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!

 

Culottes – are we really friends?

I have wanted to make myself some culottes for a while. I love the practicality of them, you can cycle, run, jump and sashay in them without showing your undies, brilliant!

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The blushing bride rockin’ her culottes!

I was convinced that I should make myself some after my besties wedding. She wore a pair that were magnificent. They were white (of course) and had tufts of fluff poking out of them. Truly lovely. Here she is looking glorious.

 

However wonderful I thought she looked, she was convinced they weren’t very flattering. When she asked her groom-to-be, he said that she looked like the closing scene of Billy Elliot. However inaccurate, rude or hilarious that comment is, it still makes me laugh enormously.

But the point is, we ask the question, we aren’t so sure. Are culottes really our friend?

I tried a safe option. I found some navy linen blend fabric (I say blend in the loosest sense of the word, maybe 1% linen and 99% polyester) in the charity shop for a few dollars. The perfect fabric for this experiment as the pattern calls for a good draping fabric with some body.

I used a Burda Pattern from the April issue of Burda Style Magazine. The culottes were the hero of this issue and so there was a step by step guide to making them.

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I cut out a size 40, which is around a size 12. I tend to wear a size 10 but the pattern suggested you cut to hip width and I do tend to have wide hips so I did as I was told. They are a little too big, mainly around the waist, but they are fine for now.  Must remember to reduce it a little if  I make them again.

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I cut the shortest length, there were a few options, a long version and one with cuffs but I went for the original option. Even the shortest length was way too long and I had to cut off about 15cm! I think this is mainly due to my preference as mid length tend to swamp me as I am only 5’3″. I cut them just below the knee.

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It’s an unusual silhouette for me and I am not completely convinced that they work.  I think its the fabric which makes them quite voluminous, a softer fabric would work better I think. Maybe it’s the length that I am unsure about. You see, I still can’t work out if we are friends.  Should we be??