A Snowball in Paris

Waffle Patterns' Snowball dress
Waffle Patterns’ Snowball dress

I am in love with this pattern – officially!  The submissions for Sewing Indie Month for May ended on the 4th June, and only 1 Snowball had been submitted, my Summer Butterfly one.  I’m really surprised, this is a great pattern.  If you’d thought about it & then decided not to buy it, let me change your mind again.

DSC08739-1

It has a great shape.  That curved, high waistline gives great definition, helped by the fabulous seams that curve from the neck down.  They line up with the skirt seams which flare out at the hem.  The silhouette is just gorgeous.  You could wear this to a slap-up dinner and never feel the need to open the button on your trousers or skirt!  🙂

DSC08741-1

The zip in the centre back seam goes in effortlessly using Yuki’s instructions.  The neckline and armholes are faced all in one & sewn together rather like the way you’d construct a waistcoat, so there are no loose ends and floppy bits.  This adds structure to the top of the bodice, all of which helps to hold that fabulous shape.

DSC08738-1As a dress to wear in the office in a lightweight wool, or out to dinner in something glamourous, the Snowball is a great choice.  It has just enough 60s flare to be a bit retro-chic & plenty of modern styling to make it thoroughly contemporary.

DSC08736-1

Have I done enough yet?  Are you tempted?  This version used the remnants of the printed cotton canvas I used for Le Bellatrix Blazer français.  There really wasn’t much left, and I struggled to get all the bodice pieces and the facings out.  Unfortunately I just couldn’t get great pattern placement with the Eiffel Tower, so this bodice has lots of lables and crowns instead!  The cotton canvas is definitely not as structured as the cotton twill used for the Summer Snowball.  It’s softer and moves better, but is still perfectly suited to keeping the shape of the bodice.  The facings were interfaced with a fine sheer polyester fusible from Gill Arnold, no so heavyweight intervention there either.

DSC08742-1

The skirt used a slightly charcoal-black linen from my stash.  I thought it would work better with the print, not being heavily black.  It was a little lightweight, however and let too much light in!  So I lined the skirt with some black cotton lawn, also from the stash.  The hem is bound with black bias binding & I hand stitched it in place using herringbone stitch.  The lining’s hem was double turned & machine stitched.  I also overlocked everything.  No bound skirt seams this time!  Whilst I do love that finish, it takes an awfully long time and lots of time was something I did not have this week.

Serious model pose...
Serious model pose…

I added the same 3cm to the bottom of the skirt as I had done for the Summer Snowball, cutting the lining the normal length so it didn’t stick out.  After completing the Summer Snowball & seeing it on Daughter No2 properly, I decided I probably should have made it a little smaller in the waist area.  So with this version I switched to the 34 from about mid-way down the bodice and continuing into the skirt.  As you can see, it now has a much more fitting shape, one Daughter No2 prefers.  I guess that means I’ll be taking Summer Snowball apart a little so it can be taken in.  It will be worth it though.  She goes back to school next week for about a month now that her exams from Lower 6th are finished and she definitely wants to show off her new dresses!

DSC08735-1

So what do you think?  Are you up for trying it out?  Just to say, I am not being paid to push this pattern!  I just love it & really want to see other versions online!  Go on, give it a go!  🙂

dresses competition

One more thing – I’m entering this dress in The Monthly Stitch’s Indie Pattern Month Dresses Week competition (phew, that’s a bit of a mouthful!) & I’d really appreciate it if you would vote for me!  🙂

 

Pattern Testing – The Kyoto Kimono

Kyoto Kimono by Elise Patterns
Kyoto Kimono by Elise Patterns

I was a very busy sewist last month, I volunteered to be a pattern tester for 3 indie pattern companies, and I got the most amazing stuff to test!  This kimono is by a brand new company, Elise Patterns.  Elise Patterns is owned by Freya from Handmade by Freya.  She has set out to create pretty lingerie patterns that are uncomplicated to make, and fabulous to wear!  Her first two patterns are available now, and this is one of them.

DSC08543-1The jacket, or robe, is available in two lengths, this short version and a more lingerie type mid-thigh length.  There are also two sleeve choices.  I decided to go with the shorter version, knowing Daughter No2 would probably want it more for day wear than lingerie!  I ferreted around in my stash until I found this pretty cotton floral lawn.  I’ve had it for ages, but once I saw the line drawings of Freya’s pattern, I pictured it in this with contrast bands.  They’re cut from some black cotton lawn, also from the stash.

DSC08542-1

The pattern itself is really easy to follow and make.  I would certainly recommend it to anyone from beginner level up.  I chose to French seam the inners, and the contrast bands have had their seams all tucked away too, so when this flips open in the breeze, it’s just as pretty on the inside as on the out.

DSC08496-1

Daughter No2 loves it – she wore it out to a friend’s barbeque the day I made it (see photo above) with her chopped off jeans and came home with orders!!!  Ha!  This selfish seamstress isn’t about to do that, but now the pattern is available, I shall be sending her mates to the website & including a note to come to one of my sewing classes to make it up!  She has decided it is perfect for festival wear and I know it has pride of honour at the top of her list of things to pack for the Reading & Leeds Festival later this summer.

DSC08540-1It really is a great pattern, there are only two main pieces, the front & back, and the band strips.  If you were to make it for lingerie, consider cutting the sleeve bands on the bias and then finishing with a scalloped edge using a fancy stitch on your sewing machine.  There are so many ways you could customise this kimono, I think the varieties could look amazing!

DSC08499-1

I’m looking forward to seeing this pattern pop up all over Blogland, it has great potential!

 

 

Kaleidoscope

The Honeydew Skirt by Seamster Patterns
The Honeydew Skirt by Seamster Patterns

I have finally found a use for this fabric!  This was what I thought I could use for the Snowball, but the pattern repeat was just too big.  I had just about 2m, but in two separate pieces!  The fabric was not symmetrical down the centre, so to get anything that lined up I had to move the fold so that 30cm was a single layer.  This meant lining patterns and finding suitable patterns was a bit tricky.

DSC08632-1

Thank goodness this skirt pattern doesn’t have big pieces to lay on the fabric.  I sort of decided not to line up the pattern properly, I couldn’t have, even if I’d tried, so I tried to make the best of it by picking areas to stand out.

honeydew take 2

DSC08635-1

The fabric is a printed cotton canvas that has a pretty good drape, no stiffness and hangs rather well.  I decided as it was to be a quick make to overlock as much of the skirt as I could.  I also kept the same size and waistband options as the test pattern Daughter No1 made for herself.  As she had a problem with the length, I figured that Daughter No2’s shape and the insertion of a zip in the side would keep the skirt sitting higher and therefore make it shorter.  Actually, it’s quite interesting to see the difference in where the waistband sits on this skirt compared to Daughter No1’s make.

DSC08641-1

Funnily enough, it doesn’t seem to be that much shorter – but it is a length Daughter No2 is perfectly happy to wear.  She likes swirling in it too!  The zip in the left side seam meant I sacrificed a pocket.  One will do though, it’s one better than none!  I can see this skirt being worn loads, both as a properly casual weekend item, and to school with a neat jackets & heels.

DSC08645-1

This is my second entry for Sewing Indie Month, this time an entry for the Everyday Casual category.  Thank you so much to everyone who commented on the Snowball dress, I’ve been pretty blown away by the love for that dress – and the fabric! 🙂  There have been quite a few HBL Anna dresses submitted in the Dress to the Nines category, so I hope my Summer Snowball doesn’t get lost in the crowd!  I’ve enjoyed browsing all the entries for the overall contest, so many new blogs to read!

DSC08650-1

A Snowball for the Summer – with Butterflies

The Snowball dress by Waffle Patterns
The Snowball dress by Waffle Patterns

UPDATE

Voting has been re-opened for the Dressed to the Nines category following some unusual voting activity.  You can vote for me on Seamster Patterns Blog until midnight CST on Friday 20th June.

With very few days left until the end of May (what – how the heck did May disappear so fast??) here’s my entry for Sewing Indie Month.  Well, one of them at any rate! It all depends on how quickly I can run up the other patterns..

I browsed through all of the designers on the list – most of whom were complelely unknown to me, looking for something I could make and that would be worn, either by me or one of the girls.  I had other criteria – not too expensive, not too many pages to print if it was a PDF & it had to be something I wasn’t going to (or couldn’t) draft myself.  I also had to think about the categories that stuff has to be submitted in.

First on my list was this dress by Waffle Patterns.  I loved the 60s look of it & I can see it being made in fabrics suitable for all seasons – and occasions.  It went into the basket & was printed by Husband at work. Interestingly, you can chose to just print the size you want, makes it easier to trace, but I went for all of them, then I can trace from one size to the next if necessary.  The instructions & illustrations are great, actually the whole dress makes up really easily – depending on your finishing choices…

DSC08574-1

We had a Dickens of a time finding the right fabric.  Daughter No2 eventually chose this butterfly print heavyweight cotton (like a twill but without the twill weave) with a cream ground.  We were going to use a printed cotton canvas from the stash but discounted it because of the large print.  What followed then was a fair bit of fabric shopping, mostly just looking because nothing we saw felt right for the dress – until she spotted the butterflies.  We got it in a shop in Leamington Spa, but I notice Ditto Fabrics stocks the same stuff.

DSC08577-1

Making the dress was pretty straight forward, once I got my head round the unusual 1.2cm seam allowance.  My machine has a mark for 1cm & 1.5cm – I used a piece of masking tape to show where I was supposed to be, no way I wanted to make a mistake.  I added 3cm to the hem, my only adjustment.  Daughter No2 is – as said before – pretty tall & the dress as toiled without turning up the 3cm hem was the perfect length for her.  I made no other alterations, cutting the 36.  Although if I use a sturdy fabric like this again, I will grade from the 36 at the shoulders to a 34 at the waist.  I think it could have done with being taken in a little there.

DSC08583-1

I decided to finish the seams of the skirt with a pale blue bias, this finish was repeated on the hem edge and the edge of the facing pieces in the bodice.  I didn’t use it on the bodice seams because when you use Hong Kong finish on seams you add structure.  This fabric has enough structure to be getting on with – and the bodice did not need any more!  the hem was handstitched into place using herringbone stitch.  It’s a stitch I use a lot on hems, quick to do and holds in place well.

Pretty on the inside too!
Pretty on the inside too!

I am very happy with the result.  So very happy!  I had looked online for other versions of the dress to see what other people had done, but couldn’t find anything.  Has no-one else used this pattern??  Really?  Same!  It’s fab, and I’m definitely making more..  I have a feeling that grey & black wool houndstooth I wanted to make the 1935 cropped jacket in will be fabulous in this for the winter.  I can see it with a black long sleeved t-shirt underneath & a madly coloured pair of tights & long boots.  This is the shape of dress that suits Daughter No2 down to the ground!

DSC08584-1

DSC08591-1

I didn’t spend a huge amount of time on trying to match the pattern.  It was not symmetrical, being a half drop meant that I’d have spent a lot of time on my hands & knees cutting out one layer at a time.  Instead I tried to get some sort of continuation.  The front bodice has a clump of butterflies near the waist seam on the left, another in the centre and more on the right shoulder.  For the skirt I tried to place the centre front panel where the pattern was best & fullest and let the rest land where they did!  It worked out ok in the end – I think!

DSC08593-1

Happy with her choice!
Happy with her choice!

Now to pick a category for Sewing Indie.  I’m going to take a chance and enter it in the “Dressed to the Nines” category.  It’s a dress afterall, & who says this isn’t fancy??

Pattern Testing – The Honeydew Skirt

Honeydew Skirt from Seamster Patterns
Honeydew Skirt from Seamster Patterns

About a month ago, Mari from Seamster Patterns was looking for beginner sewists in small sizes to test her new skirt pattern.  I immediately offered up Daughters 1 & 2 for the job.  The size Mari needed to be tested was perfect for Daughter No1, so she got the job over the Easter holidays.  We rumaged through the stash and found a piece I’d bought about 3 years or so ago – perfect.

DSC07987-1The skirt has an A-Line shape, consisting of a single front panel cut on the fold & 3 panels in the back, fuller and longer than the front.  It also has in-seam pockets.  I love fullness in the back of a skirt, it’s really feminine.  There are a choice of 3 waistbands, and the skirt can be worn on the hip or the natural waist, depending on which waistband you choose.  Daughter No1 likes to wear things low, so she chose option C with the overlapping font waistband.

DSC07986-1The pattern was easy to trace out, and the instructions great for a beginner to follow.  I hovered over her shoulder to help out where needed, but Daughter No1 did ok. We made no changes to the patern, apart from the hem.  With this crisp fabric and the width of the hem, it was not going to be a neat finish, so I suggested cutting off all but 1cm and attaching a wide bias binding.  We turned the binding to the inside and I hemmed it with herringbone stitch.  This means that with the slight drop at the back that you get a glimpse now and then of the dark blue bias, which we rather like.

I like the finished skirt, it looks fantastic & I also like seeing her in a slightly longer skirt than she normally wears!  However, she would have prefered it to have been about 15 to 20cm shorter.  Not that she won’t ever wear it like this, it just makes her feel “too mature”.  I think that means – old.  Ha!  She’s in her 20s now, she’d better get used to that feeling!  🙂

I love the fullness in the back panels.
I love the fullness in the back panels.

She has said it would be perfect for going out with Boyfriend & his family, or for a summer barbeque where most of the attendees would be older than her.  Daughter No2 of course, loves it and would happily have grabbed it for herself – but it doesn’t fit!  Now one thing about fabric choice with this skirt.  You must choose something with stretch.  This stretch cotton was fine, but for Daughter No2 to steal it we’d have had to put a zip in the side seam, it just will not go over her hips.  Another factor to consider is the drape of the fabric.  The cotton we dug out of the stash was rather crisp and didn’t drape as well as it could have in the back.

DSC07995-1So would I recommend this pattern?  YES!  It is called the Honeydew Skirt & is available as a PDF in a large scale format so you don’t need to paste together all those pesky A4s, or, if you’re a sucker for punishment, that option is still available.  There is also a paper pattern in the works, see Seamster Pattern‘s website for more details.  Thanks Mari, for letting us test another of your patterns,

I’d like to make this pattern myself, one for Daughter No2 and another for Daughter No1, but shorter, and see if she’s happier with it.  Now, I wonder if I can claim this as an entry for #SewingIndieMonth??

 

Tuxedo Bellatrix

Bellatrix Blazer - the tuxedo version
Bellatrix Blazer – the tuxedo version

Another Bellatrix Blazer finished!  What a shame Papercut Patterns aren’t participating in this month’s Sewing Indie Challenge, hosted all over, because I’d be entering this little number – for sure!

I’d almost finished it in the last post, it was just lacking a front facing & upper collar piece which I was going to cut from a black cotton stretch satin.  Before committing to the order online though, I had a quick rummage through my silks & satins stash box and I found a piece of black stretch satin – not strictly cotton either, but who cares!  By using this piece I tick off another stashbusting box and I get to finish the jacket over the weekend – bonus.

DSC08199-1

DSC08211-1

I really do love the contrast of solid black on the collar, none of the other versions have contrasts on the outsides (insides are a different matter altogether!) so this makes it a little different.  The peplum pieces are all cut on the cross (weft) grain so the stripes are perpendicular to the rest of the jacket, this also means they have no stretch..  no matter, across the back the is great movement which is supported on the inside with a stretch lining.

Left: canvas interfacing to support under collar, top right: interfacing supporting the upper back & armholes, bottom right: pinning a seam for a perfect intersection
Left: canvas interfacing to support under collar, top right: interfacing supporting the upper back & armholes, bottom right: pinning a seam for a perfect intersection

I don’t like stretch linings, they feel funny but they do do a good job on a project like this.  As usual, the project went together really well, I used fusible canvas on the undercollar to give extra support, and used a lightweight fusible on the remaining pieces.  Now Daughter No2 just needs to decide what to wear it with when she goes to school next!

DSC08210-1

DSC08192-1

Next I’ll show off the dress I cut at the same time as the jacket, yes, Daughter No1 came home quickly this long weekend & tried it on.  Thankfully it fits beautifully – and she loves it!  The boyfriend was suitable appreciative too…  😉

 

Something in the works

I left you with a little hint of what my next project was to be, a self drafted 50s inspired wiggle dress for Daughter No1.  The fabric is a John Kaldor print stretch cotton satin that is just absolutely fabulous to work with.  I’d bought it ages ago, so chalk this project up as a sash-buster!  It had always been intended for something for my eldest, but we never could agree what exactly to make.

Anyway, it’s done now, but I can’t show it to you properly just yet as she’s gone back to Uni!  I’m hoping we’ll see her & the boyfriend on Monday as it’s Bank Holiday in the UK & I fiugre we can do lunch or something & I can get her to model the dress for me (and you!)

Here’s what it looks like on a hanger.  Just the front, the back is something special.

Self drafted 50's inspired wiggle dress
Self drafted 50’s inspired wiggle dress

I can’t wait to see her in it!  🙂

While I was laying out the pattern, I happened to notice I had a bit left over.  I though about what I could use it for – a skirt?  Too short.  Shorts?  Not the right fabric.  *brain racing* A jacket???  I dugout my Bellatrix Blazer pattern – just to see.  I worked out that with careful placement, I could cut another Bellatrix!  🙂  So I did and this is what was left of the 2m of fabric once I’d chopped it all up.

Teeny tiny bits
Teeny tiny bits

It worked out really well, two garments from 2m of fabric, bonus!  I just didn’t have enough to cut the facing in the same fabric, so am awaiting delivery of a plain black stretch cotton satin. I decided to get cracking with it this morning so that when the black fabric does arrive it will be a quick job to finish.  Here’s how far I got by lunch time.

The jacket - sans sleeves at this point in the day
The jacket – sans sleeves at this point in the day

And by the time daughter no2 got home from school at 4 I’d finished the shell and made up the lining, as far as I could without the front facing and she just had to put it on!

show-off!
Without the facing, the canvas on the under collar makes a good contrast!

This is the 5th version.  I did think that I just might end up making 12, one for each month of this year!  Now that would be something, wouldn’t it??  😀

In the mean time, Me-Made-May ’14 is underway with so many cool outfits on show on twitter & flickr, not to mention the new Pinterest board!  Daughter no2 & I will be posting out photos on the Me-Made-May-14 page as well as on flickr.  She’s using Instagram too.  Are you participating?