Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Blue maxi shirt dress




Just after I finished making my last shirt dress, I looked on the Pattern Review web site and found that there was a shirt dress contest going on at the moment.  It started two days after I made my first shirt dress so that dress was ineligible.  However that just gave me an excuse to make another new dress.

I wasn't 100% happy with my first shirt dress, whilst it's pretty, and comfortable and will therefore be worn tonnes, it is still a touch shapeless which is not my favourite silhouette, so I decided I would start again from scratch to make a more fitted pattern.

I found a piece of plain cotton in my stash and drew horizontal and vertical lines all over it and then used that to start draping a pattern.  I started with the neckline and armholes from previous patterns that I'm happy with and then started shaping.  I made one princess seam right down the front of my dress from the neckline and over the bust point to give good shaping over and under the bust.

A second princess seam was added about 2/3 of the way down the front arm hole to give further shaping through the bust. 




I balanced this with a side seam that was shifted slightly to the back of my body and provides just a touch of shaping.




I decided to forgo any further shaping down the back so as to make the dress more comfortable and just added ties into the back princess seams to fit the back of the dress and allow for some expansion/contraction as required.



Now I could think about materials.  I knew exactly which of my materials I wanted to use.  I found this beautiful blue rayon a couple of months ago and loved it so much I bought 6 yards of it.  It's the weight and feel of a linen but was marked as 100% rayon.  It's  patterned in shades of blue with darker blue bamboo and birds and flowers with pops of yellow in the flower blooms.

When it came to making the dress out of my final material, I extended all my seams full length. I added no flare to the front seams and only a very slight flare to the two side princess seams to create a more sleek silhouette. Each seam was sewn as a french seam so the insides of the dress are as pretty as the outside.



I added a button band down the front of the dress hand stitching the inner layer for a clean finish. I left the two side front seams open about halfway up my thigh.




The free edges I turned under twice and stitched. 


The hem is also tuned under 1/2" twice and top stitched.

I drafted small cap sleeves to fit my arm holes. The edges are finished by turning under twice.

The neckline came about from a picture of a mandarin collar that was higher in the front than in the back. I made a basic mandarin collar that was wider at the front than the back and basted it to my muslin, but with the shape that I had cut my neckline it really didn't work. However if I shaped the collar a bit more I found that it made a really cute keyhole type detail at the front neckline, so I modified my collar piece and neckline to create this feature. Again the collar is finished by hand for a clean finish.



Once I got to the dress to this point I then had a dilemma.  I would usually either just sew the button band closed and sew on a few buttons for effect, or use snaps since I hate buttons and I find button holes always look scrappy to me.   But that would make my dress ineligible for the Pattern Review contest.  I thought about just skipping the contest, but in the end I decided to use it as a learning experience and teach myself how to do bound button holes.

I did a number of trials first before cutting into my final dress, the finished button holes may not be perfect, but I'm more than happy with them.

Button hole from outside

Button hole from inside

I had no idea what buttons I wanted to use and when I was going through my very meager button stash I found a couple of glittery bugs and butterflies. I laid them against my dress as a joke, but really liked the way they looked, and every button I tried after that made the dress seem quite stodgy so in the end I went with the pink and purple bugs and butterflies. They are definitely a personal touch!



so I love the way this dress turned out and know that it will get quite a bit of wear during the summer.





Sunday, June 10, 2018

Blue Purple Plaid Shirt Dress

Quite some time ago I found a fantastic turquoise and purple plaid gauze material and used it to make this summer top.  This is by far my favourite summer piece of clothing and is worn constantly when the weather is fine.  However I don't actually like the top - huh! how does that work?.  I love the fabric and I love the comfort factor, but I don't really love the pattern that I made it into it, its just a bit too shapeless.

I always wanted to go back and try again on this top but the fabric was no longer in stock.  Fast forward a year or two and guess what I found in my favourite discount fabric store - my favourite fabric. Of course I had to buy more.  I bought 4 yards of it this time, thinking that would be enough, but now I'm thinking about going back and buying the rest of the bolt.

The fabric sat in my stash over winter waiting for some fine weather.  A couple of weeks ago I decided that it was finally time.

I decided that this time I wanted to make a dress with the same basic style as my original shirt - in other words a shirt dress with mandarin collar.



 I reached for the pattern that I've been using over winter to make flannel shirts as I'm finally pretty happy with the fit of this pattern using the french dart so I figured I just needed to extend the length into a dress.  It came together pretty easily, the only issue I had was with the collar.  I went back and redrafted the collar for the V neckline, but I forgot to add on the width of the button bands so the collar ended up too short.  I decided that I quite liked that and finished the top of the button bands at and angle and stopped the collar at the end of the button band so it creates a notch.



I added a small pocket on the front, cut on the bias, but I had to cut my button bands with the grain as I was running out of fabric.  There was no pattern matching done as I just didn't have the fabric to do it!

I finished the bottom of the dress with the sides curving up at the seams and the back slightly longer than the front.


I added a bias cut yoke at the back  with a seam up the middle as I loved that detail of my original shirt.


And I cut the sleeves off into little cap sleeves based on the pattern that I used for my original shirt.

I then made a self fabric belt out of the last of my material.

The problem was I couldn't figure out where to wear the belt.  It I wear it up at my natural waist it's pretty much right under my boobs. down lower and it creates all sorts of muffin rolls. and either way it s quite uncomfortable and really doesn't look that great.



Unfortunately with the french darts only it was just a touch too shapeless to wear without the belt.  So after it's first outing I went back and added fish eye darts under the bust for more shaping.  So I can now wear it without the belt and it's much more comfortable.

 I still don't like the way the darts ruin the line of the plaid - which is why I went for the french dart in the first place, but I like the shape better so I stick with it!.





It's still not the most flattering of dresses, but its comfortable and I still love the material so its getting plenty of wear!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Shoes, Shoes and more shoes.

So its shoe sewing time again.  It's always about this time of year that I decide I need some new shoes for the season - Well I suppose it's to be expected I mean these shoes really don't hold up all that well - one season is all that I can get out of them.

So anyway I spent some time recently making three different pairs of shoes. I went looking through my old shoe patterns and couldn't find the one I was looking for - the basic ballet flat - I know I threw out a couple of versions of shoe patterns a while ago, but I didn't think these were one of the ones I chucked, but they must have been.

OK so it was back to the drawing board.  I drafted  a new pattern and made a muslin.  I wore the muslin (without any sole or finishing) for a day to see how they went and decided I needed them to be a bit more cut out  at the top.  So I cut them down, then took them apart to make a new pattern and made a second pair.



These were made out of a basic quilting cotton, with two layers of craft foam inside the bottom.  I tried putting some clear elastic inside the shoe around the top to keep them on more but I didn't get it tight enough, so rather than taken them all apart I just added some decorative FOE around the top.



I wore them like that for a day to check the fit and when I was happy enough with them I finished them off by gluing some of my 1mm thick soling material to the bottom.



I really like these, they're comfortable and cute, but possibly a bit too thin in the sole region.  Great for running around in the backyard, but not so good for standing on burning hot concrete or walking rocky paths.

It looks like I need to go back and trim down that left hand sole it's hanging off a bit.





 I then moved on to make a pair of more covered shoes.  I still had the pattern I used for these shoes that I loved so I went straight to my real material.  I decided to use some off cuts from some handbags that I had lying around.  A grey embossed vinyl sort of material (its certainly not real leather) for the toes.


A green leather for the sides and a light blue leather for the heel.



 I lined the inside of it with grey suede


and finished them off with a rubber material that I bought last year.



I'm not happy with these at all.  The heels are way too low and the shoes are over all too tight - I'm guessing it's just that there is less stretch in these materials than in the original denim shoes.  I will still wear them, but they're not great.






 The final pair was using the ballet flat pattern again.  This time I used some kid leather off cuts I had lying around.  A teal blue overlaid with some cream at the toes and heels.  I laid the cream over the toe and basted it onto the teal leather and then ran three lines of stitching straight across and cut out one of the cream pieces in between leaving a smaller section on the toe and then a strip across the ball.





Again in order to keep them more securely on my feet I added some decorative FOE around the top of the heel.



This time I did the right thing and waited for some real sole materials to arrive.  I bought this 4.5mm thick rubber sole material off etsy.  Thankfully it arrived within two days and I could finish these off.


I have to say I love this sole material.  It works so much better than the store bought rubber and makes the shoes look much more "real".  I will definitely be buying more of this.  I only bought one sheet to start with just to try it out.   I will be able to get a second pair of shoes out of this sheet, but then I'll have to go back and get some more - probably in black this time.







So this final pair of shoes is definitely the best, but I think I can do a little bit better even.  They're a bit....podgy....around the heel and I think that I want to cut out the front a little further.

I have another couple of pairs of shoes in mind that I will hopefully make soon.  stay tuned!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Feather Dress






I found this fabric at the end of last season and had to have it.  As a general rule I don't like fabrics with a light background, but it seems every fabric that I love recently comes on a light beige background. With this fabric I loved the feathers and all the colours so I figured for $1.99/yard I wasn't going to worry and bought myself a full 3 yards knowing I wanted this to be a dress.

   I wanted the dress to cover my shoulders and have a full skirt and a band around my waist so I started with my dolman sleeve knit shirt pattern that I used here, here and here, cut the "skirt" of the shirt 5" wide for the band and then cut a full circle skirt to knee length.


The whole thing came together really quickly.  I faced the neckline and turned the sleeves under once and left the bottom edge raw.  I tried it on and wasn't wowed....the band just didn't work.  So I took the skirt off and cut 2" off the band. Put the skirt back on and it's much better now.  I also added some fold over elastic to the lower band seam allowance just to hold up the weight of the skirt a bit.



The thing is I don't love the dress on me, something just seems slightly off with it.  I think there is a proportion issue as I know I  love this top as a top, but for some reason here it just makes me look really top heavy and wide.



Still got to love the drama of the skirt - I do think in general this dress looks a lot better with a little bit of movement.




Overall - whilst it will get worn plenty I'm sure - its certainly comfortable enough it's not going to be one of my "favourite ever" pieces.