that hasn't happened before!
This is probably the prettiest dress I've ever made...on the inside at least! I went full out! Boning in the bodice, built in bra cups, Hong-Kong finished seams, seam binding at the hem and to stablise the neckline, turned the back slit into a vent, I even covered the edges of the zipper, AND I specially ordered the best waist-stay ribbon that you can get for a waist stay (petersham ribbon from A Fashionable Stitch, no more grosgrain for me!). And I researched how to properly sew in a waist-stay...you don't just sew it to the waist! Go figure! I might do a whole post about waist-stays. I'm thinking about sewing them into every dress.
Tl;dr: That was probably total jibberish to my non-sewing friends, sorry. Translation: It's pretty and colourful on the inside ;) It's fun. Like a little secret that only I see, lol. It's a wiggle dress pattern, vintage style but new pattern (by Gertie)
I loved the way this dress turned out. Used some fabric I've had in my stash for quite a long while from Joann's. Probably didn't have this in mind for it when I got it but I'm in love with it! And I only had 2 yards of it and there are very few dresses that can be made in 2 yards. Plus, it ended up being the perfect weight. I also used navy petersham ribbon for the waist-stay, some mint-green vintage bias tape to use up some of my stash, bright green seam-binding for the zipper, and a bright purple lining fabric from Joann's. It turned out to be a VERY colourful dress!
Construction Notes: I changed the sleeves a bit, thanks to the tips I got browsing Gertie's posts on the pattern (so that the sleeves don't fall off the shoulders). Her posts were really helpful, if you are making this pattern, I highly recommend reading through them. The neckline is SUPER low and I had to square up that cross-the-front piece to keep it from gaping. Sewing in slightly smaller than equal length of bias tape into the neckline was super helpful as well (another Gertie tip) and I'll probably do that on most v-necks I make from now on. I decided to sew cups into the lining of the dress as well, since I can't imagine wearing something with a dress this low cut AND with such a wide neckline. I'm so glad that I did it!!
I changed the back slit into a vent, a pretty easy change to make. And I've never put in a hook and eye at the top of a zipper and had it look good, so I added a cute little self-covered button with a tab to the top instead, and mirrored it down at the top of the vent as well. I'm glad I'm flexible, because it is hard to get that top one buttoned...
Some pictures of the innards::
Random photo: Vienna, Austria
Austria Travel Posts [HERE]
One of the many reasons I plan my trips to Paris in October is so that I can go to Nuit Blanche, which is always an interesting night. Start Saturday night and wander around the city, stumbling across fantastic installations, until the next morning.
It is really a cool experience, especially when you start getting into 3 or 4am and the amount of people have dwindled drastically. The crowds are gone, the rowdy people have probably passed out by then, and all that is left are a few groups of people that have hung in there, sitting around in an installation. Laying in Parc de Belleville listening to the symphony that was composed for the park with speakers scattered over the entire park. Or back at République for the first metro home, and the square that you first came across when it was filled with people -yelling, screaming, drunk, being idiots, and climbing to the top of the statue- is now almost empty, hushed, and still completely covered in the fog from the installation.
There is no way to hit all the things you want to see, it doesn't matter how you try, and some of the things are just ridiculous, but it is a cool experience nonetheless.
Quite a few more pictures and descriptions over at the gallery--->Click Here