Apples and Pears

So apparently I’ve decided to break my own record for longest time between taking pictures of a garment and blogging said garment. I took these on May 26th, close to three months ago! These three months flew by between a very busy end of school year and a whole month of July in Spain. And when I remembered these pictures after coming back from my holiday, I found them so bad that I didn’t feel like publishing them. Then I realised that they were actually no worse than my usual pictures, so here we are! I even threw in a few holiday pictures at the end for good measure!

I sewed this dress last summer, right before leaving for Spain that year. The pattern is the Lucie dress from République du Chiffon. It’s a very simple pattern; I think I made it in one day, two days tops. The most time-consuming part (still not very time-consuming) was finishing the neckline and armholes with self-made bias tape, from the same fabric as the dress.

While we’re on the subject of fabric, I bought this one from Les Tissus du Chien Vert yeaaars ago. It’s a lovely apple and pear print viscose (as always, you can click the pictures to enlarge them and see the details), which at first glance looks like the same kind of fabric as this one, but is way better quality. My only quibble with it is that it is quite see-through. This, coupled to the quite low back, makes it a holiday only dress: I’d never dare to wear it at work even on the hottest of days!

I made a couple small modifications to the pattern in that I added side-seam pockets and lengthened the skirt pieces (but not the bodice pieces) by 3 cm. I then added some more skirt length by sewing a 0,5 x 1 cm hem instead of the 3 x 3 cm hem of the pattern.

This is by far one of my most comfortable summer dresses. It really feels like I’m not wearing anything (in a good way, not in a “I feel naked” way). It’s so comfortable in fact that I wore it so much in Spain last summer that I didn’t even want to take it with me this year for fear of not giving my other dresses a chance to get worn! Look, it’s the perfect dress:

to eat arroz con leche,

to eat your bodyweight in churros,

And to pretend you’re freakishly strong! I mean, what more could you ask for?

In all seriousness, though, I’m wearing this dress on half our vacation pictures from last year. So this year it stayed in Belgium, and I was very happy to find it when I returned during this August heatwave!

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Lady Grey

I took these pictures what feels like ages ago, one month and a half actually, right after finishing the dress. You can even see the crease of the folded fabric in the back picture right below: it was my first time wearing the dress and I hadn’t ironed it out yet. Then life happened and I did not feel like writing a blog post at all for a few weeks. But here I am now, glad to be back and to finally talk to you about that dress!

I had never tried a Named pattern before because they are not usually my style, but as soon as I saw the Lempi dress, the pattern had to be mine. I even already knew which fabric I would use. I also bought the Helmi dress on the same day, and then both patterns waited for a few months in my pattern stash. I have no idea why I decided to finally sew the Lempi last February, but I did.

I used the exact fabric I had in mind when I bought the pattern, an unidentified grey fabric I had lying in my stash for quite a long time (I’m pretty sure I bought it in the sale department of Les Tissus du Chien Vert). The buttons and Prym eyelets came from Veritas, the belt buckle from this Etsy shop.

The fabric has proved perfect for this pattern: fluid and heavy, it barely wrinkles even after a whole day of sitting yet it pressed beautifully when I was sewing the dress.

The pattern was also very nice to work with. Fit-wise I cut size 40 shoulders and the rest in 36. And I tried a broad back adjustment for the first time. Maybe I should have made a broad shoulder adjustment, too? Design-wise I just omitted the shoulder tabs. I should also have added (and could/should add) a belt loop at centre back to better keep the belt in place and stop the back fabric from pooling right under the belt.

What attracted me to this pattern was its very sober and strict style, which I played up to the caricature with this grey fabric. I knew I liked the finished dress, which I’ve been wearing a bit tongue-in-cheek, yet I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the number of compliments I’ve had about it! Oh and some people almost couldn’t believe I had made it myself, which is always nice. Apparently it looks very designer!

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!

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!

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…

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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With a Cherry on Top

Cherry1Hello! It’s been awhile hasn’t it?

Here is the last garment I sewed, a Sewaholic Saltspring dress! The fabric is a lovely rayon I bought from Goldhawk Road during a day trip to London with Mimolette last March. It’s not as drapey as the pattern recommends and actually looks more like a very lightweight cotton, but I think it works pretty well for this dress nonetheless. And it was suprisingly nice to work with, too, since it behaves like cotton. The only downside is that I need to press the dress after hanging it to dry or it looks a little bit crumpled and sloppy. Fortunately, it doesn’t wrinkle too much when I wear it, just when I wash it.

Cherry2I love love love the finished dress! And I also loved working with the pattern, which I found very well thought-out. I now understand why everyone kept raving about the shorter lining that helps keeping the blousing in place: it really does its job! I French seamed the skirt seams, and the bodice construction (at least without a zipper) encloses all raw seams, so the inside looks very neat. Also, thumbs up for the sew-along method for turning the straps right side out with a bobby pin: so easy, worked like a charm!

Cherry4It’s an easy pattern as is, but I made it even easier by omitting the zipper. I didn’t like the look of the partially open back of the original version, and I had read that one could put on the dress without a zipper, so that was a no-brainer.

To eliminate the zipper, I cut the back skirt on the fold instead of in two pieces. I could have done the same for the back bodice, but I didn’t think of that before I had already cut it in two pieces, so I just seamed it shut. This accidental back seam turned out quite handy to differentiate the front from the back when I’m getting dressed!

Cherry5Another modification I made was to sew an in-between version of the skirt, lengthwise. I added 20 cm to the shorter version, because I wanted my dress to have a late 70s, early 80s flair.

Cherry6You may have noticed that I’m wearing a cherry necklace in the pictures. When I finished the dress, I felt like it demanded to be worn with a cherry necklace, so I obliged and made one, since I didn’t own any! I’m fairly chuffed with the result, which I intended on wearing only with this dress, but have actually been wearing with an unexpected amount of outfits! The cherries and leaf are polymer clay and the stems pliable jewellery wire.

Cherry3This exact outfit has been my favourite one this summer. It’s a shame it’s not the kind of dress I can see myself wearing with tights and cardigans to transition it to fall, but at least I’ll be looking forward to wearing it again next summer!