Tag Archive | dresses

Sew Over It Zoë Dress – the bonkers print

I had promised myself, in the new year, that I was going to treat myself to a Sew Over It course. I’ve heard nothing but good about their courses, and I like Lisa Comfort’s aesthetic. So when I saw the list of new courses, and spotted the Zoë Dress, I felt it was meant to be. I signed right up for it.

It was running over three Thursday evenings. The first session consisted mostly of trying on toiles, working on Fit, and getting the pattern pieces cut and marked. I’d notified SOI of my measurements in advance, because I’m a plus size. The teacher, Julie, had graded a pattern for me in readiness, and we spent quite a bit of time on getting it just right. I can’t tell you how nice it is a) to have somebody else do your pattern grading! and b) to have somebody checking your fitting!

We all brought fabric to work with, and in keeping with my Stashwatch commitment, I shopped my stash. There was really only one piece that fitted the bill, a truly bonkers cotton print, with a sort of Paisley design.

The CD is there to demonstrate the scale. The pattern is mahoosive!

It was a fabric that I’d acquired at a fabric swap. I don’t know who contributed it, but Thank You! It’s fab! It’s a good crisp cotton, easy to work with. I’ve seen it on the FC Fabric Studio website, if I’ve sold you on it. I’d already decided that I wasn’t even going to attempt any pattern matching, and Julie suggested embracing that and going for a full-on asymmetric placement, which was a brilliant suggestion. So my main concern when cutting was to avoid massive boob targets.

The second session involved more actual sewing, including fun with overlockers! I love how much more finished they make your garment. There was more fitting, and learning how to put the in-seam pockets. I’ve never been a big one for pockets, I don’t need them to hold stuff, that’s what handbags are for.  I can take ’em or leave ’em. (Does that mean I have to turn in my sewing blogger card?) So I was thinking they were a bit of an unnecessary extra process, but actually I really like them now. I might even put pockets in other things.

In the final session, we set in the sleeves (or rather a sleeve – we didn’t have time to do both) and we learned about concealed zips. I thought I knew how to do them, because of Gail’s instructions, from when I was going to regular sewing lessons. But Julie has totally changed that, I’m a complete convert to her method. This is the most invisible invisible zip I’ve ever done.  OK OK I’ve only done three… But this is far and away the best I’ve done, ever. The trick is to iron the coils, and to use a concealed zip foot. I tell you, I was straight onto Ebay to find myself one of those babies when I got home.

By the end of session 3, there wasn’t too much left for me to do to complete the dress at home. I had to insert the second sleeve, and neaten those seams, stitch the ends of the facing to the zip and add a hook and eye, and hem the sleeves and the skirt. I finished it on Sunday, and was wearing it to work on Tuesday!

Tada! And here it is…

Behold the asymmetric pattern placement. And the pocketses… 

 

And that zip! I do realise you can tell where it is because of the pattern placement, but you’ve got to admit, you can’t see the actual zip. 

By the way, I’m wearing a daffodil brooch made by learners on our Supported Learning Textiles courses, to raise money for Marie Curie Cancer Care.

What would I do differently next time? Shave a little bit off the shoulder and sleeve head, as I think it could happily come in a centimetre or so and be less gathered. Move the bust darts out a smidge, as they are slightly on the perky side. And maybe a quieter fabric! I’m very happy with how this one works, but maybe something plainer would make more of the pattern lines.

What do I love about this dress? Well I’ve already banged on about the pattern placement, the zip and the pockets. I love this sleeve length – long enough to cover my elbows, short enough not to make me want to push them up. I don’t like having sleeves that cover my wrists.

This is going to be a brilliant springtime dress!

The Batwing dress #2

I went on a bit of a fabric buying spree last week.

My pretties!

My pretties!

Since I’m trying to keep my stash under control, I wanted to use at least part of my loot sooner rather than later. And I figured I still had a few days left of October in which to sew another #sewdots dress. So although the three other fabrics – blue floral jersey, pink/purple scuba, olive green and pink jersey (are we seeing a theme developing here?) now officially join the Stash, the navy polka dot jersey has been used.

I bought this knit fabric at a little shop in Shere, called Mad Jaks. Half the shop stocks fashion garments, the other half fabric and haberdashery goods. It’s a small selection of fabrics but some of them are gorgeous. This double knit Jersey drew my eye because it has an interesting texture, a little bit like ice cream, which I haven’t been able to photograph properly. It’s a synthetic fibre but I don’t know what it is exactly. It’s going to be toasty warm for the winter. However, I can’t help thinking of it as crimplene, which doesn’t make it sound very modern or stylish!

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That texture is *really* hard to capture!

This is the second version I’ve made of the Simple Sew Batwing dress. Having had the experience of sewing it once already this month, and having already tweaked the pattern, I was quite confident this would be a quick sew. And so it proved.

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Ahh, the glamour of office life!

I wanted to change it up a bit so I decided to do a slash neck instead of the roll neck. This involved changing the dress pattern from a one-piece to separate front and back pieces. I left out the head hole and kept the top line straight, at least until I had the chance to try the dress on. As it turned out I decided to create a slight dip for the neckline, slightly deeper at the front than the back. As it’s difficult to tell which is the back and which is the front I have added a small ribon inside at the back so that I know.

I also changed the way the cuff was attached because I prefer to keep the edges enclosed. As the cuffs were quite tight on my first version, I widened them by an extra half centimetre, and now I think they’re just right.

I think my spot matching worked better this time round. I did try to take care with this. The pattern is well centred and the lines match at the side.

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This view really reminds me of my French grandmother, who had the same sort of build as me, or rather I have the same sort of build as her.

So a final #sewdots challenge garment makes it just in time for the end of the month.

Finally I should mention that the poppy brooch on my work lanyard was made by one of the members of our supported learning classes, to raise money for the Poppy Appeal. It’s lovely!

Isn't that delightful?!

Isn’t that delightful?!

I’d like to get another of these fabric purchases used up in the near future.  The scuba fabric is going to be a first for me, and it’s calling to me. I’m trying to do a bit of Internet research, before I do anything rash and ruin it, but I suspect there may be a third Batwing dress in the offing.

The Under The Sea Dress

I’ve had this post ready in draft form since the beginning of June, but it’s been too awful to go out and do some photographing. But at last there is a proper set of pics to choose from, so here goes.

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I thought I’d try the classic Looking Out Into The Wide Blue Yonder blog photo pose

This dress is the first thing I made in my sewing classes. We had started off by drafting a tunic top, but actually, I didn’t find that the top we were likely to produce was a thing I would actually wear, and I was blowed if I was going to expend a lot more time, trouble and fabric over a thing I wouldn’t actually be wearing. It was enough that I did two toiles. So I suggested to my tutor that rather than making the top, I’d prefer to make the top a bit shorter, add a skirt to it, and have a dress instead.

I’d bought this fabric a couple of years ago, and it looked perfect for a summer sundress. I made the bodice first, being as frugal with my cutting as I possibly could, so as to keep plenty of yardage for the skirt. The neckline is a bit higher than I’d probably normally go for, but that’s ok, it’s work appropriate. It was very easy to put together – making two toiles will ensure one is quite familiar with the construction order of a piece!

I was able to use the overlocker in class to neaten edges, which was my first time using one. I do love the finish you get from it, and one day I will treat myself to my own. But I still find it hella scary, because of the blade cutting fabric away. I can see how horribly easy it would be to slice through the wrong bit of fabric by mistake! So I had to go super-carefully, to keep my nerve.

When it was time to think about the skirt, I knew I wanted fullness, and the easiest thing seemed to be to cut the remaining length of fabric into four quarters, stitch them together into a big tube, and gather the top into the base of the bodice. The thought of gathering nearly 5 metres by hand definitely swayed me in favour of doing the gathering by machine. I was initially a bit wary about it, because I didn’t think that the machine stitch would gather well, but it was fine.

The next interesting thing was the zip. I was all geared up for a straightforward lapped zip. But then my tutor gave me the instruction sheet on how to add a back placket to protect my delicate skin. I’d never have thought to do that, but it was actually quite easy and I’ll use that idea again some time.

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There’s a lovely lapped zip, with a placket underneath

And then the dress sat in my UFO pile for three weeks, because I couldn’t face the thought of hemming 5m by hand…

… Until Me Made May gave me the impetus to actually finish the thing. One evening’s work (a long late evening) and I was able to wear it on Day 30.

Day 30

It’s comfortable and easy to wear, for the summer, because it’s loose and it’s cotton. I can feel it’s going to be a Summer Holiday favourite. I don’t know whether I’ll be using this tunic/bodice pattern again, but I’ll hang onto it, just in case. If I do use it, I’ll tweak the neckline because a sundress needs a bit more skin on show. And I won’t worry about a zip.

What’s my favourite thing about this dress? The print is just adorable!

One last pic

The All-Nighter Dress

OK, it wasn’t technically an “all-nighter”, but it was definitely a night-made dress. As I mentioned in my last post, I made this at the last possible opportunity on Wednesday night last week, just before swanning up to Haverfordwest to see my Dad getting wed, and I did the finishing on the night before the ceremony. Thinking about it, this pattern of last-minuteness is a reflection of most of my Sewing For Weddings experiences. I finished the hemming on my own wedding dress the night before the ceremony. When I was matron of honour for my next-one-down sister, and we made all her four bridesmaid dresses, my skirt in the bridesmaid fabric didn’t get hemmed until the morning of the wedding when we realised that each of us thought the other one was doing it, and it had to be wundawebbed. So it seemed kind of fitting that this dress should turn out to be another last-minuter.

I fully intended to photograph the makings, originally, but given the lateness of the make and the speed I had to work at, that just didn’t happen.

The dress was made from a gorgeous stretch sateen, given to me by the lovely Stevie of Beebee’s Handmade Dress. I couldn’t believe how perfectly me those colours were. It’s a gorgeous mix of lilac, pink, teal, navy and cream. I’m not sure whether it’s dud lighting that’s making it look so blue in the photos, or whether that’s an accurate rendition of the overall net effect.

I was using my trusty Belcarra pattern, and hacking it by adding a skirt. I only had about 2.5 metres so I didn’t have so much fabric to make a full skirt for it, so I put in two box pleats, front & back, and made the sides slightly A-line. I was using my experience on the Dress Of Many Colours, to inform this make. I shortened the length of the blouse a little, so that I had a drop waist, but wasn’t dropping it too far. I took a lot more care over the hemming of the skirt, because I wanted it to be right. The skirt is my standard length. but I was measuring it from my natural waistline, so I had to mark my natural waistline on the bodice first, and then measure down from that mark. I think it came out ok.

It seemed churlish to insist on getting nice photos of me & my dress at Dad & Hazel’s wedding, particularly as it was a very small wedding, and any “all about meeeeeeee” would have stood out a mile. So I wore the dress to work today, to get some pictures, in the glamorous confines of my office.

'Scuse the mess... There's never enough storage space in our office.

‘Scuse the mess… There’s never enough storage space in our office. And I appear to be colour-co-ordinated with our files.

I used some bought bias binding for the neckline, rather than using a self binding, like I have with all my other Belcarra makes. I didn’t want to waste fabric, because I wasn’t sure I’d have enough for the skirt, and the bias strip in the pattern is a bit of a fabric hog, and I didn’t have time to faff about piecing a strip together from the scraps. As chance would have it, I had some leftover bias in a perfect lilac satin from when I made the You Mean I’m Wearing Orange?! Skirt. Working within a limited colour palette really does pay dividends!

I was a bit worried that it would be a bit too cold for short sleeves, but actually it was perfect- although there was a spot of rain (and frankly, if you visit Wales without expecting a spot of rain, you’re deluding yourself), it was sunny and mild, lovely for short sleeves.

I have ganked this photo from sister’s Facebook account, showing my lovely sisters and my lovely Dad.

(Also my lovely shoes)

Procrastination is the Thief of Time

It’s my dad’s wedding tomorrow morning, and I’m driving up to Wales in the next hour or so (technically, I’m driving to Hertford, then my sister who lives in Hertford will be driving us both to Wales along with her two daughters, but the point is, I knew weeks ago, that today was my sewing deadline for making my dress for the wedding.

Guess when I started it… Go on guess…

Last night at around 10pm.

I’ve got no excuses, I’m just really good at procrastination.

I made myself go to bed at 4am, and I finished the bulk of it this morning. But I’ve got the final hand finishing still to do, and that’s going to be a job for tonight, after the family get together. It should be perfectly manageable. However, I may stop off for some wundaweb, en route!

Hemming

Hemming. Also, aren’t those colours fab?!

Summer Sundress Sewalong Success!

Awww, isn’t it sweet- baby’s first pattern hack!

In my usual car-park place

In my usual car-park place, yesterday. The Dress Of Many Colours. The photo is rather “enhanced” to combat overexposure. But yes it *is* that brightly coloured.

The Summer Sundress Sewalong, hosted by Heather, came to an end on Saturday. I’d signed up for it back in June, and kept thinking “Oh I’ve got bags of time…”, until I realised that the deadline was only a week away, and Summer is disappearing fast, and I had various evening commitments this week. I had to get a wiggle on.

I opted to hack the Belcarra blouse pattern, because I’d thought all along it would be a doddle to add a skirt to it, because I’ve already done the adjustments to it and I didn’t have time to do anything that would need faffing about with (I was on a deadline here), and because I really like the pattern- it’s got enough coverage that I can wear this to work, if I want, and it’s got enough looseness to make it comfortable in hot weather.

Rather more photogenically, at Waverley Abbey

Rather more photogenically, at Waverley Abbey, today, at a picnic with my dance students

I made the Belcarra as per the pattern, except that I left the cuffs off and bound the armholes instead. I wanted to make the sleeves that tiny bit shorter- it is a sundress, after all. Although, when I was cutting the pattern, I totally forgot that was what I’d planned and cut the cuffs out anyway! I also cut the neckline binding while the fabric was folded so I had two pieces of that, when I only needed one. As it turns out, my spare neckline binding piece was *exactly* the right size for two armhole binding pieces. That’s a useful piece of knowledge for future Belcarras.

The big alteration though, was to add the skirt. I lopped off about 8cm from the bottom of the blouse (I didn’t realise how long it is when it’s just a blouse!). I wanted the dress to be drop-waisted, because I’m old-fashioned enough to like drop waists, and I think they are more wearable in hot weather. I wanted to go with pleats rather than gathers, because it felt like that would suit the style of the top half. I wanted fullness, so I used three widths of fabric, as I had a plentiful supply (Thanks Anne!). I may possibly have gone slightly overboard with the fullness, but that’s ok for a sundress, right? That allowed me to do generous inverted box pleats, and I kept them soft and big. I have to say, sorting out the pleats and making sure they would fit the waist of the blouse was definitely the most mentally challenging part of this make! They’re far from perfect, but I’m happy with how they’ve worked out.

The skirt is quite big!

The skirt is quite big!

I french seamed this dress throughout, because that seemed like the right thing to do- this fabric likes to fray, so everything is now safely enclosed.

While all the machine sewing was done in white cotton thread, I opted for invisible thread to hand sew the bias binding down on the neckline & armholes, despite knowing it’s a complete pain to work with, because I didn’t want any stitching to show amongst all that riot of colour. And despite telling myself to do the hemming by machine, I couldn’t bring myself to let that happen, and I’ve done it by hand- there is flippin’ miles of this hem! All with the invisible thread.

I got the hemming finished yesterday, in time to get a photo done in time for the Sewalong deadline while there was still some light, and I wore the dress today to a picnic I was hosting for my dance students, at Waverley Abbey. It wasn’t as summery as we’d have liked, in fact it started off very rainy and grey, but thankfully the weather cleared and all was nice. I was able to make the Gentleman Friend take a few more photogenic photos of the dress. And after the picnic, we went to watch the cricket on Tilford Green.

What I love about this dress? It is perfectly summery – loose and comfortable, pretty and girly. Somehow it’s got a retro vibe- not just the drop waist being rather 1920s-ish, I think I may have been subconsciously channelling the fashions of the 70s with this one! I feel like one of the Flake girls.

I will admit to having had some initial trepidation about the colours. This is a whole lot more yellow/peach/orange than I’m used to wearing, and it’s right up there next to my face!  But this fabric was a gift- I wanted to use it and do it justice. I won’t be wearing this in the wintertime, when I’m all pasty-faced and sallow skinned, but I think it works ok for me in the summer when I’ve got a bit of a tan. And if Anne thinks I can get away with these colours, then who am I to argue? And there are more than enough of my “regular” palette colours in this dress for me to accessorise/co-ordinate with.

I’d like to use this hack again. Is it possible to have a TNT hack? I’ve already got ideas for alternative skirt variation, and I’m wondering what stash fabric I’ve got that would work with it.