Cherbourg Dress

This dress started with the fabric. I bought it at Atelier Moondust during the sales and I immediately knew it would become a shirtdress. Unusually, I also immediately sewed the shirtdress in question. Not all fabrics can boast such a short stay in my stash!

I chose the Camí dress because it’s the most basic (in a good way!) shirtdress pattern I own. I knew I’d have to make some fitting adjustments though: my first Camí fits awfully at the neck and shoulders. Since I wasn’t really sure about how to fix that, I thought of comparing the pattern pieces to the one other pattern I’ve sewn that has a collar with a stand, the Cardamome dress. And then I thought, why not simply blend the collar and shoulders of the Cardamome pattern with the rest of the Camí? So that’s what I did. It was not the easiest to do because of the yoke of the Cardamome, but it did work: this version fits way better than the first one. It’s still not perfect, but it’s getting there. I might try a broad shoulder and/or back adjustment in the future, and maybe something for my sloping shoulders. And shortening the back bodice, too.

As you can tell from the pictures, I didn’t only make fitting adjustments; I also modified the opening: no more side zipper, but a full button band instead of the partial one of the original. It takes more time to put on or take off the dress, but I’m yet to get dressed or undressed in such a hurry that this poses a problem, and it’s also more comfortable to put on. And I love the look of the full button band so much!

Oooh, speaking of the buttons, aren’t they lovely? They are vintage and I got them at the last Lille Braderie. I was so happy to find such a perfect use for them!

Another change I made, which you can’t see in the pictures, is one I had also made on my first version, raising the too low pockets.

The only real problem of this dress is… the fabric! It’s the cutest with its adorable umbrellas and raindrops and everything, but man does it wrinkle, which makes it look a bit sloppy at the end of a day’s wear… Ah well, it won’t stop me from enjoying those little umbrellas!

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Joanna Dress

When I first saw the Lliria dress pattern, it was love at first sight. It has everything I like in a dress: the overall silhouette, the sleeves, the yoke, the gathers, I could go on… And when my friend Hibbis almost magically dug out not one but two 1,50 metre pieces of this lovely black and white floral viscose from a messy stand during our last visit to the Stoffenspektakel, I immediately saw it as the perfect fabric for my Lliria.

And it was. But man was it a pain to sew! I had already sewn with viscose, but never with such a shifty one, and paired with the curves of the Lliria dress, it was an absolute nightmare. The waistband in particular got so distorted that its two ends didn’t match at all once sewn up: I had to unpick and re-sew it, which was not fun at all, but I think worth it in the end. I also had to unpick and re-sew the hem a couple of times… and once more after my bike chewed up a piece of it during its first outing! 😱

The flat button is inside the waistband.

The buttons are vintage. They are the same I used on this blouse. And by “the same”, I mean five of them were stolen from said blouse. They were too perfect for this dress, and not that comfortable on the back of a blouse.

I’m really happy with the fit of the finished dress. I had to blend quite a few different sizes to get there: size 42 for the shoulders, 40 for the sleeves, 38 for the sleeve cuffs, 36 for the bust and waist and 42 for the skirt (with a size 48 length at first, but I had to chop off a few centimetres after the bike incident and I think I got back to the original 42 length). It’s kind of all over the place, but that’s what I thought would work after comparing the pattern pieces measurements to the measurements of well-fitting garments, and it did: it’s incredibly comfortable and I feel like a million bucks in it!

I also made a couple very small modifications to the pattern: I added side seam pockets and I interfaced both facings and sleeve cuffs. The only one of these changes I wouldn’t replicate on a future version is interfacing the skirt facings since it takes away some of the fluidity of the skirt. The rest I’m happy with.

Surprisingly, I’d say this is probably the most difficult pattern I’ve ever sewn, because of the type of fabric it requires coupled with the curved shape of some of the pieces, which made it impossible for me not to distort them despite all my precautions. But I’m sure it would have been much easier had I not used that particularly fickle fabric, or had I maybe thought to stabilise it with starch or something…

And the result is so worth it!

Aux robes pareilles

I don’t know that my second version of such a simple pattern as the Moneta deserves a blog post of its own, but I really love this dress and I was wearing it when I thought about taking pictures for the blog, so here goes.

You may remember that I had to shorten the bodice of my first Moneta dress after completing it. Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to alter the bodice pattern pieces, too. And, contrary to what I was forced to do on the first dress (since it was already cut and sewn), I didn’t simply cut off the bottom of the bodice pieces. I shortened them properly by slashing and closing, and I feel like this allows for a better fit at the waist than on the first version: the waist seam is now horizontal, even at the back, so no need for a swayback adjustment after all.

What may also have contributed to this more horizontal waist seam is the fact that I used my preferred method of gathering the skirt (the same as for a woven garment, with three basting rows, but adding clear elastic when attaching the skirt to the garment) instead of the recommended one.

If I did alter the bodice pattern pieces, I didn’t think of altering the skirt pattern pieces at the time. And I realised that right after having cut both skirt pieces, argh! I remember thinking that the length of the first dress was okay, but not perfect, and that on the next version I’d definitely add some length to the skirt to compensate for the length I had lost at the bodice. I could have kicked myself when I realised I had forgotten to do so! I made a very narrow hem to get as much length as I could out of my already cut skirt pieces, and I think that the length I got is more than okay, but I must remember to add a couple more centimetres to the next version in order to get to my perfect skirt length (63 centimetres — this one is 60 or 61).

Those 2-3 missing centimetres sure haven’t stopped that dress from becoming one of my favourite ones! Aren’t those cherries the cutest? I had made this beloved skirt a bit more than a year ago in a lovely cotton poplin, and when I found the exact same print but on jersey (at Herbert Textiel), I didn’t think twice and immediately ordered 2 metres for a Moneta dress.

It’s a white fabric with a dark print, so it does show a tiny bit of white at some seams (see the sleeve seam in the close-up picture below — note that you can always click on the images to make them bigger), but it’s nothing you notice unless you’re specifically looking for it.

What’s crazy is that, out of the two metres I had ordered, I managed to get this dress of course, but also a matching cardigan! I cut and sewed them both at the same time, which was really fun and gave me the impression of being incredibly productive! In case you’re wondering, no, I don’t intend to wear them together, nor to wear the cardigan with the matching poplin skirt!

But when does one enter crazy cherry lady territory? I mean, people (okay, students 😉 ) have already started asking questions, and they haven’t even seen the cardigan yet, nor the three other cherry fabrics I still have in my stash!

Retro Stripes

Nine months ago, when I had just made this dress, I wasn’t sure I’d wear it a ton. I loved the fabric (still do), but the shape was just not ideal on me. I felt like it hit a weird spot between lose in some places and tight in other places. And I liked it from the front, but I was bothered by the fabric pooling at the back. I also didn’t want to add darts to a T-shirt dress, so I decided to wear it anyway.

It has not become my favourite dress, but it has become one of my most worn garments nonetheless. Especially in the summer, when the weather’s warm enough to wear it without tights: it’s my go-to dress for lazy summer days. I also wear it in winter, with tights and a cardigan (usually this one), so it really is a year round dress. And I don’t ever think about its imperfect fit when I wear it.

To make it I used Sewaholic’s Renfrew top, which I simply lengthened. Now I know not to do that again. I also shortened the sleeves, got rid of the sleeve bands and made my own, much narrower, neckband. All hems were serged, then turned and topstitched with a double needle. Since I was using white thread, I made sure that the topstitching fell on white stripes. I didn’t topstitch the seam allowances of the neckband down.

The fabric once again came from the Stoffenspektakel. It has a lovely texture that sort of reminds me of vintage crochet; I love it!

I don’t have a lot more to say about that dress which is essentially a T-shirt (and I think my sixth version of the Renfrew pattern) so I’ll leave it at that. See you next week!

Little Black Cardigan

You may remember that I concluded last week’s post by toying with the idea of sewing a black cardigan to match my Moneta dress. In an unprecedented turn of events, I didn’t procrastinate for a decade and immediately made the cardigan in question. It was a very fast sew: about five hours, cutting the fabric included. And that’s with me being an extremely slow seamstress.

I’ve become much more thoughtful than I used to be regarding my pattern buying habits; it’s now very rare for me to buy a pattern as soon as it comes out. But when Jennifer Lauren released her Juniper cardigan pattern, I could see View 1 become such a staple that I bought it at once without hesitation. It seemed like the perfect cropped cardigan, with such a cute shoulder detail (which you can’t really make out in my pictures — thanks black! — but it’s there).

It was my first time sewing one of Jennifer Lauren’s patterns, and probably not the last since I don’t have anything even remotely negative to say about this one: the instructions were great, the fit is great (even the sleeves are long enough for my monkey arms) and the resulting cardigan looks great! I didn’t print the pdf at home. When there’s a copyshop version included, I usually prefer cashing out to get it printed professionally than spending time cutting and taping an inordinate number of A4 pages. So the fact that there is a copyshop version included is great, too!

It’s a fairly easy pattern, but I still dreaded sewing the saddle shoulders a little bit beforehand. Now that I know what there really is to it, I can tell you that there really isn’t anything to fear: if you can sew a normal T-shirt sleeve, you can sew these saddle shoulder sleeves. The notches were a great help to get everything perfectly lined up. Not only at the shoulders, but everywhere you could need them. I like precision, and this pattern didn’t disappoint.

I cut a size 8 and didn’t make any adjustment. I don’t know that it’s a “perfect fit” and as is often the case I see more wrinkles in the pictures than in real life, on a moving body, but I still wouldn’t change anything for a next version. I also followed the instructions to the letter, except that I sewed everything directly on my serger. I only used a sewing machine to topstitch the neckband (with a double needle) and to make the buttonholes.

About the buttonholes, I stupidly placed the highest one too high: I had marked its top, but I mistook that marking for its bottom, and I only realised my error when I had spaced (and sewn) all the other buttonholes accordingly, so I didn’t bother unpicking it. This means that there isn’t any interfacing under this top buttonhole, but it’s clearly not a big deal since I hardly ever wear my cardigans closed.

The fabric is the same I used for this Ondée top, a cotton/lycra jersey from Tia Knight (on their eBay store, which apparently doesn’t exist anymore). I had thought about using a lightweight French terry from my stash, but I preferred trying the pattern with this remnant first. And now that I’ve tried the pattern, I’m not convinced (even a lightweight) French terry would be the best choice for it: there are places such as the junction of the waistband and neckband where it might be too bulky. But I’m not sure either; maybe I’ll try someday.

The buttons are vintage. I bought them at a yard sale two summers ago, still on their card, and I am so glad to have found a use for them as they are so lovely! Vintage buttons are one of those things that I think make handmade clothing even more unique and precious.

I made this cardigan to go with my hard to match Moneta, but I know it’s going to get worn with so many other outfits. A black cropped cardigan was something I felt was missing from my wardrobe and I had been meaning to knit one for a long time, which I actually still intend to do ultimately, but for the meantime I’m quite happy with this one!

 

Golondrina Moneta

When I finished this Moneta dress about a year ago and put it on my dress form, it was love at first sight. Then I tried it on and saw that the waist fell about an inch too low to my taste: I like the waist seam of my fit and flare dresses to fall exactly at my waist. And I prefer a waist seam that is a touch too high than a touch too low. But it did not look awful either, so I thought I’d try wearing the dress like that and see whether I’d maybe change my mind like it sometimes happens and decide that I did not mind the position of the waist in the end.

Man did I feel self-conscious that next day at work! I could not not think about that too low waist and kept unwittingly crossing my arms to hide it. It had been a very long time since I had felt that uncomfortable in a piece of clothing (which in turn made me cherish the fact that I’m so used to feeling good in my clothes that it has become a given)! So that was it, I definitely had to alter the waist.

You know me, summer came and I hadn’t even touched said waist yet. I tried on the dress again, to get an idea of how much I had to shorten the bodice and I thought “hey, it actually looks way less weird than I remembered” and wore it the next day. I felt far from as uncomfortable as the first time I had worn it, yet I knew I still had to alter it.

What’s funny is, in the two times I’ve worn this dress, it has garnered a crazy amount of compliments. More in two days than each of my most worn garments in the numerous times I’ve worn them (except for this dress; it’s like I cannot wear this dress and not get at least one compliment — I’ve been stopped on the street by strangers about this dress 😀 )! But none of that really matters when you don’t feel totally comfortable, so I knew I wouldn’t wear it anymore until I shortened its bodice at last.

It took me a few more months, but I eventually did (almost a year after finishing the dress…). And even though this means the skirt now falls an inch higher up my knees and does not hit that perfect-for-me spot anymore, I finally feel perfectly comfortable in my dress, phew! It might still benefit from shortening the back bodice by something like one more centimetre to compensate for my probable swayback, but that’s a detail that can wait for the next version!

I have to say, it’s not the easiest dress to wear in winter though… Not because of its shape, but because of the fabric (from the Stoffenspektakel and tissus.net — I regretted to have only gotten one metre of it at the Stoffenspektakel so I bought some more when I came across it while browsing tissus.net), or more precisely because of the colour of the fabric. It’s proven very difficult to find a matching colour other than black. The only cardigan of mine that does not look too bad with it is my red Mary Mead, but what I need is a black cropped cardigan. I do own a black cardigan, but its shape does not look nice at all with this dress; it makes me feel like I’m wearing a nightdress and a dressing gown. I’m pretty sure a black cropped cardigan could be worn with a lot of other outfits, so I absolutely need to either knit or sew (I’m looking at you, Juniper!) one.

Now that I’ve solved my little fit problem with this dress, I want to make a million more! I love the shape of the neckline (especially at the back), sleeves and skirt. And it’s sooooo comfortable, all the while looking so elegant!

The only thing I didn’t like with the pattern was the way they have you gather the skirt, ugh! I don’t understand how people can get a nice looking waistline with that method: you need to stretch the waistline of the bodice so much for it to match the skirt; even with the addition of the clear elastic (which you also have to stretch too much), I personally couldn’t get a truly clean result and the waist seam is a bit wavy in places.

EDIT (12/1): Oops, I suddenly realised that this is not the way the pattern has you gather the skirt! It has you gather the skirt with clear elastic, then attach it to the bodice. I now remember using this method the first time I attached the skirt and hating it about as much as I hated the method I used the second time around, if not more: stitching the stretched out to the max clear elastic on a sewing machine was such a pain! At least with the method I described above, I was able to feed the elastic through the guiding slot in the presser foot of the serger, which kept it in place much better.

Next time I’ll make sure to apply my usual method, the same you’d use on a woven (always using a contrasting thread for the gathering stitches in order to be able to take them out easily afterwards without messing up the serged seam), but with the addition of clear elastic, and serging the waist seam of course: much less painful, much better results…

Now to choose the fabric for my next Moneta! Or maybe I should make that black cardigan first…

Enfin Lupin!

I made this jacket almost a year ago and it took me that long to write about it, which might be a new record on this blog! There are three even older creations I haven’t shown here yet, two Ondée tops I don’t intend on blogging about in detail (but which should still appear in future blog posts) and Monsieur’s jacket, which I definitely want to write an article about; I “just” need to take pictures of him wearing it!

The scarf I’m wearing in the first picture is a simple garter stitch scarf I finished knitting in May. It’s such a simple project it doesn’t deserve a post of its own, but I like keeping track of everything I make, so I did want it to at least appear on the blog. The yarn I used is a cotton and silk blend called Florine, by Veritas. It was my first time trying one of their new yarns, and I loved it! It was nice to work with and the finished scarf is delightfully soft. It was too warm to wear when I finished it, but it’s just the right warmth for the weather we’ve been having in September. I guess that’s all I have to say about this incredibly basic project. Except that it was incredibly boring to knit, too: eighty stitches x more than two metres of garter stitch, yaaaaawn!

Now for the juicy part, my Lupin jacket! I finished it at the start of last autumn and it’s proven to be the perfect autumn/spring jacket, the one I reach for whenever it’s not cold enough for my rain jacket. Although I did hope it could read as a 1940s jacket, I was not completely sure it would and was especially wary of how it would look with full skirts, especially since I had sized up to get enough room for my shoulders. I must say, I’ve been pleasantly surprised! It also looks really nice with skinny jeans, with my Cardamome dress, with my Zéphyr skirt… Actually, I don’t remember not liking it with an outfit I was wearing; I just wouldn’t wear it with a long cardigan, that’s all.

I did choose its colour with versatility in mind: I thought grey would look nice with virtually any other colour. It’s the shape I was not so sure about.

The fabric is a thick cotton satin (but fairly matte) I remember buying on sale at Maison Dorée when I was making this skirt in 2013! I had bought it to make a Pavot jacket but went for this other Deer&Doe pattern instead. It was a bit stressful to work with because it unravelled more than I would have liked, which made sewing the welt pockets a touch tricky, but far from insurmountable. I forgot to take a close-up picture of the pockets, but you can see them in the next picture (and I did share a close-up on my Instagram while I was making the jacket):

All in all, sewing the Lupin jacket was much more straightforward than I would have thought. I followed the instructions and, sewing it step by step over a little bit more than a week, got a nice looking finished jacket if I do say so myself.

My favourite part might be the lining. It’s a cotton lawn I got at our first ever fabric swap, once again in 2013! I had already used a small piece to line the waistband and pockets of a skirt. It’s really soft and I love the small floral pattern. I also love the buttons I put on the epaulettes, antique Belgian military buttons I bought at the same time as the ones I put on my Quart coat (I bought a whole box of various antique Belgian military buttons at the time):

There are two small things I would change if I ever were to sew another Lupin jacket. The first one would be to lengthen the sleeves by one or two centimetres. Their length seems right when I stand with the arms along the body, but when I raise my arms (to hold the handlebar of my bike for example), they start to feel a bit short. It’s something I’ve been noticing with all of my jackets (bar one, the Minoru jacket, whose sleeves are unusually long), so it’s not that the Lupin sleeves are too short; it’s just either personal preference or I have monkey arms (or both), in any case something I should keep in mind for any future jacket/coat I make!

The second and last thing I would change is also pretty simple: I would add a hanging loop. It’s something I feel is missing every time I hang the jacket, and it would be such an easy addition, I’m sort of kicking myself for not thinking of adding one beforehand! Like lengthening the sleeves, it’s something I should always keep in mind when sewing outerwear.

Except these two small imperfections, I don’t have anything bad to say about this jacket. Other than not being sure the shape would look right with full skirts, another thing I was wary about was the fact that there is no closures. And, well, the fact that I didn’t even think about it anymore until I started to write this blog post most means that no, this jacket definitely doesn’t need any closures!

I always procrastinate on sewing outerwear (I mean, even more than usual), but I really shouldn’t: it does require more work than sewing “normal” clothing, but the satisfaction is proportional since you get to wear each piece of outerwear so much more than the rest of your clothes!

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Flamingos!

I. LOVE. THIS. DRESS.

I love it so much that I almost didn’t dare starting to wear it! I finished it about ten days before my travel to Spain, so I decided to save it for the travel and didn’t wear it before we left. Once in Spain, we spent a week in Madrid and I didn’t wear it because I wanted to save it for later. Then we arrived at the village where we spent the rest of the holiday… and I didn’t wear it because I felt it was too fancy for the village! So more than a month after finishing it, I hadn’t worn it even once!

Once we got back to Belgium, I kept postponing the first outing of this poor dress: it was not even that I feared damaging it; the problem was that I was afraid to wear it and realise it was not comfortable or didn’t fit as well as I thought or some other letdown and be disappointed. Don’t worry, I have since come to my senses and started to wear it! And it is comfortable, and it does fit as well as I thought it did! 😀

Which it should, since I made a muslin, but still, I was worried! I rarely make muslins. I know, I know, boo me! But I always check the measurements of the pattern and usually baste the garment together to check and correct the fit before I sew it for real. When in doubt, I also use fabrics that I like, so that I can wear the finished garment if it’s a success, but that I won’t cry over if things don’t work out the way they should.

But this fabric, ah, this fabric! I don’t remember where I first saw it, but it was out of stock, so I hunted it down for months (maybe years?) until I came upon it at the late Fabric Rehab. I bought enough to sew a Deer&Doe Belladone, which was what I wanted it for in the first place. When it arrived I realised it was thinner than what I had expected (I was expecting more of a quilting cotton and it is a poplin), so into the stash it went until I found a pattern that would be worthy of such a dreamy piece of fabric.

The pattern I bought on Etsy: it’s a vintage pattern, Woman W388. I loved the simplicity of it and thought such a simple silhouette would suit various fabrics from my stash, including and starting with my precious flamingo fabric. I was a bit bewildered when I opened the envelope to see that it was an unprinted pattern: quite surprising since I’d say it dates from the early sixties! But then I thought it would be nice to try my hand at an unprinted pattern for the first time with what seemed to be a pretty easy one. And it was!

I soon learned unprinted patterns are in fact no more difficult to use than printed ones. In case you’ve never used one, there are holes of different shapes in lieu of printed markings, that’s all there is to is. There’s a key to which shape means what (notches, darts, grainline…) in the instructions, but you don’t even really need it as it’s intuitive enough to be understood just by looking at the pattern pieces if you’ve ever used any pattern, printed or otherwise, before.

So I set out to trace the pieces and sew a muslin of the bodice. This first draft looked horrendous on me! The first obvious problem was that it was much too big. I took off 1 cm at each side seam (4 cm total) and things started to look more promising. I then shaved off between 1 and 1,5 cm from the top of the front piece and between nothing and 1,5 cm from the top of the back piece. I also cut a 2,5 cm wedge off the bottom of the back piece and tadaaa, perfect fit! Okay, maybe not perfect, but as perfect as I can achieve with my meagre fitting knowledge! I’m still debating whether that wedge I took off the bottom of the back piece should have been 2 cm instead of 2,5 cm and have not reached a definite conclusion yet.

The skirt didn’t need any fitting as it’s so full, plus I didn’t even use the skirt of the pattern, for which I didn’t have enough fabric. I made a simple gathered skirt, as full (the width of the fabric) and long as I could with the fabric I had left after having cut the bodice, straps and bias tape. Two widths of bias tape are used for this pattern: a smaller one for the little bows (ah, the little bows!) and a wider one to finish the neckline:

The pattern has you sew the straps inside the bias binding at the back (which I did) and then adjust the straps at the front and stitch them on top of the bias binding. I didn’t like that so I reopened the binding at the front placement of the straps after I had settled on a strap length and hid the strap ends inside. It’s much cleaner/prettier like that.

Another simple deviation from the pattern was the addition of pockets. I hesitated between side seam pockets and patch pockets and opted to use these cute rounded patch pockets I borrowed from a late 1950s robe pattern I had in my stash (McCall’s 4319). I think these pockets look lovely on that dress, so I think I’ve made the right decision.

Although I am one of those annoying people who can’t wait for autumn to start, I must say I’m going to be a bit sad to say goodbye to this summer dress for so many months (this might leave me enough time to find a well-fitting strapless bra to wear with it though, who knows? 😉). I am trying to get as much wear as I can out of it while it’s still possible. I once again took the pictures for this blog post coming home from work and this is the outfit I wore that (rainy) day… Minus a cardigan of course!

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Apples and Roses

Last November, I was contacted by Nadja from Schnittchen. She wanted to know if I’d be interested in sewing one of their paper patterns for free. I had never tried a Schnittchen pattern before, so I was curious and went and took a look at what they had on offer. I didn’t want to try a pattern just because it was free; I wanted to try a pattern I would have bought myself. I saw a lot of things I liked, but the style of most of the patterns was still more modern than what I usually wear. The Zoe dress on the other hand seemed like something I would have bought with my own money: fit and flare silhouette, very high waist*, peter pan collar, pin tucks, cute sleeves… Need I say more?

*I’d say between high waist and Empire line.

Bodice and skirt pin tucks.

I debated using this rose and apple print from my stash or buying a solid colour fabric that would bring out the pin tucks better, but in the end I preferred using what I had on hand. Besides, I thought the dress might look pretty cute in that print! I had originally bought it from Stragier, on the same day as this other cotton print, because at €15 a metre they seemed like bargains in contrast with what you can usually find there (to give you an idea if you don’t know Stragier, Liberty tana lawn is by far one of their least expensive fabrics! 😱).

I didn’t make a muslin, but I did try on the basted bodice before sewing it for real. The only fit modification I made was rising the darts a touch. And I have to say I’m quite impressed with the fit of the dress! The bodice, sleeves and waistband are a size 36, the skirt a size 40.

Other than the small fit modification I’ve just mentioned, another minor change I made was adding side seam pockets. FYI, I placed the top of the pockets 7 cm below the bottom of the waistband.

I also added two decorative buttons at the neckline: I couldn’t find any markings for the placement of the collar, so I looked at the close-up pictures on the Schnittchen website and tried to keep the same distance between the two front ends of my collar as in that picture, but mine seem to have ended up a bit too far from each other and because of that the area looked strangely empty. Hence, two red buttons (from my stash – no idea where they came from, but if I had to guess I’d say my mother reclaimed them from an old garment) to fill that space. I think it’s one of those happy accidents because I love those buttons on the dress! Monsieur is less enthused: he doesn’t understand the need for buttons where there’s no opening. I myself have no problem with purely decorative buttons, as you may have gathered by now if you’ve been reading this blog for a while.

My last tiny deviation from the pattern concerns the zipper, which I chose to hand-pick. I could tell you that I wanted to get all couture or something, but I favour honesty over glamour so I must confess that I opted for the method that allowed me to sew from my couch! 😀 I also appreciate the control hand-picking a zipper gives you in comparison to inserting it by machine.

Sorry about the wrinkled skirt and sleeves: I had been wearing the dress all day before taking the pictures.

I haven’t found a lot of pictures of the Zoe dress on the net, and I actually haven’t found any apart from the technical drawing that showed its short-sleeved version (not even on the Schnittchen website), which is the version I chose to make. So I was bummed when I first tried on the dress with the sleeves, because I was expecting something else, something more like the sleeves of these two dresses, with gathers on top. I also found the Zoe sleeves aesthetically too long. But they were very comfortable, and I thought, why not try wearing the dress for a day first and then see whether I’m disappointed just because I was expecting something else or because I really don’t like the sleeves and should maybe shorten them? I’ve been wearing the dress a lot already, especially considering I finished it two weeks ago, and I can’t even see what the problem was anymore! As a matter of fact, the dress literally hasn’t seen the inside of my wardrobe yet!

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Polka Dots Again!

cami1Why did I wait so long to sew my first shirtdress?! I’ve been collecting patterns, fabrics and inspiration for years, but so many projects, so little time, such a slow seamstress, you know how it works…

Anyway, here is my first shirtdress then! The pattern is Pauline Alice’s Camí dress. This version is actually a wearable toile: I used some very inexpensive cotton (the same as this one and this one but in a smaller scale) which had a few flaws so that it wouldn’t bother me too much if things didn’t pan out. The buttons are vintage, from my mother’s stash.

cami2I first cut a size 36 bodice with 38 shoulders, but it was way too tight so I sized up to a 38 with 40 shoulders. It’s still not a good fit at the shoulders nor at the collar, which sometimes hangs a bit funny, but it’s passable. I wonder if lengthening the collar stand buttonhole a touch could not solve part of the problem. At the moment this button is not perfectly in line with the rest of the buttons/buttonholes as it should be, and this makes the collar tighter than intended. Not truly uncomfortable, but less comfortable than the collar of my Cardamome.

cami3The rest of the dress fits well (I lowered the waist darts by 2 cm), contrary to what some of these pictures, taken after a day of wear, would have you believe. The waist could maybe stand to be taken in a tiny bit? I’m not sure. The shoulders fit better (and the collar points hang better, too) when the collar is open, but I always wear it closed, so that’s not a satisfactory solution. This has not stopped me from wearing the dress a lot, especially since I usually pair it with a cardigan! Still, I really must learn to fit my (giant?!) shoulders!

cami4I didn’t use the skirt that is included in the pattern but cut twice the whole width of the 150 cm wide fabric x (60 cm + waist seam allowance + wide hem) for an extra full skirt! I also added a buttoned breast pocket (inspired by Annie Coton’s Camí and using Pauline Alice’s optional breast pocket template).

A lot of reviews of the pattern complain about too low pockets, and rightly so. I personally used Clémence’s nifty tutorial (in French, but she links to this one in English) to raise them and couple the left one with the invisible zip instead of placing it right under the zip.

cami7

Pocket AND invisible zip!

Another small complaint I have, which I haven’t read about anywhere, is the lack of precision of the pattern: a grainline arrow that isn’t parallel with the button placket by a couple millimetres (unless that’s intended?), shoulder and side seams that aren’t the exact same length on the front and back pieces (and yes, I triple checked, my tracing isn’t to blame)… Nothing serious, but it does make it look a little bit amateur, and I prefer it when things are more rigorous. I don’t remember encountering the same kind of issues making my Quart coat, so I’ll chalk that up to the Camí being Pauline Alice’s first pattern.

cami6I’d really like solving my shoulder fitting problem on this pattern, so I do intend to sew it again, but first I want to try the other shirtdress patterns I have in my stash, so it may take a while before I revisit this one!

Just you wait until I find my TNT pattern and the shirtdress might become the new gathered skirt!

cami5

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