Grainline Archer shirt

grainline archer shirt

This shirt has been a long time in the making (I started it in March) and I made ALL the mistakes during sewing it so the finished product is rather shonky. Luckily, shonkiness doesn’t stop me wearing things I’ve made – though I do have a tendency to point out the flaws to people who wouldn’t even notice.

So, what went wrong?

It was all going quite well until I got to the sleeves. I’d sewn the sleeve placket binding thingies and was pinning the sleeves to the armholes when I realised that I had pressed one of the bindings wrong. Instead of pressing them both to the inside I’d pressed one to the outside because the right and wrong side are really difficult to tell apart. There’s a little bit of stitching on the top of the binding on the inside to keep it in place so I put the shirt aside to unpick and redo that. Then it got warm so the shirt waited.

I picked it up again as the warm weather started to die down, fixed the placket and cracked on with setting the sleeves. I pinned the sleeves in place to sew and then realised* that I’d pinned them wrong side to right side. So I unpinned, repinned, sewed them both, overlocked them both and topstitched them both. Only then did I notice that my sleeve seams were on the outside.

Facepalm gif

*I now think that I hadn’t pinned them wrong the first time at all and just got myself mixed up because the side with the undercollar is actually the right side of the shirt.

It got put aside again for a bit because I was too frustrated to even attempt to fix it. I eventually decided on an – imperfect – fix and got to work unpicking. I removed the topstitching then sewed a line of stitching 1/4″ away from the original seam line to use as the first pass of a french seam. I unpicked the bits of overlocking that were on the wrong side of that stitching and then trimmed the seam down, unpicked the original seam and sewed a french seam.

This did mean that my sleeves are wrong side out (and I had to twizzle my sleeve plackets – again) but I don’t care. I don’t think it’s noticeable and this was only supposed to be a wearable toile anyway.

Grainline Archer button up shirt

Now I’ve shared my woes I suppose I should go back to the beginning. I find the shoulder on Grainline patterns really wide so I measured the shoulder on the Archer before cutting it out and compared it to my favourite oversized shirts from H&M. It was a full inch wider so I did a stonking big narrow shoulder shoulder adjustment.

I cut everything out on a single layer and I can honestly say I HATE cutting out plaid/check/tartan/whatever. I cut a bunch of pieces on the bias because I like the way it looks (and it avoids having to pattern match).

I’m holding the hem out like that because it seems to get all hitched up on my bum really easily. I thought there was more ease at the hip than this or I would have graded out. I’ve just checked the finished measurements and there are 2.5″ ease, which explains it a bit.

The sleeves and cuffs are both bigger than I like in a shirt. I actually moved the cuff button over by quite a bit because in the right place the cuff is way too big – it would probably fit around my, not insubstantial, upper arm. It’s a bit too wide for my preferences too. I looked at my RTW shirts and they’re a good 1/2″ or more narrower.

The buttons are recycled from an old shirt of the manfriend’s and I sewed them on BY MACHINE! Yes that needed to be shouted. I’d seen people rave about sewing buttons on by machine and I never trust my handsewn buttons – it’s not my strength – so I invested in a button sewing foot. I’m never looking back. It’s excellent. A bit nerve wracking at first, making sure that you’ve got the stitch width right. But I just used the handwheel until I was certain everything was lined up right.

I’ve sewn things with collars before but this was my first proper collar, with a collar stand. It went okay but I definitely need more practice. One side of the collar stand is a much better shape than the other… 

The details

Pattern: Grainline Archer shirt

PDF or Printed: PDF

How many pages: 46 (that’s for two views so it would be less if you wanted to figure out which pages to print for the view you wanted to make. I couldn’t be bothered and just printed the lot.)

Easy to put together?

I don’t know if I did something wrong when I was printing but it didn’t have a border and I’m sure previous Grainline patterns I’ve sewn have had a border box. I found it made it really difficult when trimming the pages and to know if I was lining things up correctly when assembling.

A0 file included?

Yes. (2 pages)

Measurements: Bust 39″ – Waist: 31″ – Hips 41″

Size made: 12

Alterations:

  • Narrowed the shoulder by 1″
  • Shortened the sleeve by 2″
  • Sewed an inverted box pleat on the back instead of a box pleat – I just prefer the way they look
  • Left the pockets off – but I may still add one

Fabric used: 1.75m cotton cranleigh tartan flannel from Plush Addict.

Another version?

Yes, I think so. 

Any changes next time?

Quite a few. I’ll pinch the tower placket from another pattern (Deer and Doe Melilot or Sewaholic Granville) and use that instead of the bound placket. I’ll slim the sleeves down, probably by as much as 2″. I’m also going to shorten and narrow the cuff .

The fit is possibly a little too boxy for what I wanted so I might add some curve at the waist. Though I’ll be adding some more room at the hip so maybe I’ll just add that first and see if that visually balances things out a bit. I can always take the waist in during sewing if I think it needs it.

I’m basically trying to recreate my favourite H&M shirts so I’m going to have a look at them and see what changes I need to make it more like them.

I think I’ll do a bias bound hem next time too. Oh and the interfacing I used was too heavy so I’ll use a much lighter one next time. If I interface at all as I don’t think the H&M shirts are interfaced.

Listing all the changes I want to make does make me think about whether I should just use a different pattern. Manju shared her Simpicity 8104 shirts recently and I really like the look of the fit on her so I might think about giving that a try.

Resources/tips I used: 

I’d always seen people rave about this collar insertion method so I didn’t even bother trying the method from the instructions.

I used pritt stick for sticking the inner collar stand down while I sewed it. It washes out and I didn’t find it gummed up my needle or anything. I’d tried fabric glue before and didn’t find it very sticky so when I saw Kelli from True Bias saying that she uses a normal washable glue stick I thought that was a great idea.

There are also some great tips in this post on Sarah’s blog – I saw this post after I’d already sewn the collar or I definitely would have used the tip about making a collar stand template (tip #8).

Final Thoughts

I’m really pleased that I’ve made myself a shirt and I’ll definitely wear this a lot even though it seems like all I’ve done is moan in this post. 

Megan Nielsen Flint Trousers

Hey there folks. How are you doing? Well I hope. I have one of those rarely seen beasts for you today – a finished garment post! I’m skipping my most recently made garment straight to the top of the blogging pile because I love them a little bit and have worn them nearly every day this week. I took these photos after a full day at work, which is why they’re so wrinkled.

Though looking at these photos is making me realise that my waistband fluff up is more noticeable than I thought. I switched the buttonholes and buttons around so that my buttons were hidden but I didn’t put them in the right place and the end of the waistband flaps about a bit. I do plan to sew a snap on the end but I haven’t done it yet.

There, flaw pointed out. Let’s get back to business. As the title says, they’re Megan Nielsen Flint trousers (I can’t bring myself to call them pants, sorry). I don’t think I’m ever going to get on board with the cropped trouser trend so I lengthened these to full length. I’m a shorty so I didn’t have to add much – I added 3″ and sewed a 2″ hem, not 2.5″ as in the pattern. I possibly could have added a smidge more length/taken a smaller hem to make them a bit more feet hidey but I was worried about them dragging on the floor.

They’re made with a lightweight chambray I bought from Oh Sew Crafty, which has led to me referring to them as my “Summer jeans”. I feel like they just go with everything. I had lots of compliments on them at work and got told I looked like I should be strolling about on the French Riviera in them. I’ll take that.

They look a bit like my bum is eating them in this back view but they don’t feel like they give me a wedgie at all. I may scoop the back crotch a little on my next version though, just to check.

In terms of the sewing everything went fine. I mostly followed the instructions but I did the waistband slightly differently. The instructions have you sew the waistband on (to the right side side) and then you have to press the inner seam allowance up before topstitching from the front to secure it. Instead I pressed the seam allowance up first (1/2″ instead of the 5/8″ in the pattern) without realising that it mattered which edge I pressed because of the notches being asymmetrical. So to make my notches match I had to sew the waist band to the wrong side, which I think I actually prefer because you know that you’re catching it all when you topstitch. I always have iffy bits when I stitch from the right side and hope that none of the seam allowance has escaped on the wrong side.

The details

Pattern: Megan Nielsen Flint shorts and pants

PDF or Printed: PDF

How many pages: 51

A0 file included? Yes, 3 pages.

How’s the PDF?

I got the A0 file printed so I can’t comment on how easy the tiled version is to assemble. The A0 version was fine but one whole page is taken up with un-nested waistbands for all sizes. If I was printing it again I think I’d be temped to skip that page and figure out which pages of the tiled version I needed to print for my size.

Measurements: Waist: 32″ Hips: 42″ Height: 5’2″

Size made: Large

Alterations:

  • Lengthened by 3″ to make full length trousers
  • Shortened the back rise by about an inch at the centre back, tapering to nothing at the side seams.
  • I also took the side seams and centre back in but I think that was because the waist had stretched out when I tried them on as the waistband still matched up in all the right places so I won’t adjust my pattern.
  • I swapped the buttons and buttonholes around (badly…)

Fabric used: 2m of 150cm wide cotton chambray from Oh Sew Crafty

Another version?

Yes I think so. Maybe a black or navy linen pair.

Any changes next time?

Yes. I’ll try a curved waistband instead of the straight one. I’m also toying with putting a fly front on them. That would kind of take away one of the selling points of the trousers but I actually enjoy sewing a fly zip.

Any tips or advice

Watch out for the waist stretching out. And if you do hidden buttons do a better job than I did.

Non-clueless versions:

Final Thoughts

I love my Flint pants (gag) and I think they’ve given me a bit of trouser sewing confidence. No crotch weirdness! That’s probably because of the fairly loose fit but it did make me wonder if I should give Megan Nielsen’s Ash jeans a go. Maybe this will be the year that I crack trousers!

Deer and Doe Datura Blouse

I was trying to blog my backlog of makes in order but I’m bumping my Datura blouse up the list because I want your opinions on my next version. But first, let’s talk about this one.

deer-and-doe-datura-blouse

Despite only owning three of their patterns I think Deer and Doe are my favourite pattern company in terms of their style. If I could win a competition where the prize was all the patterns of one company of my choice, Deer and Doe would be it. Top of my current lust list is the Fumeterre skirt (check out Camille and Lynne’s fab versions). Followed closely by the Chardon skirt after Jo’s post last Sunday.

datura-blouse-leaning

Anyway, my Datura blouse. My very first Advanced pattern! Go me. Though of course I did version B, with the collar and not the cut out version so I don’t know that I can actually claim to be advanced. My version of the pattern has been in my stash for nearly a year so it has the old instructions, which were a bit brief and I did struggle at times. Luckily I found this tutorial series, which was super useful.

Deer and Doe datura blouse

The hardest part was sewing the shoulders and I definitely used that photo tutorial for that. Because the top has a lined yoke you sew the shell to the lining at the armholes and neckline on both front and back yokes. Then you put the front inside the back and do some shoulder seam magic. I would try to explain but I don’t think I’ll do a very good job so you’d best look at the tutorial.

I have seen a Seamwork magazine tutorial where they do a very similar thing but slightly differently and for my next version I think I’ll try it that way as it seems much more simple.

Datura blouse collar and close up

The moustache and bowler hat fabric I’ve used was a gift from a sewing friend at work because I gave her some sewing stuff. She saw it and thought of me in a fabric shop because I enjoy wearing a fake moustache from time to time (Manfriend even bought me a pack of “Emergency Moustaches” as a stocking filler one Christmas). It’s quite a crisp cotton, which isn’t the recommended fabric for this pattern but I wanted to use it anyway. The yoke and collar are made with a cotton poplin I had in my stash.

Datura blouse side view

It is a little bit too crispy and I think the top is slightly too big too, which means if I put a cardigan on it can stand away from my body slightly but I still like it. I’m going to try a size down for my next version and it’s going to be in a drapier fabric.

Datura blouse back

 

I still haven’t actually sewn any buttons on as I couldn’t choose what ones to use. I was torn between these two and I have two of the polka dot ones safety pinned on at the moment. I’ll probably go with those ones and use the little pearly ones for my next version.

Button choices

The details

Pattern: Deer and Doe Datura blouse

Measurements: Bust: 37″ – Waist: 30.5″ – Hips: 40″

Size made: 42

Alterations: None

Fabric used: A metre of the moustaches and just shy of a meter of the black.

Another version? Yep, another colour blocked version in black and grey viscose but I’m not sure which colour to put where. Which do you like best? I’m leaning towards the one on the right.

Next datura colour options

Any changes next time? I’m going to try the next size down.

Have any of you tried the Datura blouse since Deer and Doe have expanded their instructions? Are they better now?

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?

Two Weddings and a Mad Rush

Way back in December two of my favourite people got married. Unfortunately*, it wasn’t to each other so I had two weddings to attend. 132 miles apart…

I went to the ceremony and reception of a good friend from work’s wedding in Ceredigion in the morning and then travelled to the evening reception of another friend in Bristol.

So the mad rush in the title refers to the day of the weddings but also to the making of my outfit. I set myself lots of unreasonable targets this past festive season and I should have just bought an outfit but I bought this fabric a while ago with the intention of making a self drafted pencil skirt and a slinky Grainline Scout tee so a pencil skirt and a scout I was making. I can be stubborn. I finished sewing at half 11 on the Friday before the weddings. I was cursing myself but I was pleased with the finished outfit.

shortwood-skirt1
Oh also, new hair. I suddenly hated the blonde and needed to change it.

I’ll talk about the skirt first. I used the skirt block I made during my craftsy course and rewatched the lesson on turning it into an empire line skirt. Then made a toile and I was happy with the fit and only widened the back darts very slightly. After sewing up the actual skirt though I think I might need to do a bit of a swayback adjustment.

shortwood-back
Terrible, terrible seam matching and I actually tried, sob.

I cut the bottom off the back pattern piece to draft the pleat panel. I just cut it into strips and added extra paper between each one, folded them closed then added seam allowance and cut the excess paper off while the pleats were still folded to allow the right seam allowances for them.

I had to take the side seams in a little pretty much all the way down from my high hip as this is a stretch woven fabric and the extra ease built in to the block just looked silly.

shortwood-skirt2

I’ve decided to give any patterns I draft myself names rather than just describing them every time I use them – empire line pencil skirt with pleated back doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. So I’m calling this the Shortwood skirt as the reception I went to in Bristol was held in Shortwood Lodge golf club. And Shortwood is more pronounceable than Sgubor Teile, which is where the first one was.

shortwood-shapes
Throwing some shapes.

IMG_4655The Scout was made with this silky satin from Abakhan. I’d ordered samples of the green and the red beforehand as I was thinking about making a slinky Anna dress for my work Christmas party but changed my mind in favour of the Christmas Hunks fabric. I think I must have been sent the wrong swatches as this fabric is completely different to the swatches. Here is a picture of the swatch, which is a lot slinkier and doesn’t have a shiny side. I didn’t open the parcel for ages due to moving so it would have been too late to send it back.

I used the wrong side of the fabric as it had a less shiny finish and was still able to get the look I’d been aiming for. I cut a size 10 and it had just the right sort of fit for tucking in to the skirt and I do like it with jeans too. But I think I’ll possibly try a size 8 for my next version or maybe grade between sizes, keeping the shoulders and arms the same and then bring it in slightly from the bust down. I dunno.

scout2

I don’t know what’s causing those lines from my bust down to my hips. Something being too tight or too loose maybe? I am terrible at diagnosing fitting issues.

scout1

I tried using my rolled hem foot for the hem and it went terribly. Seriously look at my awful, awful stitching:

Scout rolled hem
You can also see how shiny the right side of the fabric is.

I originally tried taking pictures in the garden but the light just wasn’t playing ball so I moved into my kitchen dancing area (after moving all the tins of paint and tools lying around) but I thought I’d leave you with a couple of the silly ones I took outside purely because I like them.

IMG_4713
Manfriend and his nephew had just finished turning my garage into a gym, hence the pose – expect more of this.

 

IMG_4703
Fuzzy faced Manfriend makes his first appearance.

*Unfortunate for me, not them. They’re very happy with the people they married.

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.

Love at First Stitch Megan Dress

I’ve been planning to make the Megan dress from Tilly and the Buttons book, Love at First Stitch for a little while – it’s one of the main reasons I bought the book – but I kept changing my mind about what fabric to use. I had originally planned to make a red and navy one, copying one of Tilly’s variations from the book as I had some navy fabric and some red fabric left over from my first Anna but I’m planning to remake the bodice of that dress so I need the red fabric now and couldn’t decide what to use instead.

love at first stitch megan dress
Another backdrop for you (trying to find the right light)

But I did a Tough Mudder last weekend and my manfriend took me to Y Polyn to celebrate me not dying and I wanted to make a new dress to wear so I finally got my act together and decided on this butterfly print fabric to use for the bodice. I possibly should have made something a bit more roomy considering I was going to stuff myself full of three courses of the best food I’ve ever had but I’m really happy with how the dress turned out. I sewed SLEEVES!

Tough mudder game face
Thought I’d sneak a Tough Mudder photo in here as I’m bloody proud of myself. Game face ON in this one.

This version is sort of a wearable toile as I just sewed a straight size 4 with no alterations to see how it fit. The fit is pretty good, except for a mega gapey back, which will be easily fixable next time I make it.

Gapey back
Gapey back

I’ve just noticed the back doing weird things around my lower back and bum though and I have absolutely no idea what’s causing that or how on earth I would go about fixing it. I don’t care too much though, I don’t see the back. I sort of wish I’d tried to pattern match the back too but again, I don’t see the back.

And another different backdrop, best use them all.
And another different backdrop, best use them all.

Construction wise I used French seams on the skirt and on the waist seam but I didn’t on the bodice because I was worried about the seams being too bulky as the butterfly fabric is quite thick, so I zigzagged them.

I tried timing how long it took me to make this dress but kept forgetting to stop or start the timer so it’s not entirely accurate. At least seven hours though. That’s a really long time isn’t it? Oh well, I’m sure I’ll get quicker eventually. I don’t really have much more to say about Megan, except I love her, especially her sleeves. Did I mention that I sewed sleeves?

Cost:

Navy fabric – £5.99 /metre
Butterfly fabric – £7.50/metre (I have about 20-30cm of each fabric left but I’ll just use the full metre price for the maths)
Zip – £2.20

Total = £15.69

One more photo of a guest photobombing dog, meet Poppy, my Nan’s dog.

Megan meets Poppy
Megan meets Poppy

Nautical Anemone Skirt

Deer and Doe Anemone skirt
With added Manfriend shadow.

My first skirt! Well first proper skirt from a pattern anyway. I loved the Deer and Doe Anemone skirt from the moment I saw it. I am a big fan of high waists, my favourite pencil skirts have a high waist – or I pull them up high regardless of where they’re actually supposed to go in the case of a couple of jersey ones I have. I nearly went for the versions with the little fins but as the fabric I bought was navy I thought that some gold buttons would make a nice nautical version.

I bought the fabric on a recent trip to Cardiff. I don’t have any fabric shops near me and have bought all my other fabric online so it was very lovely to go to actual fabric shops and be able to touch the fabric, I did many laps of Butterfly Fabrics on City Road. One of the recommended fabrics for the skirt is a lightweight twill but I think I had drill in my head and I can’t actually remember what this was but I know that it was one of the two. I think they’re practically the same anyway aren’t they? *noob face*

Me in my Deer and Doe Anemone with Max the dog
I’m pulling a gimpy face but I thought I’d continue the photobombing Max theme.

I wasn’t sure whether to cut a size 42 or 44 so I measured the pieces and went with a 44 and cut and assembled the lining first to check the fit before cutting out the skirt pieces. It’s fully lined with a navy cotton voile I also bought in Cardiff. I’m fairly happy with the fit but I probably could have done with taking the side seams in ever so slightly at the top of the high waist but leaving them the same at the waist. If that makes any sense at all.

I made the shorter length skirt and got all the pieces out of a ridiculously small amount of fabric as my fabric was wide. I only used 60cm and I’d bought 2 metres so I’ve got plenty left if I want to make another version – or possibly a cropped By Hand London Victoria jacket to make a suit out of it.

Deer and Doe Anemone skirt cutting layout
Cutting layout

In term of construction I just followed the instructions but next time I think I might do things slightly differently. The instructions have you insert the zip on the main fabric and sew the rest of the back seam and then sew the lining to the main fabric at the top and along the zip. I am not explaining that very well. But I got into quite a pickle when sewing the lining to the zip and as I don’t hate hand sewing I might just do that by hand next time – either slipstitching it down afterwards or just sewing it by hand instead, I did have to handsew a bit at the end this time because I just couldn’t get to the end with my machine.

I understitched the waistline and I was quite pleased with it but I think it would just be so much easier if you attached the lining and main fabric at the waist, then understitched and then did the zip part but I am clueless about this sort of thing so there’s probably a reason for doing it the recommended way. I’ll also use a shorter zip next time, I think 12″ would have been fine.

I zigzagged all of my seams on my main fabric and pinked them on my lining fabric. My main fabric was very much a frayer so I did the top and bottom of the skirt too. Very time consuming – why am I always drawn to things with so many panels?! – but I’m really happy with the finish.

I wore it to work yesterday and then for a walk and beer garden lounging with my manchap – making him take photos of me whenever I thought there’d be a nice view behind me. I’m really happy with it and can see me making quite a few more versions. I nice simple black one with the peplum fins next I think.

Deer and Doe Anemone skirt
A closer view.

Cost:

Main fabric – 60cm @ £6.99/metre = £4.19
Lining fabric – 1.25m @ 2.99/metre = £3.74
Thread – free, came with my sewing machine
16″ concealed zip – £1.89
Buttons – 6 @ 50p each = £3.00

Total = £12.82