Another Shirtdress for Spring

I’ve had a bit of a sewing spree since the end of the University trimester, I’ve been enjoying spending my spare time in my sewing room (part of me is secretly glad that the weather has been pretty rubbish, because it means that I don’t need to feel bad about not fixing up our jungle of a garden). One thing that I really wanted to get done was a rayon dress made using the Helmi pattern from the latest Named collection. Helmi is a loose fitting dress with a curved hem and a concealed half button placket, and either a two piece collar or a simple band collar. The pattern also has a really interesting shirt variation, which is definitely on my radar now for Autumn/Winter!

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It’s definitely a loose fitting silhouette, and I have to admit that I thought it was probably going to be an unflattering disaster as I was sewing it. I was very surprised and very happy about how much I liked it when I tried it on after getting the sleeves in! I think the very soft and supple rayon helps it to drape more flatteringly that it would if it was made in a fabric with a crisper hand. This fabric is the same as the stuff I used for my Ogden Cami, and it’s just as lovely. I have another length in a different pattern in my stash, and I might end up buying some more! It behaves so well, and drapes and presses so nicely, it’s so good to sew.

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Like with all Named Patterns, there are some lovely details in this dress. I love the curved hem, it’s just short enough at the sides to stop it being heavy and frumpy, but not so short that I have to think about not flashing too much thigh as I move about! I also love the concealed button placket, it gives the front a lovely minimalist feel. The construction of it made me a bit confused when I was reading through the instructions, but once I had the piece in my hands it became clear. Typically, I think these hidden buttonholes may well be my best to date! I feel like I’m finally getting better at judging the right size of buttonhole to sew, and I’m getting much better at finishing them neatly too.

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I used plain black buttons for the placket, and they blend into the fabric nicely when the first few are left unbuttoned. For the collar button I used one of the brass buttons I’ve been hoarding off a RTW cardigan, I love them but I’ve never managed to find any similar in craft shops! I don’t think I’ll ever wear this one buttoned all the way up to the neck, it’s a bit too much fabric with the longer sleeves and hem!

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I felt like the sleeves looked a bit plain just hanging at elbow length, so I hitched them up slightly with a faux button loop. I just sewed a narrow rectangle of fabric and hand sewed it to the sleeve with another of the gold buttons, just high enough to catch the hem and add a bit of interest. It’ll be easy enough to remove them if I decide I want to do something else with them.

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This was a pretty simple sew, aside from the slightly more difficult concealed placket. The instructions are slightly more minimal than some other indie patterns, but they’re well illustrated and easy to follow. The only change I made, aside from my minor addition to the sleeves, was to top-stitch the collar stand and to take 1.5 cm off the length of the bodice (as usual). I chose to top-stitch all the way around the collar stand as the rayon looked a bit bubbly and soft without it, it sits much better now with that little bit of extra reinforcement. I did take a bit of a risk by hemming the skirt pieces separately before sewing them together and to the bodice, but after the trouble I had hemming the curve of my Melilot shirt hem I decided to follow the instructions and just hope that it wouldn’t be too long. It is longer at the back than I expected, but I like it anyway! The hem definitely sits better on this than it does on the shirt (following the instructions can be beeficial, who would have thought?).

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I like the way it looks with a belt as well, it makes it feel a bit more dressy. I think with a pair of heels I could get away with wearing this out for drinks or dinner, but with flats or even sneakers it would be fine for a casual day. I do love a dress which can do multiple shifts!

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Trans-Seasonal Shirtdress

So it’s technically Spring down here in the Southern Hemisphere, but the weather in Wellington this month has been particularly horrible. We’ve slid back into single digit temperatures, and we’ve had hail and gale force winds and torrential rain, so my spring sewing has been bumped back a few weeks! I had meant to make a shirt dress out of this fabric last winter using McCalls 6696 (the pattern which barely needs an intoduction) but I had a list of adjustments that I wanted to make so I never got around to it. Then McCalls 7351 was released, and it had most of the features I was going to try to change M6696 to have (the shirttail hem, the slim back without the gathers, no waistband), so I cheerily switched patterns, and then fluffed around all Winter and never got it made. But finally, here it is finished!

I really enjoyed sewing this dress! I haven’t had a lot of practice with big 4 patterns, but I’ve recently bought a bunch because I’ve had such a good time sewing up the ones I’ve tried. I’ve found that I get the best results if I sew a 12 in McCalls patterns, even though my measurements put me in a 14. M7351 has multiple cup sizes, and I used the C cup bodice. I think it fits well, though it does look like I have a bit of gaping at the buttons across the bust in these pictures.

I love the curved hem and the sleeve tabs!

I did my usual adjustments here, I took 1 inch off the bodice length, and another inch off the bottom of the back bodice at the centre back for a sway back adjustment. I also shortened the skirt by and inch and a half. The only place where I ran into a problem was the sleeves, they tapered so much towards the elbow that I couldn’t lift my arms when they were rolled up into the sleeve tabs. I ended up shortening them by 3 inches, and they’re much better now! I’ll never wear them not rolled up, so I don’t care if they’re weirdly disproportionate now.

I possibly could have taken a little more length off the bodice, but I don’t think its too bad. I never pictured it without the belt, but it actually looks ok!  I’ll also probably never wear it done all the way up, which is good because something a little bit funny has happened with my top button, its a bit off centre…

if the bodice was a wee bit shorter my belt wouldn’t ride up like this…

The fabric is a cotton/linen/elastane blend, so it’s really light and breathable and holds a crease really well (good for sewing, less good for wearing…), and has a little bit of stretch. Its basically a really comfortable lovely fabric, and I’m really glad that I have enough left to make a pair of shorts! The buttons are fake shell ones that I found in the $1 bin at The Fabric Warehouse, which is my favourite place to find packets of buttons. I also used some Liberty Saville Poplin to line the yoke and for the under collar and inner collar stand.

So I’m really glad I finally got this dress made, I think I’ll be able to wear it with tights and boots just as easily as bare legs and Keds, so it should get plenty of wear! Though I am hoping to be in shorts and sundresses sooner rather than later…

Satisfaction sewing

I hope you aren’t sick of listening to me gush all over this blog about how much I love the things that I’m sewing, because I’m totally in love with this weeks dress! I’ve had a really lucky run over the last six weeks or so, everything just seems to be coming together nicely. I think this is partly because I’m getting better at picking patterns and matching them with good fabric, and also because my sewing is just plain getting better. This week I made myself version B of the Alder Shirtdress, by Grainline Studios. I’ve already waxed lyrical about my love of Grainline, I love their aesthetic and I’ve always had amazing success with Grainline patterns, and the Alder was no exception…

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I made up a straight size 6, with no alterations (except for taking the hem up an inch instead of only half an inch, because I thought it would sit better). The fabric is a lovely Japanese cotton lawn I ordered from Miss Matatabi on Etsy, and it was luscious to sew with! I love lawn, its really nice to wear as well. If I’m ever heading somewhere tropical, this will be my dress of choice! Its so floaty and breezy. This is somewhat troublesome in Wellington, as we always have a bit more breeze than one might like…

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I love the gathered skirt, it makes the dress just a bit more interesting and girly, especially in such a light fabric. I decided to leave the pockets off, I’m not a huge fan of breast pockets! I love that about sewing my own clothes…if I don’t want it, I just don’t add it. I’m especially pleased with how the collar turned out, I used this tutorial from Four Square Walls again, and it was easy peasy!

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I used french seams throughout, except for the gathered panel, with is overlocked. I’ve always hated gathering fabric, but using three lines of basting as instructed by the pattern instead of the two I would usually use made a huge difference. The whole lot just seemed much more stable and better behaved. I managed to keep my gathers even when sewing as well, which helped. I like the attention to detail and care which has to go into sewing a neat collar and button band, and the rest of this dress was interesting and fun to sew as well. The whole process was intensely satisfying, really!

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I was planning to take this dress (and my two latest projects, my Scout and Moneta) up to Auckland this weekend for the Rolling Stones, but the forecast is for rain! Disaster, I’m going to have to rethink everything! If only i had my waterproof Malu finished…

I finally managed to get Monsieur behind the camera for these photos, though he managed to take a few extras when I wasn’t paying attention. This one is the “stop arseing around and give me the camera, now!” face, for your entertainment…

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