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!

 

A synthetic dream!

Last week I was in the UK. ¬†A flying visit for my friend’s wedding. ¬†An amazing wedding with lots of old school friends, some of which I haven’t seen since I was yawning my way through A-level geography.

I always like to make myself a little something for my trips (apart from the obvious wedding attire that is!) so I decided on a top. I wanted something I could wear with jeans and that wouldn’t crease. ¬†I had the perfect fabric!

I had recently stumbled into Tessuti and raided the remnants table. I came out with a marvellous 1m piece of monochrome nylon mesh. ¬†Lets just say creasing would not be an issue. ¬†It’s a synthetic dream!

Surprisingly enough I reached for my Japanese pattern book collection, choosing the Stylish Party Dresses book.

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I decided to hack this dress pattern, the raglan sleeve dress, into a top. Of course, I wanted to add a little interest and make the shoulder panels again.  I know, I know, I do this all the time, but I just love it!!

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Black crepe dress from an earlier blog post – more details here

I made a minor tweak to the pattern by lowering the neckline a little, this meant I could dispense with the closure at the back. I cropped the top quite short. ¬†It’s shorter than I would normally wear but I think it works well with this style.

The shoulder panels are made from the reverse of the fabric.

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It was a quick sew and a surprisingly easy fabric to work with. ¬†It does have lots of ‘bounce’ so pressing wasn’t all that effective and I didn’t persevere as I was scared it might melt.

I did spend a little extra time in the finishing.  I hand stitched the binding on the inside so there are no visible hems, cuffs or neckline stitching. It worked a treat.

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I have worn it A LOT, it was perfect for the UK climate too as we had surprisingly good¬†weather. It also took me back to the joys of 80’s synthetic clothing. ¬†Thank god there wasn’t a naked flame in sight!

Do I look like a Christmas cracker or an 80’s throwback?

Either way, I am loving it!

I don’t know if you are like me and whenever you get something new you have to use/wear it immediately? ¬†In sewing terms, this means, I get a new pattern book and I have to make something from it IMMEDIATELY, disregarding any projects in progress or the need for more practical items!

I was sent this awesome pattern book by my friend Erin of Brooklyn Pattern Company. She knows I love a Japanese pattern book and this one was just perfect for me. It’s the Stylish Party Dress book, the description¬†being “easy and inexpensive sew-it-yourself dresses”. I feel like it was written¬†just for me!

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So, having perused it for hours and mentally making them all, I settled on the most impractical (and unlikely) dress I could find. Hello, Taffeta Two-piece set!

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The reason for choosing this piece is two fold. Firstly, I love a Christmas frock and this one screamed CHRISTMAS with that skirt of ruffles. Secondly, I had just found the most ridiculous piece of fabric in the charity store. It was a match made in sewing heaven!

I can’t be sure what the fabric is but I think it’s some kind of light upholstery fabric. It has the same body as taffeta so I knew it would work with this pattern. I love the bronze side but its¬†way too full-on for this piece, so I used the reverse. The black side¬†shows the subtle¬†diamond shape with just a hint of the bronze showing through.

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I started with the skirt. I went for a size 10 (I am not a standard size 10 by any stretch) so I was worried it might be a little snug, but no, quite the opposite. So I pulled in the darts and took a little extra off each side seam and that did the trick.

It’s also the first time I have inserted an invisible zip. How is that possible? I failed miserably the first few times but then got the hang of it thanks to YouTube and an In The Folds tutorial and I am pleased with how it looks. I have no idea how I have got this far and never added one!

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The only other alteration was the hem, I chopped off loads, at least 20cm! It means that the skirt looks asymmetrical but I think it needed to be shorter so not to swamp me.

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The top part was pretty straight forward. I cut size 8, but I really should have cut the 6, you can see that it’s gaping around the armholes. I am fine with it, it’s loose fitting which works for me. When I have time I might just make up the 6 as I have plenty of the fabric left.

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The instructions also call for an invisible zip down the back seam, having inserted it and then tried it on, I realised a zip was not nesseary as it went over my head. I then took it out, it made for a smoother seam.

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BEFORE – with the invisible zip
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AFTER – the seam without the zip, a much better finish I think

I had a ‘do’ on Saturday night, a surprise 50th which seemed the perfect occasion to wear it. We had to leave at 6:30pm and I was still adding the armhole facing at 6:05pm sitting in my underwear! Not a pretty sight.

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It’s a great silhouette!
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I love the hint of bronze showing on the top ruffle
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I think its quite flattering, despite the giant ruffles!
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Err… I don’t do heels much!

Sometimes the most unlikely patterns can be winners. Do I look like a Christmas cracker? ¬†Perhaps, a little. ¬†An 80’s throwback is probably closer although the ruffles make me think ‘Victorian’ and maybe even a hint of Steampunk!

You know I love a bargain and the fabric cost me¬†$8, so I couldn’t be happier. ¬†I really love it, even if it was so dark in the bar that no-one even noticed!

I love a pocket!

I love a pocket, especially a BIG pocket.  A pocket that can carry my phone, my purse and a collection of Superhero Lego Minifigures.

I have spotted a couple of corking ‘pocket’ dress patterns of late and I just made a lovely dress with giant pockets, ¬†so I thought an ‘ode to the pocket’ was order of the day. As we are on the¬†subject, I thought I would interview my friend and fellow pocket lover, Emily Hundt from In the Folds. ¬†Her Rushcutter¬†really is a dress with some major pocket work.

What inspired you to incorporate BIG pockets into your Rushcutter?

I incorporated big pockets into the Rushcutter, because I just love pockets. I love the look of them, but more so I love how handy they are. I love them for stashing bits and pieces when I am too lazy to carry a handbag (which is often), but most of all, I just love having pockets to put my hands in. Especially when I’m nervous! What I like about the style of the pockets on the Rushcutter, is that you can easily leave out the pockets if pockets aren’t your bag (don’t worry. I’ll try not to judge you) or you can swap the pockets on View A for the pockets on View B (hidden in-seam pockets), so there is lots of room to play, so that you get your ideal pocket preference. Pocket placement is always an element of my design process, as I want them to be really functional (you will never see a fake pocket on one of my patterns!)

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Emily in her Rushcutter with View A pockets
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Rushcutter View B inseam pockets (credit: Corey from Domestic 360)
What are your favourite type of pockets to make?
That’s a good question. And one I’m not sure how to answer! As I like sewing all kinds of pockets (am I starting to sound like a crazy pocket lady?). I guess one of my favourites is sewing patch pockets on shirts, when I am working with a print. It isn’t too hard to match the print, but I always feel very proud when I get it just right. And when it’s done, it’s right there on your chest (or in this case, my partner’s) for everyone to admire!¬†
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Some cracking pattern matching on patch pockets – nice work Emily!

Do you have a recent ‘me made’ piece with rad pockets?

To be honest, there has been very little selfish sewing this year (unfortunately), apart from Rushcutter samples. Although, I am currently working on a pattern for a pair of trousers I am planning to release sometime in the new year. And they have pockets of pretty epic proportions. I haven’t yet sampled them in anything apart from calico, so I’m not sure if they qualify as a make yet though?!¬†

Is there another indie pattern that you love (on your to do list?) that has awesome pockets?

As I said, I don’t really have time for much selfish sewing (although it is on the new years resolutions list for 2016) and when I do have a chance to sew I tend to draft my own patterns. But I do keep track of all the indie releases, and one that comes to mind is the Louisa dress by Compagnie M.¬†It has two different pocket options (kangaroo or¬†asymmetrical) which is what caught my eye.¬†

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The girls version of the Louisa dress (made by Sewing with Kate) – the adults version is now online!

And finally, what’s in your pocket right now?

In my pocket right now I have my phone (so that I can listen to podcasts and have the freedom to run around my studio like a headless chook, as it’s somehow December) and my house key. Oh, and a crumpled up receipt.¬†

Excitingly, Emily and I will be running some Rushcutter dress sew-alongs in the new year.  If you are interested and would like more information and just drop me a line through my contact page.

To continue with my pocket theme I thought I would share a recent make.¬†I spotted this pattern on the Sew Unravelled blog, twice! ¬†I am a big fan of Jillian (I think I have mentioned this a few times). ¬†I really liked the two dresses, sunshine on a rainy day¬†and the pineapple dress of happiness. ¬†Don’t you just love the names!

The pattern is from the Japanese pattern book, Stylish Dress Book: Clothing for Everyday Wear by Yoshiko Tsukiori. As luck would have it, I stumbled across it in my library, the sewing gods were smiling down, I just HAD to make it.

You don’t really get the sense of BIG pocket-ness from the pattern. ¬†It was only when I saw Jillian’s versions that I was convinced to give them a go. ¬†It was a fairly straight forward make. ¬†I graded a small top to a medium bottom as the size ran quite big. ¬†I think in hindsight I really could have made a straight small. ¬†I also opened up the armholes on the front to allow for my hunchback! ¬†I did make a rather catastrophic error when drafting the pattern which meant I had to redraw and recut the front bottom panel which is the reason why there is no pattern matching (that’s my excuse anyway!)

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Could those pockets be any bigger?
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80’s vibe going on here!

It is much more flattering that I expected. ¬†I thought the oversized pocket would make me look rather large in the hip area, but I don’t think so. ¬†The fabric is a stiff cotton with no drape so it sits quite well and hold the shape. I should also say that the fabric is totally AWESOME. ¬†A charity shop find. ¬†I think it is someones home screen printed experiment. ¬†Clearly they were not in love with it. Your loss is my massive gain! ¬†Not bad for $2. ¬†Yes, that’s a total of $2 to make this dress! ¬†You have got to be happy with that.

Big shout out for pocket love!