Ngaio blouse

Hello my lovelies! I really need to come up with some better ways to start posts. Oh well, maybe this can be my signature thing or whatever. Here is my Ngaio blouse!

I really liked this when I saw it on Leimomi’s blog – both back in the day when she made it for herself and then again when she released it as a pattern. I loved that it had bust cup sizes. I don’t care for the way the yellow top looks on the model – I mean, I think it looks fine but it’s not a look I want for myself. But the other one with a larger cup size is my JAM. I think for me I want the seamline to sit under my bust, when it’s on top of my bust I feel flattened and a strange shape. Once again, it’s a shape I think looks good on others but I find it disorienting on myself. Body image is a strange thing.

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Ngaio blouse

The readme for the PDF gives really clear instructions about which sections to print for which size, which I always appreciate. I printed everything off though because I wasn’t sure what cup size I’d end up using. The PDF went together really well, I love the way Leimomi organises and marks matching on her PDF patterns. I also REALLY love that her sizes are actual measurement sizes – if you’ve got a 46″ bust you’ll sew the size 46.

My measurements are High bust 42″, Full bust 46″, Waist 41″ and Hips 46″ – ish. These measurements all fluctuate by an inch or so but they are fairly accurate. I wear a 36DDD/E bra. Going by the detailed measurement guides this put me in a size 44 with the largest bust cup. I wasn’t too sure about this and I did up a muslin. It… sort of fit. Here are some photos of me where I look like death, wearing the muslin for you. I hope you appreciate it.

It was too tight though. I let out the side seams and it fit me better (this is what you see above) but still tight, I didn’t love where the bust seam was hitting me, Obviously this is accentuated by the two-tone fabric choices! But it made me look squished and boxy. And the upper back was WAY tight. So I went up a size and kept the same bust size . The final size that I sewed was a 46 with the largest cup size E/F.

The muslin of this size was still tight across my upper back so I did a upper back adjustment but I don’t think I did a great job. I haven’t quite worked out the best way to do this adjustment for myself. I really need the room across my shoulder blades but not at my upper back/shoulders. This combined with the style lines of the blouse results in some puffiness that I don’t super love – but I need that room for movement!

Perhaps I should just have added on to the sides of the back piece? As it is it’s much better than it was – I can sit comfortably at a desk and reach forward, for example – but still a teeny bit tight.

You can see the pull lines at the armscye. The sleeve is also pulling back towards my underarm in a way I’m not quite sure how to diagnose – any thoughts?

Anyway I think this back fit the best I’m going to get without adding in centre back/princess seams. I’m toying with mashing it up with the Springfield princess line back which fit me so spot on. I like the style lines as they are and I’m loathe to muck with them but when I see that back on me I’m not enthralled.

I did sew the back dart a teeny bit deeper, otherwise fabric pooled horizontally but now of course it makes the pouchiness more extreme. Swings and roudabouts!

I also moved the back bottom darts up and shortened them incrementally with each muslin. They’ve ended up with the bottom of the dart being 4″ higher than drafted and the top 2″ higher. As drafted the sat right over the fullest part of my butt. I have a long torso but not THAT long! This was an easy change to make, however.  I do love how high up the back neck comes.

I used the full instructions for this because I found the process a bit confusing at first. I do love that Leimomi supplies a short and a long set of instructions but I think in future I will still use the long instructions for this, and just look at the pictures, since the steps are specific enough to this blouse to need the help (i.e. it’s not just ‘sew back to front at shoulders and sides’).

I loved that the instructions told you which direction to sew your seams in – it really makes a difference in a make like this where there’s a lot going on and the way the top sits and fits depends on the way it drapes. A really excellent touch that Jessica also pointed out.

This was an incredibly fast and satisfying sew.  You can really tell the drafting and testing work that has gone into this pattern. Leimomi uses it to teach classes and you can really tell that all the rough edges have been smoothed off and only the necessary bits are in the instructions.

Untucked

I do wish the sizes went up a bit larger. In my opinion this runs small, which puts me in the third-to-top size. That’s still more generous than a lot of big 4 sizes where I am often the very top size, or other indies where I can only squeeze into their patterns by doing an FBA and some cheater grading. I do greatly appreciate the broader size range and the fact that it is actually appropriately shaped but there’s still a way to go. I know that both running a small business and drafting for a large size range is very challenging, I’d like to hope that if Scroop patterns gets bigger Leimomi might be able to revisit her patterns and go even higher. I would like my larger compatriots to be able to sew this pattern, too, without needing to grade.

Anyway. The fabric is some shirting that I THINK I got at rathdowne remnants? It’s a wee bit poly feeling. I sewed this up at craft camp and I finished the seams with whatever thread was in someone else’s overlocker at the time so the insides aren’t super pretty! But that’s fine by me.

Not as pouchy when untucked. Perhaps it’s too tight at the hips?

I would definitely like to sew this up again. The shirt is distinctive but I think it’s also simple and elegant enough to get away with having a few of these in rotation. I prefer sleeves but I can definitely see a sleeveless version in my future for summer, because the front makes it less basic and negates my main issue with sleeveless which is that I always feel underdressed. Yet another irrational preference that I know isn’t objective but I’ve learnt my own foibles!

TL;DR:

  • Sewed a size 46 with an E/F cup
  • Did a broad upper back adjustment of about 1″ I think
  • Moved the bottom back darts up 4″, shortened by 2″, widened very slightly at the top
  • Fabric is a plain shirting from Rathdowne Remnants (I think?)
  • Seams were sewn on the sewing machine and then finished with overlocking
  • The hem is dodgy as usual. I might redo it or I might just always wear it tucked in.

Next time I would:

  • Consider subbing in a princess seam back
  • There’s still some weirdness with the armscye and sleeve – it fits ok (a small miracle in itself!) but there are pull lines it would be nice to figure out what that’s about
  • I think I might need to do a sloped shoulder adjustment, that would help the pooling at my shoulder and might also help with the sleeve issue?
  • I will definitely be sewing this again though! Very pleased with this make.

Juniper cardigan

As you might have noticed I’ve been in a bit of a sewing drought. There aren’t too many things I need in my wardrobe right now and for some reason the things I do need aren’t really getting me excited to sew them. Upside is the finished knitted items. Downside is no sewing output (I don’t need many things but the things I do need I really need!) and also feeling a bit weird and twitchy because if I don’t make something regularly I go a bit strange. Er. Stranger. Strangerer. See??

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I broke my drought with some knits. First up was a pile of new Steeplechase bikeshorts. I wear a pair at least every work day – my original batch are long gone and the most recent batch was nearing a year old. They are still ok but as they age they lose recovery and the hems start to chafe a little. They are still wearable but not ideal if I’m doing a lot of walking in them, which I do in a normal work day, to and from the train and then usually some walking at lunch when I can manage it. So some of them will be retired into sleepshorts and some will be weekend wear for the occasions when I wear skirts on the weekend instead of yogapants. I now have another week’s worth of new shorts. It feels oddly luxurious to have that pile sitting in my drawer, nice and new and fully functional (although I did make the elastic the teeniest bit tight, so it will take a while for them to wear in. Better too tight than too loose at least). Like treating myself! In the most boring way possible!

While I was on the black knits train I cut out a Juniper cardigan from Jennifer Lauren Vintage. By the way I hope you’ll excuse the terrible photos. There’s so little daylight these days I’m struggling for photo time. I did a shoot on the weekend where the top was way overexposed and looked super saggy and wrinkly – it is a little wrinkly but it looked like a disaster which it doesn’t in real life! So I did a replacement shoot quickly this morning and I look like a half-asleep ghost (which is about how I feel lately! I do not like winter…) but I’m just not going to have time to photograph it again so you gets what you gets. Weird facial expressions and all…

Still looking more wrinkly than it does irl, but it’s an improvement. Trust me.

I saw this on the CSC pattern roundup for April. I’d put myself on an informal pattern buying hiatus after finding a big stack of printed but not taped up patterns! I was intending not to buy any more patterns until I’ve used some of the dang ones I’ve got, but I liked this so much that I bought it immediately.* It is exactly the kind of silhouette I want for my jumpers, hits at the right place, and the sleeves are a bit interesting. Plus, it’s finished with bands which means no dodgy hems. I have a couple of sewn jumpers that I don’t wear much because the sleeve hems make it look very homemade to me. Obviously I could draft hem bands myself if I wanted! But it’s always nice not to have to.

*As I was finishing this post up I checked my email and saw the Laneway dress and I was so high on the success of my cardi that I bought it. NO RAGRATS! But I might have to put myself on a firm pattern buying restriction because this is getting a bit out of hand….

Is this smizing? We’ll never know

I taped this up and traced off my size during my sewing drought – along with several of those stashed patterns! I’m slowly working through my pdf patterns and getting them neat and organised and labelled, and taping them up ready to go. It feels really good to be organised! And it meant when I felt like sewing again I was ready to go without too much mucking around.

The fabric is ponti from DK fabrics. I thought I’d taken a photo of the tag for fibre content but nope. I think it’s poly/rayon/spandex in some kind of proportion, and it’s really lovely. My intention was to make this as a muslin before using more expensive merino knits because I didn’t think it would be very warm but actually I think it will be a great transitional jumper. If it wears well I’ll be back for more of this fabric – it’s very wide so I have almost-but-not-quite enough to make a pair of gingers, which I think would be great in this. It has quite good 4 directional stretch, too.

Juniper is the first Jennifer Lauren Vintage pattern I’ve bought. I really liked the PDF – there are a lot of pages but everything is sectioned off so you can just print and stick the version you want – long length with long sleeves or short length with 3/4 sleeves etc. I printed everything because I’m a completist 😛 but having it segmented made the taping process feel quick because it wasn’t a big endless swathe. Much easier to do, too, when you can cut as you go and not have a massive sheet of taped together paper taking up space. The matching notches were well designed – I tape up a LOT of PDF patterns so it’s the kind of thing I take note of. This was one of the more painless PDFs I’ve ever used.

The instructions are really comprehensive as well. They would be great for a beginner I think. Often I skim straight through and just look at the pictures but I actually read them all because of the different shoulders, and also because its’ been a while since I sewed and like Anna I tend to have a lot of stumbles when picking up sewing after a break. I haven’t forgotten how to do things exactly but it all feels a bit foreign. The good part of this is it makes me realise how many skills I actually have! I just don’t notice them because I am used to them.

Anyway the instructions are great and very clear and helpful, and I appreciated the extended pattern measurements and discussion of choosing sizes, which helped me feel confident when choosing what size to trace off. Plus I appreciated the discussion of the weight of the fabric, which has definitely caught me out before with knits, as well as information about the right notions to use. The only thing missing from the instructions, imo, is a discussion of what stitches to use. It’s not mentioned anywhere at all which was no big deal for me but would be handy for a beginner. (As an aside, the Scroop Patterns Miramar has the best breakdown of what stitches to use with knits I’ve seen. Disclaimer, I did pattern test the Miramar although I have yet to make one because I have yet to find a knit with enough vertical stretch (maybe this ponti is it??). But the instructions on that were bang on.)

Bow before me and my armpit wrinkles

I cut a size 18 sleeve and upper chest, with a size 20 bust and a size 22 waist, based on the extended measurements and the information about intended ease included in the pattern. This made it a bit tricky trying to remember which size cuff and button band to trace off but not that bad – I just had to think about it a bit! The sleeves were the perfect length when I tried it on without the cuffs, so I just lopped them off to shorten them before I sewed on the cuffs.

As you can see, this  fits me ok but not great. I think I need a size larger in the front and maybe a size smaller at back waist – the pouching at the side waist is resolved if I pinch out a good couple inches at the back waist, but then the front is too tight. It’s clearly too tight at the bust – not heaps but enough to wrinkly – and  the front pulls up a little. I am trying to decide if I would do an FBA next time (and fold out the dart, or ease it in) or just cut the front a size 22 at the bust and size 24 at the waist, and add 1/2″ length to the centre front. I’ll wear it a few more times before I decide. I’ll also add maybe 1.5cm length to the centre back I think – it technically hits ok but as I move it hikes up and I find myself wanting to tug it down. I think when I make the back tighter it will exacerbate that issue so I’ll add the length to compensate.

The back waistband looks ok but I can feel it gaping

With all those caveats, this still certainly hits my goal of ‘fits better than my RTW version’. My usual outfit every day is some kind of variation on a circle skirt, a long sleeved tshirt or button up shirt and a jumper – usually from woolovers  because it’s the only place I can find actual warm wool jumpers (not poly, and not super thin wool like Uniqlo). But they are all very long in the waist and I am always fiddling with where they are sitting, or I have to tuck them in and that has its own issues.

The ponte is warmer than I was anticipating – not as warm as my woolovers ones but significantly warmer than my thin uniqlo one – but there’s enough rayon in it that it’s not weird and sweaty either. And it’s so nice not having to fuss with the waist being too long or the shoulders too wide. ‘Not having to think about it while wearing it’ is super high on my list of desirable aspects for my clothes.

Judging you… or myself maybe? Or perhaps a bird that I saw.

Sewing wise, this top went together so quickly and sweetly! The saddle shoulders have the potential to be tricky but the notches are bang on and the instructions are great so I didn’t have any trouble. The only hiccup was attaching the buttonband. I sewed the bulk of the jumper on my sewing machine with a lightning stitch, and then I used my overlocker for the bands and cuffs because I find they sit neater if overlocked. But I didn’t have any knit interfacing so I used regular, which meant that that section of the button band had no stretch there. Which is fine! Except that it meant that I had no give to ease it in. That plus the bulk not wanting to go under my overlocker meant there’s a little bit of a missmatch at the bottom of the jumper. Not heaps, but enough to make me cross with myself. This would be super easily avoidable if you were sewing on a sewing machine with more control, and next time I will machine baste it before overlocking. Totally user error on my part, a dumb mistake.

The sole survivor of the original photoshoot where you can see the dodginess I created. I promise it’s not half as obvious irl

I also wasn’t really thinking and used white interfacing – which was all I had on hand anyway. It does show through a teeny bit, I think it probably will show with wear. Not a huge deal but a bit annoying, and something to remember next time.

I never wear cardigans open so I decided the sew the buttonband shut. I was also influenced by the sewing error above – this hides it a bit more effectively. I sewed it up a bit too high so it pulls at the top, when I have black thread in my machine next I will unpick that top bit and use my favourite dodgy trick of sewing over the line of stitching for a bit and backtacking to hold it in place. The buttons are just basic ones from my stash, and I sewed them right through both button bands.

I didn’t top stitch because I liked it as is and didn’t want to risk making it wobbly. I stablised the shoulders with some thin twill tape I have from S’s dad – he used to own a deli and stocked basic notions which he took with him when he sold it as the new owners didn’t want them. So I have a nice stash of snaps and twill tape and the like. It felt really good to use some and it was the perfect thing for this. I really don’t like how clear elastic feels so I avoid using it where possible, and I thought on a thick knit like this I could use the extra heft of a woven stabliser. Also I totally forgot to take a photo of that bit and now it’s dark and impossible to photograph black things, so you’ll just have to imagine it.

TL;DR review:

  • Fabric is a ponti from DK fabrics.
  • I sewed a size 18 upper chest and sleeves, size 20 bust and size 22 waist.
  • My measurements are upper bust 41″, full bust 46″, waist 41″, hips 46″
  • Next time I would size down at the back waist (so, a size 18 upper chest and size 20 down) and either do an FBA or size up on the front from the bust down (size 22 bust size 24 waist).
  • I shortened the sleeves by 1.5″ ish (the length of the cuff).
  • I found the pdf really well designed, and the pattern well drafted. Really impressed by this.
  • I used regular interfacing for the button bands, not knit, and this made it hard to get the bands set in correctly.
  • This would be easily worked around by basting before sewing or overlocking the bands on.
  • I sewed the button band shut because I don’t intend on ever opening it.
  • I used thin twill tape to stablise the shoulder seams.

I really like this pattern and this jumper! My version is not perfect but I like it a lot, and I really enjoyed sewing this well drafted pattern. I would definitely recommend it, and based on the experience I would be keen to try other JLV patterns.

I’m looking forward to sewing it up in some of the merino in my stash – and maybe purchasing some different colours of the fabric store merino – A navy cardi would be very practical, and I think I might need an emerald one, don’t you?

Jennifer dress

Hello! Here is my second iteration of Vogue 8811.

Gosh look how nice and even that waist is sitting! I get a gold star

I’m sorry these photos are so shocking. I went out two separate times to get them but still didn’t end up with good ones so I’m calling these good enough. I’m getting closer to figuring out appropriate times for good lighting, however, so hopefully they’ll improve.

I tend to like to make a pattern more than once. Partly this is because I always have to do so much fitting work that it feels like wasted effort if I just make a once-off. Also that you can never really be sure how something fits until you wear it, so I like to t ake a second crack at it – and I find I learn a lot about fitting that way, too. In this case I loved my first version so much that I was planning to make a second V8811 before I even blogged the first one.

I earmarked this blue broadcloth from my stash for it. It’s just from spotters, and I think I bought it intending to make a shirtdress. But it’s a bright enough blue that I thought it would probably come out a bit uniform-y so it was looking for the right project and I knew this simple bodice would avoid the uniform issue. But then… it’s a bit boring, right? It’s a nice colour but not in my usual palette so I wanted to do something to spiff it up.

I thought about adding some trim, as in view A, but honestly I’m not really a lace and ribbon kinda gal. Then I thought, that pocket has some opportunities! I have a pinterest board of embroidery ideas, many of which are vintage transfers, so I picked one I thought would work well with the fabric and started on it.

I mostly worked on it on my train commute and it went very quickly. I used machine embroidery stabiliser because my local stores didn’t have any proper hand embroidery stuff, and it didn’t 100% wash away which is why it looks a bit odd and stiff still. I think it will eventually dissipate and it’s not obvious except very close up. I used random colours I liked from my collection. The stems are stem stitch, the centres satin stitch, the leaves feather stitch and the petals grain stitch. Oh and the little cluster of french knots – I think I’ve FINALLY learnt how to do a consistent french knot, but I still don’t like doing them. I am now a bit addicted to embroidery – I forgot how fun it is! Except I need to find more useful and interesting things to stitch.

I did not, however, do a good job of sewing the pocket on. Oh, well. It’s not so obvious when worn so I’ll just live with it, although it does annoy me. Part of the issue is that the pocket is two pieces, sewn together and turned. The embroidered piece is on the bias since that’s what the pattern tells you to do but then I realised that’s only because if you’re using a plaid it’s a contrast. So I cut the backing on the straight grain but that was probably a mistake. Also the pattern has you turn it in a weird way – I was planning to leave the whole top unturned since that’s topstitched anyhow but the pattern has you turn it from the bottom which means you have to leave the opening quite small, so I couldn’t really do much about wonky edges. If I were doing this again I’d just do it my way.

I sewed the same size as last time (which started as a size 12). Changes I’d already made to the paper pattern included:

  • 2″ FBA
  • Added 3/4″ to side seams of bodice (so it was essentially a size 14 bodice).
  • Took up waist about 1″, losing a total of 2″ length from both the bodice and skirt
  • Lowered neckline 1″ at front neck tapering to nothing at front shoulders

I’d made the front 1″ larger last time but forgot to this time as I hadn’t made the extra addition to the pattern and I was cutting this out while sick. I also didn’t cut the skirt wider as the fabric was too narrow. I sewed the side seams at 1cm instead of 1.5cm to compensate for this.

This time I also:

  • Lowered the neckline a further 1/2″ all the way around, for a total of 1.5″ at front and 1/2″ at shoulder and back neck.
  • Sewed the armhole seam about 1cm higher so the armholes aren’t so gapey
  • Took 1cm off the top of the sleeves, tapering to nothing at the mid sleeve
  • Sorted out where the waistline should be.
  • Added a full lining instead of using facings.
  • Added pockets

Figuring out the waistline took a lot of basting and swearing but in the end what it amounted to was taking off 1″ from the centre front, tapering to nothing at the dart. This was pretty much what the FBA added that I had not dealt with properly. Naughty. I got my consequences though! I then took a further 1″ off the entire waist, front to back. I have read a few people saying it seemed long in the waist so perhaps it’s the pattern. I do have a long waist and it’s quite rare that I have to shorten a bodice unless I want it to hit above my natural waist. I must say I didn’t mind how it looked when it was a bit longer – it definitely had more of the 40’s long and lanky look (not that I will ever look lanky but you know what I mean… it had that feel to it) but it bunched up when I moved so it got taken up.

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This is before the last 1″ was taken out. It looks ok but you can just see it bubbling up. It was super obvious when I moved. Also note paint swatches on the boring grey wall behind me!

I also took the skirt up 1″ to make the waist wider, to compensate for not having cut it out wider. Consequently I only did a 1″ hem. I didn’t have to adjust the hem at all so I think my issues with the last one were the rayon stretching out after all. The broadcloth is pretty firm and hasn’t shifted on the bias but there’s still time! 😛

I lopped off 1cm from the top of the sleeve and straightened out the sleeve curve – the FBA had involved shifting that seam about a bit and I essentially just put it back as drafted. Again, should have already done that, very sloppy. I added pockets from B6285, which are my go-to pockets now – they’re an excellent shape and sit well in the side seams of a skirt. I also find they give a nice volume to a skirt, puffing it up a bit exactly where I want the volume. When I tried on my basted together version it hung quite limply, but with the pockets and the lining it fluffs up very nicely. Pleasing!

I fully lined it, and I really like how it is with a lining. I would definitely do this again next time. The bodice is bemsilk I think – it was from my stash – and the skirt is poly taffeta from Lincraft. This is now my favourite skirt lining, it gives a nice volume and is hefty enough not to try to sneak in between my legs when I walk. Plus it rustles nicely as I move, always a plus. The lining is my trusty self drafted 3/4 circle skirt/lining pattern but I probably could have just used the skirt pattern as it’s also a 3/4 ish circle. (A bigger circle will work it’s way between one’s legs in a very annoying way). The front waistline of the pattern is bigger than the back so I just very dodgily sewed the front lining up higher at centre front and didn’t bother evening out the hem. It hangs more or less right when worn, though. Good enough for a lining anyway!

I really love the colour of the lining taffeta. Trying to think of an excuse to make and wear a whole dress out of it…

I serged everything to finish before sewing it together. Lining hem is just serged, skirt hem is turned up and hand stitched. Sleeves and neck are understitched. The button is a loner from my stash – I thought I’d taken a better picture, it’s got swirls on it like a boiled sweet. I did the thread loop like the last one but I’ve made it too long and it keeps coming undone so I need to go back and fix that. The lining is tacked to the outer shell at the waist with the same thread loops.

I also am contemplating belt loops but it sits pretty nicely without them so we’ll see.

I don’t think you can really see it here but the only issue I have with this make is that it sits a little forward at the shoulder. I think I need to take another 1/2″ from the front neckline, for a total of 2″ off of it. If I pull it so that it sits where it would with a lower neck, it’s perfect – but the broadcloth is firm enough to prevent it sitting there whereas my last version the rayon sits there but just sits out from my collarbone.

I also want to put back the extra at the back neckline – I freehanded trimming that off and it was hard to taper to nothing because it’s quite a short seam so I’ll go back and adjust the pattern properly. I don’t think I’ll be making another of these immediately but I think it’s simple enough and it fits well enough that I see it becoming a TNT pattern, so I’ll retrace everything to have a proper, adjusted pattern ready to go.

When I’m wearing it without a belt, the dress feels like it’s pulling forward because of the too-high neckline. I could go back and take more out I suppose, but with a belt it sits ok. We’ll see how it wears. I do want to go back and take extra out of my Clarissa version because I have avoided wearing it a couple of times because the neck isn’t super comfortable. It’s fine but not great. A relatively easy fix, however!

I’m really thrilled with this one! It came out just like I had hoped. A rare treat! Despite having had a bit of trouble with this pattern, it was all self-induced, and the results were worth it!

Clarissa dress

Hello lovelies! I’ve missed you! I have miraculously managed to sew something in the last month, and I’m so keen to share it with you.

This is Vogue 8811, in the rayon I bought in Bali.

Description: Pullover dress has shoulder pads, semi-fitted bodice, French darts, bias, flared skirt, back keyhole closure with button/thread loop, side snap/extension or zipper closing, cap sleeves, and belt. A: Purchased trim. B: Bust pocket. Circa 1940

Recommended fabrics: Linen, Crepe de Chine, Lightweight Broadcloth

 

This one was a bit of a journey. I thought up this pattern and fabric combo while lying in bed desperately trying to stop thinking about work long enough that I could go to sleep (it’s been a BUSY month. I don’t usually think about work outside of work hours – one of the perks of my job is it stays at work). It was prompted by how much I love my Dorothy Lara dresses. I needed another dress that was weather appropriate for the late summer, and given how busy and stressful things have been I needed it to be easy to wear. I love those 50s and 60s silhouettes but it’s hard to beat the comfortable, functional ease of a ’40s dress. When I know I’ve got a rough day ahead and I want to feel and look good without having to put any thought into what I’m wearing throughout the day, I reach for my two DLs every time. I wanted more of that in my wardrobe!

I also wanted to use this fabric soon. It’s very on-trend, and I love it, but I was worried that if I left it in the stash too long it would look and feel dated and I wouldn’t want to sew it any more. So I wanted to figure out what to do with it soon.

I’ve had this pattern in my stash for some time, but I’d bought the wrong size. I had the size 4-12 size nest not the 12-18. Going by my measurements I would normally sew the size 14 , grading to a size 12 at the shoulders, with a 2″ FBA. I didn’t realise my size snafu until I was partway through cutting out the tissue pattern pieces. I figured it was a pretty simple shape, given that I would normally cut size 12 shoulders anyway perhaps I could just add on some width to the sides and do that FBA and call it good.

Pardon my mystery bruise. Looking pretty impressive though!

This sort of worked. The trouble is it has this cool waist dart – it’s angled and one side is curved and you ease it together to create extra shape. It’s REALLY interesting, and makes the bodice sit really nicely, and it’s also quite hard to do an FBA on! I’m not at all sure I did it right and I probably should have sewn it up without the FBA first so I knew what it was meant to be like. However, after the FBA and cheaters grading up, I had a muslined bodice that looked pretty good and sat right, so I cut out the fashion fabric.

The ‘grading’ involved adding 1″ to the front and 3/4″ to the back of both bodice and skirt. I also lowered the front neckline by 1″ at the neck tapering to nothing at the shoulder seam.

By the way, my lovely blue wall now has a bed in front of it so I’m auditioning new photo locations. The best options were this boring grey-blue wall in my craft room with one million powerpoints on it, or outside. Outside worked well but I think it would have been better if I’d waited an hour because I had trouble finding a good spot in regards to the sun and so I only got a few good photos. I’ll work on it.

Anyhow. The dress. So I sewed it all up and tried it on and it was HORRID.

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Noooooo I was not trying to sew a caftan! Or a mumu

The FBA had added length in a weird way, and the rayon was quite droopy and the waist was totally uneven and also way lower than it should be and dipped drastically at the front. Ack! I unpicked it and laid out the bodice and just hacked it off even at the bottom. I’d say there was about 4″ extra at the centre front! Then there was some back and forth of basting and unpicking of seams in a totally unscientific way that will come back to bite me if I ever make it again because I didn’t really write down what I was doing because I did it in bits and pieces over a couple of weeks in a period where I was very stressed and frazzled.

What I ended up with was a dress where (after said hacking off evenly) I took about 1″ off the waist seam – I just sewed that seam at a larger width so it ended up taking the skirt up too. I also took almost all of the width I’d added in at the side seams back out again although I did keep most of it in the seam allowances so that I can let it out if the rayon shrinks up. I think in a firmer fabric I might still need the width, but in the rayon and with such a busy print, it just looked frumpy and saggy. The pattern had instructions for either a hand picked zipper or an extension with snaps, but I found that I could just pull it over my head quite comfortably so I just sewed up the sides. Again, probably wouldn’t be possible in a firmer fabric but works really well for this.

I was going to add pockets in but with all the adjusting I ended up serging one of the skirt side seams shut and I couldn’t be bothered unpicking it. I really would like pockets because the neck is so high I can’t access my alterna-pocket (aka my bra). But then pockets in rayon are a bit less functional anyway, so dunno.

The waist seam is still a bit wonky, and I’m not sure if it’s my terrible hacking of the pattern, or just the way the rayon is hanging. The bra I’m wearing also really changes how this hangs – I guess because it’s such full coverage, the position of my bust point totally changes the drape of the bodice. Yet another lesson in wearing my good bras to sew in.

Those issues are lost in the busy print though so I’m not too fussed. Also I’ll probably always wear this with a belt anyway which covers some sins, although it would benefit from some belt carries to keep it in place. The pattern has pattern pieces for a belt and I was going to make a black one but I don’t have an appropriate buckle so for now it’s this white one or nothing. I like the way the white lightens it up though.

The sleeves have facings and I HATE them. Hate. They’re flippy and chunky and terrible. I also think I need to take 1cm off the top of the sleeves and that would reduce the amount they stick up. If/when I make this again I’ll either line it like Tanya did, or bias bind them. The pattern includes pieces for shoulderpads, so perhaps that would change the angle of the sleeves? I chose not to make them although I would like to have a go some time just to see how it’s done.

Hateful

This pattern has a bunch of nice vintage touches that I really appreciated – it’s one of the reasons that I rarely buy newly drafted patterns. I have or can hack most things from my existing pattern stash, but I always learn a lot about technique or elegant drafting from vintage (repro) patterns. That said, the instructions did have you press down the seam allowance on the waist and then top stitch it to the bodice from the right side, which I tried but found totally bizarre and almost impossible to keep straight. Is there a reason for doing it this way? When I was making my adjustments I unpicked it and did it the regular way.

The neck facing I like though. It’s really neat and well drafted, even if I did also have to hand tack it down.

If I make this again I’ll take an extra 1/2″ off the neck all the way round (but not at the back neck). I like how it sits at the back of my neck but it’s sitting too high up otherwise, and in a stiffer fabric would be uncomfortable. It’s ok in this but it does bunch a little and in wearing it sits away from my collarbone a little bit.

I also sewed the side seam/armholes up higher, because they were pretty gapey under my arms. I probably should adjust the pattern to take them up even higher next time, I think. I liked that the pattern had quite an angular curve for the sleeve – a mod I usually have to make myself for cut on sleeves. The sides do pull a little but that’s the tradeoff you make for a cut on sleeve.

The sides pulling make the back hem look like it’s hanging too low in a lot of these photos. It’s even on the hanger – I hung it for a week and the hem didn’t seem to grow but then once I hemmed it it was way lower front and back. I liked the length though so I went back and hemmed the sides shorter so it is now even. However when i move around it pulls up an inch or so on the sides, making the back in particular look low.

I think I’ll give it some time to see if it grows any more and then take it up again at the back. Even if it is technically even when I’m standing totally still, the reality is that it will always hike up, so I may as well account for that from the get go.

The back neckline has a button and loop. I did a thread loop using this method, although it’s a little thin and hard to loop behind my head, next time I would use a double thickness. The button is from my stash and you can sort of almost kind of see it below. I do forget to unhook the button before trying to take it off 100% of the time. Because I am a fast learner…

I am so totally thrilled with this dress. I debuted it at work on Monday and it was so comfortable all day, and I felt so elegant and put together. I had several compliments and one person asked if I had ‘had it made’ and was blown away when I said I’d made it myself! (Side note, I am starting to feel more comfortable telling people I make all my own clothes. It feels nice, and I’ve never had anything but a positive reaction, and very little of the sort of bewildered or condescending praise I have been used to. Just people genuinely interested and impressed. It’s so lovely.)

I will definitely be making this pattern again. I’d love to find a good plaid to play with the grainlines – and the skirt is cut on the cross grain which means that even though it’s quite full you can cut it out of a narrow piece of fabric.

TL;DR What I made:

  • Vogue 8811 in size 12
  • 2″ FBA
  • went back and chopped the bodice to be even (ish)
  • Added 1″ to side seams of front bodice and skirt, 3/4″ to side seams of back bodice and skirt (most of which was taken out again but which I would keep for a firmer fabric)
  • Took up waist about 1″, losing a total of 2″ length from both the bodice and skirt
  • Lowered neckline 1″ at front neck tapering to nothing at front shoulders

What I would do next time:

  • Line the bodice to eliminate sleeve facings
  • drop neckline a further 1/2″ all round tapering to nothing at the back neck
  • POCKETS!
  • Would probably be worthwhile muslining the bodice with no mods so I could see how the waist seam is supposed to look and what the curve should be so I can adjust my pattern and not have to keep fiddling with it to get it right.
I especially like these photos with the soft light that looks like a film photo on a cheap family camera. It reminds me of so many family photos taken in the garden.

I also thought a lot about the ‘dress like your grandma‘ challenge while sewing this. I won’t claim this for the challenge because this dress wasn’t inspired by the challenge so that would feel like cheating. But I couldn’t help thinking that probably the reason I like the fabric so much is that it’s very similar to the curtains in the ‘back room’ at my grandma’s house – the room which was a playroom and where we all slept when we slept over there. Lots of fond memories of that room, although I can’t seem to find a photo of the curtains.

In fact I don’t have a lot of photos of my grandma. There’s a family album somewhere but it never seems to be brought out even when I ask. In the last decade my grandma has lost her husband, two children and all her siblings so I get the impression she’s not keen to reminisce, so I haven’t pushed it. But all the photos I have of her she is wearing a dress in a similar cut to this – cut on sleeves, high neck, circle skirt, some kind of botanical print, and which she would have made herself.

Here she is with all her kids (if you include the youngest who she was pregnant with at the time so does that count?). She would have made her own dress and almost certainly all the clothes in this photo. My dad is the one in the front in the overalls with the excellent pout. He and his sister next to him on Grandma’s lap are both dead now. Judging by the ages this would be late ’60s.

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And here is my grandma with my cousin (the daughter of my aunt to the left of my Gma in the above pic) and I in about 1984.

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I’m the one awkwardly sliding off my cousin’s lap… I just realised that less time passed between those two photos than between the latest one and now. Wild!

As she and I get older I’m starting to have a deeper but also more complicated relationship with my grandma – I’m realising the ways in which she and I are very different, have different values and priorities. Not in a bad way, but in a way that complicates what has always been a relatively simple relationship for me. I get the impression she never really ‘got’ either my father or myself. But she didn’t have to to love us, and love us she did. I dunno, I’ve typed out and erased various comments several times, I don’t know that I can articulate what my grandma means to me as a person and as a relation. I do know it’s important.

I think a lot of (although not all) that draws me to vintage shapes and patterns is my association of them with her, with her elegance and class and sewing skills and love. Sometimes it feels very retrograde to like these clothes, and I worry about it and what it says about me, and what the world sees when they see me in these outfits which happen to be what I feel emotionally comfortable in. Especially in the recent political climate. And why IS it that I happen to be comfortable in them? I fluctuate between feeling tired of my own navel gazing and feeling it’s important to interrogate these things even if there’s never a final conclusion because it’s complex.

“All this could be perceived as nostalgia for an age of innocent exuberance. Indeed, this may be part of the story, but there is also the natural process of reappraising past etas, searching for inspiration, tracing social patterns and making sense of our origins” – Peter Cuffley ‘Australian Houses of the Forties & Fifties’

Acton shirt

This shirt has been many months in the making! Fair warning, this is a very long, very picture heavy post because I’m just so pleased with this shirt that I took a squillion photos and had trouble paring them down as much as I usually do.

The pattern is the Sewaholic Granville shirt http://www.sewaholicpatterns.com/granville-shirt/ A lot of things came together to make this a slow project. It had its frustrating moments but in the end I am really pleased I took my time on this one.

Never work with kids or animals

I started muslining this in August, and although I took good notes that’s long enough ago that the details have started to fade so I hope I can get everything I did down. I have to say, by the way, how grateful I am that I have gotten into habits of taking notes as I go along. So useful.

Anyways, I muslined this at the very start of August. I muslined a size 16 which is for a 41″ bust, and did an initial FBA of 1.5″. This is what it looked like:

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Thank goodness for Instagram too, because it is helping keep track of what muslin is which. I ‘grammed this noting that I had done the 1” FBA but needed another 0.5”. I had been reasonably sure I would but wanted to do it by increments since I wanted a close fit. Also the sleeve is SO long and SO SO tight, to the point where it was actually cutting off the blood to my hand in this photo. I had read everywhere over the internet that the sleeves on this shirt are tight and long but just forgot to do anything about it.

An Opinion

Here’s my second muslin – the green side is the same as muslin #1 and the white side is the adjusted side:

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I added an inch to the sleeve and it’s still way too tight. I noted on this muslin that I should try a narrow shoulder adjustment (as suggested by Andie on my insta post of the first muslin), and perhaps add room at the hips.

My sewing machine then went in for a service which slowed me down. When it was back I made a THIRD muslin. This one is a size 16 graded to an 18 from the waist down, with a 1.5″ FBA. It also has had the yoke slashed and spread to add an extra couple of cm in it, and the back princess seams bumped out at the top too, to give me more room in the upper back. I didn’t note it exactly but I think there’s a total of 1cm added across the back.Here it is, in brown bedsheet this time:

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This one has a darted sleeve, which I drafted using this tutorial from iconic patterns. I muslined the darted sleeve in my 2015 Christmas dressand really liked the way it sat, and have been wanting to try it in an actual garment ever since, since I went with no sleeves for that dress. Drafting it was really fun! I forget how much of a thrill I get from drafting, I really need to get my moulage finished and do more of it from scratch. I also did a bit of fiddling around and experimenting with sleeve cap height and width and shape. I didn’t take super great notes about this, unfortunately, but it was really interesting how drastic the difference was even with quite small changes.

For ages I’ve been widening and flattening my sleevecaps, as per LiEr’s advice in this post  – and also I know I’ve seen other people mention that it gives more movement room. However when doing this I found that there was definitely a sweet spot. If it was too low and wide I got the same sort of pulling at the armpit that I get with a too-tall sleeve cap.

I have always found it hard to fit the area around my armhole and bust – I end up with fabric pulling one way or the other, no matter what I do. Even with an armhole dart, like in my teal M6696, I end up with pulling – that make now is coming apart at that seam in fact, so there’s clearly stress at that point. That sleeve was quite tall and thin, I guess the point where it’s straining is exactly where a wider cap would have more fabric. Maybe I am making slow progress on understanding sleeves. Maybe.

You can see that there is still a small amount of pulling, as well as some pooling of fabric when my arm is down. I think I would benefit from taking a dart at the armpit and rotating it out into the bust dart but then again, that curve is already quite sharp from my large FBA so I’m not sure how practical that is.

Trying vainly to show off elbow darts
Elbow daaaaarts (they’re on the inside of the elbow so… yeah you can’t see them here at all)

The final sleeve is a size 16, darted + a full bicep adjustment of 1″ made + an extra 1cm added to the seam allowances at the end as it was still a little too tight. I also shortened it further because the darts mean that it doesn’t pull up as I move, so it can actually be exactly wrist length without looking like it doesn’t fit me when I move. I neglected to note how much I shortened it by, whoops.

Anyway, that third muslin was still a little bit tight but I thought that since the sheet I made it from had zero give, and all my intended fashion fabrics had give, that I could probably go ahead and make it up.

Fully bent wrist and cuff is still exactly in the same spot. <3_<3 elbow darts!

I have a bunch of shirting fabrics that I bought from the Fabric Store probably about a year ago, intending to make a few plain white shirts. I was only going to buy one shirt’s worth but ended up buying four because when they sent out the samples I kind of fell for all of them. I’m a sucker and I can’t resist a good shirting. The one I used for this is a bit heftier, and I didn’t keep the swatch so I don’t know the exact composition but from memory it was a small percent of lycra in it, so it’s a bit stretchy.

When it came it was a bit more ivory than white, which I hadn’t noticed in the swatch – you can’t really tell in artificial light but in daylight I can definitely see it’s more yellow than the white thread. This meant I was feeling a bit less enamoured of it, so if I arsed it up I wouldn’t be too sad. I also figured the stretch would cover some fitting sins so I could launch in to it without more (frickin’) muslins and anyway at a certain point the only way to fit something further is to make it up and wear it in real life.

Anyway, I totally burnt myself out on all those muslins, and wanted to sew quick and fun things for my Bali trip instead, so I shoved all the muslin pieces into a box and folded up the adjusted pattern pieces and put it all away, until right at the end of last year (literally December 31) when I wanted to sew something and I didn’t know what. I figured this was all muslined and ready to go, and I was feeling guilty about having put in all that work and then left it right at the end. So off I went.

I went slooooow because, honestly, I just wasn’t feeling it. I wanted to sew but every time I got this (or any other) project out I just felt ‘ehn’ about it. Also I was coming off the Connie blouse and trying to learn my lesson from that about not rushing things. I wanted to be happy with the job I did of this shirt, whether or not the fit ended up turning out. And I was hopeful that since what I wanted was the process of sewing, I could enjoy that part if nothing else, and practice some skills (including patience!) in the meantime.

Channeling the Rock.

It’s not perfect, but I’m proud of the work I did on this. I flat felled the back seams – they’re a bit wonky, next time I won’t clip the notches because that meant I had to tuck those areas a bit deeper in than the rest.

The sides are French seamed and everything else is finished in another seam. I initially put the collar together per the instruction order before getting confused and reverting to Andrea’s order. much better. I slip stitched the collar closed, so everything is lovely and near on the inside.

The fabric stretched a little as I sewed it, I probably should have used a walking foot. Most places it came good with a wash and a steam but it has meant that the sleeves are a little but puckery where they are set in. Just enough to annoy me but not enough to be bothered redoing.

Innards

I could probably have taken a slice out at the back for my swayback, as you can see it bunching – it’s worse when tucked in to something because it sort of bunches on top of the waistband.  Something to think about for next time.

I don’t have any nice iron in interfacing and I had read about interfacing with silk organza, so I did that. I basted the organza to both pieces – i.e. both the under and upper collar, rather than just the under – for extra oomph. I was worried it would be less crisp than regular interfacing but actually it’s perfect. Crisp without being heavy. I’m not sure how it would go on a lighter fabric, though.

I’m in love with the darted sleeve. I feel so proud of it! It does make the sleeve very irritating to iron though, because it’s an odd shape – although I realised afterwards that I have a sleeve board now and that probably would have made it easier! Initially I was thinking that I could stand to lose another ½” off the sleeve length, but now I’ve worn it a few times I’ve decided it’s perfect.

It’s only the second or third time I’ve done a tower placket and for some reason I just could NOT make my brain understand it. The first one I did came out really well but the second one is a bit wonky. I was sewing and ironing this thinking ‘I just have to keep practicing, and one day I’ll be able to do a tower placket without even looking at the instructions!’ One day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I thought about putting the pockets on this but I can’t find my paper pattern, only the pieces I traced, and I didn’t trace that piece. So no go, which I think was the right decision anyway. I’m honestly not sure where the pattern could be – I remember putting it with the envelope of traced pieces and now I just can’t find it. Luckily I put the instructions in with the traced pieces! I hope it turns up because I would like to compare it with the Oakridge blouse which I also have, because I’d like to make that up but don’t want to do a bunch of muslins if I don’t have to, so if they’re similar I can mash up the Oakridge with my adjusted pattern.

I also neglected to mark the cuff and collar stand buttonholes on the pattern pieces I traced, so I had to guess where to put them. I don’t think I did a good job with the collar stand one! It’s right at the edge. The buttons are from my stash – I have a huge tub of white buttons I got at an op shop, all sorted out. Thank you to whoever’s stash this came from. I had seven of the ones I liked so I used those for the front and some similar-ish ones for the cuffs. They look close enough that I won’t notice.

I did cut the wrong side for the button placket though! I didn’t have quite enough fabric to cut it out again, so I just went with it. I thought I would find it confusing to button because it’s the opposite to what I’m used to but actually I don’t notice, so therefore I don’t care!. I can’t tell if I cut the placket slightly off grain or just sewed it wonky, but I had to do a bit of manipulating to get it to sit right. I will be extra extra careful with it next time, because that IS annoying. I place dthe buttons by finding my bust point and putting a button there, and then using the set spacing on the pattern piece to mark the others.

I also wish I hadn’t added to the sides, because now they stick out a bit oddly. I don’t think I’ll go back and take it in but I really wish I could find that dang pattern so I could revert it back to a straight size 16 at the sides.

 

I really like how it looks buttoned all the way up, however I don’t wear it that way because it feels a bit chokey. I also notice myself tugging at the front and pulling it forwards. Having watched how it sits, I think this is because of where the collar is. I have a forward neck, and so the collar sits back off my neck – see the extreme version above – and therefore sits back further on the front of my neck than is comfortable. When I tug it so the collar is comfortable, the shoulder seam sits a 1/2″ too far forward.

I can see various other ways that the collar is pulling the rest of the shirt off, too. When the top button is undone you can see drag lines from the second button. When I tug it forward it sits nicely, and if I arrange the collar so it’s not being pulled by my neck it sits nicely. So I think it’s coming from that issue.

I can’t find much information about adjusting for this, though. I did just buy ‘Fit for Real People’, finally, and am waiting for it to be delivered, so perhaps that will enlighten me? I have thought about how I would adjust this and cut out another shirt with my made-up adjustment so I guess we’ll see!

I don’t feel it pulling across the back but it is stretchy fabric – for the next version I’ve given myself a little extra room at the top there. Just an extra 1/2cm or so.

So yes, it’s just short of perfect. But the fabric feels so lush and I’m so pleased with how well put together it is, and the fit is pretty dang close. I learnt a lot making this and am proud of how I did keeping myself patient and doing little bits at a time until it was done. I feel pretty great when I’m wearing this one – and the first day I wore it five people told me I was looking very fancy, so I’m taking that as a good sign!

Connie blouse and Tilil skirt

Hello all and happy new year! I hope 2017 is treating you all well so far. Mine is ok, although the last few days have been stinking hot – yesterday it got to 40C, which means we’re stuck in the living room as it’s the only room in the house with air con. I took it as a prompt to edit photos for a couple of FOs. We did make it to the beach yesterday, and the water was delightful to swim in. We saw two dolphins right up near us (after a moment’s panic after seeing the fin that it might be a shark) and a large jellyfish, the latter of which prompted us to get out of the water right quick, but was still beautiful. We don’t get deadly ones down here but they still hurt very much if you get stung by them!

Anyhow, on to the actual sewing content! First up is the skirt, which I finished last year. It’s another Simplicity 1166

I made this one back in October so I don’t remember all of the details but it was made pretty much exactly as the last one, which means that it’s the largest size with an extra 2″ added to the waistband at the back, and the length shortened 3″. I didn’t change the pleats at all – I was even more careful marking them this time because I wanted to see if my problems with the last one was user error, however they fit into my enlarged waistband perfectly!  I feel like there is a pleat missing or a drafting error for the larger sizes, maybe. Anyway it worked in my favour I guess.

The fabric is some Ikat that I bought at Spotlight a while ago. It was on their clearance table for months and I kept coming back to it so in the end I bought it, despite it being just a little bright for my usual comfort zone. I made this in the leadup to our October Bali holiday because I thought I might wear it there and I figured the colours would fit in there better than here! In the end it was too warm to wear this skirt there, it’s too much fabric, although the denim version was the perfect plane outfit.

I really like how the stripes in the Ikat show off the different angles in the skirt. The fabric is a bit heavier than the last make, and hangs really nicely. It took me ages to take photos because when I bought the buttons I ended up with one too few and couldn’t sew the last one on until I went back and bought another, which I was very lazy about doing. I did wear the skirt in the meantime though! Initially it felt really bright and garish which seems so strange to me now – it’s become a real favourite and I get a lot of compliments on it.

I elasticised the back again and I was thinking I might need to go back and make it tighter, or take back out some of the extra I added, because the skirt is a bit loose. However last time I wore it I noticed that it pulls at the front where the waistband meets the skirt. You’re supposed to add a large snap there and I never bothered, but because the placket sits on one of the stripes of the Ikat I can see the skirt is pulling right where the snap should be. That pulls the buttonholes on the waist right to the edge and distorts the waistband, which makes the skirt sit loose. So I’ll add the snap and I think that will fix the issue, or at least minimise it.

I really love this pattern. It’s so comfortable and easy to wear, and it feels elegantly casual. I probably don’t need another at this stage but I can definitely see myself making it again as the others wear out. The Turnstone version needs to be re-hemmed, because the back stretched out on the bias and is now quite ridiculous. I’m being very slack about my mending and fixing pile, so it’s been there a while and I really notice its absence in my wardrobe. Must get on it and get it back in rotation!

Now for the blouse! This is the bodice of Butterick 6055, which I have made three times now, lengthened into a blouse. I was pretty ad hoc about it, and I’m not sure I’m happy with how it turned out.

To make the bodice into a blouse, I added 4″ and followed the curve of the sideseams out. I experimented with the darts and ended up sewing the top part of the dart as marked on the pattern, and then tapering very quickly to nothing below.  I also ended up sewing the centre front seam below the facing with a smaller seam allowance, because my stomach needed extra room there.

The back is a bit too tight and I noticed on wearing it that the fabric has pulled around the back darts, so I think I might take them out altogether. You can see in the above photo that it’s bunching up.

I sewed this is an attempt to get out of my sewing slump, and because I really could use some shirts in my wardrobe. However, I just wasn’t feeling it I was not very careful with it. the hems are terrible (I should go back and fix them), and I think I need to reshape the curve of the top armseam to be smoother because they are sitting funny. I think this is an issue with my traced-off pattern, so I’ll go back and fix that too.

I did add a gusset to this one as well, as per my Christmas dress, but I had a lot of trouble with it this time!

The fabric for this blouse is cotton linen from Spotlight and, frankly, it’s awful. The weave is incredibly loose, and you can see the threads pulling away from each other even when it’s not being worn and the seams aren’t under pressure at all. It also pulls off grain if you so much as look at it, which made doing the gussets really hard. They are not neat at ALL but at least I eventually managed to get them in with minimal puckering at the points.

I made my first to B6055’s in the same linen, but the white is the worst of the bunch. The other dresses haven’t worn very well either – they’re ok, but I will probably need to retire the navy one at the end of this summer, as it’s looking a bit sad. I wouldn’t buy this linen again. You get what you pay for, I guess!

It also, of course, wrinkles like nobody’s business! The above photo is after ironing it and then wearing it only for photos. That’s linen for you! I put an invisible zipper in the side, upside down so that the opening is at the bottom, but I forgot to take a photo of it. You can sort of see it in the above photo where I’m lifting my arm up to show the gussets. To be honest, it’s annoying to zip and unzip and mostly I just struggle into this shirt without using the zip, which I can just do.

As wonky as the gussets are, they worked in that I can comfortably do this:

And even this!

Not bad for cut on sleeves. However, there’s some weirdness going on with how the sleeves are sitting, and some odd pulling and folding above the bust, which you can see below and in the first picture. I think in the photos it looks about the same as any cut-on sleeve issue but it does move a bit strangely and look odd in real life.  I’m not sure if this is due to the too-tight back, or the gussets being incorrectly placed, or maybe I pulled things off grain while putting in the gussets, or maybe it’s just that the fabric is light enough that the heavier gussets are pulling it strangely. It’s not a massive problem but I do notice it while wearing it and it makes me feel a bit less put together.

I used mid-weight sew in interfacing for the collar facing. I like how it sits – it’s been washed once more since these photos and those points have calmed down a little, but I do like a collar with a bit of weight to it. However another problem of the linen is it’s a bit sheer, and the facing at the front shows through. You can only just see it in these photos because they’re a bit overexposed (honestly I feel like I have totally forgotten how to take blog photos! I hope I’ll get back into the swing of it soon!) but it’s quite obvious in real life, and I’m not sure I’m ok with it. It looks… odd.

I tried it with my Malmaison skirt which is the other skirt I can see it going with and I’m nor sure I like it. The issues with it makes me feel like it’s more casual, because it’s not as neat, so I like it better with a skirt I feel is more casual. Also, without the skirt of a dress to hold it down it rides up. I think I might like this shirt better in a heavier fabric, with the side seams tapered out further at my hips, and maybe and extra inch added. As it is, I see it getting some wear because it does fill a gap in my wardrobe, but honestly I’m hoping to replace it with something better before long. At least the linen is out of my stash?

Christmas Dress 2016

Hello all! I took a bit of an unintended break there for a couple months, huh? More on that at the end of the post, I want to get to that juicy sewing content first!

Here is my Christmas dress for 2016! I made one last year and at that point said ‘well how many Christmas outfits does one need?’ Naturally that meant that I decided three weeks before Christmas this year that I needed a new one. I couldn’t stop thinking about this vintage christmas card that Heather posted last year.

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I had an idle look for fabric that would work and found some in Lincraft – it’s part of their basic cottons line. The fabric is VERY crisp, for better or worse, so it doesn’t drape very well and it creases lots and also it was very hard to hand stitch the facing down without it being very visible. But you know, once a year I can live with that. I don’t think I’d make another dress out of this fabric but it would make an ok shirt, or kids dress. The collar is just white homespun or broadcloth or something from my stash.

Anyway initially I was planning to make a half-shirt dress – like this one that Lily has since posted over at Mode de Lis. But then I figured I’d really left it too late, I didn’t want to muslin anything so I’d go with a pattern I’d already made, which meant B6055, my now most worn make. I love this dang dress. Except that the sleeves don’t have great movement, and I’ve been meaning to figure out how to put gussets in it and I figured a christmas dress was a low-stakes way to do that.

Gusset innards with reinforcing organza

Figuring out the gussets was intimidating but fun! For the actual sewing part I used Gertie’s tutorial but since the pattern didn’t come with gussets I had to figure out how big to make them and where to place them. This was surprisingly hard to track down – lots of places say things like ‘just add a slit at the armpit’ but like… there’s a lot of variables there! After some googling I found a google book scan of a pattern drafting book which instructed on sizing and said to take the slice from the turn of the armpit in the direction of the shoulder point. So that’s what I did! It worked really well and was very fun. I didn’t finish the edges because the tute didn’t say so but I think I probably should have.

I also didn’t orient the stripes very well because I was spending my brain power working out which bit went where and didn’t think about it until afterwards. Oh well. The tute didn’t specify topstitching either but I thought it was a good idea. The gussets definitely make it much more comfortable and give much better range of movement – I still wouldn’t want to play tennis in it or anything but I’d say I have about as much movement as in a regular tailored shirt. I’ll definitely be using gussets more in the future.

Anyway the bodice went together smoothly, which it ought to because I’ve made it a tonne before. Except that I forgot it was meant to be cut on the fold so I cut it in two pieces and then had to sew a teeny seam allowance there – but it doesn’t seem to have made it too tight or anything. But then I ran into trouble with the skirt. I had decided to put in a waistband which I did by simply cutting the bodice 2″ shorter – and smoothing out the curve of it because as drafted it fits into a curved circle skirt – and then adding a 2″ plus seam allowance strip for the waistband. But I broke a bunch of my rules about sewing and made decisions before everything was together so I ended up moving the waistband up and then down again because the proportions were off. Note to self: ALWAYS put the skirt on the dress before making that decision, it will weight it down way more than you think. Because of this mucking around the skirt ended up an inch or so shorter than I’d prefer – I think the waist is actually maybe half an inch too high. Close enough!

I initially attached a gathered skirt because I wanted the stripes maximised. but I HATED it. I just do not like gathers on me, at all. I was also limited by the amount of fabric I had because I bought all that was left on the bolt so I found the gathers made the middle very bulky but the skirt was actually quite narrow and not floofy enough.

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NO THX

I think the best thing would have been to do big box pleats but I was coming down to the wire, time-wise and I also was kind of just done thinking about this dress. So I defaulted back to the pattern as-drafted. I tried to stripe match and to get the line down the middle to sit somewhere nice, with moderate success.

The cottons a bit sticky and also I was taking these hurredly on Christmas Day which was stinking hot so I didn’t get a good one of the side but the stripes line up pretty nicely. Please excuse the wrinkles – these are all after a full day of eating and sitting in a hot car for two hours. I think it held up pretty well! The collar is a bit off but I’ve since washed it again and now it’s lying properly – it takes a couple of washes for the interfacing to chill out.

I initially chucked in an invisible zipper because it was quicker but it wasn’t sturdy enough and it popped – also not helped by me deciding it was too baggy and cutting down the seam allowances before I put the zipper in! Dumb, breaking more of my own rules not to make anything drastically smaller before the fastenings are in. I then had to let it out again and use teeny seam allowances and it’s ok but probably could do with an extra cm or two, because it does ride up a bit when I sit.

Anyway I ended up going back and hand picking the zipper so I could get as close to the seam allowances as possible. This meant the zipper teeth show where the waistband is because it was too thick to turn under nicely, but that’s where I really needed the room so I went with it. I actually quite enjoyed hand picking and will definitely be doing that again in the future. It took a bit but it wasn’t as time consuming as trying to set in a zipper five times.

A not very good photo of the zip

I was also contemplating putting cuffs on the sleeves to mirror the collar but then decided I couldn’t be bothered. In the end I think I like it better without.  My cousin reckons it’s low-key enough that I could wear it on non-Christmas occasions, but I’m not so sure! Maybe with a black jumper over the top I could get away with it? Either way, it was a hit at Christmas, I felt very festive in it and my sewing-master grandma approved of the gussets. A win!

So about the break. I think I burnt myself out in October with a bunch of deadline sewing, and just haven’t been feeling it, so there’s been very little sewing and therefore no blogging. Initially I felt weirdly guilty about it but then I decided, you know, sewing is a hobby. It’s meant to bring joy. If I’m not feeling it, I’m not feeling it – although I’ve started to dip back in of necessity because I need some more warm weather clothes and sewing is the only way I get new clothes now. But I’m not putting any pressure on myself to either sew or blog, so I anticipate that things will still be a bit quiet around here for a bit, aside from a couple of FOs that I’ve finally gotten photos of so they will pop up shortly.

In the meantime I’ve still been doing crafty stuff – I’ve been catalouging my stash on the Cora app, refolding everything and getting rid of stuff I don’t love in an attempt to get all of my stash into the designated space in my craft room (there are a couple of secret boxes in the spare room wardrobe). I’ve started drafting a moulage using Suzy Furrer’s crafsty course and it’s going ok although she uses a lot of industry standard measurements with super don’t work for me, and I’m now at the part where I have to do all the adjustments to compensate for that and I’ve gotten a bit frustrated with it. I’ve also picked up a couple of stalled knitting projects and moved them to the next bit, which is satisfying.

I’ve also been extremely busy doing a new job at work – I go back to my regular position when I start back next year. I’ve been doing a similar job but the next level up (as well as training my fill in person at the same time) and it’s been really fun and interesting but definitely tiring, especially at the end of year panic where everyone realises they have to get everything done before January, and my manager was off sick and someone else was on leave and someone else left so I was the only one in my team there! Hectic.

I also started taking zoloft because I realised as we came out of winter that this one was really rough for me (and also tbh the US election news did not help my mental health at all. Yikes). I coped really well but doing that basically took everything I had. I’ve only been on it a week but already I am much less exhausted – I hadn’t realised how tired I was! I mean I knew I was tired but it had become normal to have absolutely no energy for anything. I am hopeful that zoloft will be the right drug for me and will help me get back to a better normal. I’m very lucky to have a great GP who is on the same team as me and determined to find the right thing for me, and helped me get over my weird reluctance to try meds – that internalised ableism will get you! But something has definitely been not right in my brain chemistry, and thank goodness for modern medicine, with all its downsides it sure has many upsides.

So that’s the story! As I said I suspect it’ll still be slow here but I’m getting back into sewing slowly so expect to see me around a bit in the New Year. Until then, happy holidays, whatever you celebrate, and here’s to a wonderful, safe, loving 2017 for all of us and everyone else.

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