Monday, 28 March 2016

Easter Emery Dress

Hello hello! How are you all this evening? Suitably relaxed and chocolate-filled after a long Easter weekend I hope! I used the bank holiday on Friday to put the finishing touches to the latest in my long line of Emery dresses, which I'm here to share with you today.

I'll warn you now, this won't be a groundbreaking post - there's nothing new to say about sewing what is undoubtedly my most tried-and-tested pattern, but this is probably my favourite version to date so I wanted to share it anyway.

Apart from the fact that it fits me really nicely, and is exactly the kind of silhouette that I like, one of my favourite things about the Emery dress is that it's a perfect simple canvas for showing off gorgeous prints, which meant that it was the obvious choice for this beautiful floral number.

You know those times when you see a fabric and just HAVE to have it? This was one of those occasions! The print is Plockade from the Sommer collection by Sarah Jane for Michael Miller. I picked it up from The Village Haberdashery, who sadly don't seem to have this colourway in stock as I write this, but they do have lots of the rest of the collection available. I instantly loved this print, and knew it would make a really pretty dress so I treated myself to a couple of metres.

I did briefly consider trying a new pattern, but when such a lovely fabric was involved I thought it was better to go with the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it principle" and stick with an Emery. I also decided that being as the print features daffodils, the dress needed to be finished while the daffodils were still in bloom, so it skipped to the top of my (admittedly fairly loosely defined) sewing list. You may notice that particularly brilliant fabrics have a habit of doing that with me - and I make no apologies for that!

As it's a good quality cotton, it's no surprise that this fabric was a pleasure to work with. It's got a really nice feel to it as well, with a better drape than lots of quilting cottons. That's not to say that it drapes brilliantly, but it has got a softer hand than other quilting cottons I've used. It works perfectly for a dress like the Emery and feels lovely to wear.

In case you haven't guessed already, I really love this dress. It combines my favourite pattern, a gorgeous print and lots of pretty colours so really it was always destined to be a winner, wasn't it? Have any great fabrics "forced" themselves into your shopping basket recently?

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Agnes with a cherry on top

We're jumping back in time slightly in this post to the first sewing project I finished this year, before either my starry Emery or my lovely circle skirt dress.

I initially wasn't going to write a post about this top because it's just a simple t-shirt and plenty of other bloggers have already reviewed this pattern, but I've been wearing it a fair bit so I decided it deserved some recognition.

This is my first version of the Tilly & the Buttons Agnes top. I say my first version, because I strongly suspect it won't be my last - let's face it, there's always a need for basic t-shirts.

For this one I chose to use the long sleeves (I was making it in January after all!), and leave the sleeves plain but add in the ruched neckline. The ruching is lost slightly in the print of the fabric, but it gives the neckline a slightly more V/sweetheart shape instead of the round one of the plain version, so it does add a little something even if it's not immediately visible.

The top was speedy and easy to sew, and as always Tilly's instructions are very thorough. I only skimmed through them, but I imagine they'd hold your hand nicely if you're new to sewing with knits. The only slight difficulty I had was when it came to the ruching - I snapped two pieces of clear elastic trying to get it to stretch as much as the pattern suggests, so ended up stretching it slightly less and it seems to have worked out fine.

I'm pleased with the fit. Agnes is more fitted than other t-shirt sewing patterns (in case you missed it, Amy at The Splendid Stitch wrote an interesting blog post comparing a few popular t-shirt patterns), and I prefer my t-shirts fitted but not overly skin-tight so I decided to go one size up. This gave me pretty much zero ease instead of negative ease, and it fits just right for my liking.

The fabric is a cute cherry print cotton & spandex jersey that I picked up in the sale from Ditto Fabrics. It's a really nice quality, was great to sew and is lovely to wear. They don't seem to have this colour in stock anymore, but they do have it in green if you need some cherries in your life!

So there we go! It's a simple project, but a successful one. Incidentally, I'm wearing it with another unblogged basic - a ponte roma Veronika skirt. Neither of them are necessarily particularly exciting on face value, but they've been getting a lot of wear and definitely fall into the secret pyjama category of being super comfy, yet totally presentable. While I'm never going to let go of my love for pretty dresses, this probably does show that I should give the basic patterns some more attention too. What are your favourite unsung hero basic patterns?

Friday, 4 March 2016

Jumping for joy in a new dress

I don't know about you, but there are few things that make me happier than wearing a pretty new dress on a lovely sunny day out. Just to prove it, here I am on just such a day, jumping for joy in my new dress.

Can we just appreciate the fact that a) this photo actually captures me jumping, b) it was the first and only jumping photo we took and c) I don't look demonic in it (there's something about having my photo taken while moving which makes me pull the weirdest faces - please tell me I'm not the only one?!).

This is the first dress I've made from the book Sew Many Dresses, Sew Little Time by Tanya Whelan, which my brother gave me (with a little prompting) for my birthday. The book gives you patterns for various bodices/necklines/skirts/sleeves that are all interchangeable and can be combined to make your own custom dress. I'll write a proper review at some point down the line once I've used it more, but my first impressions at least are definitely positive.

This is the basic bodice from the book, using the scoop neck variation, with a circle skirt and short sleeves. I did also add in pockets from the Emery dress - the one complaint I do have about the book so far is that I can't see any evidence of pockets. It's not a big issue because pockets are something that can easily be appropriated from another pattern, but I'm sure I'm not the only one who likes to have somewhere to keep a tissue, am I?

I chose to cut the back on the fold and use a side zip, if nothing else to remove the headache of trying to get the pattern to match down the centre back.

I initially made a toile using the size 6 at the bust and 7 at the waist based on the size chart, but I ended up going up a size and using a 7 at the bust and 8 at the waist. I wonder if the measurements given, which I took to be body measurements, are actually finished garment measurements because the 6/7 are the sizes that match my measurements (and I'm not trying to flatter myself), but when I made up the toile I'd have barely been able to get the zip done up, let alone been able to breath once I was in the dress. The mix of sizes 7 and 8 (with my standard addition of length in the bodice) fits nicely though so it's all good.

The fabric I used is an organic poplin from The Village Haberdashery - they don't seem to have it in stock anymore, but they do have it in a different colourway if you're interested. It's a really good quality, crisp fabric, but it did behave slightly differently to normal poplins. I found that pins left very definite marks in the fabrics, as did basting stitches. They're not too noticeable, and I'm pretty sure they'll disappear with wear/washing, so it's not a criticism of the fabric - more an observation.

I'm really happy with how this dress turned out - so much so that I've already made a second with a gathered skirt instead of a circle. As an added bonus, this is another dress that goes really nicely with my recently blogged cardigan. And if that wasn't enough, I actually wasn't cold when we were taking these photos even though it was still February and it's only a cotton dress. Admittedly, I was in a sheltered spot, but it's definitely a sign that warmer weather is on it's way which has got to be a good thing, right?