Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Simplicity 1325 V-neck pinafore dress

I was wandering aimlessly around Fabricland in Bristol a month or two ago not feeling inspired by any of the fabrics. I always find that place to be a bit hit and miss, and on that particular Saturday nothing seemed to be quite right for the projects that I had in mind. So I was feeling a bit despondent, but then thankfully a random unknown stranger came to my rescue by helpfully leaving one of the pattern catalogues open on the page for Simplicity 1325.

The pinafore dress (or jumper to the Americans) on the pattern cover really caught my eye. It's a bit different to any of the dresses I've made so far, whilst keeping to my general preference for fit and flare styles. Plus I love a bit of layering when the weather gets a bit colder, so a flattering pinafore-style dress was always going to appeal to me. Especially when it was combined with a good basic t-shirt pattern, a jacket that I like the look of (and trousers too, but I probably won't be making them any time soon given my whole not wearing trousers thing) and, best of all, a half price Simplicity sale.

The dress has a flared skirt with pockets, and a lined bodice with a plunging V-neck. As you can see from the photos, this is definitely a pinafore and would be a bit indecent if you didn't have the t-shirt underneath! I'm wearing it with a basic RTW t-shirt here, but I'm planning to try out the t-shirt that comes in the pattern at some point soon.

I made a size 14, with the only alteration being to add 1 inch to the length of the bodice, which is a standard alteration for me. I was a bit worried before making the dress that the deep V neck might make fitting a bit of a pain, but I got lucky and it fit me really nicely straight out of the packet. I think the photos don't entirely do it justice on that front, as they seem to show up every possible tiny little crease which doesn't seem to be there in real life, but I promise it does fit nicely really!

Sewing up the dress was pretty straightforward. The instructions were all nice and clear and fairly well illustrated. I was already familiar with almost all of the techniques, but I sewed my first lapped zip (I'm pretty confident with centered zips, and growing to love invisible zips after a bit of a wobbly start, but I'd somehow unintentionally avoided lapped zips until now!), and that went relatively well. There's room for improvement there, but I'm happy with it for a first attempt.

If you've followed my blog for a little while, you may have noticed that the fabric I used is a different colourway (indigo) of the same chambray that I used for my latest Mortmain dress. I still think it doesn't photograph brilliantly as a finished garment, but really is beautiful fabric - in terms of both how it looks and feels. Here it is in all it's glory when it arrived...

I love how fabric comes tied up with pretty ribbon from Dragonfly Fabrics - it makes it feel like Christmas has come early!

The only thing I might change about this dress would be to think about leaving out the pockets. This is odd for me because I generally prefer dresses/skirts with pockets, but in this case the combination of the skirt being cut on the bias and the chambray I used means that I have to be really careful about keeping the pockets completely smooth under the skirt, otherwise they don't sit particularly nicely and aren't very flattering for my hips. This means I probably won't really be using these pockets, so they might as well not be there really!

That's a fairly minor point though, and other than that I'm pretty pleased with this dress. I'm not sure I'll make another one again instantly, not because I don't like this one but because, compared to most of my other dresses, it's quite a distinctive shape so I think even if you made it in a totally different fabric it would quite obviously be the same dress (if that makes any sense?!), and it's always good to have a bit of variety, don't you think?

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Bronte & Delphine: saved by the buttons

Things have been a bit quiet around here recently - I've been busy making presents for family birthdays and then forgetting to get decent pictures of them, or being too distracted by reading other people's blog posts to actually get round to writing posts of my own. I'm putting that right today though and have a whole handmade outfit to share with you - a Jennifer Lauren Bronte top and a Love at First Stitch Delphine Skirt.

This may be a whole me-made outfit, but both Bronte and Delphine are fairly simple patterns so I finished both projects pretty quickly. I think they took me about one evening each, and I'm not a particularly speedy sewer.

I didn't necessarily intend for them to be worn as an outfit - Delphine was the answer to my yearning for a red skirt to wear with my first Bellini blouse, and I decided to sew the Bronte to boost up the numbers of long-sleeved tops in my wardrobe ready for the cooler weather - but they work well together and I figured that as they're both fairly simple projects I might not have too much to say about them so I might as well put them together in one post.

So, Bronte...I really like the short-sleeved Bronte that I made in the summer, so it was the obvious pattern to choose when I wanted to make a long-sleeved t-shirt. As I'd already made the pattern before, this time it was a nice and speedy project. I made a size 14, with no alterations at all. I mentioned in my post about my first Bronte that I might lower the neckline on future versions, but having worn the top more I actually like the neckline as it is so no changes needed.

The fabric is a cotton/spandex jersey from myfabrics. It's lovely and soft, and I'm definitely tempted to order more jersey from there - they have so many prints! It's the kind of jersey where the print is applied to a white base, so the colour does fade slightly if the material is overstretched but it really has to be stretched a LOT to do that, and it isn't a problem at all for me.

Confession time! I came very close to ruining this project. It was all nicely sewn up, and all I had left to do was stitch down the shoulder overlap. I was trimming the neckband seam allowance and somehow managed to cut a hole into the main fabric of the top - aaaargh! Usually this would send me into a fit of melodrama, but for some reason I was remarkably calm about the situation this time. The hole wasn't that big so I stitched it up, leaving it hardly visible but still far too visible for my liking. Inspiration for a solution suddenly came in the form of my button jar. I had been planning to leave the shoulders plain for this version instead of adding buttons, but I had these oversized buttons that were just the right colour and the perfect size to cover the sewn-up hole. Problem solved, disaster averted, happy Ruth!

Now, Delphine. As this point I should point out that this post could also have been entitled "Red is really difficult to photograph". No matter what I tried, the skirt came out looking almost like a luminous block, but I promise it's not like that in real life. It's actually a nice red corduroy from Calico Lane, and it's lovely to wear.

Delphine is one of the earlier projects in Love at First Stitch, and is a nice simple pattern aimed at beginners, so makes a speedy but very wearable project if you've got a bit of sewing experience. As I'll mainly be wearing this with tights I added a lining using the method in Tilly's tutorial, but even with the extra steps which that involved, this was still finished really quickly. It would have been even quicker if I hadn't, for some inexplicable reason, initially traced and cut the waistband two sizes smaller than I intended to!

As with the other projects I've made from Love at First Stitch, the instructions were all really clear and super easy to follow. I made a size 5 at the waist, grading to a 6 at the hips. Other than that, I made no changes to the pattern - there's no need to!

All in all, I'm pleased with how both of these turned out and they're both really great wearable basics. I've realised I've got some material in my stash that could make a fantastic second Delphine (you only need 1 metre if you've got wide fabric - always good!) so keep an eye out for that at some point this winter, and I'll be making more incarnations of Bronte in the future for sure - but hopefully without nearly destroying them next time. Have you averted any sewing disasters recently?