Bonjour bonjour les hirondelles

hirondelles1This dress may seem out of season, and as a matter of fact I did sew it in May, but I’ve been wearing it quasi nonstop ever since. It’s the kind of dress that I like to wear in all seasons but summer. So I’ve taken a break from it in July/August but have been very happy to be wearing it again from September on.

hirondelles3Deer&Doe aficionadas will have recognised the Sureau pattern with Bleuet sleeves. It’s my third version of Sureau, and the second time I use the Bleuet sleeves. This version came as a welcome replacement for my first and favourite Sureau, that died a natural yet tragic death last September. I don’t think I could have mustered up the courage to get rid of the old one had I not had this one as a replacement.

hirondelles4Once again I made a few small changes to the pattern, this time to give it more of a retro edge. In addition to substituting the sleeves, I also lengthened the skirt a little bit more than on my previous versions and added retro looking patch pockets (which could have been sewn better, oops!). For these I used the same method as on my rain jacket, i.e. lining the pockets then flipping the top over. I then sewed on some vintage looking buttons (the same as on this skirt), big ones on the pockets, small ones on the fake placket. I love those buttons; I think they give the dress a lot of its character.

hirondelles7The fabric I used is a printed cotton from Veritas. I had been eyeing it for a long time but had never bought it because it was only sold in tiny pieces (most fabrics were 75 cm x 100 cm; this one was something like a fat quarter or something like that). You can imagine my delight when I found it sold by the yard on the Veritas stand at the Stoffenspektakel… for €5 a meter, which was less than the price of a fat quarter in the shop! I bought what was left on the roll, about 1,50 m, precisely what I needed to make this dress.

hirondelles2I serged the seam allowances and I used bias tape for the hem in order to keep as much length as possible. I made the same size as for my first two versions, a 36, and the gathered skirt still allows plenty of room for my 40/42 bottom. Cotton skirts can stick to tights, and it’s the case here, but not too much either. I could see it in some of the pictures, but in real life I never think about it and it doesn’t make the skirt ride up. I might try wearing a slip for more comfort though.

hirondelles5I’m really pleased with this dress. I used to wear my first Sureau all the time; these days I wear this one all the time! Now after using the Bleuet sleeves twice, what am I waiting for to sew the rest of this lovely pattern? I even have fabric picked out and everything!

hirondelles6

Enregistrer

Sambucus Racemosa

Liberty1It’s been a long time coming, but here it is at last; my first Liberty dress!

When Mimolette went to London, she was kind enough to take my order and bring me back two pieces of Liberty from Shaukat: 1,50m of this orange Fitzgerald and 1,50m of purple Ros. I had never sewn with Liberty before and was pretty curious to see what the hype was all about. I still can’t really get behind the price, but it’s true that it’s by far the softest and nicest cotton to work with I’ve ever used. The only downside is that it’s quite transparent. Not too much for a blouse, but I might have to wear a half slip with this dress.

Liberty7The fabric was a dream to work with and it was my second time sewing this pattern (the Sureau dress by Deer&Doe), so why did it take me so much time to finish? Well, the first thing is, I made a couple of modifications: I changed the sleeves of the Sureau for those of the Bleuet, which was actually not complicated at all, and above all I changed the fake button placket into a functional one that buttons all the way down.

Also, I added side-seam pockets, and after completing them I realised they were lower than I had anticipated. And of course I had French seamed everything (yes, you can French seam side-seam pockets!) so there was no way I was going to undo that. Being the drama queen that I am, I decided if the dress was not going to be perfect, there was no point in finishing it.

Liberty3So it hung on a hanger for a while, until I realised it was not that big a deal and the dress would still be perfectly wearable, especially since, even though aesthetically they seemed a bit low the pockets were actually at the right place for me to put my hands in them. And now that I look at the pictures, they don’t even seem too low to me anymore. How to make a mountain out of a molehill.

Liberty4Then my iron died on me. It began overheating (to the point of literally melting a few centimetres of the serger thread in this dress – luckily at a sleeve hem, where there was also some normal thread holding everything together) then it simply stopped working… and broke water on a pair of trousers! Like, all the water from the container suddenly started leaking through the sole holes. I had to buy a new one, which I didn’t want to do in a hurry and take the first Made in China crap I found, so once again my Liberty dress hung unattended for a while, only missing a hem, and ten buttons and buttonholes (it’s funny how I had no idea how many buttons this dress was going to need when I made my sketch, yet I drew ten!).

Liberty5But I found the iron of my dreams (and of my wallet’s nightmares!) and I was finally able to finish the dress, albeit not without another couple of concerns: first I had to add a tiny press stud between two pairs of buttons (bust and waist) to avoid gaping (worked like a charm!). Then, when I first tried the finished dress on, I realised the neckline, which I had staystitched and understitched, had apparently stretched out despite my precautions: the neckline, which fit perfectly right in my first version of the dress, was gaping like crazy and the facing was trying to escape, the horror!

Liberty6I topstitched the neckline, which cured part of the problem (the right side of the neckline now looked perfect), but the left side was still gaping too much to my taste. I was kind of devastated, then I had the idea of stitching a line of gathering thread on top of the topstitching of the left side and simply gathering (and then pressing into submission) the excess fabric. You can imagine my delight when I tried the dress on again and saw that the neckline finally fit! Now, I must say that, with a solid fabric, this little trick would probably have been much more conspicuous, but with such a busy print, I don’t think anyone’s going to notice anything!

Liberty8I’m in love with the finished dress, which is pretty much exactly how I envisioned it, and I feel like it’s going to get at least as much wear as my first Sureau! And I haven’t really considered the colour orange these past few years, but this Liberty print really makes me long for an orange sweater or cardigan to go with the dress…

Liberty2

Sketchbook: Liberty Dress

FitzgeraldI can’t seem to get back to sewing my coat, and in the meantime it seems like I have a million dresses on my mind! The one I’m working on at the moment is a Sureau whose sleeves I replaced with the sleeves of the Bleuet dress and whose fake button placket I changed into a functional one which I lengthened to get a shirt dress. I also added side seam pockets (in orange lining) because, as you may already know by now, pockets are essential to me and my runny nose.

The fabric I’m using is Liberty of London Fitzgerald. This is my first time using such an expensive fabric so I’m crossing fingers everything goes according to plan!

While I’m talking about the fabric, I couldn’t be bothered trying to render it on my drawing, so I printed a picture of the fabric and I cut and pasted it to fill the dress, then I added the button placket and other details on top of it. Normally I would do that directly on the computer, but since I want the sketchbook to look as good as the version I’m sharing on the blog I prefered that option. And the result is really convincing so I’ll keep that technique in mind for the future!

Elderberry Dress

Elderberry1Fall has definitely arrived here in Belgium! 🙂 I could do without the rain of course, but other than that I’m really happy about it: fall is such an inspiring season, knitting and sewing wise (and I’m not even talking about cooking and baking, yum!). As far as knitting goes, I’m still begrudgingly working on the same old project (yawn), so I had to turn to sewing to truly welcome my favourite season.

Elderberry6To me, the Sureau pattern by Deer&Doe is the fall dress par excellence. I don’t really know why, actually: is it the length of the sleeves, the fact that it looks great with tights, that it can be layered effortlessly, that it screams for a floral pattern? Whichever it is, I couldn’t wait any longer to sew a Sureau, especially since I recently found the perfect fabric (at Berger in Brussels), a cotton lawn with tiny blue, white and pink flowers.

Elderberry2The fabric was a dream to work with, as was the pattern. My only tiny complaint about the pattern is that I couldn’t find any mention of the buttons in the explanations (I was wondering whether the button markings on the pattern corresponded to all the sizes or to one size in particular). Though I have to say, I didn’t have any trouble figuring out that part. 🙂 I just found it weird, that’s all, especially on a beginner pattern. Maybe it was an oversight in the first print of the pattern and it has been corrected since? Anyway, I’m nit-picking, other than that the instructions were perfectly clear and easy to follow.

Elderberry3Seeing as the first two Deer&Doe patterns I sewed fit me quite well, I didn’t bother making a muslin for this one. I didn’t make a single fitting alteration and the fit is close to perfect, if I do say so myself. I cut a straight size 36 even though I’m a 40/42 on the bottom, thinking the gathered skirt would be forgiving, which it was.

Elderberry5The only modifications I made were style choices, the first one being that I need my dresses to have pockets (I’m not carrying my tissues in my bra anymore!), so I added two patch pockets. The second one concerns the sleeves: I’m not totally sold on the form of the original sleeves, which are a little too billowy to my taste, so I added an elastic in a casing at the hem. It gives the sleeves a puffier look, which I love. Also, although I don’t know whether to call that a modification, I understitched the collar facing instead of topstitching it. Oh yes, and I lengthened the skirt a little by making a baby hem instead of the recommended 2cm hem.

Elderberry4The dress is exactly as I pictured it and I feel like it was the first project in a long time that did not almost end up in the trash! Everything went smoothly, I took my time on the finishing (French seams wherever possible, and machine overcast stitch on the rest of the seams: waist, zipper side and sleeve setting – oh how I long for a serger!) and poor zipper challenged me didn’t even encounter a problem inserting the zipper, now that’s a first! 😀

Now I have to decide on my next sewing project: another dress, leggings for lounging at home, a desperately needed coat…?