Thursday, 24 August 2017

Lovely Laneway


I was delighted to get the chance to do some pattern reviewing for Jennifer Lauren whenever the opportunity came up lately.  I felt like I needed to be pushed out of my comfort zone both in terms of sewing and also style, so this seemed like the ideal opportunity.

I was pleased whenever I discovered it was the Laneway because it filled these 'criteria' in that it was probably a little bit more tricky than I've sewn of late (become a quick-fix sewer)  and also, in all honesty, it's probably not one I would have chosen myself because I would have seen it as a bit too dressy.  

I've sewn the Bronte and the Enid tops and love them both and so I knew that the pattern itself would probably be a good one.

Sizing

So, with a style like this, probably the trickiest part is deciding which size to make.  The pattern has options for sizes 6 -24, THAT'S A LOT OF OPTIONS!  The other great thing is that there are 3 cup size options also, so that should lend itself to a great fitting dress.  My measurements fell into the size 16 with a D cup and I made a rough toile of that in a cheap lining fabric and was fairly happy with that.  The pattern also sets out the finished measurements of all sizes and cup sizes which is extremely useful.




Styling

The pattern itself has 3 options for the collar, an asymmetric collar, a centred collar and a normal additional plain round neck collar.  I went for the asymmetric collar as I thought it was a little bit different.  There are also waist darts front and back for great shaping, a concealed zip at the back and front inset pockets.

Fabric choice

I went for a tencel chambray which I purchased a while ago at myfabrics.com.  I'd already made some culottes so knew it would have nice fluidity and movement, not too light or heavy.  I also deliberately chose a plain fabric in the hope that it would show the features of the dress, like the darts and the collar.  It was, however, a bit of a nightmare when I came to sew the zip. Grrr! It slipped and slid all over the place.  I had to hand baste it in place, then machine basted and then finally machine stitched.  A good little tip (which probably a few of you experienced girls already know), when you've stitched one side of the zip in, close it, mark the other side of the zip at the point it meets the bodice/skirt seam and go by that when attaching it to the second side.  It worked pretty well, phew!



Printing off the pdf pattern

With Jennifer Lauren patterns, she makes this really simple in that you only have to print off the sheets of paper that you need for your size and this is all made really clear in the pattern, so only certain pages for each cup size.  Also each pattern piece can be seen really clearly in sections, rather than having hundreds of sheets all taped together spread across your table or floor.  I really like this and not many pattern designers do this.

Love these subtle inset pockets.

Instructions

All I can say is that the pattern instructions are excellent.  Your hand is held practically every step of the way and although there are quite a few stages to the Laneway (4 front darts, 2 back darts , inserting sleeves, inserting pockets, skirt assembly, inserting the concealed zip and the neckline facing/collar), none are really too difficult and the pattern explains it all really well.  Nothing to do with the pattern but my skirt seemed to drop at the front, I think this is something that can happen.  I had pinned it, tried it on the next day and it dipped quite a bit at the front, so I just had to trim and adjust the hem.


Overall impression

I love it.  I do know that these more fitted style dresses do suit me as I have a fuller figure, but I've tended to avoid them because of nervousness about fitting, but this pattern made it fairly straightforward with all the size options. I normally go for looser styles with ease, but this is a lovely change. I also love the pockets and the asymmetric collar, it's just that little bit different. The fit turned out fairly well, in all honesty it maybe doesn't have quite as much ease as the pattern intended, but I'm happy enough with it.  I think it would be too big to go up another size.  I'm also pleased that I made it in this fabric which means I can casualize it (yes, of course, that's a word, haha) and I think it will be lovely with a cosy cropped cardigan and knee length boots for the winter.  A corduroy version I feel might be on the agenda if time permits. So I've enjoyed this as a different type of sewing project for me and definitely recommend it.


Sunday, 30 July 2017

Itch-to-Stitch the Bonn Shirt dress

So, I've been meaning to sew a shirt dress for ages and, in fact, have many, many sewing patterns for shirt dresses, but when the #sewtogetherforsummer girls picked a shirt dress as the challenge, I decided to go for it. (I've been rather slow in blogging this with holidays etc, so this years challenge is over, but I'm sure there will be another one next year) After much consideration, I plumped for the Itch-to-stitch Bonn shirt dress, which is, I suppose quite a classic dress in that it has a slight V-neck, small collar, button front and 4 sleeve options.


 I had great success last summer with my Emily culottes and the sizing seems to work well for me.  Also she gives a lot of sizing details and options (A to DD cup size) which means you can pretty much tailor the fit to your own size and shape.


For the dress I used a muted blue floral cotton lawn from dragonfly fabrics, which I can't seem to find on the website now, so I guess it must have sold out, but it was the perfect weight for a summer shirt dress.


 I also made a shirt version in an ikat from Faberwood, which I'm afraid is also sold out, but again it is a lovely weight and perfect for this pattern.  You can see the collar and neckline detail in the above picture, just a simple placket and collar.  I went for the short sleeve in both versions, but you have the option of  3/4, long or flared cuff.  I might be thinking of a long sleeved one for the autumn.


 The shirt version has a curved hemline front and back, which gives a nice bit of shape.


I made the size 12C and with the shape of the bust darts I'm pleased with the fit of it.

I think, if you're considering a classic fit shirt dress this is a great one to start with and not too tricky. The instructions on Itch-to-Stitch patterns are very detailed and you are pretty much hand-held the whole way.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Sew Me Something Helena


So, I finally got around to trying out the Helena dress by Sew Me Something.  I've had it for absolutely ages, but dithered about which size to make.  It's meant to be an easy fitting style of dress, but I didn't want it drowning me either.

Anyway, I went for the size 12 in a blouse length just to see how it was for size in a nani iro fabric that I've had stashed for a while.  So it has a curved neck band and pintuck detail at the front and a double yoke and gathers at the back.




I must admit the yoke was a little bit tricky.  To have a neat finish around the neck and back yoke, you have to kind of bring the dress through the yoke which is easier said than done, but it is explained very well and once I realised what I was meant to be doing it went fine.




I did a decorative stitch along the bottom of the yoke, just because.



You can just about see the pintuck detail at the front, the inner tucks are the longest with gradually shorter towards the outer tucks.  There are also bust darts giving some shape.


 I went for the normal shorter sleeves, but there is an option for a longer sleeve with placket and button fastening which might be nice for the cooler months.

 Not sure if it shows that well in the photo, but there is a metallic sheen to this nani iro fabric which is a nice dimension.

So I was pretty happy with the sizing, maybe a 14 would have given the more over-sized look.  Anyway I made the dress in a 12 also and I'm pleased with it. It's in a muted brown linen from Merchant and Mills.  I LOVE this fabric, it's yarn dyed brown but with a purple/navy thread through it.  It's slightly crisp and a lovely weight and great to work with.  If I hadn't already blown the fabric budget for spring/summer I might be after more.





I' m pretty pleased with the dress, which had the addition of in-seam pockets.  I think I would have preferred it slightly longer to wear as a dress, but to wear over jeans or leggings it's fine.  It's a great pattern and makes me want to go ahead and make some of the other Sew Me Something patterns. They're all very wearable everyday-style patterns which I really like.  What more could you ask for?

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Zadie



So, after a very long hiatus, I thought it was time to get back to blogging.  A combination of factors, like busy life, trickiness of getting proper photos in winter light and different priorities meant the blog took a back seat.  But I have been making and this is the first make I want to share (bad hair and all!)
It is the highly recognisable Tillyandthebuttons Zadie dress, a jersey dress with lots of scope for using different colours of jersey and putting your own slant on it.

It has striking diagonal seams on the front and back bodice, pockets (Yeah!), option of long, 3/4 or cap sleeve and a flattering pleated skirt.

Tilly has a little mini Zadie that you can print off to try out different combinations of colours/fabrics which is a good idea.  She also sells ready made kits in various colour combinations.



For my version I used the Saint James ponte jersey in navy and emerald stripe.  I got a few different colour variations from fabric.com a while ago.  It's amazing quality, cosy and a lovely weight, very cosy indeed.  The navy and emerald are from a local fabric shop.  I don't think I will use a stripe fabric again personally, definitely not in the skirt section.  It's never going to be straight because of the curve of the pattern where bodice joins the skirt and because of the pleats.  It looks as if it is really sloping down in the photo, it's not as pronounced in reality but I think I will avoid stripes.


It's a pretty straightforward sew, the only potentially tricky bit is the pivot points where bodice, skirt and side panels are joined.  All I would say is make sure you mark the dots accurately and clearly and hit those dots bang-on with your needle. With all Tilly's patterns her instructions are excellent with photos all along the way.


So, overall a lovely comfortable, cosy dress which has been perfect in winter to spring, but I am planning a more summery one with the cap sleeves.

Will be back soon to share some other makes before I make my summer sewing plan and look forward to Me-Made-May!

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Oh for the wings of a Dove



There have been a couple of new additions to the wardrobe recently.  The first is a winter version of the Emerson crop pants, winter in that they are navy and in a fabric with wool in it for a little bit of warmth.  I got the fabric in Clothspot, it's this midnight blue worsted wool fabric   and it is 100% wool, but enough drape for these trousers.  They are proving to be a great winter staple. I made these first in the summer, here and loved the shape and design of them with the front pleat detail and pockets and an ever-so-comfy half elasticated waistband (that isn't too obvious), so an all round success.  I've been wearing them with a pair of heeled ankle boots, the ankle of the boot just comes roughly to the hem of the trousers.



The other item is the Megannielsen dove blouse.  I loved the pattern as soon as I saw it with it's three sleeve options.  Version 1 has a normal straight elbow length sleeve, version 2 has flared sleeves and version 3 has crazy bell sleeves, very Abba'esque!!



I went for version 2 with the flared sleeve, just enough flare for my liking.  I would say the sleeves are ever so slightly long on me so I would shorten them about an inch if I were to make it again.



In fact, overall I feel the style is quite lengthy, so I would reduce the length of the front and back by about 1-2 inches .  (I am 5'5")  It does have a lovely curved hem front and back with facing pieces, but as my fabric is quite a silky fabric, I chose to do a rolled hem.  It was the first time I'd done rolled hems, so there was lots of practising beforehand, but once I got going it worked out well.



The neckline is a 'V' neck with a lovely neat understitched facing, which finishes it off nicely.  My fabric was a bit 'mad' in that the pattern was all over the place.  There was no way it was ever going to be pattern matched, so I went for the alternating pattern with the white background on one side and the navy background on the other.  Turned out a bit crazy, but I think it suits the design of the blouse. Definitely more of a 'going out' blouse as opposed to an everyday blouse (fabric wise)

I then went on to make a Liberty version which will be a Christmas present for someone.  It sewed up beautifully in the tana lawn fabric.  I went for the elbow length, straight sleeve this time and used the hem interfacing pieces which really does finish it nicely.  It looks really different from the other more silky one, but I still think it looks good too.


The fabric is a geometric circular design with taupe, white, grey and turquoise.

Liberty Tana Lawn Maddock from the Alice in Wonderland Collection (Spring 2015)
 So even thought the sleeves can be quite fancy, this pattern is still quite a good basic, the one with the straight sleeves would be ideal as a work blouse.  It will look very different depending on your fabric I guess, but I recommend it.


A more everyday photo of the Emerson pants with one of my many Liesl & Co maritime tees.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Bodacious Rosa


So, I made Rosa a few weeks ago, but life has been pretty busy, so thought it was high time to share with you.  It's a shirt/shirt dress pattern from Tilly and the Buttons and has curved princess seams, a front yoke and a shaped back yoke and a two-piece collar and stand.  I made mine from a mauve/lilac corduroy from organiccotton.biz which is quite lightweight, but I do like the colour.  I'm glad I didn't go for the dress as I'd have been freezing in it.






As with all the 'Tilly' patterns, you are taken by the hand in every step and he photographs are a great help too.  The seams are done in a mock felled way and if you are new to this method the instructions will take you through it easily.  The princess seams also lend themselves to a nice bit of top-stitching.  It hasn't come up too well on the photos but my thread was a multi-shade luminescent type thread, a bit different.



There are pockets, but I decided to leave them off this shirt, thought there was enough going on.



Even though I've been sewing a while now, I always find the buttonholes a bit stressful.  The only way is to practice a few times first on the fabric and then hope for the best!  Thankfully, no catastrophes this time.


I suppose one possible tricky bit might be the pointed back yoke, but again it's explained really well in the instructions.  I would use a fine marker to get to mark the pivot point so that it can be stitched exactly where it's meant to be.


I used some Liberty fabric for the under collar and the button stand facing.  The colours in it are amazing lots of blues, greens and, of course, purples.

The sleeve is finished with a cute button tab, which is definitely quicker than a full cuff, although I think there is a post on how to do a full cuff.

Anyway, it's another great pattern and I really enjoyed making it.  I think it's quite flattering because of the princess seams so I will definitely be making a dress version, but don't think I'll have time before Christmas.  Any sewing time now will be devoted to warm, cosy makes for a trip to USA over Christmas and some pressie making.  Can't believe we're nearly at that stage again, EEK!



Wednesday, 19 October 2016

How the Autumn 10 x 10 Challenge went.


So, can't quite believe that 10 days have passed and I have survived with only wearing 10 items! Including shoes!! 

You can see my 10 items here.

I did no planning beforehand or any real thinking about it.  Purely based on my trip to Iceland in September when I packed just a carry on for 6 days, I picked my items fairly quickly the day before I started the challenge.  I just wanted to see if it was possible and if I would learn anything along the way.  I have been striving for a smaller wardrobe, aka 'the capsule', over the past few years and have progressively been discarding LOTS of items from my wardrobe that just weren't working for various reasons. 

So, the bottom line is.... IT IS POSSIBLE and it's not even that difficult.

I may, however, have gone off anything that happens to be blue or green for a while.



Days 1-3
 Nothing to crazy for the first three days, pretty much how I dress normally, jeans/trousers, tops and cardigan/jacket.


Days 4-6

By days 4-6, I realised I was going to have to try something different.  The first was wearing the pussybow blouse under the dress, I'd only ever worn this dress on its own, so it was good to see that it could be worn as an overdress.  The other two days were just using different accessories and different top/bottom combinations.

Days 7-9
I suppose days 7-9 were similar in that I was going for the 'what can I wear under the dress/dungarees?'  Perhaps trying to make things a little bit different with different tights, jewellery, scarfs.

Day 10
By today.... not going to lie, I had an 'at home' and really just wanted to wear trackies and a sweatshirt, but for the sake of completion I pondered and came up with the scenario of wearing a top OVER the dress.  Aha, I think it actually worked, now why didn't I think of that before!!

So, what have I learned from this challenge?

Weather

All my items were fine for the challenge because the weather isn't too cold yet.  Any colder and I'd be wanting warmer sweaters and certainly a longer coat.

Lifestyle

As I work a lot from home, some days I was a bit overdressed for the activities I was doing, but it didn't matter too much really.

Colour

All of my items were blues or greens, both of which I love, therefore everything went together, but it was nearly all a bit too matchey.  Think if I were doing it again I would add in a completely different colour to provide variety and relieve potential boredom.

Shapes/Silhouettes

I think I was quite lucky with my rash choices.  The Bettine dress proved to be a godsend in that I could were tops under it and, as it turns out today, over it too.  This is definitely a factor to consider when choosing items for a capsule wardrobe, what shapes work well with others.  The slim jeans and tops is what I would were mostly so that was fine.  The dungarees were fairly versatile too, they are maybe not MY ideal silhouette in that they are quite oversized in style but for comfort they won hands down.

Washing

Not going to lie.  I did less washing than I normally would.  Well, we wash clothes too much anyway. The tops were each washed once and that was it, eek!

Reactions from others

Well living in a house of males.... NO REACTION, ie they never noticed.

Also I never see the same people all the time.  If I were going in to an organization and seeing the same group of people all day, every day I might feel more self-conscious, but I know I shouldn't, but honestly I'm not sure people really do notice that much.

Most worn item

Definitely the dress.  I will be aiming to sew dresses similar to that for day-to day wear from now on, either in a woven or a knit fabric, that can be layered in different ways.

Shoes

Two pair of shoes.  Who thought that would be possible, but I managed no problem at all.  I'm glad I chose the Russell and Bromley ankle boots.  They were a special purchase and expensive and I have been keeping them for 'good' but it was lovely to just wear them, they're not doing much good in a shoe box in the bottom of my wardrobe.

Fabric

This is very important to me anyway as I have mentioned a lot on the blog.  If you have less items in your wardrobe, you want them to be comfortable and suitable for the weather.  Those are a given, but for me I ideally want them to be as natural and breathable as possible.  I also try to use organic fabrics if I can, although honestly I've had mixed success with the more natural fabrics.  For me, my go-to fabrics are cotton, linen, double gauze, merino jersey and wool fabrics.

What next?

I really enjoyed doing this challenge.  It really does highlight what works best for your lifestyle. (And how little you really need)  It has also made me more aware when I go to buy an item or make an item, exactly how it can be worn with the rest of my wardrobe and if it can be worn in different ways then that's all the better.  Thanks also to stylebee who instigated the challenge and whose blog has been very helpful and motivating.  I'm now going to aim for the 20 x 20 challenge, haha!