Archive for the 'Dresses' Category

Floral Oonapalooza

I love this dress. No, I adore this dress.

looking at photos

What do you get when you put a fabulous piece of fabric togther with Simplicity 3833? This gorgeous dress is the answer. The fabric is buttery soft, was a dream to sew and this pattern is just incredibly flattering.

 

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My new favourite dress.

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I found a small piece (1.2m) of this beautifully soft cotton twill in my favourite fabric shop here in Chania. The label said Dolce and Gabana and as to whether it really is or not I don’t know but it is fantastic quality for sure. I love the print and it was a dream to sew and absolutely gorgeous to wear. I’d say it’s a jacket weight twill really but as I had just over a metre to play with I knew I’d only have enough for a skirt or maybe a dress. I wanted to really show off the fabric so Simplicity 60s vintage reissue 3833 it had to be.  I’ve always loved shift dresses but I’d also come to the conclusion that they didn’t look that great on me. This baby, however, is extremely flattering and it really is a fab pattern.

I made quite a few alterations as usual – broad back, low round back/protruding shoulder blades and swayback. I started with a 10 shoulders and bust and a 12 waist and hip. My measurements are a 14 for waist/hip but the dress is plenty big enough. What’s interesting is that I didn’t have to shorten the bodice between shoulder and bust which is pretty much standard for me. They obviously really did draft things differently back then and I’m pleased they didn’t change the original draft when they reissued it.

Smile

Smile!

High necklines don’t do me any favours so I lowered it a good 2″ and I shortened the dress 3″ from the longest cutting line.

I had issues with the bust dart seam. A case of extremely pointy bust dart points right over my bust point at the muslin stage told me that I needed to shorten the dart and seam lines. I thought 1/2″ would do but no, the pointy problem was still there and very noticeable! I really thought the dress was going to be unwearable and that I’d ruined my lovely fabric but I persevered and I took the dart back as far as I could (another 3/4″). Pressing the seam open helped too but I had almost no seam allowance to play with after shortening the dart so I had to press the seam upwards as instructed. I will shorten the dart on my pattern by 1″ I think and redraw the dart seam and it should be perfect.

CONSTRUCTION
I didn’t have enough fabric for the facings (and it would have been too bulky anyway) so I used bias binding and adjusted the seam allowances on the neckline and armhole accordingly (1/4″).

Here you can see the bindings but also the extra shoulder dart I added

I used Grainline Studio’s method which in essence treats the binding exactly as you do a facing, understitching and all.

I added twill tape to the shoulder seam and I had to add a 1/4″ bias binding extension to my CB seam allowances. I’d trimmed all my seam allowances down to 3/8″ to fit the pattern onto my fabric but forgot that a lapped zip needs 5/8″. I think it looks quite pretty though.

Lilac binding extension

My zip went in fine apart from me bodging the top a bit. I had to hand sew it to get it to look ok-ish and I added a hook and thread bar at the top. I never know how far from the top to place the top stop of the zip and even more so here because I only had a 1/4″ seam allowance. Anyway, I think the rest of the zip looks lovely.

Εικόνα 001

The last thing I did before hemming was to take 5″ or so of fullness out of the skirt. I wanted a bit less drape and a bit more 60s. I think view C on the pattern envelope give a true representation of what the final skirt part of the dress will look like.

NEXT TIME
I will definitely make this dress again and here is my cunning plan….
…….. I’ll make up in a less show-stopping print, perhaps colour-blocked
…….. I think a lining (perhaps a one piece facing and lining combination) would give the shoulders more support.
…….. Stay stitching for the armholes as well as neckline is a must.

Well, that’s it. I love my dress and I feel fantastic when I wear it. Two side notes before I go – have you heard of Oonapalooza organised by the Sewcialists? Sewing projects inspired by Oona are popping up all over the place and it’s lots of fun I think. Secondly, have you noticed how my fabric is weirdly similar to view B on the pattern envelope just with a 2014 twist. Maybe my dress was just meant to be!

Named Leini Dress …..Part 1

Ok, now, here I’m going to show you my first version of Named Patterns Leini dress. I made it up as a test version in cotton lawn. I’ve since made it up in a gorgeous viscose lawn but I’ll show you that in a bit (when I’ve sorted out the photos). So, the pattern. Named Patterns is one of those pattern companies (as well as Papercut and Victory patterns among others) that I like their style and their patterns seem fresh and edgy but I’m really not sure that I could actually pull off any of their stuff. So I was happy when I found this dress and could immediately imagine myself wearing it. It seemed simple and quick but still stylish which at this point in time is really the only sewing I can manage.

Here we are looking a little windswept

Here we are looking a little windswept

Angry face (who knows why)

Angry face (who knows why)

I love the pleats on the front bodice and I think it’s a cute dress overall. Since these photos (which was the maiden outing of this little Leini) I’ve ripped out the elastic casing and will resew it folded down into the skirt instead of up into the bodice, if that makes sense. In other words the elastic casing will be 1/2″ lower.

Cute ladybird!

Cute ladybird!

This brings me on to the alterations I made. Apart from lowering that elastic casing, I also lengthened the bodice so that the elastic would hover around my high hip/tummy button as I find it’s much more flattering than having it hit at my natural waist. I’m pretty short waisted, well compared to patterns anyway. I also took out a bit of flare from the skirt and shortened the skirt an inch or so. This was because my fabric has no drape whatsoever and it looked awful!  I suspected that a drapey viscose would work much better and I was right. Much, much better. The result is that I’m not that pleased with this version and really it’s too short for my liking now. I should have lined the skirt too – the bodice is lined per pattern and it’s much nicer. Anyway, I doubt I’ll wear this much but it did it’s job as a test and I’m happy I made it.

The other alterations I made were lowering the neckline slightly, sway back and a low round back alterations to accomodate my shoulder blades/rounded back. This last alteration is one I learnt from Craftsy’s Back, Neck and Shoulders course and make use of darts. I’ve always been a bit scared of darts and messing with them but Kathleen Cheetham is very encouraging in a very practical, done to earth kind of way. I’m really happy with the alteration I made here because it doesn’t create gaping at the back neck that is a bit of a problem with my Vogue 1236 dresses.

So that’s it for this version. I can’t wait to show you the viscose version!

Vogue 1236

Vogue 1236

Hello everyone! I’ve been sewing up a storm lately and so I’ve got lots to share on this rather neglected little blog of mine….. but first I want to show you a few things I made towards the end of last summer. I made them in August last year but by the time I was ready to blog about them, autumn had arrived and I just didn’t feel like talking about sleeveless dresses and tops anymore. So here we are talking about Vogue 1236. It’s a great pattern and like all DKNY patterns, it oozes understated chic. It’s a simple but stylish dress that is great for work and as a day dress.

I made it up twice using quite different fabrics – the first one is a soft cotton voile with a soft drape (underlined with white voile) and the second version is made up in cotton seersucker.

Vogue 1236

This version actually started off as a test garment really after I’d made plenty of alterations and a muslin. It ended up as the couture version though!  This was my first foray into underlining as well as into using couture techniques a la Craftsy (well that’s not quite true – did you know that I was taught a hand-picked zip first and remember that a zip put in by machine seemed very strange to me indeed! That’s a story for another post though!) and I really enjoyed it – both the process and the end result. I underlined the voile in super soft white cotton voile and it really is lovely to wear.

Vogue 1236

Here’s a close-up showing the underlining and handstitched hem with rayon seam binding

As you can see, I didn’t have much hem allowance to play with. The reason for that was that I lengthened the pattern 2″ but I was pretty restricted on the fabric front.

Vogue 1236

In terms of other alterations – I made quite a lot! Broad back, high round back (I added a CB seam for that), swayback, forward shoulder, shortened ‘bodice’ both above and below the bustline and added a couple of inches to the hem. Most of these are pretty standard for me. I’ve been playing aound with broad back/round back alterations and this was one of those garments you make that makes you feel that you’re really getting somewhere with fitting. Since I made these dresses I’ve made more progress by using Craftsy’s Back, Neck and Shoulder techniques (I highly recommend the class if you have back/shoulder fitting issues) but I’ll tell you about that soon!

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I’ve worn both dresses a lot since I made them – they are fantastic for hot Greek summers and mild Cretan autumns. I will definitely make more in the future but I must say that fabric with a little drape to it gives this dress that little something extra – I love The Selfish Seamstress’s version in silk. I’ll keep my eye out for a silk print I think!

The Classic Wrap Dress – Vogue 8379

This pattern is a classic and it really does deserve the glowing reviews on Pattern Review. It’s taken me 10 years to get round to making this dress – this was the first vogue pattern I ever bought – but I’m glad I decided to make it up because it really is a great wrap dress. I’ve wanted a wrap dress for as long as I can remember as they seem both flattering and practical so I’m glad I’ve finally got one!

Fabric: A synthetic mix knit – most probably viscose/polyester but with no lycra. Not super stretchy but with a nice drape without being clingy. I squeezed this dress out of 2m (2 1/4 yards) – see below for the alterations I made.

Pattern and construction notes:

I made up a 10 in the shoulders and bust and then out to a 14 waist and hip.

I shortened the bodice between shoulder and bustline by 3/8″ but I didn’t make my usual alteration to shorten between bustline and waist (I usually shorten the bodice by another 1″ or so) as nearly all the reviews emphasise how short waisted this pattern is. It fits perfectly so it’s definitely something to bear in mind when you’re making your flat pattern alterations.

I made my usual broad back alterations – I cut a size 12 back armhole and adjusted the sleeve cap accordingly. Take a look at this Threads article – it’s taken from Sandra Betzina’s Fast Fit alterations book which is great book and has taught me a lot about pattern alterations including the importance of flat pattern measurements. I also have Fit for Real People by Palmer and Alto which is also good – these two books have slightly different approaches but they are both extremely helpful and complement each other. I’d say I probably prefer Sandra Betzina’s approach as I really am not a fan of tissue fitting, but it’s great to have another perspective on the same fitting issue.

The other changes I made were to make it long-sleeved as I find it more practical for colder days and I also took 15″ of fullness out of the skirt due to fabric constaints. I shortened the hem but 1 1/2″ and I sewed the hem using my double needle – I had no desire to hem this dress by hand!

A little tip that I’ve picked up from the HotPatterns I’ve made up is to get all the little jobs out of the way before you start major constuction. For example, I applied all the interfacing, joined the facing pieces, made the belt and collar all before I started constructing the dress. I find it extremely frustrating to have to do these little jobs in the middle of construction when you’re on a roll and enjoying that feeling of it all coming together and taking shape. It means you have to study the constuction before you begin but I think that’s a good habit to get into anyway. I used to be so impatient when I sewed as I just wanted to be able to wear what I was making. But slowly I realised that if I don’t do things properly, or don’t correct my mistakes (if possible!) as I go along, I won’t be happy with the result and I won’t wear it.

The only thing I’m unhappy with on this dress is the neckline – it stretched out and the facing rolls to the outside. I topstitched the neckline to try to keep the facings in place which has helped but it still gapes. I must confess that I forgot to shorten the facing when I altered the bodice and sleeve pieces so I dare say that played it’s part too in the neckline not lying as it should! Anyway, next time I’m going to try stabilizing the neckline with clear elastic or go for a bound neckline (as used here by Ann at Gorgeous Fabrics) on a collarless version.

I’ve haven’t taken any photos of the dress on my because I’m 5 months pregnant (Yay!) and the wrap silouette is lost really! So, when I’ve got my waist back and the weather has turned autumnal here I’ll update the post with some photos on me!

Overall, it’s a great pattern and I’m sure I’ll make many more!

 


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