When I made my anchor M6696 I thought a fair bit about the collar. It felt too floppy and wide and tall.

I’m not sure you can really tell here. I have worn this a fair amount in the real world (although with a new rule of not with knee socks, as I feel too juvenile), and here is what the collar does.

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It sits up and sags out. This is after one day of wear, with a good iron in the morning. Also proving that my resting bitchface isn’t just for regular blog photos. Here’s a bathroom selfie of the whole outfit, with cropped Bonnie which is basically my platonic, ideal outfit, but where I’ve strategically accidentally hidden the collar from view.

IMG_4995I need to make a million more of these so I can wear them every day.

And here is my twister dress, which I managed to also not get any good collar photos of, but where you can see it’s better.

I would say this is one less button done up than the anchor dress, and the collar is sitting in a similar place. Which means that, when done up, it would sit actually at the base of my neck and not about an inch forward as the anchor dress does.

Here is a photo of a boughten shirt I own, and now only wear for interviews because, although it was the most comfortable, well fitting shirt I’d ever owned when I bought it, it is actually a fitting nightmare.

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I wish I’d taken one of just the shirt, but since this was an actual before-job selfie (I didn’t get it) I couldn’t bear to. It was too much of a mess. The collar, as you see, is too big and high, even after ten minutes of fussing with it. The armscyes pull. The back yoke pulls. There are strain lines EVERYWHERE. And it fits me about as well as any bought shirt is going to. I notice people wearing similarly fitting shirts all the time.

I’m not quite sure where this is leading. I guess the thoughts I have about this are yes, I was right that the collar was sitting funny, and right about why and what would fix it (HOORAY! That happens so rarely, it’s almost worth a whole post by itself). And also, about RTW standards vs sewing standards of fit, and where that line is between reasonable fitting and over fitting. I basically can’t bring myself to buy tops anymore because the armscyes are all too low, and quite often the sleeves are on the bias or set in wonky and I know it will always pull. I would never have noticed that before getting better at sewing. I just would have noticed that that particular shirt was annoying to wear.

I know a lot of my makes are far from perfect. Some have flaws that are pretty glaring to me, and sometimes make me feel a bit shy about sharing them when there are so many amazing, skilled people out there. Mostly I share them as a record for myself, because I think flawed makes are still makes and I like it when I see other people making things that aren’t perfect. Those can be the most constructive makes, as well as not making me feel as if everyone else has some magic fitting spell that I don’t know, when really everyone has fit issues they need to work out. Some more than others, but everyone has something, or sometimes, when their garments aren’t fitting right.

And another large part of why I share them is to reflect on a make and what I did that was good, and what I could have done better or more precisely. I know I’ve been sewing quite imprecisely lately and I’d like to make an effort to slow down and be more careful, because those are the mistakes that I feel really let a garment down. Like the placket on my twister dress, or the wonky waistband on my latest in-progress M6696. I will still wear them. Some of them won’t be noticed by non-sewists, I think almost no one in the non-sewing world notices drag lines, for example. And if they do, who cares? Sometimes there’s a dragline there because we have growing, changing bodies that need to move, and unless I want to dress like a female superhero, I am always going to have some fitting ‘problem’. So there’s no point getting too het up about it.

Life has wrinkles. And RTW clothes, even high end ones, often have wonky seams and strange fit quirks. We just don’t always notice as much because we didn’t sew the seam ourselves. And yes, I do want to get better at fitting my clothes to my body, that’s a large part of why I sew, plus getting to feel smug about solving a puzzle, like I do about that collar. But I also don’t think I’ve failed just because a particular garment isn’t perfect. Putting on the RTW shirt and remembering how pleased I used to be by the fit was an interesting moment. I don’t think I’d buy it now. It just looks like such a mess to me. And maybe in another era it would have been not fit for public consumption. But I don’t like in the 30s, I live now, where most people wear ill-fitting RTW and it’s normal. So if I still have little dimples in my knit tops above my boobs, that’s fine. I’d rather I didn’t but I’d also rather I never had to wear shoes or stockings ever, but I live in the real world, where I have to, and where my body is a certain shape, and where I don’t really have a conclusion to this post.

Here’s a picture of my cat.

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When last we left the solstice dress, it was… not good.

Now it’s…. fine. I guess.

Long story short, I did end up ripping out and moving the darts. But it turns out the problem was not the position of the darts as much as the depth.

Saggy as, bro.

At that point I was pretty done with the dress so I just sewed the zip in with a massive seam allowance, put the bias binding round the neck, turned the hem up and sewed it, and called it a day. At least now I know why it wasn’t fitting, so I am not so despairing about a pattern I had fitted to myself suddenly going rogue.

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It is quite possibly the most poorly executed thing I’ve ever sewn.

I solved the baggy bodice problem by going and buying some more sparkly fabric, and wearing it as a belt.

Which worked fine, to a point.

And you know what? It sure was sparkley. And solstice dinner, it was great. We decorated the house with fairy lights and candles, and there was excellent food and even better company, and now I am going to put this dress away in a bag or possibly throw it in the bin. The end.

I made a mashup!

This one is another unlined Moneta bodice, this time with the pencil skirt from Violet. I’m calling it ‘Violeta’ because the alternative is just ‘Monet’ which is less exciting and also I do not want to be thought of as a ‘full on Monet’. If you think so, keep it to yourself. Also because every time my suggestable brain hears ‘Violeta’ it starts singing ‘Bohemian Rhapsody‘ because apparently it sounds enough like ‘silhouette-a’ and I’m all about that.

I sewed this project a couple weekends ago, trying to jolt myself out of a sewing slump. I’ve still got some lingering craft camp makes to finish off – the Twister dress was one of them, and there’s another M6696 that has some more work to go. And… well, anyway. I was not feeling it. I thought that maybe if I sewed something new, and quick, I’d feel less cranky about my ‘to fix’ pile, which is quite teetering at this point. (It usually lives where I am standing on these photos and I almost did myself an injury moving it out of the way.)

I wear the last Moneta I made at least once a week, twice if I can get away with it. It’s so easy to wear and, since it’s a merino knit, it’s so so nice and warm. Which is good because it’s bloody freezing here right now. I know all you from cold climes will be staring at me in disbelief when I tell you that at an average high of 14°C – which makes it usually about 7°C when I’m walking to and from the train, I am losing my mind with the cold. That’s ok. I’ll forgive you losing your mind over 25°C in summer, because I know it’s all about what you’re acclimatised to. And I am NOT acclimatised to this. At. All. So my primary wardrobe priorities right now are:

  • WARM
  • able to wear a thermal under it
  • able to wear a jumper over it
  • able to easily wear it with tights or knee socks
  • WARM.

And my last moneta fit the bill nicely. But I didn’t fancy another Aline skirt, so I thought I’d swap in the Violet pencil skirt.

The fabric is some thick merino/nylon blend from The Fabric Store in Melbourne, I forget what content exactly. I can tell you that it is thick like a ponte, has good recovery but also will pucker if put under too much strain (I had to cut around some peg-induced puckers) and smells like wet dog when washed. I used the same altered neckline as last time, and I remembered to lengthen the bodice.

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Because the bodice has a LOT of negative ease, and I was getting to where I go out again, when I lengthened it I also angled it out. I then compared the pattern to the skirt pattern, and cut out the size that was closest to the bodice size, size 22, not thinking too much about it. I did still have to ease the smaller skirt in to the larger bodice.

That gave me quite a baggy skirt. It actually doesn’t look terrible here, not great but not awful, but it felt… ehhhhhn. Like, the bodice is making me feel like a pinup model, and the skirt is making me feel like a baggy elephant. And while I have a lot of respect for elephants, they are not style icons.

Bodice: AWWW YEAH Skirt: feh

You can see that the bodice has enough negative ease for wrinkles to pull out, but the skirt, despite being folded nicely before wearing, is a wrinkled mess, the side seams are puckered, and the gentle outward curve for the hips is sitting like saddlebags. The back was worse.

UGH

ERGGGKK.

It’s not helped by the clear elastic I put on the waistband. The fabric is quite heavy so I thought I should but it may have been a mistake – it made the seam even more puckered than it would be otherwise, besides sitting a bit weird in the seam and needing adjusting when I first put it on so it doesn’t stick to me.

At least 2″ of ease each side.

I did wear it to work once and it wasn’t awful but I wasn’t feeling like a million bucks. I felt more like, specifically, this elephant (you will not convince me that elephant is in distress. That elephant has promised he will walk rather than go in the pusher, and now he wants a treat, and that’s what’s happening there. I’m particularly into the sibling elephant in that video).

So ANYWAY the next weekend I sat down and nipped in the skirt, quite a bit. I re-adjusted my traced skirt pattern, taking it down from a 22 at the waist to somewhere between an 18 and a 16, as per my measurements for the pattern.

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Two new seamlines, and my hand for scale… until I realised it’s on a lined cutting mat. SMRT.

Here is the intial adjusting, to about a size 18

Still some ease. I asked S and he said ‘yes make it tighter’ which is what he ALWAYS says. But I did anyway.

MUCH better.

Yes. Good. I also took a wedge out for the back seam, and it still pools a bit but it’s MUCH better. I don’t look like I have a huge weird fabric scar on my butt, and that can only be a good thing. I should remember to go back and adjust my pattern pieces…

There are the sideseams, complete with a little pucker where I took it in, which I might eventually hand sew down but I also might not. I’d initially put self-drafted pockets in but of course they had to come out with the taking it in so drastically. Also, although I do love pockets, and this knit is thick enough to support them, it’s also drapey enough that they messed with the line of the skirt. I also took the sleeves up since they were sitting literally on my elbow.

It was all sewed with lightning stitch except for I forgot to change the setting when I sewed the new skirt seam so that’s a straight stitch. I’ll just fix it if it pops. The hems are twin needled and I also twin needle topstitched the neckline, which was maybe a mistake because it’s bubbly, but I think perhaps that’s just how this fabric do.

You’re welcome again.

Actually you can see an annoying thing in this photo. Stare, if you will, at my boobs, and you will see faint lines running through the fabric. About 1m of the fabric I bought had these horizontal runs, and I managed to cut the bodice pieces out of it – after having to recut because I had a peg-ripple where a nipple would be. So this is LESS of a bad look than that, at least. And it’s not so bad that I am going to fix it but man, I wish I’d noticed it before sewing.

DSC_0214Here you can see the elastic at the waistband, the unfinished seams (I never bother, for knits), and the LINES.

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And here you can see my cat modelling it for me. As you can see, he loves it almost as much as I do, which is a lot.

More craft camp sewing! More of that one same shirt dress!!

I bought this fabric from Lincraft because it reminded me of a shirtdress I had when I was a kid. I suspect handmade by my mother or grandmother, it was a twin of this one

I'll probably give the socks and sandals look a miss, though.

I’ll probably give the socks and sandals look a miss, though.

but with 80’s coloured spots, like this

ooorrrr

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So yeah, clearly throwing the ‘do I look like a child’ caution to the wind.

I wanted to make a couple more M6696s (natch) but I wanted to try a couple of fit changes so I thought I’d use this fabric first. That way, if it didn’t work out I wouldn’t be too upset since it has limited wearability anyways.

The main alteration was at the neck. I took a small wedge out of the pattern at the centre front. Just under 1cm at the top, tapering down to nothing. Then I took the original pattern piece and traced the neck curve, so that it is the same length but angled further down. I was pretty apprehensive about this because I was making it up as I went along but it seems to have worked and totally eradicated the floppy, loose collar issues I was having before. What a difference half a centimeter makes, huh?

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My adjusted bodice on top of the original

Adjustments from last time include doubling the vertical dart and moving it 1.5″ to the left (although I forgot this when I traced it off this time, and had to re-add it), armscye shape changed by taking a dart out of it and then closing it up and retracing. I also added an inch and did the centre front/collar adjustment I’m talking about. I’m not sure I don’t still need a bit more length in the bodice, it’s still sitting on my ribs rather than my actual waist, which makes it a bit tight when I’m sitting. But when I look at my black voile one it looks too long in the bodice at the front, and that was the unlengthened pattern so… I just am not even sure. What is this, is it a fabric choice thing? A bust thing? I have now shortened the back a couple of cms, and lengthened the front 1cm, and the front is STILL longer than the back.

Despite not setting it properly before taking photos, that collar is still sitting so so much nicer.

I also traced the horizontal dart a couple of cms higher, which I am not totally sure is right, but seems at least better than where it was before. I re-traced the whole pattern piece and forgot that I’d initially moved the vertical dart over by quite a lot, so the dart is in the wrong place in this dress. It’s not terrible, but just not really where I want a dart, either visually or in terms of shaping. I’ve made the fix change on the pattern piece above now so we’re all good for next time – you can see how different the placement is.

I need to trace the skirt pieces, and I also need to spend some time thinking about how I’ve adjusted things because I made the front dart a lot deeper, so the front skirt piece is now too big for the skirt. It would be good to iron that out and trace off a correct pattern, because for the last two I’ve just adjusted the depth of the darts on the fly. Which works ok, I guess that’s the benefit of a pleated or gathered skirt, the fitting of it can be independent of the bodice. But it’s not a really exact way of doing it. I also just winged it with the back, I simply lined up the side seams, found the CB, and made a pleat on the fly. So it doesn’t really matter how big the back is, as long as it’s bigger than the bodice.

Wussy little back skirt pleat. I think I could do with making that bottom pleat two smaller pleats, maybe. And I could also do with being more neat and precise with my gathers (but, eh) AND with checking my collar is sitting properly before taking ding dang photos.

I cut the waistband between size 20 and 22. And it’s a bit tight still. I’m not sure about this, it’s maybe the fabric? [shakes fist at imaginary gauge swatch] The fabric is fairly polyestery and doesn’t have much give at all. It was ok to sew with but not as nice as cotton. It’s from Lincraft’s ‘sunprints’ range, and I have no idea what makeup it is. You can see strain where there isn’t strain in my other two version of this pattern, including noticeably the arms being way to tight to the point where, when I take it off, it hangs off of my arms like some kind of trapped cape, and I have to either ask for help getting out of it, or jump up and down swearing about it until I can shake it off. Or both.

The above photo demonstrates both the strain lines on the bodice, armscye (STILL) and arm hems, and also the fact that I’ve given up on the freezing outdoors for photos, AND got a camera remote. So welcome to a glimpse of my craft area and also sorry for the deadface – the remote is pretty finicky and I’m still working out how to use it and also make expressions at the same time. Those strain lines make me think I shouldn’t have taken that centre front wedge out, but it sits so much nicer now so??

Demonstrating how I need all that room in the back,

I did the contrast button band to break things up, after a quick poll of the craft campers. I probably would have struggled to get it out of the fabric I had, anyway. The fabric was pretty narrow, so I couldn’t cut the full width of the skirt.

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I cut the back on the fold to give myself a bit of extra room, too. When it came to the pleats I winged it (wung it?) again in a highly unscientific way, so they are a bit wonky and small and weird. At least they all point the same way this time, and the skirt still seems plenty full enough to me. I also used plain white fabric to back the waistband, the collar and collar stand, because the fabric is see through and if I used a double layer, the dots peep through. I thought about underlining the whole thing but couldn’t be bothered, and besides, I’ll probably wear this with just a white bra and light coloured bike shorts in summer, and who cares? It’ll be floaty and nice (although I am wearing a black bra + white thermal singlet for this, because I couldn’t be bothered to change.

You’re welcome. I also couldn’t be bothered ironing it. Keeping it so real.

I do wish I’d spent more time thinking about how the dots sat on the waistband, but I was too busy trying to make sure they weren’t wonky because they are slightly off grain, and I didn’t think about centering them or anything. But maybe random is better? And I am cross that I forgot to put the dart in the right place.

That dang dart

I also, annoyingly, put the snap for the waistband slightly too high, throwing the whole dang placket off, and didn’t notice until they were very very securely hammered in. Note to self, you can be sloppy about a lot of things, but a placket is NOT ONE OF THEM. Ugh it’s so annoying. I’m going to put a press stud or something in between those yellow and red snaps.

The snaps I already had from sewing baby clothes

The snaps I already had from sewing baby clothes

Putting the press studs on was what took me a whole two months (and then it took about ten minutes). It came home from camp totally done except for that. I wasn’t particularly motivated because it’s too cold to wear it. I also should fix the tight sleeve hems and the wibbly bottom hem which I just dashed off in a rush, but technically it’s now done.

All in all, this is a pretty silly dress. I don’t know how much wear it will get, being polyestery and also a bit transparent, and definitely NOT work appropriate. But it was good to work out some of the tweaks I needed for this pattern, and man. I am so not blind to all of it’s flaws but the bottom line is, those spots make me stupidly happy.

I’m calling that a win

Hello all! Last weekend as I write this was craft camp, which was a joy as usual. There were so many lovely people, good laughs, wonderful story sharing, and delicious food – which everyone so thoughtfully made sure was gluten free for me, which I appreciate more than I can say. Thank you so much to everyone. The only downside was that we all missed Janet, who couldn’t make it. It really wasn’t the same without you, Janet! I’m trying in general to be better about recording what I’ve made. Last craft camp I went to look up a pattern I’d made to check for adjustments, only to find that I’d blogged that I sewed it, and would blog the adjustments later. And then didn’t. Useless! It’s also more useful if I blog soon after making because I can still remember every little thing. I’ve split things up a bit to make them easier for me to find when I come back to look for them, instead of in one massive craft camp post (although this still got long because that’s how I roll). So! The knits!

Yes, I know there’s a thread there. I’ve left it pending fixes but you would have thought I could have snipped it for photos, wouldn’t you? Nope.

The first day I sewed the solstice dress, and it was clear by the end of the day it was not perfect. So I decided to sew some knits to get some quick projects out of the way. So obviously I decided to do this by cutting out the flimsiest, drapiest knit. https://i2.wp.com/stream1.gifsoup.com/view7/2416193/headdesk-o.gif The fabric is a beautiful merino knit from the Fabric store. It’s so warm and lovely to handle and the colour is just gorgeous. It’s also made out of broken promises and fairy farts. Suse’s Elna which she lets me use at camp wasn’t having a bar of it. Julie very kindly let me use her modern Bernina while she sewed on buttons. Even then it was a real struggle, especially when it came to anything where I needed to stretch while sewing. As a result the band is… eh. And one sleeve is more puffed than the other. AND I hemmed the sleeves just slightly too short and I don’t think the fabric will stand unpicking.

You can see the right sleeve (left in the photo) is gathered and the other isn’t. Also more armscye pulling but it’s pulling or pooling so I’ll take pulling, although maybe I could go up a size in the shoulders.

Anyway, it’s a Bluegingerdoll Bonnie, view B but with the long sleeves. I wanted some cropped jumpers to wear over dresses at work, because the ones I have are all an inch too long if I wear anything at my true waist, and they ride up and annoy me. I initially bought the Seamwork Astoria pattern and taped it together, but I couldn’t find many examples on the internet yet so I wasn’t sure how it would look. Then Cookin’ and Craftin’s post about her Astoria also reminded me about Bonnie. I was worried that my thin fabric wouldn’t look good as an Astoria, but there are lots of thin, lovely Bonnies. I already had the pattern and I know the Violet dress works well for my body, so I went with that.

Wrinkle wrinkle wrinkle.

The pattern is lovely and simple and well put together. I didn’t particularly look at the instructions other than to glance at the construction order, via the diagrams, but they seemed as well organised and helpful as the ones in the Violet pattern. Which is to say, very. Fitting wise, this is a total mishmash. I cut a size 14 for the shoulders, and graded the armscye out to a size 20 for the front, 18 for the back. The front I graded down to 18 at the waist – so it’s a size 20 bust and a size 18 waist. The neck is a size 16, and the sleeve have a size 14 sleeve cap, size 20 everything else. It seems to have worked out very well for me! Although perhaps I could go a 16 at the shoulders, but then it does sit perfectly when my arms are at rest, as is. I feel very pleased that I am starting to get to know what fitting changes I need to make, right out of the packet. It sounds like a lot of changes, and I did write it down so I could refer to it while tracing, but it really is the easiest way ever to adjust things. I also cut the waistband at the sides, rather than a long band meeting in the back as the instructions say. I did this by accident the first time, by not paying attention to the instructions, but I repeated it the next time because I like having the side seams meet up, rather than side seams and then a back seam. Although maybe the instructions have you put it at a side seam. Did I mention that I didn’t read them? I SHOULD have graded the back seam up for my swayback, since it’s sitting right at the crucial point. I didn’t, though, and ‘compensated’ by getting huffy when it wasn’t working and sewing another wonky seam higher up, so it pulls even MORE.

Possibly the worst seam I’ve ever sewn. UGH look at that mess! But when I tried to unpick it it basically started disintegrating.

Bleeeerggghhhh

I am planning to go back and use my walking foot to do a new band, and perhaps sleeve bands also. Because it is very nice and I would like to wear it but as it is I would not wear it out of the house. Objectively I don’t think it looks totally awful, but I still wouldn’t buy it in a store or anything. It’s too wonky and I wouldn’t feel put together. Although actually looking at these photos I wonder if it maybe IS totally awful. I’m not sure the light knit is working as a jumper/overshirt. I have more in other colours and I think it would work well as a long sleeved shirt to go under things, so I might try that later. The next one was in a black, fleecey-backed merino knit, also from the fabric store.

I swear it doesn’t look so noticeably wrinkly irl. Or are they the kind of wrinkles that you only notice on your own clothes?

Which I like very very much. I avoided puffy sleeves by eyeballing it and cutting a little wedge out of the top of the sleeve cap. It worked out pretty well. I also cut the waistband in between the ‘self knit’ and ‘ribbing’ size. I think I probably have a wider waist than the pattern is designed for, it still sits snug but now it’s not tight or puckering where it meets the top. I can’t recall if I adjusted the back for my swayback but it does look like it. In between the two I made a moneta-mash. I finally caved and bought this even though I have similar patterns, like the lady skater. Or any other knit bodice that you could easily put a simple gathered skirt on. However, I wasn’t super happy with how the LS sits on my shoulders. The shoulders are too wide and want to fall off, and the neck sits too loose. I could do more fitting but I just bought Moneta to try first because every. Single. One I’ve ever seen has looked just amazing, and on a massively wide array of bodies. And I’m so glad I did because the bodice might be my platonic knit bodice. I only made minor adjustments on this one. Based on my measurements of high bust 41″, full bust 46″, waist 41″, I cut a size XL at the bust and L everything else, so, the bottom edge of the front armscye is XL, and front side seam starts as XL and ends at L. The back is cut as a straight L. And obviously I didn’t line it, because I had a fleecy backed knit and I wanted that against my skin.

The fuzzy guts of the black Bonnie, to show you the snuggly fabric

The fuzzy guts of the black Bonnie, to show you the snuggly fabric

It’s super nice to wear. So so snuggly. The sleeve and skirt hems are turned and zig-zagged because I didn’t have a twin needle, and I think zig zagging looks fine on a stable knit. On a floatier knit it gets wonky but it’s fine on this. I finished the neck with a ‘self-drafted’ band. That is, I cut it at about what I thought was the right length, and tested that it was tight enough before sewing it on and top stitching it. The sleeves are obviously the longer ‘3/4′ sleeves. These are NOT 3/4, yo. That’s not what that word means. I think next time I’d shorten them by 1/2″.

Sorry for the death glare. It was bright.

I also subbed out the skirt for a lady skater skirt. I’ve seen other people do this with great success (sorry I can’t find any examples right this minute! If you know of some please let me know in the comments) and I just felt that the gathered skirt was a bit casual/young for me. Maybe for a floaty summer dress. They don’t line up perfectly, the bodice is smaller than the skirt. I eyeballed it and cut the skirt longer at the top, but then of course it was too tight on my waist and the seam popped. Duh. I unpicked it and compromised, so it’s maybe an inch longer than the original skater pattern. Then I decided that the waist was too high, which made it too short and gave me a weird shape, so I unpicked it again and added a waistband, It’s actually the Bonnie waistband, cut in half horizontally. I probably could have left it, the knit has stretched out a bit and added some length, but I think it still would have been high enough to bother me. Next time I’ll just make the bodice two inches longer. And there will definitely BE a next time. I am in love with the look of this bodice. Between Bonnie and Moneta I think I have some go-to knit bodices. I need some long sleeved tops, I’ve noticed I’m not wearing my skirts because all my tops are summer weight. I’d really like to make a few of the full length Bonnies, and I think it would make a great basic tshirt pattern, too. Here are some bonus photos of me talking to S while he takes the garbage out/comments on my poses.

The first order of the day when I got to craft camp was to sew a solstice dress. I’m hosting a solstice dinner a week from now (obviously, since that’s when solstice is) and told people to wear something sparkly or bright, knowing full well that I myself have a regrettable lack of such things in my own wardrobe. So I bought this plastic fantastic fabric from spotlight’s ‘Frozen? I don’t know what you’re talking about, they’re just snowflakes, right next to this strategically placed princess dress pattern’ line. I was initially planning to make it into a shirt dress but then I decided that was not really a classic party dress silhouette, so I thought I’d make a binge dress out of it. It’s obviously pretty sheer so I bought some light blue lining fabric to go under it.

So plastic. So shiny.

So plastic. So shiny.

My idea was, being the dress I’d sewn a bunch of times, I could just bang it out and be done with it. This was technically true. I cut it out and sewed it all up on the first day of craft camp, which is NOT a full day so… four hours or so probably? Without a zip, because I wanted to do that at home, and without hems and finishing on the neck and arms because I want to do that with bias binding or ribbon so I won’t be scratched by the fabric, and I didn’t have any on me.

I’m just holding it together in the back, no zip yet, so obviously it’s not sitting totally right. Also it’s crinkly from having been in a Glitter Exclusion Bag.

But… the pattern let me down. This is the dress where I couldn’t wear the last one I made without seam allowances, because it was too big. Idk about you but THIS looks like a dress with double seam allowances, to me.

I’m wearing this over my newly made Moneta, which is now beglittered.

I just don’t even know. If this were knitting I’d be swearing at my lying gauge swatch but as it is…

Trying to demonstrate how much extra room there is at the back. At least 2 inches extra in the seam allowances.

I am still debating whether to just make the zip have 3” seam allowances, or whether to unpick it. I was leaning towards unpicking because the bust darts are in totally the wrong place, but man. I am not excited about it, lemme tell you. The fabric is surprisingly ok to work with except that it does NOT gather well – it doesn’t give at all so it just folds up all dense instead of bunching together like a natural fabric would. And it also is already kind of tearing where it’s sewn. Perhaps poor needle choice? I am just a bit worried about how it will take unpicking in such an obvious area. And while the bust dart placement looks utterly terrible, I’m not sure non-sewers will notice. Or am I fooling myself. I DON’T KNOW.

Trying to demonstrate where the side seams are falling. They’re about 1/2″ back from where they should be.

I also wish I’d picked a darker underlining. I think this looks objectively better than any of the darker colours I tried but… I think if I’d gone dark blue or even black it would have been subtler (I mean… as sublte as a sparkly snowflake dress is gonne get) which is a bit more my style, and it might even have gotten more than one wear. As it is it’s an extremely limited use dress and I’m not sure it’s going to get worn more than once, which makes me very hesitant to spend much time on it.

Given that it’s Sunday night and I only have one free night this week and the dinner is on Saturday… it’s looking like ‘whack a zip in, call her done’. And actually, although these photos are obviously totally hideous, the bust dart doesn’t look as stupidly placed as I felt like it did. This may or may not be fooling myself. Updates to follow.

I still have a handful of projects I made at March Craft Camp that never got blogged. Since another CC is upon us, I figured I’d better get to that! Some of the photos are from this past weekend, and some from right after the camp, which explains the hair difference.

First, what’s not here. I made another binge dress out of gaberdine from spotlight. I had some fit issues with it, and some construction issues (invisible zip wouldn’t cooperate, gaberdine is lovely to work with but shows imprecise sewing quite clearly with puckers and pulling seams) but the biggest one is that I had thought I added seam allowances to the pattern when I adjusted and traced it. And, can you guess? Yup, I had not. So I sewed a dress that was beautifully fitted dress except that it was 1cm too small everywhere. I soldiered on but when I got home and was going to fix the zip, I finally admitted that it was just too small ever to be comfortable. I threw it into the bin. Whomp whomp!

Also there is another binge dress, thankfully started after I figured out why the first one was so tight, so that I could add s/a. It’s made out of lawn from Spotlight, read with butterflies on it. It just needs a zip and a hem, but given it’s turned for too cold to wear it, I haven’t been motivated to fix it. This was what held up blogging – I was holding off until I finished the butterfly dress and the Anna dress but it’s not going to happen any time soon.

Anna dress! I have been wanting to sew the By Hand London Anna dress for a long time. In fact this one has been to craft camp twice now. Once I muslined it and determined I’d definitely need an FBA – the front panel looked perfect, the pleats were placed and released perfectly, but the side seams were at a sharp angle. I seriously considered just angling them out but decided to be proper and do an FBA. So this craft camp I did that, rotated the dart created by the adjustment into the pleats and made up what I was hoping would be a wearable muslin. However, the poplin – just the cheap polyester stuff from spotters – is so rubbish I doubt it will be. And since it’s poly it’s not breathable enough to even be a pleasant summer housedress.

I WRESTLED with the pleats, just could not get them to sit right, to release properly, nothing. It was so frustrating, since the ones in the too-small bodice had been just perfect. I ended up making them darts. I got the bodice fitted, and sewed on the skirt – I needed to sew the seam allowances smaller, to allow it to be big enough for the adjusted bodice, so the side seams don’t match. It appeared to fit well. When I got home I sewed the zip in, and…

Huge. Sack.

I have lost a little bit of weight since I muslined it, and while it’s not much it has slightly changed the shape of my upper bust. But not my waist, where it is also too big. So…. I don’t know whether the new fit issues are a result of that, or of the change in fit once the skirt is dragging it down and it’s actually zipped, rather than held together while I look in a mirror, which of course would change my posture. So I’m not sure whether to go back to the original bodice, which appears to fit now, or whether to add in a couple more pleats. I suspect, given that the skirt doesn’t match up, that I probably should have made the pleats wider to begin with – I was kind of winging it because I forgot to mark their placement and then got cross about it all and we all know that being cross and sewing really lead to good decisions, right?

Here it is with extra pleats pinned in. Much better, but I’m not super thrilled with the big fold above my armpit. I guess it’s not so obvious here, but when I’m wearing it and looking down at myself it’s very obvious and annoying. And affects the way the dress sits as I move, which is more to the point. This is why I avoid kimono/cut on sleeves, they are not kind to those of us with a big difference between high and upper bust, I’ve found. I mean it stands to reason, there’s basically a big hollow where the sleeve would meet, so of course there’s going to be a fold. It’s why I have such struggles with too-low armscyes, too.

Anyway, I’ll have to play around with this a bit I think. Maybe next craft camp! I have some rayon I want to use to make a maxi version, and it’s already been two summers since I planned this, I’m determined it won’t be a third.

I also sewed some skirts.

First up is another Simplicity 1541, as made here, in the same gaberdine as my ill-fated binge dress. I liked that skirt but I had had to adjust it so much after wearing it for a while, that it was a bit of a disaster. So I cut it apart and compared it to the pattern.

Pretty big difference. I traced my skirt piece and made it up again.

There are pull lines here but I don’t think they are that obvious in person. It has also settled a bit and the seams, which started out a little bit puckery, sit fine now. The zip insertion could have gone better, though.

This is why I didn’t do zips on my other things at camp. I am not precise enough to be able to sew  invisible or, indeed, lapped zippers without leaning heavily on my tools. Suse kindly lends me her lovely old Elna, which is a delight but offers no crutches for the sloppy seamstress. So, zips at home. Also this is not technically an invisible zip, I discovered upon sewing in. It’s a ‘separating zipper’. Because Spotlight is perpetually out of black zips, so I took what I could get. You’d think they’d be on top of that, since I’d assume they want to sell lots of zips. (Hahahahaha! Good one, right?) I stocked up on skirt zips at the Fabric Store in Melbourne, though, so I should be right for a while.

You can also see that the back kick pleat is a bit wonky, I can’t remember why I furfed that one up. It’s not too bad on, but here it is flat

At some point I might redo the zip because it’s not super great, and occasionally gets stuck halfway. Luckily I don’t need to unzip all the way to get it on.

And here’s the front, with a slightly wibbly hem. Note to self, next time make the hem longer so you can do a proper blind hem.

Not perfect, but I wear it all the time and it’s holding up well and looks perfectly fine in person. At least, no one’s said anything yet!

Next two are what I guess you could call binge skirts! That same ottobre skirt I’ve made a million times. First in plain old drill

I see I am having that same pulling issue. I wonder if it is a sewing flaw I keep replicating, or something to do with the angle of my stomach? Perhaps I should smooth out the bottom curve of that facing?

This one hasn’t got much wear because… something. It’s in the mending pile and I can’t remember why. Hem, I think? Also it wrinkles easily and gets covered in cat hair as soon as you look at it. But I think, since it’s quite a light drill, it might see more action in the warmer months. I did a very dodgy lapped zipper:

I flat felled the seams, which was my first time doing that. I liked it! Except that it makes it hard/impossible to adjust. And this skirt needs it – I panicked when I sewed it that I’d made it too tight, but TURNS OUT I just shouldn’t try on things with a fitted waist after dessert on the second night of craft camp… It’s actually a bit loose. The curse of the delicious dinners. The next one I made is also a bit loose:

In denim with a slight stretch, from Rathdowne Remnants I think. I’ve had it for years. And with scraps for the facing, and an exposed zipper

Which I had to attach a hook and eye to because otherwise it slides down.

And it currently sits a bit funny – the zipper I mean, but the whole skirt too. Folds at the front and the zipper and sticks out at the sides.

I think actually it would benefit from coming in a couple cm at the back zip, tapering out to nothing. But since the exposed zipper was a pain to sew, and I just serged to finish the edges, and then sewed a regular seam, I think I will go the lazy route of just sucking in the side seams… eventually. Mending ain’t my favourite thing, obviously.

And that brings me up to speed!

So here is my second M6696, which I DID finish in time for my self imposed deadline and wore when I was in Sydney for the Thrilling Adventure Hour shows. Which were, by the way, amazing.

First let me apologise for the blown out photos. I have really limited photo taking opportunities since it’s so dark all the time, and not much shade in the backyard, so I had to take what I could get. Which is annoying because you can’t really see the details, so I tried to take some detail shots in the shade. And also it explains the sunnies – my choices are wearing sunglasses, or having squinting death glare. I chose facial expressions. You’re welcome.

Squinty death glare

It was a bit of a push to make the deadline. I was intending to work on this the weekend before we left, and I would have had plenty of time. The dress actually comes together pretty quickly. I cut it out right after I finished my black one and sewed up the bodice during the week. Unfortunately, I ran into some issues which lead to me needing to take apart and resew the bodice, which was quite time consuming. And then the weekend before was busy and I didn’t get much sleep on the Saturday due to sleeping in a caravan on a friend’s property in 80kmph winds (not restful. 2/10. Do not recommend) and being totally zombified on Sunday. I didn’t want to attempt fixing the bodice in that state. So I sewed this whole dress during the week. I meant to time myself but forgot, but I spent maybe three hours on it on Monday and Tuesday night, another couple on Wednesday and then Thursday it was done enough that I could actually pack the rest of my clothes! I think that’s not too bad, really, for a dress with this many bits.

So, the bodice issues. As I noted with my black voile version, there was pulling at the armpit. I was a bit worried it would become an issue in the heavier fabric, and it did!

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Yes. My room is 100% trashed.

I spent some time tugging and pinching it and seeing what would help. I had just enough fabric to recut either the bodice or the sleeves – I bought 5 whole metres but since it is a narrow fabric with a directional print, and the skirt pieces are wide, there was not much left from the initial cutting, at least not big enough to do anything with. I thought maybe I needed an FBA after all. I even adjusted the pattern piece but I just wasn’t sure that was the problem. In the end, I think the issue is armscye shape, which is a thing I have had problems with many a time.

During problem solving, I laid the sleeve pattern over a pattern I know works for me, the sleeve from my Ottobre tops and my ottobre dress.

There is a substantial difference. The slope of the ottobre sleeves is gentler, and less peaked. A while ago I tried muslining the Colette Jasmine blouse and had exactly this issue. I had to make so many changes to that, and armscyes are tricky things to change, that the muslin is still sulking in the bottom of a box, all wadded up in fury. So I was worried about changing things but I also knew from that experience that small changes can make a big difference. So I mashed up the sleeve, basically tracing the ottobre dress sleeve (because it was closer to the shape than the tshirt sleeve) but copying the hemline from M6696. I recut the sleeves and basted them in and it WAS better. But not fixed. I tried pinching out a wee dart from the armscye and that made a BIG difference.

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Pinched out dart on the left. Unchanged on the right.

So I figured that as close as I was going to get quickly, without recutting.

I think, from this and also from the fold lines my black one gets when worn, that I actually need to grade in a couple of sized from the armhole up. I do usually have to do a narrow shoulder adjustment, even when I’ve chosen my high bust size and done an FBA. I have sloping shoulders, I think is the issue. So next time (oh yes there will be many next times) that is what I will do. I won’t bother with an FBA unless the next one seems like it needs it after the armscye adjustment, but I think I will move the horizontal dart up just 1cm and maybe make it a bit shallower. It seems like I need the room there, a bit. I know I have wide-set boobs – I can’t wear underwired bras because no matter the cup size the underwires come in where my boobs still are, and it HURTS. So I guess I just need more room there? There’s plenty of room under my boobs, which is good.

The sleeve does rouche up a bit, and twist, on this, but not enough to really notice (except that of course I am minutely scrutinising any flaw) and I think lifting the seam towards my torso by grading it in will help.

Still some pulling. Luckily my sunglasses make me real cool.

Apart from that, the sewing was pretty straightforward! I did end up with two major flaws and a minor one. The minor one is that the pleats at the back somehow ended up being as intended one side, and box pleats the other

D’oh! Box pleats on right, as intended on left

But I figure if you’re looking that close we have other issues. I think this happened because, when I went to sew the skirt to the bodice, it was somehow massively too small. I guess I pinned and basted the pleats too generously? So I had to kind of wing it because I was pushed for time at that point, and I guess one side got caught up weird.

Also the gathering at the top is not entirely even, as you can see here it’s bunched up to one side.

The major ones are 1) the button placement and 2) the front waist placement, both of which exacerbate each other.

I sewed the buttons last (obviously), and late at night (and there’s one missing because I needed another card of buttons and Spotlight is out and clearly doesn’t restock often). I sewed by placing the waistband button first, because I wanted that to line up, and then working up and down from there. Looking at the late night photo I took of it, I can see it’s every so slightly off, but not very much

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It’s not very clear, but this was the photo I took at almost midnight, when I was done bar buttons. With a mostly-meeting waistband.

But look at it now

That’s not just waving in the breeze.

Washing must have loosened something up, I guess. So now the waistband is off kilter and, as a consequence, the bottom of the button bands don’t meet! I only noticed this when I went to put it on for its first outing, in Sydney. Luckily I had brought needle and thread and I quickly sewed up the longer hem to match

I don't know if you can really see it, but the left side is tacked up.

I don’t know if you can really see it, but the left side is tacked up, so they meet in the middle.

Obviously this is not a great fix, and it makes the front noticeably shorter than the back!

Also exacerbated by the way I’m standing, but not actually that much, it looks pretty much like that angle when I’m standing normally. I was trying to show the wonky waistband, but it got blown out.

But it’s relatively easily fixed by cutting off and replacing the buttons in better positions.

However, it’s also exacerbated by the fact that the front waist is too high. When I was sewing them together I noticed that the front was shorter than the back by about 1cm. I figured this was due to wonky cutting of the back bodice, which I had adjusted, and I simply cut the back to match. Which was a good move in the sense that now the back is absolutely perfect. But bad in the sense that I think actually what happened was I somehow cut the front bodices too short.

The adjusted back piece. I think I need to straighten it out so the side is the same length as the centre back, which is how I ended up trimming it anyway.

The adjusted back piece. I think I need to straighten it out so the side is the same length as the centre back, which is how I ended up trimming it anyway.

I have no idea how I did that but that must be it. It is much shorter than the bodice of my black dress. I have been going back and forth between fixing and not fixing but it’s annoying me a lot, both to wear – it means the waist is actually on my ribs, and it constricts me when I’m sitting down – and to look at. And the pockets sit too high to be useful. So I’ll have to fix it. SIGH. Once I unpick the button band and the waist seam (and all my lovely topstitching, boo hoo!) I’ll just sew the front seams at a smaller seam allowance, it only needs a little bit extra at each seam. No biggie. And then re-place the buttons. And then hopefully the front will sit right!

Sloping hemline and visibly higher waistline at the front.

It’s also annoying because it makes it almost empire line, which is not at all the silhouette I’m going for. Even worse when wearing the petticoat I bought, because it is a bit longer than I need it so I have to wear it high up on my waist, which mean lots of poofiness at my belly where I really don’t need the help. That said, I am still plotting ways to wear a petticoat in my every day life without people thinking I’m mad. They are SO fun to wear!

Yeeeaaahhhh! As worn to the Friday night show. I should have bought a petticoat a good 3″ shorter. But I kind of dig the maximum puff + peep out the bottom. The neck tie is just a piece of silk satin I bought at the Fabric Store in Sydney. It has abstract flowers on it and it also came in teal. Don’t think I wasn’t tempted to buy more of it.

Construction wise, I French seamed the armscyes, serged and then sewed the skirt pieces, and sandwiched and French seamed the waistband as I did last time.

French seamed bodice

Sandwiched waistband… except where it’s not.

I topstitched the button band – it was much easier in a stiffer fabric, although you can see bits where it flipped out and I kept sewing – that was in the home stretch and my deadline was LOOMING. I did slipstitch the collar, it was just quicker. Unfortunately the top buttonhole is in an area where there are too many seams meeting – I didn’t clip carefully enough I guess – and it’s in fact impossible to get the button through. That might soften up with washing, maybe?

I also am tempted to fuss with the collar. The collar itself is great, but it feels like it’s 1/2” too high up on my neck. Is that a thing? Maybe because I have a dowager’s hump/my head is forward on my neck? I am tempted to try to move it down next time, because I feel like it makes the collar sit funny, because it’s all perched up high with nothing to support it where it should be supported. I also wonder if there’s too much room in the centre front and maybe I should rotate some out, but I’m going to adjust the shoulders first and see what that does to that problem.

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Part of it is that because of the button issue, the right side is actually sitting a bit too high. But… does the collar look like it’s in the right place to everyone else? I’d really like some opinions on this one.

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You can also see the pooling above my bust, still. Just not sure about the right fitting fixes for this. Help?

In summary!

Changes made:

Took 1” out of the back both horizontally and vertically. Pleated back instead of gathering. Swapped sleeve for one with a wider and shallow sleeve cap. Pinched out a small (probably 1cm) dart in each armscye, where I felt it needed it.

Fixes needed:

Need to fix the too-short bodice/waistband. Need to re-locate the buttons.

Changes to make next time:

grade the shoulders/armscye down two sizes, front and back. Move horizontal dart and make it a bit shallower (not sure about this one). Maybe adjust where the collar sits? Or perhaps leave that until I see what the other changes do. Make sure to cut the bodice long enough!

Even with its flaws, I’ve worn it out a couple of times since Sydney, to great acclaim. I do still love it, but I know the flaws will bother me.

I am planning to make another cotton one to test these changes. I have some cotton with spots that I bought planning to replicate a dress I had as a child. I thought I had this blue spotty one and a multi-coloured spotty one but I can’t find photographic evidence of the latter.

I'll probably give the socks and sandals look a miss, though.

Pretty sure this was handmade, either by my mother or my paternal grandmother.

No matter. I’ll probable wear it with knee socks, too (although not socks AND sandals), which I probably should be concerned about. Actually I realised when we were in Sydney, I was wearing the anchor dress with knee socks, the nurse-like shoes I am wearing in these photos, and a thin knitted jumper the same colour of the socks… I had recreated my school uniform. Thankfully in a MUCH nicer colour scheme. I feel like I should feel some kind of way about that but… I don’t. Shirtdresses are forever, so there.

Anyway the point is, spotty shirtdress. I’m thinking about swapping the skirt out for a circle skirt with no pleats. And then I have three metres of flannel that I bought for pjs but might be destined to be one of these, but I think I only have enough for a straight skirt, especially if I want long sleeves. AND I have some of the teal flannellette from my shirt, probably enough for a dress. Oh, AND, I bought some sparkly, glittery snowflake fabric to make a solstice dress from. So, that’s less than a month away.

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This stuff! It’s much less see through when it’s not wet, although it will still require a slip.

So it seems I’m destined for a wardrobe full of this one pattern. Partly because I want to nail the fit of this, but also because, I just love shirtdresses, I love this pattern in particular, and I feel totally fine with having multiple copies of it and being that woman who wears all the shirtdresses. There’s many a worse fate.

I cut this dress out about seven months ago. WHOOPS. It’s McCalls 6696, and just about everyone has made one.

I know it was that long because I remember cutting it out in my last house, and that it was after S and G had moved in because I didn’t have a dedicated sewing room anymore. The cutting process was therefore fraught because I couldn’t use the kitchen floor as I had used to do for large patterns (too much through-traffic) and had to use the floor of what used to be the craft room but was then a combined study/craft effort. And it was hard. And the light was not so good in that house and this fabric is both floaty and black, so there are a few things a bit off grain, which made me cranky when I realised but turned out ok. I also know because I commented on Mary’s post about the autumn/spring of shirtdresses  about how I had the pattern cut up and was going to sew it up soon, intending it for that sewalong. Whoops, again. I know I didn’t start it much earlier than that because I bought the fabric after seeing Mary’s first one and falling in love. I HAD TO HAVE a voile 6696.

The fabric is black voile from Lincraft, and I got it at one of their half price sales. It’s actually very nice. They only had black, white and an insipid lavender. I considered getting white and dying it because what I really wanted was a teal dress but decided to try the black first and I could always go back. Can’t go too wrong with black (unless you have to sew it mostly in the evenings in autumn, which I did…). I bought 3.5 metres for a total of $18.87. I used pretty much all of it. The buttons are Lincraft as well, I don’t recall how much, they’re the basic cheap line but I did have to buy two packets because there are 11 buttons on this.

So it took me about 7 months to get this sewn up. In my defence, it was quite hard in that house to find the sewing time, because I had to kick other people out of the room and there wasn’t anywhere much for them to go since the house was so small, so I felt bad doing that for long periods of time. And I wanted to sew this right, so that meant it took time. I did sew a muslin. I was looking for photos of that and I can’t find any but I CAN find, a week after Mary’s post, photos of the house we now live in. So I guess that was the week we bought it! Well no wonder I didn’t sew this dress up, then.

As I was saying, I sewed a muslin. I definitely took notes but who knows where they are now. I remember cutting a size 16 or maybe 18, based on finished garment measurements, and finding it too small. I think my reasoning was, although the pattern has cup sizes, I am still larger than a D. So I would still need an FBA. And then from memory, I found the fit of the size 16/18 D cup close enough except too small at the side seams. So I cut out a size straight size 20D, with the vertical bust dart extended 1”. I see Mary did exactly the same thing, I think we have a very similar torso. I did the bust darts at the old house, tacked them properly and everything, and stay stitched things it said to. Which did NOT include the neckline, and I think it should. It does tell you to stay stitch, but not until you’ve assembled the whole dress, just before you attach the collar, by which point there’s been plenty of opportunity to stretch it. I will stay stitch it after cutting, next time.

I was always intending to get back to this and I’ve been slowly picking up sewing steam so I am sure I would have gotten to it soon – except that I still have some craft camp projects I would like to finish so I can blog last camp’s projects before the next one! But this dress got bumped up the queue for a nerdy reason. This’ll get a bit convoluted.

I’ve been a fan of the comedian Paul F Tompkins for a long time. Comedy is my favourite entertainment, podcasts are my main consumption of media, and PFT is my favourite podcaster and second favourite comedian (Sandra Bullock is my first favourite, make of that what you will). PFT is guaranteed to make me laugh, or more accurately, gasp ‘what? What is happening??’ through laughter, which obviously is even better. He also dresses VERY nicely. My cousin M is also a fan, and she’s a big fan of the Thrilling Adventure Hour, which is a podcasted live show in the style of old time radio. Specifically, we’re fans of Beyond Belief fan (in fact that she maintains the BB part of the Thrilling Adventure Hour wiki). The Thrilling Adventure Hour is coming up on its last shows, two of which will be in Sydney next weekend. We’re going, naturally.

One year ago, PFT posted this. It’s a recreation of a jacket from Jaws, apparently – I’ve not seen the movie and tbh most of the things I know about Jaws are from hearing PFT talk about it on podcasts, which he seems unable to prevent himself from doing.. M sent the photo post to me saying I should have that outfit, since I 1) always like PFTs outfits 2) like things with anchors on (I like nautical stuff but not like full on sailor suits so anchors on not-blue fabric is PERF). I wondered if I could find the fabric. She found it. It’s Sarah Jane for Michael Miller, the out to sea line which I should have spotted right away (sewing nerd fail). I bought some. And I spent a year wondering what the right outfit would be to recreate the feel of a three piece suit in a form that I would actually wear.

If you’re guessing I decided on M6696, you’d be right.

So for ages I thought I’d just sew it up when I finished the black dress. And then when we booked the tickets for TAH in Sydney I thought I’d sew it up to wear there. And then three weeks ago I thought ‘oh shit, that’s soon!’ and pulled out the black dress to work on as a wearable muslin before starting the anchor dress.

This meant the progress was a little bit rushed. Unfortunately there was a bit less ‘doing it right’ on this than I had initially intended. On the OTHER hand, it’s actually a finished sewn object, so, swings and roundabouts.

The actual sewing process was pretty straightforward. I did most of it over a day a couple of weekends ago. I did some changes, and I gotta say it was a good thing I’ve sewn a shirt before because these instructions were CONFUSING. I sandwiched the top yoke, and I also sandwiched the bottom of the bodice in the waistband. Then I French seamed the skirt onto the waistband. I French seamed everything else too, because the fabric is light and a bit seethrough, and mildly ravelly – no problems with it while sewing, or even unpicking, but it will definitely unravel in the wash. I also did the collar like Andrea’s tutorial. Basically I did the construction like the Kwik Sew shirt I made.

The hem is folded over 1cm and then folded up 4cm and top stitched. I’m wondering about taking it up a bit further in future makes, but I haven’t decided yet if I like the length or not. It’s a bit longer than I usually would make my skirts but I might be into it? It is pretty crinkly in this fabric, I did iron it before wearing but in future I’ll spend more time steaming the hem in particular because it’s pretty creased still. And the collar is sitting funny – it was fine before but I think I steamed it at a wrong angle. I’ll have to pay attention to that. In general, though, I like to wear natural fabrics and that means some creasing. If Queen Vic herself can’t beat creasing I don’t see why I should try.

I also had initially planned no pockets, because I was planning French seams and didn’t want to deal with that ish. Then when I pulled it out again I decided no, definitely, pockets are necessary. So I sort of worked that out myself and they don’t really sit quite right. It looks fine when worn, but if you look at the pocket you can see it wants to cave in on itself before the seam. I’ve done some googling and found a better method (that is to say, any method at all), and I could probably go back and fix it but I’m worried I’d make it worse and the fixes would be visible – this happened a few other places where the voile made fixing things hard. Nowhere very visible but the pockets would be, so they’ll stay that way for now, but hopefully next time I want to sew pockets into French seams I’ll feel better equipped.

Then I ran into some troubles. For one, the button band turned out to be too small somehow. I’d cut it too long initially, and then when I trimmed it I guess I trimmed it too short. So it technically fit the dress but without room to turn over, when it catches the hem, which is how I didn’t notice it until it was sewed on – it looked like it fit. So I extended the button band which will be at the back, since that was even shorter, somehow (??) and then I just sort of… fudged it. I ended up having to fold the hem up a little bit under it on one side, so the hem is a bit wonky. Whoops.

I also mucked up the button band width. I didn’t fold it over totally uniformly – I suspect it was cut a bit wonky (should have used my rotary cutter for the shifty, light fabric), and then I just folded the edges in half instead of actually making sure it was straight. So it gets a bit wider, right at chest height, just where you would ideally want a flaw like that, right? To make matters worse, when I folded it over and top stitched it (instead of catch stitching. Who has time, right? Turns out it probably would have been quicker…) I missed a bit. It caught ok (because I top stitched twice, after missing the first time. So much for being careful!) but the edge had folded out instead of under, so the raw edge was sticking out. At this point I was a bit frustrated about other fit issues which I haven’t covered yet, so I just trimmed it off and called it a day. Except that where I trimmed it at the bust, turns out I also trimmed the seam allowance of the bodice. And so it only had like a 1mm seam allowance. So it ripped. ARGH! I ironed on some black interfacing and zigzagged it down the seam line and S, who is picky about these things and has good eyesight, says you can’t see it. It’s black, I believe him. I was going to take a picture of it for full disclosure but despite fussing over how it looked before taking photos, I totally forgot about it. So I guess it’s fine!

Wibbly button band from width issues, and also being determined to line up the wasitband and needing to muck with button placement a bit. I can’t see the zigzagging but I can’t tell if that’s because it’s invisible, or because the photo is so unfocussed. Still trying to get the hang of the self timer on my new camera.

 

The button bands are also a bit flimsy in general. The voile itself is light, obviously, and I initially interfaced it with a medium weight interfacing, which is white. When I went to sew it up I noticed I’d forgotten to interface one button band, and decided I’d use black interfacing on the outer button band, to prevent it showing through white at the buttonholes. It does peep through at the collar so I think this was a good choice, but the only black interfacing I could find is a bit light. So the band is a bit softer than I think is ideal. But the other areas are appropriately interfaced. Still deciding if I should use the same weight for the anchor dress, which will be quilting cotton and therefore heavier. And the waistband does drag a bit, I think through a combination of the back waist being too low, and just being a lightweight fabric.

See the bendy waistband?

 

Ok now to the fitting woes which had me frustrated and sewing sloppily.

It’s impossible to try this on until the button bands are on, because of the construction order. Well you could just before you sewed the bands, I suppose, but then you’re not quite sure how much extra to allow for. It was looking pretty good as I went so I put the bands on. Then when I tried it on, the waistband was tight. It was juuuust ok standing, although tighter than I think a dress I’ll need to wear with a slip should be. But when I sat down it was no go. Button popping awaited!

I measured where it was when I was comfortable and decided I’d add 2.5” to the waistband. Then I last minute decided I’d just cut a size 24 waistband, which is 4” bigger, because I somehow became convinced I’d need the extra room. I guess once again, I have no idea how big my waist is. I had juuuust enough fabric to recut the outer waistband, slightly off grain. I pieced the inner. I had to unpick the waistband from the buttonband, the bodice, and the skirt, because of the way I’d sandwiched it all together. I was still doing things properly, you see! I should know better. I just eased out the back skirt pleats to account for the extra room, which was pretty easy except for right at the centre back, where one of the bigger pleats grew about .75” longer than the other. It wasn’t very noticeable at that point, in fact I didn’t notice it! Not until later. As for the bodice, it has so much room in the gathers that I just basically let the gathers out to almost nothing. I had been worried about how poufy the back was (a common complaint with this pattern) and I thought, I would make it up buttons and all and see how it sat. If it was still poufy after ironing I could maybe pleat them instead.

When I tried it on it sat ok but I couldn’t be sure without buttons etc. I was worried that there was too much room in the top bodice (no photo of this – too hard to hold it together and photograph without flashing you) and maybe I needed to bring the shoulders up, or maybe I needed a small FBA or maybe a hollow chest adjustment… I decided I’d do the buttons, because the button band wouldn’t change, and I’d see how it sat once it was actually buttoned up.

So I did that, BLESS my new sewing machine (who I have yet to introduce to the blog) and her delightful automatic buttonholes. Eleven neat buttonholes, and one quite pleasant evening of sewing later (I quite like hand sewing, although I was sick of it by the tenth button), I had a complete-but-flawed dress!

The back’s still pretty poofy but I’m ok with it.

 

I tried it on, and the bodice sat PERFECTLY. Just perfect. All the fit flaws totally disappeared. Funny how different a buttoned dress is to holding it closed, huh? (duh). I was so thrilled, this fit me basically out of the packet, once I got the size selection right! The shoulders are in the right place and everything (although I suspect the armhole of being too low). But. The waistband was now clearly too big. LE SIGH. 2” too big, to be precise. Should have gone with my first instinct. And the back was poufy. The too long waistband was also making the back hang really low and weird. I did try to take some photos of this but it was night and just too dark.  But basically it was a sack at the back.

I couldn’t face unpicking the waistband and buttonband again and I was also worried that the fabric would fray too much. So I hacked it. I pleated the waistband in the middle, and hand-sewed it shut. TADA! This created a little pleat in the back bodice and another skirt pleat. It’s just slightly off centre because of one of the back pleats being longer than the other – once I did the centre pleat, it became really obvious. So I just folded it until it looked right.

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At the same time I also catch stitched the hem to sit a bit neater (but still curved up, curses) at the centre front, and catch stitched the collar where the turn and top stitch hadn’t quite caught it, despite all my pinning. Next time I think I’ll just catch stitch, since it appears I’m going to have to anyways. I don’t know why I can’t manage to turn and stitch like that, but I can’t.

Next time, I will cut a size 22 waistband and back skirt. And I will take a wedge out of the bottom of the back bodice, for a swayback adjustment. I will pleat the back bodice instead of gathering – maybe a nice neat box pleat. I might take 1” of width out, tapering up to nothing at the top, but tbh, I do need almost all the extra width at the back – just not at my swayback. I don’t know that there’s a neat compromise there. I’m debating fussing with the armhole, because I suspect it will be more pronounced in a thicker fabric, but I’m not sure I feel like futzing with a sleeve/armscye adjustment. I guess I could raise it a half a centimetre or so without too much ripple effect. Famous last words? And with the thicker fabric I think I’ll take some ease from the sleevecap. I love the little gathers and puffs here, but not in a thicker fabric and I think probably it’s not really my style, in general.

Demonstrating that I need the room at the back See the strain lines? Although I suspect some of that would be mitigated by lifting the armscye.

 

I also think it does need an FBA, looking at these photos. There’s strain at the bust and underarms, so I think a small FBA, shifting the horizontal dart an inch to the side, and raising the armscyes by a half an inch would solve that. That said, all these things are cosmetic, it feels VERY comfortable to wear. I hope that stays true in a heavier fabric because I’ve already cut out the next one so it’s too late for those adjustments! But there WILL be a next time.

Yeah, that bodice wants an FBA. Check out those strain lines. Luckily I don’t stand like this too often.

 

So. A very imperfect dress. But I love it. Every time I’ve put it on I’ve picked it up feeling disheartened about the flaws, but when it’s on I fall in love again. I think it just looks so good – and it’s exactly 100% how I want to look all the time. It’s totally in my style wheelhouse. Another black dress, totally boring, but I feel like a million dollars in it. And despite the flaws and corners cut I feel very proud of how I persevered on this and got it done.

Unfortunately it’s also a light, floaty, see through dress, and it’s FREEZING here right now. I’m going to have to make a slip for it, I’m considering also making a version of M6559  in a fleece-backed merino knit I got from The Fabric Store when I was in Melbourne a few weeks ago – I meant to buy one length of fleecey and one not, but mixed up and got 6 metres fleecey instead! That may have been a blessing in disguise, because if I make a ‘slip’ out of it, I could wear this dress in winter and be WARM! Although I am wearing only a black bra under it in these photos and I think it’s fine. I’d still probably wear a cami for work but I don’t feel immodest at all. I always wear bike shorts anyway so my lower half is properly warm and modest.

Oh, also, it’s already covered with cat hair. Sigh. But I LOVE IT ANYWAY!

 

Before we start, the Get Your Knit ON competition is up at Bluegingerdoll. If you’re so inclined, mosey over there and vote for your favourite make.

Continuing in the theme of knit dresses (I love them. They don’t have darts to get all pointy or ANYTHING), I made a Jasper sweaterdress, from Paprika Patterns. The designer/model has such a different bodyshape from me, and the look of it on her is something I love but have accepted I will never achieve in the same way. So I probably wouldn’t have put it on my ‘to sew’ list except that I saw Gillians’ version at Crafting a Rainbow version and fell in love.

I had some rayon ponte from Spotlight that I’d bought when it was on special. I was planning to make a plain straight skirt, but I bought two metres of it and it’s 150cm so there is a LOT of fabric. I have no idea why I thought I would need that much. I bought some black at the same time, to make a ¾ circle skirt (as yet unmade) and I guess I just bought the same amount for both without thinking. The ponte is nice and dense, although it is something like 90% polyester, so it’s also a bit shiny and weird, in the way that oil-based fabrics are. But the rayon does take the edge off. It was really nice to sew with, I have to say. The pattern calls for a heavy ponte or thicker, and this worked pretty well, I think.

The photos aren’t the best, I’m still working out how to focus my camera properly with the timer, and it was early in the morning before work. So I just snapped some quickly and my face looks like it’s a ghost but just go with it, ok?

 

Anyhow, the dress. It comes with really thorough instructions on how to pick a size – the smaller sizes are drafted for a B cup and the larger ones for a C cup. I’m a DDD or an E, so obviously I knew I would need to do something about that, but luckily Paprika patterns also provides some excellent instructions for adjustments. There are also details on which pattern pieces you need to print for which version but I got overwhelmed and just printed them all. It wouldn’t be that hard to spend five seconds thinking about it but there you go. Anyway, it means that if you know you just want to make the jumper with the hood for example, you don’t ALSO have to print all the length of the dress and the collar, and wrangle that paper. I really appreciate the thought that went into making this pattern easy to access and use.

It was a nice pattern to tape together – I generally don’t mind taping but sometimes you get patterns that make it hard. This one was simple. It had circles to match up the sides and I found it much easier to make sure the circles were round rather than that triangles met each other, or other systems I’ve seen. Also the pieces are laid out sensibly so even though I didn’t selectively print, I could cut pieces off as I went. It took me maybe an hour to tape together, and I was going slow because I basically only ever tape patterns together when I am too tired and useless to do anything actually creative.

I cut it out the next day, when I was home from work with a migraine. That’s how nice and simple this pattern is, I could even sew it with a migraine. I did the FBA then, too. It’s a freaking MIRACLE I made it through that. Thankfully, the tute was extremely clear, and it links to Mary’s tute which I needed, because I did a 2.5” FBA and ended up with a weird, ripply, 3D piece of paper. I almost cried but then Mary was to the rescue and taught me how to straighten it out. I think this was probably great practice for doing a princess seam FBA on a woven – I figured this one’s a knit so it would be a bit more forgiving if I fudged things while I worked out what I was doing. The FBA has lots of steps and looks complicated but is actually one of the easiest adjustments I’ve ever done. I’d say it’s easier than an FBA on a darted bodice, even. Just a bit more mind bending trying to think about it.

I really should have pressed that skirt seam.

 

My high bust is exactly 41.5”, and my full bust is 46” so I cut a size 7 and did that 2.5” FBA – probably a bit generous of an FBA for my measurements, but it turned out well. I also folded the back piece in so that the centre back tapered up – I still cut it on the fold but it meant there was basically a built-in dart for my dowager’s hump (such an attractive term, no? JOKES ON THEM you have to have been married to be a dowager. Ha HA!!), basically the no-seam, pre-cutting version of the back adjustment I did on my Violet. I left the pockets off because I wanted to see how the fit was first, and also I was hoping to get a dress I could wear to work on those days when you just can’t be bothered and it’s cold and you’d rather stay in pyjamas, but you don’t actually want to LOOK like you can’t be bothered. I thought pockets would make it more casual. I also taped the bottom band pattern to the bottom of the pieces, and cut them together [get photo], again because I thought it would make it look a bit more casual than I was after.

Pattern piece with the cuff piece taped to it.

I always knew I wanted to make the plain dress, and I don’t love big collars on me – they make me look top heavy and also I feel like I’m choking all the time – so I just ‘self drafted’ a binding. That is to say, I cut a strip of fabric and pinned it until it looked like it’d be tight enough, and then sewed it on. Tres fancy, non? (How do you say ‘fancy’ in French?) It was a good thing this was how I wanted it because I would have struggled to get the collar out of the fabric I had, and the hood out have been totally out. If I’d cut the bands separate I might have been able to do some tricky cutting, but as it was I was left with about 25cm of fabric once I was done cutting.

I didn’t follow the sewing instructions, just sewed it up myself. I did glance at them and they looked very clear, with excellent diagrams.

So, I sewed it up sloooowly over that day (see, migraine). When I tried it on it looked like a SACK.

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It looks like an inmate’s uniform. Not precisely the look I was after…

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Sorry for the poor photos, I was just using my phone. Also please excuse my pants in a pile behind me. I am SO CLASSY, for reals.

I could see, when I pulled it this way and that, that most of the extra fabric was in the centre front. I tried unpicking the front princess seams and taking 1” out of the centre front when I sewed them back together. I also nipped this seam in at the waist a bit. This helped but it was still saggy baggy. There is the front piece, a side piece which wraps around, and a back piece that starts after your shoulders, so I couldn’t really just nip in the sides.

You can see the two seams here, indicating the three pieces – front, side, and back.

 

Besides, I realised, the front seam wasn’t anywhere near my actual bust. You can see the same thing in Chloe’s version here. I ended up unpicking the front piece altogether, and recutting it to take FOUR INCHES out of the front. I tapered it back out so the bit where it meets the shoulder is the same width, because I didn’t want to futz with the armholes if I didn’t have to – they were fitting ok and also armholes are the devil to futz with. I think this is just a body/pattern meeting in a weird way thing. The front doesn’t get adjusted at all with the FBA (except to lengthen it to match) and it DOES fit in the upper torso just fine, so… idk. Is it a shape thing or a drafting quirk for a body that’s not mine? Who knows. It was an easy fix, anyway.

I can see that there are significant drag lines, here. It’s not at all obvious in real life. I’m not quite sure how I’d go about fixing this – a bigger FBA, since I have reduced the centre width? Or maybe a big booty adjustment – actually I think that’s what it’s dragging on. It does hitch up slightly when I sit down, and I have to tug it down. I think, because of the three-piece construction, the back affects the front more than if it had more pieces, like the penny pinny.

Looking at this, I can see the back seam straining a little, so I think that probably is the problem. Obviously there is also a whole bunch of fabric pooling in my lower back, as well. Just for funsies. Not sure how to deal with that without a waist seam, I think I could probably narrow the back piece there, but to be honest it’s not a fitting issue I’m particularly concerned about at this point, especially on a knit dress. I’ll get to figuring out my back fitting issues once I’ve dealt with the front.

I did think about cutting it to match the centre piece of the penny pinny, because I think part of the problem is that Jasper goes out a bit where I would probably want it to go in – see comments above about it being a different shape than I would normally choose. It’s NOT a ‘fit and flare’ type pattern. I didn’t use the penny pattern piece (say that six times fast) because the penny is constructed differently (three pieces for front and back, not a front, two sides and a back), and I didn’t want to have to deal with that + adjusting the front curve if I didn’t have to. Not with a migraine.

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Penny pattern on top of the already cut out Jasper size 7 (before my adjsutments)

 

It came out great! I am really pleased with it. It still is not a shape I am used to, and I feel a bit self conscious that I might be sack-like. But objectively I think it’s totally fine and it’s just that I’m not used to it. I didn’t finish the inside seams at all. I did end up taking 1” off the end of the sleeves because they were too long, and I wish I’d tapered them down a bit and made the cuff smaller, because it’s a bit large. And also, I discovered when I wore it yesterday, the cuffs are cut slightly off grain. Whoops. I topstitched the sleeves and neck and did the hem with my twin needle. My babylock and I still aren’t on speaking terms.

I’m not 100% sure the deep hem is the look I want but I’m going to wear it a bit and see, I can always chop it off at a later date.

I’m really happy with this make, it was a really pleasant experience. I’m keen to make a jumper with a hood and a pocket, too. I have some fleece in the stash but it’s just from spotters, I think I might wait and get something better quality because I think this is a pattern that could feel fancy and nice, I don’t want to undermine it with sub par fabric.

I also have some two-sided doubleknit I bought from the Fabric Store yonks ago that might make a nice sweater dress? It is deep stash now and I’m kind of scared to cut into it, so I’d like to get over it and make it into something this winter. I’m going to wear this dress and if I like it as much as I think I will, I’ll cut into the doubleknit.

 

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