Indie Pattern Month Week One: Dresses

Hey internet!

You all know (or should know!) that I adore Indie Pattern Month held over on The Monthly Stitch. It is one of my favourite times of year (alongside the annual OAL on the Untangling Knots Ravelry group, and TOKmas over at Tiny Owl Knits Ravelry group), and I have great fun coming up with my response to the challenges.

Week one is an old favourite of IPM and of mine – dresses. I tend to wear a lot of dresses as I find them fun to sew, and also easy to wear. All I have to do is chuck the dress on, stick on some leggings/bike shorts to stop the dreaded chub-rub, and I am good to go.

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The dress I decided to sew for IPM Dresses is the Itch to Stitch Chai Shirtdress. I’ve wanted to make this for a while, as it is a style I think looks fantastic, and the gathered bust makes it an easy fit for my H-cups.

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I made a size 20, but increased the waist and hips by about an inch and a half as I wasn’t quite in the measurements – and I am glad I did as it is a little slim fitting right at the moment through the hips! The waist feels great now though.

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I made it up in a truly lovely rayon from Spotlight with a watercolour cactus print. I decided not to interface any of the pieces as I loved the drape of the rayon and I didn’t want to hinder it at all – I am glad I didn’t as it feels exactly like I wanted it to, a very soft and drapey but structured at the same time. Perfect.

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I will admit – this doesn’t fit quite the way I would want it to. Though, to be fair, part of that comes from the fact that I have eaten a LOT of bread and salt over the weekend, and I am rather bloated at the moment! I also, despite checking measurements, find that the bodice is a little too long on me – will definitely be shortening when I make my next one. I have plans for at least another dress or two, and several shirt versions. It is just a gorgeous pattern and I love how it looks. Next time I will also widen the hips and waist again, adding another two inches or so, just to give it a more flowing look. I spaced the buttons an inch and a half apart, as I need rather a lot to prevent boob-gaping!

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Overall, this is one of my favourite makes of late. Even with the billion button holes, and buttons, I can’t wait to make another.

Happy Birthday, TMS!

So September is birthday month over at The Monthly Stitch, and I was super excited about sewing something inspired by our most excellent mods. One thing I noticed was common between all the team was a vested interest in prints! So many fantastic prints, so many makes! I had to make something inspired with a funky print.

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In comes some fabric I’ve had in stash for an absolute age – my bright neon glasses print on navy. I knew what I wanted to make with it too, a Seamwork Arden. So off I went! (And those of you with eagle eyes will see that this combo was going to be on my table for the miss bossy challenge, but I never actually got to sewing it…)

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I didn’t make any changes to the pattern, as I know Seamwork patterns and I are pretty good friends. I decided not to make any contrast panels, as I wanted as much of this gorgeous print as possible!

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I did have a bit of a hard time sewing through all the layers to attach the bow to the bodice piece, but the work (and broken needle!) were worth it in the end – it is one of my favourite details.

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The sleeve length is ideal for me, as I am rather short in the arms, and I didn’t need to shorten these ones – if you’re more long-armed than I, you might want to add an inch or so for it to hit right. I am most pleased with my cuffs as well, I think I put a lot of work into them and they actually turned out okay!

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I also tacked down the collar at the shoulder seams, and I may yet tack it down a few more times around the back, as mine just does not want to behave.

You can see the slight sticky-uppy nature of the collar in the next shot:

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And one bonus shot of what like 80% of the photos my fiance took look like – turns out I am not a good subject!!

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Happy Birthday, TMS – can’t wait to spend more years with you!

Sewing Indie Month: Dressed to the Nines – The Anna Dress

Kitty butt! (Sorry, I had to!)
So, yes, my second Anna is finished. And in the nick of time!
You’ll have to excuse my unique posing ability – I was really excited about this dress and it made it quite hard to keep still while photo taking was happening! (That, and it was like 8degC outside, so I was FREEZING and so was my camera person)
I really adore how this Anna turned out. When I read the challenge was Dressed To The Nines, I knew two things – one was that this dress would be floor length, and the other was that it would be white/cream. Because I have a tendency to over dress some what, I wanted something which I would call dressed up.
I went with the BHL Anna dress again because I adore it a a pattern. It fits me well, and I can get it together without too many rereads of the instructions. Working with the lace was a joy as it didn’t fray at all, so I could avoid any extra serging/zigzagging. The white fabric was less of a joy – it frayed like nothing on earth, and was a bit fiddly. I used fold-over satin binding for the neckline, sleeves and the hem of the underskirt – I like that it adds a little shimmer to an otherwise fairly matte piece.
I love the way the lace overskirt is transparent enough that you can see the underskirt, I find it looks really etherial and airy.
With this Anna I succeeded in what I am calling a perfect invisible zip insertion. I am so happy!
Rather than hem the overskirt, I decided to cut a slight scalloped pattern into it, following the pattern of the lace. I felt it gave the dress a delicate feminine edge, which was just what I wanted to achieve.
Overall, I am really happy with this Anna. It is sophisticated yet delicate and feminine, which is exactly how I envisioned it.
As an end to Sewing Indie Month, I am happy with this! I might not wear it til the weather warms up, but it is still a gorgeous dress that I am very happy to have in my wardrobe.

An update on current sewing

So, I haven’t been posting much of late, but believe me when I say there has been a lot of crafting and sewing going on! I’ve got a market on the 18th for baby clothes, and have also been doing lots of costuming work for upcoming performances.
I have also started SWAP 2014 (Sewing With A Purpose) through Artisans Square, which I am really enjoying. Here’s my SWAP thread so you can see my planning and such – but please remember no comments there!
Today was good fun, I went to a local opshop that I’ve never been to before, and found not only a gorgeous pair of black sparkly heels for performing in, and also some adorable print fabric.
Now, I’m a great fan of sophisticated, well tailored, ‘adult’ clothing.
But do you know what?
I need a Blues Clues dress.
So, finding a Blues Clues bedsheet was just amazing XD I can’t wait to make myself a dress from this.

Making your sewing look more tidy and professional

One thing I always get asked by friends is how I make my clothing look so tidy and professional when I make it myself. On one hand, to me it doesn’t look professional because I can see all the minor mistakes, but on the other, I am pretty strict now with how I finish my garments, as I like to have really tidy pieces.
Here are two baby dresses I made recently for a market (more on that later!):

They’re both identical, except for the fact that one is a size 1 year, and the other is a size 2 year.

They’re both in the same fabric (some of you may recognise it from Monday’s post on 6824!), and it took me about the same amount of time to make both of them.
It isn’t until you look at their insides that you see the rather large differences between them.

See the difference?

The one on the left looks untidy and a bit rough. There isn’t anything wrong with it, and it is still just as washable as the one on the right. The one on the right looks clean and has smooth lines. It looks finished.
Here’s a close up of the bottom of the back opening, right on the waist, so you can really see what I mean.

Here you can see that the waist seam is smooth and flat on the dress on the right, as is the central back seam below it; but the one on the left is rough, and you can see where I have zig-zag stitched to prevent fraying. You can also see that isn’t helping a whole lot.

The seams on the dress on the left are regular seams, and the ones on the dress on the right are french seams. I adore french seams now that I’ve gotten the hang of them. They mean you don’t have to zig-zag your edges or worry about fraying, and they also lie a lot flatter than regular seams. You wouldn’t believe that the dress on the right has the same gathered waist as the one on the left!
French seams are great, and they don’t take a whole lot longer than regular seams once you get the hang of them. They also make your hand sewn garments look professional and well finished, and they stand up really well in the wash too, as all the raw edges are hidden.
Have you got a favourite technique for finishing your garments? Share it with us!

An ode to 6824

So this post is dedicated to what has become my best friend in the sewingroom.
New Look Pattern 6824
Package looking a little worse for wear, but only a little!
So, New Look 6824 is one of those brilliant patterns where you can pick and choose the bits you want, to make differently shaped dresses. It has a lined bodice, which I had never attempted before, and now that I have I do a lined bodice on everything I make – it is so easy and so much tidier and easier for me than hemming!
 I originally bought it to go with this brilliant monstrosity of a fabric:
I think I was half asleep when I bought this as a dress fabric. It’s adorable, granted, but it is a little…over the top?
At any rate, 6824 managed to turn it into a rather gorgeous dress in the end.
Having made my crazy picnic blanket fabric into a dress, I had assumed 6824 would go into a drawer never to be seen again. But oh no, this pattern had other ideas. I now have 5 dresses made from this pattern, with a 6th, 7th and 8th already in the works. I just adore it.
Here are my other dresses which came to life through 6824:
 An ever-so-slightly too short floral gingham dress, made from a recycled duvet cover. The lining you can see in the bodice is the other side of the duvet cover, which at some point will get it’s own 6824.
Looney Tunes! You can not understand how much joy I felt finding this ‘fabric’ (as with probably 90% of my home made dresses, this was a couple of vintage sheets). It is just gorgeous. And has a Warner Bros. copyright logo on it labelled as 1993. In that case, I was probably 3 or 4 when this fabric was first sold.
I gave this dress a cross-over V neckline, which I’ll admit I’m not absolutely happy with without a belt, but with a belt it looks great.
This I call my Icecream Sunday dress as I made the entire thing on a Sunday morning and wore it that afternoon, and also because this kind of colour palette reminds me of the colours of icecream. I’m especially proud of the neckline here, I think the sweetheart style really adds a bit of interest. (This was bedding in it’s first life as well – a duvet this time though!)
This is the latest of my 6824 dresses that I’ve finished, and it’s the only one with a full-circle skirt. Mainly because the fabric didn’t have a directional pattern, and also because I hadn’t made a circle skirted dress in a long time. And while I do like it….I am also not sure I adore it as much as I do the gathered oblong dresses shown above. But, either way, it is still gorgeous! (And, you guessed it, more bedding! Duvet again.)
If you’re looking for a good all round pattern, I more than recommend New Look 6824. The only issue I had with it was with putting the capped sleeves in a lined bodice, as I didn’t find the instructions were as well written as they could have been. But a frantic call to Mum of “Help I can’t work out a pattern!” solved that pretty quick. The lined bodice is lovely, and the princess seams sit perfectly – and aren’t as terrifying as you’d expect!
 I expect I will use this pattern dozens of times, until the point where the pieces are so ragged I have to treat them like some prized antique, it is seriously that gorgeous. And yep, most of them are probably going to be made from bedding.
On that note, does anyone else recycle bedsheets and duvets for fabric for their clothes? There’s a $3 clothing warehouse in my city, where everything inside is $3. I’ve gotten actual clothes and shoes there a few times, but my favourite section is the bedding area. There are always gorgeous curtains, sheets and duvets, and I can never quite leave them behind. They’re also always pretty soft and drape wonderfully, cause they’ve been washed a lot of times in their life. I know some people might find it icky to use someone’s cast off bedding as clothing, but I can’t ever pass up a print that I either can’t get in fabric, or would cost me a fortune to.
What’s your most loved fabric find? Was it at an actual fabric store, or did you find a bargain elsewhere?