Last week I finally managed to complete a dress I started making at the beginning of May. It’s taken nearly a month – real life took over from sewing for a while! I tried the finished dress on with great excitement, only to realise that the project is a complete failure. It’s wearable enough to photograph under strictly controlled conditions though, so here you go.
This is what I was aiming for. It’s Burda 134-06-2012. An unusual but comfortable summer dress with pockets.
The line art gives a better idea of the shape of the pattern. The fabric recommendation is cloqué. I think that’s some sort of textured woven fabric – maybe a bit like a piqué? I used a mystery twill weave stretch woven I bought in Birmingham last year. It’s a lovely shade of petrol blue and has a slight sheen.
And here is my version. It’s a good thing the fabric has a bit of stretch or I wouldn’t be able to get it on! I made my usual size in Burda, but the skirt has come out much too tight over the hips. I really should have gone up a size, or possibly two. The lack of length of the skirt is a problem as well. Because of the position of the pockets I have a choice between belting it short enough that the pockets are in the bodice (as Burda has done) or on the hips as I have here. Suffice to say the ‘pockets in the bodice’ look is not one I shall be posting on the Internet. The skirt on my version is unhemmed, so I think this pattern just comes up really short.
The sleeve bands have worked out quite well considering my fabric is both stretchy and almost unpressable. This is definitely a dress to wear a vest under though because the armholes are deep. Don’t know what’s going on with my expression in that picture.
And then there’s the back view. The zip’s definitely too heavy for this fabric. I couldn’t get a matching zip or even a grey one in the right length, hence the beige. It looked OK against the fabric under artificial light but I’m less convinced now I see it in daylight.
The skirt is hanging very badly; again that’s because it isn’t large enough for me on the hips so fabric tends to pool just below the waist.
I think there’s a really nice dress in here that’s been killed by a combination of horrible fabric choice and dodgy pattern sizing. Right now I’m dithering as to whether to put the pattern in the recycling or hang onto it for another try in the future with a fabric that’s got more body. This version is going in the scraps bag! One more slightly silly photo to finish with and then never again will this see the light of day.
Filed under: Burda, Fabric, Finished, Sewing | 38 Comments
Tags: blue, Burda, dress, Dressmaking, Sewing
I’ve worn my pink a-line dress so much I made it again! It’s the same fabric, a boiled wool jersey from Truro Fabrics, in a colourway called cream. Personally I think it is more of a beige than a cream. I’m really liking the modern, minimalist vibe of this version, which is very different to the bright pink of the original.
The one thing I wasn’t pleased with in my first version was the side seam pockets which have a tendency to gape. I decided to give single welt pockets a try. These are a little on the small side but I was concerned that they’d look odd if I made them larger. I spent some time pinning little rectangles of fabric to the front of the pink dress to test out size and placement before cutting anything out. I’m very pleased with how they’ve turned out but they were a lot of work!
The back’s completely plain. Yes those are creases near the hem, I’d been wearing it all day at this point. The zip is nicely invisible but could have done with being longer. I couldn’t find a beige 24″ invisible zip online (ok I didn’t look all that hard) so settled for 22″ and it’s turned out to be not quite enough. Anyone know an online shop that does 24″ invisible zips and doesn’t charge an arm and a leg for postage?
And in other news, Winnie of Scruffy Badger Time interviewed me for her Desert Island Sewing series. You can read mine here but check out the whole series if you aren’t following it already. It’s fascinating to see which patterns people choose to be cast away with. Thanks Winnie!
Filed under: Dressmaking, Finished, Notions, Sewing, Simplicity | 25 Comments
Tags: beige, Dressmaking, modern, Sewing, simplicity
I had visions of one of those geometric Courrèges designs with perfectly symmetrical single welt pockets on the front. So I added welt pocket markings to Simplicity 5320, a structured A-line style, and cut it out in camel-coloured boiled wool. The basic dress is an easy sew but I’ve never done this style of pocket before and was pretty nervous about it. Here’s my Saturday morning in pictures.
Success, I thought, heaving a sigh of relief. The rest of the dress won’t take more than an hour or two. I might even be able to post pictures of it on Sunday. Then the zip self-destructed as I was sewing it in, so no new dress this weekend after all. Maybe next week.
Filed under: Dressmaking, Sewing, Simplicity, Techniques | 19 Comments
Tags: Dressmaking, pockets, Sewing, simplicity, welt pockets
This dress is made from the most amazing polyester suede fabric. It’s so strokable that every time I put the project down I found myself missing the texture. It comes from Minerva Crafts in a range of colours. It was easy to sew. I needed to use a leather needle but otherwise it was just like any heavy woven.
The pattern is Vogue 1317, a recent Chado Ralph Rucci design. Suede is one of the suggested fabrics on the envelope back otherwise I doubt I’d have thought of it. The other suggestion is lightweight doubleknit. Here’s Vogue’s version. I’m not sure which, if either, theirs is made from. Or what the photographer was thinking when asking for that pose from the model.
What’s not entirely obvious from either photo is all the top-stitching on this style. There’s a lot: like many of the Chado Ralph Rucci styles almost every seam is edge-stitched and top-stitched. The line art gives some idea of what’s involved. It took me two weeks of serious sewing to complete it all.
This is the back gusset seam on my dress. I made an effort with the top-stitching here so it’s fairly even (for me). As the project wore on and on and some major fitting issues become apparent I got a lot more slapdash! Luckily it’s not obvious unless you get very close.
Where this dress went wrong is the sizing. I’d read some reviews which said that it came up very small so I checked the finished garment measurements on the pattern carefully and based on those went up a size from my usual Vogue size. Even then I needed to let out almost the whole of the extra wide seam allowance at the centre back seam. You’re supposed to use that extra allowance to do a bias bound finish on the fabric edges without the zip tape getting in the way. As it is those edges are simply zigzagged and very untidy, but at least I can zip the dress up. Either the finished garment measurements are optimistic, I’ve got a lot bigger, or something I did in the processing of the seams has taken out some width.
This is about the best picture I’ve got of the back. It looks like I’ve lengthened the bodice a bit too much although I’m sure some of those wrinkles are just from the way I’m standing. I certainly overdid lengthening the sleeves.
It has tiny little pockets. They’re slightly bigger than this picture makes them appear but you couldn’t safely put a phone or a lot of keys in them. I don’t think they’re entirely useless though. It’s always good to have somewhere to stash a tissue or some screws you just took out of something and don’t want to lose.
Although this hasn’t been a completely successful project I can’t help thinking there’s a really great dress somewhere in this pattern. The shape is lovely and the suede fabric is wonderfully tactile. I’ve got some more polyester suede and I’m going to try again, with a bigger size this time. But first I’ll make something nice and easy, I need a break!
Filed under: Dressmaking, Fabric, Fitting, Sewing, Vogue | 31 Comments
Tags: black, chado ralph rucci, dress, Dressmaking, Sewing, suede, Vogue
What a weekend! Rachel of House of Pinheiro organised a truly epic blogger meetup in London. Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos…I was too busy talking sewing all day with the 45 or so sewists who turned up. We met in the Victoria and Albert museum where Rachel had organised photographs by a professional photographer. Then we headed to Goldhawk Road for fabric shopping. For once I stuck to my carefully prepared shopping list and bought only fabrics I have definite plans for, the bottom four in this picture. It would be tempting fate to detail future sewing plans here though. Hopefully I’ll be posting about them again in the next few months.
Then we retired to the Cedar Villagerestaurant for lunch, arranged by Ooobop!, followed by goodie bags kindly provided by Minerva Crafts. The bags were on different themes. Mine was colour: just look at these fluorescent threads that were part of it.
Finally we had the biggest fabric and pattern swap I’ve ever seen. I was very good and only came away with one new piece of fabric and one new pattern: sparkly stripy jersey from Amy of Almond Rock and a 70s jersey dress pattern whose origin I don’t know – anyway, thanks both!
If you’re a sewist wondering if you dare go to one of these meetups, take the plunge. It was a really friendly, enjoyable day.
Many many thanks to Rachel who so generously organised it.
Filed under: Fabric | 10 Comments
Tags: meetup, Sewing, Shopping
The weather in the UK has been so miserably cold that I decided what I needed to make next was a really warm cardigan. For one reason or another it took me a while to sew, and of course the very day I finished it the weather warmed up. Guess I should have sewed faster.
I chose the kimono style after a bit of snoop shopping on the Internet. I wanted something with a bit of shape to it but not too girly. Waterfall cardis are great but I find they look best in lightweight fabrics and worn open, OK for spring but certainly not for winter! The kimono has a very generous wrapover and you can make the collar as wide as you like to keep your neck warm. Here’s a better view.
You don’t need a printed pattern to make a kimono and it makes very efficient use of fabric. I always use this tutorial for the basic construction steps. I added patch pockets to the front because I had a little bit of leftover fabric and also I figured it would stop me stashing too much stuff in the sleeves. The patch pockets are on the left front because a kimono always wraps left over right whether worn by a man or a woman.
My fabric was 60″/150cm wide charcoal coloured boiled wool jersey from Truro Fabrics. This is how I laid out the pieces. Units are all inches because the sizes I needed divided into inches more nicely than centimetres. I could have made the collar piece quite a bit shorter. When I made the layout I hadn’t decided where I wanted the collar to finish so I erred on the generous side.
Seam allowances are 5/8″ except on the belt where I used 1/4″ to keep as much width as possible. The pockets are lined with a scrap of leftover cupro lining. The lining pieces are cut the same width as the pocket piece and about 1.5″ shorter because the fashion fabric piece folds over to make a facing. I fused a wide strip of interfacing to the top of the pocket pieces but there’s no pattern piece for that; I just eyeballed it. In the event that anyone wants to use the layout below as a basis for their own version, I’m about a size 10 in Big Four and 5’10″ tall with an 18″ back waist.
The fabric I used doesn’t ravel at all but I bound all the exposed edges with satin bias because I like the finish and it’s quick and easy to do with a binding foot. I finished most of the hems with the blind hem foot on my machine. The fabric is so thick that stitches just sink into it and vanish so it’s ideal for a machined blind hem. Here’s the inside of the front showing the binding and the collar attached with ditch stitching from the outside.
The sleeves are the least practical feature of this pattern. I can just about fit these under my coatbut it’s a squeeze. I sewed up the wrist edges most of the way so I can use the sleeves as pockets, but left the back edge open as is traditional. I was a bit worried I might not be able to move my arms if I sewed the underarms right up. Kimono sleeves make great pockets; I’m always amazed by how much stuff I can get into the sleeves of my kimono dressing gown. I used to worry that things might fall out through the open back but they don’t seem to.
And here’s a back view. Not a lot going on here. You can see that I topstitched hems on the sleeve backs rather than breaking out the blind hem foot. The hems are a lot narrower here so this was the easier option.
I’m pleased with the way this has come out. It’s a really simple garment to make too. By way of contrast, while I was googling I came across this free download for an Alexander McQueen kimono jacket pattern. It’s beautiful but amazingly complicated! I intend to give it a try at some point so I’ll post a comparison when I do.
Filed under: Dressmaking, Finished, Kimono, Sewing, Style | 20 Comments
Tags: Dressmaking, kimono, Sewing
It seems like a long time since I made this dress. I normally photograph new makes right away, but this one’s been sitting around for a few weeks while I’ve been unwell. Things are getting better now so I have slapped some makeup on and got photos of it at last.
The pattern is Simplicity 5320, a 1972 ‘jiffy’ design. I was drawn to the raglan sleeves and high collar. The fabric’s boiled wool jersey from Truro Fabrics in a shade called foxglove. Right now the fabric is still available here.
This whole project was a bit of an experiment in colour and shape. I normally choose styles with a defined waist, which this certainly hasn’t got, and I was also dubious about the flared sleeves. Where would I store the pile of tissues that I normally keep tucked into my sleeves? Finally there was the colour. I never wear pink. I bought this fabric on whim after looking at colour analysis websites; those ones that try to divide people into twelve or sixteen categories based on seasons and assign a palette of flattering colours to each. I still don’t know what my season is but it made me think I might be able to wear some colours I’d previously avoided.
I got round the sleeve problem by adding inseam pockets. The pink fabric is very thick so I made the pocket bags in black polycotton, which means they show a little more than I’d like. I think the pink works, although it helps that my dye job has faded from its usual shade of red. The collar is great but it needs a lot of interfacing to keep its shape, which wasn’t mentioned in the instructions. And I had to take five inches off the length of the skirt. The short view was below the knee on me and I’m very tall.
Here’s the back. There’s an invisible zip which probably isn’t needed. My fabric doesn’t have a lot of stretch so I didn’t want to risk skipping it.
I’ve been surprised to find myself reaching for this dress a lot since I made it. It’s very comfortable to wear but slightly smarter than jeans. It’s an easy make too, especially if you don’t put in the zip. Definitely recommended.
Filed under: Dressmaking, Finished, Simplicity, Style, Vintage | 41 Comments
Tags: 1970s, Dressmaking, pink, Sewing, simplicity, vintage