Tag Archive | dresses

Summer Sew-jo

It’s taken a while, but the sew-jo seems to be back in force. This summer I’m really feeling the love for dresses, rather than separates.

It started with the Heliotrope Silk Instagram Takeover Dress, that I made for the Simple Sew Blog. Well, I made it because I wanted to make it, for me, but I was blogging it there. It has been an utter delight to wear, because it’s such a gorgeous fabric. It’s a silk jersey (from the world famous Man Outside Sainsburys, Walthamstow) and it’s almost like wearing nothing at all! It feels so light on. Which is perfect for hot weather.

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I finished this on holiday in France

It was another Shannon Collection dress. They sew up in a jiffy and if I hadn’t decided to pretty it up with a sort of couched embroidery/appliqué edging, it would have been done in a day.

I should have learned that lesson with my next Shannon dress.

I’d just splurged on fabric, twice over – a couple of weeks ago with the FC Fabric Studio sale and again last weekend, at the Sewisfaction Big Summer Stitch Up. So I decided I had to get on with some actual sewing in order to justify having bought so much (total 9 new pieces added to the stash!). There was a smallish piece of chartreuse jersey from FC that whispered “I’d make a lovely Shannon dress” at me. “That’ll be quick and easy!” I thought. I got the dress cut out and stitched together on the Sunday morning after the Stitch Up.

Pattern alterations – I made it quite a bit longer than usual, 7½” longer, as I had enough fabric to do so, and you don’t want to be seeing my knees all the time. I also ditched the neck and sleeve bands because I didn’t want this dress to look too t-shirty.

I was meeting a friend to see the Frida Kahlo exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum, that afternoon, so I took the dress with me to hem on the train, and because my friend’s journey was rather more fraught than mine, I got quite a lot done, while I was waiting for her. I wholeheartedly recommend the exhibition, by the way. It personalises Kahlo in such an immediate way. And it’s a delight for sewists, to see her outfits. And there are instructions on the V&A website on making your own Huipil (Mexican sleeveless tunic), should you be inspired to do so.

So I had that dress made up and ready to wear in just one day – Boom! But I am such an idiot, I couldn’t just let it be. Part of the massive FC Fabric haul had been a deep violet jersey that was just begging to be put with the chartreuse. I knew I had to bring some of that violet into the dress, somehow. I didn’t know how, exactly, and it took the Monday to think about it and work out what I was going to do. My friend and I had been discussing the forthcoming Mary Quant exhibition at the V&A and I’m fairly sure that’s how I ended up opting for gigantic MQ style flowers.

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They’re about 8 inches across

On further reflection, this design idea goes back to 2013 in my consciousness. Fortunately, there were only six of them, and they didn’t take too long to sew on by hand.

And here’s the finished dress…

This one is going to be a bit eye-catching, I suspect

I’ve got two more Simple Sew makes in the offing, and I’ve got some more plans that I feel excited about making, so hopefully, there I won’t need to feel so guilty about boosting the stash, and there will be a few more posts coming up this summer.

 

 

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The Jardin Fleuri dress

If you’ve been keeping track, you’ll remember that I returned from my holiday with three new pieces of fabric, and I was determined to get them sewn up as soon as possible, as they are too pretty to not be wearing. This lovely jersey was top of the list.

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Ain’t she purty?

It was a panel, 1m long, and 150cm wide, and in my head it was always going to be a sleeveless sundress. It’s therefore a bit unfortunate that we’ve scarcely seen any sun since I got back from France!

I had had plenty of time to mull over my design ideas, and I’d decided to try a Shannon dress/shell top mash-up. I like the simplicity of the Shannon shape, and it fits well into a short length of jersey like this one. But my attempt to make it sleeveless, with the Hillbilly dress, was not a complete success. I thought the Shell top pattern could sort out the armhole/shoulder shaping more effectively.

I could have done it all by tracing the patterns together, but I was impatient and lazy, and marked the shell pattern straight onto the fabric. In fact I made the neckline a little lower, because this is supposed to be a sundress, right? I needed to blend the underarm a bit, but overall I think it’s turned out ok.

I used a Frixion iron-off pen

I knew I would need to have some binding for the neckline and armholes, but I wanted it to be hidden binding, rather than the on-view binding of a t-shirt, like the Shannons I’ve done so far. I carefully cut the selvedges of the jersey, where there was no printing, to create 2 metres of cream binding. It was about 1½cm wide, which was pretty much what I needed.

It was enough, but only just!

Because I wasn’t using a t-shirt band finish for the neck and armholes, I didn’t need to use the altered construction sequence, the way I had done with my other Shannons, so from here it was a simple case of sewing the shoulder and side seams, then attaching the bindings. I hand stitched them down.

Adding the binding

I did the tiniest hem I possibly could, and then waited for some sunshine for photography purposes.

Which came along this weekend – hooray! I went for a picnic with the ex gentleman friend, and got a bit of crocheting done (I’m up to 28 squares now). And I made him take some photos for me.

Picnic at Thundry Meadows

We also met these lovely creatures.

They were very friendly and gentle and quite fluffy

Getting up close & personal

What do I love about this dress? It’s so pretty!!!! And it’s making my tan look even stronger. Also, it’s been really low waste. I’ve got one long scrap that’s about 15cm wide, and I’m keeping this to use as a t-shirt neck band for a future refashioning project.

Would I do anything differently next time? Get a time machine, make this dress before my holidays and seriously mess with the space-time continuum.

A very long-standing toile sees the light of day

As I have previously mentioned, my ongoing attempts to declutter my flat have resulted in things reappearing that I’d totally forgotten about, or thought I had thrown away.

This toile was made back in 2013 for the Jif Lemon Dress. It’s a Simplicity Retro Jiffy Dress pattern, 1609.

It was always intended to be a wearable toile because I loved the teal sateen I was using. But I was in a rush to get started on the lemon dress and I put it to one side and got on with the “real” make, and then lost track of the toile.

Having re-discovered it and tried it on, I realised there was very little work required to finish it off. I’d already pinned the alterations that were needed, so all I had to do was sew them up and I would have a nice summer dress ready for my holiday.

So that’s what I did. I completed the seams that I’d marked up, and overlocked everything for neatness. I hadn’t done any facings, so I sewed on some contrast bias binding around the neckline and armholes, also at the hem, but I left the hand stitching of these as another holiday project. I knew it wouldn’t take me long.

Sewing in the sunshine!

And Bob was very much my uncle!

Selfie!

It’s always fun to recreate pattern envelope poses

Back when I first started this dress, I’d had ideas about embellishing it with appliqué flowers, and having now finished it, I debated with myself as to whether to titivate it in some way, maybe with some embroidery. But actually I like it how it is, and I don’t think it needs anything more right now.  It’s got secret purple inside, and that’s enough. Maybe one day I’ll revisit this decision, but I’m calling this UFO officially finished.

My Holiday Shannon Collection

I went a bit bonkers on the Simple Sew Shannon collection for my summer holiday wardrobe. It was just perfect for what I wanted, namely some quick and easy lightweight throw-on tops and dresses. It really was a no-brainer.

I was shopping my stash and since I seem to have developed a craving for more blue in my wardrobe this year, I wanted to use the remainder of the royal blue jersey I’d got from FC Fabric Studio (and used for this skirt). However before proceeding with the dress, I wanted to try it out with the t-shirt version first and hopefully have a wearable toile for the hols. The blue grey jersey I had bought at the same time as the royal blue had the same amount of stretch and it tied in perfectly with my holiday wardrobe plans so I went ahead with the that first.

I made the t-shirt using the largest size and trusted that the elastane in the Jersey would be sufficiently forgiving. And yippee – it was! I also lengthened it by about 5 inches or so.

I did change the order of construction so that I could insert the bands at the neckline and sleeves in the flat. My post on the Simple Sew Blog sets this out more fully. I really wanted to make sure the bands were sufficiently stretched so that they wouldn’t gape, and I feel I have more control over this when I’m inserting them flat. I left the hemming to be done on holiday and moved swiftly on to the dress.

Here’s the t-shirt in its holiday environment, once I’d herringboned the hem to keep it good and stretchy.

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Goes brilliantly with the Paisley Leftovers skirt

And also the Grey Birds skirt

Having worked on the T-shirt as a toile, I knew exactly what I was doing and I was able to make the dress up quickly. I lowered the front neckline so that it would be more sun-dress-y, and used the same construction as I’d done for the top.

The main feature was the Lace border at the bottom. I’d had this lace in my stash for a while, having bought it at Tiger (because it was so cheap it was rude not to). I hadn’t had any ideas about how to use it until now. Once I put these two stash items together it really was a match made in Heaven. The colours popped like popcorn! I really love it! I’ll be wearing this dress for the rest of the summer (whether or not there’s any more actual summer in England!).

Here’s the dress, though you’ve seen it before…

This is my sister’s house

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Whoops! This is the messy view!

 

I’m a firm believer in making the patterns that work for you, *really* work for you, so I made one more Shannon dress using this denim/lace patchwork print jersey from my costume-making stash. I originally bought this at Fabricland, a few years ago and I wasn’t sure about the elastane content but it seemed close enough to what I’d been working with, though its a bit thinner.

I altered the armscye to make it sleeveless and the neckline to be slightly more boaty, sewed it up and again left the hemming as a holiday sewing project.

Here’s the denim and lace Shannon dress, or as I’m now thinking of it, the Hillbilly Dress in its first incarnation.

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Not quite right

 

 

However, I wasn’t 100% happy with how I’d shaped the shoulder and the armscye, there was too much fabric in front of my armpit. I thought it needed re-cutting and re-banding, to bring the curve in more. I figured I’d do something about it when I got back home. But I wanted to be able to wear it in France – after all that was the whole point of this dress, its raison d’etre, if you will. So I needed a quick hand-sewable fix. I gathered the shoulder seams to narrow them, making sure I didn’t catch the neck or sleeve bands, and hey presto! Fixed!

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I’ll be honest, I should perhaps have considered pattern placement more thoroughly. While it was laid out flat it seemed OK, but this jersey is very stretchy, so this dress is not quite as flattering as I could wish for, but I’m happy enough to to wear it for holidays. I won’t be wearing this one to work like the lace dress, though. 

I’ve got one more Shannon dress planned for when I get home*. Although technically not a holiday dress, it will be from fabric bought on holiday so it will still be part of the collection!

* Because I’m posting this on rather dodgy data roaming direct from my holidays. The time it’s taken to upload these photos, you wouldn’t believe!

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!