Monday, 30 November 2015

Style Arc Mia Dress

Deviating from my last post about the very form fitting Marita Knit Dress, I have tried a new looser fitting design...the Style Arc Mia DressI liked the look of this design but I couldn't find very many versions of this pattern made up during my internet research so I wasn't sure how good the pattern would be.

Style Arc describe this pattern as "Simple but sophisticated, this dress has an elasticised waist for easy wear, extended shoulders and a fashionable front skirt over lay which falls beautifully. As an option the front skirt overlay can be deleted if a plain front dress is preferred, so easy make it in an afternoon."

Style Arc Mia Dress

This is another polyester spandex knit purchased from Spotlight during my recent fabric shopping trip. It has a lovely silky feel, and is very drapey...perfect for this style. I made the version with the front over lay which drapes beautifully. 

Husbands can be handy blog photographers, but they are not so good at being personal stylists. I asked several times if the dress was sitting properly etc, and in every photo the belt is not sitting on the waistline. Oh get the general idea.

I do like the looser style, and it is comfortable and easy to wear. This is quite an easy pattern to sew but I managed to make it quite difficult due to some silly mistakes.

The front overlay is cleverly sandwiched in the side seam between the front and back skirt pieces (except when you sew up the wrong side seam first). This was such an annoying mistake, but I was not going to unpick an overlocked seam. I overcame this problem by pinning the overlay over the finished side seam and stitching in the ditch. This was painstakingly fiddly but it worked and it's not noticeable.

The front crossover bodice neckline has a facing and this produces a lovely clean finish. Although, I did have some trouble with the facing wanting to flip out despite under stitching. This may be due to the weighty drape of the fabric and I may go back and secure it down with some Bondaweb (iron on adhesive). The pattern does suggest adding a press stud at the centre front to reduce any gaping, as this is quite a loose fit. I chose to wear a cami under it instead. The back neckline is finished with a binding.

The shoulder seams are sewn together and then gathered by applying elastic to the seam allowance. I did use this method but I found it very fiddly and resulted in a messy finish on the inside. I think I might prefer the traditional method of using a gathering stitch. I did not use the sleeve bands, but turned the sleeve hems under and secured with a twin needle.

After joining the bodice to the skirt at the waistline, you overlock 6mm elastic to the seam allowance to gather the waist line. The narrowest elastic I had on hand was 12mm wide and after I overlocked it to the seam allowance I tried the dress on. It was huge! The elastic had stretched out terribly and the waistline hung on my hips. There was way too much fabric at the side seam between the armhole and the waistline. I thought it was ruined and it was nearly discarded in disgust. (Unfortunately, I didn't think to take a photo at this stage.) 

But, I loved the fabric and I was determined to make it work. I carefully cut off the elastic at the waist (no way was I attempting to unpick the overlocking) leaving a seam allowance of about 3mm. Luckily there was plenty of length so I could afford to sacrifice a little when attaching the new elastic. I cut a new piece of elastic, this time 20mm wide and much stronger to hold the weight of the skirt, and overlocked it on. Much better result this time. Then I took in the side seams by 3cm at the base of the armhole and tapered to nothing at the waistline. This did the trick...a huge improvement to the fit. As you can see there is still plenty of fabric in the bodice.

So, despite my silly mistakes and fitting issues...I am quite happy with my new Style Arc Mia. It all turned out well in the end.

Happy Sewing.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Style Arc Marita Knit dress

I'm on a bit of a Style Arc roll at the moment and I have tried out another Style Arc dress...this time the Marita Knit Dress.

"This easy fit stylish cowl dress with interesting twist effect at the waist has a high back collar that hugs the neck and falls into a soft cowl at the front. The twist pleat at the waist makes this dress a fashion garment." from the Style Arc website.

Style Arc Marita Knit Dress

This has not turned out as well as I had hoped and it is entirely my own fault for not following the fabric suggestion on the envelope. This pattern is designed for a two way stretch jersey. 

I could see that it was a fairly clingy looking design and I thought it would be more flattering in a sturdier fabric so I used an Italian Printed Ponte purchased online from Knitwit. This particular print has been sold out. In hindsight I think this would have worked if I had used one size bigger than my usual size 12.

Even with the help of shape wear, I felt like a stuffed sausage in this dress. Oh, if only I had sized up :( Even the sleeves were skin tight on the forearms.

I couldn't get the front drape/cowl to lay properly. It kept moving and exposing the edge of the facing and required constant fiddling which was very annoying. Although it looks better in the photos than it did when I was wearing it and looking down at it. It would probably lay correctly if the suggested two way stretch jersey had been used.

I think I will try this pattern again in the suggested fabric. It is quite an intriguing design that comes together very quickly. The front twist effect is achieved with a long dart and a tuck...very simple but very clever too. Style Arc suggest that this dress could be sewn in under an hour. Well, it took me a little longer than that...but I am a slow sewer.

The busy print is being kind to me and camouflaging my lumps and bumps fairly well. I think this would have been totally unwearable if I had used a solid colour. Well, I have learned a lesson and will pay more attention to the fabric suggestions in future.

Happy Sewing. 

Sunday, 22 November 2015

White Linen Shirt

After promising my dear husband that I would make him another handmade shirt months ago, I have finally delivered.

Last March, my ever patient husband took me on a fabric shopping trip during a visit to Sydney. I got to visit Tessuti at Surry Hills which was amazing...such beautiful fabrics. I could have spent hours there, but this was only a quick trip. I did manage to purchase a couple of pieces of lovely 100% linen and one of them has been made into this shirt.

I based this shirt on McCalls 6044 which I have made twice before here and here. You can find all the construction details and pattern alterations in these previous posts so I won't go over them in detail again here.

For this version, I only added one pocket at Greg's request. This simplified things as I didn't have to worry about matching the placement to the other side. Also, using a solid colour meant no pattern matching. This shirt was probably a lot easier to sew than my first two versions because of this and the fabric was a dream to press and sew.

I followed The Classic Tailored Shirt by Pam Howard on Craftsy, as I did with my previous shirts. This is a great resource and I can't recommend this class enough. I added a tower placket that is not included in the pattern using this tutorial. I love this detail on a man's shirt. Greg loves wearing his sleeves rolled up so I lengthened the tower placket to make it easier for him to roll up the sleeves.

I had all intentions of sewing button holes and buttons on this shirt, but I couldn't find any buttons I was happy with locally. Greg is a big fan of press studs and I had these "Snaps" from Snapsource in the stash. At first I didn't like the idea of using snaps on a linen shirt but after some convincing from Greg, the idea grew on me. These ones are called white marble and I think they go quite nicely with the casual rumpled vibe of the linen fabric.

There is something so satisfying in sewing a man's shirt. I love the neat finish that flat felled seams produce, both on the outside and the inside. I spent a couple of weeks sewing this shirt in short bursts in the evenings after work and I managed to get it finished just in time for his birthday. I gave it a wash to remove the pink pencil marks so it was presentable for the occasion, but to my horror the interfaced areas went all bubbly and crinkled looking. I thought it was ruined, but after getting over the initial disappointment I have decided it doesn't look too bad with the wrinkly nature of the linen and it is wearable. Greg didn't seem concerned about it.

I have learned my lesson though. No more cheap and nasty interfacing for me. I have explored Fashion Sewing Supply and their interfacing products online. Has any one else in Australia bought interfacing from this supplier? I would appreciate any feedback or any suggestions for a more local suppler of decent interfacing. It is so heart breaking to have all your hard work ruined by inferior products.

I couldn't get a smile out of him for these photos. We were out in our front garden and he was worried someone might see him. Oh the trials and tribulations of getting photos for the blog. He did love his new shirt though, and I get a lot of pleasure seeing him wear it.

Happy sewing.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Style Arc Slip-on Suzie

Style Arc's Slip-on Suzie Dress has been on my "to sew" list for ages. I finally bought the pattern and made it up in this bright floral poly/spandex knit, a part of my recent fabric haul from Spotlight.

This is a fake wrap dress and it comes with the choice of a cap sleeve or a long sleeve, so it can be made to suit all seasons. It just slips on over your head and there are no closures which makes it nice and easy to sew.

Style Arc Slip-on Suzie

I didn't follow Style Arc's instructions exactly, or should I say "order of construction". The neckline was finished off with a strip of binding cut from the same fabric. I didn't measure it, I just stretched it slightly as I sewed it to the neckline, to ensure a snug fit and it worked. It was then turned to the inside and secured with a twin needle. I did end up stitching the front crossover point with a few hand stitches, as it wanted to pull off centre, and this fixed that problem.

The sleeves are a double layer and so don't require hemming. Style Arc instruct you to set the sleeves into the armhole after sewing the bodice side seams. I thought I knew best and went ahead and sewed the sleeves in flat. Then I sewed the side seams of the dress and the sleeves in one continuous seam. This was a disaster in this slippery, slinky fabric and I am not very proud of the result. Next time I will follow Style Arc's directions for the sleeves.

I decided to wear a narrow belt with my Slip-on Suzie today, as it seamed a little loose and shapeless without the belt, despite me running in the side seams at the waist. As I am quite rectangular and thick around the waist, this was a bit surprising.

The belt also disguised the weird pulling at the side seam from the front wrap. I found the sleeves to be quite loose and floppy, but that may be due the the drape of this poly/spandex knit. The hem was turned up 3cm and stitched with a twin needle.

Despite all my gripes, I am quite happy with how this dress looks in the photos. I wore it to work today and it was very comfortable (like secret pyjamas, so they say). I will wear this a lot over the coming summer.

Happy Sewing

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

A Firework Style Arc Kate Dress

The Style Arc Kate Dress has been around for quite a while and there are many lovely versions out there in blogland, which I have been admiring. I am happy to say that I have finally got around to trying the pattern and I have not been disappointed.

From the Style Arc website: "KATE DRESS: Fabulous versatile wrap dress – easy to wear, great for any occasion."
This is a perfect description for this classic style, and the pattern has met all my expectations.

Style Arc Kate Dress

This fabric was purchased recently in my binge shop at Spotlight (Queanbeyan). It's a poly/spandex knit in a very busy print called firework. I wanted to try this dress in a busy print because I was worried that all my lumps and bumps would be very obvious in a solid colour. I think the print has worked well camouflaging my problem areas, so that was a win.

The fabric requirement for this dress is 3 metres at 150cm wide. I only had a little over two metres of the firework fabric, so by using a creative cutting layout and shortening the sleeves to 3/4 length I was able to eke it out of the fabric available. I did have to cut the back piece out running in the opposite direction to the front pieces, but this is not a directional print and I don't think it is noticeable.

I tried to position the pattern pieces so that there was no unfortunate print placements and I am pretty happy with the outcome. I did make a few small changes to the design after conducting quite an extensive amount of internet research. The general consensus was that this pattern runs extremely long. I'm sure I read somewhere that Style Arc have shortened this pattern recently. I only purchased my copy recently and I only had to shorten it by 3cm. 

I was not keen on the belt tying at the back. I thought it looked a bit too young for a woman of my age. I lengthened the ties so that they would go right around me and tie at the front...a much more grown up look, in my opinion. I found the ties were positioned a little above my waistline, so next time I will lower the waistline by about 3cm. To be fair, the line drawing is quite accurate and shows the ties to be quite high and this would probably work quite well if they were tied at the back. The tucks at the waistline on the outside front piece were extremely fiddly to sew in this slippery knit and I did rather a sloppy job of it. Thank heavens for the busy print, this is not too noticeable. Next time I might try eliminating the tucks by cutting two of the under front pieces, which others have done with success.

 I absolutely love this neckline. It's quite modest and workwear appropriate and just sits beautifully. The pattern suggests sewing rubber swimwear elastic (clear elastic) to the neckline, turning over and stitching. I elected to make my own binding out of some white cotton/lycra.

I cut a strip of binding approx 5cm wide and a similar length to the neckline. I folded it in half  lengthwise and pressed. Then I overlocked the binding to the right side of the neckline (using 10mm seam allowance), stretching the binding a little as I sewed. I then cut off the excess length of binding, turned the binding over the seam allowance to the inside and secured with a twin needle. This has created a nice snug neckline with no gaping issues.

The wrap edges of the front pieces were secured with some Bondaweb Iron on Adhesive and then stitched down with a twin needle. The hem was turned up twice at 1.5cm and secured with a twin needle. I often have problems with skipped stitches when sewing poly knits, but this one behaved quite well.

Notes for next time:

  • Lower waistline by 3cm.
  • Lengthen waist ties to reach right around waist.
  • Remove 3cm from hemline.
  • Cut two left fronts (one pair) to eliminate waist tucks.
  • Use binding on the neckline.

As you can probably tell, I love my new Style Arc Kate Dress. It feels so comfortable and so feminine to wear. I already have some fabric in the stash ear marked for future Kate's.

Happy Sewing