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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Ma Pomme Dress

MaPomme1I made this dress as a replacement for one of my go-to summer dresses, which was one of the first garments I sewed. The dress in question was actually a vintage dress refashion, so it’s kind of a miracle that the fabric had held up for so long, but I was still sad when I realised I couldn’t wear it anymore.

Then again, I was also glad to have an excuse for sewing myself a new one of course!

MaPomme2I had bought the fabric (100% cotton; the brand is Little Darling) earlier this year at the Stoffenspektakel with this exact dress in mind. It was a delight to sew and is also really nice to wear.

As for the pattern, well, I didn’t use one! I drafted this dress myself, you see… OK, OK, my “pattern” is literally a rectangle! 😀 And two of the sides were in fact the selvedges of the fabric. So the cutting part was not too difficult: I just had to tear a piece of roughly the length of this dress (and a few centimetres more just in case – which I ended up using as you can see on the finished dress)… and that’s it!

Same with the shoulder straps: after I measured the desired length and width of my straps, I simply tore four pieces (not forgetting to add seam allowances), then rounded one of the short edges of each.

MaPomme3What makes the dress is the shirring of course. I used a method similar to this one (after sewing the fabric piece into a tube – with a French seam – and making a casing at the top to insert a piece of elastic afterwards to avoid ruffles) and it was, once again, very easy. But man did it take a long time! Eighteen rows of shirring along 1,50 m of fabric, I was feeling murderous near the end! Then I saw how cute the shirring looked and I relaxed a little bit. 😉

MaPomme4I forgot to take close-up pictures of the pockets, but they are almost the same (just a little bit deeper) as these ones, made following this tutorial. I did take a picture before attaching them to the dress, though. The buttons on the pockets are the same as the buttons on the straps, only smaller. I bought them at Veritas… in Luxembourg (I hadn’t found any I liked here in Brussels and I was spending two days there)! None are functional.

MaPomme5There are two small things I’m not so fond of with this dress. The first one, the fact that it creates a sort of semi muffin top under the arms (front and back), is inherent to this type of garment, at least on my body. And the second one is simply that I didn’t think to interface the shoulder straps and that they are a touch limp as a result. These two details are what stops me from loving this dress as much as I love the previous one I showed you, but I still like it a lot!

See you soon for the rest of my summer sewing projects!

Apple Pie Skirt

Pommes2After more than a month without so much as touching my sewing machine, I was itching to get back to sewing, but with the start of the schoolyear I couldn’t for the life of me find the necessary time/energy.

Pommes1That was until last Wednesday, when I had the afternoon free and the apartment to myself, so no more excuses! I opted for a very simple project that could be completed in one afternoon, to get back in the saddle smoothly.

Pommes3I had that project in the back of my mind since I bought this vintage apple fabric a few months ago. I loved its colours, print and drape, but it’s one of those almost swimsuit-like polyester knits from the seventies, which I thought might look a little tacky as a dress. So I immediately pictured it as a very simple elastic waist gathered skirt.

Pommes8I tried to keep things as simple as possible: I used a whole width of fabric, so there is only one seam at the back and the selvages serve as seam allowances. I however found it pretty difficult to sew the elastic on: even when stretched out to the hilt, it wasn’t long enough to accommodate the width of the fabric. I solved the problem by making a few small pleats where there was excess fabric. Also, the elastic I chose has ruffles up and down, which made it difficult to sew evenly, but it doesn’t really show on the finished garment unless you’re looking for it specifically.

Pommes4The hem is simply turned up once (the fabric doesn’t unravel) and stitched with a double needle. I debated for a long time whether to keep this length or to chop it off, and finally opted for this more practical one (no risk of flashing anyone when getting on and off my bike!), which I also found cuter even though it’s possible that it makes me look a little shorter. I figured I could shorten it later if I ever had a change of heart.

Pommes5I was so happy to have a finished skirt at the end of the afternoon that I immediately planned an outfit featuring it to wear the next day (i.e. yesterday), which was the one you see in the pictures plus a golden yellow cardigan (and a scarf to keep the cold away!). After wearing it on my bike and at work yesterday, I can now attest to its comfort!

Pommes6

I was afraid a skirt with an elastic waist wouldn’t suit my figure. I’m still not convinced it’s the best choice for someone with such large hips and a short waist, but I think it looks okay anyway and maybe that’s just me being picky… It certainly won’t prevent me from enjoying my new skirt. It’s in one of my favourite colour combinations and it has apples on it, what more do I need?

And now I’ll leave you with an image that truly reflects my sentiments towards taking pictures of myself. 😀

Pommes7