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?

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?

 

New Look 6096 Maxi Dress

Not a lot of sewing has been going on around these parts. I stupidly entered a Tough Mudder and didn’t start training until about a month ago so most of my spare time has been spent running and weight training, desperately trying to get fit enough to not die half way round the course. So with that, enjoying the sunshine and househunting I haven’t had very much spare time to sew. I did manage to finish this baby though.

New Look 6096

After the success of my Anna maxi dress – which I have worn the hell out of – I knew I wanted to make another maxi dress as they are easily my favourite thing to wear. So I prowled Minerva looking at pretty much every maxi dress pattern they stock. I was torn between New Look 6096 and 6774 but chose 6096 in the end because of the lack of zip. I hate zips.

The fabric is some viscose I got on eBay, pretty cheaply. I bought 5 metres and plan to make some Tania culottes with what I have left. It was my first time working with viscose and I wouldn’t say I did a great job. Some of my cutting out was pretty shoddy and I sincerely doubt that very much of the dress is on grain. I really struggled with that part as the selvage wasn’t very straight and the slight stretch to the fabric kept throwing me.

IMG_3864
It can also be worn pulled down off the shoulder for a peasant blouse style look.

I used French seams pretty much throughout but I messed up the one joining the bodice to the skirt. I sewed it the wrong way first and ended up with the seam on the inside. I thought about trimming it really close to the stitching line and sewing at 1/4 inch again and then finishing off as normal, doing a sort of double (triple?) French seam but was a bit worried about making the bodice too small. That turned out to be a needless worry as next time I’d probably take some length out of the bodice anyway.

I cut a size 10 and it fits okay apart from there being a bit too much floof in the bodice (technical term). I don’t think I’d go down to an 8 as the arms fit just right on the 10. So I think I’d possibly just see what taking some length out does and if that doesn’t work then either fiddle with the pattern to take some fullness out or cut an 8 but use the same length arm elastic as for a 10 and see how that works out.

I enjoy my properly stroppy face in this photo.
I enjoy my properly stroppy face in this photo and I think the dress looks nice in it.

I wasn’t too keen on the dress when I tried it on before I hemmed it. It felt a bit too much like I was trying to hide a baby bump. But somehow it doesn’t feel as huge now and I really like it. The viscose feels lovely to wear too. It has actually inspired another dress I’m working on at the moment that I’m going to laughably call self drafted.

Cost:

Fabric – 3 metres @ £3 /metre = £9
Elastic – not sure how much I used. I’ll say 2m as I bought 5m and have loads left @ 30p / metre = 60p
Thread – free

Total = £9.60 Bargain

And I’ll leave with some outtakes of my stupid faces – no photobombing Max this time, he was too sleepy.

The many gimpy faces of a Leigh
Hawt!