My Pattern: Black Insert Dress

One thing that dominated summer on the high street, and has moved seamlessly into Autumn, is applique Roses.  I invested in some way back when, with the full intention of using them this summer.   I had planned to make a simple black dress and just jazz it up with the appliques.  But I went a step further than simple… I added inserts and Bell sleeves.  I went full Stevie Nicks vibe on this dress and I love it!

I started with a skater dress bodice that I had drafted with a slightly higher neck.  This pattern was traced and re cut from an old dress in my wardrobe and has become the base of many dresses, good and bad, its’s a perfect fit.

After tracing a copy, I then cut it down the middle front for the lace insert.  I didn’t add any seam allowance here as I was technically just ‘replacing’ the fabric by sewing in a piece of lace.

The Bodice was easy to whip up.  The insert technique I used was to overlock the raw edge, fold it under, then literally sew the lace edge on top of that on the outside. Sometimes it was fiddly, sometimes i had to go back and patch holes, but it just worked.  I was lucky that my chosen lace had a black edge which i used as my visual guide in sewing.

The Sleeve was made on the go, measuring where i wanted the insert to sit on the arm, then flare out into the bell sleeve.  I did a rolled hem on the base of the bell sleeve as It would also be seen as I wear it.  It was a bit of a faff, but worth the extra time and headache it took

attaching the skirt to the finished bodice posed its own issues… one being the lace not being adequate support at the waist, especially with a zip involved.  What i found best was adding some binding to the inside of the skirt.  It meant there was no movement and everything stayed in place as I fiddled with the lace, and then the zip.  Unfortunately I only had Grey binding…. but no worries you cant see it on the inside.

I debated leaving it plain, but then I have endless amounts of black dresses, so I took the plunge and had sewed the appliques on and I am not disappointed.  I am glad I waited to the end to decide to add them, even though it would have been easier to sew them onto the sections, I got the placing right when I tried it up against myself (and avoided and misplaced nipple looking roses!)

I didn’t want it to be symmetrical, and it wasn’t; mainly because when I ordered a pair, they sent two the same. So they could never have sat symmetrical.  So I separated the so called ‘pair’ and put one on the skirt and one on the bust at different angles.

overall i am really happy with this more experimental pieces.  I love how I have ended up with a Free-People-esque boho dress.  The bra needs a bit of a second thought when wearing this (not the grungy white one i was wearing in the pictures!)  But its revealing without being to sexy, mainly due to the bodice neck height.

My Pattern: NFD Shirt Dress Rip

As I have mentioned before, one of the reasons I make my own clothes is because most of the clothes I love and want to wear don’t come in plus size.  I am left to either spend forever finding something similar in my size.  Unfortunately, I am not too fond of the fit of plus size clothing… they don’t work well on someone with small shoulders, or someone not willing to wear shape-wear on my stomach everyday.

One brand I love is Never Fully Dressed.  Fortunately, I do fit into some of their more oversized pieces… others i have no chance, mainly the sized items.  One thing I feel in love with, but knew it wouldn’t go near the boobs, was the Leigh Shirt Dress.

Leigh – Never Fully Dressed

Just having pictures as a reference was slightly difficuly, I picked out a few key features:  Insert placket, Rolled sleeve and tab, High front/low back and possibly due to the size of the item, some front seams.  I drew up in my sewing book a rough pattern guide to get the ultimate flair:

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I had in my stash a thin Linen fabric with a slight stretch to it, and being quite hot, I needed to use it.

So How Did it sew…

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From the off, I found it easier to cut the back and front out as one piece, instead of using the inserts as planned.  This was mainly because the fabric had a smaller width than i had panned.  But the measurement was perfect for the flair of my shirt.  It was a simple case of cutting the front, laying in on the next piece and drawing the drop from that.  so Simple, yet effective.

This piece was a complete Frankenstein monster of different pieces… The collar and placket were from the Kalle I had recently fallen in love with,  The arm holes and sleeve were from Merchant and mills the dress shirt.  I also borrowed a placket from a Jude I believe it was, for the sleeve. (I will correct in the comments if I am wrong)

After sewing up the piece, I realised that the shoulders (something I hadn’t used the pattern for) were far too big.  In fact it was far to big over most of the bust area, so I decided to place some insets in.  These were made simply by folding the what i needed and sewing it down.  I took it across the bust slightly to give it a better shape.  I had to do it twice but I really like the effect.  As an added fit, I put in some darts on the back, to balance the low drop back.

Overall, I am so happy wit this piece, I love a good oversized top that I can just chuck on and look great in.  I also love having something that covers me for the summer that is light and airy.   I have worn this so much over the last months of summer.  I am considering another in a thicker cotton fabric to take me through winter.

Hopefully, I will also be able to make one as I had originally planned to capture the beautiful fair out of the original.

 

My Pattern: Easy Tie-Dye Smock Dress

One thing I love about summer (probably the only thing as I prefer the cold) is festivals and Festival fashion.  I had one to go to at the end of August, and I wanted to attempt to take mostly hand made Items.

I had bought a beautiful terry knit from Girl Charlee a while back.  I had bought it for a sweater, but soon discovered it was thin enough to become something better.  Unfortunately it had fallen into that trap of getting fabric that I love, and fearing I would ruin it ended up putting off actually using it.

I had been looking for a decent oversized smock dress pattern.  I had tried to draw some plans out, but in the end I just went with the fabric and jumped in.

So How Did It Sew?

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I only had 2 metres of fabric, but I used every scrap of it just by making it from a series of rectangles.  The top was folded over, and a head hole cut in.  I didn’t finish it with binding, I just pulled the jersey and it held.  I did the same with the hem. The skirt was just a length of the fabric cut in two and sewn together.  The arms again, due to the oversized square nature were just sewn on.  To give it a more casual look, I rolled up the hem and did an invisible stitch to hold it down.  I think it really adds to the casual look of the piece.

I absolutely love this dress, and I wear it constantly.  its ridiculously comfy, but that it due to its size and the softness of the fabric.

I ended up taking this, my long coloured Kimono and a couple of other key hand made pieces to the festival with me.  To be fair, by the end of the weekend, no one really cares what you look like.  Plus all the people there dressed like it was the 90’s and not in a good way!  I saw some shell suit jackets, loads of bumbags and some questionable patterned shirts. But if it weren’t for everyone holding a smartphone I would have been convinced I had travelled through time!

Even though I have described how I made it, and it was a quick sew, it took a bit of planning and thinking.  Once you cut the fabric that is it, so I had to have some idea of where its going.  Most of the time I felt I didn’t, and worried about my fabric, but it turned out perfect in the end.

I highly recommend a visit to Girl Charlee, for someone who struggle with pattern, most of the good pattern I have bought and actually wear is from there.   But with saying that I do need to give some of their basic colours a try.

Made By Me: Pauline Alice – Camí dress

This is quite an important post as I feel like my sewing has come full circle.

Back when I started sewing, one thing I desperately wanted to make was a shirt dress.  I had been inspired by a Gothic looking dress online, one that a) didn’t do my size and b) even if they did I bet you my boobs would make a bit for freedom out the front buttons.

So I set about with a McCall’s M6696 hoping to recreate this ‘simple’ shirt dress.  The material I chose was a purple stretch fabric, the colour was called Damsel… And it was a disaster… Everything from the fit, to the collar, to the fabric was just awful.  I didn’t even finish it with buttons and a hem I hated it so much.  I brushed that Idea away for more than a year… then I met the Pauline Alice’s the Cami.

Pictures from Pauline Alice Website, Showing the 3/4 length sleeve version I made.

Having a fair amount of reservations on any shirt dress pattern after the first attempt, I at ignored it.  But make after make just kept on popping up on my Instagram feed.  All EXACTLY the shape and style I first wanted back when I started the disastrous damsel piece.

Firstly, It wasn’t in my size.  This posed an issue in that I would have to enlarge the pattern somehow.  My skills in this department were almost non existent.  But after a few YouTube tutorials, I grabbed some Swedish Tracing paper and ended up with a PERFECT fit (including the boobs)

The second slight issue was when I discovered that the skirt was just two rectangles.  I cant say I wasn’t disappointed at first… one of the selling points of this pattern was how everyone’s Camis I saw online had the best shaped skirt.  I was mistaken in my thinking that there was this holy grail of skirt making that I was chasing… In fact this was a lazy hack I used myself on some of my patterns… normally on the patterns I end up loving the shape of the most.  So I learnt that sometimes the most simple techniques are in fact the best.

So How Did It Sew?

Date Completed: 5th August 2017
(Sorry for the slight bleaching out in the pics, but flat black matt fabric is a pain to photograph)

The main challenge of this was not the sewing, but making it a size bigger.  This was surprisingly easy, and dare I say actually quite fun.  I simply laid it on top of a piece of Swedish tracing paper and systematically went around the pattern pieces and extended it and various points.  It was a simple case of measure, do the math, place the dot, repeat that step loads, then join the dots.  I honestly urge you to try it, even if you are not plus size, try it on a size too small vintage pattern… I know you have lurking in your collection somewhere (i know i have!)  One thing I didn’t change was the length of the bodice, despite having a long body, I felt confident in the length of the pattern.  The collar stayed untouched and I was conscious of this when sizing up the pattern around that area.

I went for a soft Peach Skin Black.  I love this fabric, I paid a bit extra for it in my cheap shop, but at 2.95 a metre, it’s still a bargain.  I bought in bulk and have more than enough left for other projects.  It has a beautiful matt finish and is the perfect light/medium weight.

Overall this sew is incredibly simple, the instructions are absolutely Beautiful.  I love the little button dots and the beautifully illustrated front and diagrams.  I love how its been kept in theme of the website too.  Putting it together is super easy, I would totally recommend anyone making the jump from beginner to look at this pattern.  Other than that this may be the perfect go to shirt dress pattern I have seen so far.  I highly recommend it as part of your wardrobe if you haven’t already got it.

I definitely need a patterned one now, to maybe challenge myself more in matching it up.  And despite winter, I quite fancy a short sleeve one.  Plus do check out the other patterns, I know I will.

 

 

 

Made by Me: My First Burda – PDF

I have often trowelled though the many Burda patterns online (since I have given up ever buying the mag as it is never in store)  I was never overly impressed with their Plus Size range, until a few months back when they bought out a couple of collections that were extremely wearable, that tackled my frumpy view of Burda.  I had to make one.

So I downloaded the Draped Sleeve Tunic (Plus Size) 06/2015 #130A (added a link because even after I downloaded it I found it impossible to find again)

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How Beautiful is it!  And also HOW WEARABLE for me!

As a seamstress who focuses on wear-ability of a pattern, I am getting a bit fed up of all the dresses I know I will wear only occasionally.  Something like this will fit in with my everyday, oversized, slightly smarter than the slob around clothes (but still comfy) AND i could possibly leave the house in it wardrobe.

Perfect.

I decided to make it out of the bulk buy of white Jersey I had, for two reasons; a)  I like the Idea of a wearable toille that I can try then maybe attempt in a beautiful mocha colour like the picture above and b)  even though its knit, I can always attempt to dye it as it is white.

I like having options.

Something I would like to mention before we talk about the Sew, I have heard a lot of negatives about Burda Patterns; The actual pattern themselves as apposed to the final pieces.  This is also something I considered when buying, and maybe why only now, with a bit more confidence level in sewing, that I have chosen to tackle my first Burda.

So How Did It Sew?

Date Completed:  3rd August 2017

The make itself is great, I love the Fit and style its very me… the only issue is the fabric was too thin and stretchy.  Its kind of misshapen the piece.

The sleeves are driving me mad, looking at the above Burda picture, I am thinking this is again to do with my fabric choice.  I tried to combat this by adding an elastic insert… but It failed and I just left it alone.  Another me issue I had was getting the front panel caught in my overlocker.  Honestly of all the pieces to get stuck, it had to be the front centre.  After unpicking it was dotted with holes… I combated this simply by cutting it off and setting the faux overlay further back… a complete lazy cheat tbh, I should have recut that piece.

Now, to the pattern itself…

I completely understand the issue some sewists seem to have with Burda.

I am not a sewer that needs their hand held through a pattern… truthfully, I will skim a pattern quite a bit and figure it our without referencing every single word and it still works.  Yet, I felt it was as sparse as the recipe of a Great Britsih Bake off technical challenge!  Not having pictures also was a bit of a pain in the butt.

Its not a MASSIVE issue, and i do like to challenge myself with my makes, it just seems for a big pattern company that its a bit lazy, skimping on the instructions to just one A4 page.  This is especially annoying when you compare it to the masses of Indie Patterns that their creators pour their heart and souls into really good instructions.

Despite that, I hope this blog is a slight warning to the novice sewer… save a Burda for a bit down the line maybe, and know that even if your skills are good, you will skill at some point start tearing your hair our.

Overall, I love this dress, now i have done it once I know what I am doing.  I probably wont wear the white as I look kinda like an angel in it, but look forward to keeping this on the ‘patterns that need the perfect material’ pile.

Happy Sewing Everyone

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