Peachy Dress

Blush1Judging from my blog, you’d think I’ve completely given up on sewing and knitting, wouldn’t you? But I haven’t, not at all! I blame Instagram for the languishing of this space: it is so much easier instagramming what I’m working on or what I’ve just finished than bothering to clear up the space where I’m taking my blog pictures (you didn’t think it was always this pared-down, did you?), set up the camera and tripod, and check my hair, and strike a pose, and blah, blah, blah.

But I’ve decided to stop with the slothfulness and blog those unblogged garments already! My obsessive nature compels me to present them in the order I made them, so we’ll start with this dress I finished in, ahem, February!

Blush3The fabric was a birthday gift from Mimolette, who knew I had been fawning over Atelier Brunette’s beautiful designs but hadn’t taken the plunge yet (I have since bought three meters of this beauty). Bye Bye Birdie Blush: gotta love the alliteration. My birthday’s at the very end of September, so this fabric only spent five months in my stash, not too bad compared to the usual lot of fabrics in my house.

Like all cottons, it was very nice to sew with, but man does it wrinkle! Also, it has a tendency to forget that it’s 100% cotton and sometimes attracts lint like a common synthetic. I mostly wear it with this cardigan, which I wear with a lot of other pieces, yet this dress is the only one it sheds tiny pieces of black fluff on. Not that big of a deal, but it was surprising at first.

Blush4The pattern is from Stylish Dress Book 3 (Dress B). It’s a very simple pattern so I was sure I’d be finished in no time, but you know me, I’m never finished in no time!

I quickly realised that with such a light-coloured fabric, I’d have to add a lining or run the risk of putting my underpinnings on display. Luckily I had some beige Bemberg rayon in my stash, and putting in the lining was not too difficult. I did have to think twice about how to manage around the neckline facing and the sleeves, and finally opted to simply attach the lining by hand at the sleeves (but by machine everywhere else). While we’re on the sleeves, I trimmed those with a very small piece of this lovely cream lace (oops, still haven’t started on that blouse!).

Blush5I had planned on adding patch pockets to the dress, but later realised that there was no way the pockets I had in mind would work with the gathers of the skirt. So I had to ditch them in favour of side seam pockets, for which I had to unpick and redo the side seams of the skirt, argh!

Blush2The only thing I’m not happy about with looking at the finished dress is how high the waist is compared to the dropped waist I was imagining. I should have measured the pieces beforehand and compared them with my other dropped waist dress. Like most sewing mistakes, it never bothers me while wearing the dress, but I’ll definitely lower the waist if I ever sew that pattern again.

Now only eight more finished projects to blog to catch up on my backlog!

Sketchbook: The End!

RainbowIt’s been so long since I last posted one of them, but I didn’t stop drawing sketches of my sewing projects. Some of them were missing their colours, others their little fabric sample, and the last two I still needed to draw altogether, but I finally got to drawing and finishing all of them, and the sketchbook is actually full now: there’s no blank page left!

EucalyptCentauréeI won’t be starting a new sketchbook for my next sewing projects, I think one is enough, but I’m pretty stoked that I stuck to at least one of my resolutions for 2014! I hope this won’t stop me from going on drawing regularly in the next year, we’ll see…

Carreaux DirndlI don’t have a lot more to say about these drawings or sewing projects (I’ll probably write a round up at the end of the year, to tell about which garments I’ve been wearing or not and why, like I did last year), so I guess that’s it! You can click on each drawing to see the original blog post about the finished garment in question.

AubépineI hope to be back soon with a new finished sewing project, it’s been such a long time since I last completed one! I’m working on two at the moment: a grey corduroy version of this skirt and a sweater dress that’s proving to be so unflattering on me I’m almost sure it’s going to end up as a cropped sweater instead!

The First Fall Dress

Smock1I bought this fabric and the book the pattern is from during the same trip to Paris, three years ago. I immediately knew I wanted to pair the two together, yet every year I let fall pass me by without taking the time to materialise my project. So this year, when wondering what to sew next after finishing my Centaurée and thinking I’d like to sew something that would be evocative of the beginning of fall, this old idea sprung to mind.

Smock2A few years ago, the Stylish Dress Book series and other Japanese pattern books were very popular on the French speaking blogosphere (about as popular as Deer&Doe nowadays, to give you an idea!). Then they fell out of fashion to the point that a lot of people started frowning upon them, lamenting that the patterns were unflattering and that they made even the thinnest person look fat. Well, I beg to differ!

It’s true that most patterns in these books are all but form-fitting, yet I don’t think they are unflattering at all. Of course, they are not flattering in the sense that they make you look thinner than you are, but does looking good always have to equate with looking your thinnest?

Smock3One of the main real problems of the Japanese pattern books was (is?) that the darts are usually insanely high (the other one being that the sizes are very restricted, stopping at a mere 93 cm/36 ½” bust for the Stylish Dress Book!). But this pattern (SDB3 Dress H) doesn’t have any, so I didn’t have to make any fitting adjustments, phew! So I didn’t make a muslin, thinking the fit of such a loose smock would be forgiving.

This would have been such an easy project had it not been for my fabric choice. I thought I knew what I was getting myself into with the plaid matching, but I had not counted on the shifty nature of the fabric… It’s a cotton flannel; I had no idea those could be that tricky, but I swear it had a life of its own! Plaid + shifty fabric = four-hour-long cutting nightmare. I was so relieved (and so proud!) when I sewed the pieces together and every line that could match, well, did!

Smock4The only thing I’m not entirely happy about is the yoke: I chose to cut it on the bias (thinking yay, no plaid matching there, then oops, still have to match the shoulders and the button bands!) and added a lining that I cut on the straight grain to stop the bias-cut yoke from stretching out of shape. It didn’t work that well: the fabric is so unstable that it still stretched out a little bit, so it doesn’t sit flush on the shoulders. It bothered me at first (WHY can’t ANY project ever be perfect?!), but having worn the dress a few times already, I had forgotten about it until writing this article.

SDB3HI made a few small modifications other than adding a lining to the yoke. As you can (sort of) see above, the dress doesn’t normally have any button bands. I added some length (3 cm/1 ¼”) to the front yoke pieces so that they’d overlap and form the button bands. I had planned on sewing some buttonholes there, but when I tried I quickly realised that with that fabric and the fact that that part was cut on the bias, I’d better settle for snaps. And I have to say I really like the result! I loathe snaps for garments that are worn open, but for this dress, which is going to be worn closed at all times, I find them very convenient.

Smock5Other things I changed in my version are omitting the yoke ruffles and adding patch pockets. When was the last time I sewed a dress and did not add patch pockets? I think this is the third dress in a row that gets the same treatment… I should rename my blog Rue des Patch Pockets or something. So I added patch pockets. And I love them.

The last change I made was not to add any seam allowance at the hem (I wanted a short dress!) and finishing it with black bias tape.

Smock6I took the pictures coming back from work, which is why the dress may seem a bit wrinkled in places. It’s a very comfortable dress to wear, albeit a bit short. If I need to raise my arms (for, say, write at the top of the blackboard), I have to be careful to push up the sleeves past the elbows first, otherwise the whole dress goes up and I risk flashing too much thigh (or worse!). But I’ve worn it at work a few times already, and there have been no problems in that respect.

All in all it’s a very cosy dress, perfect for fall and winter. It took me three years before finally sewing it, but a pattern/fabric match that hasn’t changed in three years could only mean success. And despite the small problem at the shoulders, I’m really proud of the finishing work I did.