Sunday, 30 November 2014

Birthday Dress: Modified M6961

This time of year brings out stressy sewing in me. Having enough time to sew for Birthday gifts, Christmas gifts as well as wanting to sew a couple of summer frocks for my birthday and upcoming festive season can all get a bit overwhelming. Thankfully everything I need for my birthday dress was already purchased. I decided on McCall's 6961, of which there are almost no reviews. The sleeveless top is cute, but I'd never be tempted by those sleeves or the multi layer ruffle. What I imagined when I bought the pattern was a cross body floaty dress.

I cut a size 12 bodice grading to a 14 waist/ hips. This is one size down from what is recommended on the envelope to account for enormous amounts of ease. I've lost a small amount of weight recently and in hind-sight I should have cut a 10-12. I cut version A, but used the skirt off another pattern. I also cut a skirt lining as my fabric was quite sheer. 

My fabric is a stunning cotton from Darn Cheap Fabrics. The feel and drape is just beautiful, much more like rayon or cotton silk blend. Not to mention the print! I bought this shopping with Rachel who was convinced it had to become a dress - and she was right. 

The pattern instructions are fabulous and I didn't deviate except to add the skirt lining, french seams where possible, and to deal with fitting issues. 

I took the straps in a 3", sewed 1"seam allowances on the side seams. Even so, the dress was looking very blousy and loose around the waist seam. I had the genius (read major quick fix) idea to add 1/4"elastic around the waist to cinch in the waist line and just embrace the bodice blouseyness.

I adore how this dress turned out, imperfections and all. it feel technically wrong to have added elastic, but on the other hand if it works, how can it be wrong? I've never sewn a dress with a side seam zipper before and it went in quite easily but definitely made the dress harder to adjust for fit.

The dress is a little more revealing than I'm used to. I don't know when it happened but my preferences for modesty have definitely changed over the last few years. I tacked down the wrap to front to prevent any mishaps. I'm not, however, phased by exposed bra straps.

I wore this dress out to a family dinner followed by cake at our apartment. Tim organised the most delicious Crepe Cake for me. I freaking love my birthday and I love having a fuss made over me once a year. I had an absolutely amazing day with Tim yesterday starting with pancakes and ending in pork ribs. I also received amazing gifts from my incredibly generous family and friends. What a fabulous way to start my 27th year! 

Sew Cheap November Free Pattern Review: Ludivine Robe

This month I struggled to get motivated to make up my Sew Cheap Make and Pattern Review. I finally decided on the Republique Du Chiffon Ludivine Robe. I downloaded the pattern last weekend and sewed up the dress with a few days to spare. I went back on to the blog post yesterday and could no longer find the download buttons and today the post doesn't appear at all. I hope that the post and downloadable pattern will return soon. I'm sorry that the pattern I'm reviewing may in fact no longer be available

The Ludivine Robe is a shift dress with a relaxed fit, with multiple sizes, front and back square corner seams, sleeves and front pockets. Some gorgeous versions have been made up.  I went with two fabrics from The Cloth Shop. A pinkish spotty rayon and a black chambray. The chambray was amazing to sew and top stitch. The rayon stretched out of shape, slipped around, top stitched poorly, and wrinkled like a piece of paper being scrunched in a ball. But it is so pretty and soft.

The pattern, instructions and blog post are all in french. I used Google translator to figure out what size to sew, that I needed to add seam allowances, and the general process of instructions. I cut a size 38, graded into a 40 from the waist down. I mostly sewed the dress following my own process. For the pocket, I finished the upper seam, attached the bottom of the pocket right side facing and the folded the pocket up into the correct position and basted the sides down.

To construct the dress you need to sew four corner seams. I've sewn quite a few of these before, but the rayon did not place nice. I started with the front corners and they are much messier than the back corners. After the first one I interfaced the three other corners to help stabilize the rayon. I attached the sleeves only to find that the arm hole was a little tight and the sleeves were way too tight, I ended up omitting the sleeves all together  and just cutting some thick binding for arm hole cuffs. I also had to take out the seams from my bottom down on the side, front and back seams so that walking was a possibility.

While I think this dress is super cute it really isn't a great fit. It gapes at the front and back neckline. That, coupled with my poor sewing, means that I almost didn't finish the dress. I'm glad I did though, as there is something about it I really love. The pockets and design lines are very sweet. I hope to make another version of this dress after making some serious fit adjustments. 

I would recommend this pattern for an advanced beginner who is comfortable adding seam allowances, sewing corner seams and doesn't require sewing instructions (unless you happen to speak French).
If you like this post, check out my Sew Cheap: Top Tips Sew Cheap: Free Patterns and previous Sew Cheap posts. 

Friday, 21 November 2014

Not Birthday Tops: Maya & Noelle

I bought one of my sisters some lovely blue linen to make her a birthday top. We did a few practice tops to find the style and size she wanted. The Maya Top I posted here was trial number one, she wear's the top but it wasn't quite right for the special linen. I got a chance to take a few photos of the Maya top on my sister today. For more details on Maya see here or here.

Trial number two was a modified Noelle Top by Ulooop Patterns. I've sewn this top before and I love the outcome. I again modified the back to have a colour blocked gathered lower back bodice. I also added 6" length front and back for my tall sister who likes her tops quite long. I cut the smallest size (8).

The fabric is left over Tesutti linen (need more!) and some thrift-ed spotty who-knows-what for the back.

I top stitched  1/4" from all the seam lines in navy thread. The Noelle top is designed to be oversized but even so the initial version was just too big. I had to rip out all the top stitching as well as the seams to take the top in an 3/4" at either side grading to nothing at the hem, as well as taking the top up 1cm at the shoulders.

The final product is pretty darn sweet if I do say so myself and hopefully it will get loads of wear. Check out my gorgeous niece wearing her polkadot Made Kid Shorts.

My sister's actual Birthday top is now being sewn and the pattern ins't either the Noelle or the Maya top. Talk about spoilt! I'm currently sewing up a storm for other birthday and Chrissy presents. I was also able to sneak in a dress for my own birthday. I cant wait to get photos and post it later in the month.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Tessuti Alice Top

When the Alice Top / Dress pattern was released by Tessuti I knew a) it was lovely; b) the dress wouldn't be flattering on me, but the top had potential; c) it would be a great pattern for the copious amounts of eating bound to happen over the Christmas period. After seeing Rachel's beautiful version(s) I bought the pattern.

I picked up this stunning floral linen cotton remnant from The Fabric Store immediately thinking it was a match made in heaven. I used left over lime linen for the yoke and sleeve linings. Note,  many Tessuti Patterns include pattern pieces for Tearaway Vilene to be used at necklines or curved edges to prevent stretch the fabric. I just stay-stitch instead. As recommended in the instructions I interfaced my sleeves for some extra stiffness. 

I bought the PDF pattern, printed it off and started sticking. I knew that I wasn't going to be making the dress version so I was a bit peeved that I didn't know which pages to print and which I could avoid printing to save paper, ink, time. For those interested, my recommendation is to print the following pages if you only want the top pattern: 2,3,8,9,24,25,30,31, 33-50. If making the dress its probabaly easier to just go ahead and print out the whole file. If you also wish to cut a tearaway Vilene pieces then print pages 23-24 for size XS-S, p4 for XL or p10 for M-L. I know that sounds super complex but I'll definitely be doing this if I need to print out another size.

I find Tessuti patterns to be on the larger size, as confirmed by Rachel's experience with the Alice pattern, so I cut an XS despite my chest measurement falling between XS and S. The top was also very long, more like tunic length. I cut 2" off the hem, turned under 1" and then turned under another 1.5" (4.5" total). Some may like it longer, but I think the width of the top needs to be toned down by a short hem line.

The instructions were well detailed and the top came together easily. The fabric is incredibly bright and fun. The fit is pretty spot on and I really like the outcome, but I'm not sure that this style is a flattering look on me. I'm glad I gave it a try, and I can see myself throwing this top on in summer, but I probably wont make more for myself, at least not in linen. Perhaps a drapy-er fabric might crate a different look? I can definitely see this shape working on some family members so there's no doubt in my mind that the pattern will get used again, even if not for myself.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

K&L Outfit: Geometry Top & Tap Shorts

Katey & Laney are well known bloggers and now pattern designers. When they released the Tap Shorts pattern I was really intrigued but decided to wait for spring and some reviews (which there are now many). Then the Geometry Top was released and I took the plunge and bought both PDF patterns. Funnily enough the patterns go really well together and I just happened to pick coordinating fabrics.

First up, the Tap Shorts. 
I love that the pattern has a couple of different variations, including a more traditional front fly variation. For my first version I tried front B (open front pleats) with back 2 (welt pockets). I really like the high waisted style but I'm not totally convinced about it on my body. We'll see how I feel after a few wears. 

Fabric is leftover from my my most worn Alder shirt dress. A navy rayon blend with silver metallic thread woven through it. It wrinkles terribly but I love the sheen and weight of the fabric. I cut a size 8 which seems to fit perfectly. There is the perfect amount of room at the waist to fit in a summer BBQ. 

The pattern instructions were fantastic! Incredibly detailed and pretty much fool proof imo. One of the best tips was to remark your welt placement after sewing the back darts which was absolutely necessary.  I ended up sewing only one welt, because why not? The welt instructions were slightly different to what I'm used too but it turned out pretty fantastic thanks to the instructions.

The only changes I made to the pattern was to keep the front pleats sewn down rather then unpicking the basting stitches. I've seen others do this as well. I tried opening them up but there just isn't enough fabric in the front piece to accommodate a nice drape (in my opinion, on my body). The pleats pulled toward my sides despite the shorts fitting me quite well. I also bound the waistband facing rather then folding under and stitched it down by machine.

Now the Geometry Top.
I made version B but sewed the centre front and side pieces together right down to the hem rather than leaving a slit open. I cut a size 6. For the front and sleeves I used a lovely stripey viscose, with a navy remnant for the back ( I think a poly). Both fabrics are from The Cloth Shop, actually the whole outfit is!

The top is quite over-sized and very long, particularly in the back. I ended up hemming the top with a 2" hem to remove some excess. I think over-sized style and the length makes it look like there is just too much fabric in the back. A cropped length might be better suited. Otherwise I like the style and think it looks quite good tucked in. Once again the instructions were very good.

What I don't like about K & Patterns: 
K & L Patterns include a different PDF file for each of the variations, however there is a lot of overlap in pattern pieces between versions. This is not a problem, maybe even good news, if you only ever plan on sewing one variation. But I like variety, so I printed 2 different variations of each pattern to begin with as I had plans for both. For the Top I printed Version B to find that 7 pages were superfluous as they'd already been printed, taped together, cut out from version C. For the shorts there were 10(!) repeated pages when I printed out Version C, after already printing Version B. If I had printed all three versions of the short pattern then at least 20 pages would have been wasted. 

I think these separate files are a great idea in theory, but actually a bigger waist of paper. The ideal would be to have the pages listed that we could skip if already having printed an earlier variation. How do others feel about all this wasted paper? 

Overall, I love my new outfit and I hope to get lots of wear from the separates this summer. I'll definitely make up both patterns again and am particularly impressed with the Tap Shorts. I look forward to seeing what's next from K & L Patterns. 

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Some Selfless Sewing

I haven't felt much like blogging lately. I've a few things I need to get photos of but I've mostly been focusing on selfless sewing as it tis' the season afterall. So, I have a few bits and pieces to share with minimal text.

First up, my niece has out grown the MADE Kids Shorts gifted to her last Christmas so I whipped up a few more pairs from fabric scrapes. Dotty chambray, green cotton, and pineapples with yellow mini pom poms. They were all well received, most of all the green pair. I know I'm bias, but isn't the above photo just ridiculously cute?!

I've been wanting to try Melissa's drawstring skirt tutorial since she posted it. I made up a size 2 in some really fun fabric. My niece loves this skirt and I'll definitely use the tutorial again and again for her as well as my older nieces as the tutorial goes up to a size 16 girls. I'm not always a fan of tutorials that require maths, measuring your self/ child, or drafting pieces but this one really couldn't be easier. A sizing chart is even provided. 

I made much smaller pockets than suggested ( I cut 5x6" rather than 6x9"). I also find the drawstrings a little tough to tighten through the single hole so next time I'll make two button holes, one for each end of the drawstring.

Finally, I promised one my sisters a simple loose fitting summer top for her birthday. We have the special linen put away while we try out a few pattern styles and sizes. First up is the Marilla Walker Maya pattern which I made not long ago for myself. I cut the smallest size but I could see from the measurement chart that it may still be too large.

I made the top from stash fabric: the front is a white and navy voil from spotlight and the back is a lightweight cotton from The Cloth Shop. Unfortunately the fit is just too large, even for a boxy top. Next time I will fold out some width at the centre front and back before cutting into the fabric. My sister also asked for added length. I added 1.5"on this version but next time I'll probably add around 3"total. Bedsides some fitting issues, it's a very sweet top and hopefully it will get some wear. 

Next up is some sewing for me (yay!), probably following my Xmas sewing. I'm sewing some Katey and Laney patterns and hoping to also get some photos of previous makes this weekend. So, who else is sewing Christmas presents out there? Only for the children in your life, or adults too?