I made a Christmas dress! (no santas or snowmen were harmed)

I rarely make myself anything for Christmas but this year I just fancied a little dress that would allow me to eat an extra mince pie.

I know, I know, I have made the same pattern again.  I just can’t help myself.  I have chosen to make The Raglan Sleeve Dress from Japanese pattern Book “Stylish Party Dresses” by Yoshiko Tsukiori.

These are my versions of this pattern so far, a top hack, a long sleeve top hack and a black crepe dress. I love it, it’s an easy one to make and sometimes easy is just what I need.  It’s also extremely useful when I am very time poor, which of course, I always am at this time of year.

I spotted this fantastic fabric on Pitt Trading‘s Instagram page.  It was love at first sight.  The fabric is just amazing, it had to be mine.  It’s rare that I make impulse fabric purchases but this is one of those rare occasions.  I am sure you can see why I just went for it.

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The description was polyester, large digital print, 150cm wide.  I had visions of a floaty rayon type fabric but it wasn’t that at all.  It was almost like a lightweight scuba.  Not unhappy with this turn of events I have to say.  It has body and I like a bit of body in my fabrics.   It also had a bit of stretch so I thought I would treat it as a stretch fabric.

I decided to use my walking foot throughout this process, but use a standard needle and not a ballpoint.  I also decided to finish the seams with a 3 strand overlocked edge to help the seams sit flatter.

The dress itself is an easy one, made before many times so the only things to contend with was managing the fabric.  The walking foot and the overlocking worked a treat but pressing was an issue.  The fabric has bounce.  I remembered an excellent video blog post by Did You Make That? about such issues, using a clapper and some simple ironing techniques so I followed her lead.

I don’t own a clapper and I am sure many sewers don’t so I had to find an alternative.  What I did end up using was our sleeve pressing ham.  It’s long and heavy (perhaps not as flat as it could be) but it did help reduce the fabric’s bounce.

I was super careful when pressing, using a piece of fabric as a pressing cloth just incase I scorched the fabric.  I have burnt fabric so many times, often at the end of a make, like here.  It often results in tears and a lot of swearing.  You would think that I had learnt my lesson but it seems not. I slipped, missed the pressing cloth and burnt the shoulder of the dress in it’s final press.  If it had been on a black piece of the pattern I think I could have lived with it but no it was on the peach panel, right on the shoulder for all to see.  There was no option but to remove the sleeve and recut it.

Sometimes these things prove to be happy accidents.  I wasn’t entirely happy with the neckline.  It is faced and with this slightly thicker and bouncer fabric it just wasn’t sitting as flat as I like.

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I had under stitched the neckline but when I clipped the curve (as per instructions) it started to look quite jagged and bulky.  You could also see the clipping after I pressed and topstitched.

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Pre-burn shot: I burnt the peach piece on the right shoulder.

So when removing the right sleeve, I removed the top stitching, under stitching and facing from the neckline.  Due to the clipping I also had to cut the neckline back a little, which was fine. I decided to use some bias binding to finish the neckline.  I am much happier with the result.

I decided against any kind of pattern matching but did want the neckline to be predominately black so to hide the top stitching.  I was also super anal with the hemming and changed the thread from black to peach and back again when finishing.  Has anyone done that before or is it just me?

Lessons were learnt with this make. I have since made a pressing cloth with a tag which now hangs next to my iron as a constant reminder.  I think the other lesson was to sew more instinctively.  I thought to myself that binding would be better than facing on the neckline but dismissed it.  Go with your instincts.

So here it is.  I love it and have already worn it a couple of times.

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New sleeve in place…
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Notice the machine hemming – it’s invisible as I changed the thread
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Love the green panel around the neckline here
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Much happier with the neckline (even though I don’t look it!)

I am really loving this fabric, I also have enough left to make something else.  I am thinking a little self drafted skirt??  I just can’t leave this fabric in my stash!

 

Books, bobbins and a blue dress.

“What was your favourite childhood book?”

This was the question posed to me by Rebecca of Dobbin’s Bobbins when she asked me to join her World Book Day blog tour. Choosing my favourite book was easy! She then asked me to make something inspired by my book, eek!

The book I have chosen is a little known story called “Lost at the Fair.” It’s a ladybird book by AJ Macgregor and W Perring.  The story is told in verse, written in 1948 and so it’s a little twee, but really rather lovely.

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My original book is long gone but Mum bought me this replacement when I had my kids!

The story is about Danny and Daisy Dormouse and their friend, Little Fieldie Mouse and a little adventure they have when they visit the fair. When taking a ride on a (miniature) elephant Danny makes a grab for some acorns and gets stuck in a tree, only to be returned back to the fairground by a (giant) blackbird.

There were a few elements that appealed to me as a child, the first was the ‘Woodland Fairy Rock’, what was this magical treat?

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Also, why had Little Fieldie Mouse been left behind and why was he weeping on a gravestone?  Who had abandoned him?

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Why was the policeman less than helpful?  Where was Mr Dormouse? Why was the elephant so small compared to the mice?  Why was the blackbird the same size as the elephant? So many questions… some of which have since been cleared up (it was a milestone not a gravestone). Some questions, however, will go forever unanswered.

MY MAKE

I wanted to incorporate a number of elements into my piece, I wanted a mouse reference, a touch of ‘Woodland Fairy Rock’ and a sprinkling of the 1970’s (the era in which I was endless read this book).  I decided to make a children’s dress, a little blue number just like the one Daisy Dormouse is wearing.

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The dress has a square neckline, so I turned to the old faithful Henry Dress by Brooklyn Pattern Co. and I wanted the fullness of a gathered or pleated skirt with some in-seam pockets, so I looked at the Geranium dress by Made by Rae for the skirt component.  A pattern mash-up in all it’s glory.

As I am a big fan of pre-loved fabrics, I really wanted to use something vintage and preferably something that I already owned.  It was then I remembered this cute homemade 1970’s apron, a present from my sister.  She sent it to me because of the lovely fabric.  It was in a sorry state, very faded and quite a few stains, but definitely workable. If you look very closely you can see little mice running through the pattern.

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The apron looks quite large here, but it’s tiny and so I decided to use the bottom portion of the apron for the bodice and use some contrasting plain fabric for the skirt.  I had to remove the pocket on the apron and hope that the fading wouldn’t be too obvious. I also found a gorgeous teal coloured duck cloth at Spotlight and that worked really well with the colours in the apron.

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Thank you Eva, for being an awesome model, there was some channelling of 1940’s starlet throughout this shoot.  She is an amazing and quirky kid hence the fun photos!
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The hint of Woodland Fairy Rock came in the form of the bias binding on the hem, you can catch the odd glimpse of it now and then.  I used a cot sheet to line the bodice and a navy pillowcase to line the skirt.  I finished the armholes with bias binding, which is the teal duck cloth fabric.

A LITTLE EXTRA

I love a bit of collage, lets just say it’s not my forte (they are a little basic as any proper collage artist will tell you!) but I enjoy the process enormously. I decided to make a set of 3 canvas’s using some imagery from the book and some hand stitching.

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‘Rise and Shine’

I love this image of Danny waking up in his yellow onesie.  I found the crochet blanket image in an old craft book, I do think though, it looks like the sun is radiating from his bum.

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‘Get me off these bobbins’

Poor Little Fieldie Mouse, this image of him crying really had an impact on me as a child.  I wanted some giant teardrops and to get him off that milestone and onto something far more appealing!

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‘I want it all and I want it now’

I have played with scale quite a lot in these collages, mainly because the scale is so absurd in the book.  If ever I wanted some Woodland Fairy Rock I would have to say that this is the size I would want it, GIANT!  (Please tell me you noticed Daisy is wearing my dress!)

I loved every moment of this project.  I really enjoyed delving back into my favourite book and getting to grips with the story and illustrations. I am really pleased with the dress, I like the 70’s feel of it.  It is definitely the kind of frock I would have loved as a child. I only wish it fitted me now. I am also pleased with the collages, it’s a relatively new medium for me and I loved putting those pieces together.  If only I could find a recipe for Woodland Fairy Rock I think this project would be perfect!

Check out all the other amazing makes on this blog tour, you are in for a real treat. There is also a MASSIVE four prize giveaway, some brilliant patterns, children’s craft books and sewing books to be had (there is also a Henry Dress pattern in the mix!) Check out the link for all the information about the tour and giveaway.

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My raglan journey continues with ‘The Rushcutter’

I first spotted this pattern when Emily at In the Folds started the countdown to her Rushcutter dress launch!  A raglan sleeve and big pockets, my two favourite things!

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Since then I have met Emily in the flesh, we live very close to each other and I would say that we have become firm friends (even though she is years younger and way cooler than me!)

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The Gingers Unite! Ridiculous selfie on our first meeting.

The reason for my delay in starting this project is that I have been wanting to find the right fabric.  Emily is a big believer in second hand fabric, she is interested in who made your clothes and who sewed them together.  She introduced me to Fashion Revolution and made me think about my wardrobe and the nature of fashion consumption.  So, in order to make the perfect Rushcutter, the fabric had to be second hand at the very least!

So here it is, a bold choice with a vintage twist. Perhaps it was once a curtain?  Who knows, but I love it.  Baby pink and lemon yellow, a gingers’ dream!  It has lots of movement and a lovely drape, I want to say it’s a brocade?  It’s hard to know when it’s a charity store find, but when a $5 price tag is attached, it’s hard to say no. Would love a second option though, anyone?? I knew it would be a bugger to sew and I was right.

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I chose view A, I really like this version, I am a sucker for a three quarter length sleeve. As you know I love big pockets but I decided against pockets in the end. I cut out inseam pockets but then felt they weren’t needed with this dressier fabric.

I was a little apprehensive starting this project.  As I now know Emily, I really wanted this to be a special make and most of all, I wanted her pattern to be great.

There was no need to worry, this pattern is a joy in itself. Some serious thought has gone into producing the pattern and the instructions, it is incredibly detailed.  It’s the little things that make it good, like the notches (see photo below), the cheat sheet and the photographic instructions which don’t assume, they hold your hand if you need it.  It’s all backed up with tutorials on her website too.

So onto the make! As I am a big raglan sleeve fan I was interested in seeing how these sleeves were constructed.  There are shoulder darts on the raglan sleeve, I have never seen or done that before.  It adds a lovely shaping to the shoulder area.

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The front panel is broken down into two sections with this really lovely curved seam. I was a bit worried about getting this right but it worked, even with this fabric.

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The zip was my only issue. Invisible zips are fairly new to me, it’s not quite invisible but I totally blame the fabric for that as it was such a slippery sucker.  I overstretched the fabric while inserting it and ended up with this. An easy fix by just trimming it down at one side, but it did mean my zip finished too high.  I have since cut down the top of the zip and added a hook and eye to finish. Not a major issue, maybe a stabiliser would have helped here.

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I did manage to match the horizontal seams though, thanks to a nifty little trick in the instructions.

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A favourite little touch was the bias binding inside.  I found this vintage yellow binding in a charity shore in Byron Bay some months back, it is the perfect match!

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I went a bit crazy and added it to the neckline, cuffs and hemline.  It looks neat in these sections but I have to say there were a couple of slip ups.  I won’t be beating myself up about that though, overall it looks good and I do like the odd flash of yellow you get now and again.

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So here it is!  I cut a size B and because of my height (I am 5ft 3) I reduced the hem by about 10cm.  I also reduced the three-quarter length sleeves by 5cm too.  I made no other adjustments to the fit.  The pattern specifies that there is plenty of ease which as you can see works really well for me.  Often with a small top half I never get a good fit on the bottom area, it works perfectly for my pear-shaped proportions.

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Just admiring my new Gorman shoes!
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Excuse the sunnies, it was very bright!

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So, the first of many I suspect.  I am already on the look out for some denim.  I am excited about the possibilities, changing up the front panel and experimenting with the pocket options. I wonder if I could make this in stretch? I digress…

I love my new frock and I especially love the baby pink and lemon yellow fabric. What is happening to me?