Dresses

New Look 6217 / Southport Dress Lovechild

Well that little blogging roll ground to a screeching halt didn’t it?

Sorry about that. I have actually got five finished garments to show you, I’ve just been really rubbish at photographing them. I went to my mum’s for a bumper photography session last sunday but completely forgot three things. Perhaps I should get one of the pop up tents they used on the Sew Over It City Break photo shoot and do a location shoot somewhere prettier for the rest of them!

new-look-6217-dress-hack

Anyway, today I’ve got a pattern hack to show you. Back in the middle of September it suddenly got really warm again for a couple of days so I frantically sewed a last minute maxi dress. It’s the lovechild of a New Look 6217 tee and a True Bias Southport dress, which I have been calling a Newport dress because it amuses me.

newport-dress-collage

To make it I put the Southport dress bodice under some tracing paper and traced off the centre front line (but extended up), waist seam and a smidge of the side seam and I marked where the shoulder was. Then I put the New Look 6217 under and lined up the shoulder and sort of the side seam (I overlapped the centre front a bit to make the neckline opening smaller and the top a slightly slimmer fit than a 6217), then traced off the neckline, sleeve bits and side seam blending into the traced Southport side seam. Hopefully that makes sense.

southport dress new look 6217 hack

Oh and I also added a bit more flare to the skirt. I was going to do it properly slash and spread the skirt in a few places but as I was trying to get the dress finished quickly I just pivoted the skirt pieces out when I was cutting out. I cut the front on the fold to omit the slit. I totally forgot that I still need to shorten the skirt and ended up taking an inch off the hem. It’s still a bit long but it’ll do.

true-bias-southport-hack-collage
I know I look derpy but I liked the photo anyway

I also didn’t do a drawstring like on the Southport dress and made an elastic channel out of the waist seam instead. The seams are overlocked instead of French seamed this time to save time.

The fabric is some viscose that I bought from Regency Rags on eBay about a year ago after seeing Marie from A Stitching Odyssey post a picture of it. I think I’ve got just shy of a metre left and some big scraps so I expect I might make a top out of what’s left.

true-bias-southport-hack-max
Best Max cameo I could get

The details

Pattern: True Bias Southport dress and New Look 6217

Measurements: Bust 37″ – Waist 30.5″ – Hips 40″ — Height 5’2″

Size made: Size 6 Southport skirt with the New Look 6217 hacked to fit

Alterations: I’ve tweaked the fit of New Look 6217 a little bit every time I’ve made it so it’s hard to remember where I’m at with changes. I’ve done all sorts of shoulder shenanigans basically. You can see the details in previous posts about the top plus a small swayback adjustment. For the Southport skirt part it’s just been shortened a lot – about 4″ – and pivoted to add some more fullness to the hem.

Fabric used: Around 2.25m of 150cm wide though there was probably a more economical way from cutting as I ended up with some big scraps.

Another version? 

Yes. I want to make a shorter version.

Any changes next time?

The shoulders slip back a lot so I need to do something but I don’t know what. I’ve been looking into it and things I’ve read say that the back armhole needs more room. Does that seem right?

Non-clueless versions

Kerry from Kestrel Makes used the same fabric to make a very similar dress with a vintage pattern. She has also made two New Look 6217 dresses.

Final Thoughts

I’m really happy with this dress. It’s really comfy and floaty, perfect for that sort of inbetween weather in spring or late summer (and apparently early autumn too these days). It’d be a nice one for holiday evening outfits too. I’m definitely going to make a shorter one to team with tights and a cardi now or bare legs in warmer weather.

Anyway, that’s it from me. Hope you’re all having a lovely weekend and I’ll try not to leave it another 8 weeks before blogging again.

Monochrome Dixie DIY ballet dress

I’ve got another Dixie DIY Ballet dress to show you today. I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last either so I’m sorry if you’re bored of them. I’ve mixed it up slightly and put a gathered skirt on it so it’s at least a tiny bit different to my last two.

ballet-dress

If you follow me on Instagram you might have already seen a sneak peak of this as I finished it way back at the beginning of March but hadn’t got round to taking photos yet. I have three makes built up that needed photographs so on Sunday I bundled them all up, took my camera and tripod to my mum’s house to take advantage of the better light in her garden. I was hoping for a Max cameo but he showed no interest whatsoever. He seems to only care about photobombing when another human is taking the photos. Attention seeking little bugger.

Anyway, back to the dress. The making of this dress was a bit of a catalogue of errors, so I wasn’t that keen on it when I finished it but after looking at these photos I like it a lot more now. Has that ever happened to you? One of the benefits of blogging I suppose.

Dixie DIY Ballet dress with belt

One of the reasons I was on the fence about it is that I had hoped to do a better job of pattern placement when I was cutting it out. I should have cut it out on a single layer because the fabric shifted slightly and my stripes went a bit skew-whiff at the waist seam. Hence the belt.

Dixie DIY ballet dress seam

I’d thought it was really glaringly obvious but it’s not too bad. Still a bit disappointing but not the end of the world. The other thing that bugged me is the big chevron on the bodice not being centred. I just don’t think I was thinking properly when I was cutting out. The large scale of the print made pattern matching with the small amount of fabric I had a challenge so the skirt isn’t matched at all. I’m quite pleased with my sleeves though. I had planned to do long sleeves but I didn’t have enough fabric.

Dixie DIY ballet dress back
No idea what I’m doing with my body here

The skirt is just a gathered rectangle because I thought that seemed the best option with stripy fabric. And I wanted to have a go at gathering with elastic. I used the Colette Moneta dress sewalong to know how. That went a bit iffy too, I think I had the tension wrong. Any tips on gathering with elastic for my next go?

I’m really pleased with my neckband, I thought carefully about what bit of the pattern I wanted on it and I think I chose well. I like the way the little triangles look.

Dixie DIY ballet dress close up of neckline

There’s not a lot more to say, apart from the details. The Dixie DIY Ballet dress is one of my very favourite patterns. It’s my most made and my closest to a TNT (Tried and True, or Tried and Tested) pattern.

The details

Pattern: Dixie DIY Ballet dress

Measurements: Bust: 37″ – Waist: 30.5″ – Hips: 39″

Size made: I started with a small for the shoulder and graded out to a medium but then when I sewed it the waist was too loose so I took it in a bit so it’s probably a small all over now.

Alterations: Nothing but the grading

Fabric used: 2m of 60″ wide viscose jersey. It came from eBay but on checking the old listing to check it was viscose I noticed that the print on it is different to the one in the photo so I won’t link to the seller because that’s not good. I still like it and I didn’t even notice so I can hardly get uppity about it but still.

This is the fabric in the photo:

print

Another version? Undoubtedly.

Any changes next time? I will go with a small all over and maybe shorten the bodice a touch but I think I am nearly spot on with the fit of this now.

Dixie DIY Ballet dress is geometric viscose jersey

And that’s it. I will be back soon with my Me Made May round up post. I haven’t bothered with weekly posts as I’ve only been wearing 3 Me Mades a week so it didn’t seem worth it.

Oh I have another new video up on my YouTube channel where I talk about my Summer sewing plans if you fancy a look. There’s a lot of lovely floral and geometric viscose and cotton.

I will leave you with a photo of Max waiting for bubbles to eat. Hope you’re all having a great day. I’m off work and it’s sunny so I’m about to go lounge in the garden with Pratchett.

Bubble eating dog

True Bias Southport Dress

It feels more than a little bit wrong to be posting about a summer dress in the middle of winter but if I don’t show you the True Bias Southport dress I made for my holiday now then I will forget everything about it. So here I am in Fuertaventura last month, not being rained on… *wistful sigh*

True Bias Southport dress

I originally bought this fabric (javanaise viscose from Abakhan) with the plan to make a By Hand London Anna dress with a gathered skirt. Then the Southport dress was released and this fabric seemed perfect for it. I only had two metres of the fabric so I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to get the dress out of it but I managed fairly well. I just had to forgo any sort of thoughtful pattern placement and the drawstring is slightly shorter than its supposed to be for my size but it’s still plenty long enough. And I only ended up with one boob flower.

southport-dress-dancing
Dance party para uno

This ended up being a bit more of a last minute make than I had intended thanks to a rather stonking hangover on the Sunday I’d earmarked for sewing. So it was sewn in evening snippets throughout the week before I went away.

I was good girl and made a bodice toile and as I result I moved the shoulder seam forward by 2cm (chopped 2cm off the front shoulder and added 2cm onto the back) and raised the neckline by about 1.5cm. I possibly didn’t need to raise the neckline but I’m funny about low necklines. I think I need to do a swayback adjustment as there’s lots of fabric pooling above the waistline at the back.

true-bias-southport-dress-side-view

It would probably benefit from taking some length out of the bodice all round to be honest. It seems to be hitting below my natural waist in these photos and making me look a bit rectangular. I was also expecting the skirt to be floofier than it is. And yep, floofier is totally a word. I certainly can’t think of a better one anyway. Ooh ooh, got one, more voluminous.

southport-dress-floaty

I shortened the skirt by about 3 inches at the lengthen/shorten line but it’s still a smidge long for flats. I also left off the pockets because I seem to be a bit of a rarity in that I don’t particularly like pockets on dresses. I never use them and I think they often make things sit funny so I’ve left them off every pattern I’ve made that includes them. I wimped out a bit with the slit and didn’t sew it as big as it’s supposed to be, which I regret now. Though if I make another I’ll probably leave the slit off entirely so that I don’t have to shave my legs to wear it, which as we all know, is the beauty of a maxi dress.

southport-dress-back-view

I used French seams on all seams except the slit, which I folded under and edge stitched all the way up, so I have stitching either side of the centre seam. I did make my own bias tape and then realised that I’d accidentally used the wrong fabric and the one I’d used was the one that leaked blue dye all over my Megan dress so I didn’t want to risk it and used some pre-made stuff I had. I messed up stitching that down loads of times and kept having to unpick and redo so there are some slightly shoddy looking bits.

true-bias-southport-dress-walking

The details

Pattern: True Bias Southport dress view B

Measurements: Bust 36″-37″ ish – Waist 29″ – Hips/butt – 39″ Height 5’2″

Size made: US 6

Alterations: I moved the shoulder seam forward by 2cm and raised the front neckline by about 1.5cm. I shortened the skirt by 3 inches.

Fabric used: 2m of 148cm wide javanaise viscose from Abakhan

Another version? I’m really not sure. I don’t know how much I like it. I think I’ll need to wear it properly when it gets warmer before I decide.

Any changes next time? Fit wise, I’d make a swayback adjustment and shorten the bodice a smidge. Style wise, I might slash and spread the skirt to get more swoosh and I’ll probably cut both the bodice and skirt on the fold. I might replace the drawstring with elastic too.

Non-clueless versions

So that’s my first make of 2016, that I won’t be able to wear for another 4-6 months… It has put me in the mindset for planning and sewing spring/summer clothes though. How early is too early?

I should Coco

I first mentioned that I was planning to make a Tilly and the Buttons Coco dress waaaay back in August last year but have only just got round to it for some reason.

Coco dress
It goes beautifully with my cow print wellies, as you can see.

I say only just but I finished it at the end of October and took these photos at the beginning of November but haven’t got round to blogging. I just don’t seem to have had the oomph, I filmed an October favourites video that I haven’t finished editing yet either. And I have 326 unread blog posts waiting for me in Feedly. It’s my busiest period at work at the moment so I’m a bit drained by the time I get home.

But anyway, I went for a walk in the local Country Park with my mum and Max at the beginning of November and made a point of wearing the dress to get some photos but it’d been raining a lot so wellies were the only appropriate footwear, leading to the super stylish look I’ve got going on here. (I actually quite like it)

This version is a wearable toile/muslin really because I’m not too keen on the fabric – which you can see a bit closer in this video. It’s okay from a distance but when you get close you can see bits of white through it and it looks terrible stretched. Luckily the dress turned out quite loose fit so that’s not a problem. I was expecting the dress to be a bit tighter – I sewed a size 4 despite being closer to a 5 on the size chart because that’s what I’d traced months ago when I was a bit thinner. Because I’m lazy I decided and didn’t want to trace the 5 I just went with it and used a lightly smaller seam allowance (10mm / 3/8″) on the side seams.

tilly-coco-dress
Leaning on an invisible bar

I measured the sleeves before cutting and I thought they were a bit long for where I like 3/4 length sleeves to sit so I took about 3.5″ off the length but I think they’re a tad too short now so I’ll add an inch or 2 back on for my next version. I also ended up sewing a bigger seam allowance (2 cm) on the sleeves because I like a tighter fit. It’s still not quite right for me so I’ll have to fiddle a bit with my next version.

coco-dress-side
I tried to get Max to stare off into the distance too but he was having none of it.

There are quite a few alterations I want to make to the pattern before my next version, as you can probably tell from the photo above I need to do a swayback adjustment as there’s a big ol’ pool of fabric at my lower back. The neckline is too wide too, if I pinch about an inch out of the front it feels much better. Looking at these photos the shoulders sit off my shoulders a bit but fixing the neckline should solve that. I am going to see what a forward shoulder adjustment does though as I think need to start making them on everything.

dancing-in-coco
He’s unimpressed with my dance moves

Overall I’m really happy with my Coco, even though I need to make a fair few fitting adjustments. It hasn’t stopped me wearing it at all. Ooh, I was really pleased with my stripe matching too. Excuse the terrible quality photo I just rushed to take a photo and it’s too dark for decent photos.

20151129_195305
You can see the white bits I was talking about in this one

In terms of construction, I sewed it all on my sewing machine rather than my overlocker as I knew I wanted to experiment with seam allowances. My machine handled it wonderfully, I really do love my walking foot!

Non-Clueless Versions

There are so many lovely versions of the Coco dress all over the internet but I particularly like:

The details

Pattern: Tilly and the Buttons Coco dress

Measurements: 38.5″ (high bust 36″) – 31″ – 41.5″ (Height 5’2″)

Size made: 4

Alterations: Sewed the side seams with a 10mm seam allowance instead of 15mm and a 20mm seam allowance on the sleeves tapering in at the armpit

Fabric used: Around a meter of a thick not very stretchy jersey I got from Minerva crafts over a year ago. (I cut it out all on one layer, which helps use less fabric)

Another version? Definitely. I have the fabric for at least two more.

Any changes next time? Yes. I’m going to narrow the neckline, fiddle with the shoulders, sew the proper seam allowance on the side seams, lengthen the sleeves slightly and take them in a bit more and do a stonking big swayback adjustment.

coco-dress-back

Lots of the Coco dresses I like seem to have contrast panels so I’m toying with trying something like that with one of my next versions. I have some royal blue ponte that I think would look great with a lace yoke like Katie’s but lace terrifies me a bit.

Sewing for myself is very much on the backburner at the moment anyway though what with my Christmas sewing list, last minute house decorating (spare room underway, kitchen hopeful but doubtful) and general lack of oomph. I’ve finished one item from my Christmas sewing plans but have added two more. Not sure that’s how you’re supposed to do it…

Best dress ever?

Let’s examine the evidence, shall we?

Is wearing it like wearing pyjamas?

Yes, it is stretchy and squishy and lovely.

Does it have dinosaurs on?

YES!

dinosaur-dixie-diy-ballet-dress
Such a happy face

So clearly, yes, it is the best dress ever. I could have led with “does it have dinosaurs on?” really because any dress with dinosaurs on kicks the butt of a dress without dinosaurs on. Though, this dress with hunky elves on was pretty awesome and did previously hold the title. It’s just not as comfy though and I can’t wear it all year round. Though I am excitedly looking forward to being able to wear it again soon (ish).

dinosaur print cotton jersey
A close up of the dinosaurs

I was about to say that there’s not a lot to say about the construction of this dress and then I remembered that that would be a giant LIE. My brain trying to block out the trauma perhaps? I massively messed up when I was cutting out (tired) and thought I’d already folded the fabric along the grainline but it was just still folded crosswise from how I’d taken it off the line. So I cut the first skirt piece out that way and then realised what I’d done and had a meltdown.

ballet-dress-dinosaurs

I was really worried I wasn’t going to be able to fit the rest of the pattern pieces on the fabric that I had left but with some creativity I managed it but one of my skirt pieces isn’t as flared as the other, I was using my slashed and spread skirt piece from my balletmono so I had to remove some of the spread bits to get it to fit. Oh gosh, I just realised I haven’t even told you what pattern it is! *facepalm* It is another Dixie DIY Ballet dress.

dinosaur-ballet-dress-catch
My dismal attempt at a leaf throwing photo

I was really worried about the skirt bit that I’d cut wrong making the dress a disaster because I love love love this fabric (you can see me wiggling it about in my video here) and it’s sold out so if this try didn’t work I would never have a dinosaur dress of awesomeness (or ROARsomeness if you will, hahaha – so proud of myself right now). But it seems to be fine, I used it for the back of the skirt because I am quite juicy of booty so it just made sense to me.

I shortened the bodice slightly (just over a cm) because I thought the weight of the skirt might stretch it a bit like with my balletmono. I also did a small swayback adjustment, which I think worked out quite well. The back looks like a better fit than my last ballet dress.

dinosaur-ballet-dress-back

I constructed it all on my overlocker and hemmed it using a twin needle on my sewing machine. I tried out stabilising the hems with wundaweb / hemming tape and that worked really well so I’ll carry on doing that for future knit hems. I messed up a bit when I was sewing the neckband (had a hole and had to redo a bit) and you might be able to spot a bit of iffiness in some of the photos but that doesn’t override the fact that it’s a dress with dinosaurs on.

Dixie DIY Ballet Dress and raptor hands
I couldn’t make a dress with dinosaurs on and not do Bimble and Pimble’s Amanda style raptor claws. I don’t know what’s happening with my face.

Speaking of the photos, I was trying to do my Better Pictures Project homework of capturing movement. Which is why they’re all out of focus…. Yeah I didn’t do so well. My skin is also glowing white, I didn’t realise I was that pale! I have sort of decided that I’m going to buy myself a DSLR with any money I get for Christmas and my stash of £2 coins that I’ve been collected for the last few years but I’m worried it won’t help that much. If you’re not very good at taking pictures how much will a fancy camera actually help?

Non-clueless versions

There are a bajillion Dixie DIY ballet dresses out there but I particularly like Amy’s horse and geometric versions.

Zoe has made lots of lovely versions but I really like this polka dot version.

But to be perfectly honest, I haven’t seen a version I don’t like!

The details

I want to try to be more helpful and put more practical information in my posts, rather than just waffle that you’d have to wade through to find out things you might actually want to know.

Pattern: Dixie DIY Ballet dress

My current measurements (they fluctuate A LOT): 38.5″ (high bust 36″) – 31″ – 39″ at hip bones, 41.5″ around butt (Height 5’2″)

Size cut: M

Adjustments made: Took about 12mm out of the bodice length and a small swayback adjustment – I eyeballed it but it was probably about 1cm.

Fabric used: 2m of 150cm wide DINOSAUR PRINT cotton jersey (97% cotton, 3% spandex) from myfabrics.

In conclusion, I love this dress and am probably going to make eleventy three Ballet Dresses before I get bored. I might try a gathered skirt variation next.

I’ve got a few scraps of dinosaur fabric leftover that I was hoping to get a t’shirt out of for my pseudo nephew (my favourite cousin’s son) because he loves dinosaurs too but I have no idea where to even start looking for a good pattern. Any suggestions?

Kirsten Kimono Dress Hack aka Balletmono

In the spirit of Gillian’s Better Pictures Project the Manfriend and I took advantage of the nice evening on Saturday and went for a walk to try to get some more interesting photos of my latest dress. The result was a bunch of over and under exposed photos – sometimes in the same photo. So that needs some work…

I took a few in the garden once we got home, which typically came out the best of the lot so I can still share my dress. After my successful kirsten kimono tee and floral ballet dress I decided to mash the two patterns together and see what happened. I’m calling the resulting kirsten kimono dress a balletmono.

kirsten-kimono-dress-sosban
This one isn’t in my garden, obviously. This is a fancy restaurant in an old pump house. Absolutely beautiful building.

I wanted to keep the fitted waist and flared skirt look so I traced around the bodice pieces for the kirsten kimono and then overlaid the ballet dress bodice pieces lining up the top of the shoulders and the centre line then traced around that and blended the lines where they met. I also slashed and spread the skirt piece in three places to make it fuller, which I love.

Swooosh
Swooosh

The fabric I used is a cotton jersey from Calico Laine (that might not be the same one, I bought mine towards the end of last year) and I’m not really a fan. It was mega curly at the edges and it seems to crease easily and iron badly – a winning combination.

balletmono-green
Windy

I accidentally cut out a neckband with the ballet dress pattern piece before I remembered that I was meant to draft one and I don’t know if that’s to blame but the neckline is a bit rubbish. It’s not puckered as such but there are loads of little pulls from it, which you can sort of see in the photo above. So I don’t know what’s to blame there as I thought I’d sewn it quite well. Could it be too short or too long?

kirsten-kimono-dress-garden

I was thinking about leaving the hems raw as I quite like that but looking at these photos I think I will hem them. I think I need to fiddle with the fit again before making another kirsten kimono dress there seems to be a bit too much fabric above my bust, especially there at the armpit. The bodice itself is a tiny bit too long too, not sure if that’s due to the weight of the fuller skirt pulling it down or something that happened during my shoddy hack.

kirsten-kimono-dress-sulking
Sulk

You can’t really see the detail of my face in this one but I am pulling a full on bottom lip out sulky face in it because none of the photos were going right. It tickled me when I saw it so I had to include it. I don’t really have much more to say about the dress really. It’s alright. I’m not in love with it but I’ll probably try again with different fabric, a new neckband and a few tweaks to the pattern.

I’m on my way to London for a course at the moment and I’m hoping to get a chance to pay the fabric shops of Goldhawk Road a visit while I’m there. It will be a flying one if I do but fingers crossed. I have a list of things I want (knits, interesting neutral wovens and some chambray) so I’ll be a woman on a mission. Wish me luck!

OAL2015: Ballet Dress and Vianne Cardigan

Dixie DIY Ballet dress in blue and purple floral jersey
Dixie DIY Ballet Dress

Those of you who remember my original post about OAL plans might be a bit disappointed not to see a fabulous dinosaur print Sewaholic Cambie. I’m sorry. As the Outfit Along deadline grew closer and I still hadn’t started my toile I decided that a change of plan was probably necessary. I really didn’t want to rush and end up wasting such brilliant fabric. I’d had the Dixie DIY Ballet dress pattern and the fabric to make one with in my stash since the end of last year and as the colours went with my cardigan and it would take less fitting I went with it.

This is my second attempt at photos. I tried on Sunday with my proper but old (ish) bridge camera but they all came out grainy and rubbish. It did the same thing on my photos of my Simplicity 1418 but it just seems wrong that my phone can take better photos. Though my new phone does have 6 more mega pixies so I should just accept it and always use my phone for photos. Anyway, I’m wandering off topic.

dixie diy ballet dress

I had the day off work yesterday because my Nan is down visiting my mum and my mum has the week off work so I thought it would be nice to take a day off to spend with them. We had a lovely day in St David’s, which is one of my favourite places in Wales because there is an ice cream shop there called The Bench, who sell ice cream tapas.

Ice Cream Tapas
We went for: Salted Caramel, Strawberries and Cream, Rum and Raisin, Malteser and Death By Chocolate

But before we went I got my mum to snap a few photos for me as her garden is so much better for light and photos taken there quite often come with a photobombing Max, which I enjoy.

I’m really, really pleased with my first Ballet Dress and I think it’s the beginning of a passionate love affair with knits. (I already have 4 more planned.) I sewed a size M and the only change I made was to shorten the sleeves. I sewed everything but the hems on my overlocker and used a twin needle on my sewing machine for the hems. The neckband went much better than on my kirsten kimono tee and I only had a teeny bit of puckering on the back and my hair will cover that so who cares.

ballet dress neckline

I bought the fabric on eBay from the Textile Centre but the listing doesn’t say what sort of fabric it is other than jersey and it’s closed now so I can’t check the detail but it’s lovely and soft and swishy. I still have about a metre or so left, which I’ll probably make a t’shirt out of.

The dress was sooo quick and easy to sew, it only took me a couple of hours from start to finish. Seriously, I love knits! I didn’t follow the instructions and just did my own thing, sewing the sleeves in flat and then sewing the side seams and sleeve seam all in one. I found it a bit challenging to sew the clear elastic at the waist seam and I’m also terrible at hemming knits. My stitching line wobbles all over the place but no one will exactly be inspecting it.

Dixie DIY Ballet dress back

Looking at this picture of the back makes me think I might need a small swayback adjustment or it could just be rumpled because of sitting down before the photos were taken. But then I do have quite the plumptious butt so I don’t know why I’m doubting the need for adjustments in the rear – wishful thinking methinks.

vianne cardigan open
Andi Satterlund Vianne cardigan

And now for Vianne. I did finish knitting it just about in time for the OAL (I finished on the 30th July) but I didn’t have time to block it and take photos to upload to the Ravelry thread unfortunately. I am terrible with deadlines and always procrastinate right until the very last minute. I’ve always been the same so joining crafting challenges is probably a bit daft.

vianne and max
Not entirely sure what’s going on here but there’s a Max so I had to choose this one

I’m not really all that happy with how the cardigan fits me. Because I’m short the arms are nearly full length on me, which looks a bit daft but when I push them up I get a lot of bunched fabric on the arms. It just generally feels a little too big but then it fits fine on the waist and the button is even pulling a little bit there. My first button seems higher than on other people’s cardigans I’ve seen online too, so I’m not sure what I did there.

vianne cardigan and max
Attack of the killer growing out fringe

I really like the style of the cardigan and I do plan to knit another one but I’m not really sure how to go about making one that fits me better. Can anyone point me in the direction of some resources on fitting knitting garments please? I was sort of thinking of maybe sizing down but then not knitting all of the waist decreases. Or sod it, just size down and stretch the hell out of the waist when I block it. Or corsetry.

the mesh back of the vianne cardigan
I love that little hellhound

The back is so pretty and I really enjoyed knitting it but I can’t see myself wearing it when I’m so not happy with the way it fits. Though to be honest, from about half way through the first sleeve the idea of giving it to my mum had popped into my head. Mainly because every time she’d seen me knitting it or pictures of it online she’d gone on and on about how much she likes the colour and how purple is her very favourite colour ever etc.

When I got to her house yesterday I’d left it on the breakfast bar in the kitchen while I popped to the loo and by the time I came back she was wearing it. So I just sighed at her – in the long suffering way of adult children everywhere at role reversal stage –  and said, “Wait for me to give it to you, will you?” It fits her better than me because she’s taller and bustier so at least it’s going to have a good home.

Anyone else spent two months knitting something for yourself only to end up giving it away?

By Hand London Flora

By Hand London Flora montage

I may as well get it out of the way up front and tell you that I kind of hate this dress.

I made it to wear to a good friend’s wedding a couple of weeks ago – By Hand London Flora is practically made for wearing to weddings after all – and I enjoyed wearing it, the skirt has a lovely swish to it and the fabric is cool and soft but when I look at these pictures of me I cringe. The fit is just so so bad.

I sort of made a half arsed notquiteatoile but it clearly didn’t really help.

My measurements fall exactly half way between the (UK) 14 and 16 so I decided that I would start with the 14 first and just sew the side seams with a smaller seam allowance (10mm / 3/8″) which would have given me roughly an extra inch, which I thought would be plenty.

By Hand London Flora dress
The only photo taken at the wedding.

I was trying out using lightweight sew-in interfacing as Swedish tracing paper, so I traced the 14 on to that, sewed it all together and tried it on. It looked way off fitting. The centre back and front didn’t both want to be at my centre back and front at anywhere near the same time.

So I traced the 16 onto normal tracing paper and used it to cut out my lining. I then used the lining as sort of a working toile/muslin. It was too big. Quite a bit too big but I soldiered on with that size and just made some adjustments, which I suspect was my dress ruining mistake and I should have gone back to the 14.

flora-laughing
I clearly thoroughly enjoyed taking these pictures.

I took the side seams in by 5mm at the top, grading out to nothing at the waist and I curved the waist darts to take in some of the excess fabric under my bust. I also shortened the straps slightly, roughly a cm I think. The lining then looked like quite a good fit so I adjusted my paper pattern and cut out my main fabric and went ahead with the dress. It was only when I put the zip in that I saw how badly it actually fit. So I unpicked it and sewed it again with a much bigger seam allowance.

But as you can see there are still fit issues. The bodice is too long, there are saggy lumps of fabric at my bust and the front of the armscye could possibly do with tightening up.

flora
Urgh, the wrinkles

I don’t seem to have much luck with By Hand London patterns and the fit process is such a pain that it puts me off buying any more of their patterns, despite how pretty I find them. That’s not to say I won’t make another Flora as I probably will, I just need to put some work into the fit first.

I did my first ever bias bound hem, which I love. It gives the skirt a lovely flute and a bit of weight. Of course that didn’t stop it flying up at the teensiest bit of wind. The fabric I used was a Javanaise Viscose from Abakhan and it’s ever so lovely. I’m tempted to buy some of all the Javanaise Viscose they have. Soft and silky and just gorgeous. I was lucky enough to get the bride’s second dance at the wedding because it was I’ve had the Time of my Life from Dirty Dancing and that’s Our Song. (Well we generally prefer the Dirty Dancing megamix but we’ll take the big number.) During our dance she twirled me around and my skirt flew right up so I flashed my (fortunately pretty) knickers at everyone who was watching.

flora-marilyn
Nearly happened again.

I tried really hard to pattern match across the back and I did an okay job but that got messed up when I had to move the zip. One flower still sort of matches though so that’s good.

flora-back-closeup

 

I did think about remaking the bodice for this as I love the skirt part and I have enough fabric but basically I just can’t be arsed. I guess I’ll just have to chalk this one up as a fail and allow more time for proper toiles in future. Especially for By Hand London dresses.

 

Nan’s New Look (6096)

Some time last summer my nan saw me in my New Look 6096 maxi dress and told me how much she liked it. I must have been in a good mood because something made me say, “would you like one for Christmas?” even though I’m very much a selfish sewer. I bought the fabric, took her measurements and then got so caught up in all the other things I was making over Christmas (I made foody hampers) and with moving house and trying to make it nice for Christmas that time got away from me and Christmas eve sneaked up and I still hadn’t made her dress.

Fortunately my nan didn’t mind me being such a rubbish granddaughter and said she didn’t mind waiting for it. Though I’m not sure she was expecting to wait quite so long. I finally got round to it the week before we went on holiday so that she’d get to wear it out while we were away.

We stayed in a lovely villa in the middle of a fruit farm in Coral Bay in Cyprus, which gave this lovely backdrop for a couple of quick snaps of my nan in her dress.

nanny6096

 

It’s a New Look 6096 with a few little alterations. The neckline on my version is quite wide and I knew my nan wouldn’t feel comfortable in that so I took about an inch off the centre front and back and added it back in again under the sleeves (and widened them to match). I also raised the front neckline by about an inch and lengthened the sleeves slightly. I cut the skirt at the length my nan said that she likes best when I measured her, so it’s a bit longer than the short skirt version.

nan-back-6096

My nan loves monochrome prints and I hunted for aaaages to find one I thought she’d like but all the ones I liked the look of seemed to be on knit fabric. I found this poly crepe de chine on eBay and thought it was pretty and that she might like it even though it’s beige and black and not black and white. It’s lovely and slinky. I also bought some of the black and white viscose Katie used on her Sew Bossy swap with Amy and let my nan choose which one she wanted. I was glad she chose this one as I had sneaky selfish plans for the black and white one if she didn’t choose it.

mum and nan
My mum and my nan

I think this is a good dress to have used for unselfish sewing as the fit is probably quite forgiving because of the elastic. I don’t think I really went into much detail about how the dress is constructed the last time I made it. It’s nice and simple, for the arms and the neckline you just press the edges under 1/4 inch, then 1/2 inch and then top stitch close the fold to make a channel for the elastic. For the channel under the bust you use the bodice seam and press it down towards the skirt and top stitch. I French seamed everywhere for a nice finish inside (and because I’m still scared of my overlocker, though I have nearly made a Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono tee – just hemming to go but my sewing machine is fighting me).

Looking at these photographs while sat in my room with many names (dancing room, breakfast room, brunchatorium) is making me miss the sunshine very much. I love Cyprus, I lived there for two years while I was growing up as my dad was in the army and I’ve been back there on holiday three times now. You can’t beat somewhere where a man will sell you avocados in a pub and the ice cream man gives you a free bag of quails eggs. He also offered us a kilo of halloumi, which we probably should have bought as we got through quite a lot of it.

How about you? Ever bought food from somewhere unusual?

 

A Hunky Festive Simplicity 1418

Christmas hunks dress
Christmas Hunks dress in action at my work Christmas party

This right here is the reason I started sewing. So I can own party dresses that have hunky topless festive dudes all over them. I am so obscenely pleased with it. Please excuse the quality of the photos, I don’t know why they’re so grainy and it’s too dark for me to bother retaking them now. I took one outside and it’s just as bad so it’s probably camera settings rather than lighting. I will fiddle before the next time.

The pattern is Simplicity 1418, one of the Project Runway line. I saw someone Instagram their version ages ago when stalking the #sewing hashtag (I can’t remember who sorry) and immediately knew I had to own the pattern. I haven’t seen that many versions of it online but the ones I have I really like and I love my own and can see myself making more, even if it’s not the most wearable of styles for daily life.

I made this for my work Christmas do on Friday and left it far too last minute due to completing on my own house in the beginning of November and spending every waking moment since being harried, painting things, moving things, assembling things and generally being stressed out and busy. I made my toile on Sunday, cut out my bits on Monday and then sewed the dress up Tuesday and Wednesday, and hemmed it (by machine rather than my hand as I’d hoped) on Thursday – nothing like cutting it fine.

For my toile I sewed up a size 14 and it fit nicely on the bust but was too tight at the waist, the sleeves were massive and the neckline gaped front and back. So I:

  • Pinched 1.5cm out of front centre bodice piece
  • Took 2cm out of the back and then pivoted it into the waist dart, trying to be all fancy
  • Added 0.5cm to the side seams
  • Took 3cm out of the centre of the sleeve pieces
  • Cut the elastic and the elastic casing 3cm smaller too
  • I also took an inch and a half off the length to make the dress work better with my petticoat

Fit wise I think it’s okay but before making it again I will probably take a smidge more out at the front, it’s just a tad gapey still and the arms still feel a bit big but I think if the chest fit better that would help the sleeves too, without the risk of me taking more out and ending up not being able to lift my arms properly.

christmas hunks no petticoat
Minus the petticoat

I lined the bodice instead of using the facings for a tidier finish inside and because I didn’t really like the idea of finishing princess seams. This was my first go at sewing them and it went okay but not brilliantly. I am not very good at easing things in, just don’t understand it and can’t do it properly. The instructions with this pattern were really helpful for me as they get you to stay stitch the curve and then snip into it to release the tension and then the bodice pieces go together a lot more easily. And I know it’s a lot easier because on my lining I staystitched the wrong bit, which was no help at all. (I’d staystitched the wrong bit on the shell too, but quickly stitched the centre too before pinning them after discovering what a pain the lining was without the staystitching.)

I took lots of care with pattern placement but you wouldn’t be able to tell at all from looking at the finished dress. I cut out my lining pieces first so I had full versions of the bits that needed to be cut on the fold and then I used them as my pattern pieces on my main fabric so I could cut it out on one layer. I really wanted this handsome dude with the reindeer front and foremost on the bodice.

Bodice in pieces
Cut out and ready to go

I then tried to pattern match the bodice seams but failed miserably as I completely forgot to account for the seam allowances. I was quite annoyed with myself for that when it dawned on me but now it’s sewn up I still love the dress so I’m less cross with myself. I’m more cross with myself for chopping flasher hunk’s head off. When I did the skirt pieces I was starting to panic that I didn’t have enough fabric left and just cut them out without thinking about placement at all, which is really irritating as he only needed to be about an inch or two lower. Oh well, I shan’t be losing sleep over it.

The dress has a side zip so I got to have a whole hunk on the back of the bodice without having to faff with (no doubt failed) attempts to pattern match. I particularly like his defined thighs, I like a muscular thigh. (This is why I don’t whinge when the manfriend watches the rugby.)

chrismas hunks back
Hunky elf

It was my first side zip and it went okay, I got awfully confused at a couple of points but it went in okay and matches at the waist. I put in one side, did the zip up and then cut a little snip into the zip tape at the waist seam on the other side – having seen the tip on the Sew Over It Instagram account –  and then used that snip to match it to the waist seam of the dress, which worked loads better for me than trying to use a pin to mark the waist seam as I’ve done previously. It’s not really very concealed though.

I got loads of compliments on the dress when I wore it and one woman even ran after me to ask me where I got it from and excitedly asked me if I was a dressmaker when I said I’d made it. She actually seemed really disappointed when I said no. I wore it with a petticoat, which always makes me feel extra glamorous and awesome. Manfriend picked me up from the train station and I was feeling silly so I ran to meet him and kicked a leg back when kissing him hello to pretend I was in an old movie.

Oh I just realised that I mentioned altering the elastic and casing but didn’t really mention them and they’re quite an interesting feature so I probably should talk about them. A piece of 3/4 inch wide elastic gets its own little casing and then gets basted to the underside of the sleeves, I think to keep the off the shoulder sleeves a bit more secure.

Christmas Hunks dress

I love this dress so much. I love that it was a bit more challenging and I love the outcome. I’m going to wear it for prancing round the house on Christmas Day and manfriend is possibly going to wear a bow tie so he matches my fanciness.