Frills and foxes

It is the most miserable day here today. Its dark and chilly and it hasn’t stopped raining all day, and I’m thoroughly pissed off about it! Where is my summer weather?? I should be swanning around in skirts and floaty tops, not sloshing around in my raincoat and boots (Malu is getting quite a lot of wear this week, I’m pleased to report that it is pretty waterproof!). To make myself feel better I’m making lasagne for dinner and drinking red wine, and its all smelling pretty good (though there is enough bacon and wine in the ragu to make anything smell good), and I’ll blog about the floaty top I wish I was wearing…

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Its another variation on the Scout pattern, this time with a frill. I’ve had this fox print chiffon in my stash since last summer, and I’ve just never been able to figure out what do do with it. I had never sewn with chiffon until this week, and even though I thought it would make a really cute button down shirt, I decided to stick with something more basic! I think it was a good decision, because it was a bit difficult trying to wrangle my pieces into shape. I really do love this pattern, it just fits so well! One day I may even make it up exactly as shown on the pattern.

To make the frill, I cut the pattern off at the lengthen/shorten line marked on the pattern, and then cut a strip the same width as the bottom part of the pattern but twice as long. I thought I’d have to cut the fabric in a single layer, but because the fabric is so sheer, and has such a distinct and regular pattern, it was easy to match the fox faces up and keep my grainlines straight! That was probably the last easy part of the construction of this top…

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As advertised, the chiffon was super shifty! It also frayed like nothing on earth, which made things a bit tricky too, especially when it came to binding the neckline. I used french seams on all of the seams, including the one joining the gathered frill to the bodice. I wasn’t sure if I could manage that, and it was a bit fiddly, but I managed in the end! All of the hems were done using my rolled hem foot, which looks awesome (if I do say so myself). I’m not thrilled with the way the binding looks at the neckline, I just couldn’t get it even, and it looks a bit wobbly and amateur! I think I’ll need to have a practice with my rolled hem foot on curves, it would be a much neater finish on chiffon. Or I could really push the boat out and try a hand rolled hem…

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Aside from the neckline, I am pretty happy with my finishing techniques, it looks nice and neat and tidy! I’m not totally sold on the silhouette on me, however. I’m not sure if the proportions are out, or if its cutting me off at an awkward point, or a bit of both, but I’m not sure its flattering! Its definitely pushing me out of my comfort zone, anyway. I think I should have made it longer, but I’m not sure if the extra length should be in the frill, or in the bodice of the top. Thoughts/opinions appreciated!

While I was sewing this top, I pictured it with my little olive green shorts, but when I pulled them out of my drawer for the photos they were a bit…tight. Ahem. Just as well I’ve bought the Maritime Shorts pattern! I think shorts will balance out the fullness of the frill a bit better than full length pants.

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It tends to sit back off my shoulders a wee bit, which pulls the hem up at the front. I actually don’t mind how that looks, I just hope it doesn’t look like maternity wear! It is wonderfully swishy, though that might make it a bit dangerous in the Wellington wind…

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Pattern mash-up: a Flora Holly playsuit

I love By Hand London patterns. Love them! I think they’re so stylish, but also really fun, and they can look super modern and chic or pretty and vintage. The one pattern that I wasn’t so sure about was the Holly Jumpsuit. I’m just not sure I’ll ever be confident or cool enough (or tall enough, i have this thing about maxi skirts and jumpsuits only being for tall people…) to pull it off. But I bought it anyway, because I like the high waisted wide legged trouser option (they’ll be good vintage style trousers for dancing). Then I started seeing a whole bunch of Holly playsuits popping up online, and RTW playsuits started arriving in shop windows, and I started to reconsider…

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This one from ASOS is what really tipped me over the edge. I spent ages trying to figure out a way I could convert the Holly bodice to a wrap front, until I remembered the Flora dress pattern tucked in my pattern folder, still in its pristine, uncut state. Perfect! Then I started trying to figure out how to add the sleeves off the Holly onto the bodice of the Flora. I was trying to make it really difficult for myself, stressing out about which bust darts I should be using, and which shoulder lines and side seams would work best…in the end I just traced the armscye and shoulder seam from the Holly bodice, and laid it over the top of the Flora pattern, using the flora side seams and darts.

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This is what it ended up looking like. I don’t think it would be quite so simple if I was using patterns from two different companies, but BHL patterns all seem to match up very neatly with one another. I used a super cheap poly cotton blend from the Fabric Warehouse, as I wasn’t totally convinced about the whole thing and didn’t want to waste precious fabric! So I’ll call this a wearable muslin, even though I’m pretty sure I won’t be making another one!

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It looks a bit sad with no one in it! I don’t have any photos of me in it, because Wellington is currently in the grip of a totally crap bout of weather and I want to take summery photos in it! Hopefully I’ll get some over the weekend. In the meantime, here are some more photos…

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I think that is the best invisible zip I’ve ever inserted! I hand sewed the bodice lining to the zipper tape, and to the sleeve seams to give the inside a clean finish. I made the same size in the bodice and the shorts, so I didn’t have to make any changes to get the waistlines lining up. The only other change I made (aside from all of the pattern mashing) was adding cuffs to the shorts. Just cos I think they’re cute!

So yes, hopefully some decent photos of me in it to come! I want to enter it in the By Hand London Pattern Hackathon, so they’ll have to be good ones. Might be time to get Monsieur involved….