Tag Archives: Dressmaking

Alder shirtdress

7 Jul

I’ve been humming it’s the most, wonderful time of the year….. and not because its Christmas in 171 days. But because it is Indie Pattern Month! Woop woop. And week’s theme is ‘dresses’. Cause I’ve already prattled on and on about this over on the Monthly Stitch blog, I’ll spare you further rambling other than the bare necessities.

Pattern: Alder Shirtdress from Grainline Studios

Fabric: Chambray from Higgs & Higgs

Sizing and alterations: Made size 10 which corresponds to my measurements but in future would make size 8 with a FBA. No alterations per se but a used a few different techniques like the ‘burrito’ technique for attaching the yoke so the insides are beautifully clean.




Oh sew professional

6 Aug

new-look-69681At the beginning of July I was New York bound for work.  It was my second trip in as many months and I was really excited but also pretty nervous truth be told. And what do I do when I’m nervous? I fixate on my clothes.

My wardrobe, I feared, lacked that certain something. So over the last few weeks of June I set about to rectify the situation to ensure I would be properly attired: new shoes, new hand bag, new blazer (I’ve yet to find the right pattern to make my own) and of course new dresses.

I decided to go for the tried and tested New Look 6968. I think this is the first dress pattern I sewed as an adult and I’ve done countless versions over the years.

First up was version A in a beautiful  chambray poka-dot print I picked up at the Knitting and Stitching show earlier this year.  It’s a color I’ve found myself really drawn to this last year. And second was version B (minus the welts) out of a  cotton I picked up at the Cloth House.  I love how it looks like  the weave of herringbone tweed but is really a lightweight cotton. I think both fabrics look really smart, yet are light weight so good for NY summer heat!

I made version A first. As I haven’t made the dress since 2014 I thought I’d recheck my measurements which are a perfect match for the size 12 on the bust and size 14 on the hips and waist. But when I pulled out the pattern I realised I’ve only ever made it in size 8 and it goes a long way in explaining why I’ve never been too happy with the fit of my last version. I must have been lazy and not checked my measurements and fit. This go-round I tried the dress on at various points along the way and all seemed well. But when all was said and done I realized that I need to use a size 10 for the upper chest and neck, and a 12 for the hips down. After a few tweaks the fit was perfect.

As the bodice has a lining I deciding to slightly change it up and not bother with the neck facing. Instead I applied some fusible interfacing to the inside around the neck of the lining. When I was sewing the right sides together at the arm hole, I went ahead and sewed the neck together too. I then pulled it inside out through the shoulders. I realized after I did this the first time, that I should have understitched the neck lining, before doing the sleeve holes.

On my second dress, version B Learned from my mistakes. I made the neckline size 10, bust  and hips 12,  and waist 14 – and the fit was just perfect. I also understitched the neck lining before doing the sleeve holes this time.

Both dress dresses came out really well have been sewn in five days and I felt really comfortable and ohh sew professional while wearing them to my meetings.




Christmas dress – in photos

24 Dec

A Christmas Dress

24 Dec

IMG_8845As soon as I had made my last Laurel dress, I was inspired to make another. This time in black but with a rainbow of ric rac along the bottom. I planned to make this dress in time for my office Christmas party and although I sewed late into the night before the party, the dress lacked a zipper, hem and the all important ric rac bottom.

And so it has languished for the last two weeks, waiting to be finished.  Having missed the Christmas party I decided I’d  make it my Christmas dress. And here we are at the 11th hour, at last done.

I made a few minor changes to it, based on lessons learned from the last time. I lowered the apex of the front darts about an inch and for the side seams instead of the standard 5/8th seam I used 3/4which brought in it just a tad, but enough to make it feel slightly less like a sack. There’s a few things I’d like to go back and amend when I have a minute – smack dab in the front, the pink ric rac (which is the top of the five) is much further from the blue, than the others so it looks a bit gaping. Also the shoulder gathering is a bit over kill  – especially if my arms are not at my side (as the photos wills show).

I admit I broke my no new fabric rule and picked up a like black cotton something-or-other at Walthamstow market along with a lining. However both fray like hell and as a result I’ve had little back threads adorning the carpet throughout the house for weeks.  As the lining seemed extra slippery, I really struggled to ensure the underlining was an exact fit with the dress and no lumps or bumps appeared.

But in the end I think it’s really worked well and looks pretty dam cute. I’ll post some pictures when I in-house photographer returns from his secret Christmas shopping trip.

A new dress

24 Nov

I’m slowly working my way through my hoard of fabric. For this project I decided to use a lovely wool/cotton blend, I picked up a few years ago while going crazy in Fabricana with my mom and aunt. I decided it would be a perfect winter dress, being warm and colorful – and thumbing through my patter collection, decided it would be perfect for  New Look 6968.


It’s an old favourite of mine and I’ve made quite a few variations. This time I decided to stick with version A (minus the cap sleeves) as I love the pleats? tucks? how exactly do you refer to them? along the neck line.IMG_8610-002

I decided to be a perfectionist with this one.  I wanted it to fit perfectly. As a result I became quite familiar with my thread pick (puller?thingy-ma-bob?). I hummed and hawed over the exact placement of the darts, removing them, moving them slightly, and resewing. The result was, if I do say so myself, perfectly fitted bodice (which matched the side seams and notches of the skirt – triumph). I didnt have enough of the fabric to make the lining the same, but after routing round my fabric pile, I found a nice, similar weight and feel fabric, which you can just see peaking out of the armholes in the photo below (although its not visible when I am wearing it).


I made a rather drastic detour from instructions however, as I decided I didnt feel like doing facings on the next.  I went off course on step 11: “With RIGHT sides together, pin lining to bodice at arm hole edges”. Instead I pined and then stitched the lining to bodice at the neck.  I pressed, clipped the curve, ironed inside-out and right side-out. Then  I pined the lining to the bodice at the arm hole edges. Once sewn you kinda just pull  it right side-out. Not quite sure how to explain it. Its a technique my mom explained to me in one of our long distance skype tutorials as its a sneaky little trick that works one most lined dresses provided the shoulders are at least 2 inches wide. I’ll take photos next time I promise.

I was a bit nervous about fitting the zipper as Mabel (my trusty me2) is no more – no longer surviving on stroofwaffles and Gouda her body no longer represents mine. With a lot of weird angles of posing in the mirror to see what needed to be taken in tight, and what needed more slack, I managed to get the invisible zipper in in the 1st go! And it even looked nice, the top of the dress lined up (I admit this is a bit of a feat for me and I’ve been know to permit a wonky non-lining up zipper to walk out the door). The waist line doesn’t entirely match up, but its not terrible and I decided to let it pass. I also attempted a blind hem with my machine, which did take a few attempts to get right. Lesson to self – iron hem before photographing.


So on the whole, I’m pretty dam happy with it! Its nice and cosy, well fitted and smart, but colorful! Perfect little winter dress (with a cardigan and pair of tights of course).




I’m back!

3 Nov

So its been a while since I posted here, but I’m back and have been reunited with my sewing machine. I brought back a considerable amount of fabric including some lovely silks, silk-cotton blends, linen and a whole bunch of randoms. As a result my new sewing cupboard is chock full and I have set myself a little rule – no new fabric for six months (that expires at the end of January). But I didn’t put any rules down about new patterns (I’m sneaky that way) and though I haven’t been sewing for the last year, I’ve still been reading oh so many blogs and have a pattern wish list a mile long.

I also have quite a considerable hoard of fabric I bought a few years ago while my mom was visiting my in London. I had bought some gorgeous cotton-wool blends, perfect for winter. So for the first time in my sewing life, I am sewing for the season!

To start with I decided to use a fabric I got even longer ago in Fabricana in Vancouver years ago. According to the salvage (is that the right term?) it says its called Juggling Summer by BrigitteHeitland for ZEN CHIC for moda but it has a definite autumnal feeling. Because it’s such a loud print, I wanted to use a very simple dress design – and in the end went for Version 1 of Colette’s Laurel.


I quite like the pattern but when I when to try it on half way along (after putting in darts and doing the side seems I noticed that the darts seemed a wee bit high. About 2 inches to be precise. I had a little grump and went off to investigate my other Colette creations. And found a disturbing trend. On most of them the darts are too high. Now there are two possibilities – in the last year my nipples have made a run for it, travelling 2 inches down. Or (more plausible I know) I have been very slack in my fittings – on some it is less visible and I suspect I’ve been lazy.

So I unpicked the top of the side seams, picked out the darts and just lowered them about 1.5 inches. I didn’t shorten them however, cause I have itsy-bitys boobs, and although the dart placement is now I think where the size 14 or 16 might be I still wanted the point further inwards. Technical huh? The result is pretty good, and I’ve decided that I really should go back to some of my other Colette creations and redo the dart.

I also attempted to make my own bias tape for the first time, using the Colette tutorial. I’ll admit it took me a dam few times to get it right  but I’ll spare you the idiosyncrasy of that process. Suffice to say, I have now got myself a bias tape maker and a square rulers.

I’ll put some pictures up in the next few days of the final result, but as I’ve got the day off to sew (hurrah!) I best get a move on with my next project.


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