I was scrolling though Pinterest the other day, looking for pinspiration, when I was reminded of the Macaron dress I planned to make nearly two years ago.
I’ve got a wedding coming up in a few months, and I think this dress would be perfect. I immediately dug out the pattern pieces I cut over a year ago.
I’m pretty much planning for this project to be a toile. I have a weird love-hate relationship with the fabrics I chose. I never normally wear pink, but I couldn’t resist the pretty floral pattern and birds. I remain unsure about whether the blue looks good, or the top of the dress would pop more with a white contrast.
Anyway, it will be a pleasant surprise if I end up with a wearable dress. I’ve never bothered making a toile before, but I paid full price for the Liberty fabric and I’m really looking for perfection in the final garment. Macaron is quite an intricate pattern so I’m a little apprehensive about my ability to fix fitting problems. Eek!
I whizzed through the steps of constructing the bodice pretty quickly.
As soon as I tried on the bodice, I realised there were big problems. The fit on the waist was tight and the bust seemed okay, but I had a lot of fabric pooling in the back.
You can even see the bagginess on the hanger. I tried pinching in the side seams and tugging in various directions, but I couldn’t figure out how to make it lie flat. This is my first solo attempt at a fitted bodice.
I decided to trace a copy of the bodice pattern to make my adjustments. This is a bit of a case of locking the stable door after the horse has bolted- since I cut out the pattern pieces, I’ve lost the larger sizes. However, this way I still have a back-up in case my alterations somehow make the fit even worse.
I ended up deciding to book a private sewing lesson to get some expert fitting advice. I completed as many steps as possible to take along. I have to say, Macaron is surprisingly easy to construct given the polished final look of the dress.
Slashing the pleats to place the pockets was a bit scary, but I adore the final result. This is what the pieces looked like before my lesson.
Wish me luck!
Pattern: Macaron by Collette Patterns
Fabric: Viscose bought on holiday in Indonesia. The blue is some random fabric purchased on Goldhawk Road
I’ve got to admit that after my final class, I was worried that I would never finish sewing my Ultimate Shirt. The remaining tasks seemed very daunting for me to tackle on my own. But I went for it, and I’m glad I did!
Here’s how the shirt looks with my specially made tulip skirt. I re-did the hem, which I put off for months because I knew how dull it would be. I was right, it was boring and took two hours, but it looks much better. Having a steam iron (thanks dad!) also makes a big difference, although looking at these pics makes me realise it STILL needs more pressing.
I think this shirt is really only wearable tucked in, but shirt tucked into skirt worn on the waist is a look I rock at work a lot, so that’s fine.
Notes on steps taken after third class
Hand-stitching the cuff facing seemed okay as I had already used the same technique on the collar stand. Emboldened by my success, I attached the second cuff.
I next spent about an hour pressing and pinning the hem. Like my unicorn top, the hem looks shit in places, but I don’t want to redo it so I think this is something I will live with for now. I will mostly be wearing this shirt tucked in anyway. Looks like I have found my sewing nemesis- shaped hems.
The next step was scary. Buttonholes. I spent ages thinking about which colour thread to use, which turned out to be a bit of a waste of time. I don’t think I’ve ever machine sewn a buttonhole before because my mum lost the foot for her machine years ago.
I did something I normally never do- consulted the handbook of my machine for advice. I then used some scrap fabric to practice, and the resulting holes looked pretty good.
It was time. I tried on the shirt to ensure that a button would cover the fullest part of my bust, to reduce the risk of gaping. I then measured and marked each buttonhole, which worked out at every 7cm.
I did manage to make one really stupid mistake. I accidentally started one of the buttonholes on the ‘top’ mark instead of the ‘bottom’, meaning that it was about 2cm out. Next time I mark buttonholes, I will use different colours for the top and bottom marks to avoid this happening again.
Since my buttons are fluorescent pink, I knew this error would be very obvious. It was time to do something I had never wanted to do on such a light cotton voile. Unpicking. I practiced unpicking one of my practice buttonholes and managed not to break any of the threads in the fabric. Heart in mouth, I unpicked the errant hole on my blouse. I won’t keep you in suspense, dear reader. I survived, and I don’t think my silly mistake is too noticeable.
I’ve got to say, I absolutely love this outfit! Go me. I’m hoping to engage with Me Made May a lot more this year, and I think this outfit will be a key player.
I’m a bit sad to say there’s still a lot of work to do on my ultimate shirt after a couple of hours of homework plus my final three hour class at Sew Over It.
I’m happy with how the hand-stitching inside my collar turned out so I’m going to do the same on the cuffs. It’s painstaking work.
As well as attaching one cuff and finishing both, I have all of my buttons to do (having not sewn a buttonhole in years, if ever) plus the hem, which I’m very worried about. I failed twice at hemming my turquoise shirt and I still haven’t finished it.
I know I need to put the time in on this project soon, otherwise it will just languish half made in my pile of unfinished things. However, with the schools starting back next week and a few things on the cards, I’m not sure when I’ll be able to put in the hard graft in front of the sewing machine.
Embroidery proper (rather than cross stitch) isn’t really something I’ve done much over the years. I bought Make by Cath Kidston a while ago when I was super into her designs and made an appliqué felt needle case, and that was about it. In fact, I still have the case even though it only has one glass-headed pin in it.
I felt that the guest book blanket needed a large central design to help it come together visually. I also felt that embroidery would give a look that was polished while at the same time handmade, just like the wedding itself. I decided to keep the theme of bunting, especially as the quilt uses the bunting fabric, and throw in some appliqué as well.
Here is my design.
The only real change I decided on was to move Poppy (the bunny) to the right hand corner so that she would be facing the design.
For embroidery onto cotton, a hoop is a must. It prevents the embroidery from causing the fabric to pucker. I used chain stitch for all of the lettering. I tried to do French knots for the full stops and tittles. Even though I spent an hour in a French knot workshop at the Knitting and Stitching Show last year, those little buggers continue to elude me.
Can you see the blue line on my ‘l’? My lines are drawn with an ordinary erasable pen (I think the brand is Frixion). Because friction is used to remove the ink, an iron can also be used to take it off. The poly-cotton I used was light enough that I simply put the fabric on top of my design and traced it.
And a little satin stitch heart. Couldn’t resist a touch of sparkle from metallic thread.
For appliqué, iron on interfacing is extremely helpful. I traced my design onto the paper backing, then reversed it and ironed onto the wrong side of the fabric. I then cut them out.
I then removed the paper, placed them on the cotton and ironed on.
I then used blanket stitch to hold them down, along with some chain stitch representing the bunting binding.
I haven’t added Poppy yet as I think she will overwhelm the design. I’m planning on adding her elsewhere on the blanket.
Part 1: Before the wedding
If you don’t already have a walking foot for your sewing machine, BUY ONE
Mum and I spent a whole day trying to assemble the quilt with increasing levels of frustration and disappointment. When I looked into quilt making further, I decided to try buying a specialised foot to see if it would make a difference and it bloody did! Don’t worry about getting an expensive one, I got a cheap one from China, watched a video on how to install it and Bob became my figurative uncle.
Decide on quilt dimensions and design
Rachael and I discussed how she wanted to use the blanket (for sofa snuggling purposes) and we decided on the final size- 150x120cm- from there. I thought that 15cm squares would give a nice size for people to decorate without being so small that I would go mad sewing them all together.
Cut out squares
Using a rotary cutter, ruler or steel rule and self-healing cutting mat makes this task much easier.
Choose what kind of pens to use
I wasted a lot of time on line researching the best brand of fabric pen. I bought a pack of coloured markers from Amazon based on the reviews, but found that they bled on the fabric more than I would have been comfortable with.
In hindsight it doesn’t look too bad but I remember being unhappy at the time.
I started going into art supply shops. Yes, I am so dependent on the internet that I go on Amazon before nipping to the high street. I have bought GLUE on Amazon before. IRL I quickly found these fabric pens that gave a finish that I was much more pleased with. I bought ten- five of each colour- but three of each probably would have done. Pro tip: If you leave the pens sealed and keep the receipt, you can return them after the wedding.
I would advise going with 2-3 colours with fabric pens as I think it would be very easy to get a busy or messy look with more.
Prepare idiot-proof guidelines
People may not read them, but at least you’ll know you tried!
The next post will discuss what you need to do on the day of the wedding.
I’m really pleased to have finished my first Fair Isle knitting project, and I think it turned out wonderfully. Here’s a shot of the crown.
Such a beautiful design! I wanted a slouchy beret kind of look rather than a close-fitting cap so I’m blocking it over a dinner plate. Some of the flowers are a bit stretched but I hope this will give the effect I’m going for.
The hat is slightly baggier than I had intended but this will be great for winter when I often want to tuck all my hair away when it’s cold and wet. Here I am modelling with my signature weird facial expression.