Spring is for Shirtdresses

So I can’t remember where I first saw McCall’s 6696 but I remember thinking I should make one. When Mary announced she was hosting the fall Spring of 1000 shirtdresses, I was on it like white on rice.

So I FINALLY took blog photos for the #1000shirtdresses @mccallpatterncompany 6696. In summary: excellent pattern but the back gathers are not my thing. Blog link in profile :)

For my first go round I used this sweet floral lawn, originally from Lincraft, which I picked up from eBay in a bulk lot of floral cotton lawns (12 meters for $65! It was fate). I won’t lie, this is some next level Betty Draper red wine and chain smoking stuff. I also won’t lie about how much I love it.

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This pattern was a dream to work with. For once I actually followed the instructions (which were great) as it’s full of things I either never or rarely do. The last time I tried to construct a collar it did not go well. Same for the last time I attempted a button-closure. This time they both came out great. There is a lot of hand stitching involved, which worked for me because I love to sit in front of the TV and hand stitch away. If that’s not your thing you could always topstitch.

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I sewed a 16D, based on my measurements and it fits pretty much perfectly. There is, however one problem with this dress… THE HUNCHBACK OF DOOM! If you look around at other versions, this seems like a fairly common issue although I think mine looks worse than most. There is just waaaaay to much fabric in those gathers for my liking. I also think the back is too long, which contributes to the bunching right above the waistband. On my next version I’m going to shorten the back and take out some of that excess, which I think will solve the problem just fine. Next time I will also do a full bicep adjustment because I find the sleeves a tiny bit tight. In the meantime, I’ve found that if I want to go sans cardigan tucking the excess fabric in behind a belt works a treat to hide the issue.

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All in all, however this dress gets a massive thumbs up!

A (very) late very Merry Christmas!

Why hello there!

Merry Christmas! This year's Christmas Dress is @simplicity_creative_group S2444 in a crafting cotton from @lincraft #sewcialists #sewing

I did mean to post this earlier, but was quite distracted by the holiday season, which in joyous news included my grandmother’s 90th birthday, in less joyous, our first Christmas without my mother.

I got some sweet goodies, including a bunch of Hello Kitty stuff from SS and some adorable fashion illustrations from my half sister, K.

But you’re here for the sewing, yes? This year I decided it would be fun to make a Christmas dress for both the big day and any other Christmas-ey events. I used the old faithful Simplicity 2444, this time with a FBA! I think it turned out ok, but there is room for improvement – the area directly under my bust is now too loose by far. I’m not sure why this ALWAYS happens so badly with FBAs. It leave with S shaped princess seams and darts that look insane.

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Speaking of darts, they were also a solid inch too long. I have decided that I must have a low bust or something as this is a fairly consistent problem.

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I used the facing for the neckline, but some purchased bias binding for the armholes. As a twice a year dress I think it’s just fine. Bonus, it was not too hot in the QLD heat!

Until next time.

On trying new shapes

One of the things that struck me about the Wardrobe Architect series of posts on Coletterie was the post on silhouettes. Looking through the number that Sarai listed (10) I was struck by the fact that I have one – fit and flare. Occasionally I mix it up with jeans (on weekends or while traveling) or shorts (music festivals, hot summer weekends) but day in, day out I wear fit n flare. Some dresses are more flared, and I do have two pencil skirts but I thought branching out into a new shape would be interesting.

And so I give you a sheath dress, which I picked because Joan from Mad Men lives in them, and if it’s good enough for Joanie it’s good enough for me! This is Butterick 5952, described as “Lined dress has fitted bodice, waistband, semi-fitted skirt and back zipper”. The pattern also comes with a coat and belt, neither of which I have used, but I do plan on doing a dress and coat combo at some point.

Me made May day 6: cotton sateen sheath #mmmay14 #butterick #sewing #floral
I wore it to work on May 6 as part of MMMay 2014.

I cut a 16 (hello big hips and butt) everywhere except the neck/arms where I cut a 12. I added about an inch to either side from hips down. These were mistakes! For this, I honestly should have made a muslin, as I ended up making a million changes to get it to fit, and while I am happy with the fit now, I don’t think it fits quite how it should. But then neither does the version on the envelope.

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Before my many alterations, 12 in neck and arms, 16 in torso/wait and 16+ 2 inches hips down

So on to the alterations:
The neckline gaped terribly front and back. I added 2 darts to both the front and back to take out the excess.
It was loose through the torso and waist, making me look both like I have no waist and generally wider than I am. I took out about 4 inches in the waist, which tapered out just under my bust and at the hip.
I lengthened the darts in the skirt back and made them much deeper as the fabric bagged badly (maybe I do have a sway back?)
I re-cut the armholes at the back as they stuck out into my arms.
At the armhole front I made a small dart to take out the excess.

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The armholes are still not 100%

I used a floral cotton sateen with 5% spandex for a bit of stretch. unfortunately I cut with the stretch running up/down instead of across. This probably contributed to the fitting issues and does make it sit a little strangely sometimes.

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Despite the problems and the different shape, I really love this dress. On a windy day it’s so nice to not have to worry about your skirt flying up! Plus I think the floral print, which I adore, is less in your face in a more streamlined design. Next I would like to make one in a nice wool for work, lined in silk (I skipped the lining this time round). Next time I plan on doing a muslin, although I think a size 8 in the neckline, 10 in the armholes, 14 in the waist and 16 waist down will probably work well, based on the alterations I made. But I plan on making sure!

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Outtake!

Until next time!

Military Miss

This dress is a little bit inspired by the famous green dress Joan wore in Mad Men. But then I realised that it actually doesn’t look much like that dress – aside from the length and raised neckline. I had originally planned on adding a collar tie, and in fact cut one out. But The I couldn’t work out how to make it look cute and kind of gave up. So now I have a random strip of fabric hanging around. Go team lazy?

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I’ve now managed to convince myself it has a slightly retro military style to it. Let’s be real, this is mostly because of the colour, because the rest of it is not really vintage-style at all.

But look: giant shoulders! (instead of gathering I did a pleat in the shoulder)

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Victory Rolls!

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(honestly I have no idea why my face looks so strange here…)
(did I manage to distract you?)

I once again scraped this together with only two yards. Which fills me with joy at not wasting money OR fabric! This particular fabric is a Marc Jacobs cotton/silk blend and possibly the most dreamy thing I have ever sewn with (yes, including Liberty lawns!). It does, however, crease like a bitch. Which is why I kind of look like I slept in it in these pics. Rest assured it fits better than that creasing would have you believe sitting in an office all day working hard for the man will do that to a dress! Nevertheless, I love the slight sheen and the feel of it. At first I loved the colour, then I was doubtful and now I am back to love.

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It’s another simplicity 1913, with slightly better fit than the last one! This time I raised the waist by about 1.5 inches and the shoulders by about 1. To get rid of the gape at the neckline, when cutting I placed the pattern pice at a slight angle, instead of right along the crease so the top was about 1/2 an inch smaller, down to nothing at the bust. While this was a lazy quick and dirty solution, it worked really well! I also added back on two inches to the hem that I took out last time.

I skipped the invisible zip as I have decided they are evil. Instead I did a hand-picked one, using an old tutorial from Threads. It worked really well and I think it not only looks better, but it feels much stronger/more secure.

(I may have a bit too much “junk in the trunk” happening here. Perhaps I need to do a big butt adjustment? lol)

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I think this is the rare dress that looks better sans belt:

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Dress: Simplicity 1913, made by me | Belt: Portmans | Shoes: Top End

Until next time!

Fun with Fabrics!

Ever since I purchased the Liberty fabric I used for the Floral Fan dress, I have been obsessed with buying new fabrics. More importantly, I am into buying quality fabrics. The first few things I made I used quite cheap fabric that has not lasted well. In fact, when I cleaned out my sewing area a few weeks ago I threw out the first two dresses I made as they both needed some serious repairs and I decided I couldn’t be bothered. Instead of feeling bad about this, I’ve decided to embrace the freedom that sewing things I want to, not need to brings.

But this post is supposed to be about fabric, so let me show you my newest pretties and tell you what they’ll be.

First up is this Michael Miller cotton, called “quaint cupcakes”
This pretty is destined to be a dress for my sister, SS, in Butterick 5748. She picked the fabric and pattern. I’m hoping there’s enough left over to make a little skirt or something for me!
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Next we have the amazing “home sewing is easy” fabric by Alexander Henry. I am so in love with this cartoon print! I plan to make it in By hand London’s Anna dress.
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I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of these fabrics – I think they’re both quilting-type cottons, but while I find they have a lot of body, they’re not too stiff. My pre-washing softened them up nicely into the kind of fabric that will give a nice stick-out-ey (that’s a technical term!) skirt, but not be too uncomfortable for the bodice. Plus the prints are amazing! I have discovered a whole new world of awesome 🙂

Lastly is some boring practicle cottons for work skirts – one in grey and another in super-dark navy. The navy looks much darker in person. I haven’t chosen a pattern for these yet, I want something with a fitted-high waistband with some kind of pleated skirt. If I can’t find a good skirt pattern, I am considering using the skirt of Simplicity 2444 and just adding a waistband.
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Until next time!