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Break over!

Before going away on a sewing break I created a tutorial for an off-shoulder dress. Make a statement by drafting and sewing together your own off-shoulder dress with the added glamour of the ruffles sleeves. I show you how to draft the pattern and the way to construct your dress.

In this project, I used a scuba knit fabric, which meant when it came to adding ease, I had to use negative ease instead of positive ease so that the garment could stretch around my body. For your hip measurement, depending on the fabric you choose to use you may need to add positive or negative ease.

  • For non-stretch fabric: Add 2 inches to your hip circumference and divide that by 4
  • For stretchy fabric: Multiply your hip circumference by 0.9 and divide that by 4

To get started with this tutorial, you will need your basic bodice and sleeve block, which you can find on my blog or YouTube channel.

Pattern Drafting Tutorial – Off-Shoulder/Bardot Dress with Ruffle Sleeves

Pattern Drafting Tutorial – Off-Shoulder/Bardot Dress with Ruffle Sleeves • Elewa - YouTube

Seam Allowance and Cutting Instructions:
  • Centre front piece: Add seam allowance everywhere except on the centre front and cut on the fold of your fabric
  • Side front piece: Add seam allowance everywhere and cut 2 from your fabric
  • Back piece: Add seam allowance everywhere except on the centre back and cut on the fold of your fabric or if you are adding a fastening, add seam allowance everywhere and cut 2 from your fabric
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The post How to Draft an Off-Shoulder Dress appeared first on Elewa Blog.

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If the shoe garment fits…

Seam allowances are essential for every sewing project regardless of whether you’re using a self drafted or bought pattern. Without a seam allowance, nothing would fit together properly.

They’re crucial for joining pieces of fabric together without compromising on the fit of the garment. That’s why a precise seam allowance is a must.

I will show you how to create consistent seam allowance around your pattern pieces using a ruler.

Ruler can be purchased from Amazon.

And feel free to comment, share, like and SUBSCRIBE!

Pattern Drafting for Beginners – Adding Seam Allowances

Pattern Drafting for Beginners - Adding Seam Allowances • Elewa - YouTube

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The post How to Add Seam Allowances to Patterns appeared first on Elewa Blog.

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Wakanda forever

This project was basically a repeat of last year’s. Except this year I actually started making the dresses early, up until a few days days ago when I decided to redesign the dresses and start over. So once again, I had four days to create two dresses.

I call it the curse of the Day and Night Dress Challenge…

My original design

At first, I had planned on making two dresses using lots and lots of soft tulle. Lots! Until I cut into a piece of the fabric and realised how much it misbehaved and how this misbehaviour was beyond my patience and ability.

I suddenly become daunted by the whole prospect of my designs. Then, I didn’t think I could do it, and so I procrastinated. I was no longer up for the challenge, and all the while I was feeling stressed and deflated, time was ticking away.

Time won’t wait for me so I decided I needed to focus on something I could do and do well in a short amount of time.

The dresses

As with last year’s dresses, coherency was my goal. I had two dashiki fabrics at home that I could use, one pink and one blue, so it was only a matter of making two dresses that combined both fabrics.

With the release of the Black Panther movies, celebrating all thing Africa, showcasing the beauty and the bright colours of our many cultures and presenting an all round awesomeness of the continent was an opportunity that I would not miss out on.

Both my dresses featured a wrap bodice, where one was strapless and the other wasn’t. This helped add some consistency to my designs but was also a nod towards the African fabric-wrapping culture.

Although both dresses are similar in colours and style, I think with the simplicity of adding an A-line skirt to my day dresses versus the pleated skirt of the night dress, I was able to differentiate between the two.

The day dress I wouldn’t wear out to a party, but I would definitely meet up with some friends for a coffee in it and when the sun sets, I’ll change up my style and rock up to a soiree in that strapless beauty.

The night dress

I started making my night dress first. I had already drafted the bodice and put together a toile as I was going to use the draft for my initial design. So why recreate the wheel? Just use what I’ve already got.

Structure is really important in some designs. You want everything to stay up and not droop or wrinkle. Garments have a tendency of creasing up around the body and I wanted a dress that kept it’s elegance at all times. So between each seam of my bodice (centre front and side front, side front and side back, side back and centre back) I stitched in some flexible boning.

The boning is comfortable, you can’t even feel it’s there. It curves nicely around the shape of the bust, without giving it any weird angles or shapes allowing the dress to hug my body nicely.

Pleated skirts are something that I am good at doing but sometimes, it’s not about what the skirt is but rather how it looks. And this skirt looks amazing! The pattern placement is EVERYTHING! Perfectly symmetrical and the symmetry of the dashiki pattern just makes so much sense. Even I’m thinking, “wow! This didn’t turn out half bad, did it?” The back, the front, the pattern placement works everywhere. I think with such a busy fabric as this, pattern placement can make or break the design, luckily I did pay attention to the fabric and I’m really chuffed with how the whole dress turned out.

The day dress

The day dress was a little bit more problematic. Because I hadn’t had time to make a practice version, nor had I had time to even think about how I was going to construct the dress, I made mistakes.

The pattern placement on the bodice was great! Can’t fault it. In fact, the bodice looked all around well made. Except for the bust dart being a little too pointy! No one wants to walking around looking like they have erect nipples, it’s just not the look anyone goes for, ever. I tried to flatten it as best as I could with my tailor’s ham to no avail, but oh well!

It was around midnight on Friday evening when I had completed my day dress. Completed with a wrap skirt that I truly hated from the bottom of my heart. Really, the wrap skirt would have looked amazing had I thought about the pattern placement, but the placement sucked and it looked so disjointed I had to take off the skirt and start again.

I needed a simple skirt that I didn’t need to draft, something I could just cut out straight from my fabric and sew onto my bodice so I chose an A-line skirt. I got some chalk, drew a quick four sided shape consisting only of straight lines onto my dashiki and cut it out. At this point, it was getting late and I didn’t care whether it worked or not, I just need something. Anything.

Even though I rushed the skirt, I didn’t neglect to think about the fabric to use and the pattern placement. Although the bodice was made from the blue dashiki, I made the skirt using the pink one. The subtle link between the blue bodice and pink skirt via the blue circle below the waistband really tied the whole thing together wonderfully. Although it wasn’t my original design, it looks simple, yet lovely.

Pictures

Many thanks and much appreciation to my photographer, the amazing Jehad Fadda. The pictures look gorgeous and I really do look like an African Princess.

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

For once I made something that I’m at least 80% happy with. I thought this would be the most confusing thing I’d ever have to make because I just couldn’t imagine how all the little pieces would be drafted and put together, like the loops for the tie back and the slit down the centre back. But I prevailed and I succeeded. I’m genuinely proud of myself for this sexy little number that I made.

The tutorial to make yourself one of these cuties is also available and it’s pretty straightforward because I show you how to do everything, from drafting the pattern to putting the dress together.

I’m quite surprised because it is so well put together and I’m actually wondering how I achieved such level of perfection. I’m such a messy sewer that the fact the stitches are straight is even a mystery to me. But I did well and I’m glad it looks good and fits.

To be honest, to draft a bodice that wasn’t too revealing but looked sexy and fitted well was a bit of a challenge. I made no less than 10 toiles to actually get that part perfect and once I had created a flawless version, I was ready to sew!

My toile looked so good that I couldn’t wait to see how the real thing would look. The toiling fabric I used is from Minerva craft. It really did help give me some insight as to how the dress would potentially look.

The process

The steps I’d take to create a finished garment, without any instructions but the ones I’d create for myself, was something I pondered over extensively. I wrote done bullet points of the process and pictured the progression in my head to check if what I was thinking would work or not. Many questions went through my head, “Should I add the lace trim after or before I stitched the bodice together?”, “Should I create a separate facing to hide the loops behind?”, “How will I even get into the dress, should I add elastic?”

Eventually I settled on something that would work for everyone. The back ties meant that even if you got your measurements wrong you could always fit the dress around your body by tightening the ties. So now fit wouldn’t be an issue. Getting into the fabric, however, was something I was stuck on for a long while. I eventually went with a little slit that would leave a little peekaboo at the back, which only adds to the sexiness of the dress.

Putting the dress together was very straightforward. I’ve never used lace or lace trims to make a full garment before but I loved making this. It was so fun and so easy. Even the chiffon behaved! Ok, I struggled to cut it out because it kept moving, but apart from that, everything was brilliant. I even found a non-strenuous way to hem it!

There was also the added the pressure of getting everything right first time because I was recording the whole process for the tutorial, but I made no major errors except for when I accidentally stitched the lace trim on upside down, but that was a minor. Having dabbled in a bit of bra making, I was familiar with how lace is used in lingerie, so that helped.

I even used my overlocker! Albeit badly, but I still used it!

The front

I was so nervous for my photo shoot. I’m not so keen on exposing my body but, to my relief, it was actually a little less revealing than I thought it would be without taking anything away from the sexiness.

The bodice is pretty. I really like the lace trim I used, I think it really helped in covering up more boob than what would have been if I hadn’t added the trim. I used the same trim for the waistband (can you call it a waistband? It’s more of an under-bust band, but anyway), leaving it unlined so some skin could show through, to obviously up the sexiness levels.

One of the finishing touches I added, because detail counts, were little bows to cover up the stitches from the straps. I used the same ribbon found on the back of the bodice, which means, yes, I tied those cute little bows myself.

The back

The back of the bodice I love. The whole tying concept and the gorgeous lattice I created, which stands out brilliantly across an exposed back, are my favourite. Even that cheeky little slit plays its part.

I added sew-in interfacing at the centre back to keep the loops strong and secure so that the pull from tying the dress up wouldn’t rip my oh-so delicate fabrics. The best decision I ever made. I even included some of the interfacing to the join between the dress and the straps – you can never be too careful.

As a pattern drafter and designer, its things like this you need to think about; the functionality of what you are making, because there are no instructions to tell you these things. I knew the back tie would apply pressure to the fabric, so to combat that, I added stronger material.

The hem

I hate hemming. I’ve said it many times and I’ll say it even more. I hate hemming. I’m actually really bad at it, and that’s even with crisp cottons that iron flat. Now add a sheer, slippery fabric to the mix and we have disaster. There was no way I was going to hem by rolling the bottom of my chiffon inwards. It just wouldn’t work for me and I’d end up ruining all my hard work.

So I found an ingeniously lazy way out of it – a tutorial from Threads, which allowed for sheer fabrics to be finished with some zig-zag and blanket stitches. Amazing! My hem looks professionally done and that is why this project will easily get a 9/10 from me.

To conclude

It was successful. Being able to practice by making toiles really helped and actually having a plan meant that what I was doing was well thought through and could be executed meticulously.

If there’s anything that I learnt from this, it would be that nothing is impossible. I had a vision but I didn’t know how it would turn out, either way, I gave it a go and it worked out!

I’m really excited for my next projects now. I get anxiety when I sew because I have to produce something that I need to basically show to the world, but now I feel like I have the ability to create anything that I feel may be beyond my abilities.

So here’s to successful sewing projects!

More pictures!
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Cut it. Cut it. Cut it.

I’ve been saying I need a new cutting mat for about a million years. And so I finally splashed the cash and bought one. I’ve never cared much for my green one – it’s really ugly and the colours are harsh on camera.

Most of my YouTube tutorials feature this ugly green mat and to be honest I’ve never really liked the whole ambiance of my videos. Its presence is pretty jarring and it doesn’t give sewing the air of beauty that it deserves.

In fact, my green cutting mat is way past it’s use-by date. Ok, it’s only two years old but I’ve basically ruined it. Some of the top layer is peeling off and the lines have started to rub off because I keep spilling acetone on it (girl’s gotta paint her nails).

So I bought myself a grey cutting mat and I’m hoping it will do my videos some justice.

I wonder if anyone will notice…

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How do you even pronounce it?

Tool? Twa-lay? Toyol? To-lez? Twarl?

/twɑːl/ (according to the dictionary).

Creating toiles, aka muslins, were something that I didn’t do and I’d cut into my fabric first time and end up messing everything up. But what can I expect when I did everything last minute?

Well I’ve changed my wasteful ways and I now make toiles before I cut into my lovely and not-so-cheap fabrics. My new disciplined self created one for my Christmas 2017 dress. I was trying out a new design and wanted to see if it would work. The good thing is, it did work. The bad thing is the red fabric I chose didn’t.

There are obvious reasons as to why you would create a toile, all of them positive, unless you’re lazy and don’t want to waste time creating one. For me personally, especially as a pattern drafter, the most important reason is to be able to test out my patterns to see if they fit and are drafted well.

Mind you, sometimes there is no point in creating a toile, specifically for garments using knit fabrics. Firstly, because knits tend to be stretchy, they should be able to easily accommodate your body even if measurements are slightly off. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t create a practice garment using a cheaper knit fabric with similar stretchiness to your main fabric.

I rarely work with knits, so creating a toile is important for me (or should be important for me). Most of the garments I make are close fitting with little to zero stretch in the fabric. Calico (unbleached cotton) tends to traditionally be used for toiling, therefore toiles are typically created for non-stretch, fitted garments. You can get great toiling fabrics from Minerva Crafts. They have a range of fabrics of different weights. The one I personally use is their medium weight calico fabric.

So, why else should you create a toile?

Testing for fit

For those of you who buy your patterns, testing for fit would be the obvious reason for why you would create a toile. We’re all uniquely and wonderfully made and no two bodies are the same. Buying a pattern therefore means you won’t automatically be getting the best fit for your shape. Creating a toile will help you test for fit and make any necessary adjustments.

For those of you who draft your own patterns, you’ll know that drafting is a pain and 9 out of 10 times you’ll get something wrong. A measurement will be too small, the waistline will be too short, something will be too something. Whatever it is, something will go wrong – guaranteed. Putting together a toile will show you exactly what has gone wrong and allow you to make amendments to your pattern.

Experiment with designs or modifications

I have an upcoming tutorial for Valentine’s Day – I’ll be teaching you all how to make a babydoll dress. I’ve never made a babydoll before. In fact, I’ve never even worn one. The pattern is one I had to make up and it took me numerous attempts to get a version that looked good and fitted well. I drafted and sewed together about 10 toiles – not even an exaggeration. But because of this, I was able to produce something that looks amazing. And that is why toiling is important for pattern drafters. You may think you can get it right first time but it just doesn’t happen like that. That’s why for drafters, toiling should be something you do. Don’t be naughty like me.

Also, you may have a design in mind without knowing exactly what the pattern should look like. This is your opportunity to experiment to see what works!

For those of you testing the waters of pattern drafting or who like getting a little creative you probably modify your bought patterns. This is a fantastic way to get a good fit while still being able to execute your own design. Toiling allows you to try out your ideas and create something new and wonderful.

Practice skills

Does anyone here sew for fun? You put together a garment, not because you want to wear it but because you just want to practice your sewing skills? For drafters and non-drafters alike, toiling is a good way to refine your drafting and sewing abilities. Want to learn how to insert an invisible zipper into skirts? Create a toile. Don’t know how to sew in a neckline facing but want to try it out? Create a toile. Just learnt how to slash and spread but want to see what the dart will look like on an actual garment? Create a toile!

There are many things you can practice by creating a toile. Even if it’s just that you’re a little bit nervous about cutting into your beautiful fabric and want to create a practice version first to figure out the complexities of the pattern.

Whatever reason you have for creating a toile, when possible, you should be creating one. It’ll save you a lot of time and stress before starting on your actual garment. And what can go wrong with a toile? Nothing. Because mistakes are allowed!

So happy toiling. May you never go back to your untoiling ways.

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The post Why You Should Make a Toile appeared first on Elewa Blog.

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I have new dress forms!

And I’m not going to lie. I have no idea how I’m going to use them. I bought one for garment hanging and photography purposes and the other for fitting purposes but I haven’t really used them. They’re sort of a nice addition to make my sewing space look pretty.

The black dress form is adjustable and I can rotate some dials to make certain areas of the form bigger and smaller. I’m yet to figure out how to actually make it my size. There are so many dials and when I adjust each of them to my measurement, the circumferences end up bigger.

To be honest, I didn’t have to buy one (or two), but it’s been two years since I’ve been sewing and every seamstress needs a dress form. I’ve gotten used to sewing without one but maybe they’ll be the best things I never knew I needed once I’ve given them a chance, let’s see.

I have some exciting new tutorials coming your way. I’m going to go back to teaching how to draft a full garment. Recently I’ve been focusing on drafting techniques but it’s time to push boundaries and be a little bit more creative with my videos. I’m ready to put in the hard work for you guys!

So what next?

My next tutorial will be a Valentine’s Day special; a sexy babydoll dress for you to wear for your special someone. I have my lace and chiffon all ready and I will start working on this for release one or two weeks before Valentine’s Day (I’m still deciding what would be best, maybe two weeks will give people enough time to make it before 14th Feb? What do you think?).

Another project will be the Day and Night Dress Challenge 2018! I took part in this last year and although it was a bit of a rush the dresses came out lovely and I’m excited to see what I can put together this year.

Anyway guys, definitely stay in touch! I’ll try my best to keep you all updated and actually put myself in front of the camera so that you can see my face. In fact, my last YouTube video was of me sitting in front of the camera participating in the Five Questions One Take tag. So check that out and have a good week!

Doja x

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The post My New Dress Forms appeared first on Elewa Blog.

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First tutorial of the year!

2018 really does feel like it’s going to be a good one! Well to kick things off I have a tutorial that is literally so important I only wonder why I haven’t done it earlier.

To be honest, facings are always something I draft when I want to finish my neckline or armholes without a lining. I’m not too keen on bias binding finishes so these are usually my go-tos.

And the thing is, they’re so straightforward, it doesn’t take a lot to create one. As long as you have your bodice pattern piece, you’re good to go. I usually like having my seam allowance drawn on my bodice pattern first, that way I don’t have to add them to the facing patterns.

That gives me an idea. I should create a tutorial on adding seam allowances. I always speed through them in my videos that people don’t really get to see how I do it. Plus, I’m sure it’ll help knowing where and when to use seam allowances.

That being said, here is the tutorial! Enjoy!

And feel free to comment, share, like and SUBSCRIBE!

Pattern Drafting Tutorial – Neckline and Armhole Facings

Pattern Drafting Tutorial - Neckline and Armhole Facings • Elewa - YouTube

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