Thursday, 6 July 2017

A double dose of New Look 6723

It's been a little while since I last posted. There's been no shortage of sewing going on in the meantime, but the projects I've been making have either felt not worthy of their own blog post (pyjama trousers for my nephew, and a very simple t-shirt for my dad) or they have been for people who don't necessarily want to be subjected to a whole blog photo session (my mum). Thankfully the dress I made for my mum turned out so nicely that I decided to make my own version which I'm here to share with you today.

The pattern is New Look 6723. I made a couple of versions of view D of this pattern a few years ago (here and here) and I've worn both of them a lot so, given my proclivity for making certain patterns repeatedly (I'm looking at you Emery dress!), it's surprising that it's taken me this long to make another version.

I was mainly prompted into making this because, having promised to make a dress for my mum, I was having a bit of trouble getting toiles of the original pattern she picked (Simplicity 8294) to fit. I'd got a bit frustrated with the whole thing so one weekend when I was staying with my parents, I had one of my earlier 6723s with me and got her to try it on because we're a pretty similar size other than the fact that I'm a bit taller. It fit really nicely, so the original pattern was abandoned and I set about tweaking 6723 slightly to fit with my mum's requests.

Mum definitely didn't want the sweetheart neckline, so I used view B of 6723 but lowered the neckline slightly using the Simplicity pattern as a guide. Other than that, the only changes I made were the same as for my two first versions, namely using an invisible zip instead of a lapped one (which meant I slightly altered the construction order) and adding in pockets. And as soon as I'd finished my mum's dress, I cut out a second version of my very own!

I persuaded my mum that she did want to make a cameo blog appearance really, so this is the version I made for her. It's sewn using some lovely Seasalt fabric. I'm extremely happy about Seasalt selling fabric! I've been saying for ages that they should - I love a lot of their prints and in the past I'd have happily bought their dresses, but now that I sew I have to admit that, like most RTW dresses, the waistline is slightly high on me. So it's excellent that they've somehow read my mind!

The fabric is lovely quality - it's fairly light weight so I think you'd want to line bodices at least, but that's fine for me because I prefer lined bodices anyway. I've got a length of the Corde Fleur Night print sitting waiting for me to decide what to sew with it, and I'm seriously tempted to treat myself to another print as well.

Anyway, I'll stop gushing about Seasalt fabric now and gush about Liberty tana lawn instead because that's what I used for my version. This particular print is called Mushaboom, and I picked it up in the Liberty sale back in January. I love the fact that the print is a bit larger scale than most tana lawns, and also that the colours are so saturated.

It really is gorgeous, and tana lawn is great for wearing when the weather's hot. So much so that in the recent heat wave I semi-jokingly declared that I want enough Liberty dresses so that I can get through any heat waves clad exclusively in tana lawn. My fabric budget is far from limitless though, so I might have to build up that collection gradually by taking advantage of sales and/or ebay bargains!

All in all, I'm really happy with how both of these dresses turned out. It's a lovely summer dress shape - nice and breezy for when the weather's hot without being so sundress-y that it looks like it should only be worn on a beach. Don't be surprised if you see more of them round these parts in the future!

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Cocktail (Shirt) Dress - #sewtogetherforsummer

When I made my first Vintage Shirt Dress nearly two years ago, shortly after Sew Over It had released the pattern, I ended my blog post by asking what fabric I should use to make version number two. Well, it's taken me a while to get round to it, but now I can answer that question - better late than never hey?!

The fabric in question is a fun cotton poplin print which features multi-coloured cocktails, interspersed with little hearts and stars. It came from Backstitch, but I picked it up back in the January sales so unsurprisingly it doesn't seem to be available any more. When I bought it, I did have in the back of my mind that it might become my second Vintage Shirt Dress, but I put it away until the weather was slightly more suitable for a sleeveless dress.

I was given the incentive that I needed to dig the fabric out of the stash and get sewing by the #sewtogetherforsummer challenge that's being hosted by Sarah, Monika, and Suzy on Instagram. It's a very simple challenge - just sew any shirt dress that takes your fancy and post a photo on Instagram before 21 June to be in with a chance of winning some lovely prizes! And if you're pondering sewing a shirt dress but aren't sure of what pattern to use, browsing through the beautiful dresses already posted using the challenge hashtag will give you lots of inspiration.

I was really happy with how my first Vintage Shirt Dress turned out, so I kept things pretty much the same for this version, cutting a size 14, but with 2 inches added to both the bodice and the skirt. Like last time, I again had to take a bit of width out of the side seams at the underarms - I really should make that adjustment on the pattern pieces.

The only thing I did slightly differently was to use a couple of extra buttons. If I had any complaints about my apple print version, it would be that the neckline sometimes gapes open a bit more than is ideal. It's not so bad that I've felt the need to go back and alter it, and I still happily wear it, but it's noticeable enough that I made a mental note to add another button higher up when I sewed the pattern again. It's only slightly visible in most of these photos, but my top button is right at the bottom of the lapel - when I'm wearing it, it's actually mostly hidden by the lapel.

The buttons I used are some fairly basic plain bluey green ones that are a perfect match for one of the colours in the print. I had an ambitious idea that I'd somehow manage to find a range of plain buttons which were available in all the four main colours of the cocktails on the fabric, but sadly that wasn't to be. The shop where I bought these bluey green ones also had some perfect red ones in the same range, but just the green and red together had a slightly Christmassy appearance which wasn't really what I was after. So I let go of the multi-coloured buttons vision, but I'm not at all disappointed - the greeny buttons look great!

I'm very glad that I finally got around to making a second Vintage Shirt Dress, and I think I might possibly like this one even more than my first one. This summer could become my own little season of shirt dresses because I have ideas for a couple of others that I've been mulling over - Vogue 8577 or another Pauline Alice Cami dress are currently top of the list. Have you got any other favourite shirt dress patterns to recommend to me? Are you joining in with #sewtogetherforsummer?

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Sew Over It Ella Blouse

The Sew Over It Ella blouse instantly appealed to me when it was released because, as a waist-length top, it's perfect for combining with the waisted dreses and skirts that make up the majority of my wardrobe. So I didn't waste too much time in buying it and sewing it up.

The Ella blouse is a wrap top with 3/4 kimono sleeves, and it's secured with long waist ties. The side seams pleat into the tie at the waist, which I think is a really pretty detail.

I treated this version as a wearable toile; while I usually make actual toiles, I think this top really needs a drapey fabric and my normal toile fabric is cotton with little drape, which I thought wouldn't really produce a good representation of what this pattern should look like. Instead, for this first version I used a viscose print that I bought on a recent Bristol sewists trip to the rag market in Birmingham. It's just the right weight for the Ella blouse and, while I really like the print, I wasn't too attached to it so I was happy to use it for a new pattern that wasn't guaranteed to be a success.

I went ahead and cut a straight size 14 with no alterations. I was tempted to lengthen the blouse because, as regular readers may know, that's an adjustment that I almost always make, but the finished garment measurements looked like it might turn out just about OK so I decided to risk it. As it turns out, it is definitely wearable but I would lengthen it by an inch or two for the next version. Other than that, the fit is fairly good as it is.

Sewing the blouse was a fairly stress free process. The instructions are detailed and clear, and they produce a nicely finished garment. I particularly like the way the facings are sewn because, in my version at least, it makes them keep to the inside of the blouse really well. I think that's particularly crucial for this pattern, because the long cross-over front edges could be susceptible to facings popping out, but thankfully that doesn't seem to be a problem.

The Ella pattern claims to be perfect for beginner, intermediate or advanced dressmakers, but I'm not sure I'd have wanted to make it when I was a true beginner. Or if I had made it as a beginner, I think I'd have used a cotton lawn instead of viscose. There's nothing particularly complicated about the pattern itself, but I think you'd want to have used a drapey fabric for a slightly more simple top before trying this. Unless you're feeling adventurous of course!

I'm wearing the blouse here with a little vest top underneath because I wasn't sure whether it would gape a bit while I was wearing it, but that wasn't much of a problem apart from when bending down.

You can probably see that it comes up a little bit short for wearing with a skirt (it sits just above the waistband of my skirt), but it is definitely wearable, and would be OK with a dress I think.

All in all, I really like the Ella blouse and can definitely see myself sewing more versions in the future. I think a plain one would make a nice cover-up over dresses as an alternative to cardigans. I'm not sure when I'm ever going to get time to make any though because my sewing list is already massive. I'm sure I'm not the only one with that problem, am I?!

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Pauline Alice Seda Dress

I've been interested in sewing the Pauline Alice Seda dress pretty much since it was released, but for some reason other patterns kept beating it to the top of my sewing queue. The sleeveless version of Seda was one of my options for a dress to wear to my brother's wedding last year, but it got pipped to the post by Simplicity 1418 instead. The Seda kept hovering in the background of my sewing plans though, so I decided to include it in my 2017 Make Nine list.

It's not really surprising that I was attracted to the Seda pattern; it's my favoured fit and flare silhouette, with the added interest of off-the-shoulder short sleeves, a hip yoke and gathered skirt in view A, and a contrast bodice yoke, elbow length sleeves and a simple gathered skirt in view B. You've probably already guessed from those descriptions and the photos that I chose to make view B.

At this point I should say that this isn't entirely a Seda dress - I actually ended up using the skirt pieces from the Emery dress. I did that because the Seda skirt pieces are wider and I was ever-so-slightly short of my main fabric and couldn't quite fit everything in with those wider pieces. Rather than mess about with the Seda pattern pieces, I decided to use the Emery skirt pattern - it's just that bit slimmer that it made it possible for me to get everything out of the fabric that I had. The final look of the two skirts is very similar though, so this isn't too far from a true Seda.

Another change I made was to extend the centre back zip up into the yoke section, whereas the pattern intends for the zip to finish at the top of the main bodice section and for the centre back of the yoke to be open, closing with a small button and loop/hook and eye set at the neckline. That's just a personal preference, mainly because I find neckline buttons/hooks & eyes slightly fiddly to do up.

In terms of sizing, I used a size 44 at the bust, grading out to a 46 at the waist (with my standard addition of 1 inch to the bodice length). In each case, that's a size up from the sizes that my measurements put me in, but when I made up a toile in my actual size it came out just-about-fitting but a bit too tight to be comfortable. In hindsight, this may or may not have been due to the fact that I made the toile on Easter Monday and it had been a bit of an indulgent weekend! As it turns out, the final dress is a little looser than most of my woven dresses, but I quite like the slightly relaxed fit so it's all good.

The main fabric is a very cute origami boat print chambray that I got from Guthrie & Ghani on a recent trip to Birmingham with some lovely fellow Bristol sewists. It's out of stock now (I got the last of it - hence having slightly less than I really needed!), but they have some other lovely chambrays. The yoke section is some white Swiss dot cotton left over from making my Granville shirt, and I underlined it with some plain white cotton lawn to reduce the sheerness. I really love the combination of the two fabrics together.

The pattern was fun to sew - the instructions are clear and easy to follow, and I'm pleased with the end result, so I'm glad that I finally got around to making the Seda dress. The fact that the print is slightly more muted than some of my other dresses also gives me a nice opportunity to wear my lovely Isa Duval brooch. I treated myself to it a couple of weeks ago and I love how it brightens up plainer outfits.

I'm also happy to be able to tick another item off my Make Nine list - I'm now 3 down (my Aldaia and needlecord dresses are the other two), with another 2 well underway. Have you got a Make Nine list? If you have, how's your progress going?

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Jaeger Handknits Turin Cardigan (and a bonus Emery dress)

As has become fairly standard for me, I've just finished knitting what was meant to be a winter cardigan right in time for a rise in temperatures which means it'll probably mostly sit in a drawer until autumn. I'm not the only one that does that am I?! You'd have thought that I might have got better at estimating how long a project will take me more accurately by now, but apparently not!

Anyway, the pattern I used is the Turin cardigan by Martin Storey which is part of a Jaeger Handknits pattern booklet that I found a while ago in a charity shop. There are 20 patterns in the book and, while some are definitely a bit dated, there are a number of others that I'd like to knit at some point so it was well worth whatever I paid for it (I can't remember how much that was, but it may even have been as little as 49p given the shop I got it from!).

The Turin is a relatively short cardigan - slightly longer than cropped, but shorter than most others still - which is a good length for me. It features stripes of a pretty lace pattern, which is also intended to have a bead in the middle of each lace diamond but I didn't like the idea of beads (I know what I'm like - I'd get them caught on everything!) so I left them out.

The sleeves are also meant to use the same lace pattern but, as I mentioned in my post about my previous cardigan, I'm not much of a fan of lace sleeves so I just knit these in plain stocking stitch.

The pattern was simple and easy to follow, and uses my preferred construction method of knitting the individual pieces and then seaming them. The lace pattern is worked over 10 rows and needed a bit of concentration to start off with, but it gradually worked its way into my memory so I could relax into the knitting a bit more.

The yarn that I used is Stylecraft Special 4-ply in the shade Lipstick. It's definitely not the most luxurious yarn in the world, but it's very budget friendly and I've liked using it for crochet so I wanted to see how it would fare when it came to knitting. On balance, I like it less for knitting but it's OK still. I also wanted to try using an acrylic yarn because I find my wool cardigans very itchy unless I've got long sleeves under them so they don't get worn unless it's really cold. I definitely don't have that problem with this yarn, but I'm not sure I'd use it for a whole garment again. We'll wait and see how it wears until I make a final decision on that though.

The dress that I'm wearing with the cardigan in these photos is the latest in my collection of Emery dresses. It probably doesn't warrant a blog post of its own because at this point I don't really have anything new to say about this pattern, but I thought it still deserved to be documented. The fabric for this one is from the Melody Miller Jubilee collection for Cotton & Steel, and I got it from The Village Haberdashery. Unsurprisingly, I love how it turned out - the combination of a pretty print and a trusted pattern was always going to be a winner for me!

It's a happy coincidence that I happened to finish these two projects at pretty much the same time because they look great together. For once, the slowness of my knitting actually resulted in something good! Next up on my knitting needles will be a short-sleeved cotton cardigan. Let's see if I can finish it before summer's over!