Monday, 22 December 2014

Festive December Dress

Pattern Review: Vogue 8870

That's right, my December Garment of the Month is a summer dress. As I will be spending the festive season in Melbourne I have been rapidly expanding my warm weather wardrobe and could not pass up the opportunity to whip up Vogue 8870.

As soon as I snapped up this ITY knit from Windmil Fabric in Boston, USA, I knew that it would be destined for this pattern. The fabric only cost $4.98 USD per yard. It washed fine and sewed up really easily. ITY knits are so comfy and this dress is a dream to wear.

I cut a medium and combined the bodice from view B with the skirt from view A. I cut the back skirt piece on the fold and apart from sewing generous seams on the bodice and using less elastic on the bodice back I sewed this straight out of the envelope. The fit was pretty spot on. I do love Vogue Patterns as I find their fit pretty consistent. Vogue patterns are the ones that always require the least amount of alterations for me. 

This pattern is rated easy and I would definitely agree. There is nothing hard about this and it came together really quickly. The only thing that I would change would be to self-line the bodice rather than use facings. I have already used this as a base pattern to copy a RTW dress. 

These photos were taken at Lorne Beach during a road trip along the Great Ocean Road in Australia. I have been having a great time so far and I am heavy heartidly sure my January garment will be much more Winter appropriate for my return to the UK.

You can see my Pattern Review here. 

Did you sew a dress or garment for the Christmas Season? 

I'll leave you guys with a tourist snap of our road trip!
Happy Sewing!

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Chiffon Butterfly Top

Pattern Review: Butterick 5355

Greetings from sunny Melbourne!
It has been a while since I last posted I have been busy undertaking some summer sewing for a work trip to Cape Town followed by a holiday in Melbourne. I finished Butterick 5355 back in October and have only gotten round to photographing it as it has been so cold in London. 

The weather in Melbourne is warm but very changeable. I have heard the saying that you get all seasons in one day and it is so true. When I put on this top this morning I was wearing boots!

Anyway less about the climate and more about the top.  The pattern is rated easy and I do agree, however I would say that my fabric choice made this a bit harder. I picked up this pretty chiffon from the man outside Sainsbury's in Walthamstow. Priced at £2 per metre it was a bargain!

I cut medium and sewed this straight out the envelope making no alterations. If I were to make this again I would narrow the neckline as it does give me an off the shoulder look. I would also grade out a little at the hip as it is a tad snug.

As I mentioned earlier, the chiffon made this project a bit of extra work. It took a while to cut out and it features a fair amount of couture techniques including french seams on the sides and sleeves, mock french seams on the armholes, binding on the neckline and pin hems. This added so much extra time, but I definitely think that it is worth it as the top is so sheer. 

I have to admit that once I had cut this top out it sat in my sewing box for a couple of months I needed some additional notions (bias binding and thread) but mostly this was due to my apprehension of tackling all of these couture techniques in one garment. I have used all of them independently and I have sewn with chiffon, but generally it is underlined and any imperfections are not visible to the naked eye. I attended a couture sewing techniques course at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London which improved my confidence when working with tricky fabrics. I finally completed this garment during a 'Pick Up a Project' sew-a-long with my sewing group to banish UFOs. 

I do really love this top. The style is not something I would usually buy or sew, probably due to the wide sleeves, but it is a versatile garment for the summer. I also really enjoyed the challenge despite my months of procrastination. I would consider sewing this again. Maybe in chiffon or in a satin for something more glam, and maybe longer so I could style it as a tunic. This pattern is one where the fabric really shines, so I would definitely have to think about the fabric for next time. 

You can see my Pattern Review here.

How is everyone's festive sewing coming along? Do you have any UFOs that are going to be carried over to 2015? 

Happy Sewing!

Monday, 17 November 2014

November Garment of the Month: November Nights

Pattern Review: McCalls 6489 and #MMMPR!

It looks as though I am catching onto sewing my monthly garments along with the themes. For this month I picked out this very Autumnal/Winter fabric from my stash and paired it with McCalls 6489 (now OOP). It was also my first garment worn for Me Made Mondays for the rest of 2014.

Let's start with the fabric. I purchased this jersey in the Summer from A1 Fabrics on Goldhawk Road priced at £4.50 per metre. The thing I liked most at the time is how textured it is. The black bits are almost velvet-like in feel and the fabric is dotted with sparkles. The different textures did confuse my sewing machine a tad when it came to tension, but hey, it was worth it. 

I have had McCalls 6489 in my stash for a while, but finally got around to using it. It is not a hard pattern, although for some reason cowls always stump me. I am sure that this is nothing to do with the pattern, but just how my brain is tested when seeing 2D instructions for 3D item (please tell me that I am not the only person that this happens to!). 

I cut a 14 all over, but really I should have cut a 12 on the bodice and graded out to a 14 at the hips. I sewed the bodice with 1" seam allowances and re-cut a deeper armhole to compensate. I also wanted more of an A-line skirt so I graded out the skirt pieces. 

The shoulders feel a bit wide on me, so next time I will cut the back strap a bit shorter to it stops them from drooping off my shoulder. When I sewed the bodice to the skirt section and put in the elastic it hit me too low on the waist and looked terrible. I hacked them apart, removing approximately 2" off the bodice and 1" off the skirt. This means that dress finishes a bit shorter than originally drafted, but to be honest I probably would have shortened the dress to be this length anyway. I was just a tad stingy on hem allowance. 

I am on a learning curve with elasticated waist patterns as I have had this problem before and couple wadders to boot. Does anyone else find it hard to predict how and elasticated waist affects the fit? I expect that this is due to experience and will be something that I will be more aware of from the start of a sewing project. Here is a decent snap of the dress minus the cardi, but with me looking stoned. You can't win 'em all...

The fit issues were easily remedied and I do feel that I have a fab new seasonal dress to see me through those November nights. I love wearing knits in the winter, and although I wasn't particularly enthused by this dress to begin with I can definitely see it appearing frequently in the wardrobe rotation. I wore this dress to work and my sewing group today and I received some compliments even before people knew it was a DIY job, which warmed my heart. I think that this dress would be a great wardrobe staple in a black jersey too. 

You can see my Pattern Review here.

What handmade items are you wearing this Winter?

Happy Sewing!

Monday, 10 November 2014

Mock Wrap Skirt

Pattern Review: Simplicity 1322

The past month has been busy at work and with a bit of travel. However I am pleased to say that I have been squeezing in a bit of sewing here and there. Some of which has been Simplicity 1322. I purchased this pattern during a recent Simplicity sale and decided to make a wearable muslin from some fabric in my stash. Some faithful blog followers may recognise this cotton from my first ever blog post! 

This skirt is a perfect little stash buster as it only uses 80cm of fabric. This cotton print was originally purchased form Fabricland for around £4 per metre and I underlined it with a blue polycotton from my stash, picked up for £1 per metre from good old Brixton Market.

Other than the underlining, I didn't really make any changes. I changed the construction order as per the pattern instructions as I used an invisible zipper in the back rather than a lapped zipper. Therefore I sewed the front to the back pieces and then inserted the zipper just before attaching the waistband. I used french seams for a neater finish (as the skirt is unlined) and hemmed it using bias binding.

I am planning on making this skirt again, although I would change the width of the waistband to make it thinner. As you can see in the photo below it sits pretty high on the waist. This is really common with commercial patterns, but to be honest not really a style that I would go for. My bust isn't the perkiest, so I am not a huge fan of things that accentuate this. Also, I know that I have relatively long legs, but a high waistband makes them look too long if you know what I mean... 

The only other changes I plan to make are to use a longer zipper - I really struggle to put this skirt on over my hips. I cut a 16, which is perfect for the waist, but I think that next time I may grade out to an 18 on the hips as you can see a couple of pulling gathers across the front. Finally a word of caution about this skirt - when you sit down the split really does fall open. Easy to amend next time, but when testing the fit of this skirt I would most definitely baste and (gently) sit down to see how you like it.

Despite all of the criticisms mentioned above (it was a muslin so criticising the fit is an important process) I do really really like this pattern. It's not often I come across skirt patterns that I fall for straight away. The cross over front is so on trend at the moment and this skirt would work so well in so many fabrics. I have it in mind for some leftover denim from this project. It's an excellent stash buster, wardrobe builder and lets face it, a pretty cute skirt pattern. I expect that many of my remnants will end being another iteration of this pattern. 

Haha, my expressions in these photos look so surprised. I guess that is what jetlag and a Sunday session in Angel including cocktails does to me. Seeing as I look quite amused maybe I should take my blog photos like this more often. It is sad that we have so few hours of daylight these days so getting outside snaps will be tricky for the next couple of months, not to mention cold. 

On a warmer note I have been sewing some clothes suited to sunnier weather for my upcoming work trip and holiday. I can't wait to be wearing summer dresses in the middle of December and you guys will have to wait for my blog post as it is too nippy (literally) to photograph them.

You can view my Pattern Review here.

Anyone else found any good skirt patterns recently? 

Happy Sewing!

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Fabric Porn Boston Style

I was recently in Boston for a work trip. This is the second time that I have visited Boston this year and I did some fabric shopping research beforehand. To be honest I hadn't really heard that much about Boston. I knew that there was a Joann's, but this was quite a way out of the city. In total I visited 4 shops. 

The first and my favourite was Winmil Fabrics located downtown. I particularly loved their ITY knit selection, especially as these are harder to come across in the UK. And at $4.98 per yard they were a huge bargain.  

I also picked up this pre-underlined lace for $6.98 per yard 

 And this cotton print for $3.98 per yard.

Next, I popped into Van's Fabrics, round the corner from Winmil in Chinatown. This shop specialises in Asian style fabrics. They have lovely silks and brocades. I only purchased one item which is some kind of viscose/rayon fabric for $5 per yard. 

There are two fabrics located in the Cambridge area of Boston. Sewlow Discount Fabrics has a bit of pretty much everything. Some really fun novelty fabrics as well as knits, furnishing fabrics, linens etc. I picked up some knit fabrics for $3.99 per metre. I also purchased the same fabric but in solid black. Not really worth posting a photo. 

Lastly I headed a few blocks down to Sewfisticated Fabrics. They had many novelty fabrics, african wax prints, jerseys and calico prints. I didn't love the quality of many of these fabrics for dressmaking, but they would be great for crafting or costumes. I snapped up this Halloween remnant for MJ.

I can't wait to start sewing up some garments with these new purchases. After feeling as though I have been making headway with my fabric stash I have done a u-turn and it is now well and truly out of control. I had been sewing here and there before I went to Boston and I do have some garments to blog about, I will just have to find some time and nice weather to get some decent photos. 

Has anyone else been fabric shopping in Boston? 

Happy Sewing!

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Vintage Peplum Dress

Pattern Review: Simplicity 1460

I have been wanting a jean dress in my wardrobe for a while now and I decided to try it out using Simplicity 1460. I have to admit I don't tend to go for vintage styles, but the scalloped neckline caught my eye. I chose to pair the bodice from view C with the peplum from view B. I wore this to work last week and this is how I styled it. 

I am going to hold my hands up and admit that I should have done a muslin for this dress, especially as it has minimal options for fitting as I sew. I did have major fitting problems with the bodice. There was too much excess fabric in the top of the bodice and the sleeves extended too far. I removed the excess by adding in a 2" dart from the armhole to the bust and in the back from the armhole to the top of the back waist darts and reshaped the sleeves. I traced a new bodice pattern piece and was lucky enough to be able to cut them out of my already cut bodice fabric. 

I cut a 16 all over, I decided to size this up reviews read that the waist for this runs small. And it is very true. I could have gotten away with a 14 as my fabric has a bit of stretch but it would have been snug. I added 4" to the peplum to make it a decent length skirt.  Although it is still a bit big in the bodice the fit is much better than it was, and I am happy that I have ended up with something wearable. 

I snapped up 3 metres of this medium weight stretch denim from my recent fabric binge in Paris, I was a steal at €10. It was really easy to sew with and I treated myself and purchased some jean needles for my sewing machine. I still have a fair bit of the fabric left so I have plans to turn it into a skirt 

This pattern is unlined, but uses facings for the neckline. I decided against using the denim as it would be too bulky and picked out some blue polycotton from my stash, purchased from Brixton market for £1.20 per metre. There is a cute family owned shop called Wools and Crafts down the road from my house and I found some basic buttons for 15 pence each. I am definitely going to re-tweak the pattern and make this again, especially as I like the overall silhouette and it would work in a variety of fabrics. I would also like to make this as a skirt. It's essentially a circle skirt with buttons which is cool. 

As I mentioned in my last post this dress was going to be my November Garment of the Month, but I managed to crack on with this dress on a 'use it or lose it' day off last Monday. I will reassess my stash and see what will satisfy my sewing mojo next. 

You can see my Pattern Review for this dress here. 

Has anyone else been kicking themselves for not making a muslin recently? 

Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

DVF Rip Off Wrap Dress/October Garment of the Month

Pattern Review: Butterick 5454

At the beginning of September I went on holiday to Paris.  We were walking past the Galeries Lafayette where Diane von Furstenberg was paying homage to 40 years of the wrap dress. It was such an awesome window display, here is a very sunkissed photo that I snapped. 

Suddenly it dawned on me that my current wardrobe does not contain a wrap dress. And I wanted one. Like right now. For this wrap dress I used Butterick 5454, now OOP. I had made this pattern before ages ago in my pre-blogging days and knew that it would be perfect. 

As you may have guessed, I am not a huge fan of dresses with sleeves, so I went for the flounce sleeved version, which is also a bit different and not hugely DVF in style. I cut a size 14 all over and made minimal changes My only alterations were to grade in a bit more boob coverage to the bodice pieces (aka a FBA) so I could wear this bad boy to work and I took 1.5" off the length, no reason really, just personal preference. 

I love the pleat detail as it creates a great A-line shape for the skirt. However, I wasn't sure how I felt about them in the back, I do have a fair amount going on there already, but having worn this dress they have really grown on me. Another thing that I love about the pattern are the sleeve options. I probably wouldn't go for view C, but I think that it is awesome that they have drafted the pattern pieces for this view should you be working with a border print fabric. I thought that was a nice touch. 

The fabric is a fun jersey print that I picked up from Dress Sew during my travels in Vancouver. I think it was around $7.99CAD per yard, and I snapped up two yards. It pre-washed and sewed beautifully. Lastly I love that this dress requires no notions! No popping out to buy a zipper, finding a hook and eye or anything else! This was a quick and easy stash-busting project, that filled a hole in my wardrobe and provided a fab burst of colour for the colder months. 

Speaking of, Summer is well and truly over here in the UK and there was a definite chill in the air when taking these photos. Not to mention rather windy!

You can see my Pattern Review here.

I already have a ITY knit in my stash earmarked for another version of this dress, so expect to see it burst forth on the blog sometime soon. In the meantime I have started thinking about my November Garment of the Month - Simplicity 1460. Believe it or not, this will be my first time sewing a vintage style pattern. Wish me luck!!

Simplicity Misses' 1950's Vintage Peplum Tunic & Blouse 1460