My Christmas Party Dress

This dress was the main thing I had to get finished in November, in time for the New Craft House Winter Party which was the first weekend in December. I did finish it in time, but it did spill into December as I was hand stitching the lining down on the Thursday before the party, which is early for me!

The fabric came from this dress which one of my work friends gave me as it didn’t fit her. It was a bit big for me, and not really my style. But I loved the fabric, so set about unpicking all the seams. Because the skirt was so full I did end up with some quite big pieces of fabric to cut my new dress from. I reused the zip and I’ve saved the boning to use at a future date if I ever need boning for something. The dress was completely lined in black shiny lining fabric, which I reused to line the bodice of my dress – there wasn’t enough fabric or any need to line the skirt.

The original dress had pockets, which I also unpicked and reused, even though the pattern I used didn’t originally have pockets. You can never have enough pockets! At the New Craft House Party everyone whose dress had pockets got a cheer when they did the best dress fashion show, and I can definitely understand why!

The pattern is the By Hand London Sophia DressBy Hand London really are the best indie pattern company for party dresses. I made the size 6 at the bust, grading to a 10 at the waist, and I cut the skirt out in size 10. In a break to my usual modus operandi, I made a muslin (well, actually I made 2) as I thought I would probably have to do a small bust adjustment, as I have done before with fitted BHL dresses.

Because of the shape of the darts on the bodice of the Sophia Dress, I did kind of fudge the bust adjustment as I didn’t want to affect the darts’ shapes so I took a 1cm wedge out underneath my bust, from the boob out to the armpit. I also extended the bust darts by 4cm, making sure to make them straight as I didn’t want to ruin the great style lines of the dress.

I don’t know if I ended up over-fitting the dress or whether I should have gone a size up at the top of the bodice and done a bigger bust adjustment, but the bodice ended up very snug – like so snug it wouldn’t do up! So I reduced the side seams’ seam allowance to 1cm instead of 1.5cm and this helped – I wanted it fitted but not so tight I couldn’t breathe! It was still maybe a little tight, but it was pretty comfortable.

Usually the place where I have to make adjustments to a fitted pattern is on the back because I have a fairly narrow back, but this pattern fitted me pretty well right out of the packet. I took a 1.5cm wedge out of the back straps, taking the widest part from the side of the strap towards the centre of my back, tapering to nothing on the arm side of the strap.

I did, however, do something very odd to the back of the dress I think when I was attaching the bodice to the skirt. I don’t know what I did, but when I then put the zip in, I made sure to line up the waist seam on both sides of the zip, but then the bodice really did not line up at the top of the zip and so neither do the darts which should match across the zip. I didn’t notice until I had stitched the lining to the bodice because The Boyfriend was kindly zipping it up for me and I didn’t zip the zip with the dress off my until it was completely finished and I was giving it a final press. Lesson learned! But it’s not tooooo noticeable – though in typical sewist style, I pointed it out to everyone at the party! Does anyone else do that? When someone says ‘I like your dress’ you point out all the things you did wrong!?

There is a sort of weird bulge over my tummy, but that’s just room for eating!

I added the pockets into the side seams right at the top because I thought them being on my hips would look the better than if they were part of the way down the side seams.

The next time I get invited to a Winter party I’ll definitely wear this dress again! Do you have a go-to festive party dress? Did you make one this year?

 

 

November Makes and December Plans

November has been a quite quiet month for me sewing-wise. I only finished 2 things, though one of them was a shirt and I like taking my time with shirts to make sure all the top-stitching is all neat and lovely. And this white Archer shirt definitely contains some of the neatest topstitching I’ve ever done. I really took my time because this was the really nice quality fabric I bought at the Great British Sewing Bee Live, plus I discovered it marked a bit when pinned and a lot when unpicked so I made sure to unpick as little as possible! The eagle-eyed reader may spot I haven’t sewn on the buttons yet – that’s for this evening in front of the tv!

My other finished item in November is possibly my favourite thing I’ve ever made – and I’ve had a lot of compliments each time I’ve worn it. I think it might be one of my best instances of matching pattern and fabric. It’s my first Sew Over It Nancy Dress. I signed up to the PDF club because of this pattern and it’s the only one I’ve bought this whole year!

I’m going to try to be as realistic as possible about how many things I’m likely to make in December, and I’ve come up with 2-3, though I know I won’t get them all finished! One thing I do have to finish, though, is my dress for New Craft House’s Winter Party next weekend. One of my friends at work gave me this dress which doesn’t fit her and it doesn’t fit me either, so I’ve unpicked it and am planning to make it into a By Hand London Sophia Dress. I’ve muslined it once and have made some tweaks, so just need to make a second muslin to check the new fit, then hopefully I can get cracking!

The other thing I’m hoping to get finished is this spotty melilot shirt. I cut it out a while ago, so I just need to get cracking.

I’ve got one or two Christmas presents I want to make, too, so it’s going to be a busy month! Plus I haven’t started any of my shopping yet! Does anyone else like Christmas but find the lead up to it a bit stressful and overwhelming?!

 

 

New Craft House Summer Party Outfit

Last Saturday I went down to London for the New Craft House Summer Party and it was ace!  I knew it was going to be good when I spotted this on my way to the venue:

And of course I basically forgot to take any photos all evening – I think that’s the mark of a good party, though! I saw some people I’ve met before and lots of new people too, and it was so lovely to hang out with fellow sewing people. Sewing people really are the best.

It was great to catch up with Nina of Nina Lee Patterns – and her patterns are now in paper form! I don’t mind a PDF, but I would much rather have a printed pattern – I like having a nice object that I can handle, especially when they’re this beautiful. I’d had my eye on the Portobello Trousers and Carnaby Dress for a while so I’m really pleased to have them now in my collection. Now I just need some fabric……

You should definitely check out the hashtag on Instagram – some people did remember to take some photos! And speaking of Instagram, if you follow me there you will already know this, but I won best handmade outfit! Here I am flanked by the 2 honourable mentions – Girlswear and ZoeSews. They both looked brilliant!

I have literally never won anything in my life before, so I was pretty chuffed! I think part of what swung it was the number of items I made! I decided to go for separates instead of a dress as – though I like a good party dress – I’ve made a few in the last year or so for specific parties and then I don’t really wear them again. Though I’m not sure how much wear I’ll get out of a shiny silver top! With black skinny jeans, though, it could look cool.

Although it was August, it was pretty cold last weekend so I wore my trusty Victoria Blazer, made a few years ago from some mystery black fabric. One of the really nice things about the party was that I had a quite long chats with Elisalex and Charlotte from By Hand London, as well as Zeena, after whom the Zeena Dress is named.

I think the main ‘party’ elements to my outfit were the shiny, shiny Inari Tee I made from some (I think) viscose foil from Ray Stitch. I’m pretty sure this is the fabric as I know it was from Ray Stitch and the photos on their website look about right.  I was given it for Christmas and immediately thought of making a boxy tee out of it. After mentioning I might make some changes to the Inari after making my first sort-of-practice one, in the end the only thing I did was to use only a tiny hem instead of the 2cm one the pattern suggests – I overlocked the lining and the shell together then turned both layers up together by 0.5cm. Oh yeah, I lined it with some white polycotton in my stash as I thought this fabric may not be that nice right next to the skin! This also gave it a bit more structure as it really is drapey – it almost looks liquid. BE WARNED if you buy this fabric, though, that you cannot put pins in it or unpick stitching without leaving marks. It’s like leather, once it’s marked, that’s it. I used paperclips instead of pins to hold the seams together while I sewed each bit.

Oh and I also used the fabric to make shoes! I’ve seen these espadrille kits popping up online and I thought what could be better than a crazy shiny silver pair of shoes!? I’m hoping to do a separate post on the shoes, so I won’t go into too much detail here. Suffice it to say I think the shoes swung the win for me!

The culottes are Butterick B6178 that came free with Love Sewing magazine a month or two ago. It seemed there was definitely a time when everyone was making them on Instagram and I liked the pattern more and more, the more versions I saw. I feel like I’m often a bit behind with trends and like them a year after everyone else, but I think culottes are still on trend! Yay! I made the size 12 and although they are a tiny bit big on my waist, I’m impressed that for a big 4 there wasn’t inches and inches of ease built in! I chose the size based on my waist measurement, so that would be my tip if you’re going to make these.

The fabric is this gorgeous viscose challis (called Dillie) from Fabric Godmother. It took me ages to find a fabric I thought would sort of go with the silver and this was the best I came across. I was definitely inspired by Sarah from Like Sew Amazing’s gorgeous jumpsuit which she made from the same fabric. The only change I made to the culottes was to use an invisible zip instead of the dress one the pattern suggested. It made more sense to me to use an invisible one so it would be….well……invisible! I also found a hook and eye from the stash I found inside the vintage sewing box I bought a while ago.

The final thing I made was this necklace. (If you’re counting, I made 5 things if you count the shoes as one – crazy? Probably). I used the tutorial Helen from Stitch My Style did a little while ago, though the fabric I used was probably too thick as it doesn’t look as chic as hers does. The fabric is some seriously old stuff I had left in my stash from one of my earliest makes – a bright yellow skirt which I never wore. I thought about making it in the viscose, but I thought that would be just too matchy-matchy, though I ended up with a pretty matchy-matchy outfit anyway! I used marbles in the necklace as I didn’t have any beads and there aren’t any local shops that sell beads. I used the large marble that came in my bag in the middle, then smaller ones up the sides. I also had to piece the fabric as I didn’t have enough, but the seams are covered by the knots. I really like this method of making necklaces from leftover fabric, so I might try it again – but with thinner fabric I think!

(Wow, you can really see my grey hairs here!)

I’m quite pleased with this as an outfit, if I do say so myself! The culottes also look good with a normal grey t-shirt, which feels a bit more every day than the shiny one! I’m hoping it will be warm this bank holiday weekend so they will get some wear!

There has, however, been a slight tragedy with the silver top since I wore it to the party. I had a sticker on my top, and sort of at the time thought ‘should I stick this on my top?’ and then I thought it would be fine. I then forgot the sticker was on there for a couple of days, when I noticed when I put the top on to take photos. I took the sticker off and it took some of the silver with it. I’ve circled it below so you can see – it’s a bit more obvious in real life than in the photo 😦 I have an idea, though. I bought some silver shiny embroidery thread to do the hems, so they would match the fabric, so I’m going to maybe try a yoke of embroidery to see if I can cover the mark. I don’t want to not be able to wear it again – that was the whole point of making separates! If anyone has any other ideas/any embroidery design ides, I’m all ears! Maybe I’ll end up wearing it to the New Craft House Christmas Party (as they’re mentioned they might organise) in its new form!?

I’ll leave you with this, to make you laugh hopefully! I think this is my favourite outtake so far – lol! I have literally no idea what is going on here, I mean wtf?!

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A sneaky peak of my Dressmakers’ Ball dress

I thought I would share a few snaps of my Dressmakers’ Ball dress – because I want to keep the grand unveiling until the night. And also because I haven’t finished it yet!

I haven’t hemmed it yet:

I’m using the leftover fabric from when I made my By Hand London Alix Dress, because I ended up with quite a lot left after ordering almost twice as much as I needed so I’d have enough to underline the whole dress. I still love the colour, but I don’t like how it frays and creases like a bitch – I did iron it before taking these photos, but you wouldn’t know!

Because of the fraying – and to give it a ball gown-y feel – I’ve used french seams. You may be able to make out 2 lines of stitching, though. I trimmed the seam allowances down to what I thought was teeny tiny, but then I sewed the second part of the french seam and the fabric edge was sticking out on the right side. I trimmed it down as much as possible, but you could still see the edge on the right side, so I sewed another line of stitching with a slightly bigger seam allowance. This slightly ruins the couture effect I was going for, but I didn’t really want to unpick the original line of stitching because this fabric does not like being unpicked!

My dress has sleeves! (And darts, which you can just about make out)

And although the bodice is lined, I decided to do french seams through both the shell and lining layers because of the fraying problem, and I feared any hand stitching would show on the right side of the fabric – it’s pretty thin and bruises easily, so even picking up one thread might have left a mark.

Also pockets because pockets. And pockets with french seams (except for the first seam where you attach the pocket to the skirt pieces, because I forgot/wasn’t sure that was possible.

Part of the skirt is pleated….

And there will be a split on the front, if I can ever bring myself to cut the fabric! I found a Burda tutorial that said you can make a split by sewing fabric on the top in 2 lines really close together, then you cut between the 2 lines of stitching and turn the fabric to the inside, which neatens what would have been an exposed edge. It said to interface the piece you sew on the top, but I haven’t because I didn’t want to mess with the drape and didn’t have any interfacing light enough. This weekend I’ll have to suck it up and cut the split. Or unpick it completely, but that might leave a mark!

Are you going to the Dressmakers’ Ball? If so, do you have as much to finish on your dress as me!? What colour are you wearing? Are you making something new or wearing something you’ve already made? I was tempted to wear my navy lace dress I made to go to a wedding in last year – if only it was like the Oscars and there was an after party, then I could wear both!

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March Makes and April Plans

March turned out to not be that productive a month for me sewing-wise, but I knew that would probably be the case as I was away 3 out of the last 4 weekends, and I do most of my sewing at the weekend. This also meant I didn’t really have anything finished to blog, hence the little break from blogging.

I did manage to make my toaster sweater, which has already got a lot of wear, so I think there are more of these in my future!

I mostly made the Simplicity 1696 trousers I’ve been planning since October……which is 6 months ago! I’ll hopefully finish them this weekend, then I’ll do a full post about all the fit adjustments I’ve done/will have to do. I’ve got to properly sew the leg seams (they’re just basted), add the waistband lining and hem them. Hopefully!

I also make a present for my niece’s second birthday, but I’ll save that for my full post at some point in the future.

I don’t think that’s too bad considering I was so busy and therefore tired! I’m definitely finding that I am happy to not have evening or weekend plans 95% of the time, and if I have to do stuff more often than that I get knackered!

So now onto my plans for April (which we’re almost a week into!). I’m hopeful of making a few things because I have next week off work and although I will go out and about a bit, I’m hoping to sew at least a bit on most of the days.

The first thing I’m hoping to make is some Carolyn Pyjamas out of this amazing boaty liberty fabric which one of my friends gave me a couple of weeks ago when I was in London. I love it! And the pattern is one of my #2017MakeNine. I’m thinking to add some red piping – although someone on instagram suggested I do white piping, which I think will also look good. Which do you think I should do? There are 3 metres, so I think it will be enough for a pair of pjs, though I may do short sleeves with long trousers if there isn’t enough for long sleeves.

My next must-make is what I hope will be a good Spring garment; a stripey Marianne Dress. This is a pattern I’ve had in my stash for ages, and I don’t know why I’ve not yet gotten around to making it! This is partly why I added it to my #2017MakeNine. I bought this navy scribble striped fabric after seeing it on Rosabella’s youtube channel. I’m sometimes wary of ordering fabric online but because she said it was good quality, I thought it safe to give it a go and it does feel nice. I hope it sews up well! I’m thinking I’ll make the shirt-sleeved version but without the collar and without colour-blocking, though I may change my mind! Any thoughts?

My third hopefully definite make is my denim Moss Skirt. I cut it out a while ago, and having made one already for my sister, I feel sort of confident that I can make it without too many places where I get stuck!

Of course, this is already a pretty ambitious bunch of projects, but I’m hoping to make a start on some jeans finally. Both of Closet Case Patterns’ jeans patterns are also on my #2017MakeNine so I want to tick off one or two this month! I’m going fabric shopping in Birmingham on Saturday this week and one of my main aims is to get some denim for one or both pairs.

If I get time after all of this (which seems really unlikely!) I want to have a go at the Bellatrix Blazer from Papercut Patterns. I bought this last month as I wanted a slightly more fitted jacket pattern than the By Hand London Victoria Blazer which I’ve made 3 times (1,2,3), as I feel more put-together at work in a blazer.

I’m also considering going to the Dressmakers’ Ball, which is on 12th May, so it might be that half of these plans go out of the window in favour of making a gown of some kind! I’m tempted to go just because when do you get the chance to make and wear a gown!? Are you going to the ball? Have you already started your dress?

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