Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Burda Style 10/2014 #105, Long Sleeve Cowl Necked Dress

... aka as "Help, there's a tree growing out of my tummy!"

Pattern: Burda Style 10/2014 #105
Fabric: Jersey from Lewisham Market

I love this fabric and needed a simple pattern to show off the beautiful silhouettes, but I had quite a hard time figuring out how to place the fabric.  Any higher and I'd have tree shapes on my boobs, any lower and they'd be growing out of my nether regions.  On reflection, maybe a dress isn't quite the way to go.  I still have some random remnants which could conceivably make a nice vest.

The sewing pattern itself is super-easy to make up.  I had a bit of head-scratching when it came to attaching the shoulders and in the end used the Bronte Knit dress method of basting round the armholes.  I also used a facing strip at the back rather than the bias binding the pattern calls for.

Taking photos of yourself modelling a tight fitting dress does a lot for your posture!  A lot of tummy-sucking-in going on here:

Pleased to say that swayback is minimal, although still there:

My other head-scratching with this dress is the length.  I don't wear the kind of shoes to pull off an over-the-knee length look.  The knee-length is still rather eye-catching.  I have to admit though that I am hardly ever likely to actually wear this! But if it was a tunic, then I probably would.  But there's a voice inside saying "you can't hack off this beautiful fabric!"  So much for making more wearable items!  

I think I prefer it on the dressform than on me!

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Bronte Knit Tunic

Pattern: Bronte Knit Top
Fabric: Jersey from Lewisham Market

Isn't it great when you make something and just about everything goes smoothly?  No mis-cuts, no mis-fits, no accidentally chopping off parts of the skirt with your serger... so this is the Bronte Knit Top from Jennifer Lauren.  There isn't a great deal I have to say except I love the fit, the neckline is flattering, and it's incredibly simple to put together, really just a few hours work from cut to buttons.

And hallelujah!  Sleeves that don't flap!

The fabric is cheap jersey from the market.  Cute lantern patterns but pretty thin stuff.  It probably won't last very long but now I know the fit, I can splurge out on more pricey fabric next time.  The pattern is actually for a top not a tunic.  I just couldn't bear to waste the fabric.  Silly, huh, cos it would probably look better as a shorter top.  As a tunic it could benefit from some adjustments (swayback?) at the back.  No need to show it here!

Here's a button detail instead:

The binding is scraps left over from my keyhole dress.  I have a serious fabric scraps hoarding problem, but it does pay off, honest!

Monday, 29 December 2014

McCall's 6772 Zipped Hoodie

Pattern: McCall's 6772
Fabric: Main - Marl sweatshirting from Josery Fabrics.  Contrast: Winter Flowers by Ottobre Design.

Very often I'm lured by a pattern by how stunning it looks on a model or on a fellow sewer (sewist?) and I don't think about whether a) it would actually suit me, and b) would I actually get a chance to wear it.  My Dahlia dress is a case in point - might be OK in an office, maybe not so suitable for the school run.

I do wear hoodies though.  Constantly during cooler weather.  I bought McCall's 6772 very cheaply as an out of print pattern.  It looks like 6772 has transmorgified into McCall's 6614. 


I was going to make the sweater at first as funky sweaters in contrasting fabrics are popular at the mo.  But I found it quite hard in the UK to find sweatshirting fabric.  There are a lot of plain options, and a lot of options for thin sweatshirting.  Cute patterned sweatshirting though?

Enter Ottobre Designs which has a gorgeous range of fabrics on Etsy.  Pricey, but definitely good quality.  I splurged on half metre of their Winter Flowers design.  But what colour to contrast it?  Very helpfully they had made up the fabric as a child's hoodie.  Marl grey worked perfectly.
So cute.  Made by Ottobre Designs.
I had also heard good things about Josery Fabrics.  Their website isn't as inviting as other fabric shops, but if you call them with a query, they are friendly and delightful!  I asked for samples and got a full range of all their coloured sweatshirting free of charge.  It is thick proper sweatshirt fabric.  Very decent quality.  And having all the colours helped confirm which would go best with the Ottobre fabric.  If you want to order a few metres, call them about reduced postage.

Now I had to think do I really wear hooded tops or zipped hooded tops?  Look at how cute that little girl's hoodie is! How easy would it be to add a seam allowance down the centre front, cut it off the fold and whack in a zip?  I asked on The Sewing Forum and was advised to be aware of hemming first before zip insertion - maybe obvious and yet I know I would have missed that somehow.

So some other changes I had to make:
- shortened body by 3cm - I only had 50cm length of fabric.
- took over 6cm off the sleeve width.  They were HUGE.  I don't have flappy sleeves syndrome with ready-to-wear, so why especially with the Big 4?
- shortened the sleeves by 6cm.

I figured that if the hoodie was too short, I could add a hem. I decided not to as the shape curves inwards at the side bottoms. Pity, as it could have helped stop that little kick at the front there.

I also learnt that sweatshirting isn't that stretchy.  The same fabric is used for the cuffs and I mistakenly thought if I had cut 6cm off the sleeve width, I should do the same with cuff. Maybe that would be the case with ribbing but not this fabric!  On the other hand, I am absurdly pleased at how the cuff turned out.

One thing that I'm not crazy about is how humongous the hood is.  It's more like a cape's hood. 

Also, I tried to cover the hood seam with cotton tape.  I'm not the neatest sewer and just had to make do in the end.

But I love the hoodie!  It's had plenty of wear and has made me think a bit more carefully about my next makes. 
From the back pondering next makes...

Monday, 8 December 2014

Dahlia: two toiles and many adjustments later...

Pattern: Colette Dahlia
Fabric: slight stretch, quite thick dogtooth something - feels manmade.  Lewisham Market GBP3 per metre

I'm a sucker for a sew-a-long, and when Colette brought out their Dahlia pattern, I leapt on it. Such elegant gathers, such a gorgeous neckline!  And the modelled green version is to die for.

I ignored the fact that high waistbands are not a good look for me - I don't want to be asked "when's it due?" again!  I also saw a few blog posts about loose necklines and gaping shoulders.  But with a sew-a-long to help, I thought we could work it out.

I made two toiles which revealed that size 4 would be tight and confirmed that a) yes, high waistbands look rubbish on me, and b) the shoulders gaped.  The waistband was lengthened and darts put at the shoulders.  I also lengthened the sleeves as I wanted something for winter.

lengthened waistband

Once sewn up, the dress was roomy at the sides and the sleeves flapped.  The bodice and skirt are encapsulated by the outer and inner waistbands.  It looks lovely, but is a pain to unpick!  If the fabric is thick, there is quite a lot of bulk in this area for the zip.

The shoulder darts were too pointy due to the fabric, so they became inverted pleats. 

shoulder pleat

I have seen some gorgeous versions of this dress, especially lovely plaid ones.  My dress looks a little formal, something to wear to an office maybe?  Now that the pain of fitting it is over, if I make another one (and there are soooo many patterns on my to do list that this is a big 'if'), I would make a brighter, lighter, fun one!

If only I worked in an office again...

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

New Look 6154 Kilt and Simplicity 1283 Top

Skirt pattern: New Look 6154
Fabric: Needlecord from Rolls & Rems (Lewisham)
Kilt buckle: Hemline

This is another Boden rip-off homage!  I loved their cord kilts, but when I see something I think could be relatively easy to sew, I definitely want to make not buy!
Boden kilt

I bought the fabric from Rolls and Rems in Lewisham and as it's just one metre, I splashed out on the more expensive needlecord (GBP10.50 a metre).  I've worked with their cheaper cord before and it just was not a nice experience: fraying, huge crease down the middle where the fabric had been folded, immediate creasing elsewhere... this needlecord was so much softer, more pliable and much better quality.

New Look 6154 is a fairly straightforward pattern.  I used view E which has a mock wrap front.

I made a toile in size 14 originally - it was huge, so I went down to a 10.  Omitted the belt loops, made the front 'kilt' part a sharp corner instead of a curve, lined it with lime green cheap fabric and hand sewed a kilt buckle on.

I'm quite pleased with it.  There were two buckles in the pack but I thought one would be a bit more subtle.  So I have a spare buckle and there are some really nice tweed kilts on Boden that look very inspiring for another make!

Pattern: Simplicity 1283 Mimi G Style
Fabric: Walthamstow Market

When I was little, my dad used to take me to Walthamstow Market every Saturday.  I hated it then, but I LOVE it now.  There are about five or six bricks and mortar fabric shops.  It's quite a trek for me so I have a prepped list!  This fabric is some lightweight jersey, I think it was GBP2 a metre. Great for summer, not so good for making polo necks!

I saw Mimi G's designs at Simplicity - so sexy and smart!  And a chevron polo neck, what's not to love?  Although after 2 kids and zero crunches I was not going to go for a cropped look.
But this turned into an exercise in mishaps! It's frustrating when something I think should be a quick make turns out to be an exercise in unpicking, re-doing and ultimately re-fashioning!  

It's probably my fault:
  • I generally use cheap fabric on the first try as a wearable toile.  Here I should have paid attention to how much stretch is needed i.e. not much. I definitely needed something with better ping back!
  • All those stripes to align!
  • I was wondering why I needed two pieces for the back and thought I could get away with just cutting on the fold (think of aligning those stripes). But there's a zip at the collar and partway down the back.  That's why you need two pieces.
  • I should have used some kind of stabiliser around the neckline.

Anyhow, the upshot was that the collar was very loose, very messy.  The zip at the back of the collar was floppy and uncomfortable.  I had to reline stripes a number of times.  And the armpit area was verging on bat-wing territory.

I tried to make a shorter collar but in the end took the whole collar and zip out.  Amazingly the bodice fit well, and so did the back - even though I had taken about 3 cm out due to the cut on the fold business.

But I really like the chevron effect.  And I still love the designs.  Every project is a learning exercise, and I would still like to have another go at the polo neck.  Plus that cardigan looks great to snuggle up in.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Lady Skater Keyhole Dress

Pattern: Lady Skater with Simplicity 8722

Fabric: Indigo jersey from my favourite Lewisham Market stall.

This is my Lady Skater Keyhole Dress!

The story goes: I saw this dress on Boden:

and I thought: must have, 89 quid!, can I wait for the sales? mind you that fabric print isn't great...
and the light bulb moment came when I thought maybe I could actually make it. The skirt sort of flares out like the Lady Skater dress... but what about that pesky keyhole bit?

I searched on the internet a fair bit for a similar dress pattern, or any pattern with a similar keyhole neckline.  I came across this gorgeous dress from Shanni Loves blog, promptly bought the Simplicity pattern below:

and incorporated the neckline onto the Lady Skater bodice.  I lengthened the skirt a few inches and shortened the bodice by an inch. After taking photos now, I can see the back still bunches up unattractively:

so I will need to fix that.  The neckline was a little fiddly too as I didn't use facing, but used binding.  It's all a bit uneven and so I'm not posting any close-ups!

I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.  Here it is with a belt:

So with Chinese New Year coming up I think I'm going to make a red version, in a thicker knit.  I've heard good things about ponte roma fabric, so I may just shy away from the cheapo fabrics and invest in something more expensive...

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Simplicity 2246, Lisette Traveller Dress

This is Simplicity 2246, the Lisette Traveller Dress.  I'm not sure the pattern is available now, though ebay should have it. I made this a while ago, so am hazy on the details.

The great geometric fabric was bought from my favourite stall in Lewisham Market.  Perhaps cotton sateen?

Not sure what size I cut out.  I knew I didn't want to mess around with matching up the fabric pattern for the pockets.  Also, I lengthened the dress to touch the knees.  I've seen some super-cute versions on the net above the knee though, so as an autumn/winter shirt dress with tights and boots, I may very well make another one.

It's a fairly easy pattern as version A is not separated into bodice and waist.  Also the collar is simple and relaxed.  But it definitely needs a belt!  Without the belt, it's a sack!  

I think I read somewhere that sewing a separate placket for the buttons and button holes was unnecessary.  It certainly would have made my life much easier if it had been a simple fold-over job. Wonder what the reasoning is behind a separate placket?

My mum helpfully noted that the back bunches up quite a bit.  If I get round to it, may put a few darts in.  Also, respect the overlocker!  As I was finishing a seam edge, some of the skirt fabric got chewed and sliced - you can see my the unevenness of the skirt here on the bottom right.