Denim Fiona Dress

Is anyone else struggling to get their head around the fact that it’s November? I’m not ready for there to be Christmas displays in the shops! This year just seems to have disappeared, I’m not sure what I’ve done with it. I mean, I did hand in my research project last week, which means that I’ve finally finished my Masters of Information Studies (provided I pass, of course, though I would be a bit salty if my supervisor had let me hand in something below a pass level!). I don’t think I realised how much space it had been occupying in my mind this year until it was all handed in and no longer in my control, and I’ve been enjoying daydreaming about all of my summer sewing plans rather than musing about my data matrix or something equally dull.

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This dress is one which I sewed up in tiny chunks in between writing up my results and discussion sections. It’s the Fiona Sundress from Closet Case Patterns, and it was a good one to sew in drips and drabs! I could sew the front princess seams, then write a couple of paragraphs, then sew the back princess seams, then draw up some figures and charts, then sew the side seams…you get the picture!

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I really loved the 90’s style of the longer version, and I loved the drama of the low backed version, but I decided to be very sensible and make up the mini-length with the high back! I just really hate not wearing a bra, and I wanted to be able to wear it without a tee shirt underneath when we get further into the summer. I do wish I had made the below-knee version rather than the mini length, but I think this length will be good with tights when I’m layering it for cooler weather too.

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Fiona was a fun wee pattern to sew up, and came together with minimal fuss or changes! I took a centimeter off the bottom of the bodice to account for my short waist, and possibly could have taken a sliver more off at the centre back for my sway back, but I’m not too bothered. I did have to shorten the straps considerably, but that’s easy enough! The instructions even remind you to wait until you get to the point you can try the dress on before securing the straps at the back, in case they need to be altered. I do wonder if I should have taken it in a bit through the bodice, there’s a bit of extra ease under my arms and around my waist, but I really didn’t want a tight dress so I’m not overly bothered!

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I used a lovely stretch denim from The Fabric Store, it was marked as Marc Jacobs and was on special for something crazy cheap so I bought a bit of it! I’ve got enough for another pair of Ginger Jeans, which is timely as my first blue pair are getting pretty ratty now. I think denim works really well for this pattern, especially for the shorter versions, but I wish I had used a lighter fabric for the strap and top band facings. I cottoned on in time to use a chambray for the pocket facings, and I think it would have worked better to reduce the bulk at the top of the button bank especially. Having a rigid fabric facing at the top there might also have helped to combat the slight gape I get under my arms too (seriously exaggerated in the above photo!).

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All those lovely copper buttons came from Miss Maude Fabrics, and yes, making 14 buttonholes and whacking in 14 buttons was a bit of a chore! Honestly, getting in and out of this dress is a bit of a chore too, even though I only have to undo the top 6 buttons. If I was going to make it again, especially in a lighter fabric like linen, I think I would stick a long invisible zip in the side seam, just to make it easier to get in and out of! I would probably still make the buttonholes, but at least it would make getting dressed in the dark at 6am before work easier.

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I am really happy with it though, I’m looking forward to getting to wear it with bare shoulders and sandals like this! It looks cute over my striped tee shirts too though, so I’ll be able to wear it no matter what Wellington decided to do with the weather…

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Finally, Ginger Jeans!

Making myself a pair of Ginger Jeans has been on my to-do list since the pattern was released (seriously, it’s been on my 2014, ’15 and ’16 Top 5 goals list…), and I’ve finally knuckled down and made them. Just like with my Safran Jeans, they really weren’t any more difficult to make than any other garment with a moderate number of pieces, definitely easier than a winter coat (and 100% easier than the raincoat I’ve recently finished for my sister!)

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Check them out! These are view B, the high waisted/skinny leg version of this pattern, I like my jeans to sit at my natural waist and these are pretty much spot on. I didn’t make any major pattern changes to this version, I thought I should make them up as is for my first shot and then tinker with my next pair! To be honest, I was amazed at how well they fit straight out of the packet. I took 2” off the hem (next time I’ll take it out higher on the leg to keep the hem skinnier), and moved the pockets up 5/8”, and took out a bit of extra fabric at the outer side of each knee. For my next pair I’m going to play with a knock-knee adjustment, I think that should help fix the diagonal wrinkles at the knee that I have with this pair and my Safran jeans. I might also take a wedge out of each side of the yoke, there’s a wee bit of gaping at the back waistband. Other than that though, I think they’re really good!

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I put in the pocket stay option too, it does help to make the front feel nice and snug! I used more of that Liberty Poplin remnant that I’ve used for every pocket bag/under collar/yoke lining/bag lining since I bought it. There’s still plenty left, so expect to see it again! The denim I used is from The Fabric Store, of course. I bought it years ago, with the intention to make these jeans with it! When I pulled it out of my stash last weekend, I was surprised by how lightweight it was, I had remembered it being much heftier. It meant it was really easy to cut and sew, but these aren’t really winter weight jeans! It also felt quite rigid, and I was worried that I hadn’t bought denim with the right stretch percentage, but it turns out that next to the 30% stretch that my Safran Jeans have, this 2% lycra/cotton blend just feels stiff!

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I used a hardware kit from Closet Case Files (the gold colour way), and I really love the result. The zip is especially nice, the pull is really low profile compared to other zips I’ve used, and it helps the whole fly sit so nice and flat. I also love that the button and the rivets match, it looks all so nice and professional! I was really scared of putting the rivets in, I was sure I was going to ruin everything at the final step! I watched the video tutorial on the Closet Case Files Blog, and everything was really simple in the end. I just had to whack everything harder than I expected, and avoid stabbing myself with the awl (and the rivet posts, they were pointy!). For thread, I just used all-purpose Gutermann thread for construction, but I used Sulky thread for the topstitching. I’ve had so many issues with topstitching thread in my machine, and I thought that the slippery, shiny Sulky thread would show up nicely and my machine wouldn’t have a tantrum every time I tried to sew with it.

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I’m amazed at the difference moving the pockets made! They looked okay at the marked position on the pattern, but shifting them up 5/8” has made my bum look much better. I think the size and shape of the pockets is excellent, Heather Lou knows what she’s doing!

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I was a little bit worried about how firm and tight these felt when I first put them on, but after a few hours they loosened up nicely, especially around the knees (just as well, I thought I might have over-fitted them around there). I’m not sure how well this denim will hold up, to be honest. They’re comfortable now, but I have a feeling that they might keep bagging out and will need lots of washing to keep them in shape! I interfaced the waistband with the same hefty knit interfacing I used in my Safran Jeans, so hopefully they’ll stay up…

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Unfortunately, it turns out that Sulky thread really isn’t cut out for top stitching, especially not on a stretch fabric under stress! After a day of wear, I had popped several lines of topstitching on the pockets and around my bum. This morning I went back and re-did all that topstitching on the back crotch seam and pockets with normal thread in the same colour, and hopefully it’ll hold up better. I thought that since I had seen Sulky thread being used for topstitching on bags that it would be okay, but of course bags aren’t usually stretch fabric or being stressed like those seams, so I shouldn’t be surprised really! I have some heavier stretch denim in grey waiting to be made into another pair of Gingers, so for those I’ll use upholstery thread for the topstitching. I know my machine will sew with that, because I use it to sew leather!

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I really enjoyed making these, even though there were a few setbacks at the last moment! I like the precision of doing that  top stitching, and all of the other components like the bar tacks and rivets and fly make these a really fun project to work on, especially as I sewed them up in short bursts between writing an assignment. Best of all, I’m really happy with the final product! Stupid that it took me so long to make them really…

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Finally, I thought I should get a picture of this tee shirt, as it hasn’t made the blog yet! It’s a Molly Tee, from the Sew Over It City Break Capsule Wardrobe e-book. I really like the shape of it, especially the curved hem and the wide scoop neckline. I turned the sleeve hems up and hand stitched the cuffs rather than just hemming them, just for something a bit different. I keep meaning to make the dress version, but it keeps getting bumped down the list. Maybe for summer!

Double Denim

At the end of last year, Emma from Emma’s Atelier organised a sewing challenge for the Wellington Sewing Bloggers. We were going to finally stop procrastinating and sew jeans! Now, I got my jeans finished by the end-of-challenge date in March, but the date was pushed back a few times to accommodate others who were still sewing. Eventually the 6th of May was decided on, so I decided to sew up something else for the challenge as I had already blogged my jeans

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I was going to have a crack at some Ginger Jeans, but I didn’t get organised in time. Instead I decided to use the rest of the stretch denim I had left over from my Safran Jeans to make another version of the skirt from v1247. I really liked my first version of this skirt, but it is pretty short, and the fit is all a bit squiffy because I was more worried about pattern matching than the trifling matter of accurate seam allowances…

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This version does fit much better, I don’t have the odd bubbling above the pockets like I did with my first version. Guess those seam allowances do matter huh? I added 3” to the hem of this one, and I prefer the longer length. I also added an exposed zipper up the back (I thought sewing denim and using a metal zip made this skirt enough like jeans to qualify for the challenge!). I used Megan Nielsen’s tutorial for the zip, and it worked fairly smoothly. It isn’t as neat inside as I would like, due to the way the seam allowance gets clipped, but I can live with it! I bound all of the internal seams with Hug Snug, to keep the bulk down (and because I couldn’t be bothered making bias tape). It looks a bit dodgy up close, but if you aren’t looking too closely it looks pretty good!

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I’ve been wearing this skirt heaps since I finished it, I didn’t realise I needed a denim skirt but it has obviously filled a gap in my autumn wardrobe!

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I’ve also made a long sleeved version of the Deer & Doe Melilot Shirt, in a Robert Kaufman chambray from fabric.com (I think it’s this one, but I’m not 100% sure). I love my short sleeved one, so I thought a long sleeved version would go well in my wardrobe, and I was right! I really love this shirt. I’ve seen some mixed reviews of the Kaufman chambray around, but it’s really hard to find lightweight chambray in store in Wellington, so I thought I’d give it a go. It’s really nice and soft, and it pressed and sewed up nicely. Hopefully it’ll wash well, because I’d like this shirt to last.

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This is the first time I’ve sewn tower plackets, and I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out. There was a little bit of head scratching as I tried to get everything to fold correctly, but it all suddenly fell into place and looked like what I was expecting! I put a bar tack right across the top of the split to reinforce it, as I’ll be wearing these sleeves rolled up most of the time, but next time I think I’ll use a shorter vertical bar tack to strengthen that area. The long bar tack is just a bit clumsy looking! I am happy with the way the cuffs turned out, the curves on the cuffs, collar and pockets look really nice together.

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I hemmed this one with some grey bias tape, as I’ve never been happy with the turn and stitch hem treatment on my first shirt. Bias tape just sits so much flatter around those sharp curves at the side seams. The buttons are my favourite mother of pearl shirt buttons from Made Marion Crafts in Wellington.

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I’m not entirely sure what the deal is with those big wrinkles above the pockets on this shirt, I wonder if that just happens with dropped shoulder seams? Any suggestions? I have so many versions of this planned now, I’ve got some rayon for another long sleeved version, and some more cotton for a long sleeved dress hack, and some linen for another short sleeved summer version… I need a job with a smart/casual dress code so I can wear them all!

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In the end, only Emma and I had finished items for the challenge reveal, so here we are in matching denim (she used the same stuff for her Safran Jeans), and with our matching Ida Clutches, before we had delicious chips and soda at Six Barrel Soda Co!

Finally, does chambray count as denim? Is this outfit double denim? I really like both pieces, so I’ve decided not to be to bothered about wearing them together. Double denim is in now anyway, right? I’ve seen the hipsters wearing it for years! Either way, down with fashion rules…