Friday, 29 May 2015

Sewing World Sundress

Are you a fan of sewing magazines? I am, and I often check out what they're all offering each month. So it was no surprise that when I saw a pretty summer dress pattern peeping out of the shelves in Smiths from May's Sewing World magazine (issue 231), I snapped it up straight away and the dress skipped straight to the top of my sewing list. Here's my version!

The dress was designed by Metia Bethell and has a mock collar, plunge neckline, buttons down the front of the bodice secured with cute little button loops, a swishy full pleated skirt, and it's fully lined. With all those elements combined in one dress, how could this fail to be a winner?!

The sample in the magazine is made in a stripey cotton which emphasizes the lines of the mock collar and waistband really effectively. I tried to find stripey fabric of my own, but I was being picky and wanted multicoloured stripes, and nothing I could find was quite right.

I was being impatient and wanted to make the dress though so I convinced myself that as all the hearts on this fabric (a soft cotton lawn from Textile Express) are kind of in lines, it might do the same job as the stripes. It's not as distinctive as stripes, but the dress is so pretty that I don't really mind. I'm on the lookout for some multicoloured striped material for another version still though - has anyone seen any?

As this is a pattern from a magazine, you do need to trace off the pattern pieces from a multi-pattern sheet, but there aren't too many patterns on each page and I didn't have any problems with tracing.

The instructions in the magazine are fairly brief but clear. I don't think I'd recommend this dress to a complete beginner, because it does assume that you're familiar with steps such as inserting a zip, pleating and making bias binding. It is made clear that this is assumed at the start though, so I think that's fine. And actually, it's nice to have a pattern in a magazine that's not aimed just at beginners!

One thing that I found slightly odd was that it tells you to use an invisible zip, but also says to stitch the side seam up to the zip position before inserting the zip, whereas any other invisible zip instructions I've seen tell you to sew the rest of the seam after you've inserted the zip. I ignored the instructions there and followed my usual method instead.

I also went a bit off piste when it came to the armholes. The pattern has you finish them with bias binding on the outside. That looks fine with the stripes, but I thought that with my fabric it might just end up looking messy so I turned my binding inside and catch stitched it to the lining instead. It means my armholes have ended up being ever so slightly bigger, but they still fit nicely so that's fine.

There aren't any finished garment measurements with the pattern, so I trusted my measurements, made a toile, and thankfully it was fairly spot on. I made a straight size 16, and just needed to make my standard adjustments to add a bit of length to the bodice and skirt. Because of the extra length, I also added an extra button, but those were the only changes I made.

I'm really pleased with this dress. Most of my dresses tend to be "my favourite" as soon as I've finished them, but this is one of the ones that I think will stay in favour even as newer additions appear in my wardrobe. It's a great shape, the fabric feels lovely to wear and all those colours mean that it'll go with plenty of cardigans/shoes and, most importantly, it makes me happy! What's your favourite thing you've sewn recently?

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Summery Pauline Alice Cami Dress

My tartan version of the Pauline Alice Camí dress that I made for the Autumn of 1000 Shirtdresses is undoubtedly one of my favourite creations from last year, and I wore it a lot when the weather was still all wintery. So it's no surprise that when spring arrived I started to get the urge to sew another more summery version - and here it is!

Truthfully, the seeds of this dress were planted some time around the beginning of the year when I found this dotty cotton half price in the John Lewis sale. It was part of their 150th anniversary collection that they released last year, and I'd already used a different print from the same collection to make a Lilou dress for my Mum, so I knew it would be great to work with. Throw in pretty dots, a lovely teal colour and the fact that it was a bargain and I was sold, and from that point on it was pretty much destined to become a Camí.

For version two, I stuck with exactly the same size and modifications that I used for my first version (size 44 with 1.5 inches added to the length of the bodice and 3 inches to the skirt, and an extra button due to the added bodice length). This version seems to be slightly closer fitting than my first one, which I think is because there's slightly more give in the tartain/plaid than this crisp cotton, but they both fit nicely so it's all good.

In this version, I had a slight problem when I was attaching the collar - somehow my collar stand was too long for the neckline. I don't remember that being an issue on my first version so I think I must have been slightly imprecise when I was cutting out my fabric or something. There wasn't a massive difference though, so with a lot of pins and easing, and some ever-so-slight reshaping of the ends of the collar stand, I made it work! 

As luck would have it, I had a piece of teal poplin left in my stash from one of my very first dressmaking projects (I've learnt a lot since then!) which was an exact match for the dots on this fabric. You could call this a happy coincidence, but I think it's more likely to be an indication that I'm repeatedly drawn towards the same colours! I'm not complaining about that though, because it meant I could use the poplin to make perfectly matching covered buttons and a cute little bow belt (using a combination of tutorials from Tilly and Lauren).

The eagle-eyed among you might have noticed that I don't have a button or button hole on the collar. I could claim that this was entirely intentional because I know I would never button the dress right up to the collar. That is partly true, but the main reason is because I only had 6 self-cover buttons left in my stash and I was too impatient to wait to get more! At some point I might get some more buttons and add one on the collar, but part of me thinks it isn't really necessary because it would never be used and I think the dress looks fine without it.

Given how much I liked my first version of the Camí, it's hardly surprising that I'm pretty pleased with this version too! At the moment I'm not convinced by the bow belt - I love how it looks but I think it might be a bit annoying to wear. I've still got some of the teal poplin left over though, so I might think about making another covered elastic belt instead. The dress itself is a definite success though, I'm looking forward to wearing it again! What have you been making recently?