Monday, 26 January 2015

An Edith Dress for Jungle January

After my initial attempt at the Edith Blouse and Dress pattern by Maria Denmark here I was enthusiastic to try again with a few changes. I purchased a jungle inspired print from the bargain shelf at my local Bargain Box Fabrics for only $5.00 per metre. It was some sort of cotton? I think, with a lovely drape. Perfect for Jungle January.

As I noted after making the blouse, I made a few changes to the pattern. Firstly, I retraced the pattern in the bigger size B44 ( and added 1.5cm seam allowances). I hope I didn't mislead people in my last post regarding the sizing of this pattern. I think the pattern corresponds well to the sizing chart, I was just in denial about my actual size. As a side note regarding fabric requirements, Maria only provides fabric requirements for 140cm wide fabric. I used 112cm wide fabric and I cut the blouse easily out of 1.5m and the dress out of 2.5m. (This did not allow for making bias binding).

In order to address the issues of the bust darts being too high and the armholes being too small I did a very simple alteration to the pattern pieces. I simply slashed the pattern horizontally above the bust darts and through the armholes and spread it by 2cm.

I also cut off 7cm at the hemline to allow the hem to finish above my knee. 

I am really happy with the fit now. 

Sorry about the wrinkles but these photos were taken after wearing the dress all day at work.

I did have enough fabric to make some bias binding to finish off the sleeves. 

The darts at the back shoulder create a nice fit.

I used white thread for the construction and top stitching. I did think about using black thread to sew the buttonholes because I was using black buttons, but I am glad I went with white as they are quite unobtrusive and disappear into the print of the fabric.

I turned the hem up 1.5cm twice and top stitched. This is a really comfortable dress and I am so glad I tweaked the fit to make it work for me. Well worth the effort.

This jungle print is certainly something I wouldn't normally wear...not really my colours, but I am pleased with the finished result. I already have another Edith cut out in a completely different fabric for a totally different look, and I have a few more blouses planned as well.

It has been fun to participate in Jungle January too.

Many thanks to my daughter for taking these photos for me.

Happy Sewing

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Maria Denmark's Edith Blouse: A Wearable Muslin

After admiring the Edith Blouse and Dress out there in blogland, I have finally had a go at making my own. I loved Paola's dresses at La Sartora here and here and Heather's blouse from Handmade by Heather B here. Let's just call this a wearable muslin.

This is a PDF pattern, but I must say the pattern tiles fitted together much better than any other PDF patterns I have tried. My only gripe being that you have to add your own seam allowances. I found this just another tedious step that certainly added a lot of time to the process. You have to print the pattern, tape it together, trace off the required size and then add seam allowances. I don't understand why they are not added in the first place. Imagine how many hours are wasted if you added up the time it takes each individual person to complete this extra step, when it could have been included in the pattern. As you can probably tell, I was very annoyed.

Anyway, getting back to the blouse...the style really appealed to me. Fitted, but not overly fitted and no sleeves to set in. I thought this would make a great blouse to wear to work.

I thought I would start with the blouse to get the fit sorted, before I tried the dress. I bought some cheap pink poplin from my local Bargain Box Fabrics specifically for this and I cut a size B42 with 1.5cm seam allowances. I did add 5cm extra length at the hemline because I prefer to wear my tops a little longer. After sewing all the darts (8 in total) I decided I would just machine baste the shoulder and side seams to check the fit. I am so glad that I had the forethought to do this because it sure made the unpicking a lot less painful. This size was way too small. I don't know what I was thinking when I cut this size. Maybe I was thinking it would be like the Big Four patterns which have loads of unnecessary ease. I almost binned it at this stage until I realised I had added quite generous seam allowances so maybe it could be saved. I proceeded, with a new determination to make it fit.

After unpicking the basted seams, I scooped out about a cm from the bottom of the armhole as these were very tight. The shoulder seams were re sewn with a scant 6mm seam allowance which effectively added another cm of room to the length of the blouse. I decided to finish off the sleeve hem with some purchased bias binding. (I didn't have enough fabric to make matching bias binding). I did this step before sewing the side seams. The curve at the bottom of the armhole is quite tight and I thought this would be quite difficult to attach the bias binding in the round. Then I sewed the side seams with a scant 6mm seam allowance, effectively adding another 4cm of room to the width of the blouse. I was careful to line up the seam evenly at the underarm to create a nice neat finish. To stop the seam allowance peaking out at the underarm, I fold the tail of the overlocking threads under the seam allowance and then stitch the seam allowance down for about a cm to keep everything in place.

Another quick try on and I decided I could definitely make it wearable. This is actually quite an easy blouse to sew. None of the techniques required are terribly hard and I was enjoying the sewing process. I attached the collar and the facing and all was looking good. I must have started to rush as I could see the end in sight...a bit like a horse bolting for home, because I got careless. 

I was grading and clipping the seam allowance after attaching the facing...snip snip snip *#%@! I had snipped two little slits in the back of the blouse. I had invested too much time and effort into this blouse to abandon it now. What to do??? The slits were right at the top of the back of the blouse, almost covered by the collar on the outside and totally covered by the facing on the inside. My solution was to iron a small circle of fusible interfacing over the slits on the inside. So far they have held together and it has been through the wash twice now.

I made the buttonholes as close to the edge of the front as possible and positioned the buttons to provide as much room as possible. When sewing the hem I curved it up at the side seam. I thought this would look more flattering than a straight hem all the way around. The fit is still a little too close. The bust darts are too high but it's passable...a wearable muslin.

I have a renewed enthusiasm to try this pattern again. Notes for next time: 

  • Cut the larger size
  • Add 2cm length to blouse by cutting and spreading approx halfway between shoulder seam and top of front darts. (Do this to front, back and facing pattern pieces).This will do two things: lower the darts by 2cm and add an extra 2cm to the armhole depth.
  • Add 3cm of length at the hemline.
  • Curve hemline up at side seams.

Looking forward to making a much better fitting Edith soon.

Happy Sewing

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Casual Coco for Summer

I have recently made a wonderful discovery locally...a new to me source for fabric and sewing notions..."Patchwork On The Bay". I had never paid this shop any attention as it is tucked away down a very quiet arcade. Out of sight and out of mind, and I assumed it would be all patchwork/quilting fabric and supplies. But I was wrong! They also stock some wonderful cotton shirting fabrics as well as a large selection of buttons and trims, etc. The business owner is also very helpful. (More than I can say for the other fabric/sewing shop in town). There is a bargain table out the front where I have picked up some lovely knits...mainly interlocks and that is where I found this lovely print for my Coco.

I just loved the fresh colours in this striped print and I thought it would make a lovely summer Coco dress. I made a size 5, as usual and kept the flared A-line skirt. I shortened the sleeves and added some width to make them nice and loose. After wearing my last Coco, I found the short sleeves restricted movement a little. This may have been due to the ponte which is quite different from this interlock. I may have gone overboard on the sleeve widening but they are very comfortable and cool.

I did a pretty good job on matching the stripes on the side seams. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough fabric to match the stripes on the sleeves, but I don't think they look too bad.

I don't know the composition of this fabric, except that it does not contain any spandex. It drapes well and does not crease. Got to love a dress you don't need to iron. Most of the construction was done on the overlocker.

I turned up 2cm hems on the sleeves and the skirt and sewed with a twin needle. I had white thread in one needle and navy blue in the other. This was largely due to sheer laziness as I didn't have another reel of white thread and couldn't be bothered to stop and wind a bobbin. I thought the navy thread would tie in nicely with the navy print.

I used a cotton/lycra knit binding on the neckline, turned completely to the inside and top stitched with a twin needle. This resulted in a neckline that sits flat and snug against the body, thanks to the lycra component.

A casual Coco perfect for relaxing on the weekend.

Many thanks to my darling husband for taking these photos for me, and many thanks to my Mother and her husband for the use of their pretty garden. 

Happy Sewing

Sunday, 18 January 2015

White Snake Foile Print Maxi (aka McCalls 6552)

As usual, I made myself a new dress to wear to my work Christmas Party last month. I was a little strapped for time, so I chose a simple pattern McCalls 6552 (unfortunately now OOP), which I have made before here and here

Taken at Circular Quay just before boarding the boat for our dinner cruise on Sydney Harbour (my 2014 work Christmas Party)
This is a versatile little pattern that can be dressed up for a glamorous party or dressed down as a beach cover up, depending on your fabric choice. It can be made in a knit or a woven fabric too. The bodice front and back are cut as one piece (that's right, there are no shoulder seams). I would recommend this pattern to a beginner as it is quite simple to sew and easy to fit.
McCalls 6552 Line Art
I am usually a size 14 to 16 in the big four patterns, but as I was using a knit, I cut a size Small as I had done for my previous versions. The fabric was purchased online from The Remnant Warehouse. A White Snake Foile Print Jersey, (which is still available). I really had no idea what to expect when I ordered this fabric. It was a bit of a surprise when it arrived. The colour is very close to the photo on the website but it didn't feel like I had imagined. The print is an almost plastic feeling layer on the fabric. I was worried that it might feel like wearing a raincoat. Luckily the wrong side of the fabric feels just like a poly jersey. Due to the print layer, this fabric had very little stretch, which made my dress a little snug and I wished I had cut the larger size.

This version ended up a little short compared to my last maxi. I had added 4cm to the length, but I hadn't realised that I hadn't actually added the extra length to my traced pattern piece. Never mind, it made a feature of my pretty new shoes (and I avoided a trip hazard).

I eliminated the drawstring at the waist and replaced it with some 12mm wide elastic inserted in the casing. This made a comfortable and snug fit which did not need constant adjustment and worked very well. I felt that the dress looked a little unfinished so I made a long sash to wrap around and cover the elastic casing. This was a long rectangle, approx 300 cm long by 22cm wide, folded in half longways, right sides together, and stitched along the length and across one end and then turned right side out. I then tucked in the raw edges on the open end and stitched closed. This is long enough to wrap around me twice.

I finished of the neckline with a knit binding turned completely to the inside. As the Foile Print fabric did not have very much stretch, I used some white cotton/lycra left over from my recently made white T shirts. This resulted in a nice snug neckline without any gaping. As this is a very low cut dress, I wore a white rtw petticoat underneath.

I sewed french seams for the bodice side seams as they are visible inside the kimono style sleeves. The overlocker was used for the other seams. I turned up a very small hem and stitched with a twin needle. This would be a great candidate for Jungle January, if I hadn't sewn it in December.

Many thanks to my darling husband for taking these photos for me today, and many thanks to my Mother and her husband for the use of their pretty garden. (Mine is an overgrown mess at the moment, due to all the rain and heat we have been having lately, and me spending all my spare time in my sewing room.)

Woops! I almost overbalanced and fell in the pond.

Happy Sewing

Friday, 2 January 2015

My 2014 Sewing Year in Review

I have been enjoying reading the various sewing bloggers' sewing reviews of 2014 and it has inspired me to look back at my own sewing achievements over the past year.

There are still a few items yet to be blogged, but I will get there eventually. I was surprised to count a total of 39 garments sewn (totally selfish sewing, as they were all for me), 1 refashion , 1 muslined wedding dress that never eventuated, 1 tote bag, a wedding garter and a couple of custom made pillow slips as a gift for my mother (my only unselfish sewing for the year).

Here are my most worn garments sewn in 2014

Starting at the top left hand corner and going clockwise: Style Arc Terri Tie Cardigan, Sewaholic Renfrew, Style Arc Elle Pants, Style Arc Stacie Jean Jacket, Style Arc Fay Skirt and Tilly and the Buttons Coco Dress.

The Terri Tie Cardigan got loads of wear. It matched a lot of my pants, I could wear several different tops/shirts under it and it was warm and comfortable with a flattering shape that camouflaged my tummy area.

The Renfrew was made of a very good quality ponte which has held up really well with no pilling at all. This was a favourite for work dressed up with a long necklace.

The Elle pants were all very popular for casual weekend wear and I found that I reached for the navy ones the most. Probably because they were easier to match with different tops.

My Stacie Jean Jacket was a real favourite. I just love the floral print and it makes me happy.

The mosaic print Fay Skirt was easy to dress up for date night, or dress down for work and this got a lot of wear.

I loved my stripy Coco Dress. It was such a fun casual dress and I loved the retro vibe. 

I also had a few garments that I was not really happy with.

My first attempt at the Style Arc Elle Pants, Named Kielo Wrap Dress, Vogue 1382, Tilly and the Buttons Coco Dress.

My first pair of Elle Pants have never been worn due to wrong fabric choice. The bengaline did not have enough stretch which made these ridiculously tight.

I really wanted to love the Kielo Wrap Dress but it just wasn't flattering on my body shape and made me feel like a brick. I have since refashioned this into a much more wearable shift dress.

Vogue 1382 was my first fully lined dress which proved to be a bit of a challenge to sew and a few lessons were learned along the way. Unfortunately, the colours are just not me and I don't feel comfortable wearing it.

The white Coco is lovely in theory, but I have never worn it. White is a difficult colour to wear in winter and the length was a little short for comfort.

Here is a list of garments sewn in 2014 by type:

4 x Woven Skirts
Rachel Comey Vogue 1247 in denim
Grainline Studio Moss Mini in fushia cotton drill
Simplicity 2451 View B (not yet blogged)
Simplicity 2451 View C (not yet Blogged)

2 x Knit Skirts
Style Arc Fay Skirt in Mosaic Print Scuba Knit
Style Arc Fay Skirt in Black Ponte (not yet blogged)

1 x Shirts
Grainline Studio Archer in blue poly/cotton gingham

6 x Knit Tops
Sewaholic Renfrew with Cowl in Lavender Ponte
Style Arc Issy Top in a fine silky poly knit
Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono Tee in white cotton/lycra
Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono tee with neckline and fit alterations in white cotton/lycra
Style Arc Ann T-Top in white cotton/lycra
Style Arc Polly Top in white cotton/lycra

9 x Pants
Style Arc Elle Pants in Brown Striped Bengaline
Style Arc Elle Pants in Black Bengaline
Style Arc Elle Pants in Teal Bengaline
Style Arc Elle Pants in Midnight (navy) Bengaline
Style Arc Elle Pants in White Bengaline
Style Arc Wendy Pants in Burgundy Bengaline
Style Arc Sammi Pants in Grey Poly Suiting
Style Arc Barb Pants in Black Bengaline (not yet blogged)
Style Arc Barb Pants in Midnight (navy) Bengaline (not yet blogged)

5 x Woven Tops
Grainline Studio Scout Tee in Floral Rayon
Grainline Studio Scout Tee in Cream Rayon
Grainline Studio Scout Tee with 3/4 sleeves in Navy Rayon Print
Grainline Studio Scout Tee with 3/4 sleeves in green Rayon print
Grainline Studio Tiny Pocket Tank in Floral Rayon

1 x Woven Dresses
Vogue 1382 Anne Klein Shift Dress in khaki & natural linen/cotton blend

6 x Knit Dresses
New Look 6071 in Purple Ponte
Tilly and the Buttons Coco Dress in white cotton sweater knit
Named Kielo Wrap Dress in Charcoal Ponte
Tilly and the Buttons Coco Dress in navy & white striped ponte
Tilly and the Buttons Coco Dress in navy and white chevron striped ponte
McCalls 6552 Maxi Dress in White Snake Foil Printed Knit (not yet blogged)

3 x Cardigans
Style Arc Terri Tie Cardigan in Grey Marle Ponte
McCalls 6844 View B in Royal Blue Ponte
McCalls 6844 View C modified in Deep Red Ponte

1 x Jackets
Style Arc Stacie Jean Jacket in Floral Denim

Compiling this list of garments sewn during 2014 has been a very interesting exercise. It has made me realise just how productive I have been, considering I do hold down a full time job as well. Most of the garments sewn have fitted into my lifestyle well and get worn on a regular basis. There are still a few holes to fill in my wardrobe which I look forward to rectifying in 2015. I participated in the RTW fast for 2014 and only broke it to purchase my wedding dress after I had trouble getting the required fabric delivered in time. It was surprising to see how much I didn't miss clothes shopping during the year...although I did purchase quite a few pairs of shoes.

Thank you to all the lovely people out there who have taken the time to comment on my blog. I appreciate each and every one, and a big thank you to the whole sewing/blogging community for providing endless inspiration, tips and encouragement through out the year.

McCalls 6552 White Snake Foil Print Maxi Dress

Here's wishing you all a very happy 2015 filled with lots of sewing enjoyment.