Charlie says “always tell your mummy before you go off somewhere”

OK, I am aware that today’s post is something of a blip – a hot weather garment when it’s currently hovering around freezing outside. We’ve just been on holiday, though, so it does make sense, really. Chris and I spent a week on Maui over Christmas and it was awesome. Chris hasn’t had any proper time off since we moved to the US so a week of relaxation in the sun was in order. We did some active stuff (ziplining, snuba diving, helicopter ride) but mostly there was a lot of pool and beach time. Someone brought you cocktails as whales breached off the coast. It was lovely.

I’m not usually one for sitting about for a week, so I don’t have a lot of beachwear. I hadn’t been all that bothered by the Charlie Caftan from Closet Case Patterns when it first came out, but it grew on me exponentially the closer we got to the departure date. If you want a measure of how useful it was, I’d say it was a third cotton, a third sunscreen and a third saltwater by the time we got home. I wore it practically every day.

Front

That hat was a good buy too. Practically clamped to my head all week. 

And what better fabric for a beach cover up than this tropical cotton lawn? I originally bought three metres from the Village Haberdashery (looks like they still have some in) with the intention of making the Colette Penny dress, but never got round to it, what with all the other shirts and shirtdresses I was making this summer. It was fate, obviously. I fancied the idea of a maxi, but didn’t have quite enough fabric, so I went for View B (the short one with the gathered front) and added in the waist ties for good measure. I did grade out from a 10 at the waist to a 16 at the hips, but there’s so much space in there that I probably could get away with going for a straight 10 next time.

Back

Now, this pattern looks simple, and for the most part that’s true, but it did have a tricky bit in the shape of the front panel. It’s an interesting construction – you complete the front bodice first by sewing up to the neckline, which creates a letterbox through which you have to sew the front panel. That’s a bit of a faff, but then you’ve got to face it/encase it on the other side with an inner panel. You can do it on your machine, but I – wonder of wonders – OPTED TO HANDSEW IT IN. It creates a neat finish, and it didn’t take me nearly as long as it usually does. I did struggle a bit with this part of the instructions (spatial awareness is not my strong point), but there is a tutorial on the Closet Case Patterns blog which explains it really clearly.

Front panel

The rest of it is pretty simple, though I would suggest that you finish the side seam and pocket allowances before you sew them together. I followed the instructions to the letter which has you finish them after sewing, which meant that I would have had a few sharp corners to negotiate with my overlocker. I ended up zigzagging them instead (not my preferred finishing method) so I’ll bear that in mind for next time.

Accidental shibori

Like every good sewist, I threw my finished caftan in the wash straight off the machine, along with a bunch of other things I needed to wash before going away. Unfortunately, there was a pair of brand new jeans in there too, and I discovered that they were not colour-fast. Oops. I normally don’t have a problem with this, but this time some of the colour transferred to my new caftan and there are a few blobs of shibori-type dying. Lucky for me it kinda works with the colour scheme and it isn’t all that noticeable. Anyway, let this be a cautionary tale for you all to buy colour catchers, or at least wash your new jeans separately!

Shibori

Oops. That’s not the only bit, either. 

So as I’ve said, I wore this to death while I was away. I’m not sure when we’ll next be hitting the beach but I’m looking forward to warmer months when it may make an appearance on the roof of our building, which is a massive sun trap. Recommended for your next hot weather holiday!

And because it’s now stuck in my head, here’s some classic Prodigy from the early 90s.

How I got on with Sew My Stash September

Right! Let’s wrap up Sew My Stash September with a review! I thought about doing charts, but started messing around on Canva instead, so here’s an infographic of stats.

Round up infographic.jpg

In addition to shifting a shedload of fabric, I learned a few things about myself and my sewing habits:

  • Cutting out your projects for the month might be tedious, but it’s worth it. I even did all my interfacing at the same time! It was great to just be able to reach for fabric that was all cut and ready to go, and it kept me focused, too. Seeing the pile slowly disappear over the month was a good motivator – I might not have finished all my sewing in September itself, but I didn’t start anything new until I’d done it all. Maybe this is the way to keep myself on track?
  • Sewing generates a lot of waste. I have a Sainsbury’s bag (why I brought plastic bags with me to another country I’ll never know) full of fabric scraps ready to go to the nearest H&M for recycling. I already do my best to squeeze pattern pieces into the smallest possible space, but there will always be offcuts. I’ve never really thought about it before, but after that mammoth cutting out session, it was really brought home to me. From now on I’ll save my scraps and take them into H&M every couple of months.
  • I think I have a pretty sensible approach to buying fabric. Looking through my stash, it’s all stuff I would wear, in colours that fit into my wardrobe. Don’t get me wrong, I love a crazy print (and I’ve sewn a couple over the summer) but the majority of fabrics in my stash are block colours.
  • Since I had a lot to get through in September I decided to blog three times a week. It gets a bit much after a while, and I didn’t quite manage it by the end of the month. Twice a week seems much more manageable.

Sew My Stash September was a lot of work, and I set myself a tough challenge in planning to sew so much. However, I quite enjoyed it! It was good to have a clear goal and it’s certainly satisfying to get through so much fabric in a relatively short space of time. I might even make it an annual thing.

And finally…

I didn’t quite get my final two projects, a pair of Tilly and the Buttons Cleo dresses, made in September, but I did manage to start them before the 30th. I wanted to get a production line going one afternoon, but I had to stop in the evening because I hit a point where overlocking was unavoidable. Not wanting to annoy the neighbours, I stopped for the night and the next couple of days too… The main thing is, I got them done eventually.

Stripy front

Chris is in the UK this weekend so I worked out how to set up the remote for the camera. I’m not brave enough to do it outside on my own just yet. 

Anyway, the fabric! I bought the denim shortly after I made my first Cleo earlier this year from the fabric shop in Balham, along with the buckles for both. I’d always planned to make another Cleo with it, but didn’t quite get there what with the move and the summer etc. The stripy stuff is a canvas from Our Fabric Stash in Pike Place Market (probably the most recognisable part of Seattle after the Space Needle). Our Fabric Stash is a consignment shop, so everything started life in someone else’s stash and is sold as found. I think this stuff had been sitting in someone’s collection for a while as it had that distinctive musty smell that takes ages to shift in the wash.

Denim front

As you can see, I need more practice. 

I had a lovely time making these up – the Cleo is a very easy pattern and it was fun to revisit it. I wanted a little bit of a challenge, though, so I had a crack at topstitching the denim one with proper thread and everything. Since any mistake would be super noticeable, I took things really slowly. I discovered that my machine doesn’t like backtacking with topstitching thread, so I ended up not doing it and caught the loose ends in seams and overlocking. For the most part I just used the guides on my presser foot to keep things even, but for the curves on the back pockets I drew around a side plate with some tailors’ chalk. I’m so pleased with how it all turned out that I think the topstitching is my favourite feature on the denim version. I only wish I’d bought more than one 33-yard reel – it would have been great to add it on the straps and around the top facing but I had nowhere near enough for both.

Back pocket topstitching

So. Pleased. 

 

I’m also quite pleased with the patches which I picked up a few weeks ago in the Fremont Vintage Mall. I just popped in for a bit of a mooch and ended up rummaging through baskets of old patches (mostly from Scout and Girl Scout events) and happened upon these two. And they were iron on! No faffing about with hand sewing! I’m not sure how they’ll hold up in the wash, but I think they add a little extra to the front pocket.

Patches and topstitching

So that’s it for Sew My Stash September! If you joined in, how did you get on? Would you do it again?

Penny black

You know how I said we were expecting a heatwave here in Seattle? Well, when I started this dress it had well and truly arrived and I melted like the Wicked Witch of the West in a water fight. Air conditioning is really not a thing round here so I spent most of my time sitting next to a fan and trying to stay as cool as possible. Unfortunately I didn’t quite get my latest Sew Over It Penny quite finished before the warm weather disappeared.

Front

Different location for my photos this time – there’s a mini allotment on the roof. We don’t have a tub but those tomatoes look like they’ll be pretty good in a week or two. 

I’m going to stick my neck out and say that I think rayon is the best fabric for summer. It is the only thing I wanted to wear because it’s so light, floaty and breathable. It’s perfect for wafting about the city on the hunt for the nearest ice lolly. That’s not to say it’s not without its pitfalls. While wearing my red Penny dress I went to the loo at our local cinema and got halfway down the street before I realised that my skirt was tucked into my knickers. I wouldn’t have clocked it had I not spotted my reflection in a window…

Despite that embarrassing experience I knew that my red Penny would not be my last, and that I’d crack out the rayon once more. I spotted this lovely bird/feather print on the Harts Fabric website (still in stock!) and, thinking that the birds all ran in the same direction, I bought 3.5 yards as suggested by the pattern notes. Turns out I needn’t have bothered. The birds face up and down, so with some clever placement I was able squeeze it out of about two yards – plenty left over for something else I think!

Side

Who needs to twirl when the wind will do the job for you? 

Having learned my lesson from last time, I added extra notches at the skirt waistline and got my head round the collar and button band construction much quicker (NB SOI have now updated the pattern with the missing button band notch). I did, however, struggle with threading the elastic through the waist channel. It was easy enough until I hit the side seam and the button band and then things ground to a halt. I ended up having to unpick the casing so I could give it a hand, which means the waist isn’t quite as neat as it could be. Do you have any tips to make it easier?

I also had a bit of a nightmare with the hem. After letting it hang for 48 hours, Chris very kindly helped me level it out again. It looked fine when I tried it on with the pins in, but when I hemmed it and tried it again, it looked wonky at the sides. Cue a tantrum and snapping at my husband who really didn’t deserve it and continued to very patiently help me. He really is my better half. Anyway, the team effort worked and the hem is now much more level.

I’m a big fan of this dress. It’s great for warmer temperatures, but I can also see it having a life beyond the summer. Paired with some tights and a cardi, it’ll work into spring and autumn. Till then, I’m going to pretend I live on the Riviera and swish about in it some more.

Back

Penny for my thoughts

I’m thinking of renaming my blog. Confessions of a Broken Record sounds about right, since today’s post is about yet another shirt dress. That Winslow culottes post probably lulled you into a false sense of security, but mwhahaha here I am to talk to you about my Penny dress!

My love of Sew Over It’s patterns is well-documented, and I had to have this one as soon as it was released in June. Of course I did; it’s a shirt dress. The Penny is a casual day dress, with a button-up bodice and a circle skirt attached to an elasticated waist. I reckon I’ve been missing out on a whole world of swishing and twirling since I last made a circle skirt several years ago, so it’s definitely time to give it another go.

DSC_0591

To maximise my Penny’s swish factor, I went for this summery rayon (unfortunately out of stock) from Harts Fabric’s online store. I am fast falling in love with Harts – they’ve got a great selection and their service is really prompt. I managed to eke the dress out of 2.5 yards (the US is not on board with the metric system) with a bit of pattern Tetris and some single layer cutting.

Side

This is the only side photo I got where I wasn’t gurning. Looking at this pic, I may add an extra bit of length in the bodice as it’s pulling up slightly at the front.

Now, normally I find SOI’s instructions super clear. Really, it’s difficult to go too far wrong with their patterns, but this time I found them a bit confusing in a few places. I had to add notches to the skirt waistline so I could attach the bodice evenly, while the button placket construction was just a bit odd. You’re supposed to partially fold the facing out to the front of the bodice, but the instructions don’t specify by how much. It was only by looking at a kink in the facing piece that I had an idea of what was supposed to happen. It didn’t really make sense until attaching the collar. I think this could put off an adventurous beginner.

Other than those little blips the dress came together really nicely. A special shout out should go to Chris, who very patiently helped me level out the hem. I left it to hang for a day and in that time the bias shifted by 3.5 inches (apparently I’m not on board with the metric system either). Since I don’t have a dummy anymore I had to put it on to mark it accurately. Chris got his tape measure out and diligently marked out an even line with pins. He was bothered it wasn’t right but I think his eyes were playing tricks on him as it looks pretty good to me.

Back

Of course, I love this dress. As soon as I finished the hem I spent a good hour swishing and twirling around the flat in it. It’s light and floaty and will see me through the summer very nicely. I’ll definitely be making more, because I am so not over making shirt dresses just yet (not sorry) but I’ll make sure I’ve got my June/July sewing plans out of the way first.

Do you get obsessed with sewing particular garments?

 

#sewtogetherforsummer: part two

Are you sick of shirt and shirt dress posts yet? I hope not, cos here’s another one! I like a fitted shirt dress, but I’m finding myself increasingly drawn to slouchier shapes, so I thought I’d have a bash at the Alex shirt dress from the Sew Over It City Break ebook. I’ve already made two versions of the shirt (one here and one as-yet unblogged) with great success, so it was definitely time to make the dress for the summer, and in time for the Sew Together for Summer deadline on 21 June too!

Front

I might add an extra button at the bottom there – that might just get indecent.

The fabric is a lovely mint green chambray from Threadbare Fabrics, a denim specialist in LA (I think they’re online only though). I love chambray – I love how stitches look on it, presses beautifully and pretty much succumbs to your every whim. This one is no different, but it has a linen-y feel rather than a more closely woven chambray.

Side

You can see the high-low hem detail here – the only real difference (apart from the length) between the shirt and dress pattern.

One of the things I like about the Alex dress/shirt is that it is so slouchy I don’t need to make any alterations to accommodate my rear. According to the sizing chart I should grade up two sizes at the hips, but the finished measurements told me I wouldn’t need to. Yay for no extra work! Having said that though, I did think it would end up a bit long especially with the high-low hem that is more pronounced than on the shirt version. I took off two inches, but if/when (let’s face it, I’m making another) I make it again I’ll add an inch back on. This dress is fine for casual, but it’s a bit short for summer office for my personal taste.

Button tab

So pleased with the button tabs – so crisp!

I said in my previous Alex post that I found the order of construction a bit odd. If you follow the instructions to the letter you should put the collar after completing the yoke but before sewing the side seams. That just seems a bit weird to me – you have fabric flying everywhere so why not make it easier for yourself? I also completed the button tabs in full before sewing up the sleeves. It struck me as easier to insert a buttonhole on the tab before attaching it to the sleeve, as well as popping the button on the other side. This meant that I wasn’t faffing about with hand sewing and manipulating a whole dress around the machine when I was basically sewing on an extremity.

Anyway, this dress is ace, and I am pretty taken with it. It does need a belt (uncinched it looks like a cross between a nightgown and surgical scrubs) but I would pretty much always wear one with a shirt dress anyway. It’ll see a lot of action over the coming months. Yay!

Back

In the background to the right – that’s a HAMMOCK! Will be staking my claim on the next sunny day.

 

Sew together for summer

I’m taking a new tack with Me Made May. I’m doing a daily post on Instagram (I’m @stuffjohasmade in case you’re interested) but on here I think I’ll just do a round up at the end of the month. Part of this is sheer laziness, but it’s also because we’ve invested in a fancy camera and the weather’s suddenly gone from grotty to glorious, so I’m suddenly a bit more interested in taking pictures.

First up, it’s my entry in the Sew Together for Summer contest. The competition is the brainchild of Sarah of Sew Sarah Smith (@sewsarahsmith), Monika (@rocco.sienna) and Suzy (@sewing_in_spain) These lovely ladies seem to have read my mind; all I am making at the moment is shirts and shirt dresses, and all you have to do to join in is whip up a shirt dress and share it on Instagram!

So for my entry, I decided to revisit an old faithful. I’m flying back to the UK next month for a wedding and obvs I need a new dress. I’m trying to sew things from my pattern stash rather than buying new, and the Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress seemed perfect for the task. I’ve made it a few times before, I know it fits nicely and it’s reasonably simple to sew up.

Front

This was taken on the roof of our building. It’s a bit of a sun trap and has awesome views over Lake Union to downtown Seattle. It’s basically what sold me on living there. And there’s a chicken coop up there too!

I picked up my fabric in Dry Goods Design in Seattle. It’s a lovely, buttery soft cotton lawn with a nice handle, and was a dream to sew with. I had no issues working with it, apart from when my machine decided that buttonholes were a bad idea. I had to unpick a few but they generally went off without too much bother. The buttons themselves are from another shop in Seattle, Nancy’s Sewing Basket. It’s a great shop with a brilliant range of dressmaking fabrics and notions, but it’s at the top of a massive hill (a bit of a feature in Seattle) so I’ll be visiting only when I have a good shopping list. Seriously, that hill is steep.

Back

The back. Plenty of space in that hem for bad wedding dancing.

I’m pretty pleased with the finished result. The wedding’s in Norfolk and I’m hoping for some good weather. The dress feels light and airy, so should see me through the day right up to the point where we’re drunkenly singing Take That’s Never Forget at the end of the night. And isn’t that what weddings should be about? Dresses and drunkeness?

Collar close up

Here’s the collar. The fabric is so nice to work with that it was easy to get a crisp finish with my iron.

Bonus top!

I… ermm… accidentally bought too much fabric and ended up with enough left over to make a bonus top! I managed to squeeze out a new version of my copied RTW top. I wore it this weekend when we visited Bainbridge Island for a spot of exploring and wine tasting. Mostly wine tasting. I had to have a nap when we got home.

Photo May 20, 13 28 55

Pre-wine tasting.

Going loco for Coco

Hello from Seattle! After weeks of packing, storing, tipping and charity shopping, Chris and I have finally left the UK for the US. I arrived on Sunday afternoon (Chris has been here a week longer), and I’m a little jet lagged, but otherwise happy to be here. I haven’t done a great deal yet, but I have managed to set up a bank account, made a trip to the supermarket and tried out the local buses. I’m still without a sewing machine but in the meantime I’ve got an embroidery project on the go to scratch my creative itch. More on that another time…

Anyway, what with moving continents and everything, I’ve got a little bit of a backlog of finished garments to share. Before we had our visas approved I had quite a productive January, and one of the results of that was a new Coco dress.

Coco dress front

So Boden. I should be pushing a pram around Clapham or something…

I’d had this red and white stripy interlock jersey in my stash for too long, mainly because I’m a bit scared of knits (worried that they’ll stretch blah blah blah). As you may remember I’m not at my happiest when sewing knits, but I wanted to give it another go, this time with the Tilly and the Buttons Coco dress. Holding the pattern pieces up to my shoulders showed me that the dress version would be a bit too short for my liking so I had to add a couple of inches to make it sit on the knee. I also graded it out so it would fit my hips nicely. Turns out I needn’t have bothered – I ended up taking it in a fair bit from hip to hem as it just seemed that there was too much fabric in the skirt.

Taking it in did the trick fit-wise, but it did knock my stripe-matching off a bit. I’d done everything to make those stripes match up – cut the pieces on a single layer, pinned them to within an inch of their life, etc – but now they’re ever-so-slightly off. No matter though; it’s not enough for anyone to notice.

Coco dress side

Prob not the best pic for looking at the stripe matching, but they are just off down the side seams.

Despite my fears, I’m happy to report that this dress came together really easily. I used a zigzag stitch for the seams, but finished the neckline and hems with a twin needle as I think it looks more professional than using zigzag throughout as recommended.

Coco dress neckline

The dress is great, if a little Boden catalogue. It’s done me proud at work and I’ve had some lovely comments from people. The fabric is super-soft and snuggly, and the fit is loose enough to feel comfortable, even after a big dinner. It’s a quick make too – a morning’s work – so there may well be more on the horizon. Once I get a machine.

Coco dress back

Hmmm… Potential swayback issues?

 

Too-rye-ay

Does anyone else think of Dexy’s Midnight Runners when they think of dungarees? I haven’t worn a pair myself since the mid-90s when I had some short dungarees for the summer. [Un]fortunately I have no photos, but I loved those things – they were so comfortable and I thought I was so cool wearing them. I’m not sure I could carry off proper dungarees anymore but a dress version is a happy compromise.

Tilly and the Buttons’ Cleo dress came along just at the right time. It’s an easy-fitting dress with two length options and instructions for buckles or buttonholes. I’ve seen loads of lovely versions over the internet, and not just in traditional denim. When Tilly released a new batch of kits, I snapped one up in aubergine needlecord.

front

The kit came with everything you need to make your Cleo – pattern, thread, interfacing, shiny silver buckles and enough fabric to make one dress. The fabric is seriously nice too. So very soft. Before cutting it out I must have spent a good 15 minutes just stroking it… Don’t judge me. I was… ermmm… testing for the nap…

Anyway, the pattern comes with Tilly’s trademark clear and detailed instructions. I went for the longer version and had no problems sewing it up – it’s a great pattern for a beginner, but a nice quick sew for someone with more projects under their belt. Proving every day’s a school day, I did pick up a new skill! I’d never done a bar tack before and never really realised that it’s just a row of really tight zigzags. Mine’s at the top of the front split for reinforcement.

As dungarees have a relaxed fit, I was confident that my standard adjustments to TATB patterns would be ok. I’m a 4 on top, but according to my measurements I should be a 7 on the bottom. I graded it out as normal but the finished article made me look like I was wearing jodhpurs, so I unpicked and resewed. I’ll try grading to a 6 next time instead.

pocket

Difficult to see in this pic, but I can assure you there is a painstakingly stitched pocket on this dress.

This was a really satisfying sew and I’ve had a lot of lovely comments about this one (apart from my dad, who asked me why I was wearing overalls *sigh*). From tracing the pattern (normally the part that takes me ages, mainly because I find it so very tedious) to trying on the finished article, this took me about four hours. I can see more on the horizon too. It doesn’t take up much fabric – less than 1.25m for the longer length dress – so it’s good for stash busting. I’ve already bought some dark blue denim and the buckles for my next version, though this time I think I’ll give contrasting top stitching a go.

That’ll have to wait though, cos I’m about two weeks away from the big move and I am mainly spending time sorting out my life right now. That and my machine and overlocker went into storage last week. I am itching to do some more making but I’ll have to restrain myself until I get to the other side of the pond.

What’s on your sewing table at the moment?

straps-back

Straps!

Big life news

I’ve been quiet for a good while on here basically because it’s been all change since I last checked in in September… Last time we met, I was merrily sewing up door stops and cushion covers as part of getting our flat ready for sale. We had grand plans of buying a house in Walthamstow (market proximity was a plus) but that all came to a bit of an abrupt halt.

A few days before we were due to put the flat on the market Chris was sort of made redundant. I say sort of, because his company were shutting down their London office and moving operations to America. He had three options: find another role in the company in London, redundancy or move to Seattle with the job. We had a chat about it, went to visit Seattle for a week, decided we really liked it and opted to move out there! We’re currently in the middle of the visa process, and all things being equal, we expect to be flying out by the end of February. Sounds pretty intense, eh? You don’t know the half of it!

My being able to move to America with Chris and staying there legally is really dependent on us being married. So, Chris popped the question on our anniversary at the end of October and six weeks later we got hitched! It was always going to happen anyway, and I’m informed that he had the ring for several months before he proposed but this sped things up considerably. We decided to have a quick and quiet wedding in Merton registry office in London, with a buffet and drinks at his parents’ house afterwards – just immediate family and friends.

If the stress of organising a wedding in six weeks wasn’t enough, I decided to make my dress too! I was already doing the 1940s wrap dress class at Sew Over It anyway, so I thought why not just make that my wedding dress? It made sense to me – I had dedicated class time to get it done, I had fitting help and (most importantly) it took a massive headache out of finding THE dress. And the teacher, Dominique, didn’t freak out when I told her the occasion!

I managed to get most of it done in class time, with just hemming to do by the end of it which I did while Chris was on his stag weekend. I was really pleased with how it turned out – while some bits were quite fiddly (the neck line binding in particular), it came together quite nicely, which is pretty standard for Sew Over It patterns. It’s a good job too, since this is probably the most important dress I’ll ever wear!

The wedding itself was lovely, and despite my dad tripping down the stairs as he walked me down the aisle and a bit of a mix up with the rings, it all went smoothly. We couldn’t have done it without the help of our family and friends. Chris’ family really pulled out the stops and transformed their house for the day, and my bridesmaid Gillian was brilliant at being decisive, and listening to my rants about cake arrangements (that’s another, long, story). We’re both really happy and looking forward to new adventures!

Anyway, here’s some pictures!

vows

Vows

just-married

Just married. Prob the best view of the front of the dress that isn’t obscured by my bouquet

rings-and-flowers

Rings n’ flowers. I loved my bouquet – the florist got really excited that I was wearing lavender and not ‘Cadbury’s purple’. I think she’d seen a lot this year…

bridesmaids

Me and my bridesmaids, Anne and Gillian

confetti

Confetti: can’t speak for Chris, but it was so windy that not one bit of it landed on me!

car

Oh I felt so classy in that car! Here I am desperately trying to keep my dress closed in the breeze.

cutting-the-cake

toast

I love this photo – so much going on in the background.

photos

Getting papped.

A good vintage

As soon as I announced that I had a posting schedule I knew I would break it. This post is coming to you a day later than planned because I have spent the weekend gallivanting in Dublin. It was a nice little trip – visiting a friend to catch up on Eurovision because we missed it when it was aired last week. Like many others, Eurovision is a bit of a tradition for us. We always try and watch it together and according to my score sheet, my douze points this year went to Belgium. I never pick the actual winner…

Front

Yes, it’s blue like all my other clothes, but it’s stash fabric, so what’re you gonna do?

So anyway, here’s my latest make! It’s a Sew Over It vintage shirt dress and I am just a teeny bit pleased with it. It’s my second version of the dress, having made the first in a class earlier this year. That one probably won’t get blogged – it’s a perfectly wearable dress but there are so many things I’d do differently (like sew the buttonholes in a straight line) that I’d rather show you a completely successful version. Like this one.

Side

The armholes are finished with bias binding.

My latest attempt is made in a lightweight cotton lawn from Goldhawk Road which will be perfect for summer, if it ever turns up. The guy in the shop said it was Liberty, but I’m more inclined to believe it’s Liberty knock off. It doesn’t feel silky like tana lawn and it had a printing imperfection near the selvedge which probably wouldn’t happen with Liberty fabrics (I like to think their quality control is a bit more advanced). Nevertheless it’s super pretty and it was really nice to work with.

Back

The dress itself is easy to make and fit. It has pleats in the waist instead of darts and it has a lot of ease around the waist. I made a size 12 and added an extra inch to the bodice length as my first version sits a little bit too high, and I wanted to be able to wear a belt at the waist. It’s not a difficult project – the sewing is straightforward as long as you’ve marked everything up properly. The hardest part was attaching the collar. The very clear instructions have you sandwich the collar between the bodice and the facing so you’re sort of attaching it blind, although there is a pattern marker to help you. It’s a bit of a faff, but it does produce a nice neat finish.

One of my triumphs with this dress was definitely the buttonholes. My first version used thicker fabric which meant my machine had a hissy fit at the waist seam. I must have done the first buttonhole above the waist at least ten times, and that’s not an exaggeration. But on this dress the buttonholes went in like a dream, and when the machine went a bit haywire I calmly unpicked, rethreaded and carried on. Eleven buttonholes later I heaved a sigh of relief and congratulated myself on holding my temper.

buttonhole

I mean, look at the state of that! Ripped out SO. MANY. TIMES.

I can’t wait for warmer weather so I can wear this dress without freezing. It’s a flattering shape on me and will be brilliant for work – I don’t have enough summer work clothes so this will really help. I’ve got a few other fabrics in my stash that would suit the pattern – I just need more time to make them up.

What are you making at the moment?

Detail

I added belt loops where the pleats meet at the waistline. This photo doesn’t show them very well, but I also really like the buttons – they’re a little bit shell-like but with an offset square carved out of the middle. Simple, yet sweet.