Sunday, 21 August 2016

Faux placket chambray dress

This lilac chambray fabric has been in my stash for I think three years.  I bought it at the same time as some green chambray that became this Hawthorn dress, but I couldn't decide what to make with it.

A few months ago (maybe near the start of the year), I was in Sew N Sew in Belfast, and spotted these lovely buttons.  They were so nice that I couldn't leave them, so bought some without any plan for them.  Everything in that shop is a cheap as chips, but I do recall the nice lady who owes the shop saying "aren't they expensive?" and I was busy thinking "um, no!"  I can't remember exactly how much they were, but I think it was about 20p each.*

Anyway, I finally realised that they went well with the chambray, and then had quite a job deciding what to do with them both.  I had originally thought of a shirtdress with a separate placket, but as the buttons are 3/4" (2 cm) wide, the placket would have been too wide to accomodate buttons and horizontal buttonholes.  Vertical buttonholes wouldn't have worked because there wouldn't be enough length in the bodice to have four buttons.


I still couldn't get the idea of a separate placket out of my head, and whilst idly browsing 1970s patterns on the internet, I came across some beauties with plackets to the waist.

Let's take a moment to appreciate the patterned dress with the long sleeves on the right on the Butterick pattern, and also the green dress in the middle of the Simplicity pattern (the printed dress on the left is nice too).  I would wear both of these, but would lower the waist on Butterick, and shorten the collar on Simplicity.  Also, I've been working on a gingham dress, and have just noticed the one on the right of the Simplicity pattern.

Ok, maybe it's just me who appreciates them!  Anyway, I digress.  This got me thinking that a faux placket would work as there wouldn't be any buttonholes to worry about.

I was originally going to go with the more A-line skirt from my black and red dresses, as I felt it was more 70s, but ended up using my half circle skirt because that's what's on the green chambray dress, and I always like the way that it sits.

From my block I drafted a bodice with bust and waist darts, a round neck and centre back zip.  The placket is 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) wide, plus 1/4 inch (6 mm) seam allowance on both sides.  I marked 3/4" in from the centre front on the bodice and skirt, then pressed the 1/4" seam allowance down on the wrong side of both edges of the placket.  Then I lined the edge of the placket up with the marks and topstitched at 1/8" on each side.  

I didn't interface the placket because I didn't think it was necessary as it is just for show.  It was tricky to know whether to make one long placket, or two separate plackets for the bodice and skirt.  In the end I went with two separates, as I thought with the curve of the waist on the half circle skirt, it might cause a problem with the placket shape there.

There isn't a facing on the inside because I thought it might be a bit too bulky at the centre front, so I finished it with some bias tape, then added some capped sleeves because, why not.


I love how this dress turned out, and the fabric is gorgeous.  I'm going to see if I can get something similar to make a maxi sleeveless shirt dress for next summer.

Have a great week,


*  I had a few buttons left over and now I can't find them, which is very frustrating and very unlike me!  They were on my work table, and I fear I may have thrown them out when I was tidying up.  I'm hoping they've maybe fallen on the floor under the table, or I have tidied them to somewhere that I've forgotton about!

Monday, 8 August 2016

Anna with a gathered skirt

After all the makes with buttons and collars, and also the jeans (thank you for all the love!), I fancied making something that was a bit less complicated.  The good old By Hand London Anna dress came to the rescue.


I have made an Anna with a gathered skirt before, and that dress inspired this one.  I really loved that dress, and after several reprieves because it was looking shabby, it finally went to the recycling at the end of last summer.

The fabric is some cotton poplin from Fancy Moon, and is called "Happiness Paisley".  It says "a spark of HAPPINESS Design Pi" on the selvedge.  I got 2 metres in the January sale, and it was £6.49 per metre.

Having made several Anna's already, this was a pretty easy make.  And I am, frankly, delighted with my print matching on the centre back seam.

Andrew said that he "liked how there where two blobs on the shoulders, and a big blob on the front.  And also how the big blob matched across the back".  Well, I don't think you can say much fairer than that!

Also, a big thank you to Suzanna from Sea Salt and Stitches who found some red Liberty Carline and emailed me the link.  I've order some, and here is the linky goodness

Have a great week,


Friday, 22 July 2016

Ginger Flares

The Ginger jeans pattern was on my radar from when it was published, I loved the skinny version but just didn't see myself making it.  I already have skinny jeans that fit, but prefer more boot cut jeans.  But when I first eyeballed the flares expansion, I nearly fell of my seat!  Big 70s flares a la Led Zepplin - yes please!!


First thing to do was find the fabric.  I spotted this pair that Maeve made on Dress Fabrics blog, and ordered the fabric from the shop.  This fabric is gorgeous, it has 5% stretch and the colour is lovely.  The zip came from my stash, buttons and rivets from ebay (more on them later), and the pocket lining was left over fabric from this dress. It turns out that I have a lot to say about these so I'll break it down.



I didn't make a toile as I didn't have any other fabric that was suitable.  Instead I took some measurements from another pair of jeans that fit me well.  The measurements I took were:

Hip - widest part
Top of front waistband to bottom of crotch  
Top of back waistband to bottom of crotch

Using the finished measurements on the pattern, I picked the closest size, and drew in the stitching line on my pattern (which was the PDF so I was happy to scribble on it).  From this I was able to work out the above measurements on the pattern, which, happily, turn out to be pretty much the same 

I knew I would have to shorten the legs considerably, and the pattern says to shorten/lengthen the legs from the knee, but I didn't, and I'll tell you why.  Being petite, I find that any regular length trousers with shaped legs end up with the knee being too low on me.  As these jeans are all about the shape, I wanted the knee in the right place, so took these measurements from my old jeans:

Crotch to knee
Knee to hem  

I then ruled a line 2 inches above and below the knee - it was 2 inches because that's the width of my ruler.  I then shortened crotch to knee, and knee to hem to my two measurements.  I had to redraw the cutting lines, but below the knee they matched exactly with a smaller size, so it was easy.



Sewing these was really easy as the instructions are brilliant, as is the sewalong.  The only thing I would do differently, and I'm being really picky,  would be to shorten the width of the interfacing on the right front zip extension.  The instructions say that when you have attached the zip guard to the right fly extension, you then trim a bit off the edge.  Which I did, but then the edge of the interfacing was showing behind it.  I added some bias tape as suggested in the instructions, but next time I will make that bit of interfacing narrower.

You can just about see the interfacing at the bottom right of the zip extension.
I also unpicked my zip and sewed it again, but this was personal choice.  I had sewn a few fly zips before, but they are always a bit confusing.  The instructions said to line up the zip teeth anywhere between right up against the centre front, to (at the most) 3/8" away.  I erred on the side of caution and went with 3/8", but then decided 1/8" would be better because the zip pull was too close to where the top of the top-stitched curve would be on the front.  Which brings me on to top stitching...

Top Stitching

Ah, top stitching, you fickle mistress...  What can I say about top stitching?  Well, I kept telling myself that if you're not unpicking it, you're doing it wrong.  I used two spools of top stitching thread, and there were honestly a few inches left on both.  Admittedly, a fair bit of this was practising, and deciding on a design for the back pockets, but a lot was user error.  Here are my top stitching top tips:

1.  Remember to change the stitch length to 3.5 (or whatever your preferred length is) when top stitching.  I kept forgetting.  Yeah...

2.  When you basted the outside seams together to check the fit, and lowered the thread tension to make removing the basting thread easier, REMEMBER TO TURN THE THREAD TENSION BACK TO NORMAL!!!  I forgot.  Then tried to sew on a back pocket, then wondered why my machine, and then I, were having a total meltdown.


Top stitching the belt loops wasn't fun either.  It really didn't like all the bulk at the top of the waistband (the bottom of the loop was ok).  So I threw it out to Instagram, and both Manju and Nicole suggested using normal thread in the same colour as the top stitching thread.  This is genius people.  Genius!!  The two top stitching thread belt loops took forever, with much unpicking - the four normal thread belt loops took ten minutes and not a stitch ripper in sight.

The belt loop on the left was stitched on with normal thread, and the one on the right with top stitching thread.


The pattern calls for five belt loops, but I used six because I wanted two on either side of the centre back instead of one on the centre back.  You can see that some of my top stitching is coming undone in the centre back seam, but I'm still waiting for another spool of thread that I ordered on ebay, then I can fix it.

There was much procrastination about the design for the back pockets.  In the end I took inspiration from this pair made by Heather Lou, and used a loop decorative stitch that is on my machine.  I also used it on the inside at the top of the right leg, and bottom of the left, because - why not?


I wish Heather Lou had posted this before I started the top stitching.  The bit about the stitch ripper nearly made me choke on my tea when I was reading it on my phone in work!!  Wise words people! 

The pattern calls for a 5 " zip, which I bought, but I had a 4" zip in my zip box and it turned out to be the perfect length.  Which is just as well, because I didn't fancy having to shorten a metal zip.

I had got some random buttons and rivets on ebay, but they turned out to be rubbish.  Three of the buttons bent or broke when I was hammering them in, and in the end Andrew put the fourth one in using a vice.  The rivets refused to attach at all.  Again I threw it out to Instagram, and Sian suggested MacCulloch and Wallis, but the postage turned out to be nearly the same as the buttons and rivets!  Maeve suggested Hemline buttons, so I got some of them and some rivets. 

Making jeans gets a bad rap as being difficult, it really isn't, but I'll tell you what is - putting in those blinking rivets!!  The best thing I found to use was one of these hole punchers for putting holes in belts.

I have only put three rivets in at the coin pocket and outside edges of the front pockets.  I'm going to see how they hold up in the wash before I put them on the back pockets. 


I also made this shirt to go with them because I thought the fabric had a 70s vibe to it.  If it looks familiar, it's because it was left over from my Buchanan dressing gown. The blouse is self-drafted, and I went a bit overboard with the big lapels.  I had to trim them down, twice...

 I absolutely love my jeans!  They are so 70s that I had to get my big 70s sunglasses out.

Have a groovy weekend!!

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Liberty Carline Shirtdress

At the minute it feels like all I've been making is shirtdresses, but a look back over my posts has proved me wrong.  There have been a lot of blouses and shirts, so maybe it's just all those buttonholes.  Anyway,  this most definitely is a shirtdress, and it's a beauty, even if I say so myself!


This dress is all about the fabric, which is Liberty Carline.  I've seen so many gorgeous dresses made from this fabric.  I was going to link to some but there are too many, so here's a google image link which includes some of my favourites.  I have to mention these two dresses (here and here) as my two recent favourites though.



My fabric was bought on the internet last year and was sold as red, but when I got it, it was most definitely pink.  I was a bit disappointed as I'm not very fond of pink, but I absolutely love this print, and there are enough red tones and green in it to counteract the pinkness.  Also, I was a bit concerned that it might clash with my red hair, but I decided to embrace the clashing in a devil-may-care style!


Having drooled over the above-mentioned gorgeous makes, I knew that there was no point in using a pattern with detailed style lines, as they would get lost in the print.  So I went with my shirtdress bodice, and used the full skirt from good old McCall's 6696.  The collar and neckline is a follow on from this blouse, because I loved how it turned out.  I cut the upper collar in two pieces so I could get the small flowers on the front collar edges, but forgot that my hair won't cover that back seam just now!


Sewing it up went well, the only thing I stalled on was the buttons.  I had wanted buttons to match the colours in the flowers, but they turned out to be difficult to get.  The buttons I used were the only ones that I could find.  When I went to do the buttonholes, I decided that I didn't really love these buttons, and thought cream buttons would be nicer.  Cue another button hunt, but I ended up going back to the pink buttons.  They are a bit too small though, and therefore fiddly to do up.

I absolutely love this dress, and would be very happy to get my paws on some of this fabric in red.  I've also seen some dresses made up in purple, so if anybody knows where I can get it, please share.




Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Hemingway Fabrics Shirt Dress

This is a self-drafted dress made from Hemingway Design fabric.  This fabric range was released about two years ago, so never let it be said that I will rush into using something!  I also have another piece which is red, but can't make my mind up about exactly what to make with it.


Anyway, I was a bit disappointed when I got this because it looked more green on the internet, and is more blue in real live -which is probably why it took me so long to use it.  The colour is lovely, but I'm a bit pale for blue, so I decided it wouldn't be a disaster if this didn't work out.  

Also, this fabric is a bit crispy.  Once this dress was finished, I washed the red fabric and then put it in the tumble dryer, which has softened it beautifully.  I washed this dress and tumble dried it for 30 minutes, and it's softened a bit.  I might try it again to see if it helps some more.  All these photos were taken before I tumble dried it, and I think the crispness shows, especially in this photo.


The collar is a follow-on from this blouse, as I wanted to make a few tweaks to it.  I lowered and widen the neckline, so the curve at the front is more open.  The skirt is my old favourite half circle skirt.


The armholes are finished with some bias tape which I made from the same fabric.  I had done the same with the blouse mentioned above, but when I went to make the tape for this dress, I couldn't find the card that the tape maker was attached to.  You know the one that tells you what size of tape it makes?!  But then I had a brainwave.  I still had some tape left over from the blouse, so unfolded an end and measured it, so problem solved.

To stop this happening again, I made this little label on my machine.  I'm really quite pleased with this!


It sounds like I don't like this dress, but I really do!  I've worn it a few times, including on my birthday, but I just wouldn't say that it's one of my favourites.  Now I need to decide what to make with my red fabric.  

Predictably, it may become another shirt dress, feel free to suggest something else.