Sunday, 13 August 2017

Pattern testing the Chai dress


This is the Chai dress from Itch to stitch and I love it.  It certainly helps that it is in my favourite ever liberty tana lawn  bought as seconds for only £9 a metre. 



This is my first time ever as a pattern tester.  I was very pleasantly surprised to be picked and just a little nervous.  The process was to sew the dress in about 5 days, which was fine as I was on holiday.  The were around 30 testers and the  process was incredibly thorough with 3 versions of the pattern produced.  It was great to see everyone's finished garments and how different they looked.  Originally I thought this might not be a dress to suit all figures, but actually it did!  The pattern is a PDF and although I will never really love PDFs you are able to just print the size you want.   What I really liked is that the pattern has different cup sizes and I had the most amazing fit straight away.


 
 
I cut a size 6 bust graded to a 4 at the waist.  The only adjustments I made was to raise the waistline by 1/2", as I usually have raise waistlines by 1" this may make it a little high for some of you.  I also added 2" to the length.  But that was it.  This is probably the best fit I've ever had, it is pretty snug, but actually comfortable.  I had intended to make the version with the sleeve, but it has a gathered sleeve and I'm not that keen on gathered sleeves.  I usually avoid sleeveless makes, because I don't really like showing the tops of my arms, but I really preferred  the sleeveless look and I've decided just to go with it. 




Jo at my sewing class just showed me a tip to sew a collar the other way round if you know you aren't going to button up, that is machining the collar to the inside and then doing your slip stitching on the right side, and I love this technique.  It means the part of the collar that shows is really neat.


The other thing I loved is that you can make the insides really neat.  I used French seams throughout.  The only thing I would really do differently is to interface the waist band.






A definite winner, and I would genuinely recommend this pattern.  The blouse version is lovely too and I will be making it again.
 
I've also been to Cambridge for the Sewing Weekender with sewing friend Gary and we had a great time.








There are many descriptions around about what happened, but basically 60 sewers talked ... sewed .... swapped stuff .... talked some more  and had a very wonderful time.  We stayed at the College for 2 nights and I would definitely go again, if we can get the tickets.  It was surreal meeting lots of the people I watch on vlogs and admire their makes on blogs and I was just a touch starstruck. 




 
Here I am with Harriet and her mum, both such lovely people (and wearing my GBSB colour blocked dress, which got loads of complements).  It was particularly lovely to meet Rachel and Kate from the Fold Line and Charlotte from An English Girl at Home who organized the weekend and Fiona from Dairy of a Chainstitcher, one of my favourite blogs.  The only thing that went wrong was my sewing!  I was making a Seamwork Sonia and the fit was so awful that is has ended in the bin!




 
I would recommend you go to the Weekender if you can, but as tickets are so limited that they sold out in 20 minutes and I want to go again next year .... I won't!  And just to prove that I do wear what I me, here I am in my Chai dress outside the College at Cambridge.




Thursday, 20 July 2017

Colette Laurel No 2

I think I'm still recovering from Ofsted, hence the lack of posting, though I have been sewing.  After loving my first Colette Laurel I have whipped up another.




I love this one too!  This time in a lighter viscose from Sew Over It (no longer available), which is a fabulous rich teal colour (not really showing in my gloomy light!).


I think this one is a bit of a mix between a 10 and an 8, and I think I pretty much have the fit as I like it.  I made the same changes as my first; narrowed the shoulders by 5/8" each, added a neck facing instead of the bias finish, cut the lowest neckline and just slightly (only about 3mm) lowered the darts.



I'm pretty pleased with pattern matching at the back!  Once again I didn't put a zip in as I can pull the dress on over my head.  Unfortunately I forgot that I could then cut the back on the fold hence lots of time spent pattern matching.




I probably like it better with a belt, but would wear it without.



The main difference I made this this time is with the shoulder placing.  In my last version the shoulder seams are too far back on my shoulder and this pulls the neck up.  This is the first time I've had this issue so I'm really not sure why this is.  So this time I added 1cm to the back shoulder and took 1cm from the front and this seems much better though I think another 1/2cm would be even better.  Again I've made my own version of the sleeve frill by gathering a 7" x 23" oblong of fabric for a fuller look.




Meanwhile in the rest of my life Dan is home for quite a few weeks and I'm loving it!  I've been on some great fabric buying trips with Gary (I must start to document these) and we have booked for the sewing weekender (are any of you going?) in Cambridge.  So there will be lots of sewing news to report. 


Saturday, 17 June 2017

Style Arc Stella Coat No 2

Sewing has taken a bit of a back seat because my College has had Ofsted  in, and for those of you in the UK you will know how traumatic that is.  9 days of stress!   On-top of  the terrible events in Manchester and London, and the results of the election it has been quite a month.




I finished my second style arc Stella Coat a few weeks ago, but have just got behind on my blogging.






After a very sensible camel cashmere version in January, I wanted to make a summery linen version.  Is this too crazy?  It definitely is a bit of sunshine and the linen fabric is quite a good choice.  This is a viscose linen, so all of the look, without all of the crumple.  I don't think it is still available.






I cut a size 12, reducing the shoulders by 5/8" and raising the waist by 1".  I wanted a jacket rather than a coat so I took around18" from the length.  This gave me a little problem with the pocket bags which dropped below the hem length.  I ended up solving this by chain tacking the bags up.





 

I just interfaced the collar lapels, and perhaps used a slightly too firm an interfacing in contrast to the rest of the jacket.  I probably would give the whole jacket a lighter interfacing if I was to make it again.



All the seams are top-stitched, though it doesn't show up much on this busy fabric.






I really like the little stand up collar and it is quite easy to achieve, so long as you get it level.  I added a couple of shoulder cigarettes (2 rolled up oblongs 9" x 7") to add a bit more structure without the more substantial structure you get from shoulder pads.







I like this pattern a lot, but this instructions are extremely minimal (even worse than Burda) so definitely not good for beginners.   The jacket is fully lined, this time in a champagne lining.




Just a heads up, this is the last time you will see long hair having a bad day for a while.  I have had it all chopped off.  The funny thing is that now I have short hair, I am completely rethinking my wardrobe.  The 50s fitted vibe seems less appropriate and actually the dress I was wearing when I had my hair cut which is Vogue Rachel Comey seems much more apt!  Anyway  the time I save on washing and drying my hair will mean more time for sewing!











Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Colette Laurel

I love this dress, one of my favourites, I just wish the photos did it justice!  This is my first time making the Colette Laurel.  I've been wanting to make a well fitting shift dress and I think I'm almost there!    This is a perfect transition dress, here worn with tights and boots, but also cool enough for shoes and sandals.


I cut a size  10 at the bust grading to an 8 at the waist  but had to take in about an inch at the back.     I made some of my usual changes, narrowing the neckline and the shoulders (I'm only 15 1/2 inches across) and cutting the lowest possible neckline.  I thought a dress like this really needed a neck facing rather than just a bias, so I drafted and interfaced neck facings, which I think work well.    Because others had commented on the need to lower the darts I lowered them about 1/2".  That has ended up a touch too much and I would lower by around 3/5" next time.





Laurel does have a slightly gathered sleeve, but I thought this wasn't quite enough and I drafted my own which are 7" x 23" oblongs gathered and hemmed with a narrow hem.  What makes me really love the dress is the fabric .... it is fabulous.  I love black florals and this reminds me a bit of D olce and Gabana last season (it was advertised as Italian designer so who knows).  It is Clara Viscose crepe from the Fabric Godmother, unfortunately now sold out and no wonder.  It wasn't cheap at £16.00 per metre, but for me worth every penny.    If it so soft and comfortable whilst retaining some body,  perfect.  If you find any anywhere let me know .... I would have some more.    I think the dress also looks good with a belt.





The back has two darts that give some nice shaping and prevent too much bagginess.   Another major change was to leave out the zip, it just wasn't needed as the dress easily goes on over the head.  It might, then, be better to cut the back in one piece.    The only change I think I still need to make is to move the shoulder seam forward a little.  I haven't done this before but the seams seem to want to slip back a little, which then also raises the neckline.  I will make this dress again, though doubt I will find such perfect material. 










 Isn't it great when you make something you are really happy with ..... and love wearing?  I've worn it twice this week already and it is still comfortable at the end of the day ... and just to prove it, this is in the evening after the third day of wear. 




Monday, 1 May 2017

Vogue 9243 and more sleeve love

Ok, so it does look a bit as if I'm getting too into trends .... but I do love a bit of sleeve action.


 Lots and lots of people are making  McCalls 7542   but that pattern is a little boxy in the body for  me, I much prefer this princess seam fitted body.  I haven't seen many versions of this, but that may be because some of the sleeves are a bit much over the top.  However, I think the plainest sleeve option is a winner.

Image result for vogue 9243



I cut a size 14 (having only bought the first size which goes up to a size 14), but was a bit worried that this was for a 36" bust and I'm a 37 1/2".  The size ended up to be fine and so it may be a bit on the large size.





The pattern calls for a 22" zip,  but I couldn't see the need for this and that it might be too heavy on my fine fabric, so I just made a short fastening with tiny buttons with loop fastenings.  The fabric is from Stoff and Still and is woven viscose at £11.50 a metre.  It is incredibly soft, one of the softest fabrics ever.

I really like the sleeves, though wonder if they should either be a little longer or a little shorter.  I used my small hem foot for all the hems.  I look the effect of this, but I just haven't cracked how to get over seams and also sew in a round.






I lowered the neck a little, because I hate high necks.  The neck uses bias binding as a facing and this worked pretty well.

I also made a skirt in the left-over fabric from my cashmere jacket  This is my second Colette Selene and I love this pattern.  It's a great work skirt and a very flattering fit.  The fabric was  little thick, but it is wearable.  I'm wearing  with a blouse I made last year, which is another on trend blouse!



Sewing apart I really enjoyed a week off during half term.  I met Dan and Gemma in Birmingham and we had a lovely day.  Especially as I did a bit of fabric shopping at Barry's and bought 4 great fabrics (2 for Gemma), this was on top of a bit of an internet haul from Fabric Godmother.  I had been pretty good over the last 2 month but it was only a matter of time!



Monday, 17 April 2017

McCall's 7468: The Easter dress

So this is my #EASTERDRESS2017 challenge, McCall's 7468.  This is a pretty "on-trend" pattern with a combination of the cold shoulder and boho look.  As I'm about to offer a lot of issues, let me just say I think it is quite a pretty dress, and I do love the fabric, not perhaps the most spring-like but a lovely soft drapey fabric.





I had really liked the pattern when I saw it, but I have to say I'm a bit mixed about the result.  Unfortunately I didn't enjoy making it.  The combination of slippy fabric and the neck and shoulder facing was a nightmare, and took ages to do.  Because you are fitting a curved facing on top of another curve, it is really difficult to get a smooth fit.  You need lots of clipping, and then trying to slip stitch the underfacing was really tricky.  This was one of the rare occasions when the pattern went straight into the bin when I finished as I definitely won't be making it again!






I cut a size 14 and made a couple of usual adjustment, narrowing the neck (which made sure that the facing covered my bra strap).  I also raised the waistline, but actually looking at the pictures I think this wasn't necessary as the waistline is a little high.  I also added about 4" to the length, perhaps a little too long, what do you think?  Because of the facings it is impossible to fit as you go on (and the pattern is far to complex to bother making a toile), so it isn't a good one unless you usually fit straight from the packet.


 
The bell sleeves add to the boho look, but here is the main problem.  The cut out really isn't comfortable.  You can see that with my arm at this height it is cutting into my arm.  Is this always the way with a cold-shoulder.  I love the look, but think if I may any more I will use a knit pattern for comfort.




So this has been a bit of a moany post!  The dress is far from a complete failure and I will get some wear from it, it just isn't a favourite and I certainly wouldn't recommend it if you are a beginner!  The skirt is cute, and good for a little swirl.







Monday, 27 March 2017

Prima Magazine cold shoulder shift dress

This wasn't a dress on my plan.  I turned up at my sewing workshop without some crucial pattern pieces and one of my friends had made me a lovely tracing of this pattern.  That meant more fabric and spending the day (and a couple more) making this cold shoulder dress from Prima December edition. (sorry the photos are a bit dark!)



Generally I do like it.  But there were quite a lot of tweaks to make.  Originally I cut out a 14 although from the bust measure I should have been a 16!  When I did a basted fitting, it was far too big and I ended up taking in 1/2" on all the side seams, so a reduction of 2" in total.


I also found the top of the sleeves stuck out quite a lot, so brought them in 5/8" on both sides.  Even now the dress would look better with the sleeve top a bit tighter, but my arms might feel a little restrictive.  The fabric is an 80% wool mix, with a bit of stretch, without that stretch I think the dress wouldn't have been as comfortable.


The fit on the back is quite nice.  (Took in the back at the top by nearly an inch on each side).  So a lot of fiddling and it's still not right.  I think its really helpful to have actually worn a garment a few times before blogging about it and this time I have.  For some reason the bust seems to ride up and I have to pull it down.  Possibly needed an fba for a little more room there.  This also mean that the neck rises higher and as I've got older I find I can't stand necklines resting on my neck!  Even with all this I do rather like the shape of this dress!  Another time I would; lower the neck line, do a 1" fba (but then might need to take out more at the sides).  Despite all this I think its a nice shape and I do love a dress which looks really sensible under my jacket and has a little more to say when I take the jacket off!


This has now crept into my SWAP (sewing with a plan), bit of a cheat really as I stood in the shop for 5 minutes planning it would go with the other items.  So here it is with my cashmere jacket (you can see here what I meant about the neckline).


Though I'm far more likely to wear it with my Vogue 7975 Linton Tweed jacket.