A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

FO Friday: Southport dress

My first Southport dress turned out to be a fairly straightforward and rewarding sewing experience. I realise the waist tie is way too long but for some reason I wasn’t ready to cut it when I wore this dress for the first time.

Here’s a side view. This dress has been great to wear in the recent heatwave in London. Only one metre of light, breezy cotton, yet it’s formal enough that I understand feel comfortable wearing it to work.

Pockets are life.

Notes about the changes I made can be found here.

Pattern: Southport dress by True Bias

Fabric: 1m Liberty tana lawn

WiP Wednesday: Rockets dress

I really struggled when it came to what I wanted to wear to this wedding. I have a couple of beautiful silk dresses that I have worn to other friends’ weddings, but this is a younger wedding and I wanted to wear something a bit more fun. I was also keen to make something. I had planned to make my Liberty Macaron, but I went off that idea quite quickly after finishing the toile. Even though most of my clothes are quite quirky, when it comes to lines, I like classic simplicity. Somehow a sweetheart neckline didn’t feel right.

I spotted some beautiful viscose on Fabric Godmother, featuring a cute cocktail print, and thought it would make a great maxi Southport. I vacillated about whether and how much to get, and in the end it sold out before I could buy any. I was sad about that, but the fabric was cream and I was definitely uncertain about wearing a full-length white dress to someone else’s wedding. After some more looking around, I came across this rocket-print fabric that I had spotted on Fabric Godmother before. Soon, two metres were winging their way to me.

I am slightly worried that I am insane. My previous attempt at working with silk was an absolute disaster. I have also never worked with a sheer fabric. I have less than two weeks to learn a lot of new skills, and any mistakes will mean ruining the costly fabric.

I’m also worried the dress won’t turn out the way it looks in my head. The fabric is darkest navy and I’m just not sure the whole thing will work.

Planned changes

  • Eliminate button band again
  • Cut back bodice neckline to match front bodice neckline (perhaps even an inch deeper) to give a dressier effect
  • Fully line bodice. I still haven’t fully decided whether I will be underlining or lining. At the moment, I’m thinking underlining because I don’t want the seams to be visible through the sheer fabric. But then how will I finish the neckline and armholes? Will the bias binding finish work through two layers? This is so complicated! I need to keep reading up on this. Current plan is to underline and use bias binding to finish.
  • Add modesty lining to the upper part of the skirt
  • Eliminate pockets. These are two words I thought I would never type, but I don’t think they are a good idea in such a light fabric. Also, because the dress is sheer, you would be able to see the contents. Also also, the Southport directions don’t seem indicate to finish the side seams, and I need French seams to finish the silk voile. Update: I just didn’t see the instruction to finish the side seams when I made my my previous Southport. Comment about French seams still stands.
  • Remove 2cm length in a curve on the back bodice. Add scant 1cm length in a curve on the front bodice. Really, I probably need to do an FBA, but that’s for another time.

So far the cutting has gone okay. 2m was only just enough to squeak out this dress. If you are using a directional print or making a size bigger than about a 4, you will definitely need more. I also cut the selvedges as part of the pieces for the skirt front as I had practiced a seam finish that incorporates them.

The underlining was pretty fiddly. The silk is actually okay to work with as it is textured. The viscose is more tricky, being drapey. It just takes lots of time to smooth etc. I hand-basted the front and back pieces.


I found the bias binding finish even more annoying the second time! It’s just really fiddly. Not helped by using satin binding, but I thought that would be better suited to my fabric. Even more infuriatingly, the neckline doesn’t really sit flat. Pressing helped a bit. Maybe it’s because I didn’t clip the seam allowances.

Fortunately I took a break after writing the above paragraph. Things seemed less negative when I came back to the bodice, and the bias binding one the armholes went much better.

I’ve got to say I’ve enjoyed learning and trying out some tailoring techniques on this dress. I’m cautiously optimistic about the result.

Notes:

  • Adding length to the bodice in a curve also adds width to the pattern piece! I nearly got in trouble because the waist sections of my bodice and skirt weren’t the same length when I came to join them

Fabric: 2m silk voile, 1.5m viscose for lining

Pattern: Southport dress (maxi version)

FO Friday: Hidden panda Lark tee

I finished a very quick sew this week- the Lark t-shirt by the Grainline Studio.

I’ve written a tutorial for Minerva Crafts that takes you through how to sew your first t-shirt. I think this is a great pattern for a foray into sewing with jersey.

Some notes for next time:

  • Be more careful with notching- the seam allowances are tiny, presumably this pattern is intended more for an overlocker
  • Removing 3″ from the body gave me a tee that hits right on the hip
  • Overall the size 8 fits me just as well as any RTW shirt. It would take a lot of wizardry (i.e. FBA and moving between sizes) to improve the fit, and I don’t think it would make enough of a difference to be worth it. I’m happy.
  • 1m of fabric is plenty for a short-sleeved version

Pattern: Lark by the Grainline Studio

Fabric: 1m of cotton jersey

WiP Wednesday: Southport dress

I’m in two minds about continuing with my WiP Wednesday posts, but I do find them to be a useful space to keep notes about different projects. After a lot of research, I bought the Southport dress pattern. We had a very warm couple of weeks, and I realised that I’m lacking in summer clothing. I want to finally use one of my pieces of Liberty fabric for this dress, so I decided to make a toile of the bodice.

It seemed a bit of a shame to use this lovely mustard fabric just for a toile, but I had a very small remnant and it’s cotton, so I couldn’t really picture a good use for it.

I omitted the button band from the bodice- in similar RTW dresses, the buttons gape. Also, I am making this version in a print.  I think the buttons would either get lost, or distract from how nice the fabric itself is.

My neckline wasn’t very flat on my toile. Fortunately I decided to read a tutorial about bias binding necklines, and realised that I had misunderstood the directions when making my toile. This misreading meant that I skipped under-stitching the binding. I’m hoping that this step, plus following some of the other tips in the tutorial, will make my final neckline beautifully flat.

Notes for the next iteration:

  • Size 8 fit is ok
  • Remove length from the back bodice (I will do this by cutting it straight rather than on a curve)
  • Move bust darts down by 1cm and out by 1cm (position of size 18 dart)
  • I also took a teeny wedge out of the neckline
  • 1m is plenty for my size in the shorter length

I get why pattern companies do it, but I must say that the massive overestimation of fabric requirements in almost every pattern I’ve used is a real bugbear of mine. Every time I plan a project, I have to scour blogs to get a sense of the true fabric requirement. Stated yardage often isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.

Aside from the cost of fabric (Liberty tana lawn is over £20/m, though I got this for half price) I absolutely hate wasting things. I also don’t like having fabric lying around, either in half-metres that are hard to use, or in prints where I would not really want two matching garments. This is why I always state how much fabric I use, as my placement is generally much more efficient than the guides given in the pattern.

My second attempt at the neckline still stands up slightly. I wonder if this is because the binding I used is a heavier cotton than the main fabric. I might try making my own bias strip if I try this pattern again. I decided to use French seams on the bodice. It suddenly occurred to me that not only does it look better, it uses much less thread and is probably comparable time-wise to using my overcasting foot.

Pattern: Southport dress by True Bias

Fabric: 1m Liberty tana lawn

Me Made May 2017

This was the first year that I’ve had enough handmade items to participate properly in Me Made May, and I must say I absolutely loved it! I tend to vacillate between dressing very carefully, and just grabbing a well-worn item from my wardrobe and chucking it on. Me Made May encouraged me to think about my clothing each day. I even accessorised!


Pictures and breakdowns of each outfit are available on my Twitter and Insta, but here’s my masterpost.

It’s also been a lot of fun to interact more with other members of the online dressmaking community, and some of my favourite sewing brands. I think I’m going to make more of an effort to take a picture when I’m sporting one of my handmade items.

Lessons from Me Made May:

  • Trousers. Since my favourite-ever work trousers wore out a couple of years ago, I have essentially stopped wearing trousers. I have one pair of jeans that are one strenuous bend away from destruction. MMM helped me to fall in love with my Cigarette Pants. I think the biggest problem with them is that I didn’t choose the right fabric. I am planning to make a pair in corduroy for winter.
  • I don’t have enough plain tops. I’ve never been able to find the perfect plain basic top, but I should resume my search.
  • In fact, plain things are a problem for me in general. I need a few more staple garments that don’t have a crazy print on them.
  • I need to go through my older knitted items and decide whether to keep, frog or donate them. I have quite a few jumpers from the past few years that I simply never wear, and I have no real interest in hanging on to them for sentimental reasons.
  • To be honest, I need to do the same thing with my sewn garments. I wore quite a few items that I would never have worn if it wasn’t Me Made May. I need to decide whether they are really deserving of a space in my wardrobe, or whether I need to accept whatever lessons I learned from making them and get rid.
  • Weirdly, day dresses are a big gap in my wardrobe. I wear dresses to work all the time, so this is a very obvious area to get some fun projects in. I definitely need to move my Balinese rayon dress up my queue.

FO Friday: Floral Macaron

I finished sewing my Macaron dress!

Sewing projects always trick me into thinking there’s hardly any work left. When I wrote my previous post about this dress, I basically thought I was done as I had constructed the bodice, skirt and sleeves. I hadn’t factored easing in the sleeves, lots of seam finishing (a step I was initially planning to skip), joining the pieces, inserting the zip and finishing the hem.

In between the two phases of making the dress, I had my sewing lesson to help me fit the bodice. Turned out that it was a fairly straightforward fix of reducing length in the back. We took a curved line out of the upper bodice so as not to disturb the style line of the pink fabric. Apparently, this is an alteration that is commonly needed if you have a larger bust and an upright posture. In fact, I have had issues with the back bodice in other dresses, so this is definitely a hot tip for future makes.

Things I’ve learnt for my next Macaron:

  • Be careful to transfer all markings from pattern to fabric
  • Be precise when sewing bodice seams so the pieces match at the sides

I don’t know what it is about this pattern, but it really emphasises the waist, which I absolutely love. I’m confident that I will be able to wear my dress to parties without foundation garments, eat and dance all I like, and it’ll still be flattering.

I’m really looking forward to starting work on my second iteration of this pattern. After being inspired by a dress on Pinterest, I’m on the look-out for some lace to complement the Liberty fabric. I do love a challenge!

Pattern: Macaron by Colette Patterns

Fabric: Under 2m pink rayon from Indonesia. Contrast fabric from Goldhawk Road, used less than 1m

FO Friday: Fruity Tulip Skirt

I finished my pineapple Tulip Skirt in plenty of time to take it on my minibreak to Hamburg. Here I am posing in front of some street art.

I posed in numerous other locations also. Here I am befriending a local fisherman.

I didn’t make many changes to the pattern. The size 10 is right for me, and I moved the pockets up as I always worry that my phone will fall out of the pockets on my original fuchsia version. I would probably make the pockets EVEN BIGGER in future. I would probably also use self-fabric rather than lining fabric if possible.

I have a feeling that this will be a great skirt to wear with sandals in the summer.

Pattern: Tulip Skirt by Sew Over It (size 10)

Fabric: 1m linen-cotton mix from SOI

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