I’m Making Me a Dress!

 

Yup, you read that correctly, a dress!!!  Remember that gorgeous chrysanthemum print cotton fabric I got from Truro Fabrics a the beginning of July?  And had to get more because I got a “reasonable” amount?  Yeah, that will finally be a Tea House Dress, pattern by Sew House Seven.  I traced the size 16, based on my bust measurement, and toiled the top version to see whether or not I’d need a FBA, and whether or not the pattern suited me and I even liked it!

 

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Wondering if it’s “me”

So I bought a floral print duvet cover from the charity shop, I chose a printed fabric because my fabric is covered with flowers, and I wanted to get an idea of what it would look like.  It went together rather well, the instructions are clear, with plenty of drawings for those who need visual input.  There were only a couple of “whaaat?” moments.  When attaching the ties to the centre front panel, you’re asked to “presew” them on.  I’ve never heard that term before, usually the instructions say “baste”.   Then, in the sewing on of the cuffs, you’re asked to “crackstitch” the cuffs to the sleeve.  Say what?  What-stitch?  I checked the glossary and found they mean stitch in the ditch!  I had such a laugh!

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The toile of the Tea House Dress

Anyway, apart from those wierd bits, the pattern is good.  I like the shape, the ties are at my narrowest bit (not that it’s that narrow), and the neckline looks like it’s not going to be too revealing.  I wasn’t sure whether I really need an FBA, or just to add length.  Then I changed my bra to one that I’d be more likely to wear with the finished dress, and things fit a little better.  So I’ve ditched the FBA, skipped adding length to the bodice and I’ve cut my fabric!!

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I’m really glad I bought more fabric! But I’ve since found it online for £3/m less than I paid..

I originally had 2.5m, but after I’d had a chance to think about what I’d make, I quickly ordered another 1.5m.  And thank heavens I did!  Because of the length and funny shapes of the pattern pieces, you really do need a lot of length.  I have a decent amount left over, but not in any solid shape and size.  I tried my best to place the pattern pieces so as not to waste the fabric.  I’m not sure what I’d be able to make with the bits, but I’m sure I’ll eventually think of something!

Both daughters will be home this weekend for a visit, the first since Christmas!  I’m sorta hoping to be able to wear the dress at some point over the weekend – so here goes!

 

 

 

Dressed for Summer

This is a post that should have gone up last week, I finally managed to get photos of Daughter No2 in her new dresses last Friday, so I should have got everything sorted on the weekend – except we tuned out over the weekend, because it finally rained! We haven’t had rain since the 27th of April, according to my gardening diary. So it was nice to just relax and do those things you do on a rainy day – together…

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Shirtdress 117 from May 2011 Burdastyle

So Burda 117, May 2011.  Unfortunately it is not available on the English Burdastyle website, so you’ll have to track down a copy in the flesh or download the German version!  Daughter no 2 had spotted it earlier in her hunt for a shirtdress, one of many patterns to try this summer.  I love the slim, elegant skirt and little sleeves.  The version in the magazine is made in a gorgeous blue and white floral print and it was this and the shape of the dress that drew daughter no 2 to it.  Now I was on the look out for a suitable fabric.

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Burda dress 117 05/2011

I finally found something suitable from Croft Mill Fabrics and we snapped up the last 2m.  It was a blue and white floral print cotton-linen blend, but when it was washed, it turned into a pale blue and darker blue floral print…  Luckily the new colour was accepted and approved, but now I needed new thread and a change of button choice.

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The blousing in the back that she didn’t really like

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I traced the 38, and made a toile using some pretty vintage cotton I bought earlier in the year from a Mid-Century Modern Show in Dulwich.  Overall, the dress was approved, I needed to bring it in towards the waist, effectively making it a 36 in that area, and I needed to make a swayback adjustment in the skirt.  The back of the dress has vintage inspired fullness, which I really liked, but daughter no 2 didn’t.  So I adjusted the pattern to remove most of the blousing.  The toile was then finished off, buttons etc from the stash, and now it’s fully wearable.

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The pattern is straight forward to make, nothing complicated.   The skirt pockets are stitched to the front skirt, which means no flapping about.  Apart from nipping in at the waist and reducing the volume in the back, I haven’t altered anything else.  The buttons came from the stash as my very local haberdashery closed last winter and my next local in Stratford on Avon will be closing in September.  So the stock is very low and choice is worse.  I couldn’t trust getting anything online so was desperate to find something suitable from my button box.  I wasn’t sure I had anything, the dress needs 10 buttons, and I had nothing that was suitable in those numbers.  But I did have two sizes of the same design button that hubby thought would do the job just fine.  So I used the 3 bigger buttons on the bodice, and the 6 smaller ones on the skirt.  It looks like it was done on purpose, rather than by necessity!

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I delivered both dresses to Birmingham on what felt like the hottest day of the year!  Oh boy, has this summer been warm!  They were both tried on immediately and the squeals of delight told me I’d done my job! 🙂

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The new, volume-reduced back view

What I rather like about both dresses is their ability to be worn layered with a tee shirt or cami and jeans/shorts/cropped trousers.  Of course, after floating that idea, it had to be tested out, with what I thought was great success.  I have since been informed that both dresses have been worn successfully and that she loves them.  Phew! 😉

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I am still chipping away at that long list of things to make, three more items crossed off the list will hopefully be photographed in a couple of weekends when she and her sister come for a visit.

But I am now on the hunt for a jumpsuit pattern that will be suitable for petites, with sleeves.  Other requirements are that it be loose fitting around the waist, be able to be cropped to 7/8 length and be able to be worn in an office.  Ideas please hive mind…

Second Chances

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On the allotment

Hellooo, lovely patient people!  I have a load of gorgeous clothes to show off, if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have an idea of what I have to catch up on!  The first will be a dress I made at the end of April for Daughter no 2, the last project for April’s Burda Challenge 2018.

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The pattern is #132 from April 2011, the dress in the magazine is made from leather, but we have a lovely piece of warm blue denim.  I’d bought the fabric from Rosenberg and Sons at the NEC about 3-4 years ago to make a little pair of dungarees for a child, but never got round to it…   Time to make something different!  There was only 1m, but it was just enough for the main dress pieces.  As the original dress was made in leather, there weren’t any facing pieces for the neckline and armholes, and no hem.  Cue lots of bias binding!

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Dress #132 Burda April 2011

I traced the 38, which is the smallest size this pattern comes in.  I only toiled the bodice, and this showed we needed a paper dart in the back armhole, and to take in the side seams under the arm by 1.5-2cm.  In order to fit all the pattern pieces on the fabric, I omitted the hem allowance and used a piece of wide bias binding to make a false hem.

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The pockets in the front seams are cool, topstitched on, but could probably do with being a slightly different shape, deeper would be more practical.  The denim is perfect for the dress, the shape is held really well but the denim is soft, so it feels really nice.  The length is also just right, daughter no 2 doesn’t like skirts too short.  It was quick and easy to make, and I recon it would work really well in a heavier fabric for the winter – to wear with a long sleeved tee or thin jumper underneath.

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We had fun taking pictures of the dress, I needed to water the new plants on the allotment so planned to take photos there, but we found a fluffy friend!  She was very happy to be the photobomber.

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That was the last project for April, May started off badly – productivity wise – but ended on a high!  Of course, there was Me-Made-May going on in the background, which has been great this year.  I’ve been inspired!

A Hot Weather Dress

My sewing machine has been working overtime during the last week and a bit, quickly trying to make the last few things for Daughter No 1.  The departure for her planned travel to Asia, Australia & America has finally come.  Amongst the things I made for her (which I will cover in another post) was this dress.  She wanted something that would just hang, not cling, and be cool to wear in the tropical humidity of Thailand, something suitable for cocktails on the beach in Fiji & totally wearable when exploring Rodeo Drive.  It needed to have fullness, but not be a tent.  She didn’t want extra fullness in the front, hanging from the bust.  She drew me a sketch of what she had in mind, then left me to it.

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A sketch of the dress Daughter No1 wanted for her travels

I started with her close fitting bodice block, drawing a one piece dress block and then converting it to the lingerie block.  This involves reducing ease and doubling the size of the bust dart.  For the dress pattern the bust dart was moved to the underarm position.  I added a section to the side, from the waist to make the fullness.  The double darts in front and back were eliminated, but the back dart was effectively transferred into the centre back, making the back shaped and fitted.  I also needed a swayback adjustment of about 2cm.  I intended to use an invisible zip in the centre back, French seams throughout and self bias for the top edges and straps.

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The toile in cotton. The swayback adjustment hadn’t been done.

The toile revealed that I needed a swayback adjustment, and that I needed to alter the fit of the top.  Daughter No1 wanted it a little looser.   I was concerned about the hang of the handkerchief section, but hoped that in the silk that we’d chosen that it would look a lot better.

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Dress in progress, silk definitely drapes better than cotton! And the swayback adjustment worked a treat.

The silk was given to me by a friend, it’s got the most beautiful sheen and drape, but for me, it was just a little too bold.  However, Daughter No1 loved it!  The bands are a red and white hatched pattern, while the blue is actually purple and black.  I only had two metres and it was pretty narrow but we had just enough to squeeze the dress out.  I was worried that there wouldn’t be enough for the bias strips.  Thankfully that wasn’t the case in the end, I didn’t really need that much bias.  But please remind me that working with narrow bias in silk really isn’t easy, and tries the patience of anyone, especially when you’re up against the clock.

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Putting an invisible zip into a french seam, reinforcing the area with fine interfacing.

I made the pattern on Saturday night, toiled it midday Sunday, made the adjustments and got cracking immediately.  It had to be finished by 11am on Monday morning!!  Needless to say I was still handstitching bias at 11am so we left a little late for the airport, but all was good, she loved the dress and stuffed it into the rucksack straight away!  I am hoping to see photos of it in far of exotic places on Instagram soon!  Here it is on Betty, my vintage mannequin.

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I love the drape at the sides, and the slight drop of the handkerchief hem.  I really do hope it sees lots of wear in the next 6 months!

Twenty Six Dresses

Daughter No2 cleaned out her wardrobe yesterday, and found she has 26 dresses, one more and she could have her own movie….  This is Dress no 26, using the multi-panelled bodice from the Simply Red dress and the 4-gored skirt from the True Blue dress, but this time not cut on the bias.

Dress #26!

The fabric is a black and turquoise print that was sent to me by a friend in America, one of her bargain buys from an estate sale.  Why don’t we have those in the UK??  The print has a real Eighties feel, so I’m calling this dress her “Footloose Dress”!

I love the way the skirt is so different from the Simply Red dress, just by changing the grainline and cutting the skirt in panels.

Another success!  The bodice on this and the previous two dresses is essentially the same, only the True Blue Dress has no panels, but it is in the skirts that all the difference really appears.  The Simply Red dress skirt was cut with the grainline parallel to the centre front and back, the True Blue Dress has a 4 panel skirt, the grain is on the bias.  For this dress I used the same pattern pieces for the skirt, but the grainline runs down the centre of each skirt panel, making it much more fluid.

Magic!

Do you play with grainlines too??

Simply Red

After a 24 mile round trip I have a red invisible zip, and now a completed dress!  I am also definitely ordering a stock of zips from Jaycotts.  I paid £3.90 for a 52cm long invisible zip!  That’s madness!!  Anyway, rant over, here’s the completed dress, and a happy Daughter No2 in the sunshine to show it off.

We love a little contrast, this turquoise belt is great with the red.

The panels work really well, tailoring the bodice to her shape.  The stretch cotton has a tendence to, well, stretch.  So the lining is a stretch cotton poplin, with much less movement to keep the whole thing together.

Why can’t we have more sun? Everything is so much better for it, including these pretty poppies.

The back was kept simple.  There is just one seam, I really don’t think it needed any more than that.

The back is simple, just two panels!

For some extra info, this dress was cut from the 2-piece dress block (from Winnifred Aldrich’s Metric Pattern Cutting) and adapted to the sleeveless block.

Posing!

Next time we’ll have more fabric to play with, and will make a fuller skirt.  For now though, Daughter No2 is very happy with her new dress.  Will the weather gods please let us have some sun so she can wear it??

 

Welcome to the Jungle

The dress with draped design is finished, and….  I had some issues with it.

  1. This is not the right sort of fabric for this design.  The georgette is way too slippery and hasn’t enough body to hold the drape at the front.
  2. It’s too long.  I know, the last dress I made I thought was too short, this is just a bit too long.
  3. In the book, Tomoko Nakamichi says that if you don’t want the skirt flopping open in the front, just sew it up.  This doesn’t work, as it twists the “twist” in the front to the wrong side.
  4. Trying to stick to my “don’t buy anyting unless absolutely necessary until Sewing for Pleasure” rule was sorely tested.  I had a turquoise silk satin blouse that I didn’t like and was happy to chop to make a camisole, but I had absolutely nothing for lining the bottom part of the dress.  I bought some crepe de chine from the Fancy Silk Store in Birmingham to make a slip in the end.  Of course, the colours are not the same, so it’s an un-matching set, which is not ideal.  Luckily all the lace and picot elastic was in my stash.
  5. I am not entirely sure this shape works for me, and that is a real shame because I really wanted to make something I’d get lots of wear out of with this fabric.  Maybe it will grow on me.

So this is it with the cami and slip.

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Jungle Dress and slip

And this is it styled slightly differently, an idea from the mum of a friend of mine.  She said it may look good with a pair of fitted silk trousers…  lightbulbs went off in my head.  I had made a pair of stretch satin trousers from a Burda magazine 12/09, no 104 about 2 years ago, and they are pretty fitted.  So what do we think?  Maybe with the trousers the dress does need to be shorter…

Jungle Dress with Trousers

Or maybe I should just leave it in the “remake this” pile.  Maybe if this dress was made in a different fabric, something with more body, it would be better.  Either that or it needs a body in it with smaller boobs and more of a waist!  I have a very good feeling this style will look fantastic on Daughters 1 & 2!

So to cope with the disappointment of this dress, I have made 4 Renfrew t-shirts and a vintage cotton dress in 3 days.  Sometimes you just need to get it out of your system by making something that someone else has spent time and effort perfecting, and all you need do is cut and sew!  I may feel better by Monday.  🙂