Four Participants. Thoughtfully Selected. Creative & Talented. This is the MARGE & TALL GUIDES Magazine #SewTallAndCreative2017 Design Challenge. You’ve met the designers and seen their ideas in the Inspiration & Intention phase. We checked in with them during the Concept & Initial Design phase and now it’s time for a sneak peek at how the Construction process has unfolded before we move on to The Big Reveal.

Janet : DIY Wardrobe, UK

As the final reveal for the #SewTallAndCreative2017 Design Challenge approaches, I have been working hard to complete my dress. I am also dying to see what the others have made, and I’m not sure I can hold out until the end date of 20 May!

I’m using the pattern (Lisette for Butterick B6169) for the first time, so step one was to make a toile – a trial garment – to find out where I need to alter the pattern to fit me. This part did not go to plan! I used some green polyester crepe de chine which had a similar weight and drape to the MARGE fabrics I’m planning to use, but because it’s polyester it puckered horribly along the seams and it also clung in all the wrong places. Eww. But I did manage to check my size, and worked out how much length to add where. It also revealed I needed a swayback adjustment. With no centre back or waist seams to work with on this pattern, there was some head scratching involved, but an online tutorial came to the rescue and now I’m ready to cut into the challenge fabrics.sewtallandcreative2017 sewing tall sew design challenge competition marge tallguides

Because the crepe and silk fabrics I’m working with are slippery, I sandwiched them between two layers of tissue paper for cutting out. This held everything in place and made sure the pieces ended up the right shape. You can see I don’t have any fancy pattern weights – I just use whatever heavy objects I can find around the house.

Vintage silk thread in a contrasting colour was perfect for tailor’s tacks to copy over the pattern markings. Silk thread doesn’t snag and it pulls out easily when you’ve finished with it.

Lots of pins held everything in place while I sewed, and a 2.2mm stitch length with the tension set low and a walking foot worked well on the crepe fabric. This fabric frays a lot, so once the seams are pressed into shape I’ll finish them with my overlocker (serger). For the silk fabric, I’m using French seams – a couture finish that encloses the raw edges.

I’ve just got the neckline and the hem left to do now, so I’ll be back soon with the finished article…

*Content and imagery compliments of DIY Wardrobe

Beth : Sew DIY, USA

It didn’t take me too long to settle on the tropical print lace and dark purple chiffon paired with vintage Simplicity 5850. (I think I picked this pattern up at a thrift store many years ago but I did a quick search on Etsy and it seems to be readily available. I decided to sew view 2 with the v-neck and maxi length, but without the sleeves. Also, since the lace tropical print fabric is a little see through, I will be adding a lining.

After selecting fabrics and a pattern, the next step is fitting. Most people will need to do make some adjustments to a pattern to obtain a perfect fit. And if you’re taller than average its extra important to check the fit. After finding where my bust, waist and hips fall in the size range, I take a look at the length of the garment. I will check where in the length of the garment the bust point, waistline and hips are located. I carry a lot of my height in my torso so in addition to the length of the skirt, I often need to add length to the bodice. This pattern has a seam line under the bust and I want to get the placement of that seam just right. One of my biggest pet peeves back when I used to shop more often was that the under bust seam would always hit right in the middle of my bust. So unflattering and uncomfortable. Plus, as all tall gals know, there’s (usually) no way to alter a RTW to make it longer.

The first thing I did was to test the fit using the pattern itself. I pinned the tissue pattern pieces together and carefully tried them on. Conveniently this vintage pattern has the seam allowance marked on the pattern so tissue fitting was really easy . Of course tissue fitting won’t show you how the actual fabric would drape but it will give you a really good idea of where the seam lines will land on your body. I was surprised how well the bodice fit right away. I only needed to add a little length. I traced the bodice pattern pieces, adding 5/8” to the length of the bodice.

sewtallandcreative2017 sewing tall sew design challenge competition marge tallguides

Next, I used my lining fabric to make a quick muslin. (This is one of my favourite time saving methods.) I cut the bodice out of the lining then stitched the darts and shoulder seams, and basted the side seams. I tried on the bodice (wearing the bra that I intend to wear with the dress) and decided I wanted just a smidgen more length. While I was wearing the lining bodice, I held a tape measure up to my side to determine how long I want the dress to be. I’m envisioning a full maxi length and to reach my ankle bone the skirt will need to be 45”.

The next step was to cut out the bodice from the fashion fabric. I stitched up the bodice pieces and set them aside for now. Next, I cut the skirt pieces. Surprisingly, the pattern was exactly 45” long. The previous owner had cut off about 12” of it but had thankfully saved those pieces. I had JUST ENOUGH fabric to cut the skirt 45” long. Fingers crossed it will be long enough! I will likely have to make a very narrow hem and wear flats but I think it will do. The skirt flares a lot so I even had to narrow it a little bit towards the hem so fit it on the fabric. Last night, I pieced the skirt pieces and finished the seams with pinking shears.

Next, I need add my second fabric, the dark purple chiffon. I’m planning to do a 1/4” flat piping treatment around the neckline, armholes and under the bust. I did a little test and really like the result. The trickiest part will be the V-neck on the bodice. I’m practicing the V-neck and hoping that I’ll get it just perfect. I will baste the flat piping to the bodice then attached the lining to the bodice and insert the zipper. Then hem the skirt and I will be all done.

*Content and imagery compliments of SEW DIY

Tiffany : Pretty Tall Sew ‘n’ Sew, USA

I chose to use 4 of the fabrics that I received to create not one but TWO similar but very unique dresses. The idea that I had in mind from the beginning was to create something party themed. I wanted a look that could go from a yacht party to a wedding reception so it had to have both a casual and a dressy feel to it.

During the construction phase of both dresses, I encountered obstacles. The biggest was in convincing myself to use boning! I admire seamstresses who make it look so easy.

After viewing some videos on YouTube, I decided to give it a try and I then discovered you could purchase boning that came with its own casing…GENIUS! This took away my fear and I felt confident in my decision to use it. I installed the boning into the lining and then attached it to the fabric.

I also had the challenge of working with some fraying because the fabrics were non-stretch but as each hurdle appeared, I worked through it and carried on sewing! The dresses are nearly ready and I am excited to show you what I’ve created.

sewtallandcreative2017 sewing tall sew design challenge competition marge tallguides

*Content and imagery compliments of Pretty Tall Saw ‘n’ Sew

Allison : The Tall Mama, Australia

This challenge is really speeding along! I am about half way into making my dress out of the gorgeous dotty silk over the peach satin and my design is still changing and evolving as I sew, which is such a fun part of the creative process.

Typically I would advise someone to make a muslin of their design (a mock up in cheap fabric), which I haven’t done in this case.  We don’t always follow our own good advice, do we?!  However, by working with the fabrics as I go I feel free to make changes based on how they hang on my body.

Thus far, I have used French Seams in the satin to give a beautiful finish.  For those who don’t sew (yet!) they are essentially seams which double over on themselves. They’re twice as much work but well worth it! I am finding sewing the silk (dotty fabric) a massive challenge. Working with this fabric is far out of my comfort zone and really testing my sewing skills. It’s great that this competition is really stretching both my creativity and skill, I just hope it doesn’t turn out to be a hot mess!

sewtallandcreative2017 sewing tall sew design challenge competition marge tallguides

The bodice of my dress is very simple.  It’s based on a pattern I’ve used a couple of times before (see here) so I know I don’t need to make major changes as I don’t have a large bust or very long torso…all my extra length is from the waist down!

For the skirt of my dress I’ve gone with as much fullness as the fabric I had on hand would allow.  I’m still tossing around ideas of how I’ll really show off the beautiful satin underneath the silk layer.  I am not usually an indecisive person AT ALL but there are just so many options I’m not sure which is the best to go with!

*Content and imagery compliments of The Tall Mama website.


Stay tuned for more updates from the #SewTallAndCreative2017 Design Challenge as the designers and seamstresses are preparing for The Big Reveal!

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