Spotty chambray sheath dress

I’ve been really wanting some easy to wear dresses this summer. Last summer I was all about the Southport dress, but I’ve had a couple of nasty sunburns this summer (bad Kiwi! Should know better!) so I was wanting something with a bit more coverage. I bought McCalls 7464 in the post-Thanksgiving sale last year, and I thought the jewel neckline and sleeves would give me a bit more protection. It helps that a sheath dress was one of the items in my #2017makenine too…

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I used a lovely Japanese chambray from Miss Matatabi. It’s so soft and comfortable, but I think I bought the last of it sorry! It was really lovely to sew, and I have a chunk left over for a top. I find some chambray too blue (I know that sounds stupid, they’re obviously all blue), but this softer cornflower blue is the perfect colour for me. I imagine it’ll be lovely in the heat, though I haven’t had the chance to test that theory yet due to our stormy, chilly summer!

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M7464 is a ‘petite’pattern. I wasn’t 100% sure what that meant, but it turns out that it means the patterns have a shorter nape to back waist length which is perfect for me! It was a simple enough pattern to sew up, I read through the instructions once before starting and then didn’t really refer to them again. I really like the shape of this dress, with it’s front and back princess seams, I think it’s really flattering but not too form fitting! I made view C, but with everything cut on grain rather than cutting the princess panels on the bias (so technically probably view A without the pockets. Either/or.)

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I do wish I had a better match with my zip colour. I thought this pale blue one would be best, but I might have been better with a navy one! Either way, it isn’t too bad really.  One thing I did change from the pattern was to omit the full lining, as I was after an easy breezy summer frock. Instead I used the tutorial for drafting Non-Flip Facings from What Katie Sews. It worked really well, they haven’t popped out of the neckline once! next time I will make the front facing an inch deeper at the centre front neck, as I failed to take the seam allowance into consideration and so it’s only about 1 and 1/4 inches deep at the CF. Even so, it stays put!

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I am really happy with this dress, but there are a few changes I’ll make for next time (and I have two pieces of fabric set aside for another summer version and a winter version already). I feel like the waist of this dress is sitting at the right place, but I have about 2 inches of excess fabric in the upper chest. You can see it bubbling around my collarbones in some of the above pictures. If I pinch it out, the whole dress just feels perfect around the upper chest, rather than feeling a bit sloppy. I’ll need to do some research into the best way to remove that excess fabric and how to modify the sleeve to fit the new armhole (any suggestions or tutorials appreciated!). The back length feels fine, but I might experiment with removing excess from the front and back as well as removing it all from the front. There are toiles in my future! Once I’ve got that sorted, I think I’ll have a perfect dress pattern.

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Furry photo bomb! Zelda is so nosy, she always needs to know what’s going on when  I have the door of my sewing room closed. She must get terrible FOMO when I leave for work every morning…

 

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Dotty Philippa

This is a tale of two halves, of highs and lows, of my epic stupidity… Who would have thought a cute little skirt could cause such drama? 

  
Before I get into my tale of woe, a small disclaimer: I’m friends with Kat, who owns/operates/designs for Muse Patterns. However, I paid for this pattern with my own pennies, and I’ll do my best to provide an unbiased account of sewing it up. 

  
I was super excited when Muse Patterns released the Philippa Dress, I had been looking for a simple princess seamed sheath dress with pockets incorporated into the bottom of the princess lines so that I could copy a RTW dress I had seen. I couldn’t find anything that had the pockets I was looking for, so I was on the verge of modifying a princess seamed sheath to use the pockets from the Xerea dress when Kat anounced her latest release. It was pretty much exactly what I was after (minus sleeves, but thats a much easier addition than what I thought I was going to have to do!), so I snapped it up. 

  

Now, eagle eyed readers will have noticed that this is not, in fact, a dress. One thing I really appreciate about Muse Patterns is the variety of options incorperated into their patterns, similar to what you get from a big 4 pattern. I had a short length of this lovely soft Japanese corduroy, so I thought I’d try the skirt first, rather than making a somewhat unseasonal dress. It has the same cool pockets and seaming on the back as the dress, but with a lapped zipper and a narrow straight waistband.

  

  

The front half of the skirt came together easily. I used a small scrap of black lining for the pocket bag to decrease bulk, and decided that I couldn’t even come close to pattern matching across the side panels with the amount of fabric I had which made cutting easy. Unfortunately, I had a moment of complete reading comprehension failure when I was looking over the instructions, and I sewed everything together with a 1.5cm seam allowance. When I held it up, I thought the front looked very small. Looking back at the instructions, I realised that there was a 1cm seam allowance and a 1.5cm hem allowance. I was so annoyed with myself! I was able to let the vertical seams out by 5mm each, but the horizontal and angled seams in the pockets were going to be a total bastard to fix, so I just left them. I was careful to sew the back panels so that the angled seams were also at 1.5cm, so that they matched the pocket angle at the side seams. Then I was extra careful to sew the side seams together at 1cm!
  

Unfortunately, being soft corduroy, the initial seam lines (which I had pressed and steamed) were still very visible along the front of the skirt. I spent some time steaming them without letting the iron touch the pile, and then I rubbed it gently with my fingernail to fluff the pile back up again. It worked up to a point, but the lines are still a bit visible. 

I also chose to use an invisible zip rather than a lapped zip, as I didn’t have any standard zippers! Other than that, I followed the pattern as written.
  

I thought this skirt was going to be a bit of a disaster at the half way point, and I was so cross with myself for wasting this fabric, but I actually love the end result. The corduroy creases like nothing on earth though! I ironed it just before taking these pictures, but sitting down for 2 minutes and walking around the house caused the creases across the front and in the back…I’ll just need to embrace the slightly rumpled look. I have to say that I don’t think I gave either pattern or fabric the attention or got the result they deserved, but at least I got a wearable skirt in the end. I’m excited to make the dress up in a cute spotty chambray, hopefully I’ll remember to check the seam allowances next time!

Underneath it all…

Its really cold! I’m huddled on the couch, watching a torrential bombardment of hail out the window. Hope it stops before I have to walk to the bus stop tomorrow morning…
Happily, this week I’ve made myself some extra layers to get me through the rest of winter!

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This is the first non-indie pattern I’ve sewn for ages, though it is one of Gertie’s (from Gertie’s Blog for Better Sewing) so maybe it can be counted as a partially indie pattern! I like to wear a camisole at work, as scrubs tend to be a bit breezy, and I thought some merino ones would be nice. I decided to make a trial version up in some soft cotton jersey I had in my stash first, incase it didn’t fit or wasn’t comfortable.

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Yes, its dotty! But its going under clothes, so I figure it doesn’t count…
(The bandaid is from my accidental attempt to cut the top of my finger off with a bread knife. Who knew bread knives could be so sharp?)

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I did the majority of the sewing on my machine, using a zig zag stitch. This is how the lace needed to be attatched, and I was feeling too lazy to be switching between machines all the time! The camisole came together pretty easily, though the front half ended up a good inch longer than the back half! I don’t know if that was a mistake on my part or not, I suspect it probably was…

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I used proper bra strapping and rings/sliders, which looks nice and professional, but I don’t think I’ll bother next time! I’ll just use a fixed length of bra strapping or the stretch lace. I probably won’t put the stretch of lace under the bust either, I’ll just sew the body to the bust pieces. I was astonished how difficult it was to find 1.5″ lace elastic in Wellington, even when I did track it down it was only in black, red or a dodgy puce colour. I may need to turn to the internet for my next versions!

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I had a bit of fabric left over, so I thought I might as well have a crack at making a pair of matching knickers too! Sadly I didn’t have enough of the wide lace to trim the top of them, but i had enough of the knicker elastic I used along the top back seam of the camisole. I haven’t tried them on yet, I thought it was a bad idea to wear them to work incase they’re uncomfortable! If they fit and are wearable though, I’ll never waste money on a pair of plain cotton knickers again…its daylight robbery!

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I’d love to have a crack at making a bra one day as well, I saw on the Sewaholic blog that Tasia was talking about maybe one day releasing a bra pattern, which would be awesome! I think I would need the hand-holding that you get with an indie pattern to feel brave enough to attempt it…

Dots, dots, everywhere…

I have a bit of a problem. A dotty problem. Slowly, everything in my wardrobe is becoming polka dotted! I’ve been looking for some spotted tights, but I just couldn’t find any that matched my (very specific) mental image. I wanted navy, with little white dots, so in the end i bought a pair of plain navy 70 denier tights and some white fabric paint to do it myself!

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I cut some lengths of cardboard to go inside the legs of my tights, so that the paint wouldn’t go through, and to stretch the tights out a bit. Happily, I still have lots of empty cardboard boxes left from our move! Then I spent about two hours looking for my paintbrushes. I had planned to use the end of one of the brushes to make my dots, but I really have no idea where they’ve got to. In the end, the only thing I could find that would make the right sized dot was the end of my old fashioned house key!

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Initially, I thought I might make a random pattern of dots, but in the end i went with a pretty standard, regular pattern. I get a bit obsessive about patterns, so its safer if they’re more structured! I was sitting next to a girl on the bus the other day who had trousers pattered with little rearing horses. On one leg the horses were facing up, and on the other they were facing down. Its just as well I was getting off at the next stop, because otherwise she would have noticed me staring in horror at her legs! I wonder if she had even noticed the mismatch? Anyway…once I had both legs all dotted up and the paint had dried (that was the hardest part, waiting for the paint to be totally dry!), I took the cardboard out, and ironed them carefully to set the paint.

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I think they’ve turned out pretty well! They match the mental image i had at the beginning, anyway. I’ve got lots of fabric paint left over too, so who knows what I’ll be decorating next! No more polka dots though, or I wont have anything plain to match them with…

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Autumn is here!

Ack, it is so much colder this week, summer really did just give up as soon as it was allowed! I’m not too sad though, because I love winter clothes and hats and scarfs and boots. This week I whipped up a really quick cowl/scarf using the scraps of cotton knit left over from my Briar teeshirt. I had a bit of a disaster with my Briar (I accidentally put it through a hot wash, and the beautiful rose gold polka dots turned silver! Its not the end of the world, but the silver doesn’t go as well with the creamy nude base colour of the fabric), so I’m glad that I had enough fabric pieces left over to make something else.

My photos today are all really sketchy, I had trouble with my flash and getting enough ambient light, and my face looks really weird in pretty much every photo! I was also taking them in a rush before sitting down for my first online lecture of the trimester. Its just as well I didn’t take them after the lecture, because I’m pretty sure I would have looked a bit shell shocked! But anyway…

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I made the scarf as long as I could, piecing together a few different patches of fabric, so I can loop it around three times so that it fills in the neck of my coat, or just twice if I don’t need it to be quite so warm. I love how soft and snugly the fabric feels when its wrapped around three times though, it was nice when I was waiting for the bus at the crack of dawn in an arctic southerly wind this morning!

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These are the only even remotely reasonable photos I managed to get! I tried taking some mirror selfies, and this is what I ended up with…

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…so I thought I would give it up as a bad job, and go and learn about the digital divide and the information revolution instead. I was going to try and take some better photos after dinner, but then I spilled chilli on my scarf, and now I’m just going to go to bed before I fall down the stairs or something…

Valentine cardigan refashion

While I was packing last week, I had a huge clean out of my wardrobe, and took heaps of stuff to the Salvation Army. I was rutheless, but I still have so many clothes! I found this cardigan in my ‘Broken’ pile, I somehow managed to lose a third of its buttons, and it was worn in one elbow and really pilled. But I love the colour, and its a nice soft knit, even if it is acrylic! I didn’t get any before photos, but it just had plain plastic buttons the same colour as the fabric.

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The first thing I did was remove the remaining buttons, and then shave it to get rid of all the pilled patches (yep, shaved. With a bic razor. i don’t have a special de-pilling doo dah, but a razor seemed to work just fine, even if it would have looked very strange if anyone had walked in while I was doing it…) Then I sewed on the new buttons. I’m still not sure about them, they might be a bit Sergeant Pepper. I wanted round gold ones to go with the gold polka dots on my patches, but I may change them later.

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The patches are made from scraps left over from my Briar tee shirt. I just cut out two hearts free hand, I didn’t want them to be too perfect. Then I hand stitched them on to the elbows, making sure I had them even and over the threadbare patch! Sewing them on would have been much easier if I had some iron on fusing stuff, but they do feel nicer without that extra layer. Luckily I inherited a spool of thread in exactly the right colour in the assortment of random sewing things I got from my Nana with the sewing machine.

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(Why yes, I am wearing a cardigan and a scarf, even though its February. Pick up your game Wellington, we’re running out of summer!)

I had big plans to get my camera out today and take proper photos with the timer, but the battery charger has disappeared somewhere in the move…I hope its in a box somewhere, and didn’t get thrown out. So its back to selfies taken with the iPhone. I had so much trouble trying to get photos that showed the elbow patches and which didn’t make me look totally moronic/like a contortionist. I had the added complication of having to stand on a little end table to get enough of me reflected in the mirror, obviously tall people hung the mirror in the hall!

I’m hoping to get my Datura blouse sewn up before I go on holiday on Friday, I’ve had to wait for a nice enough day to pre-wash and dry the fabric! But its out on the washing line now, hopefully I’ll manage to get it cut out tonight and finished by Thursday…

My finished Briar

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I actually finished my Briar several days ago, but we’ve had the most ridiculous stormy weather (for mid summer) so I hadn’t had a chance to get any photos until yesterday afternoon, when the sun finally appeared! I’m so pleased with how it turned out, it was such an easy pattern to follow. I can’t believe I wasted so much time avoiding knit fabric, it turned out to be just fine to sew. The fabric I chose is so soft and drapey, its lovely to wear. I ended up cutting the hem straight, as I just wanted something really basic. I also used the neck binding option the pattern offers, rather than a neck band, which I think looks really nice. (Seriously, i can’t get over how well this turned out, its going to be in high rotation in my wardrobe this summer!) My only major mistake was sewing on the pocket, I was a bit over eager to get going and didn’t really think about where I was putting it. Once I had it all beautifully sewn down, I held the front piece up to my chest and realised that it was so far around the side of my breast that it was practically in my armpit! Not ideal. When I unpicked it, there were still needle holes from the old seam, but they seem to be fading back into the fabric. Lesson learned, I’ll pin, check and then sew next time!

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(Fur ball Oscar wouldn’t be shifted, so he ended up in the photo too)

I’m already planning my next Briar! I definitely think I’ll make a long sleeved version up in merino wool before it starts to get cold again. For the next one, I think I’ll go down a size, and look at taking an inch or so out of the centre back, as there’s quite a lot of spare fabric there. I don’t mind that in this one, as its a nice loose shape anyway, but for winter I’d like it to be slightly more tailored. I have really narrow shoulders, so I have to do that for most top patterns. I’ll have to practice with my topstitching with the twin needle first, some of my hemming is a bit wobbly…

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Bonus shot with both of the fur balls!